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The Best VPN Service For Free

VPNs For Free

Many web users prefer to use a free VPN rather than a paid service.  Although keeping data private and bypassing geo-blocking is now a necessity for most, financial restrictions mean that not everyone can afford top-quality services. But, if someone selects a free VPN option, they need to note that there are limitations. Even the very best free VPN services no longer work for accessing the US Netflix library abroad, or Sky Sports and BBC iPlayer to name a few. We aren’t saying that free VPNs are necessarily bad because more often than not, they get the job done. The issue is, no service is truly free. Users should be aware that they will be paying with something other than money – your privacy and security. Many free VPN providers have been proven to log and sell user information.

In light of the above, we recommend signing up to a free VPN trial to enjoy all the benefits of paid subscriptions for no cost.

Free VPN vs Paid VPN

A free VPN Service offers much of the same features as their paid counterparts, but for no financial cost. They are ideal if you’re on a budget or are downloading something for one-off use. However, while free VPN options still provide increased privacy, anonymity, and access, the difference from paid subscriptions is more than just the price tag.

The primary drawbacks of a free VPN server are usage restrictions and low-quality connections. Whether you are protecting your online information or accessing blocked content, an unstable network that frequently drops out defies the point of using a VPN altogether. Another drawback of using free VPN software is the lack of tech support that one can expect to receive. Most only offer an email contact, and it’s likely you’ll have to wait for a response – which can be vexing as the products are prone to malfunctions.

For users looking to access Netflix content from overseas libraries, the streaming service has succeeded in blocking all free VPN providers from bypassing their restrictions. Netflix geo-blocks each program, so certain regions have access to significantly less content than others. As the company continues to fight VPN use, the best options to unblock Netflix changes regularly. In 2017, free VPNs were completely blocked. However, we have an interesting alternative to propose below.

It is because of these reasons that payment-free choices rarely feature in lists of best VPN services. However, many highly-rated paid subscriptions offer VPN free trial periods with complete refunds guaranteed. Using this loophole, you can benefit from the platinum quality of leading providers. We recommend using these (somewhat) free VPN proxy alternatives for accessing Netflix’s full catalog, along with other channels such as Sky, Channel 4, BBC iPlayer and NOW TV.

IPVanish VPN – 4.5/5

  • Number of IP addresses: 40,000+
  • Number of servers: 900
  • Number of server locations: 60
  • Country/Jurisdiction: United States

A big win for IPVanish is the fact that the company keeps zero logs. Zero. We also like the company’s stance towards privacy. They even provide support to EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit at the front lines of protecting online privacy.

A unique feature of IPVanish, and one we’re very intrigued by, is the VPN’s support of Kodi, the open-source media streaming app that was once known as XBMC. Any serious media fan has used or built Kodi or XBMC into a media player, and the integrated IPVanish Kodi plugin provides access to media worldwide.

At $7.50/month and $58.49 for a year, they’re obviously trying to move you towards their yearly program. We awarded the company points for Bitcoin support, and their money-back guarantee. We’re a little disappointed that they only allow a 7-day trial, rather than a full 30-days. The company is generous, with five simultaneous connections. They also picked up points for their connection kill switch feature, a must for anyone serious about remaining anonymous while surfing.

NordVPN: A Legitimate VPN Software ($3.29/mo)

2nd out of 31 VPNs

Founded in 2008 under the umbrella of Tefincom co S.A., Panama-based NordVPNis a veteran of the online security industry whose recent improvements have generated an almost explosive level of growth inside the company.

They offer an impressive and almost unparalleled level of data protection with their “Double Encryption” protocol that relays your information through two separate VPN servers before directing it to its final destination.

In addition to their unique security standards, NordVPN also boasts more than 1,000 servers parked across 61 countries, full compatibility with Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux, and access to all major VPN protocols.

Considering their high-quality customer support, P2P compatibility, and their plethora of advanced features and bonuses (including a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and SmartPlay) it’s easy to see why NordVPN has earned itself a glowing reputation as one of the leaders in the VPN industry.

Unfortunately, there are a few issues that prevent NordVPN from achieving true greatness. Most notably of which is the average download speeds offered by their server park. Although the situation isn’t too grim if you do the majority of your browsing from U.S.-based servers (which typically run at about 50 Mbps) their EU servers are simply too slow for the average user.

NordVPN Pros

+ “Double” data protection
+ Kill-Switch
+ Large server park
+ Torrenting allowed

NordVPN Cons

 Their company should be more transparent
 Average download speed

Compatibility: Android, ChromeOS, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows
Jurisdiction: Panama City, Panama / Tefincom co S.A.
Countries & Servers: 61 Countries, 1,000+ servers
Cost: $3.29/month

Golden Frog VPN Services – 4/5

  • Number of IP addresses: 200,000+
  • Number of servers: 700+
  • Number of server locations: 70+
  • Country/Jurisdiction: Switzerland

Golden Frog has the largest bank of IP addresses of any of the services we’ve examined. The company offers a wide range of protocols, including its own high-performance Chameleon connection protocol.

We like that the company offers a connection kill switch feature and, for those who need it, there’s an option to get a dedicated IP address. Golden Frog is a standout in their effort to provide privacy, and thwart censorship. When China began its program of deep packet VPN inspection, Golden Frog’s VyperVPN service added scrambled OpenVPN packets to keep the traffic flowing.

At $9.95 for a month’s service, and $80.04 for a year, the service is a good deal. So why did we only give Golden Frog four out of five? We had to ding them for three things: a lack of Bitcoin support, logging of connection data, and no money-back guarantee.

VyprVPN: One of the Most Powerful Budget-Friendly VPNs ($5.00/mo)

4th out of 31 VPNs

The parent company of VyprVPN, Golden Frog, has historically been one of the most active and vocal supporters of the free internet and information privacy. So it seems only fitting that their personal VPN should be one of the most powerful and affordable services currently available to the public.

VyprVPN offers two plans to their customers, basic and premium, that cost $5.00/mo and $6.67/mo respectively. The most notable difference between the two plans is that VyprVPN Premium includes access to your own dedicated cloud server and their proprietary Chameleon protocol that adds an additional layer of security and VPN-blocker protection to your browsing activities.

Both plans boast full compatibility with all major devices, a Netflix unblocker (not available on mobile devices), P2P optimized servers, and some of the fastest download speeds that I’ve reviewed to date. In fact, clocking in at 74.48 Mbps, VyprVPN is the 4th fastest VPN that I’ve ever reviewed.

At this time, VyprVPN does not offer any sort of live chat support, and their privacy policy allows for some logging. However, when you consider how much value you receive in exchange for your $5.00/month, it’s easy to see why they are one of the leading companies in the online security industry.

VyprVPN Pros

+ Proprietary Chameleon Protocol
+ Affordable Services
+ FAST Download Speeds
+ Torrenting allowed

VyprVPN Cons

 Some Logs
 No Live Chat

Compatibility: Android, ChromeOS, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows
Jurisdiction: Switzerland/Golden Frog GmbH
Countries & Servers: 64 countries, 700+ servers
Cost: $5.00/mo

Hide My Ass – 4/5

  • Number of IP addresses: 3,106
  • Number of servers: 830
  • Number of server locations: 280
  • Country/Jurisdiction: United Kingdom

We’d give these folks an extra point, if we could, just for the name of their service. The firm has a strong network with a good selection of protocols supported. While they have an extensive (and very clearly written set of policy documents), the company explicitly allows P2P and torrents.

We like how the company offers support on a wide range of devices including game consoles. We gave them extra points for bitcoin support, and their excellent money-back guarantee. We did deduct a couple of points, because they do log connection data. They also offer five simultaneous connections.

While their monthly pricing of $11.52 is at the high end of the spectrum, their yearly pricing is competitive at $78.66 for a full year.

ExpressVPN – 4/5

  • Number of IP addresses: 15,000
  • Number of servers: 1,700+
  • Number of server locations: 145
  • Country/Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands

ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and has impressive protocol support. While few will use PPTP (unless there are specific needs), the added support of SSTP and L2TP/IPSec may be welcome to some users.

We like the quality of their setup guides, and the detailed information in their FAQ. The ExpressVPN gained points from us for their support of Bitcoin as a payment method, and their reliable and easy-to-use connection kill switch feature.

The company has been in business since 2009, and has a substantial network of fast VPN servers spread across 94 countries. Their best plan is priced at just $6.67per month for an annual package which includes 3 extra months free. ExpressVPN’s commitment to privacy is a standout feature.

What Is a VPN?

If you’ve ever had to use special software to log in to your work network when working remotely, you are already familiar with VPN technology. It creates an encrypted connection (often referred to as a tunnel) between your computer and your company’s VPN server, and then passes all network activity through the protected tunnel. This way, even if you are using the airport’s Wi-Fi network, none of the other people on that network can see what’s happening inside that tunnel.

The VPN services I talk about here work the same way, but instead of your Web traffic moving through the encrypted tunnel to your company’s server, it goes to a server operated by the VPN provider. This not only means that your data is safe from prying eyes on the network you’re connected to, but that advertisers and online snoops won’t be able to see your actual IP address or glean your current location. Instead, they’ll see the IP address and location information for the VPN server.

Think of it this way: If you drive out of your garage, someone can follow your car and track where you went, how long you were there, and when you returned home. We call that stalking. Using a VPN service is like driving into a closed parking garage, switching to a different car, and then driving out. Anyone following your original car now has no idea where you went after entering the garage. A VPN service keeps the stalkers at bay.

Of course, no technology is foolproof. Once your traffic exits the VPN server, it can be monitored and perhaps intercepted. It’s also possible to use complicated timing algorithms to predict when and where you leave the encrypted tunnel. There are other services, such as Tor, that can provide greater levels of anonymity. And if you’re exchanging sensitive information, consider using encryption software to secure it first or using an encrypted messaging service such as Signal for iPhone and Android.

There’s quite a bit of talk right now about whether a VPN to protect neutrality. The idea is that, if you tunnel through your ISP, it won’t be able to throttle your connection or charge you to access specific online services. That makes sense on paper, but it actually works out that way depends on what the ISPs decide to do. They could simply throttle all VPN traffic, for example. To me, the issue of net neutrality is a matter that should be decided on by Congress, and not one to be left up to individuals to solve, ad hoc.

Best Free VPNs Reviews – Totally Free VPNs, Free Trials and Money-Back Alternatives

Be it that you choose a paid VPN provider or a free VPN client, at the end of the day, it comes down to your needs: how private and secure you want your connection to be, as well as what you are using the VPN for. A free VPN proxy, for example, is useless if you need to access certain channels. But fear not, there is a whole array of free VPN download software available and is absolutely free of charge. You can even levy a VPN free trial for a service that is usually paid, or take advantage of a paid VPN’s money-back guarantee.

If you are wondering how to get a VPN free, here are just a few examples of free VPN providers that are either free or offer a money-back guarantee…

Using a Free VPN Service – Main Considerations

After weighing up the pros and cons of a free version versus a paid VPN, users should choose a plan that is suitable to their needs. Users should note that the majority of free VPN plans have limitations when it comes to data caps. As well as this, there can be further limitations of speeds and access to all of the servers. Many free VPNs cannot gain access to certain geo-restricted channels.

In order to make your decision easier, here at Secure Thoughts, we have nicely summarized for you all of the main areas where users utilize VPN services, to see if it will or won’t work with a totally free VPN service.

Free VPN for Windows 10

For those of you wondering whether the VPNs mentioned in this article are available for Windows 10 users, you are in luck. All of the VPNs mentioned in this article are in fact available. So if you want a VPN for Windows 10you could try ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN. With any of these VPNs installed on your PC or laptop device, you can browse safely and effectively even on Wi-Fi networks. If you’re having trouble connecting, make sure that you have a VPN profile on your PC or device, you should be able to create a VPN profile on your own, by visiting the Microsoft Store for an app for that service. Once installed there should be no issues.

Free VPN for PC

No one wants to download a VPN, only to realize that it’s not compatible with their device or software. Fortunately, users with a PC, it is very difficult to come across a VPN that is not compatible with a PC. You can get a VPN for PC through the services of CyberGhost and HotSpot Shield, along with nearly every other VPN provider. In fact, we couldn’t find a VPN service that isn’t compatible with PC on the market.

Free VPN for Mac

VPN providers deliver high quality and use cutting-edge technology to keep your connections private and secure. Mac users can often get complacent when it comes to security, but with Apple computers being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, users should never let their guard down. Fortunately, the majority of VPNs are compatible with Mac, notably the ones that are mentioned on this page. A great free VPN for Mac is ExpressVPN as well as SurfEasy.

Free VPN for Laptops

When using a laptop, sometimes a VPN connection can be rejected, either due to Wi-Fi issues or the inability to establish a tunnel. When choosing a VPN, make sure that you choose a free VPN for laptop use. A great example of this would be ProtonVPN.

Best Free VPN for Android

Not every VPN is available for Android devices and some are known to perform better than others. If you are looking for a VPN for Android then look no further than HideMe VPN and SurfEasy. Both of these VPNs are among the best free VPNs that will secure and encrypt your connection across all Android devices. HideMe has a special feature on its Android app that will stop and reconnect users should the internet connection be interrupted – providing an extra layer of security.

Free VPN for iPhone

Looking for a VPN that will work wonders on your iPhone? A great VPN for iPhone or even your iPad is TunnelBear. TunnelBear’s simple design makes it easy to connect and disconnect from the VPN. According to its site, it’s “so simple, a bear could use it.” We aren’t so sure about that, but we certainly found it easy to navigate. With strong AES 256-bit military grade encryption, the VPN will be sure to keep all data and activity safe and secure. A majority of the VPN’s mentioned here are compatible with iPhone, apart from ProtonVPN. Here, a separate configuration file needs to be downloaded for it to function properly (a bit of a headache). This is honestly a waste of time if there are already VPN’s out there without the need for downloading separate files.

Free VPN for Netflix and other Streaming

It’s a real cat-and-mouse game when it comes to the streaming giant Netflix and VPNs. VPNs have been working really hard since Netflix started cracking down on them in early 2017. Nowadays, it’s extremely difficult to find a Netflix VPN server that has managed to crack the code. Luckily there are still a few able to break through Netflix’s firewall along with BBC iPlayer’s and various other sports channels. If you look hard enough, you can find a VPN for sports streaming and gain access to watch premier league live stream outside UKwaters. But we’ve done the hard work for you; VPNs that have knocked down these barriers include, HotSpot Shield and CyberGhost. Unfortunately, the majority of other VPNs haven’t quite cracked the code.

Free VPN for Torrenting and P2P File sharing on BitTorrent

Torrenting is an easy way to use peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing to download just about anything. From music to series, to your favorite movies, search engines such as The Pirate Bay and BitTorrent can be used for all needs. However, due to copyright laws, much of torrenting is considered illegal and abusers can expect hefty lawsuits and charges if caught. Hence the need for a very secure VPN for torrentingExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for torrenting and allows torrenting, unlike other VPNs. ExpressVPN has a zero logging policy and boasts relatively high speeds; perfect conditions for torrenting. It is very rare to find a totally free VPN that supports torrenting, out of the ones listed here, only HotSpot Shield supports it, but be aware: it does log customer IPs.

Free VPN to Travel

VPNs are the perfect tool to use when traveling, where unfamiliar networks, particularly Wi-Fi, are teaming with potential hackers. Using a VPN abroad will also allow users to access all of their favorite shows while abroad. It is important, however, to make sure that your VPN of choice is available in your destination countries. If you want to get the best free VPN for Germany, or a VPN for the USA, most free VPN’s will allow you to use them there.

If however, you want to find a free VPN for China or a VPN for Dubai, it is important to know that most VPN’s are blocked due to strict legal reasons. HotSpot Shield VPN is a free service provider that can knock down China’s great firewall. A high-level obfuscation method makes it very difficult to block the VPN provider, making it simple to watch UK TV abroad or watch US television while traveling in mainland China.

So What’s the Price to Pay with a Free VPN Service?

Although more often than not, a free VPN service can get the job done, the question is, at what quality and cost? They can be of good use depending on the needs of the user, and each one as seen has different available features. However, there are a few limitations when using a free VPN, namely the caps on the amount of data that can be used. There are also limitations when it comes to the number of servers available, the number of devices that can be connected at once as well as speed caps. It is also very difficult to find a free VPN that can unlock the US Netflix library. A paid version, on the other hand, will bypass most of these limitations, depending on your chosen VPN of course. On top of that, it is very rare to find a free VPN service that allows for torrenting, whereas a paid VPN, will usually allow for it.

For these reasons, we would highly advise taking advantage of ExpressVPN’s money-back guarantee, so you can get the best of both worlds. This way you can have all of the advantages of a paid VPN and get a whole month free of charge. At the end of the day, the decision is yours. Be sure to take advantage of free trials and money-back guarantees to find the VPN that suits you.

The best keyboards of the year

the best gaming keyboards we’ve tested

So, you just built a new gaming PC. It has the best graphics card – you know, the one that had all of your friends drooling a few weeks ago. Now, the only thing you have left to complete your gaming station is one of the best gaming keyboards. We know, it’s tempting to just buy the cheapest membrane keyboard you can find – but seeing how you just dropped a thousand bucks on your new PC, you really should get a keyboard that is at least on par with it. That’s where the best gaming keyboards come in: not only can they actually increase your performance in games, but there’s also a certain je ne sais quoi about lighting up your room with just your keyboard.

Using a cheap membrane keyboard for gaming is ill-advised to say the least. The best gaming keyboards will allow for much deeper and accurate travel, so you never have to worry about accidentally killing your teammate when you’re just trying to reload. And, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention RGB lighting – the golden feature for any gaming peripheral.

So, here is our  list of 10 of the best gaming keyboards available in 2018. And if you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry, because here at TechRadar, we make sure that every product we recommend strikes a balance between price and performance. You can be confident that all of the MLG typewriters on this list not only will get you through countless games, but will be affordable as well. You won’t find any overpriced nonsense or cheap, flimsy keyboards here – all of the keyboards on this list has been tested by us in-house.

Finding the Right Fit

Maybe your old keyboard has typed its last letter. Perhaps your gaming ambitions have left you dissatisfied with the mediocre model that came with your desktop PC. Or maybe the one you have still works fine for what it is, but isn’t as comfortable and sturdy as you’d prefer. Whatever the reason, anyone can benefit from a better keyboard. After all, is there any part of your computer more hands-on than your keyboard? For these reasons, and more, it pays to know what makes a one a good fit.

Keyboards come in a variety of types, from those optimized for efficiency to sculpted ergonomic designs that cradle your hands and relieve stress on the joints. When shopping for a keyboard, here are a few specific features to look for.

Connectivity Options

The simplest way to connect a keyboard to your PC is via a standard USB port. Keyboards are usually plug-and-play devices, with no additional software to install (with the exception of driver packages for some gaming models), meaning that plugging in the keyboard is all the setup you’ll need. Unlike wireless keyboards, a wired model will draw its power over USB, so there are no batteries to worry about. Wired connections are also preferred for gaming use, as they are free from the lag and interference issues that wireless alternatives are prone to. Some motherboards still come with an older-style PS/2 port for plugging in a keyboard without needing USB; if you go this route, which many gamers prefer for performance reasons, you’ll probably need a USB-to-PS/2 adapter. (Some gaming keyboards come with these.)

If you want more freedom and less cable clutter on your desk, however, it’s hard to beat a wireless keyboard. Instead of a wired connection, wireless keyboards transmit data to your PC through one of two primary means: an RF connection to a USB receiver, or Bluetooth. Both have their pros and cons, but if you want to reduce the number of cables on your desk and gain the flexibility to use your keyboard at a distance—whether it on your lap at your desk, or from across the room—wireless is the way to go.

Most wireless keyboards connect to a PC via the same 2.4GHz wireless frequencies used for cordless phones and Wi-Fi Internet. A dime-size USB dongle—small enough to plug in and forget about—provides the link to your PC. Companies use proprietary connections like these because they allow for optimal battery life. These USB dongles also provide connectivity to more than one device, meaning you can use the single adapter for your wireless keyboard—or keyboards, if you have one at work and one at home—as well as one or more computer mice, assuming that all are the same brand.

Bluetooth options are regaining popularity of late, largely because they don’t monopolize a USB port and because Bluetooth connections are stable, easy to manage, and offer compatibility with more mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. In regular use, a Bluetooth connection gives you roughly 30 feet of wireless range, but may not match the battery life offered by devices with a USB dongle. New innovations, including hand-proximity sensors tied to power and connection management, improve the battery life over older Bluetooth devices, which maintained an always-on link, draining battery quickly.

Layout and Ergonomics

Not all keyboards are created equal. In fact, not all keyboards are even laid out the same beyond the standard QWERTY keys. Roughly half of the keyboards available offer a 10-key numeric pad, even though it’s an ideal tool for anyone who frequently needs to tally numbers or enter data into a spreadsheet. Smaller distinctions include placement of the arrow, Page Up and Down, and Home and End keys. Additionally, most current keyboards have basic media features such as playback controls and volume up and down.

In order to help users stave off carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injury, many keyboards are available with designs that put your hands into a neutral position as you type. The result is not only greater comfort, but reduced stress to the joints and tendons, ultimately helping you to avoid painful inflammation and expensive surgery. Ergonomic features can range from the simple—like padded wrist rests—to the elaborate, with keyboards that curve and slope.

Keys and Switches

One aspect of keyboard design that you’ll see mentioned in reviews—but that most people don’t give a second thought—is the type of switches used for individual keys. You may not care about the specific mechanisms that reside beneath the keys, but you will certainly feel the difference. The three primary types of switches are silicone dome switches, scissor switches, and mechanical switches.

Budget keyboards, such as those that come bundled with new desktop PCs, generally use silicone-dome switches, which use two dimpled layers of silicone membrane that form a grid of rubber bubbles or domes as the switch for each key. The springiness of the silicone rubber makes for a soft, mushy feel as you press each key. The switch type also requires you to “bottom out” with each keystroke, pressing the key to the bottom of the key well to type a letter. And because repeated flexing of the rubber membrane causes it to break down, silicone dome switches lose their springiness and responsiveness over time.

Some newer keyboards mimic the low-profile, chiclet-style keyboards found on full-size laptops and ultraportables. While a few of these use plain silicone dome switches, many use a scissor switch, which adds a mechanical stabilizer to each key for a uniform feel, and an attached plunger under each keycap allows for shorter key travel. As a result, scissor-switch keyboards have a shallow typing feel, but are generally more durable than rubber dome switches alone.

Mechanical Keyboards

Most keyboard enthusiasts, however, won’t have much to say for either style—instead, they’ll be singing the praises of mechanical keyboards. The switches used in these are a bit more intricate, with a spring-loaded sliding keypost under every key. There are several variations available, each tweaked to provide a slightly different feel or sound, but generally, mechanical switches provide better tactile feedback and have more of the “clickety-clack” sound that many associate with typing. The sturdy switch mechanisms and springs are significantly longer lasting, and can be more easily repaired. These switches also register each keystroke with a much shorter amount of travel, making them ideal for touch typists.

Gaming Keyboards

While all keyboards offer the necessary keys for typing, sometimes typing isn’t your main concern. Gaming keyboards are designed for competitive use, equipped for maximum specialization and control, optimized for specific styles of gameplay, and built to exacting standards of responsiveness and durability. They also appeal to the gamer aesthetic, with designs that impress and intimidate with pulsing backlighting and dramatic color schemes.

Premium gaming models almost exclusively use high-grade mechanical key switches and sculpted keycaps, and offer numerous customizable features, like programmable macro keys, textured WASD keys, and swappable keycaps. There are others that let you tweak the color and intensity of the backlighting to make finding certain keys faster and to personalize the look of your keyboard. Anti-ghosting is an essential feature, allowing multiple keystrokes to be registered simultaneously—something standard keyboards can’t do. Other extras include pass-through USB ports or audio connections on the keyboard, which simplifies the process of connecting peripherals to a desktop PC that may not be easily accessed.

Finally, gaming keyboards are often outfitted with software and extra keys for macro commands, letting you prearrange complex strings of commands and activate them with a single press of a button. The number of macro commands that you can save, and the ease with which they can be created, vary from one model to the next, but it’s a valuable tool. These aren’t the sorts of bells and whistles everyone will use from day to day, but for players that invest time and money into gaming, these keyboards offer a competitive edge.

There are certainly a lot of choices out there, so start your search with our roundup below of the best keyboards available. In the market for a mouse as well? Then check out our top picks, as well as our favorites for gaming.

Your Weapon of Choice

If you’re a gamer, you take your choice of keyboard seriously. When your keyboard doubles as your game controller, it’s more than just a tool for typing. It is to you what the katana is to a samurai (or cyborg ninja): an extension of yourself, your interface with the digital world. If you care about PC gaming, it pays to know what makes a keyboard great, what differentiates one from another, and what’s on the market today. We’ve rounded up the 10 best keyboards you can buy, along with a brief guide to help you find the keyboard that’s right for you.

Switching It Up

Most gaming keyboards use mechanical switches, which pair each key to its own spring-loaded switch. They are designed to provide superior audio and tactile feedback. The majority of these switches use mechanisms from Cherry MX, and are identified by color (Black, Brown, Blue, Red), each with a slightly different design, tweaked to provide a specific feel while typing. Which switch you want depends on what types of games you play, and what else you do with your computer. Cherry MX Black switches have the highest activation force, which makes them ideal for games in which you don’t want to have to worry about accidentally hitting a key twice. This, though, can give them a stiff feel that’s not well suited for games that require nimbler response, so for those types of titles you may prefer Cherry MX Red switches. But because both of these switch types lack tactile feedback, there’s a compromise candidate in Cherry MX Brown switches: They have the same actuation force as the Red variety, but add the tactile bump to aid with typing. If you need a keyboard that can switch back and forth between hard-core gaming and traditional work tasks, this is the kind to look for.

Occasionally, you will still find gaming keyboards that utilize silicone dome switches, which form little domes in a silicone membrane, using the rubbery material as the switch. The result feels mushy and requires a full press with each keystroke, slowing down the speed at which commands can be entered. A slight variation on this is the scissor switch, which still uses a silicone membrane and dome switches, but has a slimmer profile and adds a stabilizing scissor mechanism beneath each key. Scissor switches are most often used on laptops, but a few low-profile keyboards can still be found for desktops and gaming.

Trick It Out

Features that would be unimportant on a regular keyboard take on new significance when adapted to gaming. Backlighting, for example, is not merely a way to illuminate keys in a dark room; newer twists on the old backlight include adjustable color, and multiple lighting zones with separate backlight for arrow and WASD keys, highlighting the most frequently used control keys.

Another customizable feature is the swappable keycap. Because mechanical switches are distinctly separate from the keycap itself, sometimes the keys can be removed and swapped out for others that feature molded sculpting, texturing for better tactile control, or differently colored plastic. Some keyboards only offer swappable WASD keys, while others also include number keys that can be switched out.

A gaming keyboard may have more to offer than exceptionally well-made keys, adding features like macro command customization and dedicated macro keys. Some go so far as to include entirely new features, such as statistic tracking, text and audio communication, and touchscreen displays. And not all keyboards are made for typing—specialized gaming keypads put a selection of 10 to 20 programmable keys right beneath your fingertips, combining the same customization and ergonomic designs seen in gaming mice and applying them to keyboard-bound game functions.

Also be sure to check out our overall favorite keyboards and mechanical keyboards. If you’re looking to fully deck out a gaming system, you’ll also want to read about our top-rated gaming mice, monitors, and headsets. And if you’re in the market for a whole new system, don’t miss our stories about the best gaming desktops and laptops.

The Best Computer Mice of The Year

Best Computer Mice

Pointing the Way

The keyboard and mouse are your most direct connections to your PC, and the most hands-on aspects of your desktop. In its most basic form, a computer mouse is a simple device, a sensor on the bottom with two buttons and a scroll wheel on top, that lets you interact with the files and programs on your computer as though they were extensions of your own hand. But while a mouse is simple in concept, this basic pointing device has found several unique incarnations. Thus, it pays to know what distinguishes one from another when you go shopping for a new model.

Types of Mice

Over time, several categories of mouse have evolved, each made for different uses. The most common of these is the mainstream desktop mouse, designed for use with a desktop or laptop PC at a desk or table. Aside from the usual right and left mouse buttons, common features include a scroll wheel and additional thumb buttons that let you navigate forward and back in your Web browser.

Travel mice offer many of these same features, but come in a smaller size. They’re designed to fit easily into the pocket of a backpack or laptop bag. For this same reason, however, travel mice tend to be too small for most human hands—you can use them just fine, but they become uncomfortable when you work with them for long periods. Generally speaking, travel mice are wireless and battery powered, so you may want to bring along a spare set of AAA batteries.

Gaming mice amplify every element of the basic mouse concept to the extreme. Depending upon the style of game that the mouse is intended for (MMORPG, first-person shooter, real-time strategy), you’ll see a variety of specialized features. What these mice have in common is a combination of high-performance parts—laser sensors, light-click buttons, gold-plated USB connectors—and customization, like adjustable weight, programmable macro commands, and on-the-fly dpi switching. For non-gamers, these features are overkill; for dedicated gamers, they provide a competitive edge.

Ergonomic designs put all of the usual mouse functions into a design that puts your hand into a neutral position. Designed to reduce the stresses that cause carpal tunnel and repetitive strain injury, ergonomic mice may look unusual and take some getting used to, but they do alleviate some very real problems.

Sensors and Sensitivity

The humble trackball has been superseded by two types of light-based motion sensors: optical (or LED) and laser. Unlike previous mechanical tracking options, light-based sensors have fewer issues with dust and dirt, and the absence of moving parts means that there are fewer failures.

Optical sensors pair a glowing LED light—often red, blue, or infrared—with a small photo sensor, tracking movement by repeatedly imaging the surface below the mouse, translating any movement into cursor movement (the frequency of imaging is called the polling rate, and numbers in the hundreds every second). Because of the imaging sensor used, optical mice are less prone to problems caused by lifting the mouse in use or mousing on an uneven surface.

Laser mice operate in a similar way, but use an infrared laser diode instead of an LED. This allows for greater sensitivity (measured in dots per inch, or dpi), and faster polling rate. The one drawback is that the increased sensitivity makes laser mice more finicky about the surface on which they are used. Premium gaming mice generally use laser sensors, but are recommended for use with mouse pad surfaces that are made specifically for gaming.

In order to offer the higher sensitivity of a laser sensor and the versatility of an optical mouse, some mice use both in tandem. Gaming mice also offer sensitivity adjustment, letting you shift from high dpi for tight cursor control circumstances (such as lining up a sniper’s shot) to low dpi (and thus faster cursor movement) for melee combat and run-and-gun situations.

Below are our top-rated computer mice. If you’re looking for a keyboard as well, check out the 10 best we’ve tested, as well as our favorite mechanical keyboards and gaming keyboards.

Connectivity Options

The simplest way to hook up a mouse to your PC is through a wired USB connection. Computer mice are usually plug-and-play devices, with no additional software to install (with the exception of some gaming mice), meaning that plugging in the cable is all of the setup you’ll need to deal with. Unlike wireless alternatives, a wired device will draw its power over USB, so there are no batteries to worry about. Wired connections are also preferred for gaming use, as they are free from the lag and interference issues that wireless options are prone to.

If you want more freedom and less cable clutter on your desk, however, it’s hard to beat a wireless mouse. Instead of a wired connection, wireless mice transmit data to your PC through one of two primary means: an RF connection to a USB receiver or Bluetooth. Both have their pros and cons, but if you want to reduce the number of cables on your desk and gain the flexibility to use your mouse unhindered—or even from across the room—wireless is the way to go.

Most wireless computer mice connect to the PC via the same 2.4GHz wireless frequencies used for cordless phones and Wi-Fi Internet. A dime-sized USB dongle—small enough to plug in and forget about—provides the link to your PC. Companies use proprietary connections like these because they allow optimal battery life. These USB dongles also provide connectivity to more than one device, meaning that you can use the single adapter for your wireless mouse—or mice, if you have one at work and one at home—as well as one or more keyboard, assuming that all are the same brand.

Bluetooth options don’t monopolize a USB port, and the stable, easy-to-manage connections are ideal for use with more mobile devices, like ultraportables, tablet PCs, and 2-in-1s. In regular use, a Bluetooth connection gives you roughly 30 feet of wireless range, but may not match the battery life offered by devices with a USB dongle. New innovations, such as motion sensors tied to power and connection management improves the battery life over older Bluetooth devices, which maintained an always-on link, draining battery quickly.

Deciding On a Sensor

 A high-quality sensor is the first step toward precision and accuracy. Less expensive mice will usually have optical (or LED) sensors, which offer fairly good tracking sensitivity, but do particularly well when lifted slightly from the tracking surface. Laser sensors, on the other hand, may be a bit more finicky in the heat of battle, but offer much better tracking. It’s also possible to get the best of both worlds, using the two sensors in tandem to provide the high-accuracy tracking of a laser with the less delicate tracking of an optical sensor.

Ready, Aim, Fire

Aiming, targeting, slashing, attacking. Some of the most important actions you take in a PC game happen with the click of a mouse. Any gaming mouse you buy will offer reliable connectivity, smooth and responsive tracking, and basic click and scroll functions. But it takes more than basic functionality to make a good gaming mouse.

Trick It Out

The best gaming mice offer comfort and customization. Features match the unique needs of your preferred games, whether you’re dealing with a firefight or staving off an advancing horde. Mice aimed at first-person shooters feature ratcheting scroll-wheels—letting you cycle through your arsenal without selecting the wrong weapon—and on-the-fly dpi adjustment for switching between the fast low-dpi tracking needed in a frantic firefight and the more tightly controlled high dpi needed for lining up a sniper’s shot.

Mice designed for real-time strategy games and MMOs are often outfitted with an array of six to 12 programmable macro buttons. Set just under the tip of the thumb, these can either be used as number keys or programmed to execute longer macro commands.

All of the gaming mice currently available are made with some customization in mind, even if it’s just tweaking the tracking speed. Each gaming gear manufacturer has developed its own customization software, which often includes advanced macro programming. In addition to recording macro commands, these dashboards will also let you swap preset profiles, and many also offer presets for non-gaming use, letting you leverage your programmable mouse in programs like Excel and Photoshop.

For maximum comfort, many gaming mice can also be customized physically. Removable weights are common, letting you tweak the total weight one way or the other. Some models take this even further, letting you shift the center of balance, or adjust the height and pitch of the palm rest.

Finding the best gaming mouse for you comes down to knowing your own preferred style of game, determining whether or not you will take advantage of more complex functions, and then tweaking the chosen mouse to your specific tastes.

Below are our top-rated gaming mice. Looking for other gaming peripherals? Check out our favorite gaming keyboards, monitors, and headsets. And if you need to buy a whole new system, you’ll want to read about our top-rated gaming desktops and laptops.

Logitech MX Anywhere 2

Versatile and feature-packed without going overboard

DPI: 1,600 | Interface: Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless (pairs with up to three devices) | Buttons: 6 | Ergonomic: Right-handed | Features: Scrolling wheel, Logitech Darkfield Laser Tracking, Unifying receiver, Easy-Switch tech, gesture function

Smaller than Logitech’s flagship, the MX Master, the Logitech MX Anywhere 2 is the ideal travel mouse. It can connect with up to three distinct devices with 2.4GHZ wireless technology or with Bluetooth, making it obvious why this mouse is renowned for having quick setup and surprisingly long battery life. Capable of extremely quick charging, in just 4 minutes the MX Anywhere 2 charges enough for an entire day. After finding a great mouse, get the best keyboard

Logitech MX Master

A veritable spaceship of a mouse

DPI: 1000 | Interface: Bluetooth (pairs with up to three devices) | Buttons: 5 | Ergonomic: Right-handed | Features: Hand-sculpted comfort contour, Speed-adaptive scroll wheel, Thumb wheel, Darkfield Laster Tracking, Dual Connectivity, Rechargeable battery

Logitech’s flagship is a mighty mouse indeed. Hand-sculpted for comfort, the MX Master connects via Bluetooth or USB dongle and it can pair to up to three devices. The rechargeable battery lasts for up to 40 days and goes from flat to a day of power in four minutes. Plus, you can even use it while it’s charging.

Anker Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse

It looks weird, but it feels pretty good

DPI: 1000 | Interface: USB | Buttons: 5 | Ergonomic: Vertical | Features: No

Judging by the mouthful of a name, Anker’s mouse is defined by its vertical orientation. Though it looks and feels somewhat sideways at first, the Anker Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse is only off-putting until you start to wonder how you ever lived without it. It’s built a little more cheaply than other ergonomic mice, but it’s ultimately an inexpensive means of preventing RSI.

Apple Magic Mouse 2

As ever, Apple thinks different

DPI: 1300 | Interface: Bluetooth | Buttons: 0 | Ergonomic: Ambidextrous | Features: Multi-touch

When it isn’t busy making luxury smartphones you can unlock with your face, Apple is hard at work constructing one of the world’s weirdest computer mice. If you were doing a double-take looking at the specs, you saw right: the Magic Mouse 2 has zero buttons and endless fashion appeal. It’s also controlled by gestures, giving it all the allure of a trackpad as well as a mouse.

Logitech Triathlon M270

A mouse designed for multi-taskers

DPI: 1000 | Interface: Bluetooth (pairs with up to three devices) | Buttons: 8 | Ergonomic: Right-handed | Features: 24-month battery life on one-AA battery, Sculpted design, Free spinning scroll wheel, Easy-switch tech, Logitech Options Software

Like the MX Master, the Triathlon M270 can pair with up to three devices using Bluetooth. What’s more, it uses the same free-spinning scroll wheel featured on the MX Master, letting you zip through documents or webpages. Logitech promises up to 24 months of use before the on one AA battery. The only drawback? Bluetooth makes for lower latency than a wired mouse. This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Logitech MX Anywhere 2

Logitech MX Ergo Wireless

Making 2018 feel like the new 1991

DPI: 512 – 2048 | Interface: Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless | Buttons: 8 | Ergonomic: Right-handed | Features: Trackball, USB dongle, Logitech ‘Flow’ software compatibility for use with up to three PCs simultaneously, micro USB charging, precision mode The third trackball mouse Logitech has put out since 2008, the MX Ergo Wireless is an anomaly in an industry that is otherwise crowded with optical laser mice. As such, it’s certain to charm those who haven’t quite moved on to the gesture-based desktop trackpads of the present. With the option to lay it flat or use it at a 20-degree angle, this mouse is uniquely satisfying.

Read the full review: Logitech MX Ergo Wireless

Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600

It’s cheap! It’s cheerful! It lasts forever!

DPI: 1000 | Interface: Bluetooth | Buttons: 2 | Ergonomic: Ambidextrous | Features: No

The new Surface Precision Mouse might be tempting, but one look at that price tag and our most frugal readers will want to turn their heads in the opposite direction, wherein the Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600 is hiding. This affordable vermin is one of the cheapest and reliable wireless mice you can buy and, to make matters better, it’s from a name you can trust.

The Best Smart TVs to Buy in 2018

Best Smart TVs

The introduction of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu have re-shaped the media consumption landscape, as the days of scheduled programming are long behind us. The advent of “smart TVs” is now the next wave of Internet-ready entertainment beyond the smartphone and tablet. Whether it’s live, on-demand, browsing the Web or looking at family photos, the smart TV can do it all. If you’re shopping for a smart TV, take a look at the list we’ve compiled below to help you find the right one for your living room.

Best Smart TV Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best smart TVs and smart TV platforms you can buy in 2017.

What’s the the best Smart TV I can buy?

It’s a familiar question, especially if you’re looking to replace your TV. A new flatscreen isn’t exclusively about sharper pictures or better sound. The user experience is important too.

These days, connected sets have become ubiquitous. An internet-connected smart platform is the norm, not a luxury; indeed it’s central to how the set works. And the various platforms on offer have matured dramatically over the past few years.  TV makers no longer try and emulate the tablet experience on a bigger screen, although you will still see holdovers from that early smart phase on cheaper models – no, you really don’t need Facebook and Twitter on your TV.

Today, the best smart TV platforms enhance the viewing experience. They help you access streaming content services and curate your viewing. If you want viewing recommendations, your smart TV should provide them.

Similarly, if you need to simplify streaming from your mobile device, or want to share images quickly and conveniently, your connected set should facilitate that too. And when so many of us have content elsewhere on our home network, be it video files, music or JPEGs, offering seamless access to that through DLNA should be a given.

Most smart TVs give access to leading streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube (although some are inexplicably absent on some sets – we’re looking at you Amazon Video). Beyond that, there can be a bewildering array of second (or third) tier streaming apps available to download from the resident portal. These might serve particular interests, such as the subscription-based UFC Fight Pass app, or offer VoD pay movies, such as

Today’s Smart TV ecosystem is split between proprietary platforms tied to a specific manufacturer, like LG’s webOS and Samsung’s Tizen, or a generic alternative such as Android TV, as found on Sony and European Philips TVs.

All are usable, functional and most of the time downright enjoyable to use. But while they may look similar on the surface, under the hood there are a plethora of differences between them.

So, what’s the best smart TV platform you can buy? We’ve ranked the the world’s major connected TV platforms, putting equal emphasis on ease of use, functionality, stability and content support.

Plus, once you’ve decided on a smart TV platform, we’ve included five of our favourite TVs that use it – that way you’ll have a good starting point when it comes time to finding the perfect TV for you.

Just want to know to know the Best Smart TV on every platform? Here you go!

How to choose the best smart TV for your viewing habits

Weigh your options and make the right decision.

Want to buy the perfect smart television for your family? Follow our shopping guide to make sense of the specs.

The right smart TV can vastly improve your home entertainment, filling your living room with on-demand content from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other streaming companies. But choosing the perfect set for your viewing habits means deciding on the screen resolution, display technology, and of course the platform that will serve as the device’s brains.

Smart-TV specs can seem confusing, but we’ve got you covered. Here are the key factors you need to consider before you part with your cash.


One of the primary considerations for any new TV is just how big you want it to be. The answer depends on the size of your budget—and of the physical space where you plan to install it.

Dig out some measuring tape and write down the dimensions of the living room or bedroom where the television will live. Even if you measure the room, you may still have trouble picturing how the television will fit. To figure out just how dominating your new TV might be, you could use augmented reality to view it in situ, or more realistically, mock up cardboard panels in a variety of sizes.

In addition to the size of the wall where the television will rest, you should consider how far away you’ll be sitting as you watch: Sets at the larger end of the scale will overwhelm your eyes if you’re placed right in front of them. There’s no single correct way to calculate the ideal screen size based on viewing distance, although manufacturers and experts do offer some advice. If possible, visit a local retail store to weigh up sizes and distances for yourself.

In the end, you’ll have to rely on your judgment—and maybe a cardboard cut-out or two—to pick the right size.


Just like for a laptop or a smartphone, a television’s resolution refers to the number of dots or pixels that make up the screen. The more pixels, the sharper the display—though screen size also affects sharpness, because the same number of pixels across a bigger display won’t look as clear.

In 2018, the vast majority of sets you see will have resolutions of 3840 by 2160 pixels, a size known as 4K. You might see some television companies using the term Ultra HD instead, but it’s essentially the same resolution. If you’re getting a small TV, say under 40 inches, it’s not worth investing in a 4K resolution because it simply won’t be noticeable. For anything larger than that, however, 4K is the current gold standard.

While 8K is on the horizon, that resolution won’t hit the market for a long time yet (if it ever does arrive). Besides, unless you’re buying a truly humongous television, you won’t really notice those extra pixels. Even the streaming pioneer Netflix is only just making the switch to 4K content, so 8K is still far in the distance. Any television set with a 4K resolution will future-proof you for many years to come.

Display technology

Today’s television displays rely on two competing technologies: the ubiquitous LED LCD and the more expensive OLED. Trying to say which one is best can get tricky, particularly because manufacturers add their own tweaks and proprietary technologies on top of each platform. Plus, as both technologies continue to develop, they improve their strengths and minimize their relative weaknesses. Here’s a (very) general summary of their differences.

Both types of screens work by illuminating a series of light-emitting diode, or LED, pixels. LED LCD illuminates its LEDs with a type of backlight known as a liquid crystal display, or LCD. The LCD usually covers the whole screen, but cheaper sets sometimes limit it to just the edges of the display. LED LCD displays are generally sharper than OLED ones, and they also provide more natural-looking light control in scenes.

On the other hand, organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, screens skip the backlight and instead light up individual pixels one by one using an electric current. This lets the screen respond more quickly to changing input. In addition, because a black pixel is switched off completely rather than dimmed, OLED displays tend to have better contrast than LED LCD ones. Finally, they’re more expensive to manufacture, which usually leads to more expensive television sets.

Although these are the general attributes of LED LCD and OLED screens, as we mentioned, additional innovations from television manufacturers can give one technology an edge over the others. Take Samsung’s Quantum Dot technology: It makes LED LCD screens produce purer colors, much like OLED displays do. With these evolutions constantly hitting the market, the very best LED LCD panels and the very best OLED ones stand equal. To really get a sense of the difference between screens, take a trip to a local store to check them out with your own eyes.

Software platform

Now that you’ve determined how your content will look, it’s time to figure out what that content will be—which means thinking about the platform that will power your smart television. Manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Panasonic employ their own in-house smart-TV software; Sony mainly favors the Google-made Android TV; and budget brand TCL relies on Roku software.

However, the platform actually shouldn’t be a huge factor in your decision. All of the smart TV platforms offer similar sets of features, including access to big apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. While you might find slight differences from platform to platform—Android TV and Roku have the best app selection, and if you’re familiar with those systems from other devices, you might lean slightly toward a Sony or TCL set—these variations are minor.

Making the platform even more of a moot point, you’re better off plugging a Chromecast or Apple TV into your set than relying on the on-board software. An external dongle or box will run faster, provide a better choice of apps, and receive more regular updates than anything on the TV itself. In fact, take the time you were going to spend agonizing over the platform, and spend it checking the number of ports on your TV to make sure you can plug in all the peripherals you’ll want to connect.

One exception: If you’ve already invested heavily in Google products and software, then a set that runs Android TV is the obvious choice. All the personalized data from your apps, including your YouTube history and your Google Photos, will easily sync with your new device. Plus, you’ll receive bonus features such as built-in Chromecasting and the ability to mirror your Android smartphone on the television. That said, if you live in the Android ecosystem but fall in love with a television that uses another platform, go ahead and enjoy your Romeo-and-Juliet romance—the smart TV platform should not be a dealbreaker.

Picture-improving technology

Figuring out what you want from the basic specs we’ve mentioned will help you narrow down your smart TV choices. With that done, check whether the sets on your shortlist include some of these picture-enhancing features.

For example, some screens include high dynamic range, or HDR. This brings out the detail in the darkest and lightest parts of the picture and improves the range of colors. Check to make sure the sets on your shortlist support it. While you may find competing HDR standards, such as HDR10 versus Dolby Vision, any HDR support can provide a better-looking display.

You also should consider the refresh rate: literally he number of times the TV display refreshes every second. For instance, a rate of 60Hz means the image resets 60 times per second. More refreshes will give you a sharper image and less motion blur when you’re watching fast-moving action and sports. When you’re checking the specs, watch out for numbers labeled “effective” refresh rates—terms like these could be exaggerated marketing phrases that don’t reflect the panel’s actual rate.

Most smart TVs will also apply some clever technology to reduce motion blur. You’ll find this type of effect under a name like motion or frame interpolation. However, the technology may or may not look good to your eyes: It can dial down the blur so much that everything gets a razor-sharp, cheap-looking sheen known as the soap opera effect. The good news is that these motion blur effects are optional, so you can disable them if you dislike them.

Other features

You’re almost ready to make your final choice—but there are a couple more features to consider before you go ahead and buy.

For example, though few TV manufacturers focus on sound quality, that feature will have a big impact on your viewing enjoyment. Audio buffs might hold out for a superior standard such as Dolby Atmos, an attempt to create an immersive, surround-sound experience in your living room. However, it will only be available in certain high-end sets—most TV makers assume that serious audiophiles will invest in a separate soundbar.

Another badge of approval that we recommend you look out for is Ultra HD Premium. This is a set of standards, defined by the UHD Alliance industry body, that specifies a minimum level of quality in terms of color, refresh rate, brightness, and audio. It guarantees a certain pedigree in a set, and factoring it in can reduce the length of your TV shortlist.

Finally, the more reviews you read, from both users and professionals, the better. While it’s useful to know what all the standards we’ve mentioned actually mean, you can still find a high-spec TV with terrible picture quality or a lesser-spec TV that exceeds expectations. In other words, specs can help narrow down your choices, but they don’t necessarily tell you whether one specific TV is better than another. Because a set’s quality doesn’t shine through until you’ve had the experience of using it, user reviews really help.

Ultimately, your available budget may be the best way to clear the field. Once you’ve limited your options to a set price range, you can start weighing up the factors we’ve discussed. Certainly consider the specs defined above, but the only must-haves that we recommend are a 4K resolution and HDR. Apart from that, make sure the reviews are solid, and don’t sweat the details too much. Even a slightly older set is worth considering: Because televisions have long shelf lives, particularly compared to more frequently-updated gadgets like smartphones, your smart TV won’t suddenly become obsolete in just a few years.

TV Jargon BusterFull HD vs 4K/UHD

Most TVs are Full HD, which gives you a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. These are gradually being overtaken by Ultra HD (commonly known as UHD or 4K), which gives you a resolution of 3840 x 2160.

That’s four times the number of pixels, crammed into generally the same TV sizes. It means greater sharpness, detail and clarity.

There used to be a real lack of 4K content, but these days there is plenty to stream from Netflix and Amazon Video – and you can buy 4K Blu-rays. Read our guide: What is 4K TV and Ultra HD?

Buy Now: LG 55UJ701V 55″ Smart 4K Ultra HD HDR LED TV for £539.00 and save over £300


HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Essentially it promises a wider range of brightness, colour and contrast – because your eyes can perceive more information than TVs have traditionally been able to display.

Buy Now: Hisense H43N5300 43 Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV for £329.00 and save £20


Plasma TVs are no more, so most TVs are either LCD (often referred to as LED) or OLED.

LCD is the most common, though there’s a big difference between the cheapest and most expensive LCD TVs due to the types of backlight, panel and processing technologies used.

OLED is a relatively new technology and it’s expensive, but it’s seen as a natural successor to plasma technology. Unlike LCD, OLED pixels produce their own light, so there’s no need for backlighting or edge lighting. Contrast and rich colours are its strengths, although LCD screens are generally brighter. Read our guide: OLED vs LED LCD.

For more detail, take a look at our guide: What is QLED?

Buy Now: Philips 55PUS6262 55 Inch 4K UHD HDR Ambilight Smart TV for £569 and save £30 

The Best Smart Robot Vacuums of This Year

Smart Robot Vacuums

Whether you love having the latest tech, hate cleaning or you’re not as mobile as you once were, robot vacuum cleaners are a fun way to get a rather boring household chore done. And they certainly look impressive but with the most expensive one we tested costing eight hundred quid, it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re getting for your money before you invest. They don’t claim to be as good as your standard household vacuum cleaner when it comes to suction and dust capacity, so if that’s all you care about it may be better to buy a good upright vacuum cleaner. But they are a convenient way of keeping your floors looking spick and span with minimal effort. Most come with apps too, so you can control them outside the home.

Different robot vacs have different approaches to cleaning; some take a methodical approach while others may look like they’re moving randomly around your home but are still mapping out the room with in-built cameras or other smart sensor technology – although it can be a little frustrating to watch. Some come with remote controls, so you can direct them to the exact spot you want them to clean from the comfort of the sofa, and generally the more expensive they are, the more cleaning modes they have. The priciest robots have up to six modes, including auto, where you can programme it to move around a space until it runs out of battery; turbo, which is the most powerful mode and picks up the most dirt and dust; and spot cleaning, where you can get it to focus on a particular area.

Each robot vacuum cleaner will also come with an array of accessories. A virtual wall is a small device that you can place around the home and use to block off areas you don’t want to be cleaned, while they also come with different types of cleaning brushes. Sweeper brushes stick out from the side and sweep in dust and dirt to be sucked up, whereas brush bars live underneath and work to suck up dirt from floor surfaces. So before you buy, think about what your priorities are – do you want good suction, have lots of tight spots around your home that need cleaning, or obstacles that will need avoiding? Then you can pick the best one for you and have fun watching it clean your home, or have it work its magic while you’re at work.

We tried and tested a range of robot vacs in our test room, with obstacles like chairs, tables and rugs to content with. We also covered the carpet with dust, fluff and dirt to find out just how much mess each one could vacuum, while also testing different cleaning modes and accessories. Here are the ones we think are worth investing in.

One Less Chore

Vacuums have come a long way. You no longer have to suffer the indignity of dragging around an unwieldy plastic hose connected to a clumsy, wheeled canister the size of a Galapagos tortoise. In fact, you don’t even need to get off of the couch. Though it still feels like a relatively new product category, there are several good robot vacuums available to help you dispose of dust, pet hair, and other debris in your home—without needing to lift a finger. Which is the right one for you? We’ve rounded up our highest-rated robot vacuums, and provided a few pointers to help you find just the bot you’re looking for.

Why Go Robo?

Unlike more traditional canister or stick models, robot vacuums are autonomous and (for the most part) intelligent. The vacuums we’ve tested are equipped with lasers, motherboards, sensors, and even Wi-Fi to navigate around your home without the need for assistance. With a few exceptions, you barely have to interact with them at all.

Most robot vacuums come with charging docks and can even charge themselves. Just pick a robot-accessible spot for the dock, and the bot will return on its own before it runs out of juice. When it does, it will sit there until it has enough energy to go back out and continue to bust dust from where it left off. You can also set schedules for most bots to wake up and start a cleaning job, so it can take place while you’re out of the house. That means you can potentially avoid all physical interaction until the vacuum needs to be emptied—you still can’t take that step out of the equation.

Also unlike many traditional vacuums, all of the robots included here don’t use bags to hold the dust, hair, and other debris they suck up. Instead, they use an easy-to-remove dust bin you can simply eject and empty into the nearest garbage can. And many come equipped with HEPA filters that prevent allergens from spreading through the air.

Also worth noting: Floor-cleaning robots like the iRobot Braava Jetspecialize in mopping and sweeping. They aren’t eligible for this list because they don’t vacuum up dirt and debris, but they will get your hardwood floors nice and shiny. Some vacuums, like the Bobsweep PetHair Plus and Bobi Petcome with mop attachments, but they’re not as effective overall.

Convenience vs. Cost

 A robot vacuum is usually higher in price than a traditional vacuum (though not always; the Dyson Cinetic Animal + Allergy costs $700). The models listed here range from $220 to $1,000. That’s a pretty sizable investment, even on the lower end. Let’s consider just what you get for the price.

Unless you really love to vacuum, the task itself is pretty mundane. Depending on the size of your house, a robot vacuum can save you anywhere from minutes to hours of your time every week by taking care of a pretty thankless chore. That alone is reason enough for some people to consider one.

In addition, robot vacuums have reached the point where they’re basically just as effective and powerful as regular vacuums. The robots rounded up here use filters, side brushes, and spinning brushes that will do an equally good job of cleaning your home as their upright equivalents. They’re also fairly compact, so they won’t take up much space in your storage closet. And they’re able to travel underneath most couches and tables, so you don’t have to rearrange furniture. Even if you do, the more advanced robots on this list use memory banks to note where furniture is placed, so as not to bump into anything on a future pass.

Also worth mentioning: Connected robot vacuums are much more affordable now. For instance, Eufy’s RoboVac 11c supports Wi-Fi and comes in at just under $300. What are the benefits of connectivity? Most Wi-Fi vacuums can be programmed and controlled remotely using your smartphone. Some can even be activated with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.

Premium connected bots like the Roomba 960 and Dyson 360 Eye can generate statistics and maps of the areas they’ve cleaned. The upcoming Neato Botvac D7 Connected even creates personalized floor plans that eliminate the need for you to use physical “virtual walls” to cordon off sections of your home. Meanwhile, the Samsung Powerbot R7070 can easily integrate into existing routines with other smart home devices if you have a SmartThings Hub. So while connected bots are generally pricier, they do come with some nice perks.

How We Test Robovacs

We test robot vacuums in PC Labs and in our actual homes, with the following categories in mind: battery life, navigation, setup, suction, and if it supports Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the app experience.

Chances are you don’t want to babysit your vacuum. That means you’re looking for a robot that can traverse different floor types or maneuver around furniture without needing help. This is especially true if you have dark flooring, as infrared sensors might confuse a black carpet with a ledge, and refuse to pass over it. We test vacuums on hardwood, tile, and darkly colored rugs to see how well they manage the transitions across various surfaces.

Battery life is also an important factor to consider based on the size of your home. In general, most robot vacuums can run for at least 60 to 70 minutes, which should be enough to tackle many apartments and single-floor homes. If you have a bigger living area, you’ll want to look for something in the 90-minute range so it can hit every room in the house before requiring a recharge. To test this, we charge the battery to full, start a cleaning cycle, and time how long the robot runs before it needs to be docked. And if a robot says it can automatically dock, we check to see if it can easily find its way home.

Another note on battery life: The number you see listed in the chart above is our tested result in normal mode. High-power or other modes often bring that number down a bit.

Most robot vacuums are reliable when it comes to getting rid of standard household detritus, so you don’t really have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to suck up lint, dirt, or hair. Since we test all the robot vacuums in the same home environment, we check how full dustbins get and whether obvious debris like food particles and visible dust bunnies are picked up. We also note whether the robot uses a random or methodical cleaning pattern. Random cleaners often run across the same space multiple times but take a longer time to get everything. Methodical cleaners don’t take as long, but may only pass through a room once unless programmed otherwise.

Finally, we test how easy it is to set up, program, and control the robot. Some only require an initial battery charge, while others ask you to install side brushes and batteries. For connected bots, app design and reliable Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity are major factors that impact your experience. We provide a detailed analysis of our experience in each review.

 AirCraft Vacuums Pilot Max Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

We think this one wins when it comes to looks. The sleek and compact white design would fit perfectly in modern homes and shouldn’t take up a lot of space either. It comes with sweeping brushes that stick out the side to sweep in and suck up dirt in corners, which is fairly effective.  And it’s very quiet, so won’t disturb you if you’re watching TV. It also comes with a virtual wall, so you can block off areas you don’t want cleaning and a remote control. Our only annoyance was having to charge and put the battery pack in ourselves, which we found a little bit fiddly. For the price though, it does a decent job of vacuuming and is worth considering.

Samsung VR9300K Connected Robot Vacuum, 42.9W

This robo vac is the largest of the bunch and looks like something you’ve probably seen avoiding Sir Killalot on Robot Wars. But it does a good job of sucking up dust and fluff from carpet, and so it should for the price. It’s robust, so will bounce off walls with no damage done to itself (or the wall) and is good at navigating around furniture. There are an impressive six cleaning modes to pick from – auto, manual, spot, point cleaning, turbo and dust sensor – and a remote so you can steer it to a particularly dirty spot. There’s an app too, so you can control it even when you’re not in your home. This robot is worth considering, although it doesn’t quite match the Dyson 360 Eye on suction.

 iRobot Roomba 980

iRobot’s Roomba is probably the best known name in the robot vacuum cleaner market, and this is the best model in the range (with a price to reflect it, over £500 more expensive than the entry level Roomba). It methodically navigates multiple rooms, increasing or decreasing suction power depending on which surface it’s cleaning – we found it picked up large pieces of fluff as easily as it did embedded dust. If the machine runs out of battery mid-clean, it will return to the docking station and then complete the cycle. It also works with Google Home so you can now tell your Google Assistant when to start, stop or dock the robot. And if you want to avoid a certain room or area, the two virtual walls form an effective barrier. Download the app to set up cleaning schedules on your phone, and keep an eye on the progress of the Roomba when you’re not around.



The best best drones of this year

The best best drones

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by onboard computers.

Compared to manned aircraft, UAVs were originally used for missions too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. While they originated mostly in military applications, their use is rapidly expanding to commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing, peacekeeping, and surveillance, product deliveries, aerial photography, agriculture, smuggling, and drone racing. Civilian UAVs now vastly outnumber military UAVs, with estimates of over a million sold by 2015, so they can be seen as an early commercial application of autonomous things, to be followed by the autonomous car and home robots.


Multiple terms are used for unmanned aerial vehicles, which generally refer to the same concept.

The term drone, more widely used by the public, was coined in reference to the early remotely-flown target aircraft used for practice firing of a battleship’s guns, and the term was first used with the 1920’s Fairey Queen and 1930’s de Havilland Queen Bee target aircraft. These two were followed in service by the similarly-named Airspeed Queen Wasp and Miles Queen Martinet, before ultimate replacement by the GAF Jindivik.

The term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was adopted by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration in 2005 according to their Unmanned Aircraft System Roadmap 2005–2030. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the British Civil Aviation Authority adopted this term, also used in the European Union’s Single-European-Sky (SES) Air-Traffic-Management (ATM) Research (SESAR Joint Undertaking) roadmap for 2020. This term emphasizes the importance of elements other than the aircraft. It includes elements such as ground control stations, data links and other support equipment. A similar term is an unmanned-aircraft vehicle system (UAVS) remotely piloted aerial vehicle (RPAV), remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS). Many similar terms are in use.

A UAV is defined as a “powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload”. Therefore, missiles are not considered UAVs because the vehicle itself is a weapon that is not reused, though it is also unmanned and in some cases remotely guided.

The relation of UAVs to remote controlled model aircraft is unclear. UAVs may or may not include model aircraft. Some jurisdictions base their definition on size or weight, however, the US Federal Aviation Administration defines any unmanned flying craft as a UAV regardless of size. For recreational uses, a drone (as apposed to a UAV) is a model aircraft that has first person video, autonomous capabilities or both.


In 1849 Austria sent unmanned, bomb-filled balloons to attack Venice. UAV innovations started in the early 1900s and originally focused on providing practice targets for training military personnel.

UAV development continued during World War I, when the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company invented a pilotless aerial torpedo that would explode at a preset time.

The earliest attempt at a powered UAV was A. M. Low’s “Aerial Target” in 1916. Nikola Tesla described a fleet of unmanned aerial combat vehicles in 1915. Advances followed during and after World War I, including the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane. The first scaled remote piloted vehicle was developed by film star and model-airplane enthusiast Reginald Denny in 1935. More emerged during World War II – used both to train antiaircraft gunners and to fly attack missions. Nazi Germany produced and used various UAV aircraft during the war. Jet engines entered service after World War II in vehicles such as the Australian GAF Jindivik, and Teledyne Ryan Firebee I of 1951, while companies like Beechcraft offered their Model 1001 for the U.S. Navy in 1955. Nevertheless, they were little more than remote-controlled airplanes until the Vietnam War.

In 1959, the U.S. Air Force, concerned about losing pilots over hostile territory, began planning for the use of unmanned aircraft. Planning intensified after the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 in 1960. Within days, a highly classified UAV program started under the code name of “Red Wagon”. The August 1964 clash in the Tonkin Gulf between naval units of the U.S. and North Vietnamese Navy initiated America’s highly classified UAVs (Ryan Model 147, Ryan AQM-91 Firefly, Lockheed D-21) into their first combat missions of the Vietnam War. When the Chinese government showed photographs of downed U.S. UAVs via Wide World Photos, the official U.S. response was “no comment”.

The War of Attrition (1967–1970) featured the introduction of UAVs with reconnaissance cameras into combat in the Middle East.

In the 1973 Yom Kippur War Israel used UAVs as decoys to spur opposing forces into wasting expensive anti-aircraft missiles.

In 1973 the U.S. military officially confirmed that they had been using UAVs in Southeast Asia (Vietnam). Over 5,000 U.S. airmen had been killed and over 1,000 more were missing or captured. The USAF 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing flew about 3,435 UAV missions during the war at a cost of about 554 UAVs lost to all causes. In the words of USAF General George S. Brown, Commander, Air Force Systems Command, in 1972, “The only reason we need (UAVs) is that we don’t want to needlessly expend the man in the cockpit.” Later that year, General John C. Meyer, Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command, stated, “we let the drone do the high-risk flying … the loss rate is high, but we are willing to risk more of them … they save lives!

During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Soviet-supplied surface-to-air missile batteries in Egypt and Syria caused heavy damage to Israeli fighter jets. As a result, Israel developed the first UAV with real-time surveillance. The images and radar decoys provided by these UAVs helped Israel to completely neutralize the Syrian air defenses at the start of the 1982 Lebanon War, resulting in no pilots downed. The first time UAVs were used as proof-of-concept of super-agility post-stall controlled flight in combat-flight simulations involved tailless, stealth technology-based, three-dimensional thrust vectoring flight control, jet-steering UAVs in Israel in 1987.

With the maturing and miniaturization of applicable technologies in the 1980s and 1990s, interest in UAVs grew within the higher echelons of the U.S. military. In the 1990s, the U.S. DoD gave a contract to AAI Corporation along with Israeli company Malat. The U.S. Navy bought the AAI Pioneer UAV that AAI and Malat developed jointly. Many of these UAVs saw service in the 1991 Gulf War. UAVs demonstrated the possibility of cheaper, more capable fighting machines, deployable without risk to aircrews. Initial generations primarily involved surveillance aircraft, but some carried armaments, such as the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, that launched AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles.

CAPECON was a European Union project to develop UAVs, running from 1 May 2002 to 31 December 2005.

As of 2012, the USAF employed 7,494 UAVs – almost one in three USAF aircraft. The Central Intelligence Agency also operated UAVs.

In 2013 at least 50 countries used UAVs. China, Iran, Israel and others designed and built their own varieties.

Market trends

The UAV global military market is dominated by pioneers United States and Israel. The US held a 60% military-market share in 2006. It operated over 9,000 UAVs in 2014. From 1985 to 2014, exported UAVs came predominantly from Israel (60.7%) and the United States (23.9%); top importers were The United Kingdom (33.9%) and India (13.2%). Northrop Grumman and General Atomics are the dominant manufacturers on the strength of the Global Hawk and Predator/Mariner systems.

The leading civil UAV companies are currently (Chinese) DJI with $500m global sales, (French) Parrot with $110m and (US) 3DRobotics with $21.6m in 2014. As of March 2017, more than 770,000 civilian UAVs were registered with the U.S. FAA, though it is estimated more than 1.1 million have been sold in the United States alone.

UAV companies are also emerging in developing nations such as India for civilian use, although it is at a very nascent stage, a few early stage startups have received support and funding.

Some universities offer research and training programs or degrees. Private entities also provide online and in-person training programs for both recreational and commercial UAV use.

Starts at £449 w/out remote from

  • 16 minutes flight time
  • Full HD video, 2-axis gimbal
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • 1.2 mile range with remote, 100m with phone

After the success of its Mavic Pro, DJI surprised us all with its most compact high-end drone to date. The Spark is, essentially, a very small Mavic Pro. It features many of the same flight technology, but in a much more compact and more rigid design.

Unlike the Mavic Pro, the Spark’s arms aren’t foldable, but the overall footprint is so small it can just sit in your palm fairly comfortably. What’s more, it’s the first drone that can be controlled completely by hand gestures alone. For those who want a more traditional control system, you can use the DJI remote to fly with a 1.2 mile range at speeds up to 50kmph.

Each battery lasts up to 16 minutes of flight time, and the intelligent flying modes will ensure that time flies by before you even know it. Like the Mavic you can lock on to individual objects or people, and move around in various manually controlled or pre-programmed motions while tracking that person/subject. This all happens while the camera is kept super steady using its 2-axis gimbal and electronic UltraSmooth technology.

Read the full review: DJI Spark review: The tiny drone that makes you feel like a Jedi


  • 25 mins flight time
  • HD videos and 14MP stills
  • 2km range with SkyController
  • Digital stabilisation for smooth video

The Bebop 2 is the follow up to the popular Bebop, which we loved when we reviewed it at the time of its launch. The design has changed quite a lot, but the value for money has increased.

The Bebop 2 can fly over 37mph and resist winds of the same speeds, and an slow down to a stand still within four seconds. It has a Follow Me feature to track you while you’re cycling, running, climbing, or whatever else you might be doing, and it uses GPS to track its position and return home again when you’re done.

Its camera can shoot in 1080p full HD resolution, and take great pictures with its wide-angle 14-megapixel lens. It can even capture in RAW and DNG image formats, giving you the ability to edit them professionally afterwards.

At £349, it’s great value for money, and you can control it with your smartphone. Or, for £499 price point you can also get the brand new Skycontroller 2 control pad and the first person view (FPV) glasses, which let you watch the live stream of the camera’s video feed in real time.

Skycontroller 2 gives you an impressive 2km range when piloting the drone, while the glasses can stream 1080p video footage right to your eyes.

There’s also the all-new Parrot Bebop 2 Power which comes with 60 minutes battery life thanks to shipping with two batteries. You can buy the Power FPV pack with VR goggles and the physical remote for just £549.


  • Dedicated auto-flip control
  • 3-axis gyro and 3 accelerometers for stable flight
  • 2.4GHz radio control
  • 10-12 mins flight time per battery

If you’re after a drone that can perform its own stunts, the Dromida XL looks like a lot of fun. Like many modern drones it can take off and land automatically at the press of a button, but its one-press feature list also includes the ability to perform a flip. It also has a front facing 1080p camera, and can fly quickly, close to the ground.

£1,199 at

  • 4.3 mile (7km) range with OcuSync transmission
  • 30 mins maximum flight time
  • 4k video 30fps, 3-axis gimbal
  • Obstacle avoidance and Return to Home

DJI’s latest drone is one of the most talked about to date – thanks mostly to its brilliant form factor. Rather than have a large, rigid quadcopter design, the Mavic Pro is foldable, and it’s small enough to fit in your bag. Similar to the GoPro Karma drone, the four quadcopter arms fold into the body, but do so in a very neat and incredibly compact fashion.

Although it’s small, don’t let that fool you in to thinking it isn’t powerful and full of top-notch features. For instance, it can last up to 27 minutes in flight on a full battery, and it takes less than a minute to set up and calibrate to get it flying. Mounted to the 3-axis stabilisation mount is a camera capable of recording up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, or full HD up to 96 frames per second.

The Platinum version of this drone was announced at IFA 2017 in Berlin, and has all of the same features, but has enhanced battery performance and much quieter motors.

It has a minimum focusing distance of 0.5m and a 12-megapixel sensor equipped with the ability to take still RAW pictures tuned purposefully for aerial imagery. Perhaps more impressive is that the new transmission system has a range of up to 4.3 miles and can live stream 1080p footage directly to Facebook Live, Periscope, and YouTube through the connected DJI GO app.

To immerse you more in to the experience of flying the drone, DJI’s flying gadget will pair with a new set of immersive DJI goggles. With these on your face, you’ll see 90-degree view straight from the drone’s camera in 1080p.

Read the full review: DJI Mavic Pro review: One insanely powerful, portable drone

£449 with Skycontroller 2 and FPV glasses,

  • First person view glasses
  • Up to 45mins flight time
  • 1.24 mile/2km range
  • Fixed wing design
  • Up to 50mph

If you’re looking for something entirely new and different, there’s Parrot’s latest beast, the Disco. Unlike most hobby and toy drones, the Disco is fixed wing. That means it looks more like a plane than a quadcopter.

It can fly as fast as 50mph and has a battery that’ll get you up to to 45 minutes of flying time, which is pretty remarkable in the droneworld. It’s got a built in computer/brain called CHUCK, which helps provide its autopiloting capabilities. Just press the start-up button, hold it until ready, then throw the drone like a frisbee, then the autopilot takes over.

Because of its vast wingspan, it doesn’t need four propellers to keep it airborne. Instead, it has one blade at the back to propel it forwards, while the wings ensure it stays in the sky.

It has 1080p video recording which has three axis stabilisation, and 32GB of onboard storage to host all of your captured footage. What’s more, you can view all this footage in real-time while flying, using the FPV glasses. At under £700, it’s currently nearly £500 cheaper than it was when it launched in 2016.

Read the preview: Parrot Disco preview: You can be my wingman any time


  • Over 40mins flight time
  • Up to 60mph speeds
  • Fits various cameras, inc. GoPro Hero range

This is the daddy of drones, made for professional grade filming and photography. The Turbo Ace Matrix, with its 1 metre wingspan and triple carbon fibre deck build, has a range of 1.2 miles and can stay in the air for more than 40 minutes thanks to the 22,000mAh battery version. The whole thing even folds down for easy transport. It comes with an 8-inch monitor for viewing what the flight camera feeds back.

But that’s just for flying. The unit can have gimbals and cameras plonked on top to carry around for high-definition filming and photography. There are several models of Turbo Ace Matrix, some designed for speed and others for heavy lifting. In short, if you want to spend serious money on a serious drone, the Ace Matrix should be near the top of your list.

£509, or

  • 2.7K video capture
  • 1km transmisson distance
  • 25mins max flight time
  • 3-axis gimbal

DJI is fast becoming the go-to name for hobbyist and professional dronefliers alike. The Phantom 3 is a line offering Standard, Advanced, and Professional models. The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is the most affordable of the three. Despite that it still crams in plenty of next-gen drone tech. The camera offers 2.7K video or 12-megapixel stills and uses a gimbal to offer stable footage.

The drone itself can fly for up to 25 minutes on a charge and will return home or land if the battery gets too low. Pre-set routes can be mapped out so the drone flies them over and over as the user focuses on working the moving camera for the best shot. With the range extender controller, the drone can fly up to one kilometre away from the pilot, all controlled via a smartphone app.


BMW’s motorcycle concept is so smart

BMW’s motorcycle concept is so smart you won’t need a helmet to ride it

Motorcycles aren’t exactly safe, but BMW envisions a future where two-wheel vehicles have enough onboard intelligence to make it possible for drivers to use them without protective clothing. The emphasis here is still on the thrill of the drive, but intelligent driver assistance features will help make it possible for the ride to maintain its thrill while adding a lot more safety.

The so-called Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 vehicle is one in a series of BMW concepts that aim to anticipate where its future vision is going, and how incorporating new technologies and connectivity features will change the driving experience.

With the Motorrad, the answer is less a path to full autonomy, as you might expect with four-wheeled cars, and instead represents a natural conclusion based on the aspects of motorcycle riding that people value. That means the end-user experience is more about the freedom of the open road, with issues like safety handled by on-board artificial intelligence systems.

The appeal of a motorbike you can ride without having to heap on layers of protective gear, including a huge cumbersome helmet, is indeed an amazing proposition. BMW says the Motorrad’s systems will anticipate the road ahead and offer drivers guidance on what to do to avoid incidents, and even step in and take over to prevent anything from happening if necessary. It also uses a self-balancing system that absolutely prevents the possibility of a tip-over, either when in motion or when standing still.

There is some headgear involved, even though the helmet is gone in the concept – it’s a lightweight visor, however, and it’s made to keep the wind out of your eyes but also to overlay important information on your view, including anticipated twists and turns. Powering everything is a zero-emission electric drive train.

Again, this is a concept so it’s far from being a real thing, but it is a very cool vision of what might be next for the motorcycle industry in a future where autonomy is king for cars.

Luxury car-maker BMW has unveiled a concept motorcycle for the future connected world that automatically maintains upright position and foresees problems on the road.

 The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 has been unveiled during an event in Los Angeles celebrating the car-maker’s 100th anniversary.

“The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 embodies the BMW Group’s vision of biking in a connected world – an analogue experience in a digital age,” said Edgar Heinrich, head of design at BMW Motorrad.

The zero-emission motorcycle features a sleek flexible frame without moving parts. The BMW designers said they wanted to pay homage to historical BMW vehicles including its first ever motorcycle – the R32 made in 1923 – but also to look into the future. The frame therefore has a shape of a black triangle but with no bearings and joints.

The solution, BMW said, enhances ergonomics and protects the rider from wind and weather.

As the frame features no joints turning the handlebars adjusts the entire frame.

The bike’s active assistance system balances the motorcycle whether it’s moving or stationary and prevents it from falling.

This technology, together with the vehicle’s constant access to data, which the designers envision will be a key feature of all transport solutions a few decades from now, provides unprecedented levels of safety, which allows the rider to ditch a helmet and protective gear.

“The bike has the full range of connected data from its surroundings and a set of intelligent systems working in the background, so it knows exactly what lies ahead,” explained Holger Hampf, head of user experience at the BMW Group.

“By collating the data it has gathered, it can suggest ideal lines and banking angles, or warn riders of hazards ahead.”

The rider has access to the information via an intelligent visor covering the entire field of vision. The rider can control what information will be displayed simply by his or her eye movements. Information is only projected onto the visor on request, or to alert the rider to the fact that action is needed.

“Normally, when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think 5 to 10 years in advance,” said Heinrich. “On this occasion, we looked much further ahead and found the experience especially exciting.”

It is surprising, though, that this futuristic vehicle, designed for the digitalised completely interconnected world, is not driverless. BMW believes that riding a motorcycle will remain a unique experience, having a specific driving appeal, so doesn’t see the technology’s future going the autonomous way.

BMW also designed some fashionable gear for the driver. Its only safety feature is an inflatable neck support that improves comfort. The gear constantly measures the wearer’s pulse and body temperature and adjusts the level of heating or cooling for maximum comfort. The suit also delivers navigation instructions via vibrating elements in the arms and legs, and alerts the rider when the banking angle is becoming critical.BMW’s 100-year vision: a smart motorcycle that won’t tip or crash

Looking ahead to its second century, BMW this week completed the vision for its four groups: BMW, BMW Motorrad (motorcycles), Mini, and Rolls-Royce. Tuesday in Santa Monica, CA, it was BMW Motorrad’s turn, and it showed a conceptual bike called the Vision Next 100 that keeps itself upright while driving or standing.

While the BMW concept motorcycle of the future isn’t self driving, it comes close. It helps the rider stay upright and constantly adjusts to road conditions. It’s so safe, BMW says, the rider doesn’t need a helmet or protective clothing.Turn the wheel, the entire frame flexes left or right

When the driver turns the handlebar, the frame itself flexes and changes shape, allowing the bike to go left or right. It takes more effort to turn the bike at higher speeds, improving stability. With the Flexframe (BMW’s term), there is also no suspension — no springs, no shock absorbers, no swingarm. Instead, the two wheels absorb the bumps. (BMW’s future vision apparently envisions the end to potholes.)

A technology suite of stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes mean the bike should stay up at all times. It won’t, BMW believes, ever fall over. That makes this an ideal bike for beginning riders and adds a measure of safety for long-term riders.

The powerplant has the look of BMW’s classic opposed-cylinder design, but it will be some non-polluting, zero-emissions technology.

BMW’s Digital Companion for the rider

The bike won’t tip over. It won’t crash. So there’s no need for a helmet or protective leathers (in theory). The rider will wear special gear, a sleek body suit (so long as the rider inside is sleek), and a data-display visor. BMW calls it the Digital Companion. Different data appears when the driver looks and looks down; information shuts off completely when the driver looks straight ahead.

What can the Digital Companion do? Suggest ideal lines and banking angles going through a turn, or advise of road hazards ahead. If the rider doesn’t position the bike properly, the display suggests a better angle, and if the rider fails to respond, the bike corrects itself.

Looking upward brings a rear view camera into play. The bike has no instrument panel to speak of other than a red throttle grip on the right.

Smart suit warms, cools, informs

The rider’s gear warms or cools the rider. The flexible, banded suit provides support for the body for long or grueling rides. Navigation instructions are transmitted as vibrations to the left or right arm, plus on the smart visor.

According to BMW, “The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 stands for the ultimate riding experience. Liberated from the need to wear a helmet and protective clothing, the rider is able to enjoy the forces. Acceleration, wind, and nature as in touch with the surrounding world, savoring every moment. The design of the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 represents the essence of the motorcycle: the perfect synthesis between human and machine. Every detail is of the highest quality and the design incorporates all the most striking visual aspects of BMW Motorrad bikes across the ages.”

You Won’t Need a Helmet

On Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., BMW Group debuted a motorcycle concept so artificially intelligent that it eliminates the need for the rider to wear protective gear, including a helmet.

According to BMW, the “flexframe” extends from the front to the rear wheel of the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100. It allows the bike to be steered without the various joints found on today’s motorcycles. Turning the handlebar adjusts the entire frame, changing the direction of the bike.

Source: BMW Group

The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 motorcycle is the latest incarnation of BMW’s Vision Next series, which celebrates 100 years of the German brand with forward-looking concept vehicles from Rolls-Royce, Mini, and BMW. The group has been hosting events around the world this year to debut each new concept in a different city. California’s event, held in an old airplane hangar, displayed the motorcycle along each of the group’s other previously shown concepts. This is the fourth and final of its concepts to be shown. When the bike is resting, the unit that powers it stays small; when the bike moves forward, the unit lengthens to enhance aerodynamics and protect the rider while at speed.So what does the future of motorcycles hold?

At least according to BMW, it’s a bike that has self-balancing systems to keep it upright both when standing (a boon for novice riders, on par with training wheels for bicycles) and in motion (beneficial for experienced riders who want erudite handling at high speed). Several systems—one BMW calls a “Digital Companion,” which offers riding advice and adjustment ideas to optimize the experience, and one called “The Visor,” which is a pair of glasses that span the entire field of vision and are controlled by eye movements—correlate to return active feedback about road conditions to the rider while adjusting the ride of the bike continuously depending on the rider’s driving style. (Sure beats today’s motorcycle touchscreen technology.)

On the frame above the front wheel is a large metal reflector and the daytime running light; the unit acts as a wind deflector, BMW says.

It’s meant to equal the driverless systems automakers also expect to be producing in cars by 2040 and beyond.“The bike has the full range of connected data from its surroundings and a set of intelligent systems working in the background, so it knows exactly what lies ahead,” said Holger Hampf, BMW’s head of user experience.

BMW says a visor that each rider will wear will help control and direct the bike. The commands from the visor are controlled by moving your eyes.

It also purports to use a novel matte black “flexframe” that’s nimble enough to allow the bike to turn without the joints found on today’s motorcycles. The idea is that when a rider turns the handlebar, it adjusts the entire frame to change the direction of the bike; at low speeds only a slight input is required, while at high speeds it needs strong input to change course. This should increase the safety factor of riding a bike so a small twitch at 100 mph isn’t going to shoot you in an unexpected new direction.

The bike is meant to be suited for both beginning and experienced riders. (BMW has also made a jacket with diagonal front zipper and ventilation elements to accompany the new motorcycle.)

But not everything about this concept bike is forward-looking: The black triangle shape of the frame combined with the white trim lines and classic boxer engine form are meant to evoke the 1923 R32, the first motorcycle BMW ever made. The seat, upper frame cover, and wings are made of carbon, and the bike will run on a futuristic “non-gasoline power source.” (Naturally; this is a concept, after all.)

Another uber-modern touch: The area at the front will have virtually no buttons except a red rocker switch on the end of the right handlebar.

Like most concepts, BMW has declined to specify when, if ever, this bike will be produced. But the technology seen here may eventually trickle down to future models in the next few decades of Motorrad.

The BMW concept motorcycle seems extremely far-fetched, and the group has released only rail-thin details about what to expect in terms of bringing it to production, if it ever does. But like all its Vision Next concepts, BMW execs said that they intended it that way. After all, they wouldn’t want to tip off competitors.

“Normally when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think five to 10 years in advance,” Edgar Heinrich, head of design at BMW Motorrad, said in a press statement. “On this occasion, we looked much further ahead and found … some very attractive prospects.”

The bike is minimal to look at except for a fat rear tire and, beneath the carbon seat, two fine, red, illuminated strips that form the rear light and indicators.

The Best Smart Cars of The Year

2018 Smart Cars

The Smart Fortwo has been a smash hit in Europe, but failed to gain a foothold in America outside of major urban centers.  The tiny two-seat vehicles and their underpowered engines may not be the right fit for the United States, but the city cars continue to be sold here, and have found an audience looking for an ultra-compact car that’s easy to park and easy on gasoline. This year an all-electric Fortwo joined the line-up. Conceived as a partnership between Swiss watchmaker Swatch and Mercedes-Benz, the original Smart Fortwo debuted in 1999 with both gasoline and diesel power, but the first exports didn’t arrive Stateside until 2007. Grey imports trickled in from 2004, but Penske Automotive did not get an approved distributorship until 3 years later.

The charming and nonconformist Fortwo’s mission is to make motoring easy for urban dwellers with its maneuverability and compact shape. The turbocharged 0.9-liter inline-three makes 89 hp; a five-speed manual or optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic sends power to the rear wheels. Offered as a coupe or cabriolet, the Fortwo can be customized with add-ons such as heated seats, ambient lighting, and JBL sound system that can quickly drive the bottom line close to the price of larger rivals.

Think of the 2017 Smart Fortwo cabriolet as the vehicular equivalent of a raccoon. Both the city car and the masked mammal can be cute and strangely endearing, but both are best avoided entirely.

Compared with the previous Fortwo cabrio, though, the newest version of the convertible city car shows some signs of domestication. Like its coupe counterpart, the cabrio rides on a fresh platform co-developed with Renault. Overall length once again measures 106.1 inches, matching the previous-generation car, while the wheelbase sees a modest 0.2 inch increase. Width, however, grows by a substantial 4.1 inches.

Despite this added girth, the tiny two-door is incredibly easy to maneuver thanks to its impressive 22.8-foot turning circle—5.9 feet better than the previous car and a whopping 12.9 feet better than that of a Honda Civic. As with the Fortwo coupe, the cabrio’s exterior features short overhangs, large doors, expressive headlights equipped with LED daytime running lights, and Smart’s trademark contrasting color scheme.

In place of the coupe’s metal roof and two-piece tailgate, the cabrio adds a power-folding soft top that can be rolled partway back like a sunroof or retracted completely. The fabric roof can be opened or closed at any speed, and it features a pair of removable roof rails that can be snapped out and stored in a compartment within the tailgate. Although removing the rails provides a more traditional convertible experience, we suspect most drivers will leave them in place, as their presence is required to close the top.

Power Hour

Like its forebear, the Fortwo cabrio’s engine is mounted below the cargo floor and just ahead of the rear axle. Forward momentum comes courtesy of a turbocharged 0.9-liter inline-three that doles out 89 horsepower and 100 lb-ft of torque. The engine comes mated to either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an available six-speed dual-clutch automatic—a $990 option featured on our test car.

Acceleration in the 2235-pound Fortwo cabrio is a leisurely affair. Zero to 60 mph requires 10.2 seconds, while passing from 50 to 70 mph in top gear took 7.8 seconds. Still, the new Fortwo cabrio has made huge progress versus the previous-generation version, whose naturally aspirated 70-hp 1.0-liter three-cylinder needed a painstakingly long 13.6 seconds to reach 60 mph and 10.5 seconds to saunter from 50 to 70 mph.

The new three-cylinder nonetheless suffers from prodigious turbo lag, waking up only after the tach eclipses the 2500-rpm mark and making merging into traffic from a stop a hair-raising experience. While the Fortwo’s dual-clutch automatic operates with a level of refinement missing from the old model’s clunky five-speed automated manual transmission, the new gearbox is hesitant to downshift and slow to respond to manual inputs.

The cabrio averaged a meager 27 mpg on recommended premium-grade fuel during its stay with us, far off the EPA’s combined figure of 35 mpg. We did record 40 mpg during our 75-mph highway test, bettering the EPA’s 38-mpg highway rating.

Big Little Car

In spite of the Fortwo cabrio’s diminutive size and relatively low curb weight, the little droptop never feels particularly tossable or light on its feet. Blame the softly sprung suspension that lets the body bob and weave with every turn of the vague and lifeless steering wheel. The narrow 15-inch Continental ProContact TX all-season tires do the car no favors, either, as it managed a trucklike 0.71 g of grip on our 300-foot skidpad before the undefeatable stability-control system intervened. On the plus side, the Fortwo tracks straight at highway speeds, and its standard Crosswind Assist system keeps the slab-sided Smart from being tossed about in its lane by the wake of passing trucks.

Stopping exposed another dynamic failing, as the car’s front disc and rear drum brakes needed a long 188 feet to bring the Smart to a halt from 70 mph—18 feet longer than a three-plus-ton Ford Expedition. Adding insult to injury are pronounced brake dive and a brake pedal that isn’t very linear in operation.

Be Seated

Even so, the little droptop’s cabin is pleasant enough. Thanks to its additional width, the driver and passenger no longer sit shoulder to shoulder. Meanwhile, the massive windshield and upright seating position give the driver a confidence-inspiring view of the road ahead.

Unlike the Fortwo coupe, which is offered in an entry-level Pure trim, the cabrio’s order book opens with the better-equipped Passion model. Along with a height-adjustable driver’s seat, power mirrors, and 15-inch aluminum wheels, it also includes features found in the Pure coupe, such as automatic climate control and Bluetooth audio and phone streaming. Prime and Proxy trims are the higher rungs in the Fortwo’s lineup and bring additional standard equipment.

Atop its base price of $20,640 (including the automatic transmission), our Fortwo Passion cabrio test car’s optional equipment included a $100 center armrest, a $120 dashtop-mounted tachometer, $120 automatic headlights and windshield wipers, $240 heated seats, $250 rear proximity sensors, and a $490 premium audio system. There also was a $100 smartphone cradle that plugs into the center of the push-button audio system and allows the driver to easily view and interact with a phone’s music and navigation apps. The carmaker also offers its own Smart Cross Connect app that can display navigation functions and play music stored on the phone.

Our test car wore $350 worth of Lava Orange paint and a $400 Lighting package that adds fog lights, LED taillights, and LED light bars within the headlights. When everything was tallied, our test car wore an as-tested price of $22,810. That’s a lot of money for a little car, and although the Fortwo cabriolet’s power-folding soft top adds some distinction to the model, a more spacious and equally stylish Fiat 500C Pop can be had for as little as $17,485. Meanwhile, the racy 500C Abarth starts at $22,485—$325 less than our Fortwo cabrio test car.

Overall, the Fortwo cabriolet makes little sense in the U.S. market, where its tiny size is rarely an advantage. And it appears that Smart has come to grips with this reality. For 2018, the Fortwo coupe and cabrio will be sold exclusively in EV form, with an 80-hp electric motor and a 17.6-kWh battery pack. It’s a move that’s sure to put the Smarts into an even smaller niche.

smart Automobile 

(stylised and marketed as “smart“) is a German automotive marque and division of Daimler AG, based in Böblingen, Germany. It ranges in microcars and subcompacts, primarily the Fortwo and Forfour with its primary assembly plants located in Hambach, France and Novo Mesto, Slovenia. Marketed in 46 countries in Asia, North and South America, Africa, Australia and Europe, production of the Fortwo had surpassed 1.7M units by early 2015.

The design concept for the company’s automobiles began at Mercedes-Benz in the early-70s and late-80s. After brief backing by Volkswagen, the first model was released by Daimler-Benz in October 1998. Several variants on the original design have been introduced, with the original being the “Fortwo”.

smart derives from cooperation with Swatch and Mercedes: Swatch Mercedes ART. In its branding, the company lowercases its logotype and the logo incorporating a “c” and an arrow for “compact” and “forward thinking” respectively. All letters spelled out in lowercase as “smart” is incorrect.


In late 1982, SMH (makers of the Swatch brand of watches) CEO Nicolas Hayek began developing an idea for a new car using the same type of manufacturing strategies and personalization features used to popularize Swatch watches. He believed that the automotive industry had ignored a sector of potential customers who wanted a small and stylish city car. This idea soon became known as the “Swatchmobile”. Hayek’s private company Hayek Engineering AG began designing the new car for SMH, with seating for two and a hybrid drivetrain.

While design of the car was proceeding, Hayek feared existing manufacturers would feel threatened by the Swatchmobile. Thus, rather than directly competing, he preferred to cooperate with another company in the automotive industry. This would also relieve SMH of the cost burden in setting up a distribution network. Hayek approached several automotive manufacturers and on July 3, 1991, he reached an agreement with Volkswagen to share development of the new project.

By 1993, Ferdinand Piëch had become CEO of Volkswagen and he immediately sought to terminate the project with SMH. Volkswagen had already been working on their own “three-litre car”: a car which would consume three litres of fuel per 100 km of driving (the eventual Volkswagen Lupo 3L). Volkswagen’s own concept was believed to be a better business proposition, featuring four seats and more cargo room.

Hayek had suspected that Piëch would seek to end the agreement with SMH upon his ascendancy to the CEO position; therefore, he discreetly began approaching other car companies with the Swatchmobile project. Rebuffed by BMW, Fiat, General Motors and Renault, he finally reached an informal agreement with Daimler-Benz AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars.

A deal was announced on March 4, 1994, at a press conference at Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart that the companies would join forces in founding Micro Compact Car AG (MCC). 49% of the initial capital of 50 million Swiss francs were provided by SMH and the remaining 51% by Daimler-Benz. The company consisted of two subsidiaries: MCC GmbH based in Renningen (a suburb of Stuttgart) which would design the car, and the then-unnamed manufacturing plant. SMH Auto SA, owned by Hayek, would design a hybrid electric drive system for the car, while Hayek Engineering would audit the design and manufacturing.

The press conference also featured the debut of two concept cars: the eco-sprinter and eco-speedster, styled by Mercedes-Benz’s design studio in California. The cars were similar to the eventual smart City-Coupé. No mention was made of the fact that SMH had no input in the design of these concepts, and they were badged as Mercedes-Benzes.

By the end of April 1994, MCC had set up a head office in Biel, Switzerland.


Apart from the original Smart Fortwo, a sporty Smart Roadster, a limited production of 2000 erstwhile concept Smart Crossblade and a supermini Smart Forfour were also offered. These have now been discontinued. There were also plans to introduce the French made cross-over based on the body of the ForFour and the AWD hardware of the Mercedes C-class with the name of Formore but industrialization of this was cancelled at the 11th hour (even as tooling was being installed in the assembly plant) due to unfavourable exchange rate swings and spending cutbacks driven by losses elsewhere within Smart.


The Smart Fortwo uses a very small front crumple zone. The second generation Smart Fortwo has been awarded 4 out of 5 stars in the Euro NCAP Adult Occupant Protection and 2 out of 4 stars in the Pedestrian protection test, but was not tested for Child Occupant Protection as it has no rear seats. The original Smart was awarded 3 out of 5 stars for Adult Occupant Protection. In American tests using a five-star rating, Smart cars received a four-star safety rating for the driver from a front impact, and a five-star safety rating for the driver for a side impact. It also received “Good” ratings for front and side crash protection in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests. However, in an April 2009 40 mph frontal offset crash test between a Fortwo and a Mercedes C-Class, “the Smart went air-borne and turned around 450 degrees” causing “extensive intrusion into the space around the dummy from head to feet”. The IIHS rated the Smart Fortwo “Poor,” noting that “Multiple injuries, including to the head, would be likely for a real-world driver of a smart in a similar collision.”

The main structure of the car is a stiff structure, marketed as the Tridion Safety Cell, designed to activate the crumple zones of a colliding vehicle. This design creates a safety cell around the passengers, according to the manufacturer.


smart models have been modified by Brabus of Germany, resulting in BRABUS production models, including Smart BRABUS electric drive.

Other companies modify the Smart Fortwo to use motorcycle engines, such as the Suzuki Hayabusa 1340 cc inline four-cylinder. These cars are known as Smartuki. The most powerful models can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 100 km/h) in less than 3.5 seconds. The original car was fitted with a mildly tuned engine and ran 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, 1/4 mile standing start in 12.4 seconds and a top speed of 132 mph (212 km/h). It is possible to push the GSXR engine further; nitrous oxide will add another 50 bhp (37 kW; 51 PS) – 80 bhp (60 kW; 81 PS) and there is a turbocharged option

Electric vehicle conversions

smart electric drive is a smart Fortwo electric conversion. It has a 40 km range with AGM batteries (100 km with Li-ion batteries)


When reviewed by the IIHS, the smart fortwo earned the group’s highest safety rating, thanks to the patented Tridion Safety Cell and high-tech front and side airbags.

The Electric Drive takes it one step further, positioning the battery in the vehicle’s underbody — the best possible place in case of a collision.


The smart Electric Drive puts emphasis on the drive, with an improved turning radius, acceleration, and top speed, plus a Lithium-ion battery with an 8-year warranty for shorter charge times and greater range.


The best smartphones of the year

The best smartphones

Mobile phones are becoming a major part of our lives so much in fact that they have nearly become a part of who we are. It’s amazing sometimes how we don’t realize how often we use and depend on something until we can’t use it any more. Have you ever stubbed your pinky toe or other body part you wouldn’t normally consider important only to find out that you use it A LOT. A phone can be the same way. Once you start having problems with your phone you start having issues with your job, your school, your friends, your family, emergency situations, you name it.

As such it’s important to know how to choose a good dependable phone, how to keep it protected, know how to care for your phone, how to solve common problems on your mobile phone, and make sure it’s there for you when you need it. Those are some of the primary goals of Smart Mobile Phone Solutions. Sometimes even Smartphones require smart solutions.

Smart Phones

Exchange e-mail, manage meetings, track to-dos, converse with coworkers—whatever the task, one of these 14 phones answers the call.
PLUS: Find out how we image-test camera phones and see our exclusive test-results slide show.

It’s hard to find a phone nowadays that doesn’t have a calendar, a few games, or even downloadable applications. But some phones go the extra mile to bring voice and data needs together, including syncing e-mail, surfing the Web, shooting pictures (Find out how we test phone cameras and see a slide show of results), and supporting hundreds of third-party apps. Some have full keyboards to get down and dirty with your e-mail. We call these multitalented devices smart phones.

If you’re the type who craves 24/7 connectivity, a smart phone could be your answer. With one device, you can take calls, receive all your corporate and personal e-mail, and store your PIM information, including phone numbers, contacts, addresses, calendar, and to-do lists. And with the hundreds of apps available for smart phones, you can perform business tasks, like reading PDFs and Excel spreadsheets.

But smart phones aren’t all business. Thanks to more powerful processors and more flexible OSs, many of these phones can play 3D games and MP3s, record and play back video, and bring together SMS and e-mail.

Many smart phones come with freely extensible OSs that can host third-party applications. These apps let you expand a phone’s capabilities—giving it true smarts.

Microsoft Windows Mobile for Smartphone (which we’ll call Windows Smartphone in this story) allows you to sync with PCs and Microsoft Exchange servers and offers an e-mail application similar to Outlook. There are three versions of Windows Smartphone: the first-released Smartphone 2002; the considerably faster Smartphone 2003; and Smartphone 2003 Second Edition (which adds support for higher-resolution screens).

BlackBerry OS is extremely e-mail focused. BlackBerry devices hook up to corporate or Web-based e-mail servers for up-to-the-minute e-mail. (You can do this with third-party software on other smart phones.) It’s also very easy to read and send e-mail on any BlackBerry. But only a few third-party applications are available to enhance the OS.

Palm OS is best known for its easy-to-use PIM applications, stylus-based input method, and vast array of third-party apps. Another advantage of Palm OS is that it’s already been test driven for years on PDAs.

Some phones opt for proprietary operating systems, with few or no third-party applications. Many of these have keyboards, which make them good for sending and receiving SMS and e-mail.

Symbian is perhaps the least known among U.S. consumers, yet it is Europe’s most popular smart-phone OS. It comes in various flavors, but all the Symbian phones we tested use the Series 60 version. Symbian uses much less memory and battery power than Windows Smartphone, the other major phone-only OS represented in this roundup.

As with Palm or Windows, third-party Symbian applications do everything from read Microsoft Office documents to help you plan routes through unfamiliar cities.

When it comes to carriers, you’re limited by where you live, work, and travel, as well as whatever contract you’re locked into.

U.S. carriers primarily use three cellular technologies: GSM (AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, and T-Mobile), CDMA (Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless), and iDen (Nextel). GSM phones can also be sold unlocked, ready to use on any of the three GSM carriers.

Smart phones are still in their infancy, and it takes patience from early adopters to tap their power. But you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish with these gadgets. They may even drag you away from your good old PDA.

Our contributors: Associate editor Jenn DeFeo and lead analyst Sascha Segan were in charge of this story.

So whether you’re after the best Android smartphone money can buy, an iPhone upgrade or a new Windows phone (actually, let’s forget about Windows, shall we?), we’ve seen and extensively tested them all so you don’t have to.

Take a look and we guarantee you’ll find the best smartphone for you, beginning with the very best phone currently available…

Here’s our recommendation for the best all round smartphone on the market, right now.

See Apple iPhone X on Amazon US

Best Apple iPhone X plans on Verizon Wireless

Best Apple iPhone X contract deals on Carphone Warehouse

It’s been some time since the iPhone has been our top smartphone recommendation, but then the iPhone X is the biggest shake-up in iPhone history. It’s unashamedly premium, from the build to the price, but it comes together in a package offering a smartphone experience that’s not matched elsewhere. It makes the iPhone 8 looks like a relic, it betters Android competition in the same space, as Apple makes a huge change to its flagship phone.

There’s power and refinement in abundance, with quality oozing from the stainless steel frame, with a fresh new look coming from the new 19.5:9 display that banishes bezels to the last decade. It’s not just the lack of bezels that are impressive about the display, but the overall quality is great too. It’s HDR compatible, supports Dolby Vision and it’s Apple’s first OLED display on a smartphone – and it looks fantastic. You’re not let down by the camera either, which offers great photos and the advantage of stabilised zoom.

For iPhone fans, it’s the pinnacle of the mobile Apple experience, a complete step-change in what the iPhone is. It’s a phone you can’t afford … to miss out on.

Read the full review: Apple iPhone X

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ aren’t for everyone though, and there are plenty of other smartphones on the market to consider whatever budget you are on. Choosing the right phone for you is every bit as important as getting the best phone and there’s loads to consider.

See Samsung Galaxy S8 on Amazon UK or Amazon US

See Samsung Galaxy S8+ on Amazon UK or Amazon US

Best Samsung S8 64GB plans on Verizon

Best Samsung S8 64GB contract deals on Carphone Warehouse

Samsung has redefined its flagship handset in the Galaxy S8, offering two sizes of handset with an 18.5:9 display, losing the bezel and offering that premium dual-edge curved design. There’s a long list of things that Samsung gets right in the S8: there’s a pair of great cameras, the battery life is good, there’s waterproofing, the latest hardware and the slickest Android of skins, fully-featured and packed full of useful functions.

The contentious point falls on the fingerprint scanner, as the location isn’t optimal, but that’s not a deal breaker given that the phones support iris scanning too. The real decision might just come down to how big you want your phone to be, with that taller screen meaning your phone doesn’t feel huge, despite the large display. It is expensive, however.

If the price is too much to bear, the then Samsung Galaxy S7 edge comes highly recommended: it offers much of the same – great curved edge display, waterproofing, good battery life and a similar feature set and software experience – but you can buy the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge on Amazon for £200 less than the S8+.

Read the full reviews: Samsung Galaxy S8 |Samsung Galaxy S8+

See Samsung Galaxy Note 8 on Amazon US or Amazon UK

Best Samsung Galaxy Note 8 plans on Verizon

Best Samsung Galaxy Note 8 contract deals on Carphone Warehouse

This might feel like a Samsung walkover, but the Note 8 is Samsung’s most capable device so far. It has enhancements over the Galaxy S8+, like the S Pen and more RAM, but that comes at a price – the Galaxy Note 8 is one of the most expensive phones on the market. For those looking for the best, and that wonderful S Pen, then it has no rival.

One of the other advantages it has over the S8+ is the dual camera on the rear. This is not only great quality, but also offers stabilised zoom for super-sharp close-ups. That’s great and it works well, as does the bokeh mode that’s offered, but we’re not certain it’s a hugely important addition compared to the solid performance of the cheaper and more compact phones.

Ultimately, Samsung fans are well served: the Note 8 is a premium device, but the additions might be things you don’t necessarily need. And personally, we prefer the Galaxy S8’s slightly more curvy design, as it looks a little more radical.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Best Google Pixel 2 contract deals on Verizon Wireless

Save up to $300 with trade in when you buy the Google Pixel 2

Best Google Pixel 2 contract deals on Carphone Warehouse

The 2017 Pixel 2 models have caused a stir. The smaller handset, the Pixel 2 is a phone you need to consider carefully. It has a subdued elegance in its design, while packing in all the power of a flagship phone. It’s every bit as powerful as the top phones from Samsung, LG or the larger Pixel 2 XL, but it’s more compact thanks to that smaller display.

While the Pixel 2 XL display struggles, the Pixel 2 is better, and it also packs in the full potency of that clever camera and the very latest from Android Oreo. It might not be the most exciting phone around, but it could be a big hit with those wanting a small but potent handset.

Read the full review: Google Pixel 2

Best Huawei Mate 10 Pro contract deals on Carphone Warehouse

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. That’s the mantra that Huawei has applied to recent flagship-competitors and it’s the Huawei Mate 10 Pro where this really feels like it’s paid off. The Huawei Mate 10 is the device that proves Huawei has what it takes to play with the big boys like Samsung and Apple.

It’s the best looking Huawei phone yet, presenting a big screen experience and plenty of power, with a great camera packed onto the back that’s every bit as capable as others, perhaps pipped by the Pixel 2. But importantly, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro offers an experience that’s refined to the point that Huawei’s software tinkering no longer feels like an obstruction. That makes for a capable phone we actually want to use.

The Mate 10 Pro also has an attractive price tag hanging on it. At £699, it’s available for pre-order in the UK, and available from 17 November.

Read the full review: Huawei Mate 10 Pro

See Google Pixel XL on Amazon UK or Amazon US

Best Google Pixel XL plans on Verizon

Best Google Pixel XL 32GB contract deals on Carphone Warehouse

Have you gone completely mad? No, you haven’t. The Google Pixel XL was one of the best phones of 2016 and although it is old, it still has a lot going for it, especially because the price has been slashed to nearly half that of some of the phones on this list. You can get it for just £400.

That’s a lot of phone for your money, considering that it’s 2016 flagship spec, it’s running the latest version of Android Oreo and it has a really good camera. This is backed up by a display that’s great, if not as fancy as some of the 18:9 displays on the latest phones, but it looks good and packs in loads of detail. Remember, Google’s own head Sundar Pichai said that it was less about hardware and more about machine learning and AI. Here you have the full Google Assistant too.

It might not be around for long so if you’re after a great Pixel phone for a little less money, then get one while it’s a bargain.

Read the full review: Google Pixel XL

See Apple iPhone 8 Plus onAmazon UK or Amazon US

Best Apple iPhone 8 Plus plans on Verizon

Best Apple iPhone 8 Plus contract deals on Carphone Warehouse

Apple iPhone 8 Plus isn’t a hugely radical change in design like the forthcoming iPhone X. Instead it’s the iPhone you know and love, but better. It’s now sitting in a body with a glass black, bringing a change from the iPhone 7 Plus, but it also has all the power of Apple’s latest chip and runs iOS 11.

The display benefits from True Tone technology, so it adapts as the environment around you changes to keep everything looking great, while the shift in materials around the back also gives you the benefit of wireless charging. Not only that, but it now supports fast charging too, so using a more powerful charger and the right cable, you’ll be back to full in no time.

It’s still a big phone and it perhaps looks a little old compared to the iPhone X now, but it’s still a solid performer with a great camera. Importantly, it’s going to be more affordable than the iPhone X, so if you want to go big on Apple without spending all your money, this is the phone for you.

Read the full review: Apple iPhone 8 Plus


Best Smartwatches of This Year – Android Authority

Best Smartwatches of This Year

A smartwatch is the first and the last companion of your smartphone when it comes to continuous pairing and sharing essential features to boost your productivity while doing what a watch and a fitness band can do.

Most of us know that wearable technology is still not at that level where the smartphones have reached, but these smartwatches have evolved a lot in recent years. Today’s smartwatches can perform a ton of novel tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, tracking your exercise over GPS, and letting you check-out at the grocery store without pulling out your wallet.

There’s a lot to talk about the features but we keep doing that in our reviews, so let’s skip it and take a look at the best smartwatches you can buy in India right now.

Looking for something running Google’s OS? Here’s our best Android Wear smartwatch round-up


What separates a smart watch from a dumb watch? Lots of things, but as smartphones have taught us, apps might be the most important.

Most of the watches we like feature full-fledged app stores, bringing everything from Uber and Yelp to—yes, a calculator—to your wrist. Much like smartphones, app availability is a good way to determine which product to get, so make sure to check out the app selection for each watch before buying in.

And if you’re looking for apps, right now Apple is your best bet. The Apple Watch has the largest number of high-quality apps and big-name developers, by far. Android Wear also has it fair share, but developer interest definitely seems to be in Apple first. Samsung’s homegrown Tizen OS doesn’t seem to be on the radar for most developers, and the kid-friendly LG GizmoGadget is more about messaging than apps.


Unless you want a gadget on both of your wrists (not the best look, in my opinion), you’ll want a smartwatch that can do double-duty as a fitness tracker—or any other wearable gadget you were thinking about getting. Most smartwatches are capable of tracking basic activity, like steps, but you need to pay close attention to any additional features.

The Apple Watch Series 3 and Nike+ edition, for instance, feature built-in GPS, so they can track your runs without the help of a companion device. They also have heart rate sensors. The Fitbit Ionic tracks more advanced fitness metrics than the competition, but has less in the way of third-party apps, so there’s some trade-off.

Look closely and choose a watch that tracks the activities you want to monitor.

Battery Life

You don’t want a smartwatch with good battery life, right? Good, because you’re not going to get it. Watches with full-color, smartphone-like displays, like the Apple Watch and Android Wear watches, only last for about a day on a single charge. Like your phone, you’re going to want to throw them on a charger every night before you go to bed. And most of the watches that fall into this category feature screens that turn off after just a few seconds. In order to check the time, you either need trigger the display with a physical button or a gesture like holding it up to your face.

Cellular Connectivity

Now that Apple has added a cellular model to its Series 3 lineup, you might be wondering if cellular connectivity is something you actually need. Basically, it allows you to make calls, send texts, stream music, download apps, and do anything else that requires an internet connection, without actually needing to be connected to your phone.

The cellular Series 3 carries a $70 premium over the standard version, and you also have to pay to add it to your phone plan—most carriers charge an additional $10 per month. Whether this convenience is worth it for you depends on what you plan to use your watch for. If you want to be able to stream music while you exercise, but you want to leave your phone back in the locker room or at home, a cellular connection can certainly come in handy. If you always have your phone on you, however, you can probably save the money and skip it.

The Best Android Watch

There are more Android Wear watches on the market than any other kind, yet a glance at the chart above shows our highest-rated Android model scores just 3.5 stars. We also don’t have an Editors’ Choice in the Android Wear category. That isn’t to say Android watches aren’t good—depending on your needs, you can get one that does everything you need for half the price of an Apple Watch. But pay close attention to the reviews, because not all Android Wear watches are created equal.

As mentioned above, make sure to look for a watch that runs Android Wear 2.0. It’s the latest version of the operating system, and a significant improvement over the original that makes operation more intuitive. Aside from that, it’s pretty much about finding the features you want at a price you can afford. Our current favorite model, the Huawei Watch 2, offers continuous heart monitoring, built-in GPS, and above-average battery life.

There are also far more styles to choose from. If you buy an Apple Watch, you’re limited to a selection of proprietary bands if you want to swap out the original for a customized look. Many Android watches support standard watch straps, making your options virtually limitless. Not only that, but the selection of watches themselves is far more diverse than the one-design-fits-all Apple Watch. Want a sporty design? Check out the LG Watch Sport. Prefer to go the traditional route? Look to the Asus ZenWatch 3.

So while Android Wear still lags behind the Apple Watch in terms of simplicity and app selection, it’s far more versatile in terms of pricing and features.

Watch Out

The infamous calculator watch has been around since the 1970s, but smartwatches have finally reached the point that they’re, well, smart. And now that the Apple Watch has catapulted the category into the mainstream, smartwatches are no longer accessories associated primarily with tech geeks. From running apps, to displaying smartphone notifications, to monitoring your heart rate, the latest crop of smartwatches do a lot more than just tell time. Since Pebble is out of the picture, which one should you buy? We’ve rounded up our top-rated options to help you decide. It’s also important to know what to look for, so keep the following advice in mind when shopping around.

Device Compatibility

Naturally, the first thing you’ll want to consider when buying a smartwatch is compatibility. Most of the devices currently available use Android Wear, Google’s operating system designed for wearables; Android Wear supports iOS, but these are still very much Android-centric devices (make sure to look for a watch that supports Android Wear 2.0, the latest version of the OS). The Apple Watch, as you’d expect, connects strictly to iOS-powered devices, so it’s iPhone-only. Make sure to pick a watch that’s compatible with the mobile device you own. Unfortunately, there aren’t any watches we recommend that support BlackBerry or Windows Mobile devices.


Smartwatches can be very expensive, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money to get a good one. Yes, the ceramic Apple Watch Edition is sure to draw a lot of attention, but at $1,299 (and up), you can buy a couple of new iPhones. Even the base model Series 3 costs $329, placing it among the more expensive smartwatches we recommend. If you’re a first-time smartwatch buyer, you might want to think about going the less-expensive route, in case you wind up not wearing it all that much.

Buy It for Looks, Don’t Buy It for Life

Let’s not forget: You’re also going to wear this thing. And unlike your Timex, it’s probably not going to remain in style for years. Smartwatch design is rapidly changing, so hold out until you find something you actually want to wear. And keep in mind that smartwatches are still gadgets. The coming year is sure to bring new iterations of pretty much every watch on this list, not to mention plenty of completely new ones.

The battle for wrist real estate is quickly heating up. That’s good news for consumers, since it’s likely to result in even better—and better-looking—devices. I wouldn’t be surprised if this list reads completely differently the next time you see it. But if you’re looking for the best smartwatch available today, the options here are the finest we’ve seen so far. For the latest reviews, see our Smartwatch Product Guide.

Apple Watch Series 3

Part smartwatch, part fitness tracker, and a much, much better wearable than what we first got in 2015, the Apple Watch 3 is still far from perfect and Android Wear has caught up in terms of features, technology and style, but as far as the overall smartwatch experience goes, Apple is still doing the best work here.

This is Apple’s first cellular smartwatch, letting you cut the invisible tether to take it out sans iPhone and still make/receive calls, get texts and all other notifications you would on your phone.

The Series 3 is also heavily focused on fitness, with built-in GPS that we’ve found to be impressively accurate, and 50m waterproofing so it’s one of the best smartwatches for swimming as well.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is about those windows through the day where a cellular watch can be freeing. It’s not yet time to ditch the smartphone, but Apple makes a more convincing case for a standalone smartwatch than any other company has so far.

Feature check: GPS, swimming friendly, Apple Pay, 2 day battery, heart rate monitor.


Samsung Gear S3

Compatible with Android and iOS, the Gear S3 is an improvement on the Gear S2 in all ways but one: the design. Or at least we think so; you might disagree and prefer that bigger, bunkier look. While it might look more like a classic watch than the S2, it’s also much bigger – 46mm wide.

However that larger body affords it a screen where Tizen can really shine, and a bigger battery, from which we’ve managed to squeeze an average of three days from – much better than anything in the Android Wear stable or from the Apple Watch.

Samsung treads between smartwatch and fitness tracker, also packing in a heart rate sensor along with that GPS and its much-improved Samsung Health software. There’s the option of LTE too if you wish for an untethered connection, with a standalone speaker for taking calls on the watch.

It’s not quite the ultimate fitness all-in-one thanks to a lack of proper waterproofing, which makes swimming out of the question (check out the newer Samsung Gear Sport if that’s more you bag) and the poor app selection puts it behind its rivals in terms of versatility but strong individual style, the intuitive rotating bezel and great battery life mean it’s keeping ahead of anything from Android Wear in our list currently.

Feature check: GPS, Samsung Pay, Tizen, heart rate monitor.

Michael Kors Access Grayson

Last year’s Bradshaw and Dylan watches just missed the mark but the Access Grayson is more fashion-conscious. There’s no denying that the Grayson wants to stand out, and fans of a more “dressy” or bigger watches will probably find it a better fit than those who like to keep their wristwear understated.

One of the most immediately noticeable improvements is that the flat tyre, a blemish on last year’s designs, is gone, with a nice 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 pixel AMOLED display.

There’s often criticism for smartwatches lacking a heart rate monitor or GPS, but unless you’re someone who runs with their expensive stainless steel watch on the regular, we don’t see it as a problem.

However the lack of NFC, and therefore Android Pay, is a definite black mark. We’ve debated over whether Google should make NFC a minimum standard across Android Wear, and we do see both sides of the argument. But with a watch like this, it feels like a big missed opportunity in lieu of fitness elements – especially with the extra shortcut button.

Feature check: MK customised displays, IP67 water resistance.

LG Watch Sport

The flagship model for the Android Wear 2.0 launch in early 2017 but, even now, still feels like the best Wear watch on balance. With GPS, LTE and NFC for Android Pay on board, the LG Watch Sport is more rounded than its sibling, the LG Watch Style.

Beyond outdoor workouts like running, it can keep track of reps in the gym, which is a surprising and welcome addition, and it’ll track heart rate in all your activities. However, it’s only water resistant to 1.5 metres for 30 mins, which makes it unsuitable for swimming.

It’s also very bulky. 46mm wide might not sound like much, but then you have the depth, and there’s a lot of it here. In fact, if we had to pick one criticism of the Watch Sport it’s that it crams so much in, it does so to its detriment. The size will be too overbearing for many, and the LG Watch Style is worth a look, but the pay-off in size means that most of the great features of the Watch Sport have been discarded.

Finally, the screen really impresses with the 1.38-inch, 480 x 480 OLED display using its 348ppi to best the Apple Watch Series 3 and others.

Feature check: GPS, LTE, NFC, Android Pay, heart rate monitor.

Ticwatch E

The Ticwatch E is an affordable and well-balanced smartwatch, with enough of Mobvoi’s own flavours to help it stand out from the increasingly crowded family of Android Wear watches. Looking for a serious fitness watch? This isn’t it.

It doesn’t have features to set your world on fire. In fact, most of it is what feels like the bare minimum for what a smartwatch should do – except for, well, NFC payments, which is a disappointing exclusion.

Its advantage, however, is that what it does do it does well. Tic Health and Fit are more user friendly than Google Fit and Health on the device, and overall it feels like Mobvoi has put more of its own stamp on Android Wear than we’ve seen from other brands.

The Ticwatch E isn’t being heavily aimed at the fitness enthusiasts; for that, there’s the Ticwatch S. But health and fitness do make up the most interesting additions to the watch, the main one being the Tic Health app, which lets you keep track of your activity and exercise in a style that Apple Watch fans will be familiar with – rings. In fact, they’re pretty much copy and pasted.

Feature check: GPS, heart rate monitor, IP67 water resistance, unique Mobvoi UI.

Fitbit Ionic

With the Ionic, Fitbit finally delivered its first smartwatch, but perhaps more importantly to some, its best fitness tracker too. Running, biking, swimming, weight lifting – the Ionic has algorithms for tracking a range of different workouts, and in our testing it’s proven to be impressively versatile.

Fitbit says the Ionic’s GPS is better than anything else on the market, and we have to say it performed admirably in testing, while the four-plus days of battery life mean you won’t be taking it off your wrist as much as any of the smartwatches above.

The Ionic doesn’t have the option of a cellular connection, however, so you won’t get the standalone functionality you get with the Apple Watch Series 3 or the Samsung Gear S3. As to whether this is a bad thing or not, it depends if you class LTE as a feature or an excess.

Overall, some blemishes aside, the Ionic is a decent smartwatch that Fitbit fans and fitness trackers will really appreciate. Fitbit knows fitness, and it’s not half-assing this that’s for sure.

Feature check: GPS, heart rate monitor, onboard music, dedicated sports modes, Fitbit Pay.

Garmin Vivomove HR

If you want a fantastic blend of design and smarts, then the Vivomove is your best bet – it’s our choice for the best hybrid smartwatch you can buy right now.

The Vivomove HR offers watch designs for both men and women, adding a discreet display that only appears when you tap on the watch face. It’s also waterproof up to 50 metres so you can take it for a dip too.

On that nicely disguised display you’ll be able to see fitness tracking data, check in on your heart rate readings, view your smartphone notifications and even check on your stress levels. It’s essentially the Garmin Vivosport fitness tracker minus the built-in GPS in a much sleeker and stylish body.

Battery life is two weeks in watch mode and five days when you’re taking full advantage of the smartwatch features. On the whole, it’s a winner – quite literally: it picked up the best hybrid watch award at the 2017 Wareable Tech Awards.

Feature check: Heart rate monitor, run tracking, notification support, two week battery life.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Garmin Vivoactive HR was for a very long time our go-to smartwatch for sports lovers. Running, cycling, swimming, golf – Garmin’s smartwatch had you well and truly covered. With the Vivoactive 3, you’ll be getting more of the same, albeit with a more attractive circular watch design and features that make it more of an Apple Watch, Samsung Gear or Fitbit Ionic rival than before.

We have to start off with the new look, which is a welcome change from the blocky builds of the previous Vivo smartwatches. The 240 x 240 pixel display at the heart of the body is by no means the brightest or vibrant you’ll find, but crucially delivers strong visibility in most workout conditions whether you’re sweating it out indoors or outside.

As far as the number of sports available to track, it’s more of the same. Heart rate monitoring is decent if not class-leading, and it won’t keep you waiting around for a GPS signal. There’s now also rep counting for weight lifters and all the stress tracking goodies from Garmin’s fitness trackers, too. As sporty smartwatches go, this is the best in our eyes, and builds on all the good work Garmin did with its previous iterations.

Feature check: GPS/GLONASS, heart rate monitor, dedicated sports modes including swimming, Garmin Pay.