The 7 best coffee subscriptions in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Coffee subscriptions ensure that your favorite brew is always around.
  • They can also be a great way to try new flavors, origins, and roasters.
  • Our picks include Trade, Blue Bottle, and a cold brew subscription from La Colombe.

Coffee subscriptions offer a unique luxury: never having to wake up, shuffle to the kitchen, and realize in horror that there’s no coffee in the house. For many of us, a morning caffeine boost is non-negotiable, and the peace of mind in knowing that you have a steady stream of coffee coming makes a coffee subscription worthwhile.

And, there’s really a coffee subscription for everyone. Maybe you like switching up what you’re drinking each time, or maybe you want someone to curate your brew for you. Maybe you want a subscription for cold brew; either bags to make your own, or simply a cold brew gallon delivered each month. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in the outstanding offerings below.

Here are the best coffee subscriptions of 2021

Our methodology

I’ve been working in the specialty food world since 2015, eating, drinking, learning, teaching. For these rankings, I tasted through the available coffee subscriptions, both from roasters and otherwise. This is what I was looking for:

Flavor and quality of the beans: Tastes vary, but there are some objective flaws in coffee beans, such as beans tasting burnt. This was less about how much I liked each selection personally and more about how balanced the coffees were and whether they matched their flavor notes. 

Ease of setup: Coffee should make our lives easier, as should subscription services. If a subscription was confusing to set up, or to understand when and what coffee was coming, that knocked off a few points. The best subscriptions also offered notes on preparing the coffees they sent. 

Ease of customization: If you’re traveling, slowing down on caffeine, or simply don’t want to continue your subscription, that should not require three emails and a phone call. Subscriptions were prioritized that made it easy to pause or cancel a subscription. Extra points were also given to subscription services that allowed the subscriber to customize the beans they received based on flavor profile and preferred method of brewing.

The best coffee subscription overall

a red ribbon runs between bags of coffee, a thermos, and a box with Trade coffee’s logo on it as part of the best coffee subscription in 2021

Trade’s coffee subscription service designed to turn coffee drinkers into coffee lovers.

Pros: Huge variety, easy to customize the coffee and shipping 

Cons: All the choices could be overwhelming for some 

We think Trade‘s subscription is the best of all worlds. Its mission is to “unite the nation’s top roasters directly with drinkers,” with more than 400 coffees available from roasters such as Joe, Atomic, and Broadstreet. 

As you’re setting up your subscription, you tell Trade how you prefer to brew your coffee, how you take it, your ideal roast and flavor profile, and the company matches you with your ideal beans. You know exactly what’s coming, the roaster’s schedule for roasting, when your bag was roasted (probably within the past few days), and why you were matched with it. 

It’s easy to adjust your delivery schedule, the exact beans you’re getting, and discover new favorites. Trade makes exploring coffee a fun, zero-headache adventure.

Read our full review of Trade Coffee.

The best coffee subscription gift

coffee grounds from Driftaway spill out of a brown bag onto a table with a cup of coffee and a pour over brewer as part of the best coffee subscription service in 2021

Driftaway is a tiny, sustainability-focused roaster, offering personalized coffee subscription boxes.

Pros: Easy to set up, lots of information about each origin

Cons: Just one roaster to choose from

The tricky thing with choosing a subscription gift is that it’s often hard to pinpoint the recipient’s preferences. For that reason, Driftaway makes an excellent gift. Every new subscriber gets a Coffee Explorer Kit, consisting of four 1-oz bags. Your recipient ranks each coffee, giving Driftaway insight into their preferences for future deliveries. 

The gifter chooses between a one-year, six-month, or three-month subscription, delivering either every month or every two weeks (there are more options if you’re subscribing for yourself). The size of each delivery can be 8 ounces, 12 ounces, or 1 pound, and they can set up either a whole bean subscription, a ground subscription, a cold brew bag subscription, or a “Mystery Kit” where the names are hidden (don’t worry, they can find out what they’re drinking at the weekly virtual tastings). 

The recipient also gets an account from which they can pause their shipment, change their address, or whatever else, and the bags even come with their name on it. 

Read our full review of Driftaway Coffee.

The best coffee subscription for flexibility

A box containing bags of Blue Bottle coffee sits open next to two cups of coffee as part of the best coffee subscription boxes in 2021

Blue Bottle is one of the largest specialty coffee roasters, offering consistency and flexibility.

Pros: Lots of coffee to choose from, seasonal blends

Cons: Just one roaster to choose from

If you’re a little wary of the idea of subscriptions, try Blue Bottle‘s. For one thing, it offers a way to try it at little cost — the first bag is free and you only pay the $5 shipping. You can try any of its three subscription offerings this way: the single-origin, blend, or espresso assortments. 

Your subscription can be as little as a six-ounce bag, each of which is freshly roasted, and the brand offers lots of information on how each coffee should be prepared. It’s easy to pause or cancel your subscription if you choose not to move forward.

Read our full review of Blue Bottle.

The best coffee subscription for beginners

bags and cups of coffee from Atlas Coffee Club sit on a world map as part of the best coffee subscription in 2021

Atlas Coffee Club makes specialty coffee easy, fun, and accessible.

Pros: Explore coffees from around the world, lots of information about origins and brewing

Cons: Just one roaster to choose from

With Atlas‘s subscription, you’ll learn a lot about different regions, their typical coffee flavor profiles, and what makes each one special. Each month, you receive 6 to 24 ounces of freshly-roasted coffee, flavor notes, a postcard, and brewing tips. 

As you’re setting up your subscription, you choose how much coffee you want per shipment, whether you want it every two or four weeks, your roast preferences, and whether you want it ground or not. It’s a great way for new, enthusiastic coffee drinkers to dip their toe into the specialty coffee world in an accessible, fun way. The website offers clear, illustrated guides on topics from “how to make coffee with a French press” to “how to make coffee without a coffee maker.”

Read our full review of Atlas Coffee Club.

The best small-batch coffee subscription

A box containing bags of coffee from crema.co sits open next to a plant as part of the best coffee subscription in 2021

Crema.co is community-focused subscription service offering 57 independent roasters from across the country.

Pros: Try a wide range of craft coffees, find coffee tailored to your preferences

Cons: Fewer roasters offered than some other services

Crema.co offers a lot of great features that overlap with some of our other picks: their first shipment to you is a Discovery Kit — where you figure out your preferences by tasting through a selection — and the subscription is easy to customize. 

The initial quiz is a little more interactive, asking for specific tasting notes you like and letting you know your percentage match with each brew it’s recommending. But, two unique things about Crema.co are a) its focus on tiny independent roasters b) you can take the quiz to be matched with your perfect coffee and order it by the bag, rather than setting up a subscription. 

It also has a personality-driven, informative newsletter and is proudly not on social media. If you like to feel like you’re supporting cool humans, rather than a corporation, Crema.co is a great choice.

The best coffee subscription for freshness

hands hold a bag of devocion coffee as part of the best coffee subscriptions in 2021

Devoción is 1 Brooklyn-based roaster who takes its beans from origin to roast in 10 days.

Pros: Some of the freshest coffee on the market, explore Colombian coffee terroir

Cons: Just one roaster to choose from, can only subscribe to one blend at once

If you’re committed to (or even a little obsessive about) your produce and meat being as fresh as possible, why should your coffee be any different? Brooklyn-based roaster Devoción works with Colombian growers, who harvest coffee year-round and claims “faster transport from origin to cup than any other purveyor,” which can be in as little as 10 days. 

Devoción’s coffees are flavorful, balanced, and unlike anything else on the market, thanks to its unique supplier relationships. The subscriptions are to individual blends (you can take a quiz on your preferences to be matched to your ideal blend), unlike other roasters offering subscriptions with more variety, but the coffee is next-level enough that it’s worth considering.

The best coffee subscription for cold brew

Packages of La Colombe cold brew on tap sit in a fridge as part of the best coffee subscriptions in 2021

La Colombe is one of the country’s best-known roasters, offering a wide range of products.

Pros: Always have pre-made cold brew in the fridge

Cons: Can only try one cold brew blend with that subscription

Thanks to its smooth flavor and higher caffeine content, cold brew is a staple for many coffee drinkers, especially in the summer. If keeping cold brew around is high on your priority list, consider the cold brew subscription from La Colombe

A one-gallon box with a push-button spigot will be delivered every one, two, three, or four weeks and your subscription can be paused or canceled at any time. The airtight box has a shelf life of 30 days, so if you end up with a little extra as you’re figuring out your ideal timing, it should last until you get through it. 

The La Colombe cold brew is made from dark-roasted Brazilian beans, known for their chocolatey, rich flavor.

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The 6 best hose hangers of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A hose hanger can help you extend the life of your hose and keep it free of knots and tangles.
  • Our top pick is the JBscoop Stainless Steel Hose Holder because of its simple, sturdy design.
  • Below, we also include hose hangers for gardeners on a budget, decorative options, and more.

A hose hanger has one job: To keep a hose organized, whatever its length. Storing a hose off the ground keeps the hose from kinking or cracking and protects the ground vegetation. Hose hangers are sometimes called hose reels. Reels have a hand crank mechanism with a rotating body that allows users to tidy up a hose quickly after watering. Hose hangers come in freestanding or wall-mounted options.

While some hoses come with cheap, flimsy plastic hangers, a solid hose hanger made of metal or durable plastic is preferable for wrangling a heavy-duty garden hose. A quality hose hanger should be able to handle the total weight of your garden hose without warping, be weather-resistant and, ideally, fit with your outdoor decor. We found hose hangers to suit different needs, including budget hangers, freestanding models, and more. 

Here are the best hose hangers

The best overall

jbscoop hose hanger
All you need are two stainless steel screws to mount this sturdy hanger.

The JBscoop Stainless Steel Hose Holder is a simple hose hanger with a heavy-duty design. 

What we like: Durable, easy-to-mount, not an eyesore

This rust-proof hose hanger is a no-frills storage solution for various hoses, including water and air hoses. The stainless steel design is built to withstand life outdoors and it can hold a half-inch diameter hose that’s up to 120 feet in length. The company also offers a money-back guarantee for those not satisfied with the wall-mounted hanger. The sleek design fits in with any modern garage or garden backdrop. 

The best on a budget

AMES Wall Mounted Poly Hanger BIG CORRECT ONE
Works for hoses ranging from 50 to 150 feet.

The ultra-inexpensive AMES Wall Mounted Poly Hanger is a basic, budget hose hanger that gets the job done.

What we like: Affordable, sturdy 

You’ve already spent a chunk of money on a quality hose for your garden, you don’t necessarily need to drop more cash on an expensive hanger. This hose hanger is a budget model with a thick plastic construction that can hold a hose that’s up to 150 feet and ⅝-inch in diameter. Thanks to its easy-to-mount design, it’s an excellent choice for gardeners seeking a low-cost hose storage solution that won’t eat into their landscaping budget. 

The best hose reel

Liberty Basics Wall Mount Hose Reel
The keyhole design makes it easy to remove a hose for the winter season.

This convenient Liberty Basics Wall Mount Hose Reel is ideal for wrangling long, heavy hoses. 

What we like: Side winding mechanism, easy to reel in a wayward hose, can easily remove hose for winter storage 

Install this hose hanger right onto your outdoor water tap and connect the included black leader hose to get started. The winding, hand crank mechanism rolls up a hose without creating kinks or knots. It can hold hoses up to 100 feet and ⅝-inch in diameter. When winter comes along, the keyhole build allows you to easily access the hose to remove it for storing indoors to protect it from freezing weather. The reel also includes wood mounting screws and anchors. Additionally, it features a durable, heavy-duty plastic construction that can handle four-season exposure. 

The best decorative hanger

 GOFORWILD Garden Hose Holder
A powder-coated finish protects the hanger from harsh weather.

A solid construction and ornate design make the GOFORWILD Garden Hose Holder an attractive addition to any outdoor space.

What we like: Attractive ornamental look, durable and practical

This decorative hose hanger is for the gardener looking to add a functional yet aesthetically-pleasing accessory to their space. The holder is made of cast aluminum and features a powder-coated finish for maximum durability. It can handle a hose of up to 125 feet and ⅝-inches in diameter. Gold accents give it an antique flair, and the arc shape of the holder prevents hose kinks and damage. Mount it anywhere there’s a solid surface, like a fence or wall. Like our previous pick, it has a keyhole mounting system that makes accessing the hose for winter storage a breeze. 

The best with added storage

DF OMER Plastic Garden Water Hose Holder
The hidden compartment reveals added storage with built-in shelves.

The hide-away design of the DF OMER Plastic Garden Water Hose Holder makes it a dual-purpose gardening accessory.

What we like: Made of thick, durable plastic, compartment perfect for garden tool storage 

This hose holder is made of weatherproof plastic and holds a hose of up to 150 feet and ⅝-inches in diameter. It comes with a generous 2-year warranty and features a built-in compartment. It’s a clever design for gardeners who have limited storage space for tools and other gardening accessories. The storage space measures 10 x 7 x 5 inches and has two shelves to keep things organized. Because it’s made of plastic, it’ll never rust. It also installs quickly, requiring only two screws and a screwdriver. 

The best freestanding

Artigarden Freestanding Garden Hose Holder
The no-bend hanger design helps hoses maintain their shape.

No wall? No problem. The Artigarden Freestanding Garden Hose Holder is a solid metal hanger that you can place right onto your lawn.

What we like: Works in situations where wall-mounting isn’t possible, incredibly durable 

The heavy-gauge metal hose hanger holds hoses up to 150 feet in length. Its three-prong base provides support and keeps it stable no matter where on your lawn you decide to put it. The triangular hanger portion also features a nozzle holder to keep your hose organized from tail to tip. It requires some assembly, but putting it together is relatively easy, and there’s no need to find a wall for mounting. Because it’s not permanently mounted to a wall, it’s an ideal choice for renters or gardeners searching for an impermanent hose hanger option. 

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The 4 best budget laptops in 2021

  • Budget laptops have come a long way and now offer better performance than ever before.
  • The Pixelbook Go is our favorite cheap laptop overall because of its great keyboard, smooth performance, and quality webcam. 
  • We’re in the process of testing more laptops throughout 2021, including new and existing budget models.
  • Read more: The best laptops of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

It used to be that if you wanted a laptop with power and features, you needed  to spend $1,000 or more. While top-of-the-line models still fall in that price range, budget laptops are more than capable of everyday tasks. 

Those who just want a machine for basic web browsing and word processing can find a promising laptop in the $300-$700 range. That’s all thanks to improvements in processors, graphics, and other chipsets, as well as standardization in features like USB and HDMI.

Of course, this is not to say all budget laptops are great – some are definitely better than average, while others aren’t worth your hard-earned cash. There are a few important factors you need to consider before making a purchase, such as operating system preferences, size, and above all else: what you intend to use it for.

For this guide, we consider a “budget” laptop to be a laptop that costs about $650 or less – we aimed to recommend those that fall below $500. Gaming laptops are an exception because they typically cost more than general-purpose laptops. 

Here are the best cheap laptops:

The best budget laptop overall

Google Pixelbook Go

The Google Pixelbook Go‘s ease of use, excellent keyboard, and long battery life make it a top choice for those who prioritize simplicity in a laptop. 

Pros: Excellent keyboard, long battery life, 1080p webcam, decent screen

Cons: Upgrade options are expensive, no biometric login

Google’s Pixelbook Go is one of the priciest options on this list, but there’s a good reason why. It nearly matches premium laptops that are almost double its price in a few ways, particularly when it comes to keyboard quality, general ease-of-use, and battery life.  

Google’s “Hush” keyboard is part of what makes the Pixelbook Go stand out, offering a comfortable yet unobtrusive typing experience that even rivals that of Lenovo’s laptops, as our full review mentions. It even has a 1080p webcam, a rare find even on laptops that cost over $1,000. That’s especially important now that we’re spending more time video conferencing and socializing virtually.

The base model comes with an Intel Core m3 processor (CPU), 8GB of memory (RAM), and a Full HD (1080p) touch screen. You’ll also get two USB-C ports, and Google says it should last for 12 hours on a single charge.

Like other Google laptops that have come before it, the Pixelbook Go is a Chromebook — meaning it’s designed for those who primarily use their laptops for web browsing, note taking, and other light tasks like streaming YouTube or Netflix. It runs on Google’s Chrome OS, a lightweight interface optimized for security and speed that’s designed to work best with an Internet connection. You can, however, access Google Play Store apps and save documents, spreadsheets, emails, and other data for offline use. 

Sadly, the Pixelbook Go doesn’t have the same 2-in-1 design as its pricier Pixelbook predecessor, so it doesn’t double as a tablet. It also doesn’t have any biometric login options like a fingerprint scanner, which is now fairly common on most laptops. But it’s perfect for anyone in need of a fast, lightweight laptop for basic productivity and entertainment.

The best budget Chromebook

Samsung Chromebook 4+ showcase

The 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+ crams an insane amount of value into its below $300 list price, with hardware and features found in laptops twice its price and within a good-looking package.

Pros: Decent display, long battery life, lots of ports

Cons: Small local storage, low amount of RAM, no top-firing speakers

Anyone looking to get the absolute most value possible out of a Chromebook that might look a bit more premium in ways than even our top pick, we suggest the 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+. There’s no question that this Chromebook makes for a close second to our former top pick,  Acer Chromebook 15, as the best budget laptop period.

Samsung’s Chromebook 4+ is a sharp, slight 15-inch laptop that’s wrapped in a platinum-colored plastic frame featuring a 15.6-inch, 1080p screen, with power from an Intel Celeron CPU supported by 4GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. That’s expanded upon by two USB-C ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a microSD card reader — as well as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 — for wireless connections.

This all comes driven by a battery that can reportedly last up to 10 hours and 30 minutes per outing. Finally, we love the addition of Google Assistant for voice-based search queries and other assistive tasks. While lacking biometric security and more local storage, this laptop leaves nothing else off the table. 

The best budget gaming laptop

Dell G3 laptop

The Dell G3 15 is an affordable gaming laptop with the latest Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics.

Pros: Compact design, specs on par with more expensive models

Cons: Shallow keyboard and touchpad, dim screen

If you enjoy gaming, but don’t want to shell out $1,000 for a gaming PC, the Dell G3 15 might be a decent option for you. The laptop has multiple configurations, but the base model is around $700, and it comes with Nvidia discrete graphics. 

A few factors make the G3 15 a solid option for gamers. The base model comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650GPU, a 10th-generation  Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB solid state drive. Those are solid specs that should be able to smoothly run most games you want to play, though you’ll want something more powerful if you’re trying to run more demanding tasks like VR. 

You can also upgrade to a version that has 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX  1660 GPU and 512GB of storage for about $970.

At 5.2 pounds, the G3 15 is lighter and more compact than most budget gaming laptops. 

In terms of ports, you have a power jack, an HDMI 2.0 port, an RJ-45 port, one USB 3.1 port, two  USB 2.0 port, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack. That will allow you to plug in a TV, as well as most peripherals you might want to use. 

However, for a computer of this price, you’ll be missing out on some features of higher-end gaming rigs. For example, reviewers found the display to be a bit dim, and the colors to be washed out. The keyboard and touchpad are also a bit shallow, something that might be important if you’ll be spending a lot of time gaming.

The best budget 2-in-1 laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad 5

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 offers solid specifications and a flexible design that allows it to double as a laptop and a tablet at a price that’s hundreds of dollars below the $1,000 mark.

Pros: Great value, good performance, durable and attractive design

Cons: Dim and lackluster display

With a convertible design, 10th generation Intel processor, and a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 is a solid choice for anyone in need of a general purpose laptop.

It has a 360-degree flexible hinge so that you can use it as a laptop or tablet, and comes with extra features less common on laptops in this price range. These include Wi-Fi 6 support, a physical webcam shutter for privacy, and a fingerprint reader for logging in. The AMD configuration of this laptop received high marks in reviews from PCMag, LaptopMag, and Digital Trends for its solid performance, excellent value, and high build quality for a laptop of its price. 

For $429.99, you’re getting a fairly recent 10th generation Intel Core i3 processor, 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM. While 4GB is a bit on the low end when it comes to memory, these specifications are more than enough for the tasks you’d expect to accomplish with a laptop that costs less than $500, such as web browsing, watching Netflix, checking email, and taking notes.

Budget laptops we look forward to testing

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2: Samsung’s original Galaxy Chromebook from last year’s CES had an attention-grabbing design that’s uncommon for a Chromebook, but its high price and short battery life limited its appeal. Now, Samsung has addressed those criticisms with the Galaxy Chromebook 2, a revamped version of its Google-powered laptop that comes at a cheaper starting price of $549.99 compared to the previous model’s $999.99 price tag. With a premium design, 13.3-inch QLED touch screen, and hopefully longer battery life, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 seems like it could be a promising option for those on a budget.

Acer Chromebook Spin 514: Powered by the latest AMD’s latest mobile processors and offering 10 hours of battery life according to Acer’s claims, the new Acer Chromebook Spin 14 has potential to become one of our top picks for a budget laptop in 2021. It features a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen and aluminum build that could make it a compelling choice as a general-purpose laptop. It’s launching in March 2021 starting at $479.99.

Asus Chromebook Flip CX5: With a roomy 15.6-inch screen, Intel’s latest 11th generation processors, and Harmon Kardon speakers, the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 seems like a promising option for those who want a laptop for light work and entertainment. It will be configurable up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which is a lot for a Chromebook, and should last for 12 hours on a single charge. Asus announced the Chromebook Flip CX5 at CES 2021 in January and has not revealed pricing. But a product page on Google’s Chromebook Store suggests that the version with an Intel Core i3, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage could cost $549.

How to buy a budget laptop

There are a variety of factors you should consider when purchasing a laptop, particularly how much you want to spend and what types of tasks you intend to use it for. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your decision. 

Operating system: There are a few major computer operating systems out there. You’re probably most familiar with Windows, as it’s by far the most-used operating system, but there’s also Apple’s macOS, which is found on the company’s Mac computers (we didn’t include any Macs because they didn’t meet our price requirement for a budget laptop). And, the newest, there’s Google’s Chrome OS, which is targeted to those with basic computer needs revolves around Google’s web-based apps (Chrome OS relies heavily on cloud computing, meaning that a lot of the processes happen online).

Specs and features: Some computers are more powerful than others. Things like the processor and amount of memory (RAM) will dictate how quickly your computer runs, while the amount of storage indicates how many files you can keep on your computer at once. There are also other factors, like the graphics chipset being employed. The type of software you run could also dictate how well a laptop’s components perform; for example, Google’s Chrome browser is notorious for being a memory hog.

The features have also improved. Premium components like a touchscreen and high-speed ports, like USB 3.0 and USB-C, have trickled down from high-end laptops to budget models. As you research, look for these or if the laptop is still utilizing older tech.

Size: Laptops come in a range of different physical sizes, however, the smaller ones generally sit in the 10- to 11-inch range, while the larger ones can get as big as 17-inches. That’s handy for watching movies, but it comes at the cost of portability.

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The 4 best women’s laptop bags in 2021

  • Laptop bags are essential: they need to be stylish, easy to carry, and durable.
  • Options range from techy styles with lots of pockets, to luxurious leather totes.
  • Our pick for the best laptop bag for women is the Ryan Laptop Bag from Dagne Dover.
  • Check out Insider Reviews for more reviews, guides, and recommendations.

Laptop bags are one of the trickiest accessories to get right. We all want something that is stylish and easy to carry, but also durable enough to withstand a long commute. 

Some people prefer to stuff their laptop in large, fashionable bags, but we recommend finding something that at least has a dedicated laptop compartment. Luckily, there are plenty of attractive and protective options available.

The new generation of laptop carriers runs the gamut from techy styles with tons of extras to fashionable tote bags in luxurious leather. We love all different kinds of bags and have included a mix on this list to suit a variety of worker’s needs.

We are currently in the process of testing a whole new batch of bags to see if they stack up to the ones already on this list. For now, the following four bags reign supreme.

Here are the best laptop bags for women:

The best laptop bag overall

dagne dover $135

The Ryan Laptop Bag from Dagne Dover is super functional, complete with the brand’s signature interior compartment system, and very cute.

Pros: Tons of compartments, detachable key fob, convertible straps, water resistant
Cons: Expensive

Laptop bags that actually look like laptop bags can be cute. The everyday-bag masters over at Dagne Dover have proved it with the design of the Ryan Laptop Bag, which is both stylish and very practical. 

It’s very similar to the brand’s best-selling Signature Tote, with a more durable, tech-friendly exterior made of water-resistant neoprene. The interior contains Dagne Dover’s signature compartment system. There’s a laptop sleeve, a key ring, several card slots, and mesh pockets to organize your workday essentials. A zippered exterior pocket allows you to stash items you reach for on the go, like your subway card, passport, and cell phone. 

The Ryan is available in both Medium ($135, carries most 13-inch laptops) and Large ($155, carries most 15-inch laptops) sizes and can be worn as a crossbody or shoulder bag.

“I wish the Dagne Dover Ryan Laptop Bag had existed while I was in college, because it would’ve actually held up to all the heavy study materials and the laptop I carried around campus,” Insider Picks reporter Connie Chen wrote in a previous review

If you are a teacher or member of the military, you are eligible for a 20% discount on any Dagne Dover purchases you make. Simply fill out this form using your official education or military email address and the company will give you an exclusive code to use at checkout.

The best affordable laptop bag

Ytonet laptop bag

With nearly 1,000 5-star customer reviews on Amazon, the Ytonet 17-Inch Laptop Bag is a relative bargain that will not let you down.

Pros: Affordable, has a lot of compartments, expandable, water resistant

Cons: Not the most stylish

You truly do not need to spend a ton of money in order to find a good quality laptop bag you’ll actually want to carry every day. Sure, the Ytonet 17-Inch Laptop Bag is not the most stylish option on the market. But it’s not hideous, and it is practical and affordable.

This sleek, structured rectangular bag contains a multitude of compartments to hold everything you could possibly need for one workday (or a full week of them). Seriously, there’s an individual pocket for a cell phone, laptop, tablet, passport, pen, umbrella, water bottle, and even clothing! 

You can pack for a short business trip using just this one bag. There’s even an expandable zipper to give you more room, effectively turning your laptop bag into a duffle. The bag has a 4.6-star rating based on nearly 1,300 Amazon customer reviews and has been praised by Travel + Leisure.

The best stylish laptop bag

best laptop bag for women - dagne dover

The Dagne Dover Signature Tote is as attractive as a far less useful bag, but with all the functionality of the more utilitarian Ryan Laptop Bag.

Pros: Lots of interior pockets, fits 13-inch or 15-inch backpack, high-quality materials

Cons: Expensive

Dagne Dover really knows what its doing as far as work bags go. The Signature Tote is very similar to the more utilitarian in appearance Ryan Laptop Bag we chose as our top pick, only it doesn’t look like a laptop bag at all.

If style is a top priority for you, you can’t go wrong here. The Signature Tote is made of coated canvas with leather trim. It has a classic and simple silhouette that won’t go out of style or clash with anything in your closet. 

Dagne Dover’s founder and CEO Melissa Mash sums up our feelings about the tote best: “It’s no longer good enough to just be ‘arm candy’. Nowadays we expect the services and products we use to multitask, to be data-driven, and to work harder,” Mash told Insider Reviews’ director of content strategy Ellen Hoffman in a previous interview. “Dagne Dover is the only brand in the handbag market that does so while continuing to be stylish and organized.”

This bag comes in a bunch of colors and four sizes, but the Classic ($245) and Legend ($265) styles are the only ones large enough to fit a laptop. Inside both models is a padded compartment large enough to conceal a 13-inch or 15-inch laptop, respectively, three pen loops, a phone/MetroCard pocket, a detachable key leash, and a neoprene water bottle holder. 

Just about everyone is a fan of the Dagne Dover Signature Tote. “I lead a fast-paced, on-the-go life and expect functional products that can adapt to my needs and perform beyond expectations. I want a product that fuses style with athlete-caliber function. [Dagne Dover’s] Classic Tote does — and then some,” Hoffman wrote in her review. The bag had also been featured by Best Products, Travel + Leisure, The Strategist, and Harper’s Bazaar

If you are a teacher or member of the military, you are eligible for a 20% discount on any Dagne Dover purchases you make when you fill out this form using your official education or military email address. The company will give you a special discount code to use at checkout.

The best travel laptop bag

best laptop bag for women

The O.G. 2 Overnight Bag from Lo & Sons is a stylish upgrade for the frequent professional traveler.

Pros: Water resistant, stylish, comes in two sizes, easy to carry, optional key leash

Cons: Expensive

Our affordable pick is a great option for travel but if you’re looking for an upgrade, the O.G 2 Overnight Bag from Lo & Sons should be on your radar. Its predecessor comes highly recommended by Insider Reviews editors.

Not only are the overnight bags super cute, with a water-resistant nylon exterior available in a variety of chic, understated colors, they’re extremely functional for overnight trips or use as an airplane personal item. One of the more unique features is the adjustable back panel that slides over a rolling luggage handle for easy transport as you move from security to your gate. You can choose from two sizes: medium ($378.00) and large ($398.00).

Carry the bag top-handle or use the attachable messenger strap and toss it over your shoulder. A series of pockets, including a padded laptop sleeve and a side pocket for shoes, make organization easy. Lo & Sons says the internal laptop sleeve for both sizes of the bag fits up to 13-inch laptops. Some 14-inch and 15-inch laptops can fit inside of the main compartment of the bags, but do not fit inside of the padded laptop compartment.

“With all of the smart features, I’ve found I’m able to fit just about everything I need for a weekend away in this one bag,” writes Insider Reviews reporter Remi Rosmarin of the previous model. Travel experts at Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping are also big fans.

Better yet, the O.G. 2 linked here has a dedicated laptop sleeve, and it has been reinforced for stability when fully packed up.

Other women’s laptop bags we look forward to testing

Everlane The Oversized Carryall
  • Everlane oversize Caryall: This large catch-all bag has a dedicated laptop compartment and comes from the maker of our much loved – but now discontinued – Everlane Form bag.
  • Cuyana Tall Structured Leather Tote: Cuyana is known for its sustainable and ethically-sourced bags. This tote features a dedicated laptop compartment and is made from Italian leather from a woman-owned factory. 
  • Bellroy System Messenger bag: This laptop bag is for travelers on-the go. It has a padded laptop pouch and lots of pockets – including ones that pop out and back in when not in use. The bag’s luggage slip also fits over travel luggage handles.
  • Go Dash Dot Puffle bag: This fun bag is Go Dash Dot’s take on the classic duffle bag. It can be worn on  the shoulder or as a cross body. It has a dedicated laptop compartment, as well as an interior zipper that can release a shoe compartment for  more depth.
  • EaseGave laptop bag for women: This stylish and affordable bag has a dedicated padded laptop pouch with a reinforced bottom and comes in 13 different colors.
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The 6 best soil moisture meters for plants in 2021

  • A soil meter is most useful for checking the moisture level of your soil.
  • Our top pick is the ECOWITT Soil Moisture Meter because of its affordable price and simple design.
  • We also detail soil meters for gardeners on a budget, smart options that connect to apps, and more.

A soil meter is a little gadget that usually has one or two probes. A very basic soil meter reads only soil moisture levels. Some meters can also provide information about soil pH. While these readings are usually not very accurate, an extremely high or low reading lets you know that something is up with your soil’s health. Devices are also sometimes equipped with light meters. Taking sunlight exposure readings in different parts of your garden or home can help you determine if a spot is a fit for a particular plant.

Smart soil meters take it one step further and can provide you with actionable insights about plant and soil health. A good soil meter should be accurate and easy to use. We picked a few options to suit different green-thumbed needs, including budget devices, smart sensors, and more. 

Here are the best soil meters

The best overall

ecowitt soil moisture meter
All you need to power the sensor and display is two AA batteries.

The ECOWITT Soil Moisture Tester delivers rapid readings and works in both indoor and outdoor settings. 

What we like: Waterproof, easy-to-read LCD display, cute flower pot icon

The weather-resistant sensor on this soil meter takes accurate moisture readings in about 72 seconds and displays them on a convenient LCD display. Soil moisture level is depicted in two formats: numerically and visually, with a clever flower pot icon. The display receives information wirelessly, as long as the sensor is within 300 feet. You can also calibrate the unit to accommodate different soil types and ambient humidity levels. At 2.3 inches tall (5.3 inches from bottom to tip) when stuck in the soil, the sensor won’t stick out like a sore thumb. 

The best on a budget

XLUX Soil Moisture Meter
The single probe meter delivers instant moisture readings.

The XLUX Soil Moisture Meter is a simple, no-frills moisture meter at an attractive price.

What we like: Analog display is clear and easy to read, good value

Sometimes the topsoil appears wet, but deeper down plant roots may be struggling to access water. Use this soil moisture meter to check whether your garden needs watering. The sensor has a basic single probe design and a color-coded dial display. It works without batteries, so you never have to worry about it shutting off while you’re out digging in the dirt and its affordable price tag makes it a great choice for gardeners on a budget. Some adjusting may be necessary to ensure the probe is at the correct depth to detect moisture. 

The best simple moisture meter

IPPINKA Sustee Aquameter
The aquameters, engineered in collaboration with the Tokyo University of Agriculture, don’t require any batteries.

This simple set of IPPINKA Aquameters helps forgetful gardeners know when to water thanks to color-changing sensors.

What we like: Ultra-simple design, easy-to-read indicator

Pop these little sticks at the base of your houseplants to know when plants are thirsty. The sensors have indicators that turn blue when the soil is wet and white when the soil is dry. Root rot is a common cause of death for houseplants and these mini sensors are excellent for gardeners who frequently overwater and kill their plants. The set of four sensors lasts about six to nine months; each stick features a replaceable core.

The award-winning moisture meters are ideal for houseplants and can measure moisture levels in various types of soil. They’re also available in small, medium, and large sizes to accommodate different sized pots. 

The best smart sensor

Northfifteen Connected Home Plant Monitor
The sensor connects via Bluetooth.

With the help of the iOS or Android app, the Northfifteen Plant Monitor tracks multiple metrics, including temperature.

What we like: Ability to view plant fertility over time

This smart soil meter is best for gardeners looking for more than just the basics. The Northfifteen monitor has several sensors that track soil moisture, light exposure, temperature, and nutrient needs. It’s ideal for keeping tabs on that tricky-to-care-for houseplant that never seems to be thriving. In the app, charts allow you to view your plant’s progress over time. You can also use the app to monitor light levels as they change throughout the day and find the best spot for sun-loving houseplants. It’s important to note that you need to be within range to grab readings from the sensor; you can’t view real-time changes remotely. 

The best for outdoors

Netro Whisperer Smart Plant Sensor
The sensor has a weather-resistant design.

The durable Netro Whisperer is tough enough for outdoor use and reads for moisture levels, ambient temperature, and sunlight exposure.

What we like: Durable, capable of creating a customized watering schedule

The curved design of this solar-powered sensor allows it to capture maximum sunlight throughout the day. It detects soil moisture levels, ambient temperature, and sunlight exposure, all key for ensuring proper plant growth. The wireless sensor is Wi-Fi-enabled (2.4GhZ), so you can access data stored in the iOS or Android app anywhere you go. It has a weather-resistant design, so you can leave it in the garden 24/7.

This soil meter is also compatible with intelligent watering systems like the Netro Sprite. Once it manages to grab a few readings and analyze weather patterns, the app delivers a recommended watering schedule. The app also sends plant care notifications and reminders to perform important gardening tasks. 

The best dual-probe meter

Sonkir Soil pH Meter
The trio of sensors measure light, pH, and moisture levels.

With its multiple sensors, the Sonkir Soil Meter provides a snapshot of soil and light conditions.

What we like: Convenient, takes quick soil and light readings

Three sensors are better than one. You likely won’t use the pH probe as often as the light and moisture sensors, but it’s convenient to have the option at your fingertips. The small soil meter has two probes — to read moisture and pH levels — and a sensor at the top to measure light intensity. The display doesn’t provide ultra-accurate readings, but it’s enough to give you a ballpark measurement that you can work with. The sensor doesn’t require batteries and it’s lightweight enough to travel with, making it ideal for use in community garden plots. The probe is also quite long at 7.9 inches, allowing users to take deeper readings than other meters. 

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The 6 best mouse pads of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good mouse pad has a smooth surface for your mouse that ensures precise tracking of your movements.
  • Some mouse pads protect your desk, while some boast extras like RGB lighting and wireless charging.
  • The slick and durable Corsair MM 350 Pro is the best mouse pad we tested.

Mouse pads provide a smooth, uniform surface for your mouse to move properly and precisely. They’re also multipurpose, protecting your desktop and your mouse and picking up lint and dust that would otherwise attach to your mouse. They’re simple to clean, too, ensuring your workspace is up to par. Mouse pads come in different colors and materials. You can choose between a silky smooth layer that enables fast movements, or a rougher textured surface that enables greater precision. Gamers, in particular, will have personal preferences depending on the games they play and their play style, but anyone can reduce the risk of a slip or tracking error with a good mouse pad.

Some of the latest mouse pads even come with RGB lighting so you can match one with your keyboard, mouse, and rig lighting. Others offer wireless charging, which can be very handy if you have a mouse that supports it. 

I’ve tested several mouse pads, employing them for work and gaming to see what benefits they offer. I also included my son in the testing process, subjecting each mouse pad to the ultimate test of durability (that is, an 11-year-old gamer’s bedroom). 

Here are the best mouse pads of 2021

The best mouse pad overall

Corsair mouse pad

The Corsair MM350 Pro features a slick, durable surface with a non-skid base, making it our favorite mouse pad. 

Pros: Smooth surface balances speed and precision, large option to cover desktop, thick padding adds comfort, stitched edges to prevent fraying

Cons: None to speak of 

Measurements: 36.6 x 15.7 inches; 4mm thick

The Corsair MM350 Pro is a quality mouse pad, spacious enough to accommodate your mouse and keyboard, as well as protect your desktop. I also found its padded comfort helped to reduce the noise of mechanical keys clacking, as it absorbs the impact of your key presses.

The top of the pad is a micro-weave surface, and the cloth Corsair uses is silky smooth and dense. This makes it great for fast, frenetic action that requires sweeping movements. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to sacrifice much accuracy to deliver on the speed, so it’s good for precise gameplay and everyday work alike. The smooth top layer is also spill-proof and by far the easiest to wipe clean of any mouse pad I tested.  

The bottom is covered in an anti-skid rubber base that ensures the pad never slips. Its tight stitching around the edges (where cloth mouse pads usually start to fray after a while), ensures it’s designed to last. The smooth top layer is also spillproof and by far the easiest to wipe clean of any mouse pad I tested.  

You can also get the same quality design in a smaller and cheaper package by opting for the MM300 Pro, which is more of a standard medium-sized mouse pad.

The best budget mouse pad

Razer mouse pad

The Razer Gigantus V2 has everything you need in a cloth mouse pad at around $10: a textured surface, padded comfort, and a non-slip underside.

Pros: Balanced surface for speed and precision, comfortable padding, comes in multiple sizes

Cons: No stitching to protect edges, green sides might not suit everyone

Measurements: 14.17 x 10.83 inches; 3mm thick

You can’t get much for $10 nowadays, but it is enough to snag you Razer’s Gigantus V2 mouse pad. It’s a bit larger than similarly priced competitors and comfortable to rest your wrist on.

Crafted from a textured microweave, the top layer is quite smooth to the touch and offers a good mix of speed and precision. It’s a bit smoother than the Glorious PC Gaming Race mouse pad, but not as silky as Corsair’s MM350 Pro. There’s a bright green anti-slip layer on the bottom, which shows through around the sides and in the subtle Razer logo tag. 

Unfortunately, this mouse pad lacks stitching around the edges, so there’s a risk it will fray and degrade slightly over time. On the plus side, the top layer is easy to wipe clean and feels long-lasting. My son has been using the large Razer Gigantus V2 for around three months now and it’s holding up well; after a wipe with a damp cloth, it still looks as good as new.

If the medium is too small for you, there are larger sizes to ensure you never run out of space. The biggest 3XL option is 47.24 x 21.65, but it costs five times the price.

The best oversized mouse pad

Glorious PC slide

The widespread Glorious PC Gaming Race 3XL Extended mouse pad will coat your entire desktop in mouse-friendly padding.

Pros: Largest mouse pad available, comes in multiple sizes, stitched edges to prevent fraying, machine washable

Cons: Open fabric absorbs spills and dirt

Measurements: 48 x 24; 3mm thick

If you want something big, then the largest mouse pad from Glorious PC Gaming Race has you and likely your entire desktop covered. It certainly boosts comfort, too, with its plush padded top layer. This cloth mouse pad strikes a fairly good balance between precision and speed, but leans more toward precision. It feels quite rough, compared to the Corsair MM350 Pro, but there’s a non-slip rubber base that prevents it from sliding, especially important here as more objects will be layered atop the oversized pad. 

Neat stitching around the edges helps to reduce the risk of fraying, and it is machine washable. This is vital, as the top surface is plain black and very absorbent. I found that it picked up stains and dust quite quickly as well.

The best hard mouse pad

Logitech mouse pad

If you want a mouse pad that will stay in place and deliver perfect precision,  the Logitech G440 hard mouse pad delivers.

Pros: Slick surface for speed with fine control, durable hard plastic coating, suits mice with high DPI settings

Cons: Not so comfortable to use, only one size

Measurements: 13.38 x 11 inches; 3mm thick

This compact mouse pad proves you don’t need a lot of space, especially if you ramp up your mouse sensitivity via the dots-per-inch (DPI) settings. This hard surface, with a mouse set to a high DPI, means very slight and quick movements register accurately and you can maneuver your mouse extremely quickly. 

With a polypropylene top layer, a polystyrene core, and a rubber base for added grip, the Logitech G440 provides a rigid, easy-to-clean surface with just a little give. It has a consistent surface and never slipped around while testing. A simple white G at the bottom right corner is all that breaks up the black surface, but the bottom layer is blue, which gives a subtle pop of color around the base of the pad. 

The best mouse pad with lighting

Roccat pad slide

The Roccat Sense AIMO provides a frame of glowing light around the mouse pad, an affordable option for RGB fans.

Pros: Bright programmable RGB lighting, textured surface for precision, comfortable padding, comes in two sizes

Cons: Relatively expensive compared to other mouse pads (but affordable for RGB mouse pads), must plug in, noticeable power control module at the top left

Measurements: 14.65 x 13.39 inches

I was a little skeptical about light-up mouse pads, but the Roccat Sense AIMO has won me over.

It comes in two sizes, but we tested the smaller one and realized its flexible cloth feels like others we tested, but with a twist. The big difference is that it plugs via an included Micro USB to USB-A cable and has a frame that runs around the outside (beneath the stitching), lighting up in a rainbow of colors.

This bright RGB light has two programmable zones, which you can tinker with via Roccat’s Swarm software, or you can leave it to the default behavior of cycling through the colors. It will also react to some of the devices and apps you use if you download the Sense AIMO module and leave it on the intelligent lighting setting. There are other effects available, and, if you have accompanying Roccat gear, you can sync it up with your mouse and keyboard.

Beyond the lighting, this is a cloth mouse pad that has quite a pronounced textured finish, though I found it much more comfortable than other rougher mouse pads to rest my hand on. Accuracy and speed are sufficient, though it leans towards precision. There’s also a rubberized non-slip back to prevent any slippage.

You will need a spare USB port to plug this into and it means you have another cable on your desk, which is a definite downside for me. The module the cable plugs into is also quite large, with a brightness control button on it which can be configured via the software. If you use a wired mouse this module is a potential snag point.

The best wireless-charging mouse pad

Corsair MM100

The Corsair MM1000 mouse pad will suit you well if you want a dual-purpose pick for your desk, ideal for clicking and charging. 

Pros: Charges any Qi wireless charging device, pass-through USB 3.0 port, relatively affordable

Cons: Can’t charge mouse in use, no soft surface option

Measurements: 14.17 x 10.23 inches; 6mm thick

If you’re looking for a multipurpose mouse pad that can also charge your devices, the MM1000 from Corsair is the one we recommend.  Aside from wireless charging, it adds some thoughtful extras and nails the basics of a good hard mouse pad, but there are limitations here. 

Finished in a hard textured surface that offers low friction for speedy maneuvers, the Corsair MM1000 has a large power module at the top left which needs to be plugged into a USB port. 

The wireless charging zone is a specific area at the top right and can charge any device that supports Qi wireless charging, setting it apart from competitors. With the Corsair MM1000, you simply rest your mouse on the charging spot, though you can’t boost your battery while you’re using it. 

Turning the chunky power module into a positive, Corsair has added a USB 3.0 pass-through port. Corsair also supplies USB to Micro USB, Type C, and Lightning connectors, so you can charge other devices on the charging spot.

While it is quite pricey, it doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as the competition, though you could pair one of the best wireless chargers with our budget mouse pad pick and save yourself quite a bit of money. 

What else we considered

What else we considered

SteelSeries Qck: A former top pick, this basic cloth mouse pad does the basics right, offering padded comfort with a micro-weave cloth surface and an anti-skid rubber bottom. It’s an affordable no-frills mouse pad that delivers. Starting from just $10, it’s also very affordable and another option aside from our budget pick, the Razer Gigantus V2.

Corsair MM600: This hard mouse pad has an unusual dual-sided design with one side designed for speed and the other for precision, though it’s not as affordable as some of our other picks. AmazonBasics Gel Computer Mouse Pad: While a budget option, it’s extremely small and there’s some doubt about whether wrist rests offer any benefit. If you set up your desk, chair, and position ergonomically, you shouldn’t need a wrist rest on your mouse pad at all.

Check out our other tech guides

related tech guides slide image
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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. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best budget laptops

  • Today’s best budget laptops offer more value than ever, bringing solid performance and premium designs at an affordable price.
  • Our pick for the overall best cheap laptop is the Google Pixelbook Go, which offers smooth performance, a great typing experience, and a 1080p webcam for hundreds of dollars less than many flagship devices.
  • We’ll be testing more models throughout 2021, including new inexpensive Chromebooks that were announced at CES 2021.
  • Read more: The best laptops of 2021

The smartphone may be the hub of our digital lives, but the computer still plays a key role, especially now that many of us are continuing to work and socialize from home. 

It used to be that if you want a laptop with power and features, you would need to spend more than $1,000. While you still have to spend upwards of $1,000 for the best features and performance, budget laptops are more than capable of everyday tasks. Those who just want a machine for basic web browsing and word processing can find a promising laptop in the $300-$700 range. That’s all thanks to improvements in processors, graphics, and other chipsets, as well as standardization in features like USB and HDMI.

Of course, this is not to say all budget laptops are great – some are definitely better than average, while others aren’t worth your hard-earned cash. There are a few important factors you need to consider before making a purchase, such as operating system preferences, size, and above all else: what you intend to use it for.

For this guide, we consider a “budget” laptop to be a laptop that costs about $650 or less – we aimed to recommend those that fall below $500. However, if you can afford to spend more than that, you will be able to get something more powerful and arguably better than the computers on this list.

Here are the best cheap laptops:

The best budget laptop overall

Google Pixelbook Go

The Google Pixelbook Go‘s ease of use, excellent keyboard, and long battery life make it a top choice for those who prioritize simplicity in a laptop. 

Pros: Excellent keyboard, long battery life, 1080p webcam, decent screen

Cons: Upgrade options are expensive, no biometric login

Google’s Pixelbook Go is one of the priciest options on this list, but there’s a good reason why. It nearly matches premium laptops that are almost double its price in a few ways, particularly when it comes to keyboard quality, general ease-of-use, and battery life.  

Google’s “Hush” keyboard is part of what makes the Pixelbook Go stand out, offering a comfortable yet unobtrusive typing experience that even rivals that of Lenovo’s laptops, as our full review mentions. It even has a 1080p webcam, a rare find even on laptops that cost over $1,000. That’s especially important now that we’re spending more time video conferencing and socializing virtually.

The base model comes with an Intel Core m3 processor (CPU), 8GB of memory (RAM), and a Full HD (1080p) touch screen. You’ll also get two USB-C ports, and Google says it should last for 12 hours on a single charge.

Like other Google laptops that have come before it, the Pixelbook Go is a Chromebook — meaning it’s designed for those who primarily use their laptops for web browsing, note taking, and other light tasks like streaming YouTube or Netflix. It runs on Google’s Chrome OS, a lightweight interface optimized for security and speed that’s designed to work best with an Internet connection. You can, however, access Google Play Store apps and save documents, spreadsheets, emails, and other data for offline use. 

Sadly, the Pixelbook Go doesn’t have the same 2-in-1 design as its pricier Pixelbook predecessor, so it doesn’t double as a tablet. It also doesn’t have any biometric login options like a fingerprint scanner, which is now fairly common on most laptops. But it’s perfect for anyone in need of a fast, lightweight laptop for basic productivity and entertainment.

The best budget Chromebook

Samsung Chromebook 4+ showcase

The 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+ crams an insane amount of value into its below $300 list price, with hardware and features found in laptops twice its price and within a good-looking package.

Pros: Decent display, long battery life, lots of ports

Cons: Small local storage, low amount of RAM, no top-firing speakers

Anyone looking to get the absolute most value possible out of a Chromebook that might look a bit more premium in ways than even our top pick, we suggest the 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+. There’s no question that this Chromebook makes for a close second to our former top pick,  Acer Chromebook 15, as the best budget laptop period.

Samsung’s Chromebook 4+ is a sharp, slight 15-inch laptop that’s wrapped in a platinum-colored plastic frame featuring a 15.6-inch, 1080p screen, with power from an Intel Celeron CPU supported by 4GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. That’s expanded upon by two USB-C ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a microSD card reader — as well as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 — for wireless connections.

This all comes driven by a battery that can reportedly last up to 10 hours and 30 minutes per outing. Finally, we love the addition of Google Assistant for voice-based search queries and other assistive tasks. While lacking biometric security and more local storage, this laptop leaves nothing else off the table. — Joe Osborne

The best budget gaming laptop

Dell G3 laptop

The Dell G3 15 is an affordable gaming laptop with the latest Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics.

Pros: Compact design, specs on par with more expensive models

Cons: Shallow keyboard and touchpad, dim screen

If you enjoy gaming, but don’t want to shell out $1,000 for a gaming PC, the Dell G3 15 might be a decent option for you. The laptop has multiple configurations, but the base model is around $700, and it comes with Nvidia discrete graphics. 

A few factors make the G3 15 a solid option for gamers. The base model comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650GPU, a 10th-generation  Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB solid state drive. Those are solid specs that should be able to smoothly run most games you want to play, though you’ll want something more powerful if you’re trying to run more demanding tasks like VR. 

You can also upgrade to a version that has 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX  1660 GPU and 512GB of storage for about $970.

At 5.2 pounds, the G3 15 is lighter and more compact than most budget gaming laptops. 

In terms of ports, you have a power jack, an HDMI 2.0 port, an RJ-45 port, one USB 3.1 port, two  USB 2.0 port, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack. That will allow you to plug in a TV, as well as most peripherals you might want to use. 

However, for a computer of this price, you’ll be missing out on some features of higher-end gaming rigs. For example, reviewers found the display to be a bit dim, and the colors to be washed out. The keyboard and touchpad are also a bit shallow, something that might be important if you’ll be spending a lot of time gaming.

The best budget 2-in-1 laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad 5

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 offers solid specifications and a flexible design that allows it to double as a laptop and a tablet at a price that’s hundreds of dollars below the $1,000 mark.

Pros: Great value, good performance, durable and attractive design

Cons: Dim and lackluster display

With a convertible design, recent six-core processors from AMD, and a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 is a solid choice for anyone in need of a general purpose laptop.

It received high marks in reviews from PCMag, LaptopMag, and Digital Trends for its solid performance, excellent value, and high build quality for a laptop of its price. Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5 also comes with a few extra features that are less common on notebooks in this price range, such as a fingerprint reader and webcam privacy shutter. 

For less than $600, you get an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, which just launched about one year ago so it isn’t very old, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. While it’s a great value for the price, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The biggest common complaint among reviewers is that the display is too dim and lackluster.

Other budget laptops we considered

Lenovo Ideapad 320
  • Acer Predator Helios 300It’s impressive to see as sophisticated a gaming rig as the Acer Predator Helios 300 clock in under $1000. At 5.1 pounds, it’s more portable than a lot of gaming laptops and produces a very high refresh rate for many games, and an excellent keyboard and touchpad. It holds its own against much pricier gaming laptops in real-world gaming tests. However, while $955 is cheap among capable gaming PCs, we felt it was too close to the $1000 mark to name the Predator Helios 300 a top budget pick.
  • Asus VivoBook F510UAThe Asus VivoBook is far from the cheapest laptop on this list, but if you’re looking for something with the look and feel of an ultrabook, the VivoBook gives you good bang for your buck. It’s thin and light, at just 3.57 pounds, and with a Core i5 processor and 8GB RAM, it performs about on par with more expensive competitors in benchmark tests. However, it lacks some key features that our cheaper recommendations have, including a touchscreen and all-day battery life.
  • Acer Aspire E 15: The Acer Aspire E is a bit more expensive than some of our top picks, but it offers excellent value for its price tag. It has a ton of ports, almost 9 hours of battery life, and beats most of its competition in benchmark tests. But a bulky plastic design, lack of a touchscreen, and somewhat washed-out display keeps us from recommending the Aspire E as the best value for your money.
  • Lenovo Ideapad 320: For folks on a very tight budget, Lenovo’s Ideapad 320 is one of the cheapest Windows laptops you can buy. It comes with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB RAM, and a 1TB hard drive — usable, but not great specs. And with an Ethernet port, HDMI, headphone jack, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port, it should have enough ports for most people’s accessory needs. That said, if you can afford something better, we recommend going for that instead. The 1,366 x 768-pixel display is quite low-resolution, and the battery only lasted a measly 4 hours in battery tests.
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop Go: Microsoft has earned a reputation for making classy-looking laptops that rival the design of Apple’s devices, and that’s one of the reasons Microsoft’s budget-laptop stands out. The Surface Laptop Go is a less expensive version of Microsoft’s main laptop that comes with some compromises, like a low-resolution screen and no keyboard backlighting. But, for $549, you’re still getting an Intel Core i5 processor, which should offer plenty of power for general productivity and web browsing, particularly for those who prefer Windows over Chrome OS. However, unless you really only want a computer for light web browsing and don’t plan on saving much locally on the laptop itself, we’d recommend spending at least $649.99 for the mid-tier version with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. While Microsoft’s laptop is worth pointing out, we felt the ones highlighted in this guide provided for value overall.

Budget laptops we look forward to testing

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2: Samsung’s original Galaxy Chromebook from last year’s CES had an attention-grabbing design that’s uncommon for a Chromebook, but its high price and short battery life limited its appeal. Now, Samsung has addressed those criticisms with the Galaxy Chromebook 2, a revamped version of its Google-powered laptop that comes at a cheaper starting price of $549.99 compared to the previous model’s $999.99 price tag. With a premium design, 13.3-inch QLED touch screen, and hopefully longer battery life, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 seems like it could be a promising option for those on a budget.

Acer Chromebook Spin 14: Powered by the latest AMD’s latest mobile processors and offering 10 hours of battery life according to Acer’s claims, the new Acer Chromebook Spin 14 has potential to become one of our top picks for a budget laptop in 2021. It features a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen and aluminum build that could make it a compelling choice as a general-purpose laptop. It’s launching in March 2021 starting at $479.99.

How to buy a budget laptop

There are a variety of factors you should consider when purchasing a laptop, particularly how much you want to spend and what types of tasks you intend to use it for. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your decision. 

Operating system: There are a few major computer operating systems out there. You’re probably most familiar with Windows, as it’s by far the most-used operating system, but there’s also Apple’s macOS, which is found on the company’s Mac computers (we didn’t include any Macs because they didn’t meet our price requirement for a budget laptop). And, the newest, there’s Google’s Chrome OS, which is targeted to those with basic computer needs revolves around Google’s web-based apps (Chrome OS relies heavily on cloud computing, meaning that a lot of the processes happen online).

Specs and features: Some computers are more powerful than others. Things like the processor and amount of memory (RAM) will dictate how quickly your computer runs, while the amount of storage indicates how many files you can keep on your computer at once. There are also other factors, like the graphics chipset being employed. The type of software you run could also dictate how well a laptop’s components perform; for example, Google’s Chrome browser is notorious for being a memory hog.

The features have also improved. Premium components like a touchscreen and high-speed ports, like USB 3.0 and USB-C, have trickled down from high-end laptops to budget models. As you research, look for these or if the laptop is still utilizing older tech.

Size: Laptops come in a range of different physical sizes, however, the smaller ones generally sit in the 10- to 11-inch range, while the larger ones can get as big as 17-inches. That’s handy for watching movies, but it comes at the cost of portability.

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