3,251 Karma points
If you’re looking for a product that can fill a room with sound, then the
Samsung Sound + Hi-Res Audio Soundbar is for you. The 3.0 channel high-res soundbar features a built-in subwoofer and tweeters to generate full, beautiful sound. It also has a 4K pass-through, so you can get premium audio and picture quality through a single HDMI connection. And with Amazon Alexa, the Samsung has voice-control functionality for volume and power controls.
Windscribe is a Canadian VPN preferred for its free service, dedicated support for streaming TV and torrenting. Speed was variable, with download speeds going anywhere between 2MB/s to 9MB/s. However, if you’re after free VPN, Windscribe is worth trying out. It is your best free option after CyberGhost removed its free service from new users. Nate Shivar of ShivarWeb said “If you need a VPN but are unfamiliar with the ins and outs and technical jargon, Windscribe may be the VPN for you.”
Steganos has two VPN brands that use the same infrastructure and have identical security protocols. Both have a no-logging policy. OkayFreedom, one of Steganos’ VPN brands, has the cheapest annual VPN subscription. I could also access Netflix UK while using its other brand called Steganos Online Shield but not Netflix US and BBC iPlayer. OkayFreedom is a no-frills option. Steganos Online Shield can connect up to five devices at a time with an annual subscription.
Private Tunnel is a US-based VPN service that is being backed by OpenVPN Technologies, which is the same tech firm that brought the OpenVPN protocol, the open source protocol used by nearly every VPN provider in the industry. While it has its fair share of cons (What VPN doesn’t?), Private Tunnel actually checks all the boxes pertaining to encryption. Its performance was reliable with throughput of 2.6MB/s from the USA. There’s also a 2GB free trial, giving you a chance to try before you buy.
Avast SecureLine is a dependable, fuss-free VPN service with clear-cut policies and a handy selection of endpoint locales. SecureLine’s stand-alone client is enjoyable and easy to use; you just choose your endpoint country and city from a drop-down menu, connect, and you’re good to go. PCMag lauded Avast SecureLine for its “VPN security and solid speed...”
The Q8FN is a more affordable cousin to Samsung’s flagship Q9F series. The Samsung Q8FN is a 2018 QLED TV with great picture quality, even when viewed in a well-lit room due to the high peak brightness and excellent reflection handling. It performs very well for any usage with great motion handling, excellent response time, and very low input lag. The overall color gamut is excellent with a display capable of nearly 100% of the P3 color space, and uniform blacks. $1299 for 55" - $4,799 for 85".
The ASRock G10 AC2600 Gaming Router is a stylish dual-band MU-MIMO router that delivers solid 5GHz throughput and includes a mini-travel access point and an IR blaster that lets you manage devices with the use of your smartphone. It is a wee bit pricey, coming in at $215 on Amazon with middling range and file-transfer performance during testing. But all in all, it is rich in features and it absolutely delivered when it counts.
If you’re looking for a top-spec, future-proofed router but don’t really have that large a budget for it, then the TP-Link Archer C9 is the ideal router for you. With the Archer C9, TP-Link has produced a router I can easily applaud. It’s not the fastest by any stretch but it can provide the sort of speeds you want when required without breaking the bank. The rest of the time it’s a reliable, rock-solid, easy to use router. You can pick one up at $89.99 on Amazon.
The Linksys EA7500 is one of the most cost-effective ways to acquire a MU-MIMO router. It is an ideal selection for large households or small offices with a lot of users. It has a number of minute issues that indicates it’s not without its share of faults, and for sheer maximum speed (up to 1.9 Gbps Wi-Fi speeds) it doesn’t rank up there with the finest in the market. But for the price, it’s a convincing step up and a great piece of future-proofing. You can have one right now for $129.99.
Upgrading to the Smart Hub is a smart choice. While it may have some trouble providing a strong Wi-Fi signal in spacious houses with thick stone walls, it would most certainly fix Wi-Fi blackspots in majority of normal-sized homes without having to use Wi-Fi range extenders or power line adapters. TechAdvisor has called it “The fastest, best router you can get from an ISP” while Best Buy deems it "The BT Smart Hub is the best model we've tested overall."
The WRT1900ACS is the apprised version of Linksys’ flagship router three years ago, the WRT1900AC. It offers everything its predecessor did which is a robust build, excellent Wi-Fi performance at both 5GHz and 2.4GHz and OpenWRT support at less the cost. However, at $179.99, it remains expensive for the features it offers so less demanding users might be better off looking for more cheaper alternatives.
The Asus RT-AC5300 is an extremely fast and powerful router that will broadcast Wi-Fi to all corners of the most spacious house or office. It is in fact, the fastest I have tested with AC5300 speeds, MU-MIMO and NitroQAM. However, it is a shame that I only got one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port and four Ethernet ports. Its focus on gamers and media streaming may also put people off. However, if you are keen on having the best, then the RT-AC5300 is for you. You can buy one from Amazon at $281.
The Roku Express is a full HD streaming device that brings all manner of streaming services to non-smart TVs, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer and Now TV. It’s the company’s most affordable unit. The Roku Express is the perfect basic streamer. If you're fine with a basic, bare-bones conduit to Netflix and all the rest, take the Express. $30 on Amazon right now.
Chromecast Ultra provides one of the best values for streaming video devices for 4K TV owners. There’s not much benefit for the 1080p crowd, but if you’re looking for powerful, fast streaming in a device the size of a wafer for your brand-new UHD TV, the Chromecast Ultra is the one for you. It does everything it sets out to do; it lets you cast video in 4K and HDR. It works. It’s stable. It’s easy to use. $69.99 on Bestbuy.
The Roku 4 is the best home entertainment investment you can make. The device satisfies a modern, must-own-everything-immediately crowd that owns a 4K TV set.
You absolutely get what you pay for – a high-end, quad-core ARM processor that doesn't come cheap. If you don't need Ultra-HD and still want some of the same amazing operating system, consider stepping down to a Roku 2 or 3. The Roku 4 is priced $89.99.
Although the LG OLED55B7A is beaten in performance by most of LG’s 2018 OLED models, especially when it comes to its imperfect motion processing for interlaced broadcast and insufficient peak brightness, it remains enticing and a huge bargain especially at its price point. With its excellent blacks and contrast, much-improved shadow detailing, vibrant and dynamic colors and excellent low input lag, the LG OLED55B7V is a bargain you can’t deny at its latest $1,694 price.
Not everything is incredible. But at John Brown Smokehouse, there’s just so much flavor and tenderness to the pork ($8 to $25 a platter), the lamb sausage ($8) and the outstanding burnt ends ($12 a platter) that a dry brisket ($10 a platter) and a chewy pit beef ($10 for a sandwich) don’t really dampen the dining experience at this affable joint. You’ll be too full to move, but if you sit long enough, you just might hear even hear owner Mr. Josh Bowen pick at his banjo!
Texas-style Salt & Bone Smokehouse seeks to be the Hometown Bar-B-Que of Astoria. The beef brisket ($28 per pound), served in quarter-pound slabs with salt and coarsely cracked black peppercorns, is amazing. Pork ribs are sold by half or full rack ($22 and $40) and are smoked four hours and come coated with a sweet glaze, post-pit. The beef sausage, made of brisket stuffed in a pig intestine, is mildly spicy and smoky, and just might be the best you’ll have this year!
Blue Smoke was one of the restaurants that helped fuel the barbecue renaissance. The menu has since developed from the pan-regional barbecue focus that it had for over a decade. Current chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois has added Southern influence to the menu. Classic Texas-style brisket ($18 for a half pound) and baby back ribs ($19 for a half rack) are served with less traditional barbecue meats like Alabama white wings and turkey pastrami.
Moist brisket ($14.25) is not the lone reason to dine at Hill Country Barbecue Market, but it’s a pretty darn good one. Carved right before serving, the meat is juicy, but what really got me were the blackened edges that paved the way to a quarter-inch of smoky borderland between crust and interior. That, along with the beef ($16.50) and pork ribs ($11.50) that carry a peppery, crunchy top layer, show Hill Country’s rotisserie barbecue pits at their finest.
At this eccentric East Village restaurant, pitmaster-chef Will Horowitz integrates barbecue into a menu that also features seafood (Crawfish, North Fork Oysters, Preserved Mussels and Top Neck Clams), a smoked cantaloupe burger ($15), and beignets ($8). And of course, the St. Louis Ribs ($16) are something that you must try!
The Acer Aspire E 15 is an ideal device for college students. With a 7th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and a capable graphics card in the Nvidia 940MX, Lifewire has named it “Best Overall” on its list of laptops college studs should buy this year. However, it is quite cumbersome, weighing in at 5.27 pounds. It also has a dim screen and poor webcam quality. $799.
At less than $250, the Acer Aspire 1 is one of the value-rich laptops with full 1920 x 1080 HD resolution on a 14-inch screen. It also has boasts of an Intel Celeron Quad-Core processor (up to 2.2 GHz) and 4 GB RAM, which ensures lag-free connection, which is a huge advantage over competitors in this price range. However, this model only has 32 GB of internal storage but makes up for it with the amount of port space, with a USB 3.0, two 2.0. ports, as well as an HDMI input. $199.
The combination of portability and budget-friendly pricing makes the HP Stream 14-inch laptop a nice selection for college students. With a 14-inch display, a lightweight plastic frame, an Intel Celeron 1.6GHz, dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM, this laptop is built with the student in mind. However, it offers little in the way of storage with a measly 32GB eMMC drive. It costs $209 on Amazon.
According to TechRadar, the Asus ZenBook S isn’t the world’s thinnest, most affordable or even most uniquely designed laptop, but is more than capable of surviving the life of a college student. Its ErgoLift Hinge boosts comfort, cooling and sound. It also boasts of a nearly bezel-less display along with a reasonable starting price. However, its ErgoLift Hinge really wholly unique. It’s $1,499 at Amazon.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is powerful and convenient. It can operate in 4 modes: Laptop, ideal for typing notes and surfing the web; Tablet, for app use; Studio, for handwriting notes and sketching with the Surface Pen; and View, for watching movies or presenting. With a 7th generation Intel Dual Core i5 Processor, 256GB of storage and 8GB RAM, it can multitask with finesse. But the display still wobbles when you touch it and battery can drain under heavy GPU load. Intel Core i7 at $2,499.
This Dell laptop has an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor 3.5GHz, 6MB Cache and 16GB DDR3L SDRAM system memory. According to Lifewire, it also carries an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 4GB GDDR5 discrete memory for high frame-per-second rates. It also has a 15.6-inch touchscreen that can be used for both gaming and productivity. But this laptop weighs at around six pounds, can run hot and has short battery life. $699.99.
HP's Envy 13t boasts of one the best keyboards in the industry. It has a lightweight aluminum chassis and can last almost 10 hours. The HP Envy 13T is powered by a fast 8th Gen Core i5 or a Core i7 CPU and a PCIe SSD, giving its performance a really strong kick. However, it’s audio left a lot to be desired and the screen had accurate, but bland colors. It costs $849.99.
For the price range that it is in, the aluminum build and the full-HD display of the VivoBook E403NA is unheard of. In spite of its thin (17.9mm) and light (1.5kg) profile, it has a range of ports including two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C port. Its battery life lasts 14 hours, good for an entire day at school. However, it suffers from an erratic touchpad as well as a poor webcam. $399.99 on Newegg.
The PowerSpec 1510 is portable enough to bring to school and yet, powerful enough to play your favorite games on. You get an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, a 1080p G-Sync display and a number of ports. Its Core i7 CPU works well for multitasking while doing homework, or for when class takes precedence over your WoW character. However, its audio isn’t up to par and there aren’t any gaming utility software. $1,399.
The Dell Precision 5520 offers good quality, with solid components, a fine screen and welcoming ergonomics. It has excellent design, a high-quality keyboard and dedicated Nvidia Quadro graphics. Best of all, the Precision 5520 lasts a full 11 hours and 57 minutes on a charge, giving you more time to finish schoolwork or a presentation. But it doesn’t come cheap at $1,399. And like-priced rivals boast of more powerful specs.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is rugged but light; fast but efficient; modern but still retains that familiarity. But I wouldn’t recommend it for the average student; it’s too expensive, there are too many configurations, and the battery life just isn’t good enough. But for a vibrant 1080p or 2K display, an incredibly slim body, the powerful 8th Gen Intel Core CPU and one of the best keyboards you’ll find, it’s worth every penny. $1,367.
The ThinkPad T480 has an extended battery life that runs for more than 17 hours on a single charge, perfect for all-night coding sessions. It has an 8th Gen Core Intel CPU and 8GB of RAM that offer plenty of powerful performance, and the laptop boasts of the latest Thunderbolt 3 ports for charging and quick data transfer. The 1080p screen, however, is dull, and it's heavier than its competitors. $859.
Enoteca Maria is brought to you by Jody Scaravella, the man behind the famed cookbook “Nonna’s House.” With a lively ambience, the foodies make their way to this little gem on Hyatt St. for an authenticity that is not compromised. The menu changes nearly each night depending on which nonna is heading the kitchen. The Lasagna de Adelina, which is a sumptuous layering of zucchini, basil pesto and cream cheese, all topped with parmesan and the torta di vaniglia di Melissa are must-tries. $25-50.
In a city that takes pride in offering ethnic eats, Angkor is one of the few authentic places where you can find Cambodian cuisine in Manhattan. This gem’s menu offers classics such as grilled, marinated meat skewers, sour soups, spicy salads, and curries. Angkor also offers some unique items such as stir-fried specialties from Siem Reap or the nyoam, a Khmer noodle dish sauced with thick red fish curry. $25-50.
Don’t let Arharn Thai’s look fool you as the place serves up a bounty of bold specialties that includes their excellent gai yang served with a side of sweet chili sauce; or the nua nam tok — a warm salad of grilled steak tossed with roasted rice powder, red onion slivers, and fragrant herbs. The yum woon sen brings together glass noodles with stir-fried ground pork, fresh chilies, and a generous amount of bright dressing redolent of lime and fish sauce. Under $25.
El Molcajete is a Mexican gem that features a bright and cheerful ambience that makes for a dining experience you won’t soon forget. Kick off the day with a breakfast of delicious egg sandwiches. Then, lunch brings you mouthwatering tacos, tortas and cemitas served with smoky red and spicy green sauces. You should also try the sumptuous gordita or the tender cabeza de res (cow head) and gamey barbacoa (barbecue goat) tacos. Price range is under $25.
El Parador is a neighborhood staple, boasting of more than 50 years of success. They have a fantastic menu and staff that is both warm and hospitable, making El Parador a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike. Try the taco trays and nachos, the aguachile de camaron, the baby-back ribs served with tequila-chili guajillo salsa, cabbage slaw, and braised camote. And you should not leave without trying their margaritas. $25-$50.
Cotenna is brought to New York’s restaurant scene by seasoned chef, Roberto Passon. Whatever Cotenna lacks in size, it makes up with personality, welcoming service and fine food. The food, ranging from the pastas to the cicchetti, contorni and carpaccio e zuppe, are all executed with care and are reasonably priced. Vongole oreganata, a classic Italo-American dish, is also given a fresh twist with a delicate breadcrumb stuffing and lemon and oregano. $25-50.
Dumpling Galaxy has earned a reputation for making all kinds of dumpling variations and entrées that must be tried to be believed. Have your fill of a dumpling feast, stuffed chock-full of duck and mushroom, spicy-sour squash, or lamb and celery fragrant of lemongrass and spices. There are also larger dishes that are worth your while such as those cold, thick, green bean noodles soaked in tart black vinegar with raw white sesame seeds, cilantro, cucumbers, and wood-ear mushrooms. Under $25.
At this boisterous and often-packed joint, dim sum is a well-orchestrated dance between eagerly waiting crowds and waiters whisking steaming carts in between large round tables. In spite of the frenzied atmosphere, the service was quick and helpful. Try the plump shrimp siu mai and rice noodles wrapped around crunchy whole shrimp and smothered in a sweet-salty soy sauce. You shouldn’t also miss the Singapore mei fun — a mound of vermicelli noodles with shrimp, pork, and scallions. $25-$50.
With traditional tapas and pintxos, the menu at this Spanish restaurant
features small plates such as cold water-brined boquerón, drizzled with grapeseed oil and vinegar or tender razor clams, laced with white bean purée, piment d'Espelette and lemon zest. The traditional tortilla with thinly sliced potatoes and mayonnaise is also packed with flavor! $25-$50.
This East Village hangout is best defined as hyper-focused. In fact, the tight menu is split into just two categories: tagines and couscous. Choose from six couscous preparations ranging from lamb and chicken to lobster, while four tagines allure from their vessels. Once decided, an array of tangy salads and sides make their way to you. The delightful fragrance within these tagines seduces, as the lamb and spiced couscous satisfy in all their Mediterranean goodness. $25-$50.
Kiki’s is the place to be for home-style Greek cooking at peerless prices. Everything tastes right, from the tender braised and grilled octopus to the moist and smoky lamb chops. I suggest you get the superb spanakopita that balances flaky filo with just the right amount of chopped spinach, to go with onion and feta. Saganaki is also enticing with salty and springy Greek cheese wrapped in filo that stays crisp underneath a drenching of honey and sesame seeds. $25-$50.
Simply put, Katz's is a true NY institution. Crowded with a revolving door of characters ranging from tourists to hipsters and everyone in between, all vying for the food that’s been served well for decades — the matzo ball soup, pastrami sandwiches and potato latkes. Walk in, get a ticket and make sure not to lose it, and then pick up your food at the counter and eat it at a first-come first-get table or go for a less dizzying experience at a waitress-served table. Under $25.
If you’re craving for Laotian cuisine served up in family-style plates, then Khe-Yo is the place. While the wait is long, I assure you it’s worth it.
Start with a plate of rice noodles and bits of slow-cooked pork in a coconut-rich yellow curry with herbs, bean sprouts, and banana blossom. Also place the banana leaf-steamed red snapper on your radar. It is paired with crisped artichoke hearts, Chinese broccoli, and the house sauce made of mixed chilies, cilantro, fish sauce, and garlic. $25-$50.
This is the best ramen above 59th Street. Why mind the simple decorations when the items that come from the kitchen are sublime? The menu is filled with classics like pan-fried gyoza served with sesame seed-flecked dipping sauce. Shio, shoyu, and miso ramen are delightful, but the tonkatsu ramen is something special. This piping-hot distillation of pork bones is rich and stocked with chasu, pickled bamboo shoots, green onion, and a soft-boiled egg. Under $25.
J.G. Melon is a classic and coveted New York institution where most come for its famous burger — the warm toasted bun topped with meat cooked on a griddle to rosy pink that comes with onions, pickles, and crispy crinkle-cut fries. But there is more to this Upper East corner haunt than just the mouthwatering burger. You should also try the salads, steaks, and eggs and finish it all off with a chocolate chip-studded layer cake. Under $25.
As I walked into Hunan House, I couldn’t help but marvel at the crisp interior with dark, ornately carved wood and thick linen tablecloths. But then I snapped out of it and got my fill of what I actually came for: authentic Hunanese fare. Don't miss the starter of sautéed sour string beans featuring minced pork, chilies, ginger, and garlic or the spicy sliced fish-Hunan style, perfectly cooked and served in a delicious pool of fiery red sauce and plated with tender bulbs of bok choy. Under $25.
The R11's minimalist design may not appeal to everyone but inside is where most of its value lies. The R11 has an Intel quad-core N3160 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, making it a highly capable workhorse. Add to that an SD card slot, which is ideal to store the apps you download from Google Play. It is just 0.8 inches thick, weighs 2.8 pounds, and has an 11.6-inch screen, making it is ultra-portable. The R11 also has tablet functionality. $259.
The JBL Flip 4 is a notch higher than its predecessor, producing better sound and longer battery life as well as water-resistance. It also has speakerphone capabilities and tougher fabric covering. But while its bass has improved, it’s still lacks that real punch. However, in spite of that, the Flip 4 remains one of the best in its class, both in size and price point. $99.95.
Don’t let the budget price of the Lenovo Legion Y520 fool you. It’s an excellent mid-range gamer that is powered by a 7th generation Intel Core processor, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics. It also has a 15.6-inch HD display, albeit dim. Harman Audio with Dolby Premium adds two-watt speakers made to give you immersive gameplay experience. Thermal engineering on the Y520 also puts strategically placed fans and vents to keep hot air continuously moving out the underside of the laptop. $815.
HP Pavilion Power 15 is a gaming laptop that is just as capable of functioning as a daily productive device. It has a Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive and an AMD Radeon RX 550 graphics card to go with 2GB dedicated memory, which means it can play the latest games and churn out reports if need be. It weighs four pounds and can last 10 hours on a single charge. However, it also suffers from a dim display and a subpar audio system. $832 on Amazon.
The GL72M 7RDX-800 gaming laptop by MSI is a powerful machine that comes with a 17.3-inch HD display that has improved nominally. You also get an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD for faster application loading time. With NVIDIA’s GTX 1050 2G GDDR5 graphics card, this machine handles high-definition games easily. It also has Cooler Boost 4 tech that adds six heat pipes between the GPU and CPU, so it can deal with the heat. $899 on Amazon.
The Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY gives you powerful all-around performance. It boasts of a stunning 15.6-inch 4K ultra high definition touchscreen, great design and I/0 port collection. Powering all these features are a 6th generation Intel quad-core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive backed by an 8GB SSD, which frankly, is a little bit mean. It can last 10 hours on a charge. $849 on Amazon.
HideMyAss is a VPN provider owned by Czech anti-malware firm AVG. It offers a massive server network with servers located in more than 248 countries and territories all over the world. All this means is that if your needs include being in a particular location to access a specific service or to have your own services be accessible, then HideMyAss is the provider for you. Its Android app did really well, I didn’t experience any IP leaks and best of all, I was able to access Netflix US.
The Lenovo Y700 is ideal for multimedia and mainstream gaming, but those seeking a dedicated gaming rig would be easily turned off by its limited build options and short battery life. However, it features JBL dual-channel speakers with a Dolby Home Surround certification and a 3.0W subwoofer. It also has a 15.6in1920 x 1080 HD anti-glare display and NVIDIA GeForce 960M graphics card, ensuring sharp visual quality. This will also stay cool, thanks to integrated thermal fans underneath. $925.
The Dell Inspiron i7577 Gaming Laptop is a well built computer with simple design lines, a nice keyboard, trackpad and a huge battery. It performs well in daily tasks and games, and stays quieter and cooler than most. But I wasn't impressed with the speakers or the camera. It is powered by a quad core kaby lake Intel core i5 processor with 8GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM. It is equipped with a 6GB of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics processor. $948 on Amazon.
It may be small, but the 20.3MP PowerShot SX730 HS has a lens reach that does better than what most professionals can do with their DSLRs. This camera has a focal range equivalent to 24-960mm in 35mm terms. Another thing that I liked is the LCD that can be flipped to face the front. You can also shoot videos, but it’s limited to Full HD clips, as opposed to the 4K option that's present in some budget models. Autofocus performance and image quality is very good. $379 on Amazon.
The most useful advantage the WX220 has is it can offer an optical zoom of at least 10x, its lens spanning a focal range going from 25-250mm (in 35mm terms). It’s virtually a no-frills camera, and the 2.7-inch LCD screen is small compared to other devices in the market. But what it does, it does very well, with images coming out bright with a decent amount of detail. If you want a small camera with a bigger-than-average reach, take a second look at the WX220. $145 on Amazon.
Don’t let the SX430’s size fool you. It provides a 45x optical zoom, beginning at an ultra-wide 24mm. It's a shame though that the LCD screen is fixed and that there is no EVF, but these are all compromises to achieve its compact size. The lens is a little noisy in use as it goes through its zoom range, and the 0.5fps burst rate means it's not the best choice for action, but when it comes to image quality, the camera does very well for a small-sensor model.
This Wi-Fi-ready model features enough control to please different kinds of users, with the advantage of a 30x optical zoom plus Raw shooting. It performs well in both stills and video. A nice touch is the inclusion of an electronic viewfinder – although it is rather tiny – just above the LCD screen, as well as a lens control ring. It's 49-area autofocus is reliable enough, while image quality is generally very good, with the metering system balancing a variety of scenes. $398 on Amazon.
The G9 X Mark II is a beast under the bonnet, with a 1-inch sensor coupled with a wide-angle 28-84mm equivalent lens, the maximum aperture of which at wide-angle, is a respectable f/2. Albeit there's no viewfinder, but the 3-inch LCD on the rear responds to touch, which ensures that physical controls can be kept to a minimum. All in all, this is a neat-looking, feature-filled compact camera that can produce superior images to a smartphone, which justifies its spot on the PowerShot roster. $429.
This model has the edge over the PowerShot G9 X Mark II of 4K video recording. The lens starts out wider too, at a setting equal to 24mm compared to Canon's 28mm. There is no built-in EVF and the body's smooth finish makes for an unsteady handgrip. However, a responsive touchscreen and dual control rings give you a pleasing experience, while the 24-72mm (equivalent) lens is one of the brightest around. $598 on Amazon.
While The RX100 II sticks to the similar idea of a 1in sensor and loads of technology housed a firm body, it adds a tilting screen to make tough compositions easier, and a back-illuminated sensor for more efficient light capture. Other changes that make it more appealing than its predecessor include a hotshoe and Wi-Fi with NFC. It doesn’t have 4K video and super-speedy burst shooting options, but it’s still a reliable point-and-shoot performer that is well worth the price.
The TG-5 is an everything-proof model, able to withstand dust, water and even cold weather. It focuses on ease of use, but still manages to grab the spotlight by having an impressive spec sheet: from Raw shooting and 20fps burst capture to both 4K video and 120fps slow-motion recording in Full HD. The TG-5 is filled with tech, and most can be utilized in a point-and-shoot manner. Don't let the sensor's 12MP pixel count scare you, as this was done to help maintain image quality. $379.
The Amazon Fire Stick (or Amazon Fire TV Stick) is the company’s second generation of its most affordable video streaming device. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it does make a good product even better. The Alexa voice commands are a great way to navigate, and the extra speed from the new processor and improved Wi-Fi makes it easy to use. Improvements may be subtle but they make the Amazon Fire Stick that much better. $39.99 on Amazon.
This dessert joint that is located in Koreatown offers excellent taro and green tea soft serve. It comes out of the machine in the round cylinder style, compared to the more common, spiky style. Besfren also carries a wide array of ginseng products in the store, in case you’re looking for those things. $5 per cup.
Binki Cafe is a cozy soft serve place in Chinatown that places wigs of cotton candy on top of your ice cream for great-looking creations. They have 11 different characters to choose from, and each is priced at $7.99. They also have colorful sundaes and galaxy beverages as well as smoothies and juices. Despite sounding like a place made for a five-year-old, the cotton candy is optional, and you can also just get some normal soft serve.
An iconic place like Carvel doesn’t need a whole lot of introduction. It’s classic and has been serving up cool desserts since 1934 for good reason. I often come here for something simple like vanilla or chocolate soft serve, topped with chocolate or rainbow sprinkles. But there are times when I can’t decide what flavor I want to try next. I just adore the creamy, light taste of their soft serve!
You simply can't miss this super millennial pink place. The place felt vibrant and filled with decorative art pieces. I tried the vanilla and matcha combination and it tasted sensational. The matcha did not have the powdery taste and the vanilla simply accentuated the matcha flavor. This place should definitely be on your bucket list if ever you're around town.
Craving for soft serve with a lasso-shaped churro sticking out of it? That’s exactly what you can get at this spot in Food Gallery 32 in K-Town. The ice cream itself is from Blue Marble, and you can take your pick from vanilla, matcha, and swirl flavors, plus a few churro toppings like Fruity Pebbles and coconut. You can also just get soft serve, or a sundae. If you do add a churro, I suggest sticking to the plain one.
Dominique Ansel Kitchen is the place where you can enjoy two curious kinds of soft serve — burrata and watermelon. The burrata hints of a creamy, tangy, less sweet version of vanilla, and is served in a thin honey cone with a strawberry at the bottom. The watermelon on the other hand, is served inside a hollowed-out slice of an actual watermelon, with flecks of dark chocolate placed like seeds on the outside. I liked the burrata better.
The next time you find yourself in Union Square, stop by the Dairy Queen Grill & Chill for a cone of soft serve, a parfait with hot fudge, or the beloved Blizzard, if you’re in the mood for a large cup of ice cream mixed with candy. This place maybe called DQ but nothing will disqualify you from having a great dining experience at less cost. Price range is under $10.
Greecologies is a Greek yogurt place that serves irresistible yoghurt. But what most don’t know is that they also have soft serve. It’s thick, creamy vanilla and matcha soft serve, which you can also get topped off with olive oil and sea salt or homemade granola. Get a swirl and enjoy it out on their secret patio. Price ranges from $11 to $30.
There are three reasons why one must visit L&B Spumoni Gardens at least once in your visit to the NYC. First, there’s the pizza, which should be enough to make you come back over and over. Then there’s the famous spumoni (Italian ice cream) and lastly, their very good soft serve. A visit here should involve all three. Price range is under $10.
Lilia’s soft serve gelato is something worth paying the cozy place a visit to. They have a chocolate and vanilla version that comes with their own set of toppings, but the dessert that totally blew me away was their vanilla gelato with lemon ice. Here’s a tip: you can get it in their back cafe, without having to wait two hours for a table in the main restaurant. Price range is $31 to $60.
Soft serve is awesome all by itself. But soft serve from an airstream trailer that comes with a view of Manhattan? That’s on a whole ‘notha level my friend! This place is located below the William Vale hotel in Williamsburg, and the Skinny Dip, Tony's Summer Shandy, Southern Fried and the Dirty Dipped Waffles are all I have been thinking about since my last visit. Price range is $11 to $30.
The Jaybird X3s can fit snuggly in anyone’s ear, due to the customizable options. They also come with three sizes of ear fins that keep the earphones in place during a spirited workout. The in-ear speaker design features a 6mm driver that generates rich and balanced bass and bright highs. You can also customize the sound in the MySound app and save your settings to play on any device they are paired with. The 100mAh battery can last up to eight hours of playtime. $129 on Amazon.
Considering the low price, there are some concessions to the Creative Sound Blaster Jam such as the build quality being cheaper and the headphones not folding for travel. Earcup padding is also minimal, but does the job. These headphones, however, are light at 8.8 oz. Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC are supported, with a range of around 30 feet. You’ll get up to 12 hours of use and it can be charged through a USB cable. Sound quality is pretty good, powered by 32 mm NeoDymium drivers. $38 on Amazon.
When it comes to sound quality, these headphones deliver. They house 40mm electro-dynamic drivers that produce rich and balanced sound with high clarity and crisp mids. They can be used as wired headphones, but when used over Bluetooth, the sound quality remains outstanding. Battery life lasts 19 hours per charge. Sleek and sturdy, they are made of metal with lambskin leather on the headband and feature memory foam earpads. $234 on Amazon.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless headphone is comfortable, packed with features and performs very well. It’s relatively lightweight, has impressive noise-cancelling tech. It also has touch controls, good battery life and performs well as a headset. However, while its sound quality is great for Bluetooth, it still lacks definition. $294 on Amazon.
I found the Major II Bluetooth’s wired connection to sound a little better especially since the Major II's Bluetooth connection produces this audible hiss during more solemn tracks. If that sounds like it’s a deal breaker, then you’re better off with other options. Nevertheless, these headphones offer a great portable package for those looking for a long-lasting and great-sounding headphone. $90 on Amazon.
While the soft serve at Mah Ze Dahr are undoubtedly great, the toppings and cones place this joint on a whole different level. The housemade waffle cone is thin but never gets soggy. The toppings, on the other hand, are like pieces of their chewy, salty chocolate chip cookies, that are so tasty and flavorful that you’ll probably ask for a separate cup of them.
The best way to conclude a pizza party is with ice cream sundaes. And Nicoletta is a pizza spot located the East Village where you can do just that. They serve a number of versions, with toppings such as toasted marshmallows and chocolate-covered espresso beans, all having vanilla gelato as the base. Price range is $11 to $30.
Choose a cereal from their extensive list, and then, they’ll grind it up and blend it into soft serve. You also have your pick from toppings such as fruit, nuts, candy, cookie dough, and drizzles like honey and grape jelly. The number of possible combinations is endless, oftentimes leaving my head spinning. At the end of the day, it’s a delightful dessert experience.
The pickle ice cream lived up to the hype. It started out smooth, sweet and creamy, but as it swirled in my mouth, the pickle taste kicked in, and it ended up tasting refreshing, much like a sorbet. The pickle aftertaste stayed in my mouth for a while and that wasn’t a bad thing at all.
The milk and honey soft serve is out of this world. The combination of flavors and textures is near flawless; the smooth milky ice cream complemented by an addicting sweet and salty honey brittle, brittle shortbread, and crackling meringue pieces. And of course the whole thing is drizzled in pure honey. As a dessert-loving fiend, I would definitely come here often as long as this dessert remains on the menu. Price range is $11-$30.
The fior di latte soft serve at Martina is thick and creamy. If that was not enticing enough, it is made even more sinful when paired with chocolate-amaro sauce and amarena cherries. But in the oft chance that you want something more simple but just as refreshing, you can also get your soft serve in affogato form.
Pay this little counter in Chelsea Market a visit and enjoy their Middle Eastern take on soft serve made with goat’s milk and sesame tahini. The goat milk/tahini ice cream is so balanced and well done without being sharp or pungent like goat dairy can sometimes be. And then you can top it off with more tahini, along with some optional halva crumbles.
Seamore’s in Nolita is a great sit-down spot, but if you didn’t know by now, it has a little window where you can get amazing vegan soft serve from Oddfellows to-go.
Ray’s Candy Store is a small spot off Tompkins Square Park where the walls are covered with newspaper articles and pictures of all the offings that you can order — from ice cream to a variety of fried things such as Oreos and beignets. Ray, who’s been at the helm of this cozy place since the 1970s, may or may not be there when you visit, but irregardless, this is a great place for some classic soft serve in a (coffee) cup or cone.
If you don’t enjoy soft serve at the beach, then I suggest you do a fair amount of soul searching. Our go-to spot in Coney Island is located right on the boardwalk at Paul’s Daughter. I suggest getting chocolate and vanilla swirl in a cone and wash off in the water after a quarter of it melts all over your hands.
Patisserie Chanson is a French bakery with a few rotating flavors of incredible soft serve. This includes a strawberry one topped off with basil, rhubarb, and sweet pieces of bread. The black sesame soft serve (around $9 or $10) was just as amazing. The pieces of kouign amann on the soft serve are delicious and it had such great consistency and strong sesame flavor, and it came in a convenient paper cone so you could hold it without getting your hands dirty.
You’ve probably seen Taiyaki’s fish-shaped waffle cones, which are loaded up with custard or red bean as well as ice cream. Soft serve comes in chocolate, vanilla, matcha, and black sesame flavors although you can also just get some ice cream by itself in a cup. The ice cream was creamy, rich, and paired well for both an aesthetically pleasing and tasteful dessert.
This charger stands upright and delivers a wide charging area, so you can place your phone in landscape or portrait while charging it. It also has a micro-USB cable. It lets you charge a number of the newest Samsung phones at 1.4 times faster than regular Qi wireless charging. If you’re buying this charger for the “fast wireless charging” option, use it with a modern USB adapter that can provide more electricity (up to 2.4 amps) and ensure the quickest possible charging time. $23 on Amazon.
Built with Samsung’s devices in mind, the Seneo will support fast charging that’s 1.4 times quicker than a usual charging cord. In addition, the Qi-enabled Seneo desktop charger supports Apple’s iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X with its hardware at normal wireless charging speeds. Also handy is a foreign body detection alert should a magnet or metal case be nearby that can shut off charging, so no damage is done to the hardware. Get it for $16 on Amazon.
The Yootech 7.5W wireless charger is a great choice for budget-wary techies. Measuring only 0.47 inches in thickness, the Yootech delivers without compromising features. Built-in protection against device overheating with Intelligent Protect Technology guarantees smartphones don’t become unusually warm. This wireless charger can provide up to 7.5 watts of power for Apple’s iPhone 8 and X lineup, as well as Samsung’s latest Galaxy series devices beginning with the S7. $14 on Amazon.
The SurgeDisk wireless charger is styled to be appealing and functional. The Bamboo design measures just 4 x 4 x .27 inches and weighing 1.3 ounces. It also has smart function, due to a LED indicator that lacks the intensity of other products, which means it doesn’t disturb your sleep. With complete Qi-charging functions, it is compatible with all Qi-enabled devices. However, I recommend that any case over 5mm in thickness should be detached before being placed on the pad. $22 on Amazon.
Powered by a two-amp charging speed, the Choetech T511 Qi Wireless Charger Pad cuts down on costs by not including a wall charging plug or cable. A solid blue indicator will also let you know when a device is properly placed on the pad and has started charging. The Choetech is available for a number of Qi-enabled Android devices such as the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S7/S8, as well as the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X. Unfortunately, fast charging isn’t included. $13 on Amazon.
The RAVPower offers one of the fastest charging speeds on the market — 50% faster than most! Credit its cooling system that diffuses heat 15% faster than other models and protects against overcharging, overvoltage, and overheating. The device works with the latest iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models. Its dual-coil power bank lets you charge your phone in both landscape or portrait mode. However, it can’t charge through metal cases, or cases thicker than 3 mm. $35 on Amazon.
The ElleSye 3-Coil Qi Wireless Charger Stand Pad works with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X. Its three built-in coils deliver a larger sensor area and easier alignment on the standing pad than others. While the speed may not be fast charging, the Qi-enabled charger functions with other devices, including Samsung’s Note 8 and S8 series phones. The hardware offers non-slip feet on the bottom and a non-slip mat in the front to hold a device firmly in place while in use. $14 on Amazon.
The Baseus car charger has everything you want in a wireless phone charger for your car. It’s Qi-enabled, so any device that supports that protocol will work with this one. They’ve advertised it as fast charging, but note that that fast-charging capability, which Baseus says is 1.4x the speed of standard wireless chargers, works only with the Samsung Galaxy line, including the Note 8, Note 5, S6 Edge, S7, and the S7 edge. $20 on Amazon.
The Satechi wireless charging pad is a circular beauty. Capable of Qi 2.0 fast charging, it will charge a compatible device 1.4x faster than a conventional wireless charging pad. The LED indicator light tells you if the device is charging or fully charged. The premium aluminum build feels sturdy. It’s available in gold, silver, space gray and rose gold. It measures 4.4 x 7.5 x 1 inches and weighs only seven ounces. $30 on Amazon.
The Mermaid Inn has a great backyard that’s surrounded by a white picket fence and filled with plants. I went for Happy Hour, when oysters are $1.25 and wines by the glass are $7. The service was amazing, and the food was good. The Oysters were very fresh, and at happy hour prices, it's a steal. But if you want a great seat in the backyard, you should get here early, because the place gets easily packed. $11-30.
Although there are a lot of Italian spots to dine at whenever you find yourself in the Fort Greene area, you can’t go wrong with Evelina. Here, you’ll get to sit at a table on the sidewalk and have your fill of the risotto and the ravioli that they serve oh so well. You can then finish your meal off with the pistachio parfait, which was so smooth and delicious. $31-$60.
Greenwood Park is an ideal place for a large hang outside. This South Slope beer garden has bocce courts and enough space to perhaps play a game of hide and-seek. There’s also some solid bar food, a quaint string-light setup that helps set the understated vibe, and plenty of picnic tables to just chill at. $11-$30.
Mister Dips is a burger place in a retro airstream trailer, and it’s in a public park that’s can be reached after climbing up a set of stairs underneath the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg. You can chill out on the grass and stare at the Manhattan skyline while you munch on a burger and finish a meal off with some soft serve with salted peanut butter sauce. $11-$30.
Around Union Square, you’ll notice the building with columns at the north end that looks like a Roman bathhouse. That’s where you’ll find USQ Bocce. It’s a big indoor/outdoor restaurant located outside of Union Square Park with a lot of tables and a few bocce courts on the patio out front. They serve great pizza, pasta, and crudo, which goes well with the negronis and spritzes. $11-$30.
If you fancy a spacious spot that boasts of enjoyable food, then Extra Fancy is as good as they come. The seafood here hits the spot all year long, but it is during the summer that it really works its magic. That’s because that’s when they have their big back patio set up, they stay open late and their lobster bisque fries will make you wonder why you ever tried any other French fries. $11-$30.
The extensive cocktail menu is Leyenda's claim to fame. Those who are into crafty multi-layered adult beverages would really enjoy this spot. Since most of the specialty cocktails have at least five or more ingredients, it may take some time to receive your drinks. For food, I went with the papusas. They did not blow my mind but they did hit the spot. $11-$30.
An Australian bar that has a big roof with scenic views of Manhattan, Northern Territory is located in Greenpoint. If that’s fine by you, you’ll be rewarded handsomely with one of the better casual rooftop joints in Brooklyn. They serve brunch and dinner and have plenty of room for you and the rest of your friends. Price range is $11-$30.
Sauvage is a great spot for a cocktail date that inevitably turns into a full-blown dinner. Their cocktails are inventive and reasonably priced. For starters, I had the winter squash with burrata and in the context of all the flavors, it was great. For the main, I had the chicken with hen of the woods, broccoli rabe and brown butter. The chicken was cooked perfectly, breaded and fried to a wonderful crisp. The mushroom sauce made it quintessentially French and delicious. $11-$30.
This rooftop bar at the Thompson Hotel on the LES is for you. It does get crowded on the weekends, so you better show up early to enjoy things like beer slushies, Japanese street snacks, and ping pong. All in all, it’s a fun spot to sip on a frozen beer, play some board games and be entertained by the droves of NYC tour busses passing by.
The outdoor part of Marlow & Sons isn’t enormous, but that’s where its charm lies. It’s more intimate. In the front of the space, there’s a cozy cafe where you can sit and watch the people of Williamsburg walk on by. Afterwards, you can take a leisurely walk along the waterfront, and perhaps get some ice cream at OddFellows,. Marlow & Sons has been around for a while, and it’s still one of my favorite spots in this part of Brooklyn.