GoPro’s new Hero 10 could be the only camera you ever need – here are the performance-enhancing upgrades

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A GoPro Hero 10 Black camera lying on grass.
  • GoPro just launched its latest flagship camera, the Hero 10 Black.
  • Featuring a brand-new chipset, the Hero 10 doubles the performance of the previous Hero 9.
  • Priced at $499, this compact camera does what more expensive and bigger cameras can do.
  • See more tech and electronics reviews.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyHero10 Black (small)

As anticipated every September, GoPro revealed the next version of its Hero camera, the GoPro Hero 10 Black. This video and still camera has similar capabilities to larger variants, while maintaining the small go-anywhere form-factor it’s known for. On the surface, nothing has changed for 2021, but the major development is the introduction of the new GP2 processor, which powers many of the functions the camera has to offer.

What’s new in the GoPro Hero 10 Black?

A GoPro Hero 10 Black camera with its removable lens cover detached.

The highlight of the Hero 10 is the new GP2 processor, the successor to the GP1 that was introduced in the Hero 6 back in 2017. The GP1 allowed GoPro to add high-end features and functions to the Hero series, such as 4K video, high-res photos, image stabilization, multiple frame rates, new shooting modes, uncompressed RAW file support, and more. With the GP2, we see performance upgrades in many of these existing functions, as well as overall camera operation — GoPro claims the GP2 doubles the performance of the GP1 in Hero 9 Black.

Higher-quality video and photo capture

The GP2 processor bumps photo resolution up to 23 megapixels (for comparison, on paper, the new Apple iPhone 13 Pro supports 12 megapixels). The advantage of having more megapixels allows for more detail, and you can crop into it while still maintaining quality. 

Video, which is the Hero’s strength, is where we see some big jumps. The Hero 10 can shoot up to 5.3K at 60 frames per second (FPS); 4K up to 120 FPS; and 2.7K at 240 FPS. High frame rates allow you to shoot much smoother video and control the speed, while the higher resolutions provide greater detail. 

While 1080p still suffice for most people (although this argument is starting to wane), which the Hero 10 also supports, these higher resolutions and frame rates will appeal to content creators, filmmakers, or anyone who wants to preserve their videos for future viewing on high-resolution displays like 8K TVs. One benefit of shooting in 4K or 5K is the ability to pull high-res stills from the video.

The GP2 also adds local tone mapping and 3D noise reduction. These allow for videos with improved dynamic range and help to capture clearer images in low light.

Steadier video

With the GP2 comes the next version of HyperSmooth, GoPro’s name for its in-camera digital stabilization system. With HyperSmooth 4.0, you can now apply stabilization to higher video resolutions (5.3K30, 4K60, and 2.7K120). If you’ve ever captured video while in motion, you’ll notice how annoying the bouncing image can be to watch. Unless the motion is really violent, stabilization can help. (Note that digital image stabilization requires cropping into the image a bit.) HyperSmooth 4.0 also improves the horizon leveling, up to 45 degrees. This function lets you keep the image leveled even if your tilting the camera.

Wired transfer to phone

In addition to auto-upload to the cloud while charging (a GoPro subscription is required) and wireless transfers to a phone or tablet, GoPro now gives you a third way to offload files, by way of a wired connection to an Android or iOS device. This not only provides a more stable connection, but it’s also faster — GoPro claims it’s 50% quicker than wireless. While wireless transfers have been one of GoPro’s strong points, a wired connection can be more convenient. (Wired transfers will also be available in the Hero 9).

Other improvements

The Hero 10 introduces a removable lens cover that’s more scratch-resistant and has the ability to repel water. Since the Hero 10 is waterproof, this helps to keep the lens clear. GoPro claims the new cover reduces ghosting.

Like many camera companies during the height of the pandemic in 2020, GoPro created software to allow select Hero models to function as webcams, which is great for those working from home and need a higher quality image than what typical webcams can provide. With the Hero 10, you can shoot in 1080p with a wide field of view (132 degrees) and utilize the front LCD as a preview screen to frame your shot. (The Hero 9 also has a front color LCD but lacks this capability.) And, if you do any live-streaming, you can use the Hero 10 to shoot up to 1080p with image stabilization.  


A side by side comparison of the GoPro Hero 9 Black and GoPro Hero 10 Black cameras lying on the ground.
The GoPro Hero 10 Black (right) is nearly identical to its predecessor, the Hero 9 Black, with the exception of an improved lens cover and cosmetic changes.

Design-wise, Hero 10 looks identical to Hero 9. It shares the same compact, palm-sized form factor, yet it’s 5 grams lighter. It retains the “folding fingers” mounting system introduced in Hero 8, and it’s compatible with nearly every GoPro and third-party accessory that’s been introduced. However, the front color LCD is smoother while the rear touchscreen is more responsive.

A big plus is that Hero 10 uses the same battery as Hero 9, and it’s compatible with Hero 9 Mods accessories. This makes it easy to share these parts if you intend to use both cameras in your workflow. If you’re upgrading from an older camera, you may need to invest in some new add-ons, although as mentioned, most accessories that utilize the GoPro mounting system will still work.

Read up on our GoPro Hero 9 Black review to get our impressions of that camera.

First impressions

A GoPro Hero 10 Black camera is shown attached to a bike helmet, alongside accessories.
The GoPro Hero 10 Black supports nearly all accessories ever made.

Nearly everything new with the GoPro Hero 10 Black is under the hood, and we are putting the camera through some testing for a full review. However, we already have some very positive first impressions.

Operating the Hero 10 feels similar to Hero 9, down to navigating the user interface. But everything truly feels faster. The Hero 10 turns on in approximately 2 seconds versus 4 seconds with the Hero 9, and shuts down in a second versus 2 seconds, respectively. The Hero 9’s touchscreen can feel sluggish at times, but with Hero 10, gliding through menus is noticeably silkier. The front LCD display is also visibly smoother.

We have a very positive experience in using Hero 9 and we expect the same with Hero 10.


A carrying case containing a GoPro Hero 10 Black camera with accessories and documentation.
For $549, you can get the GoPro Hero 10 Black camera bundled with accessories that include a second battery and memory card.

The GoPro Hero 10 Black will sell for $499. The Hero 9 Black and Hero 8 Black will stay in the lineup as mid and low-price options, at $399 and $299 respectively.

If you are a GoPro subscriber, you can knock $100 off the Hero 10 ($399), as well as $50 off the Hero 9 ($349) and $20 off the Hero 8 ($279). If you aren’t a member, you can sign up for the service at checkout and receive the aforementioned discounts. For $50 a year, a GoPro subscription is a great deal: In addition to discounted pricing on cameras, you also get 50% off on accessories, unlimited uploads at full resolution to the cloud, and a no-questions-asked replacement.

GoPro is also offering a bundle option. For $549, $449 with GoPro subscription, or $399 with a camera upgrade, you can get the Hero 10 with a sturdy case, the Shorty extension pole, a magnetic swiveling clip, a second battery, and a 32GB SD card. It’s another good starter kit for those new to GoPro as these additional products can cost as much as $100.

Hero10 Black (small)

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The best Apple AirPods deals you can get now, including $70 off the AirPods Pro

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the best apple airpod deals available now including the airpods, airpods pro, and airpods max
  • Apple’s AirPod lineup makes listening to audio on iPhones easy.
  • AirPods and AirPods Pro are frequently on sale, but some discounts are better than others.
  • Right now, you can get the AirPods Pro for $70 off their full retail price.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Apple’s AirPods are popular for a reason: they’re among the most convenient and best options for wireless earbuds. They automatically pair with your Apple devices the moment you open the case nearby, and you can use your Apple devices to help you pinpoint a misplaced AirPod.

Apple products, like AirPods, go on sale regularly. In fact, you can find them for less than what you’d pay at Apple nearly every week. During Apple’s back-to-school promotion, you can get a free pair of AirPods with a Mac or iPad purchase.

Below, we’ve highlighted the best AirPod deals available in September 2021, including $70 off the AirPods Pro. If you know which model you’re looking for, you can skip ahead by clicking its name in the table of contents to the left.

You can also check out the best iPhone deals and the best iPad deals for more Apple savings.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Comparing AirPods models

AirPods AirPods Pro AirPods Max
Our review Best on a budget Best overall Best for audiophiles
Typical price $120-$160 $200 $500
Features Quick pairing, “Hey Siri,” automatic switching, charging case Same as AirPods, plus active noise cancellation, spatial audio, water resistance, and multiple ear tips Same as AirPods Pro, plus over-ear design, better active noise cancellation, improved audio with adaptive EQ, digital crown for media playback

The best AirPods deals happening now

AirPods Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods with Charging Case (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Airpods Max (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

AirPods with regular charging case deals

airpods pro wireless charging
It’s easy to check what version your AirPods are running.

AirPods with Charging Case (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

The standard AirPods with Charging Case are the cheapest AirPods you can buy. The included charging case charges via a Lightning cable, the same cable you use to charge your iPhone.

The AirPods have a five-hour battery life, and the case stores 24 hours of battery charge. A quick 15-minute charge in the case gives them an extra three hours of listening time. They are not sweat- or water-resistant – you’ll have to check out the AirPods Pro below if that’s important to you. You can read our full AirPods review here.

Contrary to what MSRP would like you to think, AirPods typically only sell for $120 across online retailers – a good $40 less than listed. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday we saw them fall as low as $99, but that kind of promotion is rare.

AirPods with Wireless Charging Case deals

airpods next to iphone

AirPods with Wireless Charging Case (medium, Preferred: Target)

The AirPods with Wireless Charging Case are identical to the 2nd-gen AirPods with Charging Case, except the case can be charged wirelessly as well as via a Lightning cable. That means you can power the case on a wireless charging pad that uses the Qi wireless charging standard. You can read our full AirPods with Wireless Charging Case review here.

Though they’re listed for more, the typical price for the Wireless Charging Case AirPods is $160 across online retailers. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we saw them fall as low as $140; it’s unlikely they’ll drop that low again outside of short-lived discounts from one or two retailers.

AirPods Pro deals

Airpods BF

AirPods Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

The AirPods Pro are Apple’s flagship AirPods, and they’re also our pick for the best wireless earbuds for Apple fans. They have a shorter stem than the original AirPods, and they have an in-ear design with tips for three different sizes. If you’ve ever had difficulty keeping Apple’s earbuds in your ear, these are the solution. The wireless charging case is also wider than the standard charging cases.

Despite their smaller size, they come with active noise cancellation, and they sound a little better than the regular AirPods. Battery life with noise cancellation enabled isn’t as long as the regular AirPods, but it’s still pretty good (4.5 hours versus 5 hours). The wireless charging case holds a 24-hour total charge.

The AirPods Pro are also sweat- and water-resistant, whereas the regular AirPods are not. You can read our full AirPods Pro review here.

A pair is listed for $249, but the typical price hovers around $200 across online retailers like Walmart and Costco. We’ve seen them drop lower during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if you need a pair now, don’t settle for paying any more than $200.

AirPods Max deals

AirPods Max being worn

Airpods Max (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

If you’re an Apple aficionado looking for the best audio you can find, the AirPods Max are for you. Audio from the AirPods Max is crisp, clear, and open; their noise-cancellation is powerful. They’re surely pricier than other headphones with similar performance from Sony and Bose, but the AirPods Max are a huge listening upgrade from the AirPods and AirPods Pro. You can read our full review of the AirPods Max here.

Since release, the typical price for a pair has dropped to $500, with some colors as low as $490.

Tips for finding the best AirPods deals

Apple products, despite their reputation for never going on sale, see discounts frequently. Unlike most other electronics, AirPods see discounts year-round and, in some rare cases, see better discounts than we see during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

To make sure you get the best price on Apple AirPods, don’t shop at Apple. Best Buy, Target, and Walmart frequently mark down Apple’s headphones.

Where to find Apple AirPods

AirPods are available in most retailers that sell tech, in addition to the Apple Store. You can find them at Best Buy, Target, Costco, Walmart, and anywhere else you’d see electronics.

Apple’s year-round education pricing includes discounts on Macs and iPad. During its back-to-school promotion, you can get a free pair of AirPods with a Mac or iPad purchase.

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

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We tried every Casper mattress: here are the good and bad aspects of each

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Casper Mattresses

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Choosing a mattress is one of the most important buying decisions you will make. Not only is it an expensive item, but you’ll also spend a third of your life on it. It used to be that the only way to pick the right bed was to spend 15 minutes on it in a showroom. Today, online retailers like Casper let you test their mattresses risk-free for months in the comfort of your own home.

As Insider Review’s mattress expert, I sleep on more than 20 mattresses each year, including direct-to-consumer online brands and traditional beds. In addition to sleeping on each mattress for two weeks, I put each bed through objective tests for edge support, breathability, motion isolation, and more. In each test, Casper mattresses have performed well earning spots in several of our buying guides.

What is Casper?

Casper launched in 2014 with an all-foam bed in a box. It was an instant success that contributed to a disruption to the mattress industry. Today, Casper has eight mattresses: Seven are sold at Casper, and one (the all-foam Nova) is exclusive to Zola. We have tested all of the mattresses except the all-foam Nova.

Casper makes all of its mattresses using CertiPUR-US certified foams, which means they are made without ozone depleters, heavy metals, or other harmful substances. They also have low volatile organic compound emissions. The company uses recycled plastic bottles to make its mattress covers, though you can’t tell by their feel.

All Casper mattresses are available in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king.

Casper lets you try its mattresses for up to 100 nights, risk free. If you decide the mattress isn’t right for you, they’ll pick it up, and you will receive a full refund. If you decide to keep the mattress, it’s backed by a 10-year warranty.

If you want to try out a Casper in the showroom, mattresses are available across the nation, including in several Target locations.

If you don’t want to set up your mattress on your own, Casper offers white glove delivery for $149. Included in this charge is removal of your old mattress and foundation.

Below you will find short reviews of all of the Casper products we’ve tested and links to our full reviews. We also compare Casper to other brands and highlight current deals. We are always testing Casper’s latest products and will update this page as we complete our assessments.

We have a variety of guides to help you as you research your next mattress or bedding purchase:

Casper Element

A close-up on the side of a Casper Element mattress

Element Mattress (Queen) (small)

Category Product
Best for Back and stomach sleepers, couples
Mattress type Foam
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 6
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 8
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 3
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 8
Weight (queen) 68 lbs.
Thickness 10 in.

At under $600 for a queen, the Element is the most affordable Casper mattress. We also think it’s a good buy for back and stomach sleepers thanks to its firmer-than-average support. Couples will appreciate the great motion dampening and edge support.

The Element is made of two layers of foam: a base layer for support and durability and a top layer for pressure relief and breathability. However, the top layer wasn’t effective at cooling in my tests and had a stiff feel that offered little pressure relief. Still, if you’re on a budget and aren’t too picky, the Element is a solid choice. 

Read our full review of the Casper Element Mattress.

Casper Original

The Casper Original Mattress in a blue-accented room

Original Mattress (Queen) (small)

Category Product
Best for All sleeping styles, hot sleepers
Mattress type Foam
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 6
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 7
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 8
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Weight (queen) 79 lbs.
Thickness 11 in.

While the Nova Hybrid is my favorite Casper mattress, that’s based on my side-sleeping, hot-sleeping preferences. I think the Casper Original will appeal to a broader audience because of its medium-firm feel and much lower price.

The Casper Original is made of three layers of foam for breathability, support, and durability. Unlike most all-foam mattresses, the Casper Original stayed cool and didn’t trap heat in my tests.

I also liked that the mattress had great motion-dampening properties, which is a must if you or your partner tend to toss and turn in the night. However, the edges sag significantly, causing you to feel like you might fall out of bed when lying on the periphery.

Read our full review of the Casper Original Mattress.

Casper Original Hybrid

An overhead shot of the Casper Original Hybrid mattress

Original Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (small)

Category Product
Best for All sleeping styles
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 5
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 6
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 8
Weight (queen) 91 lb.
Thickness 11 in.

The Original Hybrid has the same foam layers as the Casper Original, but it has the added benefit of individually wrapped springs that make it more durable. Springs usually increase airflow for cooler sleep, and the Original Hybrid does a good job of dissipating heat, but it’s not as good as the Casper Original.

The Casper Original Hybrid has an average firmness that will appeal to a broad range of sleepers. The edge support is also the best of Casper’s mattresses. However, it failed our motion isolation tests, and it took several days for the initial odors to dissipate.

Read our full review of the Casper Original Hybrid Mattress.

Casper Nova Hybrid

An overhead shot of the Casper Nova Hybrid mattress

Nova Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (small)

Category Product
Best for Side sleepers, hot sleepers
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 4
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 8
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 6
Weight (queen) 89 lbs.
Thickness 12 in.

The Casper Nova Hybrid is my favorite Casper mattress, the best soft mattress in our buying guide, and the top pick in our guide to the best mattresses for side sleepers. I like that it offers support alongside its cushiony, “sinking-in” feel.

The combination of individually wrapped coils and CertiPUR-US certified foams contribute to excellent heat dissipation. 

Setup took less than 10 minutes but wasn’t without some effort due to its hefty weight. Also, it had a “new bed smell” that lasted for a few days, so you may want to air it out if possible.

The bounciness of the Casper Nova Hybrid translated to poor motion isolation in our tests, but couples may appreciate the bounce for intimate activities. The bed also offers good edge support when seated or lying down.

Read our full review of the Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress.

Casper Nova Hybrid Snow

A closeup of the side of the Casper Nova Hybrid Snow

Nova Hybrid Snow (Queen) (small)

Category Product
Best for Side sleepers, hot sleepers
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 4
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 8
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 5
Weight (queen) 89 lbs.
Thickness 12 in.

In 2021, Casper introduced a cooling option to its Nova Hybrid. For $500 more, the Nova Hybrid Snow upgrade adds a cooling cover, more breathable foam, and internal bands that pull excess heat from the body.

However, if the Nova Hybrid Snow does a better job of cooling than the Nova Hybrid, I didn’t notice in my tests. The Snow and original Nova Hybrid were also nearly identical in the other tests. Consequently, I recommend buying the cheaper of the two, which is currently the Nova Hybrid.

Casper Wave Hybrid

A closeup of the side of the Casper Wave Hybrid

Wave Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (small)

Category Product
Best for Back and stomach sleepers, cold sleepers
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 6
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 5
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 2
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Weight (queen) 111 lbs.
Thickness 13 in.

One of Casper’s most expensive mattresses is also the model I like the least. The Wave Hybrid is made up of individually wrapped spring coils that offer support and durability and five layers of foam for cooling, zoned support, and pressure relief.

It slept the hottest of the Casper mattresses I tested, the edge support was terrible, it’s heavy and hard to move, the motion isolation was so-so, and it was a little too firm for my side sleeping.

I’m hesitant to slap a “do not recommend” label on any mattress because personal preferences could make it ideal for someone. In this instance, I think the Wave Hybrid is best for back or stomach sleepers who sleep alone, tend to get cold at night, and have the budget for a luxury mattress.

Read our full review of the Casper Wave Hybrid Mattress.

Casper Wave Hybrid Snow

An overhead shot of the Casper Wave Hybrid Snow Mattress

Wave Hybrid Snow (Queen) (small)

Category Product
Best for Back and stomach sleepers, cold sleepers
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 6
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 5
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 2
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Weight (queen) 111 lbs.
Thickness 13 in.

The Wave Hybrid Snow is an update to the Wave Hybrid, featuring the same cooling upgrades as the Nova Hybrid Snow and the same $500 jump in price. The Snow technology didn’t offer any appreciable improvements on cooling in my tests.

The Wave Hybrid Snow still didn’t dissipate heat well, and it had the same pitfalls as the Wave Hybrid: So-so motion isolation and poor edge support, and it was hard to move. Consequently, I’d only recommend it for hot-sleeping back or stomach sleepers who don’t share a bed and have a large budget — though I think you should save the $500 and go with the Wave Hybrid.

Casper Original Pillow

Best pillow Casper

Original Pillow (small)

The Casper Original Pillow features a soft, fluffy polyester microfiber fill covered by a hypoallergenic cotton percale fabric. It’s available in a mid-loft, generally better for side sleepers, and low-loft, usually ideal for stomach and back sleepers. Inside is a removable inner pillow that offers firm support.

The Casper Original Pillow is machine washable and comes with the same 100-night trial period available with the mattresses.

Several members of the Insider Reviews team swear by it because the pillow sleeps cool, provides a firm but fluffy comfort, and is easy to clean. 

Read our full review of the Casper Original Pillow.

Casper Hyperlite Sheets

A set of blue Casper Hyperlite sheets on a mattress in a bedroom

Hyperlite Sheet Set (Queen) (small)

Over the years, we’ve tested several Casper sheet sets and loved them all. Our current favorite is the Casper Hyperlite Sheet Set, which we recommend in our guide to the best sheets. These Tencel lyocell sheets are made from sustainably sourced wood pulp. 

With its thin, gauzy construction, the material is soft and lightweight, which makes for a cool sleep. We were concerned that it might not be durable because it’s so thin it’s see-through, but it doesn’t show any wear after several washes.

Casper Rise Max Adjustable Base

The Casper Rise Max Adjustable Base on a hardwood floor

Rise Max Adjustable Base (Queen) (small)

Head and foot tilts are standard in the adjustable-bed-frame space. It’s much rarer to find a frame that offers a neck tilt that can help you achieve your ideal head support. The Casper Rise Max Adjustable Base has all the above, including programmable buttons that remember your favorite positions.

The priciest of Casper’s three adjustable base options, the Rise Max has several other popular features, including a strong four-zone massage system, under-bed lighting, wireless remote, and USB ports on either side of the bed. Plus, it’s backed by a 30-night sleep trial, which is pretty good for an adjustable bed frame.

I’ve tested the Rise Max for a month, and I’m impressed with how quietly it adjusts positions. My favorite position is the “zero gravity” preset, which is supposed to make you feel weightless. I wouldn’t say I feel like an astronaut, but it’s comfy.

Casper Mattress Protectors

The Casper Waterproof mattress protector on a mattress

I don’t recommend either of Casper’s mattress protectors. First, the Casper Waterproof Mattress Protector lives up to its name — it passed my leakage tests. Yet, it’s hard to put on your mattress thanks to the small elastic ring designed to keep it snug. It only got worse after washing it.

The Casper Breathable Mattress Protector was the only protector I tested that failed my leakage tests. That’s because it’s water-resistant rather than waterproof. It also only protects the top of your mattress, and that protection area shrank after five trips through the wash.

Casper Glow Lights

Casper Glow Lights review 2021

The Glow Light (small)

The Casper Glow Light is much more than just a reading light. Free of blue light, it helps you wind down at night and wake up easily as the brightness gradually grows in the morning. 

The Glow Light pairs with the Casper Glow app (available for iOS and Android) via Bluetooth for expanded features, including syncing Glow Lights and adjusting the brightness. 

Insider Reviews’ Suzy Hernandez, a sleep researcher, recommends the Glow Light because of its beautiful, warm illumination; portability; and ease of use. She liked that with a simple flip, she can use it as a night light to make her way to the bathroom in the dark.

Read our full review of the Casper Glow Lights.

Casper Dog Bed

Casper Dog Bed

Dog Bed (small)

Casper’s product line expands beyond humans with the Dog Bed. With three colors and three size options for dogs up to 90 pounds, the Casper Dog Bed features a durable support foam and comfortable memory foam to keep your furry friend happy. 

Insider’s David Slotnick’s 18-pound pup, Murray, has enjoyed the Dog Bed for two years, and it’s showing minimal wear despite Murray’s less-than-gentle treatment of it. He continues to gravitate to it whenever he needs a snooze.

Read our full review of the Casper Dog Bed.

How Casper compares to other mattress brands

A pile of mattresses from Purple

It seems like new direct-to-consumer online mattress makers are popping up every day. Casper uses some of the most eco-friendly materials and has one of the largest selections of mattresses over a broad price range. Here are more details on how Casper stacks up to other big names like Leesa, Purple, and more. Also, we compared the Casper Original Hybrid to the Allswell Supreme Hybrid and the Leesa Hybrid.

The best Casper deals

Four Casper mattresses still in their boxes in the front hall of a house

Find the best Casper deals here.

Once you figure out which Casper mattress you want to buy, you’ll likely want to find the best deal available. We have you covered. With our exclusive “INSIDER” discount code, you can save $100 to $200 on almost any mattress at checkout. 

Casper also offers regular sales throughout the year. Historically, Casper’s biggest sales happen around Labor Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, but we’ve also seen good deals at other times.

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Secretly Good: this vegan cashew cheese is so tasty that it meets even my dairy-purist standards

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A piece of toast next to Miyoko's European Style Cultured Vegan Butter

Anyone who’s been friends with me for a while (or just been to one happy hour networking event together) has seen me stack enough cheese cubes on my plate to build a small fortress. My leaf-to-feta salad ratio leans heavily on dairy, and I refuse to call it a panini if it isn’t glued together with slabs of mozzarella.

But, for reasons ranging from animal wellbeing to my skin routinely breaking out after a beloved grilled cheese, I’ve been trying to cut down.

I’ve tried a lot of vegan and plant-based cheeses (my partner is vegan, as are a handful of my friends) and the brand that consistently blows me away is Miyoko’s Creamery.

Organic Roadhouse Chedda Cultured Vegan Cheese Spread (small)European Style Cultured Vegan Butter (small)

Fully lactose-free and made from ingredients like oat and cashew milk, coconut oil, navy beans, sea salt, and mushroom extract, Miyoko’s products are perfect if you’re craving a solid dairy or cheese alternative such as a spread, easy butter sub, or burger topping.

My favorites have been the Roadhouse Chedda’ dip and the cheese wheels, which come in flavors like Classic Chive, Sundried Tomato Garlic, Smoked English Farmhouse, and French-Style Winter Truffle. (Yes, I have eaten them all and in very close to one sitting!)

For me, the game-changer is the taste: My biggest gripe with other vegan dairy substitutes is that there can be an artificial-feeling aftertaste or even just an overpowering nutritional yeast presence. (I love a sprinkling of nooch, but I have my limits).

Organic Plainly Classic Vegan Cream Cheese (small)Classic Fresh Italian Style Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (small)

Miyoko’s doesn’t feel like it’s trying to directly mimic how dairy tastes (which seems impossible to replicate): Instead, it’s just trying to make a delicious, savory product that can expertly fill the role of cheese in whatever meal you make, whether as an artichoke dip base or a bagel-enhancing spread.

As an added bonus, I like that the ingredient lists aren’t too complex or full of lots of additives (a common critique of plant-based products). Miyoko Schinner, the company’s founder and CEO, previously published a vegan cookbook with simple, flavorful recipes, and it seems like Miyoko’s vegan cheese applies the same logic of prioritizing fewer ingredients without skimping on flavor.

And if you need any more ringing endorsements of this cheese, look at Schinner herself: Like me, she too was once obsessed with cheese. She loved it so much that she spent years creating plant-based substitutes before landing on Forbes’ 50 Over 50 list and acquiring $52 million in investments to expand Miyoko’s.

I’ll dunk a chip in cashew cheese dip to that.

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18 remote vacation rentals for when you want to get away from it all

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

most remote vacation rentals in the us
  • During COVID-19, the ideal vacation is in a remote setting, away from others outside your group.
  • We found remote homes across the US on vacation rental sites such as Airbnb, TurnKey, and Vrbo.
  • These highly-rated listings are secluded and priced between $99 and $499 per night to start.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

While heading off to a remote paradise sounds incredible, it may not be on the table amid a global pandemic. After all, most travelers can’t afford to rent out a Richard Branson-style private island in the Caribbean, a la Kim Kardashian. Though if you are looking, we did manage to find more affordable hotel buyout options and the best private islands to rent on Airbnb.

Luckily, there are closer-to-home ways to take an off-the-grid safe vacation during COVID without sacrificing comfort or exceeding your budget. Many of the best vacation rentals on Airbnb, TurnKey, and Vrbo are tucked away in remote corners of the country, while still remaining affordable and reachable by car, even if the closest big city is a couple of hours away.

I’ve been writing about consumer travel for 20 years, with a specialty in covering the US, and dove into finding the best secluded vacation rentals. Just keep in mind that while remote homes often come with electricity and running water, it may be a long drive from the closest store. Be sure to check what the rental includes and arrive stocked with the supplies you’ll need.

Browse all the best remote vacation rentals below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

These are the best remote vacation rentals in the US, sorted by price from low to high.

100-year-old farmhouse in Utah

most remote vacation rentals -100 Year Farmhouse Utah
This historic farmhouse comes with an outdoor hot tub, Wi-Fi, and colorful modern furnishings.

Book this Utah farmhouse on Airbnb

Relax under the never-ending skies of Ephraim Canyon in Utah in this century-old farmhouse that sleeps up to four. It may be getting on in years but recent refurbishments mean that the decor and interiors are shipshape and colorful, and there’s also a cute yard with cornhole, horseshoes, and a picnic area. 

Modern amenities include Wi-Fi and Apple TV, plus an essential outdoor hot tub for a soak as the sun sets or rises. Families can pass the time outdoors with nearby hiking and fishing, or go sledding in the winter months. The home feels cozy and bijoux, but still comfortable, affordable, and surrounded by acres of land. 

Moose haven cabin in Colorado

Moose Haven Cabin in Walden, Colorado
This off-the-grid cabin feels a lot like camping with its wood-burning stove, outdoor shared bathroom, and nearby hiking trails.

Book this Colorado cabin on Airbnb

The rugged panorama of Rocky Mountain National Park separates this scenic village from Denver, Colorado, with guests ascending to around 9,000 feet to reach this remote property.

The cabin is a basic but a beautifully constructed A-frame that will suit anyone wanting a rural, back-to-nature vacation far from daily stresses. 

The interior is cozy and rustic, with a wood-burning stove and polished wooden floors and fittings. Maintaining the campsite ambiance, there are comfortable shared bathrooms and showers just 20 yards from the cabin. Solar power and a gas grill provide added comfort, but this home is thoroughly off the grid, so don’t plan to get online.

Nearby hiking (and snowshoeing in winter) is world-class and you’ll leave feeling renewed and invigorated. 

Homesteader desert cabin in California

Homesteader Cabin in Joshua Tree, California
Escape to this barren desert refuge that dates back to 1955.

Book this California cabin on Airbnb

Downtown Joshua Tree is just 12 minutes away by car but it’s a different world out here by this home, surrounded by five acres of undeveloped land under an endless blanket of stars. The hiking and natural delights of Joshua Tree National Park are also easy to access.

This cabin dates back to 1955 and maintains many original features, and in some places, the original paint. It’s a charmingly ramshackle homestead, but the hosts upgraded the amenities with Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and hot water. The oranges and creams of the interior reflect the desert outside, and midcentury modern furniture pieces make for a more urbane design than you might expect.

Neighbors include a thriving art community, local rabbits, tortoises, and roadrunners. 

A mountain cabin with a hot tub in North Carolina

most remote vacation rentals - Mountain Cabin with HotTub
Retreat to this mountainside getaway for a romantic getaway.

Book this North Carolina cabin on Vrbo

Straying beyond the beaten path can come with romantic rewards for couples, especially at this mountainside one-bedroom bolthole on seven acres of land.

The nearby ridges of Western North Carolina await for hiking, rafting, canyoneering, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, and skiing. 

The modern cabin itself is as desirable as the pristine location, which is set against a lush farming valley. A quaint deck and wood-burning fireplace evoke a bucolic atmosphere and are complemented by modern technologies for relaxing down times. The standout, however, is the outdoor hot tub for an indulgent soak under a canopy of stars. 

A woodland cabin in Vermont

A short hike is required to reach this charming tiny home hidden among the trees.

Book this Vermont cabin on Airbnb

The 20 acres of land surrounding this home in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains are thick with vegetation and woodland charm. This purpose-built so-called tiny house delivers on its off-grid promise with a look that is seemingly out of a fantasy novel or fairy tale. Knotted wooden beams and timber combines for a magical, whimsical feel that delivers a pioneering spirit.

Amenities include a wood-fired stove and fireplace, but there is no refrigeration outside of a cooler, so plan accordingly. Solar power heat water but there is no electricity or Wi-Fi. 

Instead, come for the hiking, rock climbing, and swimming holes (and skiing in the winter), and wait to update social media with photos when you reluctantly return to real life. 

A desert adobe in New Mexico

desert adobe in New Mexico
The breathtaking desert landscape outside of this rustic adobe inspired Georgia O’Keefe’s artwork, “Perdernal.”

Book this New Mexico adobe home 

This peaceful rural adobe is set in the picturesque Cerro Perdernal desert, the same landscape famously painted by Georgia O’Keefe. Located halfway between Santa Fe and Taos, this rural home offers beautiful, unobstructed sunset and mountain views from its porches, and modern southwestern decor made up of soft neutral colors, wood-beamed ceilings, and earthen tiled floors. 

The living room connects with a fully equipped kitchen with a fireplace and a vintage gas stove. Each bedroom has simple furnishings, Queen-size beds, and sandstone floors. However, the main bedroom stands out with a large stone fireplace, access to the outdoor patio, and a full bath decked out in Talavera tiles.  

This adobe structure feels secluded but shares the property with an on-site guesthouse that may be rented together or separately. There are nearby scenic hiking trails and lakes for nature excursions as well. 

Mountain cottage in Oregon

From the family room’s built-in bar to the game room, there’s plenty of room to spread out at this rural cottage.

Book this Oregon cottage on TurnKey

A wonderfully rural five-acre wooded lot welcomes up to 13 guests at this five-bedroom house surrounded by picturesque lakes and mountains.  

The amenities are extensive with a game room, outdoor hot tub, TV, internet, and the chance to craft evening cocktails at the built-in bar while someone strikes up a suitably suave tune on the piano.  

Venture beyond the compound and find the scenic links of Aspen Lakes Golf Course a mile away, and the HooDoo Ski Area is 25 miles away.

Vineyard chalet in Oregon

Chardonnay Chalet at the Vineyard in Roseburg, Oregon
Enjoy a complimentary bottle of wine that welcomes you to this picturesque vineyard chalet.

Book this Oregon chalet on Airbnb

The vast expanses of the Pacific Northwest are laid out before guests at this remote chalet, some 90 miles south of Eugene. Tens of acres of wine country surround the property, with vineyards and hills transporting visitors to an idyllic setting akin to Tuscany or the South of France. 

The vines may be decades old, but the property is modern with polished wooden floors and windows that show off the picture-postcard surroundings. Oenophiles will love the location and touches such as the wine barrel vanity, and there’s also a rain shower, fast Wi-Fi, fresh eggs from the on-site chickens, and of course, a bottle of wine to welcome you.

A charming woodsy cabin in Oklahoma

remote Oklahoma cabin
Get cozy near multiple stone fireplaces throughout this lavish cabin.

Book this Oklahoma Cabin on Airbnb

Tucked within the pine trees of Eagle Mountain, this remote woodsy cabin boasts luxurious touches with midcentury modern furniture and elongated windows that frame enthralling views of the surrounding lush forest. 

The stocked kitchen has sleek black cabinets and appliances, while an indoor fireplace keeps things cozy alongside an outdoor gas fireplace and hot tub.

One bedroom with a sultry soaking tub makes this an ideal pick for a romantic getaway, though there are also twin air mattresses available should you want to book this home for a small family or group.

Cabin on a private reservoir in Montana

This backwoods log cabin is nestled along a private reservoir and comes with a kayak to use.

Book this Montana cabin on Vrbo

Equidistant between the National Parks of Helena-Lewis and Clark and River Breaks, there’s a real frontier feel to this home, which enjoys a coveted spot overlooking its own reservoir, almost four miles outside of Lewistown.

The property makes for a sweet angler’s getaway with plum fishing spots along the nearby waterways. 

The cabin itself is comprised of elaborate wooden interiors bedecked with animal hides and wood-burning amenities for a strong rural ambiance. Fire up the grill on the large deck and trade fishing tales as you cook up the catch of the day. There’s little phone coverage, and no internet, so trade being online for days out paddling with the included kayak.

A log cabin on the river in Colorado

Warm up with this exquisite log cabin’s hot tub or fire pit after a day of skiing at nearby Eldora Mountain.

Book this Colorado cabin on Airbnb

A set designer for a movie would be hard-pressed to come up with a more classic log cabin-looking property than this two-bedroom delight in the heights of Black Hawk, Colorado.

The sense of seclusion is palpable, though within 15 minutes you can drive to the nearby town of Nederland or the Eldora Mountain ski resort. 

The handsome, sturdy log structure is built onto a gentle, lush green hillside. Gather on the deck around the fire pit while steam gently rises from the outdoor hot tub. 

The smell of timber fills the interior, and the place comes fully loaded with modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi, cable TV, a music system, as well as a wood-burning fire, games, and an irresistible hammock. 

Mountain tree house in the forest in California

Big Bear Treehouse in Big Bear, California
This luxe treehouse has scenic forest views and bright sunlight that pours in from huge picture windows.

Book this California tree house on Airbnb

To call this home a tree house feels like underselling the property somewhat, as it falls more within the luxury cabin arena. Surrounded by trees outside Big Bear, the town and ski resorts are around a 15-minute drive away, and the National Forest is right there as you open the curtains. 

Huge picture windows allow scenery and daylight to flood the living spaces, and vaulted ceilings open the home up in dramatic fashion. Hardwood floors, wooden panels, and exposed beams create a chalet-like ambiance, while the furniture shows off the hosts’ flawless taste with an elegant, midcentury modern theme.

A statement stone fireplace keeps things warm in winter, while outside a propane grill and wraparound balcony invites you to linger.

A charming yurt on a farmstead in Colorado

Indulge in ranch life at this Mongolian-style yurt.

Book this Colorado yurt on Airbnb

Views of stunning Mount Sopris and 110 acres of seclusion await up to four guests at this impressive glamping yurt.

The Mongolian-style yurt offers the right balance of adventure and comfort, with a supremely commodious, wood-framed canopy under which to sleep. The space feels akin to something from a period drama but comes with Wi-Fi, a kitchen, and a bathroom (with a piping hot shower) that won’t test anyone’s standards of comfort too stringently. 

Ranch life here comes with its own array of amenities beyond the space and scenery, mostly in the form of fresh food from the farm owners, including, but not limited to, eggs, milk, poultry, and cuts of meat for your barbecuing pleasure. 

There are hiking paths up through the neighboring National Forest, and if you don’t bring your own horse (which you are encouraged to) then you can rent one and hit those dusty trails. Private stargazing sessions and alpaca yoga add to an enticing menu of activities. 

See more of the best yurt rentals in the US

Farmhouse on 100 acres in Pennsylvania

Farm House on 100 Acre Farm in Lititz, Pennsylvania
This bright red farmhouse is 15 minutes from a charming colonial area once known as America’s coolest small town.

Book this Pennsylvania farmhouse on Airbnb

It’s hard to imagine a cuter farmhouse than this bright red beauty set on 100 acres of land in the rolling Pennsylvania countryside. There are a few small villages within striking distance, but tiny Lititz is an 18th-century hamlet that was named “America’s Coolest Small Town” in 2013 by Budget Travel and is only 15 minutes away.

Inside the Hopeland Farm Red House, modern windows and doors mix with vintage furniture and midcentury pieces for an updated yet rustic look. Old wood burners and an antique piano are complemented by abstract art and abundant daylight.

Enjoy farm life here where your only neighbors will be chickens and ducks on your way to buy vegetables and eggs from the hosts. 

Dog-friendly retreat in Texas

Dog friendly, 104 acres retreat in Blanco, Texas
Set on 104 gorgeous acres of land with ponds, this spacious home is a good pick for those looking to bring pets along.

Book this Texas home on Airbnb

You have to zoom out pretty far on your phone’s map feature to see the closest places to this exceptional Texas ranch house. Blanco, a good 15 minutes by car, is technically a city, but with a population of around 1,700 people, it’s more of a sleepy little town where people come to fish and buy lavender. 

This home spreads out on a whopping 104 acres and on-site ponds and the nearby Blanco River add to the scenic environs, the latter being great for fishing and tubing.

The house, which welcomes pets, is awash with daylight thanks to huge windows and striking vaulted ceilings. A casual contemporary look includes stone fireplaces, mounted hunting trophies, high-end leather sofas and armchairs, as well as granite worktops and stainless steel appliances. Have a cook-out under those huge skies with the grill and outdoor dining area. 

Large lakefront home in Maine

This expansive lakefront home has spectacular views of Graham Lake.

Book this lakefront home in Maine on Vrbo

This delightful lakefront house can welcome up to 17 people with almost 4,000 square feet to sprawl out. There’s also plenty of room to claim for yourself outside amid the natural expanse of Hardwood Hill Island Nature Preserve and nearby Acadia National Park. Graham Lake sits right outside, as well.

The house has multiple large living areas and plenty of amenities for group meals, both indoor and out. There’s also Wi-Fi and the home comes with its own dock and kayaks to get out on the water. 

Home with a lake and pool in New York

Sackett & Van Dam Guest House in Red Hook, New York
Dip into this farmhouse’s private lake or saltwater pool for a refreshing escape.

Book this Red Hook house on Airbnb

Red Hook itself isn’t much more than a village, just north of Poughkeepsie in Upstate New York, two hours from Manhattan.

This wonderful farmhouse is a good 10-minute drive from even that small development, along remote country lanes. Its sprawling 120 acres will deliver a serious dose of isolated tranquility, and the land contains both a private lake and a saltwater pool. 

The house itself is a beautifully converted red brick barn, with wooden beamed ceilings and a contemporary look that you might more associate with an urban warehouse. Polished wooden floors, reclaimed wood furnishings, and sleek top-of-the-range appliances fill the open-plan living space.

Open the curtains each morning to admire sun-drenched paddocks, or in the winter, there’s snow-shoeing or skiing nearby. Guests can hike, bike, and buy fresh eggs year-round.  

A secluded tree house in Montana

best treehouse rentals montana (1)
A mesmerizing spiral staircase wraps around a Douglas fir tree that grows through this dream tree house.

Book this Montana tree house on Vrbo

On seven acres of private woods, this two-story tree house is unique and plenty remote while still featuring creature comforts like two decks, a breakfast nook with a handmade wooden bar, fast Wi-Fi, and plush bathrobes.

The showstopping piece is a spiral staircase custom crafted around a Douglas fir tree that grows right through the home. There is one true bedroom, but the house can sleep up to four guests thanks to padded seating areas that double as extra sleeping space.

While secluded, the location is close to the entrance of Glacier National Park and the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort.

FAQ: Remote vacation spots

How can I find remote rentals near me?

Most remote cabins and vacation rentals are located amid forests, deserts, woodlands, and national parks. They balance the feeling of being remote with vehicle access to shops and gas stations, etc, within 30 minutes drive or so. This might mean it is near a city or a village, but we looked for properties that are largely set on their own grounds for a strong sense of isolation. 

Search on places like Airbnb, TurnKey, and Vrbo in small towns and remote settings well outside major cities. The best way to do this is to select an area, and then search listings by map view.

What kind of facilities do remote homes have? 

Remote vacation rental facilities vary — some have Wi-Fi and air conditioning, whereas others are more like an elevated camping situation with shared bathrooms and showers.

We included a wide selection as people have differing levels of how off-grid they want to get. 

Many remote homes are located in delicate environments so be sure to check the listing carefully when you book. Hosts will have listed the specific requirements, for example, if you can cook outdoors, and you may incur extra costs if you do not comply with these rules. 

What should I pack with me? 

Check the more detailed listings via the links to the property pages and see what the hosts suggest, especially as to whether they supply linens, towels, and kitchen essentials.

Where can Americans travel right now?

The CDC recently said people who are vaccinated can travel safely within the US. However, there are certain countries where Americans can travel without restrictive entry requirements.

Are vacation rentals safe?

If you’re wondering whether vacation rentals such as Airbnbs are safe, we spoke with experts who said staying at a private vacation rental, as opposed to a hotel may actually be one of the safer travel options, because booking an entire house eliminates interactions with hosts or other guests.

Airbnb also implemented new procedures and cleaning policies, which all hosts must follow.  

How we chose the best remote vacation rentals

  1. The vacation rental is for the entire home in line with social distancing guidelines.
  2. Homes are located in remote settings amid mountains, woodlands, lakes, deserts, and national parks, surrounded by nature but with access to nearby towns or villages for supply runs.
  3. All properties are highly-rated listings with a minimum past guest rating of 4.5 out of 5.0. 
  4. Vacation rentals boast unique features such as interesting architecture ranging from simple adobe huts to deluxe compounds, as well as inviting decor, and plush amenities (think pools, hot tubs, and great outdoor space).
  5. Prices start between $99 and $499 per night to accommodate a wide variety of budgets and group sizes.
  6. All of the properties adhere to strict COVID-19 cleaning policies.
  7. All of the properties have availability to book over the coming weeks or months, as of publishing. 

More great vacation rentals to safely enjoy the outdoors

best national park vacation rentals joshua tree
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I tried Bright Cellars, the wine club all over your social media ads – out of the dozen wine clubs I’ve tested, it’s one of the best

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

four bottles of red and white wine in a blue box from bright cellars for bright cellars review 2021
  • Wine club Bright Cellars delivers on-point wine recs along with helpful educational resources.
  • It also has a great rewards system that saves you money on more wine in the future.
  • See also: The best wine clubs

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

This content is intended for readers 21+. Please drink responsibly. If you or anyone you know is dealing with alcohol abuse, get help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) provides a free, confidential, 24/7, treatment referral, and information service.

Wine Club (4 bottles) (small)

If you’ve ever been hounded by ads from Bright Cellars, then you know that it’s a wine club created by two MIT grads. But what is Bright Cellars beyond the catchy marketing?

Having tested a dozen other wine clubs by now, including Winc, Firstleaf, and Picked by, I tried Bright Cellars with a healthy skepticism of what more it could bring to the table.

Related Article Module: The 6 best wine subscriptions we tested in 2021

Truthfully, it does have a lot of similarities to other wine clubs, including the use of algorithms to match you with wines, a wine-rating system, and dangerously convenient delivery. But as I discovered once I received my first box, Bright Cellars also has some unique features that make it stand out in an already crowded space.

How Bright Cellars works

As a new user, you’ll start by taking a quiz that asks about your preferences and tastes. It includes questions about the kinds of flavors you like, the type of wine you usually buy, and what kinds of wines you want to discover more of.

Then, you just sit back and wait for your wine to arrive. Bright Cellars sends four bottles every month for $80, plus $8 shipping. You can also adjust your subscription frequency to bi-monthly or quarterly shipments if you don’t need that much wine every single month. If at any point you want to cancel your subscription, it’s easy to do so in your account settings.

After you’ve sampled your wines, go back to your online account to rate your wines, jot down your impressions, or review the tasting notes. Bright Cellars will take your ratings into account when it’s putting together your next box of wine. Then, you simply repeat this process, receiving, sampling, and rating wines and getting a better sense of the wines you actually enjoy.

In addition to funneling your various data points into its algorithm, Bright Cellars has a few in-house wine pros, including a certified sommelier, who help curate the batch of wine that your next shipment will be chosen from.

screenshot of the wine ranking system for bright cellars wine club review 2021

One area where Bright Cellars is stronger than other wine clubs is its member rewards program. You can earn points through activities like referring a friend to the platform, giving a gift, repurchasing wine from your monthly box, and rating your matches. The points can be redeemed for corkscrews or more wine. Through this system, you can get freebies by doing things you were probably going to do anyway.

Bright Cellars review

I tried Bright Cellars for myself to show you what you can expect when you join the membership.

The process throughout was smooth, from taking the quiz to receiving and trying my wines.

In the taste quiz, which asked questions like what kind of chocolate, tea, and juice I liked, all my answers pointed to sweet, rich, and citrus-y flavors. I also said I liked mostly white wines but was open to trying an interesting red.

Once my first shipment was on its way, I received timely notifications by text about the delivery progress, including when it was officially delivered to my downstairs lobby.

The wines were safely packed in a cardboard box, with thick and sturdy dividers. Also included in the box was a small booklet explaining wine basics like how to open and store your wine, as well as individual, beautifully illustrated info cards explaining each wine’s tasting notes.

front and back views of the tasting note info cards from bright cellars wine club review 2021

I loved the packaging and presentation of the wines, and I enjoyed trying them all even more. Matching my penchant for floral and citrus flavors, there was a Riesling that had notes of tangerine, peach, and jasmine. In addition, I was introduced to Verdejo, an herbaceous wine made with grapes only grown in a small region of Spain. It definitely felt like the service listened to my preferences – including my request for a lineup of mostly white wine – while also giving me new and interesting wines to try.

I have a much better sense of the different varietals, techniques for tasting wine, and other wine knowledge than when I first started my wine education a couple of years ago, but I still found Bright Cellars’ informative tasting cards and online resources to be very useful.

One aspect I wish could be improved is the wine reordering process. Once you realize you love a wine, you have the option to re-purchase it, but only in quantities of four, six, or 12 bottles. Personally, I’ve yet to try a wine I loved so much that I wanted an additional four (at least) bottles, but maybe that’s just me. If I could simply re-purchase one or two extra bottles, then I’d be even happier with the service.

The bottom line

Even if you’re not a total beginner, Bright Cellars still brings a lot of convenience and an unpretentious attitude to the world of wine. And if you are a beginner, then Bright Cellars is one of the best wine clubs to help you develop your palate, without spending too much money.

Pros: Dynamic rating system, fair price point, reliable delivery, strong rewards program

Cons: Can only repurchase favorite wines in large quantities

Wine Club (4 bottles) (small)

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The Elvie wearable breast pump transformed my life as a nursing mom – it reduced my pumping time and I could use it while running errands

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The Elvie Pump is a hands-free breast pump without any cords, wires, or tubes.
  • This wearable breast pump was a life-changing purchase after my baby struggled to breastfeed.
  • For the convenience, I bought the Elvie Pump Double, but you can also purchase a single pump.

person wearing Elvie pump in bra
The Elvie Pump comfortably fits within a bra, allowing you to pump without cords or tubes.

When my daughter was born prematurely, feeding her was a challenge. She couldn’t seem to get the hang of breastfeeding, so I pumped in the hospital during her stay in the NICU and continued to try to nurse her at home without much success.

Every day and night soon became an exhausting blur of trying to nurse her, then pumping, then feeding her the expressed breast milk. After about a week of this, I broke down and spent $500 on the Elvie Pump Double – the first wearable, hands-free breast pump I’ve ever owned.

Turns out, it’s exactly what I needed.

Our Elvie Pump review

I went from spending hours pumping, tied to a wall, to being able to hold my baby during pumping sessions, or make breakfast for my other kids, or drive them to school.

I’ve been using the Elvie Pump successfully for the past four months. Here’s my experience with it, and why I think it’s worth considering this wearable electric breast pump.

Elvie Double Pump units being charged with USB cables
The all-in-one seamless units are powered by rechargeable lithium-polymer batteries.

Design and specs

I opted for the Elvie Pump Double, but you can also buy the single – the only difference is that you get one pump instead of two.

The pump is an all-in-one seamless unit that easily fits in your bra. The design is sleek and minimal, with simple, straightforward controls.

Each unit consists of three parts: 1) the Hub, which houses the electronics and actual pumping apparatus, 2) the detachable milk bottle with spout and valve, and 3) the breast shield and seal that houses your nipple and breast.

What’s included with the Elvie Pump Double

  • 2 Hubs
  • 4 5-ounce milk bottles with storage lids – all BPA free and dishwasher-safe
  • 4 seals, 4 spouts, 4 valves
  • 2 24mm breast shields and 2 28mm breast shields.
  • 4 bra adjusters
  • 2 micro USB charging cables
  • 2-year warranty for the Hub, 90-day warranty for the washable parts
  • 2 carry bags

Key features

  • 2 modes (stimulation and expression) and 7 suction intensity settings
  • Infrared (IR) energy sensor monitors milk volume in the bottle
  • Automatically starts in stimulation mode and switches to expression mode after two minutes or if the sensor detects let-down
  • Sensor detects when the milk container is full and automatically stops pumping
  • Free app links to each pump through Bluetooth so you can actively monitor milk while pumping, see your stats for past sessions, and check output levels. The app also works as a remote to start or pause pumping, switch intensity settings, and change to expression or stimulation mode.
  • Manual controls on each pump to start and pause pumping and change intensity levels
  • Though it’s marketed as a “silent” breast pump, the sound is noticeable – though significantly quieter than other pumps.
  • FSA/HSA funds-compatible and reimbursable by many insurance companies

What it’s like to use the Elvie Pump

Out of the box, it took me less than a half-hour to get everything set up. Both pumps were fully charged in about two hours.

The first time I used the Elvie, it took me a few tries to get the nipple alignment right, but now I can literally assemble and place it on in the dark. When I started pumping, it felt too good to be true. Compared to the traditional electric breast pump I’d been using, the Elvie felt downright invisible.

Elvie Double Pump shown front and back

It’s incredibly effective. I went from pumping for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours to pumping a full feeding of 5 ounces on each breast in around five minutes. While I prefer to use the manual controls on the Hub, the app is handy if you need to switch back and forth between stimulation and expression modes, which cannot be controlled manually.

One of the most clever features is the IR energy sensor that automatically pauses pumping when the milk container is full. Knowing I can just pop the pump in and let it do the rest has been invaluable. It’s also easy to switch out the milk container when pumping is paused and the easy-pour spout prevents messes. I also like that you can easily see the milk container on the Elvie (unlike the Willow Pump), so I can peek to make sure the milk is actually flowing and readjust the pump or settings to ensure milk flow.

The battery charge lasts me through almost a whole day of pumping, which is typically four times a day.

How to clean the Elvie Pump

Aside from the Hub, everything is dishwasher safe on the top rack or can be cleaned and sterilized in boiling water or a microwave sterilizer. Just make sure all of the parts are completely dry before using them again – I’ve found that if the breast shield seals are even slightly wet, it will affect the suction.

Elvie Double Pump parts laid out after cleaning
Aside from the Hub apparatus, I can conveniently wash all parts in the dishwasher.

The Hub itself should only be wiped clean with a damp cloth. I occasionally have some milk splash up onto the Hub and into its crevices but have found a soft toothbrush works to gently remove any dried milk.

Notes on milk overflow

Initially, I had some issues with milk overflow. Milk would back up into the plastic on the Hub, making it difficult to clean. After reaching out to customer service via email, I learned the brand released a firmware upgrade (1.7.0) in October 2019 to improve the milk volume algorithm and increase the accuracy of the overflow sensor. Since upgrading my firmware, my overflow issue has completely resolved.

If users experience overflow, aside from getting in touch with customer service, the representative suggested wearing a dark-colored bra or shirt, as the color contrast helps the auto-sensor detect the lighter-colored milk.

Data privacy

A company representative said all data is kept totally private and not shared with third parties. Their website provides full details on how the data is stored anonymously. If you choose to operate the pumps manually without the app, be sure to open it periodically to check for software updates.

The cons

the lights of the elvie pump show throw lighter colored shirts
The Elvie Pump isn’t completely discreet, a minor con for me.

The downsides are very small in relation to how much I love this pump. I wish it came with a sturdy carrying case instead of two small velvet-like drawstring bags that aren’t at all practical for carrying the pumps.

Second, the Elvie isn’t completely discreet. The pumping sound and the lights on the hub – which can’t be turned off – are definitely noticeable. The lights shine through most of my shirts, and while it’s a lot quieter than any other pump I’ve used, if you’ve ever pumped before and happen to be sitting near me, you’ll definitely know what’s going on. I’d feel comfortable using it in a noisier location where the sound would be masked, but not in a quiet setting.

The bottom line

If you’ll be pumping for any regular amount of time, the Elvie wearable breast pump is worth the investment. It truly gave me my life back, taking the hour-long feeding process with my baby down to minutes and giving me the freedom to pump on the go. I can enjoy the extra time I have with my baby and provide her with breast milk with confidence – a win-win.

If it’s within your budget, I recommend getting the Elvie Pump Double, for convenience’s sake. However, a single pump is fast and efficient enough that you could get away with simply switching sides to pump both breasts.

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This Casper mattress helps relieve my lower back issues with its firm feel and strong edge support

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Casper Hybrid Mattress

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyOriginal Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (small)

As our resident sleep reporter, I’ve tested dozens of mattresses, including almost every mattresses available from bed-in-a-box startup Casper.

Related Article Module: The best mattress in 2021 for every sleeper in any budget

Each mattress has its benefits, but one of my favorites is the Casper Original, which comes in an all-foam version and a hybrid version. We reviewed the all-foam Original mattress here, but if you’re not a fan of all-foam mattresses, you might appreciate the Original Hybrid more.


Casper Lifestyle 1

In addition to individually-wrapped springs, the Casper Original Hybrid has three layers of foam. The top “Airscape” layer is made of perforated breathable foam designed to promote airflow for a cooler sleep. The foam conforms to your body to relieve pressure. The memory foam middle layer offers zoned support for targeted relief – softer under the shoulders and firm around the waist, lower back, and hips. And the base provides a firm border around the coils for better edge support.

All of the foam used in the Original Hybrid is CertiPUR-US certified and is made without ozone-depleting materials. The cover also is made of lycra, rayon, upcycled cotton, and recycled polyester (which is partially composed of recycled bottles).

There are brick-and-mortar Casper stores in every major city around the nation, though stores have implemented some changes due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, so we suggest calling ahead. You can also visit certain Target locations that sell Casper mattresses, but we suggest calling ahead as well.

Setup process

Casper Lifestyle 2

Setup is fairly straightforward and uniform across all Casper mattresses. You open the top of the large box, where you will find a manual that gives you basic guidance in unboxing your mattress. The whole process took about five minutes.

Since they have the added heft of metal coils, hybrid beds tend to be heavier than their all-foam counterparts. And, the Original Hybrid is no different weighing in at 91 pounds and pushing 100 pounds with its packaging. Still, it’s lighter than other hybrids I’ve tested, which helped with moving it around. However, it did seem to bend easily so repositioning and rotating it was not effortless. I strongly recommend having a friend help you with the unboxing process.

If you’d like professional help, you can choose an in-home setup. Casper will set up your bed in the room of your choice for a fee. The company also removes the packaging along with your old mattress and/or foundation if you want.

What makes the mattress stand out

Casper Lifestyle 4

The only way to find out if a mattress is right for you is to sleep on it. Experts recommend giving it 14 nights, and the mattress companies usually suggest at least 30 nights. Because of this, a risk-free home trial is essential. Fortunately, you can try out Casper’s mattresses for 100 nights.

If you don’t like your mattress, you can contact Casper during the trial period and let them know. The company will coordinate with a local charity or recycling center to come to remove it. Within two weeks, you will get a full refund. And, they don’t take any restocking, shipping, or other hidden fees out of your refund.

Right off the bat, I was impressed with the attractive appearance and comfortable feel of the bed. I also liked that it had some good bounce to it.

The Casper Original Hybrid is slightly firmer than your average mattress. This makes it ideal for back and stomach sleepers. And, I did find that sleeping on my stomach was more comfortable than my side, but sleeping on my side wasn’t bad. I’m a heavier person so extra support is a must. Firmer mattresses are also better for people who suffer from chronic back pain. I have intermittent lower back issues, and while testing this mattress, there was no pain.

The Original Hybrid does an okay job of removing heat for a cool sleep. I’m a hot sleeper, and during testing, I didn’t feel particularly cool or hot. Though after getting up to go to the bathroom in the night, I could still feel some trapped body heat when I returned.

But, the Original Hybrid has the upper hand when it comes to edge support. I can lay on the very edge of the bed and not feel like I am going to fall off, and the sagging is minimal when I sit on the side. This also makes it easier for me to get out of bed in the morning.

The Original Hybrid and all Casper mattresses are backed by a 10-year limited warranty. The company will either fix or entirely replace your bed if it exhibits physical flaws, manufacturing defects, deterioration, or major indentations. For the warranty to be valid, you must use your mattress “normally,” handle it properly, and use a supportive foundation.

Cons to consider

A Casper mattress in a dark bedroom

The Original Hybrid has poor motion isolation. In addition to my own subjective experience, I tested the mattress by placing a 12-ounce can of pop on the mattress and dropped a 15-pound bowling ball from above the bed so it landing 12 inches from the can. The can stays upright on mattresses with excellent motion dampening. With the Original Hybrid, the can fell over every time, even when I moved the impact point to 18 inches away.

Right away, I noticed the “new bed smell” commonly found in foam mattresses when they are first removed from their vacuum seal. For this reason, I recommend unboxing mattresses early in the morning so you can give them time to expand and air out before bedtime. Unfortunately, this was not enough for the Original Hybrid, which needed a few days to get rid of its odor.

The bottom line

Casper Lifestyle 3

I was impressed with the Casper Original Hybrid. I liked it even more than its predecessor. Despite the poor motion dampening, the firm support helped my back and the bounce helps with mobility. And, when pets or my wife start to crowd me, the edge support keeps me on board. I would have liked to have seen better heat dissipation, but the bed didn’t sleep too hot.

I’d recommend this option if you are a stomach or back sleeper, back pain sufferer, or if you are a heavier individual who likes to sleep on your side. However, I’d suggest a bed with better motion isolation if you sleep with someone who moves around and jostles you awake in the night.

Still, the price is reasonable for a hybrid mattress, and Casper offers buying options that start at 0% APR.

Lastly, if you want to steer clear of Casper or just see what else is out there, check out our guide to the best mattresses. The guide is based on rigorous testing of dozens of models.

Pros: 11 inches thick with three pressure-relieving foam layers and supportive coils, great for back and stomach sleepers, terrific edge support, 100-night risk-free trial

Cons: Failed motion transfer tests, took a while for the new bed smell to dissipate

Original Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (button)

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I’ve tested more than a dozen air fryers and this is one of my favorites

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Cosori Smart WiFi air fryer use
The Cosori Smart WiFi air fryer connects with an app.

  • A high-quality air fryer browns food quickly using minimal oil.
  • The Cosori Smart WiFi Air Fryer is dishwasher safe, cooks quickly, and is Wi-Fi-connected, though I didn’t find this feature as useful as it could be.
  • If you’re looking for more options, check out our guide to the best air fryers.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickySmart Wi-Fi Air Fryer (small)Related Article Module: The 5 best air fryers we tested in 2021

An air fryer is essentially an energy-efficient, fast-cooking convection oven that fits on your counter. They’re relatively affordable and convenient to use, making them especially helpful in apartments and small spaces. They use heated air to produce the Maillard reaction that gives deep-fried food its distinct browned exterior while keeping the insides moist. Air fryers do this with a fraction of the oil, making them a healthier alternative to the deep fryer.

Though air fryers have been on the market for a decade, they still require you to manually set the cook time. I tested the Cosori Smart WiFi Air Fryer, which has Wi-Fi connectivity for a more convenient way to cook.

Design and specs

cosori air fryer

The Cosori Smart WiFi Air Fryer is Alexa- and Wi-Fi-enabled through the VeSync app available from Google Play and the App Store. This gives you remote control of the appliance, intelligent monitoring, delayed start, and access to more than 100 recipes.

Though it has a relatively large footprint – 13 inches high by 11 inches deep by 11 inches wide with a drawer handle that juts out two inches – the Cosori WiFi-enabled air fryer has a spacious 5.8-quart interior that can fit up to 6 pounds of food. Plus, the unit fits easily under most cupboards.

The air fryer has a temperature range of 170 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and features 11 presets for cooking seafood, desserts, bacon, frozen foods, and more. The timer runs for up to 60 minutes, which should be more than enough for most uses. About halfway through cooking, a light pops on to remind you to shake the food in the basket for even cooking. Or, you can choose to receive a notification on your phone.

Setup process

Within 10 minutes of opening the box, I was making tater tots using my phone. The setup process is painless and intuitive. You just remove the packaging, wash the drawer and basket, plug the unit in, download the VeSync app, and connect to the air fryer. The whole process was seamless, and I didn’t hit any hitches, which is impressive since smart devices occasionally have trouble connecting or require lengthy firmware updates.

Our review of the Cosori Smart WiFi Air Fryer

As you’ve gathered by now, the Cosori Smart WiFi Air Fryer is unique in that it’s supported by the VeSync app that connects to the appliance over Wi-Fi. The app has dozens of recipes for breakfast foods, appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts. Once you select a recipe, the app gives you step by step instructions for making the meal, including controlling the air fryer when appropriate.

Within the app, you can access the history of recipes you’ve made and save your favorites. When your meal is done cooking, the VeSync app sends your smart device notifications to let you know.

Another smart feature is the ability to plan your meal up to four hours in advance. So, provided the ingredients remain safe at room temperature, you can load your creation into the basket and set the air fryer to cook at a later time.

There are a few recipes I use to test how well an air fryer works. First, the toast test tells me how evenly and quickly the air fryer cooks. I simply place a slice of bread in the air fryer and check on it every minute. In this test, the bread was evenly toasted and ready to eat after four minutes, which is very good.

Next, I made two pounds of French fries from scratch using Yukon gold potatoes. After 30 minutes of cooking, the fries were crispy and golden. My kindergartener couldn’t get enough of them.

The third recipe is blackened chicken. I rub Cajun seasoning on two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and air fry them. I keep wireless probe thermometers in the breasts so I immediately know when they’re done. After 25 minutes, the internal temperature was safe. And, the chicken was moist and juicy.

Another sign that an air fryer works efficiently is that the exterior stays cool to the touch while cooking. This was certainly the case with the Cosori air fryer. The only spot that felt hot was by the vent in the back. Other than that, the appliance appeared to be using all of the heat it produced to cook my meal.

Though I generally handwash kitchen items to increase their lifespan, I just don’t have the time and energy sometimes. I like that I can pop the basket and drawer of the Cosori Smart WiFi Air Fryer into the dishwasher. And, when I’m inspired, washing these components by hand is also a breeze.

Cons to consider

Call me a Luddite, but I found the voice control to be overkill. It’s kind of fun to command my smart thermostat to tell my air fryer to start/stop cooking, but in my time testing the Cosori unit, I never felt the need to control it vocally.

While the app had useful recipes and the remote functions worked as advertised, I didn’t find the remote cooking features all that useful. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have these features at your disposal for those rare circumstances when they might help, especially considering the virtually identical “non-smart” Cosori Air Fryer costs just as much. If you happen to see that that non-smart version is less expensive, I’d recommend that one instead.

Manually setting the time and temperature on the Cosori could be a pain. I don’t like that there’s a button for toggling between time and temperature. This was done so that the same plus and minus buttons could be used to adjust both settings, but I found it to be an inconvenience.

The bottom line

Cosori Smart WiFi air fryer tray handle
Cosori Smart WiFi air fryer tray handle is easy to grip.

Despite these negatives, we think the Cosori Smart WiFi Air Fryer is an excellent appliance for fast, efficient cooking of healthy meals. The middle-of-the-pack price tag is more than worth it for the capacity and high-end features.

Unless you are a major techie and need to have the latest smart home gadgets, I wouldn’t recommend buying this exclusively for the Wi-Fi connectivity. I see limited use-cases for smart features. However, this is still an outstanding air fryer at a reasonable price and I would recommend it to anyone interested in trying a healthier alternative to deep-frying.

Pros: Wi-Fi-connected, Alexa-enabled, dishwasher-safe, large capacity, many safety features, cooks quickly

Cons: Manual operation is sometimes a pain

Smart Wi-Fi Air Fryer (button)

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Google’s Pixel 5a 5G is the perfect phone for anyone looking to spend under $500

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Google’s $450 Pixel 5a 5G is the best mid-range smartphone under $500.
  • It has the best balance of performance, camera quality, and value among every phone we’ve tested.
  • In my experience, paying more for a premium phone results in rapidly diminishing returns – the Pixel 5a 5G fixes that problem.

Google Pixel 5a thumbnail 4x3

Pixel 5a 5G (small)

At first glance, Google’s Pixel 5a 5G seems nearly identical to last year’s Pixel 4a 5G – it looks the same, has identical performance specs, and the same cameras.

That’s not a bad thing at all. The generic design means less divisive opinions about the way it looks, and the performance hardware didn’t need upgrading.

The differences are subtle and important. For one, the Pixel 5a 5G is $50 cheaper than the Pixel 4a 5G. And most importantly, it has a significantly larger battery, resulting in superb battery life.

The result is a phone that one could argue is “perfect.” It looks “universal,” it runs well, it has excellent cameras, it has long battery life, and it’s affordable. I couldn’t find anything to complain about while testing out this phone.


Google Pixel 5a 5G Specifications
Display 6.34 FHD (2,400 x 1,080) OLED
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Memory and storage 6GB RAM, 128GB storage
Rear cameras 12-megapixel wide, 16-megapixel ultra-wide
Selfie camera 8-megapixel
Battery 4,680mAh, 18W charger included
Water resistance IP67
5G Connectivity Sub6 5G

Design and display

Google’s Pixel 5a 5G is confidently bland and inoffensive – you can’t say it’s ugly or beautiful. The Pixel 5a 5G’s metal unibody design ensures that it looks and feels closer to a premium phone than mid-rangers usually adorned in plastic. Save for the display and buttons, it’s all metal, and it feels solid and durable. It’s also rated at an IP67 water resistance, which is unusual for mid-rangers.

Google Pixel 5a back
The Google Pixel 5a 5G’s metal back in the “mostly black” color, which actually has the slightest hint of dark green.

Google only offers the Pixel 5a 5G in a color the company calls “mostly black,” which actually has a slight greenish tint to it. And that’s fine – you add a splash of color with a case, or keep its ultra-generic profile without one.

Just a few years ago, the Pixel 5a 5G’s 6.34-inch OLED display with 1080p resolution wouldn’t feel out of place in a premium phone that cost twice as much. Today, we’d expect expensive premium phones to come with a high-refresh rate screen for that buttery-smooth experience, but it’s not expected at the Pixel 5a 5G’s price point. Some mid-rangers, like the Galaxy A52, have higher refresh-rate screens, but that luxury usually comes with a compromise, like performance or camera quality. And as I elaborate below, the Pixel 5a 5G does not compromise on performance or camera quality.

Performance and battery life

The Pixel 5a 5G‘s specifications, performance, and price hit the ultimate sweet spot for phones available in the US. Only Apple’s iPhone SE beats the Pixel 5a 5G in terms of value and performance, but the Pixel 5a 5G’s superior camera quality, not to mention its design and battery life, sends the Pixel 5a 5G into another league entirely, but more on that later.

To be sure, the Snapdragon 765G turning the wheels in the Pixel 5a 5G isn’t quite as snappy or smooth as more powerful processors, like the Snapdragon 888 you’d find in premium phones that cost twice as much. Still, the Pixel 5a 5G is pretty speedy, and it’s hard to argue that the premium performance gains are worth twice as much.

Our usual benchmarking tool, Geekbench 5, wasn’t available on the Pixel 5a 5G at the time of writing. However, the Pixel 5a 5G has the same performance specs as the previous Pixel 4a 5G, and even the “flagship” Pixel 5 that cost $700 at launch. With that in mind, we can extrapolate that the Pixel 5a 5G would score around 590 for single-core performance, and around 1,630 for multi-core performance.

Google Pixel 5a camera
The Google Pixel 5a 5G’s camera module, which contains a wide and ultra-wide lens.

Strangely, those are lower scores than the $400 Galaxy A42, which runs on the Snapdragon 750G that scored around 640 for single-core performance, and 1,865 for multi-core. However, despite those scores, the Pixel 5a 5G and the Snapdragon 765G run noticeably more reliably and smoother than the Galaxy A42. It’s a perfect example that benchmark scores don’t tell the whole story.

The phone’s battery life is truly excellent. It lasted 14 hours and 45 minutes in our standard battery test, wherein we stream a video at full screen brightness, and at the 1080p resolution supported by the screen. That’s over an hour more than the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy S21 lasted in the same test, and two hours longer than the iPhone 12’s 12 hours.

While we’re on the topic of battery life, it’s worth mentioning that the Pixel 5a 5G comes with a charger – you have to pay extra for a charger these days if you’re spending over $700 on a premium phone. The 18W charger is nothing special in terms of charging speed, but it’s faster than the 15W charger you get with Samsung’s A42 and A52.


The Pixel 5a 5G has – by a long way – the best cameras on a phone that costs under $500. The Pixel 5a 5G can even compete in the big leagues alongside premium phones, too. Only the Apple iPhone SE competes in this price range, but it only has a single lens, while the Pixel 5a 5G is more versatile with its standard wide lens and ultra-wide lens.

Google Pixel 5a main wide camera
A photo of a barn taken with the Pixel 5a 5G’s main wide camera.

Google Pixel 5a ultra-wide camera
A photo of a barn taken with the Pixel 5a 5G’s ultra-wide camera.

The photos above taken with the Pixel 5a 5G‘s main and ultra-wide cameras with mixed lighting put the phone’s HDR, colors, and clarity to the test, and it excels beautifully in all three aspects.

Pixel 5a 5G 2x zoom camera
A photo of a barn taken with the Pixel 5a 5G’s 2x zoom feature.

The Pixel 5a 5G doesn’t have a zoom lens, but the camera has a 2x zoom button that zooms in using the main camera lens. The result is still surprisingly good, with plenty of detail and clarity, despite the fact that zooming is achieved digitally rather than optically. Details will get lost if you zoom in any further, however. Still, I’d rather have two amazing cameras than three middling ones.

Pixel Ga 5G picture of fire station with main wide camera
A photo of a fire station taken with the Pixel 5a 5G’s main camera.

One of the things I appreciate about Google’s phone cameras over others is how they keep more natural colors and lighting rather than trying to make a photo look better with excessive processing. In my opinion, Samsung phones are culprits of over-processing, often resulting in photos with overly boosted colors and lighting that looks flat rather than dynamic, for example.

Should you buy the Google Pixel 5a 5G?

If it’s not already clear, the answer is very much “yes.” Not only is the Google Pixel 5a 5G the best phone for people with budgets under $500, it’s a phone that premium phone fans should consider buying, should they have any ambition to save money these days.

Spending more on premium phones compared to the Pixel 5a 5G offers rapidly diminishing returns. The performance gains from spending more are somewhat noticeable, but hardly worth the extra hundreds. Plus, you’re not getting a better camera by going with an $800 Galaxy S21, or even the $800 iPhone 12.

What are your alternatives?

Samsung’s Galaxy A42 or Galaxy A52 are your best alternatives to the Pixel 5a 5G. We’d rather recommend the Pixel 5a 5G for its superior performance, cameras, and battery life, but the Samsung phones have bigger screens, if that appeals to you.

The bottom line

The Google Pixel 5a 5G is a champion of a phone that everyone should buy. With that said, people who like premium phones and don’t mind paying the extra money may not be swayed.

Pros: Under $500, speedy for the price, great screen, excellent battery life, premium wide and ultra-wide cameras, headphone jack, 18W fast charger included, IP67 water resistance

Cons: None

Pixel 5a 5G (button)

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