Jump in the pool and take your tunes with you with these headphones!

Technology and water don’t usually mix very well, but with more and more devices getting sealed and protected against water, we as consumers are reaping the benefits. While there are tons of headphones for everyday use, if you’re a swimmer who likes to listen to music, a regular pair of headphones can’t follow you into the pool. You’ll need headphones that have a high IP rating. Here are our favorite headphones that can stay in your ears while you’re swimming laps.

Best for most people

Plantonics BackBeat Fit

With its IP57 rating, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit can withstand being in the water for 30 minutes up to a depth of 3 feet. Its 100-foot Bluetooth range should be more than enough to keep your phone playing music to the headphones from a safe, splash-free distance. The headphones’ quick charge ability gives you eight hours of playback time on just a 15-minute charge, so you can jump in the pool every day and always make sure the battery is ready to play!

$65 at Amazon

Truly wireless

Jabra Elite Sport

With its truly wireless design and IP67 rating, the Jabra Elite Sport means business. With 4.5 hours of battery on the earbuds, plus an additional nine hours in the included charging case, it’s easy to make sure the headphones stay charged. Not only can these headphones join you while you’re swimming laps, but they also can track your heart rate and provide in-ear coaching through the Jabra app.

$170 at Amazon

Submergable storage

Sony NW-WS413LM

The Sony NW-WS413LM is wearable and highly water-resistant (up to 6 feet) 4GB MP3 player that will allow you to keep your phone at home when your swimming at the gym. With a simple drag and drop music loading process and 12 hours of playback, the Sony NW-WS413LM will last you many workouts. Plus. it’s even able to go into salt water, so you can take it to the beach!

$98 at Amazon

Best on a budget

Mpow Flame

Mpow makes a lot of affordable headphones, and the Flame is its latest workout-focused pair. You’ll find IPX7 sweat and water-resistance (up to three feet for 30 minutes), support for Bluetooth 4.1, rich bass, and customizable ear tips. Add that together with 7-9 hours of playback on a single charge and you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.

$20 at Amazon

You can’t just bring any pair of headphones into the water, so you need to make sure the pair you purchase is designed specifically for swimming. If you don’t swim super often and don’t want to spend a ton of money on a water-resistant headphone, the Mpow Flame a great way to listen to your tunes in the water. Otherwise, you might want to consider a more expensive option if your budget allows.

For 2019, expect more Nokia smartphones in the U.S.

Even though HMD Global is one of the fastest-growing smartphone makers in the world, its presence in the U.S. leaves much to be desired. That might change in 2019, when HMD Global looks to expand its presence in the U.S.

In an interview with Digital Trends, HMD chief marketing officer Pekka Rantala acknowledged that the U.S. is “one of the biggest smartphone markets in the world,” and that there are “big boys out there” in the U.S., where companies like Apple and Samsung hold the most mind and market share.

Even with stiff competition, Rantala is “confident” that HMD will increase its business in the U.S. this year.

To that end, HMD head of sales in the Americas Cristian Capelli said the company is in talks with U.S. carriers. Expanding its retail distribution remains HMD’s first goal in the U.S., but Capelli said that carriers will eventually “be the main outlet.”

Editor’s Pick

You can currently buy Nokia smartphones in the U.S. from retailers like B&H, Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Micro Center. For HMD to further expand its retail presence would be good news for its bottom line.

Also good news for its bottom line: selling a wider array of Nokia smartphones in the U.S. That’s not to say devices like the Nokia 6.1 and Nokia 7.1 are bad smartphones. It’s just that seeing higher-end smartphones like the Nokia 7 Plus and Nokia 8 Sirocco officially sold in the U.S. would be nice to see to increase competition and the number of choices.

In the U.S., you have Apple, you have Samsung, and you have everyone else. With the likes of LG and HTC struggling to regain relevance, HMD has a real chance to carve out a large space to call its own in the U.S.

Spotify Android app gets a new ‘Car View’ mode

Come for the easy setup, stay for the algorithm-based recommendations

One of the most popular names in the music world today isn’t a band or a record label: it’s an app called Spotify. Spotify was one of the earliest and most popular music streaming services on the market today. The service is available on almost every platform, from cars to home assistants to high-end speakers to phones, tablets, and computers. Spotify’s prowess with data analysis and algorithmic music suggestions have made the service addictive for music-hungry users, and as the first major service to offer student pricing, it’s spread like wildfire on college campuses across the country.

Here’s what you need to know before and after you dive in with it.

The latest Spotify news

January 16, 2019 — Spotify Android app gets a new ‘Car View’ mode

Spotify allows you to listen to music no matter where you are, and for a lot of people, the car is one of the most frequent places to jam out to your favorite tunes. To help keep users safe while streaming, the Spotify Android app is getting a new “Car View” setting.

When enabled, Car View will change the UI of the Now Playing screen that hides the album artwork, makes the font larger, and increases the size of all the buttons. The rest of the Spotify app is left unchanged.

Car View appears to be gradually rolling out to users, but I’m already seeing it on my Google Pixel 3. It was turned on by default, and while you can permanently turn it off in the settings, you also have the option of temporarily disabling it for your current ride and then having it come on again the next time you get in the car.

There’s currently no way to manually trigger Car View, meaning you’re left at the mercy of Spotify detecting that the Bluetooth device it’s connected to is your car’s audio system. Somewhat surprisingly, it worked just fine with this cheap adapter I have plugged into the cigarette lighter of my 2003 PT Cruiser.

Are you seeing Car View in your Spotify app?

November 7, 2018 — Free Spotify users will soon be able to use Spotify Connect

Spotify Premium comes with a host of features to help users get the most for their $9.99 each month, one of which is full access Spotify Connect. Thanks to an update to Spotify’s SDK for connected speakers, free users of the service will soon be able to experience the magic of Connect for themselves.

With this SDK update, speaker manufacturers are given the ability to open up Spotify Connect to both free and Premium users. So, while you won’t be able to rush out and use Spotify Connect on a free account this very second, we should see updates to speakers in the near future that offer this new functionality.

Commenting on the news, Spotify’s Senior Product Director, Mikael Ericsson, said:

The release of our new eSDK will change the game for Spotify’s Free users who want to enjoy music on their connected speakers. We look forward to supporting our partners over the coming months as they update existing speakers and bring new products to market.

October 31, 2018 — Spotify’s family plan now comes with a free Google Home Mini

If you live in a house with multiple music fanatics, Spotify Premium for Family is a great value. For just $14.99/month, you get access to six individual Premium accounts so everyone can enjoy their own custom Spotify experience.

Now, as part of a new partnership with Google, all Spotify Premium for Family plans come with a free Google Home Mini.

Both new and existing subscribers can take advantage of this promotion starting November 1, and you’ll be able to claim your free Home Mini through December 31.

Get your free Home Mini here

September 14, 2018 — Spotify is raising its offline limits!!

Spotify’s offline limits have been one of the bigger sticking points for Premium users. While Spotify’s 10,000 song library limit takes a while to reach, the 3-device, 3,333 song limit for Spotify’s offline content has been quite easy for users to hit, especially if they subscribe to any huge community playlists. Well, after years of persistent user complaints, Spotify is upgrading its offline limits to 10,000 songs on up to 5 devices. A Spotify spokesperson confirmed to Rolling Stone:

At Spotify, we’re always working on improving the experience for our users. We can now confirm that we have increased the number of offline tracks per device — from 3,333 on three devices to 10,000 tracks per device for up to five devices.

Being able to use more devices with Spotify’s offline content is great news, but the fact that you’ll be able to download your entire library on a single device is even better, since most users only use one phone at a time, and want to be able to access all of their music offline rather than just a third of it.

All the big details

Getting Started

Spotify is built to be as easy a listening experience as possible, and for most users, making an account is as easy as pressing one button. From setting up an account to getting your library established, we’re here to help you avoid as much pain as possible while you make the switch.

Getting started with Spotify

Pick your subscription

There are a lot of subscription styles out there for Spotify, but which one will fit you — and your family members — best? We break down the difference in Spotify subscriptions beyond the price points and show their prices and pitfalls, especially the very tight strings wrapped around Spotify Premium for Family subscriptions.

How to pick a Spotify account

Play your music everywhere

One of Spotify’s perks is that users can play back their music just about everywhere: their watch, their phone, their TV, their car, their smart speakers, high-end speakers, their computer, and just about everything in between. Best of all, connecting to all of these diverse devices uses the same simple UI: Spotify Connect. Here’s how this musical magic works and what it works with.

Spotify Connect: What it is and why it’s awesome

Settling in with Spotify

Once you’ve gotten your account up and running, it’s time to start mastering Spotify and making it work for you. From library management to offline playback and beyond, there are some simple things you can do to turn your Spotify experience up to 11.

Top 5 tips to make the most of your Spotify subscription

Playlist problems persist…

Playlists are a big part of any music service, but they’re doubly important on Android because playlists curated by everyday users can be highlighted by Spotify’s search and shared with your friends, family, and followers. There’s just one little problem: you can’t really edit playlists properly on Android. Or Chromebooks, for that matter.

Spotify has a playlist problem on Android

… but Spotify’s playlists have a secret ally

Even if you can’t tweak your playlist order, description, and image on Android, it’s still possible to build a big, beautiful playlist on Spotify. If you start running out of ideas for additions to your playlists, don’t worry. You can leverage the work you’ve already done and Spotify’s algorithms to expand your playlist with Playlist Radio.

Use Spotify’s radio to build bigger, better playlists

Queues, subqueues, and frustration

Managing and mixing up your queue on Spotify is a bit of a minefield for two reasons. The first is that rather than showing your listening history by letting you scroll up in your playlist, whatever you’re playing is at the top of the queue and what you last listened to is at the bottom if it’s visible at all.

The second is that Add to Queue doesn’t do what it’s called, which can turn an already confusing queue into a vanishing, inconsistent tur-queue-ken.

Spotify’s Add to Queue is a lie

Offline mode could use some work

We take our music out for a run, we bring music into the shower, and we always bring music when we travel, be it by plane, train, or automobile. And since we bring our music where our internet sometimes cannot follow, that means that offline modes for our music apps are important. Offline for Spotify is lackluster at best, and that’s disappointing for a whole host of reasons.

Offline mode on Spotify sucks out loud

Made For You is made in heaven

Finding something to listen to can be a tricky proposition for any music lover, but Spotify is known far and wide for their algorithmic prowess. And the best example of it isn’t the Discover Weekly or the year-end statistics. No, siree, the best use of Spotify’s number-crunching genius is a little section in Your Library called Just For You.

Spotify’s ‘Made For You’ is a love letter to music addicts

Spotify vs. Google Play Music

Spotify has a lot of competition, but perhaps the biggest competition they face on Android is convincing people that they’re better than the music player that came pre-installed on your phone: Google Play Music. To be sure, both services have their ups and downs, but here is a critical comparison of the two services to help you decide if you want to give Spotify your time, attention, and money.

Spotify vs. Google Play Music: The battle of the bigs

What’s your take?

What do you love or hate about Spotify? Let us know in the comments!

YouTube is banning dangerous pranks and challenges including Bird Box and Tide Pod

After the Netflix Original Bird Box became a viral hit, people around the world uploaded videos to YouTube showing them compete in the Bird Box challenge. While some of the clips showing people stumble around their homes were funny, others involved dangerous stunts such as driving while blindfolded.

After receiving demands from the community to not allow these types of dangerous videos, YouTube has announced that it is banning all harmful challenges and pranks.

YouTube announced its policy changes yesterday in a blog post (via Ars Technica):

Dangerous challenges and pranks: Reminder – content that encourages violence or dangerous activities that may result in serious physical harm, distress or death violates our harmful and dangerous policy, so we’re clarifying what this means for dangerous challenges and pranks. YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, but we need to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous. We’ve updated our external guidelines to make it clear that we prohibit challenges presenting a risk of serious danger or death, and pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger, or cause children to experience severe emotional distress. Read more in this Dangerous Challenges & Pranks FAQ.

YouTube’s official policy on harmful or dangerous content has also been updated. The following items were added to the list that already included instructional bomb making, hard drug use, and other acts that may result in serious injury.

  • Challenges that encourage acts that have an inherent risk of severe physical harm
  • Pranks that make victims believe they’re in physical danger
  • Pranks that cause emotional distress to children
Editor’s Pick

Many worry that YouTube’s guidelines are too ambiguous and will lead to some content being deleted while others are left untouched. As YouTuber Philip Defranco discusses, will this only remove videos involving dangerous stunts such as the Bird Box and Tide Pod challenges or will it also wipe the platform free of everything that includes upsetting a child such as Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween Candy challenge?

To enforce these new policies and deter creators from uploading harmful videos, YouTube is using its community guidelines three-strike rule. After the channel has been stricken three times, the video platform can choose to shut it down completely.

YouTube is giving creators who have previously uploaded this type of content a pass. Over the next two months, any videos that were already uploaded involving harmful pranks or challenges will be deleted without striking the channel.

Critically-acclaimed platformer Oddmar is now available on the Play Store

Winner of the Apple Design Award 2018 and one of the best platformers on iOS, Oddmar is now available on the Google Play Store.

Oddmar stars the lazy and selfie Oddmar, who is pressed into service after the village chief forces him to carry out his Viking duties. In order to earn his place in Valhalla, Oddmar must burn down a forest. However, it’s this forest that grants him several powers from magical mushrooms if he protects the forest from evil creatures.


The story won’t win awards, but the looks sure will. Oddmar’s quality of animation doesn’t have a peer in the world of mobile games and is on par with Ubisoft’s Rayman games from the early 2010s. You’ll have to play it to properly understand, but the animation makes Oddmar better to play with your fingers than with a controller.

Editor’s Pick

Speaking of which, the game’s description in the Google Play Store says it supports game controllers, but we couldn’t get our Shield controller to work with it.

Oddmar features 24 levels with various traps and challenges. Each level features three challenges, with some challenges tasking players to complete certain levels as quickly as possible.

You can download Oddmar at the link below. The first chapter is free, with the remaining chapters costing $5.49 to unlock. 

Fortnite security flaw allowed hackers to overtake user accounts easily

A Fortnite security flaw was discovered by Check Point Research towards the end of 2018. The vulnerability allowed hackers to easily initiate a phishing scheme by sending users links that looked like login pages, but actually harvested user accounts.

CPR notified Epic Games of the flaw in November, and Epic patched the vulnerability weeks later. However, during that time — and for some time before CPR sent the notice — Fortnite users were at serious risk of fraud.

CPR details exactly how the exploit worked in a very technical explanation on its blog. However, the gist of the process was fairly simple:

  • Hackers exploit the single-sign-on system Fortnite uses, which allows a user to login to Fortnite using other accounts, such as Facebook, Nintendo, Google+, etc.
  • The hackers then send a link to a user which looks legit. However, it actually redirects them through a different server which scrapes their login info.
  • Since the link looked legit and the user didn’t have to actually enter their credentials, the user thinks nothing happened.
  • Hackers obtain the login info, overtake the account, and use the attached payment options to make fraudulent transactions.
Editor’s Pick

According to The Verge, hackers who used this exploit would buy Fortnite’s in-game currency (V-Bucks) using the hijacked accounts, gift those V-Bucks to another account, and then sell the V-Bucks at a discounted rate to other players on the dark web.

Fortnite earns billions of dollars from in-game sales, so this fraudulent activity could be quite lucrative.

Epic Games said in a statement: “We were made aware of the vulnerabilities and they were soon addressed. We thank Check Point for bringing this to our attention. As always, we encourage players to protect their accounts by not re-using passwords and using strong passwords, and not sharing account information with others.”

Although this vulnerability is now patched, this should be a reminder to all to use strong passwords, change them often, and only enter credentials into trustworthy websites.

NEXT: Fortnite update hub

Donut County gets a limited physical PS4 release and vinyl soundtrack

Have a garbage day with the cool new Donut County vinyl soundtrack and limited PS4 physical release.

Donut County, the game that’s best described as a “reverse Katamari,” has just announced that it’s getting a physical disc release on PlayStation 4. There will also be a vinyl of the game’s amazing soundtrack, and both of them are available for pre-order on the iam8bit store.

If you’ve never heard of Donut County before, then you’re in for a treat. Donut County is a physics puzzle game that features a mysterious hole in the ground controlled by a mischievous and misunderstood raccoon. As the hole swallows things up, it gets bigger, and soon enough it’ll grow to swallow up entire buildings and other architectural structures without breaking a sweat.

The game itself has been praised for clever storytelling and the unique cast of characters. There’s a lot of humor sprinkled in through the character dialogue, and you’ll grow to love this weird group.

The vinyl soundtrack costs $40, and is a 2xLP colored record with a 48″ fold out jacket, perfect for the collectors. The music is by Daniel Koestner, who combines instrumental ukulele with hip hop. The vinyl also comes with a digital download code.

As far as the physical PS4 release, this is limited to only 5000 copies, so you’d better act fast if you want one for your collection. This will cost $30 and the disc is region-free, so it will play on any PS4, regardless of the region it came from.

I played Donut County when it first came out last year (we have tips and tricks) and it was one of my favorite calming gaming experiences as of late. There’s just something relaxing about controlling a hole that swallows up everything in its path, you know?

Donut County is available on PlayStation 4, Steam, Mac App Store, and iOS.

Pre-order the limited physical copy of Donut County on PS4 ($30) at iam8bit
Pre-order the Donut County vinyl soundtrack ($40) at iam8bit

Buying the Pixel 3? Here are the best Google Pixel 3 XL cases

Pixel 3 XL hands on

Google recently took the wraps off the latest additions to its Pixel series – the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL. The larger Google Pixel 3 XL offers all the hardware we expect from a 2018 flagship and a slew of camera features that improve on the already fantastic camera of its predecessor. Extras like an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance and wireless charging also make for an even more compelling device.

Keeping your brand new smartphone safe from accidental bumps and drops is always important. To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of the best protective Google Pixel 3 XL cases and covers that are currently available!


Google fabric case

The four available colors of the Google Pixel 3 Fabric Case. Google

One of the official cases for the Google Pixel 3 XL is the fabric case, which features the same tailored fabric as is seen with the Google Home smart speaker. The case is also thin enough to work with the Pixel Stand for wireless charging and its Active Edge feature. Available in Carbon (black), Indigo (blue), Fog (gray), and Pink Moon, the Google fabric case is priced at $40.


Pixel 3 MNML Case

Promoted

pixel 3 xl mnml mask

Looking for a thin Pixel 3 XL case? There is no thinner case than the MNML case at just 0.35 mm thin. It’s so thin that it will look and feel like you have no case at all. It doesn’t offer much drop protection, but it will protect you from the day-to-day scratches that can accumulate.

The case comes in 5 different colors, including frosted black, frosted white, matte black, really blue, and red, and it’s on sale for $14.99. Get 15% off with code: 15PX3 only at MNMLCase.com


Google My Case

Descriptions of how the Google My Case process works. Google

Another one of the official Google Pixel 3 XL cases is the Google My Case. This is a customized case for which you can upload your own photos or design, pick from Google’s own artwork, or customize a case based on a location. Finally, you can choose to pick a color for the trim of the case that looks like the color of the phone itself to keep everything uniform. The “My Case” from Google will set you back $50.


Otterbox Defender

A promotional image of the Google Pixel 3 OtterBox. Google

The Otterbox Defender is an ultra-rugged case that combines a hard outer shell and a soft inner lining to keep the phone safe from accidents. It also comes with its own belt holster that can also double as a kickstand for some hands-free video watching. The Otterbox case for the Pixel 3 XL is available for $59.95 and comes in black or blue color choices.


Bellroy Leather Google Pixel 3 case

A promotional image of the Bellroy Leather Case for Google Pixel 3. Google

These three real leather Pixel 3 XL cases come from Bellroy. Available in three colors – Black, Navy, and Carmel – these cases will definitely give your new phone a classy, fashionable look. Of course, the leather also adds a lot of grip and makes the phone easier to hold. The Bellroy Pixel 3 XL cases are available on Amazon for $49.


Spigen Liquid Crystal

spigen liquid crystal case for the pixel 3 xl

The Spigen Liquid Crystal is an ultra slim case that lets you show off the look of the phone. This TPU case comes with precise cutouts for easy access to all ports and features. It utilizes Air Cushion technology to provide better corner protection and is thin enough to be kept on when using it with a wireless charger. The Spigen Liquid Crystal case for the Pixel 3 XL is priced at $9.99.


Ringke Fusion

ringke fusion pixel 3 xl case

The Ringke Fusion case offers features dual layer protection with a TPU bumper and a hard polycarbonate panel. The case is quite thin but comes with the MIL-STD 810G-516.6 certification for shock protection. Precise cutouts are available for easy access to all ports and features, while the buttons are covered but easy to press. The Ringke Fusion case for the Pixel 3 XL is priced starting at $8.99.


Dretal Armor

dretal pixel 3 xl case with built-in plate for magnetic car holder

The Dretal Armor case is made of environment-friendly plastic and an anti-stretch TPU rubber. The corners are reinforced with an inner airbag design to allow for more shock absorption. The case also comes with a built-in metal plate that can be used place the phone on a magnetic car mount or holder. Available color options include black, orange, and navy blue, and the case is priced at $8.98.


TUDIA Merge

tudia merge pixel 3 xl case

The TUDIA Merge is a dual-layer case that combines a soft TPU gel layer and a hard polycarbonate shell to provide rugged protection. Raised edges keep the camera and screen protected and all the buttons are covered as well. The TUDIA Merge case is available in a few different colors like matte black, green, gold, and metallic slate. The TUDIA Merge Pixel 3 XL cases are priced starting at just $8.99.


Spigen Rugged Armor

spigen rugged armor - one of the best pixel 3 xl cases

The Spigen Rugged Armor is one of the best Google Pixel 3 XL cases you can get. The flexible TPU case utilizes Air Cushion technology to keep the device safe from accidental drops. The buttons are covered but easy to press. A raised lip keeps the camera bump protected and precise cutouts are available for all ports and features. The case is also compatible with wireless charging the Active Edge feature. The Spigen Rugged Armor case is priced at $9.99.


Incipio DualPro

incipio dualpro

The Incipio DualPro is another case that offers dual layer protection with a shock absorbing inner core and impact resistant Plextonium polycarbonate frame. The buttons are covered but easy to press, and there are precise cutouts for everything else. The Incipio DualPro case is currently available for $29.99.


Poetic Revolution

poetic revolution rugged pixel 3 xl case

The Poetic Revolution is a great option if you are looking for one of the rugged Google Pixel 3 XL cases around. Made with polycarbonate and TPU materials, the case comes textured sides that provide enhanced grip and raised supports on the corners to create a cushion. A polycarbonate shell covers the front and comes with a built-in screen protector. The case also comes with a kickstand. The Poetic Revolution case is available in black, white, and sky blue, and retails for $14.95.


Moment Pixel 3 XL case

The Moment Pixel 3 XL case is designed to let owners attach one of Moment’s smartphone camera lens add-ons to the back of the case. Therefore, its great for people who want to get more out of the Pixel 3 XL’s already excellent camera hardware. You can also attach a wrist strap to the bottom of the Moment case for better grip while you take pictures. The case also has a rubberized body designed to protect the phone from any accidental spills or drops.

It’s on Amazon for $34.99 and you can choose from models with a black canvas finish, a speckled white finish with real tan horween leather, or one like the model above with a real wood finish.


That’s it for this roundup of some of the Google Pixel 3 XL cases that are currently available, and we will be updating this post with more choices as they are released.

Pixel 3 XL coverage:

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Google Wifi vs Netgear Orbi: Which should you buy?

We’re a virtual company made up of tech experts from across the globe. The majority of our work is also done from a home office, where great Wi-Fi is a must. We’ve tried all these products and know what works best.

Google Wifi

The name you know

$249 at Amazon

Pros

  • Whole-house coverage
  • Easy setup
  • Inexpensive
  • App-based administration
  • Secure

Cons

  • Google collects data
  • Can’t change settings when the internet is down
  • No dedicated wireless backhaul

Google Wifi is simple to use, easy to set up, and inexpensive; you can even run a cable to a switch should you need to do it. On the downside, there’s no dedicated channel for backhaul and Google does collect some data about how the product is being used.

Netgear Orbi

Prosumer choice

$300 at Amazon

Pros

  • Whole-house coverage
  • Advanced settings
  • Separate backhaul channel
  • More LAN ports

Cons

  • Units are huge
  • Expensive

If you want a mesh Wi-Fi system and want or need advanced settings, plenty of LAN ports, or dedicated backhaul, Netgear has what you’re looking for. You’ll be paying more for the options, however, and the satellites are really big.

Both Google Wifi and Netgear’s Orbi will give you strong Wi-Fi in most homes, but there are some major differences here. Both systems can be fire-and-forget with a simple setup, but if you want to go beyond the basics, the Netgear Orbi is a much better choice.

Putting the ‘pro’ in ‘prosumer’

You’re a long way from the router your internet provider wants to rent you when you invest in a mesh Wi-Fi system. It’s easy to get caught up in information overload whenever you’re researching new tech like a mesh system and forget the basics — you want good, fast Wi-Fi in your house and you want to do it right the first time.

Netgear Orbi Google Wifi
Coverage 5,000 sq ft 4,500 sq ft
Performance AC3000 AC1200
Frequency 2.4GHz, 5GHz 2.4GHz, 5GHz
Wireless standards Radio 1: 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, 256QAM support

Radio 2: 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz, 256QAM support

Radio 3: 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz, 256QAM support

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Processor Qualcomm IPQ4019 710 MHz Quad-core
Memory 4GB Flash
512MB RAM
4GB Flash
512MB RAM
Ports USB 2.0 No USB
Ethernet Router: 1 WAN, 3 LAN

Satellite: 4 LAN

2 Ethernet per unit
Beamforming Yes Yes

You’ll quickly notice that Netgear’s Orbi is chock full of Ethernet ports and would better fit into a mixed network. Google Wifi does offer a pair of Ethernet ports on each unit and they work well — I’m using them to feed small switches for gear that needs a wired connection — but the Orbi is more like a traditional Wi-Fi router with four LAN ports on each piece. It probably negates the need for a separate switch for most people.

A bigger difference is in the settings. Google Wifi does offer things like a guest account, parental controls, a preferred device mode, and the rest of the basics you expect from any router, but the Orbi uses the same network settings portal that Netgear’s high-end routers like the Nighthawk use. That means you’ll have standardized port forwarding settings, true QoS settings, a DMZ to keep devices outside of the software firewall, and more. It also has a separate radio for wireless backhaul, which means you’re not halving speeds at each hop.

You might not care about any of that. Maybe you don’t even know what to do with those settings. That’s OK because you can use the Orbi as-is after the fairly simple setup routine and it will work well.

Google Wifi doesn’t have most of those settings but it does have something just as good for many folks — it’s dead simple and Google updates the firmware for exploits as soon as they are found. In fact, Google is one of the companies that finds a good many of these exploits and is reliable at providing updates across the board. Google Wifi is one of those things you’ll never need to adjust or monkey with unless you want to.

A final word about privacy is in order. Both Netgear and Google collect data when you use Google Wifi or the Netgear Orbi system. To see exactly what type of data is collected, the relevant privacy policies, and how to opt-out of collection and analytics, here are the pages about it all for each product:

You know what type of home network you need. If you have any use for advanced features or need to plug in more than a few Ethernet cords, Netgear has the better choice in the Orbi. If you don’t need them, save some money and enjoy the simplicity of Google Wifi.

Google Wifi

Inexpensive and works great

$249 at Amazon

The simple solution from a familiar name

Google Wifi is a great product for almost every home. It doesn’t offer the better speeds you see from a mesh system with wireless backhaul and tri-band radios, but most users will never notice and even stressful applications like Netflix binging work great.

Netgear Orbi

For advanced users

$300 at Amazon

The settings you need

Plenty of LAN ports, advanced settings, and a dedicated backhaul channel make the Orbi the best choice for a home with a more advanced network.

Best portable battery chargers (January 2019)

Smartphone technology has come a long way in the past few years, but there is a lingering issue that is taking time to evolve — battery life. Sure, batteries are getting bigger and phones more resourceful, but many of us still have a problem keeping our devices alive. One solution is to charge your phone throughout the day, something that proves to be an issue when there is no outlet around. The next best solution is to buy yourself a battery pack or one of the many portable chargers to charge on-the-go.

With so many options around, we know it’s hard to find the best units on the market. That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best portable chargers! While many use these devices to charge their phones, many modern electronic devices can be charged up including select laptops, tablets, and game systems like the Nintendo Switch.

Let’s get started and show you our picks for the best portable battery chargers you can buy right now. 


Best high-capacity options

Anker PowerCore+ 26,800mAh portable battery charger

Anker is a trusted name when it comes to portable battery chargers, and this particular option offers it all. To start with, you get the massive capacity of 26,800mAh, which is more than enough to fully recharge your smartphone multiple times. The power bank comes with three USB ports, including a USB-C port with 30W output to let you charge a MacBook and the Nintendo Switch. Like every portable charger on this list, you get protection from short circuits, overcharging, and current and voltage surge. The portable charger also comes with a 30W USB-C wall charger.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 26,800mAh
  • Output: 2 x USB ports 5V/3A max, 1 x USB-C port 5V/3A or 9V~15V/2A or 20V/1.5A (30W max)
  • Dimensions: 166.1 x 80 x 23.1mm, 576grams
  • Current price: $129.99

RAVPower 20,100mAh portable charger

This RAVPower portable charger offers features that are similar to the Anker charger above, with a few key differences. The capacity is slightly lower at 20,100mAh, but the USB-C port offers a 45W output. The capacity is still more than enough to recharge a smartphone multiple times and the device can be used to charge laptops like Macbooks and the Dell XPS 13 or 15 as well. 4 LED indicators let you know how much charge the power bank has remaining. You also get a standard USB-A port that will let you charge a second device simultaneously.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 20,100mAh
  • Output: 1 x USB ports 5V/2.4A max, 1 x USB-C port 5V~15V/3A or 20V/2.25A (45W max)
  • Dimensions: 160 x 78.5 x 23mm, 400grams
  • Current price: $59.99

AUKEY 20,000mAh portable charger

Portable battery charger - Aukey

AUKEY is a pretty well-known name in the phone accessories industry. Its product lineup includes this 20,000mAh external battery that features a thin and slim design compared to the more bulky devices on this list. Even with its thin casing, it has four power output ports for charging up to four devices at once, including three standard USB ports plus one USB Type-C port to charge the latest smartphones.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 20,000mAh
  • Output: 1 x USB-C port 5V/3A max, 3 x USB ports 5V/2A
  • Dimensions: 200 x 96 x 14mm, 435grams
  • Current price: $39.99
 

MAXOAK 50,000mAh portable charger

If you want to get a portable battery charger that can charge all of your smartphones, laptops, and tablets at once, then the MAXOAK charger may be for you. It not only has a massive 50,000mAh capacity, but it has no less than six charging ports. One of the ports has a 20V/5A charging capacity for laptops. Another port has a 12V/2.5A charger, while two others have a 5V/2.1A capacity. The final two ports have a 5V/1A capacity. It may not be the most portable power bank on this best portable chargers list, but it should be more than enough to cover all your charging needs.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 50,000mAh
  • Output: 6 ports (1 x 20V/5A, 1 x 12V/2.5Am 2 x 5V/2.1A, 2 x 5V/1A)
  • Dimensions: 205.7 x 134.6 x 33mm, 1.25kgs
  • Current price: $135.99
 
Looking for more high-capacity power bank option? check out our guide to the best ultra-high capacity portable chargers (26,800 mAh and above).

Best smaller capacity option: Anker PowerCore Slim 5,000mAh portable charger

Anker PowerCore Slim

The Anker PowerCore Slim, as the name suggests, is a thin, sleek, and ultra portable battery charger. The device comes with a 5,000mAh capacity, which should be enough to fully charge or get close to a full charge with most current smartphones. It comes with a single USB port that takes advantage of PowerIQ technology to allow for the fastest charge possible. While the PowerCore Slim may not be as feature packed as the other ones on this best portable chargers list, its portability is the biggest selling point.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 5,000mAh
  • Output: 1 x PowerIQ port 5V/2A
  • Dimensions: 124.5 x 63.5 x 10.2mm, 126grams
  • Current price: $29.99

Be sure to check out our guide for more portable chargers with a capacity of 10,000mAh or less.


Best for wireless charging power bank: AideaZ 20,000mAh portable battery charger

Portable battery charger - AideaZ

The Aidez portable charger not only has a battery with a big 20,000mAh capacity but also offers wireless charging. Owners can place compatible phones on top of the battery and charge them cable free. It also has two USB Type-C ports with Quick Charge support for a more conventional, and faster, phone charging experience. That means this portable battery can charge two wired phones and one wireless phone at the same time. The battery also has an LED indicator to let you know the exact charge percentage left in the battery.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 20,000mAh
  • Output: 2 x USB-C output ports (5~6V/3A, 6~9V/2A, 9~12V//1.5A), wireless charging
  • Dimensions: 170.2 x 61 x 22.9mm, 377grams
  • Current price: $44.99
 
 

Jump start capable battery pack: Beatit 500A 10,800mAh portable charger

The Beatit portable jump starter is ideal for anyone looking to address all their emergency power needs with a single device. This portable charger will jump-start a 3.0L gas or 2.5L diesel engine up to 20 times on a single charge. It also comes with three USB ports, including one with support for Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 and a USB-C port, to keep your devices charged on the go. There is also a flashlight with three modes — normal, SOS, and strobe. Considering all its features and its affordable price, this is one of the best portable battery chargers for anyone who is on the road a lot.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 10,800mAh
  • Output: 1 x USB port 5V/2A, 1 x USB-C port 5V/3A, 1 x QC 3.0 port 5V/2A or 6.5V~9V/1.5A or 9V~12V/1A
  • Current: Start current 250A, Peak current 500A
  • Dimensions: 145 x 84 x 25.4mm, 454grams
  • Current price: $39.99

Best for solar battery chargers: RAVPower 25,000mAh solar charger

If you’re the outdoorsy type, this is the best portable charger to get. It offers a large 25,000mAh capacity and features a solar panel on top for charging the device while you’re out and about. It’s also waterproof and there’s a flashlight on board that can be used in case you run into trouble on your adventure. The power bank has three USB ports, including a quick charge port and a USB-C port. All of these features make it a great option for those who love to hike, camp, and do similar outdoor activities.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 25,000mAh
  • Output: 1 x USB port 5V/2.4A, 1 x USB-C port 5V/3A, 1 x QC port 5V/3A or 6.5V~9V/2A or 9V~12V/1.5A
  • Dimensions: 233.7 x 99 x 38.1mm, 550grams
  • Current price: $52.99
For more solar battery chargers, be sure to check out our extended guide.
 

There you have it. These are our picks for the best portable chargers currently available! Now hit the comments and let us know which portable battery charger would you consider getting. Are there any other portable battery packs you think your fellow Android fans would like?

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