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Best Mesh Wi-Fi System [2021]

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TP LINK Deco M5

  • Connect up to 100 devices for an office environment
  • Up to 5,500 square feet of coverage
  • 3-year antivirus subscription and 2-year warranty included in the purchase

The TP LINK Deco M5 was designed to be very easy to setup. It’s also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa for voice control or if you prefer there is an app that’s compatible with both IOS and Android devices. When properly deployed it can cover up to 5,500 square feet.

This Wi-Fi network can connect to up 100 devices, this means the TP LINK Deco M5 could also be a great option for offices, and businesses with an expansive showroom. It could save you money versus cabling costs if, for example, your business is expanding into an older building with no structured cabling in place.

While it certainly has a lot of features that appeal to business, TP Link doesn’t lose sight of the functional features that matter most to families. This includes advanced parental controls with features that let you set time limits, group devices into a single profile setting, and it even deploys active content filtering.

The TP LINK Deco M5 designed with adaptive routing technology, which essentially chooses the highest performance signal for each network device. It even comes with a 3-year subscription to antivirus software powered by Trend Micro as well as a 2-year warranty with free 24/7 customer service.

This whole-home mesh Wi-Fi system by Tenda was designed to be easy to use, easy to set up and also able to work with other smart home systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. As a dual-band Wi-Fi network, it can support both 2.4 GHz and 5.0.

This Tenda Wi-Fi network includes LED range indicators on the nodes. This cuts down on the guesswork of placement for optimum coverage. It’s Nova Mesh Wi-Fi app further helps with setup and includes a suite of helpful tools that let you manage the network effectively.

There are also some basic parental controls as well as the ability to create a guest network. This lets you give network access to guests, yet they still don’t have access to your family’s more sensitive information. for letting guests have access to your home Wi-Fi without necessarily giving them access to more sensitive data.

Amazon’s impressive expansion into the tech and smart home device niche includes a lot of versatile solutions for modern-day living. Their thoughtfully designed eero Wi-Fi mesh network comes with an Echo Dot as well as a three-pack of Wi-Fi nodes. This bundle is also set up to work with the Apple Home Kit and Amazon Alexa.

This bundle offers 5,000 square feet of potential coverage. Yet it’s also expandable and has dual-band Wi-Fi signals that can simultaneously operate at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Amazon also engineered the eero to be easy to set up to the point that even tech-savvy can people typically set it up in less than 10 minutes via an intuitive eero app.

The “True Mesh Technology” effectively routes signal traffic to reduce congestion, buffering, and prevent drop off problems. There are even advanced parental controls that let you do things like pause access to specific devices as well as monitor content.

How We Picked

Wireless connectivity and Wi-Fi networks are increasingly popular. This has inspired many manufacturers and tech giants to rush their options to the consumer marketplace, to the point that it can be a little bit challenging to find the best Wi-Fi mesh network for you.

Right off the bat, a lot of the systems sold online and at the retail level talk about being “Whole Home” or some other type of family-oriented marketing lingo. Yet, there are a lot of instances where a mesh Wi-Fi network could be a cost-efficient option for business. Especially businesses that are set up in an older building where installing up-to-date cabling is cost-prohibitive, or a company that relies on an expansive showroom as part of their sales strategy.

While exploring the Mesh Wi-Fi Network options on the market, we tried to look for systems that have the features a family might prioritize, while also being thoughtful to represent business interests.

Family-Friendly Features For A Home Wi-Fi Mesh Network

Many homes simply aren’t designed with wireless connectivity in mind. Even just ten years ago the vast majority of internet signals were carried through ethernet wires or transmitted via a cellular signal from a local tower.

This means that in a lot of homes there are some “Dead Spots” or places where the signal strength is impeded to the point of being frustratingly slow. This is increasingly common in older and/or larger homes.

A Mesh Wi-Fi Network gets around this efficiently by using a series of nodes. With proper placement, each one communicates with the others to create a seamless network throughout the home without any frustrating areas of signal loss.

The number of nodes you need for your home will vary by size and might also be influenced by the structural materials and layout. Most two or three node Wi-Fi mesh networks will cover between 3,000 to 4,500 square feet.

Special features that a lot of homes and families prioritize include things like parental controls, as well as basic anti-virus software and the ability to prioritize devices. While filtering for these options, we also kept an eye out for other functional options like the ability to work seamlessly with popular “Smart Home” systems like Amazon’s Alexa, Echo Dot, or Google Home.

Mesh Wi-Fi Networks For Offices And Professional Means

Several tech manufacturers offer Mesh Wi-Fi network packages that appeal to offices, and other professional spaces. Yet, they also don’t lose sight of the fact that the same package might also be appealing to homeowners. Putting in our due diligence, we tried to also keep an eye out for these packages.

The coverage area tends to be a top priority for office Wi-Fi mesh networks. Especially for older buildings, and showroom spaces. Though a Wi-Fi mesh network might also be something to invest in a small public venue or a library. A Wi-Fi network that is “Expandable” or allows you to connect additional nodes to the same network at a later date, also tends to be appealing in professional applications.

Security and anti-virus software tend to be very high on the priorities list in a professional-use Wi-Fi network. A package that allows the user to create a “Guest Network” is also very handy. It allows you to give clients, visitors, and outside contractors access to the mesh Wi-Fi network without necessarily giving them access to sensitive information. Other special features like data encryption and advanced password protection also tend to be attractive in a professional use Wi-Fi network.

TP LINK Deco M5

TP LINK Deco M5

Specs:

  • Coverage up to 5,500 square feet
  • Connectivity for up to 100 devices
  • Guided assistance app
  • Adaptive routing technology
  • Device prioritization
  • Parental controls with active content filtering
  • Anti-virus software included for up to 3-years
  • 2-year warranty with 24/7 free tech support
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa

The TP LINK Deco M5 was designed to be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa. To that end, you can set it up for voice controls through your Alexa device or via an app that’s compatible with IOS and Android.

TP LINK Deco M5

It can connect up to 100 devices, which is nice if you want to use the TP LINK Deco M5 in an office setting. This is a great option for say letting your salesforce or customer service staff all stay connected to the network for looking up information and answering client questions.

The TP LINK Deco M5 was designed with adaptive routing technology, which essentially chooses the fasted path for each network device. This particular package can cover up to 5,500 square feet, which is great for a large home with an outbuilding, or an expansive office setting.

TP LINK Deco M5 packaging

The TP LINK Deco M5 comes with a 3-year subscription to antivirus software powered by Trend Micro. There are also parental controls that let you keep close tabs on what your children are viewing.

A 2-year warranty with free 24/7 customer services is included in the initial purchase. So, you know that if you do have a question or concern, you’ll have easy access to expert help without having to worry about a surprise bill appearing on your credit card. Of course, the TP LINK Deco M5 also comes with a guided assistance app and is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa.

What We Liked

The 3-year subscription to state-of-the-art antivirus software is a nice touch. Some of the direct competitors offer a one, three or six-month trial subscription, then charge you an annual fee after that.

The two-year warranty coverage, with 24/7 free tech support also makes a statement that TP LINK designed the Deco M5 for performance and that they believe in the product they are putting out.

Overall

Some competitors offer a Wi-Fi mesh system with more sophisticated parental controls and other bells and whistles. Still, the TP LINK Deco M5 was designed to do the things you need a Wi-Fi network to do. The fact that it also can cater to an office environment also increases its versatile value.

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TP LINK Deco M5

  • Connect up to 100 devices for an office environment
  • Up to 5,500 square feet of coverage
  • 3-year antivirus subscription and 2-year warranty included in the purchase

Meshforce M1 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System, 3 Pack

Meshforce M1 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System, 3 Pack

Specs:

  • Up to 4,500 square feet of coverage
  • Expandable up to 10,000 square feet
  • Connect up to 50 devices
  • WPA2-PSK Mixed WiFi security
  • Ability to set up a guest network
  • Dual-band capabilities
  • Parental controls
  • Easy set up in under 10-minutes

The Meshforce M1 was designed to be a “Whole-Home” Wi-Fi mesh network. Though it could just as easily support an office environment. This particular three-pack provides up to 4,500 square feet of coverage, and it can connect up to 50-devices. The Meshforce M1 is also expandable to 10,000 square feet. It also has dual-band capability at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

Meshforce M1 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System and smartphone

WPA2-PSK Mixed WiFi security with password encryption to keep hackers and unwanted users from accessing your network. Yet it also gives you the ability to create a guest network without exposing your sensitive information. It also has sophisticated parental controls that let you limit your children’s exposure to media, control screen time, and reduce the risk of internet addiction.

Meshforce M1 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System

Meshforce also made a conscious effort to make this Wi-Fi network easy to set up and maintain. Most people can install it ready for use in under 10-minutes. It also comes with a My Mesh app, for IOS and Android devices that allow you to keep track of the network even when you are away from home.

What We Liked

The dual-band capability and the ability to expand coverage up to 10,000 square feet is nice for large homes and businesses that need to maintain a wireless network across a large sales floor.

At the same time, the ability to set up a guest network with proper security features and encrypted passwords lets you keep your sensitive information secure, while still allowing for approved guest access.

Overall

The word “Whole Home” might appear in the Meshforce M1 title, but you shouldn’t let that lure you into thinking that it’s only for residential applications. This Wi-Fi network has versatility, security, coverage, and expandability to serve a wide range of businesses.

Amazon eero Mesh WiFi System 3-Pack With Echo Dot

Amazon eero Mesh WiFi System 3-Pack With Echo Dot

Specs:

  • Up to 5,000 square feet of coverage
  • Expandable for larger structures
  • Easy setup with eero app
  • Comes with Echo Dot
  • Parental controls
  • Works with Apple Home Kit And Alexa
  • Automatically updates safety and security software
  • True Mesh Technology efficiently routes signal traffic

Amazon has an increasing presence in a lot of markets, especially with tech, and smart home devices. This includes their thoughtfully designed eero Wi-Fi mesh network. This particular package comes with an Echo Dot and a three-pack of Wi-Fi nodes. It also works with the Apple Home Kit or Amazon’s Alexa.

Amazon eero Mesh WiFi System 3-Pack With Echo Dot

This gives it up to 5,000 square feet of coverage. Though if you have a larger home or a business with a showroom it is easily expandable. It has dual-band WiFi radios, that can operate simultaneously at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Setup is very easy and even people who aren’t necessarily tech-savvy can typically get it up and running in less than 10 minutes. This is thanks in part to the eero app.

Amazon eero Mesh WiFi System

This eero Wi-Fi mesh network has “True Mesh Technology” which routes signal traffic efficiently to reduce congestion, buffering, and drop off problems. It also automatically updates safety and security features to make sure your system is optimized. Security and network services include WPA2 encryption, Family Profiles, threat scans, content warnings, and ad-blocking.

It has advanced parental controls that make it easy for you to manage devices in your home. This includes the ability to pause access if you think one of your children has had too much screen time.

What We Liked

The overall ease of use makes the eero Wi-Fi mesh convenient for everyone, including people who aren’t very tech-savvy, yet still need a wireless network in their home.

The ability to work with Alexa, Apple Home Kit and the Echo Dot make it easy to fit in with your existing or planned smart home devices.

Overall

The Amazon eero is thoughtfully designed, versatile, and easy to set up. It updates itself while giving you total control of access across the network.

If there’s something to complain about it’s the fact that it only comes with a 30-day trial of the Secure+ upgrade. After that, you have to pay a monthly subscription to use its more advanced features. Though this is relatively common in many, but not all the competition.

Google WiFi system, 3-Pack – Router replacement for whole home coverage (NLS-1304-25)

Google WiFi system, 3-Pack

Specs:

  • Dual-band at 2.4 of 5 GHz
  • Up to 4,500 square feet of coverage
  • Network Assist software
  • Companion app
  • Ability to prioritize devices
  • Family controls

Google is constantly growing its presence throughout all things tech. So, it’s no surprise that they offer a Wi-Fi mesh network designed to cater to the needs of homeowners and families. The Google NLS-1304-25 is a three-pack designed to be a whole home router replacement network.

Google WiFi system

This particular three-pack was designed to be very easy to setup. However, you will need an active Google account, a smartphone, a modem and of course a reliable broadband connection coming to your home. This will allow you to download the special Google Wi-Fi app.

Google WiFi system and smartphone

The app lest you closely control every aspect of the network. This includes things like the ability to prioritize devices, which is handy if you want more bandwidth available to a home theater or a gaming system. There’s also a network assist feature that actively works to find the clearest signal for each device in the network.

The family controls are also thoughtfully engineered. You can even use the Google Wi-Fi app to “Pause” signal to specific devices. This is very handy for getting your kids off their phone for meal times or making sure that they aren’t using their phones after bedtime.

What We Liked

The Google Wi-Fi companion app is very intuitive giving you the ability to truly customize the network mesh to your family’s specific needs. Being able to prioritize devices that need more bandwidth and being able to keep a careful finger on your children’s access is a truly commanding experience.

Overall

This is a thoughtfully designed Wi-Fi mesh network with a lot of the features a family wants to see. The parental controls, and device prioritization, and the network assist maximize performance while keeping you in control.

Of course, you do have to invest in Google’s line to make it work, but that’s par for the course with everything they do. If you’re already a fan of Google’s line or you’re already using some of their Smart Home devices, then it’s a no-brainer.

NETGEAR Orbi Tri-band Whole Home Mesh WiFi System with 3Gbps Speed (RBK50)

NETGEAR Orbi Tri-band Whole Home Mesh WiFi System with 3Gbps Speed (RBK50)

Specs:

  • Tri-Band at up to 3GB
  • Up to 5,000 square feet of coverage
  • Supports up to 25 devices
  • Optimized for internet plans up to 5 MB
  • Works with Amazon’s Alexa
  • A 30-day trial of NetGear Armor’s Security
  • Advanced parental controls
  • Up to 7 LAN ports per node

NetGear’s presence in the tech space has been growing quickly in recent years as they embrace thoughtfully designed tech products that make life easier. Their new Orbi Wi-Fi mesh system is available in a few different configurations. This particular 2-pack was designed for families who prioritize security and parental controls.

NETGEAR Orbi Tri-band and smartphone

For a two-pack, this Wi-Fi mesh offers an impressive up to 5,000 square feet of coverage and can support up to 25 devices. This is thanks in part to the tri-band technology, which helps maintain and optimize multiple connections without having to sacrifice network speed.

The NetGear Orbi Wi-Fi Mesh is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa. It also comes with a 30-day free trial of NetGear’s Armor Anti-Virus and Security Software. If you like it they offer it at a reasonable $69.99 per year.

NETGEAR Orbi Tri-band

There is a sophisticated suite of parental controls that allow you to do things like view the history of sites visited as well as filtering websites for appropriate media. This goes a long way toward eliminating accidental exposure to inappropriate media or catching activity early. NetGear also offers an upgraded suite of special features for $4.99 per month. This gives you the ability to do things like set time limits for users as well as scheduling access.

What We Liked

The Tri-Band technology and the wide 5,000 square feet of coverage from two nodes certainly stands-out and helps maximize performance throughout the network. Being able to sync with Amazon’s Alexa is also handy for homes that already use the system or want to invest in it as part of their Smart Home solutions.

Overall

The NetGear Orbi rides on the front lines of innovation in Wi-Fi mesh networks. It has a lot of the features that a family will prioritize.

The knock here is that all of the security and advanced parental controls come at an extra cost. This does add to the overall long-term cost of the system, which is a little bit on the high side. Still, if you have the budget space for it, they are worth the money.

Tenda Whole Home Mesh WiFi System – Dual Band

Tenda Whole Home Mesh WiFi System

Specs:

  • Coverage up to 3,000 square feet
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Nova Wi-Fi Management App
  • Parental controls
  • LED range indicator
  • Ability to create a guest network
  • 3-year warranty
  • 24/7 tech support
  • Easy to add additional nodes for expanding the network

This Tenda whole-home mesh Wi-Fi system was designed to be easy to set up as well as integrate seamlessly with any new or existing smart home devices. It works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s engineered for dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5.0.

Tenda Whole Home Mesh WiFi System


This Wi-Fi mesh was designed for easy setup. One complaint that sometimes comes up with people who aren’t very tech-savvy is knowing exactly where to place the nodes for optimum performance. Tenda attempts to solve this issue by including LED range indicators. This helps take a lot of the guesswork out of the process. The Nova Mesh Wi-Fi app also has helpful tools and helps you manage the network from just about anywhere.

Tenda Whole Home Mesh WiFi System

This Wi-Fi Mesh network also includes some basic parental controls. It includes a parent-friendly Wi-Fi timeout feature. There’s also a feature that lets you create a guest network, which is nice for letting guests have access to your home Wi-Fi without necessarily giving them access to more sensitive data.

What We Liked

The price is honestly one of the most attractive things about this network. When you take a look at all the features it offers, then compare the price to the competitors, there’s an obvious saving.

The LED range indicators are also a nice touch that helps you set up your network to catch all the dead spots as well as areas that might simply suffer from reduced signal clarity.

The three-year warranty with 24/7 tech support is also a nice touch. There are several competitors with more than twice the price point that don’t offer this robust coverage protection. It makes a real statement about how much Tenda stands behind this otherwise bargain-priced Wi-Fi network.

Overall

This is a great value-priced option for families who want to get a home Wi-Fi network but don’t want to pony up the high price tag that you see with so many of the competitors. Some of the features maybe aren’t as sophisticated as the software that you see with those higher-priced units. Still, at this friendly price tag, there’s a lot of functionality to like, without all the bells and whistles.

Buyers Guide

These days “Smart Home” devices and media streaming are incredibly popular. As more and more manufacturers and providers are offering competitive services their popularity seems likely to continue to grow for many years to come.

Of course, wireless connectivity and things like voice control are a critical component of this impressive evolution on home technology. A reliable WiFi network in the home is equally important to make sure that wireless routers, smart devices, and other components can connect seamlessly, without interruption due to distance or structural things like walls, metal studs or brick. It’s especially popular in larger homes here distance from one room to the next or one floor to the next could be significant.

Sometimes range extenders can help fill in wireless signals in trouble spots and “Dead Zones” within a house. Unfortunately, they usually have limited bandwidth, which can impede performance. Especially if your home office tends to one of these dead zones in your house.

Additional access points like an in-room ethernet connection you to maintain a full bandwidth connection to the nearest wireless router, regardless of the connection. Unfortunately, they’re not always that convenient.

A Wi-Fi Mesh Network is essentially a hybrid system consisting of multiple network components that are all connected to your home’s main router. It’s designed to work directly with “Nodes” or “Satellite Modules” that you place in key areas of your home. This could include high traffic areas like the main living room, as well as personal spaces like bedrooms, home offices, or a workshop.

These nodes are all connected to the same wireless signal and share the same SSID as well as the same password. One important difference between a Wi-Fi mesh network and range extenders is that range extenders tend to communicate with the local router through a 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band. Whereas a Wi-Fi mesh system has the satellite nodes communicating seamlessly with each other. This essentially means that each node is serving as a connection for the others to ensure that even a node that is far from the primary router will still have a strong signal. Some of these systems will even use a dedicated radio band to connect and the router. In this type of setup outside clients and guest users on the network can make the most out of the standard 2.4 or 5 GHz bands.

The overarching goal of a Wi-Fi mesh network is to seamlessly connect multiple components to the main router. Then the main router connects to the primary modem to crease a single, blanket of coverage.

Key Features Of A WiFi Mesh Network

There is a fair amount of difference between a traditional router set up with a range extender and a Wi-Fi Mesh network. Right off the bat the router and the satellite nodes use their internal antennas. Most manufacturers make it a point to disguise nodes tastefully, so you can leave them out in relatively plain sight, with them looking out of place.

Most have one or more LAN ports to connect to other physical devices like a flatscreen TV, home audio system, desktop computer or a gaming console. A few even include USB ports, but this is a decreasing trend.

Most Wi-Fi mesh networks are multi-band use 802.11ac wireless technology and operate either on a 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz or its dedicated radio band. Though there are models that are set up to support MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output) technologies. This gives them the ability to simultaneously stream data to multiple network devices.

Wi-Fi Mesh Network Special Features

They often use some form of “Band Steering” which helps to select the cleanest or least-crowded radio band to optimize network performance. This is especially helpful for homes in dense urban or suburban areas where the signal density of all forms tends to be high.

Other special features include things like:

Parental Controls – Which helps families better filter the level of access children have to various media messages and images. This includes things like accidental exposure to inappropriate media. Parental controls with active content filtering further help keep your children from accidental exposure to inappropriate media and maybe a priority for families with a wide range of ages.

Some parental control features also include features that let you limit or restrict access to certain individual devices. This is handy for keeping children off their phone or tablet at mealtimes or making sure they aren’t on their phone after bedtime.

Guest Networking – Is a very popular option for homes with frequent visitors such as teenage friends coming over to game together or watch movies. It is also handy for a Wi-Fi mesh network in a small business with spread out office spaces.

Device Prioritization – This feature essentially lets you allocate a higher percentage of the bandwidth to a particular device or user. This might be something like a flatscreen TV, gaming system, a desktop computer for a graphic designer or some type of streaming device.

Guided Assistance Apps – This is an app that comes free with the initial purchase. It’s designed to help less tech-savvy people set up and optimize their Wi-Fi mesh network.

Adaptive Routing Technology – This is a special software feature where the network determines the fastest signal path for each device to optimize performance on its own.

Anti-Virus Software – Included in the package to help keep your home or office network up to date on the latest protection features.

Compatibility With Other Smart Home Devices – Many Wi-Fi mesh networks are compatible with multiple smart home systems. Though there are a few that are specifically designed to work best with a particular affiliated brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is A Range Extender Or Wi-Fi Mesh System Better For A Whole-Home Network?

A: On the face of it, range extenders are a technology that seems doomed to eventually be phased out due to the potentially limited bandwidth. In some situations, a Dead Zone connected to a range extender might only be able to support half of the total bandwidth. This would be unacceptable if this dead zone happened to be the home theatre in your basement or the computer lab being used by a team of graphic artists.

Wi-Fi Mesh systems don’t have this same limitation, and proper placement can even have a greater range. They also tend to not have the same visual impact as range extender hardware. A Wi-Fi network also tends to be easier to use and the transition from one part of the home or office is typically seamless. However, set up can potentially take a little longer which might be addressed if you are tech-savvy or you have access to some level of professional IT support.

It’s also worth noting that networks that use range extenders also require you to manage multiple network names. Sometimes the names assigned may not be immediately obvious. Especially if you are going to frequently have guest users such as gamer friends or visiting clients.

Q: Do You Need To Pay A Subscription To Use A Wi-Fi Mesh Network?

A: Once set up the Wi-Fi network itself doesn’t have any subscription costs. However, there might be other long-term costs associated with companion smart home devices that connect to the network. At the same time, many Wi-Fi mesh systems come with some type of affiliated anti-virus software on a limited contract. If you want to continue service beyond that time frame the anti-virus company may require you to pay an annual subscription fee.

Q: What Does “Expandable” Mean?

A: Some Wi-Fi mesh networks come in a basic package with one to three nodes. This typically gives them a range of anywhere from 500 to around 5,000 square feet. This is usually sufficient coverage for most large homes and small offices.

If you have a larger home, with outbuildings or perhaps a guest house, you might need more than 5,000 square feet of coverage. At the same time businesses with a large office space or an expansive sales floor/showroom might also need more coverage than the basic package can handle. A Wi-Fi network that’s “Expandable” makes it easier to accommodate these needs.

Q: How Many Wi-Fi Nodes Do I Need?

A: The material construction of the home or business, as well as the number of floors, can potentially influence coverage clarity. As a general rule of thumb, one node will cover between 500 too 1,000 square feet, which makes it a good option for small homes and apartments. A two-node Wi-Fi mesh network can cover between 1,500 to 3,000 square feet, which will cover most residential homes and modest office spaces. A three-node Wi-Fi mesh network can cover from 3,000 square feet up to 4,500.

Conclusion

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that Wi-Fi mesh networks are only meant for residential use. Many of the most popular packages indeed have the kind of functionality and features that appeal to families. This is arguably the demographic that has the highest demand.

Still, you shouldn’t let features like parental controls and “Smart Home” device compatibility lure you into thinking a WI-FI mesh network is only for a homeowner. When you take a moment to think about it in a broader sense, a seamless Wi-Fi network can be a perfect connectivity solution for many businesses.

Let’s say for example that your small business has outgrown your original building, but the new brick and mortar location you’re looking at is older and doesn’t have any up to date cabling infrastructure. A cabling company might give you a prohibitive quote in the thousands! Compare that to the cost of an expandable Wi-Fi network and your budget gets a whole lot friendlier.

If you have an auto dealership or a furniture store with expansive showrooms and office spaces a Wi-Fi mesh network could be very cost-effective. Sales staff, customer service personnel, and guests could all enjoy seamless access to your network without you having to endure the cost of traditional cabling.

Of course, if you have a family then you are likely looking for a Wi-Fi, network with a few more special features. Things like security encryption help ensure that you don’t have neighbors and strangers getting access to what could be sensitive information. Parental controls and a partner app with integration to other smart home devices are also attractive, as they give you greater control.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Best Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) [2021]

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CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD Mini Tower

  • 12 outlets with 6 linked to battery backup as well as surge protection
  • AVR buffering with Power Panel Management Software
  • Multi-function color LCD screen with up to 17-degrees of tilt for easy reading

The CyberPower CP1500 has a 1,000-Watt load capacity as well as 12 outlets. Of those outlets, 6 are reserved for battery backup with surge protection and the remaining 6 are surge protection only. This gives you the ability to make sure essential devices are powered in an outage, without having to worry about losing runtime to powering non-essential devices.

The CyberPower CP1500 a multi-function color LCD panel with the ability to tile it up to 17-degrees. This makes it easier to read if you want to keep the tower down low or in a hard to reach area. This UPS also comes with CyberPower’s Power Panel Management software which you can connect to a PC to help manage the system at a glance.

Amazon’s concerted push to make its presence known in the consumer electronics market includes a wide range of devices designed to cater to various needs. The Amazon Basics Standby has a 450-Watt load capacity which caters more to homes and single office workstations.

Yet it still does have an impressive 12 outlets with six directly connected to the battery backup and the remaining 6 are connected to just an internal surge protector. Technically it doesn’t have a traditional AVR, but the battery backup outlets do help buffer connected devices against abnormalities in the current coming from the grid. If you like, there is a free downloadable power management software available, and you can connect to the UPS via a USB port.

The bXterra 3000VA UPS SP3000LCDRT2U Smart Sine Wave UPS was designed to support small to medium size server rooms or larger office settings. It has a 27,000-Watt load capacity and 6 NEMA 5-20R as well as 1 NEMA 5-30R outlet, it has robust specs to support small to medium-size server rooms.

This UPS has pure sine wave line interactive topology as well as AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulation) to help protect connected devices from abnormalities that can occur during a brownout or surge. It’s also Energy Star certified. The batteries are hot-swappable. So if you purchase additional replacement batteries you can interchange them for added runtime in the event of a power outage that occurs when you are in the middle of a complicated process.

The bXterra 3000VA UPS SP3000LCDRT2U also comes with special “Power Frame” software which includes remote access features. This means you can still access the system if a power outage occurs when you or your IT staff are away from the facility.

How We Picked

These days making sure that your essential appliances and electronic devices receive consistent power is more important than ever. While a complete power outage is certainly a cause for concern, even a brownout or a momentary power surge can still damage electronics and lead to a loss of critical data.

Connecting your computer and other essential electronics to an uninterrupted power supply with built-in surge protection is a relatively inexpensive way to preserve high-value electronics. More commonly referred to as a UPS, these sophisticated devices pay for themselves with peace of mind.

Of course, there are a few things that go into finding the best-uninterrupted power supply for your home or office. Throughout the review process, we tried to keep our eyes out for key features and thoughtful engineering.

Wattage Capacity

Most of the best UPS systems use Watts as the unit of measure. To determine the capacity you need, you will have to check the wattage rating of each device you want to connect. You can find this in the owner’s manual or stamped into the back or bottom.

For our review process, we tried to target UPS systems that had at least an 800 Watt load capacity. This should be enough to let you safely power down a typical home or small office during a power outage. Though we did make sure to include a few lower wattage budget models that you might want to place in a child’s bedroom. Some units are designed to handle more than just a single office, with the wattage requirements and sophisticated software to support a server room or similar IT environment.

AVR

Automatic Voltage Regulation is increasingly popular for protecting today’s sophisticated, yet often sensitive electronic devices. A brownout or a power surge that manages to make it from the external power grid to a plugged-in laptop, or server could cause severe damage as well as potential data loss.

AVR essentially acts as a buffer against these problems. We tried to look for it, or something similar in the UPS systems we reviewed.

Connectivity And Management Software

A lot of the best UPS systems on the market today have some type of management software. This lets you check the status of your system at a glance, or make any necessary alterations. Remote access via a cloud-enabled system was also something we tried to keep an eye out for when it comes to units with a higher price tag.

APC 1500VA BR1500G UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector

APC 1500VA BR1500G UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protectorge Protector

Specs:

  • 865 Watts
  • 10 Outlets (5 are surge protection only)
  • AVR
  • Data line surge protection
  • User-replaceable, hot-swappable batteries
  • PowerChute software with energy management features
  • Auto shutdown software
  • 3-year warranty

The APC BR1500 G was designed to handle up to 865 watts and was engineered with AVR. It has a total of 10 outlets, but only five of them are directly connected to the battery backup and surge protector. The other 5 are only surge protector outlets. This lets you connect your essential electronics without worrying about non-essential devices draining the power. It also has data line surge protection ports on the back.

APC 1500VA BR1500G back

The batteries are “User Replaceable” meaning that you can replace them yourself without worrying about voiding the 3-year warranty that comes included in the purchase.

APC 1500VA BR1500G UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector

They are also hot-swappable, which means you can exchange spent batteries with replacements without interrupting the power flow to your essential electronics.

APC 1500VA BR1500G UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector

There’s an LCD that lets you monitor the system status. The APC BR1500 G comes with automatic shutdown software as well as “PowerChute” energy management features that can be linked to a laptop.

What We Liked

The fact that you can replace the hot-swappable batteries yourself without voiding the 3-year 150,000 warranty coverage is a definite feather in the APC BR1500 G’s cap.
Though you will have to purchase the replacement batteries separately.

Overall

This is a great UPS for a professional or home office, though it could also play an important role in protecting a home theatre system.

Tripp Lite SMART1500LCDT 1500VA 900W UPS Battery Back-Up

Tripp Lite SMART1500LCDT

Specs:

  • 900 Watts
  • 10 outlets (5 with battery backup and surge protection)
  • AVR
  • TEL/DSL/Ethernet protection
  • 3-year warranty with $250,000 insurance
  • Management software
  • LCD status display screen
  • USB ports to connect to a PC
  • Sine wave output

The Tripp Lite SMART1500LCDT was designed to support a professional or home office, with up to 10 outlets. Five of which are connected to the 900-Watt internal battery backup with surge protection, while the other five are connected just to the surge protector. Tripp Lite notes that this system can power an average PC with a runtime of up to 90-minutes.

Tripp Lite SMART1500LCDT 1500VA 900W UPS Battery Back-Up

With the TEL/DSL/Ethernet protection, it allows you to connect essential devices like a router, computer tower, desktop monitor and printer during a power outage. It also comes with AVR to help buffer the system against surges, and brownouts.

Tripp Lite SMART1500LCDT back

The Tripp Lite SMART1500LCDT also has management software built-in. You can control it with the LCD status display screen or if you prefer there are USB ports that allow you advanced control by connecting to a PC.

What We Liked

The three-year warranty itself is on par with industry standards, however, the $250,000 insurance coverage is above par. You also shouldn’t overlook the sine wave output which reduces the risk of damage for certain AC motor appliances like a refrigerator or a microwave.

Overall

The 900-Watt capacity, AVR, and warranty coverage tick all the necessary boxes to make the Tripp Lite SMART1500LCDT one of the best UPS systems on the market. If there’s an area where it might be lacking, it’s that the batteries aren’t hot-swappable. Meaning you only really have the charge that’s in them to save data or run your entertainment equipment.

CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD Mini Tower

CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD Mini Tower

Specs:

  • 1,000-Watt capacity
  • 12 outlets with 6 being surge only
  • AVR
  • Multi-function color LCD with tilt
  • Power panel management software
  • 3-year warranty with $500,000 insurance coverage
  • Power panel management software with dual USB ports

The CyberPower CP1500 was thoughtfully designed to be easy to use. With a 1,000 Watt capacity and 12 outlets, with 6 reserved for surge protection only, it gives you the ability to power multiple essential devices.

CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD Mini Tower

It also has AVR or automatic voltage regulation, which helps protect devices from brownouts and unforeseen power surges.

CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD Mini Tower

There is a multi-function color LCD panel that tilts up to 17-degrees. It also has CyberPower’s Power Panel Management software which you can control via the display screen, or you can connect a PC via one of the two USB ports.

CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD Mini Tower

The CyberPower CP1500 comes with a standard three-year warranty as well as an impressive $500,000 of insurance for connected devices.

What We Liked

On paper, the 17-degree tilt on the color LCD might not seem all that impressive. Still, when you consider that most people place their UPS down on the floor or some other out-of-the-way place, it spares you having to stoop over at awkward angles just to see what’s going on.

The 12 outlets with 6 having battery backup and surge protection are also 2 to 4 more than a lot of the direct competitors with similar characteristics and prices.

Overall

The CyberPower CP1500 is a great UPS for the money. It has the nuts and bolts functions you want like AVR and power management software. The easy-to-read color LCD with a tilted face is something you might come to appreciate more than you think.

Sale


CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD Mini Tower

  • 12 outlets with 6 linked to battery backup as well as surge protection
  • AVR buffering with Power Panel Management Software
  • Multi-function color LCD screen with up to 17-degrees of tilt for easy reading

Amazon Basics Standby UPS 800VA 450W Surge Protector Battery Backup

Amazon Basics Standby UPS

Specs:

  • 450 Watts
  • 12-outlets 6 with battery backup
  • Downloadable free energy management software
  • USB port connection
  • 1-year warranty with $75,000 insurance

In recent years Amazon has been making a conscious push to expand into the world of consumer electronics. With a 450 Watt load capacity, the UPS – 800 VA was designed to cater to homes and offices with a slightly lower wattage need.

Amazon Basics Standby UPS

Though it still does have 12 outlets. Six of which are directly connected to the battery backup as well as a surge protector and another 6 are connected to just an internal surge protector. It’s worth noting that in this configuration there isn’t any sort of traditional AVR. However, the six outlets that are connected to the battery backup will still be regulated against abnormalities in the incoming AC.

Amazon Basics Standby UPS

It’s also worth noting that the Amazon Basics UPS – 800 VA produces a simulated sine wave in the current provided by the battery backup. This means it’s not a good option for certain electronics that have an AC motor. Essentially, you can hook up your TV or desktop monitor without concern, but it’s not a good idea for a minifridge with an AC compressor.

There’s also free downloadable power management software. You can then connect a PC to the UPS via a USB port.

What We Liked

You can’t argue with the price of this bargain UPS system. The number of outlets on such a relatively small UPS device is also impressive.

Overall

There aren’t a lot of sophisticated features with this budget UPS system. Still, it has what you need to keep a computer or the basic electronics in a child’s bedroom operating long enough to safely power down in an outage.

bXterra 3000VA UPS SP3000LCDRT2U Smart Sine Wave UPS

bXterra 3000VA UPS SP3000LCDRT2U Smart Sine Wave UPS

Specs:

  • 2,700 Watts
  • 6 NEMA 5-20R outlets
  • 1 NEMA 5-30R outlet
  • Pure sine wave with line interactive topology
  • AVR
  • Power Frame software with remote access feature
  • Energy Star certified UPS
  • Rotating LCD screen
  • 3-year warranty with $350,000 insurance coverage

The bXterra 3000VA UPS SP3000LCDRT2U Smart Sine Wave UPS is a full step up from the smaller UPS systems on the market. With it’s 27,000-Watt load capacity and 6 NEMA 5-20R as well as 1 NEMA 5-30R outlet, it has the robust specs to support small to medium-size server rooms.

bXterra 3000VA UPS SP3000LCDRT2U Smart Sine Wave UPS

It has pure sine wave line interactive topology with automatic voltage regulation. This gives it the ability buffer to protect your sensitive electronics from surge and brownout events that affect the power grid or your building’s internal wiring.

bXterra 3000VA UPS SP3000LCDRT2U Smart Sine Wave UPS

The bXterra 3000VA UPS SP3000LCDRT2U Smart Sine Wave UPS is Energy Star certified and has hot-swappable batteries. This means if you have charged replacement batteries on hand that you can extend the overall runtime of the system for times when you might need to complete an important task or you need more time shutting the system down safely.

This system also has power frame software with remote access features. Even if you are not at the building during a power outage you can manage the system via a laptop or other wireless device.

What We Liked

The pure sine wave line interactive topology with 2,700-Watt load capacity and AVR is what you want to see for supporting a NAS box or other small data station.

You also have to like the Power Frame Software with remote access for managing a power outage when you might happen to be away from the facility.

Overall

This a great UPS system for a small server room or a NAS box with other attached network devices. The Energy Star certification is also a nice touch. You can even invest in replacement batteries for a hot-swap to make sure the system can still operate if a power outage occurs while you are doing something like installing software updates.

APC Smart Ups Pure Sinewave UPS Battery Backup

APC Smart Ups Pure Sinewave UPS Battery Backup

Specs:

  • 2,700 Watts
  • Power Chute Software
  • Cloud-enabled with secure web portal
  • 6 primary outlets

On the face of it, the Smart-UPS SMT3000C has a lot of the physical engineering you want to see in a UPS that’s designed to support a small to medium size server environment.

APC Smart Ups Pure Sinewave UPS Battery Backup

It’s also cloud-enabled for remote access through a secure encrypted web portal. To use it, you simply connect the UPS to your router via an ethernet connection, then you register it and the Power Chute software helps guide you through the process.

APC Smart Ups Pure Sinewave UPS Battery Backup

It has six primary outlets and AVR to help regulate AC power and prevent damage from surges or brownout events. It has an automatic green mode that monitors and manages the system for peak performance.

What We Liked

The Cloud enabled connectivity with secure remote access is very nice for times when there might be a power outage or another system fault that needs your attention, but you are away from the building. The intuitive interface and superior technical support offered by APC also makes it easy to maintain your network, even if you don’t have a dedicated on-site IT staff.

Overall

The APC Smart Ups Pure Sinewave UPS Battery Backup has all the nuts and bolts you want to see in a UPS system to support your IT environment. The software is easy to use and offers you secure, remote access.

If there’s a complaint here, it’s that the price tag is a little bit on the high side. This is likely due to APC assuming that companies without an IT staff will be recruiting support from APC’s tech support. If you already have a reliable IT staff on-site, you could save money by looking at a lower-priced competitor.

OPTI-UPS DS1500B (1500VA/1050W) Online Double Conversion Sinewave

OPTI-UPS DS1500B (1500VA1050W) Online Double Conversion Sinewave

Specs:

  • Sinewave on-line, double-conversion, single-phase (2W+G)
  • 1050 Watts
  • Automatic sensing
  • Converts current AC to DC, and DC to AC
  • Zero transfer time
  • Smart fan speed control
  • Sophisticated software
  • 2-year warranty protection

The OPTI DS1500B is a double conversion UPS that can convert the current from AC to DC and then back from DC to AC. This has the net effect of making it more energy-efficient, as well as versatile. Though it does require the internal cooling fan to run frequently.

OPTI-UPS DS1500B (1500VA1050W) Online Double Conversion Sinewave

The double conversion engineering is designed to isolate the outside environment by efficiently converting power from AC to DC. This same current can then be converted back to AC. This works to buffer surges and brownouts that can influence the grid, to keep them from damaging your sensitive electronics. The three robust internal batteries provide uninterrupted power.

OPTI-UPS DS1500B (1500VA1050W) Online Double Conversion Sinewave

There is a suite of software that you can install which will provide you with secure remote access. It can also be set up to shut down a Windows server unattended. OPTI also offers a 2-year warranty with this the DS1500B.

What We Liked

The double conversion topology is a nice way to replicate AVR, without compromising energy efficiency. The suite of software that can also be set up to shut down a Windows server unattended is also a nice touch.

Overall

The OPTI-UPS DS1500B is arguably set up to support a server environment of a small office NAS box, rather than say a home theater system. Taken in that light, it has pretty much all the hardware and software features you need, at a price that outstrips the competition.

Unfortunately, the double conversion topology also means the internal fan will run nearly continuously. So, it’s best to give it its environment where you don’t have to deal with the soft, white noise all day long.

CyberPower EC850LCD Ecologic UPS System, 850VA/510W, 12 Outlets

CyberPower EC850LCD Ecologic UPS System

Specs:

  • 510 Watts
  • 12 outlets 6 battery backup, and 6 surge protector
  • 3 Eco mode outlets
  • USB communication port
  • 3-year warranty
  • $100,000 insurance

The CyberPower EC850LCD was designed to support the backup power needs of a single desktop computer, a work station or a modest-sized home theater.

CyberPower EC850LCD Ecologic UPS System

It’s rated for 510 Watts and includes 12 total outlets. Of them, 6 are connected to the battery backup and the internal surge protector. Of the 6 remaining outlets, all of them are surge protector only, with three being on the Eco outlets, which shut down power when a device goes to sleep or is turned off.

CyberPower EC850LCD Ecologic UPS System

There is a small LCD panel that lets you monitor the UPS at a glance. Though there’s also a USB communication port, which lets you connect to a laptop, which could be handy if you want to tuck the CyberPower EC850LCD out of sight.

There’s also a 3-year warranty with $100,000 insurance. This is pretty impressive for such a small and inexpensive UPS.

What We Liked

The CyberPower EC850LCD’s low price tag combined with a variety of outlets let you connect a lot of low wattage devices. The three Eco ports are also a nice touch for devices that turn off automatically or go to sleep like a digital picture frame.

Overall

You’re not going to keep a whole office powered up for more than a few minutes with this 510-Watt UPS. Still, it has the load capacity to let you power down a single computer station or home theater in the event of a sudden power outage. At such a low price point, you’re probably also going to buy the CyberPower EC850LCD as much for being a surge protector as a battery backup system.

Buyers Guide

Right off the bat, the temptation is to assume that an uninterrupted power supply system is only necessary for power outages. Sure, they are an absolute life-saver for a short-to-mid-term blackout. However, that’s not the only time you might consider yourself blessed to have a UPS in your home or office.

On the face of it, an uninterrupted power supply is a sophisticated battery backup system that is designed to power your essential electronics during a power outage. They play a critical role in preventing data loss or the potential hardware stress that can sometimes occur during a hard shutdown.

At the same time, a quality UPS also acts as a surge protector. This can be especially handy if a local power surge affects your area, which can cause short-term damage or reduce an electronic device’s long-term lifespan.

Beyond surges and total blackouts, there are a few other scenarios where a UPS can come in handy. Especially, if for powering essential office electronics to maintain the normal flow of operations. This includes things like:

A Brownout is where there is a prolonged drop in voltage. Some brownouts are related to weather, though with our aging electrical infrastructure it could be a failure in part of the electrical grid. Sometimes a brownout is an early warning sign of a blackout. Being able to keep essential electronics powered up can help you prepare for total power loss. Especially if you need to do things like backup crucial data.

A Voltage Sag is like a miniature brownout. The problem here is that they sometimes occur in a short series, which can potentially damage certain types of electrical equipment.

An Over Voltage Event is like a mini-surge that lasts longer than normal and can damage sensitive electronics. A UPS with a sophisticated surge protection feature helps buffer the voltage to keep electronic devices safe.

Line Noise can disrupt or potentially degrade the performance of a circuit.

Frequency Variation can be a problem if you are running off a generator and the power frequency fluctuates. Here again, the UPS acts as a buffer to maintain a consistent frequency level.

Different Topologies Of UPS System

At first glance, UPS systems pretty much all do the same thing. They act as a battery backup as well as a buffer against surges and other electrical events that might otherwise travel from the grid to your sensitive electronic devices.

However, different “Topologies” or types of UPS are engineered with features that cater better to specific needs.

A Standby UPS – Sometimes referred to as an Offline UPS, it essentially draws current from a standard electrical outlet and switches over to the power from the internal battery backup the instant it detects a power failure. This is arguably the most common type of UPS system and one you might often find in an individual office setting to provide backup power for a computer, printer or other electronic devices.
is the most common type of UPS found in a computer or office supply store. It draws current from the AC outlet and switches to the battery within a few milliseconds after detecting a power failure.

A Line-Interactive UPS – This type of system uses AVR or Automatic Voltage Regulation to effectively correct abnormalities in voltage without having to immediately resort to the reserve battery power. It does this through a special type of transformer that either lowers or boosts the voltage as needed. A

Line-Interactive UPS is essentially a buffer to protect your sensitive electronics from events that affect the power grid or the internal wiring of a building. They are particularly handy for protecting Network-Attached Storage devices and modest-size data storage servers.

A Double Conversion On-Line UPS – It shares a lot of features and functionality with a Standby UPS. One of the key differences is that it inverts the AC power to reduce heat output and improve efficiency.

Wattage Load Capacity

For a UPS system to run properly it must have the capacity to meet the power demands of every electronic device that’s connected to it. This is typically expressed in a wattage rating, that you can then correspond to the total overall load of the devices you plug into it.

To accurately calculate your load needs, you will have to add up the wattage of every single device you want to connect to the UPS. You can usually find this information in the owner’s manual. Though a lot of appliances and electronic devices will have some sort of plate stamped or printed on them with wattage and other key specs.

Once you have your load calculated you start filtering through the UPS systems that are closest to your needs. Though you shouldn’t push it right up to the limit. It’s a good idea to target a UPS system that is rated at least 10% higher than you need. Especially if you’re thinking of upgrading or updating your devices a year or two down the road.

To make your UPS run properly, your UPS has to be large enough to support all of the equipment plugged into it. You will need to find the UPS capacity. Capacity is how much power a UPS system can provide (measured in Watts). The higher the capacity, the more electronic equipment, and devices it can support. To find the UPS capacity, you will need to calculate the load. The Load is the combined amount of power each of the devices uses.

To identify the load, make an equipment list, including the total watts each piece of equipment requires to run properly. Include all of the devices the UPS will need to support. If a piece of equipment has a redundant power supply, only count the wattage of ONE power supply.

If you are unsure how many watts your equipment requires, consult the manufacturer or power supply specifications in the user manual.

The Number Of Outlets

A quality UPS system is not the sort of thing you want to daisy chain like Christmas lights. You really should have 1 outlet per power cord. Plugging in a power strip or a splitter is a bad idea and could impact performance when you need it most. If you plan to plug three devices in the UPS system, you need to find one that has at least three outlets.

Determining Runtime Needs

Since the UPS is essentially a sophisticated battery backup system, it has a finite capacity. As time goes on, the current stored inside the battery will gradually start to dwindle. The “Runtime” is essentially the number of minutes of consistent power the UPS system can support from a full charge.

It helps to take a moment to do a little thought experiment on how long you’ll want the power to your essential electronics. If you need time to save essential data on your laptop or print another copy of a business proposal during a short-term blackout, you might be fine with a shorter runtime. If you want to keep working for hours after a power outage, or you simply want enough power to finish watching a movie on a stormy day, while you wait for the power company to restore the lines, then you might prioritize a longer runtime.

It’s important to remember that the runtime will be influenced by the wattage of each device. The lower the wattage demand, the more minutes of runtime you will get from the batteries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I Need A UPS With A Sine Wave Or Simulated Sine Wave Output?

A: The power grid delivers AC power in a sinewave. When everything is operating normally, you UPS is simply passing this sine wave on to all the connected electronic devices. In the event of a power outage or brownout, the UPS will produce a sine wave or simulate a sine wave to your electronics.

With a simulated sine wave, there is sometimes a minor power gap during each cycle. Some appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, and air compressors with motors that run on AC electricity can be damaged by a simulated sine wave.

Q: What Is A Hot-Swappable Battery?

A: A UPS with hot-swappable batteries allows you to exchange additional backup batteries without having to shut the unit down. They are especially nice for times when your area suffers a prolonged power outage, and you want to continue working or using some essential electronics.

Q: What Is The Difference Between A Rack-Mounted UPS and a Tower?

A: With most UPS manufacturers a rack-mounted or tower UPS tends to have the same basic specifications and features. The rack-mounted version tends to be more popular for a UPS device that’s meant to support a server or a Network-Attached Storage device. If you are just looking to back up a single office computer, a work station or a home theater, then a tower is probably easier to work with.

Q: Why Do Some UPS Devices Only Have Half The Outlets Connected To The Battery Backup?

A: UPS manufacturers recognize that part of the value of the system is acting as a surge protector. At the same time, when there’s a power outage have a ton of devices plugged into the battery backup outlets. The last thing you want is the lamp in the corner or a digital picture frame on the wall draining current and reducing the overall runtime available to safely shut down your workstation computer.

Q: Should I Max Out The Load Capacity?

A: While each UPS is rated for specific maximum load capacity, it’s also best not to push it to the max. The general rule of thumb is to only ask it to deliver 80% of the maximum load capacity at any one time. So, if you have a UPS that’s rated for 1,000-Watt maximum load capacity, you should try to keep the wattage demand of the devices on the battery backup side to around 800 Watts.

Conclusion

Investing in a UPS system makes a lot of sense beyond just buying you some extra time to save your work or finish watching a movie when the power goes out. A quality UPS system also helps protect your investment in the electronic devices and data it supports. In a worst-case scenario, a single surge or brownout event could cause thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Taken in this light even a high-priced UPS system pays for itself in short order.

Finding the best UPS system for you still will require a little filtering and some basic mathematics. Right off the bat, you will want to double-check the wattage rating for each device you want to connect. This will give you a target range for load capacity to help weed out the field.

If you aren’t going to support a server or NAS box, then you can just stick to a “Standby UPS” If you do need to support some type of server environment, then you might want to prioritize a Line-Interactive or a Double conversion topology. In the case of a server support UPS, you might want to also look for a rack-mounted UPS rather than a tower.

At that point, you can start to dial in special features like management software and price. You should also keep an eye out for warranty coverage, as well as taking a look at how much insurance coverage the manufacturer offers for connected devices.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Best Gaming Monitors Under $300 [2021]

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Disclaimer: Prices might fluctuate due to the current situation.


AOC G2590FX 25″ Frameless Gaming Monitor

  • G-Sync compatible with an NVIDIA graphics card
  • Features for FPS games and converts SD content to HD for retro consoles
  • 1920 X 1080 resolution with 1ms, 144 Hz frame rate

The AOC G2590FX Frameless Gaming Monitor has a 24.5-inch frameless display with 1920 X 1080 resolution. It’s also engineered with 1ms, at a 144 Hz refresh rate with up to 20-levels of gray. These basic technical specs mean it’s definitely up to the task of handling some serious gaming. Though some special features do help set it apart from some of the competitors.

This includes AOC’s proprietary “Dial Point” which provides you superior accuracy for first-person shooters. The G2590FX has a special “Clear Vision” feature which is designed to covert SD content to HD quality images. This is especially nice if you have an old retro console around that you like to get nostalgic with.

When the AOC G2590FX is paired with an NVIDIA graphics card it’s compatible with G-Sync. It was also engineered to be “Flicker Free” and has a low blue light mode that helps to reduce eye strain for marathon gaming.

The Sceptre C248W-1920R is surprisingly affordable for a curved gaming monitor. You get the sense that it was specifically designed to appeal to gamers on a tight budget, who still don’t want to sacrifice visual quality. It also has multiple connection ports for HDMI, VGA, and PC as well as a display port

The curved display measures in at 24-inches to produce a more immersive viewing experience. It also has two built-in speakers that help enhance the audio experience, as well as additional audio ports. The sacrifice to make the price so low is that it only has a 75 Hz refresh rate. Even though it isn’t on the high end of what’s out there, it’s still respectable.


Acer Gaming Monitor 27” Curved ED273 Abidpx

  • 27-inch curved gaming monitor for an immersive experience
  • Vision Care Technologies to reduce eye strain for marathon gaming sessions
  • 178-degree viewing angle with up to 5-degrees of tilt

The Acer ED273 Abidpx is a high-quality curved gaming monitor that pushed right up to the limit of what you can buy for under $200. It measures in at 27-inches with 1080p resolution and it has a 144 Hz refresh rate which produces nearly cinematic quality images.

The Acer ED273 also offers a 178-degree viewing angle on both the horizontal and vertical. The mount is included in the purchase and it lets you tilt the gaming monitor by up to 15-degrees for a customized viewing experience.

This gaming monitor comes with a display port, as well as an HDMI port and a DVI port. This means you can potentially connect multiple devices at one time without having to waste a lot of time unplugging and plugging every time you want to switch to a new console.

Its also worth noting that this gaming monitor comes with Acer’s proprietary VisionCare Technologies which was designed for a flicker-less viewing experience and also includes a special Blue Light Filter, as well as low-dimming technology. This further helps reduce eye strain during marathon gaming sessions.

How We Picked

Manufacturing and tech improvements have helped high-quality gaming monitors to come down in price to the point where you can get a nice unit for under $200. Though in some cases, manufacturers have given into the temptation to cut a corner here and there.

Resolution And Refresh Rate

The refresh rate is a major criterion, that ranks up there right alongside resolution. We tried to filter out anything that was under 75 Hz. Ideally, 144 Hz was even better, but for a gaming monitor under $200, it’s pretty hard to find anything with a higher refresh rate. 1ms response rate is also somewhat standard, if not on the cutting edge for the best gaming monitors under $200.

When it comes to resolution, 1080p or the relative equivalent was also a key factor. Sure 4K is growing in popularity and availability as the way of the future. Unfortunately, it also tends to drive up the price, which makes it hard to keep your gaming system on a budget.

Flat Or Curved Display

Curved versus flat is also a key consideration that deserved to be weighed in on during the review process. In the past, a curved monitor usually landed outside of the $200 price range. It’s only been recent that they’ve come in reach of gamers working with a limited budget.

The advantage of a curved monitor is that you get a more immersive experience. If you’ve got a little bit more of a budget to play with, or you come into some money later on down the road, you can even link several of them together to make you feel like you’re inside the game. The downside of a curved monitor is that most of them feel awkward for times when you might want to play against a friend. It’s a little hard to share the same curved gaming monitor if you’re saying in a dorm room.

With a flat-screen gaming monitor, it’s much easier to have two people sit reasonably close together to play at the same time. Flat gaming monitors also tend to be a little lower in price, which can save you some money if you’re working with a slim budget.

Connection Ports

Connectivity and ports are also something we kept an eye out for. HDMI is sort of the standard now, though VGA still has a place in the gaming monitor world. Coming up fast and gaining traction is the display port, which allows you to connect a wider range of devices. When a unit had multiple connection ports we naturally moved it up the list for the simple fact that it spares you the hassle of unplugging and plugging in different consoles or devices when you want to use them.

Audio ports are also a nice touch as they let you connect to secondary speakers or even tap into a home audio system. Though most gaming monitors these days do come with some speakers built-in. You shouldn’t be overly dismayed if the wattage output of those speakers is a little on the low side. Especially when you consider that you’ll likely be sitting rather close to the gaming monitor.

Blue Light Filtering And Anti-Flicker

These are somewhat new technologies that are growing in demand. Right off the bat blue light reduction helps reduce eye strain, which is a big deal for marathon gamers. At the same time, there’s a growing body of research that points to excessive blue light exposure in the evenings contributing to certain sleep disorders.

A gaming monitor under $200 that also has some type of auto-dimming was something we saw as an added feather in the cap. While it’s not a make-or-break it type of feature, a lot of gamers do end up playing in low light conditions or a dark room. Bringing down the brightness output of the monitor by a miniscule 10 to 15% helps to reduce eye strain, while also making it easier to see what’s going on in the world around you.

ASUS VG245H 24-inch Full HD 1080p

ASUS VG245H 24-inch Full HD 1080p

Specs:

  • 24-inch display
  • 1080p resolution
  • Dual HDMI ports
  • Game Fast input technology
  • 75 Hz refresh rate
  • 1ms response time
  • Adaptive Sync
  • Eye care reduced blue light
  • Game Fast input technology

The ASUS VG245H attempts to marry a very friendly price point to the kind of essential features you want to find in a gaming monitor under $200. It measures in at 24-inches on the diagonal and displays images at 1080p resolution.

ASUS VG245H 24-inch Full HD 1080p

On the side, you will find dual HDMI ports, which is nice if you are using it for more than one device or console. It spares you having to constantly switch back and forth if you have more than one console.

ASUS VG245H 24-inch Full HD 1080p back

ASUS designed this gaming monitor with a 1ms response time and a refresh rate of 75 Hz. On paper, the frame rate is a little bit on the low side for a gaming monitor. Especially when you consider that some of the competitors have a 144 Hz refresh rate.

However, they compensate for this with their “Game Fast Input Technology” which helps to reduce input lag while making for better combos and in-game effects. The ASUS VG245H is compatible with AMD FreeSync technology which further helps to eliminate screen tearing as well as things like choppy frame rates.

The ASUS VG245H gaming monitor also has 6 pre-set display modes that are kinked to an OSD hotkey. With the single press of a button, you can cycle through different visual settings to find the one that is right for the visual dynamics of the game you are playing.

This gaming monitor was also engineered with “Eye Care” which essentially reduces blue light. While you might not notice the impact in the course of a single short session, it can help reduce eye strain for marathon gaming sessions.

What We Liked

The 6 preset display modes that are also linked to a single “OSD” hotkey is convenient, especially if you are taking advantage of the dual HDMI ports to switch between multiple consoles and/or games.

The “Eye Care” blue light reduction is also a nice touch. Especially for marathon gamers, or individuals who have noticed a link between late-night gaming and troubles falling asleep.

Overall

If you have multiple consoles and you want to be able to quickly switch from one to the next, or you want to be able to quickly optimize your visual experience, then the ASUS VG245H deserves to be on your radar. True the 75 Hz frame rate is a little on the low side, but this is compensated for in devices using a compatible AMD graphics card.


ASUS VG245H 24-inch Full HD 1080p

  • Blue light reduction for less eye strain when marathon gaming
  • 6 preset display modes linked to a hotkey
  • Dual HDMI ports for keeping multiple consoles connected at one time

AOC G2590FX 25″ Frameless Gaming Monitor

AOC G2590FX 25 Frameless Gaming Monitor

Specs:

  • 24.5-inch frameless display
  • 1920 X 1080 resolution
  • 144 Hz frame rate
  • Compatible with NVIDIA G-Sync
  • Low blue light mode
  • Clear Vision coverts SD to HD
  • 20 levels of gray

The AOC G2590FX measures in at 24.5-inches on the diagonal and is considered “Frameless.” It has a 1920 X 1080 resolution with a nice 1ms, 144 Hz frame rate. It also has 20-levels of gray.

AOC G2590FX 25 Frameless Gaming Monitor

Beyond the nuts and bolts technical components you’ll also find some special features that might be appealing if you like playing first-person shooters or you have a retro console that you still love to play. Their proprietary “Dial Point” was designed to give you superior accuracy for FPS and other games with first-person simulations.

AOC G2590FX 25 Frameless Gaming Monitor back

AOC also has what they call “Clear Vision” which is designed to covert SD content to HD quality images. This is nice for times when you might want to use a retro console, or you have some other older device that you want to connect to the gaming monitor.

When the AOC G2590FX is paired with an NVIDIA graphics card it’s compatible with G-Sync. It also has a “Flicker Free” low blue light mode that helps to reduce eye strain. It’s particularly nice for marathon gamers.

What We Liked

The Dual Point functionality certainly appeals to FPS gamers. You also have to like the Clear Vision feature for times when you might want to pull out a retro console.

Overall

There’s a lot to like in the AOC G2590FX technical specs. If you already have a new NVIDIA graphics card, and you like first-person shooters or you have a retro console that you’d like to dust off for a few more goes, it probably deserves to be floating near the top of your list.


AOC G2590FX 25″ Frameless Gaming Monitor

  • G-Sync compatible with an NVIDIA graphics card
  • Features for FPS games and converts SD content to HD for retro consoles
  • 1920 X 1080 resolution with 1ms, 144 Hz frame rate

Sceptre E255B-1658A 24.5″ 165Hz 144Hz 1ms AMD

Sceptre E255B-1658A 24.5 165Hz 144Hz 1ms AMD

Specs:

  • 24.5” LED-backlit display
  • 1920 x1080
  • 1sm 165 Hz frame rate
  • Anti-flicker feature
  • 2 HDMI ports
  • Display port
  • Built-in speakers

The Sceptre E255B-1658A is a 24.5-inch backlit LED gaming monitor with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It has a 1ms at 165 Hz refresh rate which makes it capable of handling action games and movies with little-to-no ghosting or blurred edges.

Sceptre E255B-1658A 24.5 165Hz 144Hz 1ms AMD side

 

Connectivity is a nice little bonus with the Sceptre E255B-1658A. Not only does it come with two HDMI ports, but it also has a “Display Port.” This is an increasingly popular option for people who want to quickly connect multiple devices to the same gaming monitor.

Sceptre E255B-1658A box

Sceptre also engineered this gaming monitor with an Anti-Flicker feature. This shows some thoughtfulness in design as backlit LED monitors are sometimes prone to momentary flickering. Especially with dynamic fast-changing graphics.

What We Liked

The dual HDMI ports and the display port let you use the Sceptre E255B-1658A as the beating heart of a multi-console or multi-device gaming system. The Anti-Flicker is also a nice touch.

Overall

The Sceptre E255B-1658A means is arguably geared for you to be sitting at your desk rather than say back in a chair at a distance. It doesn’t have the blue-light reduction that some of the competitors do, but some gamers feel this is a relative non-issue.

The 165 Hz refresh rate and the anti-flicker features are nice for fast-paced games and movies. The dual HDMI ports and the display port also lets you keep multiple devices connected at one time, without having to constantly physically switch between them.

Acer XFA240 bmjdpr 24″ Gaming G-SYNC Compatible Monitor

Acer XFA240 bmjdpr 24″ Gaming G-SYNC Compatible Monitor

Specs:

  • 24″ Widescreen Full HD display
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 1ms at 144Hz Refresh Rate-
  • 2 speakers producing 2 watts each
  • Acer VisionCare Technologies
  • 1 Display Port
  • 1 HDMI/MHL port
  • 1 DVI
  • G-SYNC compatible

The Acer XFA240 measures in at 24-inches on the diagonal and is a full HD widescreen with 1920 X 1080 resolution. It has a 1ms response rate and 144 Hz. It’s also G-Sync compatible with tear-free smooth gameplay. This gaming monitor also comes with a pair of two-watt speakers for added immersive sound.

Acer XFA240 vertical

The stand is impressive for a gaming monitor under $200. A lot of manufacturers at this price point will cut corners on the stand to stay in the budget range. This stand is adjustable in height and can also pivot and tilt. The display also has an impressive 170-degree viewing angle on the horizontal plane and 160-degree viewing angle on the vertical plane.

Acer XFA240 back

The Acer XFA240 has a variety of connection options. It’s engineered for maximum performance when you connect via the display port. Though it also has an HDMI port and a DVI port. Depending on your hardware, you could potentially connect three devices, and switch them out as needed.

Acer XFA240 left side

This gaming monitor was also designed with Acer’s “VisionCare Technologies” which integrates several components to reduce overall eye strain without muting the visual performance. This includes their “Low Dimming Technology” which effectively reduces the brightness by up to 15% when the lights in the room are turned off or dialed low.

What We Liked

As simplistic as it might sound, the adjustability of the stand is impressive. A lot of manufacturers cut corners with the stand to ring in at a lower price. The horizontal and vertical viewing angles are also wide enough that you can have another person gaming with you in the same room without one of you feeling left out or off to the side.

Overall

The Acer XFA240 is a nice option for two people who want to game together, or for adjusting the monitor to best fit the room and seating options. The refresh rate and visual quality don’t disappoint. If something is missing, it’s the lack of some sort of blue light reduction. Acer does try with their VisionCare Technologies, but it’s half a step behind the blue light reduction systems you see in several of the competitors.

AOC C24G1 24″ Curved Frameless Gaming Monitor

AOC C24G1 24 Curved Frameless Gaming Monitor

Specs:

  • 23.6-inch curved monitor
  • 1920 X 1080 resolution
  • 1ms at 144 Hz refresh rate
  • AMD FreeSync
  • Display port and 2 HDMI ports
  • Low blue mode and anti-flicker technology
  • 178-degree horizontal and vertical viewing angle

Just a few years ago the technology behind curved displays tended to drive the price up. Thankfully, manufacturers have started to be able to offer this more immersive screen shape at more reasonable prices. You see this in the very friendly price tag of the AOC C24G1.

AOC C24G1 24 Curved Frameless Gaming Monitor

It measures in at 23.6 “Frameless” inches. The shape of the curvature still allows for an impressive 178-degree viewing angle on the vertical and horizontal plane. This also means that while it’s meant to be immersive for a single person, there’s still enough viewable space for two gamers without one feeling completely left-out or off to the side.

AOC C24G1 24 Curved Frameless Gaming Monitor back

It comes with an adjustable stand. The gaming monitor also has a VGA port, a display port, and a pair of HDMI ports. This means that you can potentially connect a variety of devices at one time, without having to constantly unplug and plug the console you want to use.

AOC C24G1 24 Curved Frameless Gaming Monitor top

It’s also worth noting that the AOC C24G1 has AOC’s low blue light mode and reduced flicker. This reduces eye strain during marathon gaming sessions and gaming before bed. It also has AMD’s FreeSync display to eliminate screen tearing, stutter and input lag.

What We Liked

The curved shape with the 178-degree viewing angle is a nice touch at this price point. AMD’s FreeSync is also a nice touch for certain PC gamers.

Overall

For a curved frameless gaming monitor, there’s a lot to like with the AOC C24G1. If you like to marathon game, or you’ve noticed sleep quality issues from gaming with a standard blue light monitor this gaming monitor needs to be on your radar.

Acer Gaming Monitor 27” Curved ED273 Abidpx

Acer Gaming Monitor 27” Curved ED273 Abidpx

Specs:

  • 27″ Curved Widescreen VA G-SYNC Compatible Display
  • 1080p resolution
  • 144 Hz Refresh Rate
  • Acer VisionCare Technologies
  • NVIDIA G-SYNC compatible
  • 1 Display Port
  • 1 HDMI and 1 DVI
  • Connection Cables Included

The Acer ED273 Abidpx is another high-quality curved gaming monitor. At 27-inches with 1080p, it pushes right up to the limit of what you can get for under $200.

Acer Gaming Monitor 27” Curved ED273 Abidpx

It has a 144 Hz refresh rate which produces stunning, nearly cinematic quality images in a 16:9 aspect ratio. This gaming monitor also offers a 178-degree viewing angle on both horizontal and vertical access.

Acer Gaming Monitor 27” Curved ED273 Abidpx side

The mount also lets you tilt the gaming monitor by up to 15-degrees to customize it to where you are sitting. It comes with a display port, HDMI port, and a DVI port to connect multiple devices at one time.

Acer Gaming Monitor 27” Curved ED273 Abidpx back

The ED273 Abidpx was also designed with Acer’s VisionCare Technologies for a flicker-less viewing experience with a Blue Light Filter, as well as low-dimming technology. The net effect is far less eye strain for marathon gaming sessions.

What We Liked

The fact that you can get a 27-inch curved display gaming monitor for under $200 is impressive in-and-of-itself. The VisionCare Technologies are also nice for reducing eye strain or times when you want to put in a few hours at the console right before going to bed.

Overall

This is an impressive gaming monitor that rides the line of what you can get for under $200. It would be nice if there was an additional HDMI port or more height adjustability in the stand, but those are very minor complaints.


Acer Gaming Monitor 27” Curved ED273 Abidpx

  • 27-inch curved gaming monitor for an immersive experience
  • Vision Care Technologies to reduce eye strain for marathon gaming sessions
  • 178-degree viewing angle with up to 5-degrees of tilt

Sceptre C248W-1920R 24-inch Curved Gaming Monitor

Sceptre C248W-1920R 24-inch Curved Gaming Monitor

Specs:

  • 24″ Diagonal curved display
  • 1080p resolution
  • 1800R Curved Screen
  • 75 Hz refresh rate
  • Display port, HDMI, VGA, and PC ports
  • Audio In Ports
  • Built-in Speakers

Curved gaming monitors have come down in price in recent years to the point that there are a few that are well under $200. The Sceptre C248W-1920R is one such display that was designed to appeal to gamers who need a quality gaming monitor, who also have a tight budget.

Sceptre C248W-1920R 24-inch Curved Gaming Monitor

The 24-inch monitor is curved to create a more immersive viewing experience. Two built-in speakers enhance the ambiance, with additional audio ports.

Sceptre C248W-1920R 24-inch Curved Gaming Monitor

The display itself has a 75 Hz refresh rate, which is a little on the low end of the spectrum, yet still respectable.

Sceptre C248W-1920R 24-inch Curved Gaming Monitor back

There are even multiple connection ports for HDMI, VGA, and PC as well as a Display Port.

What We Liked

The multiple ports let you connect more than one device, or if you prefer you can use it as your home office monitor during the day and gaming monitor at night.

Overall

There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles with the Sceptre C248W-1920R, and the 75 Hz refresh rate is a little low, but so is the price. If you have a tight budget for your gaming monitor, this might just be the best of both worlds.

Viotek GNV27DB 27-Inch Curved QHD Gaming Monitor

Viotek GNV27DB 27-Inch Curved QHD Gaming Monitor

Specs:

  • Backlight E-LED
  • 1920 x 1080p Resolution
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 144 Hz refresh rate
  • 4ms
  • 1800R Curvature
  • 1 display port with cable included
  • 2 HDMI ports
  • 2 3-watt speakers
  • Up to 1-degrees of tilt
  • A 3-year buyer protection program

The Viotek GN27DB is another curved gaming monitor with a friendly price tag. To that end, it has a backlit LED display with a 1080p resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The 4ms is a little slow but it makes up for it with the 144 Hz refresh rate.

Viotek GNV27DB 27-Inch Curved QHD Gaming Monitor side

It is compatible with AMD’s FreeSync for extra-smooth gameplay while also reducing visual distortion. It also has “Overdrive” which increases the response rate to 3.1ms. The GamePlus targeting crosshairs also helps with first-person shooters.

Viotek GNV27DB 27-Inch Curved QHD Gaming Monitor

The Viotek GN27DB has a display port with the cable included as well as a 1.4 and 2.0 HDMI port. There is also a pair of built-in 3-watt speakers, and you can tilt the screen up to 15-degrees.

What We Liked

The little extras like Overdrive, AMD’s FreeSync compatibility, and the GamePlus targeting system are nice little bells and whistles that might move the Viotek GN27DB up your list.

Overall

The Viotek GN27DB is a good value gaming monitor under $200. It’s maybe a little slow response rate for high-speed action games, but otherwise, you get a lot of quality for the money.

Buyers Guide

There’s no doubt about it, a serious gamer needs to have the right gear. Sure, in the 1980s everyone was happy just to have a gaming console and a tube TV to plug it into. If you were lucky you only had to pull the cartridge out once an hour to give it a good couple slaps to get it to work right again.

Today the pace of modern gaming has evolved to embrace everything modern-day technology. This includes state-of-the-art gaming consoles, wireless controllers, blazing fast internet speeds, high definition sound, and visually rich gaming monitor.

Of course, all these things cost money, and unless you are a professional gamer, chances are you aren’t going to see a true return on your investment. Yet at the same time, you also don’t want to be that guy who’s getting outclassed running on last generation’s technology.

One of the biggest causes of “Buyer’s Remorse” for gamers is often from over-investing in a gaming monitor that later proves to not be worth its hefty price tag.

Key Features To Look For In A Quality Gaming Monitor

Balancing budget with high-quality features can be a little bit of a tightrope act. However, there are a few key characteristics that serve as a good starting point.

The Relationship Between Size And Viewing Distance

There is a little talked about relationship between viewing distance and monitor size. Some gaming monitors have an “Ideal” viewing distance. This can even become a foil against the notion that bigger is always better.

Let’s say you have a small apartment or a dorm room. It might be tempting to fill a wall with a monster monitor. While it might be impressive and even leave you with questions about eye strain, you might also notice it hard to visually keep track of the action at the periphery of the screen.

At the same time, a lot of people who go for a giant gaming monitor try to save money on a unit with less than high resolution.
If you will be sitting a little bit closer to the monitor you should permit yourself to go a little bit smaller, in favor of superior resolution or special features.

Resolution

Of course, the resolution is the next natural step when shopping for the best gaming monitor for you. While 4K is certainly appealing and the way of the future. However, it does increase the overall price. If you are massaging your budget, you might find a good gaming monitor at an attractive 1080p resolution.

Refresh Rate

The monitor’s refresh rate is typically based on the number of frames per second. An average computer monitor for a desktop or laptop might only have a refresh rate around 60 Hz which might get the job done on paper but tends to have a noticeable amount of lag in the action. Especially for fast-paced games with rich video and high-resolution graphics demand.

This has spurred on rapid evolution in monitor refresh rates that go far beyond what a simple desktop monitor can truly handle on its own. When it comes to a gaming monitor you should consider your floor at 75 Hz and go up from there to possibly as high as 240 Hz.

Though as you can imagine, as the refresh rate increases, so do the price. Some gaming monitor manufacturers will offer a value-priced unit with a 75 Hz then will use special proprietary features to improve image quality and the ability to transition quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Does Blue Light Affect Gamers?

A: In recent years a growing body of research has started to shed new light on the impact of blue light on the eyes as well as the human brain. There appears to be a direct correlation between excessive amounts of blue light causing headaches, contributing to eye strain issues, and even impacting certain sleep disorders.

Some physicians and neurologists encourage people to limit their blue light exposure from smartphone screens, monitors and other devices. This includes staying away from blue light within an hour or two of going to bed. Of course, this doesn’t wash well with avid gamers. So several gaming monitor manufacturers are now offering units that have some type of “Eye Care” or “Blue Light Reduction.” It has an even more profound impact on marathon gamers and people who like to squeeze in a few hours right before going to bed.

Many gaming monitors that have reduced blue light features also have other features to reduce eye strain. You might see this in terms like “Flicker Free.”

Q: Do I Need To Have A Compatible Graphics Card?

A: Several gaming monitors under $200 have enhanced graphics or special features that you can enjoy if you have an affiliated graphics card in your PC or console system. It’s important to note that most of the time these are enhanced features. As long as you have a reasonably up to date graphics card the gaming monitor will work. You will just have a superior experience if you do have a compatible graphics card.

Q: What is the difference between led and a backlit LED?

A: An LED monitor generates the pixel colors directly from the light-emitting diode. With an LED-backlit monitor, the colors are generated by colors indirectly by filtering white light. An LED monitor that generates colors directly tends to be more energy-efficient. It also tends to produce superior image quality at a greater distance, which makes it a better option if you like to game from a couch or chair, rather than right at your desk.

Conclusion

In the past, if you wanted a quality gaming monitor, you had to be willing to pay top dollar. Recent improvements in tech and manufacturing efficiency have helped bring quality gaming monitors down in price to the point where you can get one that doesn’t leave you with a case of buyer’s remorse for under $200.

When choosing the best gaming monitor under $200 for you, take a moment to think about where you’ll most likely be using it, as well as who you might use it with. If it’s going to be you alone in your man cave, then you might want to lean toward a curved display screen. If you want to occasionally play against your roommate in your dorm, you might want to lean toward a flatscreen display.

Next, you can start filtering by resolution capability. While 4K might be sexy and likely will take over in the future, there’s no reason to turn your nose up at a respectable 1080p gaming monitor.

At this point, you can start filtering out by refresh or frame rate. 75 Hz should be your absolute floor. Any lower than that and you might as well just use an old desktop monitor. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s going to be a challenge to find a gaming monitor under $200 that has a refresh rate that’s more than 144 to 165 Hz.

You can often optimize performance even further by selecting a gaming monitor that is meant to be paired with your PC or other device’s graphics card.

Don’t turn a blind eye to blue light technology, anti-flicker features and other factors that might reduce eye strain. Not only are they handy for the ever-popular gaming marathon sessions, but they can also have a strangely positive impact on your overall sleep hygiene.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Best Leaf Blower [2021] | Coolest Gadgets

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DEWALT DCBL772X1 Blower

  • Impressive 600 CFM at 125 MPH
  • 60 Volt electric motor
  • 3 Ah lithium-ion battery and charger included in the purchase

DeWalt is one of the best-known brands in the power tool industry. This includes a wide range of battery-powered tools and appliances. Like the DeWalt DCBL772X1 60 Volt electric leaf blower which includes a 3 Ah lithium-ion battery and a charger in the purchase. This batter is also compatible with many other battery-powered devices in their line. This adds to the value for people who have brand loyalty toward the DeWalt line of battery-powered tools.

The DeWalt DCBL772X1 and move an impressive 600 CFM of air at up to 125 MPH. Technically, this is very strong for a battery-powered electric leaf blower. It was designed with variable speed controls as well as a “Speed Lock” cruise control feature. A single full battery charge has a maximum runtime of up to 30-minutes, and the 3Ah lithium-ion battery in 30 to 45 minutes.

Sun Joe does their best to infuse their product line with innovation as well as the kind of value that is appealing to people who are working with a limited budget. The Sun Joe SBJ597E-SJB has a corded 6-Amp electric motor that can move a 260 CFM air volume at a very brisk 155 MPH

Yet this little leaf blower only weighs in at 3.9 pounds. Which means it’s going to wear out your arm or shoulder while still providing you with the power to tackle the leave in a small yard or blow away grass clippings after you are done cutting the grass. All at a price that won’t leave you with “Buyer’s Remorse.”

The Husqvarna 150BT was designed to appeal to professional lawn care companies as well as homeowners who prioritize high-quality lawn care equipment. This backpack leaf blower has a 50.2cc 2-cycle gasoline engine designed with Husqvarna’s proprietary X-TORQ technology and a special air purge feature.

These characteristics make it easy to start, as well as improve fuel efficiency by up to 20%. At the same time, it also reduces exhaust emissions by up to 60%.

All this power gives the Husqvarna 150BT the ability to move air volume of up to 434 CFM at an incredibly fast 251 MPH velocity. This gives it the power to blow away leaves, light lawn debris, grass clippings, and even mulch.

The Husqvarna 150BT has a padded back panel on the backpack with padded, adjustable shoulder straps. It’s also been engineered to minimize the amount of vibration that is transferred from the engine to the operator.

How We Picked

There are a lot of different takes on the leaf blower concept. Some even include vacuum features that suck in and grind up leaves and small pieces of lawn debris. The best way to filter out the wide range of leaf blower options is to break them down by the benefits of gasoline or electricity.

Gasoline and electric leaf blowers both have their own strengths and weaknesses. This makes the power source a good starting point for filtering your options. With both, we tried to narrow the field with respect to the factors that make them attractive.

With a gasoline-powered blower, you have the luxury of power, which translates into the ability to move a higher volume of air at a greater speed. This is often represented by CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) over 250 and MPH (Miles Per Hour) air velocity over 130. Which is the sort of numbers you need to do things like move light mulch, thick piles of leaves and clumps of grass clippings.

Of course, all this power also means that gasoline engines weigh nearly double or more than their electric counterparts. Most also have 2-cycle engines that need mixed gas at a specific ratio. If you get it wrong and the fuel is too lean, it can score the piston or cause overheating issues. If it’s too rich with oil it can cause excessive smoking, gum up the carburetor or severely affect the spark plug’s performance.

Electric leaf blowers tend to have lesser CFM and MPH ratings. Though there are some high-quality units that have surprising power for their size. Electric leaf blowers also tend to be much lighter. They also don’t produce any noxious exhaust. Not to mention the maintenance needs of an electric leaf blower are next to none.

Unfortunately, corded electric leaf blowers are limited by the extension cord. Which is usually 50-feet or less. Battery-powered leaf blowers have a better range for a large yard, but limited run time. To try to help get around this problem, we tried to keep an eye out for battery-powered leaf blowers by popular manufacturers who offered other tools that used the same interchangeable batteries.

We also tried to keep in mind that there are leaf blowers that also have a lawn vacuum mulcher function built into them. A fair number of these also have accessory gutter cleaning devices that are an extra purchase but will also spare you the risk of climbing up a wobbly ladder.

One of the biggest benefits of a mulcher/vac function is that the leaves and small pieces of lawn debris are sucked up and ground into bits by an internal auger. It’s then deposited in a storage bag, that you can either add to your compost pile or condense into a yard waste bag.

Some of the better-designed blower/mulcher/vacuums can reduce leaves down at a 16:1 ratio. Meaning what would normally fill 16 standard yard waste bags can be reduced down into one, by reducing the air space.

The counterpoint against leaf blowers with a mulcher/vac feature is that the suction is sometimes strong enough to suck up something large and hard, which can jam the internal auger or damage it. So, we tried to look for mulcher/vac leaf blowers that had a metal auger which significantly reduces jams and risk of internal damage.

Poulan Pro PR48BT, 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Backpack Leaf Blower

Poulan Pro PR48BT, 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Backpack Leaf Blower

Specs:

  • 48 cc 2-cycle gasoline engine
  • 475 CFM
  • 200 MPH
  • Variable speed control trigger
  • Cruise control
  • Weighs 22-pounds
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • 2-year warranty coverage

Poulan Pro is one of the most trusted names in lawn care appliances, tools, and equipment. They have both gas and electric powered leaf blowers. The Poulan Pro PR48BT gets its power from a 48 cc 2-cycle gasoline engine that needs a 50:1 mix ratio.

Poulan Pro PR48BT

The Poulan Pro PR48BT blows at up to 200 MPH with 475 CFM of force. This is more than enough to move a substantial pile of leaves, blow away grass clippings, and even send stray wood chips back into their landscaping bed after a storm.

Poulan Pro PR48BT

The backpack itself weighs just a little over 20-pounds and has adjustable padded straps for superior comfort. The control handle is designed for ergonomic comfort and has a variable speed trigger. There’s also a cruise control feature that lets you see one specific speed and maintain it without having to constantly squeeze down on the trigger. This is a great feature for big jobs like clearing away grass clippings on a large yard.

Poulan Pro PR48BT in the garden

Poulan Pro backs this gas-powered leaf blower with a 2-year warranty.

What We Liked

The 200 MPH and 475 CFM represent the kind of power you can enjoy from a gas-powered leaf blower. Only weighing in at 22 pounds with compression straps mean you can wear this pack comfortably for a long time without fatigue.

Overall

The Poulan Pro PR48BT Is well designed, with enough power and comfort to handle professional use. It’s covered by a two-year warranty, which demonstrates Poulan’s confidence in their quality and material selection. Just bear in mind that it doesn’t have any sort of vacuum function.

Sun Joe SBJ597E-SJB 6-Amp 155 MPH Electric Leaf Blower

Sun Joe SBJ597E-SJB 6-Amp 155 MPH Electric Leaf Blower

Specs:

  • 6 Amp electric corded blower
  • 155 MPH
  • 260 CFM
  • 3.9-Pounds

Sun Joe is a fast-growing lawn equipment manufacturer who embraces innovation, while also trying to provide customers with a friendly price tag. Their SBJ597E-SJB 6-Amp 155 MPH Electric Leaf Blower is powered by an extension cord.

Sun Joe SBJ597E-SJB 6-Amp 155 MPH Electric Leaf Blower

It’s rated to move up to 260 CFM at up to 155 MPH, which is on the powerful side for an electric leaf blower. At the same time, it only weighs in at 3.9 pounds. So, it’s not going to wear out your arm or shoulder.

Sun Joe SBJ597E-SJB 6-Amp 155 MPH Electric Leaf Blower

What We Liked

The 260 CFM at 155 MPH from a 6 Amp electric is relatively strong for such a light leaf blower.

Overall

This is a great value electric leaf blower for people with a limited budget. There isn’t any sort of cord lock or holder feature, and the plastic exterior housing might not survive an accidental drop. Still, you can’t argue with the friendly price tag and the overall power the Sun Joe SBJ597E-SJB electric leaf blower produces.

Greenworks 24212 40V 150 MPH Cordless Leaf Blower, 4.0Ah Battery, and Charger Included

Greenworks 24212 40V 150 MPH Cordless Leaf Blower, 4.0Ah Battery, and Charger Included

Specs:

  • 40 Volt electric battery-powered leaf blower
  • 4.0 Ah battery
  • Battery charger included
  • 150 MPH
  • 135 CFM
  • Variable speed control
  • 3.3-pounds
  • Battery interchangeable with other tools

Greenworks is another fast-growing company in the lawn care industry. They have an expansive line of electric battery-powered lawn care equipment that uses the same 4.0 Ah lithium-ion batteries like the 24212 electric leaf blower. This blower is rated to move up to 135 CFM at 150 MPH, which is technically on the weak side for a leaf blower. Especially when you compare it to the specs of a gas-powered leaf blower.

Greenworks 24212 40V 150 MPH Cordless Leaf Blower

Still, it’s enough to move a light amount of leaves or loose grass clippings. The sweeper tip accessory that is included with the Greenworks 24212 Cordless Leaf Blower helps concentrate the airflow, which makes it more powerful in real life than it looks on paper. It also has a variable speed control.

The 4.0 Ah battery’s ability to be interchangeable with other Greenworks devices, makes it handy for people who are loyal to the brand. On its own, a single battery can last up to 28 minutes on a single charge and take approximately an hour to recharge.

It’s also worth noting that the charger is not a “Smart Charger.” So, keep an eye on it while recharging. If you frequently overcharge this type of battery it can decrease the overall lifespan.

What We Liked

The fact that you can interchange the 4.0 Ah lithium-ion battery with other lawn care tools in the Greenworks line is handy. Especially for people who already own multiple Greenworks power tools.

The sweeper tip also helps maximize the airflow that this somewhat under-powered leaf blower produces.

Overall

The Greenworks 24212 40V 150 MPH Cordless Leaf Blower arguably has increased value for brand-loyal homeowners who need to maintain their lawn. While it might look at a little bit on the weak side on paper, the sweeper tip does help concentrate its power more effectively.

Toro 51619 Ultra Electric Blower Vac

Toro 51619 Ultra Electric Blower Vac

Specs:

  • Dual function Blower/Vac combo
  • 7.0 Amp electric motor corded
  • 250 MPH
  • 350 CFM when blowing
  • 410 CFM of suction when setting to vacuum
  • Durable metal impeller
  • Quick-release attachments

Toro is one of the long-term leading names in the lawn equipment industry. They have decades of experience engineering products for maximum effectiveness and versatility. You see this really shines through with their Toro 51619 Ultra Electric Blower/Vac combo.

Toro 51619 Ultra Electric Blower Vac

It’s powered by a 7.0 Amp electric motor, which moves an impressive 350 CFM volume of air at 250 MPH when it’s set to blower mode. It also has a robust 410 CFM rating when set to vacuum mode. It also has a heavy-duty metal impeller that chews up lawn debris with a decreased risk for damage and jams.

Toro 51619 Ultra Electric Blower Vac

88% of the leaves and lawn debris that reaches the metal impeller is ground up into a half-inch piece. It’s then deposited into a cloth bag with a convenient bottom zipper. You can quickly switch from blower to vacuum thanks to quick-release attachments.

Toro 51619 Ultra Electric Blower Vac

It’s also worth noting that Toro offers a gutter cleaning attachment kit that will fit the 51619 Ultra Electric Blower/Vac. It’s relatively inexpensive and allows you to clean your gutters without having to mess around with wobbly ladders.

What We Liked

The 350 CFM volume of air at 250 MPH in blower mode is very impressive for a corded electric leaf blower. The 410 CFM rating in the vacuum mode is also very strong. You also have to give a big thumbs up to the metal impeller which does a great job of grinding up lawn debris without jams or internal damage.

Overall

If you are looking for an electric blower/vac combo with the robust statistics to handle everything you throw at it, then it’s hard to ignore the Toro 51619 Ultra Electric Blower/Vac. While you’re at it, you might want to also put the gutter cleaner in your cart.

Sale


Toro 51619 Ultra Electric Blower Vac

  • The blower moves 350 CFM at 250 MPH
  • The vacuum has 410 CFM suction with a metal impeller
  • Toro makes a compatible gutter cleaning attachment

WORX WG512 Trivac 3-in-1 Vacuum Blower/Mulcher/Vac

WORX WG512 Trivac 3-in-1 Vacuum

Specs:

  • Blower and mulcher vacuum in one
  • 12-Amp electric motor
  • Corded
  • Dial control to change modes
  • 600 CFM
  • 70 MPH
  • 2-speed settings
  • 16:1 mulching ratio
  • Easy release bag
  • Metal impeller
  • 8.6 pounds

The WORX WG512 Trivac is a 3-in-1 lawncare device. It can be set up as a blower, or a mulching lawn vac via a single, easy-to-use dial. When set as a mulcher-vac the metal impeller has a 16:1 ratio. Meaning that in Worx tests of the Trivac the mulching feature was able to reduce 16 bags of loose leaves into a 1-bag volume.

WORX WG512 Trivac 3-in-1 Vacuum

The 12 Amp electric motor requires an extension cord. It’s engineered to move an impressive 600 CFM volume of air. Though it only has a speed of 70 MPH, which is a little low compared to many of its close competitors.

WORX WG512 Trivac 3-in-1 Vacuum

The benefit of this is seen in the two-speed modes. When set to low speed it helps you better control the flow of the leaves over smooth surfaces like sidewalks, pavement, and driveways. If it’s set too high, the MPH tends to scatter leaves.

WORX WG512 Trivac 3-in-1 Vacuum

The mulcher relies on a durable metal impeller and has a 16:1 mulching ratio.

What We Liked

The ability to quickly change from blower to vacuum with a single dial is handy. The 16:1 mulching ratio also helps you save on bag space, which is really nice if you live in the city and have to pay per bag. Taken in that light, the WORX WG512 Trivac could pay for itself over the course of two autumn seasons.

Overall

The 70 MPH rating of the WORX WG512 Trivac looks like a small red flag. What it’s really telling you is that this blower/vac and mulcher combo is dialed into keeps suburban yards clean. It’s not necessarily geared for a professional lawn care company that needs to blow out grass clippings and cleanup scattered mulch after a big storm.

CRAFTSMAN BV245 27cc 2-Cycle Full Crank Engine Gas Powered Vac Leaf Blower

CRAFTSMAN BV245 27cc 2-Cycle Full Crank Engine Gas Powered Vac Leaf Blower

Specs:

  • 27 cc 2-stroke gasoline engine
  • Handheld blower with vacuum kit attachment
  • 450 CFM
  • 205 MPH
  • Variable speed throttle
  • Vibration reduction handle
  • The mulching ratio of 16:1
  • Craftsman’s “Easy Start Ignition”

You might look at the CRAFTSMAN BV245 with its 27cc 2-cycle gas-powered engine and think that it’s an ergonomic nightmare. Once you get your hands on it, you’ll find that Craftsman made a real effort to design it to be easy to use, despite the inherent weight that comes with a 2-cycle engine block.

CRAFTSMAN BV245 27cc 2-Cycle Full Crank Engine Gas Powered Vac Leaf Blower

In fact, it only weighs in at 10.2 pounds, whereas a lot of gas-powered blowers with similar statistics weigh closer to 20-pounds and need to be mounted in a backpack. Craftsman also designed the BV245 with a variable speed throttle and vibration reduction to minimize the impact on your arm and shoulder.

CRAFTSMAN BV245 27cc 2-Cycle Full Crank Engine Gas Powered Vac Leaf Blower

It’s meant to be used more as a blower than a vacuum, but it still does include the lawn vac accessories in the purchase. It’s rated to move an impressive 450 CFM at a brisk 205 MPH.

CRAFTSMAN BV245 27cc 2-Cycle Full Crank Engine Gas Powered Vac Leaf Blower

Craftsman also installed its proprietary “Easy Start Ignition System” which you see on a lot of their successful gas-powered devices. You simply prime the engine, choke, and then pull the drawstring for a very reliable start.

If you do want to use it as a vacuum, you need to change over the attachments manually. It then has a mulching ratio of 16:1, which means it can reduce a traditional 16 bags of leaf litter into just 1 bag.

What We Liked

The fact that the Craftsman BV245 is a gas-powered hand-held blower instead of a backpack is somewhat rare in this niche. You see this in the superior power of 450 CFM moving air at 205 MPH.

Overall

This is one of the heavier hand-held leaf blowers on the market, just by virtue of its 2-stroke gasoline engine. Still, at 10.2 pounds it’s not prohibitively heavy and offers a trade-off of superior power over its electric cousins. If you have shoulder and upper back problems, the Craftsman BV245 might not be the best for you.

Husqvarna 150BT, 50.2cc 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Leaf Blower

Husqvarna 150BT, 50.2cc 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Leaf Blower

Specs:

  • 50.2 cc 2-cycle gasoline engine
  • X-TORQ engine for less exhaust and superior fuel efficiency
  • 434 CFM
  • 251 MPH
  • Padded back and padded, adjustable shoulder straps
  • Low vibration dampers
  • X-TORQ engine for less exhaust and superior fuel efficiency
  • Adjustable tube length

Husqvarna designed it 150BT to cater to professional lawn care companies and homeowners who want a powerful, yet easy-to-use leaf blower with comfort built-in. It’s powered by a 50.2cc 2-cycle gasoline engine with its proprietary X-TORQ technology and air purge feature.

Husqvarna 150BT, 50.2cc 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Leaf Blower in the garden

This makes it easy to start, while also improving fuel efficiency by up to 20% and reducing exhaust emissions by an impressive 60%.

The power the Husqvarna 150BT generates translates into a movable air volume of up to 434 CFM at a blistering 251 MPH. This is more than enough airflow capacity to blow away leaves, light lawn debris, and grass clippings. It even has enough strength to blow away sand and mulch.

Husqvarna 150BT, 50.2cc 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Leaf Blower

The backpack itself has a comfortably padded back panel with padded, adjustable shoulder straps. The Husqvarna 150BT was also designed to minimize vibration from the engine to the operator.

What We Liked

The 434 CFM and 251 MPH produced by the Husqvarna 150BT’s 50.2 cc 2-cycle gasoline engine delivers professional-grade power for maximum versatility. The fuel efficiency and exhaust reduction of the X-TORQ engineering are also very convenient.

The padded back panel and adjustable padded shoulder straps with minimized vibration is also a nice touch.

Overall

The Husqvarna 150BT is a truly professional leaf blower that can also impress homeowners with the budget for a truly premium blower. It does all this weighing in at a comfortable 22.5-pounds.

DEWALT DCBL772X1 Blower

DEWALT DCBL772X1 Blower

Specs:

  • 60 Volt electric motor
  • 3 Ah battery
  • Battery charger included
  • 600 CFM
  • 125 MPH
  • Variable speed control
  • Speed lock cruise control

DeWalt is one of the giants in the power tools industry, with a wide range of battery-powered tools and Jobsite appliances. Many of which run off the same type of 60 Volt 3 Ah lithium-ion battery that you find in the DEWALT DCBL772X1 leaf blower.

DEWALT DCBL772X1 Blower

The 60-Volt electric motor can move up to 600 CFM, at speeds up to 125 MPH. This is incredibly strong for a battery-powered electric leaf blower. It also has variable speed controls as well as a “Speed Lock” cruise control feature. It has a potential runtime of up to 30-minutes, which is usually sufficient for clearing a small to medium-size yard.

DEWALT DCBL772X1 Blower indoors on construction site

There is a battery charger included in the purchase. It typically recharges the 3Ah lithium-ion battery in 30 to 45 minutes.

What We Liked

The 600 CFM air volume at 125 MPH is exceptionally powerful for a battery-powered electric leaf blower. It’s also nice that DeWalt includes a 3 Ah lithium-ion battery and charger in the purchase. It especially adds to the value if you are also a fan of the DeWalt line and own other 60 Volt appliances to repurpose the battery.

Overall

The DeWalt DCBL772X1 is a very well-designed leaf blower with the quality materials you expect from an industry leader like DeWalt. It can move a serious volume of air in a single minute at speeds that you usually only see in gas-powered leaf blowers.

If there’s a complaint with the DeWalt DCBL772X1 it’s that it weighs in at 9.1 pounds which can wear out your arm and shoulder during the course of clearing a large yard.


DEWALT DCBL772X1 Blower

  • Impressive 600 CFM at 125 MPH
  • 60 Volt electric motor
  • 3 Ah lithium-ion battery and charger included in the purchase

Buyers Guide

Many people think of a leaf blower as being something that sits around in the garage collecting dust 10-months out of the year and only sees’s the light of day when it’s time to clean up fall leaves. Taken in this light you could even start to develop an unconscious resentment towards a leaf blower for taking your time away from watching fall football games.

Yet a leaf blower can be used for much more than simply getting autumn leaves out of your way. In fact, if you look at a lot of serious landscaping and lawn care companies, you will find leaf blowers are a part of their arsenal for much of the year. It’s all in how creatively you want to use it.

In the spring a leaf blower can be used to clear out the last scraps of leaves and other organic debris that ended up in your yard right before the first snowfall. As things start to green up your leaf blower could even help blow away grass clippings. This is especially handy for preventing thatch build-up, while also helping your lawn to look tastefully manicured.

There are even companies out there that offer special attachments that you can use to help repurpose a leaf blower to clean the gutters. If you’re a little bit handy, there are even videos on the internet that can teach you hot to do this yourself with some PVC pipes, a few clamps, and of course, copious amounts of duct tape.

Now, you might also be surprised to hear that for a device that just basically creates a strong blast of air, there are some key features that come into play. Dialing in the right priorities for how you are most likely to it will go a long way toward helping you find the best leaf blower for maintaining your yard.

Gas Leaf Blowers Versus Electric

Most leaf blowers are powered by either small a gasoline engine or a compact electric motor. Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Right off the bat, gasoline-powered leaf blowers tend to be more powerful than their electric counterparts. They also tend to have higher CFM and MPH ratings, which means they can move more total cubic feet of air per minute at a higher rate of speed.

The drawback here is that they tend to be heavier to lug around and they need more routine maintenance. Oil changes, cleaning air filters, and the inevitable problems that come from carburetors with spark plugs can eat up your time. It also gradually adds to the overall long-term cost of ownership.

An electric leaf blower only requires a minimal fraction of maintenance compared to a gasoline engine. They also tend to start more reliably. Unfortunately, many of them require you to be connected to some type of power source, which can limit your overall range. Not to mention the fact that you will inevitably end up with a nasty tangle in an inconveniently long extension cord.

It’s worth noting that there are some battery-powered electric leaf blowers on the market. Unfortunately, they tend to be a little on the weak side, and even the best ones are only capable of running for a short amount of time. This makes them only truly viable for people with very small lawns.

In the past, electric leaf blowers were considerably quieter than their gasoline counterparts. Though recent improvements in small gasoline motors have now moved some of them arguably closer when it comes to noise levels.

Choosing Between A Handheld Or Backpack Leaf Blower

Now that you have a better idea of the pros and cons of gasoline versus electric leaf blowers, you can now move on to how the power plant and other hardware components are mounted.

With electric, corded leaf blowers, you are usually looking at a lightweight handheld unit. At most you might have to sling your extension cord over your shoulder, just to keep it out of your way.

Battery-powered electric leaf blowers tend to be a little bit heavier, due to the dense weight of the batteries. With these, you might want to lean toward a backpack model. It spares your arm and also helps balance out the weight on your back.

Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are almost always mounted to some type of backpack. Preferably one with padded adjustable shoulder straps and a sternum strap. In the past, these units might have been very heavy, but today they are relatively lightweight. Some of the better ones can feel comfortably balanced on your back and shoulder.

Vacuum Features

There are some leaf blowers that have a vacuum feature built-in. With these leaves and other small pieces of yard debris are drawn in and ground up by the internal impeller. The small bits are then deposited into a storage bag. There are some people who insist on these features, and other people who stay away from them.

Those who don’t like the vacuum feature talk about the propensity for the impeller to jam up when a stick finds its way through the system. For a larger yard, you also end up emptying the small bag frequently. However, the way they are ground up also makes the pieces a nice way to add carbon to your compost pile.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does The Manufacturer Matter?

A: When it comes to lawn care appliances and power tools, the manufacturer can be an important factor. It’s at least a good place to start. Afterall the big-name manufacturers got where they are by doing it right over and over again each year. This includes names like DeWalt, Echo, Ego, Husqvarna, Kobalt, Stihl Toro and Weed Eater.

Q: How Do I Mix Gasoline For A Two-Stroke Motor?

A: A lot of gas-powered leaf blowers have a two-stroke engine. The benefit here is that you don’t have to perform any routine oil changes. This is because the oil is mixed right in the gasoline and actively lubricates it throughout the combustion process. It’s also worth noting that the oil used is not the typical 10W30 that you put in your car.

The problem is that the art and science of mixing two-cycle oil and gasoline are slowly being lost to the simplicity of modern life. The mixing process itself is relatively straight forward. Just make sure that you are doing the mixing in a gas can. You should never attempt to mix in the leaf blower’s fuel tank!

Double-check your model to make sure you know the mix ratio. Not all leaf blowers use the same 2-cycle oil to gas ratio. If you mix it too lean, meaning there’s not enough oil, it could score the piston or damage the internal workings of the motor. If you mix it too rich, meaning there’s too much oil it could cause misfires, excessive smoke, and possibly cause carburetor or spark plug problems.

Fortunately, there are some leaf blower manufacturers who are aware that mixing oil and gas at specific ratios can be tricky for some people. Rather than risk driving you away from their gas-powered leaf blower toward electric, they will offer special little oil bottles that are at just the right volume. Usually, you pour one little bottle into your gas can, followed by one gallon of premium unleaded gasoline.

The act of filling the gas is usually sufficient for mixing the oil properly. Just make sure the oil is in the can first. If you let the can sit for a day or more the oil and gasoline inside can start to separate a little, but a gentle slosh should be enough to blend them again.

It’s a good idea to mark the gas can with a permanent marker. Make sure to note that it’s mixed, and at what ratio as well as the name of the device. You don’t want to accidentally use the leaf blower’s mixed gasoline in the chainsaw if they both need a different ratio.

Q: Is A Warranty Important?

A: On the face of it, you want to see at least one year of warranty coverage from a leaf blower you are considering. For the most part, if there are any factory defects or manufacturing problems, they should show up in the first 12-months. Anything more than that shouldn’t be the tipping point of one leaf blower over another.

Q: What Are CFM And MPH?

A: You see these technical terms mentioned with some leaf blowers. CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute, which is a rating based on the amount of air moved by the blower in one minute. Ideally, you want to see an CFM rating around 300 for doing things like moving a significant volume of leaves or being able to blast grass clippings off your landscaping mulch.

MPH stands for Miles Per Hour, which as you can imagine is the speed measurement of the air coming out of the blower. This also impacts the overall velocity that you can move lawn debris. You want to see both of these numbers being relatively high. If one is low and another is high, it’s likely a warning sight of less than stellar engineering.

Q: Does The Impeller Material Matter In a Vacuum Leaf Blower?

A: There are some people who love leaf blowers with a vacuum feature for its ability to clear small areas and grind yard debris into small pieces for the compost pile. Though there are some people who are against the vacuum function and stay away from the slightly higher price tag of blower/vacs.

One of the big criticisms of blower/vacs is that the internal impeller can jam up, or even break pieces off, which leads to an even more costly repair. One way around this is to look for a blower/vac that specifically states it has a metal impeller, which is far less likely to fracture of jam.

Q: Do I Need Ear Protection When Using A Leaf Blower?

A: Some small electric leaf blowers might seem quiet. There are even some manufacturers who will talk about how quiet their leaf blowers are in marketing terms. Yet even the most well-designed and quiet leaf blowers still make enough noise to damage your hearing. Especially if you are going to be using it for long periods of time.

It’s best to invest in some quality ear protection like 3M Peltor Optime 98 Over the Head Earmuff or Walker’s Hearing Protection and make a point to wear it at all times while operating a leaf blower. While you are at it, you might want to also think about safety goggles or some other type of eye protection like AmazonBasics Glasses or XAegis Tactical Eyewear. The high-velocity air produced by a leaf blower can do funny things to lawn debris when it deflects of landscaping and retaining walls.

Conclusion

There are a lot of options out there for leaf blowers and blower/vac/mulcher combos. Whittling them down can be a little bit of a challenge.

If you are a professional landscaping or lawn care company looking to expand your services, then you might want to lean toward one of the gas-powered backpack models. Recent improvements in engineering quality and design have made these units more comfortable as well as more efficient than their predecessors.

If you are a homeowner, with a modest yard, then a lightweight electric leaf blower, is probably going to be more on your radar. At that point, you will have to evaluate whether you want to go with a corded model or battery-powered leaf blower.

This decision can sometimes come down to a basic matter of dimensions. Most people don’t want to lug around an extension cord that’s longer than 50-feet. Not to mention extreme lengths beyond 100-feet could cause the blower to experience a power loss. So, if you need to go more than 50-feet, you might want to lean more toward a battery-powered leaf blower. Preferably one that comes with a battery charger included in the purchase.

Dancing in the gray area here is the realm of the leaf blower and mulching vacuum. They are handy for reducing the overall volume of you leaves you to need to bag and can even help clean up other pieces of lawn debris. Just make sure to double-check that it has a metal impeller. Otherwise, you might end up with a nasty jam o your hands, right when you don’t want it.

Regardless, whatever your needs and the size of your yard, there is certainly a quality leaf blower or blower/vac on this list for you.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Best Digital Picture Frame [2021]

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The Pix-Star PXT515WR04 is a 15-inch digital picture frame that was designed with a 4:3 aspect ratio with 1024 X 768 pixel per inch resolution. It also has wireless connectivity with a special app that’s compatible with IOS and Android platforms. It lets you customize it to make the most out of your cherished images.

The Pix-Star PXT515WR04 comes with 8 GB of internal memory, yet it can also support a USB stick as well as SDHC or SDXC memory cards. The companion app also allows you to share videos and photos via e-mail. It can also work with your social media photos from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, one drive, Flickr, Google Drive, Google Photos, and 23Snaps.

The NIX X13D 13.3 Inch USB Digital Picture Frame has a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, and a very respectable resolution of 1920 x 1080. It also has built-in speakers to play your favorite music as well as a calendar with a clock display feature. This digital picture frame comes with a remote, a power adaptor, and wall-mounting hardware as well as the ability to use it as a tabletop display.

One of the things that keep the price tag low is the lack of WiFi or any sort of wireless connectivity. It’s designed to store digital images on a USB thumb drive or an SD memory card. Which you need to factor into the original purchase price. Though it’s still a great value in its own right.

Aura Frames offers a high-quality digital picture frame
with a lot of the special features you want to see at a premium price point. This includes WiFi connectivity with an integrated companion app with an intuitive interface as well as compatibility with smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa.

The 9-inch digital screen is set up in a 4:3 aspect ratio at 1,600 x 1,200 resolution. It also has a motion sensor that dims the screen or turns it off as a power saver. The Aura Frames also has a slide show feature with adjustable intervals.

Its also worth noting that this digital picture frame comes with free Cloud storage, with other features that let you share your favorite images.

How We Picked

Digital picture frames are currently undergoing a relatively rapid stage of evolution. That means that the marketplace is essentially flooded with options. Some of them are riding on the cutting edge of wireless connectivity, integrated with apps and smart home devices, while others represented slightly older tech, which leans on physical characteristics.

Right off the bat, you shouldn’t let a lack of wireless connectivity and app integration be a deal-breaker. There are some very well-designed digital picture frames with friendly price tags that simply use built-in memory storage or a memory card. They’re handy for times when you just want convenient image storage in your home.

Yet digital picture frames with wireless connectivity via WiFi or a Bluetooth signal are taking over. Some are integrated with social media images, as well as other features that let you share your most cherished memories with friends and family.

When researching the digital picture frame marketplace, we tried to represent the spectrum. This included the basic units as well as more sophisticated units with some special bells and whistles. The filtering process involved looking at some of the following key characteristics.

Overall size

The size of the digital picture frame will factor into the price. This is also part of the reason why you don’t see a lot of massive picture frames hanging in homes. Still, you don’t want to go too small for the price. So, we tried to keep an eye on the relationship between size and price when we were reviewing digital picture frames for this article.

Resolution

These days the image resolution of flat-screen devices is better than ever. Still, we tried to make sure that a low-resolution option didn’t manage to sneak its way into contention disguised in marketing slogans.

Aspect Ratio

These days not all images are captured in a 4:3 aspect ratio. So, we tried to look for units that could manage 2:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio as well. Though this might still leave you with black bars on two of the margins. The only way to really prevent this is to edit the images to match the aspect ratio yourself.

Memory Capacity

There are some digital picture frames that come with some built-in memory. This is nice, but not necessarily a deal maker-or-breaker. There are plenty of high-quality digital picture frames that are a good value, yet require you to use a USB thumb drive, or some type of memory card to manage them. A few even have WiFi or Bluetooth wireless connectivity that lets you store and access images online in a cloud or social media.

Wireless Connectivity

Wireless connectivity is another one of those things that aren’t necessarily a make-it or break-it feature. There are some quality digital picture frames that simply use physical media. However, most of the cutting-edge digital picture frames do have WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity options. If they do, we tried to look for other things that make the most out of it, like companion apps or the ability to work with “Smart Home” devices.

Special Features

Most of the best digital picture frames have some essential special features that make it more than just an electronic image screen. This includes things like slideshow, automatic rotating, motion sensors for power saving, and auto-dimming.

Pix-Star 15 Inch Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame

Specs:

  • 15-inch 4:3 aspect ratio
  • 1024 X 768 resolution
  • 2.4 GHz not compatible with 5GHz network
  • Pix-Star app superior functionality
  • Free unlimited storage and support
  • 8 GB internal memory
  • Supports USB sticks, SDHC and SDXC memory cards
  • Weather forecast feature
  • Motion sensors
  • Remote control included

Pix-Star embraces wireless connectivity and app functionality with its PXT515WR04 digital picture frame. The 15-inch picture frame was designed with a 4:3 aspect ratio with 1024 X 768 pixel per inch resolution.

Pix-Star 15 Inch Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame

It has 8 GB of internal memory, with the ability to support a USB stick as well as SDHC and SDXC memory cards. Just keep in mind that it’s only set up to run on a 2.4 GHz network and is not compatible with a 5 GHz network. There’s also a remote control to spare you having to mark up the screen with fingerprints.

Pix-Star 15 Inch Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame

While the physical hardware features are very handy, it’s really the WiFi wireless connectivity and the Pix-Star app that really stand out with the Pix-Star PXT515WR04 15-inch digital picture frame.

Pix-Star 15 Inch Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame

It’s compatible with IOS and Android platforms and comes with free unlimited storage and lifetime support. The app also allows you to share videos and photos with others via e-mail. It was also designed to work with social media photos from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, one drive, Flickr, Google Drive, Google Photos, and 23Snaps just to name a few.

You can also set it up to display local weather forecasts or forecasts for another location. Pix-Star also backs it with a 2-year warranty.

What We Liked

The Pix-Star app is the things that help separate the Pix-Star PXT515WR04 15-inch digital picture frame. It gives you the ability to share images, store them online. It also has seamless integration with your social media images, letting you keep all your cherished photos at your fingertips.

The fact that it has 8GB of internal storage, as well as supporting USB sticks, SDHC and SDXC memory cards also helps you maximize physical storage of up to 30,000 images!

Overall

The Pix-Star PXT515WR04 15-inch digital picture frame represents state of the art technology and app integration. If there’s a minor knock on this digital picture frame it’s the fact that it was designed to only work on a 2.4 GHz and will not support a 5 GHz network.

Aura Frames Digital Picture Frame Ultra HD Display

Aura Frames Digital Picture Frame

Specs:

  • 9-inch HD display
  • 1,600 X 1,200 resolution
  • WiFi connectivity
  • Alexa compatible
  • Unlimited cloud storage
  • IOS and Android compatible
  • Automatic rotate
  • Automatic dimming and motion sensor
  • Slideshow with adjustable duration

Aura Frames embraces 21st Century technology with a digital picture frame with WiFi connectivity, app integration and compatibility with smart home devices like Alexa. It also has a 9-inch screen set up in a 4:3 aspect ratio at 1,600 x 1,200 resolution.

Aura Frames Digital Picture Frame

Where it really sets itself apart from older units is the wireless WiFi connectivity and an innovative app that is compatible with IOS and Android devices. It has an automatic rotate feature that adjusts the image from landscape to portrait orientation. Though if your image was in a 2:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio you will likely notice black bars on the image.

Aura Frames Digital Picture Frame in giftbox

It has touch bar controls and an intuitive interface that makes for easy setup. There is a motion sensor that dims or turns the display screen off to save on power consumption.

The slide show feature is also variable. You can change the duration between slides to your preference. If you have a lot of images that you enjoy, you could set it up with 15-minutes between frames, and it will casually change through your favorites. But if you want you could potentially adjust the frame rate to as long as four hours.

What We Liked

The wireless WiFi connectivity with Cloud storage access is handy for keeping track of a lot of images. The adjustable duration slide show lets you decide how you display them on the 9-inch screen.

If you use Alexa in your home, you might also enjoy the compatibility.

Overall

If you are looking for a digital picture frame with wireless features that you can manage via an app, the Aura Frames Digital Picture Frame Ultra HD Display deserves strong consideration. The 9-inch screen is a little bit small, and you will need to crop your 2:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, but this is par for the course with a lot of digital picture frames.

MRQ 15.6 Inch Digital Picture Frame

MRQ 15.6 Inch Digital Picture Frame

Specs:

  • 15.6-inch frame
  • 1920 X 1080P resolution
  • Images stored on SD memory card or USB flash drive
  • 2.5-meter motion sensor
  • Automatic rotate feature
  • Includes wall mounting bracket and hardware
  • Remote control operation
  • Adaptor plugs into a wall outlet

This digital picture frame by MRQ measures in at 15.6-inches with a 1920 X 1080P resolution. Though it will also support a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. It has multiple modes include video, music, slideshow, e-book, and calendar as well as a clock with alarm features. It also automatically rotates images for you.

MRQ 15.6 Inch Digital Picture Frame

It’s set up to source images from physical media such as an SD memory card or a USB flash drive. The features allow you to make the most of your images, while also being able to use it to help manage your life.

MRQ 15.6 Inch Digital Picture Frame

The 2.5-meter motion sensor dims or turns off the display screen to help save power. It comes with an outlet power adaptor as well as a wall mounting bracket, hardware, and remote control.

What We Liked

The multiple modes for video, music, slideshow, e-book, and calendar, as well as a clock with alarm features, lets you use this digital picture frame for more than simply displaying images. As time goes on you will find creative ways to let it help manage your day.

Overall

This is a handy digital picture frame that augments your lifestyle yet also has the features to let you appreciate your cherished images. It would be nice if there was some type of built-in storage or wireless connectivity or a sophisticated app with this picture frame, but if you purchase an SD memory card when you buy it you can set it up with everything you need and simply leave the physical media in it.

NIX X13D 13.3 Inch USB Digital Picture Frame

NIX X13D 13.3 Inch USB Digital Picture Frame

Specs:

  • 1920 x 1080 FHD
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Built-in stereo speakers
  • USB or SD memory card
  • Calendar and clock mode
  • Wall mount or tabletop
  • Mounting hardware and power adaptor included
  • Dedicated customer service

The NIX X13D 13.3 Inch USB Digital Picture Frame was originally designed in 2005 but has seen consistent upgrades and dedicated customer service to keep it contemporary. It has a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, and a respectable resolution of 1920 x 1080.

NIX X13D 13.3 Inch USB Digital Picture Frame

It doesn’t have any sort of WiFi or wireless connectivity. Though it does accommodate a USB thumb drive or an SD memory card. While this makes the technology a full step back from some of the cutting edge competitors of the same size, it also helps keep the Nix X13D’s price tag friendly.

NIX X13D 13.3 Inch USB Digital Picture Frame and accessories

This digital picture frame also has built-in speakers as well as calendar and clock modes. A remote, power adaptor and mounting hardware are included in the purchase.

NIX X13D 13.3 Inch USB Digital Picture Frame in kitchen

This lets you set the Nix X13D up for tabletop display or mount it in portrait or landscape orientation on your wall.

What We Liked

The 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio is handy, as a lot of new smartphones are starting to trend toward this aspect. The fact that you can use it as a tabletop display, as well as a wall-mounted digital picture frame, is also a nice touch.

Overall

If you look past the lack of wireless connectivity and linked app, then the NIX X13D is a good value digital picture frame. It’s easy to use and has basic functionality like a calendar and clock that contributes to the flow of your day.

Dhwazz 10.5 Inch Digital Photo Frame

Dhwazz 10.5 Inch Digital Photo Frame

Specs:

  • 1280 x 720 resolution
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • IPS display with 180-degree viewing angle
  • 8.2-foot motion sensor
  • Sleep and power-saving mode
  • USB or SD card memory storage
  • Digital clock display with date
  • Power cord included in the purchase
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty

This is another good value digital picture frame that saves on the price tag by not supporting wireless connectivity or app integration. Memory storage is handled by a USB stick or an SD memory card.

Dhwazz 10.5 Inch Digital Photo Frame

The Dhwazz 10.5 Inch Digital Photo Frame has an IPS display, which provides superior color, and clarity as well as accommodating a 180-degree viewing angle. It has a 16:9 aspect ratio with 1280 x 720 resolution.

Dhwazz 10.5 Inch Digital Photo Frame

This digital picture frame doesn’t have a lot of special features. However, it does have a motion sensor with a range of 8.2 feet. When not in use, it has a sleep and power save mode. There is also an easy-to-read clock in the lower right-hand corner, which displays the time and date. It also comes with a power cord and is backed by an impressive lifetime warranty.

What We Liked

The IPS display gives you superior viewing angles as well as vivid colors and superior image clarity compared to an LED. This also means you can view the image clearly at a full 180-degrees.

Overall

The Dhwazz 10.5 Inch Digital Photo Frame is a good value. The IPS display does drive the price up a little bit, but it provides you with superior image quality. At the same time, they still manage to keep the cost friendly, by forgoing wireless connectivity and app integration in favor of straight-up USB or SD memory cards for physical storage media.

Feelcare 15.6 Inch 16GB WiFi Digital Picture Frame

Feelcare 15.6 Inch 16GB WiFi Digital Picture Frame

Specs:

  • 15.6-inch frame
  • 1920 X 1080 IPS display
  • 16 GB of internal memory
  • Touch screen features
  • Wireless connectivity
  • IOS and Android compatible app
  • Intuitive interface
  • Slideshow feature with optional captions
  • USB and SD card slots
  • Automatic rotate feature for portrait or landscape

The Feelcare HN-DPF1560 is a 15.6-inch digital picture frame with 16GB of built-in internal storage. The IPS display screen has a 1920 X 1080 resolution for superior image quality as well as a wider viewing angle compared to an LED display.

Feelcare 15.6 Inch 16GB WiFi Digital Picture Frame

The Feelcare HN-DPF1560 also has WiFi connectivity, which allows you to share your images from your phone via an IOS or Android compatible app. It also has customizable settings that let you set up the digital picture frame to your specifications as well as do edits or support videos. There’s also a slide show feature with optional captions to add important commentary.

Feelcare 15.6 Inch 16GB WiFi Digital Picture Frame

What We Liked

With some digital picture frames, the wireless app can sometimes be clunky. With the Feelcare HN-DPF1560, you get the sense that they took the time to make sure the app had an easy to use, intuitive interface that even non-tech savvy people can use.

Overall

There are some digital picture frames that have more bells and whistles than the Feelcare HN-DPF1560. Yet very few have the app, the wireless connectivity, and a large 15.6-inch IPS display at this price range.

Good Boy SG_B0721ZTL1P 19-inch Smart WiFi Cloud Digital Photo Frame With Camera

Good Boy SG_B0721ZTL1P 19-inch Smart WiFi Cloud Digital Photo Frame With Camera

Specs:

  • 19-inch IPS display
  • Multiple USB ports and SD memory card slot
  • 8 GB internal memory
  • 20 GB of free Cloud Storage
  • Bluetooth or WiFi wireless connectivity
  • 2.0 MP front camera
  • Built-in speakers
  • Connect to streaming services

The Good Boy 19-inch Digital Photo Frame represents one of the largest, high-quality IPS display screens in this niche. It’s partnered with other smart features, including a 2.0 MP front-mounted camera and built-in speakers. This allows you to interact with family members via a wireless WiFi or Bluetooth signal.

Good Boy SG_B0721ZTL1P

It comes with two USB ports, as well as an SD memory card slot. Though the Good Boy 19-inch Digital Photo Frame also has 8 GB of internal storage. There is also 20 GB of free cloud storage included in this package.

Good Boy SG_B0721ZTL1P accessories

The Good Boy 19-inch Digital Photo Frame can also connect to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. It can also be set up to work with your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and others.

What We Liked

The front-mounted video camera and built-in speakers allow you to use this device as an interactive tool, as well as a high-quality digital picture frame. The fact that it comes with 20 GB of free Cloud storage, 8 GB of built-in memory, as well as USB and SD memory card slots is also a nice touch.

Overall

The Good Boy 19-inch Digital Photo Frame seems to be part of the next step in digital smart home technology, allowing family members to connect and share images. Yet it also has the functionality to help manage your social media. If there’s one place where they missed in the design is the lack of a true motion sensor/power-saving feature.

Skylight Frame 916496 10-inch Digital Picture Frame With WiFi

Skylight Frame 916496 10-inch Digital Picture Frame With WiFi

Specs:

  • 10-inch screen
  • 4:3 aspect ratio
  • 1200 X 800 resolution
  • Touch screen functionality
  • WiFi lets you e-mail photos to the frame
  • Variable speed slide show

The Skylight Frame 916496 10-inch Digital Picture Frame has a lot of the image quality and wireless connectivity functionality that you want in a state-of-the-art image device. The WiFi connectivity lets you e-mail your images directly to the frame. They usually appear in under a minute.

Skylight Frame 916496

You can navigate the frame’s feature via the touch screen interface. It has a 4:3 aspect ratio and displays images at 1,200 X 800 resolution. You can adjust the slide show with a delay as short as 5 seconds to as long as 2-minutes. This lets you cycle through your favorite images at a pace that’s comfortable for you. You could even set it up to show off images from your most recent vacation.

Skylight Frame 916496

Skylight Frame believes in the 916496 10-inch Digital Picture Frame so much that they back it with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, which is hard to argue with at this price point.

What We Liked

The ability to connect via a WiFi signal and e-mail images to the frame is very convenient.

The adjustable slide show feature also lets you share a large number of photos in a relatively short period of time.

Overall

There’s a lot to like with the Skylight Frame 916496 10-inch Digital Picture Frame. It has the connectivity and functionality you want to see in a state-of-the-art image device. Just keep in mind that if you are going to use the touch screen interface frequently, that you will have to deal with fingerprints on the display screen.

Buyers Guide

Most successful consumer electronics are propelled to market success by making our lives better in some way. Yet there are those who tend to gradually rise to popularity by providing a solution to a problem we didn’t know we even had.

You see this to some degree in the growing popularity of digital picture frames. In the past, most of the photos in your home were taken by professionals and printed on glossy paper at a premium price. You could stick them in a frame, and they were a great memory that you got to revisit every time you dusted the living room. In time home printer technology advanced to the point where you could print your own small photos on expensive paper for a modest frame.

With both these options, you had to continually invest in printing and/or new frames to keep up with family pictures and favorite images. For a family with small children, this could turn into a recurring financial black hole that forces you to choose between which images you wanted to display at any given time. If you wanted to change a frame to a cherished image, you had to take the time to take the frame apart, install the photo, and then rehang or place it again.

Today the popularity of smartphones, digital SLR cameras, and other visual media options, we have access to more vivid, rich images than ever before. Leaving us looking for the best ways to display them in our everyday lives, without having to invest in dozens of frames and costly prints.

A digital picture frame solves many of these problems. It is essentially a small LCD monitor that closely mimics a traditional picture frame. Most can be set up in a portrait or landscape orientation. Many can be hung on a wall or displayed on a shelf or table.

The digital picture frame will have some degree of built-in memory to hold onto multiple high-resolution images at one time. There are even a few models that include an optional memory card slot, for easy physical transfer of digital images.

Different manufacturers offer digital picture frames with special features. This might include things like the ability to play slide shows or to double as a lighting feature. Some models need to be plugged into a standard 110 Volt AC outlet, though there are a few that run off a rechargeable battery.

Digital Picture Frame Characteristics

Not all digital picture frames are made the same. Several manufacturers tweak the overall design to help them stand out from the field and many have their own special or customized features. The process of finding the best digital picture frame for you starts with looking at the following core characteristics.

Overall Screen Size

Just like flat-screen televisions and computer monitors the size of the digital picture frame is expressed as a diagonal measurement. Most use a standard 3 by 4, or 3 by 2 aspect ratio that you see with most photographs and digital images. Though there are some who offer special aspect ratios like 16 by 9 which you see in widescreen formats.

Maximum Resolution

On-screen resolution is usually expressed in pixels per inch. The higher the PPI is the more-crisp the image will be. Just keep in mind that the higher the resolution, the more space it will take up in the internal memory or memory card.

100 pixels per inch tends to be the basic minimum that most people find acceptable. Though there are some digital picture frames that might be capable of higher resolution numbers. A few even have special features that let you customize the viewable resolution.

Surface Image Quality

Beyond the basic dynamics of the resolution, the surface of the screen can also have an impact on the visual quality of the image when viewed. Most highly ranked digital picture frames have a matte finish or some type of non-reflective screen to reduce potential glare.

Though there are a few that place a plate of glass over the screen to protect it and give it a little bit of a traditional photo frame feeling. If you do find a digital picture frame like this, just double-check the fine print to make sure it has some type of “Anti-Glare” feature. The last thing you want to do is invest in a digital picture frame only to squint every time you look at it.

Built-In Memory Capacity

Many digital picture frames come with some basic level of built-in memory storage. Though there are some that rely on a memory card, or that also accommodate a memory card. Ideally, you want to look for a memory capacity of 512 MB or more. If you go lower than this, you might save a little bit on the price tag, only to find yourself later having to choose between a limited number of images you want to display.

Memory Card Options

There are some digital picture frames that are designed to work directly from a removable SD memory card, memory stick, or even a thumb drive. A few have built-in memory storage with a slot for a memory card, which makes it easy for you to transfer an image from something like a digital SLR to your digital picture frame. Th

Connectivity Options

Connectivity is the key feature for transferring images from your computer, tablet, smartphone, or your digital SLR camera to the actual digital picture frame. This can come in the form of physical connections like the aforementioned SD memory card, memory stick, or a USB connection.

Though there are some digital picture frames that offer wireless connectivity options. These usually have WiFi or Bluetooth compatibility built-in. Wireless connectivity continues to gain traction as they become popular in more and more consumer electronics. If you are going to be taking photos on a device to crop or edit on your computer, before transferring them to the digital picture frame, you might want to prioritize a unit with wireless connectivity included in the package.

Just keep in mind that wireless connectivity features tend to increase the price. Though many will also work with apps. Some of which allow you to also share images with family members online.

App Integration

As wireless connectivity continues to expand, many manufacturers have started to develop apps that work with it. Some even connect with devices like Alexa, Echo and other smart home features. Many of them let you connect a network with other digital picture frames or share images with friends and family members over the internet.

Slide Show Feature

Many digital picture frames come with some type of slide show feature. When you turn it on the internal software will eventually shift from one image to the next. This feature is nice for several reasons.

First of all, it lets you appreciate the full volume of images you cherish, without being tied to just one as you would be with a traditional picture frame that holds a physical photograph. At the same time, periodically changing the image helps extend the overall lifespan, by preventing a static image from burning into the screen.

Ideally, you want to look for a digital picture frame that lets you adjust the duration of time between images. Some will let you make this window of time as short as 15 seconds or as long as two hours.

The Aesthetics Of The Frame

It might seem a little basic, but you do want to consider your overall décor when choosing a digital picture frame. If the room you want to display the frame has a lot of wood furniture, earth tones, and existing wood frames, you might not want to go with a digital picture frame with shiny polished metal or a black finish.

There are some digital picture frames that come with multiple exterior trim options. A few even have things like interchangeable faceplates that let you physically alter the exterior appearance, without having to worry about disturbing the internal electronics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I Put 2:3 Aspect Image On A 4:3 Digital Picture Frame?

A: A lot of digital picture frames have features like auto-rotating or other features that let you adapt images that were taken from a different aspect ratio. Just keep in mind that this usually creates black bars on two of the margins, which cannot be removed without you first editing the photo on your phone or computer.

Q: Is Motion Sensing Important?

A: Many digital picture frames will have some type of motion sensor system that’s also linked to a timer. When anything moves within range and within the set time duration the image screen remains on. If the room has been still it will dim or go off. This reduces power consumption. It tends to be more popular with digital picture frames that run on an internal battery, though there are some units plugged into an outlet that will also have them.

Q: What’s the difference between LED and IPS monitors?

A. With some digital picture frames, you might see terms like IPS or LED to describe the characteristics of the image screen. IPS stands for “In-Plane Switching” which is also known as “Panel Technology” while LED uses “Backlight Technology.”

The main benefit of IPS is that it produces much higher display quality, with more vibrant colors as well as superior viewing angles. However, it does increase the overall price, which can be a factor for the somewhat small screens of a digital picture frame.

LED displays tend to have a more limited viewing angle. This is due to the unidirectional orientation of the light-emitting diode. The backlit color quality is arguable less, with a somewhat lower resolution threshold. Though LED displays do also tend to cost less.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a lot of different factors that can go into the overall price of a digital picture frame. Taking a few minutes to determine how you are likely going to use it, will have an impact on the features you prioritize.

If you just want a frame that will cycle through some of your most cherished photos, then you might be able to save some money by looking for a digital picture frame that runs off physical media storage like a USB stick or an SD memory card. There are even some with some basic internal 32 GB of storage that deserve to be on the radar in a situation like this.

On the other end of the spectrum, a digital picture frame with wireless connectivity via a WiFi or Bluetooth signal is convenient. Many of these displays also have apps and possible online storage features roll in. However, you also see this reflected in what is often a higher price tag.

The type of display might also be a factor. IPS displays do cost more, but they often have a superior resolution, vivid colors, and a 180-degree field of view. LED displays might cost less, but they have a limited viewing angle, and sometimes slightly lower resolution capacity.

Once you have dialed in these important details, you can start considering special features. A slide show feature with the adjustable time between frames might be preferable to display a wide range of cherished images. Motion sensor features paired with sleep or power saver modes can reduce the total wattage the digital picture frame consumes in a given day.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Best Sunrise Alarm Clock [2021]

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Your “Sleep Hygiene” is just as important as your waking process. There are some smartwatches with biometric features that can help track your important sleep statistics. The Philips SmartSleep HF3670/60 sunrise alarm clock was set up to spare you this extra cost.

Not only is it a quality sunrise alarm clock with customizable functions, but it also has special features to help you fall asleep, sleep better, and wake naturally. The “Relax Breathe” feature helps you replicate a relaxing meditative process to fall asleep easily.

The built-in AmbiTrack sensor also measures important sleep hygiene factors like your bedroom’s temperature, noise, light and humidity levels. It then gives you feedback on how you can improve the overall sleeping conditions. All of this can be controlled via a Sleep Mapper companion app with an intuitive interface.

The HomeLabs 4330349651 Sunrise Alarm Clock has one of the lowest price tags in the market. It also allows for some customization in the form of 6 possible accent colors that you can swap out to replace the natural daylight setting.

This sunrise alarm clock gradually brightens over the course of 30-minutes to closely mimic the natural dawning of the sun. Though you can’t adjust this duration. It can also be set up to play nature sounds too closely mimic natural sunrise with things like a chorus of bird song. There is also a traditional audible alarm or an FM radio. It also has a battery backup for seamless running during a power outage.

As a leading consumer electronics manufacturer, Philips offers multiple sunrise alarm clocks. Their HF3520/60 Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock was specifically engineered to produce UV-free light in natural warm tones. The duration of the lighting arc also closely matches the natural dawn of the sun. To that point, Phillips points out that this sunrise alarm clock can help augment a light therapy treatment plan.

The Philips HF3520/60 has the ability to replicate sunrise and sunset. If you like you can pair the lighting process with 5 optional nature sounds or the built-in FM radio. The face of the sunrise alarm clock has 20 different brightness settings, as well as an auto-dimmer feature designed to reduces the brightness of the face in a dark room.

How We Picked

Sunrise alarm clocks are increasingly popular with couples and families who are sick of waking up to the annoying blare of a traditional alarm clock. Some individuals who are engaged in light therapy to rebalance their circadian rhythms also find sunrise alarm clocks help with the treatment process.

You might be surprised to hear that this is a somewhat crowded market niche with many consumer electronics manufacturers offering their take on sunrise alarm clocks. This includes some interesting special features. Along the way, we tried to keep an eye out for the basic functionality you want in a light-based alarm clock, as well as how the special features might influence the price.

Lighting Duration

With some sunrise alarm clocks, the duration of the lighting increase comes preset by the manufacturer. This is usually around half an hour, though there are some 60-minute options that are very subtle. For some people, this is perfectly fine. Yet there are others who want the ability to adjust the speed and duration of the sunrise effect. Especially if the sunrise alarm clock is going to be close to your face.

We also kept an eye out for sunrise alarm clocks that let you adjust the color of the lighting effect, which also lets you set it up to match your bedroom’s décor. Along the way, we even came across a few units that had the ability to replicate sunset.

Sound Effect And FM Radio

Many sunrise alarm clocks also have additional sound features. This often includes things like bird song, surf, and rushing water which can be paired with the lighting effect to closely mimic natural sunrise. There are also some that include sounds that you might not hear in nature, but still have a soothing quality such as white noise, or soft piano.

Of course, there are a lot of people out there who love to wake up to their favorite radio station in the morning. So, we also kept an eye out for units that had a quality FM radio with a speaker or could be connected to a secondary speaker system.

Functional Lighting And Alarm

Most high-quality sunrise alarm clocks are designed to broadcast full-room lighting. So, we made sure to pick out a few that could also be used as a bedside lamp, or night lite. Many of these also had the ability to set up multiple alarms, which is a nice thing if you have a baby that needs feedings in the middle of the night or a young puppy that needs to go out to do their business in the hours before dawn.

We also made sure to look for basic functions that you will find with traditional alarm clocks. Especially snooze features for times when you might be able to sleep in a little longer than usual.

Battery backups were also a point of focus. With many traditional alarm clocks even a momentary power outage, like the flicker of a nearby transformer, can wipe out your alarm settings. This can be a major problem if you happen to sleep through the outage. A battery backup ensures that the power supply is seamless and that all your special settings remain in place.

Wireless Connectivity And Companion Apps

The modern-day smartphone is one of the most intuitive interfaces ever designed. Being able to connect to a sunrise alarm clock wirelessly and adjust the settings from the palm of your hand is very appealing to many people. Though wireless connectivity via WiFi or Bluetooth with app integration or the ability to sync with smart home devices does tend to raise the per-unit price. So, we made sure to include a few that had these special features as well as a few that don’t.

Philips SmartSleep HF3670/60 Sunrise Alarm Clock With Wake-up Light Therapy Features

Specs:

  • Sunrise alarm clock with light therapy features
  • AmbiTrack sensor monitors sleep hygiene conditions
  • Sleep Mapper app for customization
  • Relax Breathe light guided program
  • Built-in power backup
  • FM radio
  • Aux dock for connecting additional speakers
  • Smart touch display
  • Clock dimming feature
  • Smart Touch display
  • USB charging port for your phone

Phillips is one of the larger players in consumer electronics. So, it’s no surprise that they have a strong presence in the sunrise alarm clock niche, with their SmartSleep HF3670/60 Sunrise Alarm Clock.

Philips SmartSleep HF367060 connected to Smartphone

It has a lot of the basic functions you want to see in a sunrise alarm clock like a Smart Touch display, a clock dimming feature to full dim, an FM radio with a built-in speaker, as well as a power backup. The Phillips SmartSleep also has an aux dock for connecting to additional speakers. There’s also a USB charging port for your smartphone.

Smartphone app of the Philips SmartSleep HF367060

Though it’s really the smart features and customizable app functionality that helps the Phillips SmartSleep separate itself from many of its competitors. The Sleep Mapper app lets you customize the lighting rhythm and other features. It can also give you more information collected by the “AmbiTrack” sensor which measures sleep hygiene factors like your bedroom’s temperature, noise, light and humidity levels. It then gives you feedback on how you can improve your sleeping conditions.

Philips SmartSleep HF367060 next to bed

The Phillips SmartSleep also has a Relax Breathe feature, which is essentially a light-guided breathing program that helps you fall asleep comfortably. The pattern mimics many of the mind-balancing effects of meditative breathing.

What We Liked

The AmbiTrack and Relax Breathe feature really helps you fall asleep naturally, improve your overall sleep hygiene, and wake in a more natural fashion.

Yet it also has the hardware features that help it fit into the nuts and bolts details of your morning routine like the ability to charge your phone and play music in the morning.

Overall

This is a very well-designed sunrise alarm clock with the basic and special features you need. It has the features to help balance your circadian rhythm, as well as customize it to your life. Its sleep hygiene features are also very nice.

If you are in the process of a light therapy treatment plan, you should double-check with your physician to make sure the app features are in line with their current recommendations.

HomeLabs 4330349651 Sunrise Alarm Clock

HomeLabs 4330349651 Sunrise Alarm Clock

Specs:

  • Digital LED
  • 6 accent color options
  • 3 brightness settings
  • Increases light over 30-minutes
  • 5-minute audio alarm
  • Nature sound features
  • Backup battery
  • Snooze feature
  • USB charging port

HomeLabs 4330349651 Sunrise Alarm Clock has a low price point, yet still has enough special features to replicate the sunrise effect. It also allows for some customization with 6 possible accent colors that you can use in place of the daylight setting. However, the 3 brightness settings and dimmer are only programmed to alter the daylight option.

HomeLabs 4330349651 Sunrise Alarm Clock

The HomeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock gradually brightens over the course of 30-minutes to replicate sunrise. You can also set it up to play nature sounds which further replicates the natural conditions of sunrise and a chorus of bird songs. If you prefer it can be set up with an audible alarm that plays for up to five minutes.

HomeLabs 4330349651 Sunrise Alarm Clock

This sunrise alarm clock also has the basic hardware features you might prioritize in a traditional alarm clock. It has a built-in speaker with an FM radio, as well as a snooze feature with a modest-size button on the top of the clock face.

HomeLabs 4330349651 Sunrise Alarm Clock

There’s also a lithium battery backup to keep the clock running seamlessly during a power outage.

What We Liked

The fact that the light level gradually increases over the course of 30-minutes and can be set to work with nature sounds add some authenticity to the replicated sunrise.

The ability to customize the color to your bedroom’s aesthetics also makes stylish for the low price point.

Overall

The HomeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock is a relatively basic unit, though it does have some special features that let you customize it to your personal style. There isn’t any sort of app or other software, but you wouldn’t expect those things at this low price.

HeimVision A805 Sunrise Alarm Clock With Smart Wake Up Features

HeimVision A805 Sunrise Alarm Clock With Smart Wake Up Features

Specs:

  • 7 color LED options
  • 20 adjustable brightness levels
  • Quadruple alarm function
  • Gradually transitions from natural red to white daylight
  • Snooze feature
  • Bedside lamp and night lite feature
  • Supports Alexa and Google Home

HeimVision takes on some key lighting features with their A805 sunrise alarm clock. It is originally set to transition from more-natural red light to white daylight, though it has 7 different colors LED display transformations that you can set to your personal taste.

You can also adjust the duration of the sunrise process, and pair it with multiple sound features. This includes Birdsong, Hawaii Wave, Streams, Beep, Wind bells, Chord, Ringtone, and Piano. There is also FM radio available through the built-in speaker.

HeimVision A805 Sunrise Alarm Clock

The LED display face has 20 adjustable brightness settings. You can also set it up with a customizable sunset feature that can help you fall asleep naturally.

The HeimVision A805 Sunrise Alarm Clock can also be set up with quadruple alarms. It can also be used as a one-touch bedside lamp or a night lite. This is very handy for things like getting up to feed the baby or letting your puppy out to do his business outside. Though there’s also a snooze feature for times when you want to sleep in a little.

HeimVision A805 Sunrise Alarm Clock

HeimVision was also forward-thinking and designed the A805 to be compatible with other smart home devices. It currently supports Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

What We Liked

The customizable light color and duration settings are worth appreciating. Some sunrise alarm clocks have static settings that might not always fit your personal preference.

The fact that the HeimVision A805 is compatible with smart home devices like Alexa and Google Home is also a nice touch that lets you seamlessly integrate your home electronic solutions.

If you are a single person living alone the night lite and bedside lamp with quadruple alarms might go completely unused. If you have a baby who has a late-night feeding schedule or a puppy with a small bladder, these features can become an indispensable part of your nightly routine.

Overall

There are a lot of sunrise alarm clocks with similar smart features like the HeimVision A805, but most of them carry a somewhat higher price tag. Granted some of these bells and whistles are more appreciated for families and pet owners, but there’s still a lot to like about this unit for a single person who wants to feel like they wake with the sun.

LATME G-1 White Sunrise Alarm Clock

LATME G-1 White Sunrise Alarm Clock

Specs:

  • Simulates sunrise and sunset
  • 20 brightness levels
  • Adjustable sunrise and sunset duration
  • Digital FM radio
  • Snooze function
  • 7 optional alarm sounds
  • Voice control features
  • Battery backup
  • USB charging port
  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Home

The LATME G-1 White is another sunrise alarm clock that makes the most out of modern technology and smart home devices. It’s compatible with Amazon’s Alexa as well as Google Home and includes voice controls.

LATME G-1 White Sunrise Alarm Clock

The G-1 White has both a sunrise and sunset feature that allows you to adjust the duration of the process from as little as 10-minutes to as long as 60-minutes. The lighting can be paired with 7 different nature sounds. It also has 20-brightness settings to help customize the face.

LATME G-1 White Sunrise Alarm Clock

It also has a lot of the basic features you would expect in a traditional alarm clock. This includes a snooze feature, digital FM radio, and a battery backup. There’s also a USB charging port for your smartphone or a similar device.

What We Liked

The ability to adjust the sunrise and sunset duration to your personal preference is very nice. As is the ability to pair it with 7 optional nature sounds.

Compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home is also handy for households that embrace the smart home revolution.

Overall

This is a well-designed sunrise alarm clock that has all the features and adjustable custom settings that you want. The seamless compatibility with popular smart home devices is also very convenient. There’s not a lot of “Light Therapy” functionality, but it could certainly augment a light therapy treatment plan.


LATME G-1 White Sunrise Alarm Clock

  • Adjustable sunrise and sunset duration from 10 to 60 minutes
  • Compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home smart home devices
  • Digital FM radio or 7 optional nature sounds

Philips HF3520/60 Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock

Philips HF352060 Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock

Specs:

  • Sunrise and sunset features
  • LED UV-Free light with warm tones
  • 5 optional wakeup sounds
  • FM radio
  • 8-hour power backup
  • 20 brightness settings
  • Automatically dims the face in a dark room
  • Can be used as part of a light therapy treatment plan

As one of the larger players in consumer electronics, Phillips offers multiple versions of sunrise alarm clocks. The Philips HF3520/60 Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock was designed to produce UV-free light in natural warm tones, with a lighting arc duration that very closely mimics the natural rising of the sun. Phillips notes that this clock can be used in part of a light therapy treatment strategy.

Philips HF352060 Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock

It has both sunrise and sunset features that can be paired with 5 optional nature sounds or an FM radio signal. The face has 20 different brightness settings, with an auto-dimming feature that automatically reduces the brightness of the face when the room goes dark.

Philips HF352060 next to bed

There is also an 8-hour power backup, which is handy during a prolonged power outage. The Philips HF3520/60 can also be used as a bedside reading lamp with 10 different brightness settings.

Philips HF352060 Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock

Phillips also offers a 90 Day No-Hassle Money Back Guarantee.

What We Liked

The UV-Free light generated by the LED display in warm natural tones has some clinical evidence that suggests it is the superior lighting source for a sunrise alarm clock. This gives some credence to the Philips HF3520/60 being incorporated as part of a light therapy treatment plan.

The 8-hour battery backup is also very nice for letting you stay on your regular schedule even during a prolonged power outage.

Overall

The Philips HF3520/60 has a lot of thoughtful engineering and characteristics that make it one of the more popular high-quality sunrise alarm clocks. Though, there are some lower-priced competitors that have many of the same features and are also compatible with smartphone devices.

Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock By Jall

Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock By Jall

Specs:

  • 7 color options
  • 7 natural sounds and FM radio
  • 30-minute sunrise time
  • Dual alarm option
  • LED display face with 3-brightness settings
  • Bedside lamp and night lite function
  • USB charger port

This sunrise alarm clock by Jall is a good value for people who want some adjustable features, but don’t want to break the bank on a lot of special features that they might not use. It lets you choose between 7 sunrise colors.

Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock By Jall

You can also pair them with 7 different nature sounds including Birdsong, Ocean Wave, Streams, Beep, Wind bells, Soft Music, Piano Music. It also has an FM radio option with 16 adjustable volume settings.

The sunrise process itself is set to a 30-minute duration. You can set up two alarms for times when you might need to get up in the middle of the night to take medication or let the dog out. There’s also a snooze feature.

The LED display has 3 adjustable brightness settings. You can also sue it as a bedside lamp, night lite or as a basic reading lamp.

What We Liked

The ability to set two alarms and use it as a bedside lamp, night lite or reading lamp makes this sunrise alarm clock appealing to people who need to get up in the middle of the night.

The ability to pair the sunrise feature with nature sounds is also a nice touch that adds to the overall ambiance of this value-priced alarm clock.

Overall

This sunrise alarm clock by Jall is a middle of the road unit that has the customizable features to make it a good value for the price tag. Yet it doesn’t have some of the more complex bells and whistles that you find in more expensive units. There isn’t any sort of app or integration with smart home devices. Yet it still has the functionality you need to improve the flow of your day.

iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine And Sunlight Alarm Clock

iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine And Sunlight Alarm Clock

Specs:

  • 10 sound therapy modes with FM radio
  • 10 light therapy modes
  • LED color blending
  • USB charger
  • Dual alarms
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Companion app
  • Speakerphone feature

The iHome Zenergy sunrise alarm clock was designed to help trigger subtle biological responses to help improve your overall health and well-being. This includes things like emitting red and orange tones to help stimulate melatonin in the evening while switching to blue and white tones that help you wake up feeling invigorated.

iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine

It has 10 light therapy modes to choose from, which can let you customize the LED color blends. The sunrise alarm can also be paired with 10 optional soothing nature sounds to replicate a real-world experience.

iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine

It has a dual alarm feature that lets you set it for the middle of the night or if you and your significant other have different wakeup times in the morning.

Reading next to the iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine

The Bluetooth connectivity and companion app further lets you customize the iHome Zenergy to your personal preferences.

What We Liked

The LED color blending with 10 light therapy modes lets you customize the iHome Zenergy sunrise alarm clock to the ambiance of your bedroom.

The ability to pair the lighting feature with up to 10 nature sounds is also a nice touch. Though if you want you can switch over to the FM radio for times when you want to listen to some music.

The Bluetooth wireless connectivity and the companion app for customization is also a nice touch, and exactly the sort of thing you want to see in a sunrise alarm clock at this price point.

Overall

There is a lot to like with the iHome Zenergy sunrise alarm clock. It certainly has the customization to fit the décor and ambiance of any bedroom, paired with the kind of alarm features you need to get your day started off on the right foot.

If there’s a complaint with this sunrise alarm clock, its that it has wireless connectivity and a customizable app, yet it doesn’t have any sort of compatibility with smart home devices.

FIMITECH Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

FIMITECH Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

Specs:

  • 7 different lighting colors
  • 7 nature sounds
  • Sunrise and sunset simulation
  • Quality FM radio
  • 2 alarms with a snooze feature
  • 2 USB ports
  • Night lite feature
  • Lithium-Ion battery backup
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 12-month warranty

If you are looking to blend value with essential functionality and customizable ambiance, then the FIMITECH Wake Up Light deserves a serious look. It has the ability to replicate sunrise as well as the sunset. You can adjust the arc of the lighting process to as little as 10 minutes or as long as 60-minutes.

FIMITECH Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

There are 7 different color features that can be paired with 7 soothing nature sounds. It also has a high-quality built-in FM radio that lets you wake up with your favorite music.

 

This sunrise alarm clock has two USB ports to let you and your significant other charge your smartphones at night. It also has two alarm options and a snooze feature. The FIMITECH Wake-Up Light also has a lithium-ion battery backup for seamless operation during a power outage.

What We Liked

The ability to simulate sunrise and sunset with adjustable colors and optional sounds is really nice for a budget price point like this.

The fact that Fimitech backs this sunrise alarm clock with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 12-month warranty is also a statement of confidence in the quality of the product.

It’s also worth noting that the FM radio produces higher quality sound than many of the competitors in this price range.

Overall

The FIMITECH Wake-Up Light has the features you would expect to see at the next step higher in price. Yet it has the quality engineering and versatility you want to see in a sunrise alarm clock. You get the feeling that FIMITECH designed it for couples who keep slightly different schedules. There aren’t a lot of special features or a sophisticated companion app, but you wouldn’t expect them at this friendly price tag.

Buyers Guide

The human body is a marvel of biological science. Within each of complex dynamic processes regulate organs, tissues, and cellular functions that keep us living, moving, growing and healing. Of course, when you compare the human body to most other mammals, we don’t immediately impress. We don’t have slashing claws or sharp teeth, we don’t have wings to fly or blazing speed to escape predators, we see poorly in the darkness, we have no protective coat and most of us climb a tree at a snail’s pace.

With all due respect to the prehensile thumb, what truly makes us special is our big, sophisticated brain. So, keeping it healthy with things like proper nutrition, novel stimulation, and good sleep hygiene directly impacts our overall quality of life.

Every day your brain experiences sleep pressure from adenosine buildup and other neural processes, which essentially force you to eventually go to sleep. This is when your body executes its most effective repair processes, while the brain works to balance key processes and manage neural waste products like beta-amyloid and tau proteins.

The human body typically falls into a pattern known as a circadian rhythm, which relies heavily on the wake-sleep cycle. As this pattern deepens, with the regularity you might even find you sometimes wake up a few minutes before your alarm clock.

Of course, this is the ideal scenario, for someone with perfect sleep hygiene and a well-established pattern without any other outside influences on sleep quality. Unfortunately, most of us live in the real world where stress and a sea of other factors interrupt our circadian rhythm or just make it downright difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

This can lead to a very serious brain health issue known as Circadian Rhythm Disorder. This can manifest as recurring problems with depression, brain chemistry issues, hormone imbalances, and irritability, just to name a few.

Yet our innate biology can help reset us to a more-healthy pattern. If you stop and think about it homo sapiens have spent the vast majority of our evolutionary history waking up to the rising sun. If you’ve ever been up at dawn, you’ve likely noticed that the sun doesn’t just pop up like a spring. There’s a gradual pre-dawn gray that slowly gives way to soft orange tones and an array of warm colors, before finally bathing the world with yellow light.

Contrast this to how most people these days wake up to a blaring annoying alarm that jars you awake and bathes your brain with a rush of caustic hormones like cortisol and an unnecessary amount of adrenaline. This shocking experience can be even worse if it jolts you from the deep REM sleep pattern that your brain needs to work at it’s best.

When given the chance to wake up to the rising sun, your brain gradually starts to perceive the change and gently activates the natural process of waking you up. If you happen to be in deep REM sleep, the brain will slowly transition you based on the miniscule amount of light that affects your eyelids.

Of course, the pace and schedule of modern life, and the change of the seasons rarely allows us to wake up to the natural rising of the sun. Fortunately, modern-day consumer electronics manufacturers have keyed into the benefits of sunlight waking, and now offer a variety of sunlight alarm clocks.

Rather than jarring you awake with loud noises, it replicates sunlight allowing you to gradually wake up by biological processes that are already in place in your brain. Not only is this a more healthy way to wake up in the morning, but it can also be used in treatment strategies for Seasonal Affective Disorder-related depression, Circadian Rhythm Disorder, and can even help take the edge of a nasty case of jetlag!

Sunrise Alarm Clock Features

Of course, not all forms of light are the same, different types of light and the pattern can also impact how your brain reacts to it. Beyond that, there are also some sunlight alarm clocks that have special features to help get you off to a good start or just better organize your day. This might include things like special apps and music features.

Power Back Up

The concept of power back up is very important with sunrise alarm clocks. Even a momentary power interruption from a lightning strike or a downed power line can affect every clock in your house. Having a power backup feature built into your sunrise alarm clock ensures that even if you sleep through a flicker in the power grid that you will still wake up on time and with whatever personal preferences you programmed into the clock.

Apps And Compatibility With Smart Home Devices

Smart home devices like Echo, Alexa, and Google Home are becoming increasingly popular. Depending on how you use them, you might want to prioritize a sunrise alarm clock that is compatible with your chosen device for more seamless integration.

Adjustable Brightness And Duration

There are some bargain-priced sunrise alarm clocks that have a set duration for the sunrise effect. For some people, the duration as it is right out of the box is perfectly fine. Though the ability to adjust the time it takes to go from the ambient darkness of your bedroom to full light might be something to prioritize. Especially if you want to be able to wake up in 10-minutes rather than 30.

Bedside Light And Night Light Functions

If you need to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, feed the baby, or let your puppy out to do their business, then being able to use the sunrise alarm clock as a night light or bedside lamp could come in handy. Some of these units also allow you to set multiple alarms, which lets you be the one to tenderly wake the baby for feeding, instead of the baby waking you up by crying.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does It Matter Where I Place The Sunrise Alarm Clock?

A: Ideally, a sunrise alarm clock should produce a room-filling light that impacts the entire bedroom. Still placing it near your head, facing you will help maximize the subtlety of the lighting effect. It’s especially helpful for times when you might be in deep REM sleep and your brain needs more time to gradually lift you to a waking state.

Q: What Is Light Therapy?

A: Light therapy, which is also known as heliotherapy is a treatment process that some physicians use to help patients deal with conditions like seasonal depression. Many of these treatment plans are designed to increase a person’s exposure to daylight or simulated daylight using things like polychromatic polarized light, specific types of laser light, LED lights, or bright, full-spectrum lamps.

A sunrise alarm clock can help augment the process of bringing a person’s circadian rhythm back into balance as part of a large light therapy treatment plan. Though most clinicians would note that a sunrise alarm clock on its own is not an effective form of light therapy, without other means.

Q: Is There Any Benefit To Adding Natural Sounds?

A: There is some clinical debate about the influence of waking up to natural sounds like bird song as opposed to the blaring of an alarm, or your favorite FM radio station. Though there are some people who feel that adding something like birds singing or water rushing adds to the natural ambiance of a sunrise alarm clock. It’s usually not the sort of thing that is going to jack up the unit price, but if you are hoping to closely replicate nature, you might want to keep an eye out for it when you shop for a sunrise alarm clock.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt about it, sunrise alarm clocks are a far less jarring way to wake up compared to a blaring, annoying alarm. With consistent use, they can help you maintain better sleep hygiene, bring your circadian rhythm into better balance. They might even be used to help augment a light therapy treatment plan.

Finding the best sunrise alarm clock for you can vary depending on your personal preference and your lifestyle. If you have a baby that needs nightly feedings, or a puppy that needs to be let out in the middle of the night, you might prioritize a sunrise alarm clock with multiple alarm features, and the ability to use it as a night lite or bedside lamp. A sunrise alarm clock that also works with smart home devices like Alexa and Google Home also makes it easier to integrate it into your life.

Many people who are attracted to sunrise alarm clocks also look for adjustable duration features. This lets you set the sunrise process how you want it, rather than using the duration arc the manufacturer put into it.

Adjustable colors are also an attractive feature you might like. With many of these units, you can set it to match your décor. There are also many people who prefer warm tone light over bright white daylight and vice versa.

Taking the time to think about how you can integrate a sunrise alarm clock into your lifestyle, will go a long way toward finding the one that’s best for you and your budget. This article will further help you filter the market to find the best sunrise alarm clock for your household.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Best Computer Speakers [2021] | Coolest Gadgets

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Harman Kardon is one of the major players in consumer electronic speaker systems. Their Soundsticks III is visually stunning with its ultra-modern shape and transparent housing. The centerpiece of the system is a 20-Watt downward-firing subwoofer that delivers precise low frequency and midrange sound.

There are two satellite speaker units with a physically adjustable base that allows you to adjust the profile of the sound their 8 transducer speakers deliver. Combined they deliver a crisp 40 Watts of sound.

The Harman Kardon Soundsticks III has a stereo minijack output. This means you can take it away from your computer to play music from an MP3 player, portable CD player, or a similar device.

The RECCAZR MP2000 is a 2.0 channel speaker system that was designed to enhance the sound produced by a computer on a desktop with limited space. Each speaker housing only measures in at just 5.4 x 3.2 x .3.6-inches, yet they have a small 2.5-inch built-in subwoofer with a 4X diaphragm.

This gives it superior midrange clarity without having to invest in a subwoofer, which will inevitably eat up space under a small desk. The speakers are rated to produce up to 65 DB of sound, which is more than enough for a small office space or dorm room. All at a very friendly price point, with a one-year warranty, included in the purchase.

JBL is another giant in the consumer electronics industry. Their JBL Bar 5.1 was arguably designed to be used with a flat-screen TV just as much as a computer monitor. It’s exactly the sort of thing you want to be mounted on your wall for streaming movies from your computer.

The JBL Bar 5.1 soundbar can be mounted to a wall or positioned under a monitor. This system also comes with a 10-inch downward-firing subwoofer which delivers some powerful low tones with the kind of thump gamers and music enthusiasts prioritize. At each end of the primary soundbar, you will find two detachable wireless speakers that can be placed anywhere you want to replicate surround sound. They are rated to last up to 10 hours on a single charge.

It’s also worth noting that the JBL Bar 5.1 was designed to connect to 4K devices. It also has the ability to wirelessly stream music via a Bluetooth signal.

How We Picked

Like a lot of consumer electronics how you will use them most often will factor into the kind of features you prioritize in a computer speaker system. Still, there are some essential characteristics that always need to be addressed. So, we tried to start with these and then filter through the bells and whistles as needed.

Connectivity

You need to be able to efficiently connect to the computer speakers to use them at all. In the past, this was only in the form of RCA cables, which while they are still in play, are on the way to being outdated. Not to mention the fact that RCA cables inevitably leave you with some potentially ugly wires that might be unsightly, while also having a knack for tangling into other things on your desktop.

Today USB cables, firewire, and even wireless connectivity via Bluetooth are starting to take over. So, whenever possible, we tried to look out these features, or at least computer speaker systems that offered multiple connectivity options.

2.0 versus 2.1 or multi-channel

Once you have your basic connectivity options dialed in, the next step is to determine the number and type of speakers you want to use. With a lot of 2.0 computer speakers, you get a left and a right speaker to replicate some basic stereo sound. Though there are a few multi-channel systems that allow for peripheral speakers that can nearly replicate surround sound, for people who like to use their computer as a veritable small home theater.

When it comes to a 2.1 computer speaker system the .1 is essentially referring to a subwoofer or a woofer. These peripheral speakers need to be plugged into a secondary source of power in order to operate properly. Some of the small driver versions do well in the mid-range frequencies but don’t really have the “Thump” of a powerful subwoofer.

Most of the time you won’t really notice the difference if you are just streaming some soft Spanish guitar music or you are listening remotely during a business meeting. Where that deep, low-range frequency potential really matters is when you are watching movies or gaming.

Size and Power

Not everyone has an expansive desk or a large dedicated office all to themselves. So, while we tried to look for large, powerful systems that can deliver high-performance sound, we also kept an eye out for some smaller high-quality units. Afterall there are a lot of people with limited desk space that also appreciate a rich audio experience.

Added Extras, Bells and Whistles

Let’s be honest, a lot of computer speaker manufacturers know that their most likely customer is going to be a gamer or someone who games enough that they appreciate an immersive audio/visual experience. To that end, they make it a point to infuse special features, and accessories meant to tempt a gaming enthusiast to their product over the competition.

Of course, there is no one size fits all approach to these features. Still, we kept an eye out for bells and whistles that added to the experience without necessarily blowing up the price. This included things like an ergonomically designed wireless mouse, accent lighting, a subwoofer included in the purchase, or wireless satellite speakers to replicate surround sound.

Klipsch R-15PM Powered Monitor

Specs:

  • USB, RCA, or Phono line inputs
  • Bluetooth wireless connectivity available
  • IR remote included in the purchase
  • 3.5 mm mini-jack line
  • Compression driver
  • Expandable to include a subwoofer

The Klipsch R-15PM offers a wide range of connections. This includes an integrated phono pre-amp, as well as digital optical, analog RCA, USB inputs, and even Bluetooth wireless technology. your R-15PM is the best performing, most versatile monitor on the planet.

It also has individual ultra-low noise amplifiers that are specifically designed to maximize system performance while eliminating the need for additional external amplification. While this Klipsch R-15PM is set up for two-channel operation, this system can be set up to also work in tandem with a secondary subwoofer.

Klipsch R-15PM Powered Monitor remote

The IR remote is also a handy touch for times when you want to stream some music from your computer, while you work around the house. It also has features like dedicated source selection, and track controls to go along with the standard play-pause function.

Klipsch R-15PM Powered Monitor speaker

What We Liked

The multiple connection options and Bluetooth wireless connectivity ensures that whether you have an older computer or one that just came out of the box yesterday, that there’s an easy way to connect to these speakers. The fact that you can set it up as a 2.0 or a 2.1 with an expandable subwoofer is also some nice versatility that you don’t always find with some of the 2.0 competitors at this price range.

Overall

This is a great entry-level computer speaker system that still has the expandability to grow with you over time. There aren’t necessarily a lot of bells and whistles with this system, but you see that reflected in the friendly price tag.

Logitech G560 LIGHTSYNC PC Gaming Speakers with G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse

Logitech G560 LIGHTSYNC PC Gaming Speakers with G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse

Specs:

  • 240 Watts at peak power
  • DTS Ultra replicates the 3D sound
  • 2.1 with downfacing subwoofer
  • Lightsync technology for enhanced gaming effects
  • Comes with a Lightspeed Wireless mouse designed for gaming
  • A mouse that is weight adjustable

It’s no secret that many speaker manufacturers produce computer speakers that are specifically designed to appeal to gamers. The Logitech G560 wireless gaming mouse does just this with a 2.1 channel speaker system capable of producing up to 240 Watts of peak power. It’s also blended with a few special bells and whistles included in the initial purchase.

Logitech G560 LIGHTSYNC PC Gaming Speakers

The speakers use DTS Ultra which was specifically designed to worth the downward-firing subwoofer to replicate the 3D sound. It also has Lightsync technology, which uses a Hero 16K resolution sensor to producing light effects that very closely match the displayed image on the screen. This enhances the overall gameplay experience.

G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse

It’s also worth noting that the Logitech G560 also comes with a Lightspeed wireless gaming mouse. Not only was it designed for ergonomic control, but this wireless mouse also gives you the ability to adjust the weight, for the proper level of responsiveness.

Logitech G560 LIGHTSYNC PC Gaming Speakers with G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse

It also has other customizable controls that let you do things like changing the scrolling speed.

What We Liked

The fact that this 2.1 computer speaker system comes with added bells and whistles like the Lightsync technology and the customizable, ergonomic Lightspeed mouse, help maximize it for gamers who truly want an immersive experience.

At the same time, the DTS ultra with downward-firing subwoofer also translates into a great depth of 3D sound.

Overall

The Logitech G560 was certainly designed with features meant to appeal to gamers. If you are a gamer looking for an immersive experience, you should certainly consider putting this computer speaker system near the top of your list.

Still, these computer speakers with their added bells and whistles can appeal to more than just people who love online gaming. The Lightsync technology with the Hero 16K resolution sensor and the DTS Ultra 3D sound can play just as well for times when you want to get wrapped up in an action movie.

Sound BlasterX Katana Multi-Channel Surround Gaming and Entertainment Soundbar

Sound BlasterX Katana Multi-Channel Surround Gaming and Entertainment Soundbar

Specs:

  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Decoder
  • Slim 60 mm profile
  • 24-bit high-resolution DAC
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Bluetooth wireless connectivity available
  • Includes a subwoofer accessory
  • 5 speakers built into the soundbar
  • Aurora reactive RGB programmable lighting

Many gamers have to deal with limited space on their desktop. Which can be a real hassle when you want to add a computer speaker system. The Sound BlasterX Katana attempts to answer this problem with its sleek under-monitor soundbar with accessory subwoofer.

Entertainment Soundbar and remote

It offers multiple connectivity options including wireless Bluetooth. A multi-core DSP controls the five speakers inside the soundbar itself. This includes tweeters and mid-bass speakers. There is also a secondary subwoofer that is powered by a 24-bit audio engine.

Sound BlasterX Katana Entertainment Soundbar

The Sound BlasterX Katana also comes with a dedicated IR remote. Though you can also control it via an easy-to-install desktop app.

Sound BlasterX Katana Multi-Channel Surround Gaming and Entertainment Soundbar

The soundbar also has Aurora Reactive RGB programmable lighting, which helps enhance the natural ambiance, without having to compete with the visual images on the screen.

What We Liked

The sleek size of the Sound BlasterX Katana is perfect for gamers and movie enthusiasts who have limited desk space. It only measures in at 23 inches wide, by 4 inches deep, and less than 3 inches high.

The Aurora Reactive, Programmable RGB lighting is also a nice touch, which makes this soundbar handy for watching movies and gaming.

Overall

If you are looking for computer speakers to heighten your gaming and movie-watching experience, without making too big of a dent in your budget, then the Sound BlasterX Katana probably deserves to be on your radar. Especially if you are dealing with limited real estate on your desktop!

JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Soundbar with True Wireless Surround Speakers

JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Soundbar with True Wireless Surround Speakers

Specs:

  • 510 total watts
  • Soundbar with two detachable speakers
  • 10 hours of wireless run time on a single charge
  • 4K HDMI ports
  • Dolby Digital with Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS
  • Downward firing subwoofer
  • Wireless music streaming via a Bluetooth signal

JBL is one of the major players in home electronics and speakers. The JBL Bar 5.1 was designed to be used with a flat-screen TV or a computer monitor.

JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Soundbar

The primary soundbar can be anchored to a wall or positioned under a monitor, with a 10-inch downward-firing subwoofer centered under it. At the ends of the primary soundbar, you will find two small wireless speakers that can be detached and placed to replicate a surround sound effect. The speakers can even last up to 10 hours on a single charge. All told the system is rated for up to 510 watts.

JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel True Wireless Surround Speakers

This speaker system was designed to easily connect to 4K devices and includes a feature that lets you wirelessly stream music via a Bluetooth connection.

JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Soundbar with True Wireless Surround Speakers

When it comes to sound quality the JBL Bar 5.1 has Dolby Digital, with Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS.

What We Liked

The detachable wireless speakers are a nice touch for replicating Dolby surround sound when you want it or simply leaving them put when you don’t.

The fact that you can also stream music through this soundbar is also a nice touch for times when you want to listen to your favorite tunes while you work around the house.

At the same time, you shouldn’t overlook the 4K HDMI input, which lets you connect this soundbar to a flatscreen TV, laptop, or a computer monitor.

Overall

Admittedly the JBL Bar 5.1 is meant just as much to connect to a flatscreen TV as it is a computer speaker system. Yet you get the feeling that JBL designed this to also appeal to gamers and people who stream music through their laptop, who sometimes want to watch it on their TV screen.

RECCAZR MP2000 Computer Speakers with Surround Sound

RECCAZR MP2000 Computer Speakers with Surround Sound

Specs:

  • 2.0 channel
  • A USB connection to the computer
  • 2.5-inch built-in subwoofer with 4X diaphragm
  • 65 DB volume
  • Small Body at 5.4 x 3.2 x .3.6-inches
  • 1 Year warranty

The RECCAZR MP2000 Computer Speakers 2.0 channel were designed for the kind of person whose laptop or desktop computer lacks sound or has poor sound quality, yet still needs to mind a tight budget.

RECCAZR MP2000 Computer Speakers with Surround Sound

These speakers are also very small measuring in at just 5.4 x 3.2 x .3.6-inches, which makes them a great option for a desk with limited space.

RECCAZR MP2000 Computer Speakers with Surround Sound

The speakers include a small 2.5-inch built-in subwoofer with a 4X diaphragm. While it will certainly never compete with the boom and thump of a large, down-firing subwoofer, it does non-the-less produce more-rich low tones than most standard computer speakers. They are rated to produce up to 65 DB of sound, which is about as much as you want for computer speakers in a dorm room or small office setting.

What We Liked

These 2.0 channel small speakers come with a 2.5-inch subwoofer and 4X diaphragm, which gives it more sound quality in the 65 DB range than you find with most other small computer speakers in this price range.

The fact that there is a 1-year warranty included in the original purchase is also nice. It speaks to Reccazr’s belief in its quality design and components. If you want more protection, there are some online retailers who offer a very affordable 3-year protection plan.

Overall

These aren’t the kind of computer speakers that are going to blow you away with a thump of resounding bass or stunningly crisp high tones. Instead, they are affordably priced, well designed, and will give you superior audio quality compared to similar size and priced competitors.

Creative Stage MR 8360 2.1 Channel Under-Monitor Soundbar with Subwoofer

Creative Stage MR 8360 2.1 Channel Under-Monitor Soundbar with Subwoofer

Specs:

  • 2.1 channel soundbar
  • 160 Watts at peak power
  • 40-Watt long-throw subwoofer
  • Wireless Bluetooth, 3. 5mm aux-in, optical audio input
  • USB input for MP3 or thumb drive
  • Wall mount kit included in the purchase
  • Includes a remote control

A soundbar paired with a subwoofer has become increasingly popular in recent years. This gives you the ability to enhance the sound your computer produces through the high and midrange speakers of the soundbar, without taking up a lot of desktop space. While the subwoofer provides a little extra thump and low-frequency sounds while being conveniently tucked away.

Creative Stage MR 8360 2.1 Channel Under-Monitor Soundbar

The Creative Stage MR 8360 answers this niche with a 2.1 channel soundbar that is rated to a peak of 160 watts. It’s then paired with a long throw 40-watt subwoofer, which tends to project low tones into the room better than a down-firing subwoofer, which brings a little more “Thump.”

Creative Stage MR 8360 2.1 Channel Under-Monitor Soundbar with Subwoofer

This computer speaker system offers a wide range of connectivity options including Wireless Bluetooth, 3. 5mm aux-in, optical audio input. There is also a USB port for connecting to your computer or to accommodate an MP3 player or thumb drive. Creative Stage also includes a wall mounting kit and remote control in the initial purchase.

What We Liked

The ability to pair the 160-watt soundbar with a 40-watt long-throw subwoofer both saves space on the desktop without having to sacrifice sound quality. If you really are hurting for square inches on your desk, you can always use the included mounting kit to attach it to a wall or some other type of fixture.

Overall

This is a nice little unit for the price, and it’s tailored to appeal to people who are limited on desktop space, yet don’t want to sacrifice sound quality. Though there are a few minor complaints.

The long-throw subwoofer does handle low-frequency audio nicely and projects it, but if you are looking for “Thump” or “Boom” that you are going to feel in the floor, it’s not there. At the same time, the power cord is annoyingly short. So, you might need to invest in a small extension cord.

Creative T100 2.0 Compact Hi-Fi Desktop Speakers

Creative T100 2.0 Compact Hi-Fi Desktop Speakers

Specs:

  • 2.0 channel
  • 40 Watts per speaker total of 80 Watts
  • Bluetooth wireless connectivity
  • 3.5mm AUX-in, Optical-in physical connections
  • Proprietary BasXPort for enhanced bass
  • EQ presets for different applications

For a 2.0 channel computer speaker system, the Creative T100 has more than a fair amount of low-frequency bass. This is due in large part to their proprietary BasXPort, which was designed to enhance low-frequency sound in a relatively small speaker housing.

Creative T100 2.0 Compact Hi-Fi Desktop Speakers inputs

It comes with multiple connection options including .5mm AUX-in, Optical-in physical connections as well as Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Each of the two computer speakers included in the purchase produces 40 watts for a combined total of 80 Watts of peak power. This gives the Creative T100 more than enough volume for a private or home office space.

One place where the Creative T100 makes itself distinct is in the EQ with audio presets. This lets you change the dynamics of the sound it produces to optimize it for movies, music, concert, and gaming modes. You can then further tweak the bass and treble to your personal preference.

What We Liked

There’s a lot of sound quality for the small size and price of the Creative T100. Especially for its ability to produce quality low tone bass through their BasXPort, without employing a separate subwoofer.

At the same time, the EQ presets are very handy for those times when you might want to stream some music, but quickly switch over to gaming mode in hopes of beating the next level before you have to run out the door.

Overall

If you are short on desktop space, yet you’re not really enthused by the idea of a soundbar, or you don’t want to bang your knees into a subwoofer under your desk, then the Creative T100 computer speakers might be just right for you.

There’s more than enough volume to let you enjoy your favorite music or immerse yourself in a game, along with a surprising amount of low-frequency audio capability for a system that has no true subwoofer.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker System with Subwoofer

Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker System with Subwoofer

Specs:

  • 2.1 channel speaker system
  • 20-Watt Downward firing subwoofer
  • 40-Watt speakers
  • Adjustable base
  • Transparent speaker covers and housing
  • Touch controls
  • Multiple connection options

Harman Kardon is one of the long-standing giants in consumer electronics, with roots going back to their earliest sound systems in 1954. If you think their Soundsticks III looks like a work of art at first glance, you would be right.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker System with Subwoofer

In fact, the Soundsticks II version that it’s based on is featured as a permanent exhibit in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. This is thanks in part to the visually stunning organic shape and transparent housing.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker close-up

It has a 20-Watt downward-firing subwoofer that delivers precise low-frequency sound. The two satellite speaker units have an adjustable base that allows you to physically adjust the profile of the sound their 8 transducer speakers deliver.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks III close-up

The Harman Kardon Soundsticks III is compatible with a variety of connections via a stereo minijack output. This allows you to also play music from an MP3 player, or portable CD player as well as your standard computer connection.

What We Liked

Right off the bat, the visual aesthetics of the Harman Kardon Soundsticks III is a conversation starter in-and-of-itself. The fact that you can physically adjust the base of the satellite speakers is also a nice touch for times when you might want to set them on opposing shelves. This way you can direct the sound for optimum effect.

The stereo minijack is also a thoughtful feature that lets you connect just about any device. You could theoretically take the Harman Kardon Soundsticks III away from the computer and plugin in the laundry room. Connect your MP3 player and listen to your favorite tunes while you fold and iron.

Overall

You aren’t going to get a lot of “Thump” out of the 20-Watt down riding subwoofer, but it still put out an impressive amount of bass and mid-range frequencies. Beyond that, this is a high-quality unit for the money. Even if you do happen to blow out a speaker a few years down the line, the Harman Kardon Soundsticks III was designed to easily replace them.

Buyers Guide

There are some computers, like Macs and many modern-day laptops that come with built-in speakers. While the basic quality of these audio devices has improved drastically from where they were just a decade ago, they still tend to leave most people wishing for something with a little better sound quality. Not to mention control over the audio dynamics.

Originally computer speakers were little more than simple audio devices that gave you alert beeps and dings. Maybe they added a little bit of extra reality to the cartoon paperclip tapping at the screen every time you made a blithering typo.

As computer software and hardware evolved, speakers started becoming more important for adding a sense of reality to games or letting you talk to a family member via a rudimentary webcam portal. In time, the demand for on-demand and streaming music started to gain traction. This led to a wide range of audio equipment manufacturers trying to flood the market with inexpensive or even over-priced computer speakers.

It’s gotten to the point now where more and more people are using their PC as a personal entertainment device for gaming, music, and watching movies. Not to mention the staggering number of home-office workers who need to Skype or attend meetings remotely, and simply hate listening to garbled audio coming out of a tiny monitor-mounted speaker.

Finding your way through the available field of options can be more than just a little bit confusing. The last thing you want to do is invest too much in so-called “Premium” PC speakers that leave you underwhelmed. While there are some inexpensive computer speaker packages out there that deliver above their price point, they can also have some frustrating features or a limited lifespan.

Key Features To Look For In Computer Speakers

The features that will top your priority list might vary a little depending on the things you use your PC for the most. If you’re a gamer, or you use your PC as a veritable entertainment system for streaming movies, you might prioritize things like multi-channel speaker systems and surround sound. If you use your PC for joining in on remote meetings the ability to pick up the midrange frequencies of a human voice with clarity might suddenly top the list.

The Benefits Of Multi-Channel Computer Speakers

Right off the bat, two-channel or multi-channel speaker systems tend to be very popular. This allows you to do things like listen to music in stereo or even to connect a subwoofer.

A system that is set up for stereo will is usually noted as being 2.0. It essentially means that there are two speakers, left and right that are directly connected to the computer itself to support two speakers but will not support a subwoofer.

If you see the computer speaker package noted as 2.1 it indicates that it can support the left and right speaker channel as well as a subwoofer or another type of satellite speaker. In a setup like this, the subwoofer usually needs to be plugged into a separate power source.

It’s also worth noting that a 2.1 system usually allows you greater control of how the speaker system is tuned. Subwoofers tend to be very popular with people who want to use their computer speakers to listen to music or watching movies. Of course, placement can also be an issue. You generally want a subwoofer to be centralized to the listener. This often means that it eats up space under your desk.

Studio monitors are also very popular with 2.0 computer speaker systems. They tend to be slightly small speakers that you can tuck into a bookshelf. Depending on how you set it up, they can mimic a surround sound effect. You just won’t have the rich, booming bass that comes with a 2.1 system’s subwoofer.

When assessing the quality of a subwoofer one of the key indicators is to look at the driver size. In general, small drivers simply can’t produce the same depth of low-frequency sound. There are some computer speaker manufacturers who are well aware of this and they will tune a subwoofer with a small driver for superior performance toward the upper range of the bass. This can give you some rich mid-range sound quality, but you won’t really nice the “Thump” or “Boom” that you expect from a powerful subwoofer.

Wattage

The overall wattage of a speaker system will often translate into greater volume output. Some manufacturers will give you a general total wattage requirement. Though if you are looking at a 2.1 computer speaker system with a subwoofer, then you might want to also investigate the separate wattage of the subwoofer.

Even the most powerful computer speaker systems rarely have enough wattage draw to throw a circuit breaker on their own. Still, you might want to take a look at your breaker panel and then take a tally of everything that’s plugged into that breaker.

If you already have a flat-screen TV or some other type of high wattage appliance plugged into the same circuit breaker as the outlet you’re planning on using plugging the speakers into, you should check the amperage rating of that breaker. Most household breakers are either 15 Amp rated or 20 Amp rated. In terms of wattage, this translates into a 1,800 watt capacity for a 15 Amp circuit breaker and 2,400 watts for a 20 Amp circuit breaker.

The Type Of Input

Twenty years ago, RCA In and Out cables were pretty much your only option. They remained popular for years because they were easy to use. You plugged red into red, and white into white. Eventually, they evolved to include yellow for companion video audio signals.

Today different devices prefer alternative inputs. This could include things like USB, VGA, NFC, Firewire and even things like HDMI. Even something like a simple audio jack can be used to connect an MP3 player, iPod or iPhone to the computer or directly to the speaker system. So, before you invest in a premium computer speaker system, make sure you understand the type of connections it supports as well as the connections that are available on your desktop or laptop computer.

Connectivity

There are some computer speaker manufacturers who recognize the hassle of pairing ports with connections. Not to mention that there are simply some people who don’t want to disguise ugly wires. If this sounds like you, then you might want to consider a speaker system that offers wireless connectivity via a Bluetooth signal.

Audio Controls

Early computer speakers gave you little control over the output beyond the ability to adjust the volume. Today there are still some basic, inexpensive computer systems that are still this simplistic. If you are on a tight budget and you just need a little more volume to the audio your computer produces, you might be satisfied with a pair of these.

A step up from these basic speakers you will find systems that let you independently adjust things like bass and treble. Yet another step up from here you will find systems with more fine-tune controls or even settings for different functions. This might include a preset for movies, another for music, and a general-purpose setting.

There are many computer speaker systems that also come with a remote control. This is nice if you want to use it for home audio or to add audio quality to your home theatre. Then you can sit back and listen at a distance, while still having control over your audio experience, without having to sit at your desk.

Overall Appearance

The basic appearance of the speakers and how they match your existing décor can be a factor. Beyond simple things like black, white and organic tones, the shape and even things like an LCD or LED display might influence your choice of one system over another

Price

With a lot of consumer electronics, you see some degree of the old adage “You get what you pay for!” This holds true with the computer speaker market in a broad sense, that you will generally see a smaller price tag with a basic low-end unit, and the price will start to go up as you add things like subwoofers and special features.

Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a more expensive unit is always the best unit. With a careful eye, you might be surprised to find a computer speaker system that meets 90% of your needs at a fraction of the price of a so-called “High End” or “Premium” unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What Is A Sound Bar?

A: A soundbar is a type of wide, yet low speaker array that is increasingly popular with flatscreen televisions that might be a little bit underpowered. They’re also handy in homes and apartments that have an in-wall or in-window air conditioner unit that can sometimes compete with the television speakers.

Of course, it didn’t take speaker manufacturers long to figure out that they could position soundbars to accommodate desktop and laptop computers. A lot of times, the easiest way to connect them is via a Bluetooth signal, but there are some that will use more traditional wire connections.

They tend to have a central position, which doesn’t really make them an ideal option if you are looking to create some type of surround sound effect. They also don’t have much of a bass range, and while you might get some midrange frequency, you will never get the “Thump” of a low-range subwoofer.

Q: What Is The Difference Between A Long Throw and Downward Firing Subwoofer?

A: A long throw speaker, or in this case a long-throw subwoofer faces the listener to provide directive sound. It usually carries well beyond the intended range for a seemingly whole-room effect.

When it comes to a down-firing speaker or subwoofer the speaker’s driver coil is pointed downward. The cone then vibrates and sound is imparted as well as refracted. This tends to produce more “Thump” or “Boom” when it comes to low bass tones.

Q: What Are EQ Presets?

A: Some computer speakers give you the ability to fine-tune the treble, bass, and other sound dynamics. If you aren’t experienced with tuning speakers trying to set them up for music rather than a skype conference call, or movie, it can be a bit of a guessing game. A computer speaker system that comes with EQ presets allows you to optimize the audio dynamics for things like movies, music, concerts, and gaming with the single press of a button.

Conclusion

There are some important questions to consider when you first start shopping for a computer speaker system. Like a lot of consumer electronics how you will most often use them, and the physical constraints of your available space will factor into the priorities that raise to the top of your list.

2.0 versus 2.1 debate is often a good place to start. If you have limited space under your desk then you might want to gravitate toward a 2.0 system without a subwoofer. While you won’t have as much thump, there are still many desktop speakers that produce a surprising level of mid-range bass.

By the same token, a small or otherwise crowded desktop is often starving for enough square inched to accommodate a pair of speakers. In a scenario like this, you might want to think about adding a soundbar under the monitor.
Using your available space to narrow down your options lets you turn your attention to other special features. Things like a preset EQ let you quickly switch your audio dynamics to optimize the sound output for gaming, movies, or just listening to some background music while you finish up writing a paper.

Of course, a healthy portion of this niche is focused on catering to the needs of gamers who want immersive sound. This might also include things like enhanced lighting, fine-tune EQ capabilities, and even a special device like a wireless gaming mouse included in the package.

Even if you do fall in love with a computer speaker system that seems to be positioned for gamers doesn’t make it a deal-breaker. Gamers tend to have high-quality demands which means the system has a lot of broad range appeal. Not to mention that sometimes things like enhanced RGB lighting features can also fit nicely when watching a movie, or just jamming to your favorite tunes.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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