5 of the Fastest USB 3.0 Flash Drives You Should Buy

usb-fast

Our internet speeds are faster than ever. There’s plenty of online storage available for free or cheap prices. As fast as the internet is, it can’t beat the speeds you get from flash drives. Plus, when you have to transfer several gigabytes of data, why would you want to bottleneck your bandwidth? USB flash drives come in all shapes and sizes. But sometimes, all you need is sheer speed—and if that’s the case, here are the best ones you can buy right now. A New Breed of USB Drives Technology has a habit of shrinking in size as the years go…

Read the full article: 5 of the Fastest USB 3.0 Flash Drives You Should Buy

Our internet speeds are faster than ever. There’s plenty of online storage available for free or cheap prices. As fast as the internet is, it can’t beat the speeds you get from flash drives. Plus, when you have to transfer several gigabytes of data, why would you want to bottleneck your bandwidth?

USB flash drives come in all shapes and sizes. But sometimes, all you need is sheer speed—and if that’s the case, here are the best ones you can buy right now.

A New Breed of USB Drives

Usb flash drive

Technology has a habit of shrinking in size as the years go by. And that has happened to an incredible degree with solid state drives (SSDs). You can now actually get these in the same size as USB flash drives.

A solid state drive is different from the memory that most thumb drives use. While they are both basically flash memory, the quality of materials and the construction is much different. Typically, an SSD is of a much higher quality. Without getting into the technical details, here are some notable differences:

  • An SSD-based thumb drive will cost more than a flash memory thumb drive.
  • SSD-based thumb drives have better “fault tolerance”. Fault tolerance is what keeps your data safe when you remove the drive without clicking “Safely Remove” or “Eject” on the screen.
  • SSDs use better quality flash memory, claiming more write cycles than flash memory. In plain English, the SSD will last longer.

Choosing Between SSD and Regular USB Drives

usb-flash-drive-generic2

It’s not a simple choice between the two. From the same manufacturer, an SSD-based thumb drive is faster and better than a regular flash thumb drive. But some flash thumb drives will be as good as low-quality SSD thumb drives too. Also, SSD USB drives cost significantly more than regular flash drives.

As a rule of thumb, here’s what to take away:

  • Buy an SSD-based USB drive if you will use the drive regularly, need quick speeds to transfer data, and use it a little roughly.
  • Buy a regular flash USB 3.0 drive if you are on a budget and need to read data from the drive more than write data to the drive. It’s not slow, mind you. It’s just slower than SSDs. Chances are, you’ll still be fine with the speeds.

Assuming you need a regular flash drive and not an SSD, here are the fastest USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 flash drives.

Fastest Write Speed on a USB Flash Drive: SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880

the overall fastest usb flash drive is the sandisk extreme pro

SanDisk SDCZ880-128G-G46 Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive SanDisk SDCZ880-128G-G46 Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive Buy Now At Amazon $62.80
  • Capacity: 128GB, 256GB
  • Advertised Read Speed: 420 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Read Speed: 297 MB/s
  • Advertised Write Speed: 380 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Write Speed: 262 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Anyone looking for the overall “fastest flash drive.”

The SanDisk Extreme Pro cranks up the read and write speeds, and in fact, UserBenchmark ranks it as the fastest write speed. The next best, the Lexar Jumpdrive P10 and the Kingston HyperX Savage, are behind by 30 MB/s or more.

Such fast sequential write speed is best for copying large files; for video editing, for example. Since the SanDisk Extreme Pro comes in two fairly high capacities (128GB and 256GB), it is the best drive for such needs.

Also, if you have a habit of losing the covers or caps off your flash drives, you’ll like this one. The SanDisk Extreme Pro has a sliding mechanism to pop out the USB connector. No cap to lose!

Fastest Read Speed on a USB Flash Drive: Corsair Flash Voyager GTX

Corsair flash voyager gtx has the best read speeds of any flash drive

Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.1 Premium Flash Drive Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.1 Premium Flash Drive Buy Now At Amazon $55.99
  • Capacity: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
  • Advertised Read Speed: 440 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Read Speed: 380 MB/s
  • Advertised Write Speed: 440 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Write Speed: 168 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Those who work with the files directly off a flash drive.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro’s read and write speeds are impressive enough to make it the fastest overall drive, but the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX has a higher read speed. If you work with files directly from the flash drive (without copying them to your hard drive), then this might be a better choice for you.

If your laptop doesn’t have enough free storage space (it’s why you shouldn’t buy a 256GB MacBook), you won’t be copying anything to it. The flash drive is what you work from, and the Voyager GTX’s 380 MB/s speed is ridiculous. Plus it has storage options up to 1TB, so you should have everything you need here.

Fastest Cheap Flash Drive to Install an OS: Kingston DataTraveler 100 G3

The 32GB kingston datatraveler 100 g3 is the fastest cheap flash drive

32GB Kingston (TM) Digital (5 Pack) Data Traveler DT100 G3 3.0 32 GB USB High Speed Flash Drive (DT100G3) With (2) Everything but Stromboli (TM) Lanyards 32GB Kingston (TM) Digital (5 Pack) Data Traveler DT100 G3 3.0 32 GB USB High Speed Flash Drive (DT100G3) With (2) Everything but Stromboli (TM) Lanyards Buy Now At Amazon $47.05
  • Capacity: 32GB x 5 Drives
  • Advertised Read Speed: 100 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Read Speed: 134 MB/s
  • Advertised Write Speed: N/A
  • UserBenchmark Write Speed: 52.2 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Those who want cheap flash drives to create bootable installers of operating systems.

You don’t always need a USB flash drive with lots of storage. Sometimes, you need very little storage, but it needs to be fast and cheap. The 32GB Kingston DataTraveler 100 G3 has a brilliant multipack deal for this.

So that’s five separate flash drives, each of which you can turn into a bootable USB from an ISO file. At a cost of $10 per unit, you won’t even feel bad about someone borrowing one of these and never returning it.

Make sure you buy the 32GB variant and not the 16GB model, which also has a multipack deal. The 16GB model’s speeds are far, far lower and so it’s not worth it.

Fastest Flash Drive to Run Portable Linux: Corsair Flash Voyager GTX

The best and fastest flash drive to run Linux is the 128GB Corsair Flash Voyager GTX

Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.1 Premium Flash Drive Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.1 Premium Flash Drive Buy Now At Amazon $55.99
  • Capacity: 128GB
  • UserBenchmark 4k-Read Speed: 24.4 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark 4k-Write Speed: 49.8 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Those who run a persistent Linux OS from a Flash drive.

In case you didn’t know, you can run Linux from a USB drive. But the drive you use plays a big part in the performance too. Especially for anyone who runs Linux regularly, the 128GB version of the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX is the one to buy.

There’s a specific reason behind this. When you’re running an OS from a flash drive, a lot of small files are being constantly read, written, and rewritten. This speed, called 4k-Write and 4k-Read, matters more than the fastest sequential speed.

There’s also the question of capacity. It makes little sense to buy a 256GB flash drive to run an operating system from.

And there’s always the consideration of cost. You don’t want to spend too much on something like this.

All of this makes the 128GB variant of the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX the best balanced, fastest flash drive for portable Linux. If you want the actual fastest one, go for the 256GB variant, which increases the 4k-Read and 4k-Write speeds. But don’t go higher than 256GB; the speeds drop after that.

Note: UserBenchmarks actually ranks the Mushkin Ventura Ultra as faster. But closer inspection shows that the Mushkin’s speed rates are not consistent across different conditions, and several users have reported much slower speeds than UserBenchmark’s statistics.

Fastest USB-C Flash Drive: Samsung T5

Samsung T5 is the fastest USB-C flash drive

Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA500B/AM) Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA500B/AM) Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display
  • Capacity: 512GB
  • Advertised Read Speed: 540 MB/s
  • Benchmark Test Read Speed: 500-510 MB/s
  • Advertised Write Speed: 540 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Write Speed: 470-490 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Those who have laptops with a USB-C port only.

Several laptops, especially the best ultrabooks, have moved to using only a USB-C port instead of the traditional USB-A port on most flash drives. That means you need a fast flash drive with a USB-C port.

Unfortunately, that limits your options terribly. Flash drives with USB-C aren’t fast. In fact, it’s better to buy one of the other flash drives mentioned in this article, and add a USB-A to USB-C converter.

I’ve refrained from recommending portable SSDs in this article because we’re looking for flash drives, but at this point, it simply does not make sense to get a USB-C flash drive.

You should ditch that though and go for a mini portable SSD.

The Samsung T5 has blazing fast read and write speeds, especially on the Dell XPS 13 and the new MacBooks. The 512GB version is also excellent value for money, given its storage per dollar ratio.

Yes, it’s thicker and not as convenient as a flash drive. But it’s all you should consider, if you don’t want a converter.

For Large Storage Needs, Buy Portable SSDs Instead

The above list of super-fast flash drives should serve the needs of anyone who wants something with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB capacity. Sure, there are 512GB and 1TB options available too. But I wouldn’t buy those.

For large capacities, especially beyond 512GB, it makes more sense to consider some of the best portable hard drives instead. They offer much better storage-to-price ratios, and the speed can really crank up when you use connectors like Thunderbolt.

Read the full article: 5 of the Fastest USB 3.0 Flash Drives You Should Buy

The 10 Best Wired Headphones

best-wired-headphones

Wired headphones offer portability and simplicity—you should always opt for them. Between wired and wireless options, wireless headphones pretty much only win in convenience. Wired headphones offer a lot more than that. The Advantages of Wired Headphones No battery: That means no recharging. It’s frustrating when headphones die while studying, commuting, or gaming. No latency: A few higher-end wireless headphones do offer low latency. However, you don’t have to pay extra to get that with a wired set of cans. Better audio quality and fidelity. Universal compatibility: Wired headphones work with any device because of the 3.5mm jack (though fewer…

Read the full article: The 10 Best Wired Headphones

Wired headphones offer portability and simplicity—you should always opt for them. Between wired and wireless options, wireless headphones pretty much only win in convenience. Wired headphones offer a lot more than that.

The Advantages of Wired Headphones

  • No battery: That means no recharging. It’s frustrating when headphones die while studying, commuting, or gaming.
  • No latency: A few higher-end wireless headphones do offer low latency. However, you don’t have to pay extra to get that with a wired set of cans.
  • Better audio quality and fidelity.
  • Universal compatibility: Wired headphones work with any device because of the 3.5mm jack (though fewer phones have a headphone jack than ever).
  • Lower price: Between wired and wireless headphones of the same tier, the wired version is often cheaper.

So which type of headphones is right for you?

It comes down to your budget and the headphones features you need. Thankfully, despite the number of available options, choosing one doesn’t have to be difficult.

In this guide, I only explore headphones, not headsets (which have built-in microphones). I cover four kinds of headphones: in-ear, on-ear, over-ear, and noise-canceling. Each category is divided into three tiers (budget, enthusiast, and audiophile).

The Best In-Ear Wired Headphones

In-ear headphones (or earphones) offer the most portability. They’re useful for everything from relaxing to running around your neighborhood—though fitness buffs may want to invest specifically in sports earphones.

Budget: Panasonic ErgoFit

Panasonic Wireless Bluetooth in-Ear Headphones with Sound Mic Controller & Quick Charge Function Black (RP-HJE120B-K) Panasonic Wireless Bluetooth in-Ear Headphones with Sound Mic Controller & Quick Charge Function Black (RP-HJE120B-K) Buy Now At Amazon $29.99

The Panasonic ErgoFit costs little, but you wouldn’t know it if someone on the street just handed one to you. As you might expect from its name, the ErgoFit offers comfort without sacrificing sound quality.

At this price, you’re mostly hoping to get one that sounds halfway decent and won’t chafe your ears, making the ErgoFit the absolute best for what it costs. Just be careful with it, because it isn’t exactly durable.

Enthusiast: Marshall Mode

Marshall Mode in-Ear Headphones, Black/White (4090939) Marshall Mode in-Ear Headphones, Black/White (4090939) Buy Now At Amazon $20.69

If you’re tired of missing audio frequencies, you’ll have to enter a higher price range—unless you opt for the Marshall Mode, which offers unbeatable sound quality at an affordable level.

With a balanced profile, you receive access to a wider range of frequencies. On top of that, the Marshall Mode throws in a bit of bass boost, which makes your music feel fuller. It’s comfortable, durable, and doesn’t distort your audio. The Marshall Mode offers a power option for any budget-conscious audiophile.

Audiophile: Optoma NuForce HEM6

Optoma NuForce HEM6 Reference Class Hi-Res in-Ear Headphones with Triple Balanced Armature Drivers Optoma NuForce HEM6 Reference Class Hi-Res in-Ear Headphones with Triple Balanced Armature Drivers Buy Now At Amazon $280.00

The Optoma NuForce HEM6 is the definition of premium luxury. The main selling point is its triple driver design, though you can opt for a single or double-driver alternative (to save money) or the quadruple driver HEM8 (if you have money to burn).

Included with the Marshall Mode are premium features. In addition to the headphones, you get the following: two detachable cables (one with a microphone, one without), an airtight and watertight case for safe travel, a tool for cleaning, a set of super comfortable ear tips, and a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter.

The Best On-Ear Wired Headphones

On-ear headphones are exactly what they sound like: they sit over your ears without fully covering them. As a result, they tend to press your ears against your skull. On-ear headphones compromise between in-ear headphones (portable but subpar sound quality) and over-ear headphones (too heavy but best sound quality).

Budget: Skullcandy Robinson Cano

Skullcandy S5GRT-J596 On-Ear Headphone Robinson Cano Skullcandy S5GRT-J596 On-Ear Headphone Robinson Cano Buy Now At Amazon $49.99

I’m amazed that a set of headphones, whether on-ear or not, can be this cheap yet sound so good. I’ve never been impressed by a pair of $50 headphones, but the Skullcandy Robinson Cano sounds good and has some of the most positive reviews for headphones in this price range.

It has a side button that you can use to pause or play, switch between tracks, and even take incoming calls. The material on the ear pads does leave something to be desired, but even so, there’s no doubt about it: the Skullcandy Robinson Cano offers superb value. (Note: It’s the successor to the Skullcandy Grind.)

Enthusiast: Grado SR80e Prestige

Grado SR80e Prestige Series Headphones Grado SR80e Prestige Series Headphones Buy Now At Amazon $99.00

Although the Grado SR80e Prestige was released back in 2014, it’s still on our radar today. It has a sleek and compact design (though blemished slightly by the prominent text on the cups), is very comfortable, and you can tell right away that it’s a well-made product.

The sound produced by the SR80e is great from low notes to high notes, even through the middle notes. Its audio profile is excellent regardless of volume level. Just note that the cans are open-backed, so you’ll be able to hear everything going on around you even as you listen.

Audiophile: Audio Technica ATH-ESW990H

Audio-Technica ATH-ESW990H Portable Wooden On-Ear Headphones Audio-Technica ATH-ESW990H Portable Wooden On-Ear Headphones Buy Now At Amazon $349.00

Audio Technica is known for producing great audio devices across all budgets, and the Audio Technica ATH-ESW990H is no exception. It’s hard to think of another set of on-ear headphones in this price range that sound as good as these, all the way from bass to treble.

Notable features include 42mm drivers, detachable 3.9-foot cord with microphone and volume controls, durable leather ear pads for long-term comfort, and wooden can housings made from polished sycamore.

The Best Over-Ear Wired Headphones

Over-ear headphones tend to produce the best sound quality, if only because the circumaural cups are great at isolating ambient noise (but only when the cups are closed-back). If you’re worried about the stuffiness and dampness of over-ear headphones, opt for ones with open-back cups (which won’t be as good at isolating noise).

None of these are noise-canceling headphones. For those, skip ahead to the next section.

Budget: Creative Aurvana Live!

Creative Aurvana Live! Headphones Creative Aurvana Live! Headphones Buy Now At Amazon $52.25

The Creative Aurvana Live! is, in a word, impressive. You shouldn’t expect top-grade performance out of it, but come on—I can’t think of another pair of headphones at this price point that can produce audio that sounds even half as good.

The sound is decent, especially in the lower notes, and the ear pads are detachable, which is fantastic for cleaning and for when they need replacing. The cord is five feet long and comes with a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter for use with home audio equipment. If I were on a budget, I wouldn’t consider anything else.

Enthusiast: Audio Technica ATH-M50X

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black Buy Now At Amazon $139.95

Audio Technica makes all kinds of fantastic audio gear that are worth the price, and the Audio Technica ATH-M50X is no exception. It’s one of the best products the company has ever put out, and it’s regularly used by professionals even though it’s a consumer-grade set of headphones.

One of the best parts about the ATH-M50X is its exceptional noise isolation. These were, after all, designed as studio monitors—so if you want perfect audio without any distracting background or ambient noise and at a reasonable price, this is the set for you.

Audiophile: Sony MDR-1A

Sony MDR1A Premium Hi-Res Stereo Headphones (Black) Sony MDR1A Premium Hi-Res Stereo Headphones (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $298.00

If you’re looking for something a little better than the ATH-M50X and you’re willing to pay about double the price, the Sony MDR-1A is a solid choice. It delivers excellent sound with maximum comfort and is built such that it feels good to use.

The Best Noise-Canceling Wired Headphones

A lot of people hear “noise canceling” and immediately think that these headphones will block out everything. Unfortunately, that’s not true. When active, they can block out certain kinds of sounds such as background and ambient noises, but you may still hear loud conversations, buses driving by, etc. It can also reduce audio fidelity while active.

Also, while budget noise-canceling headphones exist, many of them aren’t very good and therefore aren’t worth mentioning. As such, we’re only going to highlight a higher-end option.

Audiophile: Bose QuietComfort 30

Bose Quietcontrol 30 Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling - Black (761448-0010) Bose Quietcontrol 30 Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling - Black (761448-0010) Buy Now At Amazon $299.00

For top-notch consumer-grade noise cancellation, you really can’t go wrong with the QuietComfort series. The Bose QuietComfort 30 is the in-ear model, and in-ear models truly are the most effective when you need to block out as much noise as possible. Plus, this one is very comfortable.

The sound quality is only decent—that tends to be the case with noise-canceling headphones—but it’s far from disappointing, so these should suffice for all but the pickiest of audiophiles. After all, if you’re buying a noise-canceling set, you can’t expect to have your cake and eat it too (without spending a lot more cash).

Making Your Wired Headphones Last

Wired headphones are obviously pricey, so make sure you practice good habits and take good care of them so that they don’t break prematurely. A quality set of cans should last many years if you aren’t rough and reckless. If they do happen to break for some reason, consider fixing them by hand before dropping a wad of cash on a replacement set.

Depending on how much you care about the absolute quality of your audio, you may want to supplement with a headphone amplifier. It’s overkill for most folks, so we don’t recommend one unless you know that you’ll benefit from it.

And if you do prefer wire-free headphones after all, consider these wireless earbuds.

Image Credit: MDR-1A/Sony

Read the full article: The 10 Best Wired Headphones

Buying Wireless Headphones? 6 Things You Need to Know

wireless-headphones

Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016. Companies like Google, Motorola, and HTC followed soon after. Suddenly, once-niche wireless headphones were thrust into the mainstream. Buying Bluetooth headphones can be confusing, though. From sound quality to getting them set up, each model works differently. There’s a lot to understand, so let’s get started. 1. Types of Wireless in Headphones When you think of wireless headphones now, you likely think of Bluetooth headphones. If your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, then Bluetooth is your best option for listening to music. Your other choice is to use a…

Read the full article: Buying Wireless Headphones? 6 Things You Need to Know

wireless-headphones

Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016. Companies like Google, Motorola, and HTC followed soon after. Suddenly, once-niche wireless headphones were thrust into the mainstream.

Buying Bluetooth headphones can be confusing, though. From sound quality to getting them set up, each model works differently. There’s a lot to understand, so let’s get started.

1. Types of Wireless in Headphones

When you think of wireless headphones now, you likely think of Bluetooth headphones. If your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, then Bluetooth is your best option for listening to music.

Your other choice is to use a USB-C headphone dongle. That’s a messier solution, and gets worse if you need to charge your phone at the same time.

Bluetooth is convenient because it’s supported in all mobile devices, as well as a growing number of other electronics. It has a range of about 32 feet, and is pretty energy-efficient.

It’s also improving rapidly thanks to the move to kill off headphone jacks.

There are a couple of other, older wireless headphone technologies still in use. Both are mostly used for TV, and both need a separate transmitter. Infrared is quite rare now, and requires a line of sight connection between the headphones and transmitter.

Radio frequency, as seen in products like the Sennheiser RS120, is more powerful.

Sennheiser RS120 On-Ear Wireless RF Headphones with Charging Dock and HDR120 Supplemental HiFi Wireless Headphone Bundle Sennheiser RS120 On-Ear Wireless RF Headphones with Charging Dock and HDR120 Supplemental HiFi Wireless Headphone Bundle Buy Now At Amazon $150.17

It can work at ranges of up to 150 feet, and the signal can pass through walls, so it’s usable with a home stereo as well as a TV. However, it’s prone to interference and isn’t secure in the way that Bluetooth is.

Many modern TVs now offer Bluetooth as standard. If yours doesn’t, you can add a Bluetooth transmitter easily enough.

2. Bluetooth and Sound Quality

The sound quality you’ll get on your Bluetooth headphones depends on what audio codec they use. The codec is a piece of software that encodes the audio at one end and decodes it at the other. Both your audio player and headphones need to support it.

SBC

Early versions of Bluetooth compressed audio very heavily, producing a harsh, digital sound.

The move to improve quality began with the introduction of the advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP). This enabled streaming of high-quality stereo audio via the SBC codec. It’s now effectively the standard.

A 2014 report by SoundExpert, an audio quality testing site, concluded that at its highest possible bitrate of 372Kbps, SBC was comparable to an AAC file encoded at 192Kpbs, and that “most artifacts it produces are beyond human perception.” However, it’s mostly used at lower bitrates, so isn’t always the best quality.

aptX

The next step up is aptX. Most Android devices from the last few years support this codec. It delivers “CD-like” performance, at a bitrate of 352Kbps with lower latency. This uses compressed audio.

aptX HD

Better still is aptX HD, which is the high definition upgrade on the classic aptX formula. It’s still compressed, but streams at a much higher bitrate of 576Kbps, and has much lower latency.

A small but growing number of devices support aptX HD, including the Galaxy Note 9, OnePlus 5T, and LG V30. It requires specific hardware, so if your device doesn’t support it there’s no way to upgrade.

AAC

Apple doesn’t support aptX on the iPhone or iPad. Instead, it uses AAC, an enhanced variation on SBC. It uses a lower bitrate (256Kbps), but efficiencies in the codec make it comparable to aptX, if not better. Using AAC-compatible headphones with an AAC source (like Apple Music) also reduces degradation in sound quality.

Latency

We’ve mentioned latency; this is a major issue with Bluetooth headphones.

Latency is the short delay between an audio signal being sent and when you can hear it. You won’t notice it when listening to music, but if you’re watching a video or playing a game, it can cause the sound to be out of sync with the picture.

Latency varies depending on the hardware and software setups you have. aptX HD has significantly reduced latency compared to the older codecs. Apple’s use of AAC with the Airpods has minimized it to barely perceptible levels.

3. Battery Life for Wireless Headphones

Bluetooth headphones get power from their own built-in rechargeable battery.

Over-ear Bluetooth headphones have space for a large battery, charged via a USB cable. You should look for between 20 and 30 hours of battery life—the JBL Everest, for instance, promises up to 25 hours.

JBL Everest Bluetooth Headphones
Image Credit: Harman

Bluetooth earbuds have shorter battery life. Those that use a cable to connect the two buds can typically offer around eight hours, and charge through a USB cable. True wireless earbuds, where both parts are separate, are good for around three to five hours. They come with their own special charging case. which also keeps the charge topped up when you’re not using the buds.

airpods charging case
Image Credit: Apple

Remember that volume levels affect battery life. The louder your music, the shorter the battery will last. Battery life quotes on manufacturers’ spec sheets tend to reflect optimal conditions rather than real-world use.

4. Pairing Bluetooth Headphones

Connecting Bluetooth headphones to a phone or other device can be as quick as plugging them in, or it can be quite frustrating.

The W1 chip in some of Apple’s headphones has reduced pairing down to a three-second process. Open the case on the AirPods (or press a button on the side of select Beats headphones), tap an onscreen prompt, and you’re done.

Android 6.0 and above offers a similarly quick system called Fast Pair, albeit with limited support from headsets so far.

Some headphones use NFC to speed up pairing. This is a wireless technology that enables devices to communicate by holding them close to one another.

When used in conjunction with an NFC-enabled device—including many Android smartphones but not the iPhone—you can pair the headphones with the device simply by tapping them against it.

If none of this works for you, you have to pair your headphones manually. This involves locating the Bluetooth settings on your device, pressing a button on the headphones, and entering a passcode when prompted (usually 0000). It’s slower and more tedious, so you might need to refer to the manual to get it right.

5. Remote Controls for Wireless Headphones

Wired headphones often have a remote on the cable, but Bluetooth headphones don’t have this option.

Instead, they build some basic controls, along with a microphone, into one of the earpieces. This may be in the form of buttons or touch sensors. It could also be a button to activate voice controls.

For controlling AirPods, a double tap launches Siri. From there, you use commands like “Turn volume up” or “Skip track” to control your music.

Companies like Bose and Sony make Bluetooth headphones that work in the same way with Google Assistant. Jabra is among those that supports Amazon’s Alexa.

The accessibility of the controls is something you should always test when buying, or choosing to keep, new headphones. The button design and layout is sometimes determined more by aesthetics than practicality. They aren’t always easy to find by touch alone, especially if you’re in the gym.

6. Form Factor and Size

Wireless headphones come in the three standard styles: over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear. The first two look and function much the same as their wired counterparts. But the latter, in-ear, is quite different.

A recent trend in the in-ear format applies to true wireless earbuds. Unlike the earliest models, which had the two buds connected by a cable that would go around the back of your neck, many models now lack wires altogether.

Sennheiser true wireless earbuds
Image Credit: Sennheiser

The move began with Apple’s AirPods. Now, most manufacturers are on board: Sennheiser, Bose, B&O, Samsung, and more. The Jabra Elite 65t is regarded among the best in-ear earbuds.

Jabra Elite 65t Alexa Enabled True Wireless Earbuds Charging Case  – Titanium Black Jabra Elite 65t Alexa Enabled True Wireless Earbuds Charging Case  – Titanium Black Buy Now At Amazon $169.99

These all work on the same principle: they come with a charging case that maximizes your play time. But there are issues, too. Latency can be an problem, so they aren’t all ideal for video. Battery life is shorter, at up to five hours. They’re more expensive than wired earbuds. And the diminutive size makes them easier to lose.

But you can’t beat them for convenience and portability.

Bluetooth Headphones Are the Future

Like it or not, headphone jacks are on their way out. Bluetooth headphones are the future.

Audiophiles may resist for a while, but for most of us, wireless is now more than good enough. It’s easy to use, affordable, and the quality improves all the time.

If you’re ready to take the leap into the world of wireless music, take a look at our guide to the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy right now. Still holding out? These phones still have a headphone jack.

Read the full article: Buying Wireless Headphones? 6 Things You Need to Know

The Best Backpacks for College Students With Laptops

best-student-backpacks

As the summer draws to a close, your mind starts to focus on the academic year ahead. Whether you’re just starting college, or going back to school for another year, you’ll want a backpack that is both functional and fashionable. And one that can carry your laptop safely too. It’ll need to fit all your college textbooks and provide secure, safe storage for your laptop and other gadgets. We know there’s a lot of choices out there, so we’ve rounded up the seven best backpacks for college students with laptops! 1. The North Face Access Pack The North Face Access…

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best-student-backpacks

As the summer draws to a close, your mind starts to focus on the academic year ahead. Whether you’re just starting college, or going back to school for another year, you’ll want a backpack that is both functional and fashionable. And one that can carry your laptop safely too.

It’ll need to fit all your college textbooks and provide secure, safe storage for your laptop and other gadgets. We know there’s a lot of choices out there, so we’ve rounded up the seven best backpacks for college students with laptops!

1. The North Face Access Pack

The North Face Access Pack Product Image

The North Face Access Pack Backpack The North Face Access Pack Backpack Buy Now At Amazon $239.99

Most backpacks for college students look pretty much the same and come in reasonably common colors. But not The North Face Access Pack. This backpack has laptops and gadgets in mind, with pulley systems granting easy access to the bag’s many compartments.

The Access Pack is designed for comfort too, with OrthoLite padding and ladderlocks for the shoulder straps. The interior pockets are fleece lined, while the rest of the bag is durable polyester and nylon.

Although it is one of the most expensive options out there, the backpack does at least come with a lifetime warranty. The compartmentalized bag is particularly suited to those students who like to keep their belongings organized while on the go.

2. Booq Cobra Squeeze Backpack

Booq Cobra Squeeze Backpack Product Image

Booq CSQ-Gry Cobra Squeeze Backpack, Gray Booq CSQ-Gry Cobra Squeeze Backpack, Gray Buy Now At Amazon $194.95

The Booq Cobra Squeeze fits your modern life, with easily accessible laptop, tablet, and smartphone compartments. All the compartments have padding for extra security. The top pocket has a non-scratch lining, making it the perfect place to stash your smartphone.

The domed backpack redistributes weight, making it comfortable to wear throughout the day. A blend of recycled PET plastic and cotton coats the exterior of the bag for full waterproofing. The Cobra Squeeze can fit any Mac and laptops up to 15 inches. Each bag comes with a unique serial number to help you recover a lost bag. Although, you may find it easier to learn how to stop losing your stuff.

3. STM Banks Backpack

STM Banks Backpack Product Image

STM Banks Backpack For Laptop & Tablet Up To 15" - Tornado Grey (stm-111-148P-20) STM Banks Backpack For Laptop & Tablet Up To 15" - Tornado Grey (stm-111-148P-20) Buy Now At Amazon $129.95

The STM Banks Backpack looks much more like a traditional college backpack, but a very stylish one. The monochrome color choices (blue, brown, green, grey) help give the bag a modern and minimalist look. The STM Banks comes fitted with the obligatory laptop compartment for devices up to 15 inches. But it’s real strength is hidden from view inside the 18 liter bag.

The backpack comes equipped with a cable-routing system. Pop a portable charger like the flexible and highly rated RAVPower PowerStation in one compartment. Then you can run the cable throughout the bag to where it’s needed.

This lets you make sure your devices are topped up, while also keeping your bag organized. STM’s SlingTech provides extra protection to your devices by keeping them securely away from impact zones.

4. Thule TCBP-417 Crossover Backpack

Thule Crossover Backpack Product Image

Thule TCBP-417 Crossover 32 L Backpack, Black Thule TCBP-417 Crossover 32 L Backpack, Black Buy Now At Amazon $105.00

The Thule Crossover Backpack blends the company’s expertise in active lifestyles with the comfort of an everyday backpack for college students. The Crossover comes equipped with a sizable 32 liters of storage space. There is even a padded, zippable interior laptop compartment suitable for devices up to 15 inches.

Well packed bags are often a dangerous environment for fragile items like sunglasses. Fortunately, the Crossover comes with a crush-proof SafeZone which can be locked or even removed altogether.

Laptops and other gadgets come with a lot of accessories, chargers, and cables. The Crossover has an interior organization compartment that keeps them tidy but at hand.

5. Eastpak Out Of Office Backpack

Eastpak Out Of Office Backpack Product Image

Eastpak Men's Out Of Office Backpack, Black, One Size Eastpak Men's Out Of Office Backpack, Black, One Size Buy Now At Amazon $44.11

No matter where you travel to in the world, you’ll spot an Eastpak bag. Their ubiquity is annoying to some. However, there’s a good reason for their title as one of the best backpacks for college students. The Eastpak Out Of Office Backpack keeps the easily recognizable design but updates it for the digital age.

There are only three compartments; a zippered front pocket, the main compartment, and an interior 13 inch laptop sleeve. An interior mesh pocket helps you keep track of smaller items.

The zip-down front panel makes it easy to access and load the main compartment. The back and shoulder straps are padded to keep the bag comfortable to carry.

6. Herschel Supply Co. Heritage Backpack

Herschel Heritage Backpack Product Image

Herschel Supply Co. Heritage, Black/Black, One Size Herschel Supply Co. Heritage, Black/Black, One Size Buy Now At Amazon $54.99

Herschel backpacks are a staple of college life. Their minimal, modern design and affordable price make them a handy companion. The Heritage Backpack keeps things simple with just one front pocket and the main compartment. Though, there is an easy access interior 15 inch laptop sleeve.

This simplicity means that there is plenty of space in the main compartment which you can fill with books, clothes, food, and anything else you may need to get you through a day at college.

There is also an internal media pocket for your phone or media player with a port to run your headphone cable through. Given that there are wireless earphones for every budget, you may not use this particular feature very often.

7. AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack

AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack Product Image

AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack - Fits Up To 15-Inch Laptops AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack - Fits Up To 15-Inch Laptops Buy Now At Amazon $24.72

AmazonBasics, the online retailer’s affordable own-brand range, has been around since 2009. The past few years have even seen them introduce a variety of tech products that are actually pretty good. The AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack is a surprisingly affordable and functional bag.

The bag is designed to fit laptops up to 15 inches, although there is a slightly more expensive version which fits 17 inch devices. There are multiple interior compartments and pockets for easy organization.

The shoulder straps are padded too, which should keep the bag from getting uncomfortable. It isn’t exactly fashionable but, given the price, it’s a great backpack to throw about through college.

Which Backpack Will Get You Through College?

Whether you’re heading there for the first time or returning for another year, these are some of the backpacks for college students with laptops. If these bags didn’t quite excite the techie in you, then you might be interested in these backpacks for techie students instead.

Read the full article: The Best Backpacks for College Students With Laptops

Google Keep vs. Evernote: Which Note Keeping App Is Best for You?

google-vs-evernote

You can find plenty of note-taking sites and mobile apps, but Google Keep and Evernote are two very popular options. And it’s with good reason that they both top the list, as you’ll read below. If you’re currently in the Google Keep vs. Evernote dilemma, the choice can be tough. So, we’ve compiled a list of criteria to compare the two and hopefully help you decide which is best for you. Interface When it comes to a simple, uncomplicated, intuitive interface, both applications have their own method of delivery. Google Keep Interface Google Keep offers an extremely easy-to-use interface, no…

Read the full article: Google Keep vs. Evernote: Which Note Keeping App Is Best for You?

You can find plenty of note-taking sites and mobile apps, but Google Keep and Evernote are two very popular options. And it’s with good reason that they both top the list, as you’ll read below.

If you’re currently in the Google Keep vs. Evernote dilemma, the choice can be tough. So, we’ve compiled a list of criteria to compare the two and hopefully help you decide which is best for you.

Interface

When it comes to a simple, uncomplicated, intuitive interface, both applications have their own method of delivery.

Google Keep Interface

Google Keep offers an extremely easy-to-use interface, no matter where you use it. For instance, when you land on the Google Keep website, you are greeted with your notes. You can use either a grid or list view, create a new note quickly, and pop a keyword into the search box.

Google Keep Web Interface

Google Keep’s navigation is arranged nicely with links to Notes, Reminders, Labels, Archive, and Settings all along the left side. And like most Google service websites, you can access your account, notifications, and other Google apps from the top.

The mobile apps for Google Keep give you a similar interface which is also clear and simple.

Evernote Interface

The Evernote interface is much different than that of Google Keep. When you sign in on the Evernote website, the appearance can look a little cluttered at first. From left to right you see the Evernote navigation, a list of your notes with options to sort or use the Web Clipper, and then your most recent note.

At the top of that, you have buttons for the open note, an option to upgrade if you have a free account, a sharing button, and full-screen view button.

Evernote Web Interface

You can take a look at the new Evernote Web experience which is a bit cleaner offering some color separators. However, it is only available for Chrome and Safari browsers.

As for the Evernote mobile apps, when you log in you’ll see a list of your notes with a less cluttered interface than the website. You can quickly create a new note or move between shortcuts, your profile, a search, and your notebooks easily.

Summary: For utter simplicity online or your mobile device, Google Keep delivers. But as a current Evernote user, I can attest that you do get used to its interface the more you use it.

Features

Along with an intuitive interface, the features that an application offers are important to your decision. Google Keep and Evernote do have these several features in common:

  • Notes can include text, images, links, and lists.
  • Reminders keep you from forgetting task-related notes.
  • Labels (Google Keep) and Tags (Evernote) help you organize and easily find notes.
  • Sharing notes is useful for collaboration at work and at home.
  • Pinning (Google Keep) and Shortcuts (Evernote) let you access favorite notes quickly.

What makes an application stand out are those features its competitor does not offer. Here are distinctive features for Google Keep and Evernote.

Google Keep Standout Features

  • Copy to Google Docs: Copy a note to Google Docs when you need to create a lengthy document from a simple note.
  • Handy location-based reminders: Create a reminder for when you leave work, arrive home, or head to class.
  • Cool color-coding: For a quick way to categorize your notes, give them colors to identify certain ones at a glance.

Google Keep Note Features

Evernote Standout Features

  • Robust text editor: The options in the note text editor may remind you of Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. You have tons of formatting, font, list, table, alignment, and even subscript and superscript options.
  • Useful built-in chat: You can chat with other Evernote users right from the web interface or mobile apps.
  • Notebook Stacks: Organize your notebooks by grouping them using Stacks. This lets you keep notebooks with similar subjects together.
  • Convenient Web Clipper extension: The Evernote Web Clipper browser extension lets you capture web pages or parts of pages and pop them right into your Evernote account.

Evernote Note Features

Summary: Where Evernote may come in second for a completely simple interface, it makes up for with its features. Google Keep has the basics for simple note-taking. But Evernote gives you more flexible and full-featured note-taking and note-keeping options.

Ease-of-Use

Aside from the interface and feature differences between Google Keep and Evernote, you may be wondering, how easy are they to use? Without going into the detailed features, let’s see how simple it is to do what you really need, which is to create a quick note to access later.

Google Keep Note Creation

When you hit the Google Keep website and sign in, creating a note in a hurry couldn’t be any simpler. Click on the Take a Note box, type your note, and click Close. That’s it. Your note will appear at the top of the page. Of course, you can add a title, color, and other extras. But for fast and easy note-capturing that puts your note on the main screen, Google Keep is a winner.

Google Keep New Note

Evernote Note Creation

When you sign into the Evernote site, you can also create a note quickly. Click the New Note (plus sign) button on the left, type your note, and hit Done. Same as with Google Keep, you can add a title. And as mentioned in the features, you can format it if you like.

Evernote New Note

Your new note will appear on the main part of the page until you create a new one. And depending on how you sort your notes on the left, it could appear at the top of that list too. The only thing that may not be quite as simple is finding your note later if you don’t put it into a specific Notebook or give it a Tag.

Summary: Both Google Keep and Evernote let you capture notes quickly, there’s no doubt about that. But, for actual note-keeping and finding them later, it may take a bit longer to organize your notes properly in Evernote.

Price

The cost of any application or service is always a consideration when deciding between two great options. Google Keep makes this simple; it’s free. No matter where you access it, how long you use it, or which features you choose to use, Google Keep is free.

Evernote is a bit different in the pricing category. You can use Evernote Basic for free on two devices (availability list below) with limited features. For unlimited devices, larger note size and upload limits, integrations, and more, you can sign up for Evernote Premium or Evernote Business for teams.

Each of Evernote’s paid plans is subscription-based, per user, per month.

Summary: If you just want a free app with basic note-taking features, Google Keep is a good pick and gives no worries of extra purchases. Evernote Basic is also a solid choice for free if you only plan to use the essentials without the need for a paid plan. But if you really want all the bells and whistles and don’t mind a price tag, take a closer look at Evernote Premium.

Availability

Finishing up with an easy yet important comparison is where Google Keep and Evernote are available. This gives you a rundown of the platforms you can use them on and the links to go grab the one you’ve chosen.

Google Keep is available on Android, iOS, the Chrome browser as an extension, and the web.

Download: Google Keep for Android | iOS (Free)
Install: Google Keep for Chrome (Free)
Access: Google Keep on the web

Evernote is available on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and the web. You can also check out the Evernote Web Clipper as an extension on the five major browsers.

Download: Evernote for Android | iOS (Free)
Download: Evernote for macOS | Windows (Free)
Install: Evernote Web Clipper for Chrome | Edge | Firefox | Opera | Safari (Free)
Access: Evernote on the web

Note that the browser extensions listed above are official add-ons from each company. You may find additional third-party extensions for both Google Keep and Evernote.

Summary: It’s clear that Google Keep isn’t as widely available as Evernote. So, take a minute to figure out exactly where you need to use the app and see which one has you covered better.

Take Note

Hopefully, this comparison of Google Keep vs. Evernote will give you some food for thought. Take note of the similarities and differences when making your decision and best of luck with your chosen one!

And if you’ve chosen Google Keep, take a look at more creative ways to use it. If you’ve picked Evernote, pop open our helpful, unofficial Evernote manual.

Read the full article: Google Keep vs. Evernote: Which Note Keeping App Is Best for You?

8 Awesome Sites for Making Flashcards Online

sites-make-flashcards-online

Flashcards are effective tools for both learning and studying. They contain bits of information related to your subjects like images, words, phrases, or numbers and let you quickly quiz yourself on your topic of study. Pre-made flashcards are usually seen in elementary schools, not so much in high schools or colleges. So, many students turn to creating their own flashcards. If this is you or someone you know, check out this great list of eight sites to make flashcards online. 1. Cram.com Cram.com makes it super easy to create flashcard decks for any subject with a free account. Name your…

Read the full article: 8 Awesome Sites for Making Flashcards Online

Flashcards are effective tools for both learning and studying. They contain bits of information related to your subjects like images, words, phrases, or numbers and let you quickly quiz yourself on your topic of study.

Pre-made flashcards are usually seen in elementary schools, not so much in high schools or colleges. So, many students turn to creating their own flashcards. If this is you or someone you know, check out this great list of eight sites to make flashcards online.

1. Cram.com

CramDotCom

Cram.com makes it super easy to create flashcard decks for any subject with a free account. Name your deck, add subjects, insert a description, and choose between private or public access. To create your flashcards, use the editor to add text, images, lists, and formatting to the fronts and backs of the cards.

When it’s time to study your cards, Cram.com gives you a few different options. You can simply study your cards, go through them to memorize the information, test yourself with a quiz, or play a game. You can also edit your flashcard sets as well as share, print, export, or clone them.

And for studying on-the-go, Cram.com offers apps for both Android and iOS.

Download: Cram.com for Android | iOS (Free)

2. Flashcard.online

FlashcardOnline

Flashcard.online is another simple site for creating flashcard decks that you can save and print. Start with a title, choose the number of cards, and select a type from only text or text plus a picture. You don’t need to sign up for an account; just create your cards and go.

Once you add your text and/or images to the cards, hit the Save as PDF and then Free Download buttons. You’ll have a handy PDF file of your flashcards that you can print and cut. The only drawback with Flashcard.online is that you don’t have an option to use both the fronts and backs of your cards.

But, if you’re looking for an easily printable flashcard option, give the site a try.

3. GoConqr

GoConqr

GoConqr goes a step further with its flashcard creation process. You start by setting up your account and then answering questions about your grade level and subjects to build your learning profile. This gives you additional features such as free content, groups, a calendar, and more, in addition to the flashcards you can create.

So, when you’re ready to make your flashcards, hit the Create button from the top left and select Flashcards. Then enter your text or upload images to the fronts and backs of the cards. You can format the background color, text, and textures.

When it’s time to study, head to the flashcard deck in the subject you created it for, and that’s it.

4. Brainscape

Brainscape

Brainscape is a terrific site for finding flashcards created by others as well as making your own. Start by setting up a free account, then add a class (subject) and create your deck of flashcards. You can set up several classes and flashcard decks in each, which is ideal for multiple courses.

Enter the questions and answers (fronts and backs) for your cards. Then save your deck or start studying right away. While you can only use text on your flashcards with the free account, that might be all you need. Plus, you can sort, edit, and share your decks with others.

Brainscape does offer paid plans for additional content, an advanced editor to include images and sounds, and other learning features.

5. ProProfs.com

ProProfs

With ProProfs.com, you can make a deck of five flashcards in just minutes after creating your free account. You can add images and text, arrange the cards in the order you want, and edit or add more cards to decks anytime.

ProProfs.com offers similar options for study time like Cram.com. You can view your flashcard deck, memorize the information, take a quiz, and play a match or gravity game. The site gives you options to share your flashcard set via email, shareable link, social sign-in, or embed code.

You can also take a look at the site’s knowledge base, brain games, training, and more.

6. StudyBlue

StudyBlue

Making flashcards online is easy with StudyBlue. Pop in a term and definition (front and back) and click the plus sign at the bottom to keep creating cards for your deck. You can use text, images, audio files, and equations, covering most topic needs.

When it’s time to study with the flashcards you create, you can flip through them, take a quiz, or check out a review sheet. StudyBlue offers extra features too, like homework help, classes that you can join, and flashcard decks shared by other users. StudyBlue also offers apps for Android and iOS.

And if you find mobile apps like this helpful during the school year, check out this massive list of iPhone and iPad apps for students.

Download: StudyBlue for Android | iOS (Free)

7. Flashcard Machine

Flashcard Machine

With Flashcard Machine, you start with a free account and the basics of your flashcard deck. Then jump into the editor where you can insert text, images, equations, and other items. You can also align the text, include lists, and adjust the font.

After you make your flashcards, you can start a general study session by moving through the cards or playing a game. You can also print, export, and review your deck.

Flashcard Machine offers apps for both Android and iOS, so you can study wherever you go.

Download: Flashcard Machine for Android | iOS (Free)

8. FlashDecks

FlashDecks

FlashDecks is one final site to look at for creating flashcards online. With a basic interface, you can make flashcard decks quickly. Add your text to the fronts and backs and upload images to go with the cards.

For reviewing your flashcards, you will see the fronts of each display. When you want to reveal the back, just click and then indicate if you were right or wrong. The indication is helpful for keeping track of your stats which display nicely in a graph.

Check out flashcards shared by others, share your own on the site or via social media, and create collections for multiple decks. FlashDecks makes it all very easy.

Flashcards Are Great Study Tools

Every student has a different way of learning and studying that works best for them. So, if flashcards are what you prefer or if you’re someone who wants to try them, these sites are for you. You can easily create and use decks for all your classes and give your studying a boost.

If the school year is just beginning for you, take a look at some useful templates for schedules and planning, plus several helpful Windows apps for students.

Read the full article: 8 Awesome Sites for Making Flashcards Online

The best student planner apps for iPhone to stay organized

Ease the load throughout your school year with helpful student planner apps for iPhone. These awesome options will keep you on track and organized.

Student Planner Apps for iPhone

Being a student is tough at any age. You have a lot to keep track of and tons to do. This is when a student planner can come in super handy. Track classes, assignments, exams, schedules, and more, all in one spot.

These are some of the best student planners for iPhone to keep you organized on-the-go.... Read the rest of this post here


"The best student planner apps for iPhone to stay organized" is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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