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Asus ZenFone Zoom

5 Best Cyber Monday 2016 Deals from Amazon

Black Friday sales have just ended and Amazon has already many attractive deals ready for Cyber Monday. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you already know that you can count on us selecting the best deals out there and presenting them to you in a way that should help you quickly decide which are worth your money and which are not.

Best Cyber Monday 2016 Deals On Amazon LinkPrice on
AcerAcer Chromebook R 13349.5
NestNest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation209
AsusAsus ZenFone Zoom160
SanDiskSanDisk 128 GB Class 10 micro SD Memory Card22.5
AmazonAmazon Fire TVcheck price

Acer Chromebook R 13 Convertible ($349.99, SAVE $50)

The Acer Chromebook R 13 is arguably the hottest Chromebook of this year. It almost seems like Acer has taken a hint from Asus and its ZenBook line of premium, aluminum laptops that put heavy emphasis on good looks. This 13-incher is light, slim, sleek, and convertible: everything a casual user or a busy student might want from a laptop.

Actually, the Chromebook R 13 goes beyond everything. Its Full HD display uses IPS technology for wide viewing angles and accurate color representation. If your eyesight is exceptionally great, you could use the native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, or you can increase the scaling to make everything larger and more legible.

The screen sits on a hinge that supports 360-degree rotation, allowing you to choose from 4 different modes: notebook, display, tent, and tablet. This way, you can write an essay or create a PowerPoint presentation just like you would on a laptop with a traditional hinge, then switch to the tent mode to show it off to your classmates or colleagues, and, finally, turn the laptop into a tablet to watch your favorite YouTube show as a reward.

Until recently, Chromebooks were confined mostly to Chrome, the popular web browser, but that’s no longer the case. Google has been rolling out updates for popular Chromebooks, including the Acer Chromebook R 13. “I received the Chromebook on the 5th. I have had 2 updates since that time, and have been able to install and use Google Play Store in Stable mode,” said K. Jennings on November 13, 2016, in an Amazon review. In other words, after you turn on your new R 13 and install all updates, you will be able to access all Play Store apps just like you can on your Android smartphone or tablet.

Asus ZenFone Zoom Unlocked Phone, 64GB (U.S. Warranty) ($199, SAVE $200)

Asus makes attractive smartphones with premium specifications that rarely ever fail to receive raving reviews from tech reviewers. Unfortunately, as all high-end products do, they often cost more than you might be willing to pay. Well, that won’t be true at all on Cyber Monday. Amazon has cut $200 from the original price of the 64 GB version Asus ZenFone Zoom smartphone, making it one of the best current smartphone deals.

Things look fairly regular on the front side: a sharp 5.5-inch IPS full HD display protected by the Gorilla Glass 4 technology, 5 MP camera, and very narrow bezels that give the device a decisively premium look. But look at the back and you’ll discover the world’s thinnest camera with 3X optical zoom and an innovative 10-element lens from HOYA. Indeed, a dream-come-true for all avid mobile photographers.

Internals of the Asus ZenFone Zoom are equally impressive: an Intel 2.3GHz Quad Core processor with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Zoom’s PowerVR 6430 graphics-processing unit is perfect for playing the latest Android games, and the phone’s large battery helps you stay in the game for several hours. Overall, a great smartphone with virtually no flaws—at a ridiculously attractive price.

Amazon Fire TV ($74.99, SAVE $15)

If you still haven’t turned your HDTV into a smart entertainment hub, now is a great chance for you to do so. Amazon is offering their Fire TV for just $74.99, a small price for a huge bag of fun. The Fire TV is a 4K-ready gateway to over 7,000 apps and games, 300,000 TV episodes, and countless songs from your favorite artists.

The small, black box hides a powerful quad-core processor, dedicated graphics engine, and 2 GB of memory, resulting in over 75% more processing power over the previous generation. With Fire TV’s highly efficient HEVC video encoding, you can enjoy high-definition content without clogging up your internet connection.

Built directly into the Fire TV is Alexa Voice Remote, the brain behind Amazon Echo. You can simply tell her the name of the show you would like to watch, and she will instantly put it on. Want to skip a cringeworthy scene? Just say, “Alexa, fast forward a minute.”

Last but not least, you can cast video from your Android smartphone with the Fire TV, and you can also enhance your Fire TV experience by installing the Fire TV Remote App on your smartphone to use it instead of the regular remote that’s included with the Fire TV.

Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) – Works with Amazon Alexa ($199, SAVE $50)

Learning thermostats from Nest have been a popular way how to enter the world of connected smart-home gadgets. This sleek device quietly monitors your temperature preferences, learning what temperature you prefer at any given time of the day. It can display the current temperature on its bright screen, which automatically lights up as you walk across the room.

Because Nest knows how to make you comfortable in the most energy-efficient manner, it can save you an average of 10-12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills. You can control it remotely via Nest’s Android app. The app lets you adjust the temperature, see your energy usage, view and edit your thermostat schedule, get extreme temperature alerts, and much more. You can also connect it with other Nest smart gadgets, such as Nest Protect or Nest Cam.

SanDisk 128 GB Class 10 micro SD Memory Card ($29.99, SAVE $50)

Amazon has partnered with SanDisk, an American manufacturer of flash memory products, to produce a microSD card that’s guaranteed to be compatible with all Amazon devices, such as the Fire Tablet and Fire TV. Of course, it will also work with just about any other tablets, smartphones, cameras or computers that uses a 128 GB microSD card.

It usually retails for $79.99, but you can get it for just $29.99 on Cyber Monday. As a Class 10 card, its performance is more than sufficient for full HD video playback and recording. 128 GB of storage space lets you store approximately 45,600 photos or 260 SD or 130 HD movies or 32,000 songs, depending on their quality.

Best Android camera phones available today. Bonus: three future contenders

Quick, can you remember the last time you used a standalone digital camera? It was back when you were still listening to ”new” Rolling Stones hit singles on your dedicated MP3 players, right? Boy, have smartphones changed the game and sent a bunch of once crowd-pleasing gadgets to the pits of oblivion.

Android photography

Multimedia performers, skilled point-and-shoots, personal assistants, self-portrait producers, these are only some of the tricky roles Androids undertake day in and day out without flinching. Forget “convertible” tablets and laptops, our routine handhelds are the real 2-in-1, 3-in-1, 4-in-1, all-in-one MVPs.

Of course, while nearly all of today’s smartphones are versatile enough to transform into modern Walkmans, complex cameras and miniature PCs at will, only certain models can fulfil every task flawlessly.

Android camera

And if you don’t need a cutting-edge multi-purpose device, but rather the perfect machine for a specific imaging function, you may want to revisit our selfie specialist roundup or stay tuned for the ultimate list of camera phone pros.

That’s right, it’s time to put the selfie fad behind you, and concentrate on the best rear-facing cam-equipped Android contraptions available today, as well as a few imminent photography savants:

Samsung Galaxy S6 – $657 factory unlocked; $200 with Sprint, AT&T or Verizon pacts

It’s difficult to find something the GS6 (and its “edgy” sibling) aren’t great at. Cam performance is no exception, with 16 megapixels, optical image stabilization, autofocus, LED flash, face detection, auto HDR and panorama features covering all key areas a shutterbug might need when not in possession of a DSLR.


Granted, the actual lens remains tiny compared to bulky digital single-lens reflex cameras, whereas the f/1.9 aperture system is no longer the cream of the crop after LG G4’s introduction. Yet at the end of the day, this powerhouse will produce amazing pics in whatever conditions… all things considered.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $540 unlocked; starting at $230 with Verizon contracts

At first glance, Note 4 and S6’s main snappers are virtually identical. The same 16 MP count, OIS across the board, LED flash and so on and so forth. But if you look close enough, you’ll find Sammy’s newest top-shelf phablet boasts narrower f/2.2 aperture, resulting in slightly less low-light muscle.

Galaxy Note 4 camera

Needless to point out the on-contract GNote 4 is also pricier while packing an inferior processor that could well influence shutter speed.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom – $411 unlocked

This weird hybrid is more digital camera than phone, and it’s nowhere near as widely available stateside as the mainstream new members of the S and Note families. But hey, it can make and receive voice calls, and when it comes to photography skill, it’s Android’s best shot at keeping Microsoft’s PureView technology at arm’s length.

Galaxy K Zoom

Hands down the 10x optical zoom is what makes this chunky monkey a shutterbug’s wet dream, alongside 20 hefty megapixels, 24 – 240 mm focal length, Xenon flash and a CMOS sensor.

Sony Xperia Z3 – starting at $465 international SIM-free

Though it also rocks 20.7 remarkable MPs, the Z3 is hardly an ideal DSLR replacement, since it lacks the sharp close-up miracles of optical zoom. Not to mention optical image stabilization.

Xperia Z3 camera

On the bright side, the CMOS 1/2.3″ sensor is a standout performer, and you get LED flash, autofocus , Burst Mode, HDR, a decent digital zoom and image stabilization system, plus 4K video recording at 30 fps in the 5.2 incher’s bag of tricks.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact – $380 unlocked

Xperia Z3 Compact

Smaller but not humbler than Sony’s most recent full-sized global flagship, this diminutive beast also unleashes the fury of a 20 megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, autofocus and 2,160p vid shooting at 30 fps. Including underwater.

LG G3 – $353 factory unlocked; $0.01 on-contract at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint

Let’s not beat it around the bush. 13 MP is low when pitted against the 16 and 20 megapixel giants listed above. F2.4 aperture certainly doesn’t help G3’s cause, letting less light in and thus harming both overall night-time photo performance and focal quality.


Thankfully (for LG), the perennial Korean underdogs were wise enough to adopt a proficient OIS solution, as well as offer dual-LED flash and something called laser autofocus to improve just what the narrow aperture hindered. All in all, for a market veteran, the G3 holds its own decently, keeping up with the times.

Google/Motorola Nexus 6 – $630 unlocked; $180 with AT&T contracts, $200 for Sprint

Yes, it’s expensive, somewhat precarious to handle with one hand and no, it doesn’t break any sensor records, at a humdrum 13 megapixels. But there’s OIS class to be had, f/2.0 aperture, autofocus, face detection, HDR, panorama functions and 30 fps 4K video recording.

Nexus 6 camera

Besides, the always up-to-date, stock software guarantees nothing will get between you and capturing that mesmerizing sunset the way God intended man to admire it – no bells and whistles, little to no post-processing correction.

What’s on the horizon


Moar megapixels (16, to be specific), record-setting aperture size (f/1.8), “truer colors”, improved white balance, beefed-up optical image stabilization, ultra-sharp UHD video capture, manual settings for fine-tuning everything from shutter speed to ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation.

LG G4 camera

Frankly, I’ve no idea what half of those things do or mean. What I’m pretty sure of nevertheless is the leather-backed soon-to-be G4 drastically perks up its predecessor’s already impressive camera performance, going up against Nokia’s PureView virtuosos with great aplomb. Let’s just hope LG finds the pricing sweet spot eventually.

Asus Zenfone Zoom

Unveiled back at CES in January, this direct Samsung Galaxy K Zoom opponent is nowhere to be found on store shelves stateside or around the globe. Even worse, we doubt it’ll ever be picked up by a major American carrier.

Asus Zenfone Zoom

The best we can hope for therefore is a reasonable price tag outright and an adequate distribution effort. What makes this so desirable? Simple – 3x optical zoom, dual-LED, dual-tone flash, OIS and laser autofocus. Unfortunately, the megapixel count is mediocre at best. Yes, we’re afraid you can’t get rid of the unlucky 13 here either.

Sony Xperia Z4

Looking familiar as ever, the latest “Sony flagship nobody asked for” pulls off the “amazing feat” of once again snubbing optical image stabilization. No words on an LED or aperture upgrade yet, but ultimately, even if nothing’s changed, this 20.7 MP shooter remains a classic.

Xperia Z4

Do keep in mind that, while identical on the outside, the Z4 stands out from the Z3 under the hood with a state-of-the-art octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip. That perhaps doesn’t directly boost photography excellence, but it definitely aids with the phone’s general wow factor.

CES 2015 recap: All the new Android smartphones showcased in Vegas

Don’t let your calendars fool you. Even though the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show is technically scheduled to run through January 9, the glamorous unveiling festivities are very much over.


And I know what you Android addicts are thinking. Man, this was a disappointing trade fair. No next-gen Samsung Galaxy S flagship, no LG G4, no HTC “Hima”, and not even a new member of the high-end Sony Xperia Z family, despite all signs and teasers. By the way, that was so not cool on Sony’s part.

But we digress, when the fact of the matter is the show wasn’t all that lacking in high-profile Android announcements. The world’s first 4 GB RAM-packing phone debuted on the Las Vegas stage, the first truly exciting curved handheld too, and smartwatches and fitness trackers were flying all over the place.

CES LG booth

A fair share of smaller industry actors shined in Sin City as well, and we’re here to give them the attention they deserve. This is the ultimate CES 2015 recap, where you’ll find all the sizzling hot, spanking new Android smartphones… that count:

LG G Flex 2

Endowed with a “modest” 3 gigs of random-access memory, the second-gen “banana phone” was hands down the biggest show-stopper at CES 2015. Need reasons? There are countless, and they’re detailed here, but by far, the number one feat pulled off by LG is that unbelievably complex self-healing back cover.


The flexing battery too, and the design on the whole is just mouth-watering. Too bad you’ll probably have to pay an arm and a leg to get an early ticket to the future of mobile.

Asus ZenFone 2

Let’s be realistic. There’s really no current smartphone use scenario that could require or benefit from a PC-busting 4 GB RAM. But soon enough, we may well need the extra memory for further multitasking improvements and whatnot.

Asus ZenFone 2

It’s why Asus fully deserves all the praise it’s getting, and more. Future-proofing your devices is the first step towards showing you’re serious about real progress and innovation.

Asus ZenFone Zoom

We’ve been warned for months, maybe years 4 GB RAM handhelds were coming, but this? This was a little harder to anticipate. Sure, Samsung slapped an amazeballs camera with optical zoom on phones before (or rather a so-so phone on an exceptional point-and-shoot).

ZenFone Zoom

The difference lies in the execution, which is much smarter and a lot more practical on the ZenFone Zoom. It looks like Asus’ shaky experiments are finally done, and the company is ready to seize and stay in the spotlight.

HTC Desire 826

Sorry, power users, the One “M9” must wait. But while waiting, maybe HTC can interest you in one of the greatest upper mid-range phablets around. Yes, the Desire 826 feels familiar, a little too so, highly resembling the 820.


But that UltraPixel front camera is a beaut. And don’t get us started on the near-flawless overall quality-price ratio. This is smart, HTC, going after the budget crowds with much better hardware than the competition.

Lenovo Vibe X2 Pro

A selfie “pro” and aesthetical standout, the Vibe X2 Pro, much like the Desire 826, stuns with exceptional hardware at a reasonable price point. What Lenovo’s low-cost soldier has going for it is a sturdier construction, with aluminum everywhere, and impressive screen-to-body ratio.


The octa-core 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor, though soon to become standard in the price range, is another one of X2 Pro’s key fortes. On the not so bright side, US availability seems out of the question, so the world conquering bid of the 5.3 incher is quashed right off the bat.

Lenovo P90

Shall we even say it? Fine, if you really want to twist the knife, here it goes – the P90 isn’t headed stateside either. And no, this bad boy ain’t as stylish as the X2 Pro. It’s perhaps just as zippy though, with quad-core Intel Atom power inside, and it’s a battery champ, thanks to a gigantic 4,000 mAh cell.

Lenovo P90

It truly boggles the mind why Lenovo’s so reluctant to take a leap of faith with high-tech-seeking American audiences. You’ve even got Motorola in your corner, guys, why so shy?

ZTE Grand X Max+

A marginal upgrade over the not-so-old first-gen X Max, the Plus subtly improves everything that didn’t quite work on the OG, yet somehow keeps the price bar low, at $200 off-contract on Cricket Wireless. The Cricket exclusivity that’s shaping up is a major inconvenience for most US mobile consumers, but making the sacrifice and settling for the minuscule prepaid carrier may well be worth it.


For crying out loud, ZTE’s selling here what its more established rivals are charging nearly double for – 6 inches of beautiful 720p glass, a quad-core Snapdragon 400 chipset, 2 generous gigs of RAM, a 13 MP rear camera, 5 MP front snapper, 3,200 mAh battery, and Dolby Mobile sound enhancements.

Archos 50 Diamond

Speaking of what two Benjamins can buy these days, meet the 5-inch, 1,080p, octa-core Snapdragon 615-powered, 2 GB RAM-touting, 16 and 8 MP camera-sporting 50 Diamond. No typos, no jokes, no strings attached.


That’s what French budget guru Archos is planning to offer at a “sub-$200” price point (read $199.99). And no, the pre-installed Android 4.4 KitKat isn’t ideal, but with such an amazing 64-bit-supporting chip under the hood, 5.0 Lollipop is certainly nigh.

Alcatel One Touch Pop 2 family

It’s hard to imagine these humble Alcatels will ever set foot on US soil, and even if they were to roll out globally, there’s no way they could be priced competitively, given what the $200 Archos 50 Diamond and ZTE Grand X Max+ bring to the table.


Of course, nothing’s impossible in the beautiful Android universe, and the race to the bottom could always heat up with, say, a $100 or so 5-inch 720p gizmo running 5.0 out the box, and packing Snapdragon 410 heat.

The Pop 2 5 Premium would qualify for that slim possibility, with the lower-end Pop 2 4.5 and Pop 2 4 then dangerously close to be given away for free. Yeah, no, we don’t see that happening, so maybe try again, Alcatel.

Alcatel Pixi 3

And try they did. The Pixi 3 trio is just as mysterious in the retail cost department, and keeps the secrecy going as far as tech specs go too. Their key selling point is a one-of-a-kind disbelief in OS fidelity, with the choice between Android, Windows Phone and Firefox OS left entirely to Pixi 3 buyers.


How will that work exactly? And is it really a selling point, or a weird way to secure 15 minutes of fame before going the DOA route? Only time can tell, but at the moment, let’s say we’re intrigued. Curious, at the very least.

Kodak IM5

Once upon a time, there was this photo and printing titan that managed to completely monopolize the industry. But the digital revolution came, and Kodak barely survived it. Now, whoever’s left spooning water out of the sinking ship is trying to milk the erstwhile celebrated name, and bring it to the 21st century with a timid stab at the lucrative smartphone action.

Kodak IM5

Now, the IM5 isn’t necessarily a crappy device, it’s simply lackluster and bland, with a price tag of $250 and overall ho-hum features: 5-inch HD screen, octa-core MediaTek processor, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB internal storage, 4.4 KitKat pre-loaded, 13 MP and 5 MP cameras. Call a time of death already, Kodak, and move on.

BLU Vivo Air, Studio Energy, Studio X and X Plus, Studio G and Life One series

When you can’t shine with quality, at least make a splash with quantity. That seems to be the motto of BLU Products, a fledgling Miami-based mobile phone manufacturer that’s starting to make a name for itself in the budget unlocked mobile arena.


On their way to Amazon in the coming months, all these new BLU handhelds are fairly respectable, but once again, there’s something missing. A sense of pizazz. The slightest hint of originality. But hey, the 5-inch, quad-core Studio G is set to cost $89 unlocked, and you probably don’t need a lot of razzle-dazzle to seal that particular deal.

And so our coverage of Android smartphones introduced at CES concludes, but stay tuned for a recap of all the tablets and wearables brought to light these past few days. We’ll be back!