10 essential accessories for your Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus

Your smartphone is probably the star of your devices, so you’ll want a decent supporting cast to ensure that you get the most from it. We’ve already looked at the best Galaxy S8 cases and the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases, but there are some nifty alternative S8 accessories that are worth checking out. We’ve got docks, headphones, cameras, and more to add useful functionality to your S8 or S8 Plus.

Gear VR Headset and Controller ($130)

If you haven’t dipped a toe into the waters of virtual reality yet, then this is a great place to start. The latest version of the Gear VR works with the Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus to take to you to new worlds. It’s the most comfortable design yet, and Samsung has added a handy controller into the mix to make navigation easier and bring new control options to games. There are more than 600 different apps, games, and experiences that will immerse you in all kinds of virtual realities.

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Samsung

Samsung Wireless Charger Convertible ($90)

Samsung Wireless Charger Convertible

Although it’s pricey compared to some of the other wireless chargers on the market, Samsung’s Wireless Charger is probably worth springing for because it supports the fast wireless charging capability in the S8 and S8 Plus. It’s a stylish-looking pad, finished in a leather-like material that comes in black or tan. Unusually, it can be adjusted to prop your S8 up, which is ideal if you want to use your phone while it charges. It comes with a Samsung Fast Charge wall charger in the box.

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Samsung

Anker PowerCore Speed Battery Pack ($32)

Anker PowerCore Speed Battery Charger

Offering a whopping 10,000mAh of power, this is one of our favorite portable battery chargers. It’s fairly compact, so you can sling it into your bag and forget about it until you need it. You can expect around two full charges for your Galaxy S8, maybe a little less for the S8 Plus. It also supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, so it will fill your S8 battery quickly. You will have to snag a USB to USB Type-C cable, because it ships with a Micro USB cable.

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Amazon

Maxboost Type-C Car Charger ($22)

Maxboost Type-C Car Charger

If you’re using your Galaxy S8 to navigate or you just want to charge it up while you drive, this car charger is ideal. No need to fiddle with cables because it has a USB Type-C cable built-in. There’s also an additional USB port in case you want to charge another device, or use a longer cable, and a clever, soft-glow LED ring, making it easy to use, even in the dark. It supports QC 3.0 for fast charging.

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Amazon

Samsung Gear 360 ($250)

Les Shu/Digital Trends

The 2017 version of the Gear 360 enables you to capture 4K 360 degree videos and photos with your Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus. You can capture footage and shots, then review and share them via the app on your S8. You can even stream live from the dual-cameras in real-time. It’s a lightweight device with a handy grip that doubles as a stand and it can be mounted on tripods easily. The MicroSD card slot takes cards up to 256GB in capacity.

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Samsung

Samsung DeX Station ($150)

Samsung DeX docking station

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you liked the look of Microsoft’s Continuum, which enables you to use your smartphone as a desktop PC, then you’re going to love the DeX Station for the Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus because it does something similar. The adjustable dock looks like Samsung’s Wireless Charger, but it allows you to connect a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and Ethernet cable to your phone. Optimized app support is limited right now, but you can use it to work with Microsoft’s Office suite, and some Adobe and Samsung apps.

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Samsung

Samsung Gear S3 ($300)

Samsung Gear S3

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The beautifully designed Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch, with its clever rotating bezel is the best smartwatch you can currently buy to pair with your Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus. It runs Tizen, which is fast and accessible, and it’s packed with Samsung services like Samsung Pay, S Voice, and S Health. There isn’t an overabundance of apps, but you’ll find things like Uber, Nest, and Nike+ Running. It also offers more than a day of battery life, it’s water resistant, and the 22mm bands are very easy to switch.

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Amazon

Samsung Pro Plus 64GB MicroSDXC Card ($54)

Samsung Pro Plus 64GB MicroSDXC Card

We’re pleased to see that Samsung has bumped the base level of internal storage up to 64GB with the S8 and S8 Plus, but some of you will still need more space. There are definitely cheaper MicroSD cards out there, but we’re recommending this one because it offers high performance for 4K video recording and it’s extremely reliable. If you’re willing to wait a little longer, then keep an eye out for the new A1 spec MicroSD cards which are specifically designed to work as adoptable storage in Android phones.

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Amazon

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 ($200)

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

You get a decent set of AKG earbuds worth $100 in the box with your S8 or S8 Plus, but if you want a proper set of headphones, then you might consider the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. You can pair with your S8 or S8 Plus via Bluetooth (Samsung’s new smartphones can actually stream to two sets of Bluetooth headphones at once) and there’s a mic for calls and a button to trigger Google Assistant on the right earcup. You’ll find controls for music and volume on the left. They also produce a decent sound with support for noise cancellation and solid battery life.

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Plantronics

Samsung USB-C to HDMI Adapter ($50)

Samsung USB-C to HDMI Adapter

We can’t help feeling this is overpriced, but if you want to be able to play 4K videos from your Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus on your big TV smoothly and easily, it’s going to be worth the investment. Plug the USB-C end into your phone and plug an HDMI cable into the other end to connect with your TV, projector, or monitor. Whether you want to play video from your vacation, watch a movie, or play a game on the big screen, this adapter lets you do it lag-free and without the need for Wi-Fi.

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Mobile Fun

Mystery Science Theater 3000 perfectly dunks on Stranger Things

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back, and the first thing on its hit list is Stranger Things. Netflix has released a short MST3K crossover teaser that features the cast of the revival version of the show taking a break from their movie-centric entertainment to riff on the opening of Netflix’s breakout science-fiction thriller. Although the actual show is focused on questionable movies rather than viral-hit TV, the clip is still a brilliant bit of marketing.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is old. When the show premiered in 1988, it was rooted in a kooky plotline involving mad scientists forcing a janitor named Joel Robinson (played by creator Joel Hodgson) to watch lousy movies with his helpful, smart-assed robot friends. Joel and his pals would sit in the corner of the theater and toss jokes back and forth about whatever was happening on the screen.

It was a funny, clever show more often than not. Still, it was canceled not once, but twice — once from its Comedy Central home, and then again from its subsequent home on the SCI FI Channel. In 1999, MST3K went off the air seemingly for good — until Hodgson launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015, and Netflix picked up the show. But reviving MST3K isn’t as simple as translating its humor into modern-day media. Fans are great. The fans will come back to see whether this new version matches their memories of the old one. But Netflix also needs new viewers to accept this specific brand of back-seat comedy, even after nearly nearly 30 years of imitators and spin-offs muddying up the well of bad-movie reaction comedy.

Stranger Things is one of Netflix’s strongest original series. The show was met with universal acclaim upon release; Netflix credits its 2016 “over-performance” to Stranger Things’ unexpected success. Handing the MST3K gang a Stranger Things clip to pick over is a strategic move — a way to draw out the rabid fanbase of the beloved supernatural show, while also drumming up attention for the new show’s debut.

The good news? MST3K doesn’t disappoint. Even in this quick clip, the audio is crammed full of funny gags about how proud the “Duffer mothers” must be of their writer-director boys, and other, less verbal audio reactions to sudden on-screen action. As writer Noel Murray explains in his primer on MST3K’s importance, the show has always encouraged viewers to watch the little details onscreen closely — in this case, everything from the font onscreen to the brand of lighter in Jim Hopper’s hand. Studying this teaser is a perfect way to enjoy some subtle Stranger Things content while waiting for season 2 to come out — and to get a taste for how the new MST3K series resembles the older models.

Android phones are safer than you think, says Google’s head of Android security

The idea that the Android platform is insecure is popular and persistent.

Barely a week goes by without a new headline about a freshly uncovered vulnerability or new malware affecting millions of devices.

There’s no denying these issues are exacerbated by the fact that the Android ecosystem is complicated. Fragmentation makes it incredibly difficult to update the platform. There are a lot of different device manufacturers and thousands of different phone and tablet models running different versions of Android. As a result, updates with security fixes in them take months to roll out to some handsets, or worse, never roll out at all. Too many manufacturers only update their flagships, leaving known vulnerabilities in older and lesser devices that could put users at risk.

Consider vulnerabilities like Stagefright, which could give hackers control of an Android device through malicious code in an audio or video file, and Heartbleed, an OpenSSL vulnerability which affected Android 4.1.1 and could allow hackers to steal sensitive data like passwords. Google worked out fixes relatively quickly, but they were only rolled out to Google’s Nexus line of devices immediately. Patches for other devices were rolled out at the discretion of the manufacturers.

That means, if you have a Pixel with the latest Android 7.0 Nougat, you’re benefitting from the latest security, but someone with a phone running KitKat (still running on 20 percent of Android devices) that hasn’t seen an update for a year or more, could be at risk.

It’s a thorny issue that’s not easily solved, but the Android security team has been working hard over the last few years to reduce the risk for users. Scary statistics make for good headlines, but does Android deserve the reputation it has for insecurity?

Android Security Chief, Adrian Ludwig

“I do think we have a bit of a perception problem, but it’s very different from actual user risk,” Adrian Ludwig, Director of Android Security, told Digital Trends. “The cryptographic work that we’ve been doing, the sandboxing that we’ve been doing, and a lot of the work to make exploitation more difficult is all coming together nicely.”

Digital Trends hung out with Ludwig, on Google Hangouts, to find out about the current state of Android security, ask whether people should really be concerned about headline vulnerabilities and malware, and to find out what Google is doing about the fragmentation issue to enable wider security updates.

Digital Trends: Is Android really insecure?

Adrian Ludwig: No, it’s not insecure. There are a lot of things we’ve done that have moved expectations forward over the last couple of years.

For Mac or Windows, you had to have third-party antivirus protection, but we said we’re going to do that for everybody and make it for free.

Application sandboxing is a relatively new concept in the world of Android security – the idea that applications don’t have access to all your user data, but only have access to their data is entirely new, it’s not something that exists on Mac, it’s not something that exists on Windows.

“I do think we have a bit of a perception problem, but it’s very different from actual user risk.”

Then there’s device encryption. Most enterprise don’t have it turned on all the time. An expectation has been set in the mobile space that everything should be encrypted all the time and there’s even an expectation that it’s going to be encrypted so well that it’s going to be difficult even for a sophisticated attack to get access to that data without user authorization.

We’ve also learned a lot about how the bad actors work and what they’re trying to do, and we’re now at a little bit of an inflection point. For the first few years we were learning, building our understanding, and improving our technology stack. Now we can keep up with the bad actors. Malware rates, for example, are relatively flat across the last three or four years, but I think this is the year where we’re going to see them drop, perhaps drop significantly, because we’ve gotten to the point where we have enough skill and experience. We’re now able to move more quickly than the actors, catch them sooner, and take action more effectively across the entire ecosystem than we could before.

I think we’re at a turning point where even by Android standards we’re going to start to see pretty significant improvements with regards to malware.

There’s still more to do, but it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come over the last five years.

We see a lot of reports about vulnerabilities with frightening statistics. What’s the realistic risk of your Android device being exploited or hijacked? For example, something like Stagefright was said to potentially impact 95 percent of Android devices. Do we have an idea how many have actually been hijacked using that vulnerability?

Here we are a year and a half in, almost going on two years since we first found out about it and we still don’t know that anybody’s actually affected. There are rumors that a small number of devices might have been affected, but even those we haven’t got any substantiated evidence for.

And trust me, whenever we hear a rumor like that we try to chase it down. We go talk to the company that’s making that statement. We ask if there’s data that they can share. We’ve never been able to substantiate any of those numbers. I can say definitely that there weren’t 900 million devices affected.

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Certainly, the headlines that ran and the excitement was disproportionate to reality and it may be that nobody was affected. Which is incredible I think, even looking back myself there’s always a concern that there may be something you’re not seeing, but time seems to be the thing that’s revealing those blind spots.

I’ve been working on Android security for the last six years and every time you look in an area where someone has said “that’s a blind spot,” we don’t find anything. So, early on it was “there’s tons and tons of malware in Google Play” and we looked, there was some, we removed it. Then we hear “it’s outside of Google Play,” we look, there’s some, we put pretty good protections in place. Then “it’s going to climb next year” and that didn’t happen either. Now, “it’s vulnerabilities are going to be exploited,” but we don’t see that.

Time and time again we’re moving forward in where we’re looking and the checks that we’re doing and the services we’re providing to look for bad actors, but we’re just not seeing any actual harm.

That said, we want to be as cautious as we possibly can and so we’re investing in services to look in all those little dark alleyways. We’re also working with partners to make sure that they’re able to respond as quickly as possible, so that’s where we’ve invested a lot in security updates, not because we’re seeing a lot of actual exploitation, but because we don’t want that to be a risk that ever gets realized.

A lot of it is about staying ahead and never getting to a point where there’s a problem.

Why do you think this narrative about Android being a “toxic hellstew” of vulnerabilities persists?

There’s a few reasons. One is that complexity is often very scary and the narrative for the Android ecosystem is a complex one. There are lots of different OEMs [phone and tablets makers] in the ecosystem, lots of different device models.

“[Machine learning] is one of the main reasons that in the next couple of years we’ll get ahead of the attackers.”

Very succinctly describing what’s happening in the Android ecosystem is difficult, in much the same way that describing human anatomy or the population of humanity is very difficult. But we know that medicine is getting better, and we know that people are living longer. We know that people are getting healthier, but we still read lots of stories about people dying, bad things happening, and diseases.

I think that’s a mirror of what we have going on in the Android ecosystem. It’s complicated, so there’s not often a satisfying, super simple answer, but overall it’s getting more and more secure and robust.

We also see a lot of malware stories, but is the average Android user, who never downloads apps outside of the Play Store, in danger?

From Play the malware number is about 0.05 percent which is 5 out of 10,000 apps, so that’s pretty low. In terms of what percentage of devices get infected, that’s in the range where if we weren’t talking about it, no one would know it was even happening.

We talk about it to make sure there’s transparency about the level of risk. Often platforms don’t want to talk about things. They turn a blind eye. We like to have transparency into external actors and our policies and processes, so we can build trust. We don’t want people to trust blindly.

My guess would be, certainly in the Android ecosystem, the Play Store is the cleanest app store. I would imagine it compares similarly to other app stores with ecosystems that are more closed. [We believe Adrian is referring to the Apple App Store.]

Having discussed it with a lot of people, anecdotally, we don’t know anyone who has had an Android malware problem, but I’ve had Windows problems myself. Why is everyone talking about Android security?

I think we’ve gotten bored of Windows malware and so it’s not fun to talk about it anymore. Android was sort of the new, exciting thing.

Everything I’ve seen shows that across the Android ecosystem. The hundreds of millions of devices that install from Google Play are an order of magnitude cleaner than a managed corporate fleet of Windows devices. Our infection rate is a half percent globally, where for managed Windows devices it’s higher, and for consumer households the infection rate for Windows devices is higher still.

But Android is exciting. It’s a growing market. It’s a growing market for consumers, but I think it’s also a growing market for the security industry, so they’re very interested in making sure people are aware and thinking about those things. That’s the shape of communication around the platform.

When you do find malware, what type is most common?

Most of what we’re seeing is commercial in nature. They’re typically trying to make money and the mechanism to monetize on mobile is to install applications. We do see niche cases of apps that go after banking passwords or things like that, but the simplest way to monetize is to install an app. A very large percentage is related to what we call hostile downloaders.

What’s interesting is that the apps they install are not themselves harmful. It might be a game that’s looking to get a promotion, or it might be another service where they benefit from having market distribution. The end result is not the types of things people think about when they think about malware. It’s often not somebody trying to steal your data.

There is spyware. I don’t want to suggest that it doesn’t exist. We even did a post this week describing a very high-end spyware that we found, but that was on 25 devices. It’s certainly not the type of thing that’s common or most popular across the ecosystem.

Is there anything inherently less secure about Android compared to other mobile operating systems?

I don’t think there’s anything inherently less secure about the platform. I think the complexity makes it more difficult to make statements at a platform level.

People love to compare iPhone to Android. The iPhone is a device with an operating system from a manufacturer, in fact it’s about five different devices. If you look at one manufacturer from Android — Samsung is the biggest — they have hundreds of different device models. Merely comparing Samsung to iOS you’re roughly 20 times more complex already, in terms of this device versus that device. It’s not a reasonable comparison.

Perhaps comparing the Pixel and Nexus line to iPhone might be fairer?

Yes, very similar hardware-wise – similar security properties. The app stores have similar security properties, verified apps, application isolation — very similar security properties. Both have a commitment to rapid updates.

“Comparing Samsung to iOS you’re roughly 20 times more complex already, in terms of this device versus that device.”

Where you get into differentiation is in transparency. Android is open source. That information is available to everybody. We encourage third-party research through our security rewards program, so we know that not only are we looking for issues in the platform, but other people are as well and that makes a big difference.

I think the services make a huge difference as well. We have intentionally designed in visibility and the ability to check on devices in the field, whereas that doesn’t exist on any other platform. It means we get feedback on a lot of little things that are happening and we can respond to that.

How do you combat the slow roll out of security updates for non-stock Android devices? Is it frustrating?

We really appreciate how many people have adopted Android and how many devices have Android on them. The reality of that sheer diversity of the ecosystem is that some manufacturers will move very quickly and others move more slowly.

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last year to try to help those that are moving more slowly to solve some of their technology challenges, solve some of their engineering challenges, and in some instances its organizational challenges. They may lack a staff of engineers to provide updates. Perhaps they didn’t think about that, so we ask what can we do to get you to a point where you have thought about it and it does makes sense?

It definitely makes things more complicated, but it’s also at the core of why Android has been so successful, because a lot of different people were able to jump in and start building devices.

What action has the Android team taken to make the platform more secure? And what’s the next area you’d like to tackle or improve?

I think all the pieces are coming together really nicely. It’s been a multi-year journey, but the cryptographic work that we’ve been doing, the sandboxing that we’ve been doing, a lot of the work to make exploitation more difficult is all coming together nicely, so those are the areas that we’re going to keep working on.

Why is sandboxing important?

Sandboxing at a fundamental level is about how you isolate one application from another. A game is a perfect example, one where people don’t think about it, but on a PC, games are often networked. They’re one of the few things on that sort of device that has network port service, so that is one of the scariest pieces of software that you’re running on most consumer devices. If you compromise a game, the game author might be perfectly benign, but that game has access to everything on your PC.

 

Whereas on Android that’s not at all the case. You have to then also compromise the core operating system to be able to go beyond that. For us, that was really, really important to make sure that you always have to compromise Google’s code, Android’s code, to get to the point where you can do something that really hurts a user.

How important is the third-party research program for finding bugs and vulnerabilities?

It’s really important actually. Last year we paid almost a million dollars to researchers. I think there were about 120 different researchers that found issues and reported them to us. Dozens come in every month, so it’s really important for us.

One thing that has happened actually that’s really interesting is that we started to get more and more reports of issues, not in Android, but in other components that are in the device. For example, this week there was a report of an issue in Broadcom’s Wi-Fi drivers that affected Android, iOS devices, and anybody else who was using those types of drivers. That’s the kind of thing we’re seeing more and more.

Is machine learning starting to play a role? Do you have enough data for it to be effective?

We do have a huge amount of data now and we’ve started to find some machine learning techniques that work really well for different types of things. One thing machine learning works really well for is finding other applications that are also malware. When we find one bad app, we might be able to take down a thousand or more applications that same day that we know are related based on machine learning techniques.

And you expect that to improve over time? Obviously, it’s learning so it should get better?

“Machine learning lets us develop protection capabilities much more quickly that a human can improve their hiding”

It’s one of the main reasons that in the next couple of years we’ll get ahead of the attackers. Machine learning lets us develop protection capabilities much more quickly that a human can improve their hiding, which is ultimately why malware in the past has been persistent because even very small changes can hide it effectively. That’s not going to be the case anymore.

Does tightening security mean losing some of the openness and customizability that has helped make Android the most popular mobile OS in the world?

Not at all. The openness, customizability, and security of Android are all among its greatest strengths. We think it’s possible to continue to improve on all three.

When we are confronted with a feature that appears to put these principles in conflict, we’ll go to great lengths to find an approach that is balanced. One common strategy is to have the default be more secure (to protect as many users as possible) while allowing users choice (to allow for customization).

We do the same thing with OEMs [device makers], defining a security model that is robust, but also providing a myriad of opportunities to innovate and customize. The resulting diversity is itself a security enhancement, as monocultures are known to be more susceptible to systemic risk. And in some cases, that customization leads to innovative security enhancements, which is a boon for the ecosystem.

Do you think that antivirus, anti-malware, and other third-party Android security apps are needed?

We are committed to making the free protections provided by Google Play the best protection in the world. We already think we’ve accomplished that, and we’ll continue to publish information that makes it possible for others to double-check and confirm it for themselves.

What advice would you give an Android user with security concerns? What actions potentially put them at risk and what can they do to stay safe?

We’ve published a help center article on this topic, here.

Say goodbye to shaky videos with Google Photos’ latest Android update

Why it matters to you

Shaky video? Google Photos can help, but you loose a bit of resolution in the process.

Google Photos is far from being about just about cloud storage — the latest Android app, which began rolling out to users Tuesday, can reportedly stabilize videos after you shoot them.

Google shared that they were working on adding stabilization last summer, but now the feature has officially arrived inside the app. After opening a video, tapping on the pen icon brings up editing options — a quick tap of “stabilize” starts the process, which can take some time depending on the size of the video file.

As an edit after the fact, the stabilization is electronic, not optical, which means the system is cropping the footage to stabilize each frame, but it may help salvage some shaky shots. Early users are reporting better results with occasional artifacts but not comparable with shooting the footage with a gimbal in the first place.

Along with the stabilization, the latest version of the app includes new smart filters along with a “Deep Blue” slider that helps enhance the color of the water and sky. The app’s automated movies built from photos also see a number of new options.

The stabilization joins a number of other editing tools inside Google Photos, including filters and contrast and color tweaking. The app also turns photos into movies as well as crafting collages, animations, and panoramas from still photos.

The editing features join one of the app’s biggest assets, free unlimited photo storage. Auto-tagging and object recognition software also makes photos searchable without manually adding tags, while automated albums assemble photos from one event into one place.

While a new Google Photos update rolled out to iOS on Monday, video editing options still only list rotations currently. The App Store only lists performance improvements as adjustments to the latest version.

Google Photos is a free download from both Google Play and the App Store.

Microsoft has already patched the NSA’s leaked Windows hacks

Microsoft says it has already patched the Windows exploits released by the Shadow Brokers group. The hacking tools, likely originating from the NSA, were released online yesterday, and Microsoft was able to test and confirm patches are already available for all currently supported versions of Windows. That does mean that older Windows XP or Windows Vista systems could still be vulnerable to three of the exploits released, but it’s unlikely that Microsoft will supply patches for these older versions of Windows as they’re already unsupported.

Microsoft’s response comes hours after unnecessary fear from several security researchers, including one who advised Windows users to turn off their machines for the weekend. Even NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden weighed in on the exploits, claiming that the “NSA did not warn Microsoft” about the leaked exploits. One security researcher, the grugq, claims that the NSA may have actually reported some of the bugs themselves. While Microsoft always acknowledges the source of security flaw reports, the grugq noticed there are no acknowledgements for patches (MS17-010) issued last month that fix some of the leaked NSA exploits.

Either way, if you’re running Windows 7 or above then you’re safe from this round of exploits as long as you’ve applied all updates from Windows Update. If you’re still running Windows XP or Windows Vista then it’s time to look at something more modern as you’re open to these security flaws and many more that will remain unpatched and exploited.

Portable power station The River can hold its 500-watt charge for a year

Why it matters to you

Going off the grid doesn’t have to mean being without power — at least, not with the River, an eco-friendly portable power bank.

If you’re looking to go off the grid for a while without being completely without power, there’s finally a long-term solution for you. It’s called the River, and it promises smart, clean, mobile power for up to a year. You can charge it with a car jack, wall socket, or solar power, and in turn, it’ll charge all your various devices for you. So if you want to leave civilization but somehow stay plugged in, you may want to check out this out.

Thanks to the River Portable Power Station‘s 500-watt battery, you’ll be able to recharge a smartphone more than 30 times, or send enough electricity to a small refrigerator to keep it operational for up to 10 hours. And because the portable device is waterproof, weighs just 11 pounds, and will work in temperatures ranging from minus 4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, there really isn’t any place you can’t take the River.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the River is the number of charging ports it contains. That means that no matter how many gadgets need juicing, this generator can probably find a way to accommodate them. With a total of 11 outlets, including two USB-C ports, two standard AC outlets, two DC outputs, a 12V car port, and four fast-charging USB-C ports, you can simultaneously charge your family’s smartphones, tablets, cameras, laptops, and sure, even a drone.

Not only will the River maintain its charge for a long time, it also takes very little time to power up itself. It’ll take just six hours if you plug it into a wall socket, nine hours with a car jack, or 10 to 15 hours with its solar panel (depending on the amount of sunlight).

With a month left in its campaign, the River has already raised well over $180,000, blowing past its original funding goal of $30,000. Over 300 backers have already pledged their support, and if you’d like to join their ranks, you can pre-order a River for $459, with an expected delivery date of July 2017.

Sony just took the number-two spot as top-selling full-frame camera brand

Why it matters to you

While Sony’s full-frame line also includes an SLT, Sony’s move into second-place best-selling full-frame camera brand suggests mirrorless is growing.

The number-two selling full-frame interchangeable lens camera spot no longer belongs to a DSLR brand. Today, Sony announced that record sales have moved the company to the number-two spot among full-frame interchangeable-lens camera brands.

Update: We mistakenly reported earlier that Sony became the top-selling full-frame interchangeable lens camera brand, beating DSLRs. Sony became the second best-selling, not first.

Sony launched the first full-frame mirrorless camera three years ago with the a7. While the company’s full frame line also still includes single-lens-reflex (or single-lens translucent) models, like the a99II, the brand’s latest additions to the Alpha mirrorless series, the a7RII and a7RSII, have been instrumental in Sony’s increase in sales, the company said. As the only company with a full-frame mirrorless outside of Leica, this is a major achievement for mirrorless technology. Compared to the same time period in 2016, Sony’s full-frame camera sales have grown by 23 percent.

While the camera market as a whole has been seeing declines over the past several years, the data from the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service shows that full-frame interchangeable lens cameras, including DSLRs, have grown by about five percent. However, if Sony is removed from the equation, sales would have fallen by about two percent. The data compares total sales value and not the number of products sold, measuring sales changes between January and February 2016 with the same period in 2017.

While Sony was first to launch a full-frame mirrorless, outside of luxury brand Leica, no other camera manufacturer currently offers a mirrorless with the 35mm sensor, though Fujifilm now has a medium format option.

“Our commitment to the industry is stronger than ever,” said Neal Manowitz, VP of Digital Imaging at Sony North America. “We are always listening to our customers, combining their feedback with our intense passion for innovation to deliver products, services, and support like no other.”

Photographers initially approached mirrorless systems with caution, since the lack of a mirror created an autofocus system slower than DSLRs. Over the last decade, however, technological advances have narrowed the performance gap significantly. While the number of DSLRs shipped in 2016 fell by 17 percent, mirrorless cameras only declined by four percent. Other statistics show the mirrorless still has a lot of catching up to do — the sector made up only three percent of all Flickr uploads last year, while DSLRs made up 25 percent of uploads to the imaging platform.

While Sony has been a dominant player in the mirrorless arena for years, Canon and Nikon have been a bit more hesitant, with many considering the EOS M5 as Canon’s first serious mirrorless camera. Nikon has the speedy but small sensor Nikon 1 series that hasn’t seen an update since 2015, though reports suggest the company is working on a more advanced series as well.

New deal may mean more local NBC channels are coming to live TV streaming services

Why it matters to you

If you’re looking to cut the cord, but are concerned you would miss your local NBC affiliate, a new deal could put those fears to rest.

Streaming services like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now are making it easier than ever to cut the cord and live a cable-free lifestyle, but they do require making a few sacrifices. Local channels are one of those sacrifices, with only a handful of local affiliates supported by most services. NBCUniversal is working toward fixing this problem through a new agreement that could bring many more local NBC affiliates to streaming services, Variety reports.

NBC has reached an agreement with the board representing individual affiliates that opts those affiliates in to NBCUniversal’s deals with streaming services. The new deal isn’t limited to a single service either, so it should benefit any streaming TV service that has deals in place with NBCUniversal. This includes Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, and the recently launched YouTube TV. Hulu’s upcoming live TV streaming service should benefit as well.

“We are happy to once again reinforce NBC’s commitment to and recognition of the value of the affiliate partnership and that of local broadcasters. This agreement in the digital space reaffirms that commitment,” Jean Dietze, NBC president of affiliate relations

While this is a boon for existing streaming services, it could also be important if NBCUniversal parent company Comcast decides to launch a streaming service of its own, as was rumored last month. Another potential streaming service was reported by Bloomberg earlier this week, but it seems like it would be more of a Netflix-style video-

on-demand offering instead of live TV, so it likely wouldn’t benefit from the agreement.

“We believe that [over-the-top] distribution can play an important role in ensuring the growth and development of local, network-affiliated television stations. We appreciate NBC’s forward-looking approach to growing our historic partnership,” Ralph Oakley, chairman of the NBC Television Affiliates Board and CEO of Quincy Newspapers, said.

There is no clear indication of when we may begin to see the results of this agreement, but chances are good that as soon as live TV streaming services can provide more local channels, they will.

Google Photos can now stabilize your shaky handheld videos on Android

Why it matters to you

Shaky video? Google Photos can help, but you loose a bit of resolution in the process.

Google Photos is far from being about just about cloud storage — the latest Android app, which began rolling out to users Tuesday, can reportedly stabilize videos after you shoot them.

Google shared that they were working on adding stabilization last summer, but now the feature has officially arrived inside the app. After opening a video, tapping on the pen icon brings up editing options — a quick tap of “stabilize” starts the process, which can take some time depending on the size of the video file.

As an edit after the fact, the stabilization is electronic, not optical, which means the system is cropping the footage to stabilize each frame, but it may help salvage some shaky shots. Early users are reporting better results with occasional artifacts but not comparable with shooting the footage with a gimbal in the first place.

Along with the stabilization, the latest version of the app includes new smart filters along with a “Deep Blue” slider that helps enhance the color of the water and sky. The app’s automated movies built from photos also see a number of new options.

The stabilization joins a number of other editing tools inside Google Photos, including filters and contrast and color tweaking. The app also turns photos into movies as well as crafting collages, animations, and panoramas from still photos.

The editing features join one of the app’s biggest assets, free unlimited photo storage. Auto-tagging and object recognition software also makes photos searchable without manually adding tags, while automated albums assemble photos from one event into one place.

While a new Google Photos update rolled out to iOS on Monday, video editing options still only list rotations currently. The App Store only lists performance improvements as adjustments to the latest version.

Google Photos is a free download from both Google Play and the App Store.