Top browsers targeted by new malware

Top browsers targeted by new malware to steal your sensitive data

How to spot the trouble and protect yourself from a malicious hacker

By Kurt Knutsson, CyberGuy Report | Fox News

Some of the biggest and most popular browsers out there are being attacked by hackers once again with a new malware strain that aims to steal people’s sensitive data. Let’s dive into it and see how you can protect yourself.

What does the new malware strain do?

Browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and others are being attacked by a malware strain, according to a new report released by Trustwave SpiderLabs.

The strain, known now as Rilide, can do a variety of malicious actions, including monitoring browsing history, taking screenshots on people’s devices, and stealing cryptocurrency using scripts injected into websites. Rilide is also capable of intercepting two-factor authentication codes and taking over email accounts, so it’s really one to watch out closely for as it can be super damaging.

Rilide uses a loader that modifies the browser shortcut files and then automates the malicious browser extension dropped onto infected systems by the malware. Once that’s done, it runs a script that monitors when a user infected by the malware does actions such as switching tabs, receiving content from the web, or when a web page finish loading.

The hackers also have a list of target websites on a command-and-control server. The loader will check if the website user matches anything on the list. If there’s a match, it will load additional scripts that are injected into a web page to steal sensitive information from victims.

How does Rilide spread?

The way the strain is being spread among users is through a fake Google Drive browser extension. Plus, the hackers are also abusing Google Ads and Aurora Stealer to load the extension using a Rust loader. For reference, a Rust loader is software that loads and prepares Rust programs for execution by resolving any missing pieces needed to run the program. The hackers are likely using a Malware-as-a-Service business model to sell Rilide to other cybercriminals who then use it to continue attacking more people like a domino effect.

How can I protect myself?

Turn on Antivirus protection

The best thing you can do yourself to avoid getting scammed is by installing antivirus software on all your devices. In the scam email above, having Antivirus software would prevent you from clicking through to any malicious sites or installations. 

Use Identity theft protection

You should also consider using an identity theft service, which will notify you if you have any sensitive data stolen from you such as cryptocurrency information.

Identity Theft companies can monitor personal information like your Social Security number (SSN), phone number, and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. 

One of the best parts of using my No. 1 pick includes identity theft insurance of up to $1 million to cover losses and legal fees and a white glove fraud resolution team where a U.S.-based case manager helps you recover any losses

Install from official sites

Make sure you are only ever installing browser extensions from official sites like the Chrome Web Store or the Microsoft Edge Add-ons store. These will further guarantee that you won’t become the victim of some bogus browser trying to steal your data.

Copyright 2023  All rights reserved.

10 Tips on Using Public Wi-Fi

Article from Avanta Credit Union

In 2020, we witnessed an outbreak of companies moving their business remotely. As a result,
individuals began traveling and working through public networks. Accessing public Wi-Fi comes with
many cyber threats. Cyber threats are indicative of public networks not being encrypted. Unencrypted
networks make it easier for hackers to steal information. Avanta Credit Union understands the
importance of keeping your data protected

Here are 10 tips on keeping your data safe while using public Wi-Fi.

1 Update your software

2 Use antivirus software

3 Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)

4 Avoid file sharing

5 Verify your network

6 Avoid confidential information

7 Create a Unique Password

8 Verify HTTPS websites

9 Enable Firewalls

10 Use a VPN

Update your software

Software updates protect against cyber threats by finding weak points in your current software.
Software updates can protect you against viruses, ransomware attacks, and security holes. Software
developers send out updates when they discover these weak points, but if you avoid updating your
software, these fixes are useless. Avoid cyber-attacks by keeping your software up to date.

Use antivirus software

Public Wi-Fi exposes your computer to potential risks and viruses. There is a lack of security on public
Wi-Fi and connecting to one opens up your device to potential hackers that will infiltrate your device
with malware. Once the malware is downloaded to your computer, deleting it is impossible. You should
download an antivirus on your computer to protect against malware attacks.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Most applications and websites hold confidential information which requires multi-factor authentication
(MFA) before gaining access. MFA is an authentication method that requires multiple verification factors to gain access online. When operating on public networks, use an MFA to keep hackers from gaining access to your device.

Avoid File Sharing

Filesharing offers digital information like photos, documents, videos, and more to be shared online by
multiple users. Hackers will attach malware to files that send viruses to devices. Hackers also airdrop
files using public Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and receivers will accept the request. Avoid files from devices you
do not know.

Verify Your Network

When remote employees choose to work from a café, the first thing they do after placing their order is
search for public Wi-Fi. Often the café will have a username guest for their public Wi-Fi, but this can be
tricky because a hacker can name their hotspot guest and use it as bait to target people trying to access
public Wi-Fi. To avoid connecting to a hacker’s hotspot, verify the Wi-Fi information with the café
employee. Some cafes will even have their Wi-Fi information posted at the order stand.

Avoid Confidential Information

Staying at home can be hard on mental health, experts often advise people to leave their houses to
avoid going down a dark slope. If you do find yourself needing to leave your home to work somewhere
else, avoid accessing confidential information while using public wi-fi. Confidential information can
include personal information, financial information, and customer information. Instead, wait to access
that information when you’re back at home connected to your wi-fi.

Create a Unique Password

A strong password is key to keeping your information safe and protected. Try creating a strong
password by using a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special
characters. Creating a strong password that is unique for every login makes it difficult for hackers to
steal your information.

Verify HTTPS

Throughout the years, HTTPS websites have been known to be encrypted and considered safe and
secure. Recently, hackers have started jumping on the trend of using HTTPS sites to lure people in. The
FBI recently released information stating to question a website and look out for these clues to verify the
site is safe:

-Check for misspellings or incorrect domain links

-Double-check the website to see if something seems off

-If a link is emailed to you, avoid clicking on it. Instead, go directly to the site.

Enable Firewalls

Working from home can sometimes be unreliable. There have been hundreds of us that suddenly
experience an outage, so we had no choice but to go work at a café. When dealing with situations you
can’t avoid, but need to access specific data it’s important to turn on a firewall. A firewall is a network
security device that monitors traffic to or from your network. It will block any possible cyber threats when

Use a virtual private network (VPN)

Work devices tend to have virtual private networks (VPN). VPNs are a service that protects your internet
connection and privacy. Using a VPN makes it more difficult for hackers to track your activity and steal
your data. If you find yourself connecting to public wi-fi, make sure you are connected to a VPN.

If you connect to public wifi, follow these tips and keep your information safe and protected.

To learn more about cybersecurity safety, click the links below:

Best browser alternatives for the once-popular, now-retired Internet Explorer

If your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device is still running Internet Explorer, you should know that last month, February 2023, Microsoft officially decided to end what was once its most popular browser.

This means that the company will no longer provide technical support or security updates for the browser. Before you freak out, there are other internet browsing alternatives you can use, and it is likely you might like them even more.

Why is Microsoft removing its Internet Explorer browser?

Internet Explorer has been around for 27 years, and when it first came out, people were all about it. However, more advanced browsers have been introduced since then, and to put it simply, Internet Explorer just can’t keep up anymore.

With its performance and security issues becoming a more consistent nightmare for Microsoft, the company has decided to fully switch to its Microsoft Edge browser, which is available for Windows 10, Windows 11, macOS, iOS and Android. 

Microsoft Edge is designed to be faster, more secure and more compatible with modern web standards than Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer will no longer be available on any Microsoft device. As a result, Microsoft is sending a software update to users of Internet Explorer 11 that will permanently disable the browser on any Windows computer that still has it installed.

What browsers can I use instead? 

As mentioned before, Microsoft is fully pushing its users to use Microsoft Edge, which is a pretty reputable browser. Although, there are plenty of alternatives for you to use as well if you do not wish to use Microsoft Edge. Here’s a list of four alternatives.

Google Chrome

Chrome is one of the best browsers out there with an endless library of resources and knowledge. It is also convenient because you can log in to your Google account if you have one and have your Chrome be a little more personalized with autofill and sync features.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is another great web browser to use. It can block notification pop-ups, alert you when your email has been involved in a data breach, and is super customizable so you can make your browsing experience more personal to you.


Safari is a web browser developed by Apple for Apple devices. It is easy to use, works superfast and has some of the best privacy features of any web browser in the game. Plus, it has great syncing features to make your browsing experience easier for you. 


While Opera is not as well-known, it is widely adopted because of its superfast performance and ability to use add-ons from the Chrome library. It also has a built-in ad blocker and VPN, as well as in-browser messaging. 

GPS Navigation Buying Guide

A comprehensive GPS buying guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy a new GPS Unit.

Getting Started

Having a global positioning system (GPS) is an excellent way to navigate the roads of unfamiliar locales. Gone are the days of pulling over for directions or to look at a map.

When shopping for the right GPS, there are a few questions to ask yourself: How will you be using it? Do you need a big display? Are there lifetime map updates? Should you even bother with a GPS, or can you just use your phone for directions? Here’s what you should consider when navigating the GPS market.

How Does it Work?

Armed with your precise latitude, longitude, and other location data, the GPS receiver can overlay this information onto map files stored on the unit, revealing your current position, as well as where you’ve been, and your final destination. Since the receiver is constantly recalculating your location relative to the satellite’s position, the GPS unit can track your location in real time, as well as your speed and direction. This is why it’s harder for the receiver to lock onto, and hold, a signal if you’re traveling through a dense forest or an urban area with tall buildings.

How well a GPS unit will work in your car depends on the location of the antenna. If your vehicle has a factory installed in-dash unit, chances are the antenna is integrated into the dashboard in a place where it has an unobstructed, ideal view of the sky. Many portable models are designed to be positioned directly on the windshield via a suction cup mounting device, giving the antenna a wide sky view. There are also add-on antennas available that allow you to keep the GPS receiver close to the front seat for easy viewing without sacrificing signal quality.

Types of GPS Devices

Basic GPS

The basic GPS is perfect for your car navigation. You can reach key destinations based on where they are located and even visit “hot spots” along the way. When it comes to Car Navigation Systems, make sure to pick the style and size you want. Do you want audible directions? How big will you want the display? These are important features for convenience as well as for safety.

Marine GPS

Designed for avid anglers and boaters, Marine units will feature a water resistant or waterproof shell and special aquatic features. Waster resistance is a must for marine GPS units.

Motorcycle GPS

Designed by bikers, for bikers, Motorcycle GPS units are similar to their marine and handheld cousins with special motorcycle focused features.

Golf GPS

Golf GPS units have preloaded courses and downloadable updates for courses not included. Features are designed to eliminate guesswork and improve your golf experience.

Mobile Phone GPS

Modern Smartphone’s have beefed up their GPS receiver’s strength – as their use continues to increase, users are forgoing the stand- alone GPS unit and utilizing mobile GPS applications like Google Maps and Apple Maps.


Points-Of-Interest (POI)

A good GPS will also have access to a comprehensive “Point-Of-Interest (POI)” database containing popular locations such as airports, hospitals, dining, shopping, service stations, and more. This particular feature is a must if you’re traveling in unfamiliar territory and someone needs to use the restroom or a bite to eat.

Screen Size

Users who prefer the portable design have a vast array of screen sizes and aspect ratios available; from the pocket-friendly 3.5-inch to a massive 7-inch design. Permanent GPS units have similar screen sizes; however the choices available depend on the installation requirements.

Spoken Street Names

Voice-and-text-prompted driving directions are the foundation of any in-car GPS system. This feature allows for the driver to maintain focus on the road while the GPS unit narrates turn-by-turn directions.

Traffic Updates

Real-time traffic information can help avoid or plan a trip around know congestion points and times and guide you around. This service is only available in some cities and coverage is typically limited to major roads.

Lane Guidance

This feature helps guide the driver to the appropriate lane in order to execute their next direction.

Map Options

Look for a model that includes street-level maps for the areas plan on traveling to. Most units sold in the U.S. market feature built-in maps for the lower 48 states, but if you often find yourself in Alaska, Canada, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or Mexico, make sure that your chosen device includes the appropriate maps. Users can also purchase software updates for North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and Australia. Check with the manufacture for details on which maps are included and which can be downloaded. If your model has free maps, you can receive these updates free of charge.

Lifetime Maps

Some models may have letters such as LMT, LM, and LT in their names. These stand for free lifetime maps and traffic, free lifetime maps, and free lifetime traffic respectively. These units have free ($75 per update value) updates that maintain current traffic conditions, points-of-interests, and navigation information. Free maps also gives the user access to map updates that can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.


Auxiliary Antennas

These antennas can be mounted at the base of your windshield to improve signal reception.


To help protect your unit, a case is great way to store your device, when not in use.


You can pick up various mounting devices, including removable dashboard mounts (right), motorcycle mounting kits, and low-profile external antenna mounts that attach to the trunk of your car.

Why Spam Comments Exist (and How to Stop Them)

WordPress comment spam seems inevitable. No matter what type of website you’re running, if you allow visitors to comment on your posts, you’ll find spam. The more popular your content is, the more you’ll get. These unwanted contributions interrupt the flow of the dialog in your comments section, annoy you and your community, reduce your site’s credibility, and decrease traffic. But why, exactly, do people leave spam comments and what can you do about them?

Why spam comments exist

To generate backlinks for SEO purposes 

It used to be common practice, and a fairly effective one, to post links in comments and forums on other websites to improve search rankings. This stopped being the case years ago when various platforms began using the nofollow attribute, which prevents Google from crediting those links in their search rankings. This doesn’t stop spammers from trying, though. 

To increase traffic and sales on another website 

Those links might not improve SEO anymore, but they can still help people generate more traffic and boost sales. Some comments containing these links are easy to identify, especially if they’re automated, as they’ll usually contain misspellings, use strange words, or be entirely off-topic. 

When left by individuals, though, they can be more difficult to spot and may be relevant, well-written, and even helpful. 

To capture your visitors’ information or direct them to phishing sites 

This is what website owners see the most because much of it is done by bots — software that can send out millions of form submissions and emails in a short amount of time. With this type of spam, you might see a lot of links to websites claiming to sell cheap prescription drugs, online dating services, gambling, and questionable products.

How to stop spam comments

Option one: Manual moderation

discussion settings in WordPress to prevent spam

In your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings → Discussion to review your options for comment moderation. From there, you can:

  • Disable pingbacks and trackbacks. Pingbacks are automatically generated when someone links to your website if both sites have them enabled. A pingback will also contain a link to the site that linked to yours. While this sounds like it might be valuable, it’s extremely susceptible to spam. 
  • Edit other comment settings. Enable “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” and “Automatically close comments older than X days.”
  • Hold comments in a queue. Select “Comments must be manually approved” and/or “Comment author must have a previously approved comment.”
  • Block comments with certain words or phrases. If you see a pattern of words associated with spam comments, you can input them in the Comment Moderation section. You can also send comments directly to the Trash that contain specific keywords, URLs, IP addresses, emails, and more. 
  • Hold a comment if it contains one or more links. Since links in a comment are often an indicator of spam, you can choose to hold all comments with multiple links for moderation. 

After saving your settings, you’ll still need to review comments as they come in and delete spam as you find it. This can take a lot of time, keeping you from the important tasks of content generation, sales, and audience engagement. You also risk accidentally approving spam comments, deleting relevant comments that contribute to the conversation, or lagging behind and allowing spam comments to build up. 

Option two: Automated filtering 

This is a popular option for WordPress site owners because most want to avoid the frustration of tedious manual comment moderation. Here are a few features of an anti-spam tool like Jetpack Anti-spam: 

  • Automated moderation saves you time. Jetpack Anti-spam eliminates the need to manually approve or delete spam comments and automatically filters pingbacks and trackbacks. There are also no cumbersome CAPTCHAs, improving user experience and engagement.
  • Accurate filtering that learns as it goes. No automated system is 100% accurate. But Jetpack Anti-spam is adept at filtering spam right out of the gate, and also learns from user input. If the occasional spam comment slips through and you manually mark it as spam, the system learns from this input. Over time, you’ll see less and less spam.
  • Advanced stats. Identify problem IP addresses and check stats on spam, ham (legitimate comments), missed spam, false positives, and overall accuracy rates. You can view stats by month or by year.
  • Contact form spam prevention. Jetpack also helps prevent contact form spam if you use Jetpack forms, Gravity Forms, or Contact Form 7.
  • Trusted performance with Akismet. Jetpack Anti-spam uses Akismet’s best-in-class spam protection engine to deliver a 99.9% accurate experience. Akismet is a long-established anti-spam plugin for WordPress that’s not only one of the most popular, but also one of the most reliable. Over the past 15 years, Akismet has filtered more than 500 billion spam comments. If you’re only looking for spam protection, this is your best choice. If you’re interested in other security features like backups, malware scanning, brute force attack protection, and downtime monitoring, then Jetpack gives you everything in one package.

Automating spam prevention saves you time, money, and frustration. It also leads to a better user experience and contributes to improved search rankings. 

Ready to start slaying comment spam in your sleep? Get Jetpack Anti-spam and rest easy.This entry was posted in Security. Bookmark the permalink.

Millions of Windows 10 users warned over dangerous ransomware threat

Written By Jeff Parsons.

A fake update allegedly for the Windows 10 operating system is instead hijaking computers with ransomware.

Hundreds of PCs across the world have already fallen victim to the scam, with millions more at risk.

Known as the Magniber ransomware, it appears as a normal Windows security update.

It appears to have started spreading around the internet early last month.

While it can be distributed under different names, the most common appear to be: Win10.0_System_Upgrade_Software.msi and Security_Upgrade_Software_Win10.0.msi.

According to victims who have reported the virus to BleepingComputer, it is largely targeting students and non-professional users.

Once a computer has been infected, users are served a warning saying that all their personal files have been encrypted.

The Magniber ransomware drops a README.html document in each folder it encrypts which points users towards the hacker’s Tor payment site.

The website will provide victims with one free file that is decrypted without a charge – but forces them to pay in cryptocurrency to unlock the rest.

It seems the majority of demands have been set at around 0.068 Bitcoins, which equals out to about $2,600 or £2,000.

Microsoft has updated its support pages with strategies for combating the latest wave of ransomware attacks. But unfortunately, it cannot help anyone who has fallen for the scam.

Microsoft advises to use its anti-malware software Windows Defender but notes ‘there is no one-size-fits-all response if you have been victimized by ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of computer virus that takes over a victim’s PC and then locks them out of their own system.

It will often encrypt or steal files from the user until a ransom is paid – often this is asked for in untraceable cryptocurrency.

Ransomware can be small, targeting just a few isolated users, or large – infecting entire companies or governments.

Nowadays, ransomware is common and deployed freely by hackers. It first gained mass consciousness when it brought the NHS to a standstill in 2017.

During that attack, a type of ransomware called WannaCry infected 200,000 computers in over 150 countries.

NHS England reported at least 80 out of the 236 trusts were affected by the cyber-attack and locked out of their systems. In addition, 603 primary care and other NHS organizations, including 595 GP practices, were also affected.

The WannaCry incident ended up costing the UK £92 million, with global costs of the malware adding up to a whopping £6 billion.

Internet Explore is Obsolete

Admin Note: WordPress is the backbone used to create many of todays Websites, Including this Website, so if you’re viewing this website using Internet Explorer it will NOT display correctly. Instead use Apple Safari, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge browsers. This website is built using WordPress.

Microsoft is dropping support for IE 

Microsoft is taking another big step toward getting rid of Internet Explorer next year, but not every Windows variant still will be IE-free by 2022.

We’ve known seemingly forever that Microsoft someday intended to get rid of Internet Explorer. But it wasn’t until today, May 19, that we got an actual date. IE will be removed from many, but not all, versions of Windows 10 on June 15, 2022

June 15, 2022 date for retirement of the IE11 desktop application is for most versions of Windows 10, but not all. The retirement does not affect “in-market” Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) or Server Internet Explorer 11 desktop apps, Microsoft officials said. It also doesn’t affect the MSHTML (“Trident”) rendering engine. 

The replacement for IE on Windows 10, obviously, is the new Microsoft Chromium-based Edge. Edge has Internet Explorer (IE) Mode, designed to provide compatibility for legacy IE-based sites and apps.

Here’s the fine print as to which versions of Windows are affected by this announcement: IE 11 will be retired for Windows 10 client SKUs (version 20H2 and later) and Windows 10 IoT (version 20H2 and later). Products not affected by this retirement include IE Mode in Edge; IE 11 desktop on Windows 8.1, Windows 7 (with Extended Security Updates), Windows 10 Server Semi-Annual Channel (all versions), Windows 10 IoT LTSC (all versions; Windows 10 Server LTSC (all versions) and Windows 10 client LTSC (all versions). 

Microsoft’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on this says IE Mode will be supported on Windows Client, Server and IoT releases through at least 2029. Microsoft will give one year of notice before retiring the IE Mode experience, officials said.

Last year, Microsoft provided some guidance, but no definitive date, for IE11’s retirement. At that time, officials said that after November 30, 2020, Microsoft Teams would no longer support IE11. And  August 17, 2021, is the date when Microsoft 365, all up, will no longer support IE11.

After March 9, 2021, Microsoft no longer provided any security updates for the legacy Edge desktop app, officials said. They are calling this the “end of life” date for legacy Edge.

WordPress Drops Support of Internet Explorer

The following information comes from

Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) was released over 7 years ago and is currently used by less than 1% of all users on the Internet with usage rapidly declining. A large majority of popular websites have already stopped supporting IE11 (including Microsoft Teams in 2020), and even the Microsoft 365 apps and services will be dropping support later this year.

When WordPress 5.8 is released in July of this year, Internet Explorer 11 will no longer be supported.

If you are currently using IE11, it is strongly recommended that you switch to a more modern browser, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge. IE11 users have been shown a warning that IE11 is considered outdated in the WordPress dashboard for the last 17+ months.

If you are already using one of the more modern browsers above, you will only be positively impacted by this change, as there are performance benefits to dropping IE11 support. However, if any other users of your site are still using IE11, it’s possible they will be affected.

What does “dropping support” mean?

When support for a browser is removed from WordPress, new features are no longer tested on those browsers and are not guaranteed to function optimally.

Automated tools that generate parts of the WordPress Core source code are also updated to exclude unsupported browsers. This means that any feature relying on these generated files will likely have bugs or stop working for users of those browsers.

The block editor will be the area of WordPress most heavily impacted by this change because almost all of the files related to the block editor are compiled using these automated tools. Other areas of the WordPress dashboard also use CSS built with these tools and their appearance will potentially be impacted when using IE11.

All other areas of the code base that are IE11 specific will need to be identified, evaluated, and removed on a case-by-case basis as the rest are manually maintained. This process will begin in the WordPress 5.9 release, and will likely happen gradually over several major releases. Additionally, any bugs which are reported for IE11 will not be fixed.

How will this affect themes?

No changes will be made to any of the default bundled themes as a result of this plan. No code related to IE11 support (or any other browser that may have been supported when each theme was released) will be removed from default themes. However, any new features added going forward will not be tested in IE11.

If you are not using a default theme, it’s still unlikely that your theme will be affected by this change. Themes typically have their own browser support policies, and changes in WordPress Core do not affect those. It’s possible that your theme author may have removed support for IE11 already.

If IE11 support is important to you and you are unsure whether your theme supports IE11, it is recommended that you reach out to your theme’s developer to confirm.

More information on this change can be found on the Making WordPress Core blog.

How to stop junk text messages and spam for good


Think about just how many times a day your phone, computer, tablet, watch and other gadgets buzz or ding. with junk messages, it gets annoying and distracting.

Much of that is likely because you haven’t taken the time to clean up your notifications settings. It’s easier than you think with this quick tech fix. While you’re adjusting settings, I bet you’ll find apps you haven’t used in ages. Tap or click for 5 apps you should delete right now.

Then it’s time to tackle the actual junk. If you’ve ever sighed at the sight of spam texts and emails, you’ll love this. Here’s a secret to throwing spammers off your trail.

Think about just how many times a day your phone, computer, tablet, watch and other gadgets buzz or ding. It gets annoying and distracting.

Much of that is likely because you haven’t taken the time to clean up your notification’s settings. It’s easier than you think with this quick tech fix. While you’re adjusting settings, I bet you’ll find apps you haven’t used in ages. Tap or click for 5 apps you should delete right now.

Then it’s time to tackle the actual junk. If you’ve ever sighed at the sight of spam texts and emails, you’ll love this. Here’s a secret to throwing spammers off your trail.

Instead, take these steps:

  • For an email: Mark as spam, then hit delete.
  • For a text: Block the phone number and mark the message as spam. Then hit the delete button.

You can also forward spam texts to 7726 (that spells “SPAM”). You’ll get back a message from your carrier asking you to reply with the phone number that sent the offending text. It only takes a minute and can help put a stop to some spam campaigns.

If you have an iPhone:

  • Find the spam message. Press down on it until a menu pops up.
  • Press More in the lower right. Then, tap on the arrow icon.
  • Now you’ll see a forwarded message. Tap on the to: field. Then, enter 7726 and send the message.

If you use an Android phone:

  • Hold down on the spam message.
  • Hit the forward arrow.
  • Send the message to 7726.

Want to be a superhero?

Go beyond the call of duty and contact the FTC and file a formal complaint. While this step requires more time and effort, it’s an excellent way to fight against spammers. Consider it your good deed for the day.

MORE HELP: 6 more clever ways to put a stop to spam texts 

Give your inbox a little help

Spam certainly isn’t limited to calls and texts. Take a look at your inbox. In September 2020, spam accounted for over 47% of all emails sent across the globe, according to Statista.

Most email services do a decent job of detecting spam messages, but you can help the sorting process by confirming or denying automatic spam detection. When you get a spam message that wasn’t labeled as such, don’t just delete it. Hit the “report spam” button to train the algorithm to recognize these malicious messages better.

You can even do the opposite if you find innocuous emails in the spam folder. Label it as “not spam.” 

3 more quick tips for cutting down on email spam

If your inbox is bloated, do something about it. Consider these tactics:

  1. Create two email addresses. Use one for personal use and the other for things like shopping, newsletters, surveys and coupons. If you don’t want a separate inbox, try using aliases or create a burner email for one-time use.
  2. Never display your email address on public sites. Scammers trawl social networking sites, forums, and blogs for emails. If you do want to post your email address somewhere, write it out, so it’s hard for a bot to pick up, like “name at domain dot com.”
  3. Use an original email address. Did you know spammers try to create probable name combinations? Folks with common names are even bigger targets. Try to make a unique address that spammers won’t think up, even if that means adding an extra letter or other characters.

Bottom line: Don’t interact with spammers. When you respond, that’s a green light for them to keep chugging towards you.

Snow Blower Buying Guide

How to Pick the Perfect Snow Thrower

There’s only one thing worse than getting 12 inches or more of heavy snow you weren’t prepared for: worrying about how you’re going to move it.

Don’t risk your back again this winter. People aren’t made to move snow, and that’s why we have snow throwers to do the heavy lifting for us.

The right snow blower makes a blizzard easy to tackle, and even a little fun, too. Plus, you’ll be amazed at how much easier, faster, and safer they are than risking serious injury by using a shovel.

There are five distinct styles of snow blowers to choose from:

Single-Stage vs 2-Stage and 3-Stage snowblowers


Electric Snow Blower

Electric snow blowers are capable of clearing light snow (less than 12 inches) from sidewalks and small driveways. These extremely lightweight machines are commonly used on decks and steps where larger gas-powered models simply don’t fit.

Electric snow blowers are virtually maintenance-free and eliminate the need for oil changes or fill-ups. All you need is a cold weather extension cord and an electrical outlet and you’ll be clearing your driveway in seconds.

Battery-powered (cordless) snowblower technology is getting better every year, and offers all of the advantages of electric units while ditching the extension cord for maximum portability. Plus, some brands are designing their batteries to be interchangeable with other power equipment, so your snowblower battery can power your leaf blower or chainsaw, too.


Single-Stage Snow Blower

In very basic terms, these gas-powered single-stage snow blowers only throw the snow once with an auger that scoops up the snow and throws it out the chute. These gas-powered units are the lightest, smallest, and easiest to handle.

They have some basic features and accessories available and are great for suburban areas that get moderate snowfall. If you don’t mind clearing your driveway multiple times during a snowstorm, this price point might be great for you.

Since the auger paddles actually make contact with the ground, you should not use a single-stage snow thrower on gravel surfaces, or you’ll risk injury to others or damage to your driveway.

Though single-stage snow blower models vary across brands, most are typically 18-22 inches wide and meant to handle snowfalls up to 8-12 inches. The most limiting factor, however, is their height—not the width. If you’re frequently battling 12-inch snow drifts, a single-stage snowblower won’t be powerful enough; you’ll need a 2 or 3-stage instead.


Two-Stage Snow Blower

Two-stage snow blowers, on the other hand, outperform both electric and single-stage throwers in every category. These powerful machines can handle upwards of 18+ inches of snow with ease, and their heavier, sturdier design helps you tackle deep and heavy snow without slowing down.

The distinct difference is that these blowers throw snow twice. First, a metal auger scoops up the snow and ice. Then, a high-speed impeller throws it out through the discharge chute to keep the snow moving and prevent clogging the intake bucket.

The auger on a two-stage snow blower doesn’t touch the ground, so they can be used on gravel and concrete. Plus, they feature taller buckets capable of tearing through the snowdrifts and pile-ups at the end of your driveway or mailbox.

If you need to clear large, deep expanses of snow, you’ll appreciate the wider and more powerful two-stage snowblower.


Three-Stage Snow Blower

Three-stage snow blowers are the most powerful and efficient snow blowers on the market. First, two metal augers scoop up the snow and ice. Then they move it toward the center of the unit where an accelerator chops and pushes the snow through the impeller, launching it out of the chute at high speed.

These blowers have all of the features you need to make sure your time spent removing snow isn’t just comfortable, but also easy. Some popular features on these models can include self-propelled wheels, heated grips, and single-press chute control.

If a snow plow leaves frozen, compacted walls of snow at the end of your driveway, this machine will plow through 20+ inches high heaps while launching it 50 feet away.

How to connect your laptop to your Smart TV

Let’s face it. Sometimes your laptop screen just isn’t big enough for everything you want to do. Then, you look over at your lonely 55-inch Smart TV longing to be used and wonder if there’s a way to connect the two. Yes, there is!

Every day, Asurion Experts help our 300 million customers (and counting!) get the most out of their tech, including their Smart TVs. In this guide, we’re sharing all you need to know to help you connect your laptop to your TV, whether you want to swap your small screen for a big screen for viewing movies, or to use your TV as a monitor while working from home , or you just want a bigger screen to see your friends’ faces over video chat.

After reading this post check the laptops I have to offer

How to connect your laptop to your TV via HDMI

One of the most reliable (and one of the easiest) ways to connect your TV and laptop is with an HDMI cable. An HDMI cable transmits video and audio signals between two devices.

HDMI cables are the same on both ends, so it doesn’t matter which one goes into the TV or the laptop.

To connect your laptop to your TV with an HDMI cable:

  1. Plug one end of the HDMI cable into your HDMI input on your laptop.
  2. Plug the other end of the cable into one of the HDMI inputs on your TV.
  3. Using the remote control, select the input that corresponds to where you plugged in the cable (HDMI 1, HDMI 2, HDMI 3, etc.).

A wired connection between your laptop and TV ensures better picture quality and shorter lag time.

How to connect your laptop to your Smart TV wirelessly

Depending on the type of computer you have, you may be able to ditch the cables and connect wirelessly.


  1. Open the action center in the lower right corner of the screen. (It looks like a chat bubble.)
  2. From the dashboard, select Connect.
  3. At the bottom right, click Projecting to the PC.
  4. From the Settings page, select either Available everywhere on secure networks or Available everywhere.
  5. Under “Ask to project this PC” choose either First time only or every time, based on your personal preference. You can also decide if you want to require a PIN.
  6. Your PC will alert you that your TV wants to connect, click Yes.
  7. Once it connects, your PC will launch the Windows connect app.


If you have a compatible Smart TV, you can easily connect your laptop to it through AirPlay. Compatible devices include Apple TV or Airplay 2-enabled Smart TVs (i.e. TVs from 2019 or later from Samsung, LG or Vizio). Airplay allows you to stream videos or mirror the display on your device’s screen on your TV.

Here’s how to connect your laptop to your TV using Airplay:

  1. Make sure your laptop and Apple TV or Airplay 2-enabled Smart TV are on the same Wi-Fi network.
  2. On your laptop, open the app or pull up the website that you want to stream video from.
  3. In the video playback controls, select the Screen Mirroring icon.
  4. Choose either your Apple TV or Airplay 2-enabled Smart TV.

To end your streaming session, tap the Screen Mirroring icon in the video playback controls, then choose Turn Off Airplay.


If you’d like to go wireless and connect your Chromebook to your TV without an HDMI cable, you’ll need to buy a Google Chromecast to plug into your Smart TV.

Here’s how to connect your Chromebook to your Smart TV with Chromecast:

  1. Connect your Chromecast to the HDMI port on your Smart TV.
  2. Using your remote control, select the HDMI input that corresponds to where you plugged it in.
  3. Open the Chrome browser on your computer and select Cast.
  4. If this is your first time setting it up, follow the directions on screen to complete the device setup.
  5. In the lower right corner, you should see “Cast devices available,” select it to see all the casting options you have available:

The Best Home Theater Systems

Maybe you’ve gone out and splurged on a high-end TV only to realize its internal speakers are dinky. Or maybe you’re more interested in building the man cave of your dreams. Regardless of your motivations, it’s not uncommon to dread the act of researching, buying, and installing a home theater system on your own. Truth is, though, it doesn’t need to be such a daunting task. With a little help on the research side (that’s us), you can get yourself an easy-to-install system with modern features (like Bluetooth) for a reasonable price. Below, we’ve chosen a few systems that are well-priced, produce high-quality audio, and are user-friendly enough for the everyday Joe or Joanne to install without breaking a sweat.

After reading this post why not checkout all the Home theaters we have to offer.

The Best Home Theater Systems

Rockville HTS56 5.1-Channel Home Theater System

Best Overall

Rockville HTS56 1000w 5.1 Channel Home Theater System/Bluetooth/USB+8" Subwoofer

Rock solid performance

This 5.1-channel system may not blow your mind, but it’ll blow other similarly priced competitors out of the water.

Touting two front speakers, two rear speakers, a center speaker, and a subwoofer, this system provides everything you need to set up a surround-sound system at home. The best part? It costs less than a fancy dinner for two at that overpriced new haunt in town. Capable of doing battle with sound systems twice its price, when it comes to Rockville, we say buy a ticket on this train while there’s still room.


  • Syncs with Bluetooth
  • Remote is intuitive and reliable


  • Audiophiles: we know. This one’s not for you.
  • Speaker wires could be a bit longer

Polk Audio 5.1 Home Theater System

Best With Towers

Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer |Two (2) T15 Bookshelf, One (1) T30 Center Channel, Two (2) T50 Tower Speakers, PSW10 Sub | Alexa + HEOS

Speakers that tower above most

Looking for a bundle with tower speakers? This is one of the best one’s money can buy.

Few names in the game are as well-respected as Polk. With nearly a half-century’s worth of success under their belt, the folks at Polk have demonstrated that they simply know what they’re doing. If you’re looking for a 5.1 system that can reproduce the whole frequency range accurately and do it at a more-than-reasonable price, here’s your pick.


  • Crisp and dulcet high-end frequencies
  • The system is quite easy to install, even for those with minimal tech know-how. This makes it a great gift for parents and older folks
  • Heavy-duty construction ensures the system’s longevity


  • If you have big pets at home, you’ll want to make sure the towers are secured so that your pets don’t knock them over

Polk Audio MagniFi Max SR Home Theater

Best Compact Size

Polk Audio MagniFi Max SR Home Theater Surround Sound Bar | Works with 4K & HD TVs | HDMI, Optical Cables, Wireless Subwoofer & Two Speakers Included Black

Raise the bar

Looking for a more streamlined setup? Keep it simple, silly.

With a wireless subwoofer, two wireless surround speakers, and a soundbar, this compact system offers a convenient surround-sound solution to those living in tight quarters. The patented Stereo Dimensional Array surround-sound technology creates a realistic soundstage in which each source seems sonically distinct. You don’t have to be an audiophile to know that when your system’s audio output sounds all blended together, that’s not a good thing, and this ensures that’s not the case. Oh, and on top of that, you can use your TV’s remote control with this one, rather than having to add another annoying remote to the collection.


  • Works very well for dialogue
  • Installation is simple thanks to the plug-and-play configuration
  • Easy to switch between pre-set sound modes for sports, movies, TV, etc.
  • Built-in Chromecast integration
  • Night mode is handy for those living in shared spaces


  • “Forgets” its precise EQ settings when it enters sleep mode, so you’ll have to manually readjust those settings back to how you had them

Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4

Best Premium

Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4 Channel 800W Dolby Atmos Soundbar with Dual 8” Subwoofers (Wireless) & 2 Rear Surround Speakers. Enjoy Plug and Play True 360° Premium Cinema Sound & Room-Shaking Bass

Dive in to the experience

Ready to splurge? Here’s what to aim for.

Looking to have the emperor over for movie night? Time to pull out the stops. If you want to transform your living room into a theater for real, this is where you should look. With growling dual subwoofers (wireless), a soundbar that puts other soundbars to shame, and two 2-way rear speakers capable of reminding you of what sonic bliss sounds like, this system easily brings the ambiance of the cinema into your cozy home. Sure, it’s a bit costly, but considering the marvelous build quality of the hardware, the near-universal compatibility, and the expandable configuration, this system is nothing to sneeze at.


  • Excellent frequency response
  • The realistic sound stage makes music come to life
  • Dual subwoofers make the low-end a mighty force to be reckoned with
  • Great for those building an all-around entertainment lounge


  • Yes, it’s a bit costly, but if you’re serious about high-quality sound, it’s worth every penny

Fluance SXHTB-BK Surround Sound System

Best Value

Fluance Elite High Definition Surround Sound Home Theater 5.0 Channel Speaker System Including Floorstanding Towers, Center Channel and Rear Surround Speakers - Black Ash (SXHTB-BK)

The price is right

So maybe you’re not flush with cash, but maybe you’re struggling to get by, either. If you’re somewhere in between, this system offers the perfect balance between cost and quality.

Talk to a purist in the realm of high-end audio, and they’ll tell you a sound system of this price isn’t worth looking twice at. That’d be a poor assumption to make, though, because this setup from Fluance punches above its weight and then some.

If you’re looking for twangling heights, the neodymium balanced silk dome tweeters have you covered. Want smooth, silky mids? No problem — the 6.5″ woofers on the floor-standing speakers can make that happen. Touting a center channel, 2 wall-mountable surround speakers, and 2 floor-standing tower speakers — all housed in rugged wood, by the way — this 5-channel system will deliver. Do you want to land a bargain? Here’s your chance.


  • Incredible cost value
  • The sleek design can complement the decor of most homes
  • Ruggedly built, so you can expect these to last a long, long time


  • Doesn’t include a subwoofer, so to bring the low end to life, you’ll need to purchase one separately

Frequently Asked Questions

What it does mean if a home theater system is “5.1”? What about “7.2”?

Take those two numbers and add them together. That’s how many channels your system has. Since 5 + 1 = 6, a 5.1 system has 6 channels. The “5” tells you how many standard speakers channels it has, and the “1” refers to the number of subwoofers it has. If you apply the same logic to a 7.2 system, you’d gather that it has 7 standard channels and 2 subwoofer channels.

Please note that this number doesn’t necessarily mean the system you’re buying comes with that many speakers included. Rather, the number might mean “this is how many speakers you could use with this system, although you’ll have to supply some of them on your own.” Be sure to read the product description to be sure of exactly what you’re getting.

What is a subwoofer, and do I need it?

A subwoofer is a type of speaker specially designed to reproduce sounds in the lower end of the frequency range. Standard woofers and tweeters are designed to reproduce mid-range and high-end frequencies well, but they fall short at delivering those rumbling bass tones that give depth to your soundstage. Though you don’t necessarily need one, a subwoofer will bring movies, video games, and music to life.

Do I need to buy a receiver?

Most speakers require a source of amplification. Speakers that don’t have their own built-in amplification are referred to as “passive” speakers. Typically, you’ll amplify passive speakers by buying a receiver, which has its own built-in amplifier. Unless your speakers are referred to as “active” speakers, then yes, you’ll need to amplify your speakers.

The publisher earns affiliate commissions from Amazon for qualifying purchases. The opinions expressed about the independently selected products mentioned in this content are those of the publisher, not Amazon.

What is an unlocked phone, and how do I know if my phone is unlocked?

If you’re shopping for a new smartphone, chances are you’ll stumble across the term “unlocked phone.” What is an unlocked phone exactly, and how do you know if it’s unlocked? Even more, do you even want an unlocked phone, and would it be safe to use? We answer all these burning questions inquiring minds want to know.

What is an unlocked phone?

What is an unlocked phone anyhow? In simple terms, an unlocked phone is a device that isn’t tied to one specific carrier. Typically, when you’re locked into a ball-and-chain monthly contract, the associated phone remains locked to that specific carrier’s network.

Why? Because wireless carriers sell phones at a discount. To recover financial losses from subsidizing, carriers lock customers into a multi-year contract while locking the phone to its network. This prevents customers from getting a discounted phone and jumping networks without paying their bill. It also prevents the sale of phones prior to paying them off.

That said, you can’t install SIM cards from competing networks and expect instant connectivity. Even if the phone has the hardware to support other networks and you’ve made all the payments, it usually remains carrier-locked until you make a formal request and meet specific conditions.

For instance, if you get the Samsung Galaxy S9 through AT&T, it remains tied to that network until you submit an unlock request. However, you can only submit this request if the device is paid off in full, you’ve completed your contract agreement, you’ve used the device for a specific number of days on the network, and so on.

Here are links to the unlock requirements for the four major carriers in North America:

Of the four, Verizon is the only carrier that doesn’t lock phones even if contracts and payment plans aren’t complete. This stems from an agreement Verizon made with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) when it acquired block C spectrum. Verizon’s unlock stance may eventually change, as the company seeks the FCC’s approval on a new policy that will lock devices for 60 days after purchase.

In addition to postpaid plans and phones, restrictions also apply to prepaid plans and associated devices purchased through wireless carriers. These phones do not have payment plans, but carriers still want time and financial investments before unlocking these devices. For example, T-Mobile requires an active account and one of two options: Use the device for a year on T-Mobile’s network or spend at least $100 in refills.

Unlocking versus jailbreaking

Sticker showing the IMEI numbers of a device - what does an unlocked phone mean

One of the big errors we see is the term “jailbreak” (or even rooting) incorrectly associated with unlocking phones. Jailbreaking specifically pertains to software, as you remove the phone’s media restrictions to install a different operating system or delete/hide unwanted pre-installed apps that can’t be removed. To that extent, you are “unlocking” the phone’s true potential or “unlocking” it from software-based restrictions, but it’s still not carrier unlocked.

Typically, phone locking starts on the SIM card level to accept a specific mobile network code. But the other half of that restriction stems from your phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity number (aka IMEI). This number is unique to each phone and used to identify all devices accessing terrestrial cellular networks, including smartwatches, laptops, modems, tablets, and more.

Moreover, all IMEI numbers have linked codes used to unlock a phone. Manufacturers store these codes in a database accessible by carriers and other third-party services. This prevents you from ripping the SIM card out of the Galaxy S9 you’re currently buying through AT&T and use it on T-Mobile’s network. The IMEI number is still tied to AT&T, thus the only way to unlock the phone is to make all the payments, send AT&T an unlock request, and get the unlock code.

According to a quick chat with T-Mobile, you can take this route or allow the carrier to pay up to $650 in device and termination fees. In turn, you must give T-Mobile the phone and purchase a new device through the company.

You can buy unlocked phones

Google Pixel 3 and iPhone XS in hand - what does unlocked phone mean

You can get a carrier-free phone from most retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and more. You’ll pay full price up front versus the typical payment plan through carrier contracts, thus the fancier the phone, the bigger the bite from your wallet.

For instance, you can get factory-unlocked versions of the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Sony Xperia XZ3, Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus, Google’s Pixel 3 XL, and even Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9. Want the unlocked version of Samsung’s Galaxy S10+ phone? You can get that as well starting at $999. Gamers can grab the unlocked Asus ROG Phone for $999.

But before you purchase an unlocked phone, you need to see if it’s compatible. Wireless networks in North America use two different standards: Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications used by AT&T, T-Mobile and a few prepaid carriers, and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) used by Verizon, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and a few prepaid carriers. Most carriers outside the United States rely on GSM networks, as the founding GSM Association is an international organization originally established in 1987.

Due to these two separate standards, a phone built specifically for Verizon and Sprint may not have the bands needed to support AT&T and T-Mobile. The good news is that you can find phones that support both GSM and CDMA connectivity, but you’ll need to dig deeper into the phone’s hardware specifications before making an investment.

Here we run into step 2 of the compatibility roadblock. While AT&T and T-Mobile provide GSM-based cellular networks, they own and use different radio frequencies. T-Mobile openly provides its frequency list here while you can find the other three here along with many other carriers like FreedomPop, Google Fi, Straight Talk, U.S. Cellular, and more. You’ll need to verify that the supported frequencies of the phone match the target carrier frequencies.

“Even if your phone, tablet, or mobile Internet device is compatible with carriers, your device may not operate the same on a different mobile carrier’s network,” T-Mobile warns regarding device compatibility.


A closeup of the SIM card tray seen during a OnePlus 6 teardown.

Short for Subscriber Identification Module, the SIM card stores what your phone needs to access a specific network. This data includes your mobile subscriber identity number, encryption keys, contacts, SMS messages, and more. It’s a small, physical card that typically fits into a pull-out slot on the side of your phone. When you swap wireless carriers, you swap SIM cards as well.

Originally introduced in 1991, newer, smaller generations are typically released every six to eight years. What we have today is the nano-SIM card introduced in 2012 measuring just over a square centimeter. Some devices also use the new embedded SIM module (eSIM) mounted inside the device, eliminating the need for swappable, disposable cards that can be lost or damaged.

Due to the difference between SIM cards and eSIM modules, check to see if the unlocked smartphone you want to buy includes the latter eSIM module, and if it’s supported by your wireless carrier. Recent devices packing eSIM modules include Apple’s iPhone XSiPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, Apple’s new Watch Series 4, Samsung’s Gear S2 and S3 smartwatches, and more.

You’ll also find phones with two SIM card slots, allowing the device to access two separate networks. This is good for separating business and personal calls, as you’ll have two separate phone numbers. This duality also provides better coverage, as you could switch from one network to another after moving into a dead area. You can even use one SIM card locally and a separate card internationally, eliminating costly roaming fees.

Dual SIM phones are typically sold unlocked.

How can I tell if my phone unlocked?

If you’re currently making monthly device payments to a carrier other than Verizon, chances are the device is locked. If you paid off the device and submitted an unlock request, the first method of checking its status is to remove the current SIM card and install another card from a different network.

You can also check your phone’s unlock status using its IMEI number. Simply follow these instructions for Apple iOS and Google Android platforms:

  1. Dial *#06# to get your IMEI number in a pop-up window.
  2. Head to
  3. Enter your IMEI number.
  4. Click on the Warranty & Carrier button. However, you’ll need to create a free account to use this specific service.

If you own an iPhone or cellular-capable iPad, there’s another way to check the unlock status:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Open Cellular.
  3. Open Cellular Data.
  4. Cellular Data Options should be present on an unlocked phone.

Again, if your qualified phone is locked to a specific carrier, you’ll need to send an unlock request. The required information includes the device IMEI number, your account number, the account owner’s social security number, phone number, and overseas deployment papers if needed.

The method of unlocking a phone using a code depends on the device. After requesting an unlock for an Android phone, customers receive a code from the carrier through a text message and an on-device pop-up window. The customer then shuts down the phone, removes the first carrier’s SIM card, installs the second carrier’s SIM card, powers on the device, and follows prompts to enter the unlock code.

Another route is to use a special app supplied by carriers. For example, Cricket Wireless provides the myCricket app with an “Unlock Device” option on the app’s sign-in screen. Once the app receives the required code, customers must reboot the phone to complete the unlock process.

For iPhones and iPads, Apple provides unlock instructions here.

In addition to carriers, third-party services can unlock your phone, but doing so could violate your contract. For Android phones, you pay a flat fee in return for an unlock code. These third-party services have access to databases managed by phone manufacturers that contain unlock codes tied to the device IMEI. But be careful: Some third-party services may not be legit and could run with your money.

Unlocked means freedom

Woman with a Smartphone in a Coffee shop


Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what “unlocked” means regarding phones, and how to tell if your current device is locked to a specific network. With an unlocked phone, you have the freedom to choose the best compatible wireless carrier. Even if you paid off the phone and completed contact obligations, the device is all yours and you should have the freedom to switch. Call your carrier today if you’ve met all the required obligations.

5 scams that are fooling even the smartest victims

By Kim Komando USA TODAY

Many people laugh at scams. We see an email from a mysterious stranger. The note is full of odd phrases and terrible misspellings. We instantly share it on social media. “The Prince of Nigeria wants to send me bars and bars of gold!” we write, along with laughing emoji. “Should I take it?” 

But not all scams are so easy to spot. Spammers get more sinister every day, and they use real-sounding email addresses, personal data, well-phrased letters, and actual corporate logos to lure their victims. The savviest con artists work remotely, coaxing money out of people they’ve never met in person. 

In this era of rampant data theft and cyber-crime, it’s more important than ever to be aware of swindlers’ stories because the effects can be felt for months or years. Most cons want to score fast money, but you’ll want to protect all your information from fraud, not just your credit numbers and bank accounts. 

Here are some common scams and ways to defend yourself against them. You’ll want to share this know-how with your family members and friends on social media. It’s so easy to be taken by the swindlers. 

1. Job scam 

Some people joke about being “between jobs,” but there’s nothing funny about unemployment. Looking for a new job is stressful, and as the weeks turn into months, you may jump at any opportunity, no matter how dubious or grim.

Scammers know this, and they prey on desperate people. They send emails with headings like, “Your Résumé” or “Work From Home Job.” At first, these sound like exciting opportunities. Can you really make $1,200 a week sitting on your couch? 

Employment scams are common, and you don’t have to be jobless to find their offers enticing. Many of their targets are the unemployed or underpaid eager for a change of pace. No matter what the location or time of year, scammers find a needy victim with bills to pay. 

This year, I’ve noticed a rise in two different types of job-related scams. These can look very convincing if you don’t know how to watch out for them. 

Mailed Check: In this scam, you apply for a job and get a response. Your potential employer mails you a check. It’ll be made out to you for $500 or so. Of course, that should be a red flag. Why would they pay you before you start working? 

Reputable companies won’t do that. But scammers will call you or email you to say the mailed check was their mistake. They ask you to wire the funds back to them. If you fall for it, their bad check won’t cover the funds so that the money will come out of your bank account. 

Upfront Fees: Some fake companies will require an “activation fee,” or even upfront costs for “training” and “materials.” If you’re dying for work, you might convince yourself that this is normal because you need to “spend money to make money.” Don’t rationalize. Legitimate employers should not require fees. 

2. Vacation scam 

Many Americans get morose about vacations. They don’t have much time off, travel is expensive and complicated, and they’ll only return to mountains of unfinished work, so why bother? 

So when you receive an email about an all-expenses-paid vacation package to Hawaii, you may do a double-take. Did you win some sweepstakes? Have you truly been randomly selected? Is this hotel handing out astonishing promotions? 

Yes, it’s possible to win a vacation, but if you don’t remember entering a contest, run an online check. If you’ve never heard of the company offering you round-trip flights and luxury resorts, be skeptical. In this case, scammers will initiate contact with you. They may call you, send you an email or post a vacation package on Facebook. Then they’ll ask for personal data, like a credit card number to “hold the reservation.” 

Never give this information away unless you know for a fact that the company is legitimate. In the meantime, vacations are healthy and life-affirming, but they are best handled on your own or through a respected travel agency. 

3. Concert and theater scams 

Similar to vacation scams, these scams start with someone contacting you, or you respond to an advertisement that you see posted online. The scammer says they’re selling tickets for a band you’ve been following for years or a hot show. They’ll excitedly tell you about the venue and the great value you’re getting. 

The tickets aren’t free, but they are theoretically discounted. Once they ask you to wire money or submit credit card information, you may not even know it’s a hoax. Tickets can be easy to reproduce with the right gear. You may not know you’ve been taken until you’re turned away at the event because the tickets were fake. 

4. Moving scam 

Late summer is one of the busiest times of year to move into a new home. Whether you’re a student switching apartments or a parent moving to a better school district, you’ll probably find yourself migrating on a sunny weekend in August. 

Fake moving companies may call you, or drop you an email, or leave a flyer on your doorstep. In the ugliest situations, the company will quote a number verbally, move you into your new home, and then demand far more money than you expected. There are some cases of “movers” packing all your worldly possessions into a truck and then driving off with it. 

Do not fall for this scam. Most moving companies will offer to come to your home to see how much furniture they’ll need to move. They will give you a written estimate. They are bonded and have insurance. You get the point. 

Here’s how to stay safe: Check to see if the moving company is a reputable business. Then, have the movers come to your house before the move. Ask them for a final estimate before you pay. 

5. Owed money scam 

Everybody loves automatic payments because they save time writing checks or looking up charges. But as the years wear on, you may have forgotten to pay up. Cards expire, payments fail to go through, and we forget about them. We may even miscalculate our taxes, resulting in a bill and monthly fine. 

So when we receive a letter in the mail marked “Urgent: Payment Requested,” we often think we’ve done something wrong. Did you forget to pay a cable bill in 2007, and should you send a check for $72.89 now? The information is so specific, why should doubt the letter’s sender? The last thing you want is a collections agency on your tail, so why not just pay the fee and get it over with? 

In this case, you should make sure the collector is real. It is perfectly reasonable to receive a letter from a collections agency, especially if you’ve moved a lot or are forgetful about paperwork. But before you send any money, spend a few minutes to see whether this company is legit. 

Speaking of money, there is one legitimate way you may get money back that you totally forgot about. 

Bonus: No scam! Find your unclaimed money 

Right now, there’s an estimated $41.7 billion currently held in government unclaimed property programs, and some of that unclaimed money could be yours. Maybe you forgot to get that deposit back from the electric utility when you rented your first apartment. An insurance company may have issued you a refund on a policy but couldn’t find you. You might have been enrolled in a pension plan that was discontinued. 

In addition to utility refunds and insurance payments, unclaimed property includes abandoned savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, mineral royalty payments and contents of safe deposit boxes. Whew! 

4 Common Facebook Scams and How to Avoid Them

Added on August 16 by Admin written by Dave A. Schippers

Email used to be the delivery method for scams and malware. The good news is, many people are aware of the scams and digital dangers in the email arena. The bad news is many digital miscreants have recycled and updated their digital scams when they followed the masses to Facebook. Below, I’ve compiled some digital dangers commonly employed against us.

Common Facebook Scams

Fake Links/Click Jacking – Fake news, free giveaways, etc. can be delivery methods for malware. Just like email scams of the past, these leverage stories, news or offers that catch your attention. The point is to have you click on a link or share something that propagates malware. Examples include:

  • Direct Messages with links or attempts to get you to look at something.
  • Links resulting in another login request for Facebook/Email Provider – this is to harvest your account.
  • Surveys – Some surveys on Facebook are created to harvest information about users for identity theft/account hijacking/spear phishing (crafted attacks).

Fake Accounts – Fake Facebook accounts can fall into many different types of scams. Examples include:

  • Account Cloning – I’ve seen this approach grow in frequency in the last year. Indications of a cloned account are a second Facebook Friend Request – if you’re already connected on Facebook, you should not receive a second Facebook Friend Request. The old email trick – “I’m in jail in a foreign country, can you send money?” has migrated to Facebook with a different twist.  
  • Friend of Friend/Relative – Some fake accounts are created and operated to entice you to trust them. Within a short period of time, they promise money or ask for it. Many scams revolve around large sums of money if you provide a fee or personal data.
  • Romance – Another common scam are requests to “be friends” or “…get to know you”. I’ve seen many people fall for these accounts. They can be grouped into two primary categories:
    • For the Lulz – Some people create and operate fake accounts for their own personal needs or dysfunctions. They may not ask for money and simply crave attention. I’ve seen men pretend to be women and women pretend to be men in the digital world.  
    • For the Money – These scammers are versed in spending time to build up a dependency.  They may send you small amounts of money to build up their credibility. Eventually, it leads to needing money from you. Once this starts, they go for everything they can get.  Many of these scammers know how to pull your heart strings to get what they want.  

Your Employer – Sometimes it’s not about exploiting you, but who you work for. Cisco’s 2016 Annual Security Report listed malware delivered via Facebook scams as a top delivery method to compromise organizational networks. Great cybersecurity measures are easily compromised by enticing someone to click a link at work. Some employers block Facebook for these specific reasons.  

Protecting Yourself – There are some key steps to protect yourself:  

  • Setup Security – Many people think their accounts are secure and details hidden. Many people lockdown their posts, but leave photographs, check-ins, etc. open. These are all great data sources for scammers to use against you. Lock everything down and test the setup. Open only the functions that you need to.  (If you have security minded friends or family, ask them for help. Sometimes a second set of eyes spot missed settings.)
  • Real World Suspicion – If you wouldn’t do it in the physical world, don’t do it in the digital world. If you met someone on the street who said they lived in your neighborhood 20 years ago and ten minutes later asks for your Social Security Number to give you $2000, you’d be suspicious. You should use the same scrutiny and judgement, and more so, in the digital world. Just because someone says something is true, does not mean it is. It just means they said it. “Never assume anything is true until you verify it yourself.” If it sounds too good to be true, 99% of the time, it is not true.  Be cautious.

Admin Note:

Here are some other scams that are currently going on.

  1. You get an Email or Texted saying you won a Smart TV and just take a short survey and just pay $12.95 for shipping. Bingo they now your Credit card or Debit card information.
  2. You get an Email or Texted saying you won an Apple iPhone 12 or a Samsung Galaxy they claim there from Best Buy again take a short survey and pay $1 Bingo they now have your Credit card or Debit card information.
  3. You get a text message saying there’s a problem with shipping your package saying delivery failed insufficient postage. You say to your self I didn’t order anything. Every one who has bought from Amazon, eBay or Walmart on line that at checkout they collect all fees. So again Bingo they now have your Credit card or Debit card information.
  4. You just won $5,000,000 from PCH and boy do they put a slick presentation up looking just like PCH.COM. All they ask is for you pay for all of their Accountant Fees up front first. Bingo they just took your money and had a good time. Per PCH they never tell anyone in advance that they have WON or collect Account fees.
  5. You get a text message that your extended car warranty is about to expire. What you don’t have a extended car warranty in the first place. Bingo here they go again.
  6. I get Emails, all the time, saying that I have been accepted into this fantastic money making Affiliates Marketing program. Just watch this Video. Boy do they try to make such a fantastic presentation with falls testimonials, like I made $500 the very first day using this Website program I got. And you can get all this, today, for just $39 dollars. Well the fact is once you pay that initial fee then comes the BIG Whammy. Oh you mean you want me to sped hounder’s of dollars for your coaches, for you to get the SEO ratings at the top of Google Search? Yes I am a legitimate Affiliate of Amazon. As this website you are reading this post on is all hand built from the ground up. Yes it has taken hounder’s of hours of work and research to put all of this together. So the bottom line is there’s no such thing as a Magical cheap website. The truth is there is NO such thing as Easy Money.

My Closing thoughts

First be very suspect of these types of scams. Do your research first before you get bitten Do a Google search on what they are trying to get you to do. The internet has some very valid information on all of these scams. So sit down have a cup of Coffee or a glass of Whine maybe a Beer or two and don’t get silly faced on Whiskey before you jump on the Scam Wagon.

There’s an old saying ” there is a sucker is born each day.” So don’t fall for these Scams.

Like Porky the Pig says “That’s all Folks.” So we will see you in the next Cartoon coming soon in a Theater near by you. So stay tuned for the next episode.

Caveat Emptor.  Caveat emptor is a Latin phrase that can be roughly translated in English to “let the buyer beware.” In this case of Scams lets say it means “Let you beware of Scammers.”

Best Apple iPhones

Admin Note: This article was written by Kyle Schurman and is posted here for your information only.

Smartphones have become a modern necessity.

One of the most popular smartphones is Apple’s iPhone. In the U.S., roughly 45% of all smartphone owners own iPhones. Some people enjoy having the latest iPhone, regardless of expense. Others are happy to keep using the same iPhone for years.

If you like the idea of owning an iPhone, but you don’t want to overspend for features you may not use, you can purchase older versions of unlocked iPhones and take them to your cellular service provider to have them activated. Or if you like the idea of owning the latest iPhone, unlocked versions of these phones can be purchased, too.

There are a number of factors to consider when shopping for an iPhone, including storage capacity, screen size, battery life, and even color. This buying guide outlines everything you need to know to select the right iPhone for your smartphone needs. For the fastest shopping, browse our five favorite iPhones in the matrix above.

After reading this post why not checkout some of the grate Cell Phones that are available on my Website


When searching for the right iPhone, the most important thing to consider is which model is best for you. You can save quite a bit of money by buying an older iPhone model. Or you can pick up a new model if you don’t mind paying a premium price.

iPhone 6

The iPhone 6 generation includes the 6 and 6S. Both phones have a 4.7-inch screen. The 6S is more durably constructed to resist damage from drops, though. The iPhone SE, with a 4-inch screen, is also in this generation of iPhones.

iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 generation consists of the 7 and 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 has a 4.7-inch screen, while the iPhone 7 Plus has a full HD screen, measuring 5.5 inches.

iPhone 8

Like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 generation consists of the 8 and 8 Plus. These models also have screen sizes of 4.7 and 5.5 inches. The iPhone 8 generation’s improvements over the iPhone 7 generation are a longer battery life, a faster processor, and more storage.

iPhone X

The iPhone X offers a high-quality, 5.8-inch OLED screen with greater than HD resolution, which is a significant advantage over past iPhones. It also offers up to 256 GB of storage. It has the same processor and dual rear camera of the iPhone 8 Plus.

iPhone XS

Two iPhone models are in this generation: the iPhone XS and the XS Max. The XS has a 5.8-inch screen, while the XS Max has a 6.5-inch screen. Both phones feature OLED displays with greater than HD resolution. Maximum storage capacity is 512 GB with the XS generation.

iPhone XR

The iPhone XR features a 6.1-inch screen, but it doesn’t quite have full HD resolution. It has a slightly faster processor than what’s found in the iPhone 8 generation. The XR also comes in unique colors versus other iPhones, including red, coral, and yellow.


Screen size

Some people prefer a larger screen, especially if they use their iPhone for watching movies or streaming TV. However, a larger screen equals a larger unit, which makes it more difficult to carry your phone in a pocket.

Storage capacity

The built-in storage capacity of an iPhone plays a big role in its price. iPhone models are offered with two or three storage options. Older iPhone models are offered with either 32 GB or 128 GB of storage. With newer iPhones, you can choose between 64 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB.


All newer iPhone models have both a front camera and a rear camera. The rear camera has 12 megapixels of resolution, and the front camera has 7 megapixels. The advanced models in each iPhone generation offer dual rear cameras. A dual camera setup offers better angles and better image quality than a single camera design.

Battery life

All iPhone models have a strong battery life when new. But maximum battery life naturally shortens as the smartphone ages. You can expect between nine and 11 hours of battery life with a new iPhone.


For iPhone fans, the range of colors available is a big draw. Gold, silver, and space gray are common across all models. However, some iPhones also come in black, white, and rose gold.


An iPhone is an expensive and important piece of equipment, and you’ll want to keep it in top working condition. Cleaning it regularly and protecting it from drops is key. Here are a few other tips to protect your iPhone.

  • Clean the screen of your iPhone with water. Never use solvents or cleaning solutions to wipe down the screen on an iPhone. Instead, use clean water and a lint-free, scratch-resistant cloth. Dip the cloth into the water to avoid using too much water.
  • Add a case to protect against drops. There is a plethora of iPhone cases on the market for every model. Some cases have thick corner guards that provide maximum protection if dropped.
  • Screen protectors are important, too. A glass screen protector provides the highest level of protection for an iPhone’s screen. Plastic screen protectors can protect the screen, but they smudge more easily than glass.
  • Protect against thieves by using a six-digit passcode or Face ID. Should someone grab your iPhone, you can protect the data by enabling Face ID or a six-digit passcode. These log-ins are more secure than a four-digit passcode.

The Best Cell Phones for 2021

For most of us, Cell phones are at the center of our universe. The typical feature set of these palm-size marvels is astounding. It’s your phone, your messaging device, your web browser, your camera, your music player, your GPS, and more. The phone you choose will affect your life in a multitude of ways. That’s why we’re here to help you pick exactly the right one.

Dial Up the Perfect Phone

We’re a smartphone-dominated nation, with 4G LTE networks serving data faster than many home internet connections, and 5G spreading across the country. Though we’re now down to three major wireless carriers, virtual carriers such as Google Fi, US Mobile, and Visible keep competition alive and push prices down. But some of our choices have constricted a bit: The smartphone OS marketplace is basically down to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, and it’s hard to find a really good simple voice phone nowadays.

Here at PC Mag, we review almost every smartphone released on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, and many of their sub-brands such as Boost, Cricket, Metro, and Visible.

Rather than purely choosing the phones with the highest ratings here, we’re trying to deliver a list of phones that are spread broadly across different price points. This list is focused on the hottest, newest devices, but you can also find great value in slightly older phones, so be sure to shop around.

What should you be looking for when buying a cell phone? Here are some key points to consider.

After reading this post checkout some of the great Cell PhonesI to offer

Which Cell Phone Carrier Should You Choose?

Despite all the recent hardware and mobile software innovation, your wireless service provider remains your most important decision. No matter what device you buy, it’s a doorstop unless you have solid wireless coverage. Maybe you have friends and family on the same carrier that you talk to for free, and you don’t want that to change with your next phone. Maybe you’re lusting after a certain device—say, an unlocked smartphone for international travel. And of course, you want to choose a carrier that offers fair prices, and provides the best coverage in your area. These are all good reasons to put the carrier decision first.

We’re in a weird moment right now. All of the carriers are winning “fastest” or “best” awards based on different testing methodologies. They’re making broad claims about coverage that often aren’t borne out by users on the ground. We will do our annual drive tests this summer to help you make your decision, but until then, rely on the word of your friends and family regarding the best network near you.

AT&T has a very fast 4G network, and a nationwide “5G” network with similar performance to 4G. In our tests, AT&T has historically been strong in the southeast of the US, upstate New York and northern New England, and Texas. AT&T appears to be slower and less aggressive at rolling out 5G improvements than the other two carriers are, but that hasn’t hurt its reliable 4G performance in much of the country.

Verizon Wireless is famed for its top-notch network quality and good customer service. Its super-speedy millimeter-wave 5G network helped make it our Fastest Mobile Network last year, and its 4G network is also excellent. But its “nationwide” 5G network can be slower than 4G. Verizon is fixing that issue with new airwaves called the C-band. By March 2022, it says it will cover 100 million people in 46 metro areas with C-band 5G, which will be considerably faster than its current nationwide 5G. The iPhone 12 series and the Samsung Galaxy S21 series both support the technology, and more C-band phones will come out throughout 2021.

T-Mobile absorbed Sprint in 2020. The “new T-Mobile” is in transition, incorporating Sprint’s network and airwaves to potentially offer a speedy mid-band 5G network in most major cities across the country. Over the fall of 2020, it became considerably faster as it expanded its mid-band Ultra Capacity network.

US Cellular is only available in about half the country. It has a reputation for good customer service, but has been suffering recently in our surveys as readers have said its prices and LTE network quality don’t match up to some of the alternatives.

There are also plenty of virtual operators that use the big three networks, but offer lower monthly rates, cheaper international calls, or other benefits. They’re usually better for lighter users and most don’t have family plans. 

AT&T owns Cricket, T-Mobile owns Metro by T-Mobile, Verizon owns Visible, and Google owns Google Fi. Last September, Verizon made a bid for Tracfone and its spin-off brands, but the acquisition is under scrutiny from the FCC. We spotlight some of our favorite virtual operators in our roundup of the best cheap phone plans.

Do You Need a 5G Phone?

5G arrived in 2019, and most new smartphones now support some form of 5G. But though 5G may change everything in the future, it’s not going to happen immediately. Currently, all three carriers rely on “nationwide” 5G systems that largely use 4G-sized channels at 4G-like speeds. We’ll have a detailed picture of the current state of 5G when the 2021 edition of our Fastest Mobile Networks feature comes out in August.

If you are looking for a future-proof 5G phone, look for one that supports the new C-band, which will come into play on AT&T and Verizon in late 2021 and beyond. You can find more 5G recommendations on our list of the best 5G phones.

(One note: you may see a “5G E” icon on your existing AT&T phone. That isn’t 5G; it is a marketing ploy. Your phone is still running on 4G.)

Locked vs. Unlocked Phones

As carriers have moved to increasingly more confusing service and pricing plans, the value of unlocked phones has been rising accordingly.

Unlocked phones are bought from a third-party store or directly from the manufacturer, and aren’t tied to a specific carrier. Usually, you can use them with AT&T or T-Mobile. But some popular unlocked phones work on all three major carriers. If you want the best flexibility, look for a recent Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, Samsung flagship, or Motorola phone.

In the past, unlocked phones typically worked on all the major carriers, but 5G phones are a different story. Apple, Google, and Samsung’s 5G phones will work every US carrier, but many other brands either have limited band support or are only certified for specific carriers. AT&T customers should take extra caution before buying an unlocked 5G phone, since many phones that will theoretically work on its network have yet to be certified by the carrier.

What Is the Best Smartphone?

As more people become accustomed to instant email, web, music, and messaging access at all times of the day, regardless of where they are, smartphones have become almost indispensable. That said, there’s plenty of variety out there—not to mention devotees of specific OS platforms. Sometimes, a platform’s user interface or app selection just speaks to you, and that’s all there is to it. With that in mind, and at the risk of attracting flames, let’s break it down as well as we can for those who aren’t so fully vested.

There’s actually less diversity in smartphone platforms and designs than there was a few years ago. Right now, Android and iOS are the two top smartphone platforms, both in US sales and in the availability of third-party apps. The iPhone has the best app store and the best media features. But Apple’s tightly controlled ecosystem can feel stifling to some, and iOS isn’t easy to customize or modify. There’s far more variety among Android handsets, and Android’s open-source nature makes it a tweaker’s dream. But it also means fragmented third-party app compatibility, occasional bugs, carrier-installed bloatware you can’t remove, and scattered, often sporadic OS updates.

Admin Note: This article is from PC Magazine.

Does It Matter if Your Laptop or Cell Phone Is Always Plugged In?

Dino the Dinosaur says “Yippee a Laptop and Cell Phone battery lesson”. Yahoo let’s get started. But don’t forget your Coffee, Wine or Beer and Snacks before you start reading this. So, let’s get started LOL

Since the dawn of the dinosaur era and the inventions of laptops, Cell Phones, Batteries and the Internet it’s their apple and convenience, which makes them ideal for working on the go and business trips. Laptops and Cell Phones are only as good as their batteries, however, and proper care of your battery is essential to making sure they retain a long life and charge. Leaving your laptop or Cell Phone plugged in constantly is not bad for your battery, but you will need to be careful of other factors, such as heat, to prevent your battery from damaging.

Admin Note: Before you get started reading this Grab a cup of Coffee, a glass of Wine or some Beers and some snacks and sit down in a comfortable chair and put your reading glasses on as this Post is quite long. It’s going to cover everything you ever wanted to know about Laptop and Cell Phone Batteries from A to Z. So, let’s get started this long trek by staring with Laptop Batteries. Ready set GO to start this long adventure down battery row about Laptop and Cell Phone Batteries. Boy that was a mouth full, but yet the best is to come. So, enjoy it and if you make it to the end then you are very curious about this subject.

Laptop Batteries

Most laptops use lithium-ion batteries. What? Lithium-ion batteries? We don’t need no Stinking Lithium-ion batteries! Yes, we do. Enough of the funny stuff and let’s get down to the facts. Unlike nickel-based batteries, lithium-ion batteries don’t suffer from the “memory effect,” meaning that discharging and recharging them will not have an effect on long-term battery life. Once your battery is charged to full capacity, it will simply stop charging, so keeping your laptop plugged in will not cause any issues to your battery.

Okay let’s see what MR. SPOCK has to say about this subject.

With lithium-ion batteries, it is better to avoid discharging them completely them recharging them to full capacity — this is called a “deep cycle,” and this process is only useful for nickel–cadmium and nickel–metal hydride batteries. However, you should perform a deep cycle once a month or so to recalibrate the battery. This allows the battery monitoring mechanics to remain accurate when displaying battery life and charge.

After reading this post why not checkout some the great Laptops this Website has to offer


While leaving your laptop plugged in constantly is not detrimental to its health, excess heat will definitely damage a battery over time. Higher levels of heat are most commonly produced when you are running processor-intensive applications like games or when you have many programs open simultaneously. When your computer is running hot and it is plugged in, disconnect the battery and keep it somewhere cool to prevent heat damage.

Battery Care

To perform a deep cycle, first charge your battery to full capacity, then let it sit for about two hours to cool from the charging process. Unplug your power cord, then set your computer’s power save settings to hibernate once your battery reaches five percent. Once your computer starts hibernating, leave it for about five hours, then plug in the power cable and let it charge to full capacity again uninterrupted.

Do Laptop Batteries Stop Taking a Charge?

A laptop’s battery lifespan will depend on a few factors, including the power demands of your laptop, how many cells the battery has and the age of the laptop among other variables. While the lifespan will vary, one thing is certain: at some point the battery will stop holding a charge and become little more than a paper weight. At that point, your laptop would need to be plugged in at all times, functionally rendering it a desktop PC.

Charge and Discharge Cycles

As with any rechargeable battery, your laptop can be charged and depleted so many times before it can no longer be charged. Manufacturers refer to this as the “charge and discharge” cycle. Every laptop will be different, but the average charge and discharge cycle per battery will generally run 18 to 24 months, after which the battery will no longer hold a full charge. Because you typically charge your laptop before the battery fully discharges, many manufacturers will count any discharge of 70 percent or greater as a discharge cycle.

Why Batteries Deteriorate

Laptop batteries begin to deteriorate from the moment they leave the assembly line, but the process of decay is slow. Each time you use your battery, it undergoes a chemical change to transfer energy. Because this change isn’t 100-percent efficient, the battery will degrade over time to the point where it will no longer hold a charge at all.

Preserving Your Battery

While battery decay is inevitable, you can prolong your battery. In general, you want to avoid heat and power surges. Keeping your battery charged between 20 and 80 percent will maximize its lifespan as this will prevent the battery from overheating. Likewise, keeping the battery in a moderate temperature environment will be beneficial. Optimal storing conditions for your batter are at 40-percent charge in a cool environment. Leaving your laptop plugged in during use will create a “trickle-effect” where the battery continually receives small amounts of charges. This can decrease the lifespan of your battery.

Charging Myths

One of the most popular myths about battery charging says that you should completely deplete your battery before recharging. This worked better with older batteries, but lithium-ion batteries do not benefit from this strategy. Instead, these batteries should be partially depleted and partially recharged to prolong functional life. Another myth to prolong battery life involves placing the battery in the freezer, but this will not preserve the charge capacity of a lithium-ion laptop battery.

Does Leaving Your Computer on Ruin the Battery?

Modern batteries are designed to work for as long as possible. Although eventual power loss is inevitable, many lithium-ion batteries can last for over 1,000 cycles, while maintaining high performance levels. Despite this, there are some practices you should avoid in order to maintain your batteries’ performance, including overheating your laptop and draining your battery unnecessarily.


Modern lithium-ion batteries do not suffer from overcharging, as the battery stops receiving charge energy as soon as 100 percent capacity is reached. Once this happens, the excess energy is sent directly to the power supply system of the laptop. Batteries are also designed to trickle their charge energy once the battery reaches a certain capacity. Once the battery reaches a near-full charge, the charge current of the battery drops significantly, ensuring the battery is not overexposed.


Overheating your battery can cause it to degrade faster than when it is kept within normal temperature levels. Apple recommends that laptops should be kept as close to room temperature as possible when in use and identifies 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit as optimal levels. To keep your battery cool, you should ensure the vents are clear and that the airflow is unobstructed. If your battery is getting too hot, you should stop using your computer and let it cool down before continuing.

Draining the Battery

Battery life is often referred to in “cycles.” Modern laptops run on lithium-ion batteries, which have a limited number of cycles before the life of the battery begins to wane. One cycle is used when you drain and recharge 100 percent of your battery capacity. The more cycles your battery experiences, the weaker it becomes. Modern batteries are designed to last a large number of cycles before their power begins to diminish, but you can extend the life of your battery further by keeping your cycle count low.

Battery Care

Apple recommends that you charge and discharge your battery fully at least once a month, in order to keep the electrons inside it flowing. This is especially true for people that leave their computer charging most of the time. You can also optimize the performance of your battery by altering some of the settings on your computer. Both Microsoft and Apple recommend turning off unnecessary devices and features that you aren’t using, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You should also ensure that your screen’s brightness is dimmed to a comfortable level when using your computer.

Does It Affect an iPhone to Unplug It When It’s Not Fully Charged?

As useful as it can be, an Apple iPhone represents a serious investment for most small businesses, meaning most people want to ensure it lasts as long as possible. Since the iPhone’s release, there has been a lot of speculation about the best way to care for an iPhone’s battery, including the rumour that it needs a full charge before you should unplug it. This is actually false and is based on old technologies that were never a part of the iPhone’s design. While you should fully charge and discharge the battery once a month, there should be no reason to worry about its charge the rest of the time.

Understanding the iPhone’s Battery

A couple of decades ago, when cell phones and laptops used nickel-based batteries, it was important to fully drain the battery before charging it. The iPhone uses a lithium-based battery, which doesn’t have this requirement. Apple states that the most important thing to do if you want to preserve the iPhone’s battery life is to go through a full charge once a month and to use it on a daily basis without turning it off for extended periods of time. Daily use keeps the electrons in the battery active, extending its lifespan.

Charge Cycles and Life Expectancy

The iPhone’s battery has a life expectancy of 400 charge cycles. After 400 charge cycles, the battery’s capacity drops by about 20 percent from when it was brand new. A charge cycle, however, means a full charge. Each partial charge only counts toward a portion of a charge cycle. So, for example, if the battery is only at 50 percent and you plug it in to charge it, that counts as only one-half of a charge cycle. If the battery was 90 percent charged and you plug it in, that counts only toward 10 percent of the charge cycle. During normal usage, the battery should last the lifetime of the iPhone.

Charging at 100 Percent

Even when the battery indicator states that the iPhone is 100 percent charged, you may notice that the battery is continuing to charge. This is part of the iPhone’s design to prevent the battery from being damaged by leaving it plugged in after a full charge. Once the battery is full, the iPhone begins releasing a minute amount of its charge so it can continue receiving a charge without being damaged. Once the indicator says 100 percent, you can unplug it at any time.

Monthly Charge Cycle

Apple recommends going through one full charge cycle once a month to extend the life of your battery. A full charge cycle means charging the battery to 100 percent and then letting it run all the way down until the iPhone shuts off. If you do this once a month, you won’t have to worry about using partial charges during the rest of the month. Going through a full charge cycle may not always fit into your schedule. One way to do it is to charge the battery overnight, use it throughout the day and then in the evening stream video on the iPhone from YouTube or iTunes until the iPhone shuts down. Streaming video quickly eats away at the iPhone’s power without needing you to constantly interact with it.

How to Charge an Apple Laptop.

An Apple laptop lets you connect with your business clients and work on projects whenever you’re on the go. Apple designed its laptops, such as the MacBook or MacBook Pro, to have a battery lifespan of approximately five years. The laptop can fully charge and discharge 1,000 times before losing 20 percent of its original capacity. The MacBook series of laptops comes with a MagSafe Power Adapter that lets you charge the computer’s battery by connecting to an electrical outlet. This cable enables you to charge the laptop at your workplace, in a meeting or at the airport when traveling for business. Apple recommends that you calibrate your laptop’s battery as often as once per month for optimal efficiency.

Basic Charging

  1. Remove the protective plastic covering the end of the MagSafe Power Adapter if this is your first time charging the laptop.

2. Insert the AC plug into the MagSafe Power Adapter and fully extend the electrical prongs. Insert the AC plug into an electrical outlet.

3. Attach the MagSafe connector to the MagSafe power port on the side of the computer. The cable attaches to the port magnetically.

4. Look at the indicator light on the MagSafe connector to determine when the laptop has finished charging. When the light is amber, the laptop is charging. A green light indicates that the laptop has a full charge.

Charging for Calibration

  1. Connect the MagSafe Power Adapter to your Apple laptop. Charge the laptop until the LED turns green.

2. Let the battery rest for at least two hours while still connected to the MagSafe Power Adapter.

3. Disconnect the MagSafe Power Adapter while the computer is running. The computer will continue to run on battery power. Continue to use the computer until the low battery indicator appears on the screen.

4. Save your work and allow the computer to go to sleep when the battery runs out. When the computer goes to sleep, turn it off for at least five hours.

5. Reconnect the MagSafe Power Adapter to the laptop and charge it fully to complete the calibration.

How to Restore and Charge MacBook Batteries.

MacBook batteries require a process called calibration to restore and charge the lithium-ion battery inside. All batteries eventually need replacing. Provided your MacBook battery indicator doesn’t tell you the battery needs to be replaced immediately; calibration can help you get the most out of your battery. Small business owners that use MacBook’s on-the-go need to ensure that the computer lasts as long as possible. Recharging isn’t always possible if you’re conducting business on the go, so making sure your battery holds the greatest charge possible ensures your business can continue uninterrupted, even without an external power source.

  1. Click on the battery icon in the top right portion of the screen. The battery should state “Normal” when functioning correctly. If the battery states “Replace Soon,” “Replace Now” or “Service Battery,” then take the battery in to the local Apple Store for replacement or repair.

2. Plug the power adapter into the MacBook and charge the computer until the green light on the cord turns green, or the power indicator on the taskbar shows a battery charge of 100 percent.

3. Keep the MacBook plugged in and running for two hours after the charge has completed.

4. Select the Apple icon from the top left corner of the screen. Click “System Preferences” then “Energy Saver.” Set the “Sleep” slider so that it indicates “Never” under the sleep setting.

5. Disconnect the power adapter from the MacBook. Let the computer completely run down and turn it off by itself. You may use your MacBook during this time. Shut down all applications before the battery dies to ensure that you don’t lose any data.

6. Turn off the MacBook by holding down the “Power” button for 10 seconds after the battery has died. Leave it off for at least five hours.

7. Reconnect the charger to your MacBook and start your computer. Keep the computer charging until the green light comes on, or the battery indicator shows a battery charge of 100 percent.

How to Efficiently Keep an iPhone Battery Charged.

The iPhone battery typically offers hours of usage without a charge. Some iPhone devices, however, may experience longer battery life than other iPhones. Although different people use iPhones differently, certain techniques can prolong the life of the iPhone’s battery.

Battery Life

An iPhone’s battery life is its approximate run time between charges. Battery lifespan, on the other hand, is the time before a battery needs replacement. You can view the usage statistics on an iPhone to determine the last time your iPhone’s battery received a full charge. (Tap the Settings icon and then choose General followed by Usage.) This information will help you determine the degradation of your iPhone’s battery between charges. Additionally, Apple warns customers not to place the iPhone in the sun or a hot car because heat degrades the performance of the battery. According to Apple, the iPhone’s lithium-ion battery can perform approximately 300 to 500 charge-discharge cycles before requiring replacement.


The iPhone has several features that rapidly discharge the battery. If you configure your iPhone to use only necessary features, you may improve its battery life. Every time you use any of the iPhone’s functions you drain power from the battery, so turning off automatic notifications on your device, for example, will help prevent the discharge of your iPhone’s battery. Additionally, location services is an active application that uses the GPS chip in your iPhone to continuously pinpoint your location. By default, the location services setting is active and will consume your iPhone’s battery. You can also turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to conserve battery on your iPhone. Further, reducing the brightness of your iPhone’s screen will help to prevent iPhone battery drain.

Lock the Phone

When the display of your iPhone is not set to the locked position, you can inadvertently activate and turn on your iPhone from your pocket or purse. By manually changing your iPhone’s settings you can program your iPhone to lock automatically after a specified period of inactivity. Additionally, batteries that contain lithium require the electrons in the battery to move from time to time. Apple, therefore, recommends completely draining your iPhone’s battery at least once per month after a full charge.

Software Updates

Apple periodically releases updates for the various components of the iPhone, including the battery. These updates can help to optimize the performance of your iPhone’s battery. You can download the latest updates for your iPhone’s battery directly from iTunes using the iPhone sync process.

How to Charge a Dell Latitude Battery.

Dell’s line of Latitude laptops features removable lithium-ion batteries that, when properly charged, can give you hundreds of hours of portable power. With a fully charged battery on hand, you never need to worry about running out of power during a presentation, trip or business meeting. Some Dell Latitudes offer ExpressCharge, a feature that charges your battery twice as fast as normal.

  1. Check the battery’s remaining charge by double-clicking the battery icon in the Windows taskbar. If the Dell QuickSet feature is installed on the laptop, press the “F3” and “Fn” keys together to see the battery meter.

2. Save your work if the Latitude gives you a low battery warning message, which appears when 10 percent battery power remains. If you do not charge it at this point, the laptop will soon enter hibernate mode.

3. Power off the laptop if it or the battery feels hot to the touch. The laptop may not charge the battery if it is too hot. When you try to charge the battery, an onscreen indicator alerts you if the temperature is too high. This icon alternately flashes orange and green.

4. Connect an AC adapter to the AC port on the side of the Latitude. If you have a 9-cell battery and you want to charge it using the Express Charge feature, use a 90-W AC adapter.

5. Connect the other end of the AC adapter to an electrical outlet. The laptop starts to charge. With Express Charge, the battery takes two hours to charge fully; without this feature, it takes about four hours.

Why Can’t You Leave a Laptop Plugged in and Sitting on the Bed or a Carpet?

The vents on a laptop are usually located on the side or bottom of the computer. Leaving your laptop plugged in and turned on sitting on your bed or carpet could cause the computer’s vents to become blocked. Hot air generated by the computer can build up and damage the internal components, leading to costly repairs and replacements. If you plan to leave your laptop plugged in and turned on or charging, place it on a hard surface that allows the vents of the computer to displace the hot air.

You’ll Damage the Computer

Leaving your laptop on fabrics, pillows and even carpeting can prevent your computer from venting heat properly. Heat trapped inside the laptop can cause damage to internal components like the CPU, hard drive, video card and battery. If the laptop is exposed to high temperatures for too long, you could end up having to replace damaged components.

Know the Symptoms

Your laptop has a fan that is used to remove hot air that is generated during use. A fan that is consistently running at high speeds could be an indication that it’s not venting air properly, especially if the laptop is regularly hot to the touch. Laptops are designed to shut down when exposed to extreme temperatures, so if your laptop has been turning off unexpectedly, check that the vents aren’t blocked. Dust and debris can accumulate over time and clog your laptop’s vents. Use a compressed-air canister to clean any vents that have become clogged.

You’ll Kill the Battery

Keeping a laptop plugged in for an extended amount of time or when you’re not charging the computer can damage the battery. The CEO of Cadex Electronics, Isidor Buchmann, recommends charging the battery to 80 percent capacity and then unplugging it. Run the computer off the battery until you reach 40 percent and then plug the computer back in to repeat the process. Following these guidelines can prolong the life of your laptop’s battery and allow for 1,200 to 2,000 discharge cycles. Excessive heat caused by keeping your laptop plugged in can damage the battery, placing the battery’s cells under stress at a higher voltage.

Be Smart

If you’re actively using the computer on the bed or floor, be conscious of how hot the laptop is and if it’s displacing the heat correctly. If you leave the computer unattended and plugged in for any period of time, make sure you move it to a hard surface like a table or desk, or purchase a laptop cooler. To reduce the risk of fire, never leave the computer plugged in, charging or turned on sitting on flammable material. If you have nowhere else to leave the laptop, unplug the power cord from both the computer and the outlet and turn the computer off completely. A computer that’s not powered on or charging shouldn’t create any heat at all.

Do I Need to Plug My Laptop in the AC Power All the Time?

Laptops do not need to be plugged in to AC power all the time, unless they are running without a battery. Keeping a laptop plugged in all the time with the battery installed can actually be bad for the battery and chip away at the battery’s energy capacity. However, leaving a laptop plugged in most of the time is safe for the device.

The No Battery Situation

A laptop must run on AC power if the battery has failed or is missing. Batteries can fail over time: the devices have a finite number of chargers before the power capacity drops below practical capabilities. If you’re running a laptop only on AC power for an extended period of time, HP recommends removing the battery from the device to prolong the battery’s life. PCWorld recommends removing the battery and running on AC power only when leaving the laptop plugged in for a week or more at a time; the battery can be returned to the laptop when needed.

AC Adapter Energy Efficiency

Laptops offer energy-use savings over similarly capable desktop computers; laptops use 80 percent less energy than desktops. Laptops can extend potential up-time when away from electrical sockets by either equipping larger batteries or more efficiently using existing battery power. An always plugged in laptop benefits from the energy-efficient design by needing less power to operate. On top of already being designed to get the most out of an existing power source, laptops are even more energy efficient when running on AC power because the devices don’t lose energy in the less-efficient battery charging process.

Periodic Battery Cycling

While a laptop can feasibly run perpetually while plugged in to AC power, it’s bad for the laptop and lithium-based battery in the long run. It’s a case of “if you don’t use it, you lose it” with battery capacity: power cycling, or draining the battery from full to empty, helps prevent long-term damage to an always charged battery. HP and Apple recommend power cycling the laptop’s battery at least once per month to keep it from losing capacity. Leaving a battery discharged or fully charged for long periods of time can be bad for the device. If you’re storing a laptop for long periods of time — like six months or more — you can preserve the battery by charging it to 50 percent before placing the device in storage.

Plugged in Problems

The nature of micro-charging the battery after minuscule power drain and constantly running the battery charger can actually damage the battery over long periods of time. Keeping the AC power plugged in for prolonged periods exposes the battery to more heat and a higher operating voltage from the charger, both pick away at the battery. The battery actually can handle more charges if it is constantly floating between 40 and 80 percent capacity between recharges.

Why Isn’t My Laptop Holding a Charge?

If your job frequently takes you on the road, a laptop without a working battery can impede your work. Several factors can cause laptop batteries to not charge, drain quickly or otherwise fail, including old age, a broken power cord or damaged charging circuitry. You can solve most battery problems by buying replacement parts, but some problems will require professional repair.

Old Batteries

All rechargeable batteries lose capacity over time. Laptop batteries experience noticeable loss of longevity after only a few years. If you continue to use an old battery, its run time will shrink further until the battery can only last a matter of minutes before dying. To regain the lost power, you need to order a new battery from the computer’s manufacturer. Most laptops have user-replaceable batteries, though some may require professional disassembly.

Bad Power Cord

A defective power cord can make it seem like your battery won’t charge – if the cord shifts between working and not working, the battery will lose its power as fast as it can charge. You can test your power cord by trying to run the laptop on AC power after removing the battery. If it works intermittently, it may have a loose connection. You can order a replacement power cord from the computer’s manufacturer if needed.

Charging Circuitry

If your laptop continues to malfunction even with a new battery or power cord, it may have broken internal charging circuitry. If the wires inside the laptop that lead from the power cord to the battery are damaged, the battery won’t charge properly. Fixing broken charging circuitry requires professional repair from the manufacturer or a repair shop.

Battery Use

Laptop batteries do not require special treatment like some older rechargeable batteries. They will not “overcharge,” nor do they require full drains before every charge. If your laptop shuts off while you seem to have power left, you can try a single full drain to reset the battery’s calibration. This process will not actually repair a damaged battery, however. If your computer gets very hot during use, you may want to remove the battery while using the laptop on AC power, since heat can reduce a battery’s lifespan.

How Long Is the Battery Life for the iPhone 5?

Ideal for checking your company email on the go as well as for viewing business presentations, the iPhone 5 also enables you to keep up with stock reports and news. The smartphone’s battery life is eight hours of talk time, 10 hours of Internet use via its built-in Wi-Fi component and eight hours of Internet use via a cellular provider. Recharging the iPhone 5 is done through its AC adapter, a car adapter or a USB connection.

Additional Battery Life

The iPhone 5’s video playback battery life is 10 hours and its audio playback is 40 hours. The smartphone’s standby time battery life is 225 hours. The battery life estimates are based on a fully charged battery at its original capacity. If playing videos and audio files and accessing the Internet all at the same time, your iPhone 5’s battery depletes faster than the estimates, as it does if your smartphone’s battery is not fully charged.


In addition to recharging using the phone’s AC or car adapter, you can also recharge the iPhone 5 using one of your computer’s USB ports and the phone’s USB cable. Your computer must not be in standby or sleep mode — these modes can drain the battery on the iPhone 5 instead of charging it. If a USB port is not available, you can connect your iPhone 5 to a USB hub that is connected to your computer and charge the phone. Disconnect any other devices connected to the hub before connecting your iPhone 5 to the device.


Over time, the iPhone 5 battery loses its charge and ability to recharge fully. As the battery ages, its maximum battery life is reduced, and you must recharge the battery more frequently. Replace the iPhone 5 battery when it is no longer able to hold a charge. Consult an authorized Apple repair service to replace the battery.

Battery Maintenance

Use your iPhone 5 on a regular basis and at least once a month deplete the phone’s battery, recharge the battery to 100 percent and let the battery deplete again. This process is known as a charge cycle and keeps the electrons in the iPhone 5 battery flowing properly. After you deplete the battery a second time, recharge it to 100 percent and use your iPhone normally — connecting the phone to its charger nightly or whenever the battery is depleted — until the next month; then repeat the charge cycle process.

How to Take Care of a Laptop Battery.

Anyone who owns a laptop computer knows that the battery is essentially the heart of the device. Without a well cared-for battery, a laptop computer cannot function without being plugged into an outlet – which, in many ways, defeats the purpose of owning a laptop. There are a number of steps you can take to properly care for a laptop battery and maximize the device’s lifespan.

  1. Remove the battery from your laptop after it has been fully charged if the laptop is still plugged into an electrical outlet. Leaving a battery attached to a plugged-in laptop for an extensive length of time is liable to cause the battery to overheat, thus shortening its lifespan.

2. Abstain from charging your laptop battery until it is absolutely necessary. Since any type of battery can only handle a limited number of charges, you can prolong the life of your laptop battery by avoiding unnecessary charges.

3. Enable one of the battery power plans found on Windows-based laptops. Simply click on the convenient battery meter icon to be presented with the “Select a power plan” menu. Selecting the “Balanced” power plan will keep your laptop running at peak performance when you are actively using the device and decrease the computer’s brightness and speed during periods of inactivity. Alternatively, the “Power Saver” option will decrease the laptop’s brightness and speed even when it is in use.

4. Place your laptop on top of a hard surface, such as a table, desk or lap desk, whenever the device is turned on and in use. Setting your laptop atop a carpeted or cushioned service will cause the computer – and, by extension, the battery – to overheat since the device’s fan(s) will not be able to properly circulate air.

5. Put your laptop in sleep mode during extended periods of inactivity. If you don’t feel like shutting the computer down, ensure that minimal battery power is used by clicking on the “Turn Off Computer” icon and selecting the “Hibernate” option.

6. Store your laptop battery in a relatively cool area. Keeping the battery – or any other piece of computer equipment – in a heavily heated area can give way to overheating, so whenever the battery is not in use, place it in a cool drawer, cupboard or closet.

Do Cell Phones Pose a Health Hazard?

Some people are concerned that radio frequency energy from cell phones will cause cancer or other serious health hazards. Based on the evaluation of the currently available information, the FDA believes that the weight of scientific evidence has not linked exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phone use with any health problems at or below the radio frequency exposure limits set by the FCC.

Key points:

  • Cell phones emit low levels of radio frequency energy, a type of non-ionizing radiation.
  • The available scientific data on exposure to radio frequency energy show no categorical proof of any adverse biological effects other than tissue heating.
  • Public health data show no association between exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phone use and health problems.

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Cell Phones and Radio Frequency Energy

Cell phones emit low levels of non-ionizing radiation when in use. The type of radiation emitted by cell phones is also referred to as radio frequency (RF) energy. As stated by the National Cancer Institute, “there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk in humans. The only consistently recognized biological effect of radiofrequency radiation in humans is heating.”

See Radio Frequency Energy and Cell Phones for the basics on radio frequency energy and non-ionizing radiation.

Scientific Consensus on Cell Phone Safety

Scientific studies: The FDA’s physicians, scientists, and engineers regularly analyze scientific studies and publications for evidence of health effects of exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phones. The weight of nearly 30 years of scientific evidence has not linked exposure to radio frequency energy from use of cell phones to health problems, such as cancer.

Public health data: The FDA also monitors and analyzes public health data on cancer rates in the U.S. population. The data clearly demonstrate no widespread rise in brain and other nervous system cancers in the last 30 years despite the enormous increase in cell phone use during this period. In fact, the rate of brain and other nervous system cancers diagnosed in United States has decreased for the last 15 years or so.

See Scientific Evidence for Cell Phone Safety for details on the scientific studies and public health data.

Determinations by other organizations: Many national and international organizations also monitor radio frequency research. This section highlights some of these agencies’ considerations.

See Scientific Evidence for Cell Phone Safety for more details.

Admin Note: This article is from the U.S. FDA and is posted here fro your information.

Gas vs. Electric Stoves: Which is really more efficient?

By: Stephanie Watson

When you’re whipping up your famous beef Bourguignon or paella, the thought of saving money and energy probably isn’t at the front of your mind. Yet you could be saving money every single time you cook these recipes–or any other dish–if you have an energy-efficient stove.

You may have comparison shopped for the least expensive stove at your local appliance store, but looking at the purchase price alone won’t tell you how much you’ll end up paying in the long run.

Both gas and electric stoves are in essentially the same price range, depending on the brand and model. Generally, you’ll spend $650 to $2,800 for an electric stove, and $800 to $2,300 for a gas stove, according to Consumer Reports. If you buy a lower-end electric stove, you may save money upfront, but the costs of operating that stove will start to add up the more you cook.

According to the California Energy Commission, most Americans currently cook on an electric stove, and they may not be taking advantage of the greatest energy savings. Click on the next page to learn why switching to gas could save you money on your annual energy bills.

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How do they Work?

To understand why gas stoves will save you money, you first need to know how both gas and electric stoves use energy.

When you use a gas stove, natural gas enters your stove from the main gas supply to your house. It’s carried to the burner, where it combines with air inside a mixer tube. As that gas-air mixture is released through holes in the burner, it mixes with even more air. The ignition system lights the gas-air mixture, creating a blue flame. As you turn the burner control knob, you control exactly how much gas reaches the burner. The higher you turn it, the more gas is released.

How Gas and Electric Stoves Get Hot 

Gas stoves contain one of two types of ignition systems: a pilot light or an electronic ignition system. A pilot light is a constantly burning blue flame near the burner. Because it’s always on, a pilot light uses a lot more gas than an electronic ignition system. An electronic ignition system creates a spark (you’ll hear this as a clicking noise) only when you turn the burner on. 

When you use an electric stove, electricity runs to a wire inside the coils on the cook top. Smooth top stoves have an internal coil that sits underneath the cooking surface. When you turn the dial on the stove, the electricity flows to the coil and heats up the metal. You can tell that electricity is flowing to the cook top when it turns a bright orange color. The more you turn the dial, the more electricity flows to the burner and the hotter it gets — but the control isn’t as precise as it is with a gas stove.

The Winner in Efficiency

The clear winner in the energy efficiency battle between gas and electric is gas. It takes about three times as much energy to produce and deliver electricity to your stove. According to the California Energy Commission, a gas stove will cost you less than half as much to operate (provided that you have an electronic ignition–not a pilot light).

Although the government’s Energy Star program, which rates home appliances for energy efficiency, doesn’t rate ranges, buying a gas stove and then following our energy-saving tips (see sidebar) can help you spend less each year. The final figure on your annual energy bill will depend on how much time you spend cooking on your stove, but energy company MGE asserts that you can expect to pay an average of $2.34 per month to run a gas range without a pilot light (based on a gas rate of $1 per therm, or 100,000 BTU), compared to $5.94 per month to run an electric range (based on an electric rate of $.14 per kilowatt hour).

Gas Stoves Are Easy to Use, Too

Gas stoves may also be the clear winner when it comes to ease of use. Although electric stoves sometimes heat up more quickly than gas, cooks can control the level of heat more quickly and easily with a gas stove by turning the flame up or down. Also, electric stove burners tend to hold heat longer, so if you leave a pot on the stove, it may keep cooking and eventually burn — even if you’ve turned off the heat.

Getting More Energy Savings from Your Gas Stove

Gas and electric stoves may be relatively similar in price, but the energy efficiency of the typical gas stove will save consumers money in the long run. So, feel free to go wild in the kitchen as you go green!

You can trim your energy bill even further by following these cost-saving tips: Keep the flame as low as possible to use less gas. If the flame turns yellow (instead of blue), your stove isn’t operating as efficiently as it could be. Make a service appointment with the manufacturer to have the stove adjusted. Also, use the right sized pot for your burner: Putting a small pot on a large burner can waste 40 percent of the burner’s heat.

Why should I update my web browser?

I am posting this information here because I have had a few comments from people saying they are having a problem with some of the graphics not loading properly. The reason could most likely be because they are using an older version of their browser. As technology evolves old software will not function properly as it doesn’t know how to handle it.

An example is when Microsoft came out with Windows 10 many older versions of software would no longer be supported, thus you had to upgrade them in order for them to work.

Apple did the same thing when they upgraded their version of IOS. If you didn’t do the installation puff you couldn’t install the lates versions of software. In a matter-of-fact older Apple computer couldn’t even be upgraded to the newer version of IOS.

This post is not just about Why should I update my web browser it also gives some valuable information as to why you should keep all your software up to date.

Update your browser to get the most out of the internet

More than ever, websites are taking advantage of all the new features that modern web browsers provide; HTML5 video and audio, advanced JavaScript and CSS styling all rely on you having a modern web browser. If you don’t use the latest version of your web browser, you’re probably missing out on some of the latest features.

Many websites (including very big ones like Gmail, YouTube and Facebook) have stopped supporting older versions of browsers. If you’re running something that’s very out of date, you probably won’t be able to use some or all of the features of these sites.

Stay safe and secure

If you run a web browser that is out of date and which contains security vulnerabilities, you risk having your computer compromised by criminals. Depending on the security exploit, your personal information (including emails, banking details, online sales, photos and other sensitive information) could be stolen or destroyed. This is not a hypothetical occurrence; it happens regularly and in large volumes.

If your computer’s security is compromised you also run the risk of being used as a “middle man” in online crime; or as an unwitting pawn in large scale attacks against other internet users or companies. So even if your personal data is not stolen, if compromised, your computer can be turned into a “zombie”; sending out thousands of spam emails per day, or be forced to participate in “denial of service” attacks against other websites; all without you even being aware.

How to update your browser

Follow your browser/device vendor’s instructions

Make sure that you keep your web browser patched and up to date by following your vendor’s instructions. If your operating system no longer supports modern browsers, it’s time to update that too! Anti-Virus software is a necessity these days as well.

Follow our guides

Check out our guides to update your web browser for detailed information to make sure you’re up to date.

In an ideal world, everyone would only run modern web browsers. It would not only make the users themselves safer and give them fuller and more enjoyable experiences; but it would make Web Developers and System Administrator’s lives much easier and enjoyable, as well as saving clients and companies lots of money as they no longer have to support out dated software.

Keep auto-update enabled

Some web browsers (such as Chrome and Firefox) have an “Auto-update” feature enabled by default. Browsers such as Safari and Internet Explorer include updates in the latest versions of their respective Operating Systems.

Tell everyone

As a responsible entity on the internet, encourages everyone to keep their web browser up to date.

You can help by encouraging your friends and family to keep their web browsers up to date as well. If you run a website, consider putting a link in your website’s footer to reminding your users to stay up to date.

Laptop buying guide

8 essential tips to know before you buy a laptop.

Laptops are compact enough to carry with you, yet versatile enough to run demanding applications. Notebooks are the best tool for doing serious work or play whether you’re at home, on the road or in a college classroom. For those reasons, we’ve compiled lists of the best business laptops and best college laptops, not to mention our best laptops rankings for most users. 

While standalone tablets and smartphones are always popular, most people realize that everything from typing a research paper to crunching videos to gaming works better on a laptop. So, what type of laptop should you get? We put together a laptop buying guide to help you out.

There’s a wide variety of sizes, features and prices, which makes choosing the best laptop a challenge. That’s why you need to figure out what your needs are. 

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Quick Tips

These are the most important things to consider when choosing a new laptop. For a lot more detail, see the sections below.

  • 12.5 to 14-inch screens offer the best balance between usability and portability. Larger screens are fine if you don’t travel much and smaller models are great for kids.
  • If you’re spending over $600, shoot for these minimum specs: Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU 1920 x 1080 screen 8GB of RAM and SSD Storage instead of a hard drive.
  • 9+ hours of battery life is ideal if you plan to take your laptop anywhere at all.
  • Consider a 2-in-1 laptop (either a bendback or detachable) if you want to use your laptop as a tablet. If not, a standard clamshell notebook may be a better choice.
  • Chromebook’s are good for kids and students and their functionality is expanding rapidly. Windows 10 laptops and MacBooks both offer plenty of functionality; which platform you prefer is a matter of personal taste.

1. Pick a platform: Windows 10 vs. Mac vs. Chrome OS?

This is not an easy question to answer, especially if you’re not familiar with both Macs and PCs. But this quick overview of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses should help.

Most laptops come with one of three operating systems: Windows, Chrome OS or MacOS (for MacBooks only). Choosing the right one is a personal preference, but here’s a quick summary of what each offers.

Windows 10

The most flexible operating system, Windows 10, runs on more laptop models than Chrome OS or MacOS. Windows notebooks range in price from under $150 to several thousand dollars and offer a wide array of features from touch screens to fingerprint readers to dual graphics chips. Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, provides a number of improvements over Windows 7 and 8, including the ability to switch between tablet and desktop modes, a revamped Start menu with Live Tiles and the Cortana digital assistant. 

Since its launch in July 2015, Windows 10 has also added a host of improvements, including the ability to use follow-up questions with Cortana, search your email using natural language and use your stylus to scribble almost anywhere. Windows 10 laptops are great for students, researchers and business users, and they’re the only machines gamers should consider. 

Apple macOS

All MacBooks come with Apple’s latest desktop operating system, macOS Big Sur. Overall, the operating system offers similar functionality to Windows 10, but with a different take on the interface that substitutes an apps dock at the bottom of the screen for Microsoft’s Start menu and taskbar. Instead of the Cortana digital assistant, Mac users get Siri. They can also perform transactions with Apple Pay, take calls or texts from their phones and unlock their laptops with an Apple Watch. 

However, macOS isn’t made for touch, because no MacBook comes with a touch screen. The latest macOS Big Sur operating system brings iPad apps over to Mac (and iPad and iPadOS apps can run natively on M1 Macs), as well as huge improvements to both the Safari browser and Siri. 

Chrome OS

Found on inexpensive Chromebooks such as the Samsung Chromebook 3. Google’s OS is simple and secure, but more limited than Windows or macOS. The user interface looks a lot like Windows with an application menu, a desktop and the ability to drag windows around, but the main app you use is the Chrome browser. The downside is that many of the “web apps” you use don’t work particularly well offline. However, that’s changing as all new Chromebooks, including the high-end, Google PixelBook, can now run Android apps.

If you need a device to surf the Web and check email, navigate social networks and chat online, Chromebooks are highly portable and tend to offer good battery life at low prices. They are also extremely popular with schools and parents because they are hard for kids to infect with malware and more functional than most tablets. If you need a Chromebook, look for one with at least 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. A 1920 x 1080 resolution preferred and 4K is better but very uncommon. Pay extra to get a 2-in-1 if you plan to use Android apps.

2. Decide If You Want a 2-in-1

Many PC laptops fall into the category of 2-in-1 laptops, hybrid devices that can switch between traditional clamshell mode, tablet mode and other positions in between such as tent or stand modes. 2-in-1s generally come in two different styles: detachables with screens that come off the keyboard entirely and flexible laptops with hinges that bend back 360 degrees to change modes. 

Most of these systems are much better at serving one purpose than the other, with bend-backs being laptops first and detachables offering a superior tablet experience. However, if you don’t see the need to use your notebook as a slate, you’ll usually get more performance for your money with a traditional clamshell laptop.

3. Choose the Right Size

Before you look at specs or pricing, you need to figure out just how portable you need your laptop to be. Laptops are usually categorized by their display sizes:

  • 11 to 12 inches: The thinnest and lightest systems around have 11- to 12-inch screens and typically weigh 2.5 to 3.5 pounds.
  • 13 to 14 inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability, particularly if you get a laptop that weighs under 4 pounds.
  • 15 to 16 inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 4 to 5.5 pounds. Consider this size if you want a larger screen and you’re not planning to carry your notebook around often. Laptops with 16-inch displays are rare but Apple might get the trend started with its 16-inch MacBook Pro.
  • 17 to 18 inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.

4. Check that Keyboard and Touchpad

The most impressive specs in the world don’t mean diddly if the laptop you’re shopping for doesn’t have good ergonomics. If you plan to do a lot of work on your computer, make sure the keyboard offers solid tactile feedback, plenty of key travel (the distance the key goes down when pressed, usually 1 to 2mm) and enough space between the keys. If you’re buying a Windows laptop, be sure it has Precision touchpad drivers. 

Look for an accurate touchpad that doesn’t give you a jumpy cursor and responds consistently to multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. If you’re buying a business laptop, consider getting one with a pointing stick (aka nub) between the G and H keys so you can navigate around the desktop without lifting your fingers off the keyboard’s home row.

5. Pick Your Specs

Notebook components such as processor, hard drive, RAM and graphics chip can confuse even notebook aficionados, so don’t feel bad if spec sheets look like alphabet soup to you.

CPU: The “brains” of your computer, the processor has a huge influence on performance, but depending on what you want to do, even the least-expensive model may be good enough. Here’s a rundown:

  • Intel 11th Gen CPUs: Intel introduced 1th Gen Tiger Lake processors that will power the next generation of laptops. You can read about these processors in more detail here.  To summarize, Tiger Lake — a 10-nanometer chip — offers improved integrated Iris Xe graphics with up to 4.8Ghz speeds as well as Thunderbolt 4 support. The new EVO brand sets parameters for top laptops, including a minimum of 9 hours of battery life.
  • Intel Core i9: Supplanting the Core i7 as the top-of-the-line CPU from Intel, Core i9 processors provide faster performance than any other mobile chip. Available only on premium laptops, workstations and high-end gaming rigs, Core i9 CPUs are only worth their premium price if you’re a power user who uses the most demanding programs and apps. 
  • Intel Core i7: A step up from Core i5, models with numbers that end in HQ or K use higher wattage and have four cores, allowing for even faster gaming and productivity. There are also Core i7 Y series chips that have lower power and performance. Keep an eye out for CPUs that have a 10 in the model number because they are part of Intel’s latest, 10th and 11th Gen Generation Core Series, and offer better performance. 
  • Intel Core i5: If you’re looking for a mainstream laptop with the best combination of price and performance, get one with an Intel Core i5 CPU. Models that end in U are the most common. Those with a Y in the name are low power and have worse performance while models with an HQ use more wattage and appear in thicker gaming and workstation systems. Intel’s newest 11th Generation Tiger Lake CPUs have four cores, and a number of useful features, including Wi-Fi 6 support, Thunderbolt 4 integration and better AI. 
  • Intel Core i3: Performance is just a step below Core i5 and so is the price. If you can possibly step up to a Core i5, we recommend it.
  • Intel Xeon: Extremely powerful and expensive processors for large mobile workstations. If you do professional-grade engineering, 3D modeling or video editing, you might want a Xeon, but you won’t get good battery life or a light laptop. 
  • Intel Pentium / Celeron: Common in sub $400 laptops, these chips offer the slowest performance, but can do if your main tasks are web surfing and light document editing. If you can pay more to get a Core i3 or i5, you’d be better off.
  • Intel Core m / Core i5 / i7 “Y Series:” Low-power and low heat allow systems with these processors to go fanless. Performance is better than Celeron, but a notch below regular Core U series.
  • AMD Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000: A new set of chips that are designed to compete with Intel Core i5 and Core i7. We’ve found Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000chips to outperform equivalent Intel Core processors. For example, the Ryzen 5 4500U CPU delivers about the same performance as an Intel Core i7 CPU. Not only do you get great performance and endurance but Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000-equipped laptops tend to be cheaper than their Intel counterparts.
  • AMD A, FX or E Series: Found on low-cost laptops, AMD’s processors — the company calls them APUs rather than CPUs —  provide decent performance for the money that’s good enough for web surfing, media viewing and productivity.
  • Apple M1: The first of Apple’s custom silicon, the ARM-based M1 chip crushes the competition when it comes to raw performance and endurance. Found on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 

MORE: Which Laptop CPU is Right for You?

RAM: Some sub-$250 laptops come with only 4GB of RAM, but ideally you want at least 8GB on even a budget system and 16GB if you can spend just a little more. For most folks, 32GB or more is more than enough while 64GB and above is reserved for power users.

Storage Drive (SSD): Even more important than the speed of your CPU is the performance of your storage drive. If you can afford it and don’t need a ton of internal storage, get a laptop with a solid state drive (SSD) rather than a hard drive, because you’ll see at least three times the speed and a much faster laptop overall.

Among SSDs, the newer PCIe x4 (aka NVME) units offer triple the speed of traditional SATA drives. Sub-$250 laptops use eMMC memory, which is technically solid-state but not faster than a mechanical hard drive.

Display: The more pixels you have, the more content you can fit on-screen, and the sharper it will look. Sadly, some budget laptops still have 1366 x 768 displays and so do a few business laptops, but if you can afford it, we recommend paying extra for a panel that runs at 1920 x 1080, also known as Full HD or 1080p. Higher-end laptops have screens that are 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800 or even 3840 x 2160 (4K), which all look sharp but consume more power, lowering your battery life. 

Display quality is about much more than resolution. IPS panels range in color and brightness, so read our reviews to find out if the laptop your considering has a good display. We typically look for an sRGB color rating of over 100% and brightness great than 300 nits results. If you want the very best picture quality and don’t care about battery life, consider an OLED display. You should also keep an eye out for upcoming display technology to hit laptops, including miniLED. 

Touch Screen: If you’re buying a regular clamshell laptop, rather than a 2-in-1, you won’t get much benefit from a touch screen and you will get 1 to 2 hours less battery life. On 2-in-1s, touch screens come standard. If you still want a touch screen, check out our best touch screen laptops page.

Graphics Chip: If you’re not playing PC games, creating 3D objects or doing high-res video editing, an integrated graphics chip (one that shares system memory) will be fine, especially Intel’s latest Iris Xe graphics. If you have any of the above needs, though, a discrete graphics processor from Nvidia or AMD is essential. 

As with CPUs, there are both high- and low-end graphics chips. Low-end gaming or workstation systems today usually have Nvidia MX450 or GTX 1660 GPUs while mid-range models have RTX 2050 or RTX 2060 and high-end models have 30-series chips like the RTX 3070 or 3080 GPUs. Nvidia maintains a list of its graphics chips from low to high end.

Nvidia’s rivals, AMD, is Apple’s vendor of choice for graphics cards, although you really shouldn’t buy a MacBook for gaming. AMD launched the Radeon RX 5600M and the Radeon RX 5700M GPUs last year. AMD also keeps a list of its graphics cards. 

Ports: While the absence of ports is usually not a deal-breaker when choosing a laptop, it’s helpful to get the connections you need right on the system, rather than having to carry a slew of dongles. Most mainstream laptops will have USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out for video. However, an increasing number of laptops use USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 ports that are USB Type-C compatible. 

Getting Type-C is a definite plus because you can use it to connect to universal chargers and docks. If you can wait, USB 4 will arrive soon with faster transfer rates and the ability to daisy-chain 4K monitors with one cable. Other useful connections include SD card slots, headphone jacks and Ethernet ports (especially if you’re a gamer).

Connectivity: If you need to use your laptop on the go, consider buying a notebook with 4G LTE or 5G support. You’ll have to pay for a data subscription plan, but this will allow you to access the internet away from a router. If you want a laptop with the latest and greatest connectivity options, find one with Wi-Fi 6 support. Wi-Fi 6 offers increased theoretical throughputs and a more stable connection than 802.11ac. 

We also suggest looking for a laptop with Bluetooth 5, the latest standard that offers improved connectivity with Bluetooth-enabled devices, like mice and headphones.

DVD/Blu-ray Drives: Few laptops come with optical drives, because all software and movies are downloadable, though we’ve kept track of the laptops with DVD drives. However, if you really need to read/write discs and your laptop of choice doesn’t come with a built-in DVD drive, you can always buy an external one that connects via USB for under $20.

6. Don’t Skimp on Battery Life

If you’re buying a large, bulky notebook or a gaming rig that you’ll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if it’s at home and or work, you’ll want at least 7 hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being ideal. To determine a notebook’s expected battery life, don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it. Instead, read third-party results from objective sources, such as our reviews.

7. Plan Based on Your Budget

These days, you can buy a usable laptop for under $200, but if you can budget more, you’ll get a system with better build quality, stronger performance and a better display. Here’s what you can get for each price range.

  • $150 to $250: The least-expensive notebooks are either Chromebooks, which run Google’s browser-centric OS, or low-end Windows systems with minimal storage and slower processors, such as the HP Stream 11 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000. Use these as secondary computers only or give them to the kids.
  • $350 to $600: For well under $600, you can get a notebook with an Intel Core i5 or AMD A8 CPU, 4 to 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, all respectable specs. However, at this price, most notebooks don’t have an SSD, a full-HD display or long battery life. There are a few notable exceptions, such as the Acer Aspire E 15 and Asus Chromebook Flip C434. 
  • $600 to $900: As you get above $600, you’ll start to see more premium designs, such as metal finishes. Manufacturers also start to add in other features as you climb the price ladder, including higher-resolution displays and SSDs. The Lenovo IdeaPad 530s and Asus ZenBook UX333FA are great examples of laptops that offer all these perks for less. 
  • Above $900: At this price range, expect notebooks that are more portable, more powerful or both. Expect higher-resolution screens, faster processors and possibly discrete graphics. The lightest, longest-lasting ultraportables, like the Apple MacBook Air and the Dell XPS 13, tend to cost more than $1,000 (although you can get the Dell for less if you don’t opt for a touch screen). High-end gaming systems and mobile workstations usually cost upward of $1,500 or even as much as $2,500 or $3,000.

8.Mind the Brand

Your laptop is only as good as the company that stands behind it. Accurate and timely technical support is paramount, which is why Laptop Mag evaluates every major brand in our annual Tech Support Showdown. This past year Apple came in first place, followed by the big story of the year: Razer, while Dell rounded out the top three. 

Support is only part of what makes a notebook brand worth your money. You also have to consider how the manufacturer stacks up to the competition in terms of design, value and selection, review performance and other criteria. In our 2020 Best and Worst Laptop Brands report, HP placed first, followed by Asus and Dell. We’ve also rated gaming laptop brands, with MSI taking first place and Acer and Alienware rounding out the top three.

Tips and tricks for your voice assistants

It’s not you: How to get Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant to understand you better.

Voice assistants have changed the way we interact with technology. Why set an alarm manually when Alexa can do it for you? Siri can type up your emails. That’s all well and good — until the third time in a row, your AI assistant is confused and you’re frustrated. 

If you’ve been having a hard time getting through to your voice assistant, here’s how to get Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant to understand you better. 

1. Watch your tone 

You’ve probably seen viral videos of people screaming at Alexa or Google Assistant when they don’t get through the first time. While it’s tempting to let out your frustration that way, yelling at any voice assistant makes it even less likely to understand you. 

For optimal results, talk at a normal volume. Speak to Alexa, Google or Siri like you’re talking to a friend. 

2. Don’t block the mic 

You ask Siri a question, and you don’t get an answer. Surprise, your thumb is blocking the mic. If your voice assistant can’t hear you, make sure you’re not the problem. 

With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, you need proper clearance. Amazon suggests at least eight inches of space around your Echo device. That isn’t always possible, but a little breathing room helps it pick up your words more accurately. 

3. Act natural 

Are you one of those people who talk to a voice assistant robotically? I get it. You think since you’re talking to a robot, you should sound like one too. But today’s AI is designed to pick up on regular human speech. 

Talk like a normal person, and your voice assistant will respond best. Instead of “Alexa, alarm 7!” say, “Alexa, set an alarm for 7 in the morning.” 

4. Create profiles for various family members 

You can train Amazon’s Alexa to recognize up to six different people. This tip can be handy if you have family members with foreign accents or children at varying levels of language development. It’s an easy process and you can let Alexa slowly adjust to various voices. 

Here’s how to set up Alexa profiles: 

  • Open the Alexa app.
  • Tap More Settings.
  • Select Your Profile.
  • Next to Voice, select Create.
  • Select Continue.

You can also train Siri to recognize your voice. Take this extra step if you have an accent or speak quickly. You likely did this when you set up your phone, but try again if you and Siri aren’t getting along.  

  • Open Settings on your iPhone.
  • Click on Siri & Search.
  • Toggle the switch next to Listen for “Hey Siri” off and back on.
  • Complete the on-screen setup process to train Siri to recognize your voice.

You can also teach Siri how to pronounce the names of people in your life, so you call the right person. If Siri says a name wrong, say, “You pronounced it wrong” to set the smart assistant straight. 

Google Assistant has a similar feature called Voice Match. You can teach Google Assistant how to recognize your commands more accurately. 

  • Open the Google Home app.
  • Tap your profile picture or initials.
  • Head to Assistant settings > Voice Match.
  • Click Add Devices.
  • Follow the on-screen directions.

Get even more from Google Assistant with these 5 helpful tricks. 

5. Make your smart assistant smarter 

Often, Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri will ask for clarification about something you said. This can be annoying, but answering will help train the AI to know you better. 

When you respond to clarify what you were asking about in the first place, it shows your smart assistant how to do better in the future. Every clarification you make, your AI technology remembers and adapts to, making it less likely for you to have to repeat yourself next time. 

There are, however, some questions and settings that might be worth the annoyance. Tap or click for fixes to 5 irritating Echo settings

This article is from Kim Komando.

Lock down your phone from snoops and hackers

NOTE: I found this very informative article on how to lock down your phone from snoopers and hackers. So, I posted the article here to pass this good information around.

Yes, it’s Copyrighted so I hope I don’t get in trouble by posting it here.

Copyright 2021, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Your phone is full of secrets, whether you think about it that way or not. Would you want just anyone to see your private conversations, swipe through your photos, or open up your emails? Of course not.

There are digital spies to worry about, too. Tap or click for a way to see which apps are accessing your camera or microphone

In just a few minutes, you can set up your phone the secure way.

1. Do the 2 steps

If you don’t have two-factor authentication enabled yet, get on it. This adds another layer of security to your logins by requiring more than just your password. These codes almost always come via text or email, though you can get 2FA codes through an app instead. Tap or click for steps to set up Google Authenticator.

Here’s how to enable this security must-have on your phone:

2FA for iPhone (Apple ID)

  • Go to Settings > [your name] > Password & Security and tap Turn on Two-Factor Authentication.
  • Tap Continue, then enter the phone number where you want to receive the verification codes.
  • Tap Next and enter the code.

2FA for Android (Google)

  • Open your Google Account and select Security.
  • Select 2-Step Verification (under Signing in to Google) and then Get started.
  • Now pick a method for verification: Google prompts, security keys, Google Authenticator or similar apps, or a verification code sent to your phone via text or call.

2. Verification is necessary but make it easier on yourself

Two-factor authentication is a good security measure, but some people don’t activate it because they don’t want to deal with the extra steps involved. Autofill options make it easier to use 2FA when logging into a new device or account.

When you log into a new app or site with your 2FA-enabled iPhone, you no longer have to open the Messages app to get the code. Instead, the code will appear on your keyboard and you can tap it to autofill the security field. 

This feature is built into iOS 12 and later and there’s no need to enable it. Handy! Tap or click here for more iPhone security tips.

For Android, open Settings and search Autofill. Tap the service you want to enable it. Now open Settings again and go to Google Verification Code Autofill and set the slider to On. When using an app that supports it, tap Autofill to populate the security field.

3. Get notified if hackers have your passwords

How do you know if a password is good or if it’s been compromised? If you’re relying on one you’ve used for years, there’s an excellent chance it’s floating around in a data dump. Tap or click here to do a quick check for your email and passwords in recent breaches.

Your phone has some built-in helpers, too.

On an iPhone, Safari stores your passwords in Keychain, accessible from your iOS device or iCloud. Your passwords are checked against a list of breached passwords, informing you if you have been compromised. Good news: This is turned on by default with iOS 14.

Go to Safari Preferences Passwords and look under Security Recommendations to see if any of your passwords were compromised. If so, you’ll get a prompt to update your password with a stronger one.

Chrome’s Password Checkup feature is built into the Password Manager. You may use this on your Android. To check for passwords that have been compromised or are weak, go to Select Password Checkup > Check Passwords.

4. Set up a stronger backup

Hopefully, you regularly back up your phone. Ideally, you’ll never need to use your backups, but it’s nice to know they are there if you lose your phone or it won’t turn on.

Encrypted iPhone backups contain information you won’t find in routine backups, including saved passwords, health data, Wi-Fi settings, call history, and website history.

  • On Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, open Finder. Open iTunes if you’re using a Mac with macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier or a PC.
  • Connect your iPhone to the computer and locate it.
  • Under the General or Summary tab, find Backups. Select Encrypt local backup.
  • Create a strong password. Save this in a password manager if you use one.
  • Confirm your password. This new backup will overwrite and encrypt your previous backups.

Good news, Android users. If you’re running Android 9 Pie or later, encryption is turned on by default. You can turn it off in settings, but there’s really no reason to do so.

5. Hide your risqué and sensitive photos

We all have photos we don’t want just anyone seeing. Yes, I know what comes to mind — but what about snaps that show financial information, your ID cards or sensitive business details? You can hide these from your main gallery.

Be aware that anyone with enough tech smarts will know to look for hidden folders. It will take them some time to get to your hidden photos, though.

On an iPhone:

  • Open Photos and select the photo or video you want to hide.
  • Tap the Share button then Hide to move them to the hidden folder. You can find the hidden folder under Utilities in the Photos app.
  • Hide the Hidden folder by opening Settings Photos. Scroll down and toggle off Hidden Album. Now it won’t show up under Utilities. Tap or click here for more hidden iPhone features.

On Android:

  • Open Google Photos on your phone and tap to select the images you want to hide.
  • Tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner, then tap Move to Archive. This moves your photos out of the main album.
  • To access the archive, tap Library then Archive.

Android has a handy feature called Guest Mode, too, that you can use to limit access to your info. When it is enabled, your contacts, messages, photos and notifications are hidden from view. Tap or click here for directions on setting it up before you need it.


Do you have more photos than you know what to do with? Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast player.

In one episode, I dive into the best ways to get rid of all the junk and duplicates — like memes and screenshots — hiding the important pictures you want to keep. Plus, how to backup and store your collection for easy browsing and long-term storage.

Tap or click here now to listen to my podcast “Too many photos? Insider tricks to organizing, sorting and storing for the long-term.”

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television, or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Camera Lenes Buying Guide

Whether you shoot on Canon, Nikon or Sony, or solely use third party gear, this post is designed to give you the best information available and help you in your Camera lens buying future.
To make sure you know what you’re doing when the time comes to replace that old kit lens, I’m going to walk you through focal length, aperture and what all those little letters on your lens mean.

Photo of a canon ultrasonic lens

After reading this post checkout the Cameras and Lenes offered on my Website

Step 1 – Focal Length

For the basis of choosing the right lens, the higher the focal length (number before ‘mm’), the more zoomed the lens is going to be. Of course, it’s a little bit more complicated than this. You can find more information in the post mentioned above.
Different focal lengths have different uses in different situations; it’s all about choosing the right lens for you.
Ask yourself which lens you currently use the most and what you like to take photos of. This will give you a good idea of what sort of lens you want.
Here’s a list of focal length ranges taken from my post on focal length.

Ultra-Wide Angle 14-24mm

These lenses are often considered specialty items. The range is not often included as part of a kit lens.
They create such a wide angle of view that they can appear distorted. This is because our eyes aren’t used to seeing in that sort of range.
Wide and ultra-wide lenses are about putting yourself in the centre of it all, not just getting the whole of a scene in.
These lenses are not particularly suitable for portraits as they enhance the perspective so much that the facial features sometimes appear unnatural.
Fisheye lenses, noted for their characteristically distorted perspective, are a special subset of ultra-wide-angle lenses. The focal length of a typical circular fisheye lens can be as short as 8mm.

Wide Angle 24-35mm

24mm is roughly the point at which the distortion that appears to stretch the side of the image stops appearing unnatural.
They are used widely by photojournalists for documentation of situations.  They are wide enough to include a lot of the context whilst maintaining a realistic look.

Standard 35mm-70mm

It’s in this range, at about 45-50mm, that the lens will reproduce what our eyes see (excluding peripheral vision).
I personally like to use this range when shooting on the street. Or in a close setting with friends such as at a dinner table or the pub. A standard lens such as a 50mm f1.8 is an excellent, inexpensive addition to your camera. It will provide excellent results. A standard lens such as a 50mm f1.8 is an excellent, inexpensive addition to your camera. It will provide excellent results. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length—these can’t zoom. They will always provide better results than your kit lens.  They are built with a single purpose in mini. And they do one job well rather than multiple jobs poorly.

Short Telephoto 70-105mm

This range is where kit lenses tend to stop. Instead, you’re entering the range of telephoto lenses and portrait primes (around 85mm). This is a good range for portrait lenses. The natural perspective of the lens will separate the face from the background without completely isolating it.

Telephoto 105-300mm

These lengths vary depending on what type of camera you’re using. It’s worth noting that the majority of camera users have a crop sensor camera. This means that the size of the sensor is smaller, cropping the image.
A photo taken on a crop sensor at 50mm is going to look more like 75mm—more zoomed.

Kit lenses typically range from around 18-55mm on a crop sensor lens. These lenses won’t fit on a full frame camera. If you’re looking to upgrade to professional quality gear, you’ll still want to find a focal length as close to that as you can. Stepping your lens up to 24mm results in the loss of a lot of the wider angles.
If you’re unlikely to upgrade to a full frame professional camera in the near future, I would strongly suggest upgrading to a higher quality crop sensor lens.

Step 2 – The Right Aperture

Aperture can be a confusing thing when it comes to buying a lens.
The lower the number (f/1.4, f/2), the wider the aperture. And the more light the lens will allow in.
When buying a lens, you should try to get this number as low as you can afford to go without sacrificing the focal length that you want.
The lens that I use most is my 24-70mm f/2.8. This is because it allows me a good zoom range and a very wide maximum aperture. This means I can let loads of light into the lens and achieve a shallow depth of field.
My lens is an f/2.8. No matter where I’m focusing, I can still set my aperture to f/2.8. This is not something that you can do with any old lens.
A typical Canon kit lens will have the marking f/3.5-5.6. This means that the maximum aperture will change throughout the zoom range. The lens will stop at f/3.5 at 18mm, narrow to f/4 at 24mm, then f/5 at 39mm and finally f/5.6 at 47mm.
These stops allow progressively less light into the lens with a total difference of 1 1/3 stops, meaning that f/5.6 allows less than half the amount of light into the lens as f/3.5.
As you can see, this will really hold you back when shooting in low light. I thoroughly recommend that the first upgrade you look for when buying a new lens is one that allows a wider maximum aperture without changing throughout the focal length.

Step 3 – What Do All Those Letters Mean?

Spreadsheet comparing Full frame, crop sensor and other qualities of different lenses

Well, they’re acronyms. They vary between cameras but all mean essentially the same thing.
The table below demonstrates what these letters mean by brand. With the exception of the crop sensor marking, every time you get some extra letters, your lens gets more expensive and better quality.
For those that don’t understand what the terms above mean, here are some definitions for you (along with a few extras that aren’t listed).


Manual focus only. This is typically only found in very cheap lenses or much older lenses. The acronym is the same throughout brands.


This is the version of the lens that you’re using.
Lenses that have been around for a long time and become very popular aren’t usually replaced completely. The lens designer will take the lens and find ways to improve it, then re-release it under the marking ‘II’ – version 2.
The higher the number, the better the lens.

Full Frame

These lenses will still fit crop sensor cameras but you’ll end up with the crop factor that I mentioned in step 1.
These are specifically designed for full frame cameras and project a larger image onto the larger sensor in the full frame camera.

Crop Sensor

Infographic of a full frame lens projection vs. full frame and crop sensor

These markings tell you that they’re built for a smaller camera with a smaller sensor.  You’ll find that the focal length has also been adjusted accordingly.
It also means that the projection from the lens is much smaller and will not work on a full frame camera; if you were to put it on a full frame camera, it would produce very heavy vignetting.

Image Stabilistaion

We all know what this is: a way of stabilizing the camera or lens so that you’re able to take a photo at a slower shutter speed. Different cameras have different techniques and locations for this but they all essentially do the same thing.

Silent Wave Motor

This is a much faster focusing motor with clear advantages that’s also fairly silent and the end of the lens doesn’t tend to move when focusing.
This has the added advantage of accommodating a filter on the end of the camera without having to worry about it rotating as you focus.

Pro Lens

Most lens manufacturers produce lenses to a price; your kit lens is unlikely to be very good quality. I find this to be especially true with my experience of Canon kit lenses.
Stepping up to pro lenses, you’ll find a difference in quality and usually a wider maximum aperture; very useful for low light situations.

Low Dispersion Glass

This reduces nasty chromatic aberration produced by cheap glass.
You’ve probably seen it before but may not have known what exactly it was called. Here’s an exaggerated example of it – notice the blue outlining the face:

A Note to Finish On

If you’re looking to improve the physical quality of your images, the best way to do it is to replace your kit lens (or don’t buy one to begin with) as soon as possible.
Prime lenses are always going to provide better quality images for cheaper. They are excellent low-cost alternatives to kit lenses.
Buy the best lens you can afford for the focal length range that you use the most. You won’t have too many complaints with that.
Don’t worry about using a crop sensor camera and buying a full frame lens. Just work with what you got. If you’re a good photographer, these obstacles won’t be a hurdle in taking great photos.

Camera Buying Guide

If you’re just getting started, the first decision is whether to choose a basic camera or an advanced one. Here’s the difference: If you plan to just point the camera and shoot, you need (you guessed it) some sort of point-and-shoot. If you sometimes want to fiddle with exposure settings or even swap out lenses, you should look at advanced cameras.

Once you make that first decision, it’s time to get a bit more detailed. One of following six camera types—three basic and three advanced—will be right for you.

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6 Camera Categories

There are three kinds of basic cameras and three kinds of advanced cameras. Here’s what they cost and what they can do. (Narrow your choice down to one or two types and shopping becomes much easier.)

Three cameras: A basic point-and-shoot, a superzoom point-and-shoot, and a waterproof point-and-shoot.

Basic Cameras

Basic point-and-shoot cameras are used pretty much the way you shoot photos with a smartphone. Simply set the camera to either a fully auto mode or a scene mode, and fire away. You have only coarse control over exposure settings, and you can’t switch lenses. But point-and-shoots do vary quite a bit in terms of features and capabilities. At Consumer Reports, we recognize three flavors of basic camera.

A. Basic point-and-shoots (price range: $90 to $270). These are simple, portable cameras, but some have optical zoom ranges as long as 23x. That’s fine for shooting anything in your backyard but probably not enough to capture action from across a soccer field. Some of these cameras have touch screens. And almost all are lightweight and slim, which make them ideal for slipping into your pocket or bag.

B. Superzoom point-and-shoots (price range: $180 to $600). If you go to a lot of baseball games or concerts, you may want a superzoom camera. These models have optical zooms of at least 24x, and some are as long as 83x. That can literally capture craters on the moon. Many superzooms have nice grips, which can help you stabilize your camera when you shoot. Current models are also more compact and lighter than their predecessors.

C. Waterproof point-and-shoots (price range: $110 to $390). If you want to shoot photos or video at the bottom of a swimming pool or beneath the waves, consider a waterproof point-and-shoot. Note that capabilities vary: Some cameras in this category are claimed to be waterproof to 50 feet, and others can be submerged to a fraction of that depth. With strengthened inner and outer chassis construction, most of these cameras are also rugged enough to survive a fall of several feet and to function properly in colder temperatures.

Three cameras in a row: An advanced point-and-shoot, a mirrorless model, and an SLR.

Advanced Cameras

If a camera gives you fine control over exposure settings, we group it with advanced models. But that’s just one of the elements that sets these cameras apart. They all have large image sensors and other features to help produce high-quality images.

D. Advanced point-and-shoots (price range: $250 to $3,300). Like basic point-and-shoots, they have nondetachable lenses, but they also have manual controls and other advanced features. They’re also more expensive than basic point-and-shoots. Most have hot-shoe mounts for an external flash and can produce RAW files—the best format to use with image-editing software. Some have high-quality electronic viewfinders—helpful if you shoot in bright light and the LCD looks washed out.

E. Mirrorless models (price range: $440 to $4,000). These models accept interchangeable lenses, like SLRs, but they’re smaller and lighter. Downside: They don’t have an SLR through-the-lens viewfinder. Mirrorless cameras have large sensors for enhanced images. Some expensive models have full-frame sensors; these are the size of a frame of 35-mm film and enhance low-light performance. Mirrorless models can also capture RAW files.

F. SLRs (price range: $400 to $3,300). SLRs are interchangeable-lens cameras, and most are compatible with a number of lenses. With the most features, they’re also the biggest and heaviest. All SLRs have large sensors for enhanced image quality in low light. They also have through-the-lens viewfinders, which use mirrors to display the photo subject exactly as it appears through the lens. As with mirrorless cameras, there are some pricey SLRs that include full-frame sensors. SLRs can also capture RAW files.

Specs That Matter

Once you have a general idea of what type of camera you’d like to get and how much you want to spend, you can dive deeper into the specs. Just remember that no single spec or feature can tell you whether a camera is good or not.

Megapixel counts, in particular, can almost be ignored these days—even though they get mentioned prominently in ads and by salespeople. The number tells you how fine the resolution the final picture will have, but every camera on the market has enough megapixels for most people. You only need more than 16 megapixels if you want to send out for literally poster-sized prints of your photos.

So, if megapixels don’t matter much, what should you look for? Here are some important features to consider:

Sensor Size

When you hear “sensor,” think “film.” This is the component inside a digital camera that captures the image. And the larger the sensor, the better the performance will tend to be, particularly in low light. Some pricey models even include a full-frame sensor, the largest sensor available on consumer models. Unfortunately, there isn’t a uniform standard of measurement. For instance, large sensors include 1-inch sensors and 35-mm full-frame sensors, which, as you can see, are measured differently. However, if you’re interested in quality, get the largest sensor size you can. You can often find this information on a camera’s product page on the manufacturer’s website. Also, you can research the phrase “camera sensor sizes” online to find charts that show the comparative sizes of image sensors. In general, most cameras that include a sensor that’s 1 inch (12.8×9.6 mm) or larger can be considered an advanced camera.

Try Out Cameras in a Store

Before you buy, we suggest trying out a camera model in a walk-in store so that you get a sense of how the camera feels in your hand.

Check the size and weight. No matter what type of photographer you are, you’ll want to consider a camera’s size as well as other factors when choosing a model. Do you want something portable for traveling, like a small, compact point-and-shoot (below, left)? Or are you okay with a big and bulky model, like a large superzoom (below, right)? Remember, if you’re traveling and you’re camera is heavy, you may take fewer photos and miss important moments.

Consider the controls. What do the buttons, switches, dials, and levers look like on your camera? Do you like these types of controls? Most cameras have just a few, and you’ll need to change most of the settings in the menu system, which is why a touch-screen LCD can be useful. SLRs have the most physical controls, which makes changing the settings quick and easy.

What Else to Shop For

There are various accessories, from essential to esoteric, that you can get for your camera. And depending on which model you buy, some can be pretty pricey. For most, you’ll want to consider the following accessories when you purchase a camera:

An illustration of a memory card, a camera case, an external flash, and an extra lens.

Canon offers an extensive line of models in every category. Its compact PowerShots line includes several different series, including point-and-shoots (ELPH series), superzoom (SX), rugged (D), and advanced point-and-shoots (S and G). The EOS Rebel series helped to define budget SLRs. Other SLRs include a host of pro and more advanced consumer models, including models that have large, full-frame sensors. Canon also offers a broader selection of lenses than most brands. Canon also sells a line of EOS M-series and R-series mirrorless models and compatible lenses.

Smart Lock Buying Guide

The deadbolt on your front door right now likely serves its purpose. It locks, it unlocks and keeps out any unwanted guests. And that’s enough. However, if you’re tired of leaving keys under your mat (like everyone else), or you don’t want multiple keys floating around, a smart lock might be the answer.

Smart locks won’t necessarily make your home any safer, but they allow for more control. You can lock and unlock your door from anywhere and extend digital “keys” to friends, family, caregivers or anyone else who regularly visits your home.

Sure, you can still use a regular ol’ key to open a smart-lock-equipped door (or most of them, anyhow), but don’t be too quick to discount the convenience of connectivity especially when your hands are full of grocery bags, squirming tiny humans or anything else that makes it tough to rummage around for your keys. And when you crawl into bed, only to second guess whether you locked the door or not, you won’t need to throw on a bathrobe and stumble to the front door. You can just pick up your phone and check the lock status.

That said, not all smart locks are the same. There are keyless options, Bluetooth options, locks that use your fingerprint, locks that fit on your existing deadbolt and complete deadbolt replacement locks. It can be tricky to navigate if you’re new to smart home tech. Here’s a look at today’s smart lock options, what you need to know before buying one, and how to choose the right lock for your home.

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Smart Locks

This is a small sample of Smart Locks. For the complete catalog click the Smart Locks menu under Home Security.

Should you keep or replace your existing deadbolt?

With some smart locks, you can hang on to the deadbolt that you already have. They’re typically described as “retrofit” options, and they can be great for renters or anyone not wanting to change keys.

Models like the August Wi-Fi Smart LockKwikset Kevo Convert and Sesame Smart Lock are designed specifically to clamp in place over top of your existing deadbolt hardware. All three work with a lot of standard deadbolt brands. In August’s case, the compatibility ranges from Arrow Hardware and Baldwin to Defiant, Kwikset, Schlage and many more. (Here’s August’s and Kwikset’s deadlock compatibility charts for more details.)

With these retrofit setups, you get to keep the hardware already defending your door and add a layer of connectivity over top of it. This also means you get to keep your physical keys. Retrofit smart locks are the simplest way to add connectivity to your door without replacing your entire deadbolt system. 

The other option is to replace your existing deadbolt altogether. The majority of smart locks take this approach, including the Schlage Sense Bluetooth Deadbolt, the Kwikset Kevo and the Yale Assure SL Touchscreen Deadbolt. There’s even an “invisible” smart lock called Level Lock, that is just a deadbolt replacement, so you can keep your existing hardware.

Locks like these will take a little more time and effort to install, but it’s definitely doable for a novice DIYer. Since most locks are entire deadbolt replacements, you’re going to have significantly more options if you go this route. Similar to the retrofit versions, you just need a screwdriver and about 20 minutes. Just remember to make sure that your door is smart-lock compatible before buying in.

Another tip: Snap a picture of your existing setup before you begin, so you can reverse the install if you run into any unexpected issues with the new smart lock. A new deadbolt may mean a new set of keys (unless you choose a keyless model), so everyone in your family who wants a physical key will need a copy of the new one.

With these retrofit setups, you get to keep the hardware already defending your door and add a layer of connectivity over top of it. This also means you get to keep your physical keys. Retrofit smart locks are the simplest way to add connectivity to your door without replacing your entire deadbolt system.

The other option is to replace your existing deadbolt altogether. The majority of smart locks take this approach, including the Schlage Sense Bluetooth Deadbolt, the Kwikset Kevo and the Yale Assure SL Touchscreen Deadbolt. There’s even an “invisible” smart lock called Level Lock, that is just a deadbolt replacement, so you can keep your existing hardware.

Locks like these will take a little more time and effort to install, but it’s definitely doable for a novice DIYer. Since most locks are entire deadbolt replacements, you’re going to have significantly more options if you go this route. Similar to the retrofit versions, you just need a screwdriver and about 20 minutes. Just remember to make sure that your door is smart-lock compatible before buying in.

Another tip: Snap a picture of your existing setup before you begin, so you can reverse the install if you run into any unexpected issues with the new smart lock. A new deadbolt may mean a new set of keys (unless you choose a keyless model), so everyone in your family who wants a physical key will need a copy of the new one.

With these retrofit setups, you get to keep the hardware already defending your door and add a layer of connectivity over top of it. This also means you get to keep your physical keys. Retrofit smart locks are the simplest way to add connectivity to your door without replacing your entire deadbolt system.

The other option is to replace your existing deadbolt altogether. The majority of smart locks take this approach, including the Schlage Sense Bluetooth Deadbolt, the Kwikset Kevo and the Yale Assure SL Touchscreen Deadbolt. There’s even an “invisible” smart lock called Level Lock, that is just a deadbolt replacement, so you can keep your existing hardware.

Locks like these will take a little more time and effort to install, but it’s definitely doable for a novice DIYer. Since most locks are entire deadbolt replacements, you’re going to have significantly more options if you go this route. Similar to the retrofit versions, you just need a screwdriver and about 20 minutes. Just remember to make sure that your door is smart-lock compatible before buying in.

Another tip: Snap a picture of your existing setup before you begin, so you can reverse the install if you run into any unexpected issues with the new smart lock. A new deadbolt may mean a new set of keys (unless you choose a keyless model), so everyone in your family who wants a physical key will need a copy of the new one.

Samsung’s SmartThings and the Wink Hub are two examples of Z-Wave control hubs. SmartThings in particular works with a bunch of third-party Z-Wave locks, from Kwikset and Poly-Control to Schlage and Yale.

The range of a Z-Wave connection is about 120 feet, so the lock will need to be at least that close to the hub — though additional Z-Wave devices can act as range extenders by repeating the signal from the hub and sending it further. The Z-Wave signal can bounce up to four different times, for a maximum range of about 600 feet (walls, doors and other obstructions will all take a toll on range).

Some Z-Wave locks like the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt ($239 at Walmart) don’t offer their own app — instead the interface for the lock will pop up in the app of whatever Z-Wave hub you use. This can either leave you feeling disappointed that you don’t have detailed, dedicated settings for your lock, or happy to not be downloading yet another app with yet another log-in. Again, it’s all about preference here.

Z-Wave’s biggest setback is the requirement of an additional hub to talk to Wi-Fi. The plus side is that you can connect to more third-party devices than a standard Bluetooth lock — if you have SmartThings or another hub. But, if you don’t plan to use a bunch of other devices in conjunction with your lock, Z-Wave may not be right for you.


Wi-Fi is available as an optional add-on with some smart locks. For August’s line of locks, a $79 August Connect plugs into a power outlet and bridges the connection between the Bluetooth August lock and your Wi-Fi network. The same goes for the $100 Kwikset Kevo Plus. Once you’ve plugged in these accessory devices and made that connection, you can control your lock from anywhere with an Internet connection.

This year, August released a new smart lock with Wi-Fi built in. Schlage and Kwikset are also ditching Wi-Fi modules, so I’d advise against filling up another outlet in your home with a Wi-Fi module if you aren’t dead set on a specific smart lock. That said, built-in Wi-Fi will likely drain your batteries quicker than Bluetooth, so stock up on the required batteries. 

With Wi-Fi enabled, you can lock and unlock your door remotely, create new users or access codes from anywhere and view your lock’s status and activity log. Connecting your smart lock to the internet with Wi-Fi is going to give you the most options for features, including integration with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

With the Z-Wave locks that work over “universal” hubs like SmartThings an  Wink, this functionality is built in. That means other smart gadgets that are compatible with your Z-Wave hub should have some level of integration with your smart lock. Want to set up a rule that turns on your Zigbee-powered Philips Hue LEDs whenever you unlock your door? That’s a reasonable option when you have a hub that speaks both Zigbee and Z-Wave. There are even more possibilities with locks that have IFTTT (If This Then That) services. Read up on smart home IFTTT recipes here.

In addition, products like the Schlage Sense Bluetooth Deadbolt ($170 at Amazon), the Kwikset Premis, and the second-gen August Smart Lock and newer models work with Apple’s HomeKit, Apple’s own network of smart home devices that harnesses the voice-control powers of Siri to control your lock. The Schlage model works with Siri today, and August allows you to use voice control to lock and unlock your door with a PIN code.

Then there’s Amazon’s Alexa. After first rolling out support for the August Smart Lock, Amazon’s virtual voice assistant now has an entire set of software development tools for smart lock integrations, along with a whole host of partners, including Yale, Kwikset, Schlage and the Z-Wave Alliance. As a result, it’s easier than ever to find a smart lock that you can control with Alexa voice commands for locking, unlocking or checking the lock status.

Google is also in the mix with Google Assistant. August smart locks work with Google and Nest, owned by Google, has partnered with Yale on a smart lock designed to work with the Nest Secure ($428 at HP) system that includes Nest’s Weave technology for wireless smart home communication.

How do you want to interact with your lock?

There are clear variations among smart locks in terms of installation, wireless technology and integration with third-party products, but they all do roughly the same thing — give you advanced, remote control access to a space. But there are still nuances in terms of how that advanced smart control happens.

Most Schlage, Kwikset and Yale locks, including the Schlage Sense Bluetooth Deadbolt, the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt, the Yale Real Living Touchscreen Z-Wave Deadbolt and the forthcoming Nest x Yale lock all have touchpads. Don’t have your lock’s app pulled up? Just enter your secret code and voila! Your door will open without a key.

That said, installing a smart lock doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your key. You might not need to use one if you choose to rely on coded or app-enabled entry, but most smart locks still let you use your key, too.

Others, like the Yale Assure SL Touchscreen Deadbolt and the Kwikset Obsidian, ditch the keyway altogether. With smart locks like those, you can lose your keys for good — and there’s zero risk of someone breaking in by picking your locks.

Locks like August don’t come with touchpads as a standard option, but they do offer plenty of useful automatic functions — use the auto-unlock feature and you shouldn’t have to do anything — no app, no secret pin, no effort at all. (August now offers an $80 keypad accessory if you want to add this in, though.) August’s Smart Lock Pro and Wi-Fi Smart Locks also come with Door Sense, a small sensor that can tell you if your door is open, closed, locked or unlocked. 

It’s the same with Poly-Control’s Danalock ($45 at Amazon) (in theory, at least); it has a “knock to unlock” option that literally means you should be able to “knock” on your smartphone to unlock your front door, but it didn’t work during our testing. The Sesame Lock, however, did have a functioning “knock to unlock” feature, if that’s something that appeals to you. The Kwikset Kevo was much more successful — if it detects your smartphone or a keychain fob, it’ll let you in with just a tap.

Each brand seems to take a slightly different approach, but the results are pretty much the same. Think about the one that makes the most sense to you and go from there.

Some locks offer scheduled key codes, allowing certain access codes to work only during specific days and times. Some locks also include activity history, letting you know when doors are locked and unlocked and by which access codes. The Kwikset Premis allows you to limit access to specific days and times or create codes that expire after a set amount of time.

Another general concern is battery life, but this will vary significantly (for all smart locks) based on how much you lock or unlock your door, the quality of the batteries you’re using, if your deadbolt occasionally sticks and requires extra effort from the built-in motor, and even the weather — colder temperatures can hurt battery life. Battery power shouldn’t deter you from buying a smart lock you love, though. In fact, almost all keyless smart locks now include a pair of jumpstart nodes on the bottom of the lock. Grab a 9V battery and connect it to the nodes for just enough power to enter your keypad code and unlock the lock.

In-home delivery is happening

Smart locks can grant convenient access to more than just your friends, family and neighbors. An Amazon Key kit includes the Amazon Cloud Cam and compatible smart lock for in-home delivery of all your Prime packages. Current smart lock choices include models from Kwikset, Yale and Schlage. You can check out the options on Amazon’s Key site.

We sat down with August CEO Jason Johnson to discuss what’s on the horizon for smart locks and in-home delivery. If the idea of someone unlocking your door to deliver a package makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Companies pioneering this territory are well aware of consumer resistance. But, if the thought of packages delivered inside your home safe from would-be thieves and mother nature appeals to you, August, Yale, Schlage and Kwikset are likely to have the most in-home delivery compatible locks, at least for now.

A final note

As we mentioned earlier, a smart lock doesn’t necessarily equal a safer lock. If you’re skeptical of the whole smart home thing and are unsure about a lock that’s linked over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or another protocol, this sort of product definitely isn’t for you and that’s OK. And if you’re ever going to unlock your door with voice commands, you should absolutely use a PIN.

With smart locks, it’s really all about adding a small convenience to your daily life. They can make getting into your house easier when your arms are full and your keys are out of reach. They can also save you a trip the hardware store to have a key made for a new roommate or having to rush home on your lunch break to let in a service professional.

The best smart locks of 2020 The coolest new smart lock is invisible

In the end, there’s no right answer in terms of the model you should buy, but considering key details (see what I did there?) like if you want to keep your keys, what connection method lines up with your smart home, and what, if any, third-party devices you’d like your lock to work with — will help you narrow down your options so you can quickly find the right smart lock for you.

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Home Security Buying Guide

In today’s age Home Security and Business Security has become a top priority. With Home break ins home intrusions and home thefts. So, a Home Security has become a MUST to protect your Family and your house from intrusions

Purchasing a home security system once required a technician to come into your house and run wires through your walls, but today’s systems are wireless—and much easier to install.

Traditional security companies have had to adapt as they face newer tech-savvy competitors, such as Abode, Amazon-owned Ring, Google Nest, SimpliSafe, and Vivint. For example, ADT partnered with Samsung in 2017 to launch its Samsung SmartThings ADT Home Security System, a DIY system that functions as a smart home hub. In early 2019, ADT also acquired DIY security company LifeShield.

What does all this upheaval in the industry mean for you? Lower prices and more choice as manufacturers seek to beat the competition. According to a 2019 report from market research firm Mintel, 26 percent of U.S. consumers are interested in owning a smart security system. That’s compared to 29 percent who are interested in owning smart speakers—currently one of the most popular types of smart home products.

Many home security systems now double as smart home hubs, centralizing controls for lights, thermostats, locks, and more within one app on your smartphone.

And a lot of the systems on the market now are DIY, meaning you can install them—and even monitor your home—yourself. 

Since DIY security systems are sold as starter kits, to which you can add more components and sensors a la carte, it can be tough to comparison shop. In this guide, Consumer Reports will break down everything you need to know when choosing a wireless security system for your home, regardless of whether you go with a professionally installed system or take the DIY route.

Types of Home Security Systems

You should compare a DIY home security system to a professionally installed system to see what best fits your needs. 

Professionally Installed Home Security Systems

These security systems, installed by a technician, come with 24/7 professional monitoring. That means trained dispatchers at alarm-monitoring centers verify triggered alarms and alert the authorities. Many systems offer a smartphone app for remote control and monitoring, but some providers charge a higher monthly fee to use it. There is usually an upfront cost for equipment and installation, as well as a required multi-year contract with a recurring cost for monitoring. (Consumer Reports does not test these systems.)

Pros: A technician sets up the system for you. Your system is always monitored by a professional.

Cons: Monthly fees are usually around $40 or more. You’re locked into a contract for multiple years.

DIY Wireless Home Security Systems

These security systems come as packaged kits that you install yourself. Most let you self-monitor your system via a smartphone app for free, but a few require you to pay for professional monitoring. Many self-monitored systems offer optional professional monitoring that you can start (and cancel) whenever you like, such as when you go away on vacation.

Pros: Systems with optional professional monitoring give you more flexibility. These systems usually have lower monthly monitoring fees than professionally-installed systems. Most don’t require you to sign a multi-year contract. 

Cons: You have to install the system yourself. Self-monitored systems are not monitored 24/7 by trained professionals—miss a smart phone alert at a critical moment, and the system might be moot.

Basic Security System Sensors and Components

Home security systems are made up of many individual sensors—battery-powered devices ranging in size from a pack of gum to a box of large matches—and other components, such as keypads and alarm sirens.

Here, we define the parts you will usually find in basic home security systems, arranged in order of their importance to the overall system. DIY security system kits usually include a base station, keypad (or touchscreen control panel), contact sensors, motion sensors, and key fobs.

•  Base stations: Base stations act as the brain of the security system, wirelessly connecting to all the sensors and components and acting as a bridge between the individual components and the internet. These devices usually include a built-in siren and feature backup batteries and backup cellular connectivity for power and/or internet outages.
•  Contact sensors: These sensors attach to doors and windows to alert you (and/or authorities, if you have professional monitoring) when they’re opened and closed.
•  Motion sensors: Great for rooms with multiple doors or windows, these sensors detect the movement of people. Some are calibrated so that pets won’t set them off.
•  Keypads: With some systems, you’ll use a 10-digit keypad to enter access codes to arm and disarm the alarm.
•  Touchscreen control panels: Similar to a small tablet, this could take the place of a keypad. On the panel, you can arm and disarm the system, enter access codes, and control other smart home devices.
•  Key fobs and tags: Similar to the key fob for your car, these fobs have arm/disarm buttons and some contain contain RF tags, so you can tap the fob on the system’s keypad or base station to arm/disarm.
•  Range extenders: Most base stations have a range of a few hundred feet. For larger homes, some systems utilize extenders to increase the wireless range of the base station and connect to more-remote sensors. In other systems, the wireless components (as well as range extenders) act as signal repeaters that further extend the base station’s range.

Add-On Sensors and Components

Most security systems also offer a variety of add-on sensors and components—at an additional cost—for other types of monitoring, such as personal safety, fire, and carbon monoxide. Below, we define the most common add-on components you’re likely to see as you shop.

•  Security cameras: While not required, most systems work with wireless security cameras and video doorbells that allow you to see what’s going on at all times. They typically record footage when the alarm is triggered.
•  Environmental sensors and alarms: Most systems work with environmental sensors and alarms to monitor your home for fire, water leaks, extreme temperatures, and more. These devices include smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, alarm listeners that listen for the sound of those alarms, and leak and freeze sensors.
•  Sirens: Standalone sirens can be placed away from the base station. If you live in a larger home, you might consider installing multiple sirens.
•  Glass break sensors: These sensors can detect the sound if, for example, an intruder smashes a window to get inside.
•  Garage door tilt sensors: Placed on the interior side of a garage door, these sensors can tell when the door is open or closed based on their horizontal or vertical orientation.
•  Panic buttons and pendants: Physical panic buttons are a quick and easy way to alert a monitoring service that you need help. Panic pendants work the same way, except they can be worn by the user, making them useful for, say, an individual who’s at risk of falling.

Contracts for Professionally Installed Systems

Professionally installed security systems usually require that you sign a contract, covering two to five years. While contracts lock you into a security provider and commit you to a recurring monthly fee, they do have a few upsides.

“A three-year contract is a good way to guarantee that monthly fees won’t increase,” says Kirk MacDowell, president of home security consulting firm MacGuard Security Advisors. He adds that having a contract will help ensure that your system will be maintained and updated with the latest software. 

How We Test DIY Home Security Systems

DIY home security systems are a new product category for Consumer Reports, which is why we spent a lot of time fine-tuning our test methodology. We rate each system for security essentials, security add-ons, smart home add-ons, ease of use, ease of setup, motion detection, and video quality of security cameras. Our ratings also note flexibility of professional monitoring options, whether systems offer two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access, and more.

For security essentials, our test engineers evaluate each system for features and functionality that Consumer Reports believes every system should provide. That includes motion sensors, contact sensors for doors and windows, key fobs, keypads, remote sirens, and smartphone apps.

Next, our testers assess security add-ons. These are features that add extra forms of protection, such as panic buttons/pendants and security cameras that trigger the alarm with motion detection.

Since many security systems now double as smart home systems, we also examine their add-on smart home features, namely their ability to integrate compatible smoke/CO detectors, water and temperature sensors, thermostats, and lighting.

Our ease-of-use test looks at how easily you can interact with the systems through apps and keypads, as well as whether you can adjust the sensitivity of motion sensors. We also judge how difficult it is to set up each system.

For motion detection, our test engineers challenged the sensors with various forms of movement, such as crawling or walking slowly past them. Finally, for systems with add-on security cameras, we evaluate the video quality using the same tests developed for our home security camera ratings.

Our test engineers take the results from these individual tests and use them to calculate an Overall Score for every system that enters our labs. 

Considerations for DIY-Installed Security Systems

Professional Monitoring vs. Self-Monitoring
A big factor in your purchase—and the long-term cost of your system—is whether you want professional monitoring. With pro monitoring, a team of trained dispatchers will monitor your system 24/7 and alert the authorities, if necessary.

Self-monitoring means no monthly fees, but it also means that missing a notification on your smartphone can be the difference between being robbed and thwarting a potential burglar.

Many self-monitored systems offer optional professional monitoring, sometimes called on-demand monitoring. With these systems, you can sign up for professional monitoring indefinitely or temporarily, even for just one month.

A few DIY security systems require professional monitoring with a multi-year contract, but they are the minority. Other systems might offer optional multi-year contracts in exchange for lower monthly monitoring fees.

Additional Component Costs
Security system companies like to advertise that their systems start at just $200, $300, or $400. But the reality is that you could easily spend over $1,000 when you factor in the cost of the additional components you might want.

That base price usually only includes a handful of contact and motion sensors. One contact sensor for a DIY system, for example, could cost anywhere from $15 to $50. Depending on the model you choose, a security camera could cost anywhere from $75 to $350. 

Other Factors to Keep in Mind as You Shop

What Do You Want to Monitor?
While all home security systems guard against burglary, consider whether you want additional forms of protection. You can set up a security system—using some of the sensors defined above—to alert you to fires, high levels of carbon monoxide, leaks and floods, and extreme temperatures. Some systems offer panic pendants you can wear and activate in the event of personal injury. Keep in mind that if you pay for professional monitoring, some providers might charge higher monthly rates for these additional features.

Smart Home Integrations
Many home security systems now double as smart home hubs, allowing you to automate and control connected locks, lights, thermostats, and more from a single app on your smartphone. And if you have other smart devices, the integrations can add convenience.

For example, some systems will automatically arm and disarm your alarm system when you lock and unlock a smart lock. Others will automate your home’s lighting to make it look like you’re home when you’re not.

Alarm Permits
Some municipalities require that anyone running their own security system with professional monitoring obtain a permit, so local authorities have a record of all alarm systems in their jurisdictions.

Check with your local police department to see if they require alarm permits and if there’s an associated fee (some are charged at the time you obtain the permit, and some are charged annually). Yonkers, New York, where Consumer Reports’ HQ is based, requires permits but does not charge residents a fee. The City of Dallas, on the other hand, requires its residents to pay an annual fee of $50 for alarm permits.

Buying guide for Best Tablets

Apple iPad Pro with WIFI

When Apple first introduced the iPad, they changed the world — and turned tablets from fictional gadgets from the future into essential everyday companions. Tablets are everywhere nowadays, ready to run any app we want, and they come in just about every shape, size, and color you can imagine.

That’s great news for affordability, but the tablet market has grown so crowded that it can sometimes be hard to tell the differences between the cream of the crop and the latest no-name tablet. Tablets have also evolved to become incredibly powerful; in some cases, they’re more powerful than an average laptop.

Whether you’re looking for a tablet for casual use or one that can keep up with you and the work you do, we’ve got you covered. We have everything you need to know to find the tablet that’s perfect for you

After reading this post why not checkout the iPads and Tablets this Website has to offer


Before you start shopping, take a moment to consider how you’ll be using your tablet. These questions will help you get started.

What’s your ideal screen size?

The most important decision to make when you’re shopping for a tablet is what size screen you want. Tablets come in a variety of screen sizes ranging from seven to 14 inches, so you’ve got a lot of options. Your choice should take both readability and portability into account. If you’re looking for a tablet you can hold in one hand and you’re comfortable with a smaller screen, a seven-inch tablet may be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you find yourself squinting at your phone, or if you want a screen that’s roughly the same size as a piece of paper, a 9.7-inch or 12.9-inch tablet may be more appropriate.

Are you an Android smartphone user or an iPhone user?

While there’s certainly no rule against owning devices from different manufacturers, there are definitely advantages to buying a tablet that’s built on the same platform as your phone. The biggest benefit is familiarity. If you’re already familiar with Android or iOS as operating systems, you’ll feel right at home the first time you power up your tablet if you buy one with the same OS. In addition, some tablets and phones from the same brand offer extended functionality when used together. For example, if you’re an iPhone owner, you can set up an iPad so you can answer phone calls from it.

Will you be using your tablet for work?

If you plan to use your tablet for tasks that you might normally complete on a laptop, you’ll want to look for a tablet that can keep up — or a 2-in-1 laptop. If you need a tablet for presentations, writing, or number-crunching, get one with a larger screen and a faster processor.


Storage: Tablets are basically computers under the hood, and every computer needs file storage for the operating system, apps, and personal files. Storage amounts vary between 16GB and 256GB, with the associated cost increase you’d expect. The “right” amount of storage will vary depending on the user; if you keep most of your stuff in the cloud, you don’t need a ton of space, but if you like to keep a lot of movies or TV shows with you — or you have a large photo collection — you’ll want to invest in a tablet with enough room.

Cameras: You can use a tablet camera to take pictures, but holding one up for just the right angle can get pretty awkward and unwieldy, so most people use them for video conferencing services like Google Hangouts, Skype, or FaceTime.

WiFi: WiFi is a standard feature for all tablets; they’re not that useful without an internet connection. That said, it’s important to get a tablet that supports the fastest WiFi speeds available, so make sure the one you buy supports the 802.11ac WiFi standard. (If you have an older router, that’s OK, too; tablets are backward-compatible with older WiFi standards like 802.11n.)

Processor: Every tablet needs a central processing unit (CPU) to run. Most tablet manufacturers make their own processors, so it’s often difficult to compare, say, the iPad’s A12X chip with the Qualcomm processors found in many Samsung tablets. To get a sense of how different tablets actually perform, watch video reviews and see them in action.

Speakers: While tablet speakers can’t hold a candle to headphones or a pair of proper speakers, built-in speakers still matter. Most tablets have two speakers for achieving a stereo effect, but some still rely on a single speaker for mono sound. If you plan on playing music through your tablet’s speakers, get one with speakers on either side for optimal sound separation.


Once you’ve got a solid handle on the basics, consider the features you might be willing to pay more for. These are our favorites.

A premium stylus

Styluses have been available for tablets from the beginning, but new innovations are giving the available options a boost. Now, it’s possible to get a stylus that’s custom-designed for your tablet. Proprietary styluses include advanced features. For example, many of them let you use the top end as an on-screen eraser, while others support multiple pen types and allow you to switch between thick pen strokes and thin ones with the click of a button.

Kid-friendly designs and apps

If you’ve got little ones, it’s important to keep an eye on their device usage and put controls in place to keep them from going places online that they shouldn’t. While you can use parental control software for this on any tablet, we recommend buying a kid-friendly tablet instead. Tablets made for kids often include ultra-durable construction so they can be dropped, and they focus on making it easy for parents to keep kids safe.

Expandable memory

Much like laptops, some tablets include Secure Digital (SD) card slots for adding more SD and microSD memory cards. Expandable storage is an incredibly convenient feature because it gives you an option if you ever find yourself running out of storage space. You can even keep extra cards handy and swap them in as needed.

LTE connectivity

If you’ll primarily be using your tablet at home, WiFi connectivity will be enough. But if you want to access the web from your tablet when you don’t have access to WiFi, you’ll need one with an LTE radio. With LTE connectivity, tablets can get online anywhere. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to add your tablet to your mobile data subscription plan from a wireless provider like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint.


Make sure your tablet is always protected and powered up with these peripherals

Tablet case

We always recommend getting a case for any tablet you own to keep it safe from damage and to protect its resale value. If you’ve got a nine- or ten-inch tablet, the ProCase is one of the best options available: it’s affordable, has a kickstand, and looks close enough to leather for our tastes. Best of all: it comes in multiple colors.

Screen protector

It’s also important to protect your tablet’s screen! Screen protectors keep tablet screens scratch-free, and they make it a lot easier to wipe off dirt and fingerprints, too. If you’ve got a 9.7” tablet, we recommend SPARIN’s screen protectors. They’re made from tempered glass, so they’re a lot stronger than typical screen protectors made from plastic. But despite being so strong, they don’t get in the way at all; you’ll still be able to use features like stylus input or a fingerprint reader without a problem. Prevent screen cracks before they happen, and be sure to pick up the right size screen protector for your tablet.

Power bank:

If you take your tablet with you to places where there isn’t always power, it’s important to get a power bank so you can recharge on the go as needed. Anker makes some of the best power banks in the business, and their PowerCore line is their flagship brand. The PowerCore 10000 holds a whopping 10,000 milliamp hours (mAh), which is enough to recharge the average tablet three times. It’s also got PowerIQ, so you know that whatever device you’ve got plugged in is charging as fast as it can handle.


  • If you’re buying a tablet that has expandable storage, consider buying one with the minimal amount of built-in storage. Storage space can really drive up the price of a tablet. Sometimes, to get the next size up, you’ll have to pay more than $100. Conversely, microSD cards and other external storage are all pretty cheap. If you need a lot of file storage space and don’t want to spend a ton, consider buying a tablet with expandable storage along with an extra microSD card or two. By taking advantage of removable storage, you can get a lot more space for your money.

.If you’re taking your tablet to an area in which you may not be able to charge it, bring a portable battery with you. Tablet batteries last a while, but they don’t last forever. It’s important to have a backup plan for instances where recharging isn’t an option. Our favorite fix for that is a portable battery — a gadget that’s easy to carry around and always good for an extra charge (or three).

  • Avoid refurbished tablets. While buying a refurbished tablet can sound like a great way to save a little money, it’s usually not worth the risk. Because there are no recognized standards for refurbishing, you never know what you’re getting — or if anything was done at all. It’s especially risky with tablets because batteries can degrade over time, so it’s possible that a refurbished tablet could come with a battery that’s not holding a full charge anymore. Save yourself the headache: buy new.


Q. How long do tablet batteries usually last?
 It depends on what you’re using the tablet for. In most cases, tablets will last for anywhere from three to six hours on a battery charge. More intense tasks, like streaming video, can reduce that to between two and three hours. In standby mode, most tablets can last a few days without needing to be recharged.

Q. Should I buy a screen protector for my tablet?
In the early days of tablets, screens were prone to scratches, which made screen protectors vital. Since then, the glass used in tablet screens has gotten stronger and more scratch-resistant (although definitely not scratch-proof). The bottom line: if you prefer to go without a screen protector, we’re not going to judge. With some basic precautions and the right case, your screen will likely only face minimal scratches. On the other hand, if you plan to sell your tablet down the line, keeping your screen scratch-free is crucial, so a screen protector may be your safest bet.

Q. Can I send text messages from a tablet?
Yes — sort of. Text messages come in two flavors: SMS and internet-based messages. SMS messages require a cellular data (LTE) connection, while web-based messages only need a connection to the internet. For example, third-party messaging apps like Facebook’s WhatsApp or Apple’s Messages send data over the web and work well on tablets. In contrast, tablets aren’t usually able to send SMS messages to other devices.

Find the Best TV for Your Home Entertainment

New TV Tech

Hay Football Fans why not upgrade that old TV

LCD TVs are getting better. While OLED TVs top our ratings, the top-performing LCD TVs get better every year, edging closer to OLED TV-like performance. One reason is the rollout of full-array LED backlights, where LEDs are arranged across the entire back of the panel, rather than just along the edges of the screen. That design is combined with a feature called local dimming, where the LEDs are divided into zones that can be illuminated or darkened separately. The result is that dark areas look darker, and you’re less likely to see halos around bright objects on a dark background.

Now, a new development in LCD/LED TV technology, called “Mini LEDs,” takes local dimming one step further. You’ll be seeing this new backlight technology in TVs from LG, Samsung, TCL, and other brands. 

By shrinking the size of the LEDs in the backlight, companies can use more of them packed together into the same area. In fact, these sets can boast thousands of Mini LEDs behind the LCD panel. These are divided into dimmable zones, and because the LEDs are so small, there can be a lot of them—say, a thousand zones, instead of the dozens found in even the best LCD sets up until now. And the zones can be controlled more precisely.

By increasing the dynamic range of the TV—the difference between the brightest whites and deepest blacks the screen can show—Mini LEDs can also help boost a TV’s HDR performance, which is discussed in more detail below. 

Combine all this and Mini LED sets could perform more like OLEDs, while retaining some traditional benefits of LCDs, such as better brightness and a wider choice of brands and screen sizes.

After reading this post why not checkout the Tv’s offered on this Website

Smart Televison’s

More OLEDs are on the way. There’s also some news in OLED TVs for 2021. Until recently, OLED sets were available mainly from two companies, LG Electronics and Sony, but this year you’ll also be able to buy them from Skyworth, a Chinese brand, and Vizio, which launched its first OLED sets late last year. You’ll also be able to find smaller OLED TVs, down to 48 inches. One implication of all this is that you should be able to find some less expensive OLED options.

Two more TV tech trends to consider this year are 8K TVs and “Next-Gen TV,” the term being used for a new over-the-air broadcast TV system for those who use an antenna.

8K TVs have arrived—at steep prices. Though 8K TVs made their debut two years ago, they’ve so far been a minuscule portion of TV sales. One reason is that the extra detail you get with these TVs—which have 33 million pixels, compared with 8 million in a 4K set—is mainly evident only in the largest TVs. These new 8K televisions are very expensive, too.

This year, we expect to see more 8K sets from more brands, in screen sizes starting at 65 inches.

While all those millions of extra pixels promise sharper, more detailed images than what you can currently get with 4K UHD TVs, that doesn’t mean an 8K set makes sense for most people. For one thing, you won’t find any native 8K content to watch on one of these sets, at least for a while. A handful of movies have been shot in 8K, and some high-profile events, such as the coming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, will be shot in 8K, but it’s not yet clear how these signal will make their way to your TV. 

Over-the-air TV is advancing, too. Last, there’s Next-Gen TV, technically called ATSC 3.0. This refers to a standard for broadcasting signals over the air. Next-Gen TV is still available in just a few areas of the country, but more are coming. The standard lets TV signals carry a lot more data, so broadcasters can start offering 4K programs and movies with HDR that get beamed to ordinary television antennas. The new standard is IP (internet protocol)-based, allowing some broadcasters to offer over-the-air TV plans that marry traditional over-the-air TV channels with a handful of lifestyle networks you’d typically get from a cable TV company or streaming service such as Sling TV or YouTube TV.

With Next-Gen TV, you may eventually be able to get TV shows and other content on smartphones, tablets, and even in moving vehicles. Broadcasters are also promising improvements in emergency and weather alert systems.

To receive these new TV signals your TV will need an ATSC 3.0 tuner, something not found in most existing televisions. Only a few sets come with one. However, you probably don’t need to worry about that if you’re television shopping. We expect companies to start selling adapters to allow other TVs to use Next-Gen TV signals.

While TV shoppers will see new technology in 2021, a lot of the basic information you need to choose a TV is staying the same. Below is what you need to understand about screen size and other factors to make an informed decision. 

Screen Size

Remember when a 50-inch TV seemed gigantic? Well, TVs with 55- and 65-inch screens are now commonplace. “By the end of 2020, 65-inch models had firmly supplanted 55-inch sets as the most prevalent screen size consumers see in stores,” says Deirdre Kennedy, business director at the retail market research firm Gap Intelligence, which has Consumer Reports as a client.  

In 2021, industry experts expect prices on these larger sets to drop, as they have for the past couple of years, and for more people to buy them. Paul Gagnon, a senior research director at market research firm Omdia, says he expects 60- to 69-inch TVs—mainly 65-inch sets—to account for 18 percent of U.S. television sales in 2021, up from just 12 percent in 2018. And even bigger TVs, 70 inches and larger, should account for 10 percent of sales.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for determining the right size TV—personal preference, the field of view, and even visual acuity come into play. However, if you’d like some guidance, you can try one of the many free online calculators available, or apply the following equation.

If you’re buying a 1080p set—and these have become unusual in larger screen sizes—the closest you can sit to your television, while still maintaining the proper maximum field of view, is 1.6 times the diagonal measurement of your television. So, if you have a 60-inch screen, you’d want to sit at least 96 inches (or 8 feet) away.

You can simply reverse the arithmetic if you want to start out with the viewing distance. Measure the distance from your couch to the TV in feet, divide that number by 1.6, and then multiply the result by 12 to get the screen measurement in inches. If you’ll be sitting 8 feet from where you want to put the TV, you’ll end up shopping for a 60-inch television. (You can make the math even simpler if you just measure everything in inches.)

But don’t feel obliged to perform these calculations. These days, just about all larger sets are 4K UHD models. Because these TVs have more densely packed pixels, you can go larger, and your seating distance can be as close as the screen diagonal itself. So, for example, with a 65-inch UHD TV, you could sit as close as 5½ feet from the set.

Just remember that the goal is to create a comfortable, immersive viewing experience. You don’t want to be so close that you can’t see the whole picture or so far back that you miss out on the high-definition detail you’re paying for.

You’ll also have to pay attention to your budget. Below are rough price ranges for several screen sizes. In general, the bigger the screen, the more expensive the set. Of course, performance matters, too—for a given price you can often get a smaller screen with better performance or a larger screen with less performance.

As you can see, for the biggest sets the range is enormous, from just a few hundred dollars up into the thousands. 

• 32-inch set: $100 to $250 

• 39- to 43-inch set: $150 to $500

• 49- or 50-inch set: $220 to $700 is typical; $1,000 or more for premium LCDs and OLED TVs

 55- to 59-inch set: $300 to $1,500 

• 65-inch or larger set: $450 to $4,000A 1080p and UHD TV size based on 6- and 9-foot viewing distances.Rule of thumb for sizing a 1080p TV: Screen diagonal = distance to couch, in inches, divided by 1.6. You can go bigger with a 4K, or UHD, set. See Our TV Ratings

The Ins and Outs of Resolution

A regular high-definition (HD) set is also called a 1080p model because its screen resolution is 1920×1080. That means it has 1,920 pixels horizontally and 1,080 pixels vertically, so it contains roughly 2 million pixels in all. Think of pixels, short for “picture elements,” as the tiny individual dots that make up the TV’s picture.

Ultra-High Definition (UHD) TVs, also called 4K TVs, have screen resolutions of 3840×2160, so they contain 8 million pixels, or four times the number of individual pixels as an HD set. The more densely packed array of pixels in UHD sets makes them capable of greater picture detail. The benefits of a UHD TV are more apparent in larger screen sizes—say, 65 inches and above—or when you’d like to sit closer to the TV than you could with a 1080p set.

We’re now also starting to see the first so-called 8K TVs, which have screen resolutions of 7680×4320, with more than 33 million pixels. This is the highest resolution that has been defined in the UHD standard, so technically these sets are also UHD TVs. Right now there aren’t many of them, and they’re typically a good bit more expensive than comparably sized 4K sets.

We don’t recommend purchasing an 8K set right now, because you’ll pay a premium for it and there’s almost no 8K content yet. So, these days, purchasing a 4K TV makes the most sense, especially in larger screen sizes where it’s getting more difficult to even find HD sets. You will still find 1080p and 720p TVs in the smaller screen sizes—say, 32 inches and smaller.

There is now a decent amount of 4K content to watch, especially from streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix. There are also 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players that can play 4K Blu-ray discs. We expect more to come on the market in the future.

Another benefit of 4K TVs: Most now support high dynamic range (HDR) and a wider palette of colors, for more vibrant, natural-looking images. To find out more about high dynamic range, see our HDR section below.

The pixels of a 1080p HD TV.

1080p TV

A high-definition TV, with 1920×1080 resolution, will be fine for most viewers, and you’ll save a bit of money compared with a similarly sized UHD set. Almost every 1080p set available is an LCD TV with an LED backlight, but there are also a limited number of 1080p OLED TVs. And right now, it’s hard to find a UHD TV smaller than 39 inches, although we do have one 32-inch 4K set in our ratings. We’ve found that many viewers aren’t able to see the extra detail in a UHD TV from normal viewing distances until they get to very large screen sizes, say, 65 inches and above. Just remember that resolution is only one of a number of attributes that a TV has to get right to produce excellent overall picture quality. Regular HD TVs remain a great choice for many consumers when you factor in price, especially in screen sizes smaller than 65 inches.TV Ratings

The pixels of a UHD TV.


Thanks to its higher-resolution 3840×2160 screen, a 4K TV can display greater detail than a 1080p set when presented with high-quality UHD content. New 8K TVs, with 7680×4320 screens, are capable of even greater fine detail. Images on these sets appear sharper, with smoother lines on the edges of objects, depending on your viewing distance. Many UHD sets attempt to enhance the image in other ways. For example, many better TVs now have sophisticated video processing and use artificial intelligence to upscale lower-resolution content to the TV’s 4K or 8K screens. And most 4K sets now support HDR, which provides a higher level of contrast between the lightest and darkest images. Newer UHD TVs also widen the array of colors a TV can display, but exploiting these advantages requires specially produced content. More content that has been encoded with HDR is available every year.TV Ratings

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

As we previously noted, one of the most exciting recent TV developments is high dynamic range, or HDR. When done right, HDR boosts a TV’s brightness, contrast, and color, making the pictures on the screen look more like real life.

As you can see in the dramatized image below, when HDR is at work you’ll see details that might not otherwise be obvious, from the texture of the brick on a shady walkway to nuances in the white clouds in a daytime sky.

You’ll also see brighter, more realistic “specular highlights,” which are glints of light, such as the sun’s reflection off a car’s chrome bumper or an airplane wing. With HDR, those highlights pop; without it, they wouldn’t stand out against other bright objects.

HDR does all that by increasing the contrast between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks a TV can produce. That’s where the “dynamic range” in the name comes from.

“When done well, HDR presents more natural illumination of image content,” says Claudio Ciacci, who heads the Consumer Reports TV testing program. “HDR can flex its dynamic-range muscles in strong sunlit scenes that push the TV’s contrast to the limits,” he adds, “but you’ll also see HDR’s subtler benefits on more simply lit scenes.”

Typically, HDR TVs also produce more vibrant, varied colors than other sets. That’s because HDR is often paired with “wide color gamut,” or WCG, capability.

Standard HDTVs can display about 17 million colors, but those with WCG can display up to a billion. That’s like giving your TV a larger box of crayons to play with.

But you won’t see all that fantastic contrast and color every time you turn on the TV. You have to be playing a movie or TV show that has been mastered to take advantage of HDR and WCG. You can get 4K content with HDR right now from streaming services, on 4K Blu-ray discs, and even from DirecTV’s satellite TV service. But we expect to see more HDR content become available, including through a new over-the-air broadcast standard that’s being launched in many markets this year. (Find out where you can watch 4K content with HDR.)

Types of HDR
So far, we’ve been talking about HDR as if it were just one technology, but there are a few types of HDR, each following a different set of technical specs. 

This can get complicated, and before we get into the details there’s some good news.

First, your TV should automatically detect the type of HDR being used in the content and choose the right way to play it. 

Second, the type of HDR doesn’t seem to be too important right now. What we’ve seen in our labs is that top-performing TVs can do a great job with different types of HDR. The quality of the TV is more important. So it makes sense to buy the best TV you can regardless of the type of HDR it supports.

However, if you’d like to understand the differences among types of HDR, here’s an overview.

One type, called HDR10, has been adopted as an open standard. It’s free to use, and all 4K TVs with HDR support it. That’s also true of all 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players and HDR programming, so you won’t be stuck with a set that can’t play HDR.

But some TVs also offer another type of HDR, called Dolby Vision, which is being promoted as an enhanced version of HDR10. Companies pay a licensing fee to use it. On paper it has some advantages. In particular, it supports “dynamic” metadata, where the brightness levels for a movie or show can be tweaked scene by scene. By contrast, HDR10 uses “static” metadata, where brightness levels are set for the entire movie or show.

Dolby Vision isn’t alone in using dynamic metadata, though. There’s a newer version of HDR10, called HDR10+. It, too, has dynamic metadata, making HDR10 more like Dolby Vision. Right now it’s supported mainly by Samsung, which developed HDR10+, and Amazon, which has said it will support HDR10+ in its streaming service. We’ll be watching to see whether other TV manufacturers adopt it.

You may also hear something in the coming months about another HDR format, called HLG (hybrid log gamma). It could be important if it’s adopted for the next generation of free over-the-air TV signals, which will follow a standard called ATSC 3.0. Many new TVs already support HLG, but it looks like others will be able to get firmware updates if necessary. This matters only for people who get TV through antennas, which are making a comeback.

Are All HDR TVs Created Equal?
No. Our tests show that not every TV with “HDR” written on the box produces equally rich, lifelike images. That’s one reason we now provide a separate HDR score in our TV ratings.

First of all, TVs are all over the map when it comes to picture quality, HDR or no HDR. But there are also challenges specific to this technology. Most notably, a TV might not be bright enough to really deliver on HDR. To understand why, you need to know your “nits,” the units used to measure brightness.

Better-performing HDR TVs typically generate at least 600 nits of peak brightness, with top performers hitting 1,000 nits or more. But many HDR TVs produce only 100 to 300 nits. With an underpowered TV, the fire of a rocket launch becomes a single massive white flare. With a brighter television, you’d see tongues of fire and smoke, as if you were really there.

“The benefits of HDR are often lost with mediocre displays,” Ciacci says.

How Can I Tell a Great HDR TV From a Bad One?
Unfortunately, you can’t just read the packaging—or even rely on how the picture looks in the store.

Some TVs carry an Ultra HD Premium logo, indicating that they’ve been certified as high-performance sets by an industry group called the UHD Alliance, but not all companies are going along. For example, LG and Samsung participate in the program; Sony and Vizio don’t.

What to do instead? Check our TV ratings, which now have a score for HDR.

As you’ll see, the TVs with the best HDR tend to be the priciest. But there are also some good choices for people who want to spend less. And if you’re buying a smaller set or just want to wait on 4K and HDR, you can find several good—and inexpensive—options.A side-by-side comparison of SDR and HDR TV images.HDR can help images come alive.TV Ratings by Consumer Reports

The Facts About Smart TVs

The overwhelming number of TVs on the market, especially in midsized and larger models, are smart TVs. These televisions can access online content, such as streaming video services from Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix. Basic smart TVs may be limited to the most popular services, while others offer a vast assortment of apps. More sophisticated smart TVs can respond to voice commands, using microphones built into the TV’s remote control or using an app on a smartphone.

More than 80 percent of the TVs sold these days are smart TVs, according to market research firm Omdia. But if you’re considering a more basic TV or you already have a TV that lacks smarts, you can easily add internet capability using a separate streaming media player, such as an Amazon Fire TV, an Apple TV, a Google Chromecast, or a Roku player. (Details below.)

Some manufacturers have developed their own smart TV platforms, while others may use a licensed system, such Amazon Fire TV,  Android TV from Google—which is being renamed Google TV— or Roku TV. A TV with built-in smarts can make accessing content easy—there’s only a single remote control—but a separate streaming media player may have more content options, or use an interface that makes finding and accessing content easier.

More TVs these days come with support for third-party voice-enabled digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant. This will let you perform basic TV controls—such as raising and lowering volume, and changing channels or inputs—and search for shows and movies using voice commands. Sometimes you’ll be able to control other compatible devices, such as smart speakers, lights, or thermostats, right from your TV.

Just be aware that almost all smart TVs collect information about the shows you’re watching and the apps you’re using—for marketing purposes. The degree to which you can control this data collection varies by the brand of smart TV system, but there are ways you can limit the amount of data being collected and shared.

Various streaming media players.

Streaming Media Players

Streaming media players are a popular add-on for TVs, bringing streaming movies, TV, music, and games to TVs that lack internet access. Even if you own a smart TV, you may consider a streaming player if it has features or services your TV doesn’t, or it just performs better.

There are more than a dozen streaming player models, offered in two styles: set-top boxes, and stick players about the size of a USB flash drive. The most basic one’s support 1080p video, and many models can play 4K content with HDR from the streaming services that offer it.

Prices for 4K models start as little as $40, and range up to $180 for an Apple TV. You can get a 1080p model starting around $30. Because 4K models often come with promotional discounts, getting a 4K player probably makes the most sense for most consumers because their next TV purchase is likely to be a 4K model. 

And be aware that streaming video requires robust broadband and Wi-Fi connections to prevent the video from freezing or buffering. If you move more of your entertainment to the internet, you may need to upgrade to a faster connection. Streaming Media Player Ratings

A smart TV.

Smart TVs

Smart TVs, also called internet TVs or connected TVs, can be your bridge to a world of online content that you can access directly from the TV itself. Most smart TVs these days let you access multiple streaming video services, such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, and YouTube TV, plus one or more internet music services, such as Pandora and Spotify. Many smart TVs also let you check social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and several support casual games as well.

More smart TVs are now voice-enabled, using either their own proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) technologies or working with established third-party digital assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. (Some sets may have all three.) Some TVs from the major brands will also connect to, and interact with, other smart home devices, allowing you to play music on smart speakers, raise or lower the temperature on smart thermostats, or adjust the room’s lighting on smart lightbulbs, all from the TV.

Like streaming media players, smart TVs need to be connected to your home network. We recommend using a wired Ethernet connection, if possible, but all smart TVs now also have built-in Wi-Fi for accessing your network wirelessly. Check Our TV Ratings

Check the Viewing Angle

Despite many improvements, most LCDs still have a fairly significant shortcoming: limited viewing angle. That means the picture looks its best only from a fairly narrow sweet spot right in front of the screen. We recommend checking the viewing angle by watching a TV from off to the side, and from above and below the main part of the image. As you move away from the center of the screen, the image can dim, lose contrast and color accuracy, or look washed out. And the degree of picture degradation varies from model to model. We’ve found that TVs that use “IPS” LCD panels offer wider-than-average viewing angles for LCD sets, though this can sometimes come at the expense of contrast.

By contrast, OLED TVs have almost unlimited viewing angles, just like old plasma TVs did.

Recently, we’ve seen some TVs from Samsung and Sony that have wider-than-average viewing angles for an LCD-based set without using IPS panels. These are typically in the companies’ higher-priced models.

If you try to check out a TV’s viewing angle in the store, be aware that the TV’s retail setting typically cranks the brightness and boosts colors to unnatural levels, artificially improving off-angle viewing. Whatever you experience in the store, it’s important to also check the viewing angle after you’ve set it up in your home. We suggest you do it immediately so that you can easily return the set if it proves to be disappointing. A television’s picture looks best when you’re sitting right in front of it. Check out the quality of the image from a variety of viewing angles. For More See Our TV Ratings

Make the Right Connections

Don’t forget to consider a TV’s connections before you buy. You’ll want to ensure that it has the right type of inputs and outputs to support all your audio/video gear.

Almost all TVs now have side input connections, as well as rear inputs, which provide some flexibility for connecting source components to your TV. Inputs located on the side or bottom of the TV work best if you’ll be mounting a TV flat against a wall. If you are wall-mounting a TV, a short HDMI extender can be used to make connections a bit easier to use.

Smartwatch buying guide

It’s shaping up to be a great year to splash out on a smartwatch, with excellent options available from Apple at a broader price range than ever before, and healthy competition from Samsung too.

This could also be the year we finally see the fruits of Google’s blockbuster $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, which was first announced in late-2019 and completed in January 2021. Meanwhile, hybrid watch maker Withings is going from strength to strength, the Fossil group has a huge range to pick from across its many brands, and the Swiss have some luxury offerings too.

What follows is the GearBrain guide to buying a smartwatch in 2021. We have highlighted the major brands to consider, and explained the differences between smartwatches and hybrids, and how even some luxury Swiss watches are smarter than ever. We also look at what new models are expected to arrive later this year.

This is a sample of my Smartwatches I have to offer.

What is a smartwatch?

Google Wear OS smartwatches

Smartwatches running Google’s Wear OSGoogle

In our eyes, a watch becomes a smartwatch when it replaces its traditional face and mechanical hands with a touch screen. Some hybrids do a bit of both, putting simpler displays inside the face of a regular watch, but we’ll cover those later.

When it comes to smartwatch operating systems, like with computers and smartphones there are a couple of main players to consider. First there is watchOS, which is the operating used exclusively by the Apple Watch.

Next there is Wear OS, which belongs to Google and was called Android Wear until 2018. The name was changed to promote the fact that watches running Google’s software work with iPhones as well as Android devices – a key differentiator, as all models of Apple Watch only work with iPhones.

Although Google doesn’t produce a smartwatch of its own (those persistent rumors haven’t come true just yet), Wear OS is found on smartwatches made by many brands, from Misfit and Montblanc, to Fossil and Tag Heuer.

Buy Galaxy Watch 3 – Starting at $189.99

Early smartwatches suffered from poor battery life of no more than one day, uninspiring design, and middling performance. Since those formative days, there have been vast improvements in all of these areas, with some batteries lasting two or even three days, slimmer designs, and increased performance with better apps, connectivity and features. That said, for some models (including even the latest Apple Watch) at least one charge every 24 hours is required to get the most out of them.

In most cases, smartwatches can double as a fitness tracker and personal trainer, tracking walking, running, cycling and other activities, sometimes with the help of an embedded heart rate monitor. Some specialize in certain areas, for example the Tag Heuer Connected that comes with a dedicated golf app for measuring distances and keeping score on courses all over the world.

Some, like the Apple Watch Series 4/5/6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, perform the equivalent of a single-lead ECG (electrocardiogram), which can alert the wearer to potential symptoms of atrial fibrillation. Some also offer fall detection, where a contact and even the emergency services will be automatically called if the watch senses you take a hard fall and not get up.

Smartwatches also excel at notifications, subtly vibrating on your wrist when you receive a phone call, text, email or other kind of message. Some can be purchased with a 4G connection and their own data plan, allowing them to make a receive calls and stream music without being connected to a smartphone.


Apple Watch 6

The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $399Apple

The first Apple Watch arrived back in 2015 and was pitched as a luxury accessory. Apple even tried to sell $20,000 gold versions, and one briefly appeared on the wrist of Beyonce. But Apple soon changed course, turning the Watch into a health and fitness device that owners wouldn’t want to go a day without.

This move worked, as in 2019 the Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry, proving there is huge demand for a wearable that tracks health and fitness, but also carries enough Apple design swagger to not feel like a medical device.

Running Apple’s new watchOS 7 software, the latest models for 2021 are the Watch Series 6 and new, cheaper Watch SE. The Watch Series 3 also remains on sale, priced at just $199. The SE, newly introduced in 2020, is $279 and the Watch Series 6 starts at $399. Hermes models with luxury leather straps and unique faces are the most expensive, reaching $1,499, but there are many mid-price options in-between too.

The Watch SE starts at $279Apple

All models have a heart rate monitor and can track activity, exercise and sleep. But only the Series 6 can perform an ECG, record blood oxygenation and alert its wearer to signs of atrial fibrillation. All are available with or without a cellular connection.

The Watch is offered in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and all models have interchangeable straps. There are three case options; from cheapest to most expensive these are aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. New Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS, 40mm) – Blue Aluminum Case with Deep Navy Sport BandList Price: $379.00New From: $379.00 in StockUsed From: $333.52 in Stock


Samsung Galaxy Watch3

The Samsung Galaxy Watch3Samsung

Samsung has been in the smartwatch game for longer than Apple, having made its first Android Wear-powered devices back in 2014. The latest model is called the Galaxy Watch3 and it runs Samsung’s own Tizen operating system. The Watch3 is available in two sizes, 41mm and 45, making it suitable for most wrists, and unlike the Apple Watch it has industry-standard lug bars so the straps can be swapped for almost any other.

4G versions are available, giving the watch a data connection and the ability to make and receive phone calls and stream music when not connected to your smartphone. Speaking of which, Samsung Galaxy watches work with iPhones and Androids, whereas the Apple Watch only works (and has only ever worked) with iPhones.

A neat feature of the Galaxy Watch3 is how the bezel rotates to scroll through content, saving you swiping the screen and smearing it with fingerprints. The watch also features a heart rate monitor, and can take an ECG and measure blood pressure and oxygen level.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2Samsung

Samsung also currently sells the slightly older Galaxy Watch Active2, which is offered in 40mm and 44mm variants, but has a slimmer design due to the lack of a rotating bezel, which is instead touch-sensitive.

The Galaxy Watch 3 is priced from $260 and is available in rose gold and black. The Active 2 is slightly cheaper at $250, and comes in black, silver and pink gold.

Buy Galaxy Watch 3 – Starting at $189.99

Google and Wear OS

Google WearOS smartwatches

A huge range of smartwatches from various brans run Google’s WearOSGoogle

Formerly known as Android Wear, Wear OS is Google’s smartwatch operating system. It is used by a range of manufacturers, including tech companies like LG and Huawei, but also watch and fashion brands like Kate Spade, Hugo Boss, Guess, Michael Kors and Fossil, plus Tag Heuer.

Wear OS offers the same basic features as watchOS and Tizen. There are several customizable watch faces to pick from, apps to download and install, a notifications system, and varying degrees of fitness, sleep and exercise tracking.

Where the Apple Watch has Apple Pay and Samsung wearables use Samsung Pay, Wear OS watches make use of…you guessed it, Google Pay. Not all models have NFC (a requirement of Google Pay), but most do and these can be used to make in-store purchases instead of using your credit card.

Prices for Wear OS watches start at around the $200 mark for a model from a fashion brand, but climb to over $1,200 for examples from Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer.

Despite persistent rumors of a ‘Pixel Watch’, Google is yet to produce any smartwatches or wearables of its own. But this could soon change. As we mentioned earlier, Google paid $1.2 billion for Fitbit in November 2019 and completed the takeover in January 2021, so we can expect to see the search giant become more involved in the smartwatch and wearable space soon. TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Smart Watch Men’s Wear OS Watch Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 Platform Health Fitness Monitoring 3-45 Days Battery Life Built-in GPS NFC Heart Rate Sleep Tracking IP68 WaterproofList Price: $299.99New From: $299.99 in Stock


Fitbit Versa 3 smartwatch

Fitbit Versa 3 smartwatchFitbit

Although best known for its exercise trackers, Fitbit also makes a smartwatch called the Versa. The latest Versa 3 runs the company’s own Fitbit OS software, works with iPhones and Android, has a 1.6-inch AMOLED touchscreen display, and promises up to six days of battery life. There is also integrated GPS, water resistance and NFC, plus Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Hybrid watches

Withings smartwatch range

Withings are among the most attractive hybrid smartwatches Withings

Generally speaking, the hybrid watch is one which has a traditional face with physical dials, but also includes a Bluetooth connection, accelerometers to track exercise, and a companion smartphone app. Some hybrid watches also have a vibration motor to deliver notifications or silent alarms to your wrist, and most look like regular timepieces.

Although you can’t write an email or hail an Uber with a hybrid smartwatch, you can wear them for weeks or even months at a time before they need charging or a new battery.

Hybrid watches are popular among fashion houses, especially the many brands owned and managed by the Fossil group. As with smartwatches, hybrid watches are made by Misfit, Skagen, Michael Kors, Fossil itself, and many others.

Technology companies have mostly steered clear of the hybrid market, apart from Withings. The French company, which was briefly owned by Nokia before buying itself back in 2018, sells a wide range of great-looking hybrids with classy designs, leather straps and affordable prices.

The company also offers a hybrid with ECG functionality, called the Move ECG. But this is awaiting approval from the FDA, so is yet to go on sale in the US. The company’s latest, called the ScanWatch, is a feature-packed hybrid watch and boasts an attractive stainless steel case – but it too is waiting FDA approval for its ECG function. Withings says it hopes to gain this validation soon. The ScanWatch was due to go on sale in the US before the end of 2020, but as of January 2021 it still isn’t available. All of Withings’ watches can be bought in the UK and Europe.

Swiss smartwatches

Tag Heuer Connected 2020

Tag Heuer has regularly updated and improved the ConnectedTag Heuer

Not to be left on the sidelines, the Swiss watch industry is paying (at least some) attention to the rise of the smartwatch. Tag Heuer was an early mover, partnering with Intel and Google to release the Connected in 2015.

This is a true smartwatch, in that it has a touch screen and runs Wear OS. The latest model, launched in 2020, includes a heart rate monitor for the first time, along with GPS for accurate run tracking and NFC for Google Pay.

Priced from $1,800 to $2,350, the current model is available in a single case size of 45mm and although chunky (around 10mm thick), its design matches the sporty look of Tag’s regular wrist wear.

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The latest Connected, released in 2020, offers more color and material options than ever, including a limited-edition version aimed specifically at golfers. This commitment makes us think Tag Heuer is in the smartwatch game for the long haul, and we hope to see more versions of the Connected in the years to come.

Montblanc also jumped aboard the smartwatch bandwagon with the Summit, which runs Wear OS. Now in its third generation, the Summit 2+ is a thousand-dollar Swiss smartwatch with a stainless steel case, leather strap, heart rate monitor, integrated GPS, 8GB of storage, and a 1.3-inch display housed in a 43.5mm case.

The latest Swiss smartwatch is the Hublot Big Bang E, which also runs Google’s Wear OS and features a 42mm black ceramic case with a rubber strap. It is priced at $5,800.

Finally, there are the Swiss watchmakers who blend modern technology with their centuries-old craft. For example, Frederique Constant has a collection of four hybrid smartwatches falling into the circa-$1,000 sector. The collection includes quartz-driven mens and ladies watches, which connect to the company’s own smartphone app over Bluetooth to track your activity and sleep.

The best smartwatches of 2021

Shopping for a smartwatch might seem easy at first, but it can quickly become daunting. If you’re an iPhone user, you clearly think of the Apple Watch first — but it’s 2021 and there are three models to pick from: Series 3, SE and Series 6. Or maybe Fitbit’s Sense or Versa that mixes heavy health features with some communication convenience catches your eye. And if you’re on Android, is Samsung’s Galaxy Watch line your only option, or is Wear OS worth a look?

Well, we’ve done the legwork by continually testing smartwatches day by day, week by week and month by month this year. As each new model hits the market, we strap it to our wrist and put it through the wringer. Of course, that means this guide is ever evolving, evidenced by a new winner (the Apple Watch 6 has now edged out its predecessor). After copious testing, here are the best smartwatches out now:

After reading this post why not checkout the Smartwatches this Website has to offer


The Apple Watch Series 6 isn’t just the best smartwatch for the iPhone; it’s the best smartwatch period. It offers the ability to take calls, quickly respond to messages and have plenty of apps on your wrist. Apple opted to keep the now classic design, and it comes in new finishes. The S6 processor inside is the fastest in any smartwatch. And then there are the health features: The watch not only tracks countless activities but can also take an electrocardiogram (ECG), measure heart rate, track blood oxygen levels and detect if you’ve fallen.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 is starting to follow the lines of the Apple Watch by offering some features that require a Galaxy smartphone. Even so, it still integrates with nearly all Android devices, and it offers native support for tasks like messaging and triaging your inbox. The Watch 3 also features a rotating circular bezel that’s used for navigation of the interface. Health features are on board here as well: ECG, heart rate, activity tracking and SpO2 stand out.

Our value pick this time around is the $279 midrange Apple Watch SE. For $80 more than the Series 3, you get the modern Apple Watch design with a larger screen and better hardware inside. It’s powered by the S5 processor, which premiered for $399 in the Series 5, so it runs watchOS 7 like a champ. It’s lacking the always-on display and core health features like ECG and blood oxygen readings, but at the end of the day, it’s a great entry point to the smartwatch world.

Best overall smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 6 (starting at $384.99;

PHOTO: Jacob Krol/CNN

Earlier this year, our top overall pick for the best smartwatch was the Series 5. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the Apple Watch Series 6 now takes that honor. It keeps the same base price of $399 (though you can currently find some models available for $384.99 on Amazon) and nearly all of the features, plus adds in a few more — namely the ability to monitor blood oxygen levels from your wrist, an always-on altimeter for tracking elevation and a brighter display.

Let’s be clear, though. As we said in our full review of Series 6, if you don’t see the need for the new health features, you can stick with your Series 5. The Series 6 got a few smaller features that can make a big impact rather than a wild new feature or design change.

The other key point is that Apple Watches work only with iPhones. You’ll set them up via the Watch app, which comes preinstalled on an iOS device and handles setup, settings and more. It offers incredibly deep integration and one of the best experiences found on any wrist. Your messages, calls, apps, contacts, favorite photos and more are all accessible.

Apple’s watchOS 7 powers the experience on Series 6, and the upgraded S6 processor delivers subtle speed improvements and more efficiency. With the latter, simple user interface elements, like opening an app or starting a fitness activity, just happen faster. It just feels a bit more refined. And alongside fitness, well-being and health have become staples of the Apple Watch ecosystem. As much as the watch is a tool for communication, these other features start to tip the scale.

You can track a plethora of workouts like cycling, dance, meditation, running, hiking, elliptical and even boxing. In some cases, the Apple Watch can auto-recognize your workout and start tracking results. Directly from your wrist, in real time, are the calories burned, length of workout and heart rate. The watch tracks this data and syncs with your connected iPhone to safely store the data.

The Apple Watch can also alert you of an increased heart rate, along with the ability to take an ECG, using both an optical and electrical heart rate sensor built into the backside of the watch and the Digital Crown. The Series 6 can still monitor noise levels for hearing health, detecting falls and tracking your sleep.

That sensor on the back has some extra LEDs and photodiodes this year to enable blood oxygen monitoring. We stress-tested this against pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, readers, essentially the small devices that clip onto your fingers and test blood oxygen or SpO2 in the same fashion. In total, we tested more than 20 times a day over a two-week period and found the Series 6 to be in line by about a digit compared to the pulse ox readers. (As with all these health features, the Apple Watch is not a doctor and is not meant to replace one.)

And the Series 6, as of this publishing, is the only available Apple Watch with the always-on display. In a workout, when you can’t always raise or tap to wake, it’s great to see your core stats. The always-on display truly makes it feel like a real timepiece.

The Apple Watch Series 6 delivers an impressive amount of features and elegant design, in a complete albeit pricey package. If you’re focused on health and want that always-on display along with everything the Apple Watch can do, the Series 6 is the ultimate choice. We just wish it worked with Android.

Best Android smartwatch: Galaxy Watch 3 (starting at $399.99;

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

PHOTO: Jason Cipriani/CNNSamsung Galaxy Watch 3

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 replaces the Galaxy Watch Active 2 as our best Android watch, thanks to its refined design, physical rotating bezel and increased display size.

Samsung announced the Watch 3 in August, with several health-focused features and a larger screen as the main highlights. The Watch 3 can track your stress level, measure your blood oxygen level and, thanks to a recent update, perform an ECG to monitor for heartbeat abnormalities.

Granted, Samsung surprised everyone and released a software update for the Galaxy Watch Active 2 that added Sp02 and ECG capabilities. Adding key health features to a watch that launched several months ago without even a hint of it having that capability demonstrates Samsung’s commitment to improving products over time.

But there’s a catch. In order to use the ECG app, you have to use either watch with one of Samsung’s Galaxy phones. Hopefully Samsung changes its mind and opens up this feature to all Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 users in the future.

Even though the Active 2 and Watch 3 share the same core features, what really won us over is the Watch 3’s overall design. There’s a true rotating bezel on the Watch 3 that has a pleasant click and tactile feedback as you rotate it to scroll through an incoming message or to navigate through your installed apps.

We had no issues looking at the 1.4-inch display on the 45mm model in direct sunlight, and it was always quick to respond to taps and swipes.

The included leather band and the more sophisticated design make it a watch you feel comfortable wearing to work or the gym.

Battery life will net you about two days of use when you’re not using the always-on display mode, which does exactly what it sounds like, although in a low-power state to conserve battery. However, with AOD on, you’re looking at charging the Watch 3 every day.

Even if you don’t have a Galaxy phone, it’s hard to find a smartwatch that supports Android devices as well as the Galaxy Watch 3, and it does so in style. The Watch Active 2 is still a fantastic choice for someone who wants to save some cash or prefers the fitness-focused design, but for everyone else, the Watch 3 is the best Android smartwatch you can find right now.

Best budget smartwatch: Apple Watch SE (starting at $279;

PHOTO: Jacob Krol/CNN

Starting at $279 and offering many of the standout features of the Series 6, the Apple Watch SE retains the modern Apple Watch design with a larger display compared to the Series 3 and the S5 processor that debuted in the Series 5.

The Apple Watch SE also boasts the Apple-made S5 processor — the same one inside the Series 5. Put simply: That means that the SE delivers big value.

Our favorite new feature is real-time translations via Apple’s virtual assistant. It’s quite handy to get a quick translation right from your wrist and without opening a dedicated app. Most impressively, it shows how capable the S5 chip inside really is.

Apple Pay works just as well — and as quickly — as with the Series 5 and Series 6. And, thanks to watchOS 7, the Apple Watch SE can track hand-washing just the same as the Watch 6. The microphones specifically listen for water from a faucet, hand motions and even the sound of soap being pumped from a bottle. And when it detects you’re washing your hands, you’ll see a countdown appear on your wrist. Once the 20 seconds is up, you’ll feel a vibration and hear a short jingle. You can also choose to receive a reminder once you’re back home to wash your hands. This taps into the GPS built inside and some improvements to Apple Maps.

Sleep tracking is on board as well and allows you to set a goal for the number of hours you want to sleep and tracks whether or not you’re hitting that goal. You won’t find data about different cycles like you might on a Fitbit, but it’s the same sleep tracking experience as on the Series 6 or any other Apple Watch that supports the feature. It just won’t track your blood oxygen periodically overnight.

The fitness aspects on the SE are essentially the same experience you’ve had on every other Apple Watch with move and exercise goals you can track. You can also use the Workout app to pick from a plethora of exercises — indoor or outdoor cycling, functional strength training, barre, dance, running, jogging, surfing and countless others — that the Apple Watch SE will accurately track through an array of sensors. We didn’t notice any slowdowns or tracking differences between the SE and Series 6. Both were able to get an accurate number when it came to calories burned, minutes exercised and heart rate tracked throughout.

The Watch SE features heart rate tracking, noise level monitoring, fitness tracking and fall detection. What’s sacrificed here, compared to the Watch 6, is a faster processor, quick charging capability, a brighter display, ECG readings, blood oxygen monitoring and the always-on display.

We missed the always-on display the most. It just makes the Apple Watch feel more like an actual wristwatch. Secondly, the health features like blood oxygen and ECGs (as well as a more advanced heart rate sensor) might make you opt for Series 6.

The Apple Watch SE delivers a tremendous amount of value with minimal compromises — as any Apple SE product should. If you can look past no electrical heart rate sensor, blood oxygen monitoring and an always-on display, it’s the clear choice when looking for the most value.

How we tested

As Underscored does with any product we test, we went deep on these watches. In many cases, it’s using them as any consumer would, wearing them daily, using them for workouts, maxing out the battery and, of course, seeing how they hold up to normal wear and tear.

Any wearable, including a smartwatch, is a very personal product, and your preference can be heavily dependent on your phone of choice. That’s why we tested every watch with an iPhone SE, an iPhone 11, an iPhone 11 Pro, an iPhone 11 Pro Max, a Galaxy S20 and a Pixel 4 XL (except, of course, the Apple Watch Series 6, Series 3 and SE, which only work with an iPhone).

We carefully went through the setup process, noting any necessary apps and extra steps each watch required. (For instance, how easy was it to set up notifications, one of the key features of a smartwatch?) We also considered third-party app and watch face availability, along with the ability to customize the overall look of the watch face.

We asked ourselves how easy it was to complete routine tasks, like viewing a weather forecast, checking daily agenda or sending a message. With everything set up, we wore each watch for several days, monitoring battery life with normal usage with the occasional workout mixed in, and continued to note how easy each watch was to use and any signs of wear and tear.

We paid close attention to activity tracking and health features. With the latter, we established a baseline with consumer-facing devices that are designed to just track those metrics (i.e., SpO2 or heart rate).

Once we had a good enough understanding of a watch, we rated it.

How we rated

We scored each watch across several categories: battery life, operating system, design, durability, hardware, ease of use, fitness tracking and warranty. You can see the category breakdown below.

We chose not to include the price in the overall score and instead took a step back and tried to objectively look at all the devices on the same playing field. With the scores added up (and some healthy back and forth), we layered in price consideration, then made picks.

  • Design had a maximum of 20 points.
  • Operating system had a maximum of 20 points.
  • Battery life had a maximum of 20 points.
  • Durability had a maximum of 20 points.
  • Fitness and health tracking had a maximum of 20 points.
  • Hardware had a maximum of 10 points.
  • Ease of use had a maximum of 5 points.
  • Warranty had a maximum of 5 points.

Other smartwatches we tested

The Apple Watch Series 3 currently starts at $169 on Amazon and offers almost everything the Series 6 and SE do. But then we considered that the hardware that makes up this watch is now three years old, and as watchOS continues to grow and progress, the Series 3 will begin to slow down as Apple adds more features to watchOS or, even worse, support for future updates and features will eventually leave the Series 3 behind. That doesn’t mean that the features it has now will go away — and it’s a fine watch with these features — but to future-proof your investment, the Series 6 or Watch SE are better choices.

Fitbit Sense

Fitbit’s latest watch has more health-related sensors and features than any watch we’ve ever tested. It can measure how stressed you are, track blood oxygen levels and monitor your skin’s temperature while you sleep, and a future update will enable ECG readings to check for irregular heartbeats. Of course, it does all of the staple fitness tracker stuff that Fitbit helped pioneer, like counting steps, active minutes, workouts and sleep. But after testing it, the Sense feels more like a medical device than a smartwatch. You have to use a specific watch face at night in order to track your Sp02, for example. There’s a ton of potential with Sense, but the overall experience needs to be refined. And then you need to know what to do with all of that data. If you want a watch that can give you more health info than almost any other smartwatch available right now, then Sense, well, might make sense for you.

Fitbit Versa 2

The $178.95 Fitbit Versa 2 is a very good but very basic smartwatch. Its primary focus, and what it does best, is tracking activities and sleep — but after that, it falls short of what the Apple Watch Series 3 or Galaxy Active 2 can do.

Fossil Sport

The $99 Fossil Sport is powered by Google’s Wear OS platform, and that’s unfortunate. Despite its $99 price tag, the Fossil Sport came up short nearly across the board, with a lackluster design, poor battery life and, most importantly, its operating system. Wear OS is in desperate need of a new approach. It’s slow, confusing to navigate and makes routine tasks feel more complicated than they should be.

Garmin Instinct Solar

The Garmin Instinct Solar has the unique feature of being able to recharge itself using solar power. That’s right — the watch face is a miniature solar panel that sips on sunrays to slowly replenish the battery. As such, Garmin estimates 24-day battery life off a single charge, as long as you’re outside for three hours a day in direct sunlight. In our testing, 12 days of use between charges was the norm. (We clearly need to get out more.) Tracking workouts, hikes and walks via the watch and dedicated GPS was simple once we got the hang of the watch’s interface. Where the Instinct Solar fell short was with its smartwatch capabilities. You can’t limit which apps send alerts to your watch — it’s all or nothing. If you spend a lot of time outdoors and you want a watch that’s built and designed for an active lifestyle without the often unnecessary smartwatch features like granular alerts, then the Instinct Solar makes a compelling offering.

Garmin Venu

The $349.99 Garmin Venu is well designed, but its battery life is subpar, and we found the operating system to have a steep learning curve. Interacting with notifications was a confusing experience that we never truly got the hang of. This is clearly a watch designed by runners for runners, based on its durable design and health stats like pulse ox or energy monitoring built right in. If that sounds like what you want, you’ll be happy with the Venu.

Skagen Falster 3

The $295 Skagen Falster 3 is also powered by Google’s Wear OS platform, but it surpassed our overall expectations. There’s not a lot Skagen can do about the shortfalls of Wear OS as a whole, suffering from some of the same issues as the Fossil Sport — it’s confusing to navigate and offers only mediocre battery life — but it’s a good-looking watch, with performance that was able to keep pace with whatever we threw at it. Tasks like messaging, taking calls, tracking steps and playing music didn’t result in any slowdowns. Perhaps the biggest downside to the Falster 3 is its price tag. At nearly $300 for a Wear OS watch, you have to really love Google’s ecosystem to spend that kind of cash.