The best WiFi routers in 2021

  • TP-Link’s Archer AX50 is an affordable router, but its performance makes it a reliable pick for the best router.
  • Your router’s speed and reliability will affect the speed of every Wi-Fi device in your home.
  • Today’s best routers support the Wi-Fi 6 standard, which is now available at affordable prices.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The humble router is an often-overlooked device that’s key to unlocking great performance from computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices that rely on a fast Internet connection. Buying the best router you can afford will ensure your home network’s performance doesn’t become a bottleneck.

Wi-Fi 6, the latest wireless networking standard, helps affordable routers achieve speeds that used to be reserved for the most luxurious models. Mesh networking has improved Wi-Fi reliability in homes with spotty WiFi signals, as well, though it’s not necessary in every home.

2021 is a great year to buy a new router. The Wi-Fi 6 standard is now broadly supported by new devices, but it remains a fresh innovation. Today’s best Wi-Fi routers will be useful for at least five years.

Here are the best Wi-Fi routers:

The best router overall

TP Link Archer AX50

TP-Link’s Archer AX50 is the gold standard in the router market. Affordable yet fast, the Archer AX50 challenges not only its inexpensive competition but also premium routers. You can spend a lot more on a router without seeing a significant boost in everyday performance.

The secret to this router’s success is a simple but fast Wi-Fi 6 implementation. The AX50 can’t claim the highest maximum bandwidth or the most Wi-Fi bands, but it consistently performs well in many situations. 

It can handle real-world download and upload speeds of up to 800Gbps within one room from the router. Its performance will be slashed to half that a couple rooms over, but this remains more than adequate for most uses.  

The AX50‘s range isn’t great for homes larger than 2,000 square feet unless it can be placed directly in the center of the house or apartment. 

Still, this router is incredible value. It’s a great fit for a family of up to four people in a home or apartment smaller than 2,000 square feet.

The best mesh router

Nest Wi Fi 2 pack

The Google Nest Wifi is a mesh network system that combines multiple wireless access points into a single wireless network. This happens seamlessly without additional management. Mesh networks are great for homes with Wi-Fi dead spots that a single router can’t fix and are superior to Wi-Fi extenders.

Ease-of-use is Nest Wifi’s key feature. Both setup and router control are handled through an intuitive smartphone app. Those who own other Nest devices, or frequently use Google Assistant, will find it instantly familiar. 

It even supports Google Assistant. The access points serve double duty as Google Assistant smart speakers. This will be a killer feature for some buyers.

Nest Wifi is an entry-level mesh network with less impressive specifications than competitors. It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6. It also offers just two Ethernet ports per access point, which can be a problem if you connect to multiple devices over Ethernet. 

These flaws are forgiven by the price. The two-device bundle, which contains the Nest Wifi router and one wireless access point, is less expensive than many standalone routers. This makes Nest Wifi a great fit if you’ve found that a single router can’t provide acceptable Wi-Fi performance to your entire home.

The best budget router

TP Link Archer A7

The TP-Link Archer A7 was once the best value in routers. It’s an older model with good performance and range for the price. It doesn’t offer Wi-Fi 6, however, and was replaced by the Archer AX21 in 2020.

Why is this router still relevant? Because it’s ridiculously affordable. The Archer A7 is barely more expensive than a family dinner at Applebee’s. That makes it an attractive option for those who live in a home or apartment under 1,000 square feet. 

As mentioned, this router does not support Wi-Fi 6. You can expect real-world performance between 350 megabytes per second and 50Mbps, depending on a device’s range from a router. That’s mediocre by modern standards, but it’s decent if your devices are close enough to the router to see the higher side of that range. This is all you need if your Internet service plan doesn’t include speeds above what the Archer A7 can provide.

Setup is easy, and the router’s range is good enough to cover most two-bedroom homes and apartments. The router itself is small but still offers the four Ethernet ports found on most routers, so it can handle several wired Ethernet devices.

The best router for value

TP Link Archer AX6000

TP-Link’s Archer AX6000 is among the most expensive routers available from the company, and its specifications receive an appropriate boost. The Archer AX6000’s maximum possible bandwidth is twice that of the AX50, and the AX6000 has a more robust antenna arrangement that can better handle multiple simultaneous devices. 

This router has great range for the price. Windows Central found it could reach devices up to 40 feet away over its 5GHz band, or over 50 feet away on the 2.4GHz band. Its range is perfect for apartments or homes as large as 3,000 square feet if the router can be located near the center of your home. 

There’s good news for wired Ethernet, too. The Archer AX6000 has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports. It also has a 2.5Gbps WAN port, an uncommon feature that can be useful if you have wired network devices, like network-attached storage, that support 2.5Gbps Ethernet. USB-A 3.0 and USB-C 3.0 ports round out the wired connectivity. 

The Archer AX6000 is a large router, measuring about 10 inches on a side and two and half inches thick. It has a square, industrial look that can stick out in a room. This could annoy buyers who can’t easily hide the router. 

Still, this router is perfect for those who want excellent range and performance without paying a premium.

The best premium router

Asus RT-88AX

The Asus RT-88AX is a nice upgrade for buyers who want excellent performance and enough range to handle larger homes, but don’t want to stretch their budget into the extreme realm of tri-band routers or premium mesh networks.

This router offers eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, double the ports found on most routers. Although this isn’t unheard of in a premium router, the Asus RT-88AX is among the least expensive routers with this feature. It also has a USB-A 3.1 port. This router is a great pick for those who have many wired devices.

The Asus RT-88AX is no slouch in wireless performance. It can come close to delivering on Wi-Fi 6’s promise of wireless speeds close to the performance of wired Gigabit Ethernet. This is only possible at close range, but PCMag found its bandwidth still exceeds 450 megabytes per second at a range of 30 feet.

Despite these features, the Asus RT-88AX has a conventional, sleek router look. This contrasts with alternatives that have a more industrial design. The RT-88AX is a good choice if you can’t hide your router and don’t want it to stand out in a room.

The best gaming router

ASUS Rapture showcase

Asus’ ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is a top-tier Wi-Fi 6 router. It’s a tri-band router, which means it has two 5GHz Wi-Fi bands and one 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band. You can choose to split the 5GHz band between devices, or reserve one of the bands for just a single device that you want to have maximum wireless performance and reliability. 

This router is marketed to gamers, but its capabilities are a good fit for large families and large homes. Tom’s Hardware found it offers nearly 100 feet of range, and its performance held up well as range from the router increased. The Asus GT-AX11000 is a good fit for homes larger than 3,000 square feet.

The Asus GT-AX11000 has a robust interface with many options designed to provide better control over how devices access the network. Power users and enthusiasts will like this interface.

Wired connectivity is a weakness. This router has just four Gigabit Ethernet ports alongside a single 2.5Gbps LAN port. It also has two USB-A 3.1 ports. Although enough for many homes, its mediocre wired connectivity is odd given the otherwise extreme feature set. 

This is also among the most expensive home routers sold today. Its performance, while exceptional, isn’t a great value compared to the TP-Link Archer AX6000. However, the Asus GT-AX11000 is a better fit for large homes packed with dozens of wireless devices.

The best mesh router for performance

Netgear Orbi Mesh Wifi

The Netgear Orbi Pro AX6000 is a fast and reliable mesh network system for large homes. Like the Nest Wifi, this system uses multiple wireless access points to deliver more reliable Wi-Fi connectivity and get around obstacles that might otherwise block Wi-Fi signals.

Netgear’s system is far more capable, however. It supports Wi-Fi 6 and has a significantly more robust antenna arrangement. This system even provides four Gigabit Ethernet ports per router or access point, so you can attach plenty of wired devices. 

The least expensive Orbi AX6000 WiFi Mesh System bundle includes one router and one access point, which should work for homes between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet. You can add more access points for even greater range. The four-pack system, which has one router and three access points, should work for homes of up to 8,000 square feet. 

Other Wi-Fi mesh networks can offer similar specifications, but reviewers currently lean towards the Orbi AX6000 as the best option. Forbes and Tom’s Hardware both named it the best Wi-Fi mesh router available.

Price is the only downside. This Netgear Orbi system is three times more expensive than Nest Wifi. Netgear does sell less expensive Orbi systems but, like Nest Wifi, they currently lack Wi-Fi 6 support,

The best value mesh router

ASUS ZenWiFi AX 6600

Asus’ ZenWiFi AX6600 is a great mid-range mesh network that is suitable for most homes. It’s among the most affordable mesh options to support the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. 

Wi-Fi 6 support leads to excellent performance. CNET and PCMag both named this router an editor’s choice thanks to its speed. The ZenWiFi AX6600 can deliver Wi-Fi speeds competitive with the more expensive Orbi AX6000 system in some scenarios. The Orbi pulls ahead at long range, but the ZenWiFi AX6000 is often neck-and-neck with the Orbi when connected to devices 30 feet away or closer.

That’s an acceptable compromise for homes and apartments that are smaller than 2,500 square feet. Asus’ ZenWiFi AX6600 system also provides smaller, more attractive satellites that will be easier to hide. The system’s router has three Gigabit Ethernet ports and a 2.5Gbps WAN port. 

While not the most powerful mesh system, Asus’ ZenWiFi AX6600 hits a sweet spot of price and performance. It’s a great alternative to similarly priced routers which, although packed with more capable hardware, are often more difficult to manage.

Why you should buy a Wi-Fi 6 router

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest wireless standard. It’s backward compatible with previous standards but also offers a huge leap in performance.

The maximum theoretical speed of Wi-Fi 6 is 9.6 gigabits per second (Gbps), up from 3.5 Gbps with Wi-Fi 5. While most consumer Internet service plans can’t hit these speeds, they’re still useful for devices on your local network, such as network attached storage. 

More importantly, the measured real-world performance of Wi-Fi 6 routers blows away their predecessors. A 20 to 50 percent improvement is common. Wi-Fi 6 routers also have better range and see less reduction in performance when handling many devices, traits that are useful in any home.

This comes with an important catch. Both the router and the device connecting to it, such as your smartphone or laptop, must support Wi-Fi 6 to boost performance. If not, the connection will fall back to the Wi-Fi 5 standard (or an even older standard, if you’re connecting an ancient device).

Still, Wi-Fi 6 is the way forward. Most new smartphones, computers, and smart home devices introduced in 2021 will support Wi-Fi 6. It will be the expected standard for new devices by 2022. 

A Wi-Fi 5 router or mesh network can work well, but only makes sense when pricing significantly beats alternatives with Wi-Fi 6 support. That’s why most routers and mesh networks on this list support Wi-Fi 6.

What is a mesh network, and should you buy one?

Mesh networking is the latest trend in wireless connectivity. Mesh networking devices, often sold in packages as mesh network routers, mesh access points, or mesh network systems, provide multiple wireless access points for your network. 

Each access point can communicate with its partners to balance network load, which ultimately provides a more reliable home network. The use of multiple access points can also help deliver Wi-Fi coverage to hard-to-reach wireless dead spots, like a basement or a room on the far side of a concrete or brick wall. 

This might sound complex, but simplicity is among mesh networking’s best features. Most companies that sell mesh networks provide attractive companion apps that are more approachable than a typical router’s user interface. 

Mesh networks will make standalone routers obsolete in the future. Pricing is all that holds them back. Even the most affordable examples are priced to compete with premium routers. This makes sense; you’re getting multiple access points instead of one router. Still, high pricing will turn off many buyers. 

While mesh networks are excellent, buyers should beware so-called mesh networking devices that are glorified Wi-Fi range extenders. They’re often sold as add-on devices instead of mesh network systems with multiple access points in a single package. The term “mesh network” doesn’t refer to any specific technical standard, so the marketing minds at router companies are slapping the term on anything that can extend a wireless network.

What we’re looking forward to testing

The release of Wi-Fi 6 means router manufacturers are in the middle of updating their product lines. Most manufacturers have updated their consumer routers to the new standard, but mesh network products and specialty routers are still in the middle of updates.

The Wi-Fi Alliance introduced a new standard, Wi-Fi 6E, in 2020. Wi-Fi 6E adds a 6GHz wireless channel to the options available, alongside the 5GHz and 2.4GHz already supported. This is helpful because congestion on existing bands is a constant issue. The 6GHz band should also provide better performance in ideal scenarios.

Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link, Asus, and Arris announced Wi-Fi 6E routers or mesh systems at CES 2021. The Wi-Fi 6E options announced include:

  • Arris Surfboard Max AX6600 mesh router
  • Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 router
  • Asus RT-AX68U router
  • Linksys Velop AXE8400 mesh router
  • Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 router
  • TP-Link Archer A96 router
  • TP-Link Archer AX206 router
  • TP-Link Deco X96 mesh router
  • TP-Link Deco X76 Plus mesh router

Most of these options won’t be available until the second half of 2021. Though Wi-Fi 6E will improve performance in some situations, you shouldn’t hold off on purchasing a router because of this new standard.

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The best mattress for every type of sleeper, according to our rigorous testing

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Your mattress is the most important part of your sleep setup, so it goes without saying that finding the right one is critical to your sleep quality and comfort.

That’s why I tested two dozen mattresses for this guide, relied on the reviews of colleagues, and consulted with Michael Breus, Ph.D., a board-certified psychologist in clinical sleep disorders and also known as “The Sleep Doctor,” and Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida.

I’ve been testing mattresses for more than four years to determine the best, and while that decision is ultimately subjective, our testing results are objective: you can read how we test mattresses here. Unless noted otherwise, each mattress I tested was a Queen because it’s the most popular size. Every one of our picks below performed well in our tests, has a long risk-free home trial, is easy to unbox and set up, and can be returned – although some brands will deduct certain fees.

For context, I’m a side and stomach sleeper and my wife is a back sleeper – between the two of us, we’ve got all the major sleeping styles covered. You can find more details of how we tested, models we tested that missed the cut, and how to shop for a mattress at the end of the guide.

Here are the best mattresses of 2021

Best mattresses by type:

Best mattresses by comfort:

Best mattresses by sleep style and body type:

Best mattresses by price:

Best foam

Best foam mattress 2021 Tempur Pedic Cloud

The Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress features contouring foam that cradles sleepers of all body types and sleeping styles while offering outstanding pressure relief and heat dissipation.

Pros: Great heat dissipation, outstanding motion isolation, 90-night trial, 10 inches thick with 3 layers of supportive and comforting Tempur foam that caters to all sleeping types

Cons: A shipping charge is deducted from your refund if you choose to return your bed, unimpressive edge support, no white-glove delivery

The Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress arrives in a box now like many other brands; you just open the box, remove the mattress, cut through the plastic, and unroll. Like many foam mattresses, it had an odor that dissipated after a few hours. 

There are three foam layers: a soft and responsive comfort top layer, a firmer support layer, and finally, a supportive and durable base. The polyester-blend stretch cover is moisture-wicking and breathes well. 

I was struck by how the patented foam contoured to my body and offered impressive pressure relief. I was comfortable on my stomach and side, and my wife, who is a back sleeper, also enjoyed the feel. During testing, I was able to fall asleep within minutes of laying down

Unlike most all-foam mattresses, the Cloud didn’t overheat. When I got up at night, the heat dissipated making it cool enough to fall right back asleep when I got back in bed. The Cloud also passed my objective motion isolation tests, and when my rambunctious dog jumped onto the bed in the morning, I barely noticed.

The Cloud also supported my back well. I suffer from lower back pain that flares up when I sleep on an unsupportive mattress. While testing the mattress, I didn’t experience any back aggravation.

The biggest negative with is the Cloud’s poor edge support. I noticed significant sinking when I sat or laid on the edge of the bed. This isn’t a deal breaker; however, couples may want a King for more space without feeling uncomfortable on the edges. 

Read our full Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress review

Best hybrid/innerspring

Best hybrid innerspring mattress 2021 DreamCloud Premier

The DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress performed well in all of the tests we put it through, which makes it ideal for most sleeping types, couples, and people who tend to overheat at night.

Pros: Impressive 365-night trial period, lifetime warranty, made with CertiPUR-US certified foams, good heat dissipation, great motion transfer, excellent edge support, easy to move with side handles

Cons: Lacks support for stomach sleepers

We chose to combine hybrid and innerspring mattresses for this update because the line between the two categories has blurred so much in recent years.

As with most hybrids, the DreamCloud Premier consists of a combination of individually-wrapped coils and foam. The bed’s top layer is high-loft memory foam covered by quilted cashmere. From top to bottom, the other layers are high-density gel memory foam, supportive foam, coils, and a porous foam base.

Despite its heft, the DreamCloud is easy to maneuver thanks to handles on the long sides of the bed. Removing the mattress from the box and setting it up only took about five minutes. While there was a new bed smell initially, the odor dissipated by bedtime.

When it comes to performance, the DreamCloud Premier scored well in every test. It particularly excelled in heat dissipation: within two minutes of getting out of bed, the surface temperature of the bed dropped by 14 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The edge support and motion isolation were both excellent, making this a smart option for couples. When sharing the bed with my wife, I didn’t notice her shifting position in the night. When lying on the edge of the bed, I still felt supported.

Though it’s billed as a “luxury firm,” I found the mattress to be soft and preferred sleeping on my side rather than my stomach. Still, I was comfortable enough on my stomach, I just didn’t feel as supported. My wife appreciated the cushy feel while sleeping on her back.

What’s particularly unique about DreamCloud is its 365-night trial period and lifetime warranty, which is among the most generous of the mattresses I’ve tested. 

Best adjustable airbed

Best adjustable air mattress 2021 Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed

If you and your partner just can’t agree on a mattress firmness, the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed allows you to customize each side to your perfect firmness and the bed automatically makes adjustments based on your body’s position.

Pros: 20 firmness options make it ideal for all sleeping styles, good edge support, white glove delivery included with purchase, built-in sleep tracker, automatic air adjustments based on sleeping position

Cons: Hard to move, terrible motion isolation, may not be ideal for hot sleepers

Your mattress should last you for at least 10 years. In that time, a lot can happen to change your firmness preferences. For example, when I lost significant weight, I developed a preference for softer mattresses. Also, if you share a bed with someone, the odds are pretty small that you’ll find the same firmness comfortable. These scenarios demonstrate why an airbed with adjustable firmness is a good investment.

The Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed is the best adjustable airbed I’ve tested. Two features set it apart. First, it has an automatic function that, when engaged, will adjust the firmness of the mattress as you shift positions in the night. Second, the mattress tracks your sleeping and offers custom recommendations in the app (available for iOS and Android).

While I found the adjustable air feature was a game-changer and significantly improved my sleep, the sleep tracking was nowhere near as accurate as my Garmin Forerunner 945 watch. However, even during the month I tested the mattress, Sleep Number made improvements to the app, and a representative for the company said a team is constantly making tweaks to make it more useful.

I appreciated that I didn’t have to lift a finger to unbox the mattress. Two Sleep Number delivery people set up the dual adjustable bed frames and King-size mattress in about 45 minutes and made sure the bed connected to my phone and worked correctly.

The separate firmness level settings for each side and good edge support make it a smart choice for couples. However, the mattress failed my motion transfer tests each time, and my wife remarked that the bed felt like a water bed with how noticeable the motion is. Another negative is how hard it is to move the mattress. It’s attached securely to the base so if you want to move it, you need to bring the base with you or figure out how to detach the mattress. Both methods require significantly more effort than your standard mattress.

Best latex

Best latex mattress 2021 Birch mattress by Helix

The Birch Mattress by Helix is made of sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials and offers firm and soft comfort options to accommodate a number of preferences.

Pros: Above-average firmness, soft topper available for an extra cost, very good motion isolation, made of natural materials, Greenguard Gold certified

Cons: Pillow top is slightly smaller than the mattress and doesn’t attach to it, not ideal for side sleepers without the pillow top, no white-glove delivery

From the cover to the latex and the wool, the Birch Mattress by Helix is made of eco-friendly materials. The mattress is Greenguard Gold-certified to be free of harsh chemicals, and it’s handmade in the US. The top layer is made of a fire-retardant layer of natural wool fibers with rayon, followed by an organic wool layer for temperature regulation and comfort. The middle layers are made of natural Talalay latex certified by several environmental organizations, including OEKO-Tex, and individually-wrapped coils for support and limited motion transfer. The base is organic wool batting for durability and stability, and the cover is made of GOTS-certified organic cotton.

When I went to unbox the Birch, I found these materials proved hefty. Though it didn’t come with special tools or instructions, it was a standard unboxing — remove the bed from the box and cut through the layers of plastic. Within five minutes, the mattress was resting on the bed frame. There was a slight initial odor, though it dissipated within hours. 

The Birch Mattress by Helix on its own is firm, but for an extra cost, you can add a plush organic mattress topper to make the bed softer. I tested the mattress with the topper since I prefer a softer feel and I was much more comfortable than laying on the base mattress alone, especially when sleeping on my side. Though, if you like a firmer feel, you might want to skip the topper. 

The Birch Mattress is an excellent solution for couples thanks to its outstanding edge support and motion isolation. I performed my motion transfer test on the bed four times, and it only failed once. When I sat on the side of the bed, I felt supported, and when I laid on the very edge, I didn’t feel like I was going to fall.

After testing the mattress, I gave it to my 6-foot-5 teenager. He deals with joint pain from constantly growing, and he said the bed helped soothe his pains. We both sleep hot, and the Birch did an adequate job of dissipating heat. However, on hotter nights, he reports the mattress is uncomfortably hot.

Best for hot sleepers

best mattress for hot sleepers 2021 purple premier hybrid

The Purple Premier Hybrid mattress not only has outstanding heat dissipation, but the patented Purple Grid offers pressure relief to all sleeping styles.

Pros: Excellent heat dissipation, great for all sleeping types, free white-glove delivery, outstanding pressure relief, bouncy

Cons: Poor motion isolation, heavy

To measure heat dissipation, I use a laser thermometer and consider how hot a mattress gets and how quickly it returns to its starting temperatures. 

The Purple Premier Hybrid is our top pick for a cooling mattress because, based on our temperature tests, it builds up the least amount of heat of any mattress we tried and quickly releases any remaining heat within two minutes of getting out of bed. In my tests, the Purple mattress returned to within three degrees of the ambient temperature in those two minutes. It was almost as if no one had been sleeping on it at all.

The Purple Hybrid Premier mattress is so heavy I needed help unboxing it. Once released from the packaging, we carried the mattress to the foundation. I strongly recommend taking advantage of Purple’s free white glove delivery of the Hybrid Premier.

What sets Purple beds apart from other brands is the “Purple Grid,” which is made up of hyper-elastic gel polymer “grid lines” with one-inch-square open spaces between. You can choose how thick you want your grid: two, three, or four inches. I chose the three-inch thickness option, sometimes called the Purple 3. 

Below the grid is a CertiPUR-US certified polyurethane foam layer, and below that is 7.5-inch pocketed springs. The cover is soft and breathable.

When you first lay down on the Purple, the feel of the grid is noticeable since it’s located right under the cover. It’s a unique feel that can take some getting used to. 

I preferred to sleep on my side when testing the Premier Hybrid, but I was also comfortable on my stomach. I like the responsiveness of the grid, which immediately relieves pressure where you need it to most. 

While the Premier Hybrid failed our objective motion isolation tests spectacularly, my subjective experience wasn’t so bad. On occasion, my dog was able to sneak onto the mattress without me noticing. Also, I noticed the so-so motion isolation was likely due to the exceptional bounce of the bed, which couples may appreciate.

Best for cold sleepers

best mattress for cold sleepers 2021 nectar lush

We found the all-foam construction of the Nectar Lush Mattress holds heat without causing overheating and has a firmness that will fit a variety of different positions, making it ideal for people who tend to sleep cold.

Pros: Long trial period and warranty, excellent edge support, made of CertiPUR-US certified foam, sleeps warmer than most mattresses, average firmness that will appeal to all sleeping styles

Cons: Poor motion isolation, not ideal for people who sleep hot

Most mattress brands put an emphasis on making products that keep you cool through the night, and Nectar is no different. The company markets the Lush Mattress as offering “dual action cooling.” However, in my experience, the Lush Mattress held onto body heat and facilitated a warmer sleep. While this may be a deal breaker for hot sleepers like myself, the Lush is an excellent choice if you have trouble staying warm at night.

The Nectar Lush setup experience varied slightly from the norm in that it came with a safety blade for cutting through the plastic. Out of the packaging, it had a strong new bed odor, but I kept the room well-ventilated, and it was fine by night time.

The Lush has three layers of CertiPUR-US certified foam: a top layer of gel-coated memory foam, a mid-layer higher density memory foam, and a stabilizing and supportive base foam. A poly-blend cover envelopes the layers.

When it comes to firmness, I felt the Nectar Lush Mattress was about average, which should appeal to a broad range of sleepers. While I was comfortable sleeping on my side and stomach, my preferred position during testing was a cross between the two.

If you share a bed with your partner or pets, you might want to consider a mattress with better motion isolation, since the Lush Mattress consistently failed our tests. However, it does have excellent edge support. I felt supported both when I sat and laid on the very edge.

Lastly, one major benefit is the long trial period and warranty. It’s among the best of any in our guide.

Best ultra-firm

best mattress 2021 airweave

The Airweave Mattress has a breathable and non-toxic polyethylene core that offers ultra-firm support to all parts of the bed, even the very edges.

Pros: Features a soft insert to transform the bed from incredibly firm to just firm, great heat dissipation, outstanding edge support, decent motion isolation, 100-night sleep trial, machine-washable cover

Cons: Some assembly required, hard to move around, not recommended for side sleepers

The Airweave Mattress is one of the most unique beds I’ve ever tested — it’s modular and it requires more assembly than most mattresses. The polyethylene core is broken into three blocks. You place these on the bottom half of the cover, seal up an inner cover, add the polyester soft layer, and zip on the top of the cover. With this level of assembly, white-glove delivery would be an attractive option. Unfortunately, Airweave does not currently offer this service.

I like that there’s a soft layer insert that you can easily remove if you’d prefer an ultra-firm mattress rather than just firm. Even with the soft layer, the mattress was firmer than I’d prefer and sleeping on my side was out of the question. I mainly slept on my stomach and a little on my back when testing this mattress, and I was surprisingly comfortable in these positions. I appreciated how cool the bed slept thanks to the breathable core.

In my experience, mattresses that are less than 10 inches thick are not supportive enough, but at 8 inches thick, the Airweave surprisingly offered plenty of support. With its short stature and light weight — the Queen only weighs 71.5 pounds — you might assume the mattress would be easy to move around, but it’s a beast. The blocks cause the mattress to flop, which adds to the difficulty.

The Airweave is a great solution for anyone who loves firm mattresses. The edge support is excellent on all sides and the bed performed well in my motion transfer tests. When I dropped the bowling ball, the soda can rarely fell over on the first impact, but the bed is incredibly bouncy and the can would sometimes fall over on the second bounce.

Best soft

Best soft mattress 2021 Casper Nova Hybrid

The Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress is ideal for side sleepers who are looking for a plush-comfort bed with great heat dissipation.

Pros: Made with eco-friendly materials, 100-night risk-free trial, good edge support, excellent heat dissipation, the plush comfort is ideal for side sleepers

Cons: Held on to its new bed smell, not the best for stomach or back sleepers, failed motion transfer tests

The Nova Hybrid is one of Casper’s newest and softest mattress, which is ideal for my side-sleeping body. When my muscles and joints were aching after exercising, the Nova Hybrid cradled my body and offered pressure relief in all the right areas. This is thanks to the supportive foam layers with ergonomic zones that are firmer around the lower back, waist, and hips, and softer under the shoulders to help align your spine.

The mattress is made of CertiPUR-US certified foam and the cover is partially composed of recycled bottles, making it an eco-friendly alternative. There are two layers of Casper’s proprietary “Airscape” foam which are meant to help with the airflow, and the topmost layer has small perforations for breathability.

I tend to overheat in bed, but when sleeping on the Nova Hybrid, I never felt hot, which is impressive since I tested the mattress in the summer. When I used the bathroom in the night, the spot where I was sleeping was cooler when I returned, which helped me get back to sleep faster. The base layer of the mattress features individually-wrapped coils surrounded by a firm border of foam. The border helps the bed’s edge support. 

With all of the layers of foam and springs, the Nova Hybrid is heavy and flops around as you move it. Fortunately, it comes with handles sewn into each corner to make it more manageable. 

The motion dampening properties, however, leave much to be desired. The Nova Hybrid failed my motion transfer tests, and when sharing the bed with my wife and dog, I could feel when either of them moved.

If you’re interested in the Nova, Wave, or Original specifically (you can check out our reviews here), and use our exclusive code ‘INSIDER’ for $200 off any size Nova or Wave, or $100 off any size Original.

Best for back pain

best mattress for back pain 2021 leesa hybrid

The Leesa Hybrid Mattress has great edge support and motion isolation. The mix of memory foam and pocket springs leads to an average firmness that makes it an outstanding solution for back pain sufferers of any sleeping style.

Pros: Average firmness that will appeal to a broad range of sleepers, edge support and motion isolation are ideal for couples, 100-night risk-free home trial, made of foam and pocket springs for support and breathability, 10-year warranty

Cons: Heavy, hard to move around

For about a year, the Leesa Hybrid was the main mattress I slept on when I wasn’t testing others. 

The bed features five layers: a cooling premium foam top layer, a contouring memory foam layer, and 14.5-gauge pocket springs that help with breathability sandwiched by two core foam support layers.

My wife and I appreciated that its average firmness suited our backs, stomachs, and sides, and I was especially impressed with its motion isolation — I rarely noticed when my wife got up in the night. The edge support is also great thanks to the innerspring coils that go all the way to the very edge of the bed. 

During the time I tested the Leesa Hybrid, I never woke up with back pain, though I have a history of pain back issues. When I wrenched my back trying to put a standing desk together, the mattress provided the pressure relief and comfort I needed to get restful sleep and facilitate the healing process. 

However, this is based on my personal experience. If you suffer from back pain, you should always consult your doctor before purchasing a new mattress.

I also encourage you to have someone else set up this bed if you have back pain. I tempted fate and tackled the task on my own. I tested a King mattress for this guide and it weighed 142 pounds. I set up the bed on my own, but I relied on white glove mattress removal once I was done with it. 

Readers can score 20% off the Hybrid with our exclusive code “INSIDER” at checkout — you can read the full details here.

Read our full Leesa Hybrid Mattress review

Best for heavy people

best mattress 2021 birch

The Birch Mattress by Helix is made of sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials and is firm enough to provide the support most heavier people need.

Pros: Above-average firmness, soft topper available for an extra cost, very good motion isolation, made of natural materials, Greenguard Gold certified

Cons: Pillow top is slightly smaller than the mattress and doesn’t attach to it, not ideal for side sleepers without the pillow top, no white-glove delivery

Though firmness preferences can vary wildly regardless of your body type, heavier individuals tend to prefer mattresses that are a little bit firmer. This is because firmness provides support, makes it easier for you to adjust your position, and keeps you from sinking in too much. For this reason, we recommend the Birch Mattress by Helix for heavy people who have struggled to find a supportive, comfortable mattress.

The Birch Mattress is made up of a combination of organic wool, organic cotton, OEKO-Tex certified Talalay latex, and individually-wrapped coils. These materials help aid with pressure relief and tend to be more durable.

I weighed about 250 pounds when I tested the Birch by Helix. And, I much preferred sleeping on the mattress with the optional plush organic mattress topper, which made it more comfortable for my side sleeping. Without the topper, I was more comfortable on my stomach. If you’re a side sleeper, you may want to try the mattress with the topper. If you don’t like it, the topper is easy to remove and can be returned within 100 days of purchase for a full refund.

The biggest negative heavier individuals will want to watch out for with the Birch is its average heat dissipation. If you tend to overheat at night, you might want to consider something cooler, like the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid, or supplement the mattress with a good cooling product.

Best for petite people

best mattress for petite people 2021 casper nova hybrid

The Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress is ideal for petite sleepers who are looking for a plush-comfort bed with great heat dissipation.

Pros: Made with eco-friendly materials, 100-night risk-free trial, good edge support, excellent heat dissipation, the plush comfort is ideal for side sleepers

Cons: Held on to its new bed smell, not the best for stomach or back sleepers, failed motion transfer tests

As with heavier individuals, petite sleepers have mattress preferences that are all over the board. But, in general, smaller and lighter people will benefit from beds that are softer. Since petite folks don’t have enough weight to sink into a mattress, they’re more likely to perceive firm mattresses as rigid and uncomfortable. So, in order to keep your spine properly aligned, you need something soft, yet supportive that will cradle your body. We think the Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress, which is also our pick for best soft mattress, fits the bill.

Made of a combination of CertiPUR-US certified foam and individually-wrapped coils, the Nova Hybrid is the softest mattress made by Casper, one of the top names in the bed-in-a-box industry. 

The Nova Hybrid is the best soft mattress I’ve tested. Since losing significant weight, my firmness preference has shifted from average to softer than average. And, I found this bed was ideal for my side sleeping. I was particularly impressed with the pressure relief and the outstanding heat dissipation.

Best for side sleepers

Best mattress for side sleepers 2021 Casper Nova Hybrid

The Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress is also ideal for side sleepers who are looking for a plush-comfort bed with great heat dissipation.

As with heavier individuals, petite sleepers have mattress preferences that are all over the board. But, in general, smaller and lighter people will benefit from beds that are softer. Since petite folks don’t have enough weight to sink into a mattress, they’re more likely to perceive firm mattresses as rigid and uncomfortable. So, in order to keep your spine properly aligned, you need something soft, yet supportive that will cradle your body. We think the Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress, which is also our pick for best soft mattress, fits the bill.

Made of a combination of CertiPUR-US certified foam and individually-wrapped coils, the Nova Hybrid is the softest mattress made by Casper, one of the top names in the bed-in-a-box industry. 

The Nova Hybrid is the best soft mattress I’ve tested. Since losing significant weight, my firmness preference has shifted from average to softer than average. And, I found this bed was ideal for my side sleeping. I was particularly impressed with the pressure relief and the outstanding heat dissipation. 

Best for back sleepers

Best mattress for back sleepers 2021 Tempur Pedic ProBreeze

The medium firmness and cradling comfort of the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Mattress make it ideal for back sleepers, especially if you tend to overheat at night.

Pros: Medium firmness that suits an array of sleeping styles, excellent motion transfer dampening, sleeps cool, 10-year warranty, white-glove delivery

Cons: Heavy, subpar edge support, expensive, shipping deducted from refund if you choose to return the mattress during the trial period

Back sleepers benefit from medium-firm mattresses, though this can vary based on body type and personal preferences. It also helps if there is zoned support with extra cushioning around the hips and shoulders. Based on these factors and our subjective testing, the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Mattress is the best option for back sleepers.

The Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress is designed for cool sleeping, but it also provides outstanding cradling comfort. There’s an outer cover that you can unzip and toss in the wash for easy cleaning, and three layers of foam that are geared toward absorbing excessive heat and improving breathability. At the base, the mattress has 1,000+ spring coils surrounded by a supportive foam border that provide support, durability, and breathability. 

The PRObreeze is the mattress that my wife and I sleep on when I’m not testing other alternatives. As a hot sleeper, I’ve found it does an excellent job of keeping me from overheating. 

Between my wife and I, we exhibit just about every sleeping style and we both find this slightly-firm mattress works well for our bodies. I also don’t feel when my wife or dog are moving around during the night — the motion dampening abilities are outstanding. However, the edge support could use some work. When sitting or lying on the edge, it sinks significantly.

The mattress is heavy and hard to move around. Fortunately, Tempur-Pedic includes white-glove delivery with the purchase of the PRObreeze. Professionals showed up at my house and set up the new mattress in under an hour. My lower back appreciated the break from heavy lifting.

Read our full Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid review

Best for stomach sleepers

best mattress for stomach sleepers 2021 awara

With its plush Euro top and supportive feel, the Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress supplies the ideal balance of comfort and support for stomach sleepers to get a good night’s sleep.

Pros: 365-night risk-free trial, lifetime warranty, great for stomach sleepers, good heat dissipation, made of eco-friendly materials, all four sides have two handles

Cons: Not ideal for side sleepers, heavy, sinks significantly when sitting on the side

Stomach sleepers generally prefer the firmest mattresses, though this will vary based on personal preference and body type. A firmer mattress supports stomach sleepers by keeping your spine aligned, protecting you from back pain. 

The Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress gives you a slightly firm, comfortable support along with one of the longest trial periods and warranties in the industry.

The firm feel is balanced by a plush Euro top made of organic wool. Next is a layer of Rainforest Alliance-certified Dunlop latex, and the support core contains individually wrapped coils.

For easy movability, the cotton blend mattress cover has two handles sewn into all four sides. This feature is a must since the Awara is one of the heaviest mattresses in our guide. Despite the heft, I set it up without help in about five minutes. The mattress had a strong initial odor that dissipated within a few hours.

As a combination side and stomach sleeper, I much preferred stomach sleeping on the Awara. During the testing period, I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep, and each morning I awoke feeling refreshed. I also didn’t experience any soreness, which is a common issue for stomach sleepers.

Both the edge support and motion isolation were middle of the road. When sitting on the edge of the bed, I didn’t feel like I sunk much, but when I was laying on the edge, I felt uncomfortable, like I might fall off. The Awara also failed the objective motion transfer tests each time, but the mattress is quite bouncy, which some people may like.

Best budget

best budget mattress Zinus

Back and stomach sleepers who are looking for a budget-friendly bed should strongly consider the Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress.

Pros: Affordable, 100-night trial, 10-year warranty, made of cooling gel memory foam, excellent motion isolation, four thickness options, great for back and stomach sleepers

Cons: Took a week to expand to full size, poor edge support

The Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress features one of my favorite materials to sleep on: gel memory foam. I’ve found this material does an outstanding job of keeping my hot-sleeping body cool through the night, and the Zinus mattress was no exception.

The memory foam sinks in to comfort the contours of your body while still providing a firmer-than-average support. Because of this, I felt better sleeping on my stomach during testing, rather than my side. Back sleepers may also like the firmness of this model.

The mattress passed my motion transfer tests with flying colors. When I was sleeping on it, my wife and dog were able to sneak into bed without jostling or waking me.

The mattress comes in four thickness options — 8, 10, 12, and 14 inches. I tested the 14-inch Queen. In general, I’ve found that mattresses that are 10 inches or thinner aren’t as supportive, so you should consider the thicker styles.

At under $500, you would expect compromises, and there are a few, but they are easy to look past if you want to save a few dollars. First, the edge support is awful. It’s hard to lie on the edges and not fall off. The mattress also took a week to expand to its full size. Out of the box, it was about half its full thickness. The directions suggest it will only take 72 hours to expand, but that was not my experience. It also had an initial odor, but that went away quickly.

At 70 pounds, the mattress is easy to move around, especially since it is firmer and doesn’t flop around.

Best luxury

Best luxury mattress 2021 Tempur Pedic ProBreeze

When price is no object, the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid is your best bet with its contouring, supportive, and cooling combination of foam and springs delivered and set up in your bedroom.

Pros: Medium firmness that suits an array of sleeping styles, excellent motion transfer dampening, sleeps cool, 10-year warranty, white-glove delivery

Cons: Heavy, subpar edge support, expensive, shipping deducted from refund if you choose to return the mattress during the trial period

If you want to spend top dollar on a mattress that you’ll spend a third of your life on for the next 10+ years, then the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid is your best bet. The patented Tempur material has similar body contouring to memory foam but with added support and pressure relief without the sinking feeling, which is why it’s also our top pick for back sleepers. 

The PRObreeze mattress is different from other Tempur-Pedic mattresses in that it is designed with a focus on cooling. Tempur-Pedic also offers a similar mattress in the series, called the LUXEbreeze, that offers an even cooler sleep at an even heftier price tag (currently $4,999) though I haven’t personally tested it yet.

The PRObreeze is my main mattress when I’m not testing other models. I appreciate the luxury feel and how it cradles my body while keeping me from overheating. And, I don’t notice when my dog jumps in the bed thanks to the impressive motion isolation. 

If you’re really looking to splurge, I recommend pairing the PRObreeze with the Tempur-Ergo Smart Base, which features a sleep tracker to monitor your sleep and makes recommendations for improved rest.

Read our full Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid with Ergo Smart Base review

Best mid-priced

Best mid priced mattress 2021 dreamcloud premier

For being in the middle of the pack price-wise, the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress offers an impressive array of features, including excellent support, a firmness that will appeal to most sleepers, and a long trial period and warranty.

Pros: Impressive 365-night trial period, lifetime warranty, made with CertiPUR-US certified foams, good heat dissipation, great motion transfer, excellent edge support, easy to move with side handles

Cons: Could maybe be more supportive for stomach sleepers

The DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress won our best hybrid/innerspring category, but we also think it’s the best mid-priced mattress you can buy, coming in at $1,599 for a Queen. While this is a bit more than what we’d typically consider mid-priced, DreamCloud’s year long trial period and lifetime warranty justify the bump in price for us.

Along with the Birch Mattress by Helix, the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress was one of the only beds we tested to do well in every category we look at. The unboxing process was seamless. Though the mattress is on the heavier side, it’s easy to move since it has handles sewn into the left and right sides and doesn’t flop around.

The DreamCloud had the biggest raw temperature drop in our heat dissipation tests. The motion isolation and edge support are great for couples sharing a bed, even if they have different sleeping styles, since the mattress’ average firmness will appeal to most sleepers. And, the Premier Hybrid is made of high-quality materials, including CertiPUR-US certified foams.

Lastly but importantly, if you don’t like the mattress in your first year of ownership, you can return it for a full refund. If you keep it, the bed is covered for life.

What else we tested

best mattress 2021 what else we tested

We’ve tested dozens of mattresses over the years, and there are none that we outright don’t recommend. Every mattress we’ve tested could potentially be a good fit for the right individual. However, here are a few that missed the cut for our guide but are worth considering.

What else we recommend and why

Saatva Classic ($1,499): The Saatva Classic was the “best spring mattress” in a previous version of our guide, but we decided to combine that category with “best hybrid.” The DreamCloud Premier Hybrid beat it out for that pick. I have not tested Saatva Classic, but my colleague Kylie Joyner did and had a positive experience. She liked the great edge support, free in-home delivery and mattress removal, 180-night trial period (though there’s a $99 return fee), and firmness options. Read our full review.

Nectar Memory Foam ($1,198): There’s a lot to like about Nectar’s flagship mattress. It just wasn’t the best in any specific category. I like that you can try it risk-free with a 365-night trial, and if you keep it, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty. I found it was softer than average, which was comfortable for my side sleeping. It also has great heat dissipation, excellent motion isolation, and average edge support. However, I would be hesitant to recommend it for back and stomach sleepers because it’s so soft.

Bear Pro ($1,295): Despite feeling a little softer than average, I was comfortable on my stomach and side while sleeping on the Bear Pro, and I think its all-foam construction will appeal to all sleeping types. The copper-infused foam, gel-infused foam, and breathable Celliant cover all give the bed impressive heat dissipation. The main negatives are it offers poor edge support and it’s a bit pricey for an all-foam mattress. Read our full review

Brooklyn Bedding Sedona Hybrid ($2,899): The Sedona Hybrid is a luxury mattress made of CertiPUR-US certified foams and up to 1,000 coils. You can test it out for 120 nights risk-free. I liked how hassle-free the unboxing was and how the mattress has handles for easy movability. The average firmness should appeal to a broad audience, but I just could not get comfortable no matter what position I was in. And, while the heat dissipation and edge support are average, the mattress failed my motion transfer tests every time.

Casper Original ($1,095): The Casper Original was our previous pick for the best all-foam mattress, and we still recommend it. We like the Casper Original because it works well for a wide array of sleeping styles, is made of eco-friendly materials, has excellent heat dissipation, and exhibits great motion dampening. However, it does not have good edge support. Read our full review.

Plank by Brooklyn Bedding ($999.20): The Plank was our previous pick for the best ultra-firm mattress. I didn’t test this personally, but based on our writer’s review, we think the Airweave Mattress is a better option because of its unique design and heat dissipation. We still think the Plank is a great bed with its two levels of firmness, exceptional edge support, and impressive motion isolation. Read our full review.

Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress ($1,799): The mattress has medium-firm support that works for all types of sleepers, and the organic latex is breathable and sleeps cool. Our reporter said that the mattress has great motion isolation so she doesn’t feel much movement, but that the edge support is poor. Despite this, we’d still recommend the bed but suggest upgrading to a Queen for solo sleepers and a King for couples so no one falls off the side. 

Saatva Solaire Adjustable Mattress ($2,595): The Saatva Solaire has a built-in air pump controlled by a corded controller that allows you to pick from 50 firmness options for your ideal comfort level. I found it worked great, but the motion isolation left a lot to be desired. Plus, you can’t find the mattress in showrooms to test it out before buying. Fortunately, there’s a 120-night home trial period. Read our full review.

Amerisleep AS5 Hybrid ($1539.30): Amerisleep offers five mattresses, AS1 through AS5, each with a specific benefit. I’ve tested the AS3, the company’s best selling bed, but I much prefer its softer, luxury mattress, the AS5. Due to its soft feel, it’s an outstanding solution for anyone who prefers softer beds. Since it sleeps hot, people who get too cold at night may also prefer this mattress. Also, it doesn’t have very good edge support and failed my motion isolation tests, so it’s better suited for people who sleep alone. Overall, though, I like how it cradled my body.

Allswell Supreme Hybrid ($985): This is one of the best mattresses you will find under $1,000. It features a combination of copper and graphite gel-infused memory foam and pocket coils, which give it a medium firmness that will appeal to many different types of sleepers. The edge support is great but it sleeps hot and is quite heavy. Also, it’s only available online and not in showrooms.

Intellibed Matrix Grand ($6,999): The Intellibed Matrix Grand is the height of luxury and features seven layers of high-quality materials, including two gel layers that flex to provide localized pressure relief and to help align the spine. However, at 196 pounds, it’s the heaviest mattress I’ve tested, and at 17 inches thick, it’s hard to find fitted sheets that are deep enough to stay on the mattress. I didn’t find it particularly comfortable no matter what position I was in, the motion isolation is poor, and the return policy has questionable stipulations.

Testing methodology

Best mattress 2021 testing methodology

I personally tested all of the mattresses in our guide. In addition to sleeping on each mattress for at least two weeks, there are many objective tests I put each model through. The most important factors I consider are comfort, edge support, and motion isolation.

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Comfort: This is a fairly subjective characteristic that is based on the firmness of a mattress, how hot it sleeps, and how supportive it feels. My measurement of firmness is based on testing dozens of mattresses and developing a feel for soft, average, and firm mattresses. I also consider heat dissipation, which I gauge using a laser thermometer to measure the temperature before I lay in the bed for at least one hour, immediately after I get up, and two minutes after I get up. 

Motion isolation: If you’ve ever spent the night with someone who moves around a lot in their sleep, you know how important motion isolation is. Without it, your sleeping partner’s movements will jostle you awake throughout the night. To test motion isolation, I place a 12-ounce can of soda pop in the middle of the mattress. Then I drop a 15-pound bowling ball from four feet above the mattress so it lands 12 inches from the can. If the can falls over time and time again, the motion isolation is not very good. If the can stays upright, the bed does an excellent job of dampening motion transfer.

Edge support: To test edge support, I lay on the very edge of the bed and slowly roll off — literally. If I feel like I can roll a fair amount before actually falling, then the bed has good edge support. If I fall easily, then the edge support is not very good. I also sit on the side to put on my socks and shoes to assess how much the edge sinks. I am currently developing an objective measurement that I’ll “roll” out in future guides as I collect more data.

Portability: Unless you’re constantly relocating or redecorating, it’s unlikely you’ll need to move your mattress often so this category doesn’t weigh heavily in our assessment. Still, it’s nice if you can easily rotate your mattress, a task that’s important for your bed’s longevity. And depending on how your bed is positioned, you may need to move the mattress to put on fitted sheets. I move each mattress several times to see how heavy it feels and if it flops around making it harder to move.

Trial and warranty: I look at the details of the warranty and home trial period, whether the mattress is available in showrooms, and whether there’s white-glove delivery. The only way to know if a mattress is right for you is to sleep on it for several nights, so we looked for loopholes in the fine print of the return policy and let you know about them.

Setup: I timed how long it took me to unbox and set up each mattress on my own. Also, I noted any peculiarities to the process. My nose tracks any new bed odor initially and when I go to bed, usually 10+ hours later. Lastly, I look at whether white-glove service is offered and how much it costs.

What we’re testing next

Best mattress what we look forward to testing

We’re constantly testing new mattresses and re-testing our top picks to determine the best ones. Here’s what we’re currently testing:

Nest Bedding Flip Double-Sided Hybrid ($699): This affordable bed is unique in that you can flip it. One side has a medium firmness and the other is firmer. 

Olaf by Mellow ($446.80): This is another budget option as we bulk up our coverage in that category. It features four layers of CertiPUR-US certified foam, including gel-infused memory foam for heat dissipation.

The Botanical Bliss by PlushBeds ($3,499): Made of organic latex, wool, and cotton, this mattress is available in three thicknesses and two firmness options. 

Idle Latex Hybrid ($1,330): This mattress has individually-wrapped spring coils sandwiched between several foam layers so you can supposedly flip it over and sleep on both sides.  

Haven Boutique Mattress ($945): Thicker than most mattresses at 14 inches, we’re curious to test if that has any effect on comfort and support.

Purple Premier Hybrid 4 ($2,999): This is the only Purple mattress I haven’t tested, and I’m hoping to test it in the near future for a side-by-side comparison of the line. It is similar to the Premier Hybrid 3, only the Purple Grid is four inches thick instead of three.

How to shop for a mattress

Best mattress 2021 how to shop

Buying a mattress no longer requires heading to a showroom and having a salesperson lurk over you as you lay on a mattress for 10 minutes to decide if it will suit you for the next decade. In fact, we put together a handy guide of what to expect if you’re shopping for a mattress online at nine popular brands.

To help you shop for a mattress, we spoke with Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at PCSI.

Consider your medical conditions

Peña-Hernández first suggests considering your medical history. “The right mattress is the most comfortable one for each person. However, consumers should consider their medical history, like respiratory diseases, allergies, scoliosis, or sleep apnea when purchasing a mattress; so they can make an informed decision regarding what type of materials are in their mattress or what features might prove to be healthier for them,” Peña-Hernández said. “Patients with COPD may benefit from mattresses that are designed for adjustable beds because elevating the head of the bed can sometimes facilitate easier breathing.” 

Know your sleep position

After talking to your doctor, assess your sleeping style and preferred firmness level.

“The most common mattress problem that people report is the lack of comfortability which can result in fatigue or excessive sleepiness,” Peña-Hernández said. “It’s hard to keep up with the day-to-day when you’re not well-rested, and ultimately, it can affect your quality of life. Chronic fatigue can even have implications for your immunity and your health. A good mattress meets the criteria for the specific person’s needs and promotes a healthy, well-rested, rest.”

Though every person’s preferences are different, there are some patterns that certain body types and sleeping styles seem to prefer, according to Peña-Hernández.

Side sleepers: “Vast research exists to support side sleepers benefit from medium-firm mattresses to support pressure point relief,” said Peña-Hernández. “Side sleepers can experience shoulder and lower back pain if the mattress is too unsupportive.”

Back sleepers: Peña-Hernández recommends medium firmness for back sleepers. “Back sleepers should strive to maintain the natural S-curvature of the spine so the best mattress for back sleepers provides spinal support. A medium-firm mattress will help achieve this by redistributing weight and promoting healthy alignment but still contours to the body to provide cushioning where it is needed.”

Stomach sleepers: Firmer mattresses tend to benefit stomach sleepers as well as heavier folks.

Consider body size and preferences

In addition to the above, you should also consider bodyweight and heat dissipation.

“Individuals concerned about their weight and weight-related complications should speak to their medical provider when considering a mattress, said Peña-Hernández. “Overweight individuals should consider a thicker mattress of at least 12 inches thick or more. Thinner mattresses won’t provide you with the support you need. Coil mattresses also provide a more durable construction.”

Softer mattresses are generally better for petite individuals since lighter individuals (under 130 pounds) don’t sink into beds as far. Breus also notes that as people get older, they would benefit from a softer bed to address pain issues. “As we age, our skin gets thinner, which means less cushion.”

Firm mattresses aren’t necessarily more supportive. Instead, support is based on how well the bed cradles your body and allows your spine to relax. Since different parts of your body push down more on a mattress, such as the hips and shoulders, mattresses that offer zoned support in these areas tend to be more comfortable to a broader range of individuals. These beds also tend to cost more as the construction is more specialized.

If you overheat at night, you’ll want a mattress and even bedding that does an outstanding job of dissipating heat. “Hot sleepers should consider sheets and materials made of natural fibers for their breathability,” said Peña-Hernández. “Bamboo, cotton, linen, and hemp are good options as well as cooling sheets, especially sheets designed to wick moisture.”

FAQs

Best mattress 2021 FAQs

What kind of mattress should you buy?

There are a handful of popular mattress types to choose from.

  • Memory foam: When most people think of a bed-in-a-box, they think of memory foam mattresses. These are mattresses with multiple layers of foam that support and contour your body. However, due to the construction, all-foam mattresses also tend to trap heat.
  • Latex foam: This is usually preferred by people looking for an eco-friendly foam that’s cooler and more responsive than traditional memory foam.
  • Hybrid: These beds combine one of the above foams with spring coils. The coils tend to help with motion transfer and edge support making them a great option for couples. The coils also help with airflow for a cooler sleep.
  • Spring: Also called innerspring or coil mattresses, these are your more traditional beds. Due to the responsive coils, they offer good support, edge support, cooling, and durability. However, they are generally more expensive and mostly found in showrooms and not online.
  • Pillow-top: Pillow-tops are usually associated with innerspring mattresses but can be found on any of the above options. This is the smart solution for those who like a soft, cushy feel.

Adjustable or air beds: These beds use an air pump to adjust the firmness of your mattress to suit your needs. They are among the most expensive options but may be an ideal long-term solution since your firmness needs change with time. Couples with drastically different firmness needs would also benefit from an adjustable air bed.


What size bed should you buy?

There are six standard bed sizes. In order from smallest to largest (and usually the least to most expensive), they are:

  • Twin: If you are a smaller individual who sleeps alone, a Twin (38 inches wide by 75 inches long) will serve you well.
  • Twin XL: This is the same width (38 inches) as the Twin but 5 inches longer, which makes it better for tall people who sleep alone.
  • Full: With the same length (75 inches) as the Twin but 16 inches wider, the Full is designed for larger folks or anyone who just wants a bit more space
  • Queen: The Queen is 80 inches long by 60 inches wide, and is meant for couples who are smaller.
  • King: The King is 16 inches wider than the Queen and better for larger couples. I recommend it if you are choosing a mattress with subpar edge support and you’re concerned about feeling uncomfortable near the edges.
  • California King: The Cal King is four inches longer but four inches narrower than the King, so it’s a smart alternative for taller couples.

For context, my wife and I are both slightly taller and heavier than average, and we share a bed with a dog and a full-body pillow. Queen mattresses are simply too small and uncomfortable for us, though it’s the size we test as it’s the most popular. We’ve found a King is more ideal for our needs.


What’s the best way to clean a mattress?

Based on expert interviews, my colleague L. Daniela Alvarez put together an excellent guide on how to clean a mattress. The experts in her article recommend deep cleaning your mattress with baking soda and a vacuum every three to six months. However, stains should be treated as quickly as possible using a disinfectant wipe. Or, for harder stains, you may need to use a mixture of dishwashing liquid and hydrogen peroxide. 

Some mattresses have removable covers. Check with the manufacturer before removing the cover and attempting to clean it. Some brands may state that their covers are machine washable. If that is the case with your mattress, we recommend that option only as a last resort, and make sure you follow the cleaning instructions carefully.

Lastly, when purchasing a new mattress, you should protect your investment by also buying a mattress protector. We regularly update our guide to the best mattress protectors and encourage you to check out our latest recommendations.


When is the best time to buy a mattress?

Though mattress makers have sales throughout the year, you can usually find the best deals during holiday weekends, like Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  

Also, manufacturers tend to start marking down their mattress prices in March as they prepare to launch a new line in June. In March, you’ll usually find the widest selection with the smallest discounts. But, as you get into May, the discounts increase while the inventory becomes sparse. We keep a running list of all mattress deals and sales that is updated monthly, and features many Insider-exclusive discounts.


What’s the best mattress for back pain?

For years, the common wisdom was that a firm mattress is best for back pain. However, a 2008 study published in Applied Ergonomics found that firmness had no effect on back pain and stiffness. Instead, they found the newness and price of the mattress had more of a bearing. 

When shopping for a mattress, it’s important that you find a supportive mattress that’s right for your body types and sleeping style. You want your spine to stay aligned while sleeping. This generally means a firmer mattress for individuals who sleep on their back or stomach, or for heavier people. A mattress with average firmness or softer is better for back pain sufferers who sleep on their side, are petite, or are older.

Support is also important, and based on my experience testing dozens of mattresses, the cheaper, sub-$1,000 mattresses skimp in this area. I recommend looking for a mattress with zoned support. These offer more pressure relief around the hips, lower back, and shoulders.

Lastly, take full advantage of the home trials offered by all of the companies in our guide. After all, the only way to know if a mattress is right for your back is to sleep on it.

Glossary

Best mattress 2021 glossary

There are plenty of terms tossed around in the mattress industry. But, what do they even mean? Here are a few common terms defined:

Edge support: This refers to how well a mattress maintains its integrity to its sides without sagging or sinking. So, a mattress with good edge support will feel just as supportive on the edges as it does in the center of the mattress. On the other hand, if you feel like you’re going to fall off the bed when you lay near the edge, that’s a sure sign of poor edge support.

Euro top: This is a type of pillow top that is sewn into the mattress cover to provide a plush, yet supportive feel. It’s commonly found on hybrid and innerspring mattresses and made of fiberfill, wool, or foam.

Innersprings: Also referred to as coils or just springs, these are corkscrew-shaped pieces of metal, usually steel, that make up the core of many of today’s mattresses, including hybrid and innerspring styles. Many modern mattresses use “pocket coils,” which are wrapped coils that help limit noise and motion transfer.

Motion isolation/motion transfer: These terms are two sides of the same coin. Motion isolation describes how well a mattress dampens the feel of movement. For example, a mattress with good motion isolation keeps you from being jostled as your partner shifts positions in the night. When a mattress has good motion isolation, it will have minimal motion transfer. A bed with excessive motion transfer has bad motion isolation, meaning you can feel your partner’s every move.

Check out our other mattress guides

best mattress 2021 check out more guides

Read more about Insider Reviews’ top mattress reviews

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The 6 best media streaming sticks and devices in 2021

  • A streaming device can transform your TV into a smart display with access to popular services.
  • Our top pick is the Roku Ultra thanks to its large library of apps, 4K support, and smooth navigation.

The world is changing. Gone are the days when a cable subscription was required to watch all the latest TV series. These days, you can find plenty of quality shows on streaming platforms. Of course, the best way to watch these services is on a TV, and there are plenty of devices out there to help you stream your favorites on the display of your choice. Before buying a specific player, however, you’ll want to consider a few things.

First, it’s important to ensure that the streaming device you pick includes support for the apps you use the most. The most popular services, like Netflix and Disney Plus, are supported on virtually all streaming players, but some services are missing from certain devices.

Next up, you’ll want to keep in mind the specs of your TV. Not all streaming sticks and boxes are able to handle 4K resolution or HDR playback, so if you have a 4K TV, you’ll want to get one that can stream 4K videos; the reverse is also true, as a non-4K TV won’t be able to take advantage of 4K playback.

Last but not least, it might be worth considering the ecosystem you’re most plugged into. For example, Android users might be able to get more use from an Android TV or Google TV device, while those using an iPhone or Mac might prefer the Apple TV.

Through research and testing we’ve picked the best streaming sticks and boxes you can buy to turn your dumb TV into a smart one.

Note: All of the below products require access to the internet over Wi-Fi or Ethernet in order to stream content.

Here are the best streaming boxes and sticks:

The best streaming box overall

Roku Ultra 2020 angle

The Roku Ultra streams in 4K and HDR, has voice search, and comes with a remote control that has programmable shortcut buttons.

Pros: 4K HDR streaming, Dolby Vision and Bluetooth, voice remote, lots of apps, improved Wi-Fi connection, Ethernet, USB port

Cons: Doesn’t support HDR10+, a bit pricey

The Roku Ultra has virtually everything a buyer could want out of streaming box. It supports 4K video at 60 frames per second and HDR playback. If you have a 4K TV, this model will help you get the most out of your display.

The Roku OS features a huge library of streaming channels with access to all of the major services, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus, and HBO Max. Just connect the box to your TV via the HDMI port, and install all your favorite streaming services to get started.

As mentioned, the Roku Ultra supports HDR, which means that it’ll show richer colors and better contrast when playing back HDR-enabled videos on a compatible TV. The lastest Roku Ultra model also adds support for the advanced Dolby Vision format, which should improve HDR quality even more on Dolby Vision displays. 

Of course, to take advantage of 4K content, you’ll need a decent internet connection. The device can connect to your internet through Ethernet or over Wi-Fi, so choose the method that’s fastest and most convenient.

The Ultra also comes with a voice remote so you can adjust the volume and search for content with your voice. If you’re watching at night, you can plug in a set of headphones to the remote to not disturb others — a pair of earbuds are included. 

Bluetooth support is included as well for streaming music to the player, and the Roku Ultra even supports AirPlay 2 and HomeKit for easy connectivity to Apple devices. 

The Roku Ultra is the most versatile and reliable media player in this price range, and we like that it’s the most universal of the products. There are cheaper alternatives with less advanced features, but we think this model is the best choice for most people with a 4K TV.  

The best budget streaming box

Roku Express

The Roku Express is one of the most affordable streaming boxes you can buy, and it offers a great interface with basic HD playback.

Pros: Cheap, compact design, easy-to-use, built-in OS

Cons: No 4K or HDR, no voice remote

For buyers who want a simple and inexpensive streaming solution, the Roku Express is the perfect fit. This model is about as basic as they come, but for the money, you’re still getting a capable HD streaming box with a built-in user interface and remote.

Perhaps the best thing about the Roku Express is how easy it is to use. The new compact design makes it one of the smallest standalone streaming boxes there is, and the package comes complete with an HDMI cable for simple setup. The interface is well-designed and extremely easy to navigate with access to all the major services you could want.

Of course, there are downsides to the Roku Express. Unlike the Roku Ultra, which is our overall favorite, this model lacks a voice remote, and it’s missing a USB port for playing external video files or Bluetooth for music streaming from a smartphone. The Roku Express also does not offer 4K streaming or HDR, so we recommend this model for people who have a TV that doesn’t include those features.

For buyers who do need 4K on a budget, though, there’s a very similar Roku model, the Roku Premiere, that might be a better fit for you. The Roku Premiere is a lot like the Roku Express, but it adds support for 4K, HDR, and AirPlay for a bit more money.

That said, the Premiere is sometimes on sale for the same price as the Express. When the Premiere is discounted, it’s actually the better value of the two. If there are no deals, however, and all you need is basic HD streaming, there’s little reason to pay extra for a model more powerful than the Roku Express.

The best high-end streaming box

4k_screen_and_appletv

The Apple TV 4K is an ideal streaming player for enthusiasts who want easy integration with the rest of Apple’s products.

Pros: Well-designed interface, 4K and HDR with Dolby Vision support, can serve as a HomeKit hub

Cons: A little pricey

If you’re looking for a device to better integrate with your iTunes account, iPhone, and other Apple devices, then you’ll want to look into getting an Apple TV. The Apple TV 4K boasts a number of great features, and as the name suggests, this version streams in 4K and HDR, which is great for those of you who have 4K TVs and want the best home theater playback.

As you would expect from an Apple product, it’s well-designed and will look right at home amongst your other entertainment devices. On the back, you’ll get a power input, HDMI port, and an Ethernet port. That way, you can have a more stable internet connection for streaming 4K video.

One of the best things about the Apple TV 4K is Apple’s tvOS operating system, which is super easy to use, especially with the included Siri Remote. As mentioned, it can stream in 4K and has HDR support for improved contrast and colors. Like the Roku Ultra, the Apple TV 4K also offers Dolby Vision for better HDR performance on select services and TVs. 

And with Siri, you can use your voice to search for content. Plus, you can access music, podcasts, games, and hundreds of apps, or cast or mirror content from an iOS or macOS device using AirPlay wireless technology. In addition, the Apple TV 4K can even serve as a HomeKit hub for Apple’s smart home ecosystem.

The Siri Remote connects to the Apple TV via Bluetooth, so no line of sight is required. While the remote is elegant and the touch-capability makes navigation easier, it’s so slim that it can be easy to lose or slip out of your hand. An alternative is to use the Apple TV Remote app on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, which handles the same functions but makes things like typing much simpler.

On the downside, the Apple TV is notably more expensive than some other streaming options from Roku and Amazon. Most people who aren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem will be more than happy with the less expensive Roku Ultra instead.

We don’t think you can go wrong with either — the deciding factor comes down to budget and the ecosystem — but the money spent on an Apple TV is well worth it.

The best streaming device for Google users

Chromecast with Google TV Lifestyle

Unlike older models, the new Chromecast with Google TV can play apps right from the device, rather than having to rely on casting from a separate smartphone.

Pros: 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, Google Assistant voice remote, built-in interface and casting capabilities

Cons: Some apps are currently missing 4K HDR playback, minor glitches, no Apple TV app

Google’s newest Chromecast model offers a sizable step forward in performance and usability over older versions. Though our previous pick in this category, the Chromecast Ultra, needed a separate phone, tablet, or computer to stream apps from, the Chromecast with Google TV actually features its own built-in interface with an extensive library of services. 

You can still cast apps from a mobile device if you’d like, but the on-screen selection makes it much more convenient to find your favorite shows and movies right on your TV screen. This makes the Chromecast a more worthy competitor to similar compact streaming players, like the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Powered by the new Google TV platform, the Chromecast offers access to a huge collection of apps,. In fact, the only major app currently missing is Apple TV. 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos playback are supported for select services as well.

On the downside, a few key movie apps, like Vudu, FandangoNow, and Movies Anywhere, are currently limited to HD and SDR. This is especially disappointing since these apps do offer 4K HDR playback on other streaming devices, like the Roku Ultra. It’s possible that these apps will receive updates for 4K in the future. 

From a design perspective, the new Chromecast features a similar puck-shaped form factor as older models, complete with a dongle connection that hangs from your TV’s HDMI port. Unlike older models, however, the latest version now includes a handy voice remote with integrated Google Assistant support. 

We encountered a few isolated glitches while testing the new Chromecast, but the device offers impressive value, especially for buyers already invested in Google’s ecosystem.    

The best Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K streams video in 4K straight to your TV.

Pros: 4K streaming, Alexa voice control, affordable, compact, support for HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision

Cons: Missing a few notable apps like Vudu, FandangoNow, Google Play, and Peacock

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K comes with 4K and HDR playback capabilities, including support for the more advanced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats. Like other streaming stick, this slim dongle plugs right into the HDMI port on the back of your TV. It also comes with an Alexa voice remote for easy access to play, pause, stop, volume up/down, and more.

Fire TV 4K works with Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, and many other video streaming apps. Since it’s part of Amazon’s ecosystem, Fire TV is also compatible with Alexa voice controls on other Amazon products, like an Echo Dot. You can tell Alexa to play “Game of Thrones” without lifting a finger.

The streaming stick has a fast processor and 802.11ac Wi-Fi to ensure smooth streaming on your TV. So long as your Wi-Fi is good, you shouldn’t have a problem.

It’s also very affordable for a 4K streaming stick and includes extensive HDR format support for its price. In fact, it’s one of the only players on the market with HDR10+ capabilities, which will improve color and contrast on Prime Video when watching HDR videos through an HDR10+ TV. 

If you’re buying the device for features like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, however, you might be disappointed by Prime Video’s surprisingly limited support for those formats. A few key apps are also currently missing, including Peacock, Vudu, Google Play, and FandangoNow. If that’s a deal-breaker, you’ll have to grab a Roku, Apple TV, or Android TV player instead.

The best streaming player for gamers

Nvidia Shield TV

The Nvidia Shield TV doesn’t just run Google’s Android TV, it also supports 4K streaming and can even pair with a controller for gaming.

Pros: 4K support, Dolby Vision capabilities, support for a separate gaming controller, Android TV operating system, powerful processor

Cons: Expensive

If you’re more plugged into the Android ecosystem, you might want something that comes preloaded with Google’s Android TV. If so, there are few better devices than the Nvidia Shield TV. Though pricier than other players, the latest model is the ultimate streaming device for buyers who want beefy specs. 

Like our top pick, this media streamer supports 4K HDR with Dolby Vision for even better performance on Dolby Vision TVs. Google Assistant voice control is integrated as well.

The Shield TV is also the best streaming box for gamers. In addition to the included standard remote control, you can add a separate gaming controller for playing games from the Google Play Store or through GeForce Now cloud gaming. 

When it comes to raw specs, the Shield TV incorporates 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The device is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1+, which is one of the most powerful processors used in any streaming device. This extra muscle even allows the device to take advantage of advanced upscaling technology, which can make HD videos look better on 4K TVs. 

Unlike most streaming players, the Shield TV features a unique cylindrical design which takes the form of a compact tube that is meant to be placed behind a display. This style won’t be for everyone, but it makes it easy to hide the device out of sight.

For buyers who want even more power, there’s also a Shield TV Pro model to consider. This more expensive version features a more traditional rectangular shape and upgraded specs with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and two USB 3.0 ports.

The standard Shield TV, however, is still plenty powerful, and is a better overall value for people who want an Android TV streaming player that’s capable of gaming.

Check out our other related buying guides

LG C9 OLED TV

The best streaming services you can sign up for online

After you cut the cord and purchase a streaming player, you’ll have to decide which services you’d like to subscribe to. Popular platforms include Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Hulu TV, HBO Max, and more. Each service offers its own selection of content and features can vary between them. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best streaming services to help you choose which is best for your needs.


The best music streaming services you can subscribe to

Movies and shows aren’t the only things you can stream online via a media player. Music services are also very popular, offering on-demand access to all your favorite tracks. Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, and YouTube Music are all great options for different needs. With that in mind, we’ve detailed which music services are right for different buyers.


The best cheap TVs

TV performance and smart connectivity can differ a lot between models, especially when you’re shopping on a budget. After testing and researching several TVs, we’ve picked the best affordable models you can buy.

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The 6 best Pilates bars of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A Pilates bar challenges and tones the body in dynamic ways, and especially helps strengthen the core. 
  • Our top choice is the Gaiam Restore Pilates Bar for its quality and functionality.
  • We’ve also included options for beginners, those on the go, and more.
  • Read more: The best yoga mats

Pilates was first developed in the 1920s as a low-impact form of exercise specifically designed to strengthen the core, as well as other muscles in the body, and promote postural alignment. As a Pilates instructor, it’s my job to challenge clients in each and every session. Adding equipment to the workout is one way to ramp up the intensity and add new and creative movements. Pilates bars are great tools that can further target the core and work the body in dynamic ways. Lightweight, portable, and with bands for added resistance, the bars will add a strengthening element to your Pilates workout that can help better define your muscles.

Here are the best Pilates bars

Best overall

gaiam pilates bar
Disassembles for easy storage.

The Gaiam Restore Pilates Bar is a high-quality piece of equipment to practice reformer-style movements. 

What we like: Quality, ease of set up, digital workouts included 

This polished and robust Pilates bar has been thoughtfully designed to help you build a strong core, while also increasing flexibility and improving balance. It features two, 30-inch Power Cords and attached foot straps, plus downloadable exercise workouts that guide you through essential Pilates bar movements with proper technique and form. The intensity can be increased simply by rolling the bands around the bar to generate greater resistance. Weighing just two pounds, this lightweight bar is designed for you to flow between reformer-style exercises with grace and ease.

Best on a budget

BQYPOWER pilates bar kit
The eight-character tensioner helps tone the body from all angles.

The BQYPOWER Pilates Bar Kit is an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice quality.

What we like: Price, multi-use, straps hold their stretch 

For those on a budget, the BQYPOWER Pilates Bar Kit delivers on all fronts without neglecting quality. The strong steel bar is protected with sweat-absorbing foam pads for comfort as you maintain optimum postural alignment, and the straps are made with TPR (thermoplastic rubber) elastic tubes which help them keep their stretch, even after continued use. As a bonus, the kit includes an eight-character tensioner, useful for both strengthening and stretching purposes.

Best for beginners

Viajero Pilates Bar Kit
Easy to increase or decrease resistance.

The Viajero bar is flexible in resistance and comes with a guided e-book for beginners to learn proper technique. 

What we like: Durable, portable, exercise guide included

For beginners, the Viajero bar is an effective addition for your workouts. You can adjust the resistance by simply rolling the tubes around the bar, which is useful for alternating between strength exercises. The bar splits into three sections for easy transport and has two attachable natural latex resistance bands (up to 50 lbs) that can stretch six to 10 times in length without losing resilience. The bar also comes with a handy workout e-book and video to teach you proper form and movement patterns.

Best for strength training

cretee pilates bar
Build muscle with just one piece of equipment.

Adjustable between 60-180 pounds, the Cretee Pilates Bar is best for those who want to build strength.

What we like: Multi-functional, height adaptable, up to 180 pounds of resistance

The Cretee Pilates Bar comes with six bands, varying in resistance from 60 to 180 pounds, with the strap length adjustable depending on your height and the exercise. The bands are made from durable natural latex and can withstand daily exercise sessions without losing elasticity. As a multi-functional bar, the resistance can be reduced for Pilates and more stabilizing-focussed workouts, or increased to challenge the muscles in a strength-training session. 

Best portable

NoviFit Pilates Bar
This band comes with a cooling towel and a storage bag.

The NoviFit Pilates Bar is the best portable option for those working out on the go.

What we like: Adjustable, comes with a carry bag and training guide

The anti-slip NoviFit Pilates Bar has adjustable bands to change both height and resistance, making it suitable for all heights and fitness levels. It also features widening, non-slip foot belts and thick resistance bands for lasting durability. The bar folds up to a compact 19 inches and comes with a cooling towel and waterproof storage bag for workouts on the go. As a bonus, the included workout guide offers a selection of exercises for the entire body. 

Best for added value

CHAMPYA pilates bar
A guided app is included.

With additional straps and a follow-along workout app, the CHAMPYA Pilates Bar offers nice extras.

What we like: Adjustable, sturdy nylon handles, fitness app included

The bar is made from durable materials, including a three-part stick made from sturdy steel, a thick foam exterior, and tough nylon handles to withstand up to 40 pounds of resistance. The adjustable knobs allow you to change the height as desired, and there are two additional foot straps that can be connected for workout variation. Included is access to the Champya App, with a follow-along guide teaching you how to properly stretch, strengthen, and sculpt. 

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The 6 best dog brushes, combs, and grooming gloves we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A high-quality dog brush is gentle, effective, and easy to use.
  • Your dog’s coat type will determine the type of brush you use, whether it’s a pin, curry, or slicker brush, a deshedding tool, or a grooming glove.
  • Our top pick for the best dog brush is the Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Brush, which is ideal for dogs of many different coat types.  

Brushing your dog may feel like a chore, but regular brushing prevents tangles and mats – the snarled knots of hair trapped in the coat. Mats are not only uncomfortable for your dog, but they can be painful and irritating to the skin, even causing infections. Frequent brushing also distributes healthy oils and removes loose hair from the coat before it sheds all over your clothes and home. 

To help you narrow down the best brush for your dog, I tested 23 different grooming tools over a three-month period with two dogs, a Labrador retriever with short, straight hair and a miniature poodle with long, curly hair. I received editorial review samples from manufacturers with the exception of Millers Forge, Chris Christensen, and ConairPro brushes, which Insider Reviews purchased.

I’m no novice when it comes to brushing dogs. I’ve been brushing, bathing, and clipping my poodle for his entire life (more than a decade now). I also brushed and bathed thousands of pets during my eight-year stint as a veterinary assistant. For additional expertise on dog brushing, I consulted with pet groomer Cassie Edmond, who is an animal caregiver at the San Diego Humane Society

Dog brushes come in different styles for different coats. To know which type of brush is best for your dog, first identify their coat type.

Smooth: This type of coat consists of short, close-lying hair that grows in only one layer (no undercoat). Some breeds with smooth coats include bulldogs, Dalmatians, Boston terriers, Doberman pinschers, greyhounds, and Weimaraners. 

Double coat: Dogs with double coats have two types of hair. The outercoat (outermost layer of hair) is longer and the undercoat (which lies close to the skin) is shorter and usually wooly or soft. Some breeds with double coats include Australian shepherds, border collies, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers.

Long hair: Long-haired dogs may have silky or coarse hair. Some long-haired dogs have an undercoat while others do not. Breeds with long hair include Afghan hounds, Maltese, shih tzus, and Yorkshire terriers.

Curly or wavy hair: Curly-haired dogs must be brushed regularly to prevent mats. Generally, they do not have an undercoat, although some mixed-breed dogs, including doodles, might have an undercoat. Breeds with curly coats include Bedlington terriers, bichons frises, poodles, and Portuguese water dogs.

To avoid skin irritation, choose the right brush for your dog’s coat type and avoid overbrushing. “There can be such a thing as too much brushing,” Edmond said. “Overbrushing causes something called brush burn, which is an irritation of the skin. Slicker brushes used on short-haired dogs can cause brush burn faster.”

Edmond recommends brushing your dog daily. Beyond grooming and hygiene, there are additional benefits. “Brushing regularly gives pet parents the opportunity to touch their pets all over, which can help identify possible health concerns early,” she said. “As a groomer, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered lumps, bumps, cuts, or skin issues.”

Here are the best dog brushes in 2021

The best combo brush

hartz combo brush

Equipped with two brush styles and a nonslip handle, the versatile Hartz Combo Brush is ideal for dogs of many different coat types.

Pros: Stainless steel pins with safety tips, good for dogs of most sizes, antislip grip for comfort and control, affordable price, two brushes in one

Cons: Might be too large for toy dogs

A combo brush is two brushes in one: a pin brush on one side and a soft-bristle brush on the other. Use the pin side to brush out tangles and remove loose hair. The bristle brush works well for short-haired dogs such as dachshunds, pit bulls, and Chihuahuas. “It can be helpful in removing dead hairs during shedding season and redistributing the dog’s natural oils on its body,” said Edmond.

Our top pick for the best combo brush for dogs is the Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Brush. This brush is great for dogs of many coat types and also convenient if you have two dogs with different types of hair. I tested this brush on a miniature poodle and a Labrador retriever. Only the pin brush side was useful for the poodle coat, but the Labrador coat benefited from both sides.

Overall, this is just a really nice brush. It’s lightweight at just under 5 ounces, yet sturdy and comfortable to hold. The stainless steel pins have safety tips for safe and gentle brushing, and the nylon bristles are soft but stiff enough to do some good hair removal while brushing. Measuring 12.2 inches long and 3.2 inches wide, this brush is well-sized for small to large dogs. It’s not suited to the job of grooming toy breeds (for that, consider the Burt’s Bees Double Sided brush under “What else we considered” at the end of this guide).

Hartz also offers a satisfaction guarantee on all its grooming tools if they have not been misused or abused. Simply return the brush with a copy of your receipt within one year of purchase for a replacement or refund.

The best deshedding tool

furminator dog brush

The Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool safely and effectively removes loose, dead undercoat hair as well as dirt and debris.

Pros: Reduces loose hair from shedding, doesn’t damage topcoat, skin guard protects from digging into skin, works for dogs of all sizes and most coat types, money-back guarantee

Cons: Not for use on nonshedding breeds, dropping tool can damage the teeth, overbrushing or applying too much pressure can irritate skin

Deshedding tools have one purpose: to remove as much loose hair from your dog’s coat as possible — before it ends up in your house and on your clothes. Although designs vary, deshedding tools often look like metal rakes or fine-tooth combs.

“Deshedding tools are a groomer’s best friend,” said Edmond, who has a Furminator in her personal grooming tool kit. “It is so satisfying to use this on a husky or German shepherd during heavy shedding seasons.”

The Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool landed in the top spot for this guide. I tested it on a Labrador retriever that sheds very heavily. The amount of hair I was able to remove from her coat was astonishing. It was far more than I could remove with any of the three other deshedding tools I tested.

The magic is in the stainless steel deshedding edge that reaches through the topcoat to safely and easily remove loose hair and undercoat without damaging the topcoat. The curved edge of the blade and skin-guard design help the tool glide over a dog’s body to prevent digging into the skin. 

The Furminator’s ergonomic handle offered a comfortable grip, and the release button made it easy to collect hair from the tool and continue deshedding. For storage, a special edge guard protects the metal teeth. The manufacturer is so sure you’ll love the Furminator that it offers a money-back guarantee as long as the product is used and stored as directed. 

The best slicker brush

jw pet gripsoft slicker brush

The JW Pet Gripsoft Soft Slicker Brush’s flexible, ideally angled stainless steel bristles minimize skin irritation while lifting out loose hair. 

Pros: Made for pets with sensitive skin, angled stainless steel bristles minimize irritation, rubberized grips and curved handle provide comfort and control

Cons: Not as effective for smooth-coated dogs with no undercoat (may cause skin irritation), might be too large for toy breeds

A slicker brush is made from very thin, closely set wire bristles that are good for general brushing and removing loose fur from long-haired dogs. A high-quality slicker brush should be stiff enough to untangle the coat but still gentle on the skin.

“I would not advise any pet parent to use a slicker brush for short-haired dogs as they can cause brush burn,” Edmonds said. “I would use this for long-haired pets and double-coated shedding dogs like Siberian huskies, German shepherds, and golden retrievers.”

We like JW Pet’s Gripsoft Soft Slicker Brush because it effectively detangles the coat and removes loose hair. With its flexible stainless steel bristles turned 90 degrees away from the skin, it also minimizes “raking,” which makes brushing more comfortable for your dog. The 5.5-inch-wide bristle area makes it a good fit for small to large-size dogs.

I tested this brush on a miniature poodle with a long, curly coat and a Labrador retriever with medium-length hair. Even though these two dogs have very different coats, the Gripsoft Slicker worked well on both types of hair. Before testing, I also ran each of the slicker brushes along the inside of my forearm to make sure they felt comfortable and found this one is very gentle on the skin. Owners of toy breeds will likely find this brush too big. For the smallest of dogs, I recommend checking out the Millers Forge Slicker Brush under “What else we considered” at the end of this guide.

The JW Pet Gripsoft is also durable yet lightweight and comfortable to hold with nonslip rubber grips on the front and back of the curved handle. When I was done brushing, I used my fingers to easily lift the hair out of the rounded brush head. 

The best pin brush

Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush

The durable, high-quality Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush glides through the coat and gently detangles hair without painful pulling.

Pros: Stainless steel pins with rounded, polished tips for comfort; durable design; firm cushion with air vent for flexibility; comfortable wooden body and handle

Cons: More expensive than similar models, not ideal for smooth-coated dogs

For dogs with medium to long hair, a pin brush is a good option for removing loose hair and detangling. This type of brush consists of metal pins that are more widely spaced than the bristles of a slicker brush, which helps prevent hair breakage. The pins are also set into a rubber cushion, and a high-quality brush will have pins with rounded ends to prevent scratches on the skin.

We chose the Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush as our top pick. I’ve used several Chris Christensen brushes and combs over the years because they came highly recommended by my poodle breeder. This brush lived up to the standard I’ve come to expect from the brand’s grooming tools. 

I tested this brush on a miniature poodle and found it glided through his coat easily and gently detangled without scratching his skin or breaking off any hairs. The high-quality stainless steel pins have rounded and polished tips, and the pins are set into a durable, firm cushion that has an air vent hole for extra flexibility.

The wooden body and easy-grip handle are constructed from lightweight solid beech, making it comfortable to hold. The brush is available in three different pin lengths: 20mm for short coats, 27mm for medium to long coats, and 35mm for long, thick full coats.

The best curry brush

bodhi dog brush

The easy-to-grip Bodhi Dog Bath Brush is like a loofah for your dog, and it’s effective for bathing or dry brushing.

Pros: Dry or wet use; effective yet gentle; handy strap for a comfortable hold; increases shampoo lather; massaging soft rubber bristles; natural, unrefined rubber limits chemical footprint; money-back guarantee

Cons: Not ideal for all coat types; strap might be too tight for larger hands; brush can be slippery when wet

This type of brush, which is also called a curry comb, is made of rubber or soft plastic. It has flexible nubs that remove dirt and loose hair from the coat. Curry brushes are also great in the bath when used to work shampoo deep into the coat, all while giving your dog a nice massage.

These brushes are best for dogs with smooth or short coats. “I use a curry brush on short-haired dogs during or right after a bath,” Edmond said. “I like to use it on dogs that are heavily shedding.” 

Our pick for the best curry brush is the Bodhi Dog Bath Brush. I tested this brush on a Labrador retriever with a medium-length coat. I like how the strap makes it easier to hold the brush even when wet, although like all the curry brushes I tested, it can still get slippery when wet. The 5-by-3.5-inch brush’s strap fit my hand well, but people with large hands might find the strap a bit tight.

When used on a dry coat, the soft, split-ended rubber tips gently loosen and remove shedding hair and dirt. The Bodhi brush serves the same function in the bath and also increases the effectiveness of shampoo lathering for a deeper clean while turning grooming time into massage time.

The best grooming glove

handson dog grooming glove

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Grooming Gloves whisk away shedding hair as you give your dog a gentle massage. 

Pros: Soft rubber nubs gently remove hair, flexible design for brushing all parts of body, massaging action ideal for dogs that dislike brushing, Velco wrist straps provide secure fit, available in three sizes

Cons: Not ideal for nonshedding dogs, sizing may not accommodate all hand sizes, somewhat difficult to clean hair off the gloves

Grooming gloves are great for shedding dogs that run away when you bring out the brush. They allow you to brush your dog by petting them, and most dogs love the soothing massage this provides. The rubber grips on the palm and fingers are good for removing loose hair.

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Grooming Gloves are the best of the four styles we tested. I used these gloves on a Labrador retriever that isn’t a big fan of being brushed. Not only did the gloves remove a lot of loose hair, but she lay down on her side and was happy for me to continue brushing all over her body.

The five-finger design allowed me to gently brush all over, including her head, face, body, legs, and tail, while the soft rubber nodules gently collected fur. The Velcro wrist straps kept the gloves secure on my hands. For best results, brush in the direction of hair growth. 

To clean these gloves, peel the hair off. Pro tip: It’s easiest to remove the hair when the gloves are full. The gloves come in three sizes to fit most hands: medium, large, and extra-large. I ordered the medium according to the size chart, and they fit well — snug but not too tight. 

What else we considered

dog brushes

Combo brushes

Slicker brushes

  • Millers Forge Designer Series Soft Slicker Brush: The soft wire bristles on this brush worked well to detangle and remove loose hair from the coats of a poodle and a Labrador retriever. Although this brush is labeled “designer series,” I actually found it to be quite basic. It gets the job done, but the JW Pet Gripsoft Soft Slicker Brush is much more comfortable to hold. 
  • Four Paws Magic Coat Dual Mat Remover: Although the slicker side of this brush was nice, the dematting tool on the flip side just didn’t compare to the Furminator. However, this would be a good choice if you only wanted to purchase one tool that is both an everyday brush and a dematting tool. 

Pin brushes

Deshedding tools

Curry brushes

  • Furbliss Pet Brush: I really liked the Furbliss, which is made from a soft and flexible rubber that gives a gentle massage. However, I slightly preferred the more rigid Bodhi Dog Bath Brush and the fact that it has a strap to help keep it on your hand in the bath.
  • Four Paws Magic Coat Dual-Purpose Curry Brush: A nice curry brush (although I can’t really attest to its purported antimicrobial properties), but it didn’t perform as well as the Bodhi or Furbliss brushes.
  • Kong ZoomGroom: This curry brush is soft and flexible with a cute design, but it just didn’t beat out the other curry brushes I tested.

Grooming gloves

Dog grooming FAQs

how to brush a dog

How often should I brush my dog?

If you have time, brush your dog every day to remove shedding hair, untangle knots, and redistribute coat oils. If you can’t brush daily, once a week is sufficient for most breeds. Dogs with long coats that tend to mat should be brushed two to three times a week.

How can I make grooming pleasant for my dog?

First, make sure the brush you choose is gentle on your dog’s skin. Test it against your forearm if you’re not sure. Give plenty of treats during brushing sessions, and stop if your dog is showing signs of stress. It’s better to break brushing up into mini-sessions rather than stress your dog out.

How do I know what kind of brush to buy for my dog?

Slicker brushes and pin brushes are good for most hair types other than very thin, smooth coats. Soft-bristle brushes and curry brushes are best for short, smooth coats. Deshedding tools are only for coats that shed. Grooming gloves can work for most coat types other than non-shedding breeds like poodles and Yorkshire Terriers. If you’re not sure what kind of brush to use, ask your veterinarian or groomer for advice. 

How do I care for my dog’s brush?

Keep your dog’s brush dry and clean the hair out after each grooming session. To easily remove hair from a brush, slip a comb into the bristles near the base of the brush and lift all the hair out in one solid piece.

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The best keyboards of 2021

  • Ergonomics, wired or wireless, and other factors come into play when choosing a keyboard.
  • Our tips for choosing a keyboard will help you pick the right one for your setup.
  • The Das Keyboard 4Q is our pick for the best keyboard because of its unique notification system. 

When it comes to your home or office setup, a keyboard shouldn’t be an afterthought. You want something that’s comfortable and won’t strain your wrists, but there are also a lot of decisions to make. While there are a lot of inexpensive options, you don’t want to sacrifice comfort and support for something you use for hours every day.

If your computer doesn’t have a ton of USB ports, you might want to consider a wireless keyboard. Gamers will have a different set of priorities than someone who’s using a keyboard mainly for typing. Whatever you choose, you’ll want to make sure it’s compatible with all the devices you’ll use it with. 

Ergonomics are an important component of any good work or gaming setup. Be sure to factor in keyboard layouts and height, so they work with your typing style. Sound and key feel matter a lot to some people, with some preferring a clickier, responsive experience. Whatever your criteria are for a keyboard, you should find something on our list.

Here are our picks for the best keyboards:

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

 

The best keyboard overall

The Best keyboard Das Keyboard 4Q

The RGB backlighting on the Das Keyboard 4Q doubles as a notifications platform, you can get alerts on your keyboard.

Pros: Unique alert system, two USB ports 

Cons: Q software takes some getting used to

Many keyboards come with RGB backlighting, but the Das Keyboard 4Q puts it to use, letting the colors serve as notifications as reminders. The logo is dark and unobtrusive, so it looks more like a work keyboard than a gaming one, until all the lights start flashing. 

The Q utility allows you to set up individual keys to light up for reminders like Google Alerts and weather forecasts. You can even customize it so that the keyboard lights up if you’re tagged on social media or blinks when it’s time to take a break and move around. 

In its full review, PCMag says the Das Keyboard 4Q’s N-key rollover feature is what makes it perfect for people who need a keyboard that keeps up with them. The device packs a lot into its 18-by-6.8-inch layout. There are media controls in the top right, including a large volume knob. The switches are Cherry MX Brown, not quite as clicky as the MX Blue.

The Das Keyboard 4Q includes two USB ports and an instant sleep button, rounding out an already excellent feature set. 

The best gaming keyboard

best gaming keyboard Razer huntsman elite

The Razer Huntsman Elite gaming keyboard has optical switches designed for faster speed and performance. 

Pros: Optical switches, discrete media controls, wrist rest is very soft 

Cons: Keyboard takes up second USB port on your PC

Speed is essential for gaming keyboards, and that’s what the Razer Huntsman Elite offers with its optical switches. Instead of using metal contact leaves, it has a laser under every switch. It’s among the first gaming keyboards to feature the technology, which uses infrared light beams to detect keystroke actuation. 

While the Razer Huntsman Elite is a clicky switch, the click mechanism is separate from the switch’s actuation mechanism, making this ideal for rapid tapping. The switches have their own stabilizer bars to ensure consistent switch behavior no matter which corner you press. Each switch is rated to last 100 million keystrokes, according to Razer, compared to Cherry MX’s 50 million keystrokes.

You can easily program the Razer Huntsman Elite with Razer’s Synapse software, which allows for all keys and keypress combinations to be remapped for complicated commands. This should help with players of first-person shooters as well as various esports. 

Tom’s Guide raves that this keyboard is comfortable while maintaining a futuristic look, although they thought the light-up padded leather wrist rest was a little gaudy. The wrist rest magnetically attaches to the keyboard, so you don’t have to use it. 

For its hefty price tag, this keyboard boasts layers of personalization options and in-came effects like underglow lighting unlike any other.

The best ergonomic keyboard

Best ergonomic keyboard Logitech Ergo K860

The ergonomic design of the Logitech Ergo K860 can help support your wrists and improve posture. 

Pros: Terrific ergonomic design, comfortable palm rest, Bluetooth support for up to three devices

Cons: Ergonomic design takes getting used to, pricier than standard Bluetooth keyboards

Logitech’s wireless Ergo K860 is the best ergonomic keyboard we’ve used. Not only does it provide a more comfortable typing experience, it can help improve posture and alleviate wrist strain. 

The keyboard rises to a slope in the middle, and the layout of the alphanumeric keys is split apart. If this is your first ergonomic keyboard, you will have to get used to the different typing position, and you’ll probably make some mistakes for a bit. This design puts you in a proper typing position, as it reduces pronation, and places your arms, neck, and shoulders in a more relaxed posture as well. Logitech says the palm rest along the bottom can reduce wrist bending by 25%. Flip-out legs can tilt the keyboard even higher if needed. 

The Ergo K860 operates on two AAA batteries, which provides the keyboard with two years of power, according to Logitech. The device only connects to a computer wirelessly, either via Bluetooth or with a USB dongle that’s neatly stored beneath the keyboard. 

We tested the Ergo K860 with a MacBook Pro using Bluetooth. Set-up was quick and easy, and the keyboard quickly re-pairs every time we start up the laptop, without fail. It can pair with up to three Bluetooth devices. In addition to the MacBook Pro, we paired it with an iPhone and iPad, and we seamlessly switched between three without issues.

The keyboard is very lightweight, but the unique design does require annexing a bit of table surface. The plastic makes the Ergo K860 feel deceptively cheap, but from our experience, it’s well-made.

Insider Reviews Senior Editor Les Shu tested the keyboard for several months, and he hasn’t noticed significant improvements to his sitting posture (good workplace ergonomics requires more than just changing a keyboard), but the Ergo K860 has alleviated any pain or discomfort in his wrists. This was especially noticeable when he returned to using a non-ergonomic keyboard. While it is pricey for a keyboard, he thinks the ergonomic features are well-worth the cost.

The best multi-device keyboard

Best multi-device keyboard Logitech K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard

The Logitech K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard allows you to use tablets and other devices like a PC.

Pros: Easily share files among connected devices, soft keys for quiet typing

Cons: Circular keys may not be for everyone

If you want to turn your tablet into a computer, the Logitech K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard could be the right keyboard for the job. At 6.2 by 14.9 inches and less than an inch in height, it has a low profile and fairly compact footprint. A built-in cradle holds smartphones and tablets right above the keypad. You can connect to your devices via Bluetooth or use a USB receiver to connect to a laptop or desktop.

A Tom’s Guide review noted that its circular keycaps will be a turn-off for some users, but also says Logitech’s software offers a lot to make up for that. Logitech’s Flow technology allows for file-sharing from one device to another, as long as both are connected to the keyboard via Bluetooth. 

The keyboard’s customization options allow you to remap keys. The keyboard already has designated keys that allow you to switch back and forth between three connected devices. It does weight just under two pounds, so you might not want to lug it everywhere.

The best large-print keyboard

best large print keyboard Nuklz N

The Nuklz N Large Print Computer Keyboard makes typing easier for novice computer users or for those with visual impairments. 

Pros: Good for new typists and those with visual impairments, easy to use

Cons: Large footprint, no backlighting

The Nuklz N Large Print keyboard has high-contrast keys in large, bold type that are easier to see in low or dim lighting. It’s lightweight, and the keys are soft and quiet. There aren’t a ton of features, so there’s no backlighting, for example.  

The Nuklz N connects via a USB cable, so you’ll need an available port to use it. In order to make it highly visible, some keys, like delete, are abbreviated, so it may take some time to familiarize yourself with them. 

The keyboard is on the large side, measuring 18 by 7 inches, and it’s 1.5 inches tall. It weighs just over a pound. 

The best portable keyboard

best portable keyboard Ikos Bluetooth Folding keyboard

When folded, the Ikos Bluetooth Folding Keyboard is smaller than an iPhone 6 Plus. 

Pros: Lightweight, folds up fairly small, good battery life 

Cons: Keyboard layout may be a deal breaker for some

The Ikos Bluetooth Folding keyboard is a bifold-style portable keyboard that has a tactile feel when typing. Slim and lightweight, it’s half a pound and measures 11.54 by 3.32 inches. It’s 0.47 inches thick when you fold it up.

A two-hour charge produces 80 hours of battery life, about two months on standby mode. Its case doubles as a stand for your phone or tablet, but it works remotely with devices that are about 30 feet away. 

If you’re using multiple devices, this keyboard’s built-in memory feature will track and remember those connections. You can switch back and forth between three devices by toggling between slots. Because it folds up, the Ikos keyboard has a gap in the middle of the keys. That may take some getting used to when you’re typing. 

Some reviewers pointed out that you’ll need a hard, flat surface to use the keyboard and noted that unfolding and folding the unit doesn’t turn it on or off; you will have to do that manually. 

The best quiet keyboard

best quiet keyboard HP Wireless Elite Keyboard V2

The HP Wireless Elite Keyboard V2 opts for quiet over clicks. 

Pros: Nearly silent typing, battery indicator light 

Cons: Uses 2 AAA batteries instead of rechargeable ones

Some people love the click and clack of a keyboard, but others will prefer the quiet of the HP Wireless Elite V2. One of the reasons this keyboard is so quiet is its scissor-style keys, which have a silent, spring-like rebound. 

The full-size keyboard is 17.28 by 6.02 inches and 0.61 inches high. It can connect to up to five devices at once and has a 16-month battery life, though it runs on 2 AAA batteries you’ll have to replace. An indicator light illuminates when they’re running low. 

This keyboard’s wireless connection allows you to move it around to find the right typing distance, within a 30-foot radius. There are hotkeys dedicated to volume control and other desktop features, as well as additional media playback controls. 

In its review, PC World noted that the V2 responds quickly and quietly to each keystroke and is very comfortable to type on.

How to choose a keyboard

Our top pick is a great keyboard, but it won’t be right for everyone. Some people might need an ergonomic keyboard or prefer wireless options. Here are some basic features you’ll want to think about when selecting a keyboard. 

What are you using it for: The first question to ask yourself is how you’ll be using your keyboard. Gamers will want responsive keyboards, while someone doing a lot of data entry won’t want a layout without a numeric keypad. Some keyboards make it easy to switch between devices, so that’s important to take into consideration if you’re looking to use yours with a laptop, phone, and tablet, for example. 

Ergonomics and layout: If you find yourself with a lot of wrist pain during the day, you might get some relief with an ergonomic keyboard. These are shaped very differently from a flat keyboard. They curve upward in the middle and separate the keys into two groups. That means you’ll have to get used to a new way of typing. Folding keyboards will also split up keys. If you’re used to typing on a Macbook, you might want to look for keyboards with a similar layout or one that you can remap; the order of some keys is different for Mac and PC keyboards. 

Wired or wireless: You’ll never have to worry about your keyboard suddenly running out of battery if you use a wired keyboard, but they also take up valuable port space. If your laptop doesn’t have room for something to be always plugged into it, then wireless might be right for you. You’ll want to make sure your devices are compatible with the keyboard as well. 

Mechanical keyboards: Mechanical keyboards are big with gamers, because of their responsiveness. Their design does make them louder, however. The type of switch will make the sound level and feel of the key different. A mechanical key tester can give you an idea of what it’s like to type with different switches. 

 

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The best Nintendo Switch accessories

Like the Wii before it, the Nintendo Switch is one of the most innovative game consoles of the past decade, not to mention popular. It’s versatile, allowing you to play on the big screen in your living room or on the go. There are plenty of excellent games for it, and now there’s a portable-only model that’s less expensive, the Switch Lite.

As fun as this system may be, as any gamer will tell you, the experience can only get better with the help of some must-have accessories.

There are hundreds of accessories for the Nintendo Switch, but they’re not all created equal. In our list, we’ve narrowed down the essential Nintendo Switch accessories that will take your game to the next level.

Here are the best Nintendo Switch accessories:

Updated on 12/23/2020 by Nathaniel Mott: Added a new pick and category for best Nintendo Switch wired internet adapter.

The best controller

8bit pro

The 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ is the best controller for playing Switch games on a TV.

Pros: Well-designed, cheaper than Nintendo’s official Pro controller, D-Pad and analog trigger make some games more enjoyable to play

Cons: Lack of NFC for Amiibo, weaker rumble and motion controls.

While the Switch’s included Joy-Con controllers are ideal for handheld gaming in portable mode, they can be cumbersome when used in console mode — when the Switch is connected to the TV with its dock— due to their tiny size. For big screen gaming you should opt for the 8BitDo SN30 Pro+, which is a full-size controller that is solidly built and has clicky and responsive buttons.

The 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ design is a mashup of both the original Super Nintendo controller’s familiar button layout and the PlayStation 4 Dualshock controller’s comfortable grip. The old school D-Pad is a significant step up from the four separate directional buttons on the standard left Joy-Con, especially while playing platformers, or any 2D games that need precise inputs.

The 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ has a removable battery pack that lasts 20 hours on a single charge and can be charged via its USB-C port. It also offers the flexibility of using AA batteries in case you don’t have access to a power outlet.

Nintendo offers an official Pro Controller for the Switch, which is also a fine choice, but it has a few minor issues that hold it back from being our top pick. Firstly, Nintendo’s accessory has a D-Pad that is slightly spongy compared to the 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ which makes it come across as less responsive. Compared to the Pro Controller, the 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ manages to hit the sweet spot in size making it more comfortable to hold for extended gaming sessions. Finally, the biggest pro in the SN30 Pro+ column is that despite the above advantages it is $20 cheaper than Nintendo’s Pro Controller.

The SN30 Pro+ has a couple of minor downsides, the first being a lack of NFC support for Nintendo’s Amiibo toy figurines —  for this you’ll have to rely on the Joy-Cons. And lastly, its Rumble and motion control feature are a slight step down from Nintendo’s official offering. But, it’s a better value buy for most Switch users and as a bonus is compatible both with Windows 10 and macOS right out of the box. — Siladitya Ray

The best Nintendo Switch power bank

anker nintendo switch editon battery

Extend the Switch’s battery life with the Anker Powercore 13400 Nintendo Switch Edition so that your gameplay doesn’t get interrupted.

Pros: Licensed by Nintendo, compact, fast charging (USB-C Power Delivery), USB-C cable included, can be used with phones and some laptops

Cons: Pricey compared to other power banks with similar or larger capacities, no fast-charging wall adapter included

According to Nintendo, the battery life on the original Nintendo Switch (2017) is approximately 2.5 to 6.5 hours, while an updated version (2019), with more efficient power usage, yields about 4.5 to 9 hours; the Switch Lite averages between 3 to 7 hours. If you’re an avid gamer and you have all the settings on high — brightness on high and Wi-Fi enabled, for example — you should bring along a portable USB power bank to lengthen the battery life. Our pick is the Anker PowerCore 13400 Nintendo Switch Edition.

You might be thinking, can’t you use any power bank since they are all the same? No: Because of the significant amount of power the Switch draws (more so when it’s in use), you need a power bank that supports USB-C Power Delivery (PD) fast charging. As for capacity, you would want as your budget allows; 10,000 mAh should be the minimum. And, you’ll need a USB-C-to-USB-C cable.

Considering speed, capacity, and price, we like Anker’s PowerCore 13400 Nintendo Switch Edition. Switch-brand licensing aside, the battery is rated to support the full amount of power that the Switch draws. You can expect between 3 to 4 hours of playtime, depending on settings; it has a capacity of 13,400mAh. There’s no way to neatly attach the battery to the back of the Switch, but the PowerCore 13400 Nintendo Switch Edition is compact enough for travel. The power bank also works with smartphones and other portable devices and comes with a USB-C-to-USB-C cable. When used with a PD power adapter, the power bank recharges in about 4 hours, but the adapter is optional.

There aren’t many portable batteries specifically designed for the Switch. The few we found either came from unfamiliar brands or had batteries that were too small, not to mention pricey. For your money, we didn’t feel they were worth considering and you’d get more value out of a standard power bank, as they can also be used to recharge phones, tablets, and other small USB-powered devices.

We also didn’t consider power banks that use Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology, since the Switch does not support it. We want to note that you could theoretically use a power bank you already own, but unless it supports fast charging, it may not deliver the performance that’s needed. However, it’s probably fine for recharging overnight when you’re not playing.

The big downside might be the cost. For around the same price or less, you can usually find higher-capacity USB-C PD power banks, including ones from Anker, like the PowerCore Essential 20000 PD. If the Nintendo certification doesn’t matter to you, opt for something less expensive — just use a reliable brand with a good warranty. On a positive note, Anker’s power banks tend to be value products. We have used them for years and found them to be reliable and perform well. — Les Shu

The best Nintendo Switch microSD card

Samsung memory card

The Samsung Evo Select 256GB is the best microSD card for expanding the Switch’s measly internal storage.

Pros: Great value for a high-capacity card, meets Nintendo Switch’s speed requirements for SD cards, durable

Cons: None

The Switch’s 32GB internal storage can fill up almost instantly with individual major games taking up anywhere between 10 to 20GB of space. We recommend the Samsung Evo Select 256GB microSD card as an essential purchase for any new Switch buyer.

The Samsung Evo Select 256GB microSD card adds eight-fold more storage to the Switch and should comfortably hold a large collection of AAA, retro and indie games. Samsung’s card is rated with 100MB/s read and 90MB/s write speed, which should enable shorter game load times over lower performance cards.

While you could do with a 128GB card initially, if you plan on buying mostly digital games, then you would be better served going with the larger-capacity 256GB card since it costs only slightly more and is more future proof.

SanDisk makes a Nintendo-licensed microSD card. It has specs which are similar to our pick but often retails for a higher price. Pass on this and save the money unless you really want the card with Mario art on it. — Siladitya Ray

The best Nintendo Switch carry case

Nintendo switch case

The RDS Industries Nintendo Switch Deluxe Carrying Case is a sturdy hard case with room for a Switch, Joy-Con controllers, and game cartridges.

Pros: Hard exterior, room for Switch and eight games, built in kickstand for gaming on the go

Cons: Not large enough to carry the dock and other accessories

The RDS Industries Nintendo Switch Deluxe Carrying Case is an officially licensed case that protects a Nintendo Switch and accessories with a hard, water-resistant exterior. 

The case is available in multiple designs apart from the standard black that includes artwork from Mario, Zelda and Splatoon 2. Besides the Switch with Joy-Con controllers attached, there’s room for up to eight games in two separate plastic cases, cables, two SD cards, and other small accessories. We also like that the screen-protecting cushion doubles as an adjustable kickstand for gaming while on the road. There’s also a carry-handle. — Siladitya Ray

The best Nintendo Switch headset

Steel Series Artcis 1

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is the best headset for Switch gaming on the go for its price and versatility.

Pros: Comfortable, light, stellar battery life, great audio for gaming

Cons: Plastic build quality, occasional interference due to Wi-Fi signals.

SteelSeries is known for making great gaming headsets, and the Arctis 1 Wireless continues that tradition. The wireless headset comes with the same drivers that were present on our previous pick, the SteelSeries Arctis 7, offering immersive audio and a wide soundstage. The cushioned ear cups make it comfortable to use during extended gaming sessions.

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless comes bundled with a USB-C transmitter dongle that plugs into the Switch and allows you to connect the headphones wirelessly to the Switch. The Arctis 1 uses 2.4GHz wireless on its dongle instead of Bluetooth to connect to the Switch, which ensures that there is no noticeable lag and crystal-clear audio. While in console mode, the dongle can be connected to the Switch’s dock using an included USB-C to USB-A adapter.

Priced at $100, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless lacks the premium build quality that you would expect from top shelf SteelSeries headphones, but the plastic-clad device is adequately sturdy for regular use. The design aesthetic is unassuming and doesn’t scream “gamer”, making it more versatile for use with other devices, like your phone. The most impressive part is that the headset lasts for 20 to 22 hours on a single charge, which is close to three times the Switch’s average battery life.

One downside of the 2.4Ghz band used by the headset’s dongle is that you may deal with occasional choppiness in an area crowded with Wi-Fi devices, but this shouldn’t be an issue for most people. — Siladitya Ray

The best screen protector

tempered glass screen protector

The amFilm Tempered Glass screen protector protects the display from dings and bumps.

Pros: Thick, two in the box, inexpensive

Cons: Thickness makes it noticeable

As with any portable device, the screen on the Nintendo Switch can be easily scratched if it isn’t properly protected — like throwing it into a backpack. For a strong, protective screen protector, we recommend the amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector.

It’s a little thicker than other screen protectors, at 0.3 millimeters, which makes it harder to cut through it. In the box, you get two screen protectors — if one gets damaged, there’s another one to replace it — and wet wipes and microfiber cloth to clean the screen before applying the protector.

The downside: Given the thickness, it’s more noticeable than other screen protectors. — Christian de Looper

The best controller charging dock

powera controller dock

Charging Joy-Con and Pro controllers is relatively easy with the PowerA Joy-Con and Pro Controller Charging Dock.

Pros: Charges Joy-Con and Pro Controllers, well-designed, inexpensive

Cons: Wire is flimsy

While the Joy-Con controllers can be recharged when attached to the Nintendo Switch, it’s more convenient to use the PowerA Joy-Con and Pro Controller Charging Dock. In addition, if you own the Pro Controller, it will recharge that too.

The dock is a great way to keep things organized. It looks basic, but it complements the Switch dock. It is also cheaper than many other charging docks for the Nintendo Switch, and, if you care about such things, it’s officially licensed by Nintendo.

In our test, the dock works well, but the included USB-C cable for charging the Pro Controller isn’t very strong. — Christian de Looper

The best Joy-Con alternative

Hori switch joycon

The Hori D-Pad Controller is perfect for 2D platformers, NES and SNES games while on the go.

Pros: Cheap, fairly solid design, the best way to play 2D-platformers in handheld mode

Cons: Lack of wireless, rumble and motion controls

Despite being loaded with sweet features, the Switch’s Joy-Con has one major flaw: the lack of a true D-Pad. Every single one of Nintendo’s previous consoles came with its iconic plus-shaped D-Pad, but the Switch’s unique design did not allow for the same. The Hori D-Pad Controller, which replaces the left Joy-Con, helps fix that flaw as it comes with a directional pad.

The Hori D-Pad Controller is frugal by design, and comes with no wireless connectivity, no rumble, no motion control and no battery. It only works when it’s connected to the left rail of the Switch in handheld mode. Despite these limitations, the controller is simple to use and delivers precise directional inputs.

The precision of a D-Pad is immediately evident if you play a lot of 2D side scrolling or fighting games. Games like Sonic Mania, Metal Slug, and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap are ideal to play using the controller. The peripheral also shines when used with NES and SNES classic games that come bundled with the Switch’s online subscription. If you want to speed-run classic Mario in handheld mode, the Hori D-Pad Controller is your best weapon.

Other parts of the controller are well designed too, the analog joystick and both shoulder buttons work just as you would expect on an original Joy-Con. The assembly feels sturdy but significantly lighter than a real Joy-Con as it lacks a lot of the additional wireless, gyroscope and rumble hardware that add heft.

The Hori D-Pad Controller is officially priced at $25, which makes it significantly cheaper than the $80 Nintendo charges for a pair of new Joy-Cons. Additionally the gamepad is officially licensed by Nintendo, and is available in three separate designs; a black-and-gold Zelda version, a red Mario version and a yellow-and-black Pokemon version. [Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, some versions are currently out of stock.] — Siladitya Ray

The best Joy-Con controller handles

MoKo grip

The MoKo Grips turn your Joy-Con controllers into console-style controllers, making them easier to hold and more convenient for multiplayer games.

Pros: Comfortable, inexpensive, great for multiplayer games

Cons: Not for games that require vertical use of Joy-Con controller

The Pro Controller we recommended is more conducive to console-style gaming, but if the price is a turn-off or you just don’t want a bulky controller, stick with the Joy-Con controllers but add this affordable accessory, the MoKo Grip.

Coming in a pack of two, the grip, made of resin, is a sleeve that you wrap around a Joy-Con controller, giving it handles that make holding a Joy-Con more comfortable. It also has left and right buttons trigger buttons. There are plenty of similar products like this, but we like the MoKo because it provides a better fit.

Having tested the MoKo Grips, we find them to enhance the experience of playing multiplayer fighting games like “Super Smash Bros.” where you would want a tighter hold on the controller as you mash those buttons, as well as lengthy solo gameplay like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”

Where the grips don’t work are games where you need to use the controller vertically, like “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!” or “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee.” Also, it’s not an improvement over the Pro Controller since they don’t offer those large buttons and analog sticks, but it’s an affordable upgrade nonetheless. — Christian de Looper

The best controller for “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”

GameCube style switch controller

The PowerA GameCube-style Wireless Controller looks and feels like the original, but works better.

Pros: Feels like original GameCube controller, wireless, great for “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”

Cons: Expensive, AA batteries instead of rechargeable, no rumble

“Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is an immensely popular Nintendo Switch game, and die-hard fans swear by a controller for an old Nintendo console that actually came out in 2001: the GameCube. Nintendo took notice — so much so that it introduced a GameCube controller for the Switch specifically for “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” which is now hard to come by. If you don’t own an old GameCube controller (you can use it with the Switch via an adapter), you can get a third-party option, like this licensed product from PowerA, the GameCube Style Wireless Controller.

This controller looks identical to the classic GameCube controller, but it has extra buttons for the Nintendo Switch: home, plus, and minus. Apart from that, you get the large “A” and shoulder buttons that make this controller popular with gamers. Since it works over Bluetooth, no wires are required. Unlike using an original GameCube controller, this one has motion controls.

While the controller works with nearly all Switch games, it doesn’t have the rumble function. And, it’s powered by two AA batteries instead of a rechargeable one; PowerA claims 30 hours of gameplay, so either have spares handy or use rechargeable AA batteries. Another downer: It’s expensive. — Christian de Looper and Les Shu

The best Nintendo Switch wired internet adapter

Ugreen USB 2.0 Ethernet Adapter lifestyle

The UGreen USB 2.0 Ethernet Adapter is the best wired internet solution for Switch owners seeking a more reliable and faster connection while the console is docked.

Pros:  Enables a better internet connection when the Switch is docked, affordable

Cons: Requires slightly more setup than simply relying on a Wi-Fi connection

Nintendo officially recommends that Switch owners access the console’s online features via Wi-Fi. That recommendation makes sense — a wireless connection doesn’t care if the Switch is being used in TV mode, portable mode, or kickstand mode — but Wi-Fi isn’t always ideal. 

Luckily the Switch does support a wired connection when it’s docked. That is, as long as you use an Ethernet-to-USB adapter, like the UGreen 20254, to bridge the gap between the console and your network.

That extra setup can be worth the hassle, though, especially if you play a lot of games online. Wi-Fi is great when you want to be able to play no matter where you are in your home, and it complements the Switch’s versatility well. But, sometimes wireless connections are less reliable and slower than their wired counterparts. Those drawbacks can lead to increased download times as well as potentially game-breaking performance issues in online titles.

Wired connections don’t suffer from those problems, which is why Nintendo’s Masahiro Sakurai recently told “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” players that the best way to improve performance for online battles was to use an Ethernet adapter. Having a more reliable connection leads to better performance in competitive games like “Smash,” faster downloads from the Nintendo eShop, and improved experiences in games that feature significant online components.

Here’s the good news: There isn’t a significant difference between adapters. Some cost more than others, sure, but most offer similar performance. It’s kind of like buying an expensive HDMI cable. Sometimes it’s necessary, but the reality is that most people will be content with any cable that meet’s the relevant standards (USB 2.0 and Ethernet in this case). Don’t feel pressured into buying the most expensive Ethernet-to-USB adapter for your Switch.

That’s why our pick for the best Nintendo Switch wired internet adapter is the UGreen 20254. It’s an affordable and versatile adapter, with support for many other devices besides the Switch. Swapping it out if you decide you don’t need that competitive edge in “Smash” should be a cinch. Just remember that you’ll have to supply your own router and Ethernet cable as well.

Setting up the adapter is as easy as plugging an Ethernet cable into the appropriate port on your router, connecting that cable to the adapter, and then plugging the adapter’s USB 2.0 cable into the USB port on the official Nintendo Switch dock. The console should automatically switch between the wired connection when it’s docked and a Wi-Fi connection when it’s not. — Nathaniel Mott

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best media streaming sticks and devices

  • A streaming device can transform your so-called dumb TV into a smart one that plays shows and movies from Disney Plus, Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and other streaming services.
  • The best of the bunch is the Roku Ultra with its easy-to-use interface, 4K video streaming, HDR support, voice control, and simple remote.

The world is changing. Gone are the days when a cable subscription was necessary to watch all the latest and greatest TV series. These days, you can find plenty of quality shows on streaming platforms, like Disney Plus, ESPN+, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Of course, the best way to watch these services is on a TV, and there are plenty of devices out there to help you stream your favorites on the display of your choice. Before buying a specific streaming player, however, you’ll want to consider a few things.

For starters, it’s important to ensure that the streaming device you pick includes support for the apps you use the most. The most popular services, like Netflix and Disney Plus, are supported on virtually all streaming players. With that said, some apps, like Peacock, are currently missing from certain devices, including Fire TV products. 

Next up, you’ll want to keep in mind the specs of your TV. Not all streaming sticks and boxes are able to handle 4K content or HDR playback, so if you have a 4K TV, you’ll want to get one that can stream 4K videos; the reverse is also true, as a non-4K TV won’t be able to take advantage of 4K playback.

Last but not least, it might be worth considering the ecosystem you’re most plugged into. For example, Android users might be able to get more use from an Android TV or Google TV device, while those using an iPhone and Mac might prefer the Apple TV.

Through research and testing we’ve picked the best streaming sticks and boxes you can buy to turn your dumb TV into a smart one. 

Note: All of the below products require access to the internet over Wi-Fi or Ethernet in order to stream content. 

Here are the best streaming boxes and sticks:

Prices and links are current as of 12/17/2020. Added details about the launch of HBO Max on Roku devices. Updated by Steven Cohen.

The best streaming box overall

Roku Ultra 2020 angle

The Roku Ultra streams in 4K and HDR, has voice search, and comes with a remote control that has programmable shortcut buttons.

Roku’s Ultra has virtually everything a buyer could want out of streaming box. It supports 4K video at 60 frames per second and HDR playback. If you have a 4K TV, this model will help you get the most out of your display.

Roku doesn’t require a Google or Apple account to use (you will need to register for a Roku account, however), but it can still connect to a huge library of streaming services. You’ll be able to install Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, Apple TV Plus, and more using Roku’s operating system. It even supports HBO Max, which was previously missing from the channel selection. Just connect the box to your TV via the HDMI port, and install all your favorite streaming services to get started.

As mentioned, the Roku Ultra supports HDR, which means that it’ll show richer colors and better contrast when playing back HDR-enabled videos on an HDR TV. The new 2020 Roku Ultra model also adds support for the advanced Dolby Vision format, which should improve HDR picture quality even more on Dolby Vision-enabled displays. 

Of course, to take advantage of 4K HDR content, you’ll need a decent internet connection. The device can connect to your internet through Ethernet or over Wi-Fi, so choose the method that’s fastest and most convenient.

The Ultra also comes with a voice remote control so you can adjust the volume, turn on your TV, and search for content with your voice. If you’re watching at night, you can plug in a set of headphones to the remote to not disturb others — a pair of earbuds are included. Roku also has a companion app that makes navigation and searches even more robust.

Bluetooth support is included as well for streaming music to the player, and the Roku Ultra even supports AirPlay 2 and HomeKit for easy connectivity to Apple devices. 

The Roku Ultra is the most versatile and reliable media player in this price range, and we like that it’s the most universal of the products. There are cheaper alternatives with less advanced features, but we think this model is the best choice for most people with a 4K TV.  

Pros: 4K and HDR streaming, new 2020 model adds Dolby Vision support and Bluetooth, voice remote, lots of apps, improved Wi-Fi connection, Ethernet, USB port

Cons: Doesn’t support HDR10+, a bit pricey

The best budget streaming box

Roku Express

The Roku Express is one of the most affordable streaming boxes you can buy, and it offers a great interface with basic HD playback.

For buyers who want a simple and inexpensive streaming solution, the Roku Express is the perfect fit. This model is about as basic as they come, but for the money, you’re still getting a capable HD streaming box with a built-in user interface and remote.

Perhaps the best thing about the Roku Express is how easy it is to use. The new compact design makes it one of the smallest standalone streaming boxes there is, and the package comes complete with an HDMI cable for simple setup. The interface is well-designed and extremely easy to navigate.

Since it uses a built-in operating system, you can install apps like Netflix without having to stream from your phone or computer (you will need to register for a Roku account if you don’t have one already). A remote control is included for navigation, but you can also use the Roku app.

Of course, there are downsides to the Roku Express. Unlike the Roku Ultra, which is our overall favorite, there’s no USB port for playing external video files or Bluetooth for music streaming from a smartphone. The Roku Express also does not offer 4K streaming or HDR, so we recommend this model for people who have a TV that doesn’t include those features.

For buyers who do need 4K on a budget, though, there’s a very similar Roku model, the Roku Premiere, that might be a better fit for you. The Roku Premiere is a lot like the Roku Express, but it adds support for 4K, HDR, and AirPlay for a bit more money.

That said, the Premiere is sometimes on sale for less than the Express. When the Premiere is discounted, it’s actually the better value of the two. If there are no discounts, however, and all you need is basic HD streaming, there’s little reason to pay extra for a model more powerful than the Roku Express.

Pros: Cheap, compact design, easy-to-use, built-in OS

Cons: No 4K or HDR, no voice remote

The best high-end streaming box

4k_screen_and_appletv

The Apple TV 4K is an ideal streaming player for enthusiasts who want Dolby Vision support and easy integration with the rest of Apple’s products.

If you’re looking for a device to better integrate with your iTunes account, iPhone, and other Apple devices, then you’ll want to look into getting an Apple TV. The Apple TV 4K boasts a number of great features, and as the name suggests, this version streams in 4K and HDR, which is great for those of you who have 4K TVs and want the best home theater playback.

As you would expect from an Apple device, it’s well-designed and will look right at home amongst your other home entertainment devices, even the more premium ones. On the back of the device, you’ll get a power input, HDMI port, and an Ethernet port. That way, you can have a more stable internet connection for streaming 4K video.

One of the best things about the Apple TV 4K is Apple’s tvOS operating system, which is super easy to use, especially with the included remote (called the Siri Remote). As mentioned, it can stream in 4K and has HDR support for improved contrast and colors. Unlike Roku’s players, the Apple TV 4K also offers Dolby Vision support on top of standard HDR10. If you have a Dolby Vision TV, this means you’ll get even better HDR performance when watching Dolby Vision titles from apps like Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus. 

And with Siri, you can use your voice to search for content. Plus, you can access music, podcasts, games, and hundreds of apps, or cast or mirror content from an iOS or macOS device using AirPlay wireless technology. In addition, the Apple TV 4K can even serve as a HomeKit hub for Apple’s smart home ecosystem.

The Siri Remote connects to the Apple TV via Bluetooth, so no line of sight is required. While the remote is elegant and the touch-capability makes navigation easier, it’s so slim that it can be easy to lose or slip out of your hand. An alternative is to use the Apple TV Remote app on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, which handles the same functions but makes things like typing much simpler.

Engadget called it “almost perfect,” while CNET called it the most high-end 4K streaming experience. However, the Apple TV is notably more expensive than some other streaming options from Roku and Amazon. Most people who aren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem will be more than happy with the less expensive Roku Ultra instead.

Guides Editor Les Shu disagrees somewhat. He uses both the Roku Ultra and Roku Express+ and Apple TV, and finds the Apple TV experience much smoother and more pleasant than the Roku Ultra — not to mention the easier set-up process. While he acknowledges the price premium and that the Roku Ultra has its advantages, from a pure entertainment experience, he believes the Apple TV is the stronger product, and that it isn’t just for Apple fans with money.

We don’t think you can go wrong with either — the deciding factor comes down to budget and the ecosystem — but the money spent on an Apple TV is well worth it.

Pros: Well-designed, great interface, 4K and HDR playback with Dolby Vision support, can serve as a HomeKit hub

Cons: A little pricey

The best for Google users

Chromecast with Google TV Lifestyle

Unlike older models, the new Chromecast with Google TV can play apps right from the device, rather than having to rely on casting from a separate smartphone.

Google’s newest Chromecast model offers a sizable step forward in performance and usability over older versions. Though our previous pick in this category, the Chromecast Ultra, needed a separate phone, tablet, or computer to stream apps from, the Chromecast with Google TV actually features its own built-in interface with an extensive library of services. 

You can still cast apps from a mobile device if you’d like, but the on-screen selection makes it much more convenient to find your favorite shows and movies right on your TV screen. This makes the Chromecast a more worthy competitor to similar compact streaming players, like the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Powered by the new Google TV platform, the Chromecast offers access to a huge collection of apps, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock, YouTube, and more. In fact, the only major app currently missing is Apple TV. 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos playback are supported for select services as well.

On the downside, a few key movie apps, like Vudu, FandangoNow, and Movies Anywhere, are currently limited to HD and SDR. This is especially disappointing since these apps do offer 4K HDR playback on other streaming devices, like the Roku Ultra. It’s possible that these apps will receive updates for 4K in the future. 

From a design perspective, the new Chromecast features a similar puck-shaped form factor as older models, complete with a dongle connection that hangs from your TV’s HDMI port. Unlike older models, however, the latest version now includes a handy voice remote with integrated Google Assistant support. The Chromecast’s Google Assistant also provides seamless integration with other Google devices. For example, you can control Google speakers or tell your Chromecast to display security camera footage from a Nest camera.

We encountered a few isolated glitches while testing the new Chromecast, but the device offers impressive overall performance and value, especially for buyers already invested in Google’s ecosystem.    

Pros: 4K HDR support with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, Google Assistant voice remote, built-in interface and casting capabilities

Cons: Some apps are currently missing 4K HDR playback, minor glitches, no Apple TV app

The best Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K streams video in 4K straight to your TV.

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K comes with 4K and HDR playback capabilities, including support for the more advanced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats. Like other streaming stick, this slim dongle plugs right into the HDMI port on the back of your TV. It also comes with an Alexa voice remote for easy access to play, pause, stop, volume up/down, and more.

Fire TV 4K works with Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, and many other video streaming apps. Since it’s part of Amazon’s ecosystem, Fire TV is also compatible with Alexa voice controls on other Amazon products, like an Echo Dot. You can tell Alexa to play “Game of Thrones” without lifting a finger. If you don’t have Alexa products or you’re not an Amazon user, you may be better off with a different brand.

The streaming stick has a fast processor and 802.11ac Wi-Fi to ensure smooth streaming on your TV. So long as your Wi-Fi is good, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Expert reviewers more or less agreed that Alexa voice search works well. It’s also very affordable for a 4K streaming stick and includes extensive HDR format support for its price. In fact, it’s one of the only players on the market with HDR10+ capabilities, which will improve color and contrast on Prime Video when watching HDR videos through an HDR10+ compatible TV. 

If you’re buying the device for features like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, however, you might be disappointed by Amazon’s surprisingly limited support for those formats through its own catalog of Prime content. A few key apps are also currently missing, including Peacock, Vudu, Google Play, and FandangoNow. If that’s a deal-breaker, you’ll have to grab a Roku, Apple TV, or Android TV player.

Pros: 4K streaming, Alexa voice control, affordable, compact, support for HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision

Cons: Missing a few notable apps like Vudu, FandangoNow, Google Play, and Peacock

The best for gamers and Android TV

Nvidia Shield TV

The Nvidia Shield TV doesn’t just run Google’s Android TV, it also supports 4K streaming and can even pair with a controller for gaming.

If you’re more plugged into the Android ecosystem, you might want something that comes preloaded with Google’s Android TV. If so, there are few better devices than the Nvidia Shield TV, which was first launched a few years ago and has been updated a few times since then. Though pricier than other players, the latest model is the ultimate streaming device for buyers who want beefy specs. 

Like our top pick, this media streamer supports 4K HDR content, but also adds Dolby Vision for even better HDR performance on Dolby Vision TVs. Google Assistant voice control is integrated as well and, unlike the cheaper Chromecast Ultra, this is a standalone product that doesn’t require a phone.

The Shield TV is also the best streaming box for gamers. In addition to the included standard remote control, you can add a separate gaming controller for playing games from the Google Play Store or through GeForce Now cloud gaming. 

When it comes to raw specs, the Shield TV incorporates 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The device is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1+, which is one of the most powerful processors used in any streaming device. This extra muscle even allows the device to take advantage of advanced upscaling technology, which can make HD videos look better on 4K TVs. 

Unlike most streaming players, the Shield TV features a unique cylindrical design which takes the form of a compact tube that is meant to be placed behind a display. This style won’t be for everyone, but it makes it easy to hide the device out of sight.

For buyers who want even more power, there’s also a Shield TV Pro model to consider. This more expensive version features a more traditional rectangular shape and upgraded specs with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and two USB 3.0 ports.

The standard Shield TV, however, is still plenty powerful, and is a better overall value for people who want an Android TV streaming player that’s capable of gaming.

Pros: 4K support, Dolby Vision capabilities, support for a separate gaming controller, Android TV operating system, powerful processor

Cons: Expensive

Check out our other related buying guides

LG C9 OLED TV

The best streaming services you can sign up for online

After you cut the cord and purchase a streaming player, you’ll have to decide which services you’d like to subscribe to. Popular platforms include Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Hulu TV, HBO Now, and more. Each service offers its own selection of content and features can vary between them. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best streaming services to help you choose which is best for your needs.


The best music streaming services you can subscribe to

Movies and shows aren’t the only things you can stream online via a media player. Music services are also very popular, offering on-demand access to all your favorite tracks. Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, and YouTube Music are all great options for different needs. With that in mind, we’ve detailed which music services are right for different buyers.


The best 4K TVs

4K Ultra HD TVs are available in many sizes for a variety of budgets. Picture performance and smart connectivity can differ a lot between models, however, especially when it comes to high dynamic range support. After testing and researching several 4K TVs, we’ve picked the best models you can buy.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 10 best leather jackets for men – from classic moto styles to sleek bombers

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Taylor Stitch The Cuyama Jacket

  • Style shorthand for “rebellious” and “cool,” the best men’s leather jackets are statement pieces designed to stand out. 
  • Originally worn for outdoor activities and by bikers, the leather jacket’s rugged durability makes it a staple, regardless of what your day-to-day style is. 
  • Our favorite men’s leather jackets come from a variety of brands including Orvis and Topman.
  • Sign up for Insider Reviews’ weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals.

Worn by men the world over, from James Dean to Jay-Z, the leather jacket is the go-to piece of outerwear for when a man wants to look cool and confident. Hard-wearing by nature, the leather jacket was originally crafted for outdoorsmen and later adopted by motorcyclists for its ability to protect against road rash. From there, it slipped into the mainstream, permeating modern style and culture.

The best men’s leather jackets come in a few main styles: the biker, the bomber, the racer, the flight, and the field. Defined by shape, cut, zipper placement, lining, and collar, each iteration of the leather jacket offers a unique take on this wide-ranging style staple.  Whichever option you prefer, let our list of best men’s leather jackets inspire you with a variety of cuts and colors in a range of price points. 

Our picks are all true leather, which means their price tags are slightly higher than their faux counterparts. That also means that, with proper care, they will last for years. We explain proper leather care later on in this guide. But first, here are the best men’s leather jackets you can buy.

The best men’s leather jackets are:

Table of Contents: Static

Topman Black Leather Biker Jacket

Topman Black Leather Biker Jacket 2

A unique right-side zipper extending up to the lapel makes the relatively inexpensive Topman Black Leather Biker Jacket stand out from the crowd. 

Sizing options: XS-XL

As the name declares, this Topman has a total biker vibe, with its classic styling and standard fit. Built from supple leather, this jacket doesn’t require any breaking in. Dual front zipper-pockets are balanced with extra wide, button-snap lapels. 

The jacket’s main highlight, however, is its off-center front zipper closure. The zipper itself extends upward through the edge of the lapel, meaning when zipped-up, the jacket displays an attractive asymmetrical design that’s both striking and strident. Another bonus, this jacket comes in at $250, one of the most approachable prices on this list. 

Orvis Spirit II Leather Jacket

Orvis Spirit II Leather Jacket 2

With a removable shearling collar and a super supple leather, the Orvis Spirit II Leather Jacket serves rugged luxury.

Sizing options: M-XXL

Modeled off World War I pilot jackets designed to keep the chill out while flying in open cockpits, this jacket’s shearling removable collar also does its job on the ground, making the Spirit II a sturdy winter option. For even more warmth, the interior features a full lining and the hem and cuffs are ribbed knit, sealing out the wind and weather. 

Crafted from sheep nappa leather for a slightly dappled texture, the jacket provides plenty of pockets to keep your hands free. Two front button-flap pockets are complemented by an upper arm zip pocket so you can stash your wallet or some extra cash. The jacket has a roomier-than-normal fit, so feel free to pair with a chunky wool sweater. And, because it comes from Orvis, it’s backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

AllSaints Swithin Leather Jacket

AllSaints Swithin Leather Jacket

Heavily textured leather and silver zips are the only adornments the minimalist AllSaints Swithin Leather Jacket needs.

Sizing options: XS-L

The simplest and most streamlined of all the jackets on this list, the AllSaints Swithin Leather Jacket can be worn with almost any outfit. Flat black with a wavy, almost dappled texture, the jacket’s beauty lies in its simplicity. Using silver vertical zippers for the front closure and breast pocket, the jacket looks just as good when worn closed as when worn open — not something you can say with most biker jackets. 

Handwarmer pockets are visually hidden and don’t impede the minimalist appearance, while an interior lined in polyester keeps the jacket light. This is an option best for spring days and summer nights.

Belstaff Fieldbrook 2.0 Jacket

Belstaff

Guys seeking a little more eco-friendly leather jacket will love the Belstaff Fieldbrook 2.0 Jacket‘s vegetable-tanned lambskin leather.

Sizing options: S-XL

Combining the length and pockets of a field jacket with the diamond-quilted shoulder and elbow patches and buckle throat latch of a moto jacket, Bestaff has managed to pull off a unique option that looks as at home in the field as it does on the bike. 

Made with vegetable-tanned lambskin leather that’s more eco-friendly than leather crafted with chemical methods, this jacket offers four snap-closure pockets and an adjustable back and cuffs for a truly custom fit. Wear it over an all-black ensemble paired with Chelsea boots to look as confident as you feel. 

Dunhill Leather Bomber Jacket

Dunhill Leather Bomber Jacket 2

British luxury brand Dunhill delivers a handsome, contemporary take with its Leather Bomber Jacket

Sizing options: XS-XXXL

A beauty to behold, you can’t get more classic than this Italian-made Leather Bomber Jacket. Supple, shiny leather in an inky black color comes together with a two-way zip closure in the front. An overall roomy fit is reigned in by a ribbed collar, a ribbed hem, and ribbed cuffs, which also do a great job of keeping out any wind or rain. 

Simply in its design, this leather bomber is infinitely wearable. Throw it on over a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, or dress it up with a sweater and chinos for a dinner date. No matter which way you wear it, you can be confident that its classic style will stay relevant for years to come, making it an excellent investment piece to enjoy and pass on.

Schott NYC Lightweight Cowhide Flight Jacket

Schott NYC Lightweight Cowhide Flight Jacket

For a dose of pure class, the Schott NYC Lightweight Cowhide Flight Jacket‘s clean design fits the bill without totally breaking the bank. 

Sizing options: S-XXL

Located in the flight jacket category — known for its tighter cuffs, cropped adjustable waist, and high collar — the natural pebble-textured cowhide of the Schott NYC Lightweight Flight Jacket immediately reads luxe, while the ribbed knit waist and collar proudly nod to its aviation inspiration. 

Dual entry pockets with flaps and snaps keep everything you need to carry in place as the snap-fly front zips up to conceal a cotton-lined interior with a quintessentially autumnal plaid pattern. This looker is built with a bi-swing back, adding a bit more of a boxy structure than you’d find in a biker or a racer jacket. 

Taylor Stitch The Cuyama Jacket

Taylor Stitch The Cuyama Jacket

A rich cognac color and full-grain cowhide leather make the Taylor Stitch The Cuyama Jacket a refined favorite. 

Sizing options: S-XL

It’s tough to find a Taylor Stitch piece that isn’t amazing — so it’s no surprise that the brand’s Cuyama Jacket takes the prize for most buttery-smooth and beautiful. Built from a full-grain cowhide leather, this jacket develops a natural patina as it wears, becoming like a second skin over time. On the interior, a cotton twill contrasts with the coats bold cognac color, while natural corozo buttons add a touch of monochromatic cool. 

Under the collar and cuffs, a corduroy lining ensures neck and wrist comfort and hidden collar stay snaps keep it firmly in place. To top it all off, the coat’s refined styling, attention to detail, and enviable collar mean it can work well anywhere from the bar to the boardroom. 

Blackmeans Slim-Fit Leather Biker Jacket

Blackmeans Slim-Fit Leather Biker Jacket

Sturdy, thick leather and Japanese craftsmanship make the Blackmeans Slim-Fit Leather Biker Jacket a logical (and handsome) investment.

Sizing options: M-XXL

Leave it to the Japanese to create a leather biker jacket better than most American-made versions. This iteration is cut from hard-wearing, sturdy navy leather and sports a streamlined, super-slim fit typical of the East Asian moto scene. Offsetting the rich, dark color, the front closure sports a gold zipper and collared lapes. A set of zippers at the back of the sleeves afford the wearer a bit of customization when it comes to fit, while a single-sleeve pocket keeps your license and registration within arm’s reach. 

You don’t have to be a biker to appreciate the jacket’s four flap pockets. They’re perfect for holding onto car keys or wallets. And, for those worried about wind, the quilted lining means you’ll stay warm even when the weather turns. 

Cockpit USA Vintage Leather Naval Officer’s Coat

Cockpit USA

Look and feel like an admiral in the long cut of the Cockpit USA Vintage Leather Naval Officer’s Coat.

Sizing options: XS-XXXL

Cockpit USA consistently delivers excellent throwback design — and its Vintage Leather Naval Officer’s Coat is no exception. Harkening back to the hard-wearing leather version of naval pea coats, this topper hits below the hip. It also sports specially-treated goatskin leather that is lined with the brand’s signature emblem fabric. Double-breasted with military spec buttons, the coat offers an air of authority to the wearer while also helping to withstand the elements. 

Its wide lapels can be popped to keep out the wind, while two side-entry pockets keep your hands warm. Two additional front flap pockets also provide storage for your not-so-classified documents. American made, the Naval Officer’s Coat is an exceptional piece of craftsmanship you’ll be pleased to have for decades to come. 

Wilsons Leather John Accordion Moto Jacket

Wilsons Leather John Accordion Moto Jacket 2

Less ornately detailed than a biker jacket, but coming in a close second, the Wilsons Leather John Accordion Moto Jacket is loud and proud. 

Sizing options: S-XXL

Embrace the brash with this brown leather moto jacket that doubles down on its unique design. Bold burgundy trim and crimped, accordion patches and inserts at the shoulders and sides add an attractive texture and shape to the jacket. They also positively impact the utility of the jacket by offering a greater range of motion than a traditional leather shoulder seam. 

With that same combination of practicality and style in mind, the four burgundy-trimmed zip pockets allow for plenty of storage. A snap collar closes tight for when you’re ready to ride, while a mesh lining keeps you cool when things get hot. And a standard fit means it’s accessible to body types across the board. 

How to make your leather piece last for years

The best men's leather jackets

If some of the prices on this list cause you to reconsider your decision to buy a leather jacket, there’s a reason high-quality leather jacket options run into the hundreds and thousands of dollars. It primarily has to do with how leather is created. 

First, a cow or sheep must be raised — a process that takes at least a year. After harvesting the animal and cleaning its hide, the tanning process, which is the procedure by which leather is changed from skin to the material we know and love, begins. This can take up to a month or more if using a vegetable dye process. From there, the leather must be cut and sewn into a jacket. 

All of these steps take an intensive amount of time and resources, which equals a higher price tag. But the good news is, thanks to leather’s enduring strength and style, you won’t need to buy more than one in your life — unless you want to.

And the way to make leather last a lifetime? Proper care. 

Unlike your favorite leather boots, a leather jacket isn’t typically dragged through the mud and banged against rocks, so you’re likely not going to see scrapes or abrasions. For light soiling, simply grab a barely-damp rag and wipe the jacket’s exterior. Allow it to dry. If soiling is deep, there are special leather cleaning products, such as saddlesoap, that can help provide a deeper clean. 

It’s also a good idea to give your jacket a needed dose of moisture every year or so. Do this by lightly applying a leather conditioner and then removing any excess. If you find your jacket has totally dried out, is stained, or is otherwise in severe disrepair, seek the guidance of a leather repair professional. Taking these simple steps will ensure your jacket looks and wears well for decades to come. 

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