Qualcomm and Microsoft Join Six PC Makers to Take on Apple with Snapdragon X and Copilot+

The tech world has been a battleground for years, with Apple reigning supreme with its sleek MacBook Pros powered by M3 processors. These devices, marked by the iconic Apple logo, have long dominated with seamless design and easy-to-use interfaces. But now, a formidable coalition is ready to take the fight to Apple. Qualcomm, teaming up with Microsoft, has pulled together an impressive lineup of brands united by Snapdragon X Series processors and Windows 11. This diverse army is ready to challenge Apple’s top spot, featuring laptops and hybrid devices from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Samsung. Each device in this alliance is packed with advanced AI capabilities, long battery life, and efficient performance, aiming to set new standards in personal computing.

Microsoft Copilot+ PCs

On May 20 in Seattle, Microsoft made the first move in this ongoing tech battle by unveiling a new category of personal computers with AI features, aiming to weave this emerging technology into its products and compete with giants like Apple and Alphabet. At an event on its Redmond campus, CEO Satya Nadella introduced “Copilot+” PCs, which a range of manufacturers, including Acer and ASUS, will sell. These new AI-enhanced PCs, capable of handling more AI tasks without relying on cloud data centers, start at $1,000 and will begin shipping on June 18.

The ability to process AI data directly on the device allows for features like “Recall,” which tracks and stores all activities on the computer for easy recall months later. The Copilot voice assistant, showcased as a real-time virtual coach in “Minecraft,” highlights the innovative uses of on-device AI.

Acer’s Swift 14 AI, agile and versatile, leads the charge. Powered by Snapdragon X Elite and featuring a 2.5K touchscreen display, it’s designed for both work and creativity. The Swift 14 AI’s Activity Indicator pulses, signaling readiness for the battle ahead. With Acer PurifiedView 2.0 and Acer PurifiedVoice 2.0, this laptop ensures top-notch video and audio quality, making it an excellent choice for users who demand high performance and immersive experiences.

Swift 14 AI

ASUS Vivobook S 15

Next up is the ASUS Vivobook S 15, a seasoned fighter with Snapdragon X Elite and X Plus processors. Its 45 TOPS NPU and efficient cooling system ensure it can handle heavy tasks. The 15.6-inch 3K 120 Hz OLED display and 18-hour battery life make it a reliable companion for any user. The Vivobook S 15’s slim design and versatile connectivity options add to its appeal, offering a perfect balance between power and portability. With ASUS IceCool Thermal technology, this laptop stays cool even during the most demanding tasks.

The Dell Latitude 7455 with Snapdragon X Elite or Snapdragon X Plus.

Dell’s new lineup, including the XPS 13, Inspiron 14 Plus, Inspiron 14, Latitude 7455, and Latitude 5455, forms the backbone of the Qualcomm alliance. Known for their speed and AI performance, these laptops feature sleek designs and solid build quality. The XPS 13 leads with its high-resolution display, while the Inspiron and Latitude models offer strong support for consumers and professionals. These devices have NGAI-enabled transformative AI experiences, boosting productivity and simplifying complex tasks. The new Latitude models are designed with business users in mind, providing long battery life and high-speed processing for smooth performance in commercial settings.

OmniBook on the left and the EliteBook is on the right

HP’s OmniBook X AI PC and EliteBook Ultra AI PC bring intelligence and security to the forefront. Powered by Snapdragon X Elite, these models offer up to 26 hours of battery life. With its advanced security features, the EliteBook Ultra acts as a protector, safeguarding crucial data and strategies. HP’s next-gen AI PCs harness powerful AI technologies, ensuring greater productivity and improved user experiences. The HP EliteBook Ultra also offers extra features for business customers, including Wolf Pro Security Next Gen Antivirus and the Microsoft Secured-Core PC designation, providing secure identity and cryptographic services.

Lenovo Supercharges Copilot+ PCs with Latest Yoga Slim 7x and ThinkPad T14s Gen 6

Lenovo’s Yoga Slim 7x and ThinkPad T14s Gen 6 add agility and resilience to the team. The Yoga Slim 7x enhances creativity and productivity, while the ThinkPad T14s Gen 6 ensures reliability in rugged environments. These laptops offer top performance per watt and fast NPU-based AI processing, enhancing user experiences with advanced AI features. The Yoga Slim 7x is designed for consumers wanting a lightweight, powerful laptop, while the ThinkPad T14s Gen 6 caters to business professionals needing top-level security and performance.

Surface Pro and Surface Laptop

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop and Surface Pro lead the front lines, featuring Snapdragon X Elite and X Plus. The Surface Laptop, with its modern design and sharp display, delivers impressive performance and long battery life. The Surface Pro, a flexible 2-in-1 device, adapts to any situation, providing the versatility of both a laptop and a tablet with its optional OLED display. These devices offer new AI experiences powered by the Snapdragon X Elite and X Plus processors, boosting productivity and creativity with smart computing features. The new Surface Pro Flex Keyboard lets users position their Surface Pro and keyboard as needed, ensuring a smooth transition between different modes.

Galaxy AI on Galaxy Book4 Edge

Samsung’s Galaxy Book4 Edge, equipped with Snapdragon X Elite, integrates hybrid AI features that enhance productivity. Available in 14-inch and 16-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X displays, it combines clarity with powerful computing, acting as the communication hub for the coalition. This device brings popular Galaxy AI features like Circle to Search with Google, Live Translate, and Chat Assist to the PC’s bigger display, breaking down communication barriers and boosting creativity and productivity.

Apple MacBook Pro M3

As the two armies face off, the air is thick with anticipation. Apple’s M3 processors power the MacBook Pros, with the iPad Pro showcasing the power of the M4, which has been nothing short of amazing. There is high anticipation that the M4 will soon power the next generation of MacBooks, replacing the outgoing M3. The Qualcomm and Microsoft alliance, with its diverse and powerful devices, stands ready for the challenge. Each brand, each laptop, and hybrid device brings unique strengths, forming a united front against a common foe. The clash begins, and the battlefield hums with the buzz of technology. Qualcomm processors, with their AI capabilities and long battery life, push performance and efficiency to new heights. Windows 11’s Copilot+ features provide strategic advantages, helping the alliance adapt quickly. Apple’s devices fight back fiercely, showcasing the power of the M3 and the anticipation of the M4.

Apple M4 and Snapdragon X Elite

The battle is about winning through innovation and unlocking new possibilities. As the dust settles, both sides realize that progress and competition go hand in hand. The Qualcomm and Microsoft alliance, with its Snapdragon X Series processors and diverse range of devices, has shown it can stand alongside Apple, heralding a new era of technological advancement and collaboration. Microsoft’s new Copilot+ PCs, with AI features like “Recall” and real-time virtual coaching, mark a bold step forward. While Apple prepares its counter at WWDC in June, the tech world watches eagerly to see how this clash of titans will shape the future of computing.

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HP Envy Move is a vesatile all-in-one PC that supersedes your laptop in most use-case-scenarios

Haven’t you always desired the screen real estate of a desktop but always loved the portability of a laptop? The dual-screen Lenovo Yoga Book 9i is living proof that brands are now more conscious of this consumer demand but there’s a catch. Such products come at higher than usual prices and are not for carefree users, as they require some degree of special treatment. HP Spectre Foldable is yet another pricey example of such a multipurpose computing machine.

While Dell and Acer have not been bold enough to release such machines, HP wants to try their luck out with the Envy Move. The 24-inch all-in-one desktop is high on portability and low on price making it an interesting product offering the best of both worlds.

Designer: HP

Making its first appearance under the radar at this year’s CES 2024 (the reason most of the tech community failed to notice it) the dual utility laptop seems more than utilitarian as a daily driver. The price tag of $900 is reasonable at most considering the exorbitant pricing of other such products on the market. Of course, there are some corners cut but the versatility aspect (not necessarily portability) is where the USP of this futureproof gadget lies.

The HP Envy Move is primarily a desktop with an included battery that powers the reasonable hardware and the big 24-inch 2K touchscreen. That means you can multitask with ease, providing a far better experience than laptops. The lower half of the screen tilts to create an added working area and is good for taking Zoom calls too as the webcam comes up to the eye level. That said the thickness of the device is something you won’t write home about.

That extra space, however, does accommodate a built-in B&O speaker with a beefy bass response. This will excite audio lovers or ones who consume a lot of multimedia content. You can also use it as an external display for your main PC without worrying about the wire clutter since it has its battery power system. The smart desktop PC cum monitor seems like a good prospect, offering a practical experience for users who cannot afford a multiple PC setup.

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HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printers carry bold designs to match your style

There was a time when Polaroid-style instant cameras made a comeback, riding on the retro and nostalgia wave that was gripping many markets. There are still some of these around that bring joy to the simple act of taking photos and seeing them instantly printed, but some people found the limitations and total cost of ownership a bit too much to ask. At the very least, it required them to carry a camera with them, often bulky and too attention-grabbing, when they already have a perfect camera in the form of their smartphones. That problem led to the birth of instant photo printers, and this fresh batch from the HP Sprocket line put a rather unique twist to that product design by making the printer itself look as stylish and as lively as the photos it prints.

Designer: C+A (HP Licensee)

There are many portable instant photo printers in the market today, but many of them seem to emphasize the “printer” part a bit too much. More often than not, they look like miniature versions of desktop printers, which aren’t exactly the most inspiring designs around. Considering how they’re often used in fun, playful, and whimsical situations, their appearance doesn’t exactly convey the spirit and purpose of the product.

That’s how the HP Sprocket printers differentiate themselves, even if the difference isn’t that earth-shattering. The portable printers sport a textured design that looks almost like terrazzo, giving a bit of a visual flair to the printers. Throw in a splash of pastel color options and you have an accessory that clearly speaks the language of fun.

They’re not all looks, of course, as these are capable ZINK printers. That means you don’t have to worry about messy inks because all the colors are on the special photo paper. Different printer types use different kinds of paper, such as the Sprocket 2×3 printing the smallest photo sizes, while the newer Sprocket Panorama Printer uses a photo paper roll to be able print out panoramic photos, banners, and more. In both cases, HP Sprocket ZINK paper photos have backs you can peel off to reveal a sticky surface for putting on walls, notebooks, boards, and other objects in a more or less permanent manner.

One of the advantages of using portable photo printers over instant cameras is that you can first compose and edit the photos you take with your phone. With the HP Sprocket app, you can easily pick out frames, apply filters, add stickers and icons, and do so much more before finally printing out your masterpiece. And you can print the same photo over and over again, letting you share those fun, once-in-a-lifetime moments with more friends than you could with a single photo.

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Best of Tech Design – Yanko Design Awards 2023

It’s that time of year again when we take stock of the past 12 months and reflect on the ups and downs in order to get a brief glimpse of what lies ahead. It has been a pretty active year for the tech industry in many segments, from companies recovering or folding from the events of the past 3 years to the explosion of AI-powered services. Of course, there has also been a torrent of new designs and product types, such as the gaming handheld fever that’s gripping the PC market. In other words, there has been a great storm swirling in the tech and consumer electronics world, and now that the dust has finally settled, we’re taking a look at some of the best product designs that you can grab today or in just a few months.

Best Mixed Reality Headset – Apple Vision Pro

After years of speculation and waiting, Apple finally revealed its hand and showed the world its vision for its mixed reality platform. Of course, that includes the hardware that will become the gateway to that reality, the Vision Pro. In typical Apple fashion, the headset isn’t just a rehash of any old VR/AR gear and is specifically designed not only to showcase the power of Apple’s Spatial Computing but also to provide convenience and comfort in all aspects.

Designer: Apple

Why it’s noteworthy

As expected from any Apple product, the Vision Pro has a minimalist, understated design where every part is made with meticulous attention to detail. In addition to luxurious, comfortable materials, the headset is designed to be lightweight and well-balanced, allowing for long hours of use without straining the head. It was also made to immerse the wearer in a virtual world without taking them away from the real world, especially when communicating with others by making eye contact. Apple’s visionOS platform is carefully tailored to mix the real and the virtual seamlessly. Admittedly, the pricing for the Vision Pro is going to be high, but that’s also on par with any high-quality product that Apple makes.

Best Gaming Handheld – Lenovo Legion Go

Although some manufacturers have been churning out portable gaming PCs for years now, things really heated up when the big names in the industry started jumping in. Valve got the ball rolling with the Steam Deck, followed closely by the ASUS ROG Ally. Lenovo may just be the latest to jump on board, but thanks to both its expertise and the advantage of hindsight, the Lenovo Legion Go is pretty much ahead of the game not just in terms of specs but also in design.

Designer: Lenovo

Why it’s noteworthy

Yes, the Legion Go looks big, but mostly because it has the biggest screen among handheld gaming PCs in the market today. Its removable controllers give the perfect Nintendo Switch vibe, but the FPS mouse mode also delivers a new and unique way to play games. The high-performance hardware leaves few complaints, aside from the usual battery life, and the built-in kickstand removes the need for a separate accessory. There’s definitely still room for improvement, so it’s actually exciting to see what Lenovo has planned next for this device category.

Best Foldable Phone – OPPO Find N3

Foldable phones are becoming mainstream to the point that there might be too many to choose from at this point. While Samsung still has the lion’s share of people’s attention, it has long relinquished being the best in this market. It has easily let its rivals pass it by, and OPPO, who is relatively new to the scene, has just produced what is pretty much the best foldable phone you can buy (depending on where you are).

Designer: OPPO

Why it’s noteworthy

The OPPO Find N3 combines not just the best specs but also the best designs currently available in this category. It folds flat, has stylish color options, and has a more normal, wider shape that makes it more usable as a regular phone when folded. And it doesn’t skimp on the cameras, which is something that most foldable phones still have a hard time getting right. This particular model might not be available in all markets, but the OnePlus Open is a dead ringer and might be available in countries where the OPPO Find N3 isn’t.

Best Laptop/Portable PC – HP Envy Move

When thinking of “portable computers,” most will probably think of laptops since those are the most common designs available. They’re not always the best, though, especially when you consider the ergonomics involved. Desktop PCs, however, are just too large and bulky to be portable, even the thin all-in-one PCs are firmly rooted to desks. HP is challenging that status quo with a unique PC that is as portable as a laptop yet as usable as an all-in-one desktop.

Designer: HP

Why it’s noteworthy

The HP Envy Move is, for all intents and purposes, an AIO or All-in-One PC that was designed to be carried around, especially thanks to a built-in foldable handle and a pocket for storing a wireless keyboard. Its large 23.8-inch screen has plenty of room for work and entertainment, and you won’t have to crane your neck down every time you use it. Yes, it’s probably going to be awkward to carry it with you everywhere, but when you have a few fixed places to set up work or sit down for a movie, this computer will give you the full desktop experience in no time flat.

Best Portable Power Station – Bluetti AC500 + B300S

A stable supply of electricity has almost become a luxury these days. Power grids can go down without prior notice, or you might find yourself spending days and nights outdoors. Gas generators no longer cut it and are dangerous liabilities rather than assets, but there’s, fortunately, a large selection of safer and greener battery-powered generators now available today. Perhaps too many, in fact, since they come in all sizes and capacities, but Bluetti’s latest modular AC500 inverter and B300S expansion batteries offer the perfect flexibility for all your power needs.

Designer: Bluetti

Why it’s noteworthy

The modular design of the Bluetti AC500 means that you can stack as many as four of these 3,072Wh batteries if you need to, enough to power a home for a day or two. Or you can only bring the inverter and one battery module if you just need to go camping over the weekend. Best of all, you can charge the batteries using solar power, so you don’t even have to worry about power outlets in case of emergencies or being stuck outside. It’s a great way to enjoy the conveniences of modern life by having access to safe and sustainable power at any time.

Best Powerbank – Anker 737 GaN Prime 24K

Our dependence on computers and smartphones becomes pretty obvious when we start scrambling for a charger and find no power outlet available. There’s a variety of portable batteries, a.k.a. power banks, available today, but not all of them deliver the power you need to charge multiple devices, let alone a power-hungry laptop. Anker is one of the leading brands in this space, and it has a solution that addresses that need without forcing you to carry a veritable brick in your bag.

Designer: Anker

Why it’s noteworthy

The Anker 737 GaN Prime 24K offers portability and power in a compact package. It has enough output and battery capacity to charge a MacBook, for example, which means smartphones, accessories, and even drones are no sweat at all. GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology makes charging not only faster but also safer, while a helpful LCD display shows all the necessary stats you need to keep tabs on the power bank itself as well as the devices it’s charging. The block is admittedly chunky, but compared to power banks of similar capacity, it’s surprisingly compact and light, making it the perfect all-around partner for any mobile worker.

Best Smart Speaker – Sonos Era 300

The hype around smart speakers may seem to have died down, but that’s mostly because they have become almost too common. Every modern Bluetooth-enabled speaker these days has some smarts now, leaving manufacturers more freedom to explore other designs. Sonos is one of the pioneers in the wireless speaker space, and it continues to push through with new designs even in the face of unrelenting competition. Its new Sonos Era 300 this year makes an impact not only with its design but also with its commitment to the environment.

Designer: Sonos

Why it’s noteworthy

The Sonos Era 300 has a distinctive shape that almost looks like a flattened speaker icon, with a front half that flares out and a back that is more or less uniform in size. That shape isn’t accidental, as it allows the multitude of woofers and tweeters to be positioned for maximum efficiency and performance. What really makes the Sonos Era 300 extra special, however, is the attention that it gives to sustainability, picking materials, lowering power consumption, and encouraging quick repairs in order to reduce its negative impact on the environment.

Best Wireless Earbuds – Sony WF-1000XM5

Apple may have made wireless earbuds popular, but it is far from being the only game in town. When it comes to design and especially sound quality, the AirPods are easily eclipsed by products from more experienced brands. Reclaiming its foothold in this audio space, Sony has launched a new pair of high-end buds that truly immerse you in your favorite music, regardless of your environment.

Designer: Sony

Why it’s noteworthy

The Sony WF-1000XM5 boasts one of if not the best noise canceling experiences that tiny buds can offer. It even uses some AI special sauce to also reduce noise interference when you’re making calls, allowing for clear and crisp audio on both ends of the line. Best of all, its minimalist design doesn’t call attention to itself, but its stylish appearance won’t embarrass you if people do notice.

Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner – SwitchBot S10

We have long gone past the days when robot vacuum cleaners only vacuumed floors and still left everything else to humans. Now they can dump their dirt into bins on their own and even wipe the floor with a mop when needed. Human intervention can’t be removed completely, like in taking out the dust bin or refilling water in the tank, but the SwitchBot S10 further reduces the need for manual interaction by making the robot smart enough to dump its own dirty water and stock up on clean water all by itself.

Designer: SwitchBot

Why it’s noteworthy

The small and narrow auto-emptying station of the SwitchBot S10 is rather deceptive, making you think it’s less capable than its larger competitors. But that’s because the exciting action happens away from that bin and at the separate water station that lets the robot vacuum exchange dirty water for clean one using the same pipes that you already have for drains and faucets. It can even refill a humidifier’s water tank on its own, presuming it’s SwitchBot’s humidifier, of course. These almost completely automated processes reduce the need to get your hands dirty, literally, and reduce the risks of getting contaminated and sick from handling waste materials.

Best Smartwatch – Apple Watch Ultra 2

Just like with smart speakers, the smartwatch market has more or less normalized by now after a long struggle in trying to carve out its niche. Designs may no longer be changing drastically, but innovation hasn’t stopped completely either. Now it’s a race to put the best health sensors you can cram in such a small space, but Apple has long been ahead of the race and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 cements its lead even further.

Designer: Apple

Why it’s noteworthy

The Apple Watch Ultra series delivered what users have been asking for a long time, more space to see the information they need at a glance without having to tap their way through screens. It also adds a new double tap gesture so you won’t even have to use your other hand for basic actions like stopping a timer, ending a call, or better yet, taking a photo from your iPhone. It also introduces Apple’s first carbon-neutral products, offsetting the negative impact the production of its smartwatches has with “carbon credits” from nature-based projects and parts.

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HP Imagine 2023 showcases streamer goodies, a new All-in-One PC, and more

The world premiere HP Imagine showcase event has now come and gone, and with it, HP announced (and subsequently released) a flurry of new products ahead of the Q4 holiday shopping rush. A rather large chunk of the conference focused on HP’s new suite of AI-powered software, but they also highlighted two new computers – including the brand’s newest foldable laptop, the Envy Spectre Fold, as well as the new Envy Move All-in-One PC which looks kind of like a portable iMac for Windows users.

HyperX, which is HP’s gaming arm, also has three new gizmos for streamers to play with this holiday season: the HyperX Vision S Webcam, the HyperX Audio Mixer Audio Interface, and the HyperX Caster Microphone and Camera Arm.

Designer: Hewlett-Packard (HP)

The HP Envy Move seems to be the flagship of HP’s late-2023 lineup, which makes sense given that it’s HP’s first computer to merge the power of a mid-tier desktop with the portability of a laptop, allowing it to be picked up and moved to any part of the home thanks to its built-in rechargeable battery. It’s not a cutting-edge gaming PC by any means, but its built-in 23.8″ 2K display, 13th gen Intel i5 CPU, 16 gigs of LDDR5 RAM, and 1TB of solid state (SSD) storage make it a solid workstation with light gaming and media capabilities at its $899.99 asking price.

If you’re a streamer, however, you’ll likely want to pay more attention to the slew of useful tools HyperX has made available, such as the HyperX Vision S webcam which records in 4K at 60 frames per second for a relatively affordable MSRP of $199.99. It’s also advertised to include a magnetic privacy cover for when you want your private moments to be completely private, worry free, without needing to take the entire thing down and set it up again later when it’s time to stream again.

HyperX has also introduced its new microphone and camera arm, called the HyperX Caster, which looks like a nifty tool to quickly get a wide variety of XLR and USB mics set up and ready to go on any desk – without all the usual hassle. It appears to have plenty of reach, and even contains a built-in cable management system to declutter your streaming area of any loose cables. Unlike most of the other products announced at Imagine, you’ll need to wait until February 2024 before you can get your hands on this one.

Also available starting in 2024 is the new HyperX Audio Mixer, a “professional-quality” USB audio mixer that is compatible with XLR mics – out of the box, at that. Whether or not it competes against comparable mixers like the Elgato Stream Deck (or Razer’s equivalent) remains to be seen, but given the rising popularity of streaming across nearly every social media platform and every interest category, it’s exciting to watch more manufacturers like HP enter the space with their own products.

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Where to recycle your used and unwanted gadgets

For decades now we’ve become accustomed to tossing all sorts of things into the recycling bin, like glass bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard. One category, however, that still isn’t on everyone’s list is consumer electronics. Over a billion phones were purchased in 2022, and that’s just one type of gadget. All that electronic waste can have real consequences for the planet, so it’s something you should have on your mind next time you clean out that closet.

Sure, you can try parting with your stuff for cash, but it can be tough, if not impossible, to find someone who wants a 12-year-old printer or a busted CRT. Few places have curbside pickup — in fact, some localities make it illegal to leave electronics for the garbage collectors — so you're going to have to find a reputable center to take it. We've gathered some resources to help you dispense of your broken and unwanted computers, televisions and any other gadget flotsam that's taking up space.

National chains

Scrap metal, iron and computer dump for recycling or safe disposal. Ulsan, South Korea.

There is no national electronics recycling law at this time, so you won't find any federal programs to assist you with getting rid of old devices. The USPS does run a program for federal agencies and their employees, but it's not available to the general public. Instead, the rest of us have to rely on nationwide retailers to toss out our old stuff.

Best Buy

Best Buy has more than 1,000 locations in the United States, so it's likely you have one nearby where you can drop stuff off. You just need to take it to the customer service counter. They'll issue you a receipt too, but keep in mind that you can't claim the drop-off as a deduction on your taxes because Best Buy isn't a charity.

You can even recycle televisions and monitors, though you'll be charged a fee of $30 per item to cover the higher costs of transporting and disassembling them. (Consumers in California are not charged the $30 fee, while locations in Connecticut and Pennsylvania will not accept televisions or monitors at all.) If you're turning in a printer, you’ll get up to a $50 voucher toward the purchase of a new HP or Epson printer (select models only).

Also be aware that Best Buy limits you to three items per household per day, including up to two televisions.

Staples

Recycling your stuff at Staples is similar to Best Buy — just bring your products to the customer-service counter. But it’s more limited in that you can only bring in seven items a day, and the store won’t accept televisions at all (monitors are allowed). Staples Rewards members also receive a small credit of $5 per month for bringing in goods to be recycled or shredded. Members who spend at least $50 on ink or toner within a 180 day period can also receive $2 for every used ink cartridge they turn in, up to 20 a month.

Office Depot

Office Depot Recycling
Office Depot

Office Depot has more than 1,300 locations, but unlike Staples and Best Buy, it won't recycle your old gadgets for free. If you're only getting rid of a few phones or batteries, those can be turned in at no charge. For everything else, you must purchase a Tech Recycling Box, which costs $8.39, $18.29 or $28 depending on the size. Once you have the box, you can fill it with as many items as you want, provided they all fit inside, including smaller televisions. So it's a great deal if you have a lot of stuff you want to dispose of. These can be turned in either in person or by mail.

You can also return used ink and toner cartridges and get $2 each, up to 10 a month, if you’re a rewards member and spend at least $10 in-store on products within the same month.

Home Depot and Lowes

You can dispose of old rechargeable batteries, old phones and CFL bulbs in the dropoff boxes at any of 2,300 Home Depot or 2,200 Lowe’s locations. The bins are usually located in the front of the store, and Home Depot has an 11-pound limit on individual items.

Target

Target locations have drop-off bins for recyclables located near the entrance; in addition to bins for paper and plastics, there is a specially-designated bin for e-waste like cellphones and used ink cartridges

Manufacturers

Stack of old, broken and obsolete laptop computer

If you can't make it to a retail location, especially when you need to get rid of only one or two items, many companies offer recycling programs for their own products. They'll even pay for shipping. Some run their own programs while others use outside organizations. We've outlined policies from a handful of manufacturers below.

Amazon

While Amazon would love to direct you to its trade-in program, you're probably reading this post because there's stuff you can't sell, and for those items Amazon offers mail-in recycling. You can send in your busted Kindles, Fire TVs and even Dash Buttons, as well as select peripherals like keyboards and mice. You'll just need to fill out some forms online and generate a shipping label, which you can slap on any box. Drop it off at a UPS location, and you're good to go; Amazon will cover all the costs.

Apple

Apple's
Apple

If your iPhone or MacBook is still in good shape, you should consider selling it, but if it's too old or beat up you can still score a gift card by turning it into Apple's recycling program. For iPhones (as well as select handsets from Samsung and Google), iPad and Apple Watches you'll be asked to fill out a form attesting to the product's condition and given a trade-in quote, with a working iPhone 7 going for $30 and an iPhone 11 scoring you $160. For Macs, you'll be asked to provide a serial number as well. Though Apple won't give you cash for anything it deems old or unacceptable, you can still mail it in or bring it to any Apple Store so it can be responsibly disposed of.

Dell

Dell offers drop-off recycling via a partnership with Goodwill. Not every location participates, but there are more than 2,600 that do. And, because it's a charity, you may even be able to deduct it as a donation on your taxes. Dell also has a mail-back program on its site where you can generate a shipping label and drop the package off at a FedEx location instead.

Epson

You can ship old products back to Epson by simply creating a shipping label on its site and dropping it off at a FedEx location. Or just drop it off at a Best Buy location for a $30 or $50 voucher toward a new Epson printer.

HP

If you can, HP recommends taking its products to the nearest Best Buy. Ink and toner cartridges can be returned by mail; the company will mail you an envelope that can hold between 3 and 8 ink cartridges and can be dropped off in a mailbox or at the post office. For toner and large quantities of ink cartridges, you can print out a label and use your own box, or request a box be sent directly to you, which you’ll fill with items and drop off at a UPS location.

Other manufacturers

Many other companies use outside recyclers to dispose of their products, and you'll often see the same names popping up again and again across different manufacturers. This should simplify things in some cases — you should be able to send in products from multiple sources in one package. You just need to fill in the make and model to generate a prepaid shipping label. However, different states have different rules on what you can return, so the drop-downs for selecting your product may vary by area.

Two major recycling companies you'll notice a lot are RLG, which covers Acer, Canon, Google, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft and Motorola, and MRM, which recycles products for Alcatel, BlackBerry, Barnes & Noble (nook), TCL and Toshiba.

Phones

Electronics Recycling

Cell phones are the easiest gadget to recycle — if you haven't already decided to sell yours off on eBay or via sites like Decluttr and ecoATM. But, if you can't or won't make some cash off of it, you can send it to:

Call2Recycle, which has drop-off centers all over the country in many chain stores, including Lowes and Home Depot. It will also accept rechargeable batteries.

Cell Phones for Soldiers accepts phones in any condition and sells them to refurbishers or recyclers. The proceeds go toward purchasing phone cards for troops so they can call their friends and family back home. To be clear, the phones are not given directly to the soldiers.

The four major US carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — all offer free recycling. You can trade in your old device in-store or send it in for a credit toward a new phone, or let them straight up recycle it. AT&T also participates in Cell Phones for Soldiers.

If you do decide to try your luck with ecoATM to see if your old phone is still worth a few bucks and it turns out it's worth nothing, you can at least rest easy knowing that the company will also recycle your phone responsibly.

States

computer parts for electronic recycling

There may not be a national law dictating that you must recycle your electronics, but at least 26 states have passed rules that vary widely on what they demand of manufacturers and consumers. Almost all states that do collect products for recycling provide this service free, with the bill footed by the companies in some way. Most provide some local programs to help you get rid of your stuff, regardless of whether recycling your gadgets is required or optional.

States where you can no longer dispose of electronics in the regular trash and must recycle them include: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

The following states have laws requiring manufacturers to pay for recycling, but you, the consumer, are not actually required to recycle your electronics: Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

The following states have some special circumstances worth noting:

Connecticut: Does not allow recycling centers to charge you a fee for turning in electronics, so many organizations and retailers that would usually charge for recycling televisions and monitors do not accept them. Because you cannot dispose of them curbside, you can take them to a municipal transfer station for free.

New York: If you live in a New York City apartment building with 10 or more units, contact your landlord about getting an ecycleNYC drop-off box installed in your building. It’s super convenient and free.

Pennsylvania: Does not allow retailers to charge you a fee to recycle, so places like Best Buy and Staples will not accept televisions or monitors. Many recycling centers have also closed as a result of underfunding, so check the list of open locations first. Some nonprofit recyclers may still accept the items, and you should check to see if your local government is hosting any drop-off events. Lancaster and Dauphin Counties also still run civic recycling programs.

Virginia: This state does not have a dedicated statewide recycling program, but some localities run their own programs including Fairfax, Loudoun and Rockbridge counties, and cities like Arlington. Check each municipality’s site for details.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/where-to-recycle-electronics.html?src=rss

TWS Earbud Cases with built-in displays are the new iPods of the future…

After JBL debuted the Tour Pro 2 at IFA 2022, it seems like TWS earbuds with displays on their case are the next tech trend. The newly announced Voyager Free 60+ from Poly bucks the trend, with a touchscreen display built into it that lets you configure and control your listening experience, including being able to mute your mic. In true iPod fashion, the screen also lets you navigate podcasts and playlists while displaying the album art and info of currently-playing content.

Designer: Poly (HP)

The inclusion of a display seems like the natural course of progression for the TWS earbud. The iPod Shuffle was never really the more popular in the iPod series, but the Nano and Touch definitely held their own. The same would hold true for the TWS earbud moving forward. A screen helps you navigate content without taking your phone out. You can access features like playback controls, ANC, and mute features with the touchscreen display, while it constantly gives you information like song name, album art, and more actionable data like battery level. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes… although nothing’s really official till Apple does it.!

Even though both the JBL Tour Pro 2 and Poly Voyager Free 60+ have displays built into their cases, they differ primarily in their target audience. While the former is made for music, the latter focuses on connectivity and work. Given that Poly is now a subsidiary of HP, the TWS earbuds are targeted at the WFH crowd, offering productivity and connectivity, while still being a pretty darned good pair of TWS earbuds for music, podcast-listening, etc.

Dubbed as TWS Earbuds for Work and Life, the Poly Voyager Free 60+ comes equipped with ANC and a three-mic array to help cut noise on both the outgoing and receiving end. Touch-sensitive surfaces on the earbuds themselves, along with the touch display on the case let you mute calls, adjust volume, connect to external sources, and switch devices without dropping a call or what you’re doing. The touchscreen on the case presents you with information and lets you intuitively control your playback experience, and the earbuds are certified to work with all the latest meeting platforms, keeping even your IT department happy.

The Voyager Free 60+ lets you connect to two devices simultaneously, and alternate between them at will. The touchscreen charge case also includes a 3.5mm audio port, letting connect an external source to your buds, like an inflight entertainment system, and enjoy the movie without wires. The case doubles up as a Bluetooth transmitter, eliminating the need for a dongle or any other external device.

Each Poly Voyager Free 60+ ships with the touchscreen case, charging and aux cables, a USB transmitter (for your desktop), and swappable eartips for ergonomic comfort. The earbuds aren’t available yet, although the expected price is $299.

The post TWS Earbud Cases with built-in displays are the new iPods of the future… first appeared on Yanko Design.

The best laptops for 2024

We’ve kicked off 2024 with a slew of new processors from Intel, NVIDIA and AMD, which means there should be plenty of refreshed laptops on the horizon. This year, the term you’ll probably hear the most is AI PCs, that is, computers with neural processors designed to speed up AI tasks. While it’s not necessary for you to buy a laptop just for the sake of AI this year, it’s a good thing to keep an eye on for future-proofing as more companies bring the likes of Microsoft’s Copilot or ChatGPT to their systems. Some notebooks even have dedicated Copilot buttons on the keyboard to make it easier to summon generative AI help.

Even if you’re willing to wait out the AI hype while you shop for your new laptop, there are still plenty of other specs to consider. Should you pay extra for more memory, or get a notebook with a larger screen? We've tested and reviewed dozens of the latest laptops, including Apple's latest M3 MacBook Air, to come up with top picks for the best laptops you can buy right now, along with buying advice that will hopefully help demystify the market.

What to consider before buying a laptop

Price

You probably have an idea of your budget, but just so you know, most modern laptops with top-of-the-line specs cost between $1,800 to $2,000 these days. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a good system for under $1,000 — a grand is the base price for a lot of premium 13-inch ultraportables, with chips like Intel’s Core i3 or i5 series. And if that’s too expensive, you’ll still have respectable options in the $600 to $800 range, but they might come with older, slower processors and dimmer screens. You could also consider configurations with AMD’s processors, which have become more reliable and speedy in recent years, while sometimes costing less. I’ve included our favorite budget-friendly model in this best laptop buying guide but we have a list of more-affordable laptop picks that you can check out as well.

Operating system: Apple, Windows or Chrome OS

After working out how much money you want to spend, your next decision is what operating system to choose. As expected, that’s slightly easier for people who prefer an Apple MacBook. Now that the company has brought its M-series chips to the whole lineup, with the Pro models sporting the third generation of those processors — your only real considerations are budget, screen size and how much power you need.

Over on Team Windows, however, the shift to ARM-based chips hasn’t been as smooth and it’s quite unlikely you’ll be considering one in 2024. Though Apple laptops have been able to bring huge increases in battery life while maintaining (and in some cases improving) performance with their own silicon, PC makers have been limited by Windows’ shortcomings. For now, it’s still safer to stick with an Intel or AMD processor.

As for whether you want a PC with a dedicated AI button on the keyboard, that depends on how often you see yourself using Microsoft’s CoPilot generative tools. Given we’re only just seeing the first slate of AI PCs, it would be wiser to wait out the hype and see what improvements might come over time.

Finally, if you don’t really need your laptop for a lot of complicated tasks and mostly want it for Netflix, shopping and Google Docs, it’s worth remembering there’s a third and fairly popular laptop operating system: Chrome OS. If you do most of your work in a browser, then a Chromebook might be good enough, and they’re usually more affordable, too.

Dell XPS 13
Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Connectivity

It’s worth pointing out that some recent models have done away with headphone jacks. While this doesn’t seem to be a prevalent trend yet, it’s a good reminder to check that a machine has all the connectors you need (otherwise, you'll have to spend more money on the necessary adapters). Most laptops in 2024 offer WiFi 6 or 6E and Bluetooth 5.0 or later, which should mean faster and more stable connections if you have compatible routers and devices. While 5G coverage is more widespread now, whether you need support for that depends on how much you travel and your need for constant connectivity sans-Wi-Fi.

Display size

Where you plan on taking your laptop also helps in deciding what size to get. Many companies launched new 14-inch machines in the last year, straddling the line between ultraportable and bulkier 15-inch laptops. For most people, a 14-inch screen is a great middle ground. But if you’re worried about weight and want a more portable laptop, a 12- or 13-inch model will be better. Those that want more powerful processors and larger displays will prefer 15- or 16-inch versions.

See Also:

Other laptops we tested

Apple 15-inch MacBook Air M3

This Apple laptop is just a larger version of the 13-inch M3 MacBook Air. It's still quite portable at 3.3 pounds, and some will appreciating having just a tad more screen real estate all the time. Configuration options are the same as well; you can spec out the 15-inch Air with up to 24GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. But considering it starts off $200 more than the smaller model, it's primarily best for those who absolutely need a larger screen and are willing to pay for it.

FAQs

What is the average battery life of a laptop per charge?

Battery life will vary depending on the type of laptop you have and what you use it for. Gaming laptops have some of the shorter average battery lives in the notebook space because playing laborious titles causes battery to drain faster. You can expect between five and eight hours of life on a single charge with most gaming laptops, but don't be surprised if you actually get less use per charge if you're doing heavy things with it. As for regular laptops, you can expect roughly ten hours of life on the best models, but some will fall on the lower and higher ends of the spectrum.

What is the best storage capacity for a laptop?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to laptop storage. Most of the best laptops will have configurations with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage options, and we think most people will be served best by either of the two middle options: 256GB of 512GB. If you use your laptop to store tons of documents and files, or photos and videos, we recommend springing for extra built-in storage or investing in a portable SSD with which you can backup your most important files. It's also worth noting that Chromebooks tend to come with less built-in storage — 32GB, 64GB or 128GB — since Chrome OS encourages users to save their files in the cloud rather than on a device.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-laptops-120008636.html?src=rss

The best cheap Windows laptops for 2024

Even though we at Engadget test and review a number of new Windows laptops every year, the cheapest notebooks don’t often make headlines. You won’t find pricey panels on these machines, nor will they include the latest high-powered graphics cards or ultra thin-and-light designs. But they have their place and can do a lot of things well. And it’s worth noting that not everyone needs a pro-level laptop — they just need the best machine that will fit their budget.

Companies like Acer, Dell and Lenovo make plenty of cheap Windows laptops that can be great for those who primarily use a computer to check email, shop online and occasionally video chat with friends and family. They can also be great for kids who have no business touching their parents’ pricey daily driver. We’ve tested a number of budget-friendly Windows notebooks — these are our favorites below, and we outline some buying advice for anyone looking for a cheap Windows laptop that balances capability with affordability.

What about Chromebooks and tablets?

You may be inclined to recommend a Chromebook or a tablet to anyone considering a budget Windows laptop. Those instincts aren’t wrong, but Chromebooks and tablets aren’t the best buy for everyone. Tablets have the most portability, but they will only work for the most mobile-competent users like kids who have been grabbing smartphones out of their parents’ hands since they’ve been dexterous enough to do so. Tablets can also be just as expensive as some of the cheapest Windows laptops, and that’s without a mouse or keyboard.

Chromebooks are a good alternative for those that basically live in a browser, the trade-off being you must give up the “traditional desktop.” And Chrome OS is a more limited operating system than Windows when it comes to the programs you can install and run.

What Windows laptops do well

Bangkok, Thailand - August 20, 2020 : Computer user touching on Microsoft Edge, a web browser developed by Microsoft, icon on Windows 10 to open the program.
Wachiwit via Getty Images

What can you realistically accomplish on a cheap Windows laptop? Quite a bit, especially if you’re doing one thing (or a limited number of things) at a time. They’re great for web browsing, checking email, video streaming and more. All of those things can be done on Chromebooks as well, but Windows laptops have a big advantage in Microsoft Office. While yes, there is a browser based version, the native, desktop apps are considered a must have for many and will run smoothly on even the most bare-bones budget laptop. The only caveat is that you may run into some slowdown on low-powered devices if you’re multitasking or working with large data sets in Excel or a lot of photos and graphics in Powerpoint.

When it comes to specs, a bright spot for Windows laptops is storage. Even the most affordable devices tend to have at least 128GB SSDs. That will come in handy if you prefer to keep your most important files saved locally on your laptop. In contrast, cheaper Chromebooks often have less storage because they’re built on the assumption that you’ll save all of your documents in the cloud. Not only is that less convenient when you need to work offline, but it also limits the size of programs and files that you can download. So, Chromebooks aren't the best for hoarding Netflix shows before a long trip or for use as a gaming laptop.

Windows also has thousands of apps that you can download from its app store. Chromebooks have some Chrome apps, numerous browser extensions and the ability to download Android apps, but quality control is… inconsistent. Android apps, in particular, often haven’t been optimized for Chrome OS, which makes for a wonky user experience. Windows may not have as many apps as Android, but at least the experience is fairly standard across the board.

Windows also gives you the ability to download and use programs from other sources, like direct from the developer. You can run things like Adobe Creative Suite, certain VPNs and programs like GIMP, Audacity and ClipMate on a Windows device, which just isn’t possible on Chrome OS. Chromebooks limit you to the apps and programs in The Play Store and the Chrome Extensions store, reducing any others to unusable, space-sucking icons in your Downloads folder.

What to look for in a budget-friendly Windows laptop

While you can do a lot even when spending little on a Windows laptop, you must set your expectations accordingly. The biggest downside when purchasing a budget laptop (of any kind, really) is limited power. Many Windows laptops under $500 run on Intel Celeron or Pentium processors, but you can find some with Core i3/i5 and AMD Ryzen 3/5 CPUs at the higher end of the price spectrum.

Specs to look for in a sub-$500 Windows laptop

  • Intel Core i or AMD Ryzen 3 processors

  • At least 8GB of RAM

  • An SSD with at least 128GB of space

  • 1080p display

  • Mostly metal designs

We recommend getting the most powerful CPU you can afford because it will dictate how fast the computer will feel overall. RAM is also important because, the more you have, the easier it will be for the laptop to manage things like a dozen browser tabs while you edit a Word document and stream music in the background. However, with sub-$500 laptops, you’re better off getting the best CPU you can afford rather than a laptop with a ton of RAM because the CPU will have enough power to handle most tasks that cheap Windows laptops are designed for (If you’re editing RAW images or 4K video, you’ll want to invest in more RAM… and a laptop well above $500).

When it comes to storage, consider how much you want to save locally. If you primarily work in Google Docs or save most things in the cloud, you may not need a machine with a ton of onboard storage. Just remember that your digital space will also be taken up by apps, so it may be worth getting a little extra storage than you think you need if you know you’ll be downloading big programs. A final side note: SSDs are ubiquitous at this point, not to mention faster and more efficient than HDDs, so we recommend getting a laptop with that type of storage.

You also don’t have to settle for an entirely plastic notebook either. There are options in the sub-$500 price range that are made, at least in part, with metals like aluminum. Those will not only be more attractive but also more durable. As for screens, there’s a healthy mix of HD and FHD options in this price range and we recommend springing for a notebook with a 1080p display if you can. Touchscreens aren’t as common in the under-$500 space as standard panels, but you’ll only really miss one if you get a 2-in-1 laptop.

See Also:

A final note before we get to our picks: The best cheap laptop models change all the time. Unlike more expensive, flagship machines, these notebooks can be updated a couple times each year. That can make it hard to track down a specific model at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart or any other retailer. Also, we’ve seen prices vary widely depending on the configuration and retailer you’re looking at. We’ve listed some of our current favorite models below, but if you can’t find any of them available near you, just keep in mind our list of specs to look for in a cheap laptop – they’ll guide you to the best machines available at the moment.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-affordable-windows-laptops-123000512.html?src=rss

The best cheap Windows laptops for 2024

We review a number of Windows 11 laptops every year at Engadget, but the cheapest among them often fall to the bottom of the list. Unlike our top picks for best Windows laptop, or even more niche devices like the best gaming laptops, these machines don’t have pricey OLED panels, high-powered graphics cards or super thin-and-light designs. But that doesn’t mean you should write them off. Besides, not everyone needs a pro-level laptop — they just need the best machine that will fit their budget.

Sub-$500 laptops made by Acer, Dell, Lenovo and other companies can be great fits for those who primarily use a computer to check email, shop online and occasionally video chat with friends and family. They’re also probably the best option for kids who have no business touching their parents’ expensive daily driver. We’ve tested a number of budget-friendly Windows notebooks — these are our favorites below, and we outline some buying advice for anyone looking for a cheap Windows laptop that balances capability with affordability.

You may be inclined to recommend a Chromebook or a tablet to anyone considering a budget Windows laptop. Those instincts aren’t wrong, but Chromebooks and tablets aren’t the best buy for everyone. Tablets have the most portability, but they will only work for the most mobile-competent users like kids who have been grabbing smartphones out of their parents’ hands since they’ve been dexterous enough to do so. Tablets can also be just as expensive as some of the cheapest Windows laptops, and that’s without a mouse or keyboard.

Chromebooks are a good alternative for those that basically live in a browser, the trade-off being you must give up the “traditional desktop.” And Chrome OS is a more limited operating system than Windows when it comes to the programs you can install and run.

Bangkok, Thailand - August 20, 2020 : Computer user touching on Microsoft Edge, a web browser developed by Microsoft, icon on Windows 10 to open the program.
Wachiwit via Getty Images

What can you realistically accomplish on a cheap Windows laptop? Quite a bit, especially if you’re doing one thing (or a limited number of things) at a time. They’re great for everyday tasks like web browsing, checking email, video streaming and more. All of those things can be done on Chromebooks as well, but Windows laptops have a big advantage in Microsoft Office. While yes, there is a browser based version, the native, desktop apps are considered a must have for many and will run smoothly on even the most bare-bones budget laptop. The only caveat is that you may run into some slowdown on low-powered devices if you’re multitasking or working with large data sets in Excel or a lot of photos and graphics in Powerpoint.

When it comes to specs, a bright spot for Windows laptops is storage. Even the most affordable devices tend to have at least 128GB SSDs. That will come in handy if you prefer to keep your most important files saved locally on your laptop. In contrast, cheaper Chromebooks often have less storage because they’re built on the assumption that you’ll save all of your documents in the cloud. Not only is that less convenient when you need to work offline, but it also limits the size of programs and files that you can download. So, Chromebooks aren't the best for hoarding Netflix shows before a long trip or for use as a gaming laptop.

Windows also has thousands of apps that you can download from its app store. Chromebooks have some Chrome apps, numerous browser extensions and the ability to download Android apps, but quality control is… inconsistent. Android apps, in particular, often haven’t been optimized for Chrome OS, which makes for a wonky user experience. Windows may not have as many apps as Android, but at least the experience is fairly standard across the board.

Windows also gives you the ability to download and use programs from other sources, like direct from the developer. You can run things like Adobe Creative Suite, certain VPNs and programs like GIMP, Audacity and ClipMate on a Windows device, which just isn’t possible on Chrome OS. Chromebooks limit you to the apps and programs in The Play Store and the Chrome Extensions store, reducing any others to unusable, space-sucking icons in your Downloads folder.

While you can do a lot even when spending little on a Windows laptop, you must set your expectations accordingly. The biggest downside when purchasing a budget laptop (of any kind, really) is limited power. Many Windows laptops under $500 run on Intel Celeron or Pentium processors, but you can find some with Core i3/i5 and AMD Ryzen 3/5 CPUs at the higher end of the price spectrum.

  • Intel Core i or AMD Ryzen 3 processors

  • At least 8GB of RAM

  • An SSD with at least 128GB of space

  • 1080p display

  • Mostly metal designs

We recommend getting the most powerful CPU you can afford because it will dictate how fast the computer will feel overall. RAM is also important because, the more you have, the easier it will be for the laptop to manage things like a dozen browser tabs while you edit a Word document and stream music in the background. However, with sub-$500 laptops, you’re better off getting the best CPU you can afford rather than a laptop with a ton of RAM because the CPU will have enough power to handle most everyday tasks that cheap Windows laptops are designed for (If you’re editing RAW images or 4K video, you’ll want to invest in more RAM… and a laptop well above $500).

When it comes to storage, consider how much you want to save locally. If you primarily work in Google Docs or save most things in the cloud, you may not need a machine with a ton of onboard storage. Just remember that your digital space will also be taken up by apps, so it may be worth getting a little extra storage than you think you need if you know you’ll be downloading big programs. A final side note: SSDs are ubiquitous at this point, not to mention faster and more efficient than HDDs, so we recommend getting a laptop with that type of storage.

You also don’t have to settle for an entirely plastic notebook either. There are options in the sub-$500 price range that are made, at least in part, with metals like aluminum. Those will not only be more attractive but also more durable. As for screens, there’s a healthy mix of HD and FHD options in this price range and we recommend springing for a notebook with a 1080p display if you can. Touchscreens aren’t as common in the under-$500 space as standard panels, but you’ll only really miss one if you get a 2-in-1 laptop.

See Also:

It’s essential to prioritize what’s important to you. But at the lower end of the budget, a good laptop may not offer everything you need, whereas a great one might. Although most machines come with features like Bluetooth, built-in Wi-Fi and additional ports, you might find not all of them come with the specifics you require, like an SD card slot, webcam, and so on. Be sure to check the spec list of any laptop you’re considering before you buy, especially if you need specific connectors and capabilities.

A final note before we get to our picks: The best cheap laptop models change all the time. Unlike more expensive, flagship machines, these notebooks can be updated a couple times each year. That can make it hard to track down a specific model at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart or any other retailer. Also, we’ve seen prices vary widely depending on the configuration and retailer you’re looking at. We’ve listed some of our current favorite models below, but if you can’t find any of them available near you, just keep in mind our list of specs to look for in a cheap laptop – they’ll guide you to the best machines available at the moment.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-affordable-windows-laptops-123000512.html?src=rss