Unlocked phone shootout: Meet the Huawei P8 Lite and Oppo R7

It used to be, not too long ago, that buying an unlocked smartphone online from some unfamiliar Chinese OEM was a sure-fire recipe for frustration. The thing is, the bar for no-contract phones has gotten so high within the past two years or so that you could easily ditch the common flagships down at your local carrier store and live the unlocked life with a great device you've never even heard of. To test that wallet-friendly hypothesis, I took a pair of unlocked Chinese smartphones that either are or soon will be available stateside. Say hello to the $250 Huawei P8 Lite and the $400 Oppo R7.

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Social security and permanent resident card

When I arrived in the US just after New Year's Day in 1999, I didn't think I would stay. I came here for school and fully expected to return to Malaysia after I was done. Except I didn't. I met my future husband, found new friends, stumbled onto an exciting career and I knew, deep in my heart, that there was no way I could leave. So I began the long and arduous process of making this country my home. Finally, on February 22nd, 2010, I became a citizen of the United States. The entire process cost me hundreds of dollars, required multiple trips to the immigration office and had me filling out lots and lots of forms. I kept thinking the entire time that there had to be an easier way. It turns out the US government thinks so too.

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Here's what our readers think of OS X Yosemite

The public beta of OS X El Capitan might be out now, but plenty of users will continue using OS X Yosemite through the fall and beyond. And at first glance that's just fine: In our own review we called Yosemite "a solid update for Mac users" that offered a "clean new design" and close integration with iOS devices. However, quite a few of our readers disagreed. Almost 30 of you chimed in on Yosemite's product database page to give this iteration of OS X a user score of 4.8 out of 10, possibly making it the most contentious product on our site. What is it about Yosemite that makes it more shaky than solid for many users?

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There may never be a wearable equivalent of the iPhone -- a must-have gadget that sparks a fundamental change in how we live. Instead, the future of wearables is all about niche products that may be right for some, but won't necessarily be everyone's cup of tea. That's my main takeaway after spending a few weeks with Garmin's Vivoactive ($250), which is yet another one of its wearable gadgets for people who make working out a way of life. Honestly, though, it's a thought I've had percolating for a while now, especially after Jawbone's disappointing Up3. The Vivoactive isn't a great smartwatch or activity tracker for most people, but for someone who demands a GPS-enabled wearable for tracking their runs, swims and just about anything involving movement, it might be ideal.

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When it comes to headphone design, the popular brands don't venture too far from the prescribed formula. Circular earcups, leather-like padding and a folding frame have become de rigueur for on-ear and over-ear models. Then there's Master & Dynamic. You may not have heard of the company -- I hadn't until a few weeks ago -- but if you're looking for headphones with some serious style, this is an eye-catching option. For me, looks can only go so far; the cans need to sound great, too. I put the company's $399 MH40 over-ear headphones through their paces for a couple of weeks to find out if the beauty was more than skin-deep.

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Compact discs were once the wave of the future, but their sales have flagged whereas vinyl records have seen a resurgence, leaving pressing plants overbooked and struggling to keep up with demand. Sure, most people are getting their daily dose of beats from streaming-music services these days, but if you're looking for a rich analog sound with plenty of space for artwork and liner notes, vinyl's where it's at. Since the medium's attracted a new generation of listeners, we've decided to look back at some of the interesting players over the years. Some of which are as unique and varied as the music stamped into the vinyl.

[Image: Roy Harpaz industrial design]

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This year a number of major news stories released information on world governments buying, selling and using surveillance technologies on their citizens. These stories, reports -- and in some cases, hacktivist breaches and data dumps -- have served to verify the acquisition and use of spyware on citizens by dozens of diverse governments around the globe.

We sought to answer one question: Why is this a problem, exactly?

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Inside the main convention hall, children scurry left and right with foam diamond swords raised high above their heads. Eyes wide and mouths agape, some of them rush toward a blocky reimagining of Big Ben, where Minecraft's formidable Ender Dragon can be found wrapped around the clock face. Below, parents wander between life-size character statues and trees with cube-cut canopies, a mixture of fascination and bemusement etched onto their faces. For one weekend in July, 10,000 of the most dedicated Minecraft players have descended upon London's Excel Exhibition Centre for Minecon, a fan convention celebrating the blockbuster sandbox building game. With panels, signings, tournaments and merchandise, it's the Minecraft equivalent of Disney World and Comic-Con.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HTC's virtual reality headset, the Vive, blew us away when we first tried it at MWC 2015. Back then, however, the company was using wired, 3D-printed controllers, which made the experience slightly cumbersome -- considering that you're expected to move around a dark room "blindfolded." Thankfully, HTC has already put together a wireless pair for developers; each one features motion-tracking sensors, a trigger button, digital touchpad and a design that's very reminiscent of the Wii's nunchuks. Now, these controllers are still in their prototype stage, but they should give you an idea of what's coming when the HTC Vive consumer edition launches.

Question for you: In terms of ergonomics, do you prefer this set or the Oculus Touch?

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Immigration is a sensitive topic in the US, due to the millions of people living here without legal status. It's known to spark heated debates throughout the country, with politicians, human rights activists and lawmakers all fighting for their respective cause. To get to the heart of it, you have to go to the deserts of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, which are main entry points for immigrants looking to cross into the US illegally. US security officials have spent years trying to stop this or, at the very least, slow it down -- they've even built a massive wall along the Mexican border.

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Meet the faces of Japan's first robot-staffed hotel

Japan's first robot-staffed hotel opens this week and we just got the full tour. While the main attraction may be the bordering-on-human receptionist (left) and the English-speaking dinosaur (er, right), the hotel has a whole family of robots performing varying degrees of useful work. Think: room service and a luggage porter, with one familiar face taking up duties as a bilingual concierge. A deeper dive of the hotel is coming; the robots aren't the only curiosity found inside this hotel. For now, let's meet the bots.

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I've never been a big fan of the stylus. Sure, I don't really have a choice when I'm using Wacom's Cintiq pen displays, but other than that, I don't care much for styli. Adonit has a pair of them -- the Jot Touch and Jot Script 2 -- and they promise a more pen-like feel, so now seemed like as good a time as any to give the stylus another shot. Alas, though, after spending a few weeks getting to know these two gadgets, I can confidently say that I'm not ready to give up the ol' pen and paper just yet.

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