The 6 best media sticks and devices of 2021 for fast and reliable streaming

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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family watching using a Roku players on a TV - best streaming devices

Smart TVs with built-in access to streaming services are now the norm, but navigation speeds and app selection can vary a lot depending on what model you own. If you’re someone who craves faster performance and a larger selection of services, a standalone streaming box or stick could be exactly what you need.

These compact devices connect to your display and handle all your streaming needs. Some even include integrated digital assistants. Separate streaming players are also a perfect solution for anyone who might still have an old “dumb” TV that needs some extra smarts. 

After testing a variety of media players, we picked the best streaming sticks and boxes you can buy to turn any HDMI-capable TV into an entertainment powerhouse. Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches tech products.

Here are the best streaming boxes and sticks:

Best streaming box overall: Roku Ultra, $66.01 on Walmart
The Roku Ultra supports 4K and HDR, delivers speedy navigation, and comes with a voice remote control that has a headphone port.

Best budget streaming box: Roku Express, $19 on Amazon
The Roku Express only offers basic HD playback, but it’s affordable and incredibly easy to use.

Best high-end streaming box: Apple TV 4K, $149.99 on Amazon
The Apple TV 4K is the perfect fit for enthusiasts who want seamless integration with the rest of Apple’s ecosystem.

Best streaming device for Google users: Google Chromecast, $39.99 on Best Buy
The Chromecast with Google TV features a built-in library of apps and it comes with a Google Assistant voice remote.

Best streaming stick with Alexa: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max, $34.99 on Amazon
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a tiny streaming device with a quick interface and a voice-controlled Alexa remote.

Best streaming box for gamers: Nvidia Shield TV, $129 on Amazon
The Nvidia Shield TV is a powerful media device with Google’s Android TV platform and support for gaming when you pair it with a controller.

Best streaming box overall

Roku Ultra 2020 on a TV stand - best streaming box overall
Originally $99.99 | Save 30%
Originally $99.99 | Save 34%
Originally $99.00 | Save 33%


The Roku Ultra streams in 4K and HDR, has voice search, and comes with a remote control that has programmable shortcut buttons.

Pros: 4K HDR streaming with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, Bluetooth, voice remote, lots of apps, improved Wi-Fi connection, Ethernet, USB port

Cons: A bit expensive when listed at full price

The Roku Ultra has virtually everything a buyer could want out of streaming box. It supports 4K video and all of the major HDR formats to help you get the most out of your display.

The Roku OS features a huge library of streaming channels with access to popular services, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus, and HBO Max. Just connect the box to your TV via the HDMI port, and install all your favorite streaming services to get started.

With HDR capabilities, the Roku Ultra displays richer colors and better contrast when playing back HDR-enabled videos on a compatible TV. The latest Roku Ultra model also adds support for the advanced Dolby Vision and HDR10+ formats.

The Ultra comes with a voice remote so you can adjust the volume and search for content with spoken commands. If you’re watching at night, you can plug the included earbuds into the remote for private listening. 

The Roku Ultra is the most versatile and reliable media player in this price range, and we like that it’s more universal than Amazon, Apple, and Google devices. There are cheaper alternatives with less advanced features, but we think this model is the best choice for most people with a 4K TV.  

Best budget streaming box

Roku Express with remote - best budget streaming box
Originally $29.99 | Save 37%
Originally $29.99 | Save 33%


The Roku Express is one of the most affordable streaming boxes you can buy, and it offers a great interface with basic HD playback.

Pros: Cheap, compact design, easy-to-use, built-in OS

Cons: Doesn’t support 4K or HDR, no voice remote, no Ethernet

For buyers who want a simple and inexpensive streaming solution, the Roku Express is the perfect fit. This model is about as basic as they come, but for the money, you’re still getting a capable HD streaming box.

Perhaps the best thing about the Roku Express is how easy it is to use. The compact design makes it one of the smallest streaming boxes there is, and the package comes complete with an HDMI cable for simple setup. The interface is well-designed and extremely easy to navigate with access to all the major services you could want.

Unlike the Roku Ultra, however, this model lacks a voice remote, and it’s missing a USB port for playing external video files or Bluetooth for music streaming from a smartphone. The Roku Express also lacks 4K and HDR support, so we only recommend this model for people who have regular HDTVs.

Buyers who want 4K on a budget, should consider the Roku Express 4K+ instead. It’s similar to the standard Roku Express, but it has support for 4K, HDR, and AirPlay for a bit more money.

If all you need is basic HD streaming, though, there’s little reason to pay extra for a model more powerful than the Roku Express.

Best high-end streaming box

Apple TV 4K with remote - best high-end streaming player
Originally $179.00 | Save 16%


The Apple TV 4K is an ideal streaming player for enthusiasts who want easy integration with the rest of Apple’s products.

Pros: Well-designed interface, 4K and HDR, can serve as a HomeKit hub, latest model has HDMI 2.1

Cons: Expensive compared to the competition

If you’re looking for a high-end media player to integrate with your Apple account and other Apple devices, then you’ll want to consider the Apple TV 4K.

One of the best things about the Apple TV 4K is Apple’s tvOS interface, which is super easy to use. It can stream in 4K and has HDR support for improved contrast and colors. Like the Roku Ultra, the Apple TV 4K also offers Dolby Vision for better HDR on select services and TVs. 

And with Siri, you can use your voice to search for content. Plus, you can access music, podcasts, games, and hundreds of apps, or cast or mirror content from an iOS or macOS device using AirPlay technology. In addition, the Apple TV 4K can even serve as a HomeKit hub for Apple’s smart home ecosystem.

On the downside, the Apple TV is more expensive than streaming options from Roku and Amazon. Most people who aren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem will be more than happy with the less expensive Roku Ultra instead. The deciding factor comes down to budget and the ecosystem you prefer.

The latest Apple TV 4K model came out in 2021, replacing the older version released in 2017. Though similar, the 2021 player adds an improved Siri remote and a couple new features, like high frame rate playback. 

Best streaming device for Google users

Chromecast with Google TV plugged into a display - best streaming device for Google users
Originally $49.99 | Save 20%
Originally $49.99 | Save 20%


The Chromecast with Google TV can play apps right from the device and it includes a Google Assistant remote.

Pros: 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, Google Assistant voice remote, built-in interface and casting capabilities

Cons: Minor glitches, some lag

Google’s latest Chromecast model offers a sizable step forward in performance and usability over older versions. Though our previous pick in this category, the Chromecast Ultra, needed a separate phone, tablet, or computer to stream apps from, the Chromecast with Google TV actually features its own built-in interface with an extensive library of services. 

You can still cast apps from a mobile device if you’d like, but the on-screen selection makes it more convenient to find your favorite shows and movies right on your TV screen. This makes the Chromecast a more worthy competitor to similar compact players, like the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Powered by the new Google TV platform, the Chromecast offers access to a huge collection of apps. Though a few services, like Vudu and Movies Anywhere, were initially limited to HD and SDR video, recent updates have added 4K and HDR playback.  

From a design perspective, the new Chromecast features a similar puck-shaped form factor as older models, complete with a dongle connection that hangs from your TV’s HDMI port. Unlike older models, the latest version includes a handy voice remote with integrated Google Assistant support. 

We encountered a few glitches while testing the new Chromecast and some lag here and there, but the device offers impressive value, especially for buyers already invested in Google’s ecosystem.    

Best streaming stick with Alexa

Fire TV Stick 4K Max plugged into a TV - best streaming stick with Alexa
Originally $54.99 | Save 36%
Originally $54.99 | Save 36%
Originally $54.99 | Save 36%


The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a compact streaming device with fast navigation and a handy Alexa remote.

Pros: 4K streaming, Alexa voice control, compact, speedy navigation, support for all major HDR formats

Cons: Fire TV interface is cluttered, not a huge upgrade over previous model

Amazon’s latest streaming stick plugs right into the HDMI port on the back of your TV, adding access to a ton of apps with support for up to 4K playback. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is also compatible with every major HDR format, so people who own Dolby Vision or HDR10+ TVs can watch videos in the best quality available. 

An Alexa voice remote is included as well, so you can control playback and search for content with spoken commands. Though the remote requires you to press a button to activate Alexa, you can also pair the device with an Echo speaker for hands-free control. 

Fire TV Stick 4K Max works with Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Prime Video, and many other popular streaming apps. Though some notable services used to be missing, Amazon’s selection is now on par with other major players like Roku. 

Compared to the older Fire TV Stick 4K, the new 4K Max isn’t a huge upgrade, but it does offer some minor improvements. Most notably, navigation speed is a bit snappier, thanks to a slightly more powerful processor. This helps to cement the Fire TV Stick 4K Max as the fastest media device I’ve ever tested in this price range. 

It also includes support for Wi-Fi 6 for more reliable connectivity when paired with a Wi-Fi 6 router. But, since most people don’t have a Wi-Fi 6 router, we don’t see this as a main selling point right now.  

People who already own the old Fire TV Stick 4K don’t need to upgrade, but new buyers on the hunt for the best streaming stick with Alexa should snag this model.

Best streaming player for gamers

Nvidia Shield TV with remote - best streaming player for gamers
Originally $149.00 | Save 13%
Originally $149.99 | Save 13%


The Nvidia Shield TV doesn’t just run Google’s Android TV, it also supports 4K streaming and can even pair with a controller for gaming.

Pros: 4K support, Dolby Vision capabilities, support for a separate gaming controller, Android TV operating system, powerful processor

Cons: Expensive, most buyers don’t need the extra power

Though pricier than other players, the Nvidia Shield TV is the ultimate streaming device for buyers who want beefy specs. 

More than just a video player, the Shield TV is also the best streaming box for gamers. In addition to the included Google Assistant voice remote, you can add a separate gaming controller for playing games from the Google Play Store or through the GeForce Now cloud gaming service. 

When it comes to raw specs, the Shield TV incorporates 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The device is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1+, which is one of the most powerful processors used in any streaming device. This extra muscle even allows the device to take advantage of advanced upscaling technology, which can make HD videos look better on 4K TVs. 

Unlike most streaming players, the Shield TV features a unique cylindrical design which takes the form of a compact tube that’s meant to be placed behind a display. This style won’t be for everyone, but it makes it easy to hide the device out of sight.

For buyers who want even more power, there’s also a Shield TV Pro model to consider. This more expensive version features a more traditional rectangular shape and upgraded specs with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and two USB 3.0 ports.

What you should look for in a streaming device

Roku Ultra 2020 angle with remote

Before buying a streaming device, there are a few factors you should consider. First and foremost, you should ensure you really need a separate streaming player at all.

If you’re someone with an old dumb TV that has HDMI ports, adding a standalone streaming device is a no-brainer. But, if you already own a smart TV with access to its own built-in library of apps, the decision isn’t as simple. 

If you’re satisfied with your TV’s app selection, speed, and connectivity options, there’s really no need to invest in another device. However, if you’re frustrated with laggy navigation or your display is missing a few apps you want to use, a standalone streaming stick or box is an ideal buy.

Of course, you’ll want to confirm that the device you choose has all the services you need. Most popular apps, like Netflix and Disney Plus, are supported on virtually all streaming players, but some smaller services are missing from certain devices.

You’ll also want to keep in mind the specs of your TV. Not all streaming sticks and boxes are able to handle 4K or high dynamic range (HDR), so if you have a 4K TV, you’ll want to get a device that can take full advantage of your display’s capabilities.

You should also consider the ecosystem you’re most plugged into. For example, Android users might be able to get more use from a Google TV device, while those using an iPhone or Mac might prefer the Apple TV, and Alexa fans might want to opt for a Fire TV model. 

Roku devices, on the other hand, are the most versatile since they’re compatible with a variety of ecosystems. On the downside, Roku devices lack built-in support for Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant.

Read the original article on Business Insider

69 of the best gifts for dads, from personalized football jerseys to a do-it-all smartwatch

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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

A gift box filled with shaving accessories - gifts for dad
  • Dads can be notoriously difficult to shop for, especially if yours doesn’t offer many hints of what he wants.
  • We found the best gifts for Dad, whether for Christmas, his birthday, Father’s Day, or another milestone. 
  • From a Sirloin of the Month club to a massage gun, these gift ideas are sure to be a big hit. 

If you’re searching for the perfect gift for Dad but coming up empty, don’t stress; we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled the absolute best gifts that he’ll love no matter the occasion. 

Whether it’s a gift for Christmas, an idea for his birthday, or just a thoughtful way to show your love, we found a number of unique gift ideas that are sure to impress even the toughest Dads to shop for.

From a monthly steak subscription to a new record player or a comfy pillow, you can’t go wrong with any of the gifts on this list.

Here are 68 of the best gifts for Dad

This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by REI. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*

Modern over-ear headphones

Sony wh-1000xm4 headphones -- gifts for dad

Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, $349, available at Amazon

These over-ear headphones from Sony are a must-have for frequent travelers as they have incredible noise cancellation that does well to drown out drum of a car engine or airplane. They also deliver clear audio which is perfect for when Dad wants to jam out to his favorite album or catch up on some podcast episodes.

A fancy device that helps relieve muscle soreness

PowerDot -- gifts for dad

Therabody PowerDot 2.0, $199, available at Therabody

Whether he’s sore from too much exercise or not exercising enough, Therabody’s PowerDot is a compact, easy-to-use TENS machine, similar to those used by physical therapists. The electrical stimulation massages any muscle, which helps lessen pain from injuries or from training. The device comes with a guidebook for where to place the sensors and an intuitive app to run him through different kinds of pain relief programs.

Ridiculously comfy pajama pants

Person wearing Saxx pajamas -- gifts for dad

Saxx Sleepwalker pants, $65, available at Saxx

It might be a little weird to get your dad underwear, but every guy’s favorite boxer brand, Saxx, also makes unbelievably comfortable pajama pants. The Sleepwalker PJs are uber-soft and comfy with Saxx’s patented pouch design that keeps things breezy and comfortable. This holiday, grab the PJs in these fun pizza or BBQ prints that just scream, “Dad.”

Cozy indoor/outdoor slippers

Pair of slippers on the floor -- gifts for dad

Danner Forest Moc Slippers, $140, available at REI

Keep him cozy around the house and running errands in these rubber-soled leather booties from Danner. Lined with natural wool, his feet will stay warm (and ridiculously cozy) without overheating, and the outsoles offer reliable grip when he can’t bear to slip them off to leave the house.

A rechargeable, water-resistant lantern for the backyard

People holding a BioLite lantern -- gifts for dad

BioLite AlpenGlow 250, $60m, via BioLite

If dad likes to be outside, he’ll think this rechargeable lantern is way cool. The AlpenGlow 250 shines 250 lumens of nature-inspired glows. Aside from a soft white, you can shake the soft lantern to activate special modes, including soft ombre sunsets and a candle flicker. 

It’s the ideal lantern when camping or hanging out on the back porch, and it’s water-resistant. Plus, BioLite is a great company working to bring clean energy to Africa, Asia, and other overlooked parts of the world. 

Really nice socks with a lifetime warranty

person wearing darn tough socks

Darn Tough socks, $16 and up, via Darn Tough

When in doubt, remember: We’ve never met a man who was upset about opening a gift box to a fresh pair of high-quality socks. We love Darn Tough because its socks are durable; made entirely or partially from odor-resistant, sweat-wicking Merino; and come with a lifetime warranty. You can also spend as much as you want, nabbing him one pair for under $20 or splurging on a whole new sock drawer.

A self-filtering water bottle

person holding a water bottle -- gifts for dad

Hydros Water Filter Bottle, $20, via Hydros

The Hydros Water Filter Bottle is like gifting Dad his own portable Brita. The bottle filters any water poured into it, reducing the amount of chlorine and sediment; plus, the filter is reliable through at least 40 gallons of liquid. It’ll be any on-the-go Dad’s go-to. 

A gift card for all things outdoors

A wooden cabin wall with several colorful winter jackets hanging on a wall -- gifts for dad

REI Gift Card, from $10, available at REI

From hiking and biking gear to vital cold-weather staples, REI is home to nearly anything and everything Dad could need this winter. Save up to 30% through December 20 during the Holiday Warm Up Sale.

*Sponsored by REI

Coasters with the classics

best gifts for dad record coasters -- gifts for dad

Upcycled Record Coasters, $18, available at Uncommon Goods

Dad can reminiscence about his favorite jams while enjoying a drink with these coasters made from reclaimed records. The discs are specially sealed so moisture won’t seep through and damage the surface.

An Audible subscription

under $25 audible -- gifts for dad

AudiblePlus subscription, from $7.95 per month, available at Audible

With an Audible subscription, Dad gets unlimited access to thousands of audiobooks and podcasts. Plus, you can even have Dad test it out first with a free trial.

A gift subscription to a popular coffee club

atlas coffee subscription - gifts for dad

Atlas Coffee Club 3-Month Gift Subscription, $50, available at Atlas Coffee Club

If your dad’s veins run dark roast, a coffee gift won’t go unused. We recommend a subscription to the Atlas Coffee Club, which curates a global selection of single-origin coffee that gets freshly roasted and shipped to your house from $9 per bag. 

Read our full review of the Atlas Coffee Club here

A massage gun to use after working out

Image of a person using the Theragun Mini best gifts for dad

Theragun Mini, from $199, available via Therabody

Whether Dad wants to recover after a grueling workout or just wants to be his own personal, at-home masseuse, a massage gun is an excellent gift. This model, Theragun’s Mini, is our pick of the best entry-level massage gun, as it has a modest price tag yet still comes standard with a number of features found on more expensive, premium options. 

A tiny tag to ensure he never loses his valuables

best gifts for dad apple airtag

Apple AirTag, $29, available at Apple

If dad tends to frequently misplace his key, wallet, or other valuables, help him out by gifting him a handy AirTag. The tags can be placed on just about any item and will connect to his phone so he can easily keep track of his stuff via the Find My app. For an extra personal touch, you can even get it engraved for free.

Breathable and machine-washable sneakers

gifts for dad, allbirds

Allbirds Wool Runners, $95, available at Allbirds

These merino wool sneakers from Allbirds, Silicon Valley’s favorite shoe brand, are the perfect mix of sporty and stylish. They come in tons of colors and are even machine washable.

Read our full review of Allbirds Wool Runners here.

A mat to help with dad’s short game

gifts for dad golf hitting mat

Rukket Tri-Turf Golf Hitting Mat, $99.99, available on Amazon

For the dad who loves to golf, this is one of the best golf hitting mats to help improve his short game from home. This compact, portable practice aid features three turf heights, to simulate rough, fairway, and close-cropped “collar” turf.

A stylish and sporty fanny pack

Person wearing a cross-body bag -- gifts for dad

Lorimer Fanny Pack, $85, via State Bags

In case you hadn’t heard, fanny packs are back and the Lorimer from State Bags is the best way to get Dad back on-trend. It’s water-resistant, available in five colors, and is just understated enough to be a casual yet stylish foray into wearing a funny pack again.

A digital picture frame to display his favorite memories

Aura Carver Digital Picture Frame; gifts for dad

Aura Carver Digital Picture Frame, $169, available at Aura

Sometimes, all Dad wants is something sentimental and personal. A digital picture frame is the perfect gift for Dad because it means he can view his favorite photos from a single device. As long as the frame is hooked up to WiFi, your dad can enjoy the photos you’ve carefully curated, all day long in his office or home. You can hear about our experience with another Aura frame, here.

A compact gas grill

Dyna-Glo 3-Burner Open Cart Propane Gas Grill; gift for dad

Dyna-Glo 3-Burner Open Cart Propane Gas Grill, $119, available at Home Depot

If owning a grill is one of your dad’s long-standing dreams, this one from Dyna-Glo is the one to get him. The best part is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. We’ve also put together a complete guide to grilling products, if you’re looking for more grilling gifts for Dad. 

A monthly subscription for the bookworm dad

Stack of Book of the Month books; best gifts for book lovers

Book of the Month Subscription, from $49.99, available at Book of the Month

If your dad’s always on to the next page turner, he’ll love getting a new book delivered straight to his doorstep each month. We think it’s the ideal gift for Dad and even rank it as the best for bookworms in our guide to the best subscription boxes

A workout shirt he won’t want to take off

Vuori Strato Tech Tee; gift for dad

Vuori Strato Tech Tee, $44, available at Vuori

Regardless of whether Dad’s a fitness guru or novice, an essential part of working out is the gear itself. Vuori makes extremely soft, comfy, and functional activewear. Our team loves the brand and has even dubbed it the best overall in our guide to the best men’s workout clothes

Read our full review of Vuori clothing here

A garden tool set for the dad with a green thumb

Cutco 4-Piece Garden Tool Set; gift for dad

Cutco 4-Piece Garden Tool Set, $103, available at Cutco

If gardening is one of your dad’s favorite pastimes, this set has everything he could need when working outside. Each garden tool has a comfortable grip handle, a durable head, and depth marks. Tools are only one part of what he might need for his gardening adventures, so make sure to also check out our guides to the best gardening tools and best gardening tools for beginners.

A pair of durable, all-weather boots

Person wearing boots in the rain -- best gifts for dad

Higgins Mill Weatherproof Boot, $445, available at Allen Edmonds

The Higgins Mill Weatherproof Boot from Allen Edmonds is a do-it-all boot that fends off inclement weather, looks good at the office or out on the town, and is built to last for years. It’s an investment piece type gift for Dad who will no doubt crown them his new favorite boots after unboxing a pair this holiday season. 

Personalized vinyl wall art

Custom Vinyl Record

Personalized LP Record, $150, available at Uncommon Goods

Commemorate his birthday, anniversary, or any holiday with this custom record art. Made from an upcycled vinyl LP and suspended in a floating frame, this custom wall art can feature the soundtrack to their life or songs you share together. Choose from two retro designs, title the record, and add up to five personal song titles. 

A two-step skincare regimen

Brickell Men's Skincare Products; gifts for dad

Brickell Men’s Daily Essential Face Care Routine II, $57, available at Amazon

Time to up Dad’s skincare game. Created specifically for men, the startup has become a favorite skincare brand for Reviews senior reporter Amir Ismael because it’s simple and effective. Each product uses high-quality natural and organic ingredients. The charcoal works great for deep pore cleansing without the long, drawn-out process, earning it a spot on our list of the best skincare brands in 2021.

An electric toothbrush

Phillips Sonicare Rechargeable Electronic Toothbrush

Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, $39.95, available at Walmart

Help him ditch the manual toothbrush with Philips Sonicare, whose brushes are gentler on teeth and give brighter results over time. We recommend this one for its powerful cleaning and movements-per-minute. Plus, the rechargeable toothbrush is better for the environment.

A leather iPhone wallet case

gifts for dad leather phone case wallet

Leather Wallet Case, from $28.40, available on Etsy

Get Dad a protective and stylish case for his iPhone that can also double as a handy wallet for storing cards. You can even get personalized with Dad’s initials for an extra special touch. The case is available for iPhones ranging from the 6S to the 12 Pro Max. 

A smart watch to track his fitness goals

Best smart watch Suunto 7; gifts for dad

Suunto 7, $399, available on Amazon

For a worthy splurge for the fitness-obsessed dad, the Suunto 7 is a feature-rich and highly accurate smartwatch that offers tracking for more than 70 different activities, is comfortable to wear, and offers useful training feedback anyone can benefit from. It can also give alerts for texts, emails, and has numerous other handy smart features dad will surely appreciate. We even named it the best running watch you can buy.

Read our full review of the Suunto 7 here.

A mask fit for athletes

Under Armour face mask - gifts under $50

UA Sportsmask, $30, available at Under Armour

If Dad loves his fitness routine but is often frustrated by working out with a mask on, the Sportsmask is a useful solution. This mask from Under Armour was specifically designed for high activity, and its water resistance, breathability, and UPF 50+ sun protection all lend well to making his workout routine more comfortable.

A handy duffel bag

best gifts for dad away weekender duffle

The Weekender, $215, available at Away

If your dad is a frequent traveler or gym-goer, he’ll love this versatile duffel bag from Away. It’s available in canvas or nylon, has a separate compartment for shoes, and a handy sleeve that slips over a carry-on handle.

Read our full review of the Away Weekender here

A cookbook from his favorite burger joint

Gifts for Dad Shake Shack

“Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories,” $16.38, available at Amazon

If your dad is a fan of Shake Shack, he’ll love this cookbook that will teach him how to make his very own ShackBurger.

A keepsake he can use for years to come

Gifts for Dad Ticket Stub Diary

Ticket Stub Diary, $14, available at Uncommon Goods

Concerts, museums, sporting events, or movies — regardless of what Dad’s passionate about, this handy journal makes for efficient storage of sentimental memories that could otherwise get stained or ruined. With 118 ticket sleeves, there’s plenty of room for upcoming memories as well.

A set of quality merino wool socks

ManchesterSocks

Men’s Merino Wool Calf Sock 8-pack, $136.80, available at Bombas

They may just seem like a basic, everyday accessory, but socks are among the most underrated gifts you can give. Dad will love these Bombas socks made from soft and warm merino wool. You can hear more about why we love this brand and its products in our review of Bombas socks

A health and ancestry genetic test kit

dna kit test - gifts for mom

23andMe Health and Ancestry Genetic Test Kit, $199, available at 23andMe

This genetic test kit from 23andMe is great for the dad who’s interested in learning more about his family history. You can learn more about all this kit has to offer in our guide to the best DNA test kits

A colorful swimsuit

best gifts for dad 2021

Tom & Teddy Men’s Swim Shorts, from $64.94, available at Tom & Teddy

Made from super-soft, quick-dry fabric, these swim trunks will make dad the star of your next beach or pool day. They come in an array of colors and prints, and you can even get matching father-and-son swim short sets.

A beer growler for sipping at home

personalized beer growler

Personalized Craft Beer Growler, $43, available at Houzz

Now, Dad can take his favorite ales home with him to enjoy. This 64 oz growler comes personalized with his initials on it and includes four mini pilsner glasses.

Soft, crisp sheets and bedding

brooklinen sheets

Brooklinen Classic Hardcore Sheet Bundle, from $198, available at Brooklinen

Brooklinen’s luxe sheets are among our favorites for their affordable price, sophisticated look, and unbelievable comfort.

The company’s Hardcore Sheet Bundles have everything your dad needs to completely makeover his bed — and stay nice and cozy all year long. They include a flat sheet, a fitted sheet, a duvet cover, and four pillowcases. Brooklinen also sells comforterspillows, candles, and blankets

Read our full review of Brooklinen sheet here

A custom whiskey glass

Gifts for Dad whiskey glass

Personalized Whiskey Glass, $18.90, available at Etsy

Great for new dads, this custom, hand-etched whiskey glass can boast his proudest title alongside the year he became a father. Photos from reviewers go to show that this glass isn’t just for whiskey, recipients have gotten creative by storing candy and other small gifts in their glasses.

A subscription for steaks

steak of the month subscription

Sirloin of the Month Club, from $103.95 per month, available at AmazingClubs

Meat lovers will enjoy sinking their teeth into a premium cut of sirloin. Each month Dad will receive a mouth-watering selection of premium steaks curated by experts and shipped fresh right to his door. Choose from subscription options of three months, six months, 12 months, or every three months.

A SodaStream

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SodaStream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Machine, $86, available at Walmart

The SodaStream Fizzi lets you turn plain water into sparkling water in just a few seconds. Dad can adjust the fizziness and flavor level to his personal taste. We even named it the best overall in our guide to the best soda makers

A classic stovetop espresso maker

bialetti, $24.95

Bialetti 9-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker, $49.95, available at Crate & Barrel

This classic kitchen accessory is perfect for the coffee-loving dad who wants to bring cafe-quality coffee home. The Bialetti stovetop espresso maker not only makes great coffee, but it looks great on the counter. We made sure to include its 6-cup counterpart in our guide to the best stovetop espresso makers, as the best overall pick. 

The Amazon Echo Show

gifts for him 3

Amazon Echo Show 5, $49.99, available at Amazon

There’s an ever-so-slight learning curve in figuring out what Amazon’s Alexa can and can’t do, but once that’s passed, the Echo Show can forecast the weather, read an audiobook, order a pizza, tell jokes, or any number of things Dad should find charming. Unlike the Echo or Echo Dot, the Echo Show also has a screen for displaying information.

A device that improves golfing skills

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Arccos Caddie Smart Sensors, $179.99, available at Amazon

If your dad is a big golfer, this performance-tracking system is a fun addition to his golf bag.

A durable backpack and cooler combo

Carhartt

Carhartt Medium Pack + 3 Can Insulated Cooler, $74.99, available at Carhartt

Made from a durable 500 denier Cordura ripstop material, this Carhartt backpack is perfect for outdoorsy dads. The included 3-can cooler is a great addition that’ll let him carry a few cold brews on his fishing or camping trips.

A custom map poster

grafomap

Grafomap Custom Map Poster, from $49, available at Grafomap

Grafomap is a website that lets you design map posters of any place in the world. You can make one of your dad’s hometown, his college town, his favorite travel destination, or the place where he got engaged or married — you’re only limited by your imagination. 

A gift card for the sports fan

Gifts for Dad Fanatics gift card Under $10

Fanatics gift card, from $10, available at Fanatics

If Dad’s nostalgic for his college days or loves gearing up for his favorite sports season, give him the gift of variety with a Fanatics gift card. Fanatics is home to apparel, accessories, and memorabilia for just about every major sports team you can think of. 

A luxurious shave kit

Harry's shave kit - Under $25

Harry’s Winston Shave Set, $25, available at Harry’s (+ $15 for monogram)

This shave set from Harry’s is as sleek as it gets at this price. To go the extra mile, you can get his initials engraved into the razor. You can hear more about this set in our guide to the best shaving kits

A freshly scented beard wash and conditioner set

BeardWashandConditionerSet Detail

The Art of Shaving Beard Wash and Conditioner Set, $30, available at The Art of Shaving

Soap and water can leave his facial hair dry and scratchy. Bearded dads need this soothing beard wash and conditioner set from The Art of Shaving in their lives. 

A sous-vide device for ambitious home cooks

anova nano $99

Anova Nano Sous Vide, $129, available at Target

For under $100, the Anova sous vide is a reasonably priced investment that just might change Dad’s life for the better. Not only will it boil and poach eggs with ease, it’ll also produce tender, perfectly cooked meat every time. It’s so good that we name it the best overall pick in our guide to the best sous vide machines

A cozy and supportive pillow

1

Leesa Pillow, $79, available at Leesa

Give the gift of a good night’s sleep with this luxurious and supportive pillow from mattress startup Leesa. 

A 10-pack of soft and stylish underwear

meundies $150

MeUndies Men’s Boxer Brief 10-Pack, $170, available at MeUndies

Made from MicroModal and elastane, MeUndies claims its underwear is three times softer than cotton. We think its boxers are so comfortable they’ll blow Dad’s mind. You can learn more about MeUndies in our guide on where to shop for men’s underwear

Comfortable and stylish jeans

1 mott & bow $118

Mott & Bow Wooster Dynamic Stretch Jeans, $118, available at Mott & Bow

Give the gift of good style with jeans from Mott & Bow. For more styles from the brand, check out our review of Mott & Bow’s stretch-denim jeans

Amazon’s new waterproof Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, $129.99, available at Amazon

If your dad is tired of lugging around heavy hardcovers, the Kindle Paperwhite is an extremely thoughtful and practical gift. The latest version is now waterproof too. 

Read our full review of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite here

A hot sauce sampler pack

Hot Sauces Sample Set

The Good Hurt Fuego Hot Sauces Sampler Pack, $34.99, available at Amazon

If you’re not quite sure what kind of hot sauce your dad likes, or if he isn’t committed to this or that variety of the spicy stuff, then The Good Hurt Fuego Hot Sauces Sampler is a great gift idea. It features sauces made with peppers that come from India, Mexico, and beyond, and it has flavors ranging from Chipotle Pepper to Garlic Herb to Whiskey Habanero.

A personalized sports jersey

1

MLB Shop Custom Men’s Jersey, from $149.99, available at the official MLB Shop

NFL Shop Custom Men’s Jersey, from $30.24, available at the official NFL Shop

The sports-loving dad won’t want to take this jersey off. At the MLB Shop and NFL Shop, you can order a personalized jersey with your dad’s name on the back.

An at-home workout system

trx $179.95

TRX Suspension Trainer Basic Kit, $167.95, available at Amazon 

For the active dad, you can bring the gym home with this TRX trainer.

A durable, temperature-maintaining water bottle

Hydroflask

Hydro Flask 32 oz Wide Mouth, from $44.95, available at Hydro Flask

Hydro Flasks are great for any situation, from camping to commuting. This durable, insulated water bottle does a masterful job of making sure drinks keep their temperatures.

A modern turntable

u turn $459

U-Turn Audio Orbit Special Turntable, $459, available at U-Turn

This turntable is the sleek home accessory your dad didn’t know he needed. He can bring his old records out of storage and enjoy them with this modern record player. 

A subscription service for new vinyl every month

Vinyl Me

Vinyl Me, Please 3-Month Gift Membership, $119, available at Vinyl Me, Please

Every person’s vinyl collection is deeply personal, so instead of trying to guess his taste, let him choose the record himself. Each month, he’ll choose and receive one LP, pressed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please, from a collection of Essentials, Classics, and Rap & Hip Hop.

The three-month gift membership includes one bonus record, while the six- and 12-month ones include two bonus records.

A streaming TV player

roku $99

Roku Ultra, $69.99, available at Target

A media streaming device can transform your dad’s so-called dumb TV into a smart one that plays shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Prime Video, and other streaming services. The best of the bunch is the Roku Ultra with its easy-to-use interface and 4K video streaming.

Read our full review of the Roku Ultra here

A nice tie

Gifts for Dad The Tie Bar

Men’s Neckties, from $18, available at Tie Bar

Neckties might be a cliché gift for dads, but The Tie Bar makes some handsome ties that he’ll actually wear on a regular basis. You’ll find plenty of colors, patterns, and styles — and the best part is they’re all affordably priced.

A handy multi-functional tool

leatherman $90

Leatherman OHT Multi-Tool, $89.95, available at B&H Photo

This multi-functional tool does it all, plus it has a 25-year guarantee.

A fast wireless charger and accessory tray

Catch:3 Bedside Tray

Catch:3 Charger Tray, $122.50, available at Staycourant.com

Give your dad the gift of organization with this accessory tray and wireless charger combo. The pebbled leather is a much-needed upgrade from all the plastic tech accessories he has lying around, and the catchall tray is useful and thoughtful. It also means he’ll stop asking you where his keys are three times before leaving the house. 

Stylish computer glasses

8

Felix Gray Blue Light Computer Glasses, from $95, available at Felix Gray

If he sits in front of a computer every day, he needs these blue light glasses that increase magnification, reduce glare, and filter out blue light in order to reduce eyestrain. They’re also available with prescription lenses — we tried them and loved them.

Read our full review of Felix Gray blue light computer glasses here

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods deal

Apple AirPods with Wired Charging Case, $128.98, available at Amazon

Some of the best gifts are items that can be used every day — and AirPods fall into that category. Whether your dad likes listening to music and podcasts or prefers to talk on the phone hands-free, AirPods will quickly become an essential item for him. You can learn more about the different versions in our guide to the best AirPods

A ceramic pizza stone

gifts for him 4

Emile Henry Pizza Stone, $54.95, available at Williams Sonoma

Homemade pizza is delicious, but it can be tricky to perfect. This ceramic pizza stone will make sure his pizza comes out perfectly cooked every time.

An iPad

Apple iPad

Apple iPad (Latest Model with Wi-Fi, 32GB), $329.99, available at Best Buy

Tech-obsessed dads will love to get their hands on the latest iPad. For more information on the different iterations, check out our guide to the best iPads

A leather iPad case

leatherology $155

Leatherology iPad Portfolio, from $190, available at Leatherology

This leather iPad portfolio comes in 17 colors, so there’s sure to be one that your dad will like. You can even get it monogrammed for an extra personal touch. 

A durable and waterproof speaker

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Urbanears Rålis Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $199.99, available at Urbanears

The Rålis is Urbanears’ first portable Bluetooth speaker and it sounds as good as it looks. It’s a little pricey, but the sound quality is impressive enough to warrant the cost.

An alarm clock that uses light to wake him up gently

51447I FftL._SL1300_

Philips Light Alarm Clock, $99.99, available at Amazon

Just because Dad has to wake up before the sun rises doesn’t mean he has to awaken to the blaring of an obnoxious alarm clock.

Philips makes a lovely alarm clock that gradually lights up to mimic the sunrise and wake him up naturally. The light alarm clock also displays the time and has customizable sounds so he can wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. This clock is also one of the top picks in our buying guide, so you can be sure he’ll love it.

Read the original article on Business Insider

HBO’s ‘Succession’ airs its season finale on December 12 — here’s how to watch the Emmy-winning series

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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

jeremy strong as kendall roy on succession
Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy on HBO’s “Succession.”

  • “Succession” is about the turbulent lives of a wealthy family running a media corporation.
  • You can watch the season three finale on December 12 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Max and HBO.
  • HBO Max costs $10/month for an ad-supported plan or $15/month for an ad-free plan.

Season three of “Succession” premiered October 17 on HBO Max and the HBO cable channel. You can watch the season finale on December 12 at 9 p.m. ET.

The critically acclaimed series follows the wealthy Roy family as they attempt to run a giant media empire and fight to wrest control of the company from their aging patriarch. “Succession” is known for its mix of tense drama and dark humor.

After an explosive turn of events in the show’s season two finale, the future of the Roy family business remains up in the air. Actors Alexander Skarsgård and Adrien Brody are among the guest stars that joined the ensemble cast for season three. The series also stars Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, and Alan Ruck.

Lauded by critics, the second season of “Succession” received an Emmy award for outstanding drama series. The first two seasons are both “Certified Fresh” on the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Season three of “Succession” currently holds a “96% Fresh” rating.

How to watch ‘Succession’ season finale

You can watch the season three finale of “Succession” on December 12 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Max and the HBO cable channel. All eight previous episodes of the third season are available to stream on-demand right now. If you’re new to the show, you can also stream the first two seasons in their entirety on HBO Max.

For viewers on a budget, HBO Max offers an ad-supported plan for $10 a month. This tier gives you access to “Succession” and all of the streaming service’s on-demand entertainment, except for same-day movie premieres. To stream those titles, you need the ad-free HBO Max plan for $15 a month.

HBO Max does not directly offer a free trial to new members, but current Hulu subscribers can claim a free seven-day trial of HBO Max as an add-on. The ad-free HBO Max add-on costs $15 a month after your free trial.

Watch HBO Max through your preferred web browser or with the dedicated app on smartphones, tablets, PlayStation consoles, Xbox consoles, and streaming devices. You can also stream HBO Max on smart TV models like LG, Samsung, and Vizio. The HBO Max website has a full list of all compatible devices.

What other Emmy-winning series can I watch on HBO Max?

HBO won nine awards at the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards for captivating series like “Mare of Easttown,” “Hacks,” and “I May Destroy You.” Kate Winslet won outstanding lead actress in a limited series for her portrayal of a police detective in rural Pennsylvania.

Other HBO series have taken home numerous Emmy awards over the years as well. A few of the other Emmy-winning series available to stream right now on HBO Max include:

  • “Band of Brothers”
  • “Barry”
  • “Big Little Lies”
  • “Euphoria”
  • “Game of Thrones”
  • “The Newsroom”
  • “The Sopranos”
  • “Veep”
  • “Watchmen”
  • “Westworld”
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Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ is now playing only in theaters, but you can stream it on Disney Plus starting January 12

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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

Brian Tyree Henry leading the group as Phastos in "Eternals."
Brian Tyree Henry leading the group as Phastos in “Eternals.”

  • Marvel’s “Eternals” is currently only in theaters, but the movie will hit Disney Plus on January 12. 
  • The superhero film focuses on a group of immortal beings who have lived on Earth for centuries.
  • A Disney Plus subscription costs $8 a month or $80 per year.

Marvel’s “Eternals” is now playing exclusively in theaters, but the movie will be added to Disney Plus on January 12. “Eternals” is the third of four MCU films to release this year, following “Black Widow” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” will be released in theaters on December 17.

“Eternals” introduces some of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe, a group of immortal beings who have been secretly living on Earth since the earliest days of man. The film’s ensemble cast includes Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, and Kit Harington. The Marvel series was originally created by legendary artist Jack Kirby.

“Eternals” is directed by Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao. Zhao’s previous film, “Nomadland,” won the 2021 Oscar for best picture. You can watch “Nomadland” now on Hulu

Where to watch ‘Eternals’

For now, the only way to watch “Eternals” is in theaters, but it will be made available to all Disney Plus subscribers on January 12, at no extra cost. Disney Plus is the streaming home for nearly every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, except the films starring Spider-Man and Hulk. 

Marvel’s “Black Widow” started streaming on Disney Plus the same day it hit theaters in July 2021 with a $30 Premier Access fee. The move sparked controversy and led to star Scarlett Johansson filing a lawsuit against Disney that was eventually settled. The next Marvel movie, “Shang Chi,” premiered in theaters in September 2021 and hit Disney Plus on November 12.

Disney Plus costs $8 a month or $80 per year. To subscribe, visit DisneyPlus.com or download the Disney Plus app. If you’re also interested in subscribing to Hulu and ESPN+, you can sign up for a discounted bundle with Disney Plus starting at $14 a month. 

Disney Plus supports up to 4K streaming with Dolby Vision and HDR. The Disney Plus app is available on Apple devices, Android, PlayStation, Xbox, Roku, Fire TV, and most smart TV brands.

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The 5 best robot vacuums we tested in 2021

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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

A collage of the best robot vacuums of 2021

A robot vacuum will make the small but time-consuming task of vacuuming a little easier. However, you’ll want one that’s powerful and relatively quiet and doesn’t require constant attention. 

I’ve tested 30 robot vacuums to find the best ones and consulted health experts and engineers on how to use them properly. A robot vac needs maintenance like any other small appliance. While using it takes just a press of a button, all our experts stressed the importance of regularly cleaning brushes and filters, and running the vac when no one is in the room to keep the indoor air quality clean and avoid resuspended particles. We get into details over here

I tested each robot vac’s cleaning abilities along with its extra features and app. You can find the details of how we tested, what else we recommend, how to shop for a robot vacuum, and more at the end of our guide. Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products.

Here are the best robot vacuums in 2021

Best robot vacuum overall: iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum, $499 on Walmart
With its automatic dirt disposal, strong suction, and large main brushes, the iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is an excellent, low-maintenance solution for any home.

Best budget robot vacuum: Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot Vacuum, $169.99 on Amazon
With its sub-$250 price, the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot Vacuum offers an impressive suite of features, including smart connectivity, and performs well picking up most debris on carpeting and hardwood.

Best robot vacuum with a mop: Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum, $599.99 on Ecovacs
The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System thoroughly cleans floors as opposed to pushing a wet cloth around. When paired with the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum, the two make easy work of time-consuming chores.  

Best robot vacuum for hardwood floors: iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum, $899.99 on iRobot
The D-shaped iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum did the best in our hardwood floor tests and features a self-emptying dustbin, an impressive app that lets you set no-go zones, and large main brushes that pick up debris on the first pass.

Best robot vacuum for pet hair: Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum, $299 on Amazon
The Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories. The company is also committed to helping homeless pets and helps them find loving homes.

Best robot vacuum overall

Best Robot Vacuum for carpet 2021 Roomba i3+
Originally $599.99 | Save 17%
Originally $599.00 | Save 17%
Originally $599.99 | Save 17%
Originally $599.00 | Save 17%
Originally $599.99 | Save 17%


With its automatic dirt disposal, strong suction, and large main brushes, the iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is an excellent, low-maintenance solution for any home.

Pros: Excellent performance on carpeting, cleans well on hardwood, pairs with the app and Alexa, comes with an automatic dirt disposal base, doesn’t get stuck easily

Cons: Loud, virtual wall barriers cost extra, not impressive in corners 

The iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is iRobot’s most affordable option that features automatic dirt disposal, which empties the vac’s dustbin automatically. You just replace the disposable dust bag every month or two.  

In our carpet tests, the i3+ picked up all of the coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hairs we laid out and left behind only about 5% of the flour — the best performance of all the robot vacs we tested. In corners, it came within an inch of the wall but left behind about half the flour.

It performed better on hardwood floors, picking up all of the coffee grounds and pet hair, and only left behind 5% of the kitty litter and about 10% of the flour. The robot vac didn’t get stuck during its cleaning sessions.

Whereas some robot vacuums sense carpeting and boost suction, the i3+ provides consistently strong suction, and when it detects excess dirt, it automatically performs multiple passes. 

Setup is a breeze, only taking about 10 minutes, including connecting to the user-friendly app. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t allow you to set up no-go zones, so you must buy virtual wall barriers. The barriers work as advertised, but at around $40 each, I prefer using everyday household objects to keep the Roomba out of areas I want to protect.

The other negative with the i3+ is how loud it is. My sound meter recorded 68 dB, and you can’t adjust the suction power for a quieter clean.

Best budget robot vacuum

Best Robot Vacuums 2021_Eufy RoboVac 15C MAX Robot Vacuum
Originally $249.99 | Save 32%
Originally $279.99 | Save 39%


With its sub-$250 price, the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot Vacuum offers an impressive suite of features, including smart connectivity, and performs well picking up most debris on carpeting and hardwood.

Pros: Good performance on carpeting and hardwood, doesn’t get stuck easily, quiet, supported by an app, Alexa and Google Assistant compatible, fits into small spaces

Cons: Did poorly in corner cleaning tests and picking up flour on carpeting, app doesn’t let you set no-go zones

Of the vacuums that cost under $250, the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot Vacuum had the best overall performance in our tests.

It picked up all of the coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hair we laid out on carpeting and hardwood. It had a more challenging time with flour, leaving 10% of the flour on hardwood and a disappointing 40% of the flour on the carpeting.

Another area where the unit showed poor performance was in corners. It only came within about 3 inches of the hardwood corner, and though it came within an inch of the carpeted corner, it didn’t pick up much of the flour.

On the plus side, the RoboVac 15C Max only got stuck during its cleaning cycles about a quarter of the time, which is impressive in my messy home. Also, it’s the quietest of the units we tested, registering 60 decibels on its highest suction power.

Beyond quickly testing to make sure it worked, I didn’t use the controller because the vacuum pairs with your phone and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. Unfortunately, the app (available for iOS and Android) doesn’t allow you to set up no-go zones or virtual barriers.

Additionally, setup and connecting to the app were seamless experiences, taking a total of 10 minutes. The vacuum also has a small footprint so it can squeeze into tight spaces.

Best robot vacuum with a mop

Best Robot Vacuum with a mop 2021 Ecovacs T8 AIVI
Originally $799.99 | Save 25%


The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System thoroughly cleans floors as opposed to pushing a wet cloth around. When paired with the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum, the two make easy work of time-consuming chores.  

Pros: Excellent performance on carpeting and hardwood, automatically empties the dustbin, HD video surveillance, impressive deep-cleaning mop attachment, quiet operation

Cons: Got stuck on the threshold in our tests, doesn’t get deep into corners

The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System attachment is the best mopping system I’ve tested. The 480-vibrations-per-minute scrubbing motion offers a deep clean. It made the powerful Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum even better. 

The 240mL water tank was large enough to complete at least two passes over the 500-square-foot test floor. With the app, you can choose from four water-flow levels to reach a balance of moistness and quick drying and two mopping patterns. The deep scrubbing option provides thorough cleaning, and the quick scrubbing is for routine mopping. And, I appreciated that it automatically avoids carpeting.

As for the robot vac itself, the Ozmo T8 AIVI has HD video and a microphone so you can watch your pets or check for open windows and doors from your phone. I didn’t find the home surveillance features particularly useful, but they could be handy if you’re concerned about security. 

The more helpful feature is the auto-empty station that automatically empties the dustbin after cleaning sessions. You just replace the disposable pouch every month or two. 

The Ozmo T8 AIVI was among the best at removing the debris types we tested on carpeting and hardwood. Plus, it remains relatively quiet at just 67 dB on the highest cleaning setting and 58 dB on Quiet mode. 

However, the vac consistently got stuck on a 1-inch lip between rooms. It also wasn’t able to come within 2 inches of corners.

The setup was seamless. I plugged in the dock to charge the vacuum, connected the app, updated the firmware, and set a schedule for cleaning. After two cleanings, the vac created a map of my layout so I could set no-go zones to keep the T8 AIVI away from sensitive areas.

Best robot vacuum for hardwood floors

Best Robot Vacuum for hardwood floors 2021 Roomba S9+
Originally $1099.99 | Save 18%
Originally $1299.99 | Save 31%


The D-shaped iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum did the best in our hardwood floor tests and features a self-emptying dustbin, an impressive app that lets you set no-go zones, and large main brushes that pick up debris on the first pass.

Pros: Cleans well on hardwood flooring, good performance on carpeting, rarely gets stuck, comes with a charging dock that empties the dustbin, large main brushes, has a helpful app with virtual no-go zones

Cons: Loud, poor performance in carpeted corners

As iRobot’s top-of-the-line model, the Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum is packed with features. It empties itself and is supported by an app that allows you to schedule cleanings effortlessly, set no-go zones, and customize your cleaning experience. You can even pair it with the iRobot Braava Jet M6 (sold separately) to mop after it finishes its vacuum cycle.

In testing, the Roomba s9+ performed the best of any robot vac on hardwood flooring. After the cleaning cycle, there was only a trace of flour left. Its D-shaped design came within an inch and a half of the corner, picking up everything it could reach. The performance was still solid on carpeting with only about 10% of the flour left, 5% of the kitty litter, and no coffee grounds or pet hairs to be found after testing. The unit didn’t get stuck in our testing area either. 

At 77 dB (about as loud as a busy city street) on high suction power, the s9+ was by far the loudest model we tested, and even in quiet mode, the vacuum is not unnoticeable. 

Additionally, the vac got within an inch of the carpeted corner. But it left behind about 70% of the flour, which suggests it doesn’t do as well picking up fine debris on carpeting, especially in areas the main brushes have trouble reaching.

Installation was easy, but it took about 25 minutes. I spent most of that time installing firmware updates after connecting to the app.

Best robot vacuum for pet hair

Best Robot Vacuum for pet hair 2021 Bissell Spinwave
Originally $399.99 | Save 25%
Originally $399.99 | Save 25%
Originally $399.99 | Save 25%


The Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories. The company is also committed to helping homeless pets and helps them find loving homes. 

Pros: Excellent job on hardwood and corners, picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, great mop attachment and accessories, app connectivity, small size, quiet operation

Cons: Can’t set up no-go zones, gets stuck easily

The Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum is created specifically for pet hair and has a 5.75-inch tangle-resistant main brush, a useful mop attachment, and powerful suction. Specs aside, a portion of each sale also goes to the Bissell Pet Foundation, which is committed to finding loving homes for pets.

The Bissell SpinWave picked up all the cat and dog hair we laid out on carpeting and hardwood. Additionally, on the hardwood, it only left a trace of kitty litter and flour. It came within 2 inches in corners and picked up more than 60% of the flour on both the carpet and hardwood.

It’s also among the quietest vacs we tested – 58 decibels on quiet mode (slightly softer than a normal conversation) and 65 on high suction. If you have particularly skittish pets, the low-decibel output is less likely to startle your fur friends. 

The vacuum’s extras are helpful to any pet parent, including a mop tank attachment, spinning mop pads, and a trial-size bottle of cleaning formula. Plus, you receive a cleaning tool that helps remove hairs from the brushes and clean the filter.

In testing, the mop attachment worked seamlessly. You just fill the tank with water and some cleaning formula and attach it to the vacuum in place of the dustbin. The mop pads spin to scrub away stuck-on debris while avoiding carpeting.

The SpinWave has a quick setup that takes five minutes, including installing the app and connecting the unit. 

The most significant limitation is it consistently got stuck on the 1-inch threshold between rooms. 

What else we tested

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

We’ve tested 30 robot vacuums and counting; here are the ones that didn’t make our top picks.

What else we recommend and why

Under $400

Ecovacs U2 Pro: This vac did excellent cleaning hardwood and carpeting and rarely got stuck. The U2 Pro also comes with a mop attachment, which didn’t do a good job of cleaning up dried Tang on linoleum. Despite good performance, it couldn’t compete with our current top picks and was too expensive for consideration as our best budget pick. Other negatives include loud operation, poor corner cleaning, and boundary strips for setting no-go zones that are sold separately.

Proscenic 850T: When it comes to cleaning hard flooring, the 850T is outstanding. It picked up almost all of the debris on hardwood in our testing, got deep into the corners, and got all of the grounds, hair, and litter on the carpet. However, it left 20% of the flour behind, got stuck easily, and ran loudly. Plus, the vac regularly disconnected from the app in my long-term testing and required my attention to run on schedule.

Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge: Eufy usually makes more affordable robot vacuums, so at this price, the G30 Edge is considered the company’s top-end model. The variety of extras — no-go zone strips, a user-friendly app, and Alexa and Google Home compatibility — make it worth the price, but you’ll have to compromise some power. It performed poorly on carpeting and in corners during our testing, and it was in the middle of the pack on hardwood. Despite the underwhelming performance, it remains a good value for the price.

ILife A10If setting no-go zones is essential to you, the A10 might be a good option. After it maps your house, you can set up virtual barriers in the app. This model also does an outstanding job of cleaning hardwood and carpet. But, there are plenty of cons: The A10 barely picked up any flour in carpeted corners, it runs loudly, and it gets stuck easily.

Under $600

iRobot Roomba i7+: The Roomba i7+ was the first robot vacuum to feature an automatic dirt disposal charging dock. Since then, iRobot has introduced two other models that improve upon the i7+. Though this Roomba has great high-end features, its performance doesn’t justify its price. It only did a satisfactory job on carpeting and hardwood, and it got stuck relatively often. If you find the i7+ on sale, we recommend picking it up. Otherwise, consider the s9+ or i3+ instead. Read our full review.

Roborock S6 MaxV: For the most part, Roborock is doing a terrific job in the robot vac space. We recommend the S6 MaxV because of its excellent performance in our carpeting, hardwood, and corner tests. It also has video surveillance, no-go zones, and a useful app. But it’s oversized and kept getting stuck on the 1-inch lip leading into the kitchen of our testing course. The S6 MaxV is louder than most vacs we’ve tested. 

Under $800

Roborock S7: I tested this Roborock with the optional auto-empty dock ($299.99), which looks incredible, is super convenient, and performed flawlessly. The vac itself has powerful suction and avoided getting stuck in our tests. The mop scrubs at up to 3,000 cycles per minute, which translated to one of the top performances in our mop test. However, it didn’t do well vacuuming in corners and operated loudly. It came close but did not perform well enough to unseat any of our top picks. Still, if the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI isn’t available, this is a worthy substitute.

What we don’t recommend and why

Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S: At one time, the RoboVac 11S was our budget pick, but after putting it through our testing alongside other affordable options, we no longer recommend it. The 11S doesn’t have WiFi connectivity, which has become standard at every price point in the industry. The vac performed well on carpeting but left a lot of debris behind on hardwood and in corners. You’d be much better off with the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max. Read our full review.

Proscenic M6 Pro: After testing two other Proscenic models I recommend, I was surprised by how poorly the M6 Pro cleans. It left significant debris behind on carpeting and hard flooring and in corners. The vac also got stuck easily and ran loudly. Plus, the app is slow to respond to finger taps and commands. 

Yeedi K650: The attractive price doesn’t make up for the fact that the Yeedi K650 does a poor job cleaning any surface. It also gets stuck often, is noisy, and doesn’t have many of the features we like, such as the ability to set no-go zones.

iRobot Roomba e5This appears to be iRobot’s attempt to make a budget Roomba, but it’s the worst-performing Roomba I’ve come across in my years of testing. It didn’t come with any extras – not even an additional filter. You can schedule it easily in the app, and it’s compatible with Alexa and Google Home, but you have to buy virtual wall barriers separately. Also, it gets stuck easily and doesn’t clean well on hardwood.  

Neato Botvac D7 Connected: We’re dropping the Neato Botvac D7 Connected from our guide this time around because it’s relatively big, got stuck about half the time during our initial testing, and it only comes with two extra filters and a magnetic barrier, which isn’t necessary since you can set no-go zones in the app. We think there are more affordable alternatives that perform better and are more feature-rich in our guide. Read our full review.

Eufy RoboVac 11S Max: The 11S Max updates the 11S, but we feel the original 11S is better. If you’re spending this much, though, the 15C Max performed much better in our testing. The 11S Max did poorly on carpeting and hardwood and in corners. It also relies on a remote controller rather than app connectivity, which means you need to turn to and keep track of another device.

Roborock S5 Max: The S5 Max is loud, big, and it did poorly in corners and on carpeting in our tests. 

Our robot vacuum testing methodology

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

I’ve been reviewing vacuums for the past few years, writing numerous buying guides and reviews, so I leaned on my background when developing our testing methodology.

I also consulted three experts and took their advice and expertise into consideration — Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida; Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University and the current president of the American Association for Aerosol Research; and Jill Notini, the Vice President of Communication and Marketing for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

In addition to using each robot vacuum daily for at least several weeks, I tested each for its suction on various types of flooring, including corners, ability to maneuver around obstacles, noise, and special features.

Our testing methodology has gotten more comprehensive over the years. For any models that I’d previously tested but didn’t have the vacuums on hand anymore, I extrapolated the data as best as possible based on previous testing and manufacturer info. Those vacuums are the iRobot Roomba i7+, Neato Botvac D7 Connected, and Eufy 11S Max and 15C Max. 

Here’s a breakdown of the percentages of each material the top picks cleaned up on each surface in our tests:

Surface – Material iRobot Roomba i3+ Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI iRobot Roomba s9+ Bissell  SpinWave

Carpet – Flour

95% 60% 98% 90% 80%
Carpet – Coffee 100% 100% 98% 100% 100%
Carpet – Litter 100% 100% 98% 95% 98%
Carpet – Hair 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Carpet corner – Flour 50% 20% 35% 30% 65%
Carpet corner – Proximity 1 inch 1 inch 2 inches 1 inch 2 inches
Hardwood – Flour 90% 90% 95% 98% 98%
Hardwood – Coffee 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Hardwood – Litter 95% 100% 98% 100% 98%
Hardwood – Hair 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Hardwood corner – Flour 80%

0%

80% 85% 75%
Hardwood corner – Proximity 1 inch 3 inches 2 inches 1.5 inches 1.5 inches

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Size: I note the specs of the overall unit, main brush, and side brushes. This gives me an idea of how well a vacuum can clean floors and carpet — the larger the brushes, the more they can usually sweep up. The main brushes are often between 5 to 10 inches long, and side brushes are usually 2 to 3 inches long. Of the vacs I’ve tested, only Roomba models have two main brushes; others have one. I’ve noticed that longer brushes tend to facilitate faster cleaning. If this appeals to you, consider a unit with a longer brush, such as the Roomba s9+.

Carpet cleaning: I poured a tablespoon each of flour, coffee grounds, and kitty litter on 18-inch-square sections of carpeting. I also collected pet hairs from my rat terrier and two cats to place on carpeting. I ran the vacuum on its most powerful mode for two cleaning cycles and compared before-and-after photos to estimate the percentage of each material picked up or left behind.

Hardwood floor cleaning: This is the same test as the carpet cleaning test but on hardwood flooring.

Corner cleaning: To test corner cleaning abilities, I poured a teaspoon of flour in an approximately 4-inch radius in a corner on hardwood and carpeting. I took pictures of the messes before and after running the robot vac for two cleaning cycles to compare how much flour was left over. I also measured how close to the corner the vac was able to reach.

Obstacle avoidance: You don’t want your robot vac to get stuck while it’s cleaning or when it’s returning to its charging dock, both of which force you to hunt it down while it’s sending you notifications or making annoying error sounds. I tested the vacuum in an approximately 500-square-foot room with several obstacles, including stairs, a 1-inch threshold to a kitchen, and a table with chairs.

Loudness: I used a sound meter to measure the decibel output of each of the robot vacuums from 12 inches away as they ran on the highest and lowest settings. For vacuums I no longer had in my possession for testing, I relied on manufactures’ info and my previous notes. 

Brushes: I noted the lengths of the main and side brushes as they’ll likely indicate performance in our cleaning tests.

Robot vacuums work using a combination of suction and brushes. There are two types of brushes on robot vacuums: the side brush and the main brush. Units have either one or two side brushes that are about 3 inches in diameter and protrude from the forward portion of the vac. They move in a circular motion, get into corners, and feed debris to the main brush. There appears to be little difference in the performance of vacuums with two side brushes versus those with one.

The main brush is between five and ten inches long, located under the unit, and is made of a rubber-like material. The vacuum sucks debris into the main brush, which spins to feed the materials into the dustbin. Of the vacs I’ve tested, only Roomba models have two main brushes. Other models have just one. I’ve noticed that longer brushes tend to facilitate faster cleaning. If this appeals to you, consider a unit with a longer brush, such as the Roomba s9+.

Extras: I note if the vacuums included extras such as filters and side brush replacements, mop attachments, a cleaning tool, and more.   

Special features: All of the vacuums featured some method for scheduling and returning to their charging dock on their own, so those weren’t useful differentiators. Auto-dirt disposal, voice control, and home surveillance aren’t universal, so you may want to consider if those are important. (There’s more information on those and other features here.)

Why we don’t measure Pascal Pressure Unit

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

A robot vacuum’s suction power is measured in Pascal (Pa). Generally speaking, the higher the Pa, the better, but that’s a misleading metric of comparison. 

When I talked to engineers at iRobot about a year ago, they told me that there are several ways to measure suction power, but there are no industry standards. They viewed the reported Pa measurements as essentially useless, hence why it’s nearly impossible to find suction power for iRobot vacs. It’s also difficult to find the Pa for Ecovacs, though Eufy and Roborock report the measurements for their models.

Due to the inconsistent reporting from manufacturers, we don’t include Pa as a part of our testing methodology and criteria.

How to shop for a robot vacuum

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

While using a robot vacuum is easy enough, shopping for one can be overwhelming. Here are the main aspects to look for when considering which one to buy. 

Size: If you have furniture that’s hard to move or low-clearance pieces like sofas or bed frames, you’ll want to pay attention to the height of a robot vacuum; the other dimensions are usually within the range of reason for a normal household.

For example, I have several radiators in my house with a 3.5-inch clearance that slim vacuums can get under, while just-slim-enough models sometimes get stuck, and too-thick models bump up against and go elsewhere. If you want your robot vacuum to get under your low-clearance furniture, make sure you choose a model that is slim enough to do so. 

Features: It’s important to think about what features you actually need. For instance, if you work from home and are rarely away, HD cameras aren’t useful since you can keep tabs on your home with your own eyes. If your floors are covered with carpet, you don’t need your robot vac to mop. I also rarely use voice control out of personal habit, but if you use Alexa or Google Assistant for everything, then compatibility with those services is a must.

Extras: You can easily purchase extra filters or brushes for robot vacs, but we think having them included with the unit is better. All of our top picks include useful extras like brushes or dirt disposal bags.

Price: Robot vacuums go on sale often, and the discounts are steepest during Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. We expect most of the models we recommend in this guide to go on sale, so it pays to wait until those sale days.

How to use a robot vacuum

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

Robot vacuums make keeping your house clean easier, but there’s still some regular maintenance needed to improve the performance and longevity and help your indoor air quality. 

Run your robot vac when no one is around: Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor at Clarkson University and president of AAAR, and Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at PCSI, both recommend running your robot vacuum in unoccupied areas. The robot vacs can kick dust, pollutants, and microbes back into the air as it vacuums floors, which can lead to subpar indoor air quality. “Every vacuum, including a robot vacuum, has the potential to release some dust, particles, and allergens back into the air, but the benefits still outweigh the risks,” said Peña-Hernández. 

And run it regularly: Ferro and Peña-Hernández agree that you should run your robot vac at least once per week and more if you have pets and heavy-traffic areas. Ferro even suggests that daily cleaning isn’t a bad idea. I generally set my vacuums to run in the early morning before I wake up or when the level of my house where the vacuum is running will be unoccupied, especially since I live in a large house with three pets and no HVAC system.

Clean the dustbin and filter: If you’re regularly vacuuming your space, you’ll need to make sure to empty the dustbin and clean the filter. According to Peña-Hernández, you should clean the vacuum’s filter at least once a week, or twice a week if you have a pet.  

You’ll also need to replace the filter and brushes every few months. Manufacturers usually give guidelines in the vac’s user manual on how often you should replace these components. A good sign that it’s time to replace your filters or brushes is if they appear to be damaged or if your vac just isn’t doing as good of a job of cleaning as it once did. 

Fortunately, many models come with extra filters and brushes, but eventually, you’ll have to purchase replacements. Manufacturers usually link to their parts store in your robot vac’s app, but you can also usually find parts on Amazon, so it’s worth shopping around. Just make sure that you are buying the right parts for your model.

Use it in addition to a traditional vacuum:  Despite how far robot vacuums have come in the last decade, they won’t replace your stick and upright vacuums anytime soon.

Robot vacuum FAQs

Do you still need another vacuum if you have a robot vac?

While the dream is to set your robot vacuum on a schedule and have it do all the floor cleaning for you, it’s just not the reality at the moment. Robot vacuums don’t clean as much dirt and debris as upright vacuums. “I think you’d still need a stick or upright vacuum for spots that the robot vac can’t reach,” Ferro said.

Robot vacs function best as maintenance cleaners. Having them run a couple times a week will make your floors less gunky, especially if you have pets. But these vacuums also need babysitting. You need to clear their path of anything that might get tangled in their wheels, and some have trouble getting into or out of tight spaces. Their bins are fairly small, so you’ll need to empty them more regularly than an upright or stick version. 

Even squarish robot vacuums — as opposed to round ones — aren’t perfect at getting into corners. Some are too tall to fit under certain types of furniture. They obviously avoid stairs, too. Upright vacuums typically come with attachments that are useful for cleaning things like drapes or furniture, which robot vacs can’t handle. 

“Research indicates that robot vacuums are not meant to replace upright vacuums,” Peña-Hernández said. “That likely has to do with their smaller motor size. They’re good for touch-ups and in-between uses.”

When it comes to robot vacuums, expect maintenance not miracles.


How have robot vacuum cleaners improved?

Since iRobot’s first Roomba came on the market in the early 2000s, robot vacuum technology has improved a lot. You can now find square-ish models in addition to round ones, and the mapping technology is much better. 

Cameras and optical sensors can help with obstacle recognition, and LiDAR-based navigation uses lasers to detect objects. These capabilities aren’t perfect, but vacuums are now more adept at finding their way back to charging docks than they were even a few years ago. Another new feature is self-emptying bins, which suck the debris out of the robot and into a canister in the charging dock. 

Many robot vacuums are now smart, letting you start a cleaning session from an app or by asking a smart speaker. Some, like the iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum, let you block off entire rooms in an app, so you don’t have to worry about them getting stuck on your kid’s clothing piles. With cameras and connectivity come some privacy concerns. 

Some interesting features aren’t universal, such as auto-dirt disposal and home surveillance. To get more guidance on these features, I spoke with Jill Notini, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for AHAM.

A few of the new features she’s excited about — and that are found in many if not all of the models in our guide — include:

  • Advanced navigation: “Many of today’s models have the ability to map a home and remember how to get around objects and stay out of tough spots. You can also program the robots to vacuum specific areas of the home.” You can also set no-go zones that the vacuum should avoid on your phone via the app.
  • Mopping ability: “Robots are evolving into floor care multitaskers,” said Notini. “In addition to vacuuming, some models now have the ability to mop, both wet and dry.”
  • Voice control: “Robotic vacuums can now respond to voice commands, either directly or through an outside system like Amazon Alexa.”
  • Remote operation: “You can start, stop, or control your robotic vacuum with your mobile device.”
  • Cameras: “Cameras have been incorporated into some models to help the robot map the room and allow you to get a robot’s eye view of cleaning and keep an eye on your house while you’re away.”
  • Fall prevention: “Even with all of the new features and technological advances, robotic vacuums still have not gained the ability to climb stairs. Many models now utilize sensors to prevent themselves from taking a tumble down the stairs or off a higher level.” All of the robots in our testing were able to sense cliffs and avoid falling down stairs.
  • Automatic dirt disposal: One of the most useful features that’s becoming more ubiquitous is the charging dock that automatically empties the vacuum’s dustbin. Even the largest bins need to be emptied with regular use, so it’s a maintenance task you’ll need to perform once a week — at best. But with the self-emptying dock, the chore is no longer necessary. You just throw away and replace the disposable dust bag every month or two.

Can a robot vacuum prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus is most easily spread through face-to-face interactions and in close quarters. If someone in your household has been sick — even if it’s not with COVID-19 — it’s recommended to clean and disinfect the area.  

“Currently, the CDC recommends that we take precautionary measures for vacuuming during the COVID-19 outbreak although there are no reported cases of COVID-19 associated with vacuuming,” Peña-Hernández said. “It recommends using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, opening outside doors and windows to increase air circulation, and not vacuuming areas with people in it.” 


How do you clean a robot vac?

Though robot vacuums automate cleaning your floors, they are not completely hands-off. There are several care and maintenance steps you should take to ensure your vac operates properly for many years to come. Manufacturers provide clear instructions for cleaning and maintaining your robot vacuum in the user manual or app. 

Here are some general maintenance tasks:

  • Empty the dustbin: Depending on how dirty your home is, you will want to empty your robot vacuum’s dustbin after every use. If you run your vac daily and don’t have pets, you can get away with doing this chore once a week.
  • Clean the filter and dustbin: This is a weekly task. Cleaning the filter is important because the vacuum doesn’t clean as well when the filter is dirty. You can clean most models’ filters and dustbins with water. I usually clean and thoroughly dry the dustbin while letting the filter air dry. While the filter is air drying, I insert the extra filter that most units come with. Whatever you do, make sure the filter and dustbin dry completely before you use them again.
  • Clean front wheel, brushes, sensors, and charging contacts: You should do this every two to four weeks. Most robot vacuums come with a cleaning tool with a brush on one end and a cutting blade on the other. Use these to cut out hairs that are wrapped around the brushes and wheel and brush away debris. Use a soft dry cloth to dust the sensors and charging contacts per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additionally, after about two months of use, it’s time to replace the filter. The front caster wheel and brushes — both the main brush and side brushes — should be replaced every year or so.


Can you fix a robot vac?

This depends entirely on the problem. In my years of testing robot vacuums, I’ve probably run into every problem a robot vacuum can experience: falling down stairs (surprisingly uncommon), running through pet accidents, attempts at taking up crocheting, etc. I’ve learned that these machines are resilient. 

That said, any attempt to fix a problem with your robot vacuum should start with consulting customer service. After I determined there was no chance I could clean the pet waste off my robot vacuum, I reached out to the manufacturer. And, even though the warranty specifically states these accidents aren’t covered, they still provided me with a replacement unit for free. 

The most common problem I face is the vacuum finding my wife’s yarn and wrapping it around its wheels and brushes. When this happens, you can usually work the thread free if you’re patient. I usually just cut it free. 

The best deals on robot vacuums from this guide

A robot vacuum can make a huge difference in your life by cleaning messes for you with the touch of a button, but they can be pricey — at least on the surface. Every week, we see discounts on robot vacuums. However, the product category is so saturated that it can be difficult to determine which sales are bargains.

Robot vacuum deals during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day are almost always worthwhile. During these events, we’ve seen our top pick, the iRobot Roomba i3+, drop by more than $200; our other picks also saw similar discounts. 

Below, we’ve listed some of the best deals available now on the robot vacuums our team of expert reviewers recommend.

Originally $1099.99 | Save 18%
Originally $1299.99 | Save 31%


Originally $399.99 | Save 25%
Originally $399.99 | Save 25%
Originally $399.99 | Save 25%


Originally $249.99 | Save 32%
Originally $279.99 | Save 39%


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

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Read the original article on Business Insider

The Game Awards 2021 honored the year’s best video games and debuted exclusive trailers — here’s who won

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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

Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread won Best Action/Adventure Game at The Game Awards 2021.

  • The Game Awards 2021 were livestreamed on December 9 from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
  • Awards were given in more than 25 categories and the show premiered new trailers for upcoming games.
  • The big winner of the night was It Takes Two, which took home the award for Game of the Year.

The Game Awards 2021 honored the year’s best video games and unveiled multiple world premiere trailers during a live ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The event was livestreamed across multiple platforms and you can watch a replay of the show now on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook Live.

Electronic Arts’ cooperative adventure It Takes Two earned Best Multiplayer Game, Best Family Game, and Game of the Year, the show’s most prestigious award. Bethesda’s Deathloop won awards for Best Game Direction and Best Art Design. Other winners included the indie release Kena: Bridge of Spirits and Microsoft’s Forza Horizon 5.

The Game Awards featured debut trailers for tons of games, including Sonic Frontiers, starring Sonic the Hedgehog, a Wonder Woman game from Warner Bros., Star Wars Eclipse, a story-based adventure, and Alan Wake II, a sequel more than 10 years in the making. Highly anticipated titles like Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, and Forspoken premiered new footage as well.

The Game Awards also included trailers for upcoming video game adaptations coming to theaters and TV. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” showed off it’s first trailer and Paramount Plus offered a first look at the “Halo” TV series coming in 2022.

Awards were distributed across more than 20 categories, including Game of the Year, Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, and genre specific awards like Best Action Game and Best Fighting Game. You can find a full breakdown of nominees below. Winners in each category are marked in bold.

The Game Awards 2021 winners and nominees

Game of the Year

It Takes Two
Best Game Direction

Deathloop Bethesda
Best Narrative

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy game
Best Ongoing Game

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker
  • Apex Legends (Respawn/EA)
  • Call of Duty: Warzone (Infinity Ward/Raven/Activision)
  • Final Fantasy XIV Online (Square Enix)
  • Fortnite (Epic Games)
  • Genshin Impact (MiHoYo)
Best Art Direction

The Artful Escape
Most Anticipated Game

Elden Ring
  • Elden Ring (FromSoftware/Bandai Namco)
  • God of War Ragnarök (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)
  • Horizon Forbidden West (Guerrilla Games/SIE)
  • Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)
  • Starfield (Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda)
Best Community Support

Apex Legends
Best Action/Adventure

Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread won Best Action/Adventure Game at The Game Awards 2021.

Best Role Playing

Monster Hunter Rise
Best Multiplayer

Back 4 Blood
  • Back 4 Blood (Turtle Rock/WB Games)
  • It Takes Two (Hazelight Studios/EA)
  • Knockout City (Velan Studios/EA)
  • Monster Hunter Rise (Capcom)
  • New World (Amazon Games)
  • Valheim (Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain)
Best Fighting Game

Guilty Gear Strive
Best Family Game

New Pokemon Snap
Best Sim/Strategy

Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Age of Empires IV (Relic Entertainment/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Evil Genius 2: World Domination (Rebellion Developments)
  • Humankind (Amplitude Studios/Sega)
  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games/Devolver)
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator (Asobo Studio/Xbox Game Studios)
Best Sports/Racing Game

FIFA 22
  • F1 2021 (Codemasters/EA Sports)
  • FIFA 22 (EA Vancouver/EA Sports)
  • Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Hot Wheels Unleashed (Milestone)
  • Riders Republic (Ubisoft Annecy/Ubisoft)
Best Action

Retunal
  • Back 4 Blood (Turtle Rock/WB Games)
  • Chivalry II (Torn Banner Studios/Tripwire Interactive)
  • Deathloop (Arkane Studios/Bethesda)
  • Far Cry 6 (Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft)
  • Returnal (Housemarque/SIE)
Best VR/AR

Resident Evil 4 VR
  • Hitman 3 (IO Interactive)
  • I Expect You To Die 2 (Schell Games)
  • Lone Echo II (Ready at Dawn/Oculus Studios)
  • Resident Evil 4 (Armature Studio/Capcom/Oculus Studios)
  • Sniper Elite VR (Coatsink/Just Add Water/Rebellion Developments)
Best Mobile Game

Pokemon Unite
  • Fantasian (Mistwalker)
  • Genshin Impact (MiHoYo)
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift (Riot Games)
  • Marvel Future Revolution (Netmarble)
  • Pokemon Unite (TiMi Studios/The Pokemon Company)
Best Indie

Kena Bridge of Spirits
  • 12 Minutes (Luis Antonio/Annapurna Interactive)
  • Death’s Door (Acid Nerve/Devolver Digital)
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab)
  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games/Devolver Digital)
  • Loop Hero (Four Quarters/Devolver Digital)
Best Debut Indie

Sable
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab)
  • Sable (Shedworks/Raw Fury)
  • The Artful Escape (Beethoven & Dinosaur/Annapurna)
  • The Forgotten City (Modern Storyteller/Dear Villagers)
  • Valheim (Iron Gate/Coffee Stain)
Games for Impact

No Longer Home
  • Before Your Eyes (GoodbyeWorld Games/Skybound Games)
  • Boyfriend Dungeon (Kitfox Games)
  • Chicory (Greg Lobanow, Alexis Dean-Jones, Lena Raine, Madeline Berger, A Shell in the Pit/Finji)
  • Life is Strange: True Colors (Deck Nine/Square Enix)
  • No Longer Home (Humble Grove, Hana Lee, Cel Davison, Adrienne Lombardo, Eli Rainsberry/Fellow Traveler)
Best Performance

Resident Evil Village Capcom
Maggie Robertson’s Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village

  • Erika Mori as Alex Chen, Life is Strange: True Colors
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Anton Castillo, Far Cry 6
  • Jason E. Kelley as Colt Vahn, Deathloop
  • Maggie Robertson as Lady Dimitrescu, Resident Evil Village
  • Ozioma Akagha as Julianna Blake, Deathloop

 

Best Score and Music

Cyberpunk2077_Hello_stranger_RGB en
Cyberpunk 2077.

  • Cyberpunk 2077 (Marcin Przybylowicz, Piotr T. Adamczyk, composers)
  • Deathloop (Tom Salta, composer)
  • NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 (Keiichi Okabe, composer)
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Richard Jacques, composer)
  • The Artful Escape (Johnny Galvatron & Josh Abrahams, composers)
Best Audio Design

Forza Horizon 5

 

Innovation in Accessibility

Ratchet Clank Rift Apart
Best Esports Game

League of Legends Riot Games
  • Call of Duty (Activision)
  • CS:GO (Valve)
  • DOTA2 (Valve)
  • League of Legends (Riot Games)
  • Valorant (Riot Games)
Best Esports Team

Four Atlanta FaZe players in Black standing in a row under falling yellow confetti. The middle two players are lifting the trophy.
FaZe Clan’s “Call of Duty” team Atlanta FaZe after winning the 2021 “Call of Duty” League Championship.

  • Atlanta FaZe (COD)
  • DWG KIA (LOL)
  • Natus Vincere (CS:GO)
  • Sentinels (Valorant)
  • Team Spirit (DOTA2)
Best Esports Event

Five people in black jerseys surround and lift up a silver metal trophy.
Edward Gaming (EDG) after winning the 2021 “League of Legends” World Championship

  • 2021 League of Legends World Championship
  • PGL Major Stockholm 2021
  • PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2020
  • The International 2021
  • Valorant Champions Tour: Stage 2 Masters
Best Esports Coach

  • Airat “Silent” Gaziev
  • Andrey “ENGH” Sholokhov
  • Andrii “B1ad3” Horodenskyi
  • JamesCrowderCrowder
  • Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun
Best Esports Athlete

  • Chris “Simp” Lehr
  • Heo “ShowMaker” Su 
  • Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov
  • Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
  • Tyson “TenZ” Ngo
Content Creator of the Year

  • Dream
  • Fuslie
  • Gaules
  • Ibai
  • TheGrefg
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 16 best Christmas movies on Disney Plus — from ‘The Santa Clause’ to ‘Home Alone’

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The best Christmas movies to watch on Disney+ 4x3
  • Disney Plus has an expansive list of Christmas movies available to stream for the holidays.
  • Highlights range from animated classics, like “A Christmas Carol,” to family favorites like “Home Alone.”
  • Disney Plus costs $8 a month or $80 a year, and you can buy an annual plan as a gift.

Whether you’re gathering with friends or family, or just curling up with a cozy blanket on the couch, Disney Plus has a wholesome selection of holiday movies to entertain you this season.

The service costs $8 a month or $80 a year, and you can even buy an annual membership as a gift. If you haven’t purchased Disney Plus yet, we broke down everything you need to know about the streaming service in our full Disney Plus guide.  

To help you choose which titles to stream,  we gathered 16 of our favorite Christmas movies available to watch with a Disney Plus membership. The selection includes something for audiences of every age and taste, from live-action classics to animated feature films.

Here are the top 16 Christmas movies currently streaming on Disney Plus.

‘Home Alone’

Home Alone

Watch “Home Alone” on Disney Plus

Kevin may be forgettable to his family, but “Home Alone” is unforgettable to its fans. Watch the shenanigans that unfold when a young boy’s parents accidentally leaves him at home during their family’s Christmas vacation.

In addition to the original movie, the entire “Home Alone” franchise is available on Disney Plus. You can also view “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” “Home Alone 3,” and the brand-new entry “Home Sweet Home Alone.”

‘A Christmas Carol’ (2009)

A movie poster for "A Christmas Carol"

Watch “A Christmas Carol” on Disney Plus

A CG animated rendition of the classic holiday story, the 2009 “A Christmas Carol” stars Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge. The movie uses 3D animation and motion capture to bring the characters and plot to life, making it a fun choice for audiences of any age.

‘Jingle All The Way’

A movie poster for 'Jingle All The Way'

Watch “Jingle All The Way” on Disney Plus

This ’90s family flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger tells the story of a dad’s determination to get the perfect gift for his son. Though far from a critical favorite, it’s a fun comedy to stream with the kids, or even to watch alone if you’re just feeling a little nostalgic.

‘Noelle’

Noelle

Watch “Noelle” on Disney Plus

This Disney Plus original from 2019 is the perfect opportunity to start a new family holiday tradition. “Noelle” follows the story of Kris Kringle’s daughter (Anna Kendrick) as she searches for her brother (Bill Hader), Nick, in an attempt to save Christmas. 

‘Annie’ (1999)

Annie

Watch “Annie” on Disney Plus

While the original film version of “Annie” may not be a Christmas movie, the 1999 edition follows everyone’s favorite redheaded orphan as she spends Christmas in Oliver Warbucks’ luxury mansion. I grew up watching this version of “Annie,” so I’m a bit biased, but dare I say it’s better than the original. Plus, this version features plenty of musical theatre stars, including Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Victor Garber, and Kathy Bates. 

‘The Santa Clause’

The Santa Clause

Watch “The Santa Clause” on Disney Plus

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if your dad turned into Santa? “The Santa Clause” has your answer. Just like “Home Alone,” Disney Plus also features “Santa Clause 2” and “Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” creating the perfect movie marathon. 

‘Frozen’

frozen olaf's adventure

Watch “Frozen” on Disney Plus

Contrary to Elsa’s belief, the cold definitely bothered me anyway. However, “Frozen” is a heartwarming family film to remedy even the coldest of winter days. When Elsa’s powers unintentionally freeze the city of Arendelle, she and her sister Anna strive to save the city from an endless winter.

The 2019 sequel, “Frozen II,” is also available to stream, as is the 2017 spinoff short film, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” which specifically takes place during the Christmas season.

‘Lego Star Wars Holiday Special’

Best Christmas movies on Disney+ Star Wars

Watch “Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” on Disney Plus

“Star Wars” fans old and new will appreciate this walk down memory lane for the franchise. In an effort to learn more about the Force, Rey joins BB-8 on a journey that highlights epic moments of “Star Wars” history. 

‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

Christmas movies Disney+ The Nightmare Before Christmas

Watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on Disney Plus

Though some may say this spooky special is technically a Halloween movie, it does have Christmas in the title. Watch as Jack Skellington’s attempt to hijack Christmas goes awry in this Tim Burton classic.

‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special’

high school musical holiday special

Watch “High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special” on Disney Plus

On Disney Plus, the ever-popular “High School Musical” franchise has been revived with a gen-z twist: The Disney Plus series profiles fictional attendees of the infamous high school that’s home to the original film. The holiday special spotlights several of the key players from “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” as they discuss their own holiday traditions and perform their favorite songs of the season.

‘The Mistle-Tones’

The Mistle-Tones

Watch “The Mistle-Tones” on Disney Plus

Christmas movies are fun in any capacity, but especially so when Christmas music is involved! Watch along as two Christmas singing groups compete in a sing-off. 

‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’

Mickey's Christmas Carol

Watch “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” on Disney Plus

It’s hard to be a Scrooge while watching anything that Mickey’s involved in. This version of “A Christmas Carol” sticks to the usual storyline, but the Disney twist makes it both fun and family-friendly. 

”Twas the Night’

'Twas The Night

Watch “‘Twas the Night” on Disney Plus

Disney Channel original movies are at the heart of Disney Plus nostalgia. Such is the case with “‘Twas the Night,” which profiles a boy and his uncle (played by Bryan Cranston) as they try to assume Santa’s role on Christmas Eve. 

‘The Ultimate Christmas Present’

The Ultimate Christmas Present

Watch “The Ultimate Christmas Present” on Disney Plus

This is the perfect Christmas movie for West Coasters who dream of a snowy holiday season. Two LA-based friends team up to create a snow day for their school, but they have to think on their feet when the machine goes awry. 

‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Watch “The Muppet Christmas Carol” on Disney Plus

The Muppet Movie” was a favorite of mine growing up, so I was thrilled to see the Christmas iteration available on Disney Plus. Similar to Mickey’s take on the classic, this movie takes the same plot as the original version of “A Christmas Carol,” but Kermit and Miss Piggy add a bit of extra fun. 

‘Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas’

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

Watch “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” on Disney Plus

Nothing brings the holiday joy quite like Mickey, Minnie, and the whole Disney gang. Watch them reminisce on their favorite Christmas stories in “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas.” The sequel, “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas,” is also available for the whole family to enjoy. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The Game Awards 2021 will honor the year’s best video games and debut exclusive trailers — here’s how to watch live on December 9

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Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread is one of six nominees for Game of the Year at the 2021 Game Awards.

  • The Game Awards 2021 will be livestreamed on December 9 at 8 p.m. ET from Los Angeles.
  • There are 30 award categories and you can expect debut trailers for upcoming video games and movies.
  • You can watch The Game Awards on multiple platforms including YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Facebook.

The Game Awards 2021 will honor the year’s best video games and unveil multiple world premiere trailers for upcoming games and movies during a live ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The event will be streamed online starting at 8 p.m. ET across multiple platforms, including YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook Live, and more.

While most of the special announcements will be kept secret until The Game Awards begin, you can expect trailers for Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad game, a debut trailer for the “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” movie, and a first look at the “Halo” TV series coming to Paramount Plus in 2022. Fans are still speculating on what announcements we’ll see from major publishers like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.

How to watch The Game Awards 2021

You can watch The Game Awards 2021 live on many different streaming and social platforms, including YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook Live. The show is set to begin at 8 p.m. ET. Visit the official website for a full list of places where you can watch the stream, and international start times. The stream is free to watch on all platforms. You can find the YouTube feed embedded below.

Awards will be distributed across more than 20 categories, including Game of the Year, Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, and genre specific awards like Best Action Game and Best Fighting Game. Gamers can vote for their picks in each category, but the winners are ultimately decided by a jury panel of more than 100 members, with fan votes accounting for 10 percent of the final decision. 

Along with celebrating the best video games of 2021, The Game Awards will feature live musical performances by Sting, Imagine Dragons, and the Game Awards orchestra, as well as celebrity appearances from Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Giancarlo Esposito, and more.

The Game Awards 2021 nominees

Game of the Year

Deathloop Juliana
Best Game Direction

It Takes Two
Best Narrative

Life is Strange True Colors
Best Ongoing Game

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker
  • Apex Legends (Respawn/EA)
  • Call of Duty: Warzone (Infinity Ward/Raven/Activision)
  • Final Fantasy XIV Online (Square Enix)
  • Fortnite (Epic Games)
  • Genshin Impact (MiHoYo)
Best Art Direction

The Artful Escape
Most Anticipated Game

Elden Ring
  • Elden Ring (FromSoftware/Bandai Namco)
  • God of War Ragnarök (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)
  • Horizon Forbidden West (Guerrilla Games/SIE)
  • Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)
  • Starfield (Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda)
Best Community Support

Apex Legends
Best Action/Adventure

Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread is one of six nominees for Game of the Year at the 2021 Game Awards.

Best Role Playing

Monster Hunter Rise
Best Multiplayer

Back 4 Blood
  • Back 4 Blood (Turtle Rock/WB Games)
  • It Takes Two (Hazelight Studios/EA)
  • Knockout City (Velan Studios/EA)
  • Monster Hunter Rise (Capcom)
  • New World (Amazon Games)
  • Valheim (Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain)
Best Fighting Game

Guilty Gear Strive
Best Family Game

New Pokemon Snap
Best Sim/Strategy

Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Age of Empires IV (Relic Entertainment/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Evil Genius 2: World Domination (Rebellion Developments)
  • Humankind (Amplitude Studios/Sega)
  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games/Devolver)
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator (Asobo Studio/Xbox Game Studios)
Best Sports/Racing Game

FIFA 22
  • F1 2021 (Codemasters/EA Sports)
  • FIFA 22 (EA Vancouver/EA Sports)
  • Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Hot Wheels Unleashed (Milestone)
  • Riders Republic (Ubisoft Annecy/Ubisoft)
Best Action

Retunal
  • Back 4 Blood (Turtle Rock/WB Games)
  • Chivalry II (Torn Banner Studios/Tripwire Interactive)
  • Deathloop (Arkane Studios/Bethesda)
  • Far Cry 6 (Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft)
  • Returnal (Housemarque/SIE)
Best VR/AR

Resident Evil 4 VR
  • Hitman 3 (IO Interactive)
  • I Expect You To Die 2 (Schell Games)
  • Lone Echo II (Ready at Dawn/Oculus Studios)
  • Resident Evil 4 (Armature Studio/Capcom/Oculus Studios)
  • Sniper Elite VR (Coatsink/Just Add Water/Rebellion Developments)
Best Mobile Game

Pokemon Unite
  • Fantasian (Mistwalker)
  • Genshin Impact (MiHoYo)
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift (Riot Games)
  • Marvel Future Revolution (Netmarble)
  • Pokemon Unite (TiMi Studios/The Pokemon Company)
Best Indie

Kena Bridge of Spirits
  • 12 Minutes (Luis Antonio/Annapurna Interactive)
  • Death’s Door (Acid Nerve/Devolver Digital)
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab)
  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games/Devolver Digital)
  • Loop Hero (Four Quarters/Devolver Digital)
Best Debut Indie

Sable
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab)
  • Sable (Shedworks/Raw Fury)
  • The Artful Escape (Beethoven & Dinosaur/Annapurna)
  • The Forgotten City (Modern Storyteller/Dear Villagers)
  • Valheim (Iron Gate/Coffee Stain)
Games for Impact

No Longer Home
  • Before Your Eyes (GoodbyeWorld Games/Skybound Games)
  • Boyfriend Dungeon (Kitfox Games)
  • Chicory (Greg Lobanow, Alexis Dean-Jones, Lena Raine, Madeline Berger, A Shell in the Pit/Finji)
  • Life is Strange: True Colors (Deck Nine/Square Enix)
  • No Longer Home (Humble Grove, Hana Lee, Cel Davison, Adrienne Lombardo, Eli Rainsberry/Fellow Traveler)
Best Performance

Resident Evil Village Capcom
Maggie Robertson’s Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village

  • Erika Mori as Alex Chen, Life is Strange: True Colors
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Anton Castillo, Far Cry 6
  • Jason E. Kelley as Colt Vahn, Deathloop
  • Maggie Robertson as Lady Dimitrescu, Resident Evil Village
  • Ozioma Akagha as Julianna Blake, Deathloop

 

Best Score and Music

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy game
  • Cyberpunk 2077 (Marcin Przybylowicz, Piotr T. Adamczyk, composers)
  • Deathloop (Tom Salta, composer)
  • NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 (Keiichi Okabe, composer)
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Richard Jacques, composer)
  • The Artful Escape (Johnny Galvatron & Josh Abrahams, composers)
Best Audio Design

Forza Horizon 5

 

Innovation in Accessibility

Ratchet Clank Rift Apart
Best Esports Game

League of Legends Riot Games
  • Call of Duty (Activision)
  • CS:GO (Valve)
  • DOTA2 (Valve)
  • League of Legends (Riot Games)
  • Valorant (Riot Games)
Best Esports Team

Four Atlanta FaZe players in Black standing in a row under falling yellow confetti. The middle two players are lifting the trophy.
FaZe Clan’s “Call of Duty” team Atlanta FaZe after winning the 2021 “Call of Duty” League Championship.

  • Atlanta FaZe (COD)
  • DWG KIA (LOL)
  • Natus Vincere (CS:GO)
  • Sentinels (Valorant)
  • Team Spirit (DOTA2)
Best Esports Event

Five people in black jerseys surround and lift up a silver metal trophy.
Edward Gaming (EDG) after winning the 2021 “League of Legends” World Championship

  • 2021 League of Legends World Championship
  • PGL Major Stockholm 2021
  • PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2020
  • The International 2021
  • Valorant Champions Tour: Stage 2 Masters
Best Esports Coach

  • Airat “Silent” Gaziev
  • Andrey “ENGH” Sholokhov
  • Andrii “B1ad3” Horodenskyi
  • JamesCrowderCrowder
  • Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun
Best Esports Athlete

  • Chris “Simp” Lehr
  • Heo “ShowMaker” Su 
  • Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov
  • Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
  • Tyson “TenZ” Ngo
Content Creator of the Year

  • Dream
  • Fuslie
  • Gaules
  • Ibai
  • TheGrefg
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best 4K Blu-ray players in 2021 for watching the highest quality video

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Sony UBP X700 Blu-ray player - the best 4K blu-ray players

Streaming services might offer the most convenient way to watch movies at home, but if you want the very best video and audio quality on a 4K TV, there’s still no substitute for a disc format. Yes, you do actually have to get up from the couch to pop in a movie, but the performance benefits are clear — especially when watching 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is the best disc format for movies and shows. 4K discs feature a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels for impressive detail, along with high dynamic range (HDR) for enhanced contrast and colors. 

Without internet speeds to worry about, 4K Blu-ray uses less compression than streaming services. Less compression means you get cleaner images, along with lossless sound for a greater range of frequencies. For more details on all the benefits of 4K Blu-ray, check out our breakdown of features

To watch 4K Blu-rays you need a 4K Blu-ray player. These players are also backward compatible with regular Blu-rays and DVDs. I’ve been covering the consumer electronics industry for nine years, and during that time I’ve reviewed many media devices. Through hands-on testing and research, I picked the best 4K Blu-ray players you can buy for a variety of needs and budgets. Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches tech products.

Here are the best 4K Blu-ray players:

Best 4K Blu-ray player overall: Sony UBP-X700, $178 on Amazon
Thanks to its affordable price and solid features, the Sony UBP-X700 is the best 4K Blu-ray player for most people.

Best 4K Blu-ray player for Dolby Vision: LG UBK90, $249.99 on Best Buy
The LG UBK90 offers a solid assortment of features for a midrange 4K Blu-ray player, along with support for automatic Dolby Vision playback.

Best high-end 4K Blu-ray player: Panasonic DP-UB820, $499.98 on Best Buy
The Panasonic DP-UB820 is pricier than a lot of 4K Blu-ray players, but it offers comprehensive format support and advanced processing. 

Best 4K Blu-ray player for gamers: Sony PlayStation 5, $499 on Walmart
Sony’s PlayStation 5 is one of the most powerful gaming consoles you can buy, and the standard model includes a 4K Blu-ray drive for movies.

The best 4K Blu-ray player overall

Sony X700
Originally $248.00 | Save 28%
Originally $249.99 | Save 28%


Thanks to its affordable price and solid features, the Sony UBP-X700 is the best 4K Blu-ray player for most people.

Pros: Affordable, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, access to some streaming apps

Cons: No optical audio, lacks Bluetooth, Dolby Vision has to be manually activated, no HDR10+ support

When it comes to covering all of the basic features most buyers need from a 4K Blu-ray player, the Sony UBP-X700 essentially checks every box — and it offers all of those capabilities for an affordable price.

The device provides 4K Blu-ray disc playback with support for high dynamic range (HDR) using the HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats. The UBP-X700 also features 4K upscaling to make HD Blu-rays and old DVDs look better on modern 4K TVs. 

Wi-Fi and Ethernet are included as well for access to select apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. The X700 actually has better support for streaming services than most Blu-ray players, but it’s still lacking compared to a smart TV or a streaming box

Unlike Sony’s step-up UBP-X800M2 and UBP-X1100ES, the X700 does not include Bluetooth support, however, so you can’t connect wireless headphones for private listening. 

There’s also an odd design choice related to the player’s Dolby Vision playback. Instead of automatically detecting when a Dolby Vision disc is being played and then switching to Dolby Vision mode, you have to manually select Dolby Vision in the settings menu. You then have to turn Dolby Vision off to play HDR10 discs correctly. 

If you’re buying a 4K Blu-ray player with Dolby Vision as a priority, we recommend the LG UBK90 as a more convenient option. Most buyers who simply want to watch 4K Blu-rays in HDR10, however, should be more than satisfied with what the Sony UBP-X700 has to offer.

The best 4K Blu-ray player for Dolby Vision

LG UBK90
Originally $299.99 | Save 18%
Originally $299.99 | Save 17%


The LG UBK90 offers a solid assortment of features for a midrange 4K Blu-ray player, along with support for automatic Dolby Vision playback.

Pros: Dolby Vision playback is automatically detected, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, optical audio connection

Cons: No Bluetooth support, lacks advanced video and audio features, very limited library of apps, doesn’t support HDR10+

Though it’s usually more expensive than Sony’s X700, the LG UBK90 is a more convenient option for buyers who are specifically looking for a reliable Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

The device offers all of the same basic features you’ll find on all players, including 4K disc playback and backward compatibility with Blu-rays and DVDs. Unlike the Sony X700, however, the LG has no issues automatically activating or deactivating Dolby Vision when it needs to. No matter what 4K disc you put in, the player will be able to recognize what format it should output and then adjust accordingly.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet are also supported, and you can play high-resolution audio in the FLAC format. When it comes to apps, however, the player only includes access to Netflix and YouTube. In other words, if you’re looking for a device to stream movies on, this isn’t it. 

You won’t get any advanced tone mapping features, chroma upscaling, Bluetooth connectivity, or multi-channel analog audio ports, but for buyers who want a straightforward 4K Blu-ray player with convenient Dolby Vision playback, the LG UBK90 is one of the most affordable options. 

The best high-end 4K Blu-ray player

Panasonic   DP UB820

The Panasonic DP-UB820 is pricier than a lot of 4K Blu-ray players, but it offers comprehensive format support and advanced processing. 

Pros: Support for every major HDR format, high-end audio processing, advanced tone mapping and chroma upsampling, compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant devices

Cons: Remote is flimsy, no support for SACD or DVD-Audio, pricier than many competing players

While it’s on the expensive side, the Panasonic DP-UB820 is basically unmatched by any other model in its price range. In fact, as a home theater journalist, this is the Blu-ray player I bought for my own entertainment setup — and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.

Unlike most 4K Blu-ray players, the DP-UB820 supports all four HDR formats: HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG. The player also has no issues automatically selecting the proper format that should be played. 

The player includes a decent selection of streaming apps like Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube. Wirelessly streaming videos from a DLNA-compatible device, such as a computer or media-enabled hard drive, is also supported.

Powering the DP-UB820 is Panasonic’s HCX processor, which can interpolate 4:2:0 color signals into 4:4:4. To spare you the technical details, higher numbers can result in more defined colors and smoother gradients.

The player also has Panasonic’s HDR Optimizer feature, which uses tone mapping to scale HDR performance to your TV’s capabilities. As for sound, the DP-UB820 leaves nothing to be desired. The built-in 192-kHz/32-bit 4-DAC produces excellent audio quality.

Panasonic even offers support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa devices, so you can control playback with your voice if you have a compatible smart speaker. 

The best 4K Blu-ray player for gamers

PlayStation 5
A Sony PlayStation 5 home video game console,

Sony’s PlayStation 5 is one of the most powerful gaming consoles you can buy, and the standard model includes a 4K Blu-ray drive for movies.

Pros: HDR10 support for 4K Blu-rays, HDR gaming capabilities

Cons: No Dolby Vision or HDR10+ support, standalone players offer more comprehensive options, expensive

Though I recommend a standalone Blu-ray player for the best performance, there are a few video game consoles that can also serve as 4K Blu-ray players. If you’re a gamer who wants to watch 4K discs through your console, you currently have two main options: the Sony PlayStation 5 (standard model) or the Xbox Series X

Both devices have similar Blu-ray capabilities and cost the same amount of money, but the PS5 is our preference when it comes to gaming. It’s one of the most powerful next-gen systems on the market, offering advanced features like HDR, ray tracing, and 120Hz support. The system also uses a fast solid state drive (SSD) to enable minimal loading times.

That said, the console only supports HDR10 for 4K Blu-ray discs. The PS5 also lacks Blu-ray 3D disc playback. Still, if you’re looking to buy a new console and 4K Blu-ray support is a key feature you’d like to have, the PS5 gets the basics done just fine.

It’s important to note, though, that you’ll need to purchase the standard PS5 model since the cheaper all-digital edition does not include a disc drive. Unfortunately, PlayStation 5 consoles remain hard to find and stock continues to sell out quickly. Check out our PS5 buying guide for the latest details on how to find a system.

The benefits of 4K Blu-ray

LG UBK90 blu ray player lifestyle

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray offers several key benefits over streaming services and older disc formats, like regular Blu-ray. Most notably, the format offers superior compression, color, and audio quality.

Compared to 4K streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presents video and audio content with far less compression. This means you’ll get a more stable image with no drops in quality.

For instance, you might sometimes notice your videos becoming blocky or fuzzy when streaming movies on Netflix. If you watch the same video on a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, those issues will be virtually eliminated. This is because videos on a disc can be encoded with more data and presented at higher and more consistent bitrates. In other words, the video never needs to buffer and it will always look consistently good. 

Expanding upon the previous Blu-ray format, 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays can hold up to 100 GB of information, allowing them to store movies and TV shows in 4K resolution. 4K offers four-times the number of total pixels compared to the Full HD resolution previously used on standard Blu-rays. This enables 4K Blu-ray movies to offer more detail than ever. 

In addition to including more pixels, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs also add support for high dynamic range (HDR) with 10-bit color. This process allows for a wider range of colors, contrast, and brightness compared to standard Blu-rays. You’ll need a compatible 4K HDR TV to take advantage of this feature, but the improvements can be dramatic.  

When it comes to audio, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray supports lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. If you have the right audio gear, this means you’ll get to hear movie soundtracks bit for bit as they were meant to be heard with surround effects in all directions — even from above.

What you should look for in a 4K Blu-ray player

Sony UBP X700 Blu-ray player - the best 4K blu-ray players

When shopping for a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, there are a few key performance specifications and extra features that you should look out for depending on your needs.

  • HDR support: Though all 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players support the standard HDR10 format, only specific models add support for more advanced HDR formats, like Dolby Vision and HDR10+. If you have a TV that’s compatible with Dolby Vision or HDR10+, and you want the very best picture performance, it’s worth seeking out a player that can output those formats.
  • Advanced video options: Since all 4K Blu-ray players can simply pass the data contained on a 4K Blu-ray disc directly to a TV, default image quality is similar on all models. With that said, certain players include enhancements, like chroma upsampling and specialized tone mapping, that can help improve HDR contrast and gradient performance. Many players also include advanced upscaling capabilities to make lower-quality videos, like Full HD (1080p), look better on 4K TVs. Most buyers will be fine simply letting their display handle all the work, but enthusiasts might prefer the enhancements a high-end player can provide.
  • Audio capabilities: All 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players include support for outputting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio over HDMI. Some players also include a digital optical connection for transmitting standard surround sound formats if you can’t use HDMI. On top of that, certain models add support for more advanced audio processing and features, including high resolution music playback, multi-channel analog outputs, and support for SACD and DVD-Audio discs.
  • Connectivity: Ethernet and Wi-Fi are common on many players for keeping your device current via firmware updates. Bluetooth connectivity is also featured on certain models for connecting to separate devices, like wireless Bluetooth headphones.
  • Smart features: Though app selection on most Blu-ray players is limited, certain models include access to streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. More expensive models even offer compatibility with voice assistants. This feature may be redundant if you already own a smart TV or streaming box (Roku, Apple TV, etc.), but it’s convenient if you don’t like to switch between devices in order to access Netflix.
The best deals on 4K Blu-ray players from this guide

Sony UBP-X700M 4K Blu-ray player with a disc in tray - best 4K Blu-ray players

4K Blu-ray players can often be found on sale, with typical discounts of $50 to $100. We usually see the best deals during events like Black FridayCyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day, but you can still snag good prices throughout the year.

This applies to standalone players only, however. Gaming consoles with 4K Blu-ray drives, like the PS5, are hard enough to find in stock at regular price, so don’t expect deals on those.

Below, we rounded up the best deals currently available on some of our top 4K Blu-ray player picks.

Thanks to its affordable pricing, excellent media support, and solid build quality, the Sony UBP-X700 is the best 4K Blu-ray player for most people.
Originally $248.00 | Save 28%
Originally $249.99 | Save 28%


Read the original article on Business Insider

‘And Just Like That…’ follows the beloved characters of ‘Sex and the City’ in their 50s — here’s how to watch the premiere

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and just like that... sex and the city reboot poster
The cast of “And Just Like That…”

  • “Sex and the City” is back with a new miniseries called “And Just Like That…”
  • The new show follows three characters from the original series as they go through life in their 50s.
  • You can stream “And Just Like That…” starting December 9 on HBO Max ($10/month).

“And Just Like That…” presents a continuation of the beloved show “Sex and the City.” The series is coming to HBO Max on December 9 with a two-episode premiere. HBO Max costs $10 a month for ad-supported streaming, or $15 a month for an ad-free experience. 

The show follows three of the original series’ characters: Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis). Samantha, originally played by Kim Cattrall, will not be returning for the new show. Just as “Sex and the City” detailed the day-to-day life and struggles of women in their 30s, “And Just Like That…” picks up years later by focusing on the daily lives of Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte in their 50s. 

The original show premiered on HBO in 1998 and saw enough success to run for six seasons through 2004. There are even two “Sex and the City” movies. The first film was released in 2008 and the sequel hit screens in 2010.

How to watch ‘And Just Like That…’

You can watch “And Just Like That…” on HBO Max starting December 9. The first two episodes will debut together, and the following episodes will be released on a weekly basis every Thursday. The show will include a total of 10 episodes. 

You can subscribe to HBO Max for $10 a month. This base plan offers access to “And Just Like That…” and the rest of the service’s library of shows. On the downside, the $10 plan includes ads and does not include Warner Bros same-day movie premieres. To skip the commercials and see movies as they drop, you’ll need to pay for the $15 a month ad-free plan. 

If you’re hoping to try HBO Max for free before buying your subscription, your only hope is to go through Hulu. Hulu subscribers can claim a seven-day trial of HBO Max as an add-on service. The trial is only available to members who are new to HBO Max. 

You can watch “And Just Like That” or any other HBO Max content through your web browser or with the HBO Max app. The app is available on most smartphones, Xbox consoles, PlayStation consoles, tablets, and smart TVs. You can find a complete list of compatible devices on the HBO Max website

What else can I watch on HBO Max?

If you want to catch up on old episodes of “Sex and the City” before streaming the sequel series, you can stream all six seasons of the original show right now on HBO Max. Both “Sex and the City” theatrical movies are also available to stream.

More upcoming HBO Max Originals include “Peacemaker,” a series focused on John Cena’s character from “The Suicide Squad,” and “Finding Magic Mike,” a competition show in which 10 average Joes are pushed to find their inner magic. 

If you’re subscribed to the ad-free plan, you can also look forward to the release of “The Matrix Resurrections” on December 22. 

Read the original article on Business Insider