All posts in “Tech Desk”

How to Know If a Charger Can Charge Your Laptop

Can this charge my laptop? It’s a common question for anybody who’s lost or misplaced their laptop charger and is frantically seeking an alternative. If you’re like most people in such a situation, you’re going to use any random charger with your MacBook or USB-C laptop, plug it in and hope it starts charging. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes not so much.

The good news is that we’re living in a day-and-age where basically every new laptop charges via USB-C — it doesn’t matter if it’s made by Apple, Dell, HP or Lenovo. The confusing part is that not every USB-C wall adapter is capable of delivering enough juice to charge your laptop. If you’re looking to have some of the most common questions about laptop charging answered, look below.

Is there a minimum wattage required to charge a laptop?

It depends. Typically, a wall adapter or portable charger has to output at least 29-watts or 31-watts to give a laptop more power than it consumes by just being on. This, of course, will vary depending on how intensive your power consumption is. For instance, if you have a larger laptop or your running heavy-duty programs, a 30-watt wall adapter might not be able to charge your laptop as fast as you’re draining it. A safe range for a wall adapter is between 45-watts and 96-watts — those will definitely be able to charge your laptop (with normal use).

What is Power Delivery (PD) and does the wall adapter need it?

Power Delivery (PD) is a charging standard that allows a charger to output higher currents and higher voltages, thus allowing you to charge your smartphone or laptop from 0% to 100% in a shorter time. And yes, PD is the only charging standard that can charge a laptop.

That said, just because a charger supports PD, doesn’t necessarily mean it can charge your laptop. PD technology can be integrated into many devices whose power outputs can range from 18-watts to 100-watts. For instance, Anker’s 18-watt Power Delivery charger and Aukey’s 18W PD Fast Charger are both designed to fast charge your smartphone, not your laptop.

What is GaN? And how does it affect charging?

GaN stands for Gallium Nitride and it’s a new buzzword in the world of charging technology. Essentially, it’s a new material that is way more energy- and space-efficient than silicon, the traditional material used in wall adapters, so GaN chargers can be smaller and lighter, but also still really powerful. Anker has been a leader in GaN chargers, releasing the PowerPort Atom PD 1 last year, but a lot of other charging companies are catching on. There are even rumors that Apple will include a 65-watt GaN charger with its next MacBook Pros.

Not all laptops charge at the same speeds.

It’s not just about how powerful the wall adapter is. A lot of it has to do with how much power the laptop can take as well. Different laptops support different power inputs. The newest MacBook Pros support a max power input of 96 watts, for instance, while the newest MacBook Airs are significantly less than that. This means that not every USB-C laptop will be able to charge at the same speeds, no matter how powerful the charger’s power output.

The other thing is that not all USB-C ports are the same. Specifically, not all USB-C ports support Power Delivery and not all of them accept charging. Also, not every USB-C cable supports PD. So if you’re wondering why your laptop isn’t charging even when plugged in, it could be an issue with the charging port or the charging cable you’re using.

Some Chargers That Can Definitely Charge Your Laptop

RavPower 45W PD USB-C Charger

This tiny wall adapter is a great example of how GaN is impacting charging size. It can fit in your pocket, but it’s also more powerful than the stock 30-watt adapter than comes with a MacBook Air.

Anker 60W USB-C Power Adapter

This is 30-percent smaller than the 60-watt charger that comes with the latest 13-inch MacBook Pros. It’s also way cheaper and available in black.

Aukey Omnia Duo 65W Dual-Port PD Charger

Aukey’s new Omnia Series of wall adapters are up to 66-percent smaller than the stock adapter that comes with the latest 13-inch MacBook Pros. This model (above) can output 65-watts from one of its USB-C PD ports, but only when used only, and 45-watts out of each of its USB-C PD ports when its simultaneously charging two devices..

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tucker Bowe

Tucker Bowe has been on Gear Patrol’s editorial team since 2014. As a Tech Staff Writer, he tracks everything in the consumer tech space, from headphones to smartphones, wearables to home theater systems. If it lights up or makes noise, he probably covers it.

More by Tucker Bowe | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

The Best and Worst Parts of the Most Extreme Phone Camera Yet

Brand: Samsung
Product: Galaxy S20 Ultra
Release Date: 03/13/20
Price: $1,400

There are plenty of places to start a discussion about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, the new flagship phone of Samsung’s next, renamed generation of its Galaxy S line. There’s the dual-band 5G connectivity, the 120Hz screen. Also, of course, the sky-high $1,400 starting price. But the question that jumped out to me the most when I first saw this beast, with its impressive 10x optical zoom and unheard of 100x digital zoom, is whether that camera is a revelation or a gimmick. The answer? Well, it’s both.

The S20’s ability to zoom optically up to 10x is a terrific feature, and the ability to zoom that deep without destroying image quality is a freedom I enjoy even if I use it less than I expected in practice. Beyond, to the 100x and even the more modest 30x zoom, the downsides start to overpower any practical application. Yes, it is a great party trick, but I can hardly imagine, like, using it.

10X optical zoom is incredible, but niche.

In case you forgot, zooming works like this. Optical zoom uses physical lenses to magnify your picture, letting you get closer with no compromise in image quality. Digital zoom takes a picture, crops it and enlarges, giving you chunkier pixels the further you zoom. By using a sideways mounted lens and a prism to fit inside a large but manageable camera bump, the S20 lets you get that deep 10x zoom guilt free, which is definitely incredible.

Shooting around with the S20, I found this was great for a few of my pet projects, like getting crisp, close up pictures of interesting features on buildings, and I figure it would be similarly great for shooting wildlife from a distance, or getting close ups at a concert or sporting event. At 10x magnification, it is a little difficult to hold the camera still enough to get a clean shot, especially in low light conditions or with one hand. I spent more time using 5x purely for ease of use. But that impressive zoom can help you get shots you’d otherwise need an honest-to-god zoom lens on an actual camera to capture. It’s sick, even though I didn’t find quite as many uses for it as I expected.

100x zoom is as awesome as it is useless.

If you need a steady hand for 10x, you need an actual tripod for 100x. Once you get above 10x, keeping your target in the frame while you press the button feels more like balancing a broomstick on your finger than using a point-and-shoot. It is a hopeless exercise to try this one-handed, and it is still barely manageable with two. The camera app shows you a handy mini-map in the top of the screen that you can use for reference, which is crucial since the ultra-zoom picture from the viewfinder will be nigh unintelligible. But it can only help so much since the physical act of aiming is wildly challenging.

Now don’t forget this is also digital zoom, which means you are losing image quality at the same time. The S20 boasts some machine learning tech that ostensibly helps repair your ridiculously cropped image but it can’t work miracles. Your final images, if you somehow manage to stay on target to get the shot, are basically as high resolution as a watercolor painting. I can maybe, theoretically, imagine a case where this would be useful, if you were trying to get a faraway shot as evidence instead of art. I mean, it’s cool for a second! But at best it is a party trick.

The S20 Ultra is more than just its camera, obviously.

Of course, the S20 has more going on than just its camera. With dual-band 5G connectivity, the S20 Ultra and its little brother, the S20+, can deliver the face-melting 10 Gbps-and-higher speeds the best 5G connections will be able to offer, if you can find them. Meanwhile, the baseline S20 only supports the slowest flavor of 5G. Its screen, with a silky smooth 120hz refresh rate, is beautiful though tests indicate it robs you of about the hours of battery life to have it turned on. These are both features that, like the camera, are objectively impressive but maybe not practically useful for most people. And at a $1,400 price point to start ($1,600 with maxed out specs!!!!!!) it is very hard to recommend this phone as a sensible purchase, especially when the S20 and S20+ sport more modest prices ($1,000 and $1,200) and less intense cameras (3x optical, 30x digital) that still push the limit of practicality.

It’s still ultra cool though.

Samsung provided this product for review.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Eric Limer

Eric Limer is Gear Patrol’s tech editor. A resident of Weehawken, NJ, his current obsessions include mechanical keyboards, mechanical pencils and Formula 1.

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My Favorite Cheap Wired Earbuds Are on Sale for Just $8

<!–My Favorite Cheap Wired Earbuds Are on Sale for Just $8<!– –>

Maybe the Best Impulse Buy?

Everybody should carry a affordable pair of wired earbuds on their person. Whether it’s for when your AirPods die or when you inevitably forget in-flight entertainment systems don’t support Bluetooth headphones, these cheap beats always come in handy. And because they’re super cheap, you won’t really care if they break or you lose them.

For me, my go-to pair are these Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds. They’re comfortable and cheap, and I’ve owned a few pairs over the years. Amazon is selling them for a few bucks off today, so it’s as good as time as ever to grab a pair or two. So long as your go-to device has a headphone jack, at least.

Save $100 on This Limited-Edition Commuter Bike

Priority Bicycles x Gear Patrol Commuter BikePriority Bicycles x Gear Patrol Commuter Bike

The Gear Patrol Commuter, made in tandem with Priority Bicycles, was inspired by — and tested on — the streets of New York City. Streamlined for your everyday grind, it a pairs a durable, easy-to-maintain feature set with an understated colorway you won’t find anywhere else. Buy Now: $899 $799

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tucker Bowe

Tucker Bowe has been on Gear Patrol’s editorial team since 2014. As a Tech Staff Writer, he tracks everything in the consumer tech space, from headphones to smartphones, wearables to home theater systems. If it lights up or makes noise, he probably covers it.

More by Tucker Bowe | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email



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Why You Need a Password Manager (And Four to Try)

If you’re not sure why password managers matter, imagine losing access to all your accounts. Or worse, access falling into the wrong hands. Your emails, your photos, your credit cards, your bank accounts, all of the logins that make up your digital life.

Writing down passwords on a notepad or, even worse, just using the same password for everything, may have served you well so far, but you’re playing with fire. And while built-in browser tools are getting better at managing (and suggesting) passwords themselves, a dedicated tool will almost always be a better bet. It’s built for the purpose, and it will work across all your devices and various browsers.

The job of all password managers is essentially the same. Chiefly, they remember the login credentials for your various accounts, but also autofill login forms and help you generate strong, unique passwords with ease. Access to this treasure trove of information is controlled by a master password, so you only need to remember one.

These apps are now available across all the various desktop and mobile platforms, offering support for two-factor authentication and various other protocols that add more layers of protection to guard against unauthorized entry to your key digital accounts. Many will also go the extra distance to help you manage credit card details, address information and anything else you need in a web browser but want to protect from prying eyes.

When it comes to making a choice of which app to settle down with, the good news is that almost all of them will treat you well.  The main differences you’ll find when comparing password managers are the software interfaces, the pricing structures, and the various bonus features. The biggest decision is not so much which one to use but rather the choice to knuckle down and start taking your password security seriously before its too late.


Notable for having one of the best free tiers in the business, LastPass is available on just about every device out there and compatible with all the popular apps and services. If you want a lot of features without having to pay anything, then it’s well worth considering.

Best Free Option

Price: Free, $3/month for premium

What We Like: The apps (including the web interface) are clear and clean, it’s possible to store a huge amount of information privately, and everything works smoothly. The family option is a welcome one as well, letting you share files and folders with family members and manage everyone’s passwords and private data through a single account dashboard.
What We Don’t Like: There are no major drawbacks to LastPass that we can see, though other services offer a broader range of extra features (for an extra price), including VPNs and additional identity theft protection. Overall, it’s a polished and reliable product.


1Password often scores highly in ‘best of’ lists of password managers, and it’s not difficult to see why: It takes care of managing all your passwords and private information with a user-friendly, intuitive approach that takes away all the stress and friction from logging in.

Best User Experience

Price: $3+/month

What We Like: The design and interface of the apps is just about the best we’ve come across, jumping between devices is easy, it offers biometric protection (logging in with a face or fingerprint) across the board, and even audits the strength of your existing passwords for you. Categories and tags make organizing your saved data simple too.
What We Don’t Like: Perhaps the only downside to 1Password – which maybe isn’t a downside – is that there’s no free tier. There is a free 30-day trial, but you need to enter your card details right at the start. Apart from that, everything is really impressive.


Dashlane is hard to beat as far as password managers go, with top-quality apps across every platform, thoughtful features everywhere (like the ability to import passwords from your browser), and a bunch of (paid-for) extras like a VPN tool and an inbox scanner.

Best Premium Extras

Price: $3.33/month

What We Like: Just about everything, from the elegance of the Dashlane apps to the way it just works in the background while you go about your business. It’s notable for the number of extras you get besides the basics of managing passwords and secure data, extras which include monitoring the dark web for any mentions of your passwords.
What We Don’t Like: It’s hard to pick any faults in Dashlane, which is a breeze to use across iOS, Android, macOS and Windows. It doesn’t offer quite as much as LastPass on the free tier though (users are limited to using Dashlane on just one device, for example).


Perhaps Bitwarden’s biggest selling point is that it’s open source—your passwords stay protected and you’re using code that’s publicly developed and publicly available, improving transparency and security. Almost all the key features are available for free.

Honorable Mention

Price: Free, or $10/year

What We Like: It’s free to use across as many devices as you like, the premium level is the cheapest out there, and it does a straightforward job of managing your passwords and other data. Bitwarden is audited by independent security experts, lets you securely share passwords with other people, and can generate new, strong passwords for you too.
What We Don’t Like: It’s fair to say that Bitwarden doesn’t have the same level of polish and user-friendliness as the other password managers we’ve mentioned here, though it’s by no means difficult to use. Extras like VPNs and data breach warnings aren’t included.

How to Build a Smart Home

So you want to build an entry-level smart home and you don’t want it to cost a fortune. Good news: that’s totally possible. Here are the reasons to choose Apple, Amazon, or Google, and the best entry-level devices to get you off the ground. Read the Guide

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The Rarest Game Console Ever Can Be Yours… For Just $360,000

<!–The Fabled ‘Nintendo PlayStation’ Only Costs $360,000 (So Far) • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Not everyone gets to own a Nintendo PlayStation

Back before Nintendo decided to make the cartridge-based Nintendo 64 and before Sony decided to make its line of disc-based PlayStation consoles, there was a brief collaboration between the two giants. The result? The rare, prototype “Nintendo PlayStation.” It obviously never came to market, but a prototype is up for auction and may well go for upwards of $1 million.

Its original owners came into possession of the strange piece of video game history through a bankruptcy auction that included items from a former Sony CEO. The strange device, one of only about 200 hundred prototypes ever made, is the only surviving console known to have survived. The auction, which will continue for 21 more days, has already attracted big bids, with the price already up to over $300,000 and is attracting attention from people with mountains of cash, who you’d be hard-pressed to outbid.

The owners of the console reportedly turned down a $1.2 million offer to purchase the device outright, which says plenty about how high they expect the number to go. This could wind up being the most expensive video game console of all time.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Eric Limer

Eric Limer is Gear Patrol’s tech editor. A resident of Weehawken, NJ, his current obsessions include mechanical keyboards, mechanical pencils and Formula 1.

More by Eric Limer | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email



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One of the Biggest Tech Events of the Year Just Got Canceled

<!–One of the Biggest Tech Events of the Year Just Got Canceled • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Coronavirus is having a growing impact on consumer tech

Mobile World Congress, held annually in Barcelona, Spain, is one of the biggest international tech events of the year. The international show is typically home to (or at least concurrent with) announcements from some of the largest phone-making companies across the globe. Not this year, however, as it has been fully canceled on account of concerns about the coronavirus.

Yesterday, the governing body behind the event announced the cancelation citing “due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today” and “the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances.”

Mobile World Congress isn’t the only consumer tech event that coronavirus may have disrupted. Analysts have suggested that the supply chain disruptions the virus is causing in China could also impact the planned release of the new Xbox and Playstation consoles later this year, and potentially the new iPhone as well.

Further delays are only predictions at the moment, but the outbreak is making it increasingly clear to even casual consumers how the supply chains used to produce all your favorite gadgets is a global web with roots that almost always trace back to China in one way or another. It’s a good a reminder as any that these products don’t just grow on trees.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Eric Limer

Eric Limer is Gear Patrol’s tech editor. A resident of Weehawken, NJ, his current obsessions include mechanical keyboards, mechanical pencils and Formula 1.

More by Eric Limer | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email



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The 4 Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2020

The guide to the best bookshelf loudspeakers of 2020 covers everything you need to know before you buy your next pair of audio equipment. We tested a whole host of speakers to find which ones will make the best addition to your home stereo system.

The Best Bookshelf Loudspeakers of 2020

Bookshelf Speakers 101

1. Q Acoustics Concept 300

Q Acoustics is a relatively new loudspeaker brand on this continent but it’s one that you should pay attention to. Having already made a significant dent in the U.K. and Europe against some rather stiff competition from rivals like KEF, B&W and Wharfedale with its affordable but over-achieving 3000-Series, Q Acoustics is now pushing hard into the high-end with the Concept 300 stand-mounted full-range bookshelf loudspeaker.

Best Overall Bookshelf Loudspeaker

Price: $4,499/pair

What We Like: The Concept 300 deliver unrivaled levels of coherency, clarity and presence in a stand-mounted design that can compete with significantly more expensive loudspeakers – not that $4,999 isn’t rather expensive for a two-way bookshelf design. Low-end performance is surprisingly deep and taut making them adept with all kinds of music and they will never be the weak link in your system. The slightly scary-looking Tensegrity tripod stand utilizes cutting edge acoustic isolation and plays a significant role in the sound of the Concept 300 – image solidity and soundstage depth are first-rate. Paired with the right amplifier, these are end-game loudspeakers that also look the part.
What We Don’t Like: The Concept 300 need a really good amplifier to really shine. Not the last word in dynamic punch. Stand design might make you nervous even though they work amazingly well.

2. PSB Alpha P5

PSB have been manufacturing award-winning loudspeakers for over 40 years. Audio industry legend Paul Barton plays a significant role at Lenbrook (NAD, PSB, Bluesound) designing not only the PSB and Bluesound loudspeakers, but also the NAD headphones. Rather than pursue building cost-no-object loudspeakers which Barton could do with his access to significant R&D resources, he has focused on the entry-level and products like the Alpha P5 that are remarkable loudspeakers.

Best Budget Bookshelf Loudspeaker

Price: $400/pair

What We Like: The Alpha P5 have a lot of competition below $600 but they manage to win the day with an impressive level of transparency, detail and dynamic punch that works with almost every recording you try. The midrange is superb and the bass response from such a small two-way pair of loudspeakers is resoundingly taut and agile even with electronica and hip-hop and driven with entry-level integrated amplifiers. Also the build quality is very high for the price. You can drive these with 35-50 watts and wipe the floor with any wireless loudspeaker for many years to come.

What We Don’t Like: The Alpha P5 sound a lot better with superior amplifiers and that will force you to stretch your budget. The top end can sound slightly etched as compared to the midrange and low end which are far more balanced. The Alpha P5 start to lose their remarkably coherency when you push them too hard – not ideal for blasting Iron Maiden or Tool at really loud listening levels.

3. Wharfedale EVO4.2

Wharfedale is one of the oldest loudspeaker manufacturers in the world and one of the best at designing affordable high-end loudspeakers that can really reproduce a full-range sound that won’t crush your bank account. The EVO Series is a rather radical departure from the acclaimed Diamond range. They not only look more refined but also sound dramatically more polished and dynamic. They’re built overseas to keep the price down, and you’ll be grateful when you open your wallet.

Best Affordable Full-Range Bookshelf Loudspeaker

Price: $1,000 / pair

What We Like: The EVO4.2 sound positively like floor-standing loudspeakers when positioned on solid stands and they don’t require a subwoofer either. Midrange is clean sounding with a warm tonal balance that makes them ideal for a lot of solid-state and tube amplifiers. These are not very hard loudspeakers to drive and they can play very loudly without losing any sense of control or focus. Plus, they’re built like tanks and a remarkable value for the money. AMT ribbon tweeter has remarkable extension and a highly detailed presentation that will illuminate better sounding recordings.

What We Don’t Like: The EVO4.2 require heavy-duty stands – prepare to spend $300-500 for a pair that will do these loudspeakers justice. The slightly laid-back presentation might make some listeners think they are not ideal for rock, metal, electronica – and they would be 100 percent wrong if they don’t give them a chance. Beware: these are capable of taking you down the audiophile rabbit hole where you’ll spend years trying every amplifier you can to see what else they can do.

4. Dynaudio Focus 20 XD

This Danish loudspeaker giant has decades of experience designing and building some of the world’s best midrange/woofers and tweeters, and a real understanding of what 21st-century music listeners expect in an active/wireless system. The Focus 20 XD incorporate a very powerful 150-watt amplifier inside each speaker and support for high-resolution digital audio streaming. Like everything they do, the Dynaudio Focus 20 XD are built to the highest standards and benefit from some 40 years of driver research that give them a serious sonic advantage.

Best Active/Wireless Bookshelf Loudspeaker

Price: $6,000

What We Like: Some may not immediately like their laid-back presentation, but it works better than most for long-term listening at moderate-to-loud volume levels. Dynaudio builds world-class tweeters and the result is a very smooth, airy and detailed top end that makes even horrible recordings easy to digest. The Focus 20 XD can completely vanish in your listening space on good stands reproducing a deep and relatively wide soundstage. Bass response is articulate. The internal amplifier maintains a really strong grip on the woofer but this loudspeaker is not going to shake your room. If you prize midrange refinement and tonal accuracy over a front-row presentation, the Focus 20 XD will be for you. The ability to tweak the loudspeaker to match your room with the rear controls and app is a huge plus.

What We Don’t Like: Being tied to an ecosystem isn’t going to be for everyone. The laid-back presentation will not excite you right away but the Focus 20 XD will grow on you the more you listen and discover little nuances in each recording. These are not bass crunching loudspeakers for those who need that level of low end punch. Require expensive stands to really strut their stuff.

Why Bookshelf Speakers?

Smart speakers have taken a considerable slice of the loudspeaker market over the past twenty-four months, with Amazon and Google both announcing superior-sounding versions of their Echo and Google Home smart speakers, Apple releasing its first-ever smart speaker, and traditional speaker companies, like Bose and Sonos, also getting in on the action. With their ease of setup, their ability to control your smart home gadgets and answer questions, as well as wireless play with other smart speakers, it’s no wonder that smart speakers have traditional loudspeaker manufacturers running scared.

But there will always be a market for bookshelf speakers. Why? Because stereo sound is special. Music that was recorded in stereo, needs to be listened to in that format unless we are content with listening to single loudspeakers again that attempt to simulate stereo or even surround sound with multiple drivers packed into an enclosure the size of a coffee can. Stereo bookshelf loudspeakers do a rather convincing job recreating the soundstage; the physical space (studio, garage, music hall) where the recording was made and that illusion of being there with your favorite artist is a big part of the experience. They also reproduce the scale of the recording in a far more convincing way; crank Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” through an Apple HomePod and you will discover just how poorly smart speakers reproduce the dynamics of a challenging track.

Active Versus Passive

Wireless smart speakers are also limited by the amplification that the manufacturer has stuffed inside; space limitations almost dictate the use of Class D or switching amplifiers that are more efficient than traditional linear amplifiers, which require large heatsinks to dissipate heat. Class D amplifiers have improved greatly in recent years in regard to sound quality and require less space, are cheaper, and weigh less.

If you really care about sound quality, you have plenty of passive (which require amplification) and active loudspeaker (with built-in amplification) options to select from. Passive loudspeakers are more flexible as you can experiment with different types of amplifiers, DACs, and placement options. Active loudspeakers are a better option for listeners who don’t want the added expense of multiple components, and an equipment rack filled with cables. The trade-off with any active loudspeaker is that you are committed to how the final product sounds. There is no way to try another amplifier or DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) to alter the sound. Active loudspeakers also require at least one of the loudspeakers to be plugged into the wall; limiting how you set the speaker up in your space. One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of affordable passive or active bookshelf loudspeakers for all types of spaces.

Analog or Wireless

It’s also worth considering wireless bookshelf speakers if you want the option to stream audio straight from your laptop, tablet or computer. A lot of newer models have either built-in wi-fi, Bluetooth or both. In addition to being really easy to use, this added connectivity gives wireless bookshelf speakers a few distinct advantages over bookshelf loudspeakers. They don’t require a direct connection to both an amplifier and source, like traditional analog speakers. They have fewer restrictions as to set-up locations or built-in amplification. And they most likely support the streaming services that you already pay for.

In the past, the major Achilles’ heel for wireless loudspeakers was sound quality, but that has taken a major leap forward in recent years, with products like the KEF LS50 Wireless and Devialet Phantoms. Wireless loudspeakers now feature high-performance internal amplification, phono pre-amplifiers, DACs, and support for major streaming platforms such as Spotify Connect, Airplay 2, Tidal, Pandora, and others. The one thing to always remember with all wireless loudspeakers is that they still require a power source — they’ll take up a wall outlet — and some wireless models require a tether from the master loudspeaker to the slave as the amplification is only built into one speaker.

Sony’s Noise-Canceling Earbuds Are Cheaper Than Ever

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are the company’s newest wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation. They normally cost $230, but right now you can get them for $198 on Amazon. It’s the most affordable that they’ve ever been.

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are essentially wireless earbud versions of Sony’s WH-1000XM3 over-ear noise-canceling headphones. They both have the same color palette and utilize the same app, which lets you adjust the EQ of the music as well as toggle with the noise-canceling settings. They also are some of the best-sounding wireless earbuds you can buy.

In my opinion, the Sony WF-1000XM3 sound better and have better noise-canceling abilities than the AirPods Pro. However, they fit differently which some people may or may not like. (For example, I like the fit of both AirPods and AirPods Pro better.)

That said, if you don’t have an iPhone or you don’t like the way the AirPods Pro or regular AirPods fit, are some of the best wireless earbuds out there — are right now they’re at their lowest price ever.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Buying Smart Light Bulbs for the First Time? Here’s What You Need to Know

The first thing to know is that, compared to other smart home tech, smart light bulbs are simple. They’re almost exactly the same as conventional LED bulbs, but with a whole host of added benefits.

The Advantages of a Smart Bulb

You can do a host of other neat things with smart light bulbs that you simply can’t conventional LED bulbs, too. Most of them have to do with control.

Remote control: You can turn smart lights on or off even if you’re not home. All you need to do is have your smartphone connected to Wi-Fi or LTE, and a compatible smart home app at the ready.

Create schedules: You don’t need to turn your lights on or off manually. With schedules you can set them to turn off or on (or otherwise change their settings, at a certain time every day or night. If you have multiple smart lights you can have them all set to the same or different schedules, too.

Create scenes: A “scene” or “room” in the context of a smart home is a group of devices all working together. For example, you can group the three smart light bulbs that are located in your bedroom together, name them “Bedroom,” and then turn them all on or off with a single voice command: “Hey Google, turn off bedroom lights.”

Brightness control: Not every smart light bulb is dimmable, but many are. Dimmable smart light bulbs are neat because you can adjust the brightness without having to adjust a physical dimmer. You can adjust it via an app or using voice commands.

Energy efficient: The vast majority of modern light bulbs are LEDs, and that includes most smart light bulbs. They’re naturally more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, but the fact that they’re smart means you can always check on them; if you’ve left a light on by accident, you can turn it off from anywhere you have a Wi-Fi or LTE connection.

What to Look Out For

There are many different smart light bulbs that you can choose from in 2020. Not all of them work the same way or have the same capabilities, however. Here are some common questions to ask when considering your choice.

Does it need a hub? Some smart lights connect directly to your home’s Wi-Fi network so  you can easily control them straight from your smartphone or with a voice assistant. Others, require an extra piece of hardware, like a hub or a bridge, to do the exact same thing. Knowing if the smart lights will need extra hardware, which also adds an extra expense, is one of the most important things before investing in smart lights.

Is it compatible with your other gear? The other big important thing to consider before buying a smart light bulb is knowing whether it will work with your home’s smart ecosystem. Not every smart light is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit, the Google Assistant or IFTTT, so you need to check beforehand.

What do you want for light color and temperature: If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can buy smart lights that have various colors and temperature effects. For instance, Philips Hue’s White And Color Ambiance smart bulbs can shine in millions of different colors and various shades of white light. These smart lights can also adjust the temperature of the light throughout the day, which can help you better wake up or fall asleep.

Smart Lights or Smart Switches/Outlets: Which to Choose?

Smart lights are great smart home products but they aren’t great in every scenario. For example, an area in your home that has multiple lights controlled by a single light switch probably isn’t a great situation for smart lights. A better solution for such a scene, like a large family room with lots of overhead lighting, would be to buy a smart switch instead, such as the Wemo Light Switch, instead.

Smart switches are generally a little cheaper and can be used to control the “dumb” lights that you already have. This also means that you can use smart switches to control any light bulb. On the downside, smart switches usually require more installation — typically some light wire-work — and they can’t be used to create scenes. While most smart light switches are able to dim the lights, they definitely can’t adjust the color or temperature like you’re able to with a lot of smart light bulbs.

The Best Smart Bulbs You Can Buy Right Now

Philips Hue White

Best Starter Bulbs: Philips Hue makes the most popular smart bulbs. The company’s “White” smart bulbs can’t produce the many shades of color as the “White and Color Ambiance” smart bulbs, but they’re cheaper, still dimmable and work in much the same way.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Smart Hub? Optional

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance

Best Multi-Color Bulbs: These are the best option for people who really want to play around with all the customization options smart bulbs have to offer. Like the company’s “White” bulbs, they work with pretty much smart home ecosystem and you can control them with your voice. The big upside with them is that, via the app, you can adjust the smart lights to change to one of 16 million colors and shades of white. The downside is that you need to use the Hue smart hub (included in the starter pack) to get the most out of them.

Compatibility: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings
Smart Hub? Yes

Wyze Bulb

Best Budget Bulbs: At just $8 a piece and even cheaper in packs, you’re not going to find a more affordable smart bulb than the Wyze Bulb. And it’s actually pretty versatile to boot. It’s compatible with both Amazon’s and Google’s smart speakers. You can adjust its brightness and color temperatures (from warm to cool). And if you use Wyze’s other smart home products, you can have the Wyze Bulbs perform tricks like lighting up when certain sensors are triggered, like when motion is detected by a Wyze Cam.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Smart Hub? No


Ikea Tradfri

Best Decorative Bulbs: Ikea’s first smart filament light bulb is beautiful, dimmable and relatively affordable. Its tinted glass helps create a warm, moody light. The only downside is that you’ll need to buy a smart hub, the Tradfri gateway ($35), to get the most out of it, such as the ability to control with voice controls or work with Ikea’s ecosystem of smart home products (consisting of motion sensors, LED light bulbs and some light panels).

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit)
Smart Hub? Yes
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

4 Noise-Canceling Headphones That Are on Sale Now

If you’re looking for a solid pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones, but don’t want to fork over MSRP prices – we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find four great deals on some of our favorite noise-canceling headphones by Sony, Bose, Sennheiser and Jabra.

Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony’s flagship noise-canceling headphones typically cost $348, which is what they’re going on Amazon and Sony’s website, however you can get a pretty sweet deal if you shop on eBay. It’s selling new, black or silver models for $270

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Even though these aren’t Bose’s flagship noise-canceling headphones anymore (that title now belongs to the Headphones 700), the QuietComfort 35 II are excellent and arguably more comfortable and travel-friendly than the above Sony’s. They’re also on sale on eBay.

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2

The price is a little bit of a misnomer, here. That’s because Sennheiser just released a newer version of this headphone, the Momentum Wireless 3, and is likley trying to phase out these new-year-old models. That said, these are great-sounding noise-canceling headphones with a great industrial design.

Jabra Elite 85h

Jabra’s noise-canceling headphones have been getting rave reviews online. In his review, David Carnoy of CNET wrote that “The Jabra Elite 85h is a good alternative Bose and Sony noise-canceling models for slightly less money, particularly if you value call quality.” And now Amazon is selling these headphones for an extra $50 off.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Is This Still the Perfect Entry-Level Smartwatch?

Last fall, Fitbit released the Fitbit Versa – and I loved it. It was a simple-to-use smartwatch that was slim and bespoke, relatively affordable, an excellent fitness tracker and it had a battery life that lasted nearly a week. It was a great entry-level smartwatch for basically anybody, but especially casual smartwatch wearers, and it worked equally well with both iPhone and Android.

The next generation of that smartwatch, the Versa 2, doesn’t mess too much with last year’s success. It has the same relative look and feel of the original Versa, but Fitbit updated in nearly every way. It has an even simpler design, a better processor, a new OLED display (a welcome improvement over the Versa’s LCD display), and improved sleep tracking. The most “touted” new feature is the addition of Alexa integration, so you can tell the smartwatch to do things like set alarms and control your other compatible smart home devices. Lastly is price: the Versa 2 comes exactly the same as last year’s Versa.


The Good: The Versa 2 is a better entry-level smartwatch than last year’s Versa, which is something you’d both expect and welcome. The two most important upgrades are that the Versa two now has an always-on display (if you select it) and superior sleep tracking feature, called Sleep Score, which gives you a nice little rating out of 100 – the higher the number, the better your sleep. If you’re fine wearing a smartwatch to bed and you want to track your sleep, the Versa 2 is exactly what you want.

As was true with the Versa, a huge selling point of the Versa 2 is its battery life. If you elect to not have an always-on display (it’s off by default) the Versa 2 can last between five and six days on a single charge; if you have the always-on display, it lasts around three days. Either way, this battery life which is huge, especially when you consider an Apple Watch lasts roughly 18 hours and is not designed to wear while you’re sleeping.

There are two other big reasons to buy a Versa 2. First, it’s solid and intuitive fitness-tracking abilities. It has an always-on heart-rate monitor and can accurately track things like steps and calories. It also, like the Apple Watch, has automatic workout detection, so if you forget to start a walk, run, bike ride or pool workout, the smartwatch won’t skip a beat. And secondly, the Versa 2 is very slim and lightweight, and it’s one of the most comfortable smartwatches that I’ve ever worn.

Who It’s For: The Versa 2 is an entry-level smartwatch designed for anybody who wants a good fitness tracker with some smartwatch-y features (like see call and text notifications, and control music). If you’re somebody who wants to keep track of your sleeping, the Versa 2 is particularly good. It works equally well for iPhone and Android users.

Watch Out For: The new Alexa integration might come as a welcome addition for some, but it really shouldn’t be the main reason to buy this smartwatch. The fact is that most people don’t really need (or want) to talk to Alexa when they’re outside the house. Also, talking to Alexa on the Versa 2 isn’t like talking to Siri on the Apple Watch. For instance, you can’t tell Alexa to send text messages, open certain apps or even play/pause music; all it can do is answer specific queries (“Alexa, what’s the weather?”), set timers and alarms, and control some of your connected smart home gadgets. The other thing is that there’s no speaker, so you won’t be able to hear Alexa and all its answers will just appear on the screen – it’s far from a seamless experience.

As was true with the Versa, the Versa 2 lacks a dedicated GPS, meaning if you want reliable workout data you’ll have to have your smartphone nearby. This is a big bummer for runners. There’s also no LTE model available for the Versa 2.

There’s a new Spotify app that’s available on the Versa 2, which isn’t available on the Versa, but it’s not super helpful. Like with the Apple Watch, the Spotify app on the Versa 2 doesn’t let you download anything (playlists, albums, songs, podcasts) for offline listening. If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, only a select few Garmin and Samsung smartwatches do this.

Also, the Versa 2 still comes with a proprietary charger. The annoying thing is that it looks and feels just like the proprietary charger that came with the original Versa, which I didn’t like to begin with, but it’s actually not the same and won’t work with previous Versa smartwatches. I still have and use my Versa, and mixed up the chargers on several occasions, which was obviously frustrating.

Alternatives: Fitbit has a right to feel frustrated after the latest Apple hardware announcements. That’s because, in addition to announcing new high-end Apple Watches, Apple also dramatically reduced the price of its two-year-old smartwatch – you can now buy an Apple Watch Series 3 for $200, which is the exact price of the Fitbit Versa 2. Basically, if you have an iPhone and you want an entry-level smartwatch that works well with it, the Series 3 is probably a better bet.

Verdict: The Versa 2 is a better version of last year’s Versa, which was the best entry-level smartwatch for most people, Android or iPhone owner, who just wanted an easy-to-use smartwatch to track fitness. A year later, the Versa 2’s main problem is that there’s more competition, especially within its $200 price range. The Versa 2’s best qualities are its 6-day battery life, its great fitness and sleep tracking, and it’s super-slim design. If you those things are important to you, then the Versa 2 remains one of the best – if not the best – entry-level smartwatches you can buy. However, the reality is that the Versa 2 will feel more like a glorified fitness tracker than an actual smartwatch, especially if you have an iPhone or Samsung smartphone.

What Others Are Saying:

• “If you’re not wedded to Fitbit’s platform, the Versa 2 is a harder sell when you compare it with other $200 smartwatches, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active and the Apple Watch Series 3, which both have GPS, onboard music storage and contactless payments. One feature that could set the Versa 2 apart is Fitbit’s new subscription service, but it will take a lot to convince me to spend $80 more per year. Still, the Versa 2 is a very good fitness-focused smartwatch that offers plenty of insights into your overall health, subscription or not.” — Mike Prospero, Tom’s Guide

• “Overall, the Versa 2’s fitness tracking features are the best and most comprehensive you’ll find on any smartwatch, even though it doesn’t have a dedicated GPS radio and relies on your phone for GPS tracking.” — Dan Seifert, The Verge

• “If not for its connectivity problems, the Versa 2 would be an excellent smartwatch. It offers accurate, comprehensive fitness features and a nice design for a reasonable price. It’s also one of the longest-lasting smartwatches around, while the Alexa integration makes it more useful than its predecessor. I just wish Fitbit would get its Bluetooth act together already, and give me a better OS.” — Cherlynn Low, Engadget

Key Specs

Display: 300 x 300 pixel touchscreen AMOLED
Water resistance: swimproof; up to 50 meters
Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, altimeter, ambient light sensor, vibration motor, NFC
Battery life: up to 6 days; ~3 days with always-on display


Fitbit provided this product for review.

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Amazon’s Echo Buds Sound Great But There’s a Catch

One of the star products to be announced at Amazon’s big hardware event today was the Echo Buds ($130), the company’s first true wireless earbuds. Not only do they undercut the cost of most true wireless earbuds, including AirPods, by a ton but Amazon revealed that they’ve partnered with Bose to integrate its noise-reduction technology (which is a little different than its noise-canceling technology) into the Echo Buds. And these earbuds cost just $130.

After the event, I was able to get a little hands-on time with Echo Buds and was even able to listen to two songs (“Trampoline by Shaed” and Bruce Springsteen’s “For You”) and here are my initial impressions.

First and foremost, they sound great, especially for $130 earbuds. It was loud with good mids and strong bass. I’ve tested a boatload of true wireless earbuds in the past two-plus years and these are right in the mix with the better ones.

The noise-reduction ability also seems good at first blush, but I’m not ready to say its perfect just yet. I tested the Echo Buds in a crowded room, and while I could barely hear the noise around me, these earbuds fit really snug, and it’s hard to tell which of these two things was primarily responsible for the effect. Still, there’s plenty to be hopeful for here so far. (It’s also worth noting that, to my understanding, noise-reduction technology isn’t as Bose’s full-fledged noise-cancellation technology.)

But there are a couple of catches. The biggest is that the Echo Buds require you to download and use the Alexa app to get the most out of them, which is at best a hassle. You need the Echo Buds setup properly in your Alexa app to enable the noise-reduction technology and the “Hey Alexa” features, and Amazon still has a ways to go in proving that these added Alexa features will actually be useful. If you don’t want to deal with the app, you can use them as standard Bluetooth buds, but you’ll be missing out on the noise-reduction technology.

They also charge with micro-USB, a style of charger that’s rapidly phased out and can’t deliver the kind of quick charge power that USB-C can. But mostly it’s frustrating you won’t be able to charge your earbuds with the same charger you use with a new laptop, Nintendo Switch or Android phone.

Lastly, the plastic Echo Buds do feel a little bit cheap compared to headphones like Master & Dynamic MW07s or Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless. But at the price point, you can’t really complain too much.

All in all, Amazon’s first buds are certainly impressive, and it’s a real surprise that they’ve got a type of Bose’s noise-canceling tech before Bose’s true wireless buds have even come out. But with Bose is gearing up to release the Bose Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700 in early 2020, it seems more that the headphone maker has plenty more in store for its own product, which will no doubt cost a lot more.

The Echo Buds ($130) are available for pre-order right now, for a ship date of October 30th.

The Sonos Move Does It All, For Better and For Worse

The Sonos Move ($399) represents a bunch of “firsts” for Sonos. It’s the company’s first Bluetooth speaker, its first portable speaker and, thus, its first speaker to have a built-in battery (which Sonos had to build from scratch). Unlike all other Sonos speakers before it, the Move is designed to be listened to in, around and outside the home. And if you’re wondering, yes, the Move is weatherproof and drop-resistant, making it Sonos’s first truly rugged speaker, too.

Of course, the Move is still a Sonos speaker and it’s designed to work as such. It can connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network and, via the Sonos app, be grouped with other Sonos speakers in a multi-room system. It’s also a smart speaker, just like the Sonos One, so you can speak to Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant and request a song, adjust the volume or ask about the weather.

There are a couple of big questions surrounding the Move. In terms of sound quality, how does it compare to other Sonos speakers? And how should the Move be used? Is it more of a traditional Sonos speaker that, instead of being tethered to the wall, can be carried from room to room? Or is it more a portable Bluetooth speaker, designed to be listened to outside?

The biggest question, at least for me, has to do with the “Sonos experience.” The audio company is so beloved because its speakers sound great and work with almost every music streaming service, but, most importantly, they’re easy enough for anybody to use. So the fact that the Move can be constantly be moved around, switched between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modes – does that negatively impact that Sonos experience?

The Good: The Sonos Move has that “Sonos sound” – it sounds warm, lively and punchy, both inside and outside, just as you’d expect from a Sonos speaker. Sonos specially designed it with a downward-firing tweeter and forward-firing woofer, and the result is that the Move has more of a 360-dree sound than any other speaker. (Fun fact: even though the Play:1 and Sonos One speakers have a dotted grill the wraps sound most of the speaker, both are still forward-firing and not omnidirectional speakers.) In terms of sound quality and power, the Sonos Move sounds more closely to the Sonos One ($199) rather than the larger and more expensive Play:5 ($499); but it’s definitely in-between the two.

The other neat thing about the Move is that Sonos rejiggered TruePlay technology so that it works with the Move. TruePlay is the in-app feature that helps tune each Sonos speaker so that it sounds best for the room it’s in; it’s a typically a one-time process that requires you to wave your smartphone around while the speaker makes some strange noises. Sonos knew this would be a pain in the ass with the Move, to have listeners set up TruePlay every time they moved the speaker, so they developed Automatic TruePlay.

Instead of going through the app and waving your phone around (typical TruePlay behavior), the Move uses its built-in microphones and automatically tunes itself ever time you move it. It’s convenient and you can hear the difference. For example, when you move the Move from an open space to a closed-in space, like a media cabinet, you can hear the speaker lower its bass and crank up its mids and treble. All this happens in the space of a few seconds and, again, it requires nothing out of the listener (the microphones have to be on, though). Pretty cool.

When it’s not on its charging dock, or charging via USB-C, the Move has a ten-hour battery life – which is decent. That said, it has a pretty neat trick to save battery life. Anytime the speaker is not powered and it’s not playing music, meaning it could be in either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth modes, the Move will automatically turn off after a few minutes. According to Sonos, the Move can stay in this “Suspend mode” for up to five days before needing a visit back to the charger.

The biggest thing, at least for me, is that the Move doesn’t really complicate or change the Sonos experience. Because it’s the first Sonos speaker that has automatic TruePlay, it arguably makes the Move even easier to set up than other speakers. If there’s one caveat to this “Sonos experience,” it’s that the Move will automatically connect back to your home’s Wi-Fi when switching back from Bluetooth mode, but it won’t regroup with your other Sonos speakers. Basically, you’ll have to visit the Sonos app if you want to regroup your speakers after using the Move as a Bluetooth speaker. Not the end of the world, but something to watch out for.

Who It’s For: The Sonos Move won’t be for everybody. In fact, it’s a speaker with a hint of irony about it. Sonos designed it so that it could work for anybody in any situation – whether that’s indoors or outdoors, in your home or far from it – but it’s actually a speaker that’s optimal for a select few people. It’d be a great addition to somebody’s household who just wants a great-sounding speaker in every room of their house, but only wants to buy one speaker. If the person has a Sonos system and has an outdoor space (backyard or patio) that’s covered by Wi-Fi, then the Move would be a great way to extend your home’s sound outdoors. Finally, if the person is just a die-hard Sonos enthusiast, they really can’t go wrong with the Move.

Watch Out For: The Sonos Move loses many of its best features when being used as a Bluetooth speaker. It can’t function as a smart speaker, so you can’t access Alexa or Google Assistant. Its automatic TruePlay doesn’t work, so it won’t sound as good as it possibly could. It’s can’t operate as a stereo pair with another Sonos Move (both speakers have to be connected to Wi-Fi for stereo pairing).

It’s also the first Sonos speaker that you’ll have to worry about replacing its battery (because it’s the only one to have a battery). Sonos claims that its battery should last roughly three years or 900 charges, but this will be an extra cost down the road; Sonos will sell the replaceable batteries, but they have yet to announce pricing. It’s worth noting that even if the Move’s battery does die, as long as it’s connected to power it will still function as a typical Sonos speaker.

At $399, the Sonos Move definitely feels expensive for what it is. It’s also not a small speaker and even though Sonos claims that it’s a great portable Bluetooth speaker (which I feel it definitely is), I have a hard time picturing many people lugging this 6-pound speaker to the beach.

Alternatives: As far as getting an entry-level Sonos speaker, you could buy two One ($199/ea) or two One SL ($179/ea) speakers, each of which has almost the same audio quality as the Move. If you don’t care about the versatility of the Move, just the audio quality, the Play:5 is a little bit more expensive and definitely is the superior-sounding speaker.

If you’re not committed to the Sonos ecosystem, there are plenty of alternatives. For instance, the UE Blast ($100) and UE Megablast ($170+), both of which are smart Wi-Fi speakers that work with Alexa and they are two of the best portable Bluetooth speakers, too.

It’s worth point out that Bose, arguably Sonos’s biggest speaker rival, recently released the Bose Portable Home Speaker ($349), which is a very similar speaker to the Sonos Move. The Bose Portable Home Speaker works with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and can be grouped with Bose’s other multi-room speaker.

Verdict: The Sonos Move is a completely different kind of Sonos speaker, yet it still manages to feel…like a Sonos speaker. It sounds great, truly, and in some respects, it’s actually easier to set up and get playing than any other new Sonos speaker. That said, it feels a little expensive for what it is and unless you’re really going to take advantage of its versatility – take it from room to room, take it outdoors, and use it as true Bluetooth speaker – Sonos makes several other more affordable speakers that you’ll probably enjoy just as much.

What Others Are Saying:

• “For a lot of serious Sonos fans, the Move will be a no-brainer. Folks have been wondering for years when Sonos will make the jump to Bluetooth and make its famously exceptional multi-room wireless speaker systems more versatile. A lot of those people have invested hundreds if not thousands of dollars into their Sonos systems, and the idea of adding one more—one that has Bluetooth, that can go anywhere—is exciting. The Move sounds like a Sonos speaker. It works with all the other Sonos speakers. Sure, a Sonos diehard will love this thing. The average consumer just looking for a portable speaker, however, might not be so enthusiastic.” — Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

• “The Move also cannot connect to multiple phones or devices at a time either, so you only get to have one DJ at your party. Oh, and though Sonos is known for its ability to group multiple speakers into ad-hoc zones, this isn’t possible on Bluetooth. And that’s despite many competing speakers, like that Megaboom we keep mentioning, having the ability to daisy-chain together. For now, it’s clear that Sonos still sees Bluetooth as an add-on, not a core focus. Sonos could add more Bluetooth features in the future via app updates (something it does frequently), but the company’s heart still lies with Wi-Fi..” — Jeffrey Van Camp, Wired

• “The biggest question that most people seem to have about the Move is about whether it’s worth the nearly $400 price tag. Frankly, it’s a tough price to swallow for what largely amounts to a $200 Sonos One with a battery bolted to the bottom of it. It’s also a lot more money than the typical Bluetooth speaker costs. But the Move also does things that no other Sonos speaker nor any other Bluetooth speaker can do, and it does it all without compromising on sound quality, volume, or features.” — Chris Welch, The Verge

Key Specs

Drivers: One downward-firing tweeter, one mid-woofer; two Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2
Battery: up to 10 hours
Water Resistance: IP56 rating
Weight: 6.6 pounds

Sonos provided this product for review.

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This Is the Best Smart Lock for Most Homes (And Now It’s on Sale)

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This Absurd Backup Battery Can Charge Every Gadget You Own and Then Some

Portable power is a quickly evolving category, and Ecoflow’s Delta 1300 demonstrates just how far it’s come. Lithium-ion batteries are not just for your phone; this compact and powerful battery bank is a lightweight gas-free, emissions-free generator that’s powerful enough to run woodshop tools, office electronics, a portable refrigerator or medical device, and light enough to carry between locations. As an emergency back-up generator, it will keep you charged and comfortable in a power outage, but it has so much functionality it won’t gather dust while you’re waiting for the next blackout. In addition to charging phone, drone, and laptop, and to running circular saws, air compressors, and lights, Delta can charge an electric car enough to eke out another five to seven miles until you can get to a proper charger.

The Good: The Delta 1300 has 6 AC outlets, 2 USB-C PD ports, 4 USB outlets, and it’s rechargeable from a wall socket, carport, or solar panel. This unit plugs into the wall with the same cord you’d use to plug in a computer. There’s no specialized, device-specific power brick required, so you don’t have to worry about misplacing your charger. The Delta can juice 13 devices simultaneously, which means you’ll be popular at festivals and trade shows with one of these in your tent, van or booth. A large LCD screen tells you how much battery the lithium-ion bank has left, both by percentage and hours. The readout is based on the Delta’s activity at any specific time. For example, it’ll likely read 99 hours when you plug in your dead cell phone. If it’s charging a large Dometic fridge/freezer, the readout will more likely be 20-32 hours. It’s super portable at around 30 lbs and the size of a toaster oven with oversized handles that are easy to grab

Who It’s For: If you’ve ever considered a gas-powered generator as an emergency backup, you’re a candidate for Delta. If you want to run power tools away from a wall plug or without the hassle of ultra-long extension cords you need one of these. If you live off-grid, whether you’re stationary or mobile, Delta can power your lights, tools, electronics and appliances. In an emergency not only will it power a fan or heater, lights, and microwave, it can power a medical device like a CPAP. It can also give people who require electrical medical devices some freedom to roam.

Watch Out For: It’ll take you some time actually using the Delta before you’ll be able to get a good handle on how long it will actually last in various scenarios. Most electrical devices pull power at a variable rate, so the number of remaining hours of power displayed on Delta’s screen may change without notice if your gadgets suddenly get a bit hungrier. I plugged a Dometic fridge/freezer into the Delta, and the screen told me I had 38 hours of run time. Four hours later, the screen told me I had 20 hours of run time. The change makes sense. When the fridge needed cooling, its energy consumption was greater. The Delta records its own power output continuously and as it does, the unit adjusts its battery life readout. When the fridge reached temperature, then the remaining battery time on Delta’s screen went back up. That said, the battery life estimates shared by EcoFlow seem to be extremely accurate and not inflated.

Alternatives: There are other battery-powered generators out there, as well as gas-powered generators. Most gas generators are more expensive, as are other powerful battery generators. Gas generators are loud, smelly and you can’t run them safely inside because of their carbon monoxide emissions. They need annual maintenance. Delta requires no annual maintenance. The battery maintains its charge for a year untouched, and the only noise is a quiet hum. The only emission from Delta is a little bit of heat.

There are other battery power banks on the market, like the Goal Zero Yeti 1400. That unit takes 12 times longer to charge plugged into a wall, it weighs 50 percent more, and it’s slower to charge with a solar panel. EcofFow’s claimed power capabilities for the Delta 1300 are considerably greater than those claimed by Goal Zero for the Yeti 1400. The Yeti 1400 is twice the price and claims a lifecycle of 500 charges, versus EcoFlow Delta’s claimed life of 800 charges.


To use Delta, you press the power button and then press a second on/off switch for AC or DC power. The LCD screen, in addition to telling you hours and battery percentage remaining, indicates high and low temperature, whether the fan is working, input, output with an overload warning.

We ran every tool we had and charged every device: circular saws, table saws, shop vacs, computers, phones, fridges and more. We were only able to fully drain the battery during the course of normal use when we plugged in a full freezer trying to cool its contents from 14°F to 0°F. The battery lasted at least 20 hours; we woke up to it needing a recharge.

Delta goes from zero percent charge to 80 percent charge in an hour, and can fully charge with just two hours plugged into the wall. EcoFlow says Delta charges in four hours via a solar panel. In order achieve such short charge times, EcoFlow also developed a charging technology, bi-directional X-stream Charge, that allows alternating current AC from a wall outlet to be directly inputted into Delta’s inverter, increasing its charging power at the same time. “By passing through the inverter directly, we can increase charging speed to more than ten times of the traditional AC to DC adapter cable,” said EcoFlow found Eli Harris. The proprietary charging technology also integrates all direct current power supplies below DC 60V, from an adapter, solar or car DC output, into one input port. The result is that users don’t need to consider whether they recharge Delta with a wall plug or solar panel. The system automatically recognizes the power source.

In addition to a new charing technology, the company built an entire proprietary internal integrated architecture from the ground up to maximize Delta’s power storage efficiency. EcoFlow designed and developed every component inside Delta, which includes more than 100 battery cells. Harris said one of the company’s biggest challenge was effectively monitoring and managing the operation of the whole system in real-time. EcoFlow’s battery management system was key. Harris and his team built it so the main controller collects the temperature and power status of each battery cell in real-time and then adjusts the charging current and the voltage to ensure the safest, fastest charging rate. When the unit is in idle, the battery management system monitors and adjusts the unit’s power status to ensure lower power consumption and extended standby power storage, which is how the company achieved a shelf-life of a year plus.

Delta is designed to take a beating. The unit we tested was pre-production, so did not have the correct casing. But we know from testing EcoFlow’s River battery bank that they know how to make their power banks durable without a heavy, bulky full-steel casing. Harris says that Delta’s housing was inspired by Tesla, and that final production will use a combination of aerospace-grade aluminum and high-strength steel to give Delta maximum strength and structural rigidity. It will be combined with impact-absorbing plastic, protective rigid metal plates, and four aluminum pillar reinforcements so that Delta is worthy of withstanding the hazards of a job site, garage project or bouncing around in the back of an off-road vehicle.

Verdict: Harris says he created EcoFlow to build this generator, and while we expect the company to blow this battery’s capacity out of the water with future versions, this one is undoubtedly worth owning for anyone who needs a reliable source of power or backup power. The Delta raised over $1M in the first 48 hours on Kickstarter, and it’s currently nearing $1.5M. Delta 1300 is an awesome solution for home or home office, van life and for powering tools away from a wired source of electricity. None of the claims made on EcoFlow’s Delta Kickstarter page are exaggerated. We were impressed with Delta’s power, versatility, quick charge time and compact size. Support Delta before the campaign closes on October 19—and as thanks for your trust in the company’s technology, you get peace of mind via a lifetime battery warranty.

Key Specs

Weight: 30 lbs
Ports: 6 AC outlets, 2 USB-C PD, 4 USB
Shelf Life: 12 months
AC Output: 1600w (surge 3100w)
Charge Time: 1.7 hours
Type: Lithium-Ion
Price: $699

EcoFlow provided this product for review.

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This Is the Best Smartwatch for iPhone Owners

The Apple Watch has been the best smartwatch for anybody with an iPhone for years, but it feels like the fifth-generation model, the Apple Watch Series 5 ($399+), has the most to live up to. That’s because its predecessor, the Series 4, set the bar so darn high. It was the first Apple Watch to look different, with a larger edge-to-edge display and a thinner, lighter body; plus Apple gave it a bunch of innovative features (like fall detection and an electrical heart sensor) and basically upgraded it in every way.

Now that the Series 5 is here, you’ll notice that it looks strikingly similar to the Series 4. It’s the same size and thinness; it has the same rotating crown dial with a little red circle; and it has many of the same sensors and health tracking features. But the differences are there. The Series 5 is the first Apple Watch to have an always-on display. It’s the first Apple Watch to have a built-in compass. And it’s the first Apple Watch to come in four different finishes, including aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic and all-new titanium.

The Apple Watch Series 5 is available in GPS-only and cellular models, and starts at $399.


The photographed Apple Watch Series 5 has the all-new titanium case. It’s a 44mm model and goes for $849.

The Good: The always-on Retina display is the standout feature of the Series 5. Even for people who have worn an Apple Watch for years, like myself, it’s going to feel like a big deal because it actually changes the way you interact with the Apple Watch. With the always-on display, there’s no need to rotate your wrist to see check the time or see that your workout is still tracking – it’s just there. It also will probably prevent many social faux pas that were caused by previous Apple Watch models; seeing other person check the time or look at their watch can be distracting, after all.

It’s true that the always-on Retina display is always-on, but it’s not always bright. The watch face still lights up when you raise your wrist, just like it did with the Series 4, but it then transitions to an idle dark mode when you lower your wrist back down; what’s happening is that the display’s refresh rate gets lowered to one screen refresh per second (or 1Hz), which allows the Series 5 to use very little battery life and give the appearance of always being on. This allows the Series 5 to get the same full-day battery life as its predecessor. Apple updated all its old Apple Watch faces so they work with the Series 5’s always-on display – pretty cool – plus they added quite a few new ones, too.

The Series 5 is the first Apple Watch to have a built-in compass. There’s a dedicated compass app on the Series 4, but other Apple Watch apps, like Apple Maps, take advantage of it.

As mentioned before, Apple is offering the Series 5 in more options than ever. The aluminum version of the Series 5 is the most affordable and is the only one that can be purchased without cellular. The stainless steel version is heavier and more durable, so it feels more premium, but it starts at $699. The brand-new titanium version is significantly lighter than the stainless steel version, and it’s also more scratch-resistant, corrosion-resistant and hypoallergenic. And then there’s the ceramic version, which a high-end material that’s usually reserved for luxury watches. If you purchase any Series 5 through Apple Watch Studio (meaning online or in an Apple Store), you can pair it with almost any watch band you want (there are some restrictions).

The Series 5 is the first Apple Watch to have a built-in compass. There’s a dedicated compass app that you can access, which I rarely used, but the real benefit of the compass is how it works with other Apple Watch apps, such as Apple Maps. For example, when you’re using Apple Maps you can now see which direction just by looking at your Series 5. You’ll see the “field-of-view cone” rotate with direction you’re looking, which makes Apple Maps on the Series 5 feel way trustworthy. (Previously, you’d have to take out your iPhone to get the same sense of direction.) For those who are easily disoriented when navigating from A to B, like me, or have difficulty grasping your bearings when getting off the subway – like me – this new Apple Watch feature will save you a headache and a five-minute walk in the wrong direction.

The best part of the Series 5, and maybe you’ll roll your eyes, is that it feels like an Apple Watch – familiar – and it has all the best features of the Series 4. You can still pair it with your AirPods and listen to music sans iPhone. It still has the heart rate sensors and built-in ECG. It still has fall detection and Emergency SOS. It still has a GPS and it can track your runs. It’s waterproof enough so you can wear it swimming. It still tracks your steps and other metrics so you can complete your activity rings. And, of course, it works super well with iMessage.

The last thing to note is that all Series 5 models have 32GB of internal memory, which is actually twice as much as the 16GB on the Series 4. This might not be a huge deal for people who don’t plan on downloading music or a bunch of extra apps on the Series 5, but if you do, or if your current Apple Watch is already nearing its max storage, it might make sense to upgrade to the Series 5.

Who It’s For: Any iPhone owner who wants Apple’s best-ever smartwatch. Or if they desperately want an Apple Watch with an always-on display. Or if they want one of the Series 5’s higher-end finishes (and they’re willing to pay for it). The last big reason to get the Series 5 is if they’re going to take advantage of the Series 5’s built-in compass.

Watch Out For: No matter which Apple Watch Series 5 you buy, aside from the obvious difference between cellular and GPS-only models, they’re all going to have the same functionality. That means that the $1,300 ceramic model and the $399 aluminum model are built with the same internals and will keep track of the same metrics. There’s little downside to getting the cheaper models, other than how their aluminum finish looks and feels. (Although the stainless steel and titanium models are slightly more durable.)

One thing that I’ve been hoping for awhile is that the Apple Watch will start playing better with Spotify. Yes, there’s a Spotify app for the Apple Watch. And yes, if you have an LTE model you can stream music, but I wish the Spotify app would allow you to download albums and playlists for offline listening, similar to what several Garmin and Samsung smartwatches can do. As with previous Apple Watch models, the Series 5 is really only designed to download and store playlists from Apple Music.

Alternatives: The Apple Watch Series 4 is the most obvious alternative, but Apple did something a little bit sneaky this year – they stopped selling it. You can still purchase the Series 4 for third-party sellers like Amazon or Best Buy, for a slightly discounted rate. The Series 4 looks and feels (especially the aluminum models) very similar to the Series 5, and it’s a great option for Apple Watch wearers who don’t need always-on display.

If you don’t want to pay that much for a Series 5 (or Series 4), Apple is still selling the Series 3 but it lowered the starting price to just $199 – it’s undoubtedly the best entry-level smartwatch for people with an iPhone. The trade-offs are pretty clear, however, as the Series 3 doesn’t have the large nice display, the slim design or the many fancy sensors that enable a lot of the Apple Watch’s newer features. The Series 3 does have a built-in GPS and it’ll still accurately track your runs.

Verdict: The Apple Watch Series 5 is undoubtedly the best smartwatch that Apple has ever made, and it comes with the feature – an always-on display – that most people having been asking for. That said, with a few spec bumps and a few new capabilities, the Series 5 is admittedly an iterative upgrade over last year’s Series 4. If you’re not swayed by the premium materials, like the new titanium case, it really comes down to Series 5’s always-on display and how much you want it.

Key Specs

Case sizes: 40mm or 44mm
Case options: Aluminum, stainless steel, titanium and ceramic
Display: Always-On Retina display
Processor: 64-bit dual-core S5 processor
Storage: 32GB
Sensors: electrical and optical heart rate sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass
Water resistance: 50 meters
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0


Apple provided this product for review.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

iPhone 11 Pro Review: Hands Down, The Best iPhone Ever

The most compelling and conspicuous feature of the iPhone 11 Pro is its triple-camera system, and after using it for the better part of the week, it’s definitely the best and most versatile set of cameras that Apple has ever put in any iPhone. The ultra-wide lens will feel like a pretty significant upgrade for anybody who has an older iPhone, but as the iPhone 11 has it too, it really comes down to the telephoto lens and how if you’ll take full advantage of it. This extra lens enables the two Pro models to take two different kinds of Portrait Mode photos, one that is really zoomed-in (which is similar to what the iPhone XS could do) and one that is more zoomed-out (which is exactly the same Portrait mode as the iPhone 11) for those who want to grab for background in the photo. If you find yourself taking a lot of photos of people and pets, rather than landscapes, this extra telephoto lens feels like a real selling point.

The nice thing about all three lenses is that they all take the same quality photo. Each is a 12-megapixel camera that has its own high-quality sensor, so you can expect a pretty decent photo nobody which lens you’re using (this is not the case for most other smartphones with a multi-camera system). Each of the three lenses is capable of shooting 4K video at 60fps, which is a nice feature for vloggers and videographers to have. It’s worth noting that despite the extra lenses, like the iPhone 11, the Pro’s Night Mode only really works while using the wide lens (you can technically use Night Mode with the ultra-wide lens, but it’s really just a blown-up shot taken by the wide lens.

Night Mode on the new iPhone 11 Pro is pretty incredible.

Aside from the size and triple-camera system, the third big selling point of the iPhone 11 Pro is its hardware. Its OLED display is significantly better than the LCD display of the iPhone 11, but it’s also better than the Super Retina display of last year’s iPhone XS; the new “Super Retina XDR” display is brighter (1,200 nits versus the iPhone XS’s 600 nits) with double the contrast ratio. It’s easy to get lost in the tech jargon, but the bottom line is this: iPhone 11 Pro’s display is the best and brightest display ever in a smartphone. So if you’re somebody who plays a lot of mobile games or streams lots of shows on your iPhone, that’s a good reason to upgrade to the Pro.

Battery life is the last big reason to upgrade to the Pro if you have an older iPhone. To date, the iPhone XR has been the gold standard of long-lasting iPhones, getting almost two days of juice, and the iPhone 11 Pros are almost at that level. Apple claims that both iPhone 11 Pros get four and five hours better than their predecessors, the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max, and it’s actually pretty noticeable. The secret to the improved battery life is, yes, the A13 Bionic chip helps with energy efficiency, but Apple also put a slightly larger battery in its newer phones. This is a pretty significant thing, as it also means that the new iPhones are ever-so-slightly heavier and thicker – Apple is sacrificing design for usability, which is actually a breath of fresh air.

There are a quick few things to add to round out the “good” features. Apple says the Face ID is 30-percent faster on the new iPhones and even better at recognizing your face when resting flat on a table; however, in the week I’ve had the phones I’ve actually had a difficult time telling the difference – it’s still fast. Apple also improved AirDrop on the new iPhones, allowing you to point your iPhone at other new iPhones and AirDrop files to whomever you’re pointing at (although the iPhones must have Apple’s new U1 chip and iOS 13). And, finally, Apple is including an 18-watt USB-C wall adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box, which makes the iPhone 11 Pro feel a little bit more “Pro.”

Galaxy Note10+ Review: Big, Beautiful, Best in Class

For years, the Samsung Galaxy Note has been catering to faithful fans of the stylus and, this year, there are two options on the table, a first for the line. While smaller (“smaller”) Galaxy Note 10 is the chief successor to the Galaxy Note line, with a 6.3-inch screen and form factor that’s similar to its forebear, the Note10+ is attempting to carve out a larger, more premium niche with its gargantuan 6.8-inch screen, beefier batter, surplus of RAM, and staring price of $1099. The result? A beautiful phone with hardly any serious flaws other than that it may just be far more phone than you need.

The Good: The Galaxy Note10+ is a beautifully made device. Samsung’s build quality has been top notch for ages and the Note10+ is no exception with its satisfying heft and screen that curves over the edges. It comes in a variety of colors but the “Aura Glow” version I tested is notably eye catching. Like the underside of a CD, it changes color as it catches the light and while it struck me as over the top at first, the effect really grew on me.

Like any good, big phone, the Note10+ has a big, 4,300mAh battery that lasts ridiculously long. Even a Saturday of strenuous use streaming Formula 1 and then reading far too much Twitter for hours on ends was not enough to take its battery much lower than 30 percent by the end of the day.

The Note10+ sports a terrific camera system, very similar to the one currently offered on Samsung’s line of S10 models, which means it takes fantastic photos, as any phone at this price point should, but doesn’t quite offer any surprises.

The S Pen, now updated with an accelerometer and gyroscope, now has increased utility outside of just writing on the screen. Waving the pen through the air like a wand will allow you to do some a few potentially useful tricks like change camera settings on a phone that you might not be holding.

Who It’s For: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is, at its core, for one type of person very specifically: the kind who absolutely loves a stylus. With its powerhouse performance, fantastic build quality, great camera, and stellar battery life, it’s a suitable and satisfying computing companion for anyone, but if you aren’t dying for the stylus, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Plus slightly smaller but otherwise comparable in almost every way, with the added bonus of a bigger battery and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Watch Out For: While the S Pen’s new wand-like air commands are novel and theoretically useful, I didn’t find a lot of value to them in practice. They also support a limited suite of apps, perhaps most noticeably the camera, where it could come in handy for long-range selfie set up. Maybe. And though Samsung has provided the software tools for other apps to make themselves compatible, it seems hard to imagine this becoming much more than a gimmick.

At 6.8-inches, the Note10+ is _a lot_ of phone. I’m a man with relatively large hands and still had trouble negotiating its heft one-handed on the train even with the aid of a PopSocket. Of course that is part of the 10+’s appeal, but it’s something to be aware of, especially considering the smaller, 6.3-inch Note10 also exists and will be, for most normal people, indisitinguishable in terms of performance despite its slightly less overkill supply of RAM.

Alternatives: If the stylus isn’t your main concern, there are many. Chiefly the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus which is slightly smaller, slightly cheaper, but otherwise extremely similar. Google’s Pixel line, with its cleaner version of Android, also provides a possible substitute, with the Pixel 4 due for announcement in the next month or two.

But if the stylus is your bag, a Note is pretty much your only choice. The smaller Note 10 is a great way to get almost the same phone but with a smaller screen (and slightly less RAM, less battery power) for $100 cheaper if the Plus’ gargantuan size isn’t a must for you. If you’re not sold on the latest and greatest, the Note 9 is also an option. It only has a two-camera cluster, and sports a fingerprint reader on its back instead of under the screen, but is still a more than capable device you might be able to find at something of a discount.

Verdict: The Note10+ is a real powerhouse of a phone and if it has a primary flaw it is only that it may be more phone than you need or want to pay for. But if its price or size doesn’t make you wince at the prospect, it won’t let you down.

Key Specs
Size: 6.8-inch
Display: Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Rear Camera: 16MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 12MP dual-pixel wide (f/1.5, f/2.4), 12MP telephoto (f/2.4)
Front Camera: 10-MP dual-pixel (f/2.2)
Durability: IP68
Capacity: 256GB, 512GB internal, up to 1TB with MicroSD

Samsung provided this product for review.

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Here’s All the New Audio Gear That Sonos Just Announced

It’s exciting times for Sonos. The multi-room speaker giant just announced three new products at IFA, Europe’s biggest consumer tech trade show. There’s the Sonos Move, the company’s first-ever portable speaker; the Sonos Port, which is the next-generation version of the Sonos Connect; and there’s the Sonos One SL, a new entry-level Sonos speaker. We’ve given you a brief rundown on all three new products below.

The push for new products shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve followed Sonos. Patrick Spence, the company’s CEO since 2017, is actively moving the company to be more open and forward-thinking, as well as pushing it to expand its product line. Since Spence took over, Sonos has released its first smart speaker, partnered with IKEA to make the most affordable Sonos speakers (Symfonisk), and now it has entered a completely new market: portable audio.

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is the company’s first-ever portable speaker. It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing it to be way more versatile than any other Sonos speaker to date; you can use it like a Sonos One smart speaker – yes, the Move can be integrated with either Alexa or Google Assistant – or you can use it as a portable rugged Bluetooth speaker. There’s a new three-button array on the back of the speaker that allows you to toggle between modes. The Sonos Move costs $399 and is available for preorder now; you’ll be able to pick it up in stores or buy online on September 24.

Sonos Port

The Sonos Port is the next-gen Connect ($349) you’ve been waiting for. It works the same way, hooking up to your existing stereo or receiver and turning your non-Sonos sound system into one that works just like it, but the Port adds some big things. First, it supports AirPlay 2. Second, it has 12-volt trigger, which enables the Port to automatically turn on your connected receiver when signaled through the Sonos app. And third, it’s matte black and actually looks like it will blend in with your other stereo components. The Sonos Port costs $399 and is available for preorder. A select number of models will starting on September 12, but they’ll be available everywhere starting in January 2020.

Sonos One SL

The Sonos One SL is essentially a Sonos One speaker without the built-in mics that allow you to talk to Alexa or Google Assistant. Or you can think of it as a Play:1 speaker but in the body of a Sonos One. Either way, the Sonos One SL is the company’s new most entry-level speaker – aside from the Ikea x Sonos Symfonisk speakers – and it costs $179. It’s available for pre-order right now in either white or black. Sadly, the introduction of the Sonos One SL means that Sonos will be phasing out its original Play:1 speaker.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Terrific Tripods to Take Your Photography to the Next Level

Looking for a tripod? There’s no wonder. A tripod might be the signal most important tool for photographers and videographers, other than the actual camera, because it opens up a world of creative opportunities. It’s great for nighttime, landscape, wildlife and sports photography, or basically anything shot with a telephoto lens, plus it provides the much-needed stability for long exposures, hyperlapses and panoramas. And then there’s the relief aspect; photographers just don’t want to hold a heavy camera for that long.

So what kind of tripod should you buy? It depends on what type of photos you’re looking to take, as well as what kind of camera you’re shooting on (DSLR, mirrorless, point-and-shoot or even smartphone), but ultimately, here’s what you need to know: a big and heavy tripod is gonna do a much better job stabilizing the camera, which is why most professional studios you large full-sized tripods, but most people are willing to give up some of that stability for a tripod they can pack in bag.

Manfrotto 5-Section Compact Action Tripod

Best Tripod Under $100: Manfrotto makes some of the best and most popular tripods that you’ll find. This one, the 5-Section Compact Action Tripod, is great because it’s surpisingly durable and sturdy, plus it comes in at well under $100, making it a solid-buy for budget-conscious photographers. It has a joystick head to help you adjust the angle of your camera. And it’s really lightweight – less than three pounds – and compact. It’s an ideal tripod for photographers using an entry-level DSLR with a standard lens or a compact travel camera.

Manfrotto 500 Fluid Video Head with 190X Video Tripod

Best Video Tripod: Videographers shooting in 4K tend to need heavier, more supportive tripods because they are typically better at eliminating vibrations. This one by Manfrotto, for example, is over seven pounds and it’s sturdier than any other tripod on this list. It has a number of key features for video, too, like an innovative head with fluid cartridges on both pan and tilt axes, a leveling column and a five-pound counterbalance; all of which allow the photographer to move their camera smoothly and accurately. There are admittedly more moving parts in the system, but this Manfrotto tripod still manages to be pretty intuitive to use.

CamKix Premium 3in1 Kit

Best for Action Cameras: This is a simple, affordable and pretty great impulse buy for anybody with an action camera (or even a compact camera or smartphone). The tripod has a socket-ball mount with a locking switch that allows you to rotate the camera a full 180 degrees. And there’s a telescopic pole attachment, which you can use to achieve better height on your shots, or just use it as a glorified selfie stick. It’s worth pointing out that while compact cameras and smartphones can be attached directly to the tripod, your GoPro needs to be housed in a GoPro mount.

MeFoto Globetrotter Travel TriPod

Best Travel Tripod: As the name hints, the MeFoto Globetrotter is one of the best travel tripods. It’s compact and lightweight (less than four pounds), and it’s carbon fiber frame is strong enough to support larger systems (up to 26 pounds). It has five leg sections so you can set the camera to stand over five-feet high, and the cushioned legs actually come together to convert the tripod into a monopod, which is neat. This is an ideal travel tripod for anybody shooting DSLR or mirrorless.

Peak Design Travel Tripod

One for the Future: Peak Design’s first tripod is, as you’d expect, designed for adventurers and outdoor photographers. It’s super compact and packable, about the size of a water bottle, and everything on the tripod is designed to be efficient and intuitive. For example, there are latches instead of annoying twist locks, to quickly extend the legs; to adjust the orientation of the ball head, there’s a single adjustment ring instead of a series of knobs; and small levers let you spread the legs wider to help you take low-angle photos. It’s available in aluminum or carbon fiber, the latter being the noticeably lighter (and significantly more expensive) model.

The Peak Design Travel Tripod is available for pre-order today. It’s expected to ship in January 2020.


Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.