Trade the Tired Tools for Trendy Tech this Father’s Day with Epson

Whether dad’s a movie buff, sports fan, the family photo enthusiast, or designated planner, Epson’s Father’s Day lineup offers a range of easy-to-use features and must-have features for dad:

  • For Big-Screen Movies, Sports and More: An alternative to a traditional TV or flat panel display, Epson’s Home Cinema 4000 projector brings big-screen viewing to the living room for a range of 4K1 and HDR102 content.

Whether dad’s a movie buff, sports fan, the family photo enthusiast, or designated planner, Epson’s Father’s Day lineup offers a range of easy-to-use features and must-have features for dad:

For Big-Screen Movies, Sports and More: An alternative to a traditional TV or flat panel display, Epson’s Home Cinema 4000 projector brings big-screen viewing to the living room for a range of 4K1 and HDR102 content. The Home Cinema 4000 delivers the ultimate combination of color-rich performance, sharpness and detail on screens up to 300-inches diagonal, allowing dad to enjoy his favorite movies, sports, games, and more with life-like imagery in every scene. For the Family Photo Enthusiast: Deemed the World’s Fastest Photo Scanner3, the FastFoto FF-640 enables dad to take that trip down memory lane he’s been procrastinating and scan the hundreds of photos tucked away in the attic with ease. The FastFoto FF-640 digitizes photos as fast as one photo per second4 while automatically restoring faded photos. Dad can now easily preserve and create digital photo albums to share with relatives via the cloud or on social media such as Facebook® and Instagram™. In addition, he can also utilize the FF-640 to digitize important documents and records as well as children’s artwork to be shared for years to come. For the Travel Planner Dad: The compact Expression Premium XP-6000 delivers fast print speeds and superior photo quality, ideal for the multi-tasking dad printing everything from travel itineraries, rental car reservations and boarding passes, to customized coloring pages to keep kids entertained on the road. Dad can also print 4″ x 6″ photos in as fast as 15 seconds3 to preserve the family vacation memories. He can do all this while multitasking and enjoying hassle-free, PC-free printing from his iPad®, iPhone® and Android™ tablets or smartphone devices, so he can plan and print without missing out on playtime with the kids.

The Home Cinema 4000 ($1,999.99 MSRP), FastFoto FF-640 ($649.99 MSRP) and Expression Premium XP-6000 ($149.99 MSRP) are available now through select e-tailers and retailers nationwide and the Epson online store. For more information, please visit www.epson.com.

About Epson
Epson is a global technology leader dedicated to connecting people, things and information with its original efficient, compact and precision technologies. With a lineup that ranges from inkjet printers and digital printing systems to 3LCD projectors, watches and industrial robots, the company is focused on driving innovations and exceeding customer expectations in inkjet, visual communications, wearables and robotics.

Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, the Epson Group comprises more than 80,000 employees in 86 companies around the world, and is proud of its contributions to the communities in which it operates and its ongoing efforts to reduce environmental impacts.

Epson America, Inc., based in Long Beach, Calif., is Epson’s regional headquarters for the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. To learn more about Epson, please visit: epson.com. You may also connect with Epson America on Facebook (facebook.com/Epson), Twitter (twitter.com/EpsonAmerica), YouTube (youtube.com/EpsonAmerica), and Instagram (instagram.com/EpsonAmerica).

*These products use only genuine Epson-brand cartridges. Other brands of ink cartridges and ink supplies are not compatible and, even if described as compatible, may not function properly.

† Black and color print speeds are measured in accordance with ISO/IEC 24734. Actual print times will vary based on factors including system configuration, software, and page complexity. For more information, visit www.epson.com/printspeed

14K Enhancement Technology (4Ke) shifts each pixel diagonally to double Full HD resolution. Resolution is Full HD in 3D Mode.
2 HDR performance available with select devices. For more information see Epson.com/HDRCompatibility.
3 In its class, as compared to other consumer photo scanners priced under $1,000 MSRP USD (sold into the United States and Canada as of November 2015).
4 Color photo in Draft Mode on Premium Photo Paper Glossy measured from start of paper feed. Actual print times will vary based on factors including system configuration, software, and page complexity. For more information, visit www.epson.com/printspeed.

EPSON and Expression are registered trademarks, and EPSON Exceed Your Vision is a registered logomark of Seiko Epson Corporation. Small-in-One and FastFoto are registered trademark of Epson America, Inc. iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Android is a trademark of Google Inc. Wi-Fi Direct® is a registered trademark and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ is a trademark of Wi-Fi Alliance®. All other product and brand names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Epson disclaims any and all rights in these marks. Copyright 2018 Epson America, Inc.

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SOURCE Epson America, Inc.

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Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite gets certified with 19:9 notch display, dual rear cameras

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is currently working on multiple budget and mid-range devices, including the Redmi 6 and Redmi 6A that were certified by TENAA last month. Now, the Mi A2 Lite has been certified by the IMDA with the model number M1805D1SG.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is currently working on multiple budget and mid-range devices, including the Redmi 6 and Redmi 6A that were certified by TENAA last month. Now, the Mi A2 Lite has been certified by the IMDA with the model number M1805D1SG.

The TENAA certification along with the IMDA certification has revealed that the device bearing the model number M1805D1SG will be launched as the Mi A2 Lite. The recently launched Mi 6X is expected to be launched as the Mi A2, succeeding the Mi A1, which was the company’s first Android One device.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite Specifications

While the Xiaomi Mi A1 was launched as an Android One device, the Mi A2 will reportedly run on Android 8.1 Oreo with MIUI 9 skinned on top. It will feature a 5.84-inch full HD+ 2.5D curved glass display with a resolution of 2280 x 1080 and an aspect ratio of 19:9. The recently launched Mi 8 series featured a notch display and the Mi A2 Lite will sport a similar notch.

In terms of performance, the Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite will be powered by the octa core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC coupled with Adreno 506 GPU. In terms of memory, the device will feature three variants – 2GB RAM + 16GB internal storage, 3GB RAM + 32GB internal storage and 4GB RAM + 64GB internal storage.

Coming to the camera department, the Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite sports a vertically placed dual rear camera setup at the back consisting of a 12MP primary camera and a secondary camera with an LED flash. On the front, the device sports a 5MP selfie camera.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite is powered by a 4,000mAh battery and connectivity options on the device include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/, Bluetooth 5, GPS and a 3.5mm audio jack. The device will sport a fingerprint sensor at the rear.

ATSC 3.0: The future of free antenna TV is coming, eventually – CNET

It’s been two years since we last wrote about ATSC 3.0, also known as “Next Gen TV,” and a lot has changed. But with the breakneck speed of change in other areas of TV — namely streaming video — the new version of free antenna TV is moving at a snail’s pace.

It’s been two years since we last wrote about ATSC 3.0, also known as “Next Gen TV,” and a lot has changed. But with the breakneck speed of change in other areas of TV — namely streaming video — the new version of free antenna TV is moving at a snail’s pace.

Certain aspects of ATSC 3.0 have been finalized, while many remain up in the air (pun intended). Several tests stations are up, or nearly so, in several markets including Phoenix and Dallas, but important details, particularly around mobile and viewer tracking, are still being hashed out.

ATSC 3.0 improves the current version of free, over-the-air TV beloved by a certain population of cord cutters who don’t want to pay for cable, satellite of streaming live TV. It promises resolutions up to Ultra HD 4K TV, high dynamic range, refresh rates up to 120Hz, better reception indoors, better mobile reception, and more. For free. So yes, ATSC 3.0 is certainly something to get excited about.

The question is when. Nobody knows for sure, but Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of communications at the National Association of Broadcasters, told CNET that we’ll likely see TVs that can actually receive ATSC 3.0 in stores by Christmas 2020. That’s the most solid estimate we’ve heard, but it’s still a ways off, and it will be even longer before all, or even most most of the current HD stations offer ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.

Here’s what we know right now.

The tech

For a deeper dive into the features of ATSC 3.0, check out our original article. Though many of the features are listed as possibilities, most are being implemented according to the latest specification.

The short version? Vastly higher quality video, for free, over the air.

Ultra HD resolutions, HDR, wide color gamut, and frame rates up to 120 frames per second, are all in the mix. It will also support current HD and older, lower resolutions, so there’s no need to convert them at the station (your TV will do it, and it typically does a good job). The use of OFDM broadcast technology instead of 8VSB used in the current system means that potentially there will be better reception indoors and near tall buildings. The HEVC “H.265” codec means higher quality and higher resolution signals can be broadcast without a massive increase in bandwidth. This is good, because there’s no increase in bandwidth. Each TV station keeps its current 6MHz band.

Beyond the image quality aspect, there are also other interesting features, like the ability to turn on your TV remotely to broadcast emergency signals (so that’s sure to wake you up), have web-enabled interactive features, and a way to include targeted ads. We’ll get to that last one in a minute.

‘Voluntary’

In November of 2017, the FCC approved ATSC 3.0 as the next generation of broadcast standard, on a “voluntary, market-driven basis” (pdf). They also required stations to continue broadcasting ATSC 1.0 (i.e. “HD”) for the time being. This is actually part of the issue as to why it’s voluntary.

During the mandatory DTV transition in the early 2000s, stations in a city were given a new frequency (channel, in other words), to broadcast digital TV, while they still broadcast analog on their old channel. These older channels were eventually reclaimed by the FCC for other uses when the proverbial switch was flipped to turn off analog broadcasts. Since that’s not happening this time, stations and markets are left to themselves how best to share or use the over-the-air spectrum in their areas.

Without a mandate, stations might not bother spending the money upgrading to 3.0. It’s easy to see the end result of this being no stations, or not enough stations, agree to the costly upgrades in equipment that ATSC 3.0 entails. If that happens, ATSC 3.0 is dead before it starts, or at best, languishes for years until a less-regulation-averse FCC makes the transition mandatory.

People involved with the transition now, however, are optimistic. Wharton at the NAB pointed out that the improvement in quality, overall coverage, and the built-in safety features mean that most stations would be enthusiastic to offer ATSC 3.0.

John Hane, president of the Spectrum Consortium (an industry group with broadcasters Sinclair, Nexstar, and Univision as members), was equally confident: “The FCC had to make it voluntary because the FCC couldn’t provide transition channels. [The industry] asked the FCC to make it voluntary. We want the market to manage it. We knew the market would demand it, and broadcasters and hardware makers in fact are embracing it.”

So far, this seems to be the case. There are test broadcasts in several markets like Phoenix, Dallas, Cleveland and Raleigh, North Carolina. Both Hane and Wharton expect stations in more markets to start broadcasting 3.0 signals throughout 2019 and 2020. These next two years should see a rapid increase in ATSC adoption.

Given the competition broadcasters have with cable, streaming, and so on, 3.0 could be a way to stabilize or even increase their income by offering better picture quality, better coverage, and most importantly, targeted ads.

Ah yes, targeted ads…

Broadcast TV will know what you’re watching

One of 3.0’s more controversial features is a “return data path,” which is a way for the station you’re watching to know you’re watching. Not only does this allow more accurate count for who’s watching what shows, but it creates the opportunity for every marketer’s dream: targeted advertising.

Ads specific to your viewing habits, income level and even ethnicity (presumed by your neighborhood, for example) could get slotted in by your local station. This is something brand-new for broadcast TV. Today, over-the-air broadcasts are pretty much the only way to watch television that doesn’t track your viewing habits. Sure, the return data path could also allow “alternative audio tracks and interactive elements,” but it’s the targeted ads and tracking many observers are worried about.

The finer details are all still being worked out, but here’s the thing: if your TV is connected to the internet, it’s already tracking you. Pretty much every app, streaming service, smart TV and cable or satellite box all track your usage to a greater or lesser extent.

While the return data path function is still in the planning stages, if we take a step back and look at how the physics of how it could work, there’s a silver lining: it almost certainly would still require internet access. Most likely there will be an opt-out or opt-in option, but if this type of thing bothers you, just don’t connect your TV to the internet. There’s no way any TV could broadcast a signal with enough power for your local TV station to receive it. I mean, I suppose there’s a darker timeline where the TVs have a 4G or 5G transmitter built in and talk to the network without any other connection from you — but that seems pretty far-fetched. That would be costly to build and costly to run.

That said, we’ll keep an eye on this for any further developments.

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Free TV on your phone

Another point of potential contention is getting ATSC 3.0 tuners into phones. At a most basic level, carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are in the business of selling you data. If suddenly you can get lots of high-quality content for free on your phone, they potentially lose money. Ever wonder why your phone doesn’t have an FM radio tuner? Same reason.

T-Mobile made a preemptive strike along those lines last September, writing a white paper (pdf) that, among other things, claims, “in light of the detrimental effects that inclusion of ATSC 3.0 can have on the cost and size of a device, the technology trade-offs required to accommodate competing technologies, and the reduced performance and spectral efficiency that it will have for other mobile bands and services, the decision as to whether to include ATSC 3.0 in a device must be left to the market to decide.”

“The market” determined you didn’t need an FM tuner in your phone, and in the few phones that had an FM tuner, if you bought it through an American provider, it was almost always disabled.

TV broadcasters, on the other hand, are huge fans of ATSC 3.0 on mobile phones. It means more potential eyeballs and, incidentally, a guarantee of active internet access for that return data path. Hane feels that tuners in phones is “inevitable,” and feels that international adoption of ATSC 3.0 will help push it forward. Wharton says that the focus now is getting TVs to work, but mobile is in the plan.

It’s highly unlikely the FCC, current or future, would make any sort of tuner mandate for mobile phones. There is talk of “gateways” that would receive the ATSC signals, and then send them over your home network via Wi-Fi for you to watch on any smartphone or tablet. A sort of Wi-Fi-enabled external tuner. In all likelihood these same “gateways” would also let your current TV see ATSC 3.0 signals.

And then there’s portable TVs, of which there are HD versions on the market, and have been for years. The next-generation ATSC 3.0 versions of these will likely get better reception in addition to the higher resolution offered by the new standard.

Cost (for you)

ATSC 3.0 is not compatible with any tuner on the market now, nor is it in any way backward compatible. To get it, you’ll eventually need either a new TV or an external tuner, neither of which are currently available. Cost, though, is also fairly irrelevant for three reasons.

ATSC 3.0 isn’t mandatory, and it doesn’t affect cable, satellite or streaming TV.
Standard HD broadcasts will continue for at least another five years.
HD tuners cost as little as $30 to $40 now, and ATSC 3.0 tuners will eventually be cheap as well.

Let’s take those point by point. The not-mandatory aspect refers to the fact that the vast majority of you reading this don’t get your TV via over-the-air broadcast and likely won’t in the future. ATSC changes nothing if you don’t use it.

For those that do get TV OTA, point 2 is key. Broadcasters have to broadcast regular old HD for five years after the launch of 3.0. In those five years you’ll probably get a new TV, or worst case, have to eventually buy an external tuner. Here’s the actual language:

“The programming aired on the ATSC 1.0 simulcast channel must be “substantially similar” to the programming aired on the 3.0 channel. This means that the programming must be the same, except for programming features that are based on the enhanced capabilities of ATSC 3.0, advertisements, and promotions for upcoming programs. The substantially similar requirement will sunset in five years from its effective date absent further action by the Commission to extend it.”

In other words, the HD broadcast has to be essentially the same as the new 3.0 broadcast for five years, perhaps longer depending on future FCC actions.

Which brings us to point 3. HD tuners were inexpensive when they first came out, and are even more so now. The HD tuner I use is currently $26 on Amazon. Even if ATSC 3.0 tuners are more expensive when they first come out, by the time anyone actually requires one, they’ll almost certainly be affordable.

Which is good, because there aren’t any planned subsides this time around for people to get a tuner for cheap. I’m sure this is at least partly due to how few people actually still use OTA as their sole form of TV reception. Maybe this will change as more stations convert, but we’re a ways away from that.

Here’s another way to think about it: The first HD broadcasts began in the mid-90s, but when did you buy your first HDTV? As far as the 3.0 transition is concerned, we’re in the mid-90s now. Things seem like they’re moving at a much more rapid pace than the transition from analog to DTV/HDTV, but even so, it will be a long time before ATSC 3.0 completely replaces the current standard.

Related on CNETATSC 3.0: What you need to know about the future of broadcast televisionHow HDR worksWhat is wide color gamut (WCG)?
Seeing the future

The transition from analog broadcasting to HD, if you count from the formation of the Grand Alliance to the final analog broadcast, took 16 years.

Though many aspects of technology move rapidly, getting dozens of companies, plus the governments of the US and many other countries, all to agree to specific standards, takes time. So does the testing of the new tech. There are a lot of cogs and sprockets that have to align for this to work, and it would be a lot harder to fix once it’s all live.

But technology moves faster and faster. It’s highly doubtful it will take 16 years to implement 3.0. As we mentioned at the top, the NAB’s Wharton says to expect ATSC 3.0 TVs by Christmas 2020:

“The progress made on Next Gen TV has been remarkable. Lots of work remains, but we’re cautiously optimistic that consumers will see Next Gen sets in stores by Christmas 2020.”

How many stations you’ll have to watch by then is a bit more of a question. It’s easy to see a tipping point where enough stations in a market have adopted it, so the others feel pressure to do so as well. Or, conversely, since the switch is voluntary, none do. When I started writing this article I felt the latter was assured. Now I’m more optimistic. There’s a way for stations to make money on this, and that’s a strong motivator. That’s for the larger cities anyway. How long it will take smaller cities remains to be seen.

There’s also the question of how much content there will be. If it follows the HDTV transition model, big sporting events in 4K HDR will come first, followed by lots and lots of shows featuring nature scenes and closeups of bugs. Seriously — this was totally a thing. Then we’ll see a handful of scripted prime-time shows. My guess would be the popular, solidly profitable ones that are produced (not just aired) by a networks. Series like “Law & Order: SVU” or “Grey’s Anatomy,” and probably the late-night talk shows, are likely candidates, but that’s speculation at this point.

So should you hold off buying a new TV? Nope, not unless you only get your content from over the air. And even if you do, by the time there’s enough content to be interesting, there will be cheap tuner boxes you can connect to whatever TV you have.

So for now, ATSC 3.0, aka Next Gen TV, is still on the horizon, but it is far closer than it was when we first discussed it, and by this time next year, much closer still. Hopefully.

Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he’s written on topics like why all HDMI cables are the same, TV resolutions explained, LED LCD vs. OLED and more. Still have a question? Tweet at him @TechWriterGeoff, then check out his travel photography on Instagram. He also thinks you should check out his best-selling sci-fi novel and its sequel.


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Etisalat bundling iPhone and iPad devices for as little as AED 165 per month

What’s better that buying one Apple product? The answer to that is buying two Apple products. Consumers that live inside Apple’s ecosystem know how easily data flows between two Apple products and Etisalat is giving you the option to do exactly that.

What’s better that buying one Apple product? The answer to that is buying two Apple products. Consumers that live inside Apple’s ecosystem know how easily data flows between two Apple products and Etisalat is giving you the option to do exactly that.

Etisalat is offering its subscribers a bundle that offers the iPhone as well as the iPad on Smart pay 24-months contract with prices as low as AED 165 per month. That price gets you and iPhone 8 64GB + an iPad 9.7 (3rd Gen)

There are number of iPhone and iPad models to chose from which include the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus as well as the iPad 9.7-inch, the iPad Pro 10.5-inch and the iPad Pro 12.9-inch.

There definitely are some savings on the above offer. For example, an iPhone X 64GB with an iPad Pro 10.5 64GB (Wi-Fi + LTE) would cost you AED 7,453 from Apple but under this Etisalat program, you’re paying AED 7,008.

A full list of all the bundles and their pricing can be accessed on Etisalat’s website.

Here’s what we’re expecting from Apple’s WWDC 2018

The best unlimited mobile plans in the US right now

There’s no easy way to figure out the best unlimited plan in the US (believe us, we just did it). Mobile carriers offer all sorts of different plans, combining talk, text, and data, and then make everything complicated with varying features and limitations.

There’s no easy way to figure out the best unlimited plan in the US (believe us, we just did it). Mobile carriers offer all sorts of different plans, combining talk, text, and data, and then make everything complicated with varying features and limitations. We’re here to simplify the whole process by showing you which mobiles carriers offer the best value data plans with unlimited talking and texting.

We looked at the offerings of dozens of the top carriers in the US to see if they had proper unlimited plans, and to get all the details we could about them. To narrow down the results, we’ve cut out any carriers with data plans that have a hard cap (i.e., carriers that will slow your data speeds significantly for the rest of your plan period after you’ve used a set amount of data). This means only carriers that rely on throttling to address network congestion have made it through. Everything else fails to fit into the same league of “unlimited.”

We’ve also focused simply on the base tier of unlimited plans for individual customers: no family plans making it seem like a carrier has a good deal, when in fact you need three more people to sign up with you; just the lowest cost plan that offers unlimited talk, text, and data. This means deals on phones and the value of extra perks like free Netflix or HBO aren’t factored into the rankings.

Now that we’ve cleared up how we picked, let’s get straight to the rankings.

Best value unlimited plans:

Best deal: MetroPCS unlimited plan for $50 (runs on T-Mobile network)

MetroPCS offers the best value unlimited plan on the market right now. For mobile phone users that want to pay as little as possible while getting as much data as possible, MetroPCS is the right carrier.

MetroPCS runs on T-Mobile’s powerful network (though sometimes spotty in rural areas, in our experience). And it’s unlimited plan costs $50 with all taxes and fees included in that price. Users can stream use as much data as they want, and call and text to their hearts’ content. Some added perks are music streaming that doesn’t count against your data, Wi-Fi calling, and Scam ID.

There are some limitations to the plan. Users who exceed 35GB of data use in a month can see their speeds throttled during times of network congestion. This MetroPCS plan also doesn’t allow customers to use their phones as Wi-Fi Hotspots. Still, the plan remains highly competitive, with a soft data cap much higher than a lot of its similarly priced and even more expensive competitors.

Alternative pick: Boost Mobile Unlimited Gigs plan for $50 (runs on Sprint network)

Boost Mobile’s Unlimited Gigs plan comes strikingly close to the offer from MetroPCS. Some customers will actually get more out of Boost Mobile’s plan if they regularly need to get data to other devices, or if they find the Sprint wireless network more reliable.

For $50 (all taxes and fees included in that price), Boost Mobile customers get unlimited talk, text, and data. Boost Mobile has a soft cap for data on this plan at 23GB, and it will throttle customers who use more than that when the network is congested. It also limits video streaming quality to 480p+.

Similar to our top pick, Boost Mobile allows unlimited music streaming from its popular streaming partners, like Spotify and Pandora, with none of that data counting toward users’ data caps. Also, though Boost Mobile has a tighter limit on high-speed data, it does allow for up to 8GB of Wi-Fi Hotspot usage each period.

Other contenders in this category:

Walmart Family Mobile (very close to MetroPCS, but not better) Teltik (best option for business users) Virgin Mobile (high value for iPhone buyers) Cricket WirelessStraight TalkPage Plus CellularTop of the Big 4:

Best offer: T-Mobile ONE plan for $70

At first glance, the T-Mobile ONE plan doesn’t look like it’s the best deal, but we factored everything in, and it added up. One big point in T-Mobile’s favor is that the $70 monthly fee is exact: all taxes and fees are already included. AT&T and Sprint are cheaper at first, but their plans have some more limits that keep us from recommending them over T-Mobile.

T-Mobile has the highest soft data cap of all four major carriers. It won’t begin deprioritizing T-Mobile ONE customer data speeds until after they’ve used 50GB. That means customers who truly plan to get their money’s worth of unlimited data will get more mileage from T-Mobile. One constraint is that video streaming is limited to DVD quality.

There are extra perks as well. Tethering is allowed at up to 3G speeds. Customers can use their phone while traveling in Canada and Mexico with unlimited talk and text and 5GB of 4G LTE data, along with some usability in more than 140 other countries. Plus, T-Mobile throws in a free Netflix subscription that didn’t even factor into our consideration.

Alternative pick: Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan for $60

Of the big four carriers, Sprint offers the lowest base price for its unlimited plan. The Unlimited Freedom plan is just $60, though taxes and fees go on top of that. The big reason that Sprint fell short of T-Mobile in our ranking is that its Unlimited Freedom plan has a much lower soft cap of 23GB compared to T-Mobile’s 50GB cap.

Where Sprint does make up some for its smaller data cap though is the way customers can use their data. Sprint allows streaming in Full HD (1080p), which is a big step up from the DVD quality that T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T limit streaming to. Sprint also allows 10GB of Wi-Fi Hotspot usage (though exceeding 10GB will auto-buy another 10GB for $10). Of course, being able to use all the data means it will be easier to hit the 23GB soft cap and risk data deprioritization.

The extra perks from Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom plan include global roaming and a free subscription to Hulu.

How the others fell short:
AT&T and Verizon both had pricey unlimited plans that were not competitive with how they handled data deprioritization. Both networks throttle users on their base plans during times of congestion irrespective of how much data those users have used in a plan period.

See the best unlocked phones in the US

The best mobile hotspots for 3G and 4G in 2018

If you do a lot of travelling and don’t want to put your data or information at risk by relying on other people’s Wi-Fi connections, then you’ll want a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device, which are commonly known as Mi-Fi.

If you do a lot of travelling and don’t want to put your data or information at risk by relying on other people’s Wi-Fi connections, then you’ll want a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device, which are commonly known as Mi-Fi.

These Mi-Fi hubs allow for several devices to connect to one or more data SIMs – usually 4G ones – to surf privately and safely. Much like a smartphone’s SIM card, these data-only deals allow you access to the internet in complete security. You can use a monthly contract, or use a pay-as-you-go SIM, so you know exactly how much data you are paying for. The best thing about 4G data is that it is incredibly fast, so you’ll be able to browse the internet as if you were connected to a broadband connection. It means it will also often be faster than free or shared Wi-Fi spots, which usually have data limits and a lot of traffic to deal with.

Mi-Fi hubs range from a simple one SIM solution with a battery to models that can accommodate 10 different SIM cards, or others that even sport a complete Android operating system.

Below are the best mobile Wi-Fi routers you can buy in the UK, catering to all tastes, from frugal surfers to power users and everything in between.

We’ve also rounded up the best mobile broadband deals

The TP-Link M7350 is an excellent mobile hotspot, supporting both micro and nano SIM cards, which means it’s almost certainly going to be compatible with a SIM card you already own. It has a small display for informing you about your connection, and it supports dual band Wifi on both 2.4 and 5GHz. It can be accessed by up to 10 devices at once, and performance is very good on 4G LTE. Its battery life is also excellent, giving you around 10 hours of 4G connectivity.

The EE 4GEE WiFi Mini is one of the better looking mobile hotspot devices on this list, and its compact design means it can be easily carried around with you. The 1500mAh offers up to 50 hours on standby, and up to six hours when connected to the internet. It can support up to 10 devices at once, but it doesn’t have an LCD screen, like the TP-Link M7350, which means it’s not quite as user friendly. You also need to use the EE network, which isn’t too much of a hardship due to EE’s coverage and fast 4G speeds, and the network offers a range of data plans to go alongside the EE 4GEE WiFi Mini.

If you’re looking for an affordable way of sharing data, the ZTE MF65 could prove to be a boon if you can live with its shortcomings. For a start, it is 3G-only with no 4G support, plus there’s the fact that it doesn’t have any data management tools baked in. Finally, it takes only large SIM cards rather than nano or micro-SIMs.

The flipside is that it’s great for areas where coverage is patchy or for countries where 4G has yet to be rolled out. Up to 5 devices can be connected simultaneously, although we’d probably suggest limiting that to a few at a time. Its 1500mAh battery should allow for up to six hours’ worth of browsing.

The Mobile Wi-Fi Pro from Huawei, otherwise known as the E5770, ticks a lot of boxes for power users. This 4G/LTE model (Cat-4, so only 150Mbps) has one of the biggest batteries we’ve seen on any Mi-Fi device at 5,200mAh. It can even charge another device thanks to a bundled cable that doubles as a stylish strap. Up to 10 devices can be connected with a quoted working time of up to 20 hours.

If that wasn’t good enough, it’s also the only hotspot that we’re aware of that comes with a microSD card slot (sadly taking FAT-formatted cards only) and an Ethernet port. That makes it perfect for small businesses and even, dare we say, a perfect cord-cutting device if paired with the right SIM card.

This is the antithesis of your traditional pocket-sized hotspot and we’re bending the rules to include it in this article. Behold the Netgear Nighthawk R7100LG, a router with a SIM card slot. Technically, it is not portable as the device requires a mains power supply, but there are potential workarounds if you really want to make this happen.

The Nighthawk is a great solution should you want to offer internet access to a massive amount of users, and indeed storage access as well. It offers Cat 6/LTE (300Mbps), AC1900 Wi-Fi, two USB ports, a free app to manage the router (Genie), four Gigabit Ethernet ports plus open source support and a wealth of security features.

The 10 best phones for kids

The best phone for your kid can be hard to pick. When shopping for the most important little person in your life, it can start to feel like the most important decision.

The best phone for your kid can be hard to pick. When shopping for the most important little person in your life, it can start to feel like the most important decision. We’re here to help you find a phone for your young one, pre-teen, or teen.

We’ve factored in important aspects, such as parental controls, durability, function restrictions, GPS tracking, and cost. For the youngest kids, we’ve focused on very simple devices meant primarily to open a line of communication with parents. For pre-teens, we’ve aimed for low-cost, simple phones that enable calling and texting without too many features for your kids to get caught up in. For teens, we’ve included affordable smartphones that offer a good balance of value and function while retaining solid parental controls through Android and iOS.

Since newer iPhones and Android phones running the latest operating systems come with ample parental controls build in, parents should feel comfortable picking out these phones for teens and pre-teens at their discretion. All the details parents need for enabling parental controls on iPhones can be found here. Details on Android parental controls are available here.

For the young ones:

The Relay, by Republic Wireless, is an incredibly simple communication device meant just for kids. It functions much like a walkie-talkie, so your child won’t have to navigate any complex menus to get ahold of you.

The Relay connects over 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, and it includes build-in GPS, so you can pinpoint your child’s location through the companion app on your own phone. The Relay’s design is sturdy and water resistant, so it can handle a day of play with your child.

The Relay is still in early stages, so new features like music and a voice assistant aren’t here yet, and shipping takes a while. Mobile network connectivity is also limited to the US, but Wi-Fi will work internationally.

For $149, the Relay comes in a bundle. It’s also available individually for $99 or in a pack of three for $199.

See the Relay here

Verizon users in the US have an enticing option for their kids in the LG GizmoPal 2. This is a wrist communicator that your kids can get into. It has a colorful design, simple controls, and handy water resistance. It also offers GPS tracking, so you can check in on your child’s location or find the watch if lost.

Parents can set up four authorized telephone numbers to call the GizmoPal 2, and the screen will display who’s calling. Parent’s can also set the GizmoPal 2 to automatically answer their calls, which can be handy in cases where their child might be playing and not notice the call.

The GizmoPal 2 is compatible with iOS and Android, and costs $79. For a newer model, Verizon also sells the LG Gizmo Gadget for $149.

See the LG GizmoPal 2 here

For pre-teens:

Nokia’s iconic 3310 is back, and with its combination of very long battery life, simple features, and durability, it’ll make a great pick for your pre-teens. The Nokia 3310 3G is made of plastic, so your kid doesn’t have to be too careful about dropping it. They also won’t need to remember to charge it every day, as the battery can last close to a month on standby.

The Nokia 3310 3G has everything your child needs to stay in touch, with calling and texting available. You won’t have to worry about them surfing the web on this one. Plus, they can take pictures to show you what they’re up to in school or with their friends.

The Nokia 3310 3G costs $59 in the US. A non-3G Nokia 3310 is also available in the UK for £49.99.

See the Nokia 3310 3G here
See the Nokia 3310 here

If your kid wants a phone that doesn’t look too childish, the BLU Tank Xtreme 2.4 is a good option. It’s incredibly affordable, and built rugged, so your pre-teen can stand to be a little careless with it. The plastic and rubber frame should be able to handle the occasional drop, and an IP65 rating means it can shrug off a splash of water now and then.

The BLU Tank Xtreme 2.4 has the basic talk and text your kid needs to stay in touch, and it has a long-lasting battery, so you won’t need to remind them to charge it all the time. Availability is limited to the US, though UK users may be able to use this phone on the 900 and 1800 GSM bands.

See the Blu Tank Xtreme 2.4 here

The same qualities that make the Jitterbug Flip a good choice for seniors make it a good pick for your kids. It is incredibly simple to use, with basic calling and texting functions as well as a simple camera. The user interface sticks to large, easy-to-read text, and the buttons are easy to press. The battery is long-lasting as well.

The Jitterbug Flip is only available in the US, and service is sold by GreatCall. At $74, the Jitterbug Flip is a bit more expensive than the others, but you can rest assured that it will be a simple phone for your child to get used to.

See the Jitterbug Flip here

For teens:

The Moto E5 is not just one phone but rather a family of affordable phones with varying features. Despite their difference, they all make great budget picks for your teen. While many budget Android devices can be running on outdated hardware or software, the Moto E5 is up-to-date with recent processors and Android 8.0 Oreo.

The Moto E5 Plus is available to Sprint customers in the US for $288, and boasts a large battery, 6-inch display, and dual-camera setup. The Moto E5 Play is toned down a little bit, making it more budget friendly at $99. In the UK, a standard Moto E5 and the Moto E5 Plus will be available in the near future. Aside from the basic Moto E5, all the others include a water-repellent coating that will help make sure your teens don’t ruin their phone.

See the Moto E5 here

If you want to get your teen a highly capable smartphone but worry they might destroy it and waste a lot of money, the Galaxy S8 Active is right up your alley. It has all of the performance a flagship Android phone calls for, but it’s built tough.

The Galaxy S8 Active screen is sharp, the camera is great, and the battery is forgiving if your teen forgets to charge it one night. All of that is packed into a chassis with an IP68 and MIL-STD-810G rating. In other words, it can handle a lot of carelessness. We dropped one screen-first onto a stone floor from five feet up, and the screen was fine.

The Galaxy S8 Active is available in the US on Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile for $850. Customers on other networks and in the UK can look instead at the Galaxy S8 and any of the best Galaxy S8 cases.

See the Galaxy S8 Active here

The iPhone SE may not be the latest iPhone, but it’s still supported by Apple with the latest iOS 11 updates. Despite its age, it still performs admirably with Apple’s A9 processor, and it will offer your child all the smartphone functionality they could need. The perk of its age is that it comes at a very low price for an Apple device.

One of the main drawbacks about giving your teen an iPhone SE is that it’s not built to be incredibly durable. Fortunately, this is an issue that can easily be fixed with an affordable iPhone SE case.

See the iPhone SE here

If price isn’t a big concern and you plan to buy a case (or your teen has proven themselves not too careless), the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 make for good options as well. Your teen shouldn’t feel held back by any lack of capabilities on these newer phones, while you can rest assured that the parental controls available through iOS will be enough to keep an eye on your teens use.

Though the upfront price will be higher, software support for these newer iPhones should last longer, so you won’t have to worry about upgrading any time soon. As an added bonus, the iPhone cameras are great, so you’ll get to see a lot of beautiful shots of what your teen is doing.

See the iPhone 7 here
See the iPhone 8 here

The Moto Z2 Play fits nicely in the middle as a pick for teens. It features mid-range hardware at a mid-range price. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass, and the internals are safe from splashed water with a water repellent nano-coating.

A 3,000mAh battery and quick charging will help ensure your teen’s phone has power when they need it. Moto Mods will also give your teen options for enhancing the features or their phone, such as adding a more advanced camera or doubling the size of the battery.

The Moto Z2 Play is available on most networks in the US with a retail price of $399, but deals will likely be available. In the UK is retails for £379.

See the Moto Z2 Play here

The 10 best phones for seniors

The best phone for seniors can vary dramatically depending on technological comfort levels. Fortunately, there are a wide range of phones available to seniors that can make a perfect fit for the most tech-savvy grandparent or the senior who just wants a way to stay in touch.

The best phone for seniors can vary dramatically depending on technological comfort levels. Fortunately, there are a wide range of phones available to seniors that can make a perfect fit for the most tech-savvy grandparent or the senior who just wants a way to stay in touch.

Big screens or simple displays are a smart pick for any senior, as almost no one has eyes that grow sharper with age. But, from there, the needs can very. Where health is a concern, some phones have emergency response features. Where dropping the phone may be in issue, durability or a wide availability of cases become important.

Whatever the case may be, we have the top phone picks for seniors right here, and we’ll make it clear what the advantages of each are.

Senior-focused phones:

The Jitterbug Flip is a basic flip phone with features made to suit seniors well. It doesn’t have any of the smartphone functionality a more tech-savvy senior might want, but it has large, easy to read interface, simple navigation, and a loud speaker. The result is a phone that’s simple for anyone to use, so there’s no steep learning curve for seniors who aren’t used to cellphones.

A few extra features are made specifically with seniors in mind. The Jitterbug Flip features an M4/T4 rating for hearing aid compatibility. It also has a 5Star button so seniors can quickly get help in an emergency.

See the Jitterbug Flip here

If some aspects of the Jitterbug Flip sounded good, but more smartphone features are appealing, the Jitterbug Smart combines senior-focused design with smartphone functionality. Best of all, it offers all of this at a reasonable price.

The Jitterbug Smart has all the typical phone features, plus texting, email and internet access, as well as rear- and front-facing cameras. The 5.5-inch touchscreen display allows for typical smartphone navigation, but Jitterbug has used simple menus for easy navigation. Like the Jitterbug Flip, this model is compatible with hearing aids, earning an M4/T4 rating. And, it supports 5Star emergency response through a pre-installed app.

See the Jitterbug Smart here

The GrandPad is a smartphone/tablet that offers easy ways for seniors to stay connected without having to be nearly as familiar with tablets and smartphones as Android or iOS devices would require. It features an 8-inch, Full HD display with large menu buttons for easy navigation, and it connects via 4G LTE on Consumer Cellular or over Wi-Fi. It also charges wirelessly on a dock, so there’s no fiddling with small power plugs.

Relatives can set up and manage the GrandPad for their love ones, populating the contact list with email address and phone numbers. One major consideration here is that this can help screen potential phishing attacks or spam callers, since they shouldn’t be able to reach the GrandPad.

The GrandPad will let seniors stay in touch through email as well as voice and video calls. It also supports a stream of social media, so seniors can see what they’re family members are sharing without needing to have their own accounts.

See the GrandPad here

Phones for tech-savvy seniors:

For the tech-savvy senior, there’s no simpler option than the iPhone 8 Plus. It offers premium features and performance on a 5.5-inch display that’s plenty sharp. The iPhone 8 Plus doesn’t come cheap, but it comes with the peace of mind that any issues can quickly be searched on the internet.

Staying in touch with family is easy on the iPhone, and that powerful iPhone 8 Plus can ensure that connecting is fast as well. Seniors with an iPhone can also benefit from the nearly seamless transition between an iPhone and iPad whenever they might want an even larger screen. For the seniors buying this smartphone, an iPhone 8 Plus case is advisable, as it features an all-glass design that won’t hold up well if dropped frequently.

See the iPhone 8 Plus here

To save some money but sacrifice little, the iPhone 7 Plus is also a great option. The iPhone 8 Plus was largely an iterative upgrade to the iPhone 7 Plus. So, with the older phone, you’ll still get a crystal clear 5.5-inch display, snappy performance from the hardware, and an easy-to-use operating system with iOS 11 (soon to be iOS 12).

Just like the newer model, the iPhone 7 Plus benefits from a massive horde of cases available to choose from. Though an iPhone 8 Plus case is a smart purchase, it’s not as essential as it is with the iPhone 8 Plus. This is because the older iPhone has an aluminum chassis, meaning there’s less glass that can shatter if dropped.

See the iPhone 7 Plus here

Samsung comes in with a great smartphone pick for seniors thanks in no small part to the Galaxy S9 Plus’s massive 6.2-inch display. With that large display, users can turn up the text size and still fit plenty on the screen. A fingerprint scanner, iris scanner, and facial recognition also mean unlocking the phone is easy.

With the latest and great Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset, the Galaxy S9 Plus is also highly responsive. Its impressive cameras will also make it easy to stay in touch and share with family members. It may be pricey, but it’s a fully featured phone, and an IP68 rating means you won’t need to buy a replacement because a little water splashed on it (though we still recommend a case if dropping is a concern). Factor in Bixby’s ability to help users navigate menus and change phone settings, and you’ve got a wonderful smartphone for tech-savvy seniors.

See the Galaxy S9 Plus here

The OnePlus 6 can offer a fairly clean Android experience for seniors, so the user interface isn’t overly complicated. Plus, it has the powerful internals and dazzling 6.28-inch display to make it a fitting rival of the Galaxy S9 Plus at a substantially lower price.

It may not be the cheapest OnePlus, but it’s one of the most affordable flagship smartphones right now. And, it features minor water resistance, so a splash now and then or getting caught in the rain shouldn’t be an issue. However, like many of the other more expensive phones on this list, we recommend a OnePlus 6 case with this one to protect it from drops.

See the OnePlus 6 here

For an extra-affordable but still competitive pick, the Moto G6 is a great option. It’s price is close a third of what the other flagship smartphones cost, but it includes many of the same features. It has an elegant, metal-framed design with a glass back and front (so a case would be wise). And, for seniors, it’s sharp Full HD+ display measures 5.7 inches across, giving plenty of room to increase fonts as needed.

Competent internals, a fingerprint reader, and special gesture controls round out the experience with the Moto G6. It has all the capabilities one could need to stay in touch, and a water-repellent coating helps ensure the occasional mishap doesn’t ruin that functionality.

See the Moto G6 here

Simple phones for seniors:

Some seniors might not want all the fancy tech of a smartphone, and senior-branded phones like the JitterBug may go too far toward being easy to use. Enter the new Nokia 3310. It’s a simple, easy to use feature phone with all the basics need to keep in contact with family and friends, and a long-lasting battery to keep the connection going.

The Nokia 3310 supports calling, texting, and even a bit of social media. A basic camera can help seniors share with their family and friends as well. Plus, it’s a durable little phone, so the occasional drop shouldn’t be much of a worry. On top of all that, it’s affordable.

See the Nokia 3310 3G here
See the Nokia 3310 here

The Alcatel GO FLIP is another simple feature phone with some modern upgrades. While it looks and works like an old-school flip phone, it boasts 4G LTE connectivity (though it’s only available in North America) for fast web-surfing and emailing. That 4G connectivity also allows the GO FLIP to offer seniors better call quality using Voice-over-LTE.

It has a camera for sharing photos and 720p videos. It can be loaded up with music and connected to headphones via a 3.5mm jack as well. For those hard of hearing, it has an M4/T4 rating for hearing aid compatibility.

See the Alacatel GO FLIP here