The 4 best Bluetooth speakers of 2021 for listening to music outside and around the house

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A great listening experience for all your favorite music services shouldn’t be limited by pesky wires. While the days of carrying around a boom box on your shoulder are by and large over, you can still get quality wireless music in the form of a Bluetooth speaker.

Thanks to Bluetooth support, these speakers are able to play music from other Bluetooth-enabled sources, like a smartphone or laptop, without any cables. Whether you’re getting a speaker for use around the house or a day at the park, there’s almost certainly a Bluetooth speaker for you. But there are a number of things to consider before you buy, including size, battery, durability and, of course, sound quality.

With all of those factors in mind, we’ve selected the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy for a variety of needs. Since most people purchase Bluetooth speakers for their portability, all of our picks feature built-in batteries for listening on the go.

Here are the best Bluetooth speakers:

The best Bluetooth speaker overall

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move looks good, sounds great, and offers voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Pros: Attractive design, integrates with other Sonos speakers, excellent audio quality, Alexa and Google Assistant with Wi-Fi

Cons: A little expensive, a bit heavy

With an excellent design, awesome sound quality, and support for two digital assistants, the Sonos Move is one of the most fully featured Bluetooth speakers you can buy.

The speaker offers a ton of bass, coupled with crisp clarity and detail in the high end. That makes it excellent for listening to music. The Move can even be calibrated using Trueplay tuning technology to suit different environments and locations.

The Move has a charging station where you can keep it docked in your home, but it’s also designed to be portable, so you can take it outside or move it around the house. It’s rated for around 11 hours of battery life, so it should easily get you through a day of listening.

Like other Sonos speakers, the Sonos Move is also smart. You can choose to use either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, plus it integrates perfectly with Sonos’ other speakers, allowing for multi-room audio. 

But what about the downsides? The speaker is a little pricey, and you won’t get access to all of its smart features unless you’re connected to Wi-Fi. The Move is also bigger and heavier than most Bluetooth speakers which limits its portability a bit.

Buyers who want a similar speaker with a more compact design and cheaper price tag should consider the Move’s smaller sibling, the Sonos Roam. It doesn’t sound as good as the Move, but it’s a better fit for people who primarily plan to use their speaker for on-the-go listening.

The best Bluetooth speaker for portability

Bose

The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II is easy-to-use, offers 17 hours of battery, and features a convenient handle for travel.

Pros: Good sound, versatile design for portable use outdoors and around the house, long battery life

Cons: A bit pricey, lacks Wi-Fi support

There are a number of things that make the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II such an ideal portable option, from its great sound to its convenient design.

The design is reminiscent of smart speakers, so it’ll look right at home in any tech-savvy person’s house. On top of that, it offers extremely easy-to-use controls, with six buttons located on the top for things like volume and Bluetooth control. Bose also added a handle to make it easy to bring the speaker with you outside or around the house.

We tested the previous-generation model and were impressed by its great sound quality and how easy it is to move from room to room. It delivers ample volume and deep bass without distorting. 

This newer version is nearly identical to the one we tested, but features an upgrade from IPX4 water resistance to an IP55 rating. It also supports an extra hour of battery life for up to 17 hours of play time — the longest of any speaker on our guide. 

The SoundLink Revolve+ II even has some smart features, including Bluetooth pairing with voice prompts, the ability to take calls, and access to Siri or Google Assistant from your phone. That said, the speaker doesn’t have Wi-Fi so it doesn’t support a built-in digital assistant.

The best waterproof Bluetooth speaker

Ultimate Ears Boom 3

The UE Boom 3 features a water resistant design, making it great for use by the pool or at the beach.

Pros: Good sound quality, nice design, waterproof, can float

Cons: High frequencies aren’t as detailed as other speakers

Looking for something that you can take to the beach or use by the pool without fear of it breaking due to water damage? The UE Boom 3 is the way to go. 

The speaker may not sound as robust as the Sonos Move, but it still sounds good, especially considering how small it is. The UE Boom 3 offers decent bass response, along with a well-tuned mid-range, and a solid amount of clarity in the high frequencies. One of the best things about it is that it can also get super loud, which is great for use outside.

It’s relatively small and portable, and it’s available in a range of different colors. On the side, you get buttons for controlling volume, while on the top there are controls for things like Bluetooth pairing and power. 

The UE Boom 3 is built for use near water. The speaker is not only waterproof, but it’s also designed to float, so you won’t have to worry about losing it at the bottom of the pool. The Boom 3 is capable of being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, so it shouldn’t break due to water damage.

The best cheap Bluetooth speaker

Anker bluetooth speaker

The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini may be super-affordable, but it still looks and sounds solid for the price.

Pros: Inexpensive, water-resistant, solid battery life

Cons: Sound quality is only decent

Looking for an inexpensive speaker that still looks and sounds pretty good? The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini is the way to go. This speaker may carry a budget price, but it still sounds decent and won’t break the bank.

The Soundcore Flare is designed to look a lot better than other speakers in its price range. It features a cylindrical design with a fabric covering around the side and controls on the top. Those controls include power, volume, and Bluetooth pairing. There are even LED lights on the bottom, and you can control those lights through five different lighting modes.

The design of the speaker plays into how it sounds too. The speaker can deliver 360-degree audio, so no matter where you are around it, you’ll be to hear your music. It definitely won’t sound as powerful as some of the more expensive speakers on our list, but it can still get pretty loud and offers a decent amount of bass.

You’ll get around 12 hours of battery life out of the speaker, which isn’t bad at all, and it’s water-resistant with an IPX7 rating. 

Considering the price range, perhaps the only real downside to the speaker is that it can’t match more expensive offerings in the audio department.

What else we considered

JBL Flip 4

Here are other speakers we considered for our guide, and why they didn’t make our top picks.

Other Bluetooth speakers we recommend:

JBL Flip 4: The JBL Flip 4 speaker was previously one of our picks, and it’s still a fantastic Bluetooth speaker for the money. With that said, the less expensive Soundcore Flare Mini includes similar features for a more affordable price, making that model a better overall budget pick. If you’re willing to spend more, however, the JBL Flip 4 features a bit more power and better sound quality.

What you should look for in a Bluetooth speaker

bose portable home speaker lifestyle

When shopping for a Bluetooth speaker, there are some key factors you should keep in mind. For instance, a compact model might not be a good fit for someone who wants the best audio quality, while a heavy speaker won’t be ideal for someone who wants to take their audio on the go.

Below, we’ve broken down some main features and design elements you should consider when selecting the best Bluetooth speaker for your needs.

  • Size matters: Generally speaking, larger speakers will be louder, so they tend to be a better fit for parties and gatherings. Larger speakers also tend to have more refined audio quality with better clarity and bass. Of course, size also affects portability. If you’re looking for something you can slip in your bag and carry around easily, then a smaller speaker will be a better choice.
  • Battery life: You’ll obviously want longer battery life if you’re looking for a speaker that can last all day, but sometimes a speaker with shorter battery life will do the job — especially if you plan on being able to charge it often or even while in use. Though all of our picks include batteries, some Bluetooth speakers on the market only work with an outlet. If you just plan to use your speaker in one room, this isn’t a problem, but if you want portability, a speaker with a battery is a must.
  • Durability and water resistance: Durability is another important factor if you plan on carrying your speaker around a lot. Not only will your speaker last longer if it’s more durable, but it might be a little more versatile, too. For example, you probably won’t want to take a non-waterproof speaker to the pool or the beach.
  • Sound quality: A single Bluetooth speaker is never going to offer the same quality as a true stereo speaker pair, but high-end Bluetooth speakers from brands like Sonos and Bose offer impressive performance. Again, larger models tend to have better sound, so if audio quality is a priority, you’ll likely want to avoid ultra-compact speakers. 

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The 6 best gaming headsets in 2021 for consoles and PC

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As the video game industry continues to grow, more and more people are gaming online via PS5, PS4, Xbox, PC, and the Switch. But, not all gaming setups are created equal. For the best multiplayer experience, you’re going to want a an over-ear headset with a built-in microphone.

Thankfully, gaming headset options are plentiful. We’re no longer forced to use cheap bundled headphones with limited features. Instead, 3.5mm ports, stereo support, surround sound capabilities, and wireless connectivity abound. This means that everyone can plug in, hear better, communicate better, and be more comfortable – all while alleviating noise pollution for everyone else in your home or office.

To meet today’s gaming needs and beyond, we put together the following headset recommendations. Through hands-on testing, our picks represent the best gaming headsets you can find across a range of budgets and platforms. We’ve selected our picks based on a number of important factors, and we personally own or have thoroughly tested every headset on this list.

Here are the best gaming headsets you can buy:

The best gaming headset overall

SteelSeries Arctis 7X and 7P

The SteelSeries Arctis 7X is a versatile, comfortable, lightweight, and dependable wireless headset.

Pros: Multiplatform wireless and wired support, retractable mic, comfortable fit, strong battery life, lightweight design

Cons: Uses Micro USB cable for charging, no game/chat mix control when used on PlayStation, mobile cable has a proprietary port on the headset side

SteelSeries’ Arctis 7X, carries over several familiar options from previous models while adding some important new features. Chief among those new features is a handy USB-C dongle for convenient multiplatform wireless support. 

The dongle is compact enough to connect directly to a smartphone or Nintendo Switch when it’s in tablet mode. Thanks to the included USB-C to USB-A cable, it’s also easy to connect to larger systems, like the Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and even a PC.

There’s a little switch on the transmitter that lets it go from Xbox mode to USB mode for everything else. The headset uses a 2.4GHz wireless connection which has a strong signal that avoids dropouts and lag.

The 40mm speaker drivers are the same ones that SteelSeries uses in more expensive headsets, and they’re not overpowering or bass-heavy. Audio performance is strong in single player and multiplayer games, letting quiet environments breathe while keeping chat audio clear.

The drivers go well with the headset’s retractable microphone which does a great job of minimizing background noise. There’s a mic mute button on the left ear cup and, when muted, a red light on the mic activates. 

Even though the headset supports just about every gaming device under the sun via wireless, it still comes with a mobile 3.5mm cable to ensure compatibility with wired devices, like a 3DS or older iPad.

On the downside, while the included dongle uses USB-C, the headset itself is charged via Micro USB, which is less convenient. Fortunately, the build quality and general feel are both top-notch.

The best gaming headset for PS5

sony pulse 3d bottom view

Sony’s Pulse 3D is wireless, seamlessly pairs with the PlayStation 5, and has helpful controls for game and chat mixing built right in.

Pros: Integration with PlayStation consoles, wireless support, game/chat mix controls, PS VR compatible, stylish design, USB-C charging, 3.5mm port

Cons: No boom mic, some questions about long term durability

To coincide with the launch of the PS5, Sony debuted the Pulse 3D. It’s a wireless headset that uses a small USB-A dongle, and it should be very familiar to gamers who owned the PlayStation Gold Wireless or Platinum Wireless headsets. 

Like those headsets, the Pulse 3D integrates seamlessly into the PlayStation ecosystem, with an onscreen UI indicating power, battery level, and volume level. The Pulse 3D also has controls on the left ear cup for setting game/chat mix, volume, power, mic mute, and even a toggle for turning mic monitoring on or off.

The Pulse 3D works with the PS5, PS4, PC, and even a docked Nintendo Switch. The performance of the drivers is similar to the PlayStation Gold headset, which I really like. Unfortunately, the invisible mic design is similar as well. It works fine, but this style just isn’t as good as a boom mic as it lets in a lot of background noise.

On the plus side, the headset achieves the rare feat of not only being compatible with PlayStation VR via its 3.5mm jack, but also actually being able to fit over the VR headset. It’s a nice match for the DualSense controller as well since the Pulse 3D can charge over USB-C. 

When it comes to aesthetics, the Pulse 3D has been designed to complement the PS5, as it perfectly matches the color scheme and general style of the console and its controllers. Coupled with the headset’s solid performance and easy integration, this look helps make the Pulse 3D an ideal fit for PS5 owners.

The best gaming headset for Xbox

xbox headphones

Microsoft’s official Xbox Series X|S wireless gaming headset can connect to Xbox consoles without a dongle and supports multipoint connection.

Pros: Xbox Wireless radio support without dongle, works with gaming PCs, simultaneous support for Xbox and Bluetooth devices, physical dials for volume, game audio and voice chat balance, microphone mute button

Cons: No 3.5mm headphone port, plain design, lacks versatility for use with PlayStation and Switch

Xbox consoles use a proprietary radio signal to give wireless headsets and controllers a better connection than Bluetooth offers. Microsoft’s official Xbox headset isn’t the only set that works with this signal, but it is one of the most affordable while offering quite a few premium features.

The headset also works with Bluetooth devices, and you can even pair it with an Xbox and Bluetooth device at the same time, so you can listen to music from your phone or computer while still hearing game audio and voice chatting on Xbox Live.

The Xbox Series X|S headset feels lightweight but sturdy; the headband contains a steel band with foam cushioning, while the ear cushions use polyurethane leather and foam. Like the PlayStation 3D Pulse headset, the Xbox wireless headset features two dials on either ear cup, allowing you to control the volume and manage the balance between your game audio and voice chat. The microphone can be folded around the left ear cup when not in use and features a physical mute button as well.

The Xbox Series X|S headset has an average battery life lasting about 15 hours, and can be used in wired mode with a USB-C cable on Windows computers.

The best budget wired gaming headset

HyperX Stinger

The HyperX Cloud Stinger is the ultimate distillation of everything important in a wired headset, and it has a price that’s tough to beat.

Pros: Good build quality, comfort, and sound at an affordable price, swivel to mute mic, on-ear volume control

Cons: No mesh ear option, fixed cable

To be sure, the majority of first-time or repeat headset buys happen right around the price point where the HyperX Cloud Stinger lands. The Stinger is a wired passive stereo headset with 50mm drivers, a flip-down boom mic, swivel ear cups, a volume slider on the right ear, and a fixed in-line volume control. 

It’s suitable for connecting to PS5/PS4 controllers, Xbox controllers, the Switch, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and most anything modern with a 3.5mm jack. Unlike many nicer and more expensive headsets, the HyperX Cloud Stinger isn’t impedance hungry. This means it works fine connected to a PlayStation DualShock 4 controller, but does still have some headroom for improved performance with a better source.

When it comes to HyperX and its headsets, the company owes much of its reputation to the imperfect but still stellar HyperX Cloud. With the Cloud Stinger, HyperX has taken almost everything that made the Cloud great and put it in a lighter, more essential, and more original package.

The build of the Stinger is light but solid, and the headset is comfortable while having a sedate look. It’s a purposeful headset that should satisfy the majority of users looking for something wired to connect right to the headset jack. When HyperX made the Cloud Stinger, it made sure that anyone trying to dip their toes into gaming headsets would have a quality option.

The best wireless gaming headset for the money

SteelSeries Arctis 1 wireless headset for xbox

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox makes impressive wireless performance affordable for Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and Switch buyers.

Pros: Painless multiplatform wireless support with good sound, strong mic, excellent battery life

Cons: No chat/game mix controls on headset, headset and mic don’t sit well when not being worn

The Arctis 1 Wireless was pretty incredible when it debuted as a PlayStation-focused headset, and the Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox is not only just as good, it’s better. That’s because the new model adds support for Xbox platforms.

There’s a little switch on the USB-C wireless dongle. Buyers can simply flip the switch to Xbox for Xbox platforms, and to USB for everything else. The small USB-C dongle is also compatible with the Nintendo Switch (both in dock and tablet mode) and even some smartphones (including my LG V40) for 2.4Ghz wireless audio. 

Under the hood, the Arctis 1 features speaker drivers taken from the main Arctis line. This helps the Arctis 1 provide well-tuned sound out of the box. The mic is also excellent, with performance so good it’s likely to draw compliments from fellow players. The battery life is stellar as well. It’s rated at 20+ hours, and boy, does it last.

While the headset is wireless on just about every recent console, the device also retains a 3.5mm jack and cable. This means that it can be used on a ton of devices in wired mode. That extra bit of functionality is a handy feature, and it doesn’t seem to make the headset bulkier, heavier, or more expensive.

The best audiophile gaming headset

Sennheiser Game One

The comfortable, open design of the Sennheiser Game One headset offers the high-quality sound performance most audiophiles crave.

Pros: Open-back design, comfortable, good mic, fabric pads, won’t break the bank, on-ear volume wheel and flip to mute mic, detachable cable

Cons: Needs a Mixamp rather than controller jack for optimal performance, will leak sound

Combining a gaming headset with audiophile performance is tricky. The audio punch that we seek when we game isn’t necessarily the same tuning we’d enjoy when listening to music. And often, the microphones on certain audiophile headsets just don’t impress. 

Fortunately, I’ve found the Sennheiser Game One to be one of my favorite headsets in all aspects. What really gives it that audiophile feel is the open-back design. Open-back headphones are known for their sublime audio performance, and this design allows the ears to breathe more. With that said, open-back headsets are prone to sound leakage, so they’re not ideal if you have someone sitting within a few feet as they are sure to hear everything you hear.

The heavy duty boom mic doesn’t merely look serious, it delivers — as I can attest since it’s my choice for gaming while having a sleeping newborn in the next room. Likewise, the headset contains a volume wheel on the right ear, a satisfying click -to-mute function in the mic, and a composition of fabric, padding, and shape to achieve maximum comfort. The cabling is detachable, and this is really helpful when choosing between a long split cable on PC or a short combined cable on console.

While the comfort, feel, and quality are ever-present, to get the best sound performance, you’ll need a dedicated source such as a MixAmp or GameDAC. With that in mind, we recommend pairing the headset with an Astro Gaming MixAmp Pro TR.

Other gaming headsets we considered

Arctis 9x headset on desk

The $150 Hyper X Cloud II Wireless is an excellent wireless headset that will suit most gamer’s needs on PlayStation, PC, and Switch. It boasts an impressive 30-hour battery life, USB-C charging, and a detachable microphone with physical mute and volume controls. However, it lacks wired support, and physical controls to balance game and chat audio. Ultimately, there are more versatile choices in the $100 range, so the Cloud II Wireless ranks below our top recommendations.

The $200 SteelSeries Arctis 9X can connect wirelessly to an Xbox console without the need for a dongle, while also being able to simultaneously pair to a mobile device via Bluetooth.

The headset’s ski goggle headband is also convenient since it’s removable for cleaning or even replacement — and there are some different designs available. That said, I wouldn’t recommend walking around much while using the Bluetooth function as the Arctis 9X will tend to move around on your head.

The Arctis 9X has a retractable mic with a mute light, 40mm drivers, and reliable controls built right onto the headset. These functions include a mute toggle, volume wheel, power button, and chat/game mix controls. The battery life is rated for 20 hours, which is solid but not as good as some competing models. Another minor drawback is that the headset still uses a Micro USB connection for charging rather than USB-C.

The $270 Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT gaming headset offers an impressive set of features, including memory foam earpads, multipoint Bluetooth connection, customizable lighting, a Dolby Atmos license, and an automated sleep function that will detect when you put the headset down. Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT also boasts a wider frequency response range than competing headsets, reaching up to 40 kHZ as well as support for hi-res 24bit, 96KHz audio, but those features usually won’t come into play when gaming.

More importantly, the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT only works in wireless mode with PlayStation consoles and PC, forcing you to use 3.5mm wired mode for Switch. Additionally, you need to use Corsair’s iCue software to make the most of the headset’s lighting and EQ features, which might be disappointing for console gamers.

The $250 SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC was previously one of our top picks but has been downgraded in favor of newer models. That said, the headset  continues to be an excellent choice, particularly for the PC and PS4/PS4 Pro. On the PS5, it loses the ability to control game/chat balance and its integrated surround sound feature, so it’s not as easy to recommend for gamers primarily using Sony’s new console.

How to pick the best gaming headset

SteelSeries Arctis 1 wireless headset

Wireless versus wired support: Determining whether you want a wireless or wired headset is one of the first decisions you’ll have to make when choosing a gaming headset. Wireless headsets are untethered by pesky cables so they’re typically more comfortable to use. Wireless headsets tend to use a 2.4GHz signal in order to avoid the audio lag associated with Bluetooth. 

With that said, since many home Wi-Fi networks also use 2.4GHz, a smaller home (like an apartment) that’s saturated with a bunch of different Wi-Fi signals can be problematic due to interfering signals. If interference is an issue for your setup, then a wired headset is probably a better choice. Wired headsets also don’t require charging, and are generally compatible with any system that has a headset jack. 

Platform support: With gaming spread over PC, consoles, and even tablets and smartphones, it’s important to know which platform you plan to use your headset with. Though most wired models offer compatibility across different devices, platform support is especially important to keep in mind when choosing a wireless headset.

Xbox consoles, in particular, only support specific wireless headsets. Meanwhile, the Switch has a headphone jack on the console but not on the Joy-Cons or the Pro Controller. Pay close attention to the connection specifications and compatibility details listed by the manufacturer in order to ensure that the headset you choose has the necessary wired or wireless connections for your devices. 

Comfort and build: A good headset should be comfortable to use for hours on end, but that comfort will be influenced by both the ambient temperature and the size of a user’s head. These factors are nearly as important as the design of the headset itself. Generally speaking, if a headset doesn’t feel comfortable to wear after a few gaming sessions (around two hours each), then it’s likely a poor fit. The more durable headsets tend to use stronger materials, but that means that they’re likely to be heavier. On the other hand, plastic headsets are lighter but more fragile. 

Surround Sound: One attractive feature that’s pretty common in nicer gaming headsets is surround sound. This effect is usually done by processing sound to the left and right drivers to simulate the effect of audio coming from multiple directions. Though not true surround sound in the strictest sense, these simulated effects can create a more immersive experience.

In addition to surround sound options included with certain headsets, both the PC and Xbox One have an array of virtualization solutions (like Windows Sonic) to enable surround sound on any headset model. Meanwhile, the PS5 features Sony’s Tempest 3D audio tech. Of course, it’s worth noting that regular stereo sound is still quite good on many platforms, including PS4 and Switch. Stereo sound also tends to be less laggy since it isn’t as processed as surround sound. 

Price: Most gamers should be satisfied with a headset in the $50 to $150 price range. That said, if a headset is being used every day, it becomes difficult to expect years of use out of cheaper models. Frequent users can expect their headsets to wear out a bit faster than their controllers. Headsets that cost $300 or more usually include extra features, some of which can help extend their lives, such as replaceable earpads and even batteries. 

The best deals on gaming headsets from this guide

Whether you’re a pro gamer or a first-time player, a quality headset is essential for sprucing up your interactive experience. Not only will a good pair help give you an edge during gameplay, they will save those around you from hearing your game. 

Gaming headset deals are scattered throughout the year. The best time to shop for one is Black Friday or Cyber Monday, since they’re popular gifts. Discounts on our SteelSeries picks rarely exceed $15, but the affordable HyperX Cloud Stinger drops by up to $20 during the holidays. 

Below, you’ll find deals on our picks for the best gaming headset, from top brands:

Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

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

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The 5 best Lightning cables for iPhone and iPad in 2021

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A Lightning cable is essential for any iPhone owner. Apple includes one in the box when you buy a new iPhone, but there are plenty of Lightning cables from other companies that are more lengthy, durable, and colorful.

We’ve tested several Lightning cables to find the right one for every budget and need- from the most durable, to the longest, and everything in between.

All of our recommended Lightning cables are MFi certified by Apple. Cables without this certification might be less expensive than the ones on our list, but they can also be dangerous and ineffective. Some of our picks come in USB-C versions that can plug into Apple’s fast chargers and more recent laptops.

Here are the best Lightning cables of 2021

The best overall Lightning cable

The best overall Lightning cable  Paracable USB Paraflex Lightning Cable
Our best overall Lighting cable is the Paracable USB Paraflex

The Paracable Paraflex Lightning cable is strong, fairly priced, and comes in multiple colors and sizes, making it the best overall choice.

Pros: Durable, multiple color options, strong warranty 

Cons: Moderately pricey

The Paracable Paraflex Lightning cable, which starts at $22,  is one of the best Lightning cables I’ve ever used. It’s durable, colorful, and features the thickest connector reinforcements I’ve seen. Ultimately, what sets this cable apart from the Anker PowerLine II, our previous top pick, is its strength, thin design, reasonable price, and variety of color and length options. 

This cable easily fits through my case easily and creates a secure connection with my phone. I can even hold my phone upside down and shake the cable without it falling out, though I don’t recommend trying this over a hard surface. It’s also light, portable, and comes with a Velcro strap for easy storage. 

Paracable uses a patented 32-bit paracord fabric to cover its lineup of cables. The fabric comes in four different color patterns and feels similar to other nylon-covered power cords. It’s soft, smooth, and easily bendable – though it does a better job of keeping its bent shape toward the end of the connectors than it does in the middle of the cable.  It also charges quickly, with the ability to transport up to two amps of power to your device. 

What’s particularly interesting about this cable is that the company claims it can withstand up to 35,000 bends. That’s almost three times as many bends as Anker claims the PowerLine II can endure. Although I haven’t tried bending the Paracable 35,000 times, I’ve been using it for months and haven’t encountered any issues. The company backs up its product with a two-year warranty, along with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

The Paracable Paraflex Lightning cable isn’t the cheapest charging cord on this list, but offers a great combination of style, size, and durability – making it the best choice for most people.

The best budget Lightning cable

The best budget Lightning cable  The Anker PowerLine II
Our best budget Lightning cables is the Anker PowerLine II

The Anker PowerLine II with Lightning Connector‘s affordable price, sturdy build, and size and color options make it a great choice for those in need of a basic cable.

Pros: Inexpensive, multiple colors and lengths, reinforced connectors

Cons: Not as durable as some of the others on the this list

The $14.99 PowerLine II might not be as new as its sibling — the PowerLine III —  but it’s still a fantastic charging cable for everyday use. It’s durable, comes in multiple colors and lengths, and is affordably priced — making it a great pick for anyone in need of an everyday charging cord. 

Its synthetic rubber exterior is smooth to the touch, while the reinforced connectors are sturdy and robust. The white cable I’ve been testing looks and feels like a slightly thicker version of the Apple-made Lightning cable. But if white isn’t your color, you have the option to choose between black, blue, and red. There is also a USB-C version for those looking to take advantage of Apple’s fast charging feature. 

Anker claims that the PowerLine II can withstand up to 175 pounds and 12,000 bends, which is fewer than the Paracable Paraflex and Anker PowerLine III,  but significantly more than an unreinforced cable. In case there are ever any issues, the Anker backs the cable with a limited lifetime warranty.

The best long Lightning cable

The best long Lightning cable  The Native Union Night Cable
Our best long Lightning cable is the Native Union Night Cable

Charging from a distance is easy with the Native Union Night Lightning cable, as this durable 10-foot cord reaches just about anywhere.

Pros: 10-feet long, lots of color options, weighted so it doesn’t fall or get tangled 

Cons: Expensive

Native Union’s $39.99 Night Lightning cable certainly stands out. Not only is it colorful and incredibly long – 10 feet, to be exact – but it also features a golf ball-sized weight that anchors the cable in place. The interesting design, durability, and multiple color options help to make the Night cable our favorite extra-long power cord.  

The weight is surprisingly useful when charging from a high table. It keeps the cable contained as it drops to the floor so that it doesn’t get in the way. The nylon itself is incredibly soft, while the reinforced connectors are strong and durable. The cable’s wires are protected with DuPont Kevlar fiber, a TPE rubber sleeve, a tinned copper braid, and final grounding layer. 

Native Union backs their products with a limited lifetime warranty, so you don’t have to worry if something stops working. But so far, I’ve twisted, bent and shaped this cable for months without a single issue. 

The Native Union Night comes in five colors, including a pink-ish Rose and a light green Sage. There’s also a USB-C to Lightning version as well, but those cables are more limited in their color options.

The unique length and look of this cable make it a great choice for those who can appreciate a cord that is long, durable, and a little funky.

The best durable Lightning cable

The best durable Lighting cable  The Fuse Chicken Titan
The Fuse Chicken Titan is our pick as the best durable Lighting cable

The Fuse Chicken Titan is strong enough to survive a chainsaw.

Pros: Extremely durable, made from flexible high-strength steel, lifetime guarantee  

Cons: Expensive, doesn’t come in a USB-C to Lightning option

The $29.95 Fuse Chicken Titan just might be the toughest Lightning cable ever. Don’t believe me? The company ran over the Titan with a truck, struck it repeatedly with a hammer, and even took a chainsaw to the cable without breaking it

Of course, marketing doesn’t tell the whole story and I certainly have not attempted to recreate these tests. But I can at least say that the cord looks and feels absolutely indestructible. 

This thick cable is made with two layers of flexible steel, along with connectors that are  sealed directly over the electronics in one-piece housing — which ensures there is little room for cracks or breakage. The shiny metal cable feels sturdy and slick, and can maintain its shape for a long period of time even after being bent in a variety of ways.

There are some trade-offs for this much durability. It’s not the lightest or easiest cable to carry around, and it’s at least two or three times wider than other cables on the market. The wider neck of the cable also might not fit the cutout for the charging port on some iPhone cases, making it more difficult to charge on the go. I never encountered this problem, but my iPhone case has an especially generous bottom cutout compared to others. 

The Fuse Chicken Titan is a little over 3 feet long and comes with a limited lifetime warranty, and is only available in a USB-A to Lightning configuration. Fuse Chicken also makes a Titan Plus, which is 4.9 feet long and offers a Gold and Rose color option.

The best universal Lightning cable

Best universal Lightning cable  Anker 3 in 1 Charging Cable
The Anker 3-in-1 Charging Cable is our pick as the best universal charging cable

The Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Charging Cable gives you the option to charge devices with  USB-C, Lightning, or Micro USB connections.

Pros: Durable, multiple connectors

Cons: Only comes in one length, no USB-C to USB-C version

You probably have multiple devices that require different types of cables to charge. For example, my Kindle Oasis charges using a micro-USB connection, while my iPhone needs a Lightning cable, and my headphones require a USB-C connection. Why must I keep three different cords in my bag? 

Anker has made the $19.99 PowerLine II 3-in-1 Charging Cable to fix this problem. The smooth, synthetic rubber USB-A to micro-USB cord features two securely attached dongles that dangle from the micro-USB side of the cable. One of these dongles is a Lightning connector, while the other is USB-C. The dongles snap into place on top of the micro-USB connector to create an interchangeable charging cable. 

The cord is well designed and the seal between the dongle and the Micro USB connector is strong. The dongles connect and come off easily with a bit of force. Luckily, they are made out of the same quality rubber as the rest of the cord and can withstand the tugging and stretching.  

The only downside to the PowerLine II 3-in-1 is that there is only one length: 3 feet. This is fine when I am close to an outlet, but having a 6-foot option would be really helpful in other situations. Anker also lacks a USB-C to USB-C/Lightning/micro-USB option, which is frustrating for those who want to charge their phone quickly. 

The Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Charging Cable comes in black and white, and is a great alternative to carrying around multiple cables for different devices.

Our methodology

We judged each cable on a variety of criteria to help determine which cord was the best. These determinations were based on the subsequent factors:

  • Quality of the materials that make up the cords
  • The availability of multiple colors and sizes to accommodate different needs and preferences
  • The durability of the cables 
  • How easily they fit into the Lightning connector on the phone through a case

We also took price and Apple MFi certification into consideration when choosing our picks to ensure value and quality. 

To test durability, we twisted and bent the cables rigorously over the course of several months. We particularly focused on the area near the cable’s connector to check for evidence of wear. 

We measured connector fit by plugging the cables to our phones, dangled them three feet above a soft surface, and shook them until they dropped.

What else we considered

Other cables we considered  Anker PowerLine Play 180 Cable
Some of the other cables we considered include the Anker PowerLine Play 180 Cable

Native Union Belt Cable ($24.99): This 4-foot cable is shorter than the extra-long Night cable listed above and lacks its distinctive knot. Instead, it features a thick leather strap that wraps around the cord to keep everything secure. It starts at $24.99 and is missing the qualities that make the Native Union Night cable so unique.  

Anker PowerLine Play 180 Cable ($17.99): Playing games and watching videos in landscape mode while simultaneously charging your phone can be annoying. The protruding Lightning cable sticks out into your hand, making the phone hard to hold. Anker’s PowerLine Play 180 attempts to fix this problem by creating a Lightning connector that plugs in and immediately bends at a 180-degree angle so that the cable bends away from the palm of your hand and down the back of the phone instead. It works well and costs $17.99, but is only 3 feet long, which makes it too short to be practical. 

Fuse Chicken Shield ($34.95): This Lightning cable is 1 meter in length and is encased in stainless-steel chainmail links, which offer great overall protection. Ultimately, it didn’t seem quite as protective or as effortlessly bendable as some of Fuse Chicken’s other products, which is why — despite its fun and durable design — it didn’t make the cut.

Anker PowerLine III Flow ($26.99): This cable is smooth, soft to the touch, and offers a Lightning to USB-C connection for fast charging. It costs $26.99 and comes in multiple sizes and  fun colors — including Mint Green and Lavender Grey — but is not as durable as some of the others on our list. 

How to buy a Lightning cable

Anker Lightning Cable, Powerline II

Buying a Lightning cable seems simple, but there are a few important things to look out for.

  • Always look for cables that are MFi certified. Lightning cables that aren’t Apple-certified could result in damage to your device, damage to the cable, or inability to sync or charge your device, Apple says. Apple-approved cables will have a badge that says “Made for iPhone” or “Made for iPhone, iPad, iPod” on their packaging.
  • Make sure you’re buying the right cable for your device and power adapter. All iPhone models released since the iPhone 5 are compatible with Lightning cables. But iPads are a little trickier. The current generation iPad Mini and standard iPad both have Lightning ports. However, the newest fourth-generation iPad Air charges via USB-C instead of Lightning, while older iPad Air models use Lightning. Recent iPad Pro models released in 2018 or later use USB-C instead of Lightning. You should also double check whether your device’s power adapter uses a USB-C or USB-A connection so you buy the correct model. 
  • Look for Lightning cables that suit your specific needs. If you’re shopping for a Lightning cable other than the one that came with your iPhone, there’s probably a reason. Think about the frustrations you experience with your current cable before deciding on a new one. Is it too short? Has your dog tried to chew through it recently? The answer to these questions will tell you what type of Lightning cable you should be looking for. 

Check out our other iPhone accessory buying guides

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The best Bluetooth keyboards for everything from tablets to PC gaming

Collage of the best bluetooth keyboards, including Logitech Combo Touch and Logitech G915 TKL 4x3

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Wireless keyboards eliminate desk clutter. But Bluetooth keyboards take that one step further, freeing up a USB port and even leaving the desk behind to control your tablet, phone, or even your smart TV. The ideal Bluetooth keyboard balances that wire-free portability with comfortable keys and a smooth typing experience all without breaking the bank.

While Bluetooth keyboards leave cords off the desk and support mobile devices, the lack of a cord can introduce a delay. Users that need the most speed – such as gamers – will end up spending significantly more to find a Bluetooth keyboard that doesn’t have noticeable input lag.

“Wireless keyboards do tend to be more popular for business professionals due to their ease of use and clean aesthetic, while more intensive users might favor other features and a lower price tag,” said Tom Gilmore, Technology Education Coordinator at Free Geek. “…if latency is of concern (like with gaming) then we suggest avoiding Bluetooth keyboards and to stick with wired, unless you go for the high-end wireless options.”

Because Bluetooth keyboards can be used for anything from writing a novel on a laptop to searching Netflix on a smart TV, we’ve researched options in several different categories. These best Bluetooth keyboard picks are based on a mix of expert guidance, reputable reviews, and hands-on experience from Business Insider team members. We’re currently testing out each option to narrow down our list.

Our testing suggests that these are the best Bluetooth keyboards:

Best Bluetooth keyboard overall

Logitech MX Keys Advanced Wireless Keyboard on a white background

Who’s it for: The Logitech MX Keys is a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard that’s versatile enough for many different uses and platforms, including both Windows and Mac.

The Logitech MX Keys is a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard that’s large enough for desk use, but thin enough to do some off-desk typing, too. When Insider writer Matt Smith tested the Logitech MX Keys earlier this year, he said that the keyboard is comfortable to use even if you don’t spend the extra $20 for the wrist pad.

The MX Keys uses scissor switches and low-profile keycaps  with finger-sized imprints for comfortable typing. The scissor switch is also quiet and responsive. With the body built from one piece of metal, the $100 keyboard also has a much nicer feel than cheaper options. You can use the keyboard with Bluetooth or a dedicated Wireless USB dongle. Backlighting that senses your fingers helps stretch the battery life, which Logitech says can hit 10 days.

Logitech offers options designed for either Windows or Mac, but the keyboard also works with iOS and Android. The keyboard can remember three devices, so you can easily switch back and forth between your laptop, tablet, and smartphone. While the full-sized keyboard isn’t going to tuck into a backpack easily, the thin design means it will easily jump from room to room in your home

MX Keys Advanced Wireless Illuminated Keyboard (button)
Best Bluetooth keyboard for gaming

The Logitech G915 Wireless keyboard on a white background

Who’s it for? With a fast wireless connection, the Logitech G915 TKL is ideal for gamers who can’t always depend on Bluetooth that want wire-free speed.

Gamers tend to choose the reliability and speed of a keyboard with a wired physical cord connection — but some wireless keyboards are gaining the speed needed for gaming. If you don’t mind trading a cable cord for a higher price tag, I prefer the G915 over other mechanical keyboards for the office because of the quieter typing, low profile keys, and longer battery life. (I tested the tactile white version, other options will have a louder click.) Along with a Bluetooth connection, the keyboard packs in Logitech’s proprietary Lightspeed wireless, which the company says delivers a 1 millisecond response speed.

The G915 TKL is a mechanical keyboard, but it doesn’t look like one at first glance. That’s because the keyboard uses low-profile keys. The keyboard has a great feel to it that’s a cross between the thin keys of my Macbook and the thicker ones profile of a typical mechanical. It also houses a scroll wheel, dedicated media keys, and a few other macro keys.

With a 40 hour battery life rating, I used the Logitech G915 TKL for several workdays without recharging. I even went on vacation with the keyboard in sleep mode, and it still had power two weeks later. While 40 hours isn’t a long battery life compared to membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards are power hungry and others have even shorter use times before recharging. A battery life indicator is visible right from the top of the keyboard.

The low profile keys along with the Bluetooth and wireless technology make the G915 TKL a gaming keyboard that’s easier to transport and more responsive than most. The trade-off is that it’s pricier than many wired keyboards that are geared for gaming. Wired keyboards may still be more reliable.

G915 TKL Tenkeyless Lightspeed Wireless RGB (button)
Best mechanical Bluetooth keyboard

The Razer Pro Type keyboard on a white background

Who’s it for? The Razer Pro Type is a mechanical keyboard that’s designed to eliminate desktop cord clutter.

A mechanical keyboard designed for professionals rather than gaming, the Razer Pro Type is one of the few mechanical keyboards that offers built-in Bluetooth as well as 2.4GHz wireless. The wireless design eliminates desk clutter while the white and silver design feels more in tune with office aesthetics than the colorful backlighting of a gaming keyboard.  With white backlighting, the Razer Pro Type offers the cleaner look of a laptop keyboard but with all the feel of mechanical keys. While I preferred our top pick for Bluetooth gaming, the G915, for it’s low profile keys and longer battery life, the thicker keys of the Razer Pro Type feels more like a true mechanical keyboard.

The Razer Pro Type has a great, clicky feel — I’m using it as I write this article. The large keys are more tactile than most thin Bluetooth keyboard keys and produce a satisfying click with each press. The full-size keyboard still has the extra number pad, though the function row doubles as Windows media keys instead of dedicated macros.

While the Razer Pro Type looks and feels great, mechanical keyboards are power hungry. The keyboard’s battery life is only rated for 12 hours. The Logitech G915 TKL is a wireless and Bluetooth mechanical keyboard with up to 40 hours of use per charge, but it’s almost twice as much.  The G915 also has lower profile keys where the Pro Type  has the more traditional chunky keys of a mechanical keyboard. If you prefer the thicker keyboard or are on a more limited budget, the Pro Type is a safe choice. The Pro Type doesn’t come with a wrist pad, however, so that may add to the cost.

Pro Type Wireless Keyboard (button)
Best Bluetooth keyboard on a budget

Logitech K380

Who’s it for? Affordable and compact, the Logitech K380 is ideal for those who want a keyboard small enough to slip into a laptop bag without spending a fortune.

Getting a portable Bluetooth keyboard that works with multiple devices doesn’t have to be expensive. Retailing for about $40, the Logitech K380 is a compact keyboard that’s easy to bring along. Previously our pick for best Bluetooth keyboard overall, the keyboard also has a battery that will last for two years, though that’s in part because the keyboard doesn’t even offer backlighting.

The K380 can save up to three devices for easy pairing. The keyboard works with any operating system that supports external keyboards, allowing it to move from a laptop to a tablet and from a PC to an iPhone. Logitech says that the keyboard automatically remaps the keys when switching between operating systems.

The K380‘s thin profile and 60 percent design makes it easy to toss into a bag. The size may make the keyboard a little less comfortable for long stretches of typing, however. If portability isn’t important and you want something affordable to type on for eight hours a day, there may be better options.

K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard (button)
Best folding Bluetooth keyboard

The Arteck HB066 folding keyboard, folded in two different variations, on a white background

Who’s it for? The easy portability makes the Arteck folding keyboard ideal for on-the-go users that prioritize size.

Folding keyboards tend to have oddly shaped or sized keys in order to place the fold. That usually creates a lot of typos at first, however, which is why the folding keyboard that stands out most in my research is the Arteck HB066 Bluetooth Keyboard. The fold moves around the keys instead of moving the keys around the fold for an experience that’s closer to a traditional keyboard.

The Arteck HB066, also previously our pick for best Bluetooth keyboard overall, folds around two hinges. That makes it roughly the size of a smartphone when folded, yet it unfolds into a 60 percent size QWERTY keyboard. It’s also affordable, selling for under $30 on Amazon

Compatible with iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OS, the keyboard is ready for almost every device you own. While made from aluminum alloy, the HB066 lacks some of the extra buttons and features other folding keyboards have. But, the keyboard gets high marks for the unique fold that prevents oddly-sized keys. 

HB066 Bluetooth Keyboard (button)
Best Bluetooth keyboard for iPad

Logitech Combo Touch iPad case

Who’s it for? With a removable keyboard that never needs to recharge, the Logitech Combo Touch is a versatile iPad and iPad Pro keyboard.

The Logitech Combo Touch is, technically, not a Bluetooth keyboard. The iPad and iPad Pro keyboards instead use the smart connector on the iPad itself to both connect and draw power. That gives the Combo Touch almost all the benefits of a Bluetooth keyboard – but with none of the recharging. The low-profile keys are responsive and, while not as nice as my MacBook, still feel great. The Combo Touch is available in versions for the iPad, which I tested, as well as options for the iPad Pro and iPad Air.

The Combo Touch includes a case that can be used with or without the keyboard. The case protects the back and three sides of the iPad, which is one of the reasons I chose the Combo Touch over Apple’s own Magic Keyboard. The keyboard detaches magnetically. When the keyboard is detached, the iPad still has the kickstand and protective case. I love that you can quickly go from typing to reading by simply pulling the keyboard off.

The Logitech Combo Touch is my favorite iPad keyboard that I tested. However, if you want the most protection, the Combo touch still leaves a side exposed. The Zagg Pro Keys is a true Bluetooth keyboard that covers the back and all the sides, with a 6.6-foot drop rating. That extra protection covers the smart connector, however, so the Zagg Pro Keys requires recharging. I also prefered the Logitech’s kickstand design. That said, my iPad has been dropped accidentally with the Combo Touch on and it came away unscathed. If you want the best blend of protection and no-recharge convenience, the Logitech Combo Touch is a great choice.

Combo Touch (11-inch iPad Pro) (button)
What else we’re considering

We’re continuing to test a range of Bluetooth keyboards. Along with the keyboards above, we’re also testing the highly-reviewed keyboards below. We’ll update this post once we’ve finished full testing.

  • Logitech K830 Living Room Keyboard: This media keyboard has a touchpad built in so you can both navigate a smart TV and type without the tedious “typing” on a remote control. It has illuminated keys, which are helpful while you’re watching movies in the dark.
  • Logitech Ergo K860: This keyboard is both Bluetooth and ergonomic. The curved keyboard design is made to reduce stress on the wrists. This one could be a good option for cord-haters who have,or want to avoid wrist strain.
  • iClever BK08: This folding keyboard also builds in a touchpad, making it a keyboard and mouse in one. The keys are a little smaller as a result, though, which means the question mark and apostrophe need a Fn key pressed simultaneously, rather than just hitting one key. 
  • Zagg Pro Keys with trackpad: Similar to the Logitech Combo Touch, the Zagg Pro Keys with trackpad gives the iPad a Macbook-like treatment. If you want the most possible protection, the Zagg is the better option than the Logitech because all sides of the iPad are covered. It has a great feel and feels very durable. However, I prefered the Combo Touch because it doesn’t need to recharge. And, if you pull the keyboard off the Zagg, you also remove the kickstand. I prefer to have the kickstand still attached so I can read or watch movies without the keyboard. 
  • Zagg Pro Keys: The Zag Pro Keys is also available in a version without the touchpad. Selling for $100, this is a more affordable option that still offers protection. The keyboard feels great, but will need to be recharged. Removing the keyboard will also remove the kickstand, but not the protective case.
  • Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad: I used an earlier generation of the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad. The keys feel great and the connection couldn’t be simpler. But, I cracked my last iPad screen when I dropped it in the Magic Keyboard. I prefer the way the Logitech Combo Touch and Zagg Pro Keys double as a protective case and a keyboard in one — and both are more affordable than the Magic Keyboard.

What to consider when choosing a Bluetooth keyboard

Bluetooth keyboards tend to have a wider variety of features than their corded counterparts. The connectivity means these keyboards aren’t just for desktops but can also control your smartphone, tablet, or even smart TV. What you plan to use the keyboard for will impact which one is the best for you.

Size: Do you want to take your Bluetooth keyboard anywhere or will the keyboard mainly stay on your desk or in your living room? Foldable keyboards and compact, 60 percent keyboards are made to easily tuck into a bag and go anywhere. But, they lack some keys and can be uncomfortable to type on long-term. If you don’t need the number pad, a tenkeyless or TKL keyboard is a happy medium, offering more comfort while still fitting into a backpack. TKLs also take up less space on a desk, letting you keep your mouse more easily within reach.

Type: Scissor switch keyboards are quieter, more affordable, and have a lower profile. Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, can offer more tactile and auditory feedback that many regular typists love, plus they tend to have greater durability.

Ergonomics: The wrong type of keyboard can cause wrist strain with extended use. Dr. Kevin Weaver, a certified ergonomics expert by the Board of Certified Professional Ergonomists and the Oxford Institute and a Clinical Assistant Professor of physical therapy at New York University, suggests typists with larger hands choose a larger keyboard. A wrist pad, contoured keys, and softer scissor switches may also be more comfortable, he says.

Extra features: Many keyboards go beyond the typical QWERTY layout. Some offer media keys — particularly those for smart TVs — or other macros. Others have different shortcuts built in for gaming or more general tasks.

Working from home? Check out our other home office guides

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29 smart and humorous gifts that your coworkers will actually be happy to receive

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chemex pour over glass coffee maker with wood collar o

  • Shopping for coworkers doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money.
  • You can find a unique, thoughtful gift under $50 without much research (because we’ve done it for you).
  • Below, I’ve compiled 29 gifts under $50 that will serve you well – some are funny, some are thoughtful, all are affordable, and most are impossible to hate. If you’re still looking for inspiration, check out all of our gift guides here.

Shopping for coworkers can become a never-ending parade of mild pine-scented candles, Hallmark cards, and candy that is destined for retirement in a desk drawer for most of the month. It’s easier to buy thoughtful, impactful gifts for your closest loved ones, and it gets harder once you add in the subtleties and professionalism of the workplace.

But there are mountains of great coworker gifts out there. And they don’t have to be expensive – in fact, they probably shouldn’t be. The ideal colleague present is thoughtful, unique, and lands somewhere in the casual middle ground between re-gifting paperclips from the supply closet and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean.

Check out all 29 gifts under $50 for your coworkers:

A three-month subscription of freshly roasted whole bean, single-origin coffees

Driftaway, $40

Driftaway Coffee Subscription, Three Months, available at Driftaway Coffee, from $44

If they’re practically tethered to the coffee pot, they’ll probably love the thoughtfulness of a three-month subscription to this cool Brooklyn startup’s beans. Driftaway sends freshly roasted, whole bean, single-origin coffees from around the world to their doorstep.

A really nice bottle of olive oil

brightland olive oil 2

Alive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37

If they like to cook, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive Olive Oil from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the bottle is designed to be left out on display in their kitchen. 

An Atlas Obscura calendar full of daily photos and tidbits about the world’s strangest and coolest places

Amazon gifts under $50 Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura Color Page-A-Day Desk 2021 Calendar, available at Amazon, $15.99

Add some fun to their day-to-day routine with the Atlas Obscura calendar. There are hundreds of photos that celebrate the world’s strangest and coolest places, festivals, and foods. Travelers and life-long learners are particularly good candidates for this one.

Mini succulents in ceramic planters

Gifts for coworkers succulents

StarPack Home 3-Piece Ceramic Succulent Planter, available at Amazon, $15.97

If your desk-mate doesn’t already have a plant, rest assured they would probably like one (fine print: if it requires next to no caregiving). Grab these ceramic planters from Amazon and fill them with an assortment of succulentsAccording to science, it may make them happier just to see the plants every day.

Fun kitchen towels that rate wines by how well they pair with certain foods

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Wine Pairing Towel Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $28

If you’ve got a wine lover on the team, grab these fun wine pairing towels and a bottle to go with them. They’re thoughtful, informal, and unique.

A candle that smells like their favorite state

homesick, $29.95

Homesick Candles, available at Uncommon Goods, starting at $34

Homesick candles are a great gift for pretty much anyone in your life. They’re a nice acknowledgment of something important to someone else that you’re likely to know regardless of intimacy level. Plus, with a candle, they’ll get to enjoy it for weeks to come — and if your gift deals with nostalgia, scent is a great place to start.

A three-month subscription to the book club that put “Gone with the Wind” on the map

book of the month, $45

Book of the Month, Three Months, available at Book of the Month, $49.99

If your team includes a bookworm, they’ll appreciate a gift subscription to Book of the Month. It’s been around since 1926, and it’s credited with the discovery of titles like “Gone with the Wind” and “Catcher in the Rye”. A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber’s doorstep. If they’re more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).

A funny mug that acknowledges the bond forged by people who have to fix the same defunct printer every week together

Gifts for coworkers This is Fine Mug

The This is Fine Mug, available at Redbubble, from $16.15

A “This is Fine” mug is the perfect gift for the only other people on earth who can truly relate to the particularities of your job: a defunct printer, last night’s too-fun team happy hour, and the occasional avalanche of meetings and high-priority emails. Here’s a $15 nod to the fond shared stressors.

A charging stand for their desk to keep things organized

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Anker Wireless Charger, available at Walmart, $29.99

Help them keep their cluttered wires under control with this wireless charger, which can charge through most protective phone cases. 

A miniature golf course they can escape to from the comfort of their desk

Gifts for coworkers desktop golf

Be Good Company Executive Mini Sandbox, available at Amazon, $24.99

Know somebody who’d rather be at the golf course, or who might appreciate the adult equivalent of doodling in class? Say no more.

A water bottle that keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 6 hours

Hydro Flask, $22

Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Travel Coffee Flask, available at Hydro Flask, $29.95

It’s often the most practical coworker gifts that make the best and longest impression, and this is one stellar candidate. The Hydro Flask is double-wall vacuum insulated and will keep their cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, with hot drinks staying hot for up to six. We’re big fans of the line.

The best portable battery you can buy

Gifts for coworkers Eleject

Elecjet PowerPie, available at Amazon, $49.99

If you want to get them something they’re sure to love, save them from a dead phone on their next long commute or work trip. We ranked this one as the best battery pack you can buy because of its capacity, charging speed, and affordability.

A self-betterment planner designed using the “best practices” of successful people in history

Best Self Co. Self Journal

Best Self Co. Planner, available at Best Self, $9.99

If you work with someone especially ambitious or concerned with self-progress, they’ll love this daily planner. It was created by a group of “human performance junkies” after researching the most successful, high-performing humans in history, and it uses their common practices and psychology tips to break down a 10-year plan into doable, bite-sized pieces.

Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organized

Gifts for coworkers cable clips

Shintop 6-Piece Cable Clips Set, available at Newegg, $9.70

Pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy for a low-key, well-rounded gift that’s fun and practical.

A beautiful candle from a cool startup

otherland manor house

Otherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36

This is one candle they will be excited to receive. Otherland is a startup created by Abigail Cook Stone, a former art buyer for Ralph Lauren. They’re some of the most beautifully packaged and best smelling we’ve seen in a while— and they make great gifts

An extra-long charging cable, which is the closest you’ll get to gifting never-ending convenience

Gifts for coworkers YungSong

6 ft Charging Cable, 3-Pack, available at Amazon, $9.98

It’s something every one of us will feel grateful for a couple of times per day, but always put off buying for ourselves: a serpentine, 6-foot long charging cable.

A notebook they can wipe clean and reuse

Gifts for coworkers Rocketbook

Rocketbook Fusion Smart Notebook, available at Staples, $37

The Rocketbook notebook is full of 21 reusable pages that wipe clean with a damp cloth when the owner uses a Pilot FriXion pen (included), so they can keep using the same notebook indefinitely. They can also send hand-written notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, email, and more. I use my own a surprising amount.

A glass Chemex that makes full-flavored coffee every time

chemex pour over glass coffee maker with wood collar o

Stainless-Steel French Press, available at Williams-Sonoma, from $35.50

Grab a glass Chemex from Williams-Sonoma that will deliver flavorful, sediment-free coffee routinely. The glass is heat-resistant, and the wood and leather collar serves as an insulated handle. 

A to-go sriracha sauce keychain for the hot sauce fiend of the office

Gifts for coworkers Siracha keychain

Sriracha Keychain Gift Pack, available at Amazon, $29.99

Perfect for the coworker best known for adding hot sauce to anything sweet, savory, or edible. The pack comes with a bottle of Sriracha and six differently sized keychains. 

A brownie pan that only makes edge pieces

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Baker’s Edge Nonstick Edge Brownie Pan, available at Amazon, $36.95

This is exactly the kind of gift that seems more fun and clever than it is practical — until you’re using it once a month religiously.

Tools for a night off and the “Do Nothing” sloth card made by an independent artist

Gifts for coworkers Do Nothing Sloth Card

“Do Nothing” Three Sloth Stationery Cards, available at Society6, $9.79

Pair the sloth “Do Nothing” card with a few relaxing accessories (like face masks) to gift a well-deserved night off to a coworker. Like all of Society6’s collection, it’s also made by an independent artist — making it a bit cooler than what you might pick up from CVS.

A tiny, convenient Bluetooth key tracker

Amazon gifts for him under $100 Tile

Tile Mate Key Finder, available at Target, $24.99

You can’t go wrong with a tracker for their keys that’s compact, thoughtful, and useful to pretty much everyone.

A gift card to a popular healthy eating startup

Gifts for mom Daily Harvest

Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest from $50

Daily Harvest is a meal delivery startup that makes healthy fast food that takes as little as 30 seconds to prepare. Meals are delicious, under $10 each, and designed by a chef and nutritionist team for taste and balance. It’s great for healthy eaters, busy lifestyles, and solves pretty much all of our main roadblocks to eating well.

A unique cocktail recipe book that matches a famous song with a complementary cocktail

Gifts for best friend cocktail vinyl

Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Barnes & Noble, $22.49

Gift your favorite coworker a book that pairs some of the best music from the 1950s to the 2000s with cocktail recipes that match the song’s mood, lyrical imagery, or the artists themselves. 

A subscription that sends them cool new snacks

Gifts for coworkers Love with Food

Gift Subscription, available at Love With Food from $7.99/month

Love with Food delivers organic, all-natural, or gluten-free snacks that serial snackers won’t feel guilty about eating. The better-for-you chips, candy, and bars come from new and trending food brands. Plus, with every snack box that’s delivered, Love With Food donates at least one meal to a family in need through a partnership with Feeding America. 

A nice leather business card holder

Business Card Holder 7_nzoom

Business Card Case, available at Leatherology, $45

Leatherology makes luxe leather goods for less, and their $45 business card case is a great workplace gift for under $50. It has an invisible magnetic closure, holds up to 20 cards, and comes in a variety of leather types and colors. You can also add a monogram for an additional $10. 

A convenient, reusable bag that folds up to the size of a business card

small baggu

Small Baggu, available at Backcountry, $9.95

Grab a trendy, reusable shopping bag that’s perfect for packing lunch, extra shoes, or taking a last-minute trip to the grocery store. This one folds up to about the size of a business card, and its signature version can hold 50 pounds of stuff easily.

A Bob Ross chia pet they can grow

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Bob Ross Chia Pet, available at Amazon, $20.68

Do yourself, your coworker, and your section of the office a favor with a Bob Ross chia pet. It will be a great conversation piece for as long as it lives.

An echo dot for the virtual assistant you can afford to give them

echo dot 4th generation

Echo Dot, 4th Generation, available at Amazon, $34.99

If they don’t already have an Echo Dot, this is a great tech gift without quite breaking $50.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best battery cases in 2021 to keep your smartphone going

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

Mophie Juice Pack Access
  • Upgrade your case to one of the best battery cases to juice up your phone away from a power outlet.
  • Our favorite all-rounder is the Mophie Juice Pack Access with its wireless charging and low price tag.
  • When choosing a battery case, consider things like power capacity, type of port, and fast charging capability.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

As we’ve become more and more reliant on our smartphones, a battery pack to give your phone an extra boost of power has become essential. Unfortunately, that means having to carry an extra device, adding clutter to your life and just one more gadget to recharge at the end of the day.

The beauty of battery cases is that they’ll let you have that extra bit of juice when you need it without forcing you to keep track of yet another device every day. It’s a case and a battery pack blended into a single unit, often with passthrough charging so you can charge the case’s battery and your smartphone’s battery without the need for another port or another cable.

These battery cases are so nifty and convenient, in fact, that we’re actually surprised so few people utilize them – though they do have the disadvantage of only offering half or one full charge typically. In any case, they’re a boon to anyone whose life revolves around their phone. Here are the best ones we found.

The best all-rounder battery case

Affordable, robust, and feature-rich, the Mophie Juice Pack Access gets our vote as the best all-rounder if you’re looking for a bit of extra juice on-the-go.
Affordable, robust, and feature-rich, the Mophie Juice Pack Access gets our vote as the best all-rounder if you’re looking for a bit of extra juice on-the-go.

Mophie’s best battery case, the JuicePack Access, is available for iPhone X through 11 models as well as the base JuicePack available for the Samsung Galaxy S10 models, giving you the best of several worlds. It has a compact design with a removable top, so you can easily slide your smartphone in and out, as well as a rubberized finish that feels matte yet silky while boasting great grip — no more accidental drops. Inside, there are also rubberized support pads to keep your phone protected should you drop it. 

Performance-wise, this battery is more for that extra bit of juice to get you through the day, with just 30% extra power at full charge (up to 32 hours on the Galaxy S10 model I’ve found). Still, it offers wireless and passthrough Priority+ charging, which means that not only can your phone charge wirelessly while inside the case, but it also gets charged first. Of course, if wireless chargers aren’t your thing, there’s a USB-C port on hand. The best part is that this case is incredibly cheap.

Shop the Mophie JuicePack Access for different phone types from Zagg or Amazon

The best iPhone battery case

Casely’s Power 2.0 battery cases not only give your phone another full charge, but they also look good doing it.
Casely’s Power 2.0 battery cases not only give your phone another full charge, but they also look good doing it.

You may be familiar with Casely‘s gorgeous cases, thanks to the brand collaborating with digital artists for its smartphone case designs. But, did you know that it makes some of the best iPhone battery cases right now? The Power 2.0 is just as sleek and compact as the Mophie case (and thinner than its predecessor, the Power 1.0), but now it also comes in several appealing colors. If you love a good design, you’ll appreciate the 40 patterns this battery case is available in, and you’ll enjoy that the top section is incredibly flexible, making it easy to peel your phone out of the case.

There’s plenty of power here as well, giving my iPhone 11 Pro Max one full recharge. That’s on top of the priority passthrough and wireless charging it offers, although there’s no USB-C on hand sadly. Not an iPhone user? Casely has these on hand for Galaxy S10, Note 10, and Galaxy S9 phones as well. The case itself is also a protective one, ensuring your phone won’t break or get scratched up when dropped. It isn’t the cheapest option, but trust us, it’s worth the splurge.

Shop the Casely Power 2.0 Charging Case for different phone types from Casely

The best Galaxy phone battery case

iBlades’ Galaxy Smart Cases boast an innovative modular design, making it more than just a battery case.
iBlades’ Galaxy Smart Cases boast an innovative modular design, making it more than just a battery case.

Whether you have a Samsung Galaxy S21 or a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, you’ll find iBlades’ line of smart cases a nifty upgrade to your Android smartphone. iBlades’ Galaxy Smart Cases have a modular design. So, while one of the best things about them is that you can attach the brand’s 3,600 mAh battery pack (called Turbo 3 SmartBlade) to extend your phone’s daily longevity, you can also expand its storage with the included micro SD slot. Furthermore, it comes with a 4-in-1 EnviroSensor inside that allows you to check air quality wherever you are. 

It’s worth noting that the battery pack itself is a separate unit from the case. However, not only does it come bundled with the case — alongside a microSD card — but it is also designed to attach to the case so you can make the case as thin as can be when you don’t need the extra juice then simply snap the battery on when you do. And, it will give you more than 6 hours of browsing or more than 10 hours of talk time. Need more than that? You can get another slim battery pack that you can store in any pocket. The idea is that even though you are technically packing an extra battery, having it securely attached to your phone allows you to still have a single device when it’s doing its thing.

Shop the iBlades Galaxy Smart Case for different phone types at iBlades

The best high-capacity battery case

Those with more robust battery life needs should go for ZeroLemon’s 10,000mAh battery case options.
Those with more robust battery life needs should go for ZeroLemon’s 10,000mAh battery case options.

If a heftier battery solution is what you need, then ZeroLemon has found a way to give you that without forcing you to carry a battery pack separately. As long as you’re willing to lug around a thicker smartphone — more or less an inch thick. The cases themselves come in two versions: a rugged one and one that supports wireless charging.

These battery cases include a power bank that sits right between your phone and the back of the case, allowing you to carry two devices in one single unit for convenience. And, the power banks themselves offer a whopping 10,000mAh of power (there are 8,000mAh and 5,000mAh options, too) which translates to more than double battery life for some phones. Should you find yourself out in the field or out in the middle of nowhere, you’d be well served by one of these battery cases. The best part? The whole thing costs less than $75!

Shop the ZeroLemon Battery for different phone types at ZeroLemon and Amazon

Best slim battery case

Nueby’s slimline ReCharge Charging Case gets our vote for the most elegant battery case.
Nueby’s slimline ReCharge Charging Case gets our vote for the most elegant battery case.

While most of the battery cases out there either look big and bulky or homogeneous, Nueby takes on a slim and sexy approach with its ReCharge battery case. The beauty of ReCharge is simply that it’s beautiful, with glossy accents on an albeit robust case that’s both shockproof and dirt-resistant, keeping your phone protected. The way it’s designed makes it easy for users to slip their phone in and out as well.

Depending on your iPhone, you’ll get up to two charges from the built-in battery pack – impressive considering how sleek and slim it is. That’s not all: it also has temperature protection, so that its battery inside stays cool even when it’s scorching outside, as well as over-discharge protection. For something that’s less than $50, you’re certainly getting a lot of bang for your buck.

Shop the Nueby ReCharge Charging Case for different phone types at Nueby

What we look forward to testing

We are looking to test more cases that cover the broader range of mid-range and high-end Android phones available, especially in categories such as slim cases for Android phones. Also, we’re looking to expand our testing of battery cases available for the latest Samsung phones.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best webcams of 2021 for work or fun

A man presenting in a meeting at his home using the Razer Kiyo Pro that is attached to his monitor

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A great webcam remains among the most wanted home office tech in 2021.
  • Logitech’s C920 HD Pro is still the best webcam. It delivers effective video quality and clear audio at an affordable price.
  • Can’t find a webcam to buy? Here’s how to turn your camera into a webcam.

A webcam is a critical piece of home-office equipment. It’s the best way to connect with co-workers while working remotely. It’s also a must-have for streamers and content creators.

Although a basic laptop webcam can do the job, the result is often fuzzy and dim, making it hard for those on the other side of a video conference to see and connect with you. A USB webcam will provide a leap in quality. Most models available today pack 1080p resolution, double the 720p resolution that most laptop webcams stick to. Your image will be sharper and clearer for whomever you’re talking to.

Logitech dominates this market. It was alone in building new, high-quality webcams over the last decade, so many have turned to the company as remote work surged. Microsoft sells several webcams, but most are older models that often can’t compete with newer Logitech gear. Meanwhile, Razer’s alternatives target streaming rather than work conferencing.

Here are the best webcams you can buy

Our testing methodology

We judged all our recommended webcams, and most of the alternatives, with side-by-side comparisons of video recorded by each webcam. These records were unlabeled and judged back-to-back to reach an unbiased conclusion. 

Our opinion of video quality was most heavily influenced by clarity. We look for a crisp, clean image that is not only sharp but also free from distracting artifacts. We also look for good performance in low-light conditions and rooms with unbalanced lighting. 

Color performance was also key to our observations. We think a warm, vibrant image can deliver a more inviting and personable look. The best webcams are capable of this, while less impressive options can appear cool, stark, and clinical. 

Audio quality was also key to our comparisons. While video quality is important, many owners use a webcam’s built-in microphone even more often than the camera itself. A webcam’s microphone must deliver clear, crisp audio that makes the user’s voice easy to understand while also rejecting unwanted background noise. As with video quality, audio quality was judged through back-to-back comparisons of unlabeled audio samples. 

Last, but not least, we considered the webcam’s software suite (if one was available). We give this far less weight than video or audio quality, but it can be important on more expensive cameras that include advanced customization options.

The best webcam overall

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

Logitech’s C920 HD Pro is a proven 1080p webcam with quality video and audio at a reasonable price.

Pros: Great video quality, good audio quality, handles background noise well, durable, attractive build quality

Cons: Mount could use more adjustment, limited field-of-view

Logitech’s C920 HD Pro is a proven, affordable webcam. It debuted in January 2012, making it almost a decade old. The webcam’s 1080p resolution and dual-microphone audio were advanced at the time and remain competitive today.

The C920 looks good in a variety of conditions. The camera’s well-tuned autofocus and white balance handle poor lighting well, providing natural, enjoyable video in situations that leave competing webcams confused. 

Audio is no different. The C920‘s dual microphones are not the absolute best available, but they handle background noise as well as any webcam we tested. That’s important if your home office isn’t silent (and most aren’t). 

This webcam has a 78-degree field of view, which is perfect for most people. It centers the shot on your face and keeps the background largely out of view. It can feel tight if you need to have multiple people in the shot, however, or if you want background details to be visible. 

The Logitech C920 HD Pro spawned a family of spin-offs. The C930e has a wider field of view for multi-person meetings. The C922x is a budget streaming camera that adds the option to stream or record at 720p and 60 frames per second. The C920s adds a privacy shutter. 

These alternatives are excellent and, depending on availability and discounts, could be a better value than the C920. Still, the classic C920 HD Pro is our go-to recommendation. It’s a simple, reliable pick.

The best webcam for video quality

A closeup of the Logitech Brio Ultra HD on a computer with a person playing Fortnite

Logitech’s Brio boosts resolution to 4K and has versatile software features that make it great in any situation.

Pros: Best-in-class image quality, excellent audio, versatile recording options, supports Windows Hello

Cons: Expensive

Logitech’s Brio Ultra HD Pro is an outstanding webcam that will help you look your best. Video quality is this camera’s highlight with a 4K resolution that leads to a sharp, crisp image. The Brio has Logitech’s most advanced auto light correction, known as “RightLight 3,” and it’s incredible. This webcam captures usable imagery in low-light conditions that would reduce competitors’ video to a grainy, muddy mess. Although now four years old, the Brio still outperforms newer 4K webcams like Dell’s Ultrasharp Webcam. 

Audio is great, as well. The Brio handles background noise as well as Logitech’s C920 HD Pro, but sounds more vibrant and balanced. It’s as good as you’ll find from any webcam.

The camera’s software provides three field-of-view options (90, 78, and 65 degrees) and up to 5x digital zoom. You can use a wide field of view for a more professional look or narrow it when you don’t feel like cleaning your home office. 

The Brio also supports Windows Hello facial recognition which, once you use it, becomes a must-have. This feature can log you in to Windows 10 the moment you sit down and face the camera. It’s as quick and intuitive as Apple’s FaceID.  

A versatile mount keeps the Brio balanced on most monitors. Those who need an extremely stable shot can remove the default mount and attach the webcam to a tripod.

The best budget webcam

A closeup of the Logi C270HD attached to a computer

Cheap and cheerful, the Logitech C270 HD provides pleasant video and good audio quality in an affordable webcam.

Pros: Good image quality, crisp audio, small size, affordable

Cons: Only 720p resolution, mount lacks versatility

Logitech’s C270 HD delivers the basics at a low price. It’s among the least expensive webcams you can buy from a reputable brand, and though it won’t wow you with its image quality, it’s a step up from a typical laptop webcam.

The C270 is limited to 720p resolution, so it lacks the sharp, rich look of a more expensive 1080p webcam like the Logitech C920 HD Pro. However, the camera obviously benefits from Logitech’s long history in the webcam market.  

It delivers natural, warm, enjoyable video. It can look grainy when viewed full screen, but the difference between the C270 and a more expensive 1080p webcam is not always noticeable in real-world video conferencing.  

Unlike many budget competitors, the C270 has a narrow 60-degree field of view. This is for the best. A narrow field of view keeps video focused on your face and the background out of the shot. It does lead to a less professional look, but that’s only an issue if you’re frequently the sole presenter in video calls. 

The C270 HD has clear, crisp audio that’s easy for others to understand, and it’s much better at removing background noise than competing budget webcams. This is an important reason to buy the C270 HD over the competition.  

We do wish the C270 HD had a better mount. This is a small, light webcam that’s easy to bump or jostle out of position. It also lacks the option to mount the camera to a tripod.

The best premium webcam

The Dell Ultrasharp Webcam attached to the top of a computer with the screen displaying a video meeting

The Dell Ultrasharp Webcam combines great video quality with AI auto-focus and Windows Hello support.

Pros: 4K resolution and great video quality, durable, sturdy construction, Windows Hello support, AI Auto-focus

Cons: Video quality can’t beat Logitech’s Brio, no microphone

Dell’s Ultrasharp Webcam packs great video quality with a long list of advanced features that can make your PC more convenient. 

The Dell Ultrasharp Webcam doesn’t look as sharp and detailed as Logitech’s Brio, but it’s close, and the difference is often hard to notice. The Ultrasharp Webcam handles poor lighting well and provides a warm, saturated look. The Dell’s video quality was the second-best of any webcam we tested.   

Windows Hello is supported, but Dell takes it a step further with a feature called ExpressSign-In. This lets the camera automatically detect your presence, start the computer from sleep, and log you in through Windows Hello. It can lock the computer when you step away, too. 

The webcam supports AI auto-framing, a feature that uses face detection to automatically keep your face centered in the frame. If you prefer a manual approach, however, Dell’s software lets you choose from a 65, 78, or 90-degree field of view. 

One major feature is missing from the Dell Ultrasharp Webcam: a microphone. Dell claims it removed this feature because it expects shoppers looking at a premium webcam will already have a high-quality external microphone. 

This camera is unusually sturdy. The case is made of metal and magnetically attaches to the two included mounts. One mount can perch the webcam on your monitor while the other can attach to a tripod. The camera also includes a magnetic privacy shutter. Dell is confident in the Ultrasharp Webcam’s durability and backs the camera with a three-year warranty.

The best webcam for streaming

A man presenting in a meeting at his home using the Razer Kiyo Pro that is attached to his monitor

The Razer Kiyo Pro performs well in low light and can record or stream at up to 60 frames per second.

Pros: Hefty and versatile mount, extensive camera control options, can record or stream at 60 frames per second

Cons: 4K is not supported, autofocus can be indecisive

The Razer Kiyo Pro is an excellent webcam for streamers and content creators. It’s bulky and attached to a hefty, versatile mount that’s compatible with a tripod. The Kiyo Pro looks and feels more “Pro” than its competition. It also has an excellent built-in microphone.

The Kiyo Pro lacks the distracting artifacts and compressed colors that plague many webcams. It copes with low-light situations well, with minimal noise and an exceptional ability to balance uneven lighting. It can record at up to 1080p resolution at up to 60 frames per second, which is ideal for streamers who want the framerate of their webcam footage to match that of their stream. 

Sadly, 4K resolution is not supported. That’s a disappointment given the Kiyo Pro‘s price. However, most video conferencing and streaming platforms don’t support 4K, so this may not be a serious problem for you.

The Kiyo Pro has a wide-angle lens that supports three field-of-view options: 103, 90, and 80 degrees. This makes the camera more flexible, as you can use a wide field of view to highlight your background or crop in tighter to keep attention on your face. Overall, the field of view skews wider, which can be a disadvantage if you want to keep your background out of the shot.

Razer’s Synapse software offers extensive image quality customization. You can adjust brightness, color, sharpness, and focus, among other options. Synapse was the most versatile and attractive webcam software we tested, though its long list of options can be overwhelming to new users.

What should you look for when buying a webcam?

Field of view

This is the observable area a camera can display, described in degrees. A higher number translates to a wider field of view and a broader, more expansive perspective. A narrow field of view is often best because it highlights your face and obscures the background, but a wide field of view is helpful when a webcam needs to show multiple people at once. 

Most webcams have a field of view between 60 and 90 degrees. We think a field of view between 70 and 80 degrees is best for most people, but a webcam with an adjustable field of view is even better.  

Resolution 

A webcam’s resolution describes the number of pixels it can capture. Nearly all webcams use the same shorthand descriptions as the TV industry: 720p, 1080p, and 4K. 

A higher resolution can lead to a sharper, more detailed image, but don’t give this specification too much weight. Most video conferencing software maxes out at 1080p and, in practice, often displays a resolution below that, so other aspects of image quality make more impact.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

High Dynamic Range captures a wider range of color and lighting when compared to older, “standard” SDR video. Many new webcams, like the Dell Ultrasharp Webcam and Razer Kiyo Pro, claim that HDR can improve performance in extreme lighting. We’re rather skeptical of that claim. While using HDR did seem to impact performance, the improvement was rarely significant. 

Windows Hello compatibility

Windows Hello is Microsoft’s biometric login feature, which includes facial recognition. You can use a webcam that supports Windows Hello to log in simply by sitting in front of the camera. Though not essential, it’s a useful feature that eliminates the hassle of typing in a password or PIN. 

AI Auto-Focus

Several new webcams, including the Dell Ultrasharp Webcam and Anker Powerconf C300, use AI face recognition to automatically detect your face and keep it centered in the frame. In practice, this works as an alternative to setting a manual field of view. AI auto-focus can automatically crop a wide field of view to keep you centered. This feature is handy if your background is cluttered or distracting.

Tripod mounting

All the webcams recommended here include a built-in mounting system that balances the webcam on top of your monitor. Many webcams can also attach to a tripod’s mounting screw. Look for this feature if you want more flexibility in how you position the webcam.

Can you use a smartphone instead of a webcam?

A smartphone can deliver great video quality and good audio quality, though it varies significantly between phones. You’ll need a tripod with a smartphone mount to hold the phone.

It’s also not as simple as connecting your smartphone to your computer with a cable. You need an app that can stream video from your smartphone to your computer. Popular options include iVCam, DroidCam, and EpocCam. These apps can provide excellent video and audio quality. 

Most apps offer a free version, but this often comes with major limitations or restrictions, so you’ll likely want to pay for the full version. Pricing varies significantly between apps. Some charge a one-time fee, while others bill annually. 

Compatibility limitations can be annoying, especially if you own a Mac or a Chromebook. EpocCam is compatible with Windows and macOS computers, but it’s not available on Android. IVCam and DroidCam are available for Android and iPhone but only work with Windows PCs.

Can you use a digital camera instead of a webcam?

A digital camera can deliver excellent video quality that far exceeds any webcam. Audio quality can be spotty, though, as the microphone on a camera isn’t designed to reject or muffle background noise. Most digital cameras are large and must be mounted to a tripod.

Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony all have software tools that make select cameras compatible with Windows PCs and, in some cases, Macs. These tools don’t support every camera made by each manufacturer, so refer to the software’s documentation to see if your camera is supported.

Alternatively, you may use a digital camera with HDMI-out as a webcam by connecting it to a video capture device. Very few computers have this built-in, however, so you’ll likely need to purchase a video capture device to enable this on your PC.

What else we considered

We tested numerous webcams at a variety of price points. Logitech’s C920 HD Pro shut out many of these webcams with its reliable, attractive image quality and modest pricing, but most of the alternatives we tested offer at least acceptable video quality and could be worth buying when sold at a discount.

  • Anker Powerconf C300 ($129.99): The Anker Powerconf C300 is a great 1080p webcam with solid image quality and support for AI auto-focus. It also offers good audio quality, making it a solid choice for most situations. The Powerconf C300 is spoiled by its pricing, which is awkwardly wedged between the Logitech C920 HD Pro and Logitech Brio.
  • Aukey PC-LM1E ($59.99): This is among the most affordable 1080p webcams available, dropping as low as $21.80 on sale. Its video quality is acceptable, but the built-in microphone picks up so much background noise that it’s borderline unusable. It’s a good value pick if you always use a headset, however.
  • Logitech C925-e ($99.99): The Logitech C925-e is a slightly tweaked model of the C920 HD Pro with a more modern look. It’s often more expensive than the C920 HD Pro, however, and offers no improvement in image quality. If you find it on sale, however, it’s a great pick.
  • Logitech C922x Pro Stream ($99.99): The C922x Pro Stream is an entry-level streaming webcam that competes with the Kiyo Pro. It can handle 1080p at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 frames per second. It’s a good webcam, but we prefer the Razer Kiyo Pro or, if you’re on a budget, the Kiyo.
  • Logitech C930e ($129.99): The C930e is a C920 HD Pro with an expanded field-of-view. Logitech pitches this camera as an ideal choice for conference rooms, but the C920 makes more sense for individual use.
  • Logitech C920S Pro HD ($69.99): The webcam is a C920 HD Pro with a privacy shutter. Its official MSRP is less than the C920 HD Pro but it’s often more expensive at retailers. Still, pick this one up if you find a deal.
  • Logitech Streamcam ($169.99): The Logitech Streamcam targets streamers and content creators with 1080p video at 60 frames per second. It can also record in a vertical aspect ratio, which is unusual for a webcam. Its video quality falls short of the Razer Kiyo Pro, however.
  • Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 ($39.95): We last tried this camera back in 2012. It’s an ancient 720p webcam that doesn’t stack up with modern options. Buy the Logitech C270 HD instead.
  • Microsoft LifeCam Studio ($99.95): This camera was released in 2010, making it the oldest included on this list. You can still buy it today, often on sale with pricing similar to the Logitech C920 HD pro. The C920 is superior, so buy it instead.
  • Microsoft Modern Webcam ($69.99): Microsoft’s Modern Webcam is a new challenger to the Logitech C920 HD Pro. It can record at 1080p at 30 frames per second and offers support for HDR, but it doesn’t have the dual microphone found in Logitech’s option. The camera is compact and includes a tripod mount.
  • Razer Kiyo ($99.99): Razer’s more affordable Kiyo streaming camera can handle 1080p at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 frames per second. It’s not a bad webcam but it’s leagues behind the Kiyo Pro in video quality, and the Logitech C920 HD Pro is better for video conferencing.

What we look forward to testing

The demand for webcams in 2020 has encouraged several companies to re-enter the market with new offerings. We can only confirm two models so far, but our sources hint that several additional options from major brands will hit store shelves in 2021.

  • Elgato Facecam ($199.99): The Elgato Facecam targets streamers and content creators. Its specifications and construction mirror the Razer Kiyo Pro. Both capture 1080p video at up to 60 frames per second and include a Sony Starvis image sensor tuned for low light performance (the Dell Ultrasharp Webcam also uses this sensor). It does not include a microphone.
Read the original article on Business Insider

6 iPad accessories to help you get the most out of your Apple tablet

Collage of the best iPad accessories, including an Apple pencil, AirPods, Logitech keyboard, and Steel Series Nimbus Controller 4x3

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

  • Accessories can help you use your iPad as a sketchbook, laptop, or game console.
  • Our favorite iPad accessories include ESR cases, Logitech keyboards, and Apple’s AirPods Pro.
  • Make sure the accessory is compatible with your specific iPad model before buying.

There’s plenty that your iPad can do right out of the box, but accessories can make your iPad even more useful. That’s especially true if you’re using it for working or playing video games.

Whether you’re using your iPad as a portable work machine, a digital sketch pad, or a secondary gaming device, there’s something in this guide for everyone. All of the products in this guide have been tested by our team of writers.

Apple makes plenty of iPad accessories, but there are also worthwhile options from third parties like Logitech, ESR, and SteelSeries among others. When shopping for iPad accessories, make sure they’re compatible with the specific iPad model you own.

Here are our favorite iPad accessories.

The best iPad case

Pink iPad Case ESR

ESR iPad cases

iPad Cases (button)

There are plenty of iPad cases out there, but ESR’s cases stand out for their variety and affordable prices. Whether you prioritize protection style, or convenience, there’s usually something for everyone in ESR’s lineup. 

One of our favorites is the Sentry Magnetic Kickstand Case, which includes raised edges for extra protection and a kickstand that allows for seven viewing angles. The version for the 10.2-inch iPad only costs $21.69 at the time of writing, although the pricing will definitely vary depending on the model. The ESR Ascend Trifold Hard Case for the iPad Pro even has a special flap for protecting your Apple Pencil while you’re charging it. 

All told, ESR provides plenty of choice and value to make its cases worth a look. 

The best wireless earbuds for iPad

airpods pro

Apple AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro (button)

Apple’s AirPods Pro are pricier than many competitors, but they offer great noise cancellation, crisp sound quality, and seamless pairing with Apple devices. You can expect deeper bass and better noise cancellation than you’d get on cheaper (yet still very good) earbuds like the $120 second-generation Amazon Echo Buds and $150 Beats Studio Buds

The AirPods Pro are close competitors to Sony’s WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds, but there are a few reasons why AirPods are usually a better choice for Apple device users. Not only do they quickly pair with your iPad or iPhone, but you’ll also get Apple-specific features like the ability for Siri to read reminders, notifications, and text messages. 

They also support spatial audio, which provides a surround sound effect when watching supported content in apps like Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, and HBO Max. That makes them a particularly compelling choice for those who really plan to use their iPad for entertainment first and foremost. 

The best iPad stylus

Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil

Pencil (2nd Generation) (button)

If you frequently sketch or jot down notes on your iPad, you’ll have a lot to gain from using the Apple Pencil. Insider Reviews has tested styluses from companies such as Wacom, Adonit, and 53 over the years, and none of them feel quite as fluid and accurate as the Apple Pencil. 

There’s essentially no lag, and the tip is pressure sensitive in the same way as a regular pencil. That means you can press down harder to make darker markings, or sketch lightly for a softer effect.

Which one you purchase depends on the iPad model you own. The $129 second-generation Apple Pencil comes with a sleeker design and magnetically attaches to your iPad for charging and pairing. It’s compatible with the fourth-generation iPad Pro, 11-inch iPad Pro, and the third-generation and newer models of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. 

The $99 first-generation Apple Pencil, which has a longer design and must be plugged into a Lightning port to charge, works with other iPad models. 

The best universal charging cable for iPad

Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Cable

Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Cable

Powerline II 3-in-1 Cable (button)

The iPad is a great travel companion, especially on long flights. But no one likes carrying around multiple cables for your phone and tablet. That’s where Anker’s PowerLine II 3-in-1 cable comes in handy.

It includes charging tips for USB-C, Lightning, and micro-USB all in one. It’s a particularly good choice for those who have an iPad that charges via USB-C instead of Lightning, that way you don’t have to pack an extra Lightning cable for your iPhone.

It’s not quite as durable or lengthy as some of the other Lightning and charging cables we’ve tested. But its versatility, lifetime warranty, and solid build quality make it the best universal charging cable we’ve tried so far. 

The best iPad keyboard

Logitech K380

Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard

K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard (button)

If you use your iPad for working and taking notes, a keyboard is a must. We love the Logitech K380 for its responsive and accurate typing experience, sleek design, and ability to remember  up to three device connections at a time.

Best of all: it’s very affordable at just $36.98 at the time of writing. At that price it’s much cheaper than most keyboard cases, making it the perfect companion if you already have a case you enjoy. Plus, it’ll work with any iPad regardless of the model since it’s a standalone Bluetooth keyboard.

Our reviewer Michelle Rae Uy called it “a delight” to type on, even saying that its bounce can rival that of Dell’s flagship laptops. The only downside? It’s not rechargeable and instead requires two AAA alkaline batteries. However, it comes with two batteries out of the box that should last for up to two years. 

If you prefer a keyboard case over a standalone Bluetooth keyboard, we recommend the Logitech Combo Touch

The best game controller for iPad

SteelSeries Nimbus+ Bluetooth

SteelSeries Nimbus+

Nimbus+ Gaming Controller (button)

The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is the best controller you can buy if you love playing games on your iPad. 

For one, it’s versatile enough to be used as a standalone controller or with an iPhone mount to turn your phone into a handheld console. It also borrows some design cues from Microsoft and Sony, making it feel familiar to most gamers. You’ll also get four months of Apple Arcade for free when purchasing the controller, and the battery lasts for up to 50 hours.

However, it uses a Lightning port for charging, so you’ll have to keep your iPhone’s power cord handy if you own an iPad Pro or fourth-generation iPad Air. Although our reviewer Nathaniel Mott says it offers the best experience across Apple devices, there are some minor downsides to consider. The buttons are a bit slick, the visual battery indicator makes the controller look less attractive, and the iPhone mount can be a bit finicky. All that said, this remains the best iPhone game controller to date.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Samsung’s next generation of foldable phones come with stronger screens and lower prices, and they’re available for preorder now

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

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold on a desk table laying next to a charger, a cup of coffee, and some notebooks and folders.
  • Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 starts at $1,799.99, and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 starts at $999.99.
  • Both phones are available to preorder now, and will become available to buy on August 27.
  • The new foldables come with improved durability, and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 comes with the best price we’ve seen for a foldable.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Samsung announced its new foldable smartphones, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, during the company’s Unpacked event on August 11.

The $1,799.99 Galaxy Z Fold 3 and $999.99 Galaxy Z Flip 3 are available for preorder starting on August 11 from Samsung’s website. Samsung has incentives for those who preorder, like Samsung credit and phone trade-in credit. Both new foldables will be generally available to buy starting on August 27 from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Xfinity, and Best Buy.

A person holding the Galaxy Z Fold with the screen open to a video of dolphins

When is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 release date?

Both the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 will be available for preorder starting on August 11 from Samsung’s website or the Shop Samsung app. The preorder period ends on August 26, and the phones will be widely available to buy on August 27 from Samsung’s website, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Xfinity.

What are the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 prices?

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the most expensive of the two new foldables, starting at $1,799.99.

While that’s cheaper than previous generations of Galaxy Z Fold phones, it’s still an enormous price tag, as far as phones go. To soften the blow, Samsung is offering $200 in Samsung credit for those who preorder from Samsung’s website during the August 11 to 26 preorder period. Samsung is also letting buyers trade-in up to four devices to get up to $800 in trade-in credit to go towards the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 starts at $999.99, which is in line with top-of-the-line phone pricing, but still on the high end of the spectrum. That price is significantly more tempting than the original Galaxy Z Flip’s $1,380 price tag, and Motorola’s $1,400 Moto Razr 5G, meaning the Galaxy Z Flip 3 could actually be a foldable that’s widely recommended. Indeed, with up to $500 trade-in credit, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 could cost those who preorder $500.

However, it’s impossible to recommend a device that we haven’t fully checked out yet, especially a relatively new type of phone like a foldable. Samsung will likely continue to have trade-in offers after the preorder period, so we’d recommend waiting for reviews before hitting the preorder or buy button.

The Galaxy Flip 3 flipped open sitting next to the phone closed on a table by a green plant

What’s new with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3?

The biggest and most important update coming to both foldable phones is an improvement to the durability of the foldable screens. Samsung says it’s using a new stretchable protective film for the foldable screen, as well as a new foldable screen panel that’s 80% more durable than previous foldable Samsung phones. Despite these updates, the folding screens are still only tested to 200,000 fold and unfolds, which is no more than previous generations.

Other notable updates include a thinner hinge design, IPX8 water resistance, better resistance against dust, a new metal build with Samsung’s so-called Armor Aluminum that’s supposedly stronger than any other metal used on a Galaxy phone, and a Gorilla Glass Victus for the outer cover screens.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 opened with its home screen displaying on a white background next to a stylus

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
Main display 7.6-inch QXGA+ (2,208 x 1,768) 120Hz AMOLED 6.7-inch 1080p (2,640 x 1,080) 120Hz AMOLED
Cover screen 6.2-inch 832p (2,268 x 832) 120Hz AMOLED 1.9-inch AMOLED
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Memory and storage 12GB RAM, 256GB/512GB storage 8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB storage
Rear cameras 12-megapixel ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses 12-megapixel ultra-wide, and wide lenses
Under-display camera 4-megapixel
Selfie camera 10-megapixel
Battery 4,400mAh, 25W fast charging, 10W fast wireless charging, 4.5W reverse wireless charging 3,300mAh, 15W fast charging, 10W fast wireless charging, 4.5W reverse wireless charging
Water resistance IPX8 IPX8
5G Connectivity
Sub6 5G, mmWave Sub6 5G, mmWave

Specific to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the big news is support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus – a tool that gave the Galaxy Note line a unique set of features and functionality. There are two versions of the S Pen that will work with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, including the S Pen Fold Edition and S Pen Pro. The S Pen Fold edition is specifically designed for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and comes with exclusive features, like a specially designed cover case, and Air Command that gives you shortcuts to settings and apps.

The other “big thing” about the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the under-display selfie camera that’s hiding underneath the foldable screen. The impact here is on the aesthetics of the unfolded phone, as it eliminates the need for a notch to house the selfie camera.

A woman holding up the Samsung Galaxy Flip 3 taking a selfie with the outer camera

As for the Galaxy Z Flip 3, the cover screen is four times larger than the original’s, which Samsung says gives the cover screen more versatility and functionality. The idea is to make the cover screen more useful so that you don’t always have to unfold the phone.

Notable, as well, is the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s $1,000 price, which is actually in the range of other non-foldable phones we recommend.

As with any newly announced device, we’d strongly advise waiting for reviews to come out before buying or preordering any of Samsung’s latest foldable phones.

Read the original article on Business Insider

61 gifts under $25 that anyone will love – from a cold brew coffee maker to a silk pillowcase

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

West Elm Tea Towels

The elements of a good present – being thoughtful, useful, or novel – aren’t restricted to a big budget. But the best gifts under $25 are usually hidden in a minefield of totally expendable knickknacks.

As a team of product journalists and reviewers, we’ve put together a list of the best affordable gifts we know of, based on gifts we’ve received, gifts we’ve given, and others we’ve found along the way. They’re all things we have or would gladly buy and use in our daily lives.

Check out all 60+ gifts under $25:

A compact, waterproof blanket for outdoor activities

A feminine person sitting on a big, blue outdoor blanket on a sandy beach

Bearz Outdoor Pocket Blanket, available at Amazon, $20.99

They’ll appreciate this outdoor blanket for all of their get-togethers outside. It folds up easily and can even fit into their pocket. It’s also waterproof, puncture-resistant, and sand-proof, so they can use this gift to level up their beach days, camping adventures, hikes, and picnics in the park.

A trendy bucket hat for the summer sun

Feminine person wearing gray bucket hat from Hat Depot on Amazon

The Hat Depot 300N Unisex Bucket Hat, available at Amazon, from $10.99

Whether you’re shopping for someone who loves bucket hats or someone who has yet to try one, this accessory is a great gift for the summer. They’ll get much needed protection from the sun, plus they’ll look stylish wherever they go.

A tie-dye kit for a fun art project

Three feminine people wearing colorful tie-dye shirts

Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit, available at Amazon, from $12.85

Tie-dye clothing continues to stick around, but they don’t have to spend a fortune on a tie-dye sweatshirt to join in on the trend. This easy kit gives them the gift of a fun passion project or a hands-on activity with friends. It comes with five colors of dye, gloves, and rubber bands.

A trio of face mists for freshening up their skin

Three bottles of face mists from Mario Badescu; one is green, one is pink, and one is purple.

Mario Badescu Spritz. Mist. Glow. Set, available at Ulta, $21

Gifting beauty products like moisturizers and foundations can be challenging because everyone has specific skin types and shades. However, face mists are your best bet if they’re obsessed with skincare and need something refreshing for the summer. We can’t get enough of Mario Badescu, and its mists are no exception. You can learn more about Mario Badescu sprays in our guide to the best face mists.

A personalized video message from their favorite celebrity

Cameo 2021

Personalized video message, starting at $1, available at Cameo

When trying to think of a unique gift, one that might not immediately come to mind is Cameo. The online service has tons of famous actors, musicians, athletes, and creators they might want a personalized video message from. Whether it’s for their birthday or the holidays, there’s something for everyone on Cameo, with prices starting at $1. You can get the likes of “Ugly Betty” actor Chris Gorham or internet dog sensation Puggy Smalls, each for $25 or less. 

Read more about Cameo and how to use Cameo.

A towel with a design of your city

Claudia Pearson City Tea Towels

Claudia Pearson City Tea Towels, available at West Elm, $18

Brooklyn artist Claudia Pearson has illustrated everything from children’s books to New Yorker pages to tea towels. Her quirky hand-drawn city maps add a sentimental touch to any kitchen.

A letterboard for lists, quotes, and milestone events

Target 12"x 12" Letterboard   Room Essentials™

12″x 12″ Room Essentials Letterboard, available at Target, $15

This square letter board brings a personalized touch to birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, or dinner parties. The light grain finish offers a sleek, modern look that’ll match different living spaces.

A pure silk pillowcase that’ll help tame bedhead

ZIMASILK 100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase for Hair and Skin Health,Both Sides 19 Momme Silk,1pc (Standard 20''x26'', Beige)

ZIMASILK 100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase, available at Amazon, from $23.99

Crafted from organic mulberry silk, this pillowcase is gentle and cool on hair and skin. Plus, you can choose from 36 colors to match your bedding. 

A water bottle that encourages hydration

WORK IT OUT WATER BOTTLE   DRINKING ENOUGH WATER

Ban.do Work It Out Water Bottle, available at Ban.do, $20

You’ll never forget to stay hydrated with this 24-ounce marked water bottle. It has an easy-to-carry plastic lid and removable silicone mouthpiece that makes it just as easy to clean as it is to drink from.  

The bedside storage essential

storage

Bedside Essentials Pocket, available at Uncommon Goods, $15-$20

Whether it’s your remote controls, books, or reading glasses, your bedside or couch essentials will fit perfectly in this convenient felt pouch. It slides between your mattress or under your couch cushion without looking like an eyesore.

The self-confessional book you can burn after writing

Burn

Burn After Writing Book, available at Amazon, $6.99

This bestseller went viral across TikTok because of its unique approach to self-reflection. With inquisitive prompts, the notebook works as a giant confessional you can quite literally burn after writing. 

A reflective card game that encourages connection

were

We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game, available at Target, $25

This card game is unlike any you’ve played before. Its three carefully crafted levels of questions spark connections and stimulate reflective conversations. You’ll leave the game making friends out of strangers or diving deeper into your friendships. 

An assorted cookie tin

cookies

6-Count Cookie Tin, available Milk Bar, $22

Satisfy their sweet tooth with this assortment of cookies. You can’t go wrong with Milk Bar’s best, from its fudgy Chocolate Confetti Cookie to its fruity Blueberry & Cream Cookie.

We break down how to shop for Milk Bar online, here.

An ambient moon lamp

saturn

Saturn Moon Lamp, available at Amazon, $23.99

This Saturn-shaped moon lamp gives off a soothing ambient glow to brighten up their room. Whether they use it as a subtle night light or as a room accessory, they’ll have fun matching the lamp to their mood with its 16 color options.

Hip wine glasses that elevate a nice dinner

wine

Hip Wine Glasses, available at Crate & Barrel, $6.95

There’s nothing that screams elegance more than a nice set of wine glasses. At only $7 each, Crate & Barrel’s stemware styles are the perfect guest to accompany your next charcuterie board. 

A milk frother that brings the taste of a cafe closer to home

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PowerLix Milk Frother, available at Amazon, $14.95

A milk frother is an unexpectedly convenient tool to have around the house, and it can make a frothy latte or cappuccino that tastes closer to what you’d find at the cafe.

We’re huge fans of this one in particular and even ranked it best overall in our guide to the best milk frothers.

Reusable straws that fold up on the go

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Food52 Reusable Straw Set, available at Food52, $25

Food52’s reusable straw sets come in a pretty color palette, and each pack includes carrying cases and cleaning squeegees. They can toss one set in their bag, leave one at work, and keep one in the car.

A cult-favorite clay mask that basically vacuums out pores

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Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask, available at Target, $7.99

The Aztec Clay Mask has been called “the world’s most powerful facial” and it’s also under $10. It can be mixed with water, but it works best with a little bit of apple cider vinegar.

Read our full review of the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask here.

Their new favorite pair of socks

bombas

Women’s Tri-Block Ankle Socks, available at Bombas, $12

Men’s Tri-Block Ankle Socks, available at Bombas, $12

Bombas is one gift we find ourselves giving friends and family every year. They’re the best socks we’ve ever tried, and they’re a little more expensive than someone is likely to spend on socks for themselves, making them a great gift.

Read our full review of Bombas socks here.

A Disney+ subscription

Originals Disney Plus 4x3

Subscribe for $7.99/month or $79.99/year

It gives you unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox, and costs just $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.

And if you need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.

A large photo print of a meaningful memory

Large Format Prints, available at Artifact Uprising

Large Format Prints, available at Artifact Uprising, from $22

Artifact Uprising makes luxury prints at accessible prices — and they make especially thoughtful gifts that look like they should cost much more. Get one of their favorite photos printed on archival fine art paper for $22 and up, or thoughtful cards for as little as $1 per custom card. You can also make a color series photo book for $22, a set of prints for $9, and a personalized calendar on a handcrafted wood clipboard for $25.

A roulette of spontaneous date night ideas

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Date Night Bucket List, available at Uncommon Goods, $20

Never run out of fun and new date night ideas — and take some of the pressure off deciding on an activity.

A cold brew coffee tool that makes a quart of liquid

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Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker, available at Amazon, $21.65

This cold brew maker is as inexpensive as it is convenient, and it can save hundreds of dollars per year on iced coffee. It easily fits into most refrigerator doors, is simple to use, and makes a good amount of cold brew at once. If they need more than one quart, there’s also a two-quart option. We even named it best budget option in our guide to the best cold-brew coffee makers

Read our full review of the Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker here

A trio of bestselling lipstick shades

Beauty gifts under $25 Pat McGrath

Pat McGrath Labs Mini MatteTrance Lipstick Trio, available at Sephora, $25

This paraben-free, ultra-pigmented trio features tiny but mighty editions of Pat McGrath Labs’ MatteTrance lipsticks.

A hair towel that cuts down on drying time by as much as 50%

aquis hair turban

Aquis Original Microfiber Hair Turban, available at Amazon, $20.99

Aquis’ cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of product reviewers.

The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that’s composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction that hair experiences while in its weakest state. Plus, it speeds up drying time by as much as 50%.

Textured dip bowls for condiments

West Elm Textured Dip Bowl   White (Lines)

Textured Dip Bowl, available at West Elm, from $4.88

Ideal for snacks, condiments, and the basics they love to cook with frequently. 

An approachable cookbook that’s great for hosting

Where Cooking Begins

“Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook” by Carla Lalli Music, available at Amazon, $15.81

This is the cookbook to beeline it to if your recipient loves to host friends for dinner. You can find more great options here, too.

A holiday shave set from a popular startup

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Shave Set, available at Flamingo, $16

Flamingo is the women’s brand of Harry’s, and it’s got the same M.O.: to make better hair removal products for a reasonable amount of money, and to present them in a way that makes them feel special. Its Shave Set comes in a recyclable pouch with a razor and two blade cartridges, daily moisturizer, luxe foaming shave gel, and a shower hook.

Read our full review of the Flamingo Shave Set here.

Smart outlet plugs that let you turn devices on or off from anywhere

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Kasa Smart WiFi Plug Mini, available at Best Buy, $8.99

A small but convenient gift, smart wifi plugs let the owner turn their electronics on or off from anywhere with their smartphone thanks to the Kasa app. If they have a smart home gadget, they can use the voice assistant to turn things on and off as well. In the Kasa app, they can also set schedules and “scenes” for controlling many devices with one button. 

A custom family portrait – including pets

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Custom Family Portrait, available at Etsy, from $15

For an especially thoughtful, impactful gift, order ahead of time and get a custom portrait of your little family — pets included.

A mini griddle that makes individual servings of breakfast foods

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Dash Mini Maker: The Mini Waffle Maker Machine, available at Bed Bath & Beyond, $11.99

This tiny waffle maker is perfect for single-serving breakfasts, or for meal prep (just freeze your waffles ahead of time). It’s compact for confined spaces, heats up in a few minutes, and has a non-stick surface that’s easy to clean.

A lifetime REI membership

REI

REI Membership, available at REI, $20

Perfect for the outdoorsy types, 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.

A set of three silk hair scrunchies

SlipSilk

Slipsilk Mini Scrunchies, available at Sephora, $22

Silk is often used in products like headbands and pillowcases to reduce friction and breakage of hair, and these hair ties serve the same purpose. Designed to keep hair from catching, crimping, and pulling, these hair scrunchies are gentle on strands and around the wrist.

Containers of Belgian chocolate for fondue

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Decadent Chocolate Fondue, available at Uncommon Goods, $24

Order a stoneware container of Belgian chocolate that you can heat up for a night of hassle-free fondue. 

A water bottle with a built-in filter system

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Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle, available at Amazon, $18.18

The Brita water bottle has a built-in filter that can improve the taste of water by reducing its chlorine content and smell. It can replace an estimated 1,800 single-use plastic bottles each year.

A reusable shopping bag that comes in tons of fun colors

Baggu Reusable Bag

Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag, available at Amazon, $12

Baggu bags are popular for a reason — they come in over 40 fun prints and fold down to pretty much nothing even though they can hold 50 pounds of stuff. 

A spray that protects your shoes from stains

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Jason Markk Repel Spray, available at Amazon, $16.49

This Jason Markk spray repels water and oil to keep your shoes free of stains and water spots. It’s water-based, so it’s okay to use on a variety of materials — from suede to nubuck leather to canvas and others. It sprays a fine mist that covers large areas both quickly and evenly. 

Soft, cozy underwear that comes in fun patterns

MeUndies Boxer Brief

MeUndies Boxers, available at MeUndies, $24

MeUndies makes some of the most comfortable underwear and loungewear for men and women that we’ve found at Insider Reviews. And, beyond that, we love their festive patterns. Because they’re pricier than most people are willing to pay for their own underwear, these make a great and surprisingly luxurious gift. We share our love for MeUndies underwear in our guide to the best places to shop for men’s underwear

Read our full review of MeUndies here.

Coasters made from reclaimed vinyl records

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Upcycled Record Coasters, available at Uncommon Goods, $18

These upcycled coasters are made from reclaimed vinyl records and sealed against moisture. Each set includes a variety of music genres. 

Fast-absorbing, moisturizing hand sanitizer

Touchland Power Mist Mint

Touchland Hand Sanitizer, available at Touchland, $9

Touchland makes hand sanitizers that aren’t sticky or drying. We like them because they’re fast-evaporating, moisturizing, and effective. 

Read our full review of Touchland Hand Sanitizer here.

A protective phone case

1. incase $25

Incase Phone Cases, available at Incase, from $24.95

Incase probably already makes your laptop case, and their phone cases are great for many of the same reasons. They’re lightweight, add another layer of protection, and allow for some fun personalization. 

A membership to unlimited reading

Scribd

Scribd Membership, available at Scribd, $9.99/month

Enjoy unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of books, audiobooks, and magazines for less than $10 a month with Scribd. (Or $13 per month for access to Scribd and the New York Times). If they aren’t a bibliophile already, Scribd will make them one. 

Read our full review of the Scribd membership here.  

Herbs de Provence in a cool ceramic crock

Herbes de Provence in Ceramic Crock

Herbes de Provence in Ceramic Crock, available at Williams Sonoma, from $14.95

Switch it up for the cook in your life with this tasty herb mix. The classic blend of thyme, basil, savory, fennel and lavender hails from the South of France, and Williams Sonoma recommends using it to accent poultry, meat, sauces, and soups. 

Chip-resistant, vegan nail polish that comes in over 50 colors

Smith & Cult Nail Polish

Smith and Cult Nail Polish, available at Smith and Cult, $18

Smith & Cult’s rich, chip-resistant nail polish comes in 52 colors and is the kind of beautiful bottle you leave out on the vanity because it’s just that nice to look at. The formulas are vegan, cruelty-free, and don’t have potentially harmful ingredients like formaldehyde or camphor, among others. It’s easy to see why we included Smith & Cult in our guide to the best nail polish brands.

Charitable lottery tickets that donate money to a deserving organization

Scratch off Donation Card

Scratch-off Donation Card, available at LottoLove, $23

When you scratch off a card from LottoLove, you won’t win any money. Instead, you “win” a charitable prize that’s donated to someone in need. There are four possible prizes, which help provide clean water, solar light, nutritious meals, or literacy tools. To date, LottoLove and its charitable partners have impacted lives in over 60 countries.

Lip gloss that’s moisturizing and not sticky

Tower28 ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss

Tower 28 Beauty ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss, available at Sephora, $14

Tower 28 makes soft lip glosses with subtle color and a non-sticky, moisturizing formula with ingredients like raspberry seed oil and rosehip oil. You can pick from 10 different colors. 

Read our full review of Tower 28 here.

Reusable beeswax sandwich wraps

Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wraps

Beeswax Reusable Sandwich Wrap, available at Food52, from $18

Beeswax Sandwich Wrap is made from cotton infused with beeswax and natural oils. It acts as an eco-friendly substitute to plastic sandwich bags, and it can be reused over and over and over again.

Gourmet flavored syrups that are perfect for coffees and teas, and even cocktails

monin mini coffee syrup

Monin Mini Coffee Syrup, available at World Market, $9.99

Did anyone — anyone at all — say cocktails? Monin’s coffee collection has everything needed for café-inspired drinks, be they cocktails, lattes, coffees, or teas. It includes five syrups ranging in flavors from amaretto to Irish cream. Plus, Monin has a recycling initiative that works to improve the health of bee populations. 

A smart chip that helps you find items you’ve lost

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Tile Mate, available at Target, $24.99

How nice would it be if every time you lost something, you could find it within a few minutes? Use your smartphone to make the Tile Mate ring aloud, and you’ll be able to locate your keys or wallet using the sound. 

A travel-size duo of two cult-favorite NARS products

cheap gifts

NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil Duo, available at Sephora, $20

NARS’ velvet matte lipstick pencils are travel-sized so your giftee can bring them on trips or easily throw them into purses and pockets for on-the-go use. The formula is non-drying and long-lasting, and they can be used to line, define, and fill in lips with colors that range from subtle to rich. 

A popular lip mask that creates a protective seal to lock in moisture overnight

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Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, available at Sephora, $22

Laneige’s hyper-successful Lip Sleeping Mask uses a combination of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, minerals, antioxidants, and fruit extracts to form a protective layer over the lips to lock in moisture overnight. It has over 13,000 ratings on Sephora, and an average rating of 4.4-stars out of five. 

Read our full review of the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask here.

A slip-resistant armband to keep their phone in place on a run

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Tribe Cell Phone Armband, available at Amazon, from $14.98

If you’re going to buy an armband for a runner, you’re probably going to wind up buying this version from Tribe. It has over 40,000 reviews on Amazon (with a 4.4-star rating overall) and, while it’s not the most perfect out there, it’s frequently recommended for its water-resistant and no-slip design. 

Knee-high socks from one of the best loungewear companies online

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Tommy John Knee High Casual Sock, available at Tommy John, from $16

Tommy John is another company responsible for some of the very best loungewear and underwear on the internet. Their knee-length socks have light compression to support blood flow, and the “comfort cuff” design means you should be able to peel them off without finding marks left over. 

Read our full review of Tommy John here.

An adjustable phone stand for their desk, dinner table, or kitchen counter

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Lamicall Adjustable Cell Phone Stand, available at Amazon, from $11.99

Whether they use it as a desk accessory or to prop up their YouTube search for “how to chop onions” while they cook at home, a lightweight, adjustable phone stand comes in handy more often than you’d expect. 

One of the best new books of the year

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“The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah, available at Amazon, from $14.49

If you’re looking for a good book to gift, look no further than the reading lists already on Amazon — from the best books of the month, to the best books of the year, to the 100 you should read in a lifetime

A photo book with some of their best memories

Softcover Photo Book

Custom Softcover Photo Book, available at Artifact Uprising from $15

For a sentimental gift under $25, we recommend these beautifully designed photo books that look like a personal magazine, curated by you for them.

Bath salts that are the perfect excuse for relaxation

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Herbivore Botanicals Calm Bath Salts, available at Dermstore, $18

Herbivore Botanical’s bath salts include nutrient-rich Pacific sea salts combined with ylang-ylang and vanilla essential oil. They’ll moisturize the skin and provide a deeply relaxing, calming effect on the brain to decrease anxiety and restlessness.  

The best hair mask you can buy

its a 10 miracle hair mask

It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask, available at It’s a 10, from $12.49

Perfect for color-treated, heat-styled, and otherwise damaged hair, It’s a 10’s hair mask deep-conditions strands with a blend of moisturizing ingredients like oat kernel extract, apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, and linseed extract. We tout it as the best overall pick in our guide to the best hair masks.

A cute, bunny-shaped loose-tea infuser

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Fred & Friends Brew Bunny Tea Infuser, available at Amazon, $9.97

Gift them some relaxing time spent sipping their favorite tea (which you could pick up as an accompanying gift). 

The makeup remover tourists stock up on in French pharmacies

Bioderma

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Makeup Remover, available at Amazon, $14.99

Bioderma’s makeup remover is a cult favorite among makeup artists, celebrities, the average person, and the Insider Reviews team. We call it the best overall in our guide to the best makeup removers, and we also mention it in our roundup of French pharmacy skincare products.

Tickets to an event you know they’ll appreciate

StubHub gift card

Live concert and game tickets, available at Stubhub, from $15 per person

Once it’s safe to attend live events again, is there a good concert, play, or game you think they’d love? It doesn’t have to be expensive to be impactful. Grab tickets and make a night of it — or, if you live far away, make sure they get to go with a friend or two.

Read the original article on Business Insider