Most GeForce GTX 1070 Ti GPUs cost more than $400, but this MSI model is $339 today

The holiday break week is upon us, and now it’s time to spend all that gift money from your stocking, under the tree, or those sweet, sweet cash refunds. If you’ve got money to burn, B&H Photo Video has you covered with a great deal on a new graphics card. The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Aero 8G is $339 todayRemove non-product link after a $20 rebate. That is a fantastic deal considering most GTX 1070 Ti cards are north of $400 right now.

In addition to the graphics card, you get Nvidia’s Monster Hunter World for free. You also get the GeForce Fortnite Frenzy Game Bundle, which gives you some in-game goodies including the Counterattack Set and 2,000 V-Bucks.

The GTX 1070 Ti is a rocking card for 1440p gaming on ultra-fast gaming displays. If you’re using a standard 1080p screen you can dial up every video setting to the max and just let it fly. The GTX 1070 Ti will also eat virtual reality games for breakfast.

If that’s not enough performance for you, the  GTX1070 Ti lends itself very well to overclocking for close to GTX 1080 levels of performance. Check out our guide to overclocking graphics cards to ramp up your GPU using software such as MSI’s own Afterburner software.

[Today’s deal: MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Aero 8G for $339 after rebate at B&H.Remove non-product link]

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Amazon announces a record-breaking holiday, ‘tens of millions’ of new Prime subscribers

Amazon had another record-breaking holiday season, the retailer announced this morning. The company says it added “tens of millions” of people who signed up for Prime memberships, both paid and on a trial basis. Its worldwide customers also shopped and ordered more items than ever before, including “millions more Amazon devices” compared with this time last year. The device best-sellers, as on Black Friday, again included Amazon Echo speakers and Fire TV.

Specifically, Amazon said its top devices sold over the holidays were the Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K and the Echo.

Millions of Fire TV devices, Fire tablets and Kindle devices were also sold. Smart home devices sold in record numbers as well, with best sellers including Amazon Smart Plug, Ring Video Doorbell 2, TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Mini Outlet and the iRobot Roomba 690.

The lower-cost Echo Dot has consistently been an Amazon top seller thanks to its lower price point and Amazon’s hefty discounts that help push undecided shoppers into impulse buys.

Over Black Friday weekend this year, for example, Amazon’s Echo Dot became the No. 1 selling product across Amazon from any manufacturer, not just Amazon’s own best-selling device. That speaks to Amazon’s ability to leverage its retail site to push its own hardware — a potential competitive advantage as the smart speaker markets heats up between companies like Google, Apple and Chinese manufacturers like Alibaba and Xiaomi.

In the U.S., Amazon currently leads the smart speaker install base, but internationally it’s losing ground to Google and others.

In addition to smart speakers and other Amazon devices, consumers this year also bought top sellers like L.O.L Surprise! Glam Glitter Series Dolls, fashion items from Carhartt, Bose QuietComfort Wireless headphones and more.

The retailer doesn’t share its sales numbers, but often announces new records have been set. To some extent, these continual “record-breaking” sales can be attributed to Amazon’s expansion of Prime, which most recently became available in Australia, Singapore, Netherlands and Luxembourg, in addition to the U.S., U.K., Spain, Mexico, Japan, India, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium and Austria. More Prime memberships, simply put, will translate into more Amazon sales.

That’s why Amazon’s larger goal is not just serving online shoppers as any other e-commerce site does, but wooing these shoppers with other services — like Prime Video, Prime Music, free e-books and more — to become Prime subscribers. This holiday season, the retailer said that tens of millions of U.S. and international customers signed up for trial and paid Prime memberships.

Though Amazon had traditionally kept the number of Prime members under wraps, this April it finally announced having hit the milestone of more than 100 million paid Prime members. Some analysts now expect that number will continue to grow at a rapid pace — as much as 35 to 40 percent per year. Over the next decade, Citigroup predicts Prime subscribers will reach 275 million.

A large part of Amazon’s Prime strategy today is its ability to reliably ship products on ever-tighter time frames. Over the holidays, for example, Amazon was offering up to Christmas Eve delivery in select markets where its same-day delivery service Prime Now is available.

Amazon shares were up this morning as a result of its holiday sales announcement.

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Apple's newest iPhones are attracting more Android users than last year, survey shows

Apple’s latest iPhone models are attracting more Android users to the brand than in previous years, a new report by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) found. Signs have pointed to relatively weak demand overall for the iPhone X, XS and XR, like lowered guidance by some of its key suppliers and Apple’s announcement that it will no longer disclose unit sales for the iPhone.

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The report found that 16 percent of iPhone buyers upgraded from an Android phone in the 30 day period after the launch of the iPhone XR. After the iPhone 8 and 8s were released in Sept. 2017, 12 percent of iPhone buyers upgraded from an Android phone, and when the iPhone X was released in Nov. 2017, that number was 11 percent.

“It appears that iPhone XR did serve to attract current Android users,” Mike Levin, CIRP partner and co-founder said in a statement in a press release. “Of course, Apple doesn’t just state plainly its launch strategy. But, based on the pricing and features, we can infer that Apple positioned the iPhone XR to appeal to potential operating systems switchers from Android.”

CIRP’s report found that nearly a third of iPhone buyers in the U.S. flocked to its cheapest new model, the XR, which starts at $749. In the 30 days after its launch in Oct. 2018, CIRP found that XR sales made up 32 percent of total iPhone sales in the U.S. During the same 30-day period after the XR release, sales for the the iPhone XS and XS Max accounted for 35 percent of U.S. iPhone sales combined.

This share of XR sales tracks with that of previous models in their first month on the market, CIRP said, acknowledging it can’t make an exact comparison since this year Apple launched its more cheaper model second, diverting from previous launch strategies.

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Why Apple’s iPhone XRs is the iPhone most people should buy

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The 8 best games for your new iPhone, iPad, or Android phone

Does it matter whether you got an iPhone, iPad, or Android phone for the holidays? Not if you want to play games. The great thing about smartphones and tablets is that, no matter what device you get, there’s going to be some great games for it. So if you were lucky enough to unwrap a new portable and are looking for ways to waste some time, here are a few great options.

We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used apps, games, and utilities. Look for our picks for iPhones, PCs, and Mac; our favorite games for iOS and Android, and our top choices for the PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.

Reigns: Game of Thrones


Reigns: Game of Thrones

The Reigns series has always been a fascinating way of seeing what it would be like to make all of the tough decisions that a monarch has to make. Its latest spinoff takes that concept and puts it in the always brutal world of Game of Thrones. Sitting on the Iron Throne definitely isn’t easy.

Alto’s Odyssey


The serene snowboarding adventure Alto’s Adventure now has a sequel, and it’s far from a dramatic departure. Alto’s Odyssey switches the setting to a gorgeous desert landscape, and introduces new features like wall-riding and bouncy hot air balloons. But the core action remains as soothing to play as ever.

Brawl Stars


Supercell, the company behind mobile blockbusters Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, has tried its hand at competitive shooters with Brawl Stars. The game is bright and cartoony, but also incredibly deep, with a huge range of characters to utilize, each with their own particular skills.

Fortnite


Fortnite

The world’s most popular game also happens to be a great fit for your phone. Sure, touchscreen controls can’t match a mouse and keyboard for precision headshots, but if you want to complete all of those battle pass challenges, having the game on your phone is a huge help.

Gone Home


Gone Home

Five years ago Gone Home helped popularize a new kind of game, utilizing the perspective of a first-person shooter, but offering a more narrative-focused, violence-free experience. It tells the tale of a young woman who returns home from college, only to find the sprawling house completely empty. What follows is a tense, wonderful mystery — one that now fits in your pocket.

Florence


Florence lasts less than two hours, but it manages to do a lot in that time. It’s a short story that uses interactivity to make you really feel what it’s like to be young and in love. It’s cute, charming, and playful, but ends on a powerful and emotional note.

Civilization VI


Civilization 6

The latest Civilization might be the biggest game you can play on a phone. It doesn’t water down the turn-based strategy fans have come to know and love, but somehow squeezes it all onto a tiny screen. It’s not the best way to play Civilization VI, but it works well enough, and it’s a godsend if you ever find yourself with hours to kill.

Pocket Run Pool


Designer Zach Gage has a knack for reinventing classic games like chess and solitaire, and now he’s done the same for pool. Pocket Run Pool turns the pub staple into a single-player experience. There’s a new set of rules and a constantly changing table, which ensure your quest for a high score will be ongoing.

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If you're feeling less comfortable sharing photos to Facebook, here's why you should try Apple's solution instead (AAPL, FB)

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  • Facebook has been dealing with more data scandals and internal controversies this year, which makes me feel less comfortable sharing photos to the social network.
  • Instead, I’ve been increasingly sharing photos with friends and family using Apple’s iCloud service.
  • iCloud is private and secure, and is capable of accomplishing the same end result as sharing photos with friends over Facebook.

You just got back from vacation, or an outing with coworkers, or even just a really delicious dinner.

You probably amassed a ton of photos on your smartphone. You might even want to share those photos with friends and family.

Lots of people use Facebook or Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, to share their photos. But after the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year, the hack in October that affected 30 million users, the recent reports of turmoil within the company, and the latest news of how Facebook has been quietly sharing your personal data with tech companies for years, I personally feel less comfortable sharing my photos, which I consider very personal data, to those sites.

Instead of Facebook or Instagram, I’ve been increasingly sharing my photos with friends and family through iCloud, Apple’s built-in cloud service that works across Apple devices, but also the web (in case you don’t own an Apple device).

You should consider giving it a try yourself.

The case for iCloud

One of the other reasons I prefer iCloud is because it’s private and secure — I get to choose everyone who sees the photos, and I know Apple isn’t using my photos in other ways, like scanning them for additional descriptive data to better target advertisements.

Apple clearly cares about user privacy and security: It has an entire webpage dedicated to both of those things, just so customers can understand what Apple is (and isn’t) doing with their data. Apple makes it clear that it doesn’t sell your photos or personal data to third-parties, and that all personal data, including login and transaction data, is fully encrypted.

So for convenience and security reasons, I prefer iCloud.

I also like it because, unlike Facebook, I don’t feel like I’m vying for the Likes and attention of friends and family that may not necessarily care about seeing my pictures. With iCloud, I’m sharing photos with specific people because I know they’ll enjoy my photos.

iCloud is surprisingly robust, too. Even if your potential recipients don’t have Apple devices, they can visit iCloud.com and view and comment on the photos there. It’s very similar to Facebook, just without the massive built-in network.

If you’re feeling leery about Facebook, I highly recommend giving iCloud Photo Sharing a try. It’s simple, secure, and gives you more control over who can see your photos. It also comes down to trust, and Facebook has suffered one too many dings this year to make me feel totally comfortable posting there.

How to share a photo album through iCloud

Sharing photos through iCloud is easy.

Take any Apple device you have that’s connected to iCloud and your Apple ID, open your Photos app, select a handful of photos, and press the share button in the bottom-right corner — the little box with an arrow sticking out the top of it.

One of the first options you should see has an icon of Apple’s Photos app, but it’s called “Shared Albums.” Click that to share those photos you selected — you can create a new album for those photos, or select a previous album you already made. You can add comments, or just click “Post.” That’s it! You made a shared photo album on iCloud.


Read moreWe compared Google Drive with Apple’s iCloud and Dropbox to find the best cloud storage solution — and the winner is clear


The best part of iCloud is how you can choose who views your photos, and how others can contribute their own photos to your album.

To let others see your photos or add their own, visit your Shared Album and you should see a toggle at the bottom with two options: “People” and “Photos.” Click the “People” toggle, and a slew of new options will pop up: You can invite people to the album (you only need their email address or phone number) and choose a handful of other settings, like letting subscribers post their own photos and videos to your album, or letting your album exist on a public website on iCloud.com.

That’s all there is to it. All of these processes happen within your Photos app, which makes it hard to mess up.

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