5 Options for Samsung Galaxy S8 Screen Repair or Replacement

samsung-s8-broken-screen

In 2017, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. The flagships marked a new era in edge-to-edge displays, with an all-glass exterior and great screen-to-body ratio. But this aesthetically pleasing design came with a major caveat: the phone’s exterior is extremely vulnerable to cracks, even when dropped from low heights. So what happens when your gorgeous device hits the floor and a crack spiders across its delicate exterior? Let’s take a look at your various Galaxy S8 screen replacement options. How Fragile Is the Samsung Galaxy S8? Insurance provider SquareTrade conducted its usual drop test with the Galaxy S8…

Read the full article: 5 Options for Samsung Galaxy S8 Screen Repair or Replacement

samsung-s8-broken-screen

In 2017, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. The flagships marked a new era in edge-to-edge displays, with an all-glass exterior and great screen-to-body ratio. But this aesthetically pleasing design came with a major caveat: the phone’s exterior is extremely vulnerable to cracks, even when dropped from low heights.

So what happens when your gorgeous device hits the floor and a crack spiders across its delicate exterior? Let’s take a look at your various Galaxy S8 screen replacement options.

How Fragile Is the Samsung Galaxy S8?

Insurance provider SquareTrade conducted its usual drop test with the Galaxy S8 and S8+ once the phones released. Not only did it find that the devices are very prone to cracks, but at the time, they were the most fragile handsets the company had ever tested.

The breakability of a device is measured on a scale of 100; the closer to 100, the more fragile the smartphone. The Galaxy S8 scored 76 on the scale, while the S8+ scored 77. This is classified as a “medium-high risk.”

According to the company, the S8 is the first phone it ever tested that cracked from the first drop on all sides (e.g. front fall, back fall, edge, etc.).

SquareTrade’s tests were done with a six-foot drop onto concrete, which is quite a fall. But it doesn’t take much for the S8 to crack under pressure.

S8 owners have reported cracks from drops as short as two feet. Having a case doesn’t necessarily make the device impervious to damage either. In our own experience, a drop of three feet onto a tiled surface is enough to crack the phone, even with a cover on.

Seeing that even a minor bout of clumsiness can lead to cracks on your Galaxy S8, what are your options for repair?

1. S8 Screen Replacement With Samsung Premium Care/Samsung Mobile Care

cracked-samsung-galaxy-s8

The normal manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t cover accidental damage to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+. Furthermore, Samsung’s Accidental Damage From Handling (ADH), which gave owners of previous Galaxy models one free screen repair, does not apply to the S8 and S8+.

Instead of ADH, Samsung offers another warranty option for cracked screens due to accidental damage for the Samsung Galaxy S8. The extended warranty goes by different names depending on your country. The U.S. currently offers Samsung Premium Care, while the U.K., India, and South Africa offer Samsung Mobile Care.

To use these options, you need to have registered for the extended warranty within 30 days of buying your phone. After this period passes, you cannot buy the insurance policy.

If you did sign up in time, here’s what each warranty plan offers…

Samsung Premium Care for the Galaxy S8

Samsung Premium Care is the extended warranty plan that applies to the United States. It includes some extra benefits that users in other countries don’t have.

With this service, you can exchange your damaged device for a new one. However, these claims are limited to three per 12-month period. Not handing in your damaged device once you’ve received your new one can result in an unrecovered equipment fee of up to $1,200.

This extended warranty plan comes with a monthly fee and deductible for each claim.

Samsung Premium Care also has the extra perk of in-person support. Unfortunately, any S8 not bought through an authorized Samsung carrier or retailer cannot be registered for the policy. You also cannot transfer the policy if you sell your device.

You can submit a Samsung warranty claim on the Samsung Premium Care website or by calling Samsung at 1-866-371-9501.

Samsung Mobile Care for the Galaxy S8

samsung mobile care

Samsung Mobile Care has the same core inspiration of its premium counterpart (covering accidental coverage), but comes with fewer bells and whistles.

The coverage plan also comes with a monthly fee (with the first month free), but it is slightly cheaper than the US Premium Care plan. You can also opt for a bulk payment for the full 24 months of coverage.

The plan has a 24-month limit from the date of purchase, after which it will automatically lapse. And no, you can’t extend it past the 24-month period.

For each claim (you’re limited to one claim per year for two years) users will have to pay an “incident fee.”

2. Fixing the Galaxy S8 at a Samsung Repair Center

If you missed out on Samsung’s extended warranty plans, you can take your Galaxy S8 or S8+ into a Samsung Repair Center for a quote.

These centers tend to be more expensive than third-party repair shops, but the device warranty is protected when using authorized Samsung services. The exact price of a repair is dependent on which region you live in. Make sure to call or visit your regional Samsung Repair Center website for a quote.

The benefits of choosing this option are the absence of a limit on the number of repairs and your manufacturer’s warranty remaining intact. You can also get your phone repaired if it is out-of-warranty, but this means you have to pay for the full repair rather than only paying a deductible.

3. Using a Third-Party Repair Center to Replace Your Galaxy S8 Screen

smartphone-repair
Image Credit: Negative Space via Pexels.com

Many Galaxy S8 owners opt to repair their screens using a third-party repair center. You should note that this option may void your warranty and there’s nothing Samsung can do if the third party damages your device further.

On the other hand, third-party repairs are usually cheaper. The key is to first know what the warranty implications are, then choose a reputable repair company with a track record of good service.

You will have to shop around to see the price range in your area and weigh it against the other options.

4. Claim Your Galaxy S8 Repair on Insurance

If you have personal item insurance or specific insurance for your phone, claiming from your policy can be one of the best options. Of course, your policy will need to cover accidental damage instead of just theft or loss.

Claiming from your insurance comes with the risk of your monthly premiums increasing. Depending on your insurance provider, this will also likely come with a significant deductible. On the other hand, these plans usually allow you to lodge claims more often than Samsung’s warranty plans.

Mobile carriers also often offer their own insurance plans. So if you opted for carrier insurance when buying your phone, consider claiming from that plan.

5. Replace Your Cracked Galaxy S8 Screen Yourself

diy repair replace woman fix tools
Image Credit: Merylin via pixabay.com

This is an option that more consumers are turning to, but it’s definitely not for everyone. DIY repair allows you to skip the labor fee and only pay for the parts you need.

However, this is an option that may void your warranty. While you can find online guides for repairing your Galaxy S8, the phone is considered moderately difficult to repair and requires a lot of patience, according to iFixit.com.

The company told MakeUseOf the following about the repair:

“While the back glass is tedious to remove because of adhesive, it’s definitely doable for a non-pro to replace. A screen swap on the S8 is a whole other beast. Just accessing the display requires getting the back cover off, tunneling through the phone, and removing several other components. Then you need to get enough heat on the screen to lift the adhesive. Additionally, the front glass doesn’t use standard adhesive; it uses double-sided tape gunk that is more resistant to heat.”

iFixit adds that third-party or DIY repairs shouldn’t technically void the warranty for U.S. consumers unless you damage the device during the process. This is based on the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which basically gives consumers the right to repair. Unfortunately, many companies try to ignore this legislation to get out of warranty claims, iFixit says.

You’ll have to decide whether you want to roll the dice on this. Replacement part prices also depend on the company you buy them from. Again, you’ll want to choose a reputable company so you get solid components.

Protect Your Samsung Galaxy S8 From Damage

If you have a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+, there’s no foolproof way to prevent it from damage. However, we recommended that you don’t use the cover that comes with the phone.

Rather, you should opt for a more durable, shockproof cover. These won’t make your S8 invincible, but will definitely soften a blow and reduce the likelihood that a drop cracks your screen. See our guide to the best Samsung Galaxy S8 cases.

Read the full article: 5 Options for Samsung Galaxy S8 Screen Repair or Replacement

How to Clean Your Apple Watch Safely and Efficiently in 4 Steps

clean-apple-watch

Did you know there’s a right and wrong way to clean most of your portable devices? The Apple Watch is no exception. Using the wrong tools for the job could damage your watch, void its warranty, or irritate your skin. Today we’ll take a look at the right way to clean your Apple Watch. Want to clean your smartphone too? Check out our guide to safely cleaning your iPhone without damaging it. Step 1: Remove Your Band In order to clean each part of your Watch thoroughly, you’ll need to remove the band from the Watch unit. First, remove the…

Read the full article: How to Clean Your Apple Watch Safely and Efficiently in 4 Steps

clean-apple-watch

Did you know there’s a right and wrong way to clean most of your portable devices? The Apple Watch is no exception. Using the wrong tools for the job could damage your watch, void its warranty, or irritate your skin.

Today we’ll take a look at the right way to clean your Apple Watch. Want to clean your smartphone too? Check out our guide to safely cleaning your iPhone without damaging it.

Step 1: Remove Your Band

In order to clean each part of your Watch thoroughly, you’ll need to remove the band from the Watch unit. First, remove the Watch from your wrist. On the back, look for the two buttons near the point at which the Watch and the band meet (see the below photo).

Apple Watch band fasteners

Using your fingernail or a thin blunt object, depress each of these buttons and slide the band off in a horizontal motion. The buttons disengage the magnets within the Watch, but you may still need to apply some force to get the band off.

Step 2: Clean the Watch

With your Watch separated from the band, it’s time to start cleaning. What’s most important is that you avoid using anything that can damage your Watch. This includes:

  • Soaps and chemical cleaners
  • Household cleaning sprays
  • Abrasive materials (e.g. polish)
  • Compressed air canisters
  • Ultrasonic cleaners
  • External heat sources (e.g. steam)

All Apple Watch models are water-resistant to some degree. The early models (like the original “Series 0” Watch) are regarded as splash-proof but will survive a dunk under the tap or a quick shower. The newer models are rated for up to 55 yards of water resistance. These models can handle submersion in fresh, chlorinated, and salt water (provided you rinse them off afterward).

Apple Watch Cleaning (Front)

First, enable the water lock on your Watch by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and tapping the water droplet icon. This locks the touchscreen and aids with removing water from the speaker system when you’re done cleaning (Series 3 and 4 only).

Apple Watch Cleaning (back)

Hold your Apple Watch under warm running water for 10-15 seconds, then rub off any unwanted gunk with a damp, non-abrasive lint-free cloth. The screen should clean up pretty easily, but you may need to pay extra attention to the back of the Watch where the heart sensors reside.

Apple Watch dirty back

It’s common for this area to build up dirt, particularly if you’re using your Apple Watch to work out or sweating a lot. You may need to use a little elbow grease to clean the sensors and back of the Watch. Don’t be afraid to give it a good cleaning; provided you’re using a non-abrasive cloth and water, your Watch should be fine.

Apple Watch Cleaning (back)

With the front and back clean, it’s time to turn your attention to the edges. It’s possible for residue to build up around the Digital Crown, possibly to the point where it doesn’t turn smoothly anymore. To remedy this, hold the Digital Crown directly underneath warm running water for around 15 seconds, while turning the crown to loosen any grime.

Cleaning the Apple Watch Digital Crown

Once the Digital Crown turns freely, it’s worth giving your Watch one more check over. Pay close attention to the points at which the band connects to your Watch. These areas can get dirty, particularly if you never change bands. Too much grime here could prevent the magnetic clasp working, risking your Watch slipping off your wrist.

Apple Watch Cleaning (band connector)

One of the coolest Apple Watch features (at least on the newer models) is the ability to expel water after a shower or swim. Turn the Digital Crown to fill the meter up, at which point your Watch will emit some low noises followed by a bleep.

If you already triggered the self-cleaning while washing your Digital Crown, you can re-enable it by swiping up from the bottom of the Watch face and tapping the water droplet icon.

Apple Watch Expelling Water

Step 3: Clean Your Band

Not all bands are built equally, and not all bands are water-resistant either. In particular, Apple’s leather and stainless steel bands are not classified as water-resistant. In this instance, you shouldn’t swim, shower, or run them under water in order to clean them.

Instead, you should wipe them clean with a soft damp cloth to remove any dirt and grime. Avoid soaking the leather band in water, since this will likely damage it. You should wait until the band is completely dry before reattaching it to your Watch.

For nylon, silicon, and other durable bands, you don’t need to exercise quite as much caution. Silicon is easy to wipe clean and you can run it under the tap for a few minutes to loosen up any stubborn grime. It’s also fine to clean nylon bands and sport loops this way to return them to their former glory.

Cleaning an Apple Watch Sport Loop

You should avoid washing your band like you would an item of clothing. Even though the lighter fabric bands may get noticeably dirty, Apple recommends only using water to clean them.

Step 4: Reassemble Your Watch

With your Watch and band sparkling clean, it’s time to reassemble your Watch. To do this, slide the band into the coupling point at the top and bottom of the Watch face. If you have a band with a buckle, make sure the buckle end connects to the top of the Watch. For sports loops, make sure the Velcro is at the bottom of the Watch when the band is fully extended.

A Clean Apple Watch!

You can now put the Watch back on and start getting it dirty again. The more often you clean the Watch, the less time you’ll spend removing grime that builds up over time.

If you have a light fabric Watch band that’s started to discolor, you might want to consider replacing it. Check out our recommendations for cheap third-party Apple Watch bands before you open your wallet!

Read the full article: How to Clean Your Apple Watch Safely and Efficiently in 4 Steps

Left Mouse Button Not Working? 7 Tips on How to Fix It

How annoying is it when your left mouse button stops working? You change the batteries, bang it on your desk a few times, and curse at the technology gods—but it’s to no avail. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are steps you can take to get your left mouse button working again. Here are seven of the most common fixes. 1. Fix a Corrupted User Profile You need to establish whether the problem is unique to your user account or a system-wide issue. Make a temporary new local account by navigating to Start > Settings > Accounts >…

Read the full article: Left Mouse Button Not Working? 7 Tips on How to Fix It

How annoying is it when your left mouse button stops working? You change the batteries, bang it on your desk a few times, and curse at the technology gods—but it’s to no avail.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are steps you can take to get your left mouse button working again. Here are seven of the most common fixes.

1. Fix a Corrupted User Profile

Windows 10: add user to local account

You need to establish whether the problem is unique to your user account or a system-wide issue.

Make a temporary new local account by navigating to Start > Settings > Accounts > Family and Other Users> Add Someone Else to This PC. The app will ask you for the new user’s sign-in details and name.

Log into the new profile. Is left-click working? If so, your primary user account has probably become corrupted.

Try copying all your user data to a new profile. You need at least three profiles (your new one, your corrupted one, and one extra) on your machine to undertake this process.

Log onto the extra one. All the following steps need to be done from the “spare” account.

Firstly, open File Explorer and ensure both the hidden files and folders and the protected operating system files are viewable. If you cannot see them, go to View > Options > View and make the necessary adjustments.

Next, navigate to C:\Users\[Corrupted Username] and select all the files except Ntuser.dat, Ntuser.dat.log, and Ntuser.ini. Copy the files and paste them into C:\Users\[New Username].

Finally, log off and sign into your new account. Once you’ve verified everything is working, you can delete the spare account and the corrupted account.

2. Check for Corrupted Windows Data

System File Checker tool

If you still couldn’t use the left mouse button on your new profile, it’s indicative that something has gone wrong within Windows itself. One of the most common culprits is a corrupted Windows Update.

To test for the presence of corrupted Windows files, you need to run PowerShell (by right-click on the Start menu and select it from the list).

Next, you need to run the System File Checker tool.

Type sfc /scannow and press Enter. You’ll see one of three results:

  1. Windows did not find any integrity violations.
  2. Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and repaired them.
  3. Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them.

In the case of the last, type DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and press Enter. PowerShell will re-download any corrupted files. It could take a long time, so be patient.

3. Delete Recently Installed Apps and Drivers

Windows 10 remove printer screen settings app

Have you recently installed any new apps and software? It could be the reason that left click is not working. Similarly, a program update might have caused the issue.

Right-click on the Start menu and open Programs and Features. Delete any apps that you’ve recently installed, any apps that have recently received automatic updates, and any apps you no longer use. Restart your machine and see if the problem is solved.

In a comparable vein, lots of users have pointed to errant drivers causing the problem. The most common culprit appears to be printer drivers.

Delete your existing drivers by heading to Start > Settings > Devices > Printers and Scanners. Click on the printer you want to delete, and hit Remove.

4. Delete and Reinstall Your Antivirus

Something as straightforward uninstalling and reinstalling your antivirus suite could solve your issues.

Occasionally, they detect false positives or black-flag harmless processes. Panda Anti-Virus seems to pop up more often than most. If you’re using Panda, this could be your problem.

Before you completely uninstall and reinstall, you can soft-test whether this is the issue. Disconnect from the internet and temporarily disable any third-party security suites. You can also try booting into Safe Mode to exclude software issues.

5. Hard Reset Your Computer

Performing a hard reset is not good practice and should be done sparingly. That said, many users have reported that it fixes a non-functioning left mouse button.

It is easy to do a hard reset (also known as a hard crash). If you’re on a desktop without a battery, pull out the power lead. If you’re on a laptop, pull the power cord and the battery. In both cases, you need to be logged into a user account on the PC before executing the reset.

6. Update Mouse Drivers

Update mouse drivers: Windows 10 device manager screen

It’s prudent to make sure your mouse drivers are always up-to-date. If the left click key press isn’t working, you definitely need to check them.

Right-click on the Start Menu and then choose Device Manager. Don’t worry: you can also use the right-click button to make your selection.

Next, use your keyboard arrows to scroll down to your mouse entry and press Enter. The Properties window will open.

Use Tab and the arrow keys to navigate to the Driver tab and select Update Drivers. Windows will take care of the rest.

7. Enable ClickLock

Mouse properties Windows 10 clicklock

What if everything is working except drag-and-drop? If you’ve already worked through the six fixes and you’re still encountering the issue, you can temporarily enable ClickLock.

ClickLock lets you drag-and-drop files and folders using single mouse clicks, rather than having to hold down the left mouse button physically.

To turn it on, go to Start > Settings > Devices > Mouse > Related Settings > Additional Mouse Settings.

The Mouse Properties window will pop up. At the bottom of the Buttons tab, you’ll see the ClickLock options. Put a tick in the checkbox to enable it. Clicking on Settings will allow you to customize your ClickLock preferences.

Is the Mouse Button Still Not Working?

Did none of these fixes work? You did remember to check the batteries, didn’t you?

Of course, your mouse itself might be faulty. Try using a wired mouse and see if the problem vanishes. And remember, it’s always worth thoroughly cleaning your mouse. Dust can quickly build-up inside its electronic components.

If you’d still like to learn more, check out our article on how to fix your Windows 10 mouse issues.

Read the full article: Left Mouse Button Not Working? 7 Tips on How to Fix It

Can You Run It? Find PC Games Your Computer Can Handle

computer-handle-games

Can I run it? That’s probably the first question you ask when considering a new PC game. Whether you’re eyeing up the hottest new big-budget title or just want to enjoy some classics or indie games, having a powerful enough computer is vital. But how do you know if you can run it? We’re here to help. Let’s look at some resources and how to determine if your PC can run a game manually. Consult System Requirements Lab System Requirements Lab’s Can I Run It? tool is a fantastic resource for checking if your PC can run a game. At…

Read the full article: Can You Run It? Find PC Games Your Computer Can Handle

computer-handle-games

Can I run it? That’s probably the first question you ask when considering a new PC game. Whether you’re eyeing up the hottest new big-budget title or just want to enjoy some classics or indie games, having a powerful enough computer is vital.

But how do you know if you can run it? We’re here to help. Let’s look at some resources and how to determine if your PC can run a game manually.

Consult System Requirements Lab

System Requirements Lab’s Can I Run It? tool is a fantastic resource for checking if your PC can run a game. At the site’s homepage, simply search for a game and click the Can You Run It button. After you do, you’ll see a basic description of the game along with its minimum and recommended requirements.

Can You Run It Search

However, the real strength of this site is that it will scan your computer to detect your system specs and let you know if you can run the game. Click the Can You Run It button again on the game’s page to start. This will download a small Detection.exe file, which you need to run.

After a moment, you’ll see the results of the scan. You can choose to view how your system compares to the Minimum or Recommended requirements. The site displays a green check for each category that passes. Note that it’s not perfect, so you may see Info or other generic placeholder text for some of the requirements. See below for how to check these manually.

Can I Run It Destiny 2

Once you’ve run the scan, you can click My Computer Details at the top of the site any time to review your specs. Click Rank My Computer to see how your system stacks up against others. The site also has pages for the most popular games, showing what percentage of computers passed the requirements check.

While using this site, however, you should avoid clicking any of the links offering to update your drivers. Driver update sites are often unsafe; follow our guide to updating drivers instead.

Visit Game Debate

Game Debate offers similar functionality to the above site. It lets you see the specs for any PC game so you can see how your system stacks up.

You can search for a game using the search bar at the top. On a game’s page, you’ll see its official minimum and recommended requirements at the top.

Game Debate System Requirements

Like System Requirements Lab, it’s easier to run the automated scanner so you can compare your system specs with ease. Visit Game Debate’s Can You Run It? page to start.

Click the Download Our GD hardware scanner button. Run the file that downloads and proceed through the installer. Unlike System Requirements Lab’s tool, Game Debate’s installs to your system. This makes it less ideal for a quick scan, but it does give you a desktop tool for the job if you prefer that.

Unfortunately, in our testing the app remained blank, so we couldn’t properly check it out. Instead, you can select a game on the Can I Run It? page and manually enter your computer’s specs below.

Can My Computer Run It? Find Out Manually

If you don’t want to use one of these automated tools to see what games you can run, or just want to check yourself, you can compare specs by hand. You can find this information in various parts of Windows, but installing an app like Speccy makes it easy to see all in one place.

(Note that Speccy is made by Piriform, the same company who makes CCleaner. We recommend you don’t use CCleaner anymore, but using Speccy for this purpose is fine.)

After you’ve installed Speccy’s free version, open it to see your system specs at a glance. The Summary tab contains all you need for our purposes. For games, you should pay particular attention to your CPU model and speed, amount of RAM in GB, and your Graphics card information.

Speccy PC Specs

Of course, you’ll also need enough storage space to install the game. You can open This PC in a File Explorer window to see how much free space your drive has.

Once you know this, simply visit a game’s page to see what it requires. Steam has this information at the bottom of every game’s description, and you’ll usually find it on a game’s website as well. If you can’t find it, consult a site like the ones above.

Steam System Requirements

Some Cautions

You should beware of running games at the minimum requirements. Often these are the bare necessities to even get the game running, so it will likely play poorly at this level. You may want to hold off on buying a game if you barely meet the minimums, because it likely won’t be too fun of an experience.

Additionally, just because your computer meets the recommended specs doesn’t necessarily mean you can run it at maximum settings. Meeting the recommended requirements means you should have a good experience at standard settings.

Finally, remember that game optimization plays a role in performance too. A poorly optimized game may run like trash even if your PC is powerful enough to run it. You should consult reviews before buying a game to make sure it’s not broken. And make sure you’ve optimized your PC for gaming, too.

Can’t Run It? Here’s What to Do

If your PC can’t run a game that you want to play, don’t despair. As long as you have a relatively modern machine, you can upgrade a desktop fairly easily. It’s not as simple on a laptop, but you still have options.

Based on your findings above, decide what component is the bottleneck keeping you from running a game. If you don’t meet the graphics requirements, shop for a new graphics card. Add more RAM if you’re low and have free slots available. Upgrading your CPU is a bit more intensive, but it’s still possible.

We should note that using integrated graphics (which appears as Intel HD Graphics in Speccy), severely limits what games you can play. You should add a dedicated graphics card as soon as possible. On a laptop, you can look into an external graphics card.

If you’ve decided that your current system is too old and you want to start from scratch, check out our guide to building a new gaming PC.

Can You Run It? Now You Know

We’ve looked at how to see what game you can run, how to determine your system’s specs, and what to do if you can’t play a particular game. Having the ability to customize your build is one of the best parts of PC gaming, but can be frustrating when you don’t have a powerful enough machine for a particular game.

Hopefully, you can upgrade a few components and enjoy new games for years to come. When it’s time, make sure you know what upgrades improve your PC’s performance the most.

Image Credit: Vadymvdrobot/Depositphotos

Read the full article: Can You Run It? Find PC Games Your Computer Can Handle

VRFetus Lets Expecting Mothers View Ultrasounds in VR

VRFetus at CES 2019

Pregnant mothers haven’t had many recent technology breakthroughs that let them better track their baby’s development over time. Using virtual reality, VRFetus has an exciting new way for expecting mothers to see their unborn child like never before, and we checked it out at CES 2019. The tool takes a standard ultrasound image and uses it to create a 3D VR model of the baby. Using the company’s proprietary headset, mothers can view a large model of their baby. You can even select the hands and feet of the baby using a controller to watch them move. To a point,…

Read the full article: VRFetus Lets Expecting Mothers View Ultrasounds in VR

VRFetus at CES 2019

Pregnant mothers haven’t had many recent technology breakthroughs that let them better track their baby’s development over time. Using virtual reality, VRFetus has an exciting new way for expecting mothers to see their unborn child like never before, and we checked it out at CES 2019.

VRFetus Booth at CES 2019

The tool takes a standard ultrasound image and uses it to create a 3D VR model of the baby. Using the company’s proprietary headset, mothers can view a large model of their baby. You can even select the hands and feet of the baby using a controller to watch them move. To a point, you can also observe fetal growth at different stages of development.

VRFetus is partly aimed at pregnancy-focused medical facilities, but there’s a component for the mother as well. A mobile app allows you to project your baby’s measurements over time.

VRFetus VR Kit CES 2019

While it’s initially a bit unsettling seeing a large baby model in VR, nobody who checked out this tool on our team is a mother. Thus, it’s hard to describe the value from our perspective.

However, we think this type of technology is quite interesting in the value that it adds to a mother’s experience. Perhaps you’ll see it pop up sometime in a hospital.

VRFetus App at CES 2019

The company behind VRFetus is Korean, so the launch date of the tool in the US is unknown. There’s also no price point set yet. While this is developing technology, we’re interested to see how it changes the process of pregnancy for all mothers.

Read the full article: VRFetus Lets Expecting Mothers View Ultrasounds in VR

3dRudder Brings Foot Motion to PlayStation VR Games

Photograph of Ben Stegner trying 3dRudder PS VR

PlayStation VR brings an affordable VR experience to anyone with a PS4. But one of the biggest drawbacks is the lack of real motion. Because the system only uses one camera, you can’t really move around from your base standing or sitting position. 3dRudder, a new product at CES 2019, has a solution. The product is a disc-like platform on which you set your feet while sitting. After plugging it into your PS4 via a USB cable, you can simply tilt your feet to move your character in-game. Pushing in any direction will move that way, and you can also…

Read the full article: 3dRudder Brings Foot Motion to PlayStation VR Games

Photograph of Ben Stegner trying 3dRudder PS VR

PlayStation VR brings an affordable VR experience to anyone with a PS4. But one of the biggest drawbacks is the lack of real motion. Because the system only uses one camera, you can’t really move around from your base standing or sitting position. 3dRudder, a new product at CES 2019, has a solution.

Photograph of 3dRudder at CES 2019

The product is a disc-like platform on which you set your feet while sitting. After plugging it into your PS4 via a USB cable, you can simply tilt your feet to move your character in-game. Pushing in any direction will move that way, and you can also spin the disc to rotate your player.

We tried a demo of the 3dRudder with an unreleased PS VR game called The Wizards. The motion definitely added an interesting element to the game, though it was a bit strange to get used to.

Photograph of Ben Stegner playing PS VR with 3dRudder at CES 2019

Not having to use your hands to move is a big plus, but it was tricky to figure out exactly how much foot pressure you should use to move. It’s also easy to forget you have the option to move by feet since this is so new!

Unfortunately, 3dRudder will not work with all PS VR games. Each game must be tuned to work with it specifically. It currently supports 20 games, with 30 expected compatible titles at launch. You can visit 3dRudder’s compatible game page to have a look at which will work.

3dRudder at CES 2019

3dRudder has been available for PC VR for a few years, and will become available for PS4 in April 2019. The system will cost $119, and of course be compatible with all PS VR systems.

The price is affordable compared to similar systems, so if you’ve wanted to amp up your VR experience with foot motion, it’s worth a look. However, the lack of supported games is a big drawback. If you’re not interested in any of the games on offer, it’s probably best to give this a pass.

Since it’s a PlayStation licensed product, we can only hope that it works with more games over time.

Read the full article: 3dRudder Brings Foot Motion to PlayStation VR Games

GameTimer Teaches Kids to Track Time and Beat Gaming Addiction

Parental controls for today’s devices are often one-dimensional. They don’t let parents build systems specifically for their kids, and can cut off a browsing or gaming session at the worst moment. There must be a better way, and Dutch startup company GameTimer has a new solution. The GameTimer is a physical device that helps kids make smart choices about screen time. After discussing the best options for their family, parents can set the hours of play, amount of screen time, sessions per day, and waiting time between sessions. This works from a mobile or web app. After setting up the…

Read the full article: GameTimer Teaches Kids to Track Time and Beat Gaming Addiction

Parental controls for today’s devices are often one-dimensional. They don’t let parents build systems specifically for their kids, and can cut off a browsing or gaming session at the worst moment. There must be a better way, and Dutch startup company GameTimer has a new solution.

The GameTimer is a physical device that helps kids make smart choices about screen time. After discussing the best options for their family, parents can set the hours of play, amount of screen time, sessions per day, and waiting time between sessions. This works from a mobile or web app.

After setting up the above, children are in control of managing their screen time. They simply need to flip the device so the green side is up to enable play time. If they take a break, they can turn the device on its side to pause it. Once the time expires, an alarm sounds and it’s time to take a break.

GameTimer helpfully provides recommendations for screen time based on their age. These are based on eye strain levels, as younger eyes suffer more from screen time. The tool also lets you view data from other users to get an idea of how your children’s usage compares to the averages. For instance, you might want to see the average weekly screen time for a 9-year-old to get an idea.

The device recharges via a standard micro-USB plug and runs on a charge for up to 30 days.

GameTimer is expected to launch in March 2019 at $89, first in Holland. The company is current looking for distributors to sell the product in other regions.

We think this tool is a neat idea, though definitely not for every family. It’s great for putting the control of screen time in your child’s hands, but there’s really not much stopping them from ignoring this if they feel like it. The suggested price of $89 is also a bit high for what this offers. Finally, it may be a bit patronizing for older kids.

But if this helps your kids make better decisions about screen time, it may be worth it.

Read the full article: GameTimer Teaches Kids to Track Time and Beat Gaming Addiction

4 Apps to Check If Your Android Device Is Functioning Properly

android-functioning-health

Your smartphone has a vast amount of components inside. If one of these components isn’t working correctly, it can ruin your whole experience. But how do you pinpoint exactly what is wrong with your device? Maybe the accelerometer seems a bit off, or web browsing on mobile data or Wi-Fi feels sluggish. How about if you bought a secondhand Android device and want to check that everything works OK? Whatever the problem, there’s an app that will help you figure out what’s wrong with your Android phone. Even if you don’t have a specific problem, it’s good to run a…

Read the full article: 4 Apps to Check If Your Android Device Is Functioning Properly

android-functioning-health

Your smartphone has a vast amount of components inside. If one of these components isn’t working correctly, it can ruin your whole experience.

But how do you pinpoint exactly what is wrong with your device? Maybe the accelerometer seems a bit off, or web browsing on mobile data or Wi-Fi feels sluggish. How about if you bought a secondhand Android device and want to check that everything works OK?

Whatever the problem, there’s an app that will help you figure out what’s wrong with your Android phone. Even if you don’t have a specific problem, it’s good to run a smartphone checkup to make sure everything is ticking along nicely.

1. Phone Check (and Test)

Phone Check (and Test) is one of the best Android hardware checking apps you can get. The app functions somewhat like the desktop app CPU-Z, giving you a complete rundown of your phone’s hardware specifics while adding an extensive range of hardware check options.

The hardware checking options include:

  • Low memory check and suggestions
  • Battery check and charging socket test
  • Wi-Fi and radio check
  • Audio tests for speakers, microphones, headphone jack, and volume buttons
  • Display tests, such as dead pixels and color consistency
  • GPS tracking and location testing
  • Thermal stress
  • CPU, memory, and storage stress checks

Thankfully, the app is straightforward to use. The Monitor option provides a basic overview of your current phone status, including CPU load, battery charge and overall health, and your current network connections.

You then have the Guided Test menu, a section that lets you run a series of tests. Head down the list and select the checks and test you want (that relate to your smartphone issue), or leave everything turned on for a full system-wide check. (We’ve shown more ways to fix an Android device that won’t turn on.)

The Phone Check app suggests turning on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC, making sure you have at least 30 percent battery, and conducting the test using battery power (rather than your power outlet). When you’re ready, hit the Test Phone button and watch the Android smartphone testing magic unfold.

Download: Phone Check (and Test) (Free)

2. Phone Doctor Plus

Phone Doctor Plus is like a little trip to the doctor… but for your phone. The app allows you to run through a series of system hardware checkups to ensure every bit of your phone is working properly.

The tests between Phone Doctor Plus and Phone Check are relatively similar, but the Phone Doctor Plus UI provides a better overall experience. At least, it does visually. Under the hood, using my Samsung Galaxy S8 and an old OnePlus One for testing, all the results were similar.

Phone Doctor Plus has 30 or so hardware tests for your Android smartphone, such as:

  • Movement sensors, including gyroscopes, accelerometer, and proximity sensors
  • Display tests, including dead pixels and touchscreen responsiveness
  • Cellular and network connection tests
  • Humidity, pressure, and temperature sensor tests
  • Memory, storage, and CPU benchmarking

Phone Doctor Plus certainly makes it easy to test your device. The star ratings quickly illustrate any issues or alert you to something that’s about to turn into an issue. The battery health check is also handy, offering suggestions for the best ways to improve and recalibrate your battery.

Download: Phone Doctor Plus (Free)

3. Dead Pixels Test and Fix

The two preceding apps find dead pixels, but don’t fix them afterward. If Phone Doctor Plus or Phone Check does show a dead pixel or two, you can move onto the Dead Pixels Test and Fix app.

This free app runs a similar scan to the other Android troubleshooting apps, identifying any dead pixels. Some stuck pixels are hardware defects, and can’t be fixed by any app. However, others need to cycle through their three options (red, green, and blue) enough times to refresh them. (We’ve shown ways to fix a stuck pixel on any screen if you’d like to test this on other devices.)

Dead Pixels Test and Fix attempts to repair partial sub-pixel defects, stuck sub-pixels, dead pixels, dark and bright dot defects, and phantom images. The process can take anywhere between a few minutes to over an hour to run. The developer advises that if you don’t see any improvement within a few hours, the app unfortunately won’t be able to fix your issue.

Download: Dead Pixels Test and Fix (Free)

4. AccuBattery

Battery life and degradation are some of the most infuriating aspects of owning a mobile device. Your battery seems to be working fine one moment, then the next it crashes with 25 percent charge remaining. There’s a reason for that: batteries have a limited life, and the overwhelming majority of us don’t maintain those batteries efficiently.

The AccuBattery app doesn’t magically fix your battery problems. If your battery is dead, no app can help it. However, AccuBattery does run through a list of specific battery health checks in an attempt to figure out where your battery is in its lifecycle.

The app features useful information such as the current battery capacity versus the intended capacity (and thus, the level of wear). You’ll also learn how much wear your battery sustains with each charge, and how power each app uses, along with the overall discharge speed.

Download: AccuBattery (Free, premium version available)

Android Health Checkup Complete

These apps represent some of the best free options for you to conduct a free Android health check. There are a substantial number of apps on the Play Store that claim to check, fix, update, and clean your Android device. The vast majority aren’t necessarily bad apps, but are clones of existing projects, offering little innovation or an expansive toolset.

Unsure what to do after analyzing your Android issue? Check out common Android problems and how to solve them, or our guide to fixing Android boot problems.

Image Credits: Irenaphoto/Shutterstock

Read the full article: 4 Apps to Check If Your Android Device Is Functioning Properly

The Era of 4K TVs: Do You Really Need HDR?

4k-tv-hdr

It’s the era of 4K Ultra HD TVs, and there is a mid-generation technology that has stepped in. We have had 4K UHD for a few years now, but the new addition to it is called High Dynamic Range, better known as HDR. While it has been around for a while now, there is still some mystery around it. So do you really need HDR? What Is HDR? We have known High Dynamic Range as a feature in cameras, especially because of its heavy use in the marketing of smartphone cameras. Dynamic range refers to the difference between the darkest…

Read the full article: The Era of 4K TVs: Do You Really Need HDR?

It’s the era of 4K Ultra HD TVs, and there is a mid-generation technology that has stepped in. We have had 4K UHD for a few years now, but the new addition to it is called High Dynamic Range, better known as HDR.

While it has been around for a while now, there is still some mystery around it. So do you really need HDR?

What Is HDR?

We have known High Dynamic Range as a feature in cameras, especially because of its heavy use in the marketing of smartphone cameras. Dynamic range refers to the difference between the darkest and brightest area of a scene, and a high dynamic range means this difference is large.

Basically, with HDR, a scene is processed keeping the different lighting and contrast of different areas of the scene in mind. This means the light and dark parts of the scene are processed differently. This leads to a more realistic reproduction of the scene.

HDR TVs became popular in 2016 when 4K was just starting to be accepted by consumers on a wide scale. Unlike generational technologies like 4K, however, HDR hasn’t become mainstream, and there are a few reasons for that.

The Double Standards: HDR10 and Dolby Vision

The technology industry has had a dilemma for ages. To break it down, HDR has two prominent standards right now, namely HDR10 and Dolby Vision. This is the prime reason why it might be too early for you to invest in an HDR display right now.

It’s HD DVD versus Blu-Ray, all over again. Whenever there are two standards for a technology competing for one slot in the market, it’s not a good idea to make a choice between the two. HDR is the free and open standard, whereas Dolby Vision is Dolby’s proprietary standard.

For a deeper insight, take a look at our HDR10 versus Dolby Vision comparison.

HDR10 is present in all HDR TVs, while only a few TVs support Dolby Vision. For now, both formats have their advantages and disadvantages, but the industry will eventually settle for one. All TVs that support Dolby Vision support HDR10, but not the other way around.

Additionally, Samsung has its own revision to HDR10, called HDR10+. This improves upon the flaws of HDR10 and puts it in direct competition with Dolby Vision. This makes it a fair competition, which means it might be a while before the industry settles on a standard.

The Lack of HDR Content

HDR is still a relatively new technology, and the content for the same hasn’t become mainstream yet. The problem of the double standards can be seen in HDR content as well.

Ultra HD TVs
Image credit: LG/Flickr

HDR for Video Content

As of now, HDR is being slowly adopted by content providers. The biggest name on the list is Netflix, which makes some of its original titles in 4K HDR. Amazon Prime Video also supports 4K and HDR for some titles. Both of these services support HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

When it comes to most other content, like 4K Blu-Rays, the industry prefers Dolby Vision. Dolby has a long association with premium content, especially Hollywood films. So almost any 4K HDR movie you can find on Blu-Ray is likely to be encoded in Dolby Vision.

HDR for Gaming

When it comes to gaming, HDR support is all over the place. On PCs, there is actually another standard in addition to Dolby Vision and HDR10. FreeSync 2 HDR is supported in few games and is AMD’s proprietary standard, designed only for their own GPUs.

In the case of consoles, PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X, all support HDR. PS4 Pro supports only HDR10, as did both versions of the Xbox One. However, Microsoft added Dolby Vision support for its consoles in October 2018, but it has been painful for many users and works with only a few TVs.

If you’re in the market for a 4K HDR TV for gaming, you might need to do a little extra research.

HDR as a Marketing Gimmick

While HDR is an improvement, and ideally, a brilliant addition to 4K UHD TVs, it’s hard to determine which TV to go for, and not only because of the standards. The real challenge for users is because of manufacturers who all tend to go a little overboard with the HDR tag to attract more buyers.

An ideal HDR TV would need a 12-bit panel or at least a 10-bit panel. This is because HDR also aims at improving the vibrancy of content, by displaying more color.

An 8-bit panel technically shouldn’t even be sold as HDR, but since there is no set standard, manufacturers are doing it anyway. The bait is that these TVs are quite cheap, in comparison to full HDR TVs.

8-bit TVs can support HDR, but it can potentially look really bad. These TVs use a combination of other technologies and claim to achieve the contrast levels required, but there is no way to ensure that a TV with the HDR label will actually display HDR content well.

Meanwhile, some full HDR TVs with 10-bit panels simply don’t get bright enough to display HDR content well.

Additionally, 4K HDR content takes up more space, and bandwidth. So if you are someone that wants an HDR TV to stream Netflix, you will need a decent internet connection. HDR content at SD resolutions looks worse than non-HDR content does, especially on the cheaper TVs.

If you buy a cheap HDR TV and have a spotty internet connection, you are bound to have a bad streaming experience. Some of the cheaper TVs will not even let you turn off HDR, which is not ideal.

So, Do You Really Need HDR?

No. Not yet, at least.

While you can evaluate your use cases and do a significant amount of research to snag a decent 4K HDR TV, the technology still seems underdeveloped. Of course, there are TVs that support multiple standards of HDR and are seemingly future-proof.

However, since the standards are prone to undergo revisions, extra investment to get the best 4K HDR TV might not be worth it. Furthermore, the content itself is not quite there yet.

All things considered, it would be ideal to hold out on the purchase or go for a non-HDR 4K TV, especially if you have a tight budget. Alternatively, if you have a 4K UHD TV already, take a look at our guide to finding real 4K UHD content.

Read the full article: The Era of 4K TVs: Do You Really Need HDR?

How to Test Your PC for Failing Hardware: Tips and Tools to Know

If you’ve ever opened up your computer, you know there is a lot of hardware in there. It’s all a potential point of failure. There are certain pieces of hardware which are more prone to failure than others. Equipment that either generates heat or has moving parts tends to fail most often. Thanks to computer hardware tests, you can scan your system and spot failing hardware before everything crashes. What Can Go Wrong With PC Hardware? The parts that most commonly break are fans, hard disk drives, CPUs, and GPUs. RAM also tends to fail too. It is continually being written…

Read the full article: How to Test Your PC for Failing Hardware: Tips and Tools to Know

If you’ve ever opened up your computer, you know there is a lot of hardware in there. It’s all a potential point of failure. There are certain pieces of hardware which are more prone to failure than others.

Equipment that either generates heat or has moving parts tends to fail most often. Thanks to computer hardware tests, you can scan your system and spot failing hardware before everything crashes.

What Can Go Wrong With PC Hardware?

The parts that most commonly break are fans, hard disk drives, CPUs, and GPUs.

RAM also tends to fail too. It is continually being written and re-written to (flashed). Solid-state memory can only handle so many flashes before it begins to fail. The problem also applies to solid-state hard drives.

The best way to avoid being caught out is to perform regular hardware diagnostic tests on your computer. Here’s how to do hardware tests on Windows 10.

Windows 10 Hardware Diagnostic Tools

Windows 10 has two built-in hardware diagnostic tools. The first analyzes system performance on your computer and the second runs memory tests on your Windows 10 PC.

  1. Performance Monitor
  2. Windows Memory Diagnostic

Performance Monitor

windows 10 performance report

Performance Monitor is a native desktop app on Windows 10. It’s the operating system’s most holistic tool for locating and diagnosing hardware and system issues.

To open the app, search for its name in Cortana and click on the link. You may have to wait for a few seconds while the app collects data.

If you want a quick overview of your system’s hardware, use the left-hand panel to navigate to Reports > System > System Diagnostics > [Computer Name].

It provides you with multiple checks for your hardware, software, CPU, network, disk, and memory, along with a long list of detailed statistics.

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find live performance graphs (in Monitoring Tools > Performance Monitor) and customizable data sets (in Data Collector Sets).

Windows Memory Diagnostic

windows memory diagnostic

A computer’s central processing unit (CPU) uses RAM to store short-term information. Anything contained in the RAM is lost when you turn off your machine.

There are lots of warning signs when your RAM is close to failing. They include worsening performance, frequent crashes, video cards failing to load on boot, corrupted data files, and incorrect RAM information in the Windows System app.

If you’re wondering how to run a memory test on the RAM, you need to use the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool.

It works by writing to, then reading, your computer’s RAM. Differing values signal faulty hardware.

To launch the tool, press Windows + R to open the Run window, then type mdsched.exe and hit Enter. Windows will prompt you to restart your computer.

The test will take a few minutes to complete. When it’s over, your machine will once again restart. You’ll see the results of the screen once you return to the Windows desktop.

(If Windows doesn’t automatically show you the results, open the Event Viewer by right-clicking on the Start button, then head to Windows Logs > System and find the most recent file called MemoryDiagnostic.

Third-Party Hardware Diagnostic Apps

If you’re looking for something specific or a little more powerful, you’ll need to turn to third-party software.

There is a lot to choose from, but here are four of the best computer diagnostic apps.

1. MemTest86

memtest

MemTest86 is well established as the best tool to test your RAM on Windows. It’s more powerful than Microsoft’s Windows Memory Diagnostic tool.

The app has 13 different RAM testing algorithms and supports DDR4, DDR2, and DDR3 RAM. You can boot it directly from a USB stick or a CD, and Microsoft has signed the app’s code for Secure Boot compatibility.

Unlike the Windows tool, MemTest86 also has a full-featured graphical interface.

Download: MemTest86 (Free)

2. CrystalDiskInfo

CrystalDiskInfo

If you want to focus on testing your hard drives, you should install CrystalDiskInfo.

The app’s key feature is the “Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology” (SMART) test. It provides data about several aspects of your drives, including the read error rate, a count of reallocated sectors, the spin-up time, and a whole lot more.

CrystalDiskInfo also includes advanced power management and audio management tools.

And, if you leave the app running in the background, it can even provide you with live alerts if drives become too hot or are suffering from other failures.

Download: CrystalDiskInfo (Free)

3. HWiNFO

 HWiNFO.

HWiNFO is way ahead of the pack when it comes to the amount of information provides. Indeed, if you’re new to the world of hardware testing, we recommend giving this one a wide-berth until you’re more familiar with the concepts and terminology.

From a hardware test standpoint, we are most interested in the app’s system health monitoring features. They provide detailed real-time reports and graphs about your machine’s CPUs, GPUs, mainboards, drives, and peripherals.

You can also download a bunch of add-ins that provide HWiNFO with extra functionality. They include screen tuners, widgets, and log viewers.

Download: HWiNFO (Free)

4. RWEverything

RWEverything

Finally, we’ll leave you with a tool for uber-geeks: RWEverything. It won’t win any design awards, but it’s extraordinarily powerful.

You can use it to check almost every aspect of every piece of hardware in your machine. More pertinently, you can also write to all the hardware. That means you can tweak any setting, no matter how small.

Warning: If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t start changing settings. You risk irrevocable damaging your hardware.

Download: RWEverything (Free)

Check Your Computer’s Battery Health

Another piece of laptop hardware that’s prone to failure is the battery.

We’ve written about five tools that’ll help your test the health of your laptop battery if you’d like to learn more.

Other Computer Hardware Tests

Keeping an eye on your hardware is only one part of maintaining a healthy computer that runs smoothly.

For more information, check out our guide to checking the health of a Windows PC.

Read the full article: How to Test Your PC for Failing Hardware: Tips and Tools to Know