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The 7 Best Running Watches for Tracking Your Exercise

If you're serious about maintaining an exercise regime, you need to turn to technology for a bit of help.

One of the best devices you can buy for yourself is a running watch. So, whether you're a long-term fitness fanatic or someone who's just turned over a new leaf, keep reading.

We're going to look at the best running watches you can buy right now.

Premium pick

1. Suunto 9

8.40 / 10
Read Reviews

The Finnish-built Suunto 9 is the clear market leader for people who perform either endurance or extreme sports. The water resistance to 100 meters is at least double what even the best mid-range running watches will offer. It also has a barometric altitude function that reacts faster than a GPS-based altitude reader.

Users will find the Suunto app to be useful thanks to the route-based GPS heatmaps, and the 80 built-in sports modes mean you will never be unable to enter your current activities.

Given the features and the build quality, the watch would be an unnecessary luxury for most amateur and casual runners. If you can stretch your budget, however, it represents an excellent purchase.

Key Features
  • Waterproof to 100 meters
  • 80 built-in sports modes
  • Barometric altitude information
Specifications
  • Brand: Suunto
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
  • Color Screen: Yes
  • Notification Support: Yes
  • Battery Life: 120 hours
Pros
  • GPS heatmap for running trails
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Intelligent battery modes
  • Incredible build quality
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Unnecessary number of features for casual runners
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Editors choice

2. Garmin Forerunner 945

9.20 / 10
Read Reviews

The cost of the Garmin Forerunner 945 makes it prohibitive to all but the most dedicated runners. However, if you regularly run competitively or take part in triathlons, this is the most feature-rich watch you can buy.
It is the performance tools which are perhaps the most appealing.

It can track your oxygen consumption (adjusting for heat and altitude), exercise history, and performance stats, then let you know if you are training productively, peaking too early, or pushing yourself too hard. You will also be able to monitor how your training is affecting your endurance, speed, power, and recovery times.

The watch supports both custom workout plans and predefined plans that you can download and sync to your watch.

Key Features
  • Two weeks of battery life
  • Garmin Pay included
  • GLONASS and Galileo satellite reception for areas with weak GPS signal
Specifications
  • Brand: Garmin
  • Heart Rate Monitor: With optional heart rate strap
  • Color Screen: Yes
  • Notification Support: Yes
  • Battery Life: 14 days
  • Integrations: Spotify, Amazon Music. Deezer, Garmin Pay
Pros
  • Download songs from Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer
  • Full color screen
  • Built-in maps
Cons
  • Cannot take calls
  • No support for personal assistants
  • Very expensive
Best value

3. Apple Watch Series 6

9.00 / 10
Read Reviews

The Apple Watch has a reputation as being more a style statement than a serious exercise tracker. That's somewhat unfair. The watch's design is undoubtedly gorgeous, but it has a large number of features that will appeal to runners.

Most notable is the blood oxygen tracker. It logs your levels continuously throughout your workout (and the entire day) and lets you know if the oxygen is dropping too low. The watch also has ECG capabilities. The tool will let you know if it detects high or low heart arrhythmias and could prevent you from pushing so hard during a jog that you endanger yourself.

The watch also has an altimeter for those who like hill running, a massive list of workout modes to suit your preferred intensity, and an app that tracks your performance stats.

Key Features
  • Measures blood oxygen level
  • Can be used to make calls and send texts
  • Heart rate and sleep tracking
Specifications
  • Brand: Apple
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
  • Color Screen: Yes
  • Notification Support: Yes
  • Battery Life: 18 hours
  • Operating System: watchOS
  • Onboard GPS: Yes
  • Offline Media Storage: Yes
  • Customizable Strap: Yes
  • SIM Support: Yes
Pros
  • Supports Apple Pay
  • Integration with Siri
  • Best smartwatch OS on the market
Cons
  • Does not pair with Android devices
  • Not a massive upgrade over the Apple Watch 5

The Polar Vantage M is the company's entry-level sports and running watch. It lacks some of the features that you find in the more expensive models. For instance, a barometer, a touchscreen display, route guidance, and additional Polar tracking apps are all included in the higher-priced editions.

Nonetheless, you'll still get 30 hours of battery life, a heart monitor, and access to running programs and the impressive Training Load Pro app. It breaks down your cardio metrics into more detail so you can perform better analysis on your performance.

Key Features
  • Support for GPS and GLONASS satellites
  • Heart rate monitor
Specifications
  • Brand: Polar
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
  • Color Screen: Yes
  • Notification Support: Yes, via app
  • Battery Life: 30 hours
Pros
  • Training Load Pro app breaks down your cardio performance
  • Waterproof
  • Swimming metrics and session tracking
Cons
  • No touchscreen
  • No barometer
  • No Recovery Pro app

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is an easy-to-use running watch that relies on five physical buttons rather than a touchscreen interface.

You can use it to gauge your heart rate and track your pace, distance, intervals, and other metrics via GPS. A key selling point is the inclusion of the free Garmin Coach; it creates adaptive plans to suit your fitness goals and provides feedback as you progress.

There are individual apps for most of the main sports—running included. The battery will last for up to seven days, but only 14 hours when GPS is enabled.

Key Features
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Notifications for texts and calls
  • Multiple activity profiles
Specifications
  • Brand: Garmin
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
  • Color Screen: Yes
  • Notification Support: Yes
  • Battery Life: 7 days
  • Integrations: Garmin Coach app
Pros
  • Available in four colors
  • Free Garmin Coach training plans
  • Incident detection feature for emergencies
Cons
  • Not touchscreen
  • Only 14 hours of battery life in GPS mode

The Fitbit Charge 4 is unquestionably the best fitness tracker that you can buy today. Not only does it look absolutely stunning, but it's also packed with enough features to satisfy both occasional gym-goers as well as more dedicated fitness fanatics.

Some of the standout features include a built-in GPS (for tracking pace, distance, and intensity), more than 20 goal-based exercise modes to keep you inspired, and seven days of battery life.

The Charge 4 also supports call and text alerts (though you can't actually take calls via the band), a waterproof rating of up to 50 meters, and a 24/7 heart rate monitor.

Key Features
  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Sleep tracking
Specifications
  • Brand: Fitbit
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
  • Color Screen: No
  • Notification Support: Yes
  • Battery Life: Seven days
  • Integrations: MyFitnessPal, Strava
Pros
  • Goal-based exercise modes
  • Fitbit Pay support
  • Massive battery life
  • Three colors available
Cons
  • Need to subscribe to Fitbit Premium for maximum benefit
  • No color display
  • Screen wake is sometimes unreliable

If you don't want to spend a fortune on a running watch, check out the Xiaomi Mi Band 4. It is the best budget fitness tracker on the market today.

Yes, some of the on-device alerts and motivational messages are a bit blunt, but the Mi Band 4 can still do most of the things that more expensive devices offer. That includes a treadmill tracker, cycling tracker, walking tracker, swimming tracker, step counter, and calorie tracker.

Before you hit the buy button, however, a word of warning; Xiaomi's data policy says it can store data anywhere in the world, and the company currently has data centers in China and Russia. That might make some users uncomfortable.

Key Features
  • Color screen
  • 20 days of battery life
  • Six workout modes
Specifications
  • Brand: Xiaomi
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
  • Color Screen: Yes
  • Notification Support: Yes
  • Battery Life: 20 days
  • Integrations: Apple Health, Google Fit
Pros
  • Heart rate alerts
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Water resistant to 50 meters
Cons
  • Mi Fit app is not as good as rival offerings
  • Not many types of exercise supported

FAQ

Q: Should You Buy a Smartwatch or a Fitness Tracker?

Smartwatches and fitness trackers are aimed at different markets, although there is some blurring around the edges. If you a device that's typically less robust and can access an assortment of non-sports apps but can still perform fitness tracking functions, get a smartwatch. If your reason for purchase is more sports-focused, consider a fitness tracker.

Q: Are Fitness Trackers Worth the Money?

Only if you're going to use it! If you want to get fit, simply buying a fitness tracker isn't going to drag you off the sofa. However, if you plan to work out regularly, a fitness tracker is money well spent.

Q: Do Fitness Trackers Have a Monthly Fee?

No. All mainstream fitness trackers and running watches provide access to their services for free once you've bought the device. Some do offer pro apps, but they typically offer little value for money.

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The 7 Best Bluetooth Headsets for the iPhone

Bluetooth headsets make it easy to make and receive phone calls, especially if you're in an environment where your hands are often busy. But there are so many choices available that it can be challenging to know which devices are best.

If you do some research, you'll quickly discover that the price, feature list, and build quality vary wildly between manufacturers.

We're here to help you decide. Here are the best Bluetooth headsets for an iPhone.

Premium pick

1. Apple AirPods Pro

9.20 / 10
Read Reviews

The AirPods Pro are Apple's premium in-ear headphones. They offer active noise cancellation and up to 24 hours of battery life via the charging case. A single charge from the case will give 4.5 hours of listening time.

The AirPods Pro are also Qi-compatible (for wireless charging) and have an adaptive equalizer. The equalizer will mold the output in accordance with the shape of your ear.

One of the most frequent criticisms of the AirPods Pro is the cost. You'd expect Apple products to be more expensive than some of their competitors. However, in the case of the AirPods Pro, it is hard to justify the extra outlay. The sound quality is simply not as good as some of the headphones' more reasonably-priced rivals.

Key Features
  • Adaptive EQ
  • Siri integration
  • Qi-compatible
Specifications
  • Brand: Apple
  • Battery Life: 24 hours
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Additional Tips: Yes
  • Noise Cancellation: Yes
Pros
  • Three sizes of silicone tips included
  • Sweat and water-resistant
  • ANC can be disabled
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Cannot disable Siri
  • Not ideal for wearing during exercise
Editors choice

2. Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear

8.00 / 10
Read Reviews

The Sennheiser HD1 covers a range of products, but we are interested in the in-ear model for the purposes of a lightweight Bluetooth headset.

Some specific features help the headphones stand out from the competition. Those features include NFC connectivity (for one-touch pairing), support for two simultaneous Bluetooth connections (so you don't need to jump between your iPhone and computer continually), and exceptional sound quality thanks to the premium transducers in each earbud.

The Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear headphones also have an in-line microphone, a three-button remote, and voice prompts for call management.

Key Features
  • Fast charging via USB
  • NFC connectivity
  • Dual Bluetooth connections
Specifications
  • Brand: Sennheiser
  • Battery Life: 6 hours
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Additional Tips: Yes
  • Noise Cancellation: No
Pros
  • Bluetooth range of 30 feet
  • Recharge in 1.5 hours
  • Exceptional sound quality
  • Neckband design makes them perfect for wearing while exercising
Cons
  • Flimsy design
  • No support for Siri
  • Expensive
Best value

3. Beats Solo3

9.60 / 10
Read Reviews

With their reliance on the Apple W1 chip, the Beats Solo3 are the ideal Bluetooth headphones for anyone who wants to bring Apple-powered audio to their ears.

These headphones are primarily aimed at people who want to listen to music wirelessly rather than engage in calls. The Beats Solo3 support NFC connectivity for one-touch pairing, offer an impressive 40 hours of battery life (if you disable noise cancellation), and have a built-in mic that you can use for calls and for talking to Siri.

The headphones also support fast charging. A five-minute charge will provide three hours of listening time. Of course, thanks to Apple's input, the Beats Solo3 three also look fantastic; they are some of the most stylish Bluetooth headphones on the market.

Key Features
  • Bluetooth and NFC connectivity
  • Uses Apple W1 chip
  • Supports Siri
Specifications
  • Brand: Beats
  • Battery Life: 40 hours
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Noise Cancellation: No
Pros
  • Available in nine colors
  • Five minutes of charging gives you three hours of playback
  • Adjustable fit
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Sound is not as good as rivals
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If regular in-ear or over-ear headphones aren't right for your specific use case, you might instead want to invest in a dedicated Bluetooth headset.

The Plantronics Voyager 5200—which affixes to a single ear—is aimed at people who want to use an iPhone Bluetooth headset for talking rather than listening to music, podcasts, and other audio. It weighs just 20 grams.

It has noise cancellation so you can still hear the other person in busy environments, four microphones so that your voice isn't drowned out by background noise. There's also up to seven of talk time from a single charge.

Other noteworthy features include built-in Amazon Alexa, 100 feet of Bluetooth range, and six layers of wind protection so you can comfortably use the device outdoors.

Key Features
  • Noise cancellation
  • Voice-activated call features
  • 20-band equalizer
Specifications
  • Brand: Plantronics
  • Battery Life: 7 hours
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Additional Tips: No
  • Noise Cancellation: Yes
Pros
  • Sufficiently comfortable to wear around the clock
  • Mute button
  • Works on left or right ear
Cons
  • Not easy to wear in conjunction with glasses
  • Average audio quality during music playback

As the name suggests, the Jabra Stealth is a sleek and discrete Bluetooth headset for iPhones and other devices. The headset offers crystal-clear HD audio output, support for Siri and Google Assistant, and dual microphones to reduce background noise while you are on a call.

The Jabra Stealth is also extremely lightweight; at just 20 grams, you will barely know you are wearing it. On the downside, battery life is a little disappointing.

If you work in a job that requires you to both take calls regularly and keep your hands free most of the time, the six hours might not be enough to see you through an entire day.

Key Features
  • Dedicated voice control button
  • Supports Siri and Google Assistant
  • Dual microphones
Specifications
  • Brand: Jabra
  • Battery Life: 6 hours
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Additional Tips: Yes
  • Noise Cancellation: No
Pros
  • High-definition sound
  • Sleek design
  • Bluetooth adaptor for transferring calls
Cons
  • Volume control can be difficult to operate
  • No support for Amazon Alexa
  • A touch pricey

The basic Apple AirPods are a cheaper alternative than the newer Apple AirPods Pro. Of course, you lose some features. The basic model does not have noise cancellation, the battery life is shorter (five hours), and you can not add different silicone tips to fit your ear.

The case provides up to 24 hours of talk time. However, they still support Siri, they have a built-in microphone, and they include some gesture support (such as double-tapping for play/pause or to skip a track).

Key Features
  • Supports Siri
  • Built-in microphone in each AirPod
  • Five hours of listening time
Specifications
  • Brand: Apple
  • Battery Life: 24 hours
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Additional Tips: No
  • Noise Cancellation: No
Pros
  • Turn on automatically
  • Fast pairing
  • New chip for lower latency
Cons
  • Not water-resistant
  • No active noise cancellation
  • No wireless charging

The Mpow Pro Trucker headset is a highly affordable option for anyone who needs Bluetooth headphones and a microphone for their iPhone.

Sure, the budget price means the company has had to make some sacrifices to build quality; you're not going to get a fancy carry case, or premium leather finishes on the headband.

But the battery life of 16 hours is impressive, and the 330-degree rotating mic means you can swap it between your ears to give one side a rest. Other features include support for Siri, a mute button, a noise-canceling microphone, and a Bluetooth range of 30 feet.

Key Features
  • Noise cancelling microphone
  • Built-in mute button
  • 30-foot Bluetooth range
  • Supports Siri and Google Assistant
Specifications
  • Brand: Mpow
  • Battery Life: 16 hours
  • Material: Plastic
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Noise Cancellation: No
Pros
  • Incredible battery life
  • Very affordable
  • Surprisingly lightweight
  • Can be adjusted to wear on left or right ear
Cons
  • Cheap build quality
  • Average sound

FAQ

Q: Headset or Headphones: Which Is Right for You?

The arrival of Bluetooth earphones has meant that the distinction between hands-free call devices and music-focused headphones is becoming increasingly blurred.

While the traditional one-ear earpieces remain firmly in the hands-free camp, many leading audio companies are now trying to straggle the divide.

What is clear, though, is that no matter your usage case, you'll be able to find a Bluetooth headset for your iPhone that meets your needs.

Q: What Are the Disadvantages of a Bluetooth Headset?

The biggest downside is battery life. It is rare to find a Bluetooth headset that will last for more than 10 hours of talk time. If you spend long periods on the road, that can be an issue.

If you are concerned about battery life, at the very least, you need to make sure you buy a model with a fast charge feature.

Q: Why Are Bluetooth Headsets Better than Wired Models?

With wired headsets and headphones, you are tethered to your device at all times. Cables get can in the way of what you're doing and could even be dangerous in certain environments.

A Bluetooth headset means you can wander around your home or office without worrying about keeping your phone nearby.

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The 7 Best RSS Feeds for Weather Updates | MakeUseOf

RSS feeds are a fast and efficient way to receive alerts and updates about any topic, including the weather.

In general, there are two categories of RSS weather updates. One will give you weather alerts or warnings for a country or region. The other provides today's weather as well as weather forecasts for a specific area.

Let's look at some of the best weather RSS feeds you can subscribe to today.

1. Yahoo Weather

Yahoo might not be the internet giant that it was a decade ago, but its RSS feed for weather updates is still one of the most reliable around.

Before you can set up the feed, you need to make a note of your desired location's numeric code in the Yahoo database. To find the code, head to the Yahoo Weather website, search for the town or city for which you want alerts, and make a note of the code at the end of the URL in the address bar.

Next, head to your RSS reader and enter the following URL, replacing [location code] with the number you just wrote down:

  • https://weather-ydn-yql.media.yahoo.com/forecastrss?woeid=[location code]

Once you've set up the feed, it will update with your selected location's latest conditions whenever you refresh it.

2. AccuWeather

AccuWeather is a well-known website and app for accurate weather forecasts, making its RSS feed worth subscribing to.

The AccuWeather RSS feed is similar to the Yahoo Weather service. You need to grab the location ID number for the place you want to monitor, and then add it to a predefined URL.

A word of warning before you start, however. It appears that the AccuWeather RSS feed only works for US locations. During testing, we tried it on a British and a Mexican location, and both returned errors. All American cities worked seamlessly.

To find the location ID, you need to go to the AccuWeather website, search for the town in question, and make a note of the unique code in the URL (you can find it in the browser's address bar).

Then, copy and paste the following URL into your RSS reader, again replacing the [location code] with the place you want:

  • http://rss.accuweather.com/rss/liveweather_rss.asp?locCode=[location code]

The feed will include AccuWeather forecast updates and articles that are relevant to the location you selected.

3. National Weather Service

Rather than focusing on day-to-day weather forecasts, the National Weather Service provides a range of RSS feeds covering a broad number of severe weather alerts and warnings. It is highly US-centric but does provide a few non-US feeds.

Some of the RSS feeds provided on the site include:

  • Hurricane and tropical cyclone warnings for the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Eastern Pacific
  • Great Lakes Marine Weather Warnings (MWW)
  • Severe weather outlooks and watches
  • Global tsunami warnings
  • Automated Flood Warning Systems (AFWS)
  • Daily forecasts of river conditions
  • Local storm reports
  • Fire weather forecasts
  • National Data Buoy Center buoy reports
  • Surf reports

You can also subscribe to generic RSS weather news feeds; they include a mix of updates, forecasts, and related content.

To subscribe to the National Weather Service's RSS feeds, go to weather.gov/rss and click on the link you want.

4. rssWeather

The rssWeather service is not as fancy as those from some of the big-name weather companies. However, it's an excellent solution for those who want a simple weather report in their RSS inbox every day.

There is no fiddling around with URL and location codes. Just head to the rssWeather site and use the on-screen menu to navigate to the place for which you want a forecast. You can drill down to a hyper-local level, selecting specific areas within towns and cities.

Once you've clicked through to the place in question, hit the Subscribe to [location] RSS Weather Feed button in the right-hand panel. It will provide the RSS URL that you can then copy and paste into your favorite RSS reader.

Although the entire planet is supported on the site, we found locations in the US to be the most reliable. Elsewhere, the large cities mostly worked, but smaller towns did not appear to be supported.

5. BBC Weather

If you live in the UK and are looking for a weather RSS feed, BBC Weather is the first service you need to check out. It offers hyper-local forecasts for the entire British Isles. Some global forecasts are also available, but they are mostly only available for large cities.

BBC Weather's RSS feeds are available in two forms for each location—there's a three-day forecast RSS feed and a latest observations RSS feed. For a complete overview of the weather in your selected area, you will need to subscribe to both.

Once again, you will need to find the numeric ID code for the location you want to monitor. Run a search for the location on the BBC Weather site and extract the code from the URL.

For the three-day forecast, use this URL:

  • https://weather-broker-cdn.api.bbci.co.uk/en/forecast/rss/3day/[location code]

And for the latest observations, use this one:

  • https://weather-broker-cdn.api.bbci.co.uk/en/observation/rss/[location code]

In both cases, replace [location code] with the ID tag you extracted from the URL.

6. Reddit Weather

Weather updates don't necessarily mean weather forecasts. If you're an all-round weather geek who loves weather images, news, projections, analysis, and more, you'll probably love the r/weather subreddit.

Like all subreddits on the site, you can easily create your own RSS feed of the weather subreddit by adding .rss to the end of the URL. In the case of r/weather, you need to enter the following URL into your RSS reader:

  • https://www.reddit.com/r/weather/.rss

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, we also recommend subscribing to the RSS feed for r/tropicalweather.

7. Met Office UK

We end with another UK option. The Met Office (short for Meteorological Office) is the UK's national weather service.

Most of its feeds revolve around severe weather warnings for the various UK regions. There is a generic nationwide feed, then 16 regional feeds with more localized information. The Met Office also supplies a feed of its own news stories, which all weather fanatics will love.

What About Weather Underground RSS Feeds?

Sadly, Weather Underground's RSS feeds are no longer available. You used to be able to use Weather Underground to grab weather RSS feeds with images, severe weather warnings for your local area, and more. Unfortunately, all feeds went dark between 2017 and 2019.

This means that you'll have to rely on these handy RSS feeds, as well as the huge number of other weather apps and sites to get reliable forecasts.

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The 7 Best Walkie Talkies and Ham Radios for Two-Way Radio Lovers

Two-way radios, such as walkie-talkies and ham radios, are useful to everyone from hikers to radio enthusiasts.

So, whether you're looking to enter the world of amateur radio or you're preparing your next trek through the mountains, keep reading to find out which two-way radios will meet your requirements.

Premium pick

1. Motorola MR350R

8.40 / 10
Read Reviews

The Motorola MR350R walkie talkies certainly aren't the newest model you can find on the market, but they have stood the test of time and are still popular among users.

With dual-band support, you can broadcast over GMRS and FRS bands, thus allowing you to tune into more channels. And with 22 channels, 121 privacy codes, and a range of 35 miles, you can be confident you'll always be able to stay in touch with the rest of your party.

A word of warning, though—although the Motorola MR350Rs have large buttons and drop protection, they are still considered consumer-grade quality. If you're planning to do any exceptionally rugged activities, look elsewhere.

Key Features
  • 22 channels each with 121 privacy codes
  • 11 weather channels
  • 23 hours of battery life
Specifications
  • Brand: Motorola
  • Range: 35 miles
  • Channels: 22
  • Water Resistant: IP51
Pros
  • Rugged with large buttons
  • Vibration alert and 20 different call tones
  • Supports hands-free communication
Cons
  • Does not ship with earbuds with PTT microphone
  • Only available in black
  • Users have complained range is greatly curtailed in urban areas
Editors choice

2. Kenwood TK-3402U16P ProTalk

8.80 / 10
Read Reviews

The Kenwood TK-3402U16P ProTalk is a 5W, professional-grade walkie talkie that works on UHF frequencies (450-470Mhz).

It has a long list of features that pros will appreciate, but that will mean little to an amateur enthusiast. These include busy channel lockouts, voice scrambling, a programmable LED alert, a timeout timer, wireless cloning capabilities, and adjustable mic gain.

You'll also find a lot more in the box that you'd typically find with a cheaper radio. There is a rapid drop-in charging unit, an accessory port cover, and a belt clip.

If you buy the correct optional accessories (sold separately), the Kenwood TK-3402U16P ProTalk also supports hands-free communication.

Key Features
  • 39 quiet talk codes
  • 18 hours of battery life
  • 36mm-diameter speaker
  • UHF Frequencies (450-470Mhz)
Specifications
  • Brand: Kenwood
  • Range: 7 miles
  • Channels: 16
  • Water Resistant: IP55
Pros
  • 90 preset frequencies
  • Works in extreme heat and extreme cold
  • 168 digital quiet talk privacy codes
Cons
  • Only 16 channels
  • Expensive
Best value

3. Yaesu VX-6R

9.20 / 10
Read Reviews

If you are a serious ham radio enthusiast, the Yaesu VX-6R is a fantastic device that will meet all your needs. Indeed, it includes more features than most hobbyists will ever need.

Some of the most noteworthy features include a security passcode lock, a built-in morse code training tool, and a carry case as standard.
You can output on 2 meter, 1.25 meter, and 70cm (144/222/440MHz) frequencies and receive it across the full spectrum (excluding cell phone signal bands).

Remember, ham radios need a license to operate. You may be breaking the law if you use one without a license.

Key Features
  • Powerful tri-band ham radio
  • Max 5W output power
  • Works with police, weather, aircraft, and marine bands
Specifications
  • Brand: Yaesu
  • Channels: 0.5-998,900MHz (Rx) / 144-440MHz (Tx)
  • Water Resistant: JIS7
Pros
  • 10 NOAA weather channels
  • Can be submersed underwater
  • Auto-range transponder system to alert you when out of contact range
  • Can receive AM/FM broadcast radio
Cons
  • Need a license to operate
  • Expensive
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The Midland GXT1000VP4 two-way walkie talkies are ideal for anyone who has some experience with walkie talkies already; the complex set up process and menu features make them less suitable for beginners.

With eight hours of battery life and an AC charger and in-car charger, they are perfect for people who want to go for a long hike or spend multiple hours in the wilderness.

The Midland GXT1000VP4's whisper feature and 142 private codes (which provide 3,124 channel options) ensure the radio is also perfect for people who want to keep a low profile in the field.

The units have a JIS4 waterproof rating. That means they are splash resistant but cannot withstand being submerged underwater---so make sure you don't fall in any rivers!

Key Features
  • 142 privacy codes
  • SOS siren
  • 36-mile range
Specifications
  • Brand: Midland
  • Range: 36 miles
  • Channels: 50
  • Water Resistant: JIS4
Pros
  • Waterproof
  • Available in black or silver
  • NOAA weather scans and alerts
Cons
  • Cheap build quality
  • Premium cost
  • Not beginner-friendly

The BaoFeng UV-82 walkie talkies offer 8W of power and an impressive feature list for a surprisingly low price, making them perfect for someone who is just starting in the world of ham radio.

There is a notable step up in quality compared to the older BaoFeng products. They now come with a 1W speaker, a chassis that feels more robust, larger buttons, and a new chipset and PCB board.

Under the hood, you'll find channels steps of 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, and 25KHz, 16kΦF3E and 11kΦF3E modulation modes, and a rechargeable 1800mAh battery.

Key Features
  • FM: 65-108MHz
  • VHF: 136-174MHz (Rx/Tx)
  • UHF: 400-520MHz (Rx/Tx)
Specifications
  • Brand: BaoFeng
  • Range: Narrowband (12.5kHz) and wideband (25kHz)
  • Channels: 128
  • Water Resistant: No
Pros
  • Three power settings
  • Programmable from a Windows computer
  • Save 25 stations in the memory
Cons
  • Entry-level quality
  • Need programming skills
  • Low RX sensitivity

With a luminous green/yellow color, 23 hours of battery life (when running on AA batteries rather than the NiMH battery), an emergency alert button, and a built-in flashlight, the Motorola T605s are perfect for people who are planning to get well away from the beaten path.

You also get an IP67 waterproof rating (so you can dunk them underwater for up to 90 seconds), access to NOAA weather alerts, and 23 channels with 121 privacy codes.

The Motorola T605 walkie talkies are identical to the T600s; the only difference is that the T600 model does not ship with the carry case or car charger. We think those two additions are worth the extra cost, but if you're on a budget, you can opt for the cheaper T600s without worrying about a deterioration in quality.

Key Features
  • 23 channels each with 121 privacy codes
  • 2,662 total channel combinations
  • Communicate with any other FRS/GMRS radios
Specifications
  • Brand: Motorola
  • Range: 35 miles
  • Channels: 23
  • Water Resistant: IP67
Pros
  • Can be submersed in water
  • Built-in flashlight
  • 11 weather channels
Cons
  • Only two-mile range in urban areas
  • More expensive than the T600 due to accessories
  • Only available in luminous yellow color

The design of the Backcountry Access BCA Link 2.0 is unique among the walkie talkies and ham radios on our list; the microphone is separate from the central unit and is connected by a cable.

We think this makes the unit ideal for outdoorsy folk. You can leave the receiver itself in your backpack and instead only need to deal with the easy-to-hold and lightweight mic part of the device when you are in the field.

If you buy a Backcountry Access BCA Link 2.0, you will get access to 22 FRS/GMRS channels (each with 121 private codes), a range of 40 miles (in ideal conditions), as well as an IP56 rating. An IP56 rating means the unit can withstand water jets but cannot be fully submerged.

Key Features
  • 22 FRS/GMRS channels
  • 121 private codes
  • 2,300mAh lithium ion battery
Specifications
  • Brand: Backcountry Access
  • Range: 40 miles
  • Channels: 22
  • Water Resistant: IP56
Pros
  • Mammoth 80 hours of battery life
  • External microphone
  • 400 hours of standby
Cons
  • No way to use regular batteries as power backup
  • More expensive than other options

FAQ

Q: Do You Need a Walkie Talkie?

There is a lot of competition in the world of ham radio and walkie-talkies. People who want to buy a two-way radio have a lot of options available to them.

However, depending on your use case, you might not need to splash out on a fancy two-way radio. Did you know there are lots of smartphone apps that can turn your phone into a walkie-talkie? Alternatively, you could broadcast your own FM radio station using a Raspberry Pi.

Q: What Is Ham Radio Good For?

Ham radios let you stay ahead of the news with local emergencies and extreme weather and stay connected if cell phone signal goes down or is unavailable. You can also tune into police and airline communications.

Q: How Secure Are Communications on Walkie Talkies?

It depends on the model. Military-grade walkie talkies use multiple layers of encryption but cost thousands of dollars. Private codes will stop people in the area from tuning in to your consumer-grade device.

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The 7 Best Walkie Talkies and Ham Radios for Two-Way Radio Lovers

Two-way radios, such as walkie-talkies and ham radios, are useful to everyone from hikers to radio enthusiasts.

So, whether you're looking to enter the world of amateur radio or you're preparing your next trek through the mountains, keep reading to find out which two-way radios will meet your requirements.

Premium pick

1. Motorola MR350R

8.40 / 10
Read Reviews

The Motorola MR350R walkie talkies certainly aren't the newest model you can find on the market, but they have stood the test of time and are still popular among users.

With dual-band support, you can broadcast over GMRS and FRS bands, thus allowing you to tune into more channels. And with 22 channels, 121 privacy codes, and a range of 35 miles, you can be confident you'll always be able to stay in touch with the rest of your party.

A word of warning, though—although the Motorola MR350Rs have large buttons and drop protection, they are still considered consumer-grade quality. If you're planning to do any exceptionally rugged activities, look elsewhere.

Key Features
  • 22 channels each with 121 privacy codes
  • 11 weather channels
  • 23 hours of battery life
Specifications
  • Brand: Motorola
  • Range: 35 miles
  • Channels: 22
  • Water Resistant: IP51
Pros
  • Rugged with large buttons
  • Vibration alert and 20 different call tones
  • Supports hands-free communication
Cons
  • Does not ship with earbuds with PTT microphone
  • Only available in black
  • Users have complained range is greatly curtailed in urban areas
Editors choice

2. Kenwood TK-3402U16P ProTalk

8.80 / 10
Read Reviews

The Kenwood TK-3402U16P ProTalk is a 5W, professional-grade walkie talkie that works on UHF frequencies (450-470Mhz).

It has a long list of features that pros will appreciate, but that will mean little to an amateur enthusiast. These include busy channel lockouts, voice scrambling, a programmable LED alert, a timeout timer, wireless cloning capabilities, and adjustable mic gain.

You'll also find a lot more in the box that you'd typically find with a cheaper radio. There is a rapid drop-in charging unit, an accessory port cover, and a belt clip.

If you buy the correct optional accessories (sold separately), the Kenwood TK-3402U16P ProTalk also supports hands-free communication.

Key Features
  • 39 quiet talk codes
  • 18 hours of battery life
  • 36mm-diameter speaker
  • UHF Frequencies (450-470Mhz)
Specifications
  • Brand: Kenwood
  • Range: 7 miles
  • Channels: 16
  • Water Resistant: IP55
Pros
  • 90 preset frequencies
  • Works in extreme heat and extreme cold
  • 168 digital quiet talk privacy codes
Cons
  • Only 16 channels
  • Expensive
Best value

3. Yaesu VX-6R

9.20 / 10
Read Reviews

If you are a serious ham radio enthusiast, the Yaesu VX-6R is a fantastic device that will meet all your needs. Indeed, it includes more features than most hobbyists will ever need.

Some of the most noteworthy features include a security passcode lock, a built-in morse code training tool, and a carry case as standard.
You can output on 2 meter, 1.25 meter, and 70cm (144/222/440MHz) frequencies and receive it across the full spectrum (excluding cell phone signal bands).

Remember, ham radios need a license to operate. You may be breaking the law if you use one without a license.

Key Features
  • Powerful tri-band ham radio
  • Max 5W output power
  • Works with police, weather, aircraft, and marine bands
Specifications
  • Brand: Yaesu
  • Channels: 0.5-998,900MHz (Rx) / 144-440MHz (Tx)
  • Water Resistant: JIS7
Pros
  • 10 NOAA weather channels
  • Can be submersed underwater
  • Auto-range transponder system to alert you when out of contact range
  • Can receive AM/FM broadcast radio
Cons
  • Need a license to operate
  • Expensive
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The Midland GXT1000VP4 two-way walkie talkies are ideal for anyone who has some experience with walkie talkies already; the complex set up process and menu features make them less suitable for beginners.

With eight hours of battery life and an AC charger and in-car charger, they are perfect for people who want to go for a long hike or spend multiple hours in the wilderness.

The Midland GXT1000VP4's whisper feature and 142 private codes (which provide 3,124 channel options) ensure the radio is also perfect for people who want to keep a low profile in the field.

The units have a JIS4 waterproof rating. That means they are splash resistant but cannot withstand being submerged underwater---so make sure you don't fall in any rivers!

Key Features
  • 142 privacy codes
  • SOS siren
  • 36-mile range
Specifications
  • Brand: Midland
  • Range: 36 miles
  • Channels: 50
  • Water Resistant: JIS4
Pros
  • Waterproof
  • Available in black or silver
  • NOAA weather scans and alerts
Cons
  • Cheap build quality
  • Premium cost
  • Not beginner-friendly

The BaoFeng UV-82 walkie talkies offer 8W of power and an impressive feature list for a surprisingly low price, making them perfect for someone who is just starting in the world of ham radio.

There is a notable step up in quality compared to the older BaoFeng products. They now come with a 1W speaker, a chassis that feels more robust, larger buttons, and a new chipset and PCB board.

Under the hood, you'll find channels steps of 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, and 25KHz, 16kΦF3E and 11kΦF3E modulation modes, and a rechargeable 1800mAh battery.

Key Features
  • FM: 65-108MHz
  • VHF: 136-174MHz (Rx/Tx)
  • UHF: 400-520MHz (Rx/Tx)
Specifications
  • Brand: BaoFeng
  • Range: Narrowband (12.5kHz) and wideband (25kHz)
  • Channels: 128
  • Water Resistant: No
Pros
  • Three power settings
  • Programmable from a Windows computer
  • Save 25 stations in the memory
Cons
  • Entry-level quality
  • Need programming skills
  • Low RX sensitivity

With a luminous green/yellow color, 23 hours of battery life (when running on AA batteries rather than the NiMH battery), an emergency alert button, and a built-in flashlight, the Motorola T605s are perfect for people who are planning to get well away from the beaten path.

You also get an IP67 waterproof rating (so you can dunk them underwater for up to 90 seconds), access to NOAA weather alerts, and 23 channels with 121 privacy codes.

The Motorola T605 walkie talkies are identical to the T600s; the only difference is that the T600 model does not ship with the carry case or car charger. We think those two additions are worth the extra cost, but if you're on a budget, you can opt for the cheaper T600s without worrying about a deterioration in quality.

Key Features
  • 23 channels each with 121 privacy codes
  • 2,662 total channel combinations
  • Communicate with any other FRS/GMRS radios
Specifications
  • Brand: Motorola
  • Range: 35 miles
  • Channels: 23
  • Water Resistant: IP67
Pros
  • Can be submersed in water
  • Built-in flashlight
  • 11 weather channels
Cons
  • Only two-mile range in urban areas
  • More expensive than the T600 due to accessories
  • Only available in luminous yellow color

The design of the Backcountry Access BCA Link 2.0 is unique among the walkie talkies and ham radios on our list; the microphone is separate from the central unit and is connected by a cable.

We think this makes the unit ideal for outdoorsy folk. You can leave the receiver itself in your backpack and instead only need to deal with the easy-to-hold and lightweight mic part of the device when you are in the field.

If you buy a Backcountry Access BCA Link 2.0, you will get access to 22 FRS/GMRS channels (each with 121 private codes), a range of 40 miles (in ideal conditions), as well as an IP56 rating. An IP56 rating means the unit can withstand water jets but cannot be fully submerged.

Key Features
  • 22 FRS/GMRS channels
  • 121 private codes
  • 2,300mAh lithium ion battery
Specifications
  • Brand: Backcountry Access
  • Range: 40 miles
  • Channels: 22
  • Water Resistant: IP56
Pros
  • Mammoth 80 hours of battery life
  • External microphone
  • 400 hours of standby
Cons
  • No way to use regular batteries as power backup
  • More expensive than other options

FAQ

Q: Do You Need a Walkie Talkie?

There is a lot of competition in the world of ham radio and walkie-talkies. People who want to buy a two-way radio have a lot of options available to them.

However, depending on your use case, you might not need to splash out on a fancy two-way radio. Did you know there are lots of smartphone apps that can turn your phone into a walkie-talkie? Alternatively, you could broadcast your own FM radio station using a Raspberry Pi.

Q: What Is Ham Radio Good For?

Ham radios let you stay ahead of the news with local emergencies and extreme weather and stay connected if cell phone signal goes down or is unavailable. You can also tune into police and airline communications.

Q: How Secure Are Communications on Walkie Talkies?

It depends on the model. Military-grade walkie talkies use multiple layers of encryption but cost thousands of dollars. Private codes will stop people in the area from tuning in to your consumer-grade device.

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What Are Windows 10 Generic Product Keys? Here’s How to Use Them

Microsoft regularly releases free product keys for the various editions of Windows. Also known as generic product keys or default keys, it is not immediately apparent what they are for or why you should use them.

Will they give you a free copy of Windows? Are the available to use on any machine? And why does Microsoft make them available for free? Let's take a closer look.

What Are Windows 10 Generic Product Keys?

Generic product keys allow users to install any version of Windows on their machines. Each version of Windows has its own key.

Here is a list of all Windows 10 generic product keys that are available in 2020:

  • Windows 10 Home: YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7
  • Windows 10 Home N: 4CPRK-NM3K3-X6XXQ-RXX86-WXCHW
  • Windows 10 Home Single Language: BT79Q-G7N6G-PGBYW-4YWX6-6F4BT
  • Windows 10 Pro: VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T
  • Windows 10 Pro N: 2B87N-8KFHP-DKV6R-Y2C8J-PKCKT
  • Windows 10 Pro for Workstations: DXG7C-N36C4-C4HTG-X4T3X-2YV77
  • Windows 10 Pro N for Workstations: WYPNQ-8C467-V2W6J-TX4WX-WT2RQ
  • Windows 10 Pro Education: 8PTT6-RNW4C-6V7J2-C2D3X-MHBPB
  • Windows 10 Pro Education N: GJTYN-HDMQY-FRR76-HVGC7-QPF8P
  • Windows 10 Education: YNMGQ-8RYV3-4PGQ3-C8XTP-7CFBY
  • Windows 10 Education N: 84NGF-MHBT6-FXBX8-QWJK7-DRR8H
  • Windows 10 Enterprise: XGVPP-NMH47-7TTHJ-W3FW7-8HV2C
  • Windows 10 Enterprise G N: FW7NV-4T673-HF4VX-9X4MM-B4H4T
  • Windows 10 Enterprise N: WGGHN-J84D6-QYCPR-T7PJ7-X766F
  • Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB 2016: RW7WN-FMT44-KRGBK-G44WK-QV7YK
  • Windows 10 Enterprise S: NK96Y-D9CD8-W44CQ-R8YTK-DYJWX
  • Windows 10 S: 3NF4D-GF9GY-63VKH-QRC3V-7QW8P

Yes, there is nothing wrong with using a generic product key to install Windows on your computer. However, doing so comes with some significant restrictions.

Most notably, a generic key gives no usage rights. Instead, they are only designed to help you install Windows. Within 30 to 90 days (depending on the key), the generic key will expire, and you will need to add a full retail key.

In theory, Microsoft will never let you activate Windows using a generic key. If you try and activate Windows using a generic product key, you will see the following message on-screen:

We can't activate Windows on this device because you don't have a valid digital licence or product key. If you think you do have a valid licence or key, see Troubleshoot below. (0x803f7001)

Even if you somehow manage to bypass Microsoft's controls (and yes, there are ways of doing that), you will be in breach of the End-User License Agreement (EULA) and could be liable for prosecution.

Why Use Generic Product Keys on Windows 10?

It is perhaps best to think of generic product keys in the same way as you would think of a free trial for a piece of software. Yes, you get access to all the features and can put the app through its paces, but you know you'll need to spend some money at some point to retain access.

They are ideal for people who are building systems or who want to run Windows in a virtual environment.

How to Upgrade a Generic Product Key

If you used a generic product key to install Windows, you can easily replace it with a full retail version and thus obtain a legal copy of Windows without needing to delete and reinstall your operating system.

Note: Before following these steps, you first need to purchase a retail version of a Windows product key. You can buy them directly from the Microsoft online store. Some third-party sellers may also have legitimate keys available, but we cannot guarantee they will work.

When you are ready, open the Settings app and go to Update and security > Activation > Upgrade your edition of Windows > Change product key.

A new box will pop up on the screen, and you will be prompted to enter the retail key that you just bought.

If your key is legal, the activation process will begin. The process could take anything from a few seconds to several hours, depending on how busy Microsoft's servers are.

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The 7 Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers to Party Anywhere

If you want to party anywhere, it's clear you need a wireless outdoor speaker. Ideally, you need one that's drop-proof, rain-proof, and party-proof.

To help you kick your party to the next level, here are several of the best wireless outdoor speakers available to buy right now.

Premium pick

1. UE Hyperboom

9.20 / 10
Read Reviews

The UE Hyperboom is the premium product in Ultimate Ears' range of outdoor portable speakers. That means it has the highest price tag but also boasts the best sound and audio quality. To give you a sense of the difference, the UE Hyperboom goes three times louder and offers six times more base than the company's hugely popular Megaboom 3 portable speaker.

Another cool feature is the charge out ability. It means you can use the speaker to give your phone a power boost---it's ideal for if you're partying a long way from a power source.

But it's not all perfect. The UE Hyperboom only has an IPX4 waterproof rating, meaning that although the speaker is splash-proof, it cannot handle more substantial amounts of liquid. As such, the Hyperboom might not be ideal for poolside shenanigans.

Key Features
  • Extreme bass levels
  • 150-foot Bluetooth range
  • Includes precision woofers, passive radiators, and soft-dome tweeters
Specifications
  • Brand: Ultimate Ears
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Battery: 24 hours
  • Water Resistance: IPX4
Pros
  • Protected from splashes
  • Massive battery life
  • Adaptive equalizer feature
Cons
  • No Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant
  • No charging dock
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity
Editors choice

2. Sonos Move

9.40 / 10
Read Reviews

The Sonos Move is the company's first foray into the outdoor portable speaker market. When you're at home, you can connect the device to your local Wi-Fi network to stream your music. If you venture further afield, you can switch to Bluetooth.

The speaker comes with 11 hours of battery life (with a lithium-ion battery that will last for 900 recharge cycles before deteriorating). Recharging can be done via the included recharging base or a standard USB-C cable.

Importantly for an outdoor speaker, the Sonos Move boasts an IP56 rating to protect the speaker against rain and sand, as well as a hard-wearing, shock-resistant case to protect the components against drops, bumps, and the wear-and-tear of travel.

Key Features
  • Downward-firing tweeter
  • Integrated mid-woofer
  • Resistant to heavy splashing, rain, and fine dust
Specifications
  • Brand: Sonos
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-FI
  • Integrations: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Battery: 11 hours
  • Water Resistance: IP56
Pros
  • Easy-to-use recharging base
  • Voice control
  • Supports Apple AirPlay 2
Cons
  • Not wall-mountable
  • Cannot be used as surround sound speakers
  • Does not pair with the Sonos subwoofer
Buy This Product
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The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ is one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers you can buy right now.

With Bose-quality audio, the 360-degree sound is as good as you would expect. If you're an audiophile who is debating between this model and the Bose SoundLink Color II, go for the Revolve+ every time.

In addition to the significant step up in sound quality, you also get a much longer battery life. The Revolve+ offers 16 hours compared to the Color II's eight hours.

The speaker is beautifully designed and looks great on a tripod or tabletop when you're entertaining outdoors. It is less suitable for being thrown in a bag and carried around.

Key Features
  • 16-hour battery life
  • 360-degree sound
  • Can attach to tripod
Specifications
  • Brand: Bose
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Integrations: Siri, Google Assistant
  • Battery: 16 hours
  • Water Resistance: IPX4
Pros
  • Supports Siri
  • Can pair with other speakers for stereo sound
  • Beautiful design
  • Optional charging cradle
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not designed for rugged use

Given the small size of the Bose SoundLink Color II (just 2.2 x 5 x 5.2 inches), the amount of sound it can deliver is impressive. Of course, that sound comes with the Bose seal of approval; the company has a reputation for incredible audio across all its products.

Away from the audio, some other features should put the SoundLink Color II near the top of your shopping list. They include support for Apple's Siri assistant (unusual in the world of portable speakers), NFC connectivity, and a built-in microphone so you can use the speaker to take calls hands-free.

The extra features do have a tradeoff in battery life. The speaker can only last for eight hours, so it isn't suitable for long trips.

Key Features
  • Built-in mic
  • 8-hour battery life
  • Weighs 1.2 pounds
Specifications
  • Brand: Bose
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC
  • Integrations: Siri, Google Assistant
  • Battery: 8 hours
  • Water Resistance: IPX4
Pros
  • Supports voice prompts
  • Can be paired together for stereo sound
  • Supports Siri
Cons
  • Battery life could be better
  • Cannot withstand water submersion
  • No Amazon Alexa

The UE Megaboom 3 is one of our favorite wireless outdoor speakers on the market. As you'd expect for a UE speaker, the audio output is crisp and loud (up to 90 decibels). But it is the speaker's other features that help it to stand out.

For example, not only does it have an IP67 rating (meaning the speaker is fully waterproof), but it also floats; if you knock it in the pool or off the side of a boat while on holiday, it will be easy to retrieve. Battery recharging is done via USB-C or a charging base (sold separately).

You can also pair up to eight Bluetooth devices in the speaker's memory and connect two sources simultaneously. If you've ever been to a party, you'll know that the battle for control of the music is a major talking point, so the dual connection will help relieve some of the tension.

Key Features
  • Maximum sound level of 90dBA
  • 360-degree sound
  • Connect with up to 150 other UE Boom speakers for large-scale surround sound
Specifications
  • Brand: Ultimate Ears
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Battery: 20 hours
  • Water Resistance: IP67
Pros
  • Available in four colors
  • Includes strap for hanging on wall hooks
  • 150-foot Bluetooth range
  • Fully waterproof
Cons
  • No support for voice assistants
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity

If you've never bought anything from the AmazonBasics range of products, it's worth checking out. The products are all well-made and extremely affordable. The AmazonBasics Bluetooth Stereo Speaker is no different.

It has a 15-watt speaker (which is loud, but not loud enough to be heard over dozens of people in large parties), water resistance (although Amazon does not make clear what IP rating the device has), and a lithium-ion battery that will last for seven hours.

Amazon does offer some even cheaper portable speakers in its Basics range, but they do not have water protection, so their use cases are more limited. The speaker is available in black, blue, and red.

Key Features
  • 15 watt speaker
  • Water resistant (IP rating not provided)
  • AUX input available
Specifications
  • Brand: Amazon
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Battery: 7 hours
  • Water Resistance: Yes
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Incredibly affordable
  • Mirco-USB charging
  • Available in three colors
Cons
  • Not very robust
  • Buttons do not light up
  • Volume settings not remembered when powered off

The JBL Charge 4 is trying to compete with the UE speakers, mostly doing an impressive job. It delivers a balanced and powerful sound experience. The two passive radiators at each end of the device add a new quality to the bass, something missing on previous editions.

Thanks to the speaker's power-out capabilities, you can draw some juice from the 20-hour battery to top up your phone or other devices. That, along with the sturdiness of the Charge 4, makes it an ideal companion for camping trips and hikes.

The 12 colors let users add some personality, but the speaker is not as pleasing to the eye as some other similarly-priced models.

Key Features
  • 30-watt speakers
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Dual-passive radiators
Specifications
  • Brand: JBL
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Battery: 20 hours
  • Water Resistance: IPX7
Pros
  • Available in 12 colors
  • Improved bass compared to earlier models
  • Can be submersed in water
  • 20-hour battery life
Cons
  • No Wi-Fi connection
  • Plain design
  • Struggles at high volume

FAQ

Q: How to Choose a Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Decide what is important to you before you make a decision. Some key questions to consider include:

  • Where will you use it?
  • How loud do you need it to be?
  • Do you use any voice assistants?
  • Would a wired option be better?

Q: Are Wired Outdoor Speakers Available?

Absolutely. If you want a speaker you can move around, the models we've looked at are all great options. However, if you need a permanent solution for your home, weather-proof wired outdoor speakers are also available.

Q: Are Bluetooth Speakers Easy to Set Up?

Yes, you can pair them to your phone like you would with any other wireless device. Music playback is done through the official apps from Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, or Apple Music.

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10 Popular Android Apps You Should NOT Install | MakeUseOf

Some Android apps disguise themselves as your friend. They say they'll help or entertain you, when in fact they just want to harm you.

Google's Play Store has frequently received criticism for its less-than-robust approach to filtering unsafe content. If you're not careful, you could find yourself being tracked, hacked, or conned.

With that in mind, here are the biggest offenders on the bad apps list. They already have millions of installs---make sure you aren't one of them.

What it is: QuickPic used to be a friendly and easy-to-use photo gallery. It was never flashy, but clear communications and frequent updates saw it steadily grow a well-sized user base.

Why it's bad: It was bought by the infamous Chinese firm, Cheetah Mobile, in 2015. It immediately became a harmful app for Android; the company started uploading users' data to their own servers, as evidenced by one Google Plus user who found a raft of new DNS requests that were attributable to the app.

The app was removed from the Play Store altogether in late-2018 but returned in 2019. At the time of the return, Cheetah told Android Police that QuickPic was not removed due to advertising click fraud; instead, the company just didn't want to maintain it anymore.

Today, there are hundreds of QuickPic incarnations. It's hard to tell which is the original version. One easy-to-follow rule will keep you safe, though: don't install any of them!

What you should use instead: There are lots of gallery apps for Android. One of the best QuickPic alternatives is Simple Gallery. It has a photo editor, a file manager, and multiple themes.

2. ES File Explorer

What it is: ES File Explorer was probably the most popular file explorer app out there. That's because it used to be really, really good---five years ago.

Why it's bad: The free version was pumped full of bloatware and ad-ware, and it endlessly nagged you to download additional apps via notification bar pop-ups you can't disable. However, the situation got a whole lot worse in April 2019 when the once-popular app was thrown off the Play Store for committing click fraud on its ads.

For those who don't know, click fraud refers to the practice of automatically clicking background ads on users' devices without them being aware.

Today, you can download the ES File Explorer APK or download dozens of impersonators that are still on the Play Store. You should avoid all iterations of the app.

What you should use instead: There are loads of Android file explorers to choose from. If you're concerned with ease-of-use, try Files by Google; or if customization is your thing, you can look to Total Commander.

3. UC Browser

What it is: The most popular Android web browser in China and India. It claims to have a fast mode that'll save you data thanks to compression.

Why it's bad: Tracking. Users' search queries are sent without encryption to Yahoo India and Google. A user's IMSI number, IMEI number, Android ID, and Wi-Fi MAC address are sent without encryption to Umeng (an Alibaba analytics tool). And users' geolocation data (including longitude/latitude and street name) is transmitted without encryption to AMAP (an Alibaba mapping tool).

What you should use instead: Where to start? Chrome and Firefox are the obvious choices if you want a fast Android browser, but some people have worries about privacy there too. The DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser is a solid all-round option.

4. CLEANit

What it is: A "junk file cleaner" that's been installed 10 million times and has 85 percent four- or five-star reviews.

Why it's bad: Most of what it advertises is detrimental to your phone. For example, clearing the cache will ultimately slow your phone down when it needs to be rebuilt, clearing your RAM only leads to more battery usage, and killing running apps does not save your battery as claimed.

What you should use instead: Greenify is a much better option for reducing battery drain caused by apps, and SD Maid is a more useful junk filter for ad files and logs, etc.

5. Hago

What it is: Hago is an all-in-one app for hanging out with friends, playing games, and chatting in real-time.

Why it's bad: Is Hago safe in the traditional sense? Yes, we think so, as there's no evidence of severe malpractice. However, the app lets you earn real money for playing games and participating in groups. That immediately sets alarm bells ringing.

Add that to the fact you can earn more money if you sideload the app rather than installing via Google Play, and we think a problem could be brewing.

What you should use instead: Android has no shortage of free games where you can play against strangers on the internet, while apps like WhatsApp will suffice for talking to friends, and Kik for talking to random people.

6. DU Battery Saver & Fast Charge

What it is: DU Battery Saver & Fast Charge was a "battery-saving" app with an insane number of downloads---it had a barely-believable 7.6 million five-star reviews.

Why it's bad: Fast Charge? An app does not have the ability to change how fast your device charges. This is also the king of adverts---it sponsors almost every ad that you see in any other app and manifests its own ads on your lock screen and notifications bar. Also, all those fancy speed graphs and cool animations? Totally fake.

The app was thrown out of the Google Play Store in April 2019 as part of the click fraud scandal. But you can still find the APK on APK download sites, and millions of people still run the app on their older devices.

What you should use instead: If you're genuinely interested in your phone's battery stats, you should use GSM Battery Monitor. For proper battery saving, try the aforementioned Greenify.

7. Dolphin Web Browser

What it is: An ad-free, Flash-supporting, HTML 5 video-enabled browser. It's got 50 million downloads and counting.

Why it's bad: Like UC Browser, this is a tracking nightmare. Worst of all, it saves your incognito mode website visits into a file on your phone---go and check. Users have even discovered that when using a VPN, the browser reveals your ISP-assigned address. Don't believe the hype; delete it now.

What you should use instead: As mentioned earlier, Chrome, Firefox, and DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser are your three best options.

8. Fildo

What it is: An illegal music downloading app disguised as a music player.

Why it's bad: For a long time, Fildo had ties to the Chinese online entertainment company, Netease. It used a backdoor API trick to let you download any song that you wanted from Netease's servers.

Is Fildo safe today? Maybe. Netease has closed the loophole, so a lot of long-time users have abandoned ship. Fildo now brands itself as a music management app. But the app has a nefarious background, and shouldn't be trusted on the grounds of possible data collection and other privacy-busting practices.

What you should use instead: If you want to listen to music, the obvious answer is a service like Spotify. For music management, check out Cloud Player.

9. Clean Master

What it is: Another popular "speed booster, battery saver, and phone optimizer". It had 600 million users and 26 million five-star reviews before being removed in 2019. Again, the APK is still available and widely used.

Why it's bad: Firstly, it's made by Cheetah Mobile. We referred to them earlier---the company is renowned for packing ads, bloatware, and nag screens into their apps.

Secondly, it doesn't do anything useful; RAM-saving apps might have been valuable once upon a time, but you no longer need them. Android has its own native handler for assigning RAM and ensuring it's all being used in the most optimal way---in many cases, it even deliberately keeps RAM loaded to help performance.

What you should use instead: Honestly, nothing. If you really insist, SD Maid is your friend.

10. Almost Every Anti-Virus App

What it is: There are loads to choose from; most of the well-known desktop antivirus suites now have a smartphone offering.

Why it's bad: They aren't bad per se, but they are largely unnecessary---that's why the biggest names in the industry now market their apps' anti-virus capabilities as part of a larger security package.

There are a couple of caveats, however; if you install software from third-party sources (i.e., not the Google Play Store), or if you have a rooted device, the apps are worth considering. Both these situations can open you up to malware that Google has no control over.

What you should use instead: In this case, it's not so much what you should install instead, but rather that you need to make sure you're installing a full-fledged security package from a recognized provider.

The apps from companies like Avast and Avira tend to offer additional features such as password-locked apps, remote device wiping, and call blockers.

Avoid the Most Dangerous Apps on the Play Store

In truth, very few apps on the Play Store are completely "safe." Almost all companies are guilty of at least some data collection.

But there are some really harmful apps on the Play Store. The ones we've discussed only scratch the surface.

Digging even deeper, a sideloaded APKs pose an even greater risk. If you were once a loyal customer of companies whose apps have been booted out of the app store, don't not continue to sideload them. They are likely even more dangerous than they were previously.

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The Best Graphics Tablets for Digital Artists and Designers

Cartoonists and comic creators are moving away from traditional pen and paper. Today, artists can use graphic tablets, which allow them to achieve the same results on their computers.

If you're just starting out on your digital art journey, you'll need to buy a graphic tablet. It doesn't matter whether you're learning to draw manga comics or you dream of becoming the next Joseph Barbera, having the correct tools is half the battle.

But which tablets are right for you? We're going to introduce you to some of the best graphic tablets across several categories.

Premium pick

1. Wacom Cintiq Pro 32

6.40 / 10
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Wacom's most expensive drawing tablet is the Cintiq Pro 32. As you'd expect, given the price, it's packed with features.

The flagship device has an active area of 27.44 x 15.43 inches, a color gamut of Adobe RGB 98 percent (CIE 1931), multitouch gestures, 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and support for HMDI and USB-C.

The display is 4K, with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Radial menus, an on-screen keypad, and one-touch shortcuts also help the device to stand out. You even get a Wacom Pro Pen 2 for free in the box.

However, scratch a little deeper, and users have reported issues; the most common seems to be dead pixels. If you're a professional artist, that might be a dealbreaker.

Key Features
  • 31.5-inch touchscreen
  • 99% Adobe RGB and 97% sRGB color performance
  • 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity
Specifications
  • Brand: Wacom
  • Active Area: 27.44 X 15.43 in
  • Multi-Touch Support: Yes
  • Pressure Sensitivity Levels: 8,192
  • Connection: HDMI, USB-C, DIsplayPort
Pros
  • Includes a Wacom Pro Pen 2
  • 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels)
  • Has a built-in stand
Cons
  • No Bluetooth connection
  • Very expensive
  • Broken on-screen pixels appear to be a recurring issue
Editors choice

2. Apple iPad Pro

9.80 / 10
Read Reviews

One reoccurring theme among the best drawing tablets on the market is a lack of support for iOS. If you are heavily reliant upon the Apple ecosystem, therefore, your best bet might be to buy an iPad Pro.

Sure, it's not a true drawing tablet; it's not going to give you the same pressure sensitivity and LPI as a dedicated device. However, unless you're a professional, it will meet the requirements for most digital artwork.

On the downside, you will need to buy the Apple Pencil stylus separately---and it's not cheap. Theoretically, any stylus will work, but the Apple Pencil includes iOS-specific features that you will not find elsewhere.

Key Features
  • Active area of 10.32 x 7.74 inches
  • All-screen liquid Retina display
  • Built-in camera
Specifications
  • Brand: Apple
  • Multi-Touch Support: Yes
  • Connection: USB-C
Pros
  • Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB versions
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • Apple Pencil needs to be purchased separately
  • Expensive
  • Not a dedicated drawing tablet