29 tech gadgets we use to boost our productivity and comfort when we work from home

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grovemade desk tray
Grovemade sells many beautiful tech accessories to make your desk more organized.

  • We’ve rounded up the best work-from-home tech you can get to set up your home office.
  • Our picks include a sharp computer monitor, a comfy keyboard and mouse, an effective webcam and 26 more essentials.
  • We’ve personally used all these items when we have worked from home over the years.
  • Read more: The best computer monitors of 2020

One of the biggest challenges of working from home is setting up a home office with the right tools, but once you’ve got everything in place, it’s easier to get your work done.  

Even if you don’t have a ton of space or a dedicated room to turn into a home office, you can still have a comfortable and productive work-from-home setup. All you need is a table, chair, and a few key pieces of tech. 

We’ve compiled this handy list of the best work-from-home tech to help you increase your productivity. The main tech essentials everyone needs to work remotely are reliable internet and a laptop, but we also recommend getting a monitor so you have a bigger screen to work from as well as a decent keyboard and mouse. With these gadgets, you’ll feel much more comfortable working than you would if you had to squint over your small laptop screen all day. 

Beyond those main tech gadgets, you may also want to get a few more accessories, so we’ve added others that are enjoyable to have, including everything from headphones and speakers to webcams and smart speakers.

A wireless mouse for your home office

Logitech MX Master 3

Logitech MX Master 3 wireless mouse

Logitech MX Master 3 for Mac wireless mouse

MX Master 3 Wireless Laser Mouse for Mac (button)

Logitech’s MX Master Wireless Mouse is our top pick for the best computer mouse for good reason. It has an ergonomic design that’s comfortable to use for hours on end and you can customize the functions of its buttons and the speed of the scroll wheel. I’ve been using this mouse to work for several months now, and it’s helped limit the amount of wrist and hand fatigue I feel at the end of the day. It’s also wireless, so it’s an excellent mouse to have in your home office setup. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

A strange-looking mouse that’s worth the risk

Work from home tech Logitech

Logitech MX Vertical Wireless Mouse

MX Vertical (button)

The Logitech MX Vertical looks odd, and feels even stranger when you put your hand on it. But after a few days, using it becomes second nature, and it’s noticeably more comfortable than normal mice, especially if you use computers all day. I had an MX Vertical I left at BI’s NYC office before the pandemic, and I ventured back into the city from the safety of my suburban home during the pandemic to get it back for my home setup. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Reporter

Don’t settle for a cheap, flimsy office mouse pad

Steelseries

Steelseries QCK Heavy Mousepad

I initially wanted a larger, thick mouse pad for PC gaming, but I’d find it difficult to be productive without the Steelseries QCK Heavy mousepad. Indeed, it’s about twice as thick and twice as large as a standard cheap office mousepad, the cloth feels premium and smooth, and it’s washable. It gives you a lot more room to swing your mouse around comfortably, and it makes a surprisingly positive impact on your comfort without needing to spend very much. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Reporter      

A good-looking desk pad

Grovemade desk pad

Grovemade Desk Pad

When I first started working from home, I used a towel as a desk pad to protect my table from wear and tear. After a few months of that, I started looking into desk pads and found this one by Grovemade. It’s made of natural linoleum with a cork backing to give it some cushion and prevent it from sliding around on the desk. You can also get it in wool or leather, but both of those options are more expensive. sizes range from small ($40+) to extra large ($90+).

I got a large linoleum desk pad in the blue color, and it makes my desk look great while also protecting it from stains, scratches, and other dangers. It cleans up easily, too with the swipe of a damp washcloth or a paper towel. The desk pad works as a mouse pad, too, if you don’t want to get both.

I also got a desk organizer from Grovemade to keep my pens, sticky notes, and other desk accessories in order. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

A laptop stand

Twelve South curve laptop stand

Twelve South Curve Laptop Stand

I got a laptop stand about nine months into quarantine after using books and boxes and all sorts of odd things to hold up my laptop during video calls. This laptop stand from Twelve South is sturdy, matches my MacBook Pro’s design, and keeps my laptop at the perfect height for video calls. It also helps prevent my laptop from overheating, thanks to its open bottom, which facilitates air and circulation. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

A cheap Bluetooth keyboard for your home office

Logitech keyboard

Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard

I’ve been using Logitech’s K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard in the office for almost a full year. I like its compact design and I find the keys responsive for typing. I never use the numberpad on giant keyboards, so I prefer this no-frills option. It’s wireless, too, so my small home office setup doesn’t look cluttered by a bunch of cables. For about $30, it’s an excellent affordable option. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

An ergonomic keyboard

Logitech Ergo Keyboard

Logitech Ergo K860

If you plan to be desk-bound, an ergonomic keyboard is essential, and my favorite is the new Logitech Ergo K860. I have used many ergonomic keyboards for the past 25 years, and none have worked as well as this one. I like the elevated wrist support that keeps my hands and arms in proper typing position. The split keyboard does take some getting used to, but after a day, I found myself typing away with minimal typos. The keys are well positioned and require very little travel distance, which means less strain on your hands and wrists. It’s wireless, so you can easily move it, and it supports up to three Bluetooth devices — I love the ability to switch between my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad quickly. Since I started using this keyboard regularly, it has lessened my wrist pain. — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

Nothing beats a classic mechanical keyboard

Work from home tech Durgod

Durgod Taurus K310 Mechanical Keyboard

I used the Durgod Taurus K310 mechanical keyboard for typing, and I absolutely love it. It has a classic mechanical look and feel, and it’s a dream to type on. I have the “Cherry MX Silent Red” switches on mine, which means it’s very quiet for a mechanical keyboard, which are typically loud. It has the Windows logo on the Command key, but it’s equally compatible with MacOS devices, too. I like having the number pad on my keyboards, but it’s also available in a smaller option without the number pad called the Taurus K320. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Reporter    

A foldable Bluetooth keyboard

Plugable keyboard

Plugable Bluetooth Keyboard

If you have limited space to work from home or you need to pack up your setup and take it with you, a foldable Bluetooth keyboard may be the answer. I’ve been using this full-size model from Plugable when I’m working from home unexpectedly. At the end of the day, I can easily fold it up and hide it away to regain access to my dining table. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

A gel wrist rest for your mouse

Kensington wrist wrest

Kensington ErgoSoft Wrist Rest

To limit wrist fatigue, I’ve been using Kensington’s ErgoSoft Wrist Rest. It’s essentially a small gel-filled wrist pad that you can position exactly where you need it. The sticky underside keeps it from shifting around on the table, but it’s ideal to have the option to angle it or remove it as needed throughout the workday. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

A micro-bead mouse wrist rest to keep you RSI free

Imak

IMAK Cushion Ergobeads Wrist Rest

I have a confession to make: I’ve been using the same Imak ErgoBeads wrist rest featured here for an undetermined amount of years. I’ve washed it regularly, of course, but let’s just say it’s not something I would let go of as a hand-me-down. This thing is the definition of computing comfort, in my opinion, and there are bundles that include a wrist rest for your keyboard. There’s something about beads that perfectly contour to your wrist and feel like a down pillow underneath it. Don’t make this tough time even worse with a repeated stress injury —  trust me, I know from experience. — Joe Osborne, Senior Tech Editor

A mousepad with a wrist rest to prevent RSIs

3M mouse pad

3M Precise Mouse Pad

Look, there’s enough to worry about much less a debilitating work injury preventing you from getting your work done. That’s why we’re recommending the 3M Precise Mouse Pad, because it’s cheap, effective, and will keep your mouse hand comfortable with a wrist rest. Also, its tracking surface is designed for modern optical mice, so you’re basically covered from every angle for less than $20. — Joe Osborne, Senior Technology Editor

 

An affordable smart speaker

Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen

Amazon Echo Dot

Echo Dot (4th Generation) (button)

My Echo Dot has become an essential desktop companion whenever I work from home. The affordable Alexa device is our top pick for best budget smart speaker, and it packs all of the same digital assistant features found on Amazon’s more expensive Echo products into a compact, budget-friendly package. Sound quality can’t compete with genuine stereo speakers, but the Echo Dot gets the job done for casual background listening while I work. It’s also a convenient tool for setting alarms and reminders, getting quick answers to questions, and receiving news and weather updates. And best of all? Its reliable voice control means you never have to step away from your keyboard.  — Steven Cohen, Technology Editor

A smart display

Google Nest Hub

Google Nest Hub

I like to have a clock nearby when I’m working from home, because I am wont to lose track of time entirely. I also like to have music playing in the background. To address both of those needs, I set up the Google Nest Hub on my desk. Not only does it always show me the time, but it can also play music, do math for me, and answer any random questions I have while working. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

An affordable 27-inch monitor

Dell 27 inch monitor

27-inch Dell FreeSync Monitor

Although you can get fancy 4K, curved monitors for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, there are also plenty of decent displays for $200 or less. This 27-inch Dell FreeSync Monitor has a full HD IPS LED screen that should be both big enough and high-res enough for most people’s needs. It uses Dell’s ComfortView tech to limit reflections, blue light, and other distractions. It’s the monitor I have setup for working from home. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

An UltraWide monitor

LG Ultrawide monitor

LG 34WK650-W 34″ 21:9 Monitor

I had the pleasure of testing out LG’s 34WK650-W 34″ 21:9 monitor for a few months and it completely opened my eyes up to the benefits of an UltraWide display in a home office. Typically, I work with a 24-inch 16:10 Dell UltraSharp monitor, and it performs very well for most needs. There are times, however, when there’s just not enough real estate available on the screen for all the applications I have open. With the UltraWide design of the LG 34WK650-W, however, it’s basically like having two monitors in one. Organizing different windows around your screen is a breeze, allowing you to multitask like a pro. The monitor also packs in several advanced display features, like HDR and FreeSync, which make it a fine fit for entertainment and gaming when you’re not working. — Steven Cohen, Technology Editor

A laptop that can be your WFH warrior for a long time

Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go

Acer Chromebook 15.6

While many might scoff at $649 for a Chromebook, hold that thought until you take a peek at the Google Pixelbook Go’s 1080p display, its excellent keyboard, sharp 1080p webcam, and spacious trackpad. For a combination of WFH-ready features such as these within similar aluminum-clad laptops, expect to pay at least $300 more. If you want to save even more, we’d suggest the Acer Chromebook 15, a $325 15-inch laptop with a 1080p screen and just enough performance and space to get you through this stint of working from home. — Joe Osborne, Senior Technology Editor

A desk for your new make-shift home office

wayfair lamantia desk

Three Posts Lamantia Computer Desk

Foundstone Black Desk

Fully Jarvis Electric Adjustable Height Desk

Parsons Desk

Generally speaking, we recommend the Three Posts Lamantia Computer Desk as the best desk for its drawer space, dashing looks, and decent $220 price. However, those looking to save as much cash as possible without working on a box should take a look at the $107 Zipcode Design Folkston Desk. Finally, our favorite standing desk is the Fully Jarvis Electric Adjustable Height, which adjusts electronically to save your back. — Joe Osborne, Senior Technology Editor

A desk lamp

TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp

TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp

Whether you’re burning the midnight oil or just need extra illumination, this TaoTronics LED desk lamp can add some much needed light. The brightness is adjustable to suit your workspace, and it has a built-in Qi-wireless charger for recharging your phone. For more desk lamp options, check out our guide.  — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

A comfy office chair to plant your bottom

Space Generation office chair

Knoll ReGeneration

Space Seating Professional AirGrid

It’s entirely too easy to spend a fortune on an office chair, so while we can personally recommend the Knoll ReGeneration as it’s the New York City Insider office’s chair of choice, it’s also more than $800 for individual pricing. So, may we suggest the far more approachable Space Seating Professional AirGrid? It’s a fraction of the price at $175, and offers many similar comfort features. — Joe Osborne, Senior Technology Editor

A webcam for acing all of those video meetings

Logitech camera

Logitech C920 Pro Computer Webcam 

If you expect to be holding internal (and outgoing) video meetings for quite some time, and you aren’t going for the above recommended laptop, then pick up the Logitech C920. This is a 1080p webcam with an excellent stand for laptops, monitors, and tripods. While this is a plug-and-play option, it’s also equipped with enhanced controls and filters for power users. That’s a lot of webcam for just under $50. — Joe Osborne, Senior Technology Editor

A surge protector and powerstrip

Anker powerstrip

Anker Power Strip Surge Protector with 12 Outlets

It never ceases to amaze me how many devices I need to plug in at my desk. I got this 12-outlet power strip and surge protector to help streamline all the cables I needed to plug in at my desk. It has room for my laptop charger, phone charger, router charger, smart display, my printer, my monitor, and more with room to spare. — Malarie Gokey, Deputy Editor

A USB or USB-C hub for all of your gear

HooToo hub

Satechi Aluminum Multi-Port Adapter V2

HooToo 6-in-1 USB-C Adapter

Anker 10 Port 60W Data Hub

If you have a work laptop or even a personal one released within the last two years, chances are that it has one or more USB-C ports. Naturally, chances are if you have a USB-C laptop you have plenty more gadgets and accessories that use traditional USB or some other more legacy form of connection. That’s where the Satechi Aluminum Multi-Port Adapter V2 comes in with several ports and passthrough charging. It’s also $80 generally, so something like the HooToo 6-in-1 USB-C Adapter could do just as well for less than half as much. For anyone still rocking straight USB ports, we suggest the Anker 10 Port 60W Data Hub for $43. — Joe Osborne, Senior Technology Editor

A pair of noise-cancelling headphones

Bose 700 headphones

Bose 700 Headphones

Though working from home likely gives you the freedom to pump up the volume on your speakers, headphones can still come in handy in many home offices — especially noise-cancelling models like the Bose 700s. Perfect for tuning out potential distractions around the house, or intruding sounds from outside, the Bose 700s feature some of the best noise cancellation tech on the market. They’re especially well-suited for use during important work calls since the mics can isolate your voice from background noises. The Bose 700s are also our pick for the most comfortable noise-cancelling headphones, so you can wear them throughout the workday without any problems. — Steven Cohen, Technology Editor      

A worthy alternative to Bose’s noise-cancelling headphones

Work from home tech Sony

Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Bose 700 are featured in this guide as ideal home office noise cancelling headsets. But I’d urge anyone to take a look at the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise cancelling headphones. They’re slightly more comfortable than the Bose, in my opinion, and their customizable sound means I enjoy my music more than I do with the Bose, too. Noise cancelling is about as good, and they’re $50 cheaper than the Bose, too. Plus, they dramatically reduce ambient noise for better phone calls, and there’s no need to switch between your computer and your phone, as they can connect to both devices at the same time. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Reporter

An affordable pair of desktop speakers

Logitech speakers

Logitech Z313 Speaker System

Logitech is known for its reliable desktop speaker models, and the company’s Z313 are our top pick when it comes to budget computer speakers. The system includes compact left and right speakers, along with a dedicated subwoofer for extra bass while listening to music throughout the workday. Though far from high-end, audio performance is solid for such an inexpensive system, making them a very affordable upgrade from integrated speakers on your monitor or laptop. — Steven Cohen, Technology Editor

A portable hard drive

Seagate Hard Drive

Seagate BarraCuda Fast SSD

If you have separate computers for work and home, an easy file sharing solution is to store on a portable hard drive, like Seagate’s BarraCuda Fast SSD. In my previous years of testing hard drives, Seagate’s are some of the more reliable ones I’ve used. This particular unit uses solid-state memory, which allows for fast read and write speeds (it can be used for gaming and productivity), and you can toss it inside a bag and not worry about damage to moving parts. The BarraCuda Fast SSD supports USB-C for fast transfer speeds of up to 540MB per second, but it’s also compatible with older USB ports, albeit slower. — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

A conference speaker phone

Anker conference call

Anker PowerConf Bluetooth Speakerphone

Unless it’s a quick call, I’m not a fan of using headsets or putting a phone against my ear for long hours. I also don’t like terrible sounding speakers on my phone or laptop. The solution I’ve been using is the PowerConf Bluetooth Speakerphone from Anker. Yes, it’s designed for group conferences, and it’s portable, so you can take it on the road. But I like the sound quality it produces and that it has six microphones, so it can pick up my voice clearly regardless of where I am in the room. — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

A multifunction printer

Canon Pixma Printer

Canon Pixma TR4520 Printer

Whether you need to print, scan, copy, or even fax, the Canon Pixma TR4520 is an affordable all-in-one that does all those things. It’s small enough that it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it has high-end features like two-sided printing and an automatic document feeder for multi-page scanning. For more affordable printer options, check out our guide. — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 3 best smart displays of 2021 that work with Alexa and Google Assistant

  • Smart displays up smart speaker functionality with a screen.
  • Smart displays play photos and video, plus they show you answers, weather, calendars, and more.
  • There are a variety of options featuring Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant to suit your needs.

A good smart display is more than just a tablet tipped on its side. Like smart speakers, the devices’ built-in assistant, whether it’s Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant can answer almost any question. There’s also the added benefit of video, so you can watch the weather report or see a demonstration of how to make a recipe. Plus, the visual, on-screen functions give you more control over your smart-home devices. 

You can also use video calling with some displays. A number of streaming video apps, like YouTube or Netflix, work with several as well. The video and audio quality is good enough for most uses – there are some distinctly better than others in those categories – but it’s not going to replace your television for binging a series.  

We’ve tested and researched many smart displays over the years to help pick ones to suit a variety of needs. We also have a smart speaker buying guide that explains what they can do, which devices they support, and what you need to know about privacy concerns.

Here are the best smart displays you can buy:

Amazon Echo Show 8

Best smart display Amazon Echo Show 8

The Amazon Echo Show 8 is still our top choice for an Alexa smart display, though Amazon has a newer device, the Echo Show 10. 

With a nice, bright screen and all of Alexa’s features, most people will get everything they need from the Amazon Echo Show 8. The voice assistant will answer questions, show you the weather, and tell you about traffic. You can use the Food Network app for recipes. 

There’s a camera for video chats (unlike the Google Nest Hub), and you can watch videos from services like Hulu and Amazon Prime. Its 8-inch screen isn’t as big as the new Echo Show 10, but it’s also over $100 less. 

The Echo Show 8 is only $40 more than the Echo Show 5, but the screen feels much bigger and it has better resolution. It also improves on the sound quality of the littlest display, though it’s probably not going to please audiophiles. Still, it’s a well-rounded choice, especially when it goes on sale. 

We haven’t yet tested the Echo Show 10, and we’re not sure if its splashiest new feature — a screen’s ability to swivel and follow you around — is worth the extra price.

Google Nest Hub

Google Home Hub

The Google Nest Hub is an affordable option with plenty of features.

Thanks to Google Assistant, the Google Nest Hub can field all of your queries, with the added benefit of a 7-inch screen to display videos, news reports, traffic updates, and more. It can be handy for finding a YouTube video to guide you through a recipe or how to fix a clogged sink. The 1024-by-600-pixel resolution isn’t remotely close to what you’d get from a 4K TV, but it’s more than enough for anything you’ll want to watch on its 7-inch screen. 

With its highly responsive touchscreen, the Nest Hub has an advantage over a speaker-only product when it comes to controlling the wide variety of smart home devices that work in Google’s ecosystem. A recent update grouped devices on one page, so they’re easier to view.

There’s no built-in camera. That’s an intentional omission for privacy concerns, but it also means that the Nest Hub can’t do video calls. If you want a Google smart display with a 10-inch screen, a camera, and bigger sound, the Nest Hub Max is what you’re looking for, though it is significantly more expensive. 

Read our full Google Nest Hub review.

Lenovo Smart Display

Best Smart Display Lenovo 8 inch

The good-looking Lenovo Smart Display features a high-quality screen and fits seamlessly into the Google smart ecosystem.

Though it’s over two years old now, the Lenovo Smart Display is still a worthy option. You can watch YouTube videos or live shows via YouTube TV, along with a decent array of other streaming apps. However, you don’t want to expect too much when listening to music, because the sound quality is lacking. 

This display runs Google Assistant, so all you have to do is ask it a question and it can deliver the answers you’re looking for, video included. That also makes it easy to connect with the universe of Google apps and your Android phone. This display also makes it to access your smart-home devices. 

Another thing that’s nice about the Lenovo Smart Display is that instead of having the flipped-over tablet look, it looks good on your shelf or table. Its attractive looks and great features made our reviewer consider moving from Amazon’s ecosystem to Google’s, back in 2018. 

Lenovo also makes a 7-inch model, but it’s discontinued the 10-inch version (though you can still find it for sale).

Read our full review of the Lenovo Smart Display.

How to choose a smart display

The first thing to consider before buying a smart display is whether or not you want the device to run Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. If you have an Android phone and devices in your home connected to Google, you’ll want to choose a display that runs Google Assistant. Another consideration is how much you use Google services like Calendar or Photos. Those integrate well with the displays that run Google Assistant. 

For a home that’s already got an Alexa device and Alexa-powered accessories, then you’ll want something from Amazon’s universe. Power Prime users may also want an Alexa display for the ease of ordering items.  

Both Alexa and Assistant devices run a large array of apps, but none of them are compatible with the most popular streaming services. For example, Prime Video is only available on Amazon smart devices. Calling up YouTube videos is easy on Google’s devices, but you’ll need to take the extra step of routing it through a web browser on Alexa displays. The list of apps and services available for each device changes regularly, so be sure to double check what’s available for each display before you buy one.

What we look forward to testing

The Amazon Echo Show 10 is brand new, and it’s at the top of our list for testing to see how it stacks up against the previous generation of devices. Using sound recognition and an ability to identify a human form (it does not use facial recognition), the screen follows you as you speak.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Roborock’s top-of-the-line robot vacuum has powerful suction but its video surveillance is an expensive novelty – I’d wait for it to go on sale

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Roborock S6 MaxV   Product Photo 3.JPG

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Roborock may not be a household name yet, but the company makes some of the best robot vacuums in our buying guide. Since launching its first unit in 2016, Roborock has focused exclusively on robot vacuums but has added mopping capabilities and even home security features so they can be more useful than getting rid of dust.

The Roborock S6 MaxV is one of the brand’s latest models. It’s an update of the S6, the top pick in our guide. The improvements include stereo cameras that help it avoid common obstacles and provide HD surveillance footage, up to three hours of battery life, stronger 2500 Pa suction, and multi-floor mapping.

I tested the S6 MaxV for several months, and while I still prefer the S6, there are many reasons why others might want to choose the S6 MaxV instead. 

Specs

The robot vac is larger than most I’ve tested at 13.75 inches in diameter and 3.75 inches high, though this isn’t a big deal. It’s only a factor if the clearance between your furniture and the floor is less than four inches. In this situation, you can measure the clearance to ensure the vac will fit under furniture or at least won’t get stuck. Or if you can, push the furniture back a bit so the vacuum can do its work.

The main brush is 6.5 inches long and maintains direct contact with the surface it’s cleaning. The main brush is fed by one side brush at the front-right of the unit.

The 2500 Pa suction is impressive, but this number should be taken with a grain of salt since there isn’t a standardized way to measure suction in the robot vacuum industry. Still, during testing, the suction appears to translate to better cleaning – and extra noise (more on that in a bit).

The S6 MaxV comes with an additional HEPA filter, 458-milliliter dust bin, 297-ml water tank, mop attachment, mop cloth, and a pad that attaches to the charging dock to protect your floors from prolonged exposure to moisture. 

Set-up process

Setting up the S6 MaxV was a fast, seamless job that took about 10 minutes. First, I removed the packaging, plugged in the charging dock, and set the vacuum on the dock to charge. Even if you don’t charge it before your first cleaning session, the vacuum comes with 50% battery power you can use it right away. 

I spent the next five minutes installing and connecting the Roborock app. I created a schedule for the robot to run daily, which proved a little confusing since it’s unintuitively located in the “Timer” section of the menu.

Review of the Roborock S6 MaxV

I recently tested 16 robot vacuums for our guide, and the S6 MaxV consistently performed well in the battery of tests we put each model through. 

During testing, I poured a tablespoon each of kitty litter, coffee grounds, and flour, and some pet hair on separate 18-inch-square sections of carpeting and hardwood flooring. Next, I run the robot vac on its highest suction setting for two cleaning cycles, compare the before and after photos, and assess how much the unit picked up.

The Roborock S6 MaxV Test
I tested the Roborock S6 MaxV by seeing how much flour, coffee grinds, kitty litter, and pet hair it can pick up on hardwood floor and carpet.

The S6 MaxV picked up almost everything. On the carpeting, only about 5% of the flour was left after the cleaning cycles, and there were traces of coffee grounds and kitty litter. On the hardwood, about 5% of the flour and kitty litter were left behind, but the coffee grounds were gone. And, on both surfaces, there was no pet hair to be found after running the vac.

The S6 MaxV also did a good job of cleaning in corners. I sprinkled a teaspoon of flour in carpeted and hardwood corners to see how close the unit could get. On the carpeted corner, the S6 MaxV got within an inch and picked up 70% of the flour, which is excellent. The hardwood performance wasn’t as impressive, but it was still good – the vac came within 1.5 inches of the corner and picked up about 50% of the flour.

The Roborock S6 MaxV Corner Test
Before and after of how effective the S6 MaxV was in hardwood and carpeted corners.

One of the cool things about the S6 MaxV is that it features two HD cameras to help navigate around obstacles and offer remote viewing – as in, home surveillance. You can guide the vac using the joystick-like controller in the Roborock app. It worked smoothly and provided a clear picture. However, I didn’t find the feature particularly useful since we’re living through the novel coronavirus pandemic and have rarely left the house. Still, it might be a useful feature in the future if you’re away and want to check on your pets or make sure doors and windows are closed.

I usually don’t find the mopping function of many robot vacuums to be useful. It’s a pain to fill the water tank, set it up, and remember to remove it again. The hassle seems especially futile since most models aren’t able to scrub your floors for a deeper clean. However, the tank on the S6 MaxV is larger than most so I can go longer between refills. Like other robot mops, the S6 MaxV can also detect and avoid carpeting, and I can also set no-mop zones and adjust the water flow based on the room being cleaned. It’s a good option for regular, light cleaning, but I still occasionally needed to perform deep cleans. 

Cons to consider

I have a one-inch threshold between my living room and kitchen, and it’s the nemesis for the S6 MaxV. On some days, it can handle it without an issue. On others, I will get a notification from the app that it’s stuck on the lip. Most vacuums I’ve tested bump into the threshold and avoid the kitchen altogether. The S6 MaxV can at least clean the kitchen sometimes, but I’ve decided to make the threshold a no-go zone because I don’t like having to save the vac when it gets stuck. You may want to do the same if you have a threshold of similar thickness between rooms in your home.

In my testing of robot vacuums, I’ve noticed the strongest ones are also the loudest and this was the case with the S6 MaxV. On the quiet mode (which you can set in the app), my sound meter registered 63 decibels, which is louder than a normal conversation. On high suction, it was a bit louder at 67 decibels or almost as loud as a busy highway from 50 feet away. This won’t hurt your ears, but it may make it hard to watch TV or have a conversation in the same room as the vac. However, vacuums can resuspend dust into the air while cleaning, so if you have a sensitive nose, you shouldn’t be in the same room when it’s running anyway.

Roborock S6 MaxV   Product Photo 1.JPG

Should you buy it?

Since even budget robot vacs are still considered a luxury item and don’t tend to perform as well as your standard upright vac, I’d say at around $750, the S6 MaxV is mainly for people with expendable income or for techies who need to have the most high-tech gadgets available. This is the top-of-the-line model from one of the most respected names in the robot vacuum industry, but it does come at a high investment.

Though I appreciate the smart mopping options – no-mop zones and scheduling specific rooms – a robot pushing a damp cloth across your floor may only be minimally useful depending on your household. And while the cameras and surveillance features are a nice touch, I didn’t find them all that helpful beyond a fun novelty. However, if you’re looking to boost your home surveillance when you’re away and are in the market for a robot vacuum, then the S6 MaxV may be worth the cost.

If you have the luxury of time and can wait a bit, you’ll typically find excellent deals on robot vacuums especially during Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other big sales events.

What are your alternatives?

I tested more than 16 models to determine the best robot vacuums in our buying guide. If you’re interested in Roborock, pay particular attention to the Roborock S6, which is our top pick and usually costs about $100 less than the S6 MaxV when it’s not on sale. It’s the predecessor to the S6 MaxV so you lose the HD camera surveillance but it’s quieter and doesn’t get stuck as easily.

The bottom line

Despite these minor considerations, I was impressed with how well the Roborock S6 MaxV performed in our tests on hardwood floors and carpet and found the vac functioned as advertised.

Pros: Outstanding performance on carpeting and hardwood, mop capabilities, HD camera for remote video surveillance, useful app, cleans deep into corners

Cons: Loud, larger-than-average dimensions, constantly got stuck on a one-inch threshold during testing, video surveillance isn’t as useful if you’re home often

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This air fryer is one of my favorites after testing more than a dozen of them – but its smart features aren’t as useful as they could be

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

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

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

Specs

cosori air fryer

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

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

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

Set-up process

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

What makes the air fryer stand out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cons to consider

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

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

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

The bottom line

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

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

Should you buy it?

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

What are your alternatives?

I’ve tested more than a dozen air fryers over the years and the Cosori air fryer is one of my favorites. Here are a few others I highly recommend:

  • Philips Twin TurboStar XXL Airfryer ($379.95): This is one of the most expensive air fryers you will find, but it is the best. From the makers of the first air fryer, the Twin TurboStar XXL has a large capacity basket but still cooks food quickly thanks to its starfish-shaped pan that allows for maximum airflow. It’s dishwasher safe and comes with a full-color recipe book. The biggest negative is accessories aren’t included.
  • Secura 4.2-Qt Air Fryer ($78.43): If you’re new to air frying and just want a basic, affordable unit, the Secura Air Fryer is an excellent solution. It runs quietly, has a 4.2-quart basket, and does a spectacular job of toasting bread. This model also makes juicy chicken breasts in a hurry. The main negatives are that the exterior of the unit can get pretty hot and the pan releases from the basket easily, which could lead to severe burns.
  • Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL Cooker & Air Fryer ($219.99): Can’t decide whether you want an air fryer or an electric pressure cooker? Why not get both in one appliance? The Ninja Foodi holds up to five quarts of food for air frying, comes with several useful accessories, and has many of the same functions you find in the wildly popular Instant Pot. However, it does have a learning curve and takes up a fair amount of counter space.

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

Cons: Manual operation is sometimes a pain

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