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Amazon.ca Raises Free Shipping Threshold to $35.00

Amazon.ca Raises Free Shipping Threshold to $35.00

By Simon Hung

It’ll cost you more to have your order shipped for free at Amazon.ca, because the popular online retailer has quietly raised their minimum order threshold for free shipping from $25.00 to $35.00.

The unpopular change will affect those who aren’t subscribed to Amazon Prime the most, as the $10.00 increase means you’ll have to up your basket size on smaller purchases if you want to have your order shipped for free. Otherwise, standard shipping rates vary depending on the product. There are no changes to Amazon Prime members -- all orders will continue to receive free two-day shipping.

It'll cost you $10.00 more than before to have an order ship for free.

No official statement has been released, but the move is likely a strategy to increase Amazon Prime subscribers, as the holiday shopping season is fast-approaching and many shoppers would have likely already used their free 30-day trial of the service for Prime Day. The wording used to describe the new shipping policy also specifically mentions Amazon Prime. An Amazon Prime subscription costs $79.00 per year or $39.00 per year for students.

Back in 2010, Amazon.ca lowered their free shipping threshold from $39.00 to $25.00. At the time, the Canadian dollar was performing very well and the company stated the move was made in response to customer feedback and to better align shipping policies with the American counterpart.

One by-product of the 2010 change was that major competitors like Best Buy and Indigo also lowered their free shipping thresholds to $25.00 to match Amazon.ca. While both retailers currently still retain the $25.00 minimum, we can’t help but wonder if they’ll also increase their free shipping minimum to $35.00 in the near-future.

Will the higher free shipping threshold change your shopping habits on Amazon.ca? Let us know how you feel by leaving a comment and voting in our poll!

Eataly to Open Its First Canadian Location in Toronto in 2019

Eataly to Open Its First Canadian Location in Toronto in 2019

By Ambia Staley

The popular Italian food emporium Eataly announced earlier this week that it plans to open its first Canadian location within Toronto's Manulife Centre. While reports earlier this year rumored that the popular eatery could be coming to Toronto as soon as 2017, it looks as though the opening will have to wait until the planned renovations and redevelopment of the Manulife Centre are complete in 2019.

Eataly is a food marketplace that combines both a supermarket and restaurant experience in one. The markets sell a selection of Italian groceries, as well as fresh products like cheese, meat, and baked goods. If you're looking to take a night off from cooking, you can also head to Eataly to dine as most locations contain both sit-down restaurants and casual eateries.

Toronto's Eataly location will cover 50,000 square feet among three storeys of the redeveloped Manulife Centre, along the area facing Bloor Street. They will also be partnering with both the Selfridges Group and Terroni Restaurants for their Canadian expansion.

Eataly first opened its doors in 2007 in Turin, Italy. There are currently 27 Eataly Stores around the world, with 10 locations in Italy, as well as locations in the the US, Japan, Korea, Dubai, Turkey, Brazil, and Monaco.

Visiting Nordstrom in Toronto's Eaton Centre on Opening Day!

Visiting Nordstrom in Toronto's Eaton Centre on Opening Day!

By Ambia Staley

The first of 3 Nordstrom locations in Toronto opened today at the Toronto Eaton Centre, so we here at RFD decided to head over and take a look to see the product selection, pricing, and everything else the popular American Department store has to offer those of us north of the border!

A view of the entrance when entering through the Dundas side of the mall.

Within the Eaton Centre, Nordstrom occupies most of what was once Sears, however once you walk in it's obvious that Nordstrom is not much like it's predecessor. Immediately upon entering the store, you're greeted by at least 2 employees, and are continuously greeted every few feet you walk throughout the store. If you're a little wary about being swarmed by employees, just remember that this may simply be Nordstrom going all-out for opening day, so the employee to customer ratio could decrease as time goes on.

A view of the cosmetics area on the first floor.

The store is fairly well laid out, with a mostly open concept that allows you to easily float from one brand to the next. The store seems clean, and product is easy to browse, however there are only one or two of each item displayed on the floor, so if you require a size other than those displayed, you will have to make use of one of the almost infinite amount of Nordstrom staff in order to get what you need.

Starting on the first floor, there are a few different men and women's apparel displayed, however the most notable features of the first floor include the accessory section, where you can find purses, laptop cases and wallets from brands such as Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Burberry. If you're shopping for all things makeup and beauty, the first floor contains an almost endless amount of kiosks from popular brands such as Dior, MAC, Yves St. Laurent, Bobbi Brown, and more.

If you're shoe shopping, you can stop off and get your shoes shined in the men's shoe section.

Heading up to the second and third floor, you'll find the majority of apparel for men, women, and children as well as shoes for the entire family. Not much can be said about the prices themselves, as it's what you'd expect of a typical department store, with prices ranging from $50.00 for some items to over $1000.00 depending on the designer brand you're shopping.

Some popular designer brands have small secluded boutiques throughout the store.

In terms of brands, there is some overlap with department stores like Hudson's Bay, however, there are also quite a few brands you would not be able to get at The Bay or other department stores. Most notably, Nordstrom includes quite a few accessories and clothing pieces from Stella McCartney, Burberry, and Lanvin -- all brands which you'd be hard-pressed to find outside the beauty section at The Bay. If you're getting ready for winter, Nordstrom also carries a fairly sizeable selection Canada Goose apparel -- a brand not carried at Hudson's Bay, and Moncler -- a brand currently only carried in 2 boutiques in all of Canada.

One of the bars located within Nordstrom

If you're accompanying a shopaholic, or just looking to drift through the store and take your time, Nordstrom has quite a few features to make you comfortable. Throughout the store you can find comfortable sitting areas where you can sit back and relax. If you need a drink or a bite to eat, there are bars on both the 2nd and 3rd floor.

One of the bars located within Nordstrom

If you're at the end of a long day and your smartphone battery is on its last legs, you can take advantage of the free charging station, which lets you charge your phone in a mini-locker while you continue your shopping.

While there is some overlap in Nordstrom with other department stores like Hudson's Bay, Holt Renfrew, and Saks Fifth Avenue, there are enough unique brands and touches that make it a worthwhile shopping experience. With Nordstrom locations already established in Calgary, Ottawa, and Vancouver, as well as 2 more locations opening in Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre in October, and Sherway Gardens in 2017, it will be interesting to see how Canada's department store competition changes going forward.

Walmart to Stop Accepting Visa in Manitoba

Walmart to Stop Accepting Visa in Manitoba

By Kate Musgrove

Walmart Canada announced today that they will no longer be accepting Visa cards in their Manitoba stores as of October 24. Manitoba has sixteen Walmart locations.

Walmart's public feud with Visa kicked off back in June with the announcement that they found Visa's fees "unacceptably high" and that they would stop accepting Visa as a form of payment starting in their three Thunder Bay stores on July 18. Now, a full sixty days later, they've finally made their second move. And while it's an escalation, it is a modest one. While this move impacts an entire province, rather than a single city, Walmart did pick a province with a relatively low population and comparatively small number of store locations. After this ban is enacted in October, a total of 19 Walmart locations will not accept Visa as a form of payment. With 405 total Walmart locations in Canada, that's still less than 5% of all of their stores.

While Walmart's ostensible aim in this feud is to provide low prices for consumers, it seems extremely unlikely that the consumer would ever actually see savings afforded by a decrease in credit card processing fees. Indeed, the consumers are the real losers in this argument, particularly the less affluent Canadians who may not have the means to easily change their method of payment or the stores they patronize. And on the heels of moves like ending their free shipping offer, further shipping fee increases and a new plastic bag fee it's hard to feel sympathetic for Walmart.

Related: In a poll that we took in June, 53% of our readers said they would stop shopping at Walmart if they did not accept Visa cards, while 46% said they would continue to shop at Walmart.

Sonic Mania: Collector's Edition Coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC in Spring 2017

Sonic Mania: Collector's Edition Coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC in Spring 2017

By Ambia Staley

If you've got fond memories of playing Sonic the Hedgehog on your Sega Genesis as a youth, then you were probably excited this past July when the gaming company announced the upcoming release of Sonic Mania as part of their 25th anniversary Project Sonic activities.

Many gamers will argue that both Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 were the best titles in the franchise, and it seems Sega has heard that, as Sonic Mania is reported to be a side-scrolling 2D game, reminiscent of the originals.

After swirling rumours, and a leak from Amazon, Sega officially announced earlier today that they will be selling a collector's edition of the upcoming title for nostalgia-seekers. While the game itself is rumoured to be available via download only, Sonic Mania: Collector's Edition contains plenty of goodies to satisfy fans in lieu of a physical game disc. The collector's edition of Sonic Mania comes packaged in a box modeled after old Genesis cartridge boxes, along with a metallic key card containing your download key for the game, and a collectable Sega cartridge with a series trademark golden ring. The centrepiece of the collector's edition is the included 12" Sonic statue, standing on a Sega Genesis replica base. The statue's base even includes a functional switch that plays the famous Sega start up audio.

Sonic Mania: Collector's Edition is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. As of now, there is no concrete release date, with Sega only listing the game for a spring 2017 release. You can currently pre-order the game from both Amazon and EB Games for $89.99.

Are you excited for Sonic Mania? Will you be picking up the collector's edition? Let us know in the comments!

IKEA to Open Full-Size Store in Quebec City in 2018

IKEA to Open Full-Size Store in Quebec City in 2018

By Simon Hung

Quebec City will have to wait for an NHL franchise to return to the city, but residents will get the next best thing and have the opportunity to shop at RFD’s favourite Swedish furniture store, as IKEA has announced that they will be opening a full-size store in Quebec City in 2018!

The announcement marks IKEA's return to the city, as IKEA previously had a store in Quebec City that closed in 1996. The new store will be located in the Sante-Foy area at rue Mendel and avenue Blaise-Pascal, on the southwest corner of the Highway 40 and Highway 540 intersection and west of downtown Quebec City.

The 340,000 square-foot store will take 14-16 months to build once construction begins in spring 2017 and feature IKEA’s usual range of offerings including the IKEA Restaurant, Market Hall, Showroom, SMALAND playroom and more. The store will also be environmentally-friendly with a number of sustainability initiatives like LEED certification, storewide LED lighting and waste management equipment to maximize material recycling.

The new store will also create approximately 400 jobs, with Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume welcoming the news, “Thousands of families were dreaming and waiting for this moment. Today, we are all proud to welcome the company to our city.”

IKEA Quebec City will be the second store to open since IKEA Canada announced their plan to double stores in Canada from 12 to 24 within the next 10 years. The Quebec City store will be the 14th full-size store in Canada, adding to the 12 current stores and the Halifax location that’s slated to open in 2017.

There is no news regarding the status of the Quebec City Pick-up and Order Point once the full-size location opens, but we speculate that it may close, as the full-size store will be located across the highway from the Pick-up and Order Point’s current location.

While you wait for the store to officially open, brush up on how to shop at IKEA by reading our guide on how to shop at IKEA like a pro or visit our IKEA store page for flyers, deals and coupons!

Apple Quietly Doubles iPad Storage and Reduces iPad Pro Price

Apple Quietly Doubles iPad Storage and Reduces iPad Pro Price

By Simon Hung

The big news from Apple this week was the announcement of the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2, but those weren’t the only product updates, as Apple also refreshed their iPad lineup by doubling the storage capacities on the iPad mini and iPad Air 2, while slashing the price of some iPad Pro configurations.

There was little fanfare about the changes as Apple didn’t even release a press announcement about the updates, but MacRumors and iPhone in Canada discovered the changes soon after they went live. The storage updates are strictly internal, so the design remains the same (including the headphone jack), but storage now starts at 32GB as Apple has finally nixed the paltry 16GB base configuration.

The iPad mini 2 now only comes in a 32GB configuration (previously 16GB), while the iPad mini 4 and iPad Air 2 now come in 32GB or 128GB configurations (previously 16GB or 64GB). The prices remain the same, which means you essentially pay the same price as before for double the storage capacity.

Apple has finally eliminated the 16GB storage option.

Apple also reduced the price of some iPad Pro configurations, with the new prices coming in at up to $150.00 less than before. Despite the price cut, they are still pricey and remain more of a niche product for those who covet the extra features that come with the iPad Pro. The price cuts only apply to 128GB or 256GB configurations and we’ve listed the new prices below.

If you’re in the market for a new iPad, now is a good opportunity to buy one, given these new storage and pricing updates. On the other hand, if you recently purchased an iPad mini or iPad Air 2, it may be worthwhile to see if you can exchange it to get twice the storage. The updated configurations and pricing are available now online and in Apple Stores.

As of September 9, some stores including Staples and Walmart have yet to update their iPad pricing, but we expect them to be updated soon. It may also be beneficial to keep tabs on 16GB and 64GB models of the iPad mini and iPad Air 2, as Apple has eliminated these storage options so you may see them discounted as stores clear inventory.

Sony Unveils Slim PlayStation 4 and New PlayStation 4 Pro

Sony Unveils Slim PlayStation 4 and New PlayStation 4 Pro

By Simon Hung

While Apple stole most of the headlines after their iPhone 7 Keynote Event on September 7, Sony made some news of their own as they also held a keynote event to officially unveil the slim PlayStation 4 along with a new console, the PlayStation 4 Pro.

Sony's new PlayStation 4 Pro will support 4K gameplay.

Rumours of a slim PlayStation 4 have been circulating for a while, as Sony has historically released a more compact iteration of their flagship gaming console since the first PlayStation. Photos of the purported console were also leaked in August, essentially confirming its existence well before this event.

The slim PlayStation 4 is functionally identical to the original PlayStation 4, but in a 30% smaller form factor with a matte finish and rounded corners. The new console is also lighter, quieter, more power-efficient and comes with an upgraded DualShock 4 controller. The only hardware difference is the removal of the headphone jack optical audio output, but this change shouldn’t affect most owners as multi-channel audio can be transmitted over HDMI.

The slim PlayStation 4 is 30% smaller than the original console.

The slim PlayStation 4 is available in 500GB or 1TB configurations on September 15 starting at $379.99, which is $50.00 less than the current price of the original console. You can pre-order the console now from Best Buy.

Sony also officially revealed the PlayStation 4 Pro (previously codenamed PlayStation Neo), a more powerful version of the PlayStation 4 with a faster processor, double the graphics horsepower and support for 4K HDR (high dynamic range) gaming with supported titles. The console isn’t meant to replace the PlayStation 4, but intended to be sold alongside the standard PlayStation 4, aimed at those who own 4K televisions or gamers who want to use PlayStation VR, which will benefit from the faster hardware. The console itself looks similar to the slim PlayStation 4, but wider and taller.

Sony has said that some future games will be optimized for 4K gameplay and some existing games will be upgraded to support 4K. Plus, an upcoming firmware update will enable HDR colour on all PlayStation 4 consoles, but an HDR-supported television is required to fully take advantage of the upgrade.

The PlayStation 4 Pro packs twice the graphics horsepower as the standard PlayStation 4.

Curiously, despite boasting about its 4K capabilities, the PlayStation 4 Pro is not capable of native 4K Blu-ray playback, a feature that the recently-released Xbox One S is capable of, even though it’s less powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro. This flub is likely fixable with a firmware update, but as of release the console can only upscale Blu-ray discs from 1080p to 4K. Dedicated apps for YouTube and Netflix will be capable of native 4K playback.

The PlayStation 4 Pro will be available in a 1TB configuration on November 10 for $499.99. You can pre-order the console now from Amazon.ca or Best Buy.

With the announcement of these two new PlayStation 4 consoles and Microsoft’s release of the Xbox One S, the console gaming landscape has become clearer leading up to the holiday season and now’s the time to take advantage if you’re in the market for a PlayStation 4. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for markdowns on the original PlayStation 4 as retailers attempt to clear inventory.

Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments or read some more gaming news like how the price of PlayStation Plus is going up, PlayStation Now’s launch in Canada or what new games are releasing this month!

Apple Keynote Roundup: iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2, Goodbye Headphone Jack and More!

Apple Keynote Roundup: iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2, Goodbye Headphone Jack and More!

By Simon Hung

Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives took the stage at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco on September 7 for their much-anticipated keynote address, where they put an end to months of speculation and rumours by unveiling the new Apple Watch, iPhone and other interesting Apple news and updates.

Apple's iPhone 7 introduction video.

The keynote kicked off with Cook, James Corden and Pharrell Williams in a Carpool Karaoke skit and the entire event lasted a little over two hours. If you missed the keynote or had more important things to do, don’t worry, because we’ve rounded up the most interesting things and listed them in the order in which they were presented.

App Updates

Tim Cook started the event with an update on Apple apps and services, including Apple Music, the App Store, ConnectED and iWork. Cook talked about the current success of Apple Music, with 17 million subscribers since its launch in 2015 and exclusive artist partnerships with Taylor Swift, Drake, Frank Ocean and others.

Super Mario Run brings Mario to the iPhone.

The App Store portion of the keynote was particularly notable, as Cook brought Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto to the stage to showcase Super Mario Run, a Mario-themed game slated to come to iOS later this year. The game is similar to classic Mario side-scrollers and will only cost a single price, meaning there will not be any microtransactions in the game. The pricing and release date for Super Mario Run will be revealed at a later time, but Miyamoto mentioned that it will arrive by December.

Cook later talked about ConnectED and iWork, with Apple announcing partnerships with 114 schools in the United States to supply computers for students and teachers. A demo of iWork collaboration was also shown, where you and other collaborators can simultaneously work on documents in real-time across the entire suite of iWork software, which comes free for iOS and Mac.

Apple Watch Series 2

The Apple Watch was next to receive the spotlight, as Cook mentioned how Apple has quickly become the #2 watch brand in the world, only trailing Rolex. He handed the reins to Jeff Williams, who recapped some features in the upcoming watchOS 3 before officially unveiling Apple Watch Series 2, featuring a second-generation dual-core processor, better graphics, built-in GPS, a brighter display and improved waterproofing, which allows this new Apple Watch to be swim-proof (the previous Apple Watch was only splash-proof).

Pokémon GO will be available for Apple Watch, but your chances of finding Snorlax remain slim.

Niantic CEO John Hanke took the stage next to announce Pokémon GO for Apple Watch, which lets Pokémon trainers view nearby Pokémon, hatch eggs and interact with PokéStops using the watch.

Apple Watch Series 2 will be completely swim-proof.

A new ceramic finish was also unveiled, which is four times harder than stainless steel, along with new Apple Watch Hermès designs and a new runner-focused partnership with Nike. Apple will keep the original Apple Watch in their line of products (now called Apple Watch Series 1) and upgrade it with the new dual-core processor. Apple Watch Series 2 will be available for pre-order on September 9 and ship on September 16 starting at $489.00. watchOS 3 will be available for download for free on September 13 and Apple Watch Series 1 will see a price reduction, now starting at $359.00.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were the stars of the keynote, with rampant speculation clogging the internet over the past few weeks about what Apple planned to include (and remove) in their latest smartphone. Phil Schiller took the stage to reveal the new phones and highlighted ten characteristics in their latest flagships.

Apple has finally ditched the 16GB option in their higher-end models.

1. Design

  • New manufacturing processes make the aluminum chassis seamless with the glass, with the camera bump and antenna built directly into the body
  • A new “Jet Black” colour option to go along with black (which replaces space grey), silver, gold and rose gold

2. Home button

  • The home button is no longer a button, but rather a force-sensitive region that provides haptic feedback when “pressed” to simulate a button, similar to the trackpads on the newest MacBooks

3. Water and dust resistance

  • IP67 protection, with complete dust resistance and water resistance up to one metre for up to 30 minutes

4. Camera

  • A new 12-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, faster focus, wider lens and better overall image quality
  • A four-LED flash that is able to compensate for ambient light changes
  • iPhone 7 Plus features dual cameras -- a wide-angle and telephoto lens -- that enables better zoom and professional-grade images

5. Retina HD display

  • 25% brighter than the previous generation with better colour accuracy and wide colour gamut

6. Audio

  • Stereo sound with the earpiece acting as one speaker and the bottom-facing speaker acting as the second

7. EarPods

  • The 3.5mm headphone jack has been removed and Lightning EarPods will be included with the new iPhones, along with a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter (which is available separately for $10.00)
  • Why did Apple remove the connector? COURAGE. Schiller mentioned how Apple has the courage to make the move, along with the fact that Lightning can do it better, it frees up space internally and it helps in Apple’s quest to make technology wireless

8. Wireless

  • AirPods were introduced, which are wireless versions of EarPods, containing a proprietary W1 wireless chip that can intelligently switch audio inputs from your Apple devices
  • Battery life is around 5 hours and includes a charging case that can extend it to 24 hours
  • New wireless Beats headphones were also introduced that contain the W1 wireless chip

9. Apple Pay

  • Apple Pay will expand to more countries and support the FeliCa wireless standard in Japan

10. Performance

  • New A10 Fusion quad-core chip is 40% faster than the previous A9 and provides 50% faster graphics
  • Two active cores with two low-power cores that dynamically adapt to more intensive tasks
  • Better battery management, with up to two hours more talk-time than the iPhone 6s

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are available for pre-order on September 9 in 32GB, 128GB or 256GB capacities, starting at $899.00 and $1049.00, respectively. The new Jet Black colour is only available in 128GB or 256GB capacities. They will ship and are available for in-store purchase on September 16. The Apple AirPods are available in October for $219.00.

While the new iPhones provide some performance and design improvements over the previous generation, the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack is by far the most controversial move and will deter some potential buyers. Courage or not, Apple's decision won't sit well with those who don't want to invest in proprietary headphones or those who may not be keen on the idea of using an adapter to use their own headphones. Plus, those who want to use headphones and charge their iPhone at the same time are out of luck. Let us know how you feel by voting in the poll below and leave a comment with your thoughts on Apple's latest announcements!

Samsung Delays Shipments of Galaxy Note 7 Due to Exploding Batteries; Recall Announced

Samsung Delays Shipments of Galaxy Note 7 Due to Exploding Batteries; Recall Announced

By Simon Hung

September 2 update: Samsung has officially recalled all Galaxy Note 7 phones worldwide after confirming 35 cases of battery explosions. Customers who own the phone can swap them for new smartphones, regardless of when they purchased them, but Samsung estimates that it may take two weeks for new inventory to be available. Contact your carrier or store of purchase for more information. If you purchased the phone through a third-party like Kijiji, we recommend contacting Samsung directly.

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The Galaxy Note 7 was released in Canada less than two weeks ago on August 19, but after numerous reports of exploding batteries from users, Samsung has announced that they will be delaying shipments of their latest flagship device to perform more quality control testing.

At first, the delay only affected phones in the South Korean market, but the phone has since been pulled from Belgian and Serbian markets as well. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency has reported that an anonymous Samsung official has said that they are investigating the issue and will announce the results within a week. The source also claims that the explosions can be traced to faulty batteries manufactured by ITM Semiconductor and that talks are currently underway with business partners in the U.S. on how to resolve the issue. The agency also reported that five or six explosions were reported and that a recall is expected.

The aftermath of a Galaxy Note 7 battery explosion.

Samsung has yet to officially confirm if the issue also affects devices sold in Canada, but given the claims reported by the Yonhap News Agency, it’s not unreasonable to believe that some phones from initial batches sold in North America may also contain defective batteries. Further evidence to this claim is the fact that the Note 7's Chinese launch on September 1 will proceed as scheduled, due to the fact that the Chinese model contains batteries sourced from a different manufacturer.

It is unusual for Samsung to confirm a delay in sales and a recall of the smartphone would be unprecedented, given its recent release and high demand -- over 2.5 million phones have been sold since launch and Samsung was unable to keep up with the overwhelming amount of Canadian pre-orders. There is also a 22-page (and counting) thread about the phone in our Cell Phones forum.

Given the serious dangers of a defective battery and the possibility of an explosion, if you own a Galaxy Note 7, we suggest contacting your carrier to see if you can return or exchange your device, since early shipments would be more likely to contain a faulty battery -- the phone is available from all major Canadian carriers and Samsung Experience Stores. If you plan on getting the phone in the near-future, we would suggest holding off until Samsung rectifies the situation and manufactures new units with updated batteries.

The timing of this news is rather unfortunate for Samsung, as the Galaxy Note 7 has received rave reviews from the likes of The Verge, TechRadar and more. Plus, with Apple’s next keynote slated to occur on September 7, the news will further fuel the fire in smartphone enthusiast debates.

Nonetheless, a recall announcement would be the safest route for Samsung if the battery issue is found to be widespread, since there's no way to know if any particular Note 7 contains a defective battery. If you currently own or want to buy a Galaxy Note 7, let us know what your plans are with this news. Will you wait? Buy another phone? Let us know by leaving a comment.

PlayStation Now Game Streaming Service is Now Available on PC in Canada

PlayStation Now Game Streaming Service is Now Available on PC in Canada

By Simon Hung

The line that separates console and PC gaming was blurred ever so slightly today, as Sony has announced that PlayStation Now -- the cloud gaming subscription service that lets you stream PlayStation games to compatible devices -- is now available on PC in Canada.

PlayStation Now is now compatible with Windows PCs.

The subscription service has been available since 2015, but compatibility was limited to select PlayStation devices and a few televisions from Sony and Samsung. Now, anyone with a compatible Windows computer can use the service and stream over 400 games to their computer to play, including over 100 PlayStation-exclusives like The Last of Us and the Uncharted series -- click here to view a list of available games. At the time of the announcement, no PlayStation 4 games are available to stream, likely because Sony would rather keep PlayStation 4 titles exclusive to their flagship console.

Like a “Netflix for video games,” a subscription grants you unlimited access to their catalogue of available games, with more being added every month. A PlayStation Now subscription is separate from PlayStation Plus and is available in increments of one month ($19.99), three months ($44.99) or one year ($99.99). A free seven-day trial is also available. Online multiplayer access is included and games are playable with a DualShock 4 controller, which must be plugged in via USB or connected wirelessly with a DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adapter, which is currently available for pre-order. Third-party controllers and keyboard/mouse inputs are not supported.

An optional dongle will allow you to connect DualShock 4 controllers wirelessly to your PC.

While owners of PlayStation consoles likely won’t have much interest in the service, this move should spark some interest to those who affiliate with the “PC Master Race” and don’t own a console, since there are a few critically-acclaimed exclusive games that are definitely worth playing, but aren’t necessarily worth buying an entire console for. This middle ground solution allows you to legally play those games while harnessing the power of your computer and internet connection. Sony’s minimum system requirements for PlayStation Now include:

  • Processor: 3.5GHz Intel Core i3 or 3.8GHz AMD A10 or faster
  • Hard drive: 300MB of free space or more
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM or more
  • Peripherals: a sound card and USB port
  • Operating system: Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or higher, with support for 32 and 64-bit computers

However, since it is a streaming service, your internet connection is far more important than computer specs to ensure a playable experience. Sony recommends a minimum 5Mbps connection to ensure a “good” experience, but a higher connection speed will reduce latency and loading times. Although unmentioned, an unlimited bandwidth cap is essentially a must, as modern games can easily drain 50GB of bandwidth in a single playthrough.

Click here to learn more about PlayStation Now, subscribe or begin your seven-day free trial. You can also click here to view an FAQ about the service.

Do you plan on using the service? Think a subscription is worth the money? Maybe you just want to proclaim your allegiance to the glorious PC master race? Feel free to stick around and leave a comment!

While you're here, you can also read more gaming news like how PlayStation Plus prices are going up or the great calamity of No Man's Sky and your refund options!

Sony, Steam and Amazon Reportedly Offering Refunds to Unhappy "No Man's Sky" Players

Sony, Steam and Amazon Reportedly Offering Refunds to Unhappy "No Man's Sky" Players

By Ambia Staley

No Man's Sky was considered by many one of the most anticipated games of 2016, however after a series of delays, glitches, and other problems, the exploration game has many people giving up on the game once and for all and demanding a refund.

After a series of last minute delays, the game was finally released on consoles August 9, with the PC version coming out on August 12. While initial high sales seemed promising, things quickly went arwy , with active players reportedly dropping by 90% after 10 days, sales dropping 81% in the second week, and players demanding their money back.

Many players are citing the game's constant crashes and glitches as reasons they want a refund, while others claim the game gives them motion sickness, or cite false advertising regarding gameplay and included features. On the other hand, there are some players who simply site dissatisfaction as their reason for the refund request.

Initially Steam was providing refunds to most players requesting refunds, even if they had played the game for as much as 70 hours, however it now seems that Valve's regular Steam refund policy is now in place, meaning a refund can only be requested within 14 days of purchase and if the game has been played for less than 2 hours. Players have also been able to successfully request refunds from both Amazon and PlayStation for the game.

If you're having issues with your copy of No Man's Sky and are looking for your money back, note that the refunds seem to be largely YMMV, as some players have had to try multiple times in order to successfully get a refund. You may also want to take note of the refund policy of the company you are requesting the refund from, as some players are reporting that Sony will not allow them to play the game on their system again once the refund request goes through.

If your main reasons for a refund are the glitches and crashes, you may want to take a look at some of the patches just released for the PC version to see if any of your main issues have been fixed.

Have you been playing No Man's Sky? Are you looking for a refund? If you haven't played the game yet, does this news deter you from picking up a copy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Back to School

Back to School Tips: Must-Have Peripherals and Accessories Under $100 for Students

Back to School Tips: Must-Have Peripherals and Accessories Under $100 for Students

By Simon Hung

Batman, Inspector Gadget and Red Green are three of earth's greatest heroes, each renowned for using a wide assortment of gadgets to make their lives easier. Students are similar in that they have a bevy of resources at their disposal to enrich their education and make their quest for a diploma as painless as possible.

Computers are a necessity in schools everywhere, but your laptop can only take you so far and it's worthwhile to augment your expensive gadget with more less-expensive gadgets. As a result, we've come up with this list of must-have peripherals under $100.00 that every student should have.

$0.00 to $20.00: A portable power strip

With great power comes great responsibility, so share power outlets to make fast friends.

In the world of electronics, thin is in. While it’s great because laptops are light and easy to carry, it inevitably leads to a smaller battery and the need to recharge more often. As a result, power outlets are a highly sought-after resource and there’s always that person who hogs an entire outlet. Don’t be that person by carrying this Belkin mini surge protector that often goes on sale for under $20.00. It turns one plug into three and has two USB ports for charging your phone, letting you share power with classmates to ensure that you’re ready for those marathon lectures or Pokémon hunting expeditions.

Honourable mentions: extra USB cables for your phone, free Microsoft Office 365 with a bonus 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, decent pens because regular pens are boring, an SPC Card to get discounts, one or all of these free apps

$20.00 to $40.00: Amazon Prime Student

Get two-day shipping and increase your cardboard box cat container collection with Amazon Prime.

From the essential to the ludicrous, Amazon is your friend when you need to buy anything and the only downside is having to wait for your order to ship. Luckily, students can get a six month free trial of Amazon Prime, which gives you free two-day shipping on Prime-eligible items, unlimited photo storage and exclusive deals! Once the trial is over, you get a discounted rate of $39.00 per year (regularly $79.00 per year), which is worth it for many if you consider the time you'll save shopping on Amazon vs. going to a physical store.

Honourable mentions: a good backpack to carry your supplies, a power bank so your phone never runs out of juice, a label maker so your friends don't steal your stuff, an iron to make your clothes look nice for those important interviews

$40.00 to $60.00: A durable flash drive

That feeling when you forgot to save your work.

Whether a rowdy hooligan pulls a fire alarm during class or you're trapped in a concrete-laced basement with incredibly bad reception, anything that can go wrong will go wrong and when it does, it’s important to save your notes regularly. Cloud storage is a popular option, but sometimes you're unable to access the internet, so a flash drive is essential and useful for when you need to transfer files between computers or store media files. This tiny and spacious 128GB drive from SanDisk is a nice option since it’s small enough to leave in your laptop and durable since it’s mostly made of metal. If you’re clumsy and tend to lose tiny objects, an alternative would be something you can attach to your keys, like this 64GB drive from Kingston.

Honourable mentions: a privacy screen so nosy classmates can't glance at your screen, a keyboard and mouse combo because laptop keyboards are horrible and trackpads are a pain for navigation

$60.00 to $80.00: One good pair of in-ear headphones or multiple pairs of “good enough” headphones

A good set of headphones can help you block out distractions.

There are two types of people in this world -- regular people and those who play obnoxious music on a loudspeaker in public. We’ve all encountered that one annoying person in the library who wants you to hear their favourite tunes whether you like it or not. While you can (sometimes) get them to knock it off with a stern talking to, if you’d rather avoid the confrontation altogether, a good pair of in-ear headphones is a must and serves two purposes -- you can drown out their terrible music with your own and they passively block ambient noise. You can usually find excellent headphones like this set of Sennheisers that will do the job well, but if you don’t particularly care about audio quality or tend to lose headphones easily, you can also find “good enough” headphones for around $20.00.

Honourable mentions: a router for sharing your internet, an Amazon Kindle for reading, a tablet keyboard if you use a tablet for taking notes and can't stand typing on a screen

$80.00 to $100.00: A good laser printer

Printer ink is expensive, so avoid the high cost of ink with a laser printer.

Chances are you’ll be printing a lot of assignments during your time in school, so it’s important to have a good printer. The upfront cost of laser printers is more expensive than inkjet, but they are a better investment long-term. A monochrome printer will suffice for most students, like this Brother model that you can often find for under $100.00. The two essential features that make this printer stand out are wireless networking and automatic duplex. Wireless networking enables you to print via Wi-Fi, which means you don’t need to plug in your printer every time you need to print, while automatic duplex automatically prints documents on both sides of a sheet of paper, which means you’ll use less paper in the long run.

Useless but crafty personal bonus tip: consider using high-quality paper when printing your assignments. This sly move has been known to garner bonus commendations on assignments, much to the chagrin of fellow classmates. Domtar Premium Laser Paper is a personal favourite due to its slight sheen and smooth texture -- it is pricey, but worth it to wage psychological warfare against your classmates and to see their bewildered looks of envy when you flaunt the “nice quality paper” comment on your essays.

Honourable mention: a Keurig brewer so you'll always have your daily dose of coffee or tea

$100.00+ bonus round: An extra monitor

More screens means more places to look.

So you have a fancy new laptop with all the bells and whistles -- maybe you sprung for an extravagant rose gold colour. Regardless of how blinged out your laptop is, the display is likely small and only able to comfortably fit one window on the screen, so you’ll constantly switch windows to go between your word processor, browser, chat client, game of solitaire, etc. The easiest way to combat this and gain so much room for activities is to get an extra monitor. You can typically find good monitors like this Dell 24" IPS model for around $150.00 to use as a secondary monitor while using your laptop screen as the primary monitor. This gives you more desktop space for your windows so you don’t need to constantly alt-tab between programs.

Honourable mentions: a comfortable chair so your back won't ache while studying, an external hard drive to back up your computer, a mechanical keyboard to type faster and more comfortably, an ergonomic mouse because trackpads are still a pain for navigation

Now that you've made it to the end, let us know which peripherals you think are student essentials by leaving a comment! Once you're done with that, maybe you're interested in kitchen essentials or furniture-buying tips for students. Plus, be sure to visit our Back to School page for more back to school deals and tips!

September 2016 Video Game Release Dates

September 2016 Video Game Release Dates

By Ambia Staley

It may be that time of year for many students to head back to class, but if your gaming hobby isn't cooling down with the weather, there is a brand new list of upcoming releases you'll want to check out! This month sees the release of some of the year's most anticipated games, including Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, DragonQuest VII and Yo-Kai Watch 2 for the 3DS, and of course the long awaited, Final Fantasy XV for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

If you're looking for some games that are already on store shelves, you can check out our list of releases for past months including June, July, and August.

Without further ado, here's a look of what's coming out this September:

  • Earthshock: Festival of Magic (Xbox One/ PC/ Mac) - September 1
  • One Piece: Burning Blood (PC) - September 1
  • Mother Russia Bleeds (PC/ Mac/ Linux) - September 5
  • Just Sing (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 6
  • Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet (PS4) - September 6
  • Unbox (PC) - September 7
  • Project Highrise (PC/ Mac) - September 8
  • BioShock: The Collection (Xbox One/ PS4/ PC) - September 13
  • Dead Rising (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) - September 13
  • Dead Rising 2 (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 13
  • Dead Rising 2: Off the Record (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 13
  • Dead Rising Triple Pack (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 13
  • MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death (PS Vita) - September 13
  • Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics (PC) - September 13
  • NASCAR Heat Evolution (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) - September 13
  • Never Ending Night (PC) - September 13
  • NHL 17 (Xbox One/ PS4) - September 13
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) - September 13
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PS3/ PS4/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One/ PC)
  • Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness (PS4/ PS Vita) - September 13
  • ReCore (Xbox One/ PC) - September 13
  • Avadon 3: The Warborn (PC/ Mac) - September 14
  • Adr1ft (Xbox One) - September 16
  • Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (3DS) - September 16
  • Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni (PS Vita) - September 16
  • Air Conflicts: Double Pack (PS4) - September 20
  • Cossacks 3 (PC) - September 20
  • Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors (PS Vita) - September 20
  • Destiny: Rise of Iron (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 20
  • NBA 2K17 (PS3/ PS4/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One/ PC) - September 20
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (3DS) - September 20
  • Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak: Special Gigs (PS3/ PS4/ PS Vita) - September 20
  • A House of Many Doors (PC) - September 24
  • Darkest Dungeon (PS4/ PS Vita) - September 27
  • FIFA 17 (PS3/ PS4/ PS Vita/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One) - September 27
  • Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One/ PC) - September 27
  • Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero (PS3/ PS4/ PS Vita/ Wii U/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One) - September 27
  • Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (3DS) - September 27
  • XCOM 2 (Xbox One/ PS4) - September 27
  • Unloved (PC) - September 29
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (3DS) - September 30
  • Final Fantasy XV (Xbox One, PS4) - September 30
  • Yo-Kai Watch 2 (3DS) - September 30

Release date TBA:

  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice (3DS)

Are you looking forward to playing any of September's titles? Let us know in the comments below!

PlayStation Plus Subscription Prices Increasing on September 22

PlayStation Plus Subscription Prices Increasing on September 22

By Simon Hung

PlayStation gamers may want to consider extending their PlayStation Plus memberships now, because Sony has announced that prices for PlayStation Plus subscriptions will be increasing by up to $20.00 starting September 22, meaning PlayStation Plus subscription cards will likely be a hot commodity until then.

As per a PlayStation Blog post, the price increase will affect all subscription packages in Canada:

  • Monthly plan - $11.99 per month (previously $9.99 per month)
  • 3-month subscription - $29.99 (previously $17.99)
  • 12-month subscription - $69.99 (previously $49.99)

Current subscribers will be charged the new rates once their subscription ends on or after September 22. As a result, a savvy way to save money would be to buy subscription cards before the price increase, since you can extend your PlayStation Plus subscription before its expiration. There is no limit on how many subscriptions you can stack, so you can theoretically purchase ten 12-month subscriptions and apply them to your account to extend your subscription for the next decade.

We’ve listed a few stores where you can purchase subscriptions. As of August 22, Costco has the best prices for both 3 and 12-month subscriptions and a Costco membership is not required to shop online.

3-month subscription

12-month subscription

In a statement to Kotaku, Sony stated “The new pricing reflects the current market conditions while enabling us to continue providing exceptional value to our members. If you do not wish to continue your subscription, please be sure to cancel it by turning off auto-renewal in your account settings before September 22, 2016.” Those who want to cancel their subscription or turn off auto-renewal can click here for instructions.

PlayStation Plus is a paid subscription service for PlayStation gamers. A membership is required to play online multiplayer on PlayStation 4 and other benefits include free exclusive games every month, additional discounts on games, online game saves, early access to betas and more.

What are you planning to do in response to the price hike? Stock up on subscription cards? Cancel your subscription? Switch allegiances to Xbox? Leave a comment and let us know!

Back to School

Back To School Tips: Top Ten Apps To Get You Through Post-Secondary School

Back To School Tips: Top Ten Apps To Get You Through Post-Secondary School

By Elaine Jair

Apps are such essentials in our everyday life. From playing games on the go to getting news updates to catching up on social media -- there’s pretty much an app for everything.

With that said, as students, we don't usually think of what kind of apps we need to help us get through school. After all, we always had teachers remind us on the daily what needed to be done, but in post-secondary school, you're on your own. Call me slow, but I've only started using apps to help me with school in my post-grad and now that I'm done my first year, I've learnt that having the right blend of apps is amazing in keeping your school life organized and you on top of your work.

The following is just a taste of some of the more useful apps that I've used this past year and that anybody heading into university or college should consider adding to their collection:

1. Google Drive (Android; iOS)

If you’re working in a team, Google Drive is a great app to share documents and project materials. While you can certainly use the web version to upload documents, having the app on your phone is a great way to stay up to date when you’re away from your computer. Furthermore, you can edit documents using Google Doc and other programs in the Google suite. Apps in the Google suite allow you to collaborate and work on the same document with other people in real time, perfect for those of you who want to share and compile notes with friends.

Aside from its team-centric perks, you can also use Google Drive to back up your own documents, ensuring that you won’t lose all your notes in case you run into any tech-related issues. The best part of Google Drive is that it’s highly integrated with your Gmail account, meaning you can automatically save documents you receive in your email to your Google Drive. And lastly, Google Drive gives you 15 GB of free storage to use across Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos.

2. Evernote (Android; iOS)

Evernote is a pretty well-known app that has been around for a while for good reason. While you can certainly use it to take notes in class, you can also keep track of handwritten notes and pictures, which is great for the times where you don't have the time nor patience to type things out. You can even link your mobile app to Evernote for desktop and Macs to keep your notes synced and accessible anywhere.

3. Swipes (Android; iOS)

One of the things that I found helped me the most in school was to make lists. Living on your own means you have a lot more responsibilities and making lists is a great way to keep track of everything. One of the most popular and acclaimed list-making apps is Swipes. This app worked wonders in terms of keeping me on top of my readings, daily tasks and more. Things can get overwhelming sometimes with a multitude of readings to do every week and deadlines to meet. Swipes can help with making your tasks seem more manageable and if you're like me, you'll probably feel better once you start crossing things off and seeing your to-do lists shrink.

Swipes can also be integrated with your Gmail or Mailbox account, so you can add tasks from your email to your Swipes app.

4. Google Calendar (Android; iOS)

Another staple in keeping you organized is Google Calendar. This app is great for laying out your school schedule, work schedule, exam schedule and more. Personally, I used Google Calendar to jot down readings for future weeks and all future project deadlines so I knew well ahead of time what needed to be done. If you're a huge procrastinator, this app could help you curb that tendency and save you a lot of stress. You can also set alerts on certain events, which is great for keeping you on track.

Google Calendar offers sharing capabilities, which means you can share your calendar with friends and family so they have a copy of your schedule as well.

5. Your college/university app

Most, if not all, post-secondary schools have their own app now and it's a good idea to download yours. Your school app will allow you to easily check your student account, class schedule, and exam schedule. Plus, depending on the school you go to, most will also offer a "safety" feature for you to call campus security to escort you to your car after staying late at the library or an on-campus party. Having your school's app on hand is also essential for getting updates regarding school events, school closures, news and more.

6. EasyBib (Android; iOS)

For those of you who need to do a lot of essay writing, EasyBib is a lifesaver. EasyBib does exactly what its name suggests – formatting your references quickly in MLA, APA and many other styles. I don't know about you, but referencing texts and articles was one of the most tedious parts of writing a paper. The app itself is super simple and straightforward to use. Bonus tip: If you're referencing a book, use the mobile app is to take a picture of the book’s bar code and the app will generate a citation for you.

7. SoundCloud/Spotify/Apple Music/Google Music (Android; iOS)

Whether you're studying at home, at a coffee shop, or in the library, there's nothing like your favourite tunes to drown out any environmental noises and get you in the zone. There are tons of music apps out there that are free for the most part. Of course, you can also subscribe to services such as Spotify, Google Music and Apple Music for some extra perks, but it's not a requirement for basic music streaming. Whatever your preferred music provider is, having a good playlist is a must for those hardcore study sessions. And for those of you commuting long distances, music is nice to have on long drives or bus-rides home.

8. Mint (Android; iOS)

If you’re moving away from home, keeping an eye on your expenses is extremely important. Thankfully, budgeting is now a lot easier due to the influx of budget apps now out on the market. Mint is one of the more popular budgeting apps in which you can link up your bank accounts and receive real-time updates. If you're looking for other options, check out our list of other budgeting apps here.

9. Runtastic Push-Ups, Sit-Ups and Squats Apps (Android; iOS)

If you're entering your first year of university or college, you're likely to have heard of the dreaded Freshman 15. As a student, it's easy to let your diet slide and forget working out, but it’s important to take some time to get your blood pumping and destress. Not only will a little exercise every day help you fight off the Freshman 15, it's also great as a mini-break during study session. Runtastic is a pretty popular workout app developer and makes a series of great apps for you to do sets of push-ups, sit-ups, or squats and of course, running. However, there are other apps out there to suit your exercise preferences.

10. Allrecipes (Android; iOS)

Last, but not least, those of you moving out on your own will need to start figuring out ways to feed yourself. If you're lucky, your campus will offer you great food options, but on the downside, you'll also be spending a lot of money as well. Enter Allrecipes, an app where you can find tons of simple and inexpensive meal ideas. There's a huge variety of recipes to sift through -- from comfort foods to healthy meals to vegan choices and more. Allrecipes also makes your grocery shopping super easy as it provides a list of the ingredients required to make each recipe in the format akin to a grocery list where you can cross off the items you already have. Plus, the community on Allrecipes is pretty awesome – sometimes you can find additional tips and advice in the reviews section, as well as some modifications that you can make to the recipe.

Granted, every student is different and the apps that have helped me may not work well for you. However, I think that this list is a good starting point for students and, best of all, these apps are all free so there's really no harm in downloading them and trying them out.

If you've got other apps that you find super helpful, let us know in the comments below!

Back to School

Back To School Tips: Top 15 Essential Kitchen Tools

Back To School Tips: Top 15 Essential Kitchen Tools

By Elaine Jair

Now that school is just around the corner, I’m sure plenty of you are beginning to prepare for The Big Move. Admittedly, it can be pretty intimidating to have to start managing each meal that you eat, especially when you’re on a tight student budget.

In this day and age, it seems like new kitchen tools are popping up left, right, and center. But as a student, you've got to consider whether or not you really need that garlic press or lemon juicer. Most likely, you'll be living with roommates where space is limited and even if you're moving out on your own, it's important to buy only the essential items to keep your expenses low.

With that in mind, you'll want to stock up your kitchen only with the essentials -- basic tools and small appliances that will get you through the year and help you cut down on the money spent on eating out.

To get you started, here are my top 15 essential gadgets you need to have in your kitchen. While some of these items seem intuitive and obvious, they are probably also the ones that you don't think about until you need it.

1. Knives/Pots & Pans/Cutlery

First off, no kitchen is complete without the obvious essentials: knives, pots and pans, and cutlery. Naturally, you’ll want knives to cut produce and pots and pans to cook with. I would recommend around two knives: a paring knife for fruit and small items and a larger chef’s knife for the bigger items. In terms of pots and pans, you should get a medium sized frying pan, a small pot for soups, and a larger pot for pastas.

In terms of cutlery, always have one or two extra sets lying around in case your friends come over to bum a meal off you.

2. Coffee Maker

Coffee is essential for students, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to spend a lot of money without realizing it. A cup of coffee typically runs between $2 to $3 dollars, depending on where you’re purchasing it from. If you buy one cup a day for 5 days of school, you can easily spend $10 to $15 in a week and $40 to $45 in a month. Instead, purchase a coffee maker and you can cut costs significantly and you can have a fresh cup of Joe whenever you want.

3. Rice Cooker

Another must-have for the cheap student is a rice cooker. Rice is one of the cheapest foods you can survive on when in school and, since it’s pretty plain, you have about a million ways to spice it up and keep yourself from getting tired of it. While you can cook rice on the stovetop, you can also invest in a decent rice cooker for around $20. Rice cookers have a “Keep Warm” function, which means you can start cooking your rice before you head to class and come home to a nice vat of steaming, yummy rice.

Pro tip: You can also make boiled eggs with a rice cooker for a quick and easy breakfast!

4. Blender

For those of you who have an early morning class, a blender is a great kitchen tool to have so you can prep your on-the-go breakfast. Some of you don't get hungry until later on in the day and having your stomach growl loudly in class can be pretty embarrassing. Smoothies are a great and easy way to satisfy your hunger and get your nutrients in. Depending on how much you invest in your blender, you can use the "Pulse" option to quickly dice up fruit and vegetables. On the other hand, those looking to save some money can opt for the single serve blenders.

5. Toaster Oven

My toaster oven was an absolute godsend during my first year of post-grad. Not only can you make toast with it, but you can also use it as a small oven for things like mini pizzas, frozen chicken fingers, etc. On the days where I actually felt like eating "real" food, I could whip up baked chicken thighs in 20 minutes. For students, a toaster oven is a low-maintenance way of cooking as you can just pop the food in, turn it on, and leave it to do its thing while you go and do something else.

6. Crock-Pot/Slow Cooker

If you’re planning on doing more cooking than simply reheating frozen dinners, a slow cooker is an amazing introduction to cooking yummy meals. Slow cooker meals generally require little to no maintenance. You simply throw all the ingredients in, set the timer, and off you go. Not only can you make some hearty stews and chilis with it to warm up with in the winter, it’s also a handy tool for those of you who can’t be bothered to start cooking after a long day of class -- You can prepare your meals the night before or right before you head to class and your food will be ready by the time you get home.

7. Kettle

I love to drink tea, so a kettle was a must for me. While you can always opt for the more traditional kettle, you can also use electric kettles which have the added benefits of silently boiling water and switching off immediately after your water boils. I used my kettle to make tea, but kettles can also be used for heating up water for instant coffee, hot chocolate or preparing cup noodles.

8. Can Opener

One of the easiest ways to feed yourself on a tight budget is with canned food and accordingly, you must have a can opener on hand. Seems straightforward enough, but you'd be surprised at how many students forget to bring one of these until the day they need it and the closest store is closed. On a completely unrelated note, depending on the style you get, your can opener can also double as a bottle opener.

9. Cutting Board

A cutting board is a must-have during food prep. It prevents your food from slipping around the counter and keeps any mess confined to one easy-to-clean board. For those of you renting a place this year, keep in mind that knives can cause damage to kitchen counters, so you'll want to grab one of these to protect your counters and avoid paying fees to your landlord when you move out.

10. Plastic Containers

For those of you who are planning on batch-cooking on the weekend and eating leftovers throughout the week, plastic containers are a necessity. While you can most certainly put the whole vat of cooked food in your fridge, your food will last much longer if you place it in separate containers and keep some in the freezer for later on in the week. Plus, if you’re looking to save money by bringing a lunch, you’ll need these containers to bring your food to school.

11. Microwave

The microwave has long been touted a must-have for those on a tight budget, so it’s natural that it made our list. Perfect for quickly reheating meals, making cakes in a mug, popcorn and more, the microwave is a staple in any individual’s kitchen.

12. Bag Clips/Rubber Bands/Cling Wrap

As someone living on a budget, you’ll want to keep your groceries lasting as long as possible. The best way to do this is by securing every open bag and package with bag clips or rubber bands. Rubber bands are available for cheap and will get the job done. Bag clips are a little more expensive but are better at keeping bags secured. You can get a decent sized pack of clips at IKEA for $2.

For everything else that can’t be secured with a clip or a rubber band, cling wrap is your answer. It’s great for wrapping up opened cans of food, blocks of cheese that you haven’t finished eating, and the tuna sandwiches that you’re bringing to school.

13. Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is another one of those easily over-looked kitchen essential. It's a must-have to keep your food from sticking when baking and for keeping your food warm when you're taking lunch to school. Furthermore, you'll need tin foil to make baked potatoes for another delicious meal on the cheap.

14. Kitchen Towels

Kitchen towels are essential in the kitchen for wiping your hands dry or cleaning your counter tops. You could always use paper towels, but you would end up going through those quickly and buying fresh rolls adds up quickly. Kitchen towels look nice in the kitchen, are relatively inexpensive, and can be washed regularly, which makes them a good investment.

15. Cooking Utensils

When picking your cooking utensils, there are a few that are must-haves: spatulas, tongs, slotted spoon, and a ladle. Spatulas are best for stirring the pot or mixing ingredients. Tongs are perfect for picking up individual pieces of cooked meat. Slotted spoons are for simultaneously ladling up pasta and draining it. Last but not least, ladles are for soups, stews and the like.

This list isn’t comprehensive by any means and when you're able and if you really want to, you can always add your own gadgets, but it’s a good start for those of you who are moving out for the first time.

If we missed anything in this list, let us know in the comments below!

2017 IKEA Catalogue is Available in Canada Now!

2017 IKEA Catalogue is Available in Canada Now!

By Kate Musgrove

The 2017 IKEA Catalogue is finally available in Canada! For now, you can view it online, although later in the month you'll be able to request a physical copy. The catalogue is over 325 pages this year and it's full of new products and neat ideas! Here are a couple of things that caught my eye.

Draget Shelving -- $39.99: Super sturdy, super cheap shelving. Sign me up!

Knotten Standing Desk -- $189.00: I don't know if it would be possible for me to contain myself to this tiny footprint, but if I could, this desk would sure keep me organized!

Grundvattnet Colander -- $4.99: The colander that I have now sits flat on the surface of the sink so I'm always holding it with one hand and pouring stuff into it with the other. This is a great alternative!

Garnera Serving Stand -- $16.99: Pretty, and, since it's stainless steel, incredibly sturdy.

Flisat Doll's House/Wall Shelf -- $39.99: Kind of dying over this sweet shelf/doll house!

We have to admit, the digital browsing experience was a little clumsy and left me longing for a physical copy of the catalogue more than once. But that won't be out until August 23! (Check back then for a link to order one.)
Rogers to Increase Toronto Blue Jays Ticket Prices in 2017

Rogers to Increase Toronto Blue Jays Ticket Prices in 2017

By Simon Hung

The Toronto Blue Jays are hot and Rogers is looking to take advantage of Blue Jays fever, because they’ve announced a restructuring of their ticket system that will see ticket prices increase for the 2017 season.

Currently, Blue Jays tickets are designated as regular or premium -- regular tickets are for games with standard interest like weeknight games while premium tickets are designated for games with higher interest, such as weekend and giveaway games.

For the 2017-18 season, Rogers has announced new ticket designations that consists of five tiers -- A+ (Opening Day and Canada Day), A (32 games), B (20 games), C (18 games) and D (nine games). Designations for each game will be released at a later date.

While ticket prices have increased in each of the past two seasons, this is the first major restructuring of the ticket system since 2010, when the regular and premium designations were introduced. In addition, ticket prices had not changed between 2010 and 2014, likely due to the fact that the team was mediocre. Rogers has stated that the increases won’t affect all seats in Rogers Centre SkyDome, as some seats (likely high seats in the 500-level) will remain unchanged.

Like Josh Donaldson during team photos, ticket prices are set to grow a little.

Season-ticket holders who renew during the early-bird period (from August 15 to September 8) will see an average increase of 13% for 54 games and an average decrease of 7% for 27 games. Rogers is set to announce new game packs and single-game ticket prices at a later time, though it’s a near-certainty that the changes will affect those tickets as well.

Andrew Miller, executive vice-president of business operations, stated that the change was made to reflect the level of interest in certain games, “It’s acknowledging that 81 games are not equal…a day with a very popular promotion may have a very different level of interest than a typical Tuesday night in April…all it’s trying to do is more appropriately match the values assigned to each of those games with the ticket prices.”

The Blue Jays currently rank tenth in average ticket price at $31.01 USD, according to TSN correspondent Rick Westhead. The team also leads the American League in average attendance this season and are on pace to end the New York Yankees’ 13-year streak of leading AL attendance.

This offseason should be an interesting one for Blue Jays fans, as sluggers José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación are pending free agents and looking for significant raises, along with 2016 All-Star Michael Saunders. Depending on how management chooses to address the roster, the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays may look very different and time will tell if their success will continue next season and beyond. Despite the changes to ticket prices, we don’t think this will have too much of an impact on attendance, as it’s not unreasonable to believe that fans will continue to pack the dome next season as long as the team keeps winning.

CRTC Report Finds Canadians Pay Some of the Highest Telecom Rates

CRTC Report Finds Canadians Pay Some of the Highest Telecom Rates

By Simon Hung

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but telecom rates in Canada are among the highest in the world. Many Canadians likely already had suspicions of this notion, but those suspicions were confirmed in a recent report published by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which compared the average monthly rates of various telecom services from countries in the G7 (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States).

The results of this CRTC report aren't quite as shocking as your monthly bill.

The study, conducted between January and February 2016 with data from six cities (Halifax, Montreal, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg), found that monthly rates for broadband internet, mobile wireless and bundled services consistently ranked among the most expensive compared to other the other G7 countries.

The study was split into five common telecom services and then separated into varying levels of service. While Canada only ranked the most expensive in two categories, they ranked in the top three most expensive in 16 out of 20 total categories. The notable exception was home phone, where Canada ranked fifth or sixth most expensive.

We’ve listed the results of the study below -- the number in parentheses indicates Canada’s rank out of 8.

Broadband Internet

  • Level 1: 3 to 9 Mbps - $41.94 (#3)
  • Level 2: 10 to 15 Mbps - $58.88 (#4)
  • Level 3: 16 to 40 Mbps - $63.48 (#3)
  • Level 4: 41 to 100 Mbps - $78.77 (#2)
  • Level 5: 100 Mbps and up - $114.65 (#2)

Home Phone

  • Level 1: 400 minutes with 10% long distance - $39.52 (#6)
  • Level 2: 1000 minutes with 20% long distance - $55.78 (#5)
  • Level 3: 1600 minutes with 30% long distance - $60.32 (#5)

Mobile Wireless

  • Level 1: 150 minutes - $41.08 (#1)
  • Level 2: 450 minutes and 300 SMS - $48.77 (#3)
  • Level 3: 1200 minutes, 300 SMS and 1GB data - $74.67 (#2)
  • Level 4: unlimited minutes, 300 SMS and 2GB data - $81.05 (#2)
  • Level 5: unlimited minutes, SMS and 5GB data - $96.55 (#2)
  • Level 6: unlimited minutes, SMS and 10GB data with three lines - $231.99 (#2)

Mobile Wireless Data

  • Level 1: 2GB to 5GB - $46.47 (#3)
  • Level 2: 5GB to 10GB - $63.30 (#3)
  • Level 3: 10GB and up - $80.98 (#3)

Service Bundles

  • Level 1: Home phone, wireless and fixed broadband - $161.63 (#1)
  • Level 2: Home phone, fixed broadband and TV - $135.60 (#3)
  • Level 3: Home phone, wireless, fixed broadband and TV - $185.06 (#3)

The results aren’t necessarily ground-breaking, but it is interesting to see how much more we’re paying for services compared to other countries. For example, it costs an average of $80.98 per month in Canada for 10GB or more of mobile data, compared to just $24.47 per month in the UK. You can click here to view the full CRTC report.

The high prices relative to other countries can likely be attributed to the lack of competition in the telecom industry. “The Big Three” of Bell, Rogers and TELUS control over 90% of the telecom market in Canada and many customers are at their mercy when it comes to pricing. Another troubling trend is the acquisition of small-market competitors, such as Rogers’ acquisition of Mobilicity or Bell’s acquisition of MTS, making it difficult for consumers to find options that aren’t under the umbrella of The Big Three.

Let us know how you feel about these findings by leaving a comment and vote in our poll to see what the average monthly telecom costs are among RFDers. If you’re looking for a place to find deals on telecom services, our Ongoing Deals forum is a good place to start!