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7 Android launchers to refresh your home screen

Your home should be comfortable, and so should your home screen. With an Android launcher, you can replace your phone or tablet's boring factory settings with themes, widgets, and other customizable options to make your home screen more homey. Here are our top seven picks to help you renovate your Android experience.

Google Now Launcher

Google Now Launcher is one of the most direct ways of getting the original Android home-screen experience. First introduced with the Moto X phone, the Google Now Launcher preserves the visual experience of KitKat for those with custom-themed versions of Android, and it comes … Read more

CyberLink PowerProducer review

PowerProducer 6 takes advantage of Cyberlink's video heritage to help you create differentiated disc creations of your videos, photos, or a mix of the two. Editing is also enhanced by some good tools and a number of templates that will help you arrive at an overall attractive result.

Pros

Good guidance through creation stages: Cyberlink PowerProducer 6 targets home video users who wish to be well guided through the whole process of creating a presentation. We found all steps very pleasurable to follow, and the end results were above what most home users would manage in a manual environment.… Read more

MiniTool Partition Wizard 8 Home Edition review

MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition 8 adds disk conversion and copying to what was already one of our favorite disk partitioning tools, free or not. It creates, deletes, aligns, moves, resizes, recovers, splits, joins, hides, copies, and converts partitions or entire disks. It can change drive letters, label partitions and volumes, edit properties, and check file systems. It does all that and more for free, though premium upgrades for business environments, servers, and special needs are available.

Pros

Powerful and flexible: MiniTool Partition Wizard has the tools advanced users need to manage all their disk drives. We used the Split … Read more

Sony PlayMemories Home Free review

Sony's proposition for backing up and viewing photos and videos, Sony PlayMemories Home Free lets you transfer files from your camera or hard disk to an online cloud to which you can then easily connect from a PC, camera, Sony Bravia TV, PS3, or Android/iOS device. It works well enough.

Pros

To the point: Sony PlayMemories Home Free and its online service do not pretend to be everything to everybody but target casual users who want to avoid backup headaches. The software is strictly limited to photos and videos and includes extremely basic editing functions.

Device integration: We … Read more

Star Apps: Tribble Reese

Tribble Reese is used to admiration for his pretty-boy face and athletic physique, honed and toned as a college and arena-league football player. The model and athlete was voted Cosmopolitan's most eligible bachelor for South Carolina in 2008 and Jezebel's most beautiful in 2010. Since breaking out in reality TV shows "Sweet Home Alabama" and "The New Atlanta," Reese has returned to football, playing for the Elmshorn Fighting Pirates, a second-division team in Germany. I tossed some questions to Tribble Reese about his move abroad, the reality shows, dating, and mobile software.

How did … Read more

Homeguard (64-bit) review

Veridium's Homeguard protects you and your kids online and offline by blocking offensive material, monitoring and recording activity, and limiting access time. It monitors and filters email, chat, and other social media; takes activity-based screenshots; and sends email notifications. It runs in the background, undetectable and inaccessible without the master password. It can't be closed, bypassed with proxies, or uninstalled without administrative permission. Homeguard is free to try for 15 days. We tried Homeguard's 64-bit version in Windows 7 Home Premium SP1.

Homeguard's installer prompted us to create a password, write it down, and save it … Read more

Plex Home Theater for Mac review

Plex Home Theater for Mac supports a wide range of audio and video formats, providing a complete playback experience, but suffers from a perplexing interface and other quirks. This review is for the free version, which lacks the synchronization, automatic uploading, and cloud storage services of the subscriber's edition.

Pros

Great online content handling: Plex Home Theater for Mac does a great job of playing and organizing online content in a variety of formats except FHD videos in Matroska containers. It helps you maintain a large video library without any hassle.

Content sharing: This player allows you to share … Read more

Get a Fluance Fi30 Bluetooth speaker for $99.96

First up, thanks for the incredible response to yesterday's post about Microsoft Office. Lots of good discussion, lots of very fair points on all sides. (Note that CNET's commenting system is down for the moment, so you can't add your two cents just now. Same goes for this post. Sorry about that! Hopefully it'll be sorted out soon.)

Second up, most of the Bluetooth speakers you see nowadays are of the compact, portable variety. Those can be great if you want something that can go where you go, even if it's just to different rooms … Read more

The 404 1,448: Where rich or poor, it's nice to have money (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Jill's appearance on CBS News: Is WhatsApp really worth $19 billion?

- Financial spring cleaning: what to keep, what to shred.

- Enter our GameSpot PS4 giveaway!

- Follow Aunt Jill on Twitter and check out her radio show, Jill on Money.… Read more

Meet Aros, the first large smart appliance from Quirky and GE

GE raised eyebrows last year when they poured $30 million into Quirky, a New York-based start up that serves as a kind of crowdsourced think tank for product ideas. Perhaps more important than the money, though, was that GE granted Quirky's field of thinkers and inventors access to its huge stash of industrial patents, essentially asking them to do whatever they could with them.

Now, that strategy looks ready to bear fruit, as Quirky and GE have announced the launch of Aros, an air conditioner designed specifically for the smart home. Similar to the Nest Learning Thermostat, Aros promises … Read more