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How to check your AirPods’ battery charge so they don’t die on you — 06/12/2021

How to check your AirPods’ battery charge so they don’t die on you

It can be incredibly frustrating when your AirPods run out of battery, especially if you’re in the middle of listening to a really good song or podcast.

Thankfully, AirPods charge their battery extremely quickly, and checking the life of your AirPods battery is very easy. With just a few simple steps, you can monitor the battery’s charge on your AirPods charging case, as well as the battery of both the left and right AirPods. 

How to check your AirPods battery life on your iPhone or iOS device

Whether you’re on your iPad or your iPhone, checking the charge your AirPods have is the same, though it may take a few awkward seconds for your device to connect to actually see the battery level. 

Here’s what to do…

Open the AirPods case next to your iOS device

For this, you’ll need your AirPods case with the AirPods inside it, and your device. Open the lid of your AirPods case and keep it open while you hold the case and your device close to each other. After a few seconds, a screen will pop up displaying the charge level of both your AirPods and the charging case. You can see this screen from your lock screen or your home screen. 

A simple way to check the battery on your AirPods

A simple way to check the battery on your AirPods

Image: mashable composite: Apple

Use the Battery Widget on your iOS device

1. Edit the home screen

Another way to check the battery status of your AirPods is by using the Batteries Widget, which was released in iOS 14. If you don’t have iOS 14 or later, this method will not be available to you. To add the widget app, simply hold down on a blank space on your home screen until the apps start to wiggle. You want to click on the plus sign in the upper left hand corner of the screen. 

Hold down on a blank space on your home screen until the apps start to do a little dance.

Hold down on a blank space on your home screen until the apps start to do a little dance.

Image: Screenshot: Apple 

2. Find the Batteries Widget

Search for the batteries widget.

Search for the batteries widget.

Image: Screenshot: Apple

At the top of the screen, there will be a search bar where you can search through all of the widgets available to your device. 

3. Click on the Batteries Widget in the Search Widget tab

Type "batteries" into the search bar.

Type “batteries” into the search bar.


Type “Batteries” into the search bar and select the Batteries Widget. 

4. Choose your style and add widget

Choose your Batteries Widget style.

Choose your Batteries Widget style.


Swipe to choose the style of Battery Widget that you prefer and add click on “Add Widget” at the bottom of the screen. 

5. Move your Battery Widget to the desired location

Customize your home screen and move the Batteries Widget to wherever you'd like.

Customize your home screen and move the Batteries Widget to wherever you’d like.

Image: screenshot: Apple

Hold down on the Batteries Widget that you just added to your home screen to move it to your desired location. 

There you have it, now you can easily check the battery status of your AirPods, the charging case, your phone, and other Bluetooth devices such as an Apple Watch directly from your home screen.

Note: If your AirPods are not connected to your device, they will not show up on the Batteries Widget. But this is an easy way to check your AirPods battery charge if you are currently using them with your iOS device. 

How to check the AirPod battery status on your Mac

Checking the battery charge status on your AirPods via your Mac is incredibly easy. 

1. Click on the Bluetooth icon

Click on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar in the upper right hand corner of your screen to connect your AirPods to your Mac.

Click on the Bluetooth icon to connect your AirPods and check the battery charge.

Click on the Bluetooth icon to connect your AirPods and check the battery charge.

Image: screenshot: Apple

2. Connect your AirPods to your Mac

Click "Connect" to check the battery charge of your AirPods on your Mac.

Click “Connect” to check the battery charge of your AirPods on your Mac.

Image: screenshot: Apple

3. Hover your cursor over the name of your AirPods

Hover over the Bluetooth menu to see your AirPod battery level.

Hover over the Bluetooth menu to see your AirPod battery level.

Image: Screenshot: Mashable

Hover over the device name in the Bluetooth menu to see the individual battery level for each of your AirPods. 

Use the Status light

The status light on your AirPods case can tell you the charge status of your AirPods and your AirPods case.

The status light on your AirPods case can tell you the charge status of your AirPods and your AirPods case.

Image: Future Publishing via Getty Images

Apple included a small light on the AirPods case, though the location may vary depending on what model AirPods and case you have. Regardless, the different colors can tell you how much juice your case has, as well as your AirPods.

If your case is open with the AirPods inside, the light will tell you the charge status of the AirPods themselves. If your AirPods are not in the case, the light will show you the charge on the case. 

A green light means the device is fully charged. An orange light means there is less than one charge remaining, and it’s probably a good idea for you to charge up your AirPods and/or case. Fully charged, your AirPod charging case should contain multiple charges, but there are many factors that affect your battery life, such as listening volume, device settings, and environment. Apple claims that AirPods should get about five hours of listening time, or three on a single charge. AirPods Pro, however, get about four-and-a-half hours listening time, and three-and-a-half-hours of talk time on just one charge. 

And if there’s no charge at all, well, you know what to do. 

5 takeaways from 5 new antitrust bills aimed at Big Tech — 06/11/2021

5 takeaways from 5 new antitrust bills aimed at Big Tech

Bad news for Big Tech. 

Lawmakers have introduced five blockbuster pieces of legislation meant to limit the power of, and possibly even break up, large tech firms such as Facebook and Amazon. 

This comes after a massive investigation into the monopoly power of some Silicon Valley giants. 

Led by the ranking members of the antitrust subcommittee, Democrat David Cicilline and Republican Ken Buck, a bipartisan coalition in the House introduced the legislation on Friday. If passed, the bills would give the government more power to regulate Big Tech.

The bills need to pass in the House and Senate before President Joe Biden could sign them into law. And even with bipartisan support, getting all five of these bills passed will be an uphill battle. 

But considering Big Tech now spends more on lobbying in the U.S. than any other industry, the fact this legislation made it out of committee is huge. 

Here are five takeaways from the five bills.

1. The official definition of a Big Tech company

To establish who these new rules would actually apply to, the American Choice and Innovation Online Act defines “covered platforms” as those with 50 million monthly active users. They also include firms with a market capitalization — the total value of a company’s shares of stock — of more than $600 billion. 

Google and Facebook have 2 billion and 2.85 billion monthly active users, respectively. But under this definition, even relatively “smaller” tech companies qualify. Snapchat passed 500 million monthly active users last quarter.

Microsoft, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), and Amazon all have market caps of more than $1 trillion. Apple is worth more than $2.25 trillion.

2. The bills are specific enough to stop Big Tech companies from doing things that give them an unfair advantage

There are provisions in the bills that seem written with the actual practices of Big Tech companies in mind. For example, Amazon has been accused of using data from sellers to gain a competitive advantage over them, as in the case of PopSockets.

Some have criticized Google for placing search results for its own platforms, like Google Shopping, above those from other companies. Provisions in the American Innovation and Choice Online Act specifically prohibit practices like these, and more.

3. They’re broad enough to break up Big Tech companies

The Ending Platform Monopolies Act, sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, explicitly says that “covered entities” have to stay in their lanes. 

In particular, they can’t own businesses that give rise to “conflicts of interest.” Amazon sells an Amazon Basics line of products. The existence of this line — which Amazon sells on its own platform along with competing products — could constitute a conflict of interest. 

As Alex Kantrowitz points out in his Big Technology newsletter, the wording is “vague enough to cover everything,” giving regulators a powerful tool for breaking up Big Tech companies. 

4. They would limit acquisitions

Beating a company with a head start and massive war chest isn’t always an option for startups. So sometimes they form with the goal of being acquired, which can be lucrative for founders and employees (though not always). 

And Big Tech is happy to buy a company rather than compete with it. That’s how Facebook neutralized the threat of WhatsApp and Instagram. That, unfortunately, leaves consumers with fewer options.

The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act prohibits certain types of acquisitions that would “entrench market power” or seek to neutralize “competitive threats.”

5. The FTC and DOJ will finally get what they need to fight Big Tech

The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act will give more money to agencies responsible for regulating Big Tech, including the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice. 

Underfunding at the DOJ and FTC have limited how hard they can go after tech companies with bursting legal coffers. Emails obtained by Politico showed that while the FTC was suing Facebook, its leaders were telling employees to gear up for “belt tightening.”

With more money, these agencies will be better prepared to take on Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple’s lawyers.

Google to stop hiding full web addresses in Chrome browser —

Google to stop hiding full web addresses in Chrome browser

In August 2020, Google decided to hide all parts of a web address in Chrome except for the domain name. However, less than a year on, the so-called “simplified domain experiment” is coming to an end.

As Android Police reports, the experiment was implemented in spite of protest from users because Google genuinely believed it would help with security and cut down on successful phishing campaigns and other social engineering techniques used to trick users. But ultimately, Google has admitted defeat on this front.

In a post on the Chromium bug tracker, software engineer and Google Chrome manager Emily Stark announced the simplified domain experiment was being deleted because it, “didn’t move relevant security metrics, so we’re not going to launch it. :(“—the sad face denoting the disappointment this didn’t work how the team had expected it to.

Anyone already running Chrome 91 will be able to see that simplified domains have already been removed, and eventually it will disappear for all users as automatic browser updates occur. It remains unclear if this is the final time Google will try and hide information about URLs or if this failed experiment was the final nail in the coffin.

This article originally published at PCMag

CD Projekt Red does an about-face, says ransomware crooks are leaking data —

CD Projekt Red does an about-face, says ransomware crooks are leaking data

A stylized ransom note asks for bitcoin in exchange for stolen data.

CD Projekt Red, the maker of The Witcher series, Cyberpunk 2077, and other popular games, said on Friday that proprietary data taken in a ransomware attack disclosed four months ago is likely circulating online.

“Today, we have learned new information regarding the breach and now have reason to believe that internal data illegally obtained during the attack is currently being circulated on the Internet,” company officials said in a statement. “We are not yet able to confirm the exact contents of the data in question, though we believe it may include current/former employee and contractor details in addition to data related to our games.”

An about-face

The update represents an about-face of sorts, as it warns that the information of current and former employees and contractors is now believed to be among the compromised data. When The Poland-based game maker disclosed the attack in February, it said it didn’t believe the stolen data included personal information for employees or customers.

A week later, the company maintained that the probability of employee personal data being disclosed was “low.” It went on to say that “after our investigation, we have not found any evidence that any personal data was actually transferred outside the company network” and that “due to the attackers’ course of action, we may never be able to say for certain if they actually copied any personal data.”

It’s not clear why it took CD Projekt Red four months to determine that employee data has likely been affected. Presumably, a forensic investigation could have made that determination before now. Attempts to reach CD Projekt Red representatives for comment didn’t immediately succeed.

Kitties and auctions

Shortly after CD Projekt Red’s initial disclosure, researchers said they uncovered data showing that source code for games including Cyberpunk 2077, Gwent, and The Witcher 3 had been put up for auction with a starting bid of $1 million.

A separate team of researchers reported that the auction had been closed after a buyer outside of the auction forum had offered a price that was acceptable to the sellers. The price was never disclosed. There’s no proof a sale actually went through, though, and some researchers have speculated that when no buyer emerged, the sellers lied to save face.

Researchers say that the CD Projekt Red breach was carried out by HelloKitty, a little-known ransomware group that some researchers refer to as DeathRansom.

From the beginning, the game maker has steadfastly refused to pay or even negotiate with the ransomware operators. That stance is admirable, although it’s much easier to take when victims can quickly rebuild their networks using backups, as Projekt Red was. Even then, there are prices to pay, as the game maker is finding out first-hand.

The FBI’s Anom Stunt Rattles the Encryption Debate —

The FBI’s Anom Stunt Rattles the Encryption Debate

Last fall, dozens of boxes stacked with tuna cans left Ecuador on a ship destined for Belgium. Upon arrival, the shipment was picked up by law enforcement, who found that the tins were not full of line-caught albacore but over 1,300 pounds of cocaine, packed in tidy little pucks. The seizure wasn’t a stroke of luck, though, or even a routine search. Belgian authorities knew the drugs would be there, because they’d read the encrypted text messages of the criminals who allegedly sent it. 

Import requirements, shipping container logistics—the FBI had seen it all, hammered out over a series of texts dating back to October on the Anom encrypted phone network. Federal agents hadn’t cracked Anom’s cryptography, or paid off an informant directly involved in the canny deal. They had, along with the Australian police, spent the past three years running the whole system.

As it turns out, the tuna bandits were a drop in a much bigger ocean of Anom-related law enforcement activity. Early this week, an international consortium led by the FBI announced a total of about 800 arrests, more than 500 of which were carried out in recent days, that stemmed directly from the information gleaned as Anom’s owner and operator. Authorities intercepted more than 27 million messages through the platform from around 12,000 devices, and subsequently seized $45 million in international currency, 250 firearms, and more than 32 tons of illegal drugs.

The story of how the FBI got its hooks into Anom is fascinating in its own right; according to court documents, the agency had taken down another secure communications system marketed to criminals, then convinced one of its developers to become an informant. At the FBI’s request, that unidentified person snuck an addition into Anom: a calculator app that relayed every communication sent on the platform back to the FBI.

Going Dark?

The Anom takeover was an audacious bit of intelligence work. It also raises serious questions about the broader encryption debate. The US Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies around the world have increasingly lobbied in recent years for access to “end-to-end” encrypted communication platforms, which keep data scrambled and undecipherable at all points on its journey across the internet. Content like messages or phone call data is only decrypted locally on the sender and receiver’s devices, making it difficult for law enforcement to access it remotely or through subpoenas. In many cases, such services also simply act as a pass-through for encrypted communications and don’t store the data at all. 

The FBI calls this lack of visibility “going dark.” The agency’s repeated preference, along with other law enforcement agencies around the world, is for companies to create so-called backdoors into those systems to allow officials special access. Security researchers unanimously agree that you can’t create that sort of intentional weakness without endangering the security of all data on a given service. And the Anom operation, along with several other high-profile cases in recent years, suggests that “going dark” is not as much of an impediment as law enforcement insists.

“When law enforcement claim that they need companies to build in backdoors for them to gain access to the end-to-end encrypted communications of criminals, examples like Anom show that it’s not the case,” says Joseph Lorenzo Hall, a senior vice president at the nonprofit Internet Society who works on web security and encryption.

The FBI and DOJ have certainly been known to overstate their need for backdoors in the past. In a notable 2016 public standoff with Apple, the agency demanded that the tech company create a tool that would allow them to unlock one of the San Bernardino shooters’ iPhone 5C. Apple resisted and the legal dispute ultimately ended in a draw, because the FBI was able to buy a third-party tool to access the device. A similar situation presented itself last year; the DOJ was again able to get the data it needed without forcing Apple to produce a universal iPhone cracker.

Law enforcement can also still access encrypted communications if they can gain access to and and unlock the physical devices involved. Cloud backups have provided key evidence in countless cases. Mainstream platforms like Facebook are actively developing ways to flag malicious activity without seeing the actual content of encrypted messages. 

The FBI’s repeated success in overcoming its “going dark” problem belie the protestations that it’s an existential threat. In some ways, Anom shows just how creative the agency’s workarounds can be. Researchers caution, though, that as more governments around the world seek the power to demand digital backdoors—and as some, like Australia, implement such laws—authorities could also point to the Anom case as evidence that special access works.

“It seems like from there it’s not rhetorically that big of a leap to say, ‘This worked so well, wouldn’t it be nice if every app had a backdoor?’ Which is literally what law enforcement in the US has said it wants,” says Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society. If being able to surveil every message on Anom was so effective, the FBI might say, why not simply do it more, and in more places?

Extraordinary Circumstances

It’s important not to extrapolate too broadly from the Anom experience. According to the documents released this week, the FBI went to great lengths to work under foreign laws and avoid surveilling Americans throughout the three-year initiative. And there’s no immediate threat of the FBI being able to deploy a totally backdoored system inside the United States. The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable” search and seizure, and sets out a clear foundation for government warrant requirements. Furthermore, continuous surveillance orders like wiretap warrants are intentionally even more difficult for law enforcement to obtain, because they authorize expansive bulk surveillance. But, as the National Security Agency’s PRISM program showed, unchecked domestic digital surveillance programs are not outside the realm of possibilities in the US.

One lesson to take from Anom, though, is that while it was effective in many ways, it came with potential collateral damage to the privacy of people who have not been accused of any crime. Even a product geared toward crooks can be used by law-abiding people as well, subjecting those inadvertent targets to draconian surveillance in the process of trying to catch real criminals. And anything that normalizes the concept of total government access, even in a very specific context, can be a step on a slippery slope.

“There’s a reason we have warrant requirements and it takes effort and resources to put the work into investigations,” Pfefferkorn says. “When there is no friction between the government and the people they want to investigate, we’ve seen what can result.”

These concerns are buttressed by indications that governments have actively sought expansive backdoor authorities. Along with Australia, other “Five Eyes” US intelligence peers like the United Kingdom have also floated ideas about how law enforcement could have access to mainstream end-to-end encrypted services. In 2019, for example, the UK’s GCHQ intelligence agency proposed that services build mechanisms for law enforcement to be added as a silent, unseen participant in chats or other communications of interest to them. This way, GCHQ argued, companies wouldn’t have to break their encryption protocols; they could simply make another account party to conversations, like adding another member to a group chat.

The reaction against the proposal was swift and definitive from researchers, cryptographers, privacy advocates, human rights groups, and companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. They argued firmly that a tool to add law enforcement ghosts to chats could also be discovered and abused by bad actors, exposing all users of a service to risk and fundamentally undermining the purpose of end-to-end encryption protections. 

Cases like Anom, and other examples of law enforcement agencies secretly operating secure communication companies, may not fulfill law enforcement’s wildest dreams about mass communication access. But they show—with all of their own escalations, gray areas, and potential privacy implications—that authorities still have ways to get the information they want. The criminal underworld hasn’t gone nearly as dark as it may seem.

“I’m happy living in a world where the criminals are dumb and cram themselves onto special-purpose encrypted criminal encryption applications,” says Johns Hopkins cryptographer Matthew Green. “My actual fear is that eventually some criminals will stop being dumb and just move to good encrypted messaging systems.”

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Roomba who? This smart robot vacuum and mop is $275 off ahead of Prime Day. —

Roomba who? This smart robot vacuum and mop is $275 off ahead of Prime Day.

SAVE $275: One of Amazon’s June 11 Deals of the Day brings the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI down to just $524.99 — that’s 34% off its usual retail price of $799.99.

Consider this: What if your robot vacuum was also a mop, a smart home device, and a roving security camera that lets you keep an eye on your pets from afar?

This isn’t some thought experiment, FYI, because a robot vacuum that ticks all of those boxes actually already exists — and no, it *doesn’t* come from iRobot’s perennially popular Roomba lineup. (Surprise, surprise.) 

We’re talking about the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI, a super fancy robot vacuum and mop hybrid from spring 2020 that Amazon just put on sale as a June 11 Deal of the Day: Normally $799.99, it’s sitting at only $524.99 through midnight PT tonight. (At 34% off, or a $275 savings, that’s easily its biggest discount yet.)

SEE ALSO: Best robot vacuums for every budget

Ecovacs has billed the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI as “the market’s most advanced AI-driven floor cleaning robot,” which feels pretty accurate: It can quickly identify, recognize, and intelligently decide how to scoot around objects in its path, and its True Mapping navigation technology uses freaking lasers to help it chart the layout of your home for efficient cleaning. Plus, its schedule, routine, and power level are all highly customizable via the Ecovacs smartphone app — you can divide or merge areas, label rooms, set no-go zones, and even adjust its water flow for different areas. (That app is also what you’ll use to access the on-demand live HD video stream from its camera module, by the way.)

Capable of vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping at the same time, the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI comes ready for action with up to three hours of runtime and the ability to clean up to 3,200 square feet of space in standard suction mode. (Meanwhile, its large water tank can get you up to 2,000 square feet of mopping in one go.) Truly, is it any wonder why our pals over at PCMag gave this thing one of their coveted Editor’s Choice Awards?

We can’t promise you that the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI will be this cheap again anytime soon — not even on Prime Day, maybe — so hit that blue button below to grab it on sale while you still can.

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One of Samsung’s 2020 8K TVs is nearly half off at Amazon ahead of Prime Day —

One of Samsung’s 2020 8K TVs is nearly half off at Amazon ahead of Prime Day

Save $2,802: The 65-inch version of Samsung’s 2020 Q900TS 8K TV is half off at Amazon as of June 11, bringing it down to less than $2,700.

The introduction of Samsung’s 2021 8K TVs in January (~Neo QLED~, officially) is finally having that beautiful “out with the old, in with the new” effect on the prices of last year’s models. Particularly, the price tag on Samsung’s 65-inch Q900TS 8K TV has been steadily dropping since February, crossing the less-than-$3,000 threshold in April.

As of June 11, you can score the 65-inch Q900TS for $2,697.99. That’s $100 more than the lowest it’s ever gone — but considering that it debuted on the market for over $5,000, the price cut is major. Over 50% off major.

The “Neo” aspect of Samsung’s new line refers to a new type of technology that uses really tiny LEDs to hone in on tiny details. But the Q900TS is still crisp as hell: It’s hailed for nailing the most perfect black uniformity across skies, shadows, and more that one could ask for — and on the other hand, some of the brightest colors, too. A slew of local dimming zones create depth in every corner of this TV that basically has no bezels.

Shows or movies that you may have watched in 4K should probably be rewatched just to experience the upscaling. Artificial intelligence pulls 4K content and converts it to 8K, doubling the resolution and restoring any lost detail.

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Improve your sleep schedule with a Philips wake-up light, on sale ahead of Prime Day —

Improve your sleep schedule with a Philips wake-up light, on sale ahead of Prime Day

SAVE $20: Get your sleep schedule back on track with the Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light, on sale for $79.95 as of June 11. 

If you’ve been sleeping in right until you need to log onto work, then finding yourself working in bed all day, it might be time to get your sleep schedule in order. Whether you’re a night owl who stays up late or someone who has to sleep with blackout curtains, getting out of bed in the morning can be a rough time. The Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light is a great product to get your circadian rhythm going again, and it’s on sale as of June 11. With the all-time-low Black Friday price sitting at $75, this pre-Prime Day deal brings the price within $5 (making now a good time to buy).

This alarm clock will simulate sunrise and sunset in your room, so your body gets used to falling asleep and waking up more naturally. Wind down at night with a gradually dimming light, and wake up peacefully in the morning when the light starts to get brighter and more intense. The warm yellow light mimics the sun and doesn’t seem artificial. This clock also features 300 lux brightness — bright enough to be used as a bedroom lamp — and 20 different light intensities for a custom feel. 

There are also five different wake-up sounds to choose from for your morning alarm. From ocean waves to chirping birds, these sounds start out quiet, then gradually get louder so you’ll never be jolted out of deep sleep. It also boasts a handy tap-to-snooze function, FM radio, and an automatic dimmable display.

This alarm clock can help you get your sleep schedule back on track and have more energy during the day by getting you in tune with your circadian rhythm. Grab one ASAP, before this $20 off deal ends.

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Best cheap laptop deals this weekend: Save on Asus, Lenovo, and more —

Best cheap laptop deals this weekend: Save on Asus, Lenovo, and more

What’s better than a great laptop? A great laptop that’s cheap. Nowadays, even budget machines can pack the punch to carry you through whatever’s on your to-do list, whether it’s work, watching Netflix, or endlessly browsing your go-to social media sites. If you’re looking to pick up a new laptop yourself but don’t necessarily want to drop your life savings in one go, we’ll be compiling a list of the best deals on cheap laptops right here, each and every week. So, take a look at what we found this time around, and happy shopping.

OUR TOP PICK: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 — $899

The clean and elegant Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is up to two times faster than its predecessor and can last you most of the day with its 11.5-hour battery life (plus a one-hour quick charge feature that can get you back up to 80% battery). If you’ve been holding off on buying a MacBook because you have an aversion is Apple’s OS, the Surface Laptop 3 may be your answer.

BEST LENOVO DEAL: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 — $1,409.40

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 is a fantastic work laptop, boasting excellent performance and features that’ll please any non-Mac user. The included 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10510U processor is speedy and responsive, making for a smooth experience each and every time you open the device. You’ll also get other sought-after perks like a fingerprint reader, Dolby Atmos speaker system, a 4K display, almost 20 hours of battery life on a single charge, and the tough construction that ThinkPad laptops have become known for.

BEST GAMING DEAL: Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 — $1,299.99

Gaming laptops are a great way to dip your toes into the world of PC gaming. With a decent machine, you can run most games well, and you’ll get the convenience of being able to take your device on the go with you as opposed to a stationary desktop setup (while spending way less money). The Asus ROG Zephryus M15 is a solid gaming laptop, with a high-end Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card. You’ll also get a gorgeous 15.6-inch 4K display, a whole terabyte of SSD storage, and a free month of Xbox Game Pass. 

BEST 2-IN-1 DEAL: Asus Chromebook Flip C434 — $428.99

Having your laptop and your tablet in one place is a convenience that you need in your life. The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is a fantastic budget 2-in-1 device, with speedy performance, a full HD touchscreen, and components that should be able to handle all of your daily tasks.


Asus VivoBook 14 (Renewed) — $469.99

If your priority is having a nice display on a budget, the Asus VivoBook 14 is a good choice. The anti-glare HD screen in conjunction with the nano-bezel design looks really great, and you can get one for $47.49 off at Amazon.

Microsoft Surface Go — $514.46

The Surface Go is yet another great 2-in-1 laptop from Microsoft, sporting an even more compact design than the Surface Pro 7 that’s made for taking on the go (hence the name). This is a bundle deal, so in addition to the Surface Go, you’ll also get the Surface Pen and Microsoft Office 360 (and you’ll save $25).

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How to shop for a new laptop:

Choosing a laptop is entirely dependent on what you’ll be using it for. Beginner laptop owners need something user-friendly and straightforward, frequent travelers need something light with a long battery life, designers and gamers need top-notch 4K graphics and quick central processors, and everyone needs something that will last. The first thing you should do is ask yourself a simple question: PC or Mac? This is an important question, as it’s going to make a world of difference in what you can and can’t do with your computer. Are you a gamer? A video editor? A business professional? An Apple device owner? The answer to any of these will probably point you towards your final answer. If you’re constantly buying the new iPhone every year, editing YouTube videos, recording a podcast, or other creative endeavors of the sort, your best bet may be a Mac laptop. Apple obsessives will be happy with their Mac’s compatibility with their other Apple products, and everyone can benefit from Macs’ propensity to have better virus protection than that of a PC. That brings us to the perks of picking up a PC. You can still complete a number of creative projects on a personal computer, but where PCs really shine are their options for customization. PCs are much easier to upgrade part-by-part, as they aren’t constrained to Apple-manufactured products (like Macs). And because there is a seemingly endless supply of PC manufacturers, there are a lot more options from what brand you chose, to the software you buy, to the type of graphics card you pick out for your gaming rig. Yes, gamers should always go the PC route — they are far more powerful than what a Mac laptop can handle, and also give you the option to connect VR headsets, if you’re into that sort of thing.  

What size laptop should you get?

This really comes down to two things: Personal preference and lifestyle. Personal preference is self-explanatory, really — do you like having a huge display, or do you prefer something more compact? Lifestyle is where practicality comes into play. If you’re traveling often and usually have your computer on your back in some way, you’re going to want to go with something more light and compact (thin, 11-inch models will most likely be the best). But, if you’re a huge movie buff who doesn’t normally take their laptop on the road with them, spring for a 15-inch (and higher) screen with a bulky construction so you can have epic Netflix and chill sessions. If you’re getting a gaming laptop, you should probably “go big or go home,” as well.  

How much should you spend on a new laptop?

This is much more subjective, and at the end of the day, it’s really going to come down to your budget. But, if money isn’t the number one concern for you, you should really think hard about what you’re going to use your laptop for. Need a device with lots of power under the hood and bountiful storage space? Aim for something in the $800 and beyond range. Only using your laptop to edit the occasional Google Doc? Then you can probably get away with spending way below the $500 mark. In other words, don’t blow your savings if you don’t need to. And if you’re looking to go all out, meaning buying a laptop with every bell and whistle imaginable, you can get a monster of a machine for somewhere closer to $2,000. Why not.  

Are cheap laptops worth it?

You know the old saying: You get what you pay for. But thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades, a cheap laptop can actually take you pretty far and won’t break down immediately. It’s all about knowing which one to select. Depending on what you use your laptop for the most, staying stingy might be your best option. Check out our roundups for the ones that we think are worth it — here are our favorite cheap laptop models under $500, and the best under $300.  

What does it mean when a laptop is certified refurbished?

Don’t let the words “refurbished” or “renewed” scare you away — these types of devices are usually perfectly viable options and can end up saving you a lot of money without sacrificing much of anything. A refurbished device, in its simplest terms, is a product that has been bought, but then returned for some reason. Notice that we didn’t necessarily say that it was returned due to some sort of fault on the device’s part. While that can certainly be true in some cases, it isn’t always. Oftentimes, a certified refurbished laptop never even left its original packaging. While yes, saving money is a huge benefit of buying a “refurb,” it’s far from the only reason to consider getting one. What’s great about refurbished devices is that they undergo rigorous performance tests to ensure that they are still in good condition (sometimes more strictly than the stuff coming right off the production line). There’s also a chance that any refurbished laptop you buy may have been so lightly used, that it could almost be considered brand-new (just way cheaper). We’re big fans of buying refurbished gear for kids, especially when it comes to electronics. If you’re shopping for a laptop for a kid who is under the age of 15, then refurbished is really the way to go. For kids of high school age and beyond who are a bit more careful with their digital gear, then a new laptop isn’t as risky. Of course, it depends on the kid. Happy laptop shopping!