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Video Cable Types Explained: Differences Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports

As technology has progressed, so, too, have the cables we need for our devices. Even though many manufacturers are moving to wireless solutions, you’ll likely always need some form of cable.

This is especially true for video devices. Televisions, monitors, and peripherals need a wide variety of cables and connections to work correctly. So, what are the differences between them all, and which ones do you need?

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular video cable types and when you may want to use each one.

VGA Cables

VGA display cable

VGA stands for Video Graphics Array. The connection was developed by IBM in 1987, making it one of the oldest video connections still in use today. It was widely used for video cards, TV sets, computer monitors, and laptops.

VGA can support resolutions up to 640×480 in 16 colors, although you can increase the colors to 256 by lowering the resolution to 320×200. This is known as Mode 13h and is commonly used when booting your computer into Safe Mode. Mode 13h was often used for video games in the late 1980s.

VGA is capable of transmitting RBGHV video signals, which includes, Red, Blue, Green, Horizontal Sync, and Vertical Sync. The iconic blue adaptor comes with a screw on either side to secure the connection. The socket consists of 15 pins, arranged in three rows of five.

It has since been surpassed by digital connections like HDMI and DVI but is still popular thanks to the resurgence of retro gaming and its inclusion on cheaper monitors and displays.

RCA Cables

RCA cable
Image Credit: William Krapp/Flickr

The RCA lead is one of the most visually identifiable video cables. The red, white, and yellow plugs are synonymous with audio/visual equipment produced in the 1990s and early 2000s. It was also the primary connection for many games consoles, including the Nintendo Wii. Most televisions no longer support RCA inputs, but there are still plenty of ways to connect your Nintendo Wii to your TV.

The name doesn’t refer to the technology itself, but to the company that popularized it, the Radio Corporation of America. The red and white connectors provide audio, while the yellow offers a single channel composite video.

When used together, the three cables transmit stereo audio with video up to 480i or 576i resolution. Just as with VGA, the once-popular RCA cable has been superseded by the digital DVI and HDMI connections.

DVI Cables

DVI video cable

The Digital Visual Interface, or DVI, was launched in 1999 by the Digital Display Working Group as the successor to the VGA cable. DVI connections can transmit uncompressed digital video in one of three different modes:

  • DVI-I (Integrated) combines digital and analog in the same connector.
  • DVI-D (Digital) supports digital signals only.
  • DVI-A (Analog) supports analog only.

DVI-I and DVI-D can come in single or dual-link varieties. Single-link can support 1920×1200 at 60Hz while adding a second digital transmitter for dual-link means the resolution can be increased to 2560×1600 at 60Hz.

To prevent forced obsolescence of VGA devices, DVI was developed to support analog connections using the DVI-A mode. This meant that DVI connections and devices could be backward-compatible with VGA connections.

HDMI Cables

HDMI cable
Image Credit: Lord_Ghost/DepositPhotos

The most popular digital video connection is the High Definition Media Input, also known as HDMI. This proprietary interface was created by a group of electronics firms, including Sony, Sanyo, and Toshiba. HDMI connections transfer uncompressed video and audio to computer monitors, TVs, and DVD or Blu-ray players.

There have been many iterations of the HDMI standard to accommodate advances in technology. The most recent is HDMI 2.1, which was launched in 2017. Among other technical changes, this update improved support for 4K and 8K resolutions and increased the bandwidth of HDMI up to 48 Gbit/s.

Importantly, HDMI cables are backward compatible, so that you can use a cable with the latest features on older devices. The reverse is also true, meaning you can use an older cable on devices made to the HDMI 2.1 standard. This is useful, as the HDMI Forum previously ruled that no HDMI cables or devices can display which standard they were manufactured to, making it impossible to determine your setup’s configuration.

HDMI uses the same video format standards as DVI, so the two are compatible through the use of an adaptor. As no signal conversion is necessary, there is no loss of quality either. Although, unlike HDMI, DVI does not support audio.

There are three commonly used HDMI connectors. Type A is the full-sized HDMI connection for use on TVs and home theater equipment. Mini-HDMI (Type C) is frequently used on laptops and tablets, while Micro-HDMI (Type D) is mostly used on mobile devices.

DisplayPort Connections

DisplayPort cable
Image Credit: Davis Mosans/Flickr

DisplayPort is a digital display interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). DisplayPort can carry digital video and audio, making it functionally similar to HDMI. As of DisplayPort 2.0, these connections support resolutions up to 8K, High Dynamic Range (HDR) at higher resolutions, and better support for multi-display configurations.

However, HDMI and DisplayPort were designed for different markets. While HDMI is primarily for home entertainment, DisplayPort was designed for connecting computing devices to monitors.

Due to their similar functionality, it is possible to connect DisplayPort and HDMI devices together using a Dual-Mode DisplayPort adapter. DisplayPort operates using packet data transmission, most commonly used in Ethernet and USB connections. Thus, making it ideal for use in computing rather than home entertainment.

Thunderbolt Connections

Thunderbolt 3 cable
Image Credit: Tony Webster/Flickr

Thunderbolt is an interface commonly found on Apple computers, iMacs, and MacBooks. Intel developed the standard with support from Apple as a means to connect peripherals to your computer.

The connection made its debut with the launch of the 2011 edition of the MacBook Pro and is still commonplace on the company’s hardware. If you own an Apple computer, it might be worth checking out the best Thunderbolt accessories for your Mac. Like other video connections, Thunderbolt cables integrate other technologies into a single device.

The connection combines PCI Express and DisplayPort, while also providing DC power, enabling up to six device connections on a single cable. To complicate matters, there is an overlap between Thunderbolt and USB Type-C. Thunderbolt specifications have been integrated into USB standards across the years.

With the introduction of Thunderbolt 3, all Thunderbolt cables share the same connector as USB Type-C cables. This means you can use the cheaper USB-C cable with Thunderbolt ports and devices. However, performance will be limited as USB-C cables don’t support the same rates of data transfer or power.

The Right Video Cable for Your Needs

When a new technology hits the market, manufacturers compete to make their version the global standard. This is why there are so many video cable connection types that are still in use today.

However, standardization is possible. In the mid-2000s, each cell phone would come with a proprietary charger. These days, it’s almost guaranteed your smartphone will charge via a micro-USB or USB-C connector.

The same is true of video standards, where HDMI has become the most common connection. If you need a new cable, then consider one of the best HDMI cables for Smart TVs and displays.

Read the full article: Video Cable Types Explained: Differences Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports

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8 Must-Have iPad Pro Accessories for Optimal Productivity

The iPad Pro is Apple’s most powerful tablet. The device is positioned as a viable laptop alternative, thanks to its large screen, multitasking support, and the inclusion of the tablet-specific iPadOS operating system.

However, to make the most of your iPad Pro, you’ll need some accessories to go alongside it. While Apple has an official range available through their stores, we’re going to look mostly at third-party options here.

These are the best iPad Pro accessories available today.

1. Otterbox Defender iPad Pro Case

Otterbox Defender iPad Pro Case Otterbox Defender iPad Pro Case Buy Now On Amazon $63.12

It’s well-known that Apple’s devices can be fragile. All it takes is a small fall or a brief collision with the screen, and your premium device could be out of action. To protect your investment, consider the Otterbox Defender iPad Pro Case.

Otterbox cases are regarded as the best rugged protection you can give your mobile device. The Defender case doesn’t only cover the rear of the iPad Pro. Instead, you insert your tablet inside the case and lock it inside. This protects the screen, keeps your tablet clean, and assists with unexpected shocks.

2. Arteck iPad Pro Keyboard

Arteck iPad Pro Keyboard Arteck iPad Pro Keyboard Buy Now On Amazon $38.99

Although Apple produces its own keyboard for the iPad Pro, the Smart Keyboard Folio, it is expensive. If you aren’t going to be using it that regularly, you can find a more affordable iPad Pro keyboard elsewhere. The Arteck iPad Pro Keyboard is a great alternative and is equipped with many of the same features.

The keyboard doubles as a stand for your tablet and when not in use becomes a protective case for the iPad Pro. The keyboard follows the standard Mac layout and connects via Bluetooth. The built-in battery is good for around 100 hours of use before it needs a two-hour recharge.

3. Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil Apple Pencil Buy Now On Amazon $114.98

While the iPad Pro is designed around its touchscreen, it’s not the most precise input. That’s especially true if you are using it for graphics editing or handwritten notes. The Apple Pencil is the tablet’s official stylus and one of the best iPad Pro accessories.

If you need to replicate the experience of putting pen to paper, then the Apple Pencil will be your most valuable peripheral. The device wirelessly connects to your iPad Pro and supports wireless charging, too. There’s a palm rejection feature included so you can use the Apple Pencil naturally as well.

4. Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro Apple AirPods Pro Buy Now On Amazon $229.95

In Marvel’s Iron Man films, Tony Stark controls all of his technology by voice through his smart assistant, Jarvis. As science fiction becomes reality, you can control your devices with a voice assistant, too. In Apple’s case, that’ll be Siri.

If this kind of hands-free interaction is important to you, then consider investing in a set of Apple AirPods Pro earbuds. The Bluetooth headphones are tightly integrated with Apple’s software, thanks to the company’s H1 chip. The AirPods Pro also come equipped with active noise cancellation.

5. JETech iPad Pro Screen Protector

JETech iPad Pro Screen Protector JETech iPad Pro Screen Protector Buy Now On Amazon $17.99

As you interact with the iPad Pro through the display alone, it makes sense to keep it protected and clean. The JETech iPad Pro Screen Protector is one of the best iPad Pro accessories you can buy. You’d think all screen protectors are alike, but that isn’t the case.

Some protectors interfere with your tablet’s features like Face ID, touch performance, or the camera. This option plays nicely with all of those important functions and is even compatible with the Apple Pencil. Thankfully, the JETech iPad Pro Screen Protector is also fingerprint-resistant.

6. Anker PowerPort PD 2

Anker PowerPort PD 2 Anker PowerPort PD 2 Buy Now On Amazon $21.94

Due to the iPad Pro’s large battery, topping up your tablet can be a slow affair without the right charger. The Anker PowerPort PD 2 is one of the best iPad Pro chargers available today. This is thanks to its 18W USB-C output with which it can recharge your portable Apple devices at the fastest speeds possible.

There’s also a USB-A charging port for all non-USB-C devices, equipped with Anker’s PowerIQ charging technology. As the plug can be folded, the PowerPort PD 2 is the ideal travel charger for the iPad Pro, too.

7. Uni USB-C SD Card Reader

Uni USB-C SD Card Reader Uni USB-C SD Card Reader Buy Now On Amazon $12.99

If you use the iPad Pro for creative pursuits like photography, you’ll need a way of transferring files to the tablet. The Uni USB-C SD Card Reader is compatible with SD, SDHC, SDXC, MicroSD, MicroSDHC, and Micro SDXC cards.

Just pop in the SD card, connect the USB-C cable to your iPad Pro and it will launch the Import function in the Photos app. You can tap to select the images or videos you want to import. Once the transfer is done, you can delete them from the SD card as well.

8. Satechi Aluminum USB-C Hub

Satechi Aluminum USB-C Hub Satechi Aluminum USB-C Hub Buy Now On Amazon $59.99

Most USB-C hubs and adaptors in the market will work with the new iPad Pro. But because of their short cables, they’re unwieldy to use with the device propped up. Satechi has an Aluminum USB-C Hub specially designed for the iPad Pro.

Just plug the hub into the tablet, and you’ll have access to an HDMI port, USB-A port, SD card reader, and a USB-C port. It’s important to note that the USB-C port is for charging only. The HDMI port supports monitors with up to 4K resolution at 30Hz.

The Best iPad Pro Accessories

The iPad Pro was designed with productivity in mind. The larger screen and the optimized iPadOS software make the iPad Pro an ideal laptop alternative. These accessories enhance the experience further, helping you focus on what’s important to you.

However, the iPad Pro isn’t right for everyone. If you’re unsure which of Apple’s tablets would suit you best, use our iPad comparison to find the right iPad for your needs.

Read the full article: 8 Must-Have iPad Pro Accessories for Optimal Productivity

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Is the Apple Watch for Kids? The Best Kids Smart Watches

The Apple Watch is one of the most popular smartwatches on the market. Despite its high price tag, the wrist-worn device is a firm favorite thanks to its seamless integration with its other hardware.

It makes sense, after all, to buy an Apple Watch if you already own an iPhone or MacBook. This popularity has led to some parents investing in an Apple Watch for their children, too. However, there are many factors to consider.

So, let’s take a look at whether the Apple Watch is suitable for kids and a few alternative smartwatches.

What Is the Apple Watch?

Apple Watch Series 5 Apple Watch Series 5 Buy Now On Amazon $329.00

The Apple Watch is a wrist-worn smartwatch produced by the technology company, Apple. It is one of many smartwatches currently available but is among the most popular and easy to use. The Apple Watch is currently only compatible with iPhones.

You could choose to wear the device as a standard digital wrist-watch. However, many of the features wouldn’t function. The main reason to wear the Apple Watch is because of its integration with your iPhone. You can send messages, interact with notifications, and view turn-by-turn navigation.

It is also a viable alternative to a wrist-worn fitness tracker. Again, it is the integration with Apple’s software that makes it so compelling. Health data captured by the Apple Watch is synced to your iPhone and can be viewed using the Health app.

The Benefits of an Apple Watch for Kids

Apple Watch Health Alerts

The primary benefit of the Apple Watch is the promotion of healthy living. The watch encourages you to achieve three health goals each day; standing for one minute per hour at least 12 times a day, exercising for 30 minutes, and burning a personalized amount of calories.

The watchOS software makes these goals achievable for kids by turning them into a game. You can compete with others in exercise challenges, which adds a fun, competitive edge to the program.

The combined use of an iPhone and Apple Watch means that your child’s devices can be connected to Apple’s Find My Friends feature. If your child’s Apple account is listed as part of your Apple Family Sharing account, you’ll be able to locate them remotely. However, as with all tracking devices, you should discuss this with your child before enabling it.

Beginning with watchOS 5, Apple introduced a walkie-talkie feature on Apple Watch. This makes it easier to communicate with your child, assuming they have their iPhone nearby. With the walkie-talkie feature, contacting your kids is as simple as pushing a button on your watch.

You can also buy a cellular model of the Apple Watch, where the device has its own mobile internet connection. Although the initial investment is higher for a cellular model, it means you can use some of the watch’s features without always having your iPhone nearby. This improves the usefulness of features like the Walkie-Talkie app.

Is the Apple Watch Suitable for Kids?

Apple Watch App Store

Despite these perks, you may still be uncertain whether to buy an Apple Watch for your kids. Notably, to get the benefits of the watch, your child will also need an iPhone. Depending on their age, you may not feel comfortable introducing them to a personal mobile device just yet.

The combined price of the iPhone and Apple Watch could be around $1000—a substantial amount of money. This is a high initial outlay, but it could also be an issue should the devices be damaged, lost, or stolen. Although you can locate and format them remotely, it’s all too easy for young ones to misplace or damage their expensive gadgets.

It’s also worth considering the policies of your child’s school. Many educational establishments limit the use of technology. Whether that’s to promote focus or to minimize the risk of internet-based test cheating, there may be specific rules that limit products like the Apple Watch.

Finally, the Apple Watch will need to be recharged from time to time. The device offers one of the best performing batteries, lasting around 18 hours with typical use. However, that does mean it’ll need recharging every day, which could quickly turn the watch from a novelty to an inconvenience.

Apple Watch Alternatives for Kids

Apple’s wearable device has become the market leader for a reason; long battery life, attractive design, and ease of use make it ideal for most users. That said, it isn’t your only option. There are other smartwatches suitable for kids that you may want to consider, too.

1. VTech Kidizoom DX2

VTech Kidizoom DX2 VTech Kidizoom DX2 Buy Now On Amazon $59.99

VTech is one of the most prominent children’s technology brands. The company makes devices for children of all ages, providing an affordable way to get your kids started with wearable gadgets. The VTech Kidizoom DX2 smartwatch is the best budget alternative to the Apple Watch, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t feature-packed.

Unlike the Apple Watch, which is a gadget suitable for children, this watch is designed specifically for them. The durable splash-proof design makes it ideal for young children’s adventures while still offering a touch screen interface. The watch includes 256MB of internal memory, two selfie cameras, and built-in exercise challenges and games.

While it lacks many of the communication and personal safety features of the Apple Watch, it is an ideal introduction to the world of smartwatches and wearable tech. Should something happen to the Kidizoom DX2, the low-price makes it less of a financial concern.

2. Vowor 4G Kids Smartwatch

Vowor 4G Kids Smartwatch Vowor 4G Kids Smartwatch Buy Now On Amazon $86.99

The Vowor 4G Kids Smartwatch costs more than the Kidizoom DX2, but there’s a reason for the increased price; this smartwatch is compatible with 4G networks. Place a SIM card into the Vowor watch, and it’ll connect to a 4G cell network.

One of the primary reasons parents invest in phones and smartwatches for their children is to stay in touch. This cell connection enables features like voice and video calling, GPS location tracking, and an SOS alert mode.

For additional safety, there is a geofencing feature. Once you’ve set the desired area, you’ll get a notification if your child steps outside the boundary. The strap is made of silicone, so it is comfortable to wear. The company will even replace broken straps or cables for free during the one-year warranty period.

3. Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2 Fitbit Versa 2 Buy Now On Amazon $199.95

Fitbit’s fitness tracking devices are responsible for motivating people worldwide to achieve their 10,000 steps per day. The Fitbit Versa 2 is one of the company’s best offerings, combining the top features of a fitness tracker with smartwatch technology.

The Versa 2 runs Fitbit OS and supports both Android and iOS devices. This makes it an ideal alternative to the Apple Watch if you aren’t already invested in Apple’s ecosystem. The smartwatch can track your steps, record fitness activities, set challenges, and motivate you towards your health goals.

Using the watch, you can view notifications on your wrist and monitor your heart rate. The Versa 2 also comes with six-day battery life, so you won’t have to charge it every day. There’s even integration with Alexa to top it off, giving you access to Amazon’s digital assistant wherever you are.

The Right Smartwatch for Your Kids

There’s a lot to consider before investing in a smartwatch for your child. The Apple Watch is undoubtedly a popular device, but its high price and reliance on other Apple hardware make it a challenging choice.

That said, as with all Apple products, the ease of use, family-friendly design, and integration with the company’s software make it straightforward for adults and young children alike.

Although we’ve listed some great Apple Watch alternatives for kids, there’s a vast range of wearable devices out there. If you’re after more options before investing, consider one of the best phone watches for kids.

Read the full article: Is the Apple Watch for Kids? The Best Kids Smart Watches

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Where to Buy Refurbished MacBooks: The 4 Best Sites

When choosing a laptop, reliability is essential—especially if you plan to use it as your primary device. Apple is one of the world’s most successful hardware manufacturers thanks to its commitment to hardware design and user experience.

As a result, Apple’s computers are known to last. However, Mac laptops don’t come cheap. If you’re after the Apple experience without the Apple price tag, you could opt for a refurbished Mac instead.

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With that in mind, here are the best places to buy a refurbished MacBook.

1. Apple Certified Refurbished

Apple Certified Refurbished online store

As the manufacturer of Mac laptops, Apple is best-suited to refurbish them. The company recognized this and quietly launched its own Certified Refurbished online store. Many of the refurbished devices were returned through the company’s physical and online retail outlets. This could be as part of a trade-in program, after they were designated as faulty, or simply returned after purchase.

As a result, the range of refurbished devices available may vary. Regardless of the reason, the company inspects each product, tests them, and replaces any necessary components with genuine Apple parts. In effect, you can buy a like-new device at a discounted rate. This isn’t the only way you can score savings on Apple devices, though. There are other Apple hardware discounts you can take advantage of, too.

Despite their many benefits, Apple products are also infamous for their proprietary components. If you’ve ever damaged an iPhone screen and had it replaced by a third-party, you may have seen this in action. Your Apple devices can identify when it’s using unofficial parts, which can have an impact on performance, operability, and even your warranty.

Buying from Apple’s Certified Refurbished store gives you peace of mind that your MacBook will just work as if it was a brand-new device. To add to that experience, these refurbished devices also come with Apple’s standard one-year warranty and 90 days of technical support. You also have the option to further protect your purchase with AppleCare+.

2. Mac of All Trades

Mac Of All Trades screenshot

There are many benefits to purchasing through Apple’s Certified Refurbished store, but you won’t find significant savings there. A reliable and reputable alternative is Mac of All Trades. The company even pre-dates the internet era; it first set up shop in 1995 before switching to online operations in 2002.

While this information is interesting, you might think it’s unnecessary. However, we include the background here because reputation is crucial when purchasing refurbished devices. You need to be able to trust the organization you buy from. Not only is it crucial that they’ve done a thorough refurbishment, but you also want to know they’ll take care of you when something goes wrong.

Fortunately, Mac of All Trades has both cases covered. The company operates a four-part refurbishment process. This includes a visual inspection, two-stage cleaning process, hardware testing, device repair, and repackaging. Each refurbished Mac is given a quality rating; Excellent, Very Good, Good, or Fair.

The site is among the best places to buy a refurbished MacBook thanks to its one-year warranty. It also operates a 14-day return window, and you can extend the standard warranty with the company’s Platinum Warranty. This helps reassure that you’ll be protected in the case of any defects or hardware failures with your refurbished Mac laptop.

3. OWC

OWC Refurbished MacBook Pro store

Like Mac of All Trades, Other World Computing (known as OWC) has been in the computer retail sector for many years; the company’s origins stretch back to 1988. It primarily trades in components, allowing you to customize and upgrade your existing equipment. However, OWC also stocks a range of used and refurbished MacBooks.

The language of the second-hand market can be confusing, so be sure to check out our comparison between refurbished, used, and pre-owned devices. Of note here is that OWC mainly sells used MacBooks. These are second-hand devices that have undergone some level of inspection.

Unlike Certified Refurbished laptops, though, used devices aren’t subject to as thorough inspection and testing. In most cases, you should assume that used devices are sold “as-is.” That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with used devices. In fact, they’re often available at a significant discount.

However, shopping with OWC is a grade above buying any second-hand device. As the company specializes in computer upgrades, you can choose to customize your second-hand MacBook. After you’ve selected a model, there are options relating to disk size, memory, and the second-hand condition.

4. Amazon Renewed

Amazon Renewed storefront

Amazon is one of the world’s largest retailers, so it won’t come as a surprise that it also stocks a range of refurbished items on the Amazon Renewed storefront. The company first set up shop as an online bookseller in 1994, before quickly expanding into all areas of retail.

One of the main reasons Amazon is so successful is the variety of products on offer. However, it’s not always Amazon selling to you directly.

Third-party sellers are key to Amazon’s success. That’s also the case with the Amazon Renewed store. The majority of the items for sale here are not sold by Amazon, but are inspected and refurbished by third-party sellers. Amazon implements standards, though, so you can still be sure any second-hand item purchased through this store will be in good condition.

Using the Renewed store, you get access to a wide range of electronics and other household goods, including refurbished MacBooks. Not only does this make it a convenient place to shop, but you get to interact with Amazon’s customer service should something go wrong.

For example, the Amazon Renewed Guarantee gives you 90 days to return the product if you aren’t happy with it. If you have any technical problems, simply contact Amazon for help troubleshooting the issue. In this way, the Amazon Renewed store helps you score a good deal on a refurbished MacBook Pro or MacBook while offering the service of the most popular online retailer.

Keeping Track of Mac Deals

Finding the perfect deal on refurbished products is often a complicated process due to ever-changing inventories. Because of this, you should consider two other sites that take the guesswork out of finding great deals.

Refurb Tracker provides email alerts and RSS feeds listing refurbished products on Apple Store websites. To get started, create an alert on the website indicating the type of product you hope to find. In addition to Macs, Refurb Tracker offers alerts for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, and Mac accessories.

RefurbMe also offers an alert system on refurbished and certified pre-owned Apple products. Besides Apple Store websites, RefurbMe tracks items from Best Buy, GameStop, Gazelle, Target, and Walmart. In addition to Macs, RefurbMe offers alerts for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

The Best Places to Buy Refurbished MacBooks

Refurbished MacBooks are a great way to save some money, so long as you choose a reputable seller with a professional restoring process. The sites we’ve listed here are among the best places to buy a refurbished MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro.

If it’s peace of mind you’re after, the Apple Certified Refurbished store should be your first choice. However, the other sites here all offer a unique take on the second-hand device that may better suit your needs.

That said, you must do your research before committing to a second-hand MacBook. Despite the many upsides, there are potential pitfalls you need to keep an eye on. Be sure to familiarize yourself with what you need to know when buying a refurbished Mac.

Read the full article: Where to Buy Refurbished MacBooks: The 4 Best Sites

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How to Use NFC: 7 NFC Uses That’ll Impress Your Friends

Near Field Communication, known as NFC, may sound like a dry, technical specification. In many ways, it is. However, the applications of NFC are worth considering.

Android smartphones have had access to NFC for many years, while Apple’s iPhones previously had a feature-limited version. However, both platforms use the wireless technology for contactless payments, headphone pairing, and some level of automation.

If you want to make the most of NFC applications, we’ll show you how.

What Is NFC?

ways to use nfc

Near Field Communication (NFC) allows wireless communication between two electronic devices that are close to each other. Officially, NFC can support distances of up to 1.5 inches apart, but in practice, it can be up to 4 inches.

Generally, this comes in two forms; device to device communication or readable tags. While it is possible to make two devices interact via NFC, there are generally better methods of achieving this either through physical cables or other wireless technologies like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

That said, contactless payments are facilitated via NFC. So, when you walk into your local store and pay with your phone using Google Pay or Apple Pay, the transaction is initiated via NFC.

The primary interaction method, then, is between a device like a smartphone and a readable NFC tag. These tags are small, cheap, and unpowered. This is made possible because the reading device, often your smartphone, can generate a Radio Frequency (RF) field that will power the tag.

NFC Compatibility

Google Pay press demo

Android devices have supported NFC since the early days of the smartphone, but Apple chose to withhold support on the iPhone. However, when the company unveiled Apple Pay, a contactless payment system enabled by NFC, they began including these wireless chips on iPhones.

Before iOS 11, the company limited its use just to Apple Pay. However, iPhone models from the iPhone 7 and newer running iOS 13 and above now support contactless payments, the ability to read NFC tags, and the capability to write them, too.

This brings both mobile platforms into step with one another, allowing you to use NFC on your Android smartphone or iPhone. However, the specifications of Android phones vary considerably, so NFC support isn’t guaranteed. This is especially true of the affordable end of the market, where other features are given priority.

What You’ll Need

Timeskey NFC Stickers (10 Pack) Timeskey NFC Stickers (10 Pack) Buy Now On Amazon $9.99

If you own an NFC-compatible smartphone, then you’ll need to purchase some NFC tags before you get going. There are many types of NFC tags available, ranging from the affordable through to expensive industrial use varieties.

To make the most of the following NFC applications, you’ll want to invest in a set of rewritable NFC tags. Although there is a wide range of available tags, the Timeskey NFC Stickers (10 Pack) are great value, can be rewritten, and are easy to place wherever you need them.

You’ll also need to download an NFC tag writer app to your smartphone. NFC-enabled iPhones can read tags without additional software, but your experience may vary on Android.

There are many apps on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store that can write tags, one of the best options is the NFC TagWriter by NXP. The app is available for both mobile platforms and is easy to use.

Download: NFC TagWriter by NXP for Android | iOS (Free)

The Best Ways to Use NFC

Once you’ve got a compatible smartphone, rewritable NFC tags, and downloaded a tag writing app, you can then begin to make the most of what NFC can offer. As the tags can be rewritten, you can experiment with your own automated setup. That said, there are plenty of NFC uses that you can get started with right away.

1. Instantly Connect to a Wi-Fi Network

Wi-Fi passwords are lengthy and complicated. This makes connecting to your network a pain. If you’d rather replace that cumbersome process with a single tap, you can write your Wi-Fi password to an NFC tag. Android and iOS support this feature, so a tap on the tag will pre-populate Wi-Fi connection details and get you online without any fuss.

If you like this idea, but would rather have something a bit more formal, consider a product like the Wifi Porter. The device is a well-designed, easy-to-use NFC device that does the same thing. Still not sure? Take a look at our review of the Wifi Porter before investing.

2. Get Yourself Out of Bed

Waking up in the morning can be a considerable challenge. For some people, even the most relentless alarm clock doesn’t help. In that case, consider using an NFC tag to motivate you out of bed instead. Apps like Sleep As Android integrate alarms with NFC tags, through the use of in-app captchas.

These aim to verify that you have acted by making you interact with a physical item. Use the app to write an NFC-based captcha, then the only way to disable the alarm is to venture out of bed, find the NFC sticker, and tap your phone against it.

3. Launch a Website

There might be times when you want to direct someone to a specific website. This can be a bit tricky, especially if it’s not a simple website address. Instead of having them type out a long random URL, you can write the URL to an NFC tag. When tapped, it loads the user’s mobile browser and directs them straight to the site you wanted.

4. Automatically Enter Driving Mode

iPhone users know that when they get into the vehicle and connect to their in-car entertainment system, their phone will automatically enter Driving Mode. This silences notifications and optimizes your setup for your journey. Although some Android smartphones can do this, the majority don’t.

If you’d prefer to automate this process, you can write the tasks to an NFC tag. When placed inside the car, a tap of your phone can perform actions like enable Do Not Disturb, turn on or off data, and open your navigation app.

Some NFC tag writing apps, like Trigger on Android, let you set up a toggle switch to reverse the actions. So, the first tap will enable Driving Mode, while a second can disable it and return your phone to normal operations.

5. Make Payments

As we mentioned earlier, NFC enables contactless payments when using services like Google Pay or Apple Pay. In many places around the world, contactless payments have become commonplace. Indeed, in many food and convenience stores in the US, contactless is the preferred method of payment.

Both Apple Pay and Google Pay allow you to keep track of your spending, analyze your habits, and store coupons. Additionally, opting for NFC payments means you no longer need to carry other payment methods alongside your phone.

6. Automate Common Phone Tasks

Android and iOS now have methods of automating regular tasks, but they don’t always offer the kind of flexibility you’re after. Using NFC, you can set up shortcuts for actions like calling a specific friend or family member, opening your camera, or running your favorite streaming service as you leave the house.

If you want a more efficient way to automate these shortcuts, consider investing in a set of DIMPLE Smart Buttons. These physical buttons stick to the rear of your smartphone near the NFC chip. When pressed, they activate a custom NFC task, which you can set via the DIMPLE app.

7. Share Media

If you create videos for YouTube, stream on Twitch, or release music on Spotify, one of the biggest challenges is getting people to see your content in the first place. You can overcome this hurdle with NFC.

It’s possible to embed a link to your work on the NFC tag and then strategically stick it somewhere that’ll get people interested. Just be sure to explain what is on the tag, as people may be wary of the notable NFC security issues.

The Best Uses for NFC

NFC chips have changed the way we interact with the world around us. These cheap electronic components have enabled contactless payment systems like Google Pay and Apple Pay, made some physical tickets redundant, and made home automation an affordable reality.

However, although NFC is undoubtedly useful, like all technology, it is vulnerable to security issues, too. Before you delve into the wireless technology, you might want to read up on how a drive-by NFC hack works.

Read the full article: How to Use NFC: 7 NFC Uses That’ll Impress Your Friends

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The 5 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Audiophiles

Your choice of headphones is critical for those audiophiles who enjoy listening to music privately. However, standard designs not only lack audio clarity but allow the sounds of the outside world into your personal space.

A set of noise-canceling headphones is essential, then, for any audiophile hoping to listen to music on the go. These sets use microphones to cancel out the sound before it even reaches your ears, allowing you to enjoy your music in relative peace.

Here are the best noise-canceling headphones for audiophiles available today.

1. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless Buy Now On Amazon $189.97

It won’t surprise any audiophile to see this company on the list. The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless respects the brand’s strong legacy of high-quality audio products. To that end, Sennheiser even lists the frequency response (16Hz to 22,000Hz), active impedance (280 Ohms), and passive impedance (28 Ohms).

They use the apt-X Bluetooth codec for CD-quality wireless audio when connected to any apt-X enabled device. The earcups are slightly larger than on previous editions to increase comfort, especially over long periods. This is especially important, as the company’s NoiseGuard active noise cancellation (ANC) can be found inside the headset, granting you a peaceful space to enjoy your music.

The Momentum 2.0 Wireless achieve up to 20 hours of use on a single charge, even with Bluetooth and noise-cancellation enabled. So you don’t have to spend time switching, you can connect two devices simultaneously and pair with up to eight. This is useful when coupled with Sennheiser’s VoiceMax technology, so you can seamlessly take calls on the headphones.

2. Jabra Elite 85h

Jabra Elite 85h Jabra Elite 85h Buy Now On Amazon $249.99

For many years, Jabra was best known for its range of office-based headsets. However, the company has entered the headphones market, releasing some of the best sets available today. One such pair, the Jabra Elite 85h, make the perfect companion for any audiophile. This set comes with three noise-cancellation modes; full active noise-cancellation, HearThrough, and disabled.

Of course, being able to tune out your surroundings is part of the appeal of any ANC set, but HearThrough is one of the best features here. When paired with the Jabra Sound+ app, the headset’s AI can determine your surroundings and adjust the noise-cancellation, so you always stay safe and aware when you need to be.

Aside from the intelligent ANC, the headphones can adjust for high-quality calls thanks to six of the set’s eight microphones. Using these, it can block unwanted background noise on calls, too. With ANC enabled, you can expect up to 36 hours of use from a single charge. The Jabra Elite 85h are water-resistant as well. A dedicated button on the right earpad gives quick access to Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant.

If you want to know more before investing in a set, check out our review of the Jabra Elite 85h.

3. Sony WH1000XM3

Sony WH1000XM3 Sony WH1000XM3 Buy Now On Amazon $348.00

The Sony WH1000XM3 are the company’s flagship noise-canceling headphones. Reviewers around the world have classed the WH1000XM3 headphones as among the best noise-canceling headphones for great audio, too. Sony has been a world leader in audio products for decades, so if you choose this set, then you’ll know to expect a high-quality listening experience.

They come equipped with digital smarts, too. There is integration with Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, at the touch of a button. The Quick Attention Mode allows you to cover the right earcup to turn down the volume so you can hear your surroundings. The ANC here is intelligent as well, changing with your environment.

Unlike some of the other options on this, these headphones charge via USB-C. That said, you shouldn’t need to recharge too often as they offer up to 30 hours of use on a single charge with ANC enabled. The headphones have been designed for comfort as well, so they shouldn’t give you sore ears or a headache while listening.

4. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Bose QuietComfort 35 II Buy Now On Amazon $349.00

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are some of the best noise-canceling headphones around. Bose’s reputation for high-quality audio products precedes them, but it is well-earnt. If you travel on public transport or by plane, these headphones will be instantly recognizable. They are firm favorites for anyone looking for high-quality noise-cancelation.

That’s not to say they prioritize ANC above all other features, though. The QuietComfort 35 II have a dedicated button for quick access to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Additionally, if you download the Bose companion app, you can rename the headphones, making them easy to recognize in crowded Bluetooth lists. The app also provides firmware updates to the headphones.

Importantly, they are also comfortable. Thanks to the padded earcups and headband, you can wear them for hours without discomfort. They collapse inwards, too, for easy storage. With the ANC enabled, you can expect the headphones to last around 20 hours before they need recharging via micro-USB. The QuietComfort 35 II come in three colors; black, silver, and rose gold.

The headphones have been revised since their original release to add Bose AR and Alexa support. However, if you’re interested in all they have to offer, take a look at our review of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.

5. Bowers & Wilkins PX7

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Buy Now On Amazon $398.98

Any fan of high-quality audio will be familiar with Bowers & Wilkins. The British brand has been producing audio products since 1966, and that experience shows in the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 headphones. The 43mm drivers found in this set are the largest in the company’s range and are tuned by the same engineers who work on the notable Abbey Road Studios setup.

That said, these aren’t a relic of past generations; the PX7 are equipped with some of the best ANC available. The ANC can automatically adapt to your environment, so you always have the best listening experience. There’s an auto-pause too, you just need to lift one earcup, and the audio will stop until you put the set back on your ears.

As the company notes, with 30-hour battery life, you could use them on a round-trip from California to London on a single charge. The 15-minute quick charge feature grants you six hours of use, as well. Bowers & Wilkins state that the carbon fiber composite design was inspired by race cars, a claim largely there for marketing purposes, but this material does make them strong and well-equipped for travel, too.

The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for You

Choosing the right set of headphones can make all the difference to your audio experience. Finding a set that sounds great, comes with noise-cancellation, and feels comfortable over long periods is essential.

Fortunately, all the headphones we’ve included here fit that brief, so you’ll be sure to find the right set of noise-canceling headphones for your needs.

That said, if you aren’t won over by the merits of noise-cancellation, and are just looking for a wireless option, consider one of the best wireless earbuds for all budgets.

Read the full article: The 5 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Audiophiles

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Amazon Launches All-New Fire Tablets to Keep You Entertained

For many years, Amazon has produced some of the best low-cost, value for money Android tablets released under its Amazon Fire brand.

Today, the company announced a whole new line of Fire tablets, with a range of devices suitable for the entire family.

Here’s everything you need to know about Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablets.

All-New Fire HD 8

All-New Fire HD 8 All-New Fire HD 8 Buy Now On Amazon $89.99

The All-New Fire HD 8 is the most affordable of the new tablets. The 8-inch 1280×800 display means you’ll get a crisp experience while watching movies and TV shows. The tablet comes equipped with 2GB of RAM and a quad-core 2GHz processor.

It is available in 32GB or 64GB variants, although this can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card. The All-New Fire HD 8 now uses a USB-C charging port, meaning that the tablet will fully charge in just five hours.

As with the company’s other devices, the tablet comes pre-loaded with Amazon services like Prime Video, Kindle, and Amazon Music. There’s also support for Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. The brand-new Game Mode allows you to enjoy a distraction-free gaming experience on the tablet, too.

All-New Fire HD 8 Plus

All-New Fire HD 8 Plus All-New Fire HD 8 Plus Buy Now On Amazon $109.99

When a smartphone launches with a Plus model, that often means the device is physically larger. That’s not the case here; the Plus refers to the additional services and component upgrades found on the All-New Fire HD 8 Plus.

The tablet comes with 3GB of RAM, a 2GHz quad-core processor, and support for wireless charging. There’s also a specialized 9W charger included, which can fully charge your Fire HD 8 Plus in just four hours.

All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Buy Now On Amazon $139.99

The Fire HD tablets are firm favorites for families. The low-cost devices are easy to use and, as they are geared towards Amazon’s entertainment services, generally family-friendly, too. However, the All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is specifically tailored to younger children.

The tablet comes in a colorful bumper, which protects it against unexpected drops and knocks. The software is adapted, too, using Amazon’s Fire for Kids interface. This keeps all media, including ebooks, videos, and audio, age-appropriate. There are improved parental controls available as well.

The Best Affordable Android Tablets

The newly-launched Fire HD 8 tablets can be pre-ordered on Amazon now, and the company expects shipments to start on June 3rd, 2020. Despite coming loaded with Amazon’s services, they are still a great deal even if you don’t use that ecosystem.

That said, if you think these entertainment devices don’t quite suit your needs, consider one of the best tablets for reading digital books instead.

Read the full article: Amazon Launches All-New Fire Tablets to Keep You Entertained

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The 7 Best Lightweight OneNote and Evernote Alternatives

OneNote is one of Microsoft’s crowning achievements. Not only is the note-taking software free, but everything is optimized for daily use, helping you stay focused and organized. The same is true of Evernote, too.

However, neither app is perfect. This is especially the case when it comes to software. Their browser-based editions lack features, while the software versions can be bloated and slow.

If you’re after an alternative to OneNote or Evernote, then you do have options.

1. Simplenote

Simplenote note-taking app

If you’re after a minimal, no-fuss note-taking app, then you should opt for Simpltenote. The app lives up to its name, as you won’t find bloat or additional features here. The primary focus is on distraction-free note-taking. As a consequence, the app is pleasing to the eye, as well.

There aren’t any notebooks. Notes are organized using custom tags, although you can pin individual notes, so they stay at the top of the notes list. The notes themselves are plain text, so no rich-text editing. But, if you need formatting, you can switch into Markdown mode on a per-note basis.

Another noteworthy feature is per-note revision histories. As notes are edited, Simplenote saves periodic snapshots. You can look through them and revert the note to a previous snapshot when necessary.

Download: Simplenote (Free)

2. Laverna

Taking a note in Laverna

Laverna’s main selling point is its focus on privacy. Your notes are never stored on the company’s servers. However, you can store your data on Dropbox or RemoteStorage if you want to sync across devices. It’s also possible to set a password that’ll encrypt your notes, too.

Laverna has two other big points in its favor. First, all notes are written in Markdown with a live preview window. Second, it has three levels of organization; profiles, notebooks, and tags. Notebooks can even be nested within other notebooks.

Also, it has distraction-free editing mode, syntax highlighting if you ever write code in your notes, several handy keyboard shortcuts, and it’s open-source on GitHub.

Download: Laverna (Free)

3. Standard Notes

Standard Notes web interface

Standard Notes is a secure, encrypted, and open-source note-taking app. If you’re after a privacy-focused Evernote alternative, then this software is ideal. Not only is the app available on all desktop and mobile platforms, but there’s even a web edition, too.

Standard Notes operates a freemium model; the app is free to use, but additional features need to be unlocked with the Extended edition. The free version comes with all the app’s encryption features, sync services, and offline access.

The Extended option opens up additional editor styles (only plain-text is available in the free version), adds two-factor authentication, and enables note history. For anyone who has used Apple’s Notes software, the Standard Notes interface will feel familiar, too.

Download: Standard Notes (Free, premium edition available)

4. Turtl

Turtl note-taking app

Turtl is a secure Evernote alternative. Most of the app’s features mirror those available in Evernote and OneNote. However, privacy is the top priority here. To that end, Turtl is open-source and available to view on the project’s Github page. All notes are encrypted locally before being uploaded to the syncing server.

Despite being an alternative to OneNote, the way you use the app is different, and there will be a learning curve. Another important item to consider is that Turtl is currently not available on iOS. However, you can use it on the desktop and Android devices.

You can use the Turtl browser extensions to collect files, images, and bookmarks, too. All of these items are arranged into a board, which are notebooks with a more visual layout, and can be tagged for more granular organization.

Download: Turtl (Free)

5. CherryTree

CherryTree interface

CherryTree is a great open-source alternative to OneNote. Many of the features found in Microsoft’s note-taking app are here, too. Despite being open-source, the app is regularly updated. For this reason, it is one of the best note-taking tools for programmers.

It can handle rich-text notes and code-based notes with syntax highlighting. And although CherryTree doesn’t have notebooks per se, notes can be nested under other notes, so top-level notes act as notebooks.

One of CherryTree’s standout features is the ability to create internal links to other notes. In this sense, it functions much like a wiki. This is fantastic for notes that are relative to other notes, such as when planning characters and plots for a novel.

Download: CherryTree (Free)

6. TagSpaces

Tagspaces interface

Unlike all of the other apps on this list, TagSpaces is completely offline. It never sends data across the internet. Instead, it only uses local folders and files, which also means no cross-device syncing. That is unless you sync using a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

TagSpaces is free, although you can unlock extra features by upgrading to the Pro edition. The app supports three note types: plain text (TXT), rich text (HTML), and Markdown (MD). The interface is a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get used to it, it will all make sense and boost your productivity.

And since TagSpaces uses the local file system, staying organized is as easy as creating your own preferred subfolder hierarchy.

Download: TagSpaces (Free, Pro edition available)

7. Google Keep

Google Keep Web Interface

If you prefer digital sticky notes over a virtual notepad, consider switching to Google Keep. Like most of Google’s services, there isn’t a desktop app here. Primarily, Keep is designed for web and mobile. However, if this isn’t a deal-breaker for you, then this may be the best Google equivalent to OneNote around.

This app is ideal if you’re after smaller notes, quick reminders, and checklists. However, if you dig a little deeper, Google Keep can make a great digital notebook, too. So, if you so make the switch, be sure to use these Google Keep tips for better lists.

If you use other Google services or have an Android smartphone, Keep’s integration with your account makes it a worthwhile alternative.

Download: Google Keep (Free)

The Best Note-Taking App for Your Needs

While we’ve listed some of the best OneNote alternatives, you shouldn’t spend too much time deciding which to use. Regularly switching between apps can be a wasteful way to spend time, and is often a symptom of procrastination.

You may find that these feature-rich alternatives offer more than you really need. In which case, consider using one of these uncomplicated note-taking web apps instead.

Read the full article: The 7 Best Lightweight OneNote and Evernote Alternatives

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The 10 Best Wireless All-in-One Keyboards for Mac and PC

All-in-one keyboards integrate a wireless keyboard with a touchpad, combining two devices into one. They’re the ideal solution for anyone with a living room media center or someone who wants to lean back and use their computer from a distance.

There aren’t too many of these wireless all-in-one keyboards, though, and it’s not always clear which one would suit your needs. So, let’s take a look at the best all-in-one keyboards available today.

1. Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard Buy Now On Amazon $31.13

The Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard is a well-spaced keyboard with a large touchpad where the number pad is usually found. The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures for Windows 10, so you’ll be able to swipe and scroll with ease.

There are two customizable media keys above the touchpad and volume keys on the far left of the keyboard. You’ll need two AAA batteries to power it, which should last up to a month. Connect the USB receiver to your computer, and you’re ready to start using it up to a range of 10 meters.

2. Logitech K600 TV

Logitech K600 TV Logitech K600 TV Buy Now On Amazon $59.99

The Logitech K600 TV is designed for use with smart TVs. You’ll find the familiar, rounded chicklet keys from the current range of Logitech keyboards on the K600 TV. On the left are four buttons for quick access to the home screen, app switcher, search, and the back button.

On the right of the keyboard, there’s a circular touchpad, and above it, a d-pad for navigation. You can easily switch between up to three devices either via Bluetooth or the included USB receiver. The K600 TV is one of the few wireless keyboards with 15 meters range, as the standard is around 10 meters.

3. Huafeliz Mini Wireless Keyboard

Huafeliz Mini Wireless Keyboard Huafeliz Mini Wireless Keyboard Buy Now On Amazon $19.69

The Huafeliz Mini Wireless Keyboard is the perfect option if you need a device to manage your smart TV, streaming box, smartphone, tablet, and laptop. This small unit doesn’t look like a typical keyboard. Instead, the design more closely resembles a remote control. The glossy front of the device combines remote control and media functions via the central set of buttons.

Tap the Air Mouse button, and the controller will enable the six-axis motion sensor, allowing you to control the mouse cursor by moving the keyboard through the air. On the rear of the controller is a compact keyboard, laid out horizontally in QWERTY format. There’s no Bluetooth connection here, though, but you can connect wirelessly to your gadgets using the USB receiver.

4. Logitech K830

Logitech K830 Logitech K830 Buy Now On Amazon $71.78

The Logitech K830 is one of the best wireless all-in-one keyboards on the market right now. One of its most notable features is the backlight. A light sensor on the keyboard automatically adjusts the backlight based on the lighting conditions around you.

The backlight does require power, so the K830 comes equipped with a lithium-ion battery which can be charged via a micro-USB cable. A simple switch lets you flip the keyboard on and off as needed. Connection is a breeze using either the Logitech receiver or Bluetooth.

5. WisFox Wireless Touchpad Keyboard

WisFox Wireless Touchpad Keyboard WisFox Wireless Touchpad Keyboard Buy Now On Amazon $34.99

The WisFox Wireless Touchpad Keyboard is an affordable all-in-one keyboard. The 89-key device has 12 media shortcuts and five dedicated media controls for easy use. As is often the case, the touchpad replaces the number pad at the right of the keyboard.

The company has emphasized the portability and lifespan of its keyboard. It is powered by two AAA batteries but is also supported by two power-saving modes. After 20 seconds of inactivity, it’ll enter a shallow sleep, advancing to deep sleep after 15 minutes. The keyboard has a range of 10 meters from the USB receiver.

6. Fintie Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard

Fintie Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard Fintie Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard Buy Now On Amazon $30.99

Some habits are hard to break. If you’re used a laptop layout, with the touchpad beneath the keyboard, then it’s worth checking out the Fintie Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard. Unlike the other options on this list, the primary keyboard sits towards the top while the touchpad sits between the device’s handrest areas.

The unit is just 4mm thick, making it ideal for carrying around while out and about. That’s especially the case when coupled with the keyboard’s Bluetooth connection, allowing you to connect to most computers, tablets, and smartphones.

The Fintie Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and includes an auto-sleep feature to keep your keyboard powered for longer.

7. AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad

AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad Buy Now On Amazon $23.99

If you’re after a more affordable option, then you’ll want to consider the AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad. The retailer’s Basics line has gained a reputation for quality at budget prices, and you’ll find the same experience here, too. The keyboard is marketed with Smart TVs in mind, but you could use it for any purpose.

There’s a full QWERTY keyboard, volume keys, and function keys that double as media controls. As you might expect at this price point, there’s no Bluetooth connectivity. So, you’ll need to use the USB receiver to connect to your device instead.

8. Rii i8+

Rii i8+ Rii i8+ Buy Now On Amazon $25.99

If you’re looking for a mini keyboard the size of a gamepad, check out the Rii i8+. It comes with a 92-key QWERTY keyboard, a d-pad, and a small touchpad at the top. The touchpad controls are one click for a left button press, two clicks for right, and two fingers for scrolling.

The i8+ is available in half a dozen different colors to suit your preferences. It comes with a rechargeable internal battery and enters a power-saving mode after three minutes of inactivity. It has a range of 10 meters and supports connections via USB or Bluetooth.

9. iClever BoostType BK08

iClever BoostType BK08 iClever BoostType BK08 Buy Now On Amazon $46.99

If you’re looking for a space-saving, compact all-in-one keyboard, then look no further than the iClever BoostType BK08. The keyboard can connect to up to three devices at once, making it perfect for on-the-go productivity. iClever has designed this keyboard with portability in mind.

When folded closed it is roughly the same size as an iPhone 7 Plus and weighs about the same too. When unfolded, the small Bluetooth device is compatible with most operating systems. Its long battery life is also a plus, offering 60 hours of use on just a two-hour charge.

10. Rii K18

Rii K18 Rii K18 Buy Now On Amazon $28.49

The Rii K18 is a full-sized light-weight keyboard with a large touchpad on the right-hand side. It is equipped with an LED backlight that can switch between red, green, and blue.

The keyboard comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and it connects to your device via a USB dongle. This is a good option if you’re looking for a full-size keyboard with a large touchpad that is light enough to use on the couch.

The Best All-in-One-Keyboard for You

There are many different all-in-one keyboard options out there, combining a wireless keyboard with a touchpad. Which you choose will depend on your preferences and requirements. Some of these keyboards are suited to particular applications, like the Logitech K600 TV, which is optimized for use with smart TVs.

You may find yourself using a keyboard heavily throughout the day, so you’ll want to make sure the experience is as comfortable as possible. If this is a concern for you, then you’ll want to check out these ergonomic keyboards to improve computer comfort.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Wireless All-in-One Keyboards for Mac and PC

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The Best Budget Smartphone: 5 Great Options in 2020

Flagship smartphones have become more experimental to stand out from the competition. Foldable screens, multiple cameras, and improved specifications, unfortunately, also increase the price.

The good news is that formerly premium features are making their way to cheaper phones. There’s a broad range of affordable smartphones that’ll keep you up to date without breaking the bank.

Here are the best budget smartphones available today.

1. Nokia 7.2

Nokia 7.2 Nokia 7.2 Buy Now On Amazon $349.99

HMD Global has been leading Nokia’s revival for several years now. Their Android smartphones pair attractive, high-quality hardware with a bloatware-free software experience. The Nokia 7.2 is among the best budget phones you can buy. The phone is one of few running Android One, a Google-approved edition of Android.

Importantly, this means it is also among a select few that will be guaranteed to receive two years of software updates. The phone originally launched with Android 9 Pie but has since been upgraded to Android 10. The 6.3-inch Full HD+ screen ensures you get a clear viewing experience. This is especially important if you record videos, snap photos, or stream videos.

The Nokia 7.2 comes with dual-SIM support, a 3,500mAh battery, and USB-C charging. The phone is available with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. This can be expanded by 512GB via microSD. Similarly, you can purchase the phone with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM.

The device is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 and includes a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is a 48MP rear camera supported by a 5MP depth sensor and an 8MP ultra-wide lens. The front-facing camera uses a 20MP lens. The Nokia 7.2 is available in three colors; Charcoal, Cyan Green, and Ice.

2. Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE Apple iPhone SE Buy Now On Amazon $399.00

While Android smartphones tend to dominate the cheaper end of the market, Apple has an affordable product of their own. The Apple iPhone SE is a reasonably priced entry in its iOS range. The device looks like an older iPhone, but it is packed with some of the latest hardware.

The 4.7-inch Retina HD display is IP67-rated for water and dust resistance. There is a 7MP front-facing camera with Portrait mode. That’s in addition to the 12MP wide-angle rear camera. This can record 4K video, snap in Portrait mode, and comes with depth control, too.

The iPhone SE is equipped with fast-charge support, uses Apple’s A13 Bionic chip. It is available in three colors; black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED. The latter option is a charity collaboration with (RED). If you opt for this color, Apple will donate 100 percent of available proceeds to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

Apple’s flagship options come with FaceID included, which is a biometric security option. However, the iPhone SE uses the older fingerprint mechanism, Touch ID. That said, it is one of the only major features missing from an otherwise remarkable offering.

If you’ve been holding out for an iPhone, but have never been able to justify the cost, the iPhone SE is the best way to get started with Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

3. DOOGEE X95

DOOG X95 smartphon

The DOOGEE X95 is one of the best value smartphones available today. The sub-$100 device has features and specifications usually only found on mid-range smartphones. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though; DOOGEE has been producing well-received Android smartphones for many years now.

The X95 runs Android 10, the latest edition of Google’s smartphone operating system. It has a 6.52-inch edge-to-edge display protected with Gorilla Glass. There’s 32GB of onboard storage, coupled with 2GB of RAM. The quad-core MediaTek MT6737 CPU powers the phone along with a Mali T720 MP GPU.

Thanks to this combination, the DOOGEE X95 is capable of running some of the most popular mobile games as well. There’s a triple-lens rear camera consisting of a 13MP primary sensor and two depth-sensing 2MP lenses. These depth sensors mean you can take photos that blur the background.

Although the phone uses the older micro-USB charging port, rather than the now-commonplace USB-C, this is the only deviation from modern design on the X95. The smartphone should even see you through a whole day on a single charge, too, thanks to the 4,350mAh battery.

4. Motorola Moto Z4

Motorola Moto Z4 Motorola Moto Z4 Buy Now On Amazon $499.99

Motorola has been one of the market leaders in affordable Android smartphones. The company’s Moto G range constantly exceeds expectations for cheap devices. However, the Moto Z offerings, while costing slightly more, are worth the additional investment. Such is the case with the Motorola Moto Z4.

The smartphone comes with a 6.4-inch full HD+ OLED display with a 19:9 aspect ratio, so it’s perfect for enjoying videos while on the go. To complement this, there is 128GB of internal storage, expandable up to a phenomenal 2TB via microSD.

If photography is important to you, you’ll be pleased to see a 48MP rear sensor, coupled with a 25MP front-facing lens. You can recharge the device via USB-C and top up the 3,600mAh battery. Like other Motorola phones, you can accessorize your Z4 with Moto Mods. For instance, you can add wireless charging capabilities with the relevant Mod.

This unlocked edition of the Z4 is in partnership with Amazon, so it comes with the retailer’s apps pre-installed. If you use any Amazon services or are a Prime subscriber, this makes it an ideal choice. There’s even access to Alexa built-in, so you always have their virtual assistant within easy reach.

5. Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3a Google Pixel 3a Buy Now On Amazon $361.88

Despite developing the Android operating system, Google rarely ventures into hardware. However, the Pixel lineup is considered the company’s alternative to the iPhone, with prices to match. The Google Pixel 3a, however, is a budget-friendly smartphone with some of the Pixel’s best features.

Unlike the premium metal design of its more expensive siblings, the Pixel 3a’s body is plastic. However, that is the only major concession Google made to bring the price down. The phone ships with Android 9 Pie pre-installed, but is upgradeable to Android 10, the latest edition of the operating system.

The standout feature of the Pixel line is the camera, and the Pixel 3a doesn’t disappoint, either. The rear 12MP sensor is capable of taking wide-angle shots, while the 8MP front-facing camera supports the Pixel’s Portrait Mode. However, compared to the triple-lens setups available elsewhere, the Pixel 3a could seem underwhelming.

The phone comes with 64GB of storage and is coupled with 4GB of RAM. It is powered by a Snapdragon 865 chipset, supported by a 3,000mAh battery. This can be recharged using the USB-C port. There’s even biometric security thanks to the rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The Pixel 3a is available in three colors; Clearly White, Just Black, and Purple-ish.

The Best Budget Smartphone for You

There has never been a better range of affordable smartphones. Just a few years ago, cheap phones were feature-limited. However, the range we’ve looked at above shows that you can now get modern attributes at a reasonable cost, too.

However, if you’re after flagship devices but at lower prices, you could always consider buying a second-hand phone. The terminology used to describe a refurbished or second-hand phone can be confusing. Before committing, be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms used to describe non-new devices.

Read the full article: The Best Budget Smartphone: 5 Great Options in 2020