Sony says it’s working on at least 25 upcoming PS5 exclusives, many of which will also work on PS4. That’s good news, since the high demand for the PS5 is expected to outmatch supply for most of 2021. Players who grab games like “Horizon Forbidden West” on PS4 will be able to play an even better version for free whenever they upgrade to PS5.
Below we’ve compiled a list of upcoming games you need a PlayStation console to play, excluding games that are also available on PC or Xbox consoles.
‘Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart’ – available now
“Ratchet and Clank” has been a PlayStation exclusive series since 2002, and “Rift Apart” is the first new entry since 2016, when the series was rebooted and adapted into a movie.
Ratchet and his robotic sidekick Clank have invented a wide range of weapons and gadgets to battle the evil Dr. Nefarious and his cronies. In “Rift Apart” Ratchet travels through space and time to stop Nefarious from tearing the universe apart, using a mix of platforming and run-and-gun skills to progress through each new world.
As a true PlayStation 5 exclusive, “Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart” makes use of the PS5’s speedy loading times to let Ratchet quickly slide between worlds, and will incorporate ray tracing for enhanced reflections and lighting. The game also adds a new playable character to the series named Rivet, who hails from another dimension.
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‘Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade’ – available now
The original “Final Fantasy VII” was one of the first major exclusives released on the PS1, and more than 20 years later “Final Fantasy VII Remake” has returned to PS4 and PS5 as an exclusive reimagining of the classic game.
“Final Fantasy VII Remake” has been design from the ground up with a new combat system and some of the most impressive graphics we’ve seen to date. However, “Remake” only contains about one third of the original “Final Fantasy VII” story, so sequels are on the way.
Released on June 10, “Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade” is the first story add-on for the game and it’s exclusive to PlayStation 5. That same day, “Final Fantasy VII Remake” also received an update to improve performance on PS5 and add a camera mode to all versions of the game.
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‘Horizon Forbidden West’ – late 2021
“Horizon Zero Dawn” marked the debut of a new PlayStation franchise on PS4, pushing the boundaries of the console with its impressive visuals. Its sequel, “Horizon Forbidden West,” continues the open world adventure series on a new continent, with players once again assuming control over the huntress Aloy in a post-apocalyptic version of the western United States, including regions of San Francisco, Utah, and the Yosemite Valley.
The creators of “Horizon Forbidden West,” Guerilla Games, say the haptic feedback of the PS5 controller will let players feel the resistance of Aloy’s bow while aiming, and it will have special interactions when fighting against machines and humans.
Sony has confirmed that “Horizon Forbidden West” will be available on PlayStation 4, as well as PS5.
‘God of War’ (title unconfirmed) – 2022 or later
The 2018 reboot of “God of War” was one of the PlayStation 4’s most critically acclaimed titles, earning multiple “Game of the Year” awards with its polished gameplay and story presentation. Sony teased the game’s sequel during a PlayStation 5 event in September 2020 with a logo and the word “Ragnarok.”
Sony’s Santa Monica Studios said it’s aiming for a 2022 release for the “God of War” sequel, but hopefully we see a trailer before the end of the year.
‘Gran Turismo 7’ – TBA
“Gran Turismo” is Sony’s seminal racing franchise, with each new entry in the series pushing the limits of the PlayStation hardware. Sony has confirmed that “Gran Turismo 7” will incorporate ray-tracing visual effects, 3D audio, and haptic feedback using the PS5’s Dual Sense controller.
A release window for “Gran Turismo 7” hasn’t been announced yet.
‘Returnal’ – available now
“Returnal” is one of the few PlayStation games that actually requires a PlayStation 5 to play, thanks to its fast moving gameplay and mutating environments. Players control an astronaut stranded on an alien planet who realizes that each time she dies, she is reborn at the start of her journey.
The goal of “Returnal” is to fight your way across this alien world and free yourself from the planet’s cycle of life and death, but each death will reset your progress. That makes “Returnal” quite difficult to complete, but it’s an absolute treat if you enjoy challenging games.
“Returnal” also offers one of the most impressive demonstrations of the PS5 hardware so far, making expert use of the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback alongside the console’s next-gen processing power.
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‘Destruction AllStars’ – available now
“Destruction AllStars” is a vehicle combat game that pits players against each other in a vicious demolition derby. While the emphasis is on your car, drivers can hop out of their vehicle to avoid elimination and regain the upper hand by hopping in another car on the course.
Longtime PlayStation fans will remember “Twisted Metal,” a PlayStation-exclusive vehicle combat game that launched two months after the original PlayStation in 1995. “Destruction AllStars” may not have the same kind of dark humor, but PlayStation has a long history with the vehicle combat genre.
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‘Demon’s Souls’ – available now
FromSoftware’s “Dark Souls” games have earned a legendary reputation among hardcore gamers for their difficulty, but the series’ origin actually dates back to a small PlayStation 3 exclusive called “Demon’s Souls” released in 2009.
Despite its heavy influence on recent action games, “Demon’s Souls” was never been released outside of the PS3, while “Dark Souls I” and “Dark Souls II” enjoyed remasters on newer consoles.
The dungeon crawling gameplay and haunting visuals of “Demon’s Souls” were remastered for the PlayStation 5, with developer Bluepoint Games rebuilding all of FromSoftware’s original game from the ground up with new character designs and stunning environments in 4K resolution.
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‘Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales’ – available now
“Marvel’s Spider-Man” was one of Sony’s biggest PlayStation 4 exclusives, making the game’s sequel an excellent way to demonstrate the difference in power between the PS4 and the PlayStation 5.
“Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” once again takes place in New York City, one year after the events of the first game. Marvel fans will recognize Miles from the 2018 film “Into the Spider-Verse” and years’ worth of comic book appearances. His unique spider powers — an invisibility cloak and electric venom blasts — look even more impressive with the PS5’s ray tracing features.
While “Miles Morales” is playable on PS4, the vast improvements in visuals and loading times make it one of most impressive games designed for PS5. If you haven’t played the original “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” you can also get the remastered version for PS5 when you buy the $70 Ultimate Edition of “Miles Morales.”
Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition (PS5) (button)
‘Sackboy: A Big Adventure’ – available now
Sackboy, the mascot of Sony’s “LittleBigPlanet” series, got his very own game when the PS5 launched. Unlike “LittleBigPlanet,” which primarily focused on creating your own 2D platforming stages, “Sackboy: A Big Adventure” offers a full 3D range of motion and a set of premade levels for up to four players.
“Sackboy: A Big Adventure” is available for PlayStation 4 too, though the PS5 enjoys faster load times and enhanced graphics. The difference between PS4 and PS5 isn’t quite as noticeable as it is for games like “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” though.
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‘Astro’s Playroom’ – pre-installed on PS5
“Astro’s Playroom” is a sequel to “Astro Bot Rescue Mission,” a virtual reality platforming game released for the PlayStation 4 in 2018. However, “Playroom” doesn’t require a PlayStation VR headset, and comes pre-installed on the PS5 for free.
“Astro’s Playroom” is designed to show players how to use the special features of the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller as they guide Astro across four different worlds. Players can discover hidden artifacts from past PlayStation consoles and build a gallery of Sony’s gaming history.
I grew up believing my parents had eyes in the back of their heads, but, sadly, I didn’t immediately sprout an extra pair of eyes after donning the title of mother. Video baby monitors are the next best thing. While there’s no substitute for being in the room with the baby, these monitors allow parents and guardians to to keep eyes and ears on the baby from another room.
A good video baby monitor answers questions that a simple audio monitor cannot, like, When did the baby fall asleep? Just 10 years ago, these monitors were clunky gadgets that played constant audio and offered a pixelated picture of the crib. Now they can send a detailed sleep analysis to your smartphone, play white noise, and even track breathing.
Keep in mind: Some of those features of smart monitors may not be as great as they seem. The AAP and pediatricians we spoke to emphasized there is no evidence that smart monitors prevent incidences of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Read more about smart monitors, sleep safety, and what our experts had to say at the end of our guide.
While features vary by model, video monitors typically come equipped with a night mode to see the room in the dark, a thermometer to measure the temperature in the room, and two-way audio to talk to the baby (or tell the toddler to get back in bed). Some baby monitors are fixed in place, while others have cameras that can be controlled remotely to pan around the room. With smart baby monitors, the list of potential features is even longer.
I tested nine of the top-ranked video baby monitors with my now 1-year-old. Each monitor that made the top of our list was tested for at least one month, including naps and nighttime snoozes.
With excellent picture and sound, the Vava is an affordable video baby monitor that has everything you need.
Pros: Clear video and audio, easy setup, remote panning and tilt, affordable
Cons: No VOX
Although the Vava lacks the fancy features of a smart monitor, it’s easy to use and offers clear audio and video, with a few extras including two-way audio.
Most standalone video baby monitors use a low-resolution fixed camera that doesn’t show the finer details, but the Vava’s video quality is so good that I could often see my son’s chest rise and fall as he slept. The handheld unit’s 5-inch screen is what really allows you to see the detail picked up by the Vava’s 720p resolution camera. The monitor’s night vision is also better quality than other units I tested.
With the controls on the parent unit, the Vava can be turned 270 degrees and tilt up or down 108 degrees, offering a view of almost the entire nursery except. The remote pan and tilt are preferable to using a wider lens because you can get a closer look at the baby while still being able to see if, say, a pet is accidentally locked in the nursery.
The Vava’s solid video quality is also paired with excellent audio. There’s no voice-activated alert (VOX) option, but the volume settings are varied enough that the fan in my baby’s nursery, while slightly audible, wasn’t annoying.
The 900-feet range didn’t once drop a connection in my house or even when I went out to the porch. Because the Vava doesn’t use Wi-Fi, hacking risk is low. The parent unit battery lasted for two daytime naps before needing a charge.
There are a few features that I would have liked to see, such as VOX, but the Vava had better video and audio quality than similarly priced monitors. Smart monitors like the Nanit and Miku offer more features and budget monitors like the VTech, a better price. But, ultimately, the Vava checks all the must-haves without a high price tag, making it our top pick.
The best smart video baby monitor
The Nanit Plusvideo baby monitor offers excellent video and audio, along with extras like sleep tips.
Pros: Sleep tracking and tips, contactless breathing monitor, quick alerts, reliable app, good video and audio quality, two-factor authentication
Cons: Pricey, sleep insights require subscription after first year
Many smart monitors deliver late alerts or poor audio, but the Nanit Plus doesn’t skimp on the basics in order to deliver the smart features.
The monitor’s audio was free of white noise, and I could turn the volume down enough not to hear the fan in my son’s room but still hear his cries. Picture quality is excellent, even for the night camera.
The Nanit was the most reliable smart monitor that I tested. It never crashed while livestreaming, though it can run few seconds behind depending on internet speeds. The one time the app stopped working (while using push notifications, not the livestream), it alerted me. For added security, it offers two-factor authentication, which Nanit says is continually audited for security compliance.
Unlike many breathing monitors, the Nanit Plus also doesn’t require extra devices. With a patterned fabric band, swaddle, or sleep sack, the camera detects pixel-level changes in that pattern to monitor the rise and fall of the baby’s chest. Even without the wearable, the monitor can still recognize movement to track sleep. False alarms can cause unnecessary worry, but I didn’t experience any.
The app’s interface is easy to navigate. It charts sleep times, duration, and time it takes to fall asleep. Using that data, Nanit Insights offers personalized sleep tips developed by a certified infant sleep coach. I shared these tips with Dr. Fern Hauck, professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia, who said they provided reasonable advice about establishing sleep patterns. However, these tips can also be found in inexpensive parenting books and are not the solution to every sleep problem.
Outside of the downsides of app-based monitors, like quickly depleting the smartphone battery, I have very few complaints. One minor inconvenience is that you need to go into the app and start a session in order to monitor breathing.
The Nanit Plus is one of the pricier smart baby monitors, although the wall mount option is less expensive than the floor stand. Insights also requires a paid subscription after the first year. Still, it’s $100 less than options like the Owlet and Miku.
Smart monitors are not for every family. Solid-performing, less expensive audio and video monitors are available, and breathing tracking isn’t studied for SIDs prevention (read more about this at the end of the guide). But, out of all the Wi-Fi connected monitors that I tried, the Nanit Plus delivered the best experience with the most reliability.
The best wearable-free smart baby monitor
The Miku accurately tracks breathing and sleep patterns without any wearables.
Pros: Sleep tracking, contactless breathing sensor, simple to use, plays lullabies or white noise, reliable app
Cons: Slow push notifications, white noise during livestreaming
With a radio-wave sensor built into the camera, the Miku tracks sleep and creates a color-coded chart that illustrates how well the baby slept. The well-designed app tracks data such as how long it took for the baby to fall asleep, sleep quality, and average bedtime, which may be helpful for new parents establishing a routine.
This monitor narrowly missed beating out the Nanit, largely because the audio had constant white noise detectable even at the lowest volume. (Audio performance could possibly differ based on the smartphone you are using — I tested using an iPhone 7.) The notifications were too slow to be a suitable substitute. However, if you’re looking for easy sleep tracking without any form of wearables, the Miku is a great option.
The app never crashed during testing and it can send push notifications that the baby has woken up. In order to avoid false alarms simply because the baby rolled over, there’s an intentional delay on those alerts. Unfortunately, the alerts are also delayed for cries. For that reason, I preferred streaming the audio.
Video is also easy to review with an option to watch the feed from any time the app detected motion or noise. The Miku also has a built-in sound machine — you can play white noise or lullabies and control them from the app.
Simple setup requires pressing a physical button to start a new connection, which feels a bit more secure. The Miku also has a built-in crypto security chip and includes features like two-way authentication.
Like with the Nanit, smart monitors are not a necessity. For some families, tracking breathing can lead to more worry and distraction. The AAP cautions parents that breathing monitors have not been studied for reducing SIDs. But, for families that want that extra tracking, the Miku offers those added features without the need to attach anything to the baby.
The best budget video baby monitor
The VTech RM5754 video monitor proves you don’t need to spend a lot to keep an eye on the baby, from anywhere.
Pros: Parent unit and Wi-Fi app, affordable, movement alerts
Cons: Lower night-camera quality, buggy app
The VTech RM5754 is a good monitor for those on a budget. It is unique because it’s a standalone monitor that also offers app access via Wi-Fi and VOX so you don’t have to listen to annoying background noise. The parent unit is the most convenient way to monitor, but the app allows you to watch the baby from anywhere.
The camera has a higher 1080p resolution and the parent unit a large 5-inch screen. The 100-degree wide-angle lens means you can see much of the nursery, but it doesn’t provide the close-up detail of some of the other monitors. While the night vision camera is low quality, it’s enough to see.
Audio isn’t the greatest. There were some audible static noises from both the parent unit and the app, but turning on VOX — my favorite feature — meant I only heard the static when there were loud noises in the room. The feature wasn’t explained in the user manual and is hiding in the menu, so it takes some tinkering to set up.
The VTech monitor also provides movement alerts, something uncommon with standalone monitors. From the parent unit, you can play white noise or lullabies through the monitor and turn on the night-light.
The app performance is inconsistent — it kept crashing on my iPhone 7, but ran much smoother after I updated my phone. The static is worse on the app and VOX isn’t available on a mobile device.
While I preferred the Vava’s better picture quality and sound, the VTech costs less and includes app access and VOX. This makes it a decent option for caregivers on a limited budget or families who can’t decide between a standalone camera and a Wi-Fi enabled one.
Our testing methodology
I tested nine video baby monitors over the course of several months with my now 1-year-old. The top picks were tested for at least one month. During that time, I evaluated the following features.
Audio quality: Parents will listen for a baby’s cries more often than watching the video screen, which means audio quality is still a major consideration. I listened for annoyances like static and white noise, as well as how sensitive the microphone was to both soft sounds and loud noises.
Video quality: Baby monitors don’t need cinematic 4K, but I looked for footage that was detailed enough to tell if the baby’s eyes were open or closed. Ultimately, I wanted a monitor that would cover the entire crib while still showing enough detail to see if the baby is awake or simply rolling over in their sleep.
Smart monitoring: For smart monitors, I also used the breathing tracking and sleep tracking. Thankfully, I never experienced what happens when a baby stops breathing. I did, however, research what I could into how the alarms work (including this Nanit and Miku comparison from Dad Verb using a robotic baby). I also noted any false alarms and eliminated options that caused more worry than it prevented. As noted throughout this guide, APA does not endorse breathing monitors for infants. Studies have not shown whether or not the devices have any effect on reducing SIDs.
Connectivity, battery life, and overall usability: Throughout my testing, I noted any app crashes and difficult setups. For Wi-Fi based monitors, I noted the battery life and range of the parent unit, including taking the unit outside. For smart monitors, I considered how simple the app was to use and whether or not the extra smart features were actually helpful.
What else we considered
Levana Mila: The Mila would be one of my top picks, except it’s not available yet. Originally expected out in June 2020, its release is now delayed indefinitely. I was impressed by its mode that turns the screen and audio off when no noise is detected in the room, which preserves battery life. The same mode also works with two cameras to display footage from the room when noise is detected.
Pampers Lumi: In addition to monitoring sleep, the Lumi uses a sensor on the baby’s diaper to track wet diapers, though it’s not recommended to wake a baby just to change a diaper. It simply wasn’t the best because anytime the sensor stops moving, the Lumi labels it a nap. The camera’s wide-angle fish-eye lens makes it difficult to see details, and audio is inconsistent across devices — on my iPhone, it generated constant white noise, but the iPad app didn’t have that issue.
Angel Care 3-in-1 AC337: This unique standalone monitor uses a sensor placed under the mattress to monitor breathing. To make sure an alarm is heard even if the parent unit has a dead battery, the alarm also sounds in the nursery so false alarms could wake the baby. I got a few false alarms and stopped using the breathing pad because I was worried about waking the baby up with those false alarms. The camera lens also isn’t a wide enough angle.
Cubo A.I. Baby Monitor: The Cubo uses facial recognition to alert you if the baby’s face is covered by a blanket or if the baby rolled over, while “detection zones” alert you if the baby enters a preset area. While this feature worked great, when I followed safe sleep tips, I just got notifications for rolling over and placing a hand over his face. The Cubo did have one feature I wish the other smart monitors had — push notifications are a chirping sound instead of the default, which means you know it’s a baby monitor alert and not an alert from any other app.
Owlet Smart Baby Monitor Duo: Unlike the Miku and Nanit, the Owlet Smart Sock tracks oxygen levels and heart rate — neither of which are recommended by the AAP. It doesn’t, however, track sleep data or send push notifications when noise or movement is detected. The smart sock is difficult to put on, and I don’t like placing electronics directly on my baby’s skin. I also had to try three different socks before getting one to work properly, suggesting some quality control issues. But, for what it’s worth, excellent customer service.
Standalone vs. smart baby monitors
Video baby monitors used to be simply a camera that allowed you to see and hear your baby, but the tech now falls into two major categories.
Stand-alone baby monitors are the traditional monitors that come with everything you need in the box. These monitors have both a camera and a parent unit with a screen that displays video.
Smart baby monitors come with only a camera; the rest is done via an app on a smartphone or tablet, connected via Wi-Fi. Because these app-based baby monitors are essentially running on a mini-computer (the smartphone), this type can include a lot of features that standalone monitors lack. Smart monitors can track sleep patterns, send push notifications for sound and movement, and some even track breathing.
With the Wi-Fi connection, smart monitors are never “out of range” like a traditional monitor. That means you can check in on the baby while you are out and the baby is with another caregiver, or you can work outside in a big yard and still use the monitor.
The downside is that these monitors rely on an internet connection. If your home internet is slow, the video will lag behind and occasionally freeze up, and when the internet is out, so is the baby monitor. App-based monitors can also fail if the app freezes. If that happens overnight, parents could potentially miss baby’s cries. Smart monitors will also drain your smartphone battery faster and granting access to the app to a babysitter can be a hassle.
Safety considerations for smart baby monitors
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse breathing monitors for infants because studies have not shown whether or not the devices have any effect on reducing SIDs. “There are no data that other commercial devices that are designed to monitor infant vital signs reduce the risk of SIDs,” the AAP states. Every smart monitor that I tested came with a legal disclaimer that the monitor is not a medical device for preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While we like features like sleep tracking, we don’t recommend buying a smart monitor exclusively for the sleep tracking. It’s unproven and often adds another item to the already too long to-do list.
Dr. Justin Smith, a pediatrician and the medical advisor for digital health at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club, Texas, told Insider Reviews: “There is no evidence that wearing a monitor will prevent or allow a parent to act in order to prevent SIDS. Parents should assess whether using a monitor would give them peace of mind or cause them stress and anxiety. False alarms are common and can lead parents to seek medical care for normal babies.” He emphasized that parents should adhere to safe sleep practices above all.
Dr. Fern Hauck, a family medicine doctor and University of Virginia professor that focuses much of her research on SIDS, echoed similar thoughts. “Some parents may feel more comforted by the home monitor and, at other times, monitors cause distress because of false alarms,” she said. “As a safe sleep expert, the bottom line is that we don’t have evidence that these monitor’s prevent infant death. There may be more evidence in the future.”
While our medical experts stressed that there is no evidence that monitoring breathing at home reduces the risk of SIDs, both pediatricians noted that parents that find more peace of mind from a smart monitor can choose to do so with a few safety guidelines in place. A smart monitor should never be an excuse not to follow safe sleep practices — for example, just because a monitor is watching the baby breathe doesn’t mean it’s okay to load the crib up with loose blankets, bumpers, and stuffed animals. Infants should be placed on their backs on a flat, firm sleep surface with no loose bedding. Hauck also cautions against moving the baby to their own room before the AAP recommended 6 to 12 months, even with a smart monitor.
Parents should also ensure the monitor itself doesn’t pose a hazard. Wearable sensors can also pose a choking hazard if a sensor becomes loose or comes off, according to Smith. “In addition, any sensor with a cord could cause strangulation. Battery-powered devices could cause skin sensitivity or a burn injury if it malfunctions,” he said. Monitors placed over the crib could be safer if the device isn’t able to be pulled into the crib or can’t fall off.
Because the last thing new parents need is to spend money on a device that will make them more anxious, we quickly eliminated the options that sent a lot of false alarms during testing. The Nanit Plus ended up being my favorite smart monitor because I still loved it even after discontinuing use of the breathing band. It has excellent features worth paying a little more for, like sleep tracking and clear audio and video. Parents, however, shouldn’t feel like they have to spend so much on a monitor to keep the baby safe because there’s no evidence that smart monitors are actually safer.
How does AI Sleep Monitoring work, and is it worth it?
Both the Nanit and Miku monitor the baby’s sleep, offering stats like how long the baby slept and when. The Nanit goes a little bit further and adds sleep tips, delivered once a week based on the infant’s sleep data.
Those tips are developed from a certified infant sleep coach, according to Nanit. The AI determines which tips to send based on the sleep data and the baby’s age, but the tips themselves were written by actual baby sleep experts. Essentially, using Nanit is like having someone tell you which chapters of the baby sleep book to read first for your particular baby.
The tips that Nanit Insights sent during my testing were similar to what I’ve read about establishing healthy sleep habits, such as a consistent bedtime. I shared Nanit’s tips with Dr. Fern Hauck, professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia, they provided reasonable advice about establishing sleep patterns.
You can find similar tips in a $15 baby book without spending $300 on a baby monitor. But, if you need to buy a monitor and prefer one that is Wi-Fi-based, having sleep tips tailored to your baby’s age and sleep habits is a nice extra. Don’t impulse buy the Nanit Plus at 2 a.m. while holding a wide-awake baby out of desperation, though.
Baby monitor security
Wi-Fi enabled monitors have another downfall: As with any Internet of Things (IoT) device, they are susceptible to hacking.
According to Deral Heiland, the IoT research lead for cybersecurity management company Rapid7, there’s no actual internet connection to hack into with a stand-alone monitor, and any hacker would have to be within range of the camera. Radio monitors don’t have the same encryption measures, but a hacker would still need to be within a few hundred feet of the monitor.
Wi-Fi based monitors have more risks, but they can be mitigated through a few best security practices, Heiland told Insider Reviews.
“Just like any camera-based technology, there’s some risk, but there are ways to mitigate that risk,” he said. “Most of the risk on camera-based technology is password reuse. Don’t reuse passwords. Don’t use the baby’s name, a phone number, or a home address, or anything that people can easily guess. Create a complex password that is not used on other accounts.”
If you choose a smart monitor, Heiland recommends looking for one that offers two-factor authentication, which requires a code to be sent to your phone anytime a new device tries to log in. The home Wi-Fi network should also have a hard-to-guess password that’s a series of random letters and numbers rather than a known phrase.
Brand matters, too. A well-known brand will quickly patch up any vulnerabilities to maintain its brand reputation. Off-label brands sometimes have known vulnerabilities that are never patched.
But a total lack of vulnerabilities isn’t necessarily a good sign. All technology has vulnerabilities, Heiland said, so with any IoT device, choose a company that has patched security issues before and provides a place to report them.
Unlike hacking into credit card data, there’s no monetary gain to hacking a baby monitor (unless your monitor has a paid subscription) — the outcome is just shock and fear. While you can find stories dotting the internet about baby monitors being hacked, Heiland said that in almost every case, it was a simple target of opportunity with a weak or default password.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyEssential Lite Cabin Suitcase (small)
Premium luggage brand Rimowa is probably best known for its eye-catching aluminum suitcases that you may have seen celebrities from Julianne Moore to the Kardashians sporting. However, it’s Rimowa’s polycarbonate Essential Lite carry-on that’s a true standout.
Ultra-lightweight, durable, and available in glossy, eye-catching colors, the suitcase features plenty of packing space while making it much easier to meet strict airline weight limits.
After testing this bag out for several months, it will likely become my go-to carry-on for many international trips or trips with interconnecting flights on small planes.
True to its name, the Rimowa Essential Lite is ultra-lightweight. It will fit in just about any standard overhead bin, including smaller jumper planes and international flights. It also has enough space that packing for four to five days is a breeze.
Made of a thin but durable polycarbonate, the Rimowa Essential Lite doesn’t sacrifice quality or durability to achieve its light weight. The carry-on features ball-bearing mounted spinner wheels with cushioned axles that ensure the suitcase is easy to maneuver and incredibly quiet. It also boasts KK metal zippers, an adjustable telescopic handle, and a TSA-approved lock. The suitcase is scratch- and scuff-resistant.
With a shiny finish and elegant vertical lines, the carry-on is more subtle than Rimowa’s famed aluminum suitcases. It also doesn’t come with any extras or premium features, and some might be surprised that details are plastic rather than leather given that it’s from a luxury travel brand. However, all that is to be expected from a carry-on that’s main goal is to be as light as possible.
In addition to the carry-on size, the Rimowa Lite collection also includes a medium and large checked size, as well as a kids carry-on. The suitcase also comes with a five-year manufacturer warranty, once registered online.
What it’s like to use
When the Rimowa Essential Lite was first delivered to my apartment, I actually assumed a vase I had ordered around the same time had come in an inexplicably large box because it never dawned on me that a suitcase could be that light. Suffice it to say I was immediately impressed.
The polycarbonate material has some give at the top when pressed and doesn’t feel as thick as other hard-sided bags I own. However, this suitcase is plenty sturdy. In fact, its glossy coating keeps it from scratching or marking up as easily as similar matte-finished suitcases. Over the passed six months, I’ve used it on road trips, flights, and even to move when it got tossed around in the back of a moving van and it still looks pristine.
The wheels are easy to maneuver on every surface I’ve tested from hardwood to carpet, and they’re also whisper quiet. While the carry-on is fairly bare-bones and doesn’t come with any extras like a charger or laundry bag, it does come with a chic leather luggage tag.
Of course, the most important part of any carry-on is packability. I like that both sides of the suitcase’s interior have a mesh zipper. I find that this makes it easier to keep my belongings secured and organized than the typical one-sided buckle, one-sided zip system most hard-sided carry-ons use. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to find that the suitcase holds more than I was first expecting. However, I do wish it had a divider with a separate pocket for items like socks and underwear.
Due to the pandemic, I’ve only used this bag on two flights so far, but lifting into the overhead bin was a breeze, even when it was stuffed full.
What makes the Rimowa Essential Lite standout
The standout feature of the Essential Lite is its weight. While your typical carry-on generally clocks in somewhere around seven pounds, the Essential light is under five pounds. When you’re taking flights with strict weight limits, that is a major perk. Not only can you pack more since you’re not sacrificing extra weight to your bag, but it can also save you from having to pay hefty baggage fees.
The Essential Lite especially stands out among Rimowa’s other offerings. The brand is largely known for its shiny, eye-catching aluminum suitcases, but many of Rimowa’s other suitcases are extremely heavy.
In fact, the Essential Lite is almost half the weight of Rimowa’s classic Original Cabin aluminium carry-on, and still over two pounds lighter than the standard Essential carry-on, the brand’s other polycarbonate offering. Shockingly, the Lite is also able to hold more than either of those two suitcases, making the Essential Lite one of Rimowa’s best offerings – especially when you take into account that it’s also significantly cheaper (the Original Cabin and Essential come in at $1,080 and $650 respectively).
Despite being significantly cheaper than many of Rimowa’s other suitcases, the Essential Lite carry-on is still an expensive suitcase. It also doesn’t come with many high-end features or extras that one might expect for the steep price. There’s no perks like a battery pocket, laundry bag, or garment bag included, and many of the details are plastic as opposed to leather.
However, all of that is also largely how it’s able to achieve being one of the lightest hard-sided carry-ons available.
Bottom line: Is the Rimowa Essential Lite worth it?
There’s no getting around the fact that the Rimowa Essential Lite is an expensive carry-on, even though it’s cheaper than many of Rimowa’s other luggage options. However, it’s a highly durable bag, especially given how lightweight it is. There are few suitcases on the market that come in under five pounds and are able to hold as much as the Essential Lite. If you frequently take flights on airlines with low or strict weight limits, this bag is absolutely worth it, especially when you consider the potential baggage fees savings.
Amazon Prime Day’s Lightning Deals are aptly named – they’re available for a limited time and have limited stock. Once the timer ends or the deal is 100% claimed, you’ll have to add yourself to the waitlist in case more items become available – we’ve seen it happen.
Amazon Prime Day 2021 is slated to last June 21 through 22. Before then, we’ve answered some common questions about Lightning Deals. When the deal holiday rolls around, we’ll highlight the best ones available too.
What is an Amazon Lightning Deal?
Lightning deals are short-lived, limited-stock deals from Amazon. Not only are these deals set on a timer (usually anywhere from two to six hours), but they also end after they’ve been 100% claimed. If you manage to add one to cart, a timer starts during which you must check out, or lose the deal.
If the item runs out of stock before you can snag one, there’s still hope. You can hop on a waitlist afterward to snag the discount in case any shoppers change their minds, though it’s not guaranteed you’ll get one.
How to ‘watch’ a Lightning Deal
To stay on top of deal availability, you can visit the Upcoming Deals section on your desktop or in the free Amazon app (iOS, Android) to view all deals 24 hours before they go live.
Click “Watch this Deal” and you’ll receive push notifications on your phone when a deal is starting. This will be the best way to ensure you successfully grab a deal during the frenzy that is Amazon Prime Day.
What happens if the deal I want is 100% claimed?
The deals can get snatched up pretty quickly, but there’s still hope even if a Lightning Deal has been 100% claimed.
You can click “Join the Waitlist” in order to potentially get the deal anyway. Lightning Deal purchases must be made within 15 minutes of adding an item to your cart. If the purchase isn’t completed within that time frame, then the deal will be made available to the next customer on the wait list. Joining the wait list won’t guarantee you’ll be able to purchase the deal, but it’s certainly worth a shot.
Lightning deals are some of the lowest prices we see for items and, therefore, absolutely worth buying.
What kinds of products are Lightning Deals?
Typically, Amazon Lightning Deals run the gamut from cleaning supplies to smart home gear. The product categories you’ll want to keep an eye out for are tech accessories, smart home tech, kitchen tools, and small home appliances. Items like USB-C hubs, indoor security cameras, Echo smart speakers, kitchen scales, and robot vacuums tend to see some of their best all-time prices in the form of lightning deals, but they go very fast.
Do I need to be an Amazon Prime Member to get a Lightning Deal?
Most times of the year, Lighting Deals are free game for Prime members and non-members alike. During Amazon Prime Day, however, they are Prime-member exclusive.
A Prime membership is $119 per year or $12 per month. Along with Amazon Prime Day 2021 access, members get tons of other perks like two-day and same-day shipping, Prime Video, Prime Music, and much more. If you’d like to sample the offerings before making the commitment, you can try Prime free for 30 days.
When is Amazon Prime Day 2021?
The massive savings event is slated to take place June 21 and 22. It will feature tons of short-lived Lightning Deals exclusive to Prime members.
Shopping for gifts is easy when you know someone has a penchant for puns or desperately needs a new suitcase. It’s a little more challenging when the recipient is generally less into material goods and seems more thrilled by educational gifts like books or experiential presents like classes.
For $15 a month (or $180 a year), MasterClass users can get unlimited access to over 100 celeb and expert-led courses, from writing with Margaret Atwood to cooking with Gordon Ramsay. Classes come with high-quality video lessons, PDF workbooks, and community forums. New courses are added each month.
Subscriptions are available for one month, three months, or a full year. There is also currently a 2-for-1 Father’s Day sale.
For anyone who gets excited by new releases (but has trouble deciding which book to commit to), a Book of the Month subscription helps narrow it down by letting them pick one out of five selections each month to be delivered to their door.
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Offering subscriptions from 1-month ($15) to a full year ($150), Audible Plus gives listeners one credit a month to buy any audiobook they want, plus access to a library of thousands of audiobooks, podcasts, and more.
One Day University
An annual membership to One Day University gives subscribers access to multiple daily, live lectures on a broad range of topics, from the history of Stonewall from Harvard to a Yale course on how famous movie scenes were shot.
With a Babbel subscription, gift recipients can use a code to choose one of 14 languages to learn, from Spanish to Norwegian, and learn real-life phrases and conversation topics in this bestselling language app.
‘World Travel: An Irreverent Guide’ by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever
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Published in April, this travel guide of beloved chef Anthony Bourdain’s favorite places comes with his personal suggestions on what to eat, where to go, and what to avoid, all told with the wit and warmth his fans have always loved. The book also comes with essays from Bourdain’s friends and family offering their own reflections of the locations and their relationship with Bourdain.
‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer
An Indigenous scientist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer believes that plants are our oldest teachers. This beautiful book explores the interconnection between human joy and ecological consciousness, making it a perfect gift for anyone who strives to understand the environment better.
‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ by Bill Bryson
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This funny, enlightening book is Bill Bryson’s attempt to better understand the world as he interviews archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians about everything from the Big Bang to the rise of human civilization.
‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking’ by Samin Nosrat
Turned into a Netflix show of the same name, this hit cookbook goes beyond other selections in the genre by breaking down the four major components of a great dish: salt, fat, acid, heat. With detailed explanations and drawings throughout, it’s a must-have for beginner and expert chefs alike.
‘Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen’ by Christopher McDougall
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In this fascinating and inspiring book, award-winning journalist and runner Christopher McDougall travels to Mexico’s Copper Canyons to research the Tarahumara Indians, who can run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. The book eventually has the tribe race America’s top ultra-runners, the recounting of the events as exhilarating as the race itself.
‘Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know’ by Malcolm Gladwell
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Interviewing scientists, criminologists, and military psychologists — and looking at the famous cases of people like Amanda Knox, Bernie Madoff, and Sandra Bland — Malcolm Gladwell seeks answers to how we can better understand people we don’t know.
‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius
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For fans of both history and philosophy, this classic book offers life lessons from Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and important figure of the Stoicism movement. His commentary on human virtue, rationality, and leadership feels shockingly relevant today.
The only thing better than a physical book is a Kindle so they can buy and download all their favorite books whenever they want. This version works well both indoors and outdoors and can connect with Audible for audiobooks and podcasts.
The Ultimate Drawing Course: Beginner to Advanced Class
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One of Udemy’s most popular classes, this course walks aspiring artists through the basics of composition all the way through drawing human faces and figures.
Taught by an award-winning photographer, this course shows students how to find the right gear and understand how shutter speed, lighting, aperture, and more can drastically change a photo.
iPhone Photography – Take Professional Photos On Your iPhone
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For that person in your life who loves taking photos on their phone, this course can help them find the right light and compositions for their pics, as well as edit them in Lightroom, a free Adobe app.
Great for groups, this live virtual course from Lisbon features drag queens sharing the recipe for Portuguese sangria — peppered with fun performances throughout.
Wired for Story: How to Become a Story Genius
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Led by an experienced writing coach, this course teaches students how to tap into their natural creativity, cut down first drafts, and write more confidently. This can be a perfect gift for the National Novel Writing Month fan in your life.
Piano & Keyboard for Beginners: The Pianoforall Online Class
Meant for full beginners, this bestselling course comprehensively teaches students how to play piano both by ear and via sheet music, so they can get to playing real songs as quickly as possible.
Ideally, you’d be able to empty the coffers for dad on Father’s Day. If money was of no object, you could rent out an amusement park or buy him a little quaint island for when retirement rolls around. But, if you’re working with a more realistic budget, you can still give him roughly the same feeling with any of these thoughtful gifts under $50.
To help with your shopping, we’ve put together 51 gifts that fit the bill. Even if you just grab a comfortable throw blanket for a night of movie and popcorn, Dad might just love the gesture most.
Do you regularly catch your dad rocking out to his favorite tunes? He’ll appreciate these headphones that isolate sound well at an affordable price. That’s why we made them the best over-ear headphones in our guide to the best cheap headphones.
In our guide to the best flashlights, the Wowtac A7 was one of the most affordable, durable, and brightest flashlights we tested. This makes it a great option if he likes to explore the great outdoors, especially with summer camping season in full swing.
Perfect for everything from camping to everyday use, this Hydro Flask water bottle is our top pick for the best water bottle you can buy. During Outdoor Gear Lab’s testing, ice resisted melting for nearly 24 hours, and water was ice cold for more than a full day.
Magic Spoon is a new “childlike cereal for adults” that’s high in protein and low in sugar — and all four flavors are delicious. If you want to treat him to cereal that tastes like it should leave you with a mouthful of cavities without actually doing so, check it out.
Perfect for the summer months spent at the beach, barbecuing by the pool, or simply for the demands of the rugged lifestyle of dads everywhere, a waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker is always a good idea.
If your dad could stand to take more time for himself, setting him up with nice tools for a quick — but nonetheless indulgent — routine is a great gift. The option to engrave Harry’s Winston Shave Set is a thoughtful and practical gift you can feel good giving, especially if dad is still using disposables.
If your father likes to sport facial hair, this is the perfect tool to maintain it when he doesn’t have time for an old-fashioned shave. It also comes with a foil shaver head and ear and nose trimmer. Plus, it’s easy to clean with water.
This plush throw is a great option for dad when he refuses to turn up the thermostat during the cold months. It features soft fleece on both sides making it a great accompaniment whether he’s watching the game or a movie.
For dads who love practical shoes, the Merrell Jungle Moc is an excellent choice. Whether he likes to go on weekend hikes or just needs something to throw on while running errands, these waterproof slip-on shoes can handle all sorts of weather and will last him for years to come.
Shopping isn’t everyone’s favorite activity, or, if it is, not all of us have the time for a trip to the mall. That’s where the stylists at Stitch Fix come in. A great gift for busy dads, the service delivers the newest trends and styles to fit any occasion and price point.
An understated, rugged leather case will keep his phone safe and hopefully blend in seamlessly with the rest of his gear. Especially if he’s a man of few accessories, why not pay extra mind to the ones he does have?
For casual internet perusing, Facebook updating, and game playing, Amazon’s Fire Tablet is a tough value to beat. It isn’t exactly high tech, but it’s $50 and works well. If dad isn’t a self-proclaimed tech fiend, it’ll do what he needs it to do.
No matter which gift you decide to give Dad, odds are good he’s going to be most thankful for a thoughtful card that makes him feel celebrated and appreciated. If you want to make his day (and give him something he can hold onto if he wants), a fun card is a great addition.
This stainless-steel vacuum-insulated tumbler was built to withstand the extreme conditions of the outdoors, and the over preparation for day-to-day life is pretty great. This will keep your dad’s cold drinks cold, and hot drinks hot, for hours on end.
A Tommy John gift card for comfortable clothes he can pick himself
Tommy John makes some of our favorite comfortable loungewear (as well as basics like underwear, which is where most of their recognition comes from). You might not know exactly what to get your dad or in what size, but a gift card lets him look around for himself (with you still covering the tab).
If he loves breakfast sandwiches, he’s probably going to be pretty enthusiastic when he opens this. It might seem gimmicky, but it has nearly 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon and a 4.6 rating overall.
If dad loves reading, medicine, or moving books, “When Breath Becomes Air” is a must-read — and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. To lend extra meaning, write your own inscription to him on the inside cover.
What’s a better gift than total convenience? If he has an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8, or the iPhone 8 Plus, he’ll be able to set it down on this pad and see it instantly charging. This one is our top overall pick for the best wireless chargers you can buy.
These smart light bulbs connect to the internet and can be controlled through an app on his smartphone or a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Overnight, he’ll never have to get up to dim the lights for the perfect late-night reading or movie-viewing experience again.
If he loves to cook, salt blocks will bring his meals to the next level. Himalayan salt is supposed to give a more nuanced flavor than regular table salt, and the amount of saltiness will be auto-regulated by the type of food (moist food absorbs more, fatty foods repel it).
Socks are every outfit’s opportunity for some flair. If Dad might appreciate a few unforgettable pairs from a new brand, check out Happy Socks’ Father’s Day Gift Box. As with any holiday set, it arrives looking gift-ready.
Local pasta-making classes, wine tours, pottery workshops, secret concerts, nature outings — you can book thousands of local classes and activities on Airbnb Experiences to make wherever you live feel new, exciting, and full of possibilities.
If he has young kids, one of the most impactful gifts you can give is probably a worry-free night out. Nationwide service UrbanSitter is home to more than 150,000 trusted babysitters and gathers mutual connections and recommendations from their community of fellow parents. Give a gift card to dad for the service; a $34.95 one-month access pass (or $99.95 annual membership) allows parents to browse, interview, and book a sitter that meets their needs.
Gift Dad the tools to make his own craft beer. This kit comes with easy instructions, customer service to contact for troubleshooting, and all the essentials. It also has one of the most positive ratings online and earns an “A” grade from FakeSpot.
An REI membership offers a lifetime of benefits for a one-time purchase. That includes 10%-back dividends, special offers, access to in-store REI Garage sales, and special pricing on REI classes and events. Find out more here.
If he isn’t married to a skin care routine yet, he might love Kiehl’s. It’s nicer than what he’d pick up at the drugstore but not so expensive he can’t bring himself to replace it when this pot runs out.
This personalized Father’s Day coupon book is sweet and thoughtful, but more polished than if it was entirely homemade. You can gift him his choice of TV, free take-out-the-trash days, or anything else that might make his next few months better.
If Dad loves the outdoors, you might put the purchasing power in his hands for a change. You don’t need to haunt his friends, siblings, and other family members for ideas. Instead, he can shop for the latest edition of something or replace the old.
This cooler is perfect for when a picnic or tailgate party involves more gear than he can carry in two hands. Its 20-liter capacity will hold a 12-pack plus ice, and two side pockets with adjustable toggles can handle wine or water bottles.
A cookbook that is one long “ode to the Southern breakfast”
This custom engraved docking station is perfect for making things look organized and neat with a personal touch. It will make it easier to find all that he needs and ensures none of his charging cables become tangled.
Unfortunately, for most of us, taking a one-on-one cooking class with Thomas Keller or a photography lesson from Annie Leibovitz isn’t realistic. But MasterClass is bridging that gap by recruiting the best of the best to teach us the secrets to their crafts.
Unlike most e-learning platforms focused on teaching hard skills like cloud computing or UX design, MasterClass targets a different audience: creatives who are looking to learn and gain some inspiration along the way.
The site has courses in categories like writing, cooking, sports, business, and politics, and each of them is taught by celebrities and masters of the field. For $180 a year ($15 a month), you get an all-access pass to all the courses on the site. Each class provides video lessons, a course workbook, and class feedback – which, on some occasions, comes from the stars themselves.
If you’re craving an online course to inspire you, help you hone a craft, or give you valuable advice from a respected expert, MasterClass is definitely worth a try. The videos are well-produced, which makes the courses more engaging, and the workbooks provide some extra insight to help reflect on what you’ve learned. You can even download the MasterClass app on your phone to squeeze in quick lessons whenever you have free time.
How much does it cost? MasterClass costs $180 for its annual subscription ($15 a month), which gives you unlimited access to all its classes until you cancel.
Is it worth it? If you will use MasterClass more than a few times, yes, the yearly pass may be worth it. If you won’t, or you need something more intensive or traditionally academic, consider other online learning sites like Coursera or edX.
How does MasterClass work? MasterClass classes are about 2-5 hours on average, with individual lessons ranging from 2-5 minutes. Classes include pre-recorded video lessons by your instructor, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and sometimes community activities. MasterClass may have opportunities for students to submit work to instructors for feedback, but that’s not the norm.
Questlove — iconic DJ, Grammy winner, and The Roots drummer — teaches collecting and mixing music. You’ll learn how to transition from genre to genre to curate the perfect playlist, whether just for yourself or to wow your friends.
Writer’s block is a major challenge, but hopefully, some inspiration from Margaret Atwood can bring you out of your funk. The Man Booker Prize-winner’s lessons delve into character development, point of view, structuring a novel, and more.
It’s hard to believe now that Samuel L. Jackson had a stutter growing up, one that actually stopped him from talking for a year. You can learn about how he overcame this obstacle to become an Oscar nominee in this course on acting, which particularly focuses on how to develop a character.
Annie Leibovitz claims the title of first-ever female chief photographer at “Rolling Stone,” along with plenty of other accomplishments. Here, she sheds light on her photography philosophy and shows how a great photo comes to life.
Ron Finley has launched a movement around an unusual form of protest: gardening. In 2011, Finley was issued an arrest warrant for planting fruits and vegetables on the curbside strip outside his home in South Central LA — a food desert. Two years later, his story helped change LA laws and, a decade later, he’s helped plant dozens of community gardens. In his MasterClass, Finley teaches you how to grow your own food, avoid killing your plants, and the beauty and community you can find in healthy food.
Whether you want to fine-tune your vocal craft or have no musical experience beyond singing “happy birthday” to your friends and family, Christina Aguilera has the techniques to help you take it up a notch. The Grammy-award winning artist will give you practical tips on how to polish your sound as well as share some stories about her career trajectory.
Apollonia Poilâne, the third-generation baker and CEO of the famous Parisian bakery Poilâne, teaches you how to use all of your senses when baking an ideal loaf from scratch. Poilâne outlines best practices for a variety of French breads — rustic wheat, rye, brioche, and Poilâne’s beloved sourdough loaves — with warmth and clarity. You’ll be able to learn from Poilâne’s practiced movements, see ideal examples of each stage, and hear live troubleshooting. And though your environment will change daily, Poilâne gives you the working knowledge that allows you to adapt.
Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants, like The French Laundry, have been awarded quite a few Michelin stars and have people eagerly waiting months at a time for reservations. In his MasterClass, he breaks down the basics of some of the most essential cooking techniques, like braising meats and making stocks.
Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking and communication
Ivy League degrees, bestselling books, and a Grammy award are just some of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s accolades. In this course, the renowned astrophysicist will help you see into the mind of a scientist, giving you plenty of skills to help you strengthen the way you think and communicate along the way.
If you’re looking for a classic, technical guitar lesson, this course probably isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking to understand how one of the world’s most popular guitarists approaches the instrument, draws inspiration for his music, and found his unique sound, you’ll love this class with Carlos Santana.
As the former CEO and current Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger was responsible for some of the brand’s most important acquisitions, including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. With 45 years in media under his belt, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful businessperson.
His lesson dives into everything from business insights from the acquisition process to how to use your time effectively and productively.
Ever wondered how to make your space look like it’s plucked off an “Architectural Digest” page while still feeling like it’s distinctly yours? It’s a tall order, but Kelly Wearstler has designed enough celebrity homes and boutique hotels to give you all the tips and tricks you need to know to redefine your own space. You’ll learn how to choose colors for any room, make a space feel larger, and even curate an art collection.
During his time as an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss mastered all of the facets of communication and compromise. While your everyday negotiations may not be as high-stake, Voss’s strategies can help you get the outcomes you want — whether it’s a promotion at your job or a big decision in your relationship.
Dominique Ansel teaches French pastry fundamentals
Dominque Ansel is revered for his creative takes on delicious pastries, like the Cronut, a croissant-donut hybrid that garners hours-long lines outside of his SoHo bakery in New York. In this course, you’ll learn the precise technique Ansel uses to bake his famous treats. Fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, and mini madeleines are just some of the desserts you’ll learn to bake.
There’s no one better to help you perfect your poker face than Daniel Negreanu — he’s won the World Series of Poker six times. He’ll help you learn even the most complex poker concepts so you can increase your win rate the next time you sit around the felt.
Compared to many online courses, MasterClass’s follow the format of a one-sided conversation more than an academic setting, which can make learning feel more engaging.
I love that I’m able to learn conventional and not-so-conventional tricks and tips from giants of any industry — some of whom are on my shortlist of favorite authors, actors, musicians, and chefs. Classes are pretty short (2-5 hours total), and the lessons are between 5-25 minutes each.
I also get access to notes, additional reading resources, and a community. And it’s nice that I can download lessons or use Audio Mode in the car as a de facto audiobook on days when my attention span is low.
Plus, the diversity, quality, and flexibility of its online classes is hard to beat. If I’m going through a cooking phase, I can watch bite-sized clips that are interesting and useful. And if something isn’t my number one passion, the allure of a “master” helps me remain interested in the lessons.
Personally, I enjoy having yearly access. If you’re a lifelong learner, it gives you the ability to jump around different subjects with tools like “topic playlists” that queue up stuff you might like. For me, it’s worth the $180 — it’s informative without feeling overly stringent or overwhelming. But if you’re interested in deep-diving into only one topic, I’d recommend auditing a class at Coursera or edX rather than dropping $180 just to access one MasterClass. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
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The southernmost U.S. island, Key West offers a tropical climate, lush gardens, and warm ocean water.
Nicknamed the Conch Republic, Key West has distinct hotels, from colorful inns to expansive resorts.
The best time to visit Key West is in summer and early fall when prices are low, beginning at $140.
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Sometimes weird, often wacky, but always wonderful, Key West is the southernmost island in the United States. Located in the temperate Florida Straits, it boasts lush tropical foliage, paradisaical weather, and warm waters for diving, fishing, paddle boarding and more.
Every time I visit this magical place I come away deeply impressed by the commitment locals have made to preserving the historic Victorian pastel-painted homes. These looks are replicated in the many hotels that dot Key West, ranging from quirky and eccentric to elegant and sophisticated.
The following represent the best on the island, including highly-rated properties with central locations and great amenities such as pools. Because Key West is not known for its beaches, being without a pool can make a stay rather sticky in the summer and it’s a must for any hotel you book.
Browse all the best Key West hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area:
While the historic Old Town is Key West’s most charming district, New Town, at the island’s entry point, has its own distinct vibe and far more affordable hotel options.
That includes The Gates Key West, an upscale boutique hotel with affordable rates and a star attraction in Rum Row, a buzzy poolside bar and lounge decorated in a funky beach-shack style with a huge selection of rum cocktails. Sample conch every which way at the on-site food truck or puff on a stogie in the cigar lounge.
Rooms are bright and modern, with hardwood floors, exposed beams, whitewashed pine platform beds, and colorful original photographs by an acclaimed local photographer. Standard King rooms are spacious at 300 square feet, but we recommend upgrading to the Scene category for a private poolside terrace or views of the bay.
Parrot Key & Villas, with new and refurbished lodgings, offers one of the best values on Key West. The rooms and suites feature three different views: garden, garden/water, and waterfront, and every glance is a feast for the eyes, especially if you’re facing the Gulf of Mexico. The inside is soothing as well, with breezy textiles in shades of whites and neutrals, which makes for a pleasant canvas next to all the outdoor colors. Conch-inspired artwork completes the Key West charm.
While a standard Garden King or Double Queen begins at $239 in the off-season, I suggest booking a Garden Suite or a Waterfront King for a minimal extra investment. Regardless, all rooms and suites have a porch, patio or balcony, in-room Keurig coffee makers, L’Occitane products, and come with access to four beautifully landscaped pools, which are cleansed with minerals instead of chlorine.
Simonton Court Historic Inn and Cottages provides one of the most authentic and charming lodging experiences on the island. Stay in your choice of reclaimed historic buildings that range from an 1880s cigar factory to a shotgun Conch house. Room categories are numerous and include double occupancy in the Victorian mansion to quadruple occupancy in wood-framed, pastel-painted cottages.
Follow the brick pathway through the grounds, which are extraordinary and well-maintained, to explore all four pools and where a lovely, complimentary continental breakfast is served poolside every morning. Aside from free Wi-Fi, that’s about it for amenities. But the inn is a block from Duval Street, and concierge services will help arrange whatever tours and charters you like; the staff overall is extremely helpful and well-meaning.
Rustic and handsome, this award-winning resort is named after the “Commodore Perry.” The hotel’s decor scheme is made up of a variety of dark woods, warm brown textiles, and white walls and linens, and recalls the seafaring and shipbuilding days of Old Key West.
Relaxed and roomy, The Perry Hotel Key West is an ideal place to sprawl out for an extended stay, especially if you’re in town to fish, boat, or otherwise take advantage of nature. That’s because the 100-room hotel is located in Stock Island Marina Village, which has 288 private slips and plenty of opportunities to book charters.
You may also swim in two attractively designed waterfront pools, decked out with white umbrellas and teepee-shaped daybeds, and dine at three dockside restaurants. Concierge services help to plan water activities including snorkeling, diving, sailing, fishing, and more.
The Marquesa Hotel is my favorite place in Key West. I even seriously considered naming my daughter after it. This boutique resort is made up of a collection of restored historic properties: the main house, or the original Marquesa, and three newly renovated buildings (including a cottage), known as 4-1-4- Marquesa. Situated across the street, they’re clustered around a gorgeously landscaped pool and fountain.
The resort offers three pools, which you have access to wherever you stay, and furnishings reflect the environment with antique reproductions, lots of wicker, and airy, colorful fabrics, as well as updated bathrooms.
Although a standard Queen in the main house with a city view is perfectly delightful, I suggest upgrading to the more private, fresher rooms such as a Balcony Deluxe with a King bed, private covered balcony, two lounge chairs, and a table. Likewise, the Poolside Standards, on the first and second floors adjacent to the main house, feature either a terrace or balcony.
Overlooking the Key West Harbor, The Marker debuted in 2014 making it one of the newer properties in town. Contemporary and clean-lined with large-format, refillable Key West Aloe brand toiletries in the bathroom to prevent plastic waste, the hotel offers a variety of room categories, including several ADA-accessible formats. The resort also focuses on sustainability, with several features dedicated to improving the environment.
Very few hotels in Key West, or anywhere in South Florida, feature wall-to-wall, wavy-patterned threads underfoot, but all 96 rooms at the two-acre Marker Waterfront Resort include carpeting. A blue-and-white color scheme is reflected throughout the property, including at the three pools and the pool bar. One of those pools is adult-only, a nice option if you don’t have kids. You might want to get there early, though, to stake a claim on a lounge chair or daybed. Folks hang out all day long, enjoying the poolside service, and talented technicians at the bar will keep you hooked on craft cocktails and tequila tastings. When hunger strikes, dine at Starboard, the waterfront restaurant on-site.
Tropical outside, majestic inside with stone floors, polished dark furniture, and marble bathrooms, Key West Marriott Beachside is a good all-around destination resort, especially if you’re traveling with a family or group. A 16-slip marina allows ocean access for water sports rentals (kayaks and Jet-Skis) and boat charters. A tiny beach allows for tanning — or sweating — opportunities only, but you can slip into the waterfront pool to cool down. The 24/7 fitness center also looks overlooks the Gulf, so you’ll feel like you’re running outside even when while on the treadmill. Bike rentals are also available.
In September, book a standard King Room for the lowest prices. But these rooms are sometimes the locked-off extra spaces of suites. It might be wise to indulge in a Presidential Suite with a resort view, which includes a full-service kitchen and dining room, for less than $100 more. You can also request grocery service so you don’t have to take time out of your day.
Formerly Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina, this luxury resort is now part of the Opal Collection. Rooms and public spaces have been reimagined to be less Jimmy Buffett and more welcoming to guests of all ilk. Rooms and public spaces soothe with aqua and blue hues contrasted by sand, wheat, and white colors.
Stay on-site for activities ranging from sunbathing at the pool to the nightly Sunset Celebration, toasting the end of another day in paradise on the Sunset Deck, which overlooks the pier where the crowds gather to do the same. Dine at Bistro 245 or walk the bare five minutes to Duval Street and all that it has to offer.
In low season, standard rooms come with packages (some with drinks, others with breakfast). If you have a family, though, it might be worthwhile to upgrade to a suite with a kitchenette for a couple of hundred dollars extra. What it costs you in room fees will save you when it comes to having quick lunches and snacks on hand to prepare instead of order.
For some of the most comfortable pillowtop beds and updated rain shower bathrooms in Key West, check into the 142-room Pier House Resort & Spa. Originally a 50-room hotel, the resort was built by Key West native David Wolkowsky, who also developed the original Sloppy Joe’s (of Hemingway renown), Pirate’s Alley, and the Original Cigar Factory. Several famous musicians, including Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley, played gigs in the hotel’s Chart Room Bar, which still serves free hot dogs and popcorn like in the old days.
Rooms come with plantation shutters to keep the room cool or let in as much light as you choose, in addition to coffee and water, bathrobes, and umbrellas for the unexpected tropical storm. Morning coffee at the beach bar, fruit-infused water stations, and a welcome drink are all offered, too.
The spa is also one of the finest on the island, with 10,000 square feet and 10 treatment rooms offering everything from the signature “Milk and Honey” treatment, which includes an exfoliation, body wrap, and scalp massage, to a Thai foot massage. The facility includes a full fitness center, Vichy showers, and cosmetic services.
If your idea of Key West is lounging on a brightly-hued Adirondack chair while gazing at the calm Florida Straits, then the historic, mid-century Southernmost Beach Resort will deliver.
The resort, located in between Duval and Simonton streets, is in a prime location and one of the largest (and priciest) in town, covering six acres and two city blocks. Formerly known as the Southernmost Hotel Collection, it comprises two properties with similar names: Southernmost on the Beach and Southernmost Hotel, as well as La Mer Hotel and Dewey House. The last two are adults-only. The website doesn’t really clarify this, so it’s best to call and ask about the differences in room styles and prices when you go to book.
Charming and relaxed, the waterfront resort features a number of opportunities to park yourself waterside, including two beaches (one private, the other public) and three pools. While there’s a fitness center with the usual treadmills, ellipticals, and weights, the beach and aqua yoga sessions are much more appealing. Likewise, the Petite Spa offers plenty of treatments, but you can also get a massage in a three-sided oceanfront cabana on the beach.
With hues of lime, aqua, and turquoise plus rattan and wicker accent furniture running throughout both guest rooms and public spaces, Ocean Key Resort & Spa, a Noble House Resort, truly honors its surroundings.
Self-described as “kitschy,” while still high on the luxury scale, the resort is located between Key West Harbor and Mallory Square, smack in the middle of Old Town. In fact, the address is Zero Duval Street. Think of it as the anchor of Old Town, keeping you firmly embedded in the playground of Key West.
Three restaurants and bars — Hot Tin Roof, LIQUID Pool Bar & Lounge, and Sunset Pier — all offer views and access to the open air, so there’s no excuse not to toast the infamous sunset, as the locals do. For an escape, retreat to your balcony and order in a “Craft and Charcuterie” experience with beer and a cured meat board (keep the board), or “The Ultimate Cuba Libre” with 10 Cane rum, Mexican Coca-Cola, fresh limes, and miniature Cuban sandwiches (keep the Riedel Coca-Cola glasses).
In addition to the criteria above, I considered the following factors:
My experience: I’ve been living in Florida since 1992 and covering the entire state as a food-and-travel writer for a large variety of international publications and guidebooks. I’ve stayed in many of these hotels and can vouch for their overall experience.
Overall features: The best Key West hotels feature sparkling pools – usually more than one! – waterfront views or hidden Old Town locations, and stunning design elements. They also offer restaurants and bars on the premises that bring in that relaxed, sunset-celebrating, Key West vibe.
COVID-19: We only selected hotels that prioritize the health and safety of their guests with new cleaning policies. Every hotel has its protocol displayed on its website.
Please note that Florida has lifted statewide restrictions on masking and does not allow private businesses to directly ask about vaccination status. However, many businesses still choose to follow CDC protocols that prioritize the health and safety of their guests with new cleaning policies and masking in public spaces.
FAQ: Key West hotels
Where is Key West?
Key West is the southernmost island in a chain of small islands, called the Florida Keys. It’s part of an archipelago that stretches for 125 miles into the Florida Straits, only 90 miles from Cuba. A place known for its distance from large metropolitan influences, it’s attractive to free-spirited thinkers, artists, writers, musicians, and other creative spirits.
Key West is also a port of call for cruise ships, and famously only 90 miles from Cuba. The Conch Republic, so nicknamed because of its Bahamian ancestry, welcomes characters of all kinds and was once home to the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Elizabeth Bishop, and Tennessee Williams. Key West is famous for its candy-colored Victorian and Queen Anne houses, eclectic bars, and spectacular sunsets. It’s also beloved for eccentric residents including six-toed cats and roaming roosters.
What is the best location to stay in Key West?
There are many hotels in Key West, many of which are housed in what are generally called conch houses and built from wood. The architectural style also includes Victorian homes with gingerbread trim, pastel-painted cottages, and roomy double-stories with wraparound porches.
If you want to be within walking distance to Duval Street and all the action, stay in Old Town, where you can also gaze at the singular Conch Republic architecture just by stepping out the door. Key West Bahama Village is just as colorful, with roots extending back to the Caribbean.
The residential The Meadows and Casa Marina Area, home to Higgs Beach, the Dog Park, and White Street Pier, are both distinct and charming, as is Truman Annex, a former naval station that is now a gated community adjacent to the Little White House, Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park and the Truman Waterfront.
Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that interspersing indoor activities with outdoor ones is important during the hot summer months. And keep in mind that with the hot weather comes hurricane season. From June 1-November 30, Key West does see its share of storm watches/warnings as well as actual storms.
Once you’re on Key West, you don’t necessarily have to drive, depending on where you’re staying. But ride-sharing services aren’t as expedient or as numerous as they are on the mainland. A lot of visitors like to walk or bike to destinations. You can also hop on-hop off the Key West Old Towne Trolley or hail a pedicab, a longtime Key West tradition.
Are Key West hotels expensive?
Like other hotels in Florida, expect to see the highest prices in winter and spring when many vacationers are traveling during spring break, school vacations, or simply want to escape cold weather.
In summer, room prices fall to $239. In winter, expect them to rise a few hundred dollars. November through March are generally the priciest months, with rates varying wildly depending on the day and week. Also keep in mind that most, if not all, properties have daily resort fees, usually ranging between $30 to nearly $50 per day. Also note that almost all hotels have a minimum age requirement, ranging from 21-25, for check-in that is not only posted but enforced. This is to keep Spring Break mayhem out of the area and young people will be asked to prove it or lose their reservation if they don’t have ID.
That said, the state of Florida has lifted governmental restrictions and COVID protocols. Still, some private businesses opt to follow the CDC masking and social distancing guidelines and may enforce their own rules.
Being a dad is tough, but for a new dad, it can be even harder. It’s like the first day of a job that they know nothing about. From midnight feedings to car-seat installation, new dads can feel overwhelmed and forget to come up for air, so this Father’s Day couldn’t be a better time to send in some support.
We rounded up thoughtful 47 gift ideas for new dads, ranging from a mug that keeps coffee warm long enough for him to finish it to a duffel bag that will get lots of use on upcoming family road trips.
Here are 47 of the best gifts for new dads:
A portable speaker
JBL Clip 3 Portable Speaker, available at Amazon and Walmart, $49.95
The JBL Clip 3 is the ultimate bluetooth speaker for new dads because it comes in a variety of colors, has an integrated carabiner to clip onto a stroller, car seat, or backpack, and most importantly, it is totally waterproof. Just pair the speaker with a smartphone and let dad relax with no worries of their phone getting lost while blasting “Baby Shark” for the hundredth time.
Moment is known for making smartphone-oriented products, but within the past few years, the brand has moved into mobile lifestyle, and if anyone is living that, it’s the new dad. This sling can hold a wallet, keys, phone, camera, snack bar, and other necessities. It’s perfect for running errands or a day traipsing around a theme park. It is made of Kodra nylon with a waterproof coating, which means it’s easy to clean.
New dads don’t have time to be in the kitchen preparing gourmet meals with made-from-scratch sauces. Bushwick Kitchen brings to the table some sweet and spicy options like a wildflower honey mixed with habanero peppers or sweet options like Meyer lemon honey. Dad will be taking breakfast to the next level in no time at all.
A duffel bag is a versatile gift because it can hold whatever dad wants. It could be a diaper bag, workout bag, or carry-on, and this duffel has packable backpack straps for hands-free carrying. It’s water-repellent, thanks to sustainable use of old windshield plastics from landfills, and it compresses down nearly flat for easy storage.
New dad life can be chaotic and frustrating, which is why the Veer Tote makes a great gift. Not only does it have padded handles and an interior water-resistant zip compartment, but the entire bag is made of coated waterproof fabric. That means dads can get it as dirty as they want and simply hose it down to make it good as new.
Comfortable running socks
Gift the Darn Tough Stride Micro Crew Ultra-Light Running Sock, available at Amazon and Darn Tough, $18.95
For many new dads, some form of exercise is crucial to maintaining mental health, but they can’t afford to get sore feet, or worse, blisters. This Stride running sock is made from merino wool for quick moisture wicking, provides arch support to reduce fatigue, and has seamless stitching to to prevent blisters and chaffing. Another plus is Darn Tough’s no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee. If dad starts having problems with the socks, just send them back and they’ll send a new pair.
Gift the Sunski Puerto polarized sunglasses, available at REI and Sunski, $48
Some dads worry when they welcome a child into the world, their style will cease. Thankfully, a new pair of shades is a quick way to shake up the routine. These sunglasses come in navy slate or black forest, are made from lightweight recycled material, and feature polarized lenses that eliminate glare and are easier on their eyes. Bonus, Sunski offers a warranty that if the glasses break under normal conditions, they will replace them or fix them.
Summertime is sandal time. Hunter’s EVA slides fit the bill for easy, lightweight, and durable footwear. The perforated uppers and contoured footbed keep dad’s feet cool and comfortable and you can’t beat the ease of simply sliding them on and off for the pool, errands, or even around the house. Unlike dad’s new shirt that just got some baby spit-up on it, these sandals simply wipe clean and good to go.
A compact flashlight
Gift the HX-4 LED Flashlight, available at Amazon and Coast, from $14.99
Fumbling for diapers in the middle of the night, remembering to take the trash out at 2 a.m., or looking for that tiny clip from baby’s teething toy that fell between the seats in the car — these are all reasons to have a great flashlight. This one is small, has a clip and a magnet to attach the light nearly anywhere, features a powerful LED in either white or red light, and can be rotated 180 degrees to make sure it’s exactly where dad needs it.
New dads rarely have both hands free, so eliminating the need to twist, pop, flip, or open their coffee container makes life so much easier. They can simply add their coffee, screw on the top, and pull the trigger to open up the world of caffeine goodness.
As any parent will tell you, getting out the door is rough. And getting your shoes on can be downright annoying when you’re holding the baby, diaper bag, keys, and much, much more. Thankfully, footwear brand Vasque has a new dad’s back…or their feet. The sock-like upper and memory foam footbed means they’ll probably just wear them all day, but the easy on and off makes them infinitely versatile.
The compact Marpac produces impressive volume, has a variety of white noise options, and offers a small nightlight. It also comes with a clip for connecting to the stroller for a walk (remember the outside?), in the car for an errand, or on the carrier as they bounce baby to sleep.
Restless nights and uncertain mornings may have dad missing their morning pourover coffee ritual. Turns out they can still have that rich flavor thanks to third-generation Kenyan coffee farmer Margaret Kemunto Nyamumbo. Kahawa has created a single serve coffee that looks more like a tea bag, is ready in five minutes, and 100% compostable. Bonus: You can send a tip directly to the women who picked the coffee.
Built by Thor and his legion of trainers, Centr is a one-stop-shop for workouts ranging from yoga to full gym routines as well as guided meditation and delicious meal recipes. The app includes short, effective workouts that are perfect for that new dad schedule and the guided mediation will slow dad’s anxiety.
If the secret to success as a new parent is organization, the Nomad’s beautiful wireless charger fits the bill. It’s slim, sleek, and able to power two devices simultaneously while also allowing for a USB-C and USB-A cord to be plugged in for a total of four devices at once. Mom and dad’s phones, AirPods, and the portable white noise machine will all be full and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
This grab bag of Tile options lets new parents rely on technology instead of their overtaxed brains. New dads can attach tiles to their keys, diaper bag, and wallet in order to make sure those items never stay lost for too long. And if they have their keys but not their phone, they can double tap the tile to make it ring.
There’s something about being a dad that really brings out their inner handyman. The Leatherman Wingman is loaded with 14 tools, including a knife, screwdrivers, bottle openers, and even a 1-inch ruler, so they can fix just about anything and pop open a cold one when they’re done.
The right underwear makes everything go so much smoother. The lightweight material is soft and breathable, and the patented BallPark Pouch keeps everything in place, whether they’re getting up for an early morning feeding or pushing a stroller around the park on a hot summer day.
Stealing away for a midafternoon nap in a hammock is an incredible way for a new dad to take a break from diaper changes. The Newdora Garden Hammock is easy to set up, adjustable, and packs down small enough to take anywhere.
Sleep, when it does happen for both dad and baby, is so much better on a set of soft sheets that make them feel like they’re sleeping on a cloud. These are great for delicate skin and hot sleepers, too, and they come in a variety of colors and prints.
A comfy pillow might be the most important ingredient for a restful night. The adjustable fill on the Coop pillow means it works for every kind of sleeper, and a 100-night trial means they’re not stuck with it if they don’t like it.
Made with tough plastic and rubber grips, the Stroll and Connect mounts easily to a stroller or shopping cart and won’t fall off in crowded aisles or on bumpy terrain. It lets a parent keep their hands free in case they need to use the phone on the go.
With a variety of holds, from jugs to crimps to pockets, the Metolius Project Board is great for releasing tension with a quick upper body workout. It can go just about anywhere inside or outside, and the fine texture is easy on the skin.
Nothing will fully prepare him for the chaos and confusion of being a new dad. However, Matt Coyne’s sleep-deprived take on parenting will give him a hilarious and honest reassurance that he’s doing alright, no matter how stressful it seems.
This essential shave set includes a razor with a comfortable handle and textured rubber grip, three German-engineered blade cartridges, foaming shave gel for a rich lather, and a travel cover to protect the blades.
Dad will love a cup of cold brew coffee, with less acidity and a smoother taste, when they need a pick-me-up after sneaking in an afternoon nap. The Takeya Deluxe makes up to 1 quart of concentrate. Plus, it’s easy to use and an incredible value.
The Instant Pot makes cooking dinner for the whole family a breeze. It makes soups, meats, yogurt, and pretty much everything else, even baby food. Easy cleanup means more time to spend with the little one too.
If they’re a coffee fanatic, they’ll love a bag of single-origin beans. Grown in the volcanic soil in the rugged mountains of the Indonesian island Sumatra, this rich, complex blend has notes of molasses and pineapple. And for those mornings where there’s no time to hassle with a French press, don’t overlook instant coffees, which have caught up in quality to the whole bean version.
New dads will love a pair of comfortable pants for sleeping or lounging around the house that won’t embarrass them when the in-laws show up announced. These soft, light micromodal pants from Tommy John are perfect, and they hold up nicely wash after wash.
Make those long hours playing on the floor count with a subscription to Lovevery curated age-appropriate toy kits. Delivered every two months, each one includes guides that show how each toy helps with a child’s development. They’re also a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, a new dad can’t wear lounge pants all the time. But just because they’re leaving the house for a bit, doesn’t mean they’ve got to sacrifice comfort. Bonobos chinos come in multiple fits and sizes, and the signature curved waistband give them an unobtrusive fit that makes them great for the office, a trip to the store, or a playdate in the park.
A phone full of pictures and videos is great, but they’ll want something to capture and hold onto the most special moments. This photo book, featuring a fabric cover and foil stamped title, lets him write down his memories and the details of each milestone.
This set comes with a razor handle and four four-blade cartridges that make for a great shave for when dad needs to clean up a little. It also includes a gentle prep scrub, shave butter, and hydrating post-shave cream.
Whether you’re running errands or spending a day in the park, a good baby carrier makes it so much easier. Made with 100% premium cotton, the Ergobaby Omni 360 is super soft and easily adjustable to fit waists and shoulders of all sizes. It works in multiple positions, too, front or back, face-in or face-out.
There’s just something about being a dad that turns everyone into an overnight handy man. This tool kit includes all the basics he’ll need for assembling or repairing all that new gear in the nursery and beyond.
Dad is going to need a good cooler for bringing food home from the store or packing up milk and baby food for a road trip to see the grandparents. This one has a 50-can capacity, but it still folds up small enough to stash under the seat when they don’t need it.
This blanket is made of breathable cotton/polyester blend fabric that will keep baby comfortable and cool. And the flour tortilla print that makes them look like a bundle of burrito joy is impossibly adorable.
Getting active and outdoors is great for kids, and something a new dad can do right from the start. With an REI membership, they’ll get annual dividends, exclusive offers, and more to get the gear they and their family will want.
Buying a cookware set can be overwhelming because of the sheer volume of brands, materials, and types of included pieces. While stainless steel, copper, and traditional nonstick are the most popular options for cookware sets and each have their benefits, another lesser-known cookware material can offer some of the best value: hard-anodized aluminum. According to Fran Groesbeck, managing director at the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association, hard-anodized cookware is known for its strength, durability, and even heating.
Raw aluminum is inexpensive and offers excellent conductivity for cooking, but it’s prone to discoloration and scratching. Hard-anodized aluminum has undergone a chemical process to oxidize the cooking surface of the pan so it’s more durable, nonstick, and doesn’t discolor the food. While hard-anodized cookware is plenty nonstick in its own right, many hard-anodized pieces have additional nonstick coatings. For more information on the technical aspects of the material, see our FAQs.
While durability, cooking, and ease of use and cleaning were top of mind when making our selections, we also looked for sets with useful pieces and no superfluous items. The most important pieces in any cookware set are a stockpot or Dutch oven, a 12-inch skillet, and a 4-quart saucepan, all with lids (it’s worth noting that cookware manufacturer’s consider lids as separate “pieces” when listing the number of pieces in a set). We used this blueprint to narrow down the choices in this guide. If you’re looking for a specific piece, consider purchasing individual items, as a large cookware set is likely to have more than you need.
We think hard-anodized cookware sets are a great option for folks who want to outfit their kitchen on a budget, and are looking for a set that is easy to cook with, care for, and maintain. Below we’ve outlined our top picks for hard-anodized sets.
Here are the best hard-anodized cookware sets in 2021
The GreenPan Valencia Pro set is our top pick because it features 11 basic cookware pieces that have safe ceramic nonstick coatings and are oven-safe to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, all for about $200.
Pros: Oven-safe to 600 degrees F, metal utensil safe, durable ceramic nonstick coating, lots of useful pieces, both PTFE- and PFOA-free
Cons: No 12-inch skillet (though sauté pan can be used in its place)
With seven pans and four lids, the Valencia Pro has everything you need to switch between stovetop and oven cooking. The hard-anodized bodies and stainless steel handles are durable, scratch resistant, and oven-safe up to 600 degrees F. The glass lids allow you to see what you’re cooking without releasing steam or heat (but keep in mind that the lids are only oven-safe to 425 degrees F). The casserole dish is just a Dutch oven by another name.
GreenPan uses a ceramic nonstick coating derived from sand particles, which is as durable and effective as traditional coatings, but free from PTFE, PFOA, and lead. The Valencia Pro set is also dishwasher and metal utensil safe for easier clean up and better durability.
Best hard-anodized cookware set on a budget
The Rachael Ray Cucina set features dishwasher safe and durable cookware basics, making it an ideal set for starting fresh in the kitchen on a budget.
Pros: Dishwasher safe, comes in three different cookware colors, large variety of pot and pan types
Cons: Only oven-safe to 400 degrees F, no large frying pan, saucepans are a bit on the small side
The Rachael Ray Cucina Hard-Anodized Set offers valuable basics in materials known for durability. The hard-anodized aluminum exterior is scratch-resistant, and the tempered glass lids are bordered by a stainless steel rim. The nonstick interior is PFOA free, but not metal utensil safe.
Instead of a third saucepan or skillet, the set includes a 3-quart sauté pan as a piece with more volume and versatility. The serving utensils (a slotted spoon and spatula) are a great addition for a starter cookware set. You can choose from three colors for the serving utensils and the silicone grips that wrap around stainless steel handles.
Best high-end hard-anodized cookware set
The Thermo-Clad cookware set features details that make cooking easier, from the heat-encapsulating stainless steel lids to the metal utensil safe nonstick coating.
Pros: Induction compatible, heat-sealing lids, includes a large stockpot
Cons: Fewer pieces than less expensive sets, no large skillet
Instead of glass, this set features stainless steel lids with double wall insulation to keep food warm. While this means you can’t see the food while it’s cooking, it’s useful for making items ahead of time and keeping food warm for serving. The entire set is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Thermo-Clad line features a tri-ply stainless steel base, designed to limit hot spots by covering the bottom of the pan edge to edge. The nonstick coating is metal utensil safe, though the brand recommends avoiding abrasive cleaners like steel wool. The unique item in this set is the 6-quart “essential pan,” which is nearly identical in design to a traditional saucier. With a wide base and high, rounded sides, this pan is great for one pot meals.
Best space-saving hard-anodized cookware set
The Calphalon Stackable Set includes every necessary piece to start a cookware collection and it all stacks neatly for easy storage in small kitchens.
Pros: Stacks compactly for storage, lids fit on multiple pieces
Cons: No large skillet, only oven-safe to 400 degrees F, not safe for metal utensils
This set is organized by diameter, so that all 8-inch wide pieces fit in a stack that can nest within the 10-inch wide stack. Interlocking plates on the pans’ outside edges stabilize the stacks. Because of the common diameters, the lids are interchangeable among pieces.
Silicone grips keep the handles cool to the touch, but limit the oven-safe temperature to 400 degrees F. The nonstick interior is also not safe for metal utensils. The highlight of this set is a stackable Dutch oven, giving you the versatility of the piece without taking up too much space.
Best hard-anodized cookware set for induction
The Ninja Foodi NeverStick cookware set works on all range types, including induction, and is constructed for maximum durability and heat retention with heavy-gauge aluminum and a stainless steel base.
Pros: Proprietary nonstick coating, metal utensil safe, induction compatible
Cons: No large skillet (though sauté pan can perform similar functions)
Ninja’s NeverStick technology is based on heating the particles used in the nonstick coating to higher temperatures than other brands do for their coatings. This promises a more durable nonstick surface that isn’t prone to chipping or flaking and is metal utensil safe.
The NeverStick line is available in a hard-anodized set that comes with 10 pieces and can be used on all range types, including induction. Though it lacks a large skillet, it comes with a generously-sized stockpot for making soups, stews, and one pot meals. The pieces are also safe to 500 degrees F for easy transition from stovetop to oven.
We identified the best hard-anodized cookware sets through research, an interview with Fran Groesbeck, managing director at the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association, and our own extensive experience with cookware. We developed baseline criteria, such as necessary pieces and safety requirements, and evaluated sets based on these elements and other factors like value for price. We plan on testing these sets in the future and updating this guide accordingly.
What is hard-anodized aluminum?
Aluminum is a common material used in bakeware and cookware because it’s lightweight and has great heat conductivity. The main issue with aluminum is that it will oxidize when exposed to acidic food, leaving dark marks on the surface that can transfer to light colored foods. To prevent this, most modern aluminum pans are coated in a ceramic layer or “anodized,” an electrochemical process that uses controlled oxidation to create a protective layer.
The unique element of this process is that the anodized layer isn’t applied to the surface, but created out of the molecules within the metal. Therefore, the anodized protective layer cannot chip or peel off. It can wear down, but if cared for properly, it lasts longer than applied coatings. “Hard-anodized aluminum is naturally stick resistant, and it is resistant to scratches and food odors,” said Groesbeck.
What utensils are safe to use on hard-anodized cookware?
The hard-anodized layer isn’t a coating, so a hard-anodized pan can be used with any material utensil. However, nonstick coatings are often applied to hard-anodized cookware, so we recommend checking the information provided by the manufacturer before using metal utensils. Single or double layer nonstick coatings can be scratched by metal utensils.
Can hard-anodized cookware be used on induction stovetops?
This depends on the set and will be listed in the manufacturer’s description of the product. Cookware must have magnetic properties to work on induction stovetops, and aluminum is a non-magnetic metal, Groesbeck said. Therefore, a magnetic plate must be applied to the base of aluminum cookware in order to be induction safe. This is why not every hard-anodized aluminum set is induction compatible.
Can hard-anodized cookware go in the oven?
While you should always consult the manufacturer’s instructions, most hard-anodized cookware is oven-safe to some degree. The exact oven-safe temperature will be listed by the manufacturer on the packaging. The lids may have a different oven-safe temperature depending on the material.
Is hard-anodized cookware dishwasher safe?
Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on using the dishwasher or hand-washing your cookware. If the cookware has a nonstick coating, it is always recommended to use non-abrasive cleaners and avoid steel wool or other harsh sponges.
PFOA and PTFE
The acronyms PFOA and PTFE are everywhere in cookware descriptions. Here’s what you need to know about each:
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was used in the production of PTFE since Teflon was invented in the 1970s. In the manufacturing process, most of the PFOA burns off and only trace elements remain in the cookware. These elements are then only released if the cookware is overheated to temperatures of 570 degrees F. However, since 2010, the EPA has put programs and regulations in place to phase out the use of PFOAs in American manufacturing. The majority of cookware made in the United States since 2015 is PFOA-free, and so are all of our top picks.
International standards are not the same as American ones, so PFOA may still be used in products from other countries.