The best password managers for 2023

You might’ve seen password managers in the news recently because of the breach affecting LastPass customers. We need to trust that all of our logins, banking credentials and other sensitive information has been neatly locked away, only accessible by us when we need it. Yes, most tech is fallible, but the benefits of unique, strong passwords across your online presence outweigh the risks. Password managers remain an excellent way to securely store all of the credentials you need on a regular basis.

They're also some of the most useful tools you can invest in — your passwords are not secure if they're all written down on a stick note near your computer, and if you lose that physical record, you'll have a hard time logging into your most used accounts. Password managers, with their various apps and plugins, not only keep your information secure but also remove the guesswork around remembering credentials and make it easier to log in from almost anywhere. We tested out nine of the best password managers available now to help you choose the right one for your needs.

How do password managers work?

Think of password managers like virtual safe deposit boxes. They hold your valuables, in this case usually online credentials, in a section of the vault only accessible to you by security key or a master password. Most of these services have autofill features that make it convenient to log in to any site without needing to remember every password you have, and they keep your credit card information close for impulse purchases.

But given that passwords are one of the top ways to keep your online identity secure, the real value of password managers is staying safe online. “It's just not possible without a password manager to have unique, long and hard-to-guess passwords,” Florian Schaub, an associate professor of information and of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, said.

Common guidance states that secure passwords should be unique, with the longest number of characters allowed and uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. This is the exact opposite of using one password everywhere, with minor variations depending on a site’s requirements. Think of how many online accounts and sites you have credentials for — it’s an impossible task to remember it all without somewhere to store passwords safely (no, a sticky note on your desk won’t cut it). Password managers are more readily accessible and offer the benefit of filling in those long passwords for you.

Are password managers safe?

It seems counterintuitive to store all your sensitive information in one place. One hack could mean you lose it all to an attacker and struggle for months or even years to rebuild your online presence, not to mention you may have to cancel credit cards and other accounts. But most experts in the field agree that password managers are a generally secure and safe way to keep track of your personal data, and the benefits of strong, complex passwords outweigh the possible risks.

The mechanics of keeping those passwords safe differs slightly from provider to provider. Generally, you have a lengthy, complex “master password” that safeguards the rest of your information. In some cases, you might also get a “security key” to enter when you log in to new devices. This is a random string of letters, numbers and symbols that the company will send you at sign up. Only you know this key, and because it’s stored locally on your device or printed out on paper, it’s harder for hackers to find.

These multiple layers of security make it difficult for an attacker to get into your vault even if your password manager provider experiences a breach. But the company should also follow a few security basics. A “zero-knowledge” policy means that the company keeps none of your data on file, so in the event of an attack, there’s nothing for hackers to find. Regular health reports like pentests and security audits are essential for keeping companies up to par on best practices, and other efforts like bug bounty programs or hosting on an open source website encourage constant vigilance for security flaws. Most password managers now also offer some level of encryption falling under the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). AES 256-bit is the strongest, because there are the most number of possible combinations, but AES 128-bit or 192-bit are still good.

Who are password managers for?

Given their universal benefit, pretty much everyone could use a password manager. They’re not just for the tech-savvy people or businesses anymore because so much sensitive information ends up online behind passwords, from our bank accounts to our Netflix watch history.

That’s the other perk of password managers: safe password sharing. Families, friends or roommates can use them to safely access joint accounts. Texting a password to someone isn’t secure, and you can help your family break the habit by starting to use one yourself, Lisa Plaggemier, executive director at National Cyber Security Alliance, said. Streaming is the obvious use case, but consider the shared bills, file storage and other sites you share access with the people around you as well.

Are password managers worth it?

You likely already use a password manager, even if you wouldn’t think to call it that. Most phones and web browsers include a log of saved credentials on the device, like the “passwords” keychain in the settings of an iPhone. That means you’ve probably seen the benefits of not having to memorize a large number of passwords or even type them out already.

While that’s a great way in, the downfall of these built-in options are that they tend to be device specific. If you rely on an Apple password manager, for example, that works if you’re totally in the Apple ecosystem — but you become limited once you get an Android tablet, Lujo Bauer, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and of computer science, at Carnegie Mellon University, said. If you use different devices for work and personal use and want a secure option for sharing passwords with others, or just don’t want to be tied to one brand forever, a third-party password manager is usually worth it.

How we tested

We tested password managers by downloading the apps for each of the nine contenders on iPhone, Android, Safari, Chrome and Firefox. That helped us better understand what platforms each manager was available on, and see how support differs across operating systems and browsers.

As we got set up with each, we took note of ease of use and how they iterated on the basic features of autofill and password generators. Nearly all password managers have these features, but some place limits on how much you can store while others give more control over creating easy-to-type yet complex passwords. From there, we looked at extra features like data-breach monitoring to understand which managers offered the most for your money.

Finally, we reviewed publicly available information about security specs for each. This includes LastPass, which more experts are shying away from recommending after the recent breach. For the sake of this review, we’ve decided not to recommend LastPass at this time as fallout from the breach still comes to light (The company disclosed a second incident earlier this year where an unauthorized attack accessed the company’s cloud storage, including sensitive data).

Password managers we tested

Best password manager: 1Password

Many security experts trust 1Password with their private information and, after testing it out, it’s clear why. The service includes industry standard encryption, a “secret key” that only you know on top of your master password, a zero-knowledge policy that means it keeps no data, and other security features like frequent audits and a bug bounty program. 1Password now also supports passkeys, which are credentials stored in your most used devices that are protected by biometric authentication (like fingerprints or facial recognition) or PINs.

1Password has a pretty intuitive user interface across its mobile and desktop apps. A tutorial at download helps you import passwords from other managers onto 1Password so that you don’t feel like you’re starting over from scratch. It also clearly rates the strength of each password and has an “open and fill” option in the vault so that you can get into your desired site even more quickly. We also liked the user-friendly option to scan a set up code to easily connect your account to your mobile devices without too much tedious typing.

At $3 per month, the individual subscription comes with unlimited passwords, items and one gigabyte of document storage for your vault. It also lets you share passwords, credit card information and other saved credentials. If you upgrade to the family plan for $5 each month, you’ll get to invite up to five people (plus more for $1 each per month) to be a part of the vault.

  • Number of tiers: 4

  • Pricing: $3/month for Individual, $5/month for Families, $20/month for Teams Starter Pack, $8/month per user for Business

  • Compatibility: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave, Edge, Command Line

Best free password manager: Bitwarden

Bitwarden’s free plan includes unlimited passwords on an unlimited number of devices, which is more than we’ve seen from some of its competitors. There are drawbacks like you can only share vault items with one other user, but we think that’s a fair tradeoff.

Bitwarden is based on open-source code, meaning anyone on GitHub can audit it, which is a good measure of security. On a personal level, it includes security audits of your information, like a data breach report, that can keep you in the know about when your passwords have been leaked and when it's time to change them. Plus, it’s widely available across the platforms we tested, including Windows and iOS, with a level of customization, options to access your password vault and more.

Bitwarden may be the best free password manager, but it does have a paid version and we do think it’s worth it. At $10 annually for individuals or $40 for families, you unlock encrypted file storage, emergency access, unlimited sharing and more additional features. But the free version comes with the basics that can get anyone set up on password management easily.

  • Number of tiers: 3

  • Pricing: Free, $3/month per user for Teams Organization, $5/month per user for Enterprise Organization

  • Compatibility: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave, Edge, Vivaldi, Opera, Tor, DuckDuckGo for Mac, Command Line

Best password manager for cross-platform availability: NordPass

Across password managers we tested, cross-platform availability was relatively similar. Most are widely available across web browsers and different operating systems, including our other top picks on this list. But we wanted to give a nod to NordPass here because of how easy the service makes it to access your vault from any platform while keeping your data safe.

NordPass has a free option with unlimited passwords and syncs across devices. A $2-per-month premium plan keeps you logged in when switching devices, comes with security notifications and allows for item sharing. A family subscription comes with six premium accounts and only costs $4 per month. This makes it an excellent budget option as well. Besides the pairing code to connect accounts, NordPass is a pretty standard password manager. Scanning a code gets me from my laptop to mobile device to work computer super easily. If you’re constantly switching devices and those extra few seconds save your sanity, it’s worth considering.

  • Number of tiers: 3

  • Pricing: Free, $2/per month for Premium, $4/month for Family

  • Compatibility: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Edge

Best password manager for shared access: Dashlane

Dashlane has four subscription options: A free user gets access to a single device with unlimited passwords; an advanced user pays $3 per month to get upgraded to unlimited devices and dark web monitoring; for $5 per month, a premium user also gets VPN access and an $7.49-per-month family plan includes access for up to 10 subscribers.

It met all the criteria we looked for, but with a clear emphasis on sharing credentials. Dashlane highlights “secure sharing” starting at its free level, which is a functionality that some competitors keep behind a paywall. Access for up to 10 members in a family plan is one of the bigger plans we’ve seen as well. While we were testing it, password sharing seemed front of mind with a tab dedicated to it in Dashlane’s browser extension. Arguably the biggest caveat here, though, is lack of Linux support.

  • Number of tiers: 4

  • Pricing: Free, $3/month for Advanced, $5/month for Premium, $7/month for Friends and Family

  • Compatibility: macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave, Edge, Opera

FAQs

Why use a password manager?

Using a password manager can enhance your online security. They store all of your complex passwords and autofill them as needed, so that you can have unique, strong passwords across the web without remembering each of them yourself. In many cases, unique passwords are your first defense against attack, and a reliable manager makes it easier to keep track of them all.

How secure are password managers?

Password managers are a secure way to store your credentials. Experts in the field generally agree that the benefits of accessibility when storing complex passwords outweigh the possibility of attack, like what happened with LastPass. But with any service, it can vary from provider to provider. You should look out for zero-knowledge policies, regular security audits, pentests, bug bounty programs and encryption when choosing the right secure password manager for you.

What if I forget my master password?

Forgetting a master password won’t necessarily lock you out for good, but the recovery process varies from provider to provider. Some services give you a “security key” at sign up to enter when you log into new devices. It can also be used to securely recover your account because it’s a random string of keys stored locally that only you have access to. Other services, however, have no way to recover your vault. So creating a master password that you won’t forget is important.

How can I make a good master password?

A good master password should be unique, with the longest number of characters allowed and uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Experts often recommended thinking of it like a “passphrase” instead of a “password” to make it easier to remember. For example, you can take a sentence like “My name is Bob Smith” and change it to “Myn@m3isB0b5m!th” to turn it into a secure master password that you won’t forget.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-password-manager-134639599.html?src=rss

The best wireless headphones for 2024: Bluetooth options for every budget

Over-ear, noise cancelling headphones offer the best mix of sound quality, noise reduction, comfort and extra features that you can get today. But there are dozens to choose from now as the space has gotten more saturated over the past few years. That’s a good thing in part because it’s brought more affordable options with compelling feature sets, but nevertheless, deciding how to spend your money has gotten a bit harder. Engadget reviews dozens of wireless headphones every year and we test out even more to keep our finger on the pulse. In this guide, we’ve highlighted our top picks for the best wireless headphones based on the best mix of features, including overall audio quality, ANC performance, Bluetooth connections, advanced audio tools and more. Our six favorites, which have remained the same since the start of 2024, offer all of the conveniences we’d expect in a set of high-quality wireless headphones, with a range of prices to help you stay within your budget.

How to choose the best wireless headphones for you

When it comes to shopping for a good pair of wireless headphones, the first thing you’ll need to decide on is wear style. Do you prefer on-ear or over-ear headphones? For the purposes of our buyer’s guide, we focus on the over-ear style as that’s what most noise-canceling headphones are nowadays. Sure, you can find on-ear models with ANC, but over-ear designs are much more effective at blocking sound. Speaking of noise cancellation, you’ll want to determine early on if you even want that. If you frequently crank up the beats in noisy environments, you’ll want to not only make sure it’s there, but also make sure it’s good. If you plan to use your new headphones in quieter spaces, skipping ANC can save you some money.

The next area to consider is features. We recommend trying to get the most bang for your buck, but as you’re shopping around you should determine which items are must-haves and what you can live without. And don’t take basic things like automatic pausing and Bluetooth multipoint connectivity for granted, as not all companies include them. We also suggest reading reviews to see how well a company’s more advanced features work. This will help you decide if those are something you’re willing to (likely) pay extra for. Pay close attention to battery life estimates and don’t be easily swayed by lofty promises about call quality.

Sound can be subjective, so we recommend trying before you buy if at all possible. We understand this isn’t easy at a time when we’re doing most of our shopping online. But trying on a set of headphones and listening to them for a few minutes can save you from an expensive case of buyer’s remorse. We also recommend paying attention to things like Spatial Audio, Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio and other immersive formats. Not all headphones support them, so you’ll want to make sure a perspective pair does if that sort of thing excites you.

How we test wireless headphones

The primary way we test wireless headphones is to wear them as much as possible. We prefer to do this over a one- to two-week period, but sometimes embargoes don’t allow it. During this time, we listen to a mix of music and podcasts, while also using the earbuds to take both voice and video calls. Since battery life for headphones can be 30 hours or more, we drain the battery with looping music and the volume set at a comfortable level (usually around 75 percent). Due to the longer battery estimates, we’ll typically power the headphones off several times and leave them during a review. This simulates real-world use and keeps us from having to constantly monitor the process for over 24 straight hours.

To judge the best Bluetooth headphones, we consider audio quality by listening to a range of genres, noting any differences in the sound profile across the styles. We also test at both low and high volumes to check for consistency in the tuning. To assess the quality of phone calls, we’ll record audio samples with the headphones’ microphones as well as have third parties call us.

When it comes to features, we do a thorough review of companion apps, testing each feature as we work through the software. Any holdovers from previous models are double checked for improvements or regression. If the headphones we’re testing are an updated version of a previous model, we’ll spend time getting reacquainted with the older set. Ditto for the closest competition for each new set of headphones that we review.

Other wireless headphones we tested

AirPods Max

Apple’s AirPods Max are premium, well-designed headphones that incorporate all of the best features you find on standard AirPods: solid noise cancelation, spatial audio and easy Siri access. However, their $550 starting price makes them almost prohibitively expensive, even for those with Apple devices. There are better options available at lower prices.

Sony WH-CH720N

While the WH-CH720N are a great affordable option, we prefer the Audio-Technica in the budget category. Sony’s cans are lightweight with good sound quality, but ANC struggles at times and they’re made with a lot of plastic.

Beats Studio Pro

The Studio Pro lacks basic features like automatic pausing and multipoint connectivity is only available on Android), plus they’re not very comfortable for people with larger heads. Overall sound quality is improved, though, and voice performance on calls is well above average.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra

Bose’s latest flagship model has a lot to offer, but its trademark Immersive Audio feature can be inconsistent across different types of music. There’s still world-class ANC, excellent comfort and a clearer transparency mode, but for the price, the non-Ultra model is a better choice right now.

Master & Dynamic MH40 (2nd gen)

The MH40 are a great set of headphones if you favor crisp, clear and natural sound that isn’t overly tuned. This pair showcases the company’s affinity for leather and metal too, but limited customization and short battery life for non-ANC cans kept this set from making the cut.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8

The company’s trademark pristine sound is on display here, but the Px8 are more expensive and not nearly as comfortable as the Px7 S2.

FAQs

How can you tell the quality of headphones?

I typically look at three factors: design, sound quality and features. In terms of design, I’m usually looking to see if the build quality of the headphones feels cheap and plasticky. Plenty of companies use plastic, but they can do so in a way that doesn’t look or feel like budget models. For sound quality, I want to hear a nice, even tuning where highs, mids and lows are all well represented. No overly boomy bass or scooped out mids. I also want good clarity where you can pick up fine details and an open, immersive soundstage. Features is typically a distant third, but if a company doesn’t cover basic functionality (automatic pausing, transparency mode, multipoint Bluetooth, etc.) it can be an indication of overall quality. 

How do I choose the best quality headphones?

“Best” can be pretty subjective, but I always recommend going to a place where you can listen to the headphones you’re thinking about buying before you commit. Sometimes this isn’t possible, so you’ll want to check return policies. I also recommend doing some research to determine what your priorities are in a new set. Are you an audiophile who wants the best sound quality? Is powerful active noise cancellation (ANC) the most important? Would you rather have conveniences like automatic pausing?

Which brand has the best headphones?

Sony consistently tops our list with its 1000X line. This is mostly due to the combination of sound quality, ANC performance and the truckload of features these headphones pack in. I’ll be the first to tell you that there are better sounding options and other companies, like Bose, offer more effective noise cancellation. But when you add everything up, no one comes close to the full slate of tools Sony puts in its premium headphone line.

Do expensive headphones sound better?

Exorbitant price tags don’t mean better audio quality. Bowers & Wilkins’ headphones are on the high end for wireless noise-canceling models and they sound amazing. However, Audio-Technica’s M50xBT2 is much more affordable and doesn’t have ANC, but these headphones have a warm, natural sound profile that I find very inviting. At the end of the day, it will come down to personal preference, but you don’t need to spend a lot to find great headphones.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-headphones-wireless-bluetooth-120543205.html?src=rss

The best gifts for new dads

We get it, new dads (like new moms) just need a break. Aside from volunteering for babysitting duties, there’s an easy way to help: Get them some new gear. Perhaps some wireless earbuds to listen to podcasts as they put the baby to sleep, or something that could help to distract the youngins so he can rest his back for a few minutes. Here are the products we think would be most useful to tired new dads.

10.2-inch iPad

Apple's 9th-gen iPad is one of the most useful devices for any new parent. It can be your child's gateway to video chatting with their grandparents (and with the new Center Stage cameras, they’ll always be in frame), or a life-saving distraction during long car rides. It could be a new dad's way to catch up on their favorite show while stuck dealing with mealtime. Or it could be a way for growing kids to read interactive stories and play games. The iPad can be whatever you want it to be. And paired with a decent case, it can be durable enough to survive life with tiny humans. (And if it does break, at least it's far cheaper to replace than an iPad Air, or a typical laptop.)

Jabra Elite 85t earbuds

There's no question that we love Jabra's lineup of wireless earbuds. The Elite 85t delivers solid active noise canceling, a slim and light design, and excellent sound. And best of all, they cost around $200 and you can often find them for around $150. No matter which smartphone you have, the 85t are an excellent way to catch up on podcasts while trying to rock a baby to sleep. And they'll be even more useful during the rare bit of downtime for new parents. They're perfect for rocking out to your favorite tunes, or pair them to your TV or set-top box to enjoy late-night movies without making much noise.

Apple AirPods Pro

The first AirPods Pro were a much-needed improvement over the original AirPods, thanks to a more secure bud design and noise canceling. The second-generation AirPod Pros are even better, with significantly improved sound and far more powerful ANC. They’re perfect for drowning out a crying infant as they’re being rocked to sleep, or quieting the cacophony of house noise while preparing dinner. Pop in one AirPod Pro, and it can help dad catch up on his podcasts while pushing a stroller around town, or chasing kids through a playground. And once the kids are asleep, they can deliver surprisingly powerful tunes. They also easily pair with Apple TVs to deliver immersive sound at night without waking the kids.

SmartNoggin Nogginstik

This relatively cheap rattle is deceptively useful. It has a light-up face to keep babies interested, multiple textures for them to explore, and a mirror on the bottom for them to learn their own faces. It was a secret weapon during my child's first-year tantrums, so much so that I've gifted it to every new parent I know. It's not high tech at all, but it's a reminder that they’re called classics for a reason.

Apple Watch Series 8

The Apple Watch Series 8 is the perfect companion for any iPhone-toting dad. It’s not as flashy as the Apple Watch Ultra, but it’s still filled with useful features like automatic car crash detection. And then there are all the other great things dads can do with an Apple Watch: Keep tabs on notifications without pulling out their phone; check out with Apple Pay in a few seconds; and live out their sci-fi fantasies by taking calls on their wrist. It’s perfect dad tech: A little dorky, but eminently practical.

Kindle Paperwhite

We all wish we could read more, and sometimes it’s just nice to stop staring at a phone’s bright screen. Enter the Kindle Paperwhite, one of our favorite e-readers on the market. It has a large 6.8-inch E-Ink screen that’s purpose built for reading. The backlight is easy on the eyes, and the most recent model even features warmer lighting to avoid disrupting sleep patterns. It’s also waterproof, making it a great bath, beach or pool companion. After dealing with kids for the whole day, it may be worth just locking up your notification and social media infested phone to dive into a good book. And if you're not an Amazon person, you have plenty of good e-reader options from Kobo to consider, like the Clara 2E.

Theragun Mini 2.0

Keeping up with a new baby can lead to aches and pains in muscles that dad never knew he had. The Theragun Mini can give him the opportunity to get a massage without leaving the house. While there are much bigger and more powerful Theragun machines, the Mini is a good size for beginners and those who want to take its muscle relief power wherever they go. It has a single button that dad can use to change the massage gun’s speed and its ergonomic design makes it easy to reach different parts of the body. And arguably the best part is its 150-minute battery life — while that might not seem like a long time, it truly is when you consider the fact that you don’t need to use it for more than a few minutes each day to feel the results. With that schedule, dad could use the Theragun Mini every day for a month or more before needing to recharge it.

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Game controller

A perfect gift for any gamer dads in your life, the Laugh and Learn Controller is basically a baby-proofed version of a modern gamepad. There's a joystick, directional pad, and array of buttons for kids to fiddle with. But like any good distracting toy, it also lights up and makes sounds to keep them entertained. It's not exactly complex, but it's inexpensive and effective. That's particularly true for parents of little ones who always gravitate to their expensive console controllers.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-gifts-for-new-dads-110049541.html?src=rss

The best password manager for 2024

When we’re logging into our online accounts, it's usually with a purpose. We want to get in as quickly as possible to scroll social media or check a bank statement without interruption. It’s easy to become impatient and let login security slip by using the same passwords for everything — think the usual suspects like streets you've lived on or your kids' or pets' names. But that’s a security nightmare: With just one leak, a malicious actor can access some of your most sensitive accounts. Password managers help mitigate this threat by giving you an easy way to store and develop unique, strong passwords for every account. Yet, these services are not all built the same. We tested out nine of the best password managers available now to help you choose the right one for your needs. 1Password remains our top pick for the best password manager, thanks to its zero-knowledge policy, numerous security features and general ease of use, but there are other solid programs out there to consider as well.

How do password managers work?

Think of password managers like virtual safe deposit boxes. They hold your valuables, in this case usually online credentials, in a section of the vault only accessible to you by security key or a master password. Most of these services have autofill features that make it convenient to log in to any site without needing to remember every password you have, and they keep your credit card information close for impulse purchases.

But given that passwords are one of the top ways to keep your online identity secure, the real value of password managers is staying safe online. “It's just not possible without a password manager to have unique, long and hard-to-guess passwords,” Florian Schaub, an associate professor of information and of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, said.

Common guidance states that secure passwords should be unique, with the longest number of characters allowed and uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. This is the exact opposite of using one password everywhere, with minor variations depending on a site’s requirements. Think of how many online accounts and sites you have credentials for — it’s an impossible task to remember it all without somewhere to store passwords safely (no, a sticky note on your desk won’t cut it). Password managers are more readily accessible and offer the benefit of filling in those long passwords for you.

Are password managers safe?

It seems counterintuitive to store all your sensitive information in one place. One hack could mean you lose it all to an attacker and struggle for months or even years to rebuild your online presence, not to mention you may have to cancel credit cards and other accounts. But most experts in the field agree that password managers are a generally secure and safe way to keep track of your personal data, and the benefits of strong, complex passwords outweigh the possible risks.

The mechanics of keeping those passwords safe differs slightly from provider to provider. Generally, you have a lengthy, complex “master password” that safeguards the rest of your information. In some cases, you might also get a “security key” to enter when you log in to new devices. This is a random string of letters, numbers and symbols that the company will send you at sign up. Only you know this key, and because it’s stored locally on your device or printed out on paper, it’s harder for hackers to find.

These multiple layers of security make it difficult for an attacker to get into your vault even if your password manager provider experiences a breach. But the company should also follow a few security basics. A “zero-knowledge” policy means that the company keeps none of your data on file, so in the event of an attack, there’s nothing for hackers to find. Regular health reports like pentests and security audits are essential for keeping companies up to par on best practices, and other efforts like bug bounty programs or hosting on an open source website encourage constant vigilance for security flaws. Most password managers now also offer some level of encryption falling under the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). AES 256-bit is the strongest, because there are the most number of possible combinations, but AES 128-bit or 192-bit are still good.

Who are password managers for?

Given their universal benefit, pretty much everyone could use a password manager. They’re not just for the tech-savvy people or businesses anymore because so much sensitive information ends up online behind passwords, from our bank accounts to our Netflix watch history.

That’s the other perk of password managers: safe password sharing. Families, friends or roommates can use them to safely access joint accounts. Texting a password to someone isn’t secure, and you can help your family break the habit by starting to use one yourself, Lisa Plaggemier, executive director at National Cyber Security Alliance, said. Streaming is the obvious use case, but consider the shared bills, file storage and other sites you share access with the people around you as well.

Are password managers worth it?

You likely already use a password manager, even if you wouldn’t think to call it that. Most phones and web browsers include a log of saved credentials on the device, like the “passwords” keychain in the settings of an iPhone. That means you’ve probably seen the benefits of not having to memorize a large number of passwords or even type them out already.

While that’s a great way in, the downfall of these built-in options are that they tend to be device specific. If you rely on an Apple password manager, for example, that works if you’re totally in the Apple ecosystem — but you become limited once you get an Android tablet, Lujo Bauer, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and of computer science, at Carnegie Mellon University, said. If you use different devices for work and personal use and want a secure option for sharing passwords with others, or just don’t want to be tied to one brand forever, a third-party password manager is usually worth it.

How we tested

We tested password managers by downloading the apps for each of the nine contenders on iPhone, Android, Safari, Chrome and Firefox. That helped us better understand what platforms each manager was available on, and see how support differs across operating systems and browsers.

As we got set up with each, we took note of ease of use and how they iterated on the basic features of autofill and password generators. Nearly all password managers have these features, but some place limits on how much you can store while others give more control over creating easy-to-type yet complex passwords. From there, we looked at extra features like data-breach monitoring to understand which managers offered the most for your money.

Finally, we reviewed publicly available information about security specs for each. This includes LastPass, which more experts are shying away from recommending after the recent breach. For the sake of this review, we’ve decided not to recommend LastPass at this time as fallout from the breach still comes to light (The company disclosed a second incident earlier this year where an unauthorized attack accessed the company’s cloud storage, including sensitive data. Since then, hackers have stolen more than $4.4 million in cryptocurrency using private keys and other information stored in LastPass vaults.)

These are the password managers we tested:

Other password managers we tested

LastPass

For a while, security experts considered LastPass a solid choice for a password manager. It’s easy to use, has a slew of helpful extra features and its free version gives you a lot. But we decided not to include LastPass in our top picks because of the high profile data breaches it has experienced over the past couple of years.

Keeper

Keeper met a lot of the basic criteria we tested for, like autofill options and cross-platform availability. We liked its family plan options, too, that can keep your whole household secure. But we didn’t think its extra features, like the encrypted messaging app, added much value. Plus, it has a self-destruct feature after five incorrect login attempts which, despite adding extra protection, could be a recipe for disaster for casual users.

Enpass

Enpass works well as an affordable password manager. That includes an inflation-beating “lifetime” access pass instead of a monthly payment for users really committed to the service. Still, it was confusing to set up across devices and because Enpass stores data locally, as opposed to in the cloud, we struggled to get started with it on mobile.

Norton

A familiar name in security, we were excited to test out Norton’s password manager. While it’s free, its features seem underdeveloped. It lacked password sharing, account recovery and complex form-filing tools that come standard in many of the other password managers we tested.

LogMeOnce

LogMeOnce comes with a wide range of premium tiers, from professional to family, that include different levels of storage and features. But when we tested, it lacked some basic cross-platform availability that other password managers had already, like compatibility with Mac and Safari.

FAQs

Why use a password manager?

Using a password manager can enhance your online security. They store all of your complex passwords and autofill them as needed, so that you can have unique, strong passwords across the web without remembering each of them yourself. In many cases, unique passwords are your first defense against attack, and a reliable manager makes it easier to keep track of them all.

Are password managers 100 percent safe?

Password managers are a secure way to store your credentials. Experts in the field generally agree that the benefits of accessibility when storing complex passwords outweigh the possibility of attack, like what happened with LastPass. But with any service, it can vary from provider to provider. You should look out for zero-knowledge policies, regular security audits, pentests, bug bounty programs and encryption when choosing the right secure password manager for you.

What if I forget my master password?

Forgetting a master password won’t necessarily lock you out for good, but the recovery process varies from provider to provider. Some services give you a “security key” at sign up to enter when you log into new devices. It can also be used to securely recover your account because it’s a random string of keys stored locally that only you have access to. Other services, however, have no way to recover your vault. So creating a master password that you won’t forget is important.

How can I make a good master password?

A good master password should be unique, with the longest number of characters allowed and uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Experts often recommended thinking of it like a “passphrase” instead of a “password” to make it easier to remember. For example, you can take a sentence like “My name is Bob Smith” and change it to “Myn@m3isB0b5m!th” to turn it into a secure master password that you won’t forget.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-password-manager-134639599.html?src=rss

The best gifts for grads under $50

Gifting can be difficult at any time, but it’s been particularly hard over the past couple of years. You may still be working with a tight budget, but you also want to give that grad in your life something that can help make the transition to post-school life a bit easier (and more fun). The tech gifts that come to mind immediately — iPhones, smartwatches, game consoles and the like — are not exactly budget-friendly. But there are handy gadgets out there that won’t drain your wallet. Here’s Engadget’s list of the best tech gifts under $50 for new graduates.

Anker Nano Pro 20W

Anker’s latest 20W charger will be a handy gift for any grad. More often than not, the new gadgets we buy today don’t come with AC adapters, so having an extra on hand can’t hurt. The Nano Pro can fast-charge the latest iPhones to 50 percent in only 25 minutes, plus it’s smaller than Apple’s own 20W adapter. It also has advanced features like a Dynamic Temperature Sensor, which keeps the charger from overheating, and a power tuner chip, which adjusts power output depending on the connected device. It may not be the trendiest graduation gift, but it’s one that your grad will likely take with them to work, on vacations and elsewhere.

Blink Mini

New graduates moving out into a new apartment will feel a certain peace of mind knowing they can keep an eye on their abode while they’re out all day. That’s especially true for any that have pets patiently waiting for them at home. A Blink Mini security camera has all of the features they’d need to check in every once in a while, and it’s footprint is so small that they’ll easily be able to find a place for it. The camera will record 1080p video when it senses motion, and it’ll send an alert to your grad’s phone so they can view the footage. It also supports two-way audio, so they can comfort their furry friends with their voices as needed. And while Blink does have a subscription plan that lets you store video clips to the cloud, it’s not necessary if you’re just using the camera as a second pair of eyes. Plus, you can download any video clips you want to save to your phone for safe keeping.

8Bitdo Pro 2

We’ve been fans of 8Bitdo’s affordable, multi-platform controllers for quite some time, and the $50 Pro 2 is no exception. You can use it with the Nintendo Switch and on Windows, macOS, Android and Raspberry Pi, and you’re able to map functions to buttons using its companion smartphone app. The Pro 2 also adds new bumper buttons under each arm, something the previous version did not have. In general, 8Bitdo’s controllers are more ergonomic than, say, relying on a keyboard and mouse when playing PC games. They’re also a dramatic improvement over the Switch’s Joy-Cons which, if we’re honest, aren’t the most comfortable controllers to use for long stretches of time. The Pro 2 charges up via USB-C, but you can also remove the battery pack and replace it with AA batteries if you know you won’t be able to charge up frequently.

Cosori Stainless steel electric kettle

Multitaskers are crucial in the kitchen, especially when you’re fighting with your countertops for space. One of the best kitchen gadgets with many uses is an electric kettle, and you don’t have to spend a ton to get a decent one. Cosori makes a few good models, including this stainless steel one that comes in at only $40. It has a six-cup capacity and claims it can boil water in less than three minutes, which means new graduates won’t have to wait long to make a cup of coffee or tea, cook some ramen noodles or get broth ready for soup. We also like that it has an automatic shutoff safety feature that powers down the machine 30 seconds after water comes to rolling boil.

Chipolo One

Help your grad keep track of their things by getting them a gadget like the Chipolo One. This Bluetooth tracker is one of our favorites because its separation alerts are top-notch. What that means in practice is if your grad leaves their keys or wallet with the One attached to it somewhere, say at a coffee shop, they’ll get a notification to their phone quickly after they leave, telling them they left something behind. Chipolo’s tech will even give you directions via your maps app to the precise location of your lost stuff, in the event that you miss the original notification. The Chipolo One is also a good pick for anyone, really, since it works on iPhones and Android devices.

Anker 511 Power Bank

The Anker 511 Power Bank is something everyone should keep with them at all times, but new graduates will find it particularly useful. The last thing they want to worry about is their phone dying on them in the middle of a busy day of job interviews, side hustle work and adulting chores. Only slightly larger than a tube of lipstick, the 511 Power Bank will slide easily into most bags and backpacks, and they could probably get away with sticking it in their pocket if they’re rushing out the door. It has a 5,000mAh capacity that can easily top up a phone that’s inching closer and closer to zero-percent battery life. Plus, it has a built-in foldable plug for use as a power adapter if they happen to be near an outlet. They’ll have to provide their own USB-C cable for charging, but they probably have one of those lying around already anyway.

Yeti Rambler water bottle

Everyone needs a good water bottle they can take with them almost everywhere and Yeti’s 18-ounce Ramber will be a good pick for most people. It has a simple design made of 18/8 stainless steel, plus double-wall vacuum insulation that keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for longer. It’s shatter resistant so it can take an accidental beating, and it’s dishwasher safe for easy cleanup and care. We like the “chug cap” that comes with it — it’s best used with cold drinks, so maybe that will encourage your grad to use this Yeti for all-day hydration instead of all-day caffeination. This Ramber also comes in more than a dozen different colors, so you should be able to find one that fits in with the rest of your giftee’s stuff.

Baggu Standard Set of 3 reusable bags

Reusable tote bags are handy to have whenever you leave the house. New graduates may find themselves in need of one when they stop to get ingredients to make dinner on their way home from work, or when they unexpectedly buy something while out with friends. Baggu’s reusable totes are some of our favorites, not only because they come in a ton of fun colors and designs, but also because they’re durable and machine-washable. They’re made from ripstop nylon that’s easy to fold up into a small square and toss into any backpack or purse, so there’s really no excuse not to keep one with you at all times. Plus, each bag can hold up to 50-pounds worth of stuff, so they shouldn’t buckle under the weight of a week’s worth of groceries.

Logitech Signature M650 Mouse

We generally recommend Logitech mice to most people and the Signature M650 is a great one for a new graduate to toss in their bag to use both at home and work. It has a relatively small profile along with a precision scroll wheel and buttons that are quieter than those on other mice. Whether they’re working in an office with an open floor plan or next to their roommate at their WFH desk, they won’t distract anyone with the sounds of constant clicking or scrolling. This model has two customizable side buttons that allow them to really make the accessory their own, plus it connects to computers via Bluetooth or USB receiver. But the best part is that it should last up to two years on one AA battery before they need to change it; one less gadget they need to remember to recharge regularly is a great thing.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

New grads are pretty cash-strapped, so most of them are not going out to buy a new TV immediately after getting their diploma. Regardless of if their old set is smart or not, you can give it a refresh by gifting them a streaming device like the Roku Streaming Stick 4K. This one in particular gives them access to Roku’s operating system, which is easy to use. Not only does it provide access to all the heavy hitters — Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Apple TV+ and others — but Roku also has its own channels that let you watch some news, movies and TV shows for free. The Streaming Stick 4K supports 4K content, as its name suggests, plus HDR10+, long-range WiFi, AirPlay and input from a few voice assistants.

Lyft gift card

You may not want to think about all the nights your grad has been out until 4am, but it’s likely they’ve clocked a few of those by now. Giving them an easy way to get home will not only be a welcomed convenience, but also a safety measure. Hopping in a Lyft or an Uber as soon as they’ve made the decision to bounce will make it so they don’t have to wait for public transit that may not arrive on time (or at all), or beg a friend of a friend for a ride. Not to mention, they’ll feel a huge sense of relief knowing that, the next time they go out, their ride home is already taken care of.

Repel Windproof Double Vented travel umbrella

Hear us out — a good umbrella is an unexpected yet invaluable gift. Few things are worse than getting stuck in a downpour on your way to work, especially if you use public transit to get there. Repel’s windproof travel umbrella is just the right size — not too big or too small at 11.5 inches in length — and its nine reinforced fiberglass ribs prevent it from being blown inside-out easily. We also like its single-button design, allowing you to open or close it with one hand. Repel’s umbrella is one of those practical gifts that your grad will be glad to have at the most crucial times, and they’ll save money in the long run by not needing to buy a new, cheap umbrella every time the skies open up.

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2

We wanted to give a nod to the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 here even though it’s normally priced at $60 (but you can find it on sale for around $50). The portable speaker world is vast and that can make it hard to pick a decent one as a gift for a graduate that you may not fully understand their listening habits. The Micro 2 is a good all-around pick because it’s small enough to toss in most bags and it packs a ton of volume. Whether they are hosting a party at home or listening with friends outside, the Micro 2 has enough volume for all types of settings. We like its onboard controls as well, along with its rubbery rear strap that makes it easy to attach to things like belts and bike handlebars.

Instant Vortex Mini air fryer

While technically priced at more than $50, we wanted to include the Instant Vortex Mini here in part because it’s often on sale for around $45. Also, it’s a powerful little air fryer that any new graduate should be able to fit into even the most cramped of kitchen setups. It has an easy to use touchscreen with a few different cooking modes, but we expect most graduates will use it to cook snacks like mozzarella sticks and reheat leftovers to crispy perfection. We recommend checking out our air fryer guide if you want to give them something a little bigger that can cook more food at once — but if you’re only looking out for your grad and maybe their partner or favorite roommate, the Instant Vortex Mini will feed them well.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-gifts-for-grads-under-50-114506320.html?src=rss

The best grills and grill accessories in 2023

Cookout season is here, so now's the time to make sure you have everything you need for your ultimate grilling setup. To help you prepare to spend more time outside, we’ve compiled a list of the best grills and grill accessories for culinary adventures on the porch, deck, patio or backyard. We’ve reviewed and tested a wide range of grills and other devices, and we’ve selected our top picks to help you stay on top of your BBQ game. There are other outdoor cooking items too, with selections that should help you become a grill master, serving up delicious food all year long and expanding your skills in the process.

Traeger Timberline and Timberline XL

Last year, Traeger went all out for its smart grills. The company completely redesigned its high-end Timberline series, turning its premium pellet grills into outdoor kitchens. While the cooking chamber may look like any other Traeger grill, the company decided to put these new models on a rolling cart instead of four legs. Of course, this gives you more storage, but it also makes it easier to empty the pellet hopper. There’s a rail system on the front and sides of the grill to hold a range of accessories from paper rolls, to sauce, tongs and rub compartments.

In terms of tech, Traeger swapped out the basic controls from its previous WiFi-equipped D2 grills in favor of a color touchscreen. There are more sensors inside to keep tabs on the cooking process and added lighting to help you see the cooking surface better after dark. The new Timberlines will also work with a specially-designed version of the wireless Meater probes (Traeger bought Meater in 2021), so you’re not reliant on the corded version that comes standard. Perhaps most importantly, the company added what it says is the first outdoor-rated induction burner for sauces, sides and searing.

All of those upgrades lead to a starting price of $3,500. If you can forgo some of those niceties (I’d argue your grill doesn’t need a touchscreen, for example), the first-gen Ironwood has been a workhorse for me since I reviewed it in 2019. It still runs like a champ and works well with the company’s full-featured app. It’s a great option for someone looking to dive into pellet grills, offering a bit more than the entry-level Pro series from Traeger. The company still sells the original Ironwood even though it updated the model for 2023, and you can get the larger size for $2,000 less than the smallest of the new Timberlines.

Weber Genesis II EPX-335

In 2021, Weber introduced its first smart gas grills. After developing its Weber Connect platform for the SmokeFire pellet grills and the Smart Grilling Hub, the company brought its Wi-Fi-connected cooking to a more widely used fuel source. Last year, the company refined things a bit with PureBlu high-heat burners, sear zone, side table, expandable top cooking grate and "Nightvision" LED lighting. If the 2022 EPX-335 doesn’t suit your needs, there are other options that come in three- and four-burner configurations with porcelain enamel or stainless steel finishes. Plus, there are both propane and natural gas models, and some come with a side burner if you need it.

Of course, the main attraction here is the Weber Connect integration. Just like it does on the SmokeFire pellet grills and the Smart Grilling Hub, the technology can guide you through every step of the grilling process. A mix of instructions and videos inside the Weber Connect app offer assistance to grillers of all skill levels, right down to when to flip your steak. What’s more, the system offers real-time food temperatures and estimated readiness countdowns right on your phone so you can better time side dishes like veggie skewers (and keep the hangry crowd at bay). On its gas smart grills, Weber Connect can also keep tabs on fuel level so you’ll know when it’s time to swap tanks.

Weber has also introduced a host of grill tool sets and accessories that expand the capabilities of its gas grills. The company makes grilling gloves, searing grates, a grilling basket, rotisserie items and a pizza stone, as well as grill cleaning tools, like a scraper and brush. There’s also a griddle insert that allows you to make everything from breakfast to smash burgers. And if you want to transform the entire grilling area, Weber has a full-size griddle accessory that will do just that.

Ooni pizza ovens

Ooni has built a stellar reputation for its pizza ovens, and rightfully so. The company’s gear is easy to use and it helps you create restaurant-quality wood-fired pies at home. Its latest oven, the Volt 12, is an electric model that can be used indoors but still has the capability we’ve grown to count on from Ooni. In terms of solely outdoor ovens, the Karu 16 can accommodate multiple fuel sources and has room for larger pizzas. Out of the box this model can burn wood or charcoal, but Ooni sells gas burners for $120 and $150 (propane and natural gas versions).

In addition to overall size, the Karu 16 also has some conveniences that differentiate it from Ooni’s other ovens. First, a hinged door allows you to see what you’re cooking through a glass window. Second, there’s a front-mounted digital thermometer that shows the ambient temperature inside of the oven. Like other Ooni pizza cookers, the Karu 16 heats quickly, reaching 950 degrees Fahrenheit in about 15 minutes. And of course, the larger cooking area will allow you to make things besides pizza. If you can stand a smaller oven and analog thermometers, the company recently introduced the Karu 12G that still has the glass door, increased fuel efficiency and can be outfitted with a gas burner add-on ($100).

Thermoworks Thermapen One

Over the years, a Thermapen has become my most-used BBQ grill tool. I rely on it like a sous chef to make sure I’m cooking things to the correct internal temperature, especially chicken. It’s a versatile and sturdy tool at the grill and in the kitchen. ThermoWorks' Thermapen One is the follow up to its best-selling Thermapen Mk4. This new model shows temps lightning quick, giving you a reading in one second. ThermoWorks also improved accuracy and used a brighter display than the previous model. An automatically rotating screen makes the numbers easy to see no matter how you hold it, plus an auto-wake and sleep feature preserves battery life and IP67 rating protects it from accidental spills.

Meater Plus

A wireless meat thermometer may seem like overkill when there are so many great (and affordable) wired options available. I too was skeptical at first, but I can assure you that not having to avoid those metal cables when you’re flipping or wrapping a large cut of meat is definitely worth the investment. For the Meater Plus, the Traeger-owned company extended the Bluetooth range from the original model. Each probe has two sensors, so you can keep tabs on both internal food temp and the ambient temperature of your grill. Stats are sent to the company’s app, and you can set target temps, view an estimated completion time or get some help with a cook if you need it.

Anova Precision Cooker Nano 3.0

The latest version of Anova’s Precision Cooker Nano still offers sous vide in a compact form factor. It’s an updated version of the cookware device I’ve been using for a long time thanks most to its accuracy and reliability. The company has swapped Bluetooth connectivity for dual-band WiFi so you can venture further away from the Nano 3.0. This model also has a two-line touchscreen display, so time and temperature can be viewed simultaneously. Manual controls are ever present here too, if you want to bypass the iOS or Android apps. That software will provide you with recipes and step-by-step guidance, so it’s good to consult it even if you’re experienced with this cooking method.

In order to make the most of your sous vide setup, you’ll want to also invest in a vacuum sealer. I have the FoodSaver FM2000. It doesn’t have some of the flashy features of more expensive units, but it covers the basics just fine. If you prefer something more robust with options like automatic bag detection, retractable handheld sealer and a dry/moist setting, I’d recommend the FoodSaver V4400. With both, you can use them to seal leftovers for the freezer or store other goods you don’t want air to get to in addition to sous vide cooking. I’ve also found vacuum-sealed packs handy for reheating things like pulled pork. When you reheat with a sous vide, the meat doesn’t dry out like it would in the microwave. Sure, you could just use Ziploc bags, but I’ve done that, and a FoodSaver is worth the investment.

Stanley IceFlow Tumblers

I’d argue one of the most important grilling tools is a cold beverage. And as the days get hotter, you’ll need to plan your drinkware carefully so your monster cocktail or water supply remains at a frigid temperature. I’ve tried a number of insulated aluminum cups over the years, but Stanley has been the best. The company is known for its classic thermos, but its lineup of cups, bottles and more are affordable and do a great job of keeping drinks cold for hours at a time.

Stanley has a ton of options that serve as alternatives to popular brands like Yeti, but the IceFlow Tumblers have been my go-to this spring. The larger 30-ounce cup can keep drinks cold for up to 12 hours while the 20-ounce version can do so for up to seven hours. There’s a solid handle and the built-in flip-down straw means the drinking area isn’t exposed to the elements quite as much. At $25 and $30 each, these are a fraction of the cost of the most expensive options, and they have better ice retention than some of those too.

Brumate Hopsulator Duo and Trio

Brumate’s Hopsulator products are warm weather essentials for me. I originally got one for the beach, but it has become a staple in my grilling tool kit. The company’s Hopsulator Trio is a 3-in-1 option that holds 16-ounce cans or 12-ounce cans with a cold insert you keep in your freezer. It also comes with a lid so you can use it as a travel mug. The Hopsulator Duo also doubles as an insulated cup, but it’s designed for 12-ounce cans and doesn’t come with any cooling accessories. What’s more, Brumate has a third model for slim cans. So if hard seltzers are more your thing, there’s an option for you too.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-grilling-gear-143011296.html?src=rss

A beginner’s guide to smart sous vide

Cooking via “sous vide” might sound complicated and intimidating, but it’s actually a lot easier than you might think. French for “under vacuum,” “sous vide” simply translates to immersing vacuum-sealed food in a temperature-controlled water bath until the food is cooked to your liking. Instead of worrying about whether a steak is medium rare or whether that chicken breast will be dry, you can just dial in your desired temperature, wait a few hours, and you’ll get perfect results without the guesswork.

Though sous vide cooking was once the province of professional cooks with expensive equipment, affordable options are now widely available. Wand-like immersion circulators have made sous vide cooking accessible to home chefs for several years now. And, like a lot of kitchen tools now, many sous vide devices even have companion apps and WiFi connectivity that make the process even more automated. If you’re curious about giving sous vide cooking a go, we’ll walk you through the process of choosing the right machine for you and share some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned through our own experiments.

How to pick a smart sous vide machine

If you’re going to choose a sous vide machine, we definitely recommend getting a smart one, which means it either has Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities (or both). That’s because this often adds a whole lot more features than you might otherwise have. We suggest getting models with a companion app that will help you set up and monitor your sous vide temperature remotely. Bluetooth-only models work when you're within 30 to 40 feet of the cooker, while those with WiFi let you supervise your food from anywhere in your home, or as long as you're on the same network. We also tend to prefer apps that come with recipes already on it, especially if you’re new to sous vide cooking and need some help getting started.

Anova

Other factors to consider

At a minimum, the other items you need to cook sous vide are a large metal pot (big enough to fill with water) and zipper-lock freezer bags to put the food in. Alternatively, you can use reusable silicone bags such as these from Stasher. Rather than using a vacuum sealer to get rid of air, you would use the water displacement method: Immerse the bagged food in the water while partially unsealed, and water pressure will push the air through the opening. Once everything is mostly underwater, you can seal the bag and it'll stay submerged.

If it still floats, you can stick one or two spoons in the bag, and that will hopefully weigh things down. (J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats also suggests using a large binder clip attached to the bottom of the bag along with a heavy spoon.) If you're concerned about water getting in the bag, you can attach the bag tops to the pot with binder clips, thus keeping the bag upright.

If you're really serious about sous vide, you might want to invest in some specialty equipment. Instead of pots, for example, you could opt for large restaurant-grade plastic containers by Cambro or Rubbermaid. Not only is plastic a better insulator than metal, but there's generally more space for more food, which is handy when you're cooking for a crowd.

Whether you use a pot or a plastic container, it's best to cover the vessel with plastic wrap when cooking for long periods, to keep evaporation to a minimum. Some companies, like Chefsteps, offer custom silicone pot lids that are made specially to accommodate their sous vide cookers. Alternatively, Lopez-Alt offers a much cheaper and more ingenious solution: cover your water in ping pong balls. They'll slow down evaporation.

Rubbermaid

Additionally, while zipper-lock bags work well for most tasks, it's still not a bad idea to get a vacuum sealer along with thicker plastic bags designed specifically for sous vide. For one, this lets you sous vide vegetables or braised meats, which typically require a higher temperature. (Zipper-lock bag seams might fail when it's that hot.) This also lets you freeze a bunch of food, vacuum seal them and sous vide packets straight from the freezer, which is convenient for batch cooking.

You likely already have this at your disposal, but another handy tool is a good skillet to sear your meat. That sous vide device might be able to cook your steak to medium rare, but it won't be able to brown it. A cast iron skillet, on the other hand, will. You could also consider a torch like the Bernzomatic TS8000, and we've seen others use a Searzall — but a cast iron skillet is far more affordable than either option. Of course, if you have a grill, you can use that too.

There are other miscellaneous items that could prove useful. Lopez-Alt likes having a pot lid organizer immersed in the container to help separate several submerged bags. If you want to make custard, yogurt or breakfast cups with your sous vide cooker, you should get yourself some mason jars too.

One more indispensable item worth considering: a trivet to rest your water vessel on so you don't destroy your countertop.

Sous vide recipe resources

Since affordable sous vide cookers have been in the market for a few years now, there’s no shortage of recipes and guidelines online to help you figure out what to do with your newfangled kitchen gadget. The links below are some of our favorites, though bear in mind that a lot of this is based on personal taste. Your mileage may vary.

Anova

It only makes sense that the maker of one of the most popular sous vide machines also has a deep library of sous vide recipes. If you're ever at a loss as to what to make via sous vide, simply peek at this website, where you can search for recipes from professionals and amateurs alike.

Serious Eats

We've mentioned it several times here already in this guide, but Serious Eats truly is a remarkably useful resource for all things sous vide. Its guide to sous vide steak is a favorite among Engadget staffers, as is its take on slow-cooked sous-vide style eggs, which results in some of the best eggs I've ever had.

Chefsteps

Years before making the Joule, Chefsteps made a name for itself as a cooking school with a heavy emphasis on food science, tech and molecular gastronomy. That's probably why the sous vide recipes from Chefsteps are some of the more creative ones we've seen. One recipe, for example, teaches you how to make that perfect chicken breast along with the perfect accompaniment for said chicken breast — perhaps a crunchy apple fennel salad and a buttery carrot puree. Other favorite recipes include wonderfully tender salmon filets, juicy pork chops and Chefsteps' own interpretation of the "sous vide egg bites" you sometimes find in certain Starbucks shops.

Sous Vide at Home

This is actually a cookbook from the people behind the Nomiku WiFi sous vide machine (which has since been discontinued), but the recipes in it will work with any sous vide device. Not only does it have beautiful photographs, but it also offers fantastic recipes like jerk chicken wings, duck confit and chocolate pots du creme.

Other noteworthy recipes:

Sous vide alternatives

Instant Pot Smart WiFi
Instant Pot / Best Buy

Aside from immersion circulators like the ones mentioned here, you could also opt for multi-purpose appliances that offer sous vide-like functions. Several Instant Pots, for example, offer such a feature. Unfortunately, however, they do not circulate the water like the aforementioned immersion circulators, and the temperatures aren’t quite as precise (which is a definite downside if you need something cooked to a specific temperature). But if you don’t really care about that, or you just want to dabble occasionally in sous vide, this might be a viable option.

If you’re dead set on a multi-tasking appliance and you have the money to spend, consider the Anova Precision Oven. Thanks to its use of steam, you can indeed use it to cook foods via sous vide but without the need for plastic bags. It also uses a fan to circulate the moist air around the food and a probe thermometer helps keep foods at a precise temperature. And, of course, the Precision Oven can be used as a regular oven as well, and is great for baking breads and bagels. It is, however, quite expensive at $700 and takes up a lot of counter space.

Images: Will Lipman for Engadget (Anova / holiday light background)

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/smart-sous-vide-guide-151821790.html?src=rss

The best online resources for cooking at all skill levels

If you’re struggling to save money, one of the easiest ways to do so is to cook your own meals. Yes, we know that going to restaurants or ordering takeout is easier, but that can get expensive — especially if you’re doing it every day. Thankfully, there are plenty of great cooking websites that cater to home chefs of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or you know your way around a kitchen, we hope this list of recipe sites and YouTube channels will help you on your culinary journey.

Recipe sites

Serious Eats

If you self-identify as a nerd and you’re also into cooking, you probably already know about Serious Eats. The site rose to prominence several years ago under the helm of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who often takes a decidedly scientific approach to cooking. Lopez-Alt has since transitioned to a consulting role at Serious Eats (he has his own vlog, which is well worth following as well), but the site remains strong under new leadership. It offers tips on basics like food prep and storage, as well as a slew of how-tos and step-by-step instructions for everything from breaking down a chicken to kneading your own bread.

Try this: Quick and Easy Pressure Cooker Black Beans with Chorizo

NYT Cooking

This is the only recommendation on this list that requires payment — $1.25 a week or $40 a year — but I personally think it’s worth it. The site and accompanying app (for iOS and Android) is well organized and intuitive to use, with bright and colorful photos along with an ever-changing list of curated recipe recommendations and suggestions. I especially like the search function, where you can not only enter in the ingredients you have on hand, but also filter by the sort of meal you want to make iIs it for breakfast? A snack? Or dinner?) along with any dietary restrictions. If you don’t want to cough up the subscription fee, however, NYT’s YouTube channel is a great resource as well.

Try this: Spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric (YouTube)

The Kitchn

The Kitchn is a daily food magazine that’s been around since the mid-2000s, and it frequently serves up not just recipes but also fun features like a celebrity recipe showdown (check out this one that compares the pot roast recipes between Alton Brown, Ina Garten, Taste of Home and the Pioneer Woman). Of course, The Kitchn also publishes plenty of tips and tricks to help readers be a better cook. 

Try this: Maple Corn Cakes

YouTube channels

Food Wishes

“Hello, I’m Chef John, from Food Wishes dot com” is the familiar refrain that you’ll hear at the beginning of every Food Wishes video, and it never fails to warm my heart. His tone is so welcoming and cheerful that it cheers me up every time I hear it. A YouTube favorite (he has over four million subscribers), he’s also a favorite among a few Engadget staffers, and for good reason. Not only is he goofy and charming, his recipes are also almost always geared toward the novice chef, with clear and concise instructions. He also encourages viewers to experiment, use their senses, play around with food, and to think of cooking as art as much as science.

Try this: No-Knead Country Bread

Binging with Babish

Binging with Babish is a popular YouTube channel (over 9.6 million subscribers) that’s primarily focused on recreating foods from TV shows and movies. Some famous examples include the Krabby Patty from Spongebob Squarepants and ratatouille from, well, Ratatouille. But host Andrew Rea can cook “normal” foods too, and the popularity of his channel led him to host a spin-off series called “Basics with Babish” that’s geared toward the beginner.

Try this: Chickpeas

Food52

The Food52 website can be considered a one-stop shop for cooking enthusiasts, as there’s an online store along with recipes and a community board. But the real highlight for me is its YouTube channel, which features excellent shows such as Sweet Heat by Rick Martinez (the former Bon Appetit editor showcases recipes with both a sweet and spicy element), Big Little Recipes (focuses on recipes with a short ingredient list) and Genius Recipes, which, well, shows “genius” recipes created by notable chefs.

Try this: How to Make the Easiest Beefy Mac Rice Cakes

Dessert Person

Have a sweet tooth? Then look no further than Claire Saffitz’s YouTube channel, where she bakes up everything from apple pies to oatmeal pecan cookies. Her personality is a combination of cranky and lovable, which I adore, but more importantly, her recipes are excellent. She gives very detailed instructions and the results are almost always delicious. She makes a lot of savory baked goods as well, such as sourdough bread and quiche.

Try this: The Best Oatmeal Cookies

Maangchi

Maagchi has been referred to by The New York Times as the Julia Child of Korean cooking, and the description couldn’t be more apt. Not only does she have a friendly and bubbly personality, she does a wonderful job of demystifying Korean cooking and making it approachable to beginners and advanced cooks alike. From Korean classics like kimchi jjigae and bibimbap to sweet treats like Korean doughnuts, she makes it all seem within reach. 

Try this: Korean Street Toast (Gilgeori-Toast)

Dietary concerns or special diets

101 Cookbooks

For a site that is entirely dedicated to vegetarian cuisine, I highly recommend 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson, which has been an online favorite for decades. I’m a huge fan of her simple, straightforward recipes that are able to turn a carnivore like me into a lover of plant-based meals (a personal favorite is this cauliflower soup).

Try this: Chickpea and Rice soup with Garlic Chile Oil

Nom Nom Paleo

You don’t need to be on the paleo diet to fall in love with Nom Nom Paleo, a mini-empire that consists of a food blog, two award-winning cookbooks, and a podcast, among other things. The New York Times has referred to Michelle Tam, the creator of the site, as the Martha Stewart of Paleo, because of how accessible she makes it seem. After perusing her site and trying her recipes, you'll no longer think of the paleo diet as restrictive; instead you might find yourself eating more than ever. Tam has also tailored some of her recipes to fit Whole30 or keto diets as well.

Try this: Garbage Stir-Fry with Curried Cabbage

Clean and Delicious

If you’re not strictly vegetarian or paleo, but you still want a healthy diet, check out the Clean and Delicious food blog by Dani Spies. A wellness and weight loss coach, Spies believes in a balanced diet and “clean eating,” but without foregoing the foods you love. For example, there’s a recipe for lemon bars on her site, but it’s made with whole wheat flour and doesn’t have dairy or refined sugar. All of the recipes on her site reflect this philosophy; they’re either gluten-free, paleo, vegan or vegetarian and they are also often low-carb, keto, dairy-free or nut-free. I also like her Instagram and YouTube channel, where she also shares tips on mindful eating and healthy living.

Try this: Healthy Banana Bread Muffins (YouTube)

Staff recommendations

There are simply way too many food sites on the internet to list them all, but here are a few more that were recommended by our staff that you might find useful.

Chinese Cooking Demystified

This is one of the best YouTube channels for learning all the ins and outs of authentic Chinese cooking from people who actually live in China. It’s very detailed, well-produced and offers great advice on recreating these dishes in a Western kitchen. I also love that it teaches technique in addition to just recipes. To this day, I still come back to this video on how to stir-fry any vegetable.

Minimalist Baker

The blog Minimalist Baker features recipes that use 10 ingredients or less and only take about 30 minutes to make. Weekend Editor Igor Bonifacic is a big fan as well, mostly due to the site’s wealth of vegetarian recipes, like this curried cauliflower lentil soup.

Budget Bytes

Budget Bytes is a great resource for those watching their wallets, as each recipe gives you a breakdown of estimated costs for each ingredient. Commerce Editor Valentina Palladino said that the site is also really good for beginners.

Rainbow Plant Life

If you’re looking for vegan recipes, Rainbow Plant Life has a ton of them. Palladino loves the cashew cream recipe and appreciates that the site’s founder, Nisha, has a trove of vegan-friendly Instant Pot recipes to try as well.

Pick Up Limes

Another staple for accessible vegan recipes is Pick Up Limes. Palladino says that the Healthiest Ever Granola recipe is one of her favorites, and she likes that the Pick Up Limes website makes it easy to filter recipes by type of ingredients, preparation time, allergens and more.

Richard Bertinet’s White Bread Masterclass

Richard Bertinet’s video on white bread comes highly recommended for its sheer simplicity. It proves that all you need to make bread is bread flour, yeast and salt. Senior Reporter Dan Cooper says the video is also a sure-fire way of calming him down when stressed.

Half Baked Harvest

Editor-in-Chief Dana Wollman and Senior News Editor Billy Steele frequently trade Slack messages with dinner recommendations. (What’s for dinner? Ask a coworker, of course.) The answer from either person is often a Half Baked Harvest link. The site is home to a vast library of free recipes that, in our experience, tend to work as advertised. We’re fans of her nightly Instagram Story cooking demos as well, not to mention her tacos.

Joy the Baker

Wollman says she discovered Joy by accident through her warm, self-effacing Insta Stories, only to discover she has an equally clever blog offering a mix of sweet and savory baking recipes.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/quarantine-cooking-online-resources-163009672.html?src=rss

Where to sell your used and unwanted gadgets

Every year means new iterations of your favorite phones from the likes of Apple, Samsung and Google, so you might be tempted to upgrade to your handset. But with some new phones costing over $1,000, keeping up with the latest and greatest can really take a toll on your wallet. So why not offset the cost by putting your old device up for sale? If you’re wondering which trade-in service will yield you the biggest bang for your buck, and how easy it will be, we have answers to those questions (and more). We've rounded up some of the leading contenders for offloading your old electronics. It’s not just phones, either — perhaps you have an old laptop that isn't quite cutting it anymore, or maybe you've got some other stuff sitting in the closet collecting dust.

Trade-in sites

RECYCLE-PHONES/

If you're looking for the littlest hassle and want your money as soon as possible, there are plenty of sites that will automate the trade-in process. You'll select your device from a list, get a quote within minutes and send the device back for cash in a matter of days.

Decluttr

Decluttr definitely lives up to its name. Not only can you sell phones from a number of manufacturers, including Apple, Samsung and Google, but the site also takes lots of physical media, including CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games and books. For devices, you'll be asked for a general assessment of its condition, and given a quote immediately. Once you complete your order the site will send you a free shipping label. Decluttr also will accept handsets as old as the iPhone 6S, though it'll offer you only $7 for a 16GB model in good condition.

uSell

uSell operates as a broker, searching other sites for their best offers on a given device and taking care of the rest. Like most buyback sites, it's big on iPhones, but you can still sell off other manufacturers' devices; it really depends on who's buying them at that point. The selection is a bit of a grab bag — newer phones like the Galaxy S21 aren't listed, though you can get a quote for the iPhone 11 ($210 for an unlocked, “flawless” 64GB model). Once you complete your order the site will send you a free shipping kit to send out your phone, and you can get paid for the item via PayPal, Venmo or an old fashioned check.

ecoATM

If you don't want to have to worry about packaging up your old device and mailing it off, or would like to receive your payout right away, there's always ecoATM. It's literally there in the name: an automated machine that you place your device into and it examines the handset and pays you on the spot. It accepts the biggest brands (i.e., Apple, Google and Samsung), along with devices from a wide variety of manufacturers, including LG, Motorola and ZTE. If the machine determines that your device isn't worth anything at all, you can still use ecoATM to responsibly recycle your old gadget. You'll find ecoATM kiosks in Walmart and Kroger locations, as well as malls and check cashing stores across the country.

Amazon

While browsing Amazon listings, it’s likely you’ve come across products marked as “refurbished.” Well, if you’ve ever wondered where those come from, a lot of them likely hail from Amazon’s trade-in program. The company will put its own products, like Kindle readers and Fire tablets front and center, but you can also send in phones and gaming products in for an Amazon gift card as well. It’s not great if you want cash, but if you’re looking to upgrade an Amazon device this option is your best bet, as trading in an older one also nets you a 25 percent discount in addition to the store credit. You’ll need to print out a shipping label, or you can drop off your electronics at select Amazon Locker or Whole Foods locations.

Apple

This is a good option if you’re looking to upgrade to a newer Apple device. You can trade in iPhones, iPads, Macs and even Apple Watches. That’s notable as wearables are a category you don’t often see on trade-in sites. Apple will even take your old Android phone if you were thinking of making the switch. The trade-in values are on par with other sites, but you can get a smaller payout in the form of a gift card instead if you’d rather wait before making a new purchase, want to put it toward media purchases or even just use it in an Apple Store. Which, by the way, also accepts trade-ins in case you’re not comfortable shipping your old but still expensive device.

It'sWorthMore

The nice thing about It’sWorthMore is that its on-site forms handle a larger variety of gadgets than other sites, incorporating companies such as Microsoft, AMD and even GoPro in addition to standards like Apple, Samsung and Google. You’ll answer a few standard questions about your device’s condition and whether you still have the original box — obviously, the more you’ve kept from the original packaging, the better. You’ll then get a ballpark estimate of its worth and a prepaid shipping label to print out. Once your device is received you’ll generally get the assessment and payment via check, PayPal, Venmo or Zelle within two to three business days.

BuyBackWorld

The appeal of BuyBackWorld is that device assessment is a streamlined process: Instead of having to answer a barrage of detailed questions for your device you give it a general assessment and let the site handle the rest. Just like with It’sWorthMore, BuyBackWorld will provide a printable shipping label in your confirmation email but, if you don’t have a printer or boxes to pack your device up, you can always have the site send you a free shipping kit, which can handle everything the site takes except desktop computers.

GadgetGone

If you’ve read through the other site descriptions, GadgetGone’s modus operandi should be familiar: To sell a product, you’ll have to answer a few questions about what type of device you have and what condition it’s in, after which the site will generate a prepaid shipping label. At least here you can find brands like OnePlus included among the options, and you can also sell MacBooks and Mac Minis here. You can get paid a number of ways, too, including PayPal, virtual VISA card, Amazon and Target gift cards or just good old fashioned bank transfer.

Store trade-ins

C1YC8B A GameStop video game store in the Herald Square shopping district in New York gamestop; videogames; shopping; electronic

Sometimes you need your money right now, or just don't want to trust your device to the vagaries of various shipping companies. There are a few nationwide retailers that accept trade-ins for cash or store credit. Additionally, wireless carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint will all give you credit toward a new phone.

Best Buy

Best Buy also offers trade-ins both by mail and in-store — with more than 1,000 locations, this might be extremely convenient for you. You fill out the form online and bring that to customer service. It's easy, but there's one big downside: You can get your payout only via a Best Buy gift card. This is great if you spend a lot of money with them anyway, but less good if you really need cash.

GameStop

GameStop is infamous for buying games back at ridiculously low prices and flipping them at near retail, but don't let that stop you from making some easy cash when you need to quickly clear your closet of old electronics and games. And yes, I said cash: GameStop offers store credit, a Visa prepaid card or actual money if you want to take your bounty elsewhere. For example, you can trade in Animal Crossing for the Switch and get $22 in store credit or $18 cash, which isn't bad when new copies are going for $48 on Amazon. GameStop also accepts phones, tablets and Apple Watches, though the prices aren't going to match what you'd get from an online trade-in site.

Consumer to consumer

eBay Introduces Boxing Weekend On Dec. 26 and 27 At Eight Westfield Malls Across The Country, Making It Even Easier For Consumer

Sometimes you prefer to cut out the middleman and get a bit more personal — a transaction where you're selling your device directly to another person instead of letting a faceless site flip it for you as a "refurbished" unit. In those cases, you want a site that's more user-to-user, though a few will still automate certain bits to make your sale as smooth as possible.

Swappa

Swappa is a marketplace site, which means sellers can set their own price. So if you're getting rid of a newer phone, this is probably the best way to go — the iPhone 13 fetches around $515, for example. That's a huge improvement over what you'd get selling through a site like Decluttr, which is offering only $422 for a 128GB unit.

Amazon

When shopping on Amazon, you've probably been tempted by some of those marketplace deals in the past and, chances are, if you list an item on there, someone will give your old device a look. Since almost everyone on earth seems to have an Amazon account, your potential customer base is huge, and it costs only $0.99, plus a percentage based on category, to sell an item through the site. The downsides are that Amazon isn't really optimized for individual sales; you'll be competing with wholesale companies and even bots that will tweak the price of a product automatically in response to the competition.

eBay

eBay is sort of the Wild West of sales sites, but the biggest advantage is that you can sell anything there and hopefully find a buyer, regardless of how old a product is. Even so, the site has come a long way in the past decade or so, adding structured categories that can help lead customers to your product. For phones, you can search by network, color or storage capacity, and even filter for features like 4K video or fingerprint sensors.

In the end, it still works as it always did: You list a product and set an end date for the listing with a minimum price, or just set a "Buy It Now" price if you don't want to wait to see how an auction turns out. Chances are you already have an eBay account with a feedback score, so there's no extra setup required on your part. Your first 250 listings are free every month, and you'll pay up to 15 percent of the purchase price only if an item sells. The biggest downside is that you're competing with a lot more sellers, and chances are there's always someone willing to undercut you on price.

Cash-back comparison

Ultimately, the site you go with should be whatever's most useful and convenient, but if you just care about how much money you'll end up with, we've priced out a few recent flagship handsets just to give you an idea of what each site offers. We've also thrown in the Nintendo Switch, because it might be time to sell yours off and finally upgrade to an OLED model.

All phone prices are for the lowest storage capacity, usually 128GB. The prices are for the unlocked models when available, or the carrier where it's being traded. These prices were valid the day this post was written, but they fluctuate daily or, in the case of sites like Amazon and eBay, hourly.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Google Pixel 6

Nintendo Switch

Declutter

$432

$226

$135

$125

uSell

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

ecoATM

$280

$155

$40

N/A

Sprint

$230

$115

$45

N/A

Verizon

$282

$220

$15

N/A

T-Mobile

$230

$115

$45

N/A

AT&T

$280

$230

$130

N/A

Best Buy

$330

$150

$105

$50

GameStop

$291 cash / $364 credit

$131 cash / $164 credit

N/A

$80 cash / $100 credit

Swappa

$455

$224

$124

$238

Amazon

$401

$275

$190

$75

eBay

$405

$368

$200

$131

BuyBackWorld

$415

$230

$140

$110

It'sWorthMore

$442

$273

$153

$100

GadgetGone

$465

$271

$141

$41

If you were looking to sell some games, we've also got a shorter list, because not every site accepts trade-ins. GameStop will offer you more money than what's listed below if you're a member of its Elite or Elite Pro programs.

Elden Ring (Xbox)

Horizon Forbidden West (PS5)

Pokémon Legends Arceus (Switch)

Decluttr

$17

$17

$20

GameStop

$11 cash / $14 credit

$13 cast / $16 credit

$14 cash / $17 credit

Amazon

$8

$51

$14

eBay

$21

$20

$25

Once you've picked a site and listed your item, there are a few important things to remember before you ship off your device. The most important, when disposing of a phone or laptop or any other device containing personal data, is to do a full factory reset. That also means turning off "Find My iPhone" and the activation lock on iOS devices. See if you can unlock the phone, too; you'll actually get more money selling it carrier-free. And finally, make sure you've backed up any important data you may have, like contact info, game saves and, of course, photos. Cash is great, but it won't save your memories.

Images: Mike Blake / Reuters (ecoATM); Alamy (Gamestop); Getty Images for eBay (eBay)

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

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