All posts in “Samsung”

Our favorite deals from Amazon’s huge Earth Day sale

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Buy used and save big this Earth Day.
Buy used and save big this Earth Day.

Image: pexels

Happy Earth Day, fellow inhabitants. 

While April 22 isn’t typically a huge shopping holiday, you didn’t think Amazon was about to not use this as an excuse to have a giant sale, did you? In honor of Earth Day, save big on select used tech items across the site. Sales end at 11:59 pm PST on April 22.

E-waste is wreaking havoc on the Earth at a pretty alarming rate, with nearly 70% of toxins in landfills coming from electronics. 

The Amazon Warehouse is aiming to give used items a new home. In the spirit of reducing, reusing, and recycling, Amazon is offering tons of deals, plus an extra 20% off on select used items

Save on everything from smartphones, to robot vacuums, to kitchen gadgets, and more. Many of these items are high-end and don’t usually see discounts, so this sale is kind of a big deal.

Here’s a quick look at all of the brands and categories in the Earth Week Sale:

Here are some of the best deals:

Image: lili sams/mashable

So you want a Samsung phone but you’re not ready to make the jump to (and drop a ton of money on) the Galaxy S9. So, what if we told you that Amazon has a used Samsung Galaxy S8 for as low as $429.99?

Enjoy a 12 MP rear camera and a giant, crisp, edge-to-edge screen, with full HD+ resolution. That’s basically like having a mini TV in your pocket. And, the phone is unlocked. There’s also an option to throw in a pair of Samsung Gear IconX earbuds.

A brand new S8 usually goes for $700 at the lowest — but if you can save nearly $300 and snag a used one for as low as $429.99, how can you say no? Check out your S8 and S8+ options here.

Image: amazon

You know that if there’s an Amazon Echo deal, we’re all over it — especially when it’s a sale on the most expensive of the Echo family, which never happens. Used models of the Amazon Echo Show, a 2017 Mashable Choice product, are as low as $124.15 for Earth Day. 

Everything you love about Alexa is brought to life with this giant 7-inch screen, Dolby-powered speakers, video calling, access to Prime Video and movies, and so much more. All of that, for $100 less than the price of a brand new model? Alexa, pinch us. We’re dreaming.

Regularly $229 when brand new, you can get your own Amazon Echo Show starting at just $124.15. Check out your options here

Image: amazon

In the market for a new e-reader? The Kindle Oasis is Kindle’s most luxurious option, and it’s almost never on sale. While a new 9th generation Oasis usually goes for $269.99 to $299.99, you can get your hands on a pre-owned 8th generation one for as low as $159.37.

The Kindle Oasis is like the Ferrari of Kindles, featuring a high resolution 6-inch display, free 3G connectivity, a battery that lasts weeks on one charge, and adaptive lighting when your surroundings change. The used devices may feature small cosmetic imperfections, so it’s a good thing these sleek cases exist.

Check out your options and snag a Kindle Oasis for $100 less than regular price here.

Image: bonvita

Calling everyone tired of waiting in line for your daily jolt: This stainless steel coffee maker was approved by the Specialty Coffee Association and is on sale for as low as $75.

For those who take their coffee seriously, the Bonvita BV1900TS 8-Cup Carafe Coffee Brewer is the real deal. It’s equipped with brewers designed to hold the optimal coffee temperature (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit) thanks to a powerful 1500 watt heater.

Regularly $119.99 for a brand new machine, you can get a used version of the Bonvita Coffee Brewer starting at just $75. Check out your options here.

The Skagen Falster is a high fashion Android wearable

Danish understatement meets Mountain View tech

Skagen is a well-know maker of thin and uniquely Danish watches. Founded in 1989, the company is now part of the Fossil group and, as such, has begin dabbling in both the analog with the Hagen and now Android Wear with the Falster. The Falster is unique in that it stuffs all of the power of a standard Android Wear device into a watch that mimics the chromed aesthetic of Skagen’s austere design while offering just enough features to make you a fashionable smartwatch wearer.

The Falster, which costs $275 and is available now, has a fully round digital OLED face which means you can read the time at all times. When the watch wakes up you can see an ultra bright white on black time-telling color scheme and then tap the crown to jump into the various features including Android Fit and the always clever Translate feature that lets you record a sentence and then show it the person in front of you.

You can buy it with a leather or metal band and the mesh steel model costs $20 extra.

Sadly, in order stuff the electronics into such a small case, Skagen did away with GPS, LTE connectivity, and even a heart-rate monitor. In other words if you were expecting a workout companion then the Falster isn’t the Android you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a bare-bones fashion smartwatch, Skagen ticks all the boxes.

What you get from the Flasterou do get, however, is a low-cost, high-style Android Wear watch with most of the trimmings. I’ve worn this watch off and on few a few weeks now and, although I do definitely miss the heart rate monitor for workouts, the fact that this thing looks and acts like a normal watch 99% of the time makes it quite interesting. If obvious brand recognition nee ostentation are your goal, the Apple Watch or any of the Samsung Gear line are more your style. This watch, made by a company famous for its Danish understatement, offers the opposite of that.

Skagen offers a few very basic watch faces with the Skagen branding at various points on the dial. I particularly like the list face which includes world time or temperature in various spots around the world, offering you an at-a-glance view of timezones. Like most Android Wear systems you can change the display by pressing and holding on the face.

It lasts about a day on one charge although busy days may run down the battery sooner as notifications flood the screen. The notification system – essentially a little icon that appears over the watch face – sometimes fails and instead shows a baffling grey square. This is the single annoyance I noticed, UI-wise, when it came to the Falster. It works with both Android smartphones and iOS.

What this watch boils down to is an improved fitness tracker and notification system. If you’re wearing, say, a Fitbit, something like the Skagen Falster offers a superior experience in a very chic package. Because the watch is fairly compact (at 42mm I won’t say it’s small but it would work on a thinner wrist) it takes away a lot of the bulk of other smartwatches and, more important, doesn’t look like a smartwatch. Those of use who don’t want to look like we’re wearing robotic egg sacs on our wrists will enjoy that aspect of Skagen’s effort, even without all the trimmings we expect from a modern smartwatch.

Skagen, like so many other watch manufacturers, decided if it couldn’t been the digital revolution it would join it. The result is the Falster and, to a lesser degree, their analog collections. Whether or not traditional watchmakers will survive the 21st century is still up in the air but, as evidenced by this handsome and well-made watch, they’re at least giving it the old Danish try.

Samsung’s latest smartphone can’t connect to the internet. Like, at all.

Run, if your parents ever buy you this phone.
Run, if your parents ever buy you this phone.

Image: samsung, mashable composite

Well, here’s something you don’t see announced often (or ever, for that matter): A smartphone that can’t connect to the Internet.

That’s right, Samsung’s new Galaxy J2 Pro (it ain’t a “pro” anything if it can’t go online) is intentionally designed to have no way to go online. And nope, we haven’t slipped into a Tardis and time traveled into April Fool’s Day 2019.

Apparently made for students and senior citizens, the J2 Pro lacks any kind of cellular data connectivity. 

Samsung’s press release (Google translated) says the phone “blocks mobile data such as 3G, LTE, and Wi-Fi” with the intent of helping students focus on learning (instead of, you know, getting distracted by Instagram and stuff). The phone’s also good for seniors who apparently have no interest in going online? 🤦‍

That means no Google, no Instagram, no Twitter, no streaming music, no YouTube. Zip, nada, nilch.

The phone still lets you make calls, send texts, take photos and videos, and whatever else you can do offline. It’s like having a PMP! Who remembers Portable Media Players?!

The phone’s specs are pretty meh: 5-inch qHD AMOLED display, 1.4GHz quad-core chip, 1.5GB of RAM, microSD card storage slot (there’s no internal storage), and a 2,600 mAh battery. For the cameras, there’s an 8-megapixel shooter on the back and a 5-megapixel selfie camera on the front.

All this for about $185! Which is just terrible considering there are cheaper budget phones that have more features and can go online. 

If you’re really addicted to going the internet, it might be good to just get a dumb phone (although even those can connect to the internet, too). You won’t even be tempted to take selfies that you know you can’t post anywhere. 

Fortunately, the J2 Pro is only being released in South Korea so your chances or getting it are greatly restricted. Unless, of course, you live in South Korea and this is exactly the kind of phone you need because you have no self-control. If that’s the case, then more power to you.

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Ethereum falls after rumors of a powerful mining chip surface

Rumors of a new ASIC mining rig from Bitmain have driven Ethereum prices well below their one-week high of $585. An ASIC – or Application-specific integrated circuit – in the cryptocurrency world is a chip that designers create for the specific purpose of mining a single currency. Early Bitcoin ASICs, for example, drove adoption up and then, in some eyes, centralized Bitcoin mining in a few hands, thereby thwarting the decentralized ethos of die-hard cryptocurrency fans.

According to a CNBC report, analyst Christopher Rolland visited China where he unearthed rumors of a new ASIC chip dedicated to Ethereum mining.

“During our travels through Asia last week, we confirmed that Bitmain has already developed an ASIC [application-specific integrated circuit] for mining Ethereum, and is readying the supply chain for shipments in 2Q18,” analyst Christopher Rolland wrote in a note to clients Monday. “While Bitmain is likely to be the largest ASIC vendor (currently 70-80% of Bitcoin mining ASICs) and the first to market with this product, we have learned of at least three other companies working on Ethereum ASICs, all at various stages of development.”

Historically users have mined Ethereum using GPUs which, in turn, led to the unavailability of GPUs for gaming and graphics. However, an ASIC would change the mining equation entirely, resulting in a certain amount of centralization as big players – including Bitmain – created higher barrier to entry for casual miners.

“Ethereum is of the most profitable coins available for GPU mining,” said Mikhail Avady, founder of TryMining.com. “It’s going to affect a lot of the market. Without understanding the hash power of these Bitmain machines we can’t tell if it will make GPUs obsolete or not.”

“It can be seen as an attack on the network. It’s a centralization problem,” he said.

Avady points out that there is a constant debate among cryptocurrency aficionados regarding ASICs and their effect on the market. Some are expecting a move to more mineable coins including Monero and ZCash.

“What would be bad is if there was only one Ethereum ASIC manufacturer,” he said. “But with Samsung and a couple other players getting into the game it won’t be bad for long.”

There is also concern over ICO launches and actual utility of Ethereum-based smart contract tokens. “The price of ETH is becoming consolidated as people become more realistic about blockchain technology,” said Sky Guo, CEO of Cypherium. “People are looking for higher quality blockchain projects. I believe a rebound in ETH’s price will come soon as panic surrounding regulations begins to fade.”

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 is the way to wean yourself off of DSLRs

Samsung has a new smartphone out, the Galaxy S9 (and S9+). It’s the latest flagship from one of the top smartphone makers in the world, but this year’s version has a lot in common with last year’s model, at least on the surface. The big focus (lol) this year was on the camera, and for good reason: Samsung stepped up its game significantly in this department with this update, and it comes closest to any smartphone camera I’ve tried yet to replicating some of the aspects of traditional photography that I love.

Arguably, other smartphone cameras, and the Pixel 2 in particular, can produce better photos. The Samsung Galaxy S9 is basically on par with that industry leader when it comes to quality of photos when shot in automatic mode – in some situations, including a lot of low-light scenarios, the S9 is better, but in others, like when there are big lightning differences across the scene, Google’s smartphone edges the Samsung. But either device (and the latest iPhones, if you’re going beyond Android) is going to be a fantastic photographic choice for most smartphone buyers, and that shouldn’t be a major concern when making a buying decision.

Where the Samsung Galaxy S9 really takes a leap forward is in bringing some of what has been so appealing about manual-friendly retro camera designs like those favoured by Fujifilm to the mobile realm. There are plenty of manual photography apps that do similar things, but the Galaxy S9 has its crucial dual aperture camera lens, which can manually switch from F/1.5 to F/2.4 in pro shooting mode. This gives you a noticeable degree of control over depth of field, or the effect of subtly blurring either background or foreground details depending on where you want to draw attention in the frame.

It’s this small, but crucial detail that really drives the appeal of the S9 for me. Without it, it’d be difficult to roundly recommend it as a major upgrade from last year’s model, and hard to say that it can stand apart from the rest of the crowd, most of which now feature magnificent cameras.

The Galaxy S9 also produces pretty fantastic results with full-light photos outdoors, as you can see from the gallery, with vibrant, rich color that might be a bit artificial, but ultimately comes off looking like it includes the kind of minor boosts and tweaks I’d do while editing in post anyway. The video shooting is good, as well, though it lacks the degree of stabilization that Google’s Pixel 2 can provide when filming while in motion.

On the Galaxy S9+ (which I didn’t test, but spent a bit of time with ahead of launch), the dual-camera design provides even more balm for DSLR and mirrorless addicts, since it gives you access to that 2x manual zoom. But the standard S9 strikes a great balance in terms of portability, design and features, and honestly most people won’t often use the zoom lens anyway.

Another key feature of the S9 is its new super slow motion mode, which captures brief clips at 960 fps at 720p resolution. I had fun with this, but found its automatic mode frustrating (it rarely detected motion when I wanted it to, and often went either too early or too late to get the moment). Turning that to manual was again more fun, for many of the reasons described above, and more interesting in terms of results produced, like the clip below.

Other new features, including the AR Emoji, are less well-executed and will probably enter the dustbin of history with a lot of other Samsung exclusive features. That’s not necessarily a criticism however: Samsung trying a bunch of stuff and then introducing it into the wild for hundreds of millions of customers isn’t hurting anyone (though mode switching on the S9 is super sensitive to casual left and right swipes, meaning AR emoji could come up accidentally) and sometimes crazy stuff they try actually works. AR emojis is not one of those.