Can the Wristcam actually make the Apple Watch a good camera?

Fri, 03 Dec 21 20:57:25 +0000

We put the Wristcam to the test to see if it's actually a worthy Apple Watch companion.

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This robot moves just like a human, but that's about it – Strictly Robots

Fri, 03 Dec 21 20:53:51 +0000

Ameca is an incredibly lifelike humanoid robot designed by Engineered Arts.

While fluid in its motion and capable of creating some seriously impressive facial expressions, its technology falls short.

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Feds let debt collectors slide into your DMs

Fri, 03 Dec 21 20:51:26 +0000

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that debt collectors are now allowed to text, email, and message people on social media. But don't worry—the bureau insists it's still illegal for collection agencies to actively harass someone over a debt they owe. (Right.)

Debt collectors were previously limited to contacting people via phone or snail mail. They were also prohibited from calling someone more than seven times in seven days, contacting people related to the debt holder, and reaching out to someone's employer. Some of those restrictions apply to the new contact methods, too, but not all of them extend to these platforms.

The CFPB doesn't limit the number of times a collection agency can text, email, or direct message someone on social media, for example. Instead they are required to identify themselves as debt collectors, give people a way to opt out of receiving messages on a particular platform, and refrain from using public communications methods to contact someone.

There is some good news. It seems the restrictions on when debt collectors are allowed to contact people—between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time—apply to these new forms of communication as well. Collection agencies will also be prohibited from calling someone about a particular debt within seven days of having a phone conversation about it.

The CFPB says debt collectors must offer, "in each message, a simple way to opt out of receiving further communications from them on that social media platform." But as Consumer Reports notes, it doesn't explain how that will work.

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18 best tweets of the week, including $10 mode, Joseph Thee Stallion, and Gregor Samsa

Fri, 03 Dec 21 20:40:53 +0000

Thanksgiving is over with, good friends, so deck the halls, pull out your credit cards, flip on Hallmark, prepare yourself for shoveling — the holiday season is here. Yes, we are already somehow one week past gobble gobble season. December! How about that?

Anyway, there were some good tweets out there this week. I don't mean to hype things too much, but good job internet, the posts were pretty funny. Sure, everything is scary and bad and the internet has probably rapidly accelerated the decline of...everything..but we've got our silly little jokes on our silly little websites. Fair trade, right?

Anyways, here they are, the 18 best tweets of the week. Enjoy the good posts.

1.Hahahaha oh good, I will be processing 2020 forever

2. My colleague Elena is very funny

3. This man made the correct airplane movie choice and I stand by that

4. A freaking CLASSIC

5. Going to be thinking about this for a few years and will now say it every time I use a ten dollar bill

6. My colleague Ali is also very funny

7. If you watch Selling Sunset then you know this is a perfect idea

8. Joseph Thee Stallion

9. More Beatles Get Back memes

10. One of many good Spotify Wrapped memes

11. And another Wrapped meme

12. The lateness has nothing to do with me

13. My colleague Alex is very funny, too

14. Why does Spotify try to talk like this?

15. A good joke that's reminiscent of a certain Mark Wahlberg quote

16. That's right Alex

17. Going scarecrow mode is the new meditation

18. And finally, dril

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Viral TikTok recipe for air fryer leftover egg rolls is predictably delicious — and easy

Fri, 03 Dec 21 20:08:11 +0000

I am firmly in the camp that leftovers from Thanksgiving vastly outpace the quality of the food on the actual holiday. Something magical and mysterious happens in the fridge: The components in the stuffing marry more fully, the mashed potatoes thicken, the gravy congeals and intensifies in flavor, and the turkey...well the turkey is still turkey but you get my point.

This year I cooked a full Thanksgiving meal for just two people, which meant I had nearly endless leftovers to use however I pleased: breakfast hash, bowls of leftovers slathered in gravy, glorious sandwiches.

Last year I made leftover egg rolls, deep fried, heavenly, stuffed to the brim with stuffing, turkey, and mashed potatoes, dipped in a cranberry aioli. Look at these big honkers; they were fantastic.

So, when I saw Kroger — you know, the supermarket chain — post a recipe for air-fried leftover egg rolls, I was super intrigued. So were lots of folks it seems because the TikTok has racked up 2.3 million views. If I could get a similar result without the hassle of deep frying, it would be amazing. Kroger's final result didn't look quite like a deep fried egg roll — more on that later — but it did look tasty.

Thanksgiving leftover egg rolls being made
Not too bad looking. Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @Kroger

The recipe is wildly simple. Here's what Kroger suggested, although later I'll show where and how I modified things.


  • Egg roll wrappers

  • Leftover turkey

  • Leftover stuffing

  • Leftover gravy, reheated for dipping

  • Small cup of water for sealing the egg roll


  1. Chop leftover turkey into small pieces.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the chopped turkey with leftover stuffing. The mixture should be roughly 50/50.

  3. Set down an egg roll wrapper in front of you so it's diamond shaped.

  4. Drop a large dollop of the turkey and stuffing mixture into the center of the wrapper.

  5. Pinch the mixture together, then carefully fold the bottom of the diamond over the mixture. Roll until the mix is totally covered.

  6. Like you're wrapping a gift, fold the outsides of the wrapper on top of the already rolled part. Roll until all that remains is a small triangle of wrapped that looks like the top of an envelope.

  7. Dip a finger in the water and paint the edges of the triangle. Press it onto the rolled egg roll, sealing it all together.

  8. Air fry the egg rolls at 370 degrees for eight minutes, placing the envelope-side down on the air fryer grate.

  9. After eights minutes, flip then air fry for three minutes more. Dip in gravy and enjoy.

The details

The ingredients in this recipe are deceptively simple. I say deceptively because you would've had to have made a whole ass turkey and a batch stuffing. But if you're out of leftovers, or they've gone bad, or whatever, guess what? I wrote how you can air fry turkey and stuffing, because Mashable's AirFryDay is nothing if not thorough, baby.

Now, getting egg roll wrappers might also prove kind of difficult. Your best bet is going to be in the freezer section in a well-stocked grocery store. (One assumes Kroger carries them since, you know, they posted this recipe.) My two local groceries in Brooklyn did not have them, however. A note: Do not buy spring roll wrappers, which are a rice paper wrappers you dip in water. These are different than egg roll wrappers. Eventually I was able to get egg roll wrappers from a local Asian market. They came frozen but defrosted in like 15 seconds in the microwave. If all else fails you could always try to make your own.

When making this dish, like any other dish, the first thing you should do is your mise en place, which is a fancy French way of saying getting prepped. Chop the turkey, mix it with stuffing, defrost your wrappers. The wrappers should feel malleable while not heated through at all.

Two things about me: I hate following recipes perfectly and I love mashed potatoes. So I decided my test of the air fryer recipe would include one egg roll exactly how Kroger did it and one where I added a plop of mashed potato.

The most difficult part of the process in this recipe is the folding and rolling of the egg roll itself. It's not hard, really, it's just delicate. The real risk is tearing a seam in your wrapper, which I definitely did once but will not appear on Mashable dot com's video via the magic of editing.

There are a few tricks to keep in mind when rolling. First, when you plop down your filling, don't go too crazy. Less filling makes for a more orderly egg roll. But also... don't skimp because why skimp? I did one egg roll with the Kroger turkey/stuffing filling and another where I spread a stripe of mashed potatoes atop it all.

filling on an egg roll wrapper
The filling before being rolled. Credit: Mashable

Next, when you're ready to fold and roll, sort of cup the filling with your hands to keep it in a neat shape and in place. As you fold the bottom of the diamond over the filling and begin to roll, the cupping of your hands will form a nice cylindrical-shaped filling.

egg rolls being rolled
The cupping of the egg roll in action. Credit: Mashable

You can seal the edges with water when you fold the sides — you don't need to — but just be sure to paint the envelope-shaped end of the wrapper with water then seal. Then do not fuss with it. If it's imperfect, lumpy, tenuously sealed, whatever, just leave it be. You'll just mess things up further by trying to make it perfect and the heat will be what really seals it all together.

Full disclosure: I tested this recipe in the Mashable office for filming purposes and used the office's air fryer, which was an older model than my at-home unit. For some reason, it would let me air fry at 360 degrees or 390 degrees, but not 370 degrees. I chose 360 degrees, which meant my egg rolls took closer to 12 to 14 minutes to fully cook rather than 11. Here's what they looked like when I flipped after about 8 minutes.

not fully cooked egg rolls in air fryer
Not quite done yet. Credit: Mashable

And here's what the egg rolls looked like full cooked.

cooked egg rolls on a plate
They don't look like traditional egg rolls, but they're not bad. Credit: Mashable
cooked egg rolls cut in half showing Thanksgiving leftovers inside
The one on the right has mashed potatoes in it, the left does not. Credit: Mashable

The verdict? They're tasty. The skin of the egg roll ends up taking a more flaky, crisp texture, not exactly the bubbly, airy result you get from frying in oil. If frying in oil creates a 10 out of 10 texture, then air frying, I'd say, is about a seven. It's crunchy, it's good, but it's not as good as frying in oil. Yes, it is more unhealthy, but frying it oil is freaking delicious.

I'd also argue you should include mashed potatoes if you're able. Reheated stuffing plus reheated turkey can be a bit dry — while still good — even if you're dipping in gravy. Adding mashed potatoes, which of course are laden with butter and milk — adds some much need moisture and a welcome pop of salty fattiness. Still, did I eat all of both egg rolls for lunch? You're damn right I did.

All that being said, my wife was a bit sad she missed out on Thanksgiving leftover egg rolls. The next day I made a couple at home for the two of us to enjoy. I rolled up some turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and charred Brussels sprout leaves then fried the egg rolls in about an inch of canola oil. Simply put, they were much better than my air fried offering. Notice how the skin is bubbly and airy, and there are distinct layers of puffy, crisp wrapper? You just don't get that in the air fryer.

egg rolls on a plate
That's just better. It simply is. Credit: Mashable

Still, air frying Thanksgiving leftover egg rolls works and is super tasty. And while it's not as good as its oil-fried counterpart, air frying also didn't leave me with a mess on the counter and a bunch of oil to toss out.

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Everything to know about 'The Beatles: Get Back' if you don't have 8 hours to spare

Fri, 03 Dec 21 19:47:37 +0000

Mashable's Mark Stetson breaks down the most crucial moments of Peter Jackson's epic Disney+ documentary, The Beatles: Get Back.

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A decades-old missing persons case and an obsessed true crime reporter puts Twitter's newest policy to the test

Fri, 03 Dec 21 19:36:59 +0000

Maura Murray seemingly vanished from the face of the earth after a car accident on February 9, 2004. Her disappearance, a mere days after Facebook launched, was one of the first cases to put social media sleuthing to the test as users created Facebook and MySpace pages to solve the mystery of her disappearance. She was 21 years old.

Now, nearly 18 years since she was last seen, Maura Murray's suspicious disappearance is putting social media to the test once again.

On Tuesday, Twitter announced a new policy update prohibiting the sharing of "private" media of private individuals without their consent on its platform. The fairly vague policy immediately caused debate among Twitter users, especially concerning how this could possibly affect journalism on a service that is primarily used for breaking news.

The very next morning, true crime author James Renner awoke to find that his Twitter account had been locked for violating this new policy.

"As soon as the new policy was in place, I got a dozen reports filed against me by the people I've covered in articles about the Maura Murray case," said Renner, who wrote a book in 2016 titled True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray about her missing person case..

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Renner once again had access to his account but only after deleting four of the tweets that had been reported.

"I appealed on each. They denied the appeal on each," said Renner. "Then I deleted in order to get back into the account. I've had to delete every single one. They're mostly just links to stories I've written."

And that's a very interesting characteristic of these reported tweets. Twitter's new policy mentions media, such as photos and videos. Do links to third-party websites count, too? Renner tells me that Twitter did post an embed card for the link, which automatically pulls a picture from the linked website into the tweet. Is that why these tweets fell under this policy?

"I [was] locked out of my account for simple reporting and linking to my articles," Renner told Mashable.

Twitter warning to James Renner
An email notification from Twitter showcasing one of the tweets which locked James Renner out of his account. Credit: Mashable Screenshot / James Renner

Twitter did not immediately respond to Mashable's request for comment.

Renner, the founder of cold case nonprofit The Porchlight Project and host of a true crime series on ID Discovery, is not sure who reported the tweets. Twitter's new policy rules state that tweets will only be flagged if they are reported to the company by the person depicted in the media or someone who represents them.

The true crime author tells me that he knows at least one of the reports was not triggered by the person depicted in the tweet because the person would need to be Maura Murray, the young woman still missing after nearly two decades.

It is possible that Maura Murray's family is behind the takedown of that particular tweet. Again, Twitter does allow a "representative" of the depicted person to file a report. Renner's self-described "obsessive" reporting on the case has been criticized before and Murray's father, Fred Murray, has been one of those critics.

One of the issues Renner's critics have with the true crime author is his beliefs on what reporting should entail.

"I’ve come to believe that there’s only one way to establish credibility with readers, and that is to show them how you’re making the sausage," he writes in his 2016 book. "I think reporters should open up their research to all those interested and bring them along for the ride. That means scanning and posting the supporting documents you use to gather your facts. But I think it should go further. What I’d like to see is an open-sourced form of reporting, where journalists put notes and documents and pictures and sources in something like a readable Google doc as they are reporting."

In its piece, the New Yorker classified Renner's methodology as "madness."

However, another tweet from Renner focusing on Bill Rausch, Murray's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, was also reported, forcing Renner to delete it. Rausch, a U.S. Army Major, has been a key figure for true crime aficionados following Murray's disappearance. 

In recent years, Rausch has been charged on felony sexual abuse of a subordinate. The ongoing case has received local news coverage. The victim actually went to the police to report the alleged assault after discovering Rausch's connection to Maura Murray through online reporting, such as Renner's. 

Twitter warning to James Renner
Another Twitter email notification, this time concerning one of James Renner's tweets about Bill Rausch. Credit: Mashable Screenshot / James Renner

"Given that I'm the only one reporting on the ongoing sex abuse trial of this missing woman's boyfriend, I'm concerned that he has effectively killed the story," Renner said, assuming Rausch is the one who reported his tweet. Mashable is unable to confirm this as Twitter does not share who has made the reports.

One of the exceptions to this new rule, according to Twitter, is that the policy is "not applicable to media featuring public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweet text are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse."

But, an argument can be made that all legitimate journalistic endeavors are in the public interest. Where does Twitter draw the line?

Renner isn't the only one struggling with Twitter's new "private" media policy. Anti-extremism researchers are reportedly having their accounts suspended due to the platform's recent change. 

Twitter is a popular platform for these researchers and journalists specializing on covering right-wing extremism to identify white supremacists, neo-nazis, and far-right personalities who spread offline hate. However, those very extremist individuals are now organizing online in order to weaponize Twitter's reporting tool.

For example, in one such reporting instance, a research's account was apparently locked for sharing a photo of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who is currently serving a prison sentence for destroying a Black Lives Matter banner belonging to a historic Black church in Washington D.C. Tarrio is both a public figure and a person of public interest.

When the new "private media" policy was announced, it was clear that its effectiveness would rely on how Twitter enforced it. 

Could the policy help private individuals who are being harassed on the platform? Sure. But it's clear that, in its current implementation, it is being used to stifle reporting on newsworthy issues that are already of the public interest.

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These are the best robot vacuums for carpet and rugs

Fri, 03 Dec 21 18:48:32 +0000

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

Robot vacuums have become our mini housekeepers. As our reliance on them grows, robot vacuums keep up with demand through smart features that let us schedule cleanings while we're out, control them via voice commands, or set which spaces should or shouldn't be cleaned.

But if your home is mostly carpeted or if you have a lot of rugs laying around, the convenience of a robot vacuum gets tricky. Plenty of robot vacs are known for getting stuck in weird places, confused by dark flooring, or refusing to transition from hardwood floors to carpet. Will a robot vacuum actually make life easier, or will it become more of a hassle every time it eats a tassel or gets stuck trying to transition from bare floors to high pile?

Are robot vacuums good on carpet?

Not all robot vacuums are equipped to handle cleaning your floor coverings. Some simply have too little suction or too little clearance to properly handle thick, high-pile carpet. When choosing a vacuum, you'll want to look on each robot vacuum's product page to find out what carpet height it can handle. While most suggest only low-pile carpet or flat-weave rugs, some vacs can ramp it up to medium pile or even fluffy, high pile.

Good maneuvering only gets a vacuum so far. Carpets and rugs are where pet hair, crumbs, and dust go to die, so beefy (yet methodical) suction is key for homes with a lot of stubborn floor coverings.

As a general rule of thumb, upright vacuum cleaners have more suction power than compact robot vacs. But if you'd still prefer to outsource the job, look for a robot vacuum with suction levels between 1800 and 2500Pa to ensure that the carpet fibers are being efficiently combed of the debris they've been hoarding. Most modern vacuums have a boost mode that automatically kicks in when the vacuum senses carpet. The same sensors should be smart enough to facilitate a smooth transition to dark hardwood floors and *not* mistake them for a cliff.

Dual brushes and automatic cleaning brushes are a fantastic added bonus for carpeting, too. If you have a dog (or roommate) that sheds like it's their job, hair is likely to get deeply embedded into your carpet. Normal vacuums tend to get the hair tangled up in the brushroll, but robot vacuums with dual brushes or self-cleaning brushes will help you avoid the weekly step of yanking a spool of hair out of the bottom of your vacuum.

Will a Roomba ruin your carpet?

Any robot vacuum is unlikely to ruin your carpet. However, loose carpet strings and rugs with fringed ends are something to look out for. Bumbling bots with less accurate object sensors may gobble these right up and get stuck on them, potentially damaging your floor coverings. Folks who love a good frilly rug should consider a robot vacuum that follows virtual boundaries through smart mapping (rather than physical magnetic no-go strips that don't always work).

Which is better: Shark or Roomba?

Both are good, which is why you'll see both brands on this list. Roombas tend to feel sturdier on the outside, with some seriously strong suction power — but the downside is that they're expensive, loud, and are prone to technology bugs. Shark robot vacuums, on the other hand, might feel a little bit less durable on the outside but are fantastic for quieter cleaning, and still offer smart features at a lower price point. Shark vacuums do sometimes get lost though, as documented in this hilarious TikTok video.

Overall, both robot vacuum brands offer smart features, solid navigation, and strong suction, so making the choice between a Shark and a Roomba will depend on your desired price point and noise tolerance.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We're tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you're comfy with (whether that's under $300 or over $1,000 if it's really nice).

Here is more detail of each of our top picks:

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The best self-emptying robot vacuums to take yet another cleaning task off your hands

Fri, 03 Dec 21 18:47:59 +0000

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

Grab a drink, kick your feet up, and watch as your hardest-working home appliance puts in the work so you don’t have to: That’s the reality of investing in a highly rated robot vacuum. And as technology advances, there’s even less for us humans to take care of when it comes to ensuring our floors stay spick-and-span.

Self-emptying robot vacuums take the convenience of the traditional robot vacuum to another level: they actually allow you to forego regular maintenance for months on end—without sacrificing sparkling clean floors free of dirt and debris.

Instead of emptying the dustbin manually, a self-emptying vacuum actually takes that job out of your hands, emptying itself into a larger dustbin that has the capacity to manage weeks of dirt without needing to be cleaned or dumped out on your end. Not only does this allow you to keep your floors clean, it means you can literally set it up and forget about it.

How do robot vacuums compare to canister and upright vacuums?

While robot vacuums are getting more and more advanced by the day, not everyone agrees that they can completely replace your canister or upright vacuum. If you’re worried about your robot vacuum not doing the job well enough to completely replace your upright vacuum, consider scheduling your robotic vacuum to run twice a day — or pick up a hand vacuum to spot clean any problem areas you might notice. iRobot, for example, claims that robotic vacuums can save owners up to 110 hours of manual floor maintenance per year — or about two hours per week.

What's the battery life like on a robot vacuum?

The battery life on most robot vacuum cleaners is just about exactly what you’d need to get a full clean in a single run. Most vacuums have a minimum of a 90-minute run time — which allows the vacuum to pass through a typical household.

If you’re worried about the battery life lasting through your home (especially if it’s particularly dusty or on multiple levels) you might want to invest in a robot vacuum that features a mid-cycle charging option. This way, your vacuum will return to charge before finishing the areas of the home it didn’t quite get to before.

How do self-emptying robot vacuums work?

The idea behind the self-emptying robot vacuum sounds pretty sci-fi and next level, doesn’t it? Not having to vacuum or do any manual maintenance whatsoever sounds like a dream come true! And while it is, in all honesty, a pretty neat concept, there is still maintenance and a little bit of leg work required to keep your vacuum working properly —including emptying the dustbin every now and then.

A self-emptying robot vacuum works the same way a regular robot vacuum does — it maps out the layout of your home, sucks up all the dust and debris from your flooring, and returns to charge between cleaning sessions without your involvement. But unlike traditional robot vacuums, which require emptying after every second or third vacuum, a self-emptying vacuum deposits all the dirt and debris into a separate bin that doesn’t need to be manually emptied (by you) for upwards of a month.

Are robot vacuums worth it?

Are robot vacuums worth the price tag? While it has become more affordable to pick up a robot vacuum, they’re still significantly more expensive than most of their manual counterparts. That being said, not having to lift a finger when it comes to floor maintenance is a pretty good feeling and is well worth it for anyone who just doesn’t have the time — or the interest — in pulling out a vacuum and manually cleaning the floors every couple of days.

Not only are these handy devices extremely practical for anyone who wants to cut down on the mental load that comes with keeping the house clean, but they actually allow you to run the vacuum more frequently. For those reasons alone, a robot vacuum — and especially a self-emptying robot vacuum — is worth the investment if you’re looking to spend a bit more on a vacuum.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We're tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you're comfy with (whether that's under $300 or over $1,000 if it's really nice).

What to look for in a self-emptying robot vacuum

What to look for in a self-emptying robot vacuum really depends on exactly what your household needs are. Do you have a dog or a cat that sheds? Are there kids in your household? Do you live on a particularly dusty street? These are all serious factors to consider when deciding how much you’ll really need to spend or what features to prioritize when shopping for a self-emptying robot vacuum.

Power and battery life: If you’re shopping for a self-emptying vacuum, chances are you’re looking for something that you can set and forget—and that includes a healthy battery life. Look for a minimum of 90 minutes to ensure your vacuum can cover your home or apartment or consider a robot that can be programmed to charge halfway through its cleaning cycle and resume where it left off once it’s fully juiced up.

Size: Whether you’re living in a condo or a larger house, you’ll want to make sure the size of your external dustbin is large enough to make the self-emptying feature worth your while. Most external bins can hold up to 60 days of dust and debris — but if you’re working with a particularly high traffic home or you really don’t want to empty it all that often, look for an XL option.

Floor surfaces: Are you working with carpeted flooring? Hardwood? Look for a robot vacuum that is made to suit your specific needs. Certain vacuums are equipped with added sensors to ensure rugs and carpets are properly taken care of, while others have special brushes that ensure dust and debris don’t get pushed around on hardwood flooring.

Smart home integration: Most self-emptying robot vacuums come with smart home and app integration that make your job even more simplified. If you’re hoping to schedule cleans or have access to maintenance issue reports from your phone or you want something that is Alexa-enabled and equipped with voice control, be sure to look for a vacuum that specifies smart home integration.

What is the best self-emptying robot vacuum?

Interested in learning more about self-emptying robot vacuums? We don’t blame you! Below, we’ve laid out some of the absolute best self-emptying robot vacuums on the market. From the little guys to big-name brands, here are the best options out there in 2021.

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Robot vacuums are getting more affordable: These 6 are less than $200

Fri, 03 Dec 21 18:46:21 +0000

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

Robot vacuums can get pretty pricey, with some of the more advanced options running upwards of $1,000. If you don't need all the bells and whistles — like smart home mapping, mobile app integration, and self-emptying canisters — then you don't have to spend that much money. There are cheaper robot vacuums out there, and the best budget robot vacuums will get the job done well.

Inexpensive options typically don't have smartphone app integration and all of the controls are done with a remote. You're usually able to set a timed schedule with the remote or set it to go off in the moment, so you do have some sort of control aside from just pressing a button on the vacuum itself. Remotes often act as a steering device as well, allowing you to operate the robot vacuum like an RC car.

Most cheaper robot vacuums can handle sweeping up dirt and debris from hard flooring. But for carpet, you'll want to get a robot vacuum with a roller brush. The spinning fan brushes that come standard and work well on hard floors can't dig into the carpet to lift embedded hair and dirt.

Are robot vacuums worth it?

Robot vacuums are worth it if you are someone who doesn't have time to vacuum regularly, someone who physically can't vacuum, or someone who simply doesn't like to vacuum. (All are very valid.) They take the work out of cleaning and can be really useful appliances to have in your home gadget lineup. But that's only if the robot vacuum actually performs the way it's supposed to.

That's a problem you could run into when searching for a budget-friendly robot vacuum since the simple truth is that some forego quality in the name of a lower price tag. Before pulling the trigger on a cheap robot vacuum, make sure you consult reviews to see if anyone is experiencing problems or quality faults.

You get what you pay for

As we said, some cheaper robot vacuums are not equipped to handle cleaning carpet. They either don't have enough suction power or don't have the correct brushes to really dig into the carpet to pull up embedded dirt, dust, and hair.

Pretty much every cheap robot vacuum less than $200 is going to clean your house in a random pattern rather than in the straight lines you'd probably create with an upright vacuum. That means they won't clean in the most efficient way and might miss a few spots — though most robot vacuums have sensors to detect dirt, so you shouldn't be left with any glaringly messy areas.

In any case, a cheap robot vacuum is mostly going to act as a supplemental cleaning device that does your day-to-day cleaning while still requiring you to do a deep cleaning every so often. They typically don't fully replace a standard upright vacuum. Though, they can if you have hard flooring or you don't need your home to be 100 percent spotless.

What is the best robot vacuum for the money?

The best affordable robot vacuum for the money is the Ecovacs Deebot N79S. It's one of the brand's older models, and it has a list price of $249.99, but you can usually find it on sale between $139.99 and $199.99. It's one of the few robot vacuums under $200 that has WiFi and mobile app integration, meaning you can run the vacuum from anywhere using your phone or a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

If you happen to see any robot vacuums from iRobot, Shark, Eufy, or Ecovacs on sale for less than $200, snatch those up right away. It can be hard to find a good brand for that price, but those ones are definitely worth the money if you can find them for that cheap.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We're tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you're comfy with (whether that's under $300 or over $1,000 if it's really nice).

What is the cheapest robot vacuum?

You can find some pretty cheap off-brand robot vacuums, but don't expect them to be top-tier in quality. Be wary of any robot vacuums that cost less than $100. They likely won't be able to give you a great clean and probably won't have a very long lifespan. Some of the cheaper models also can't handle thick carpet or large areas.

There's a robot vacuum on Amazon for less than $30, but there's only one review at the time of publication, and we do not recommend buying it. Really cheap robot vacuums probably won't work on rugs or have enough suction power to pick up hair and larger debris, making them basically worthless unless you are just cleaning hardwood floors that are already pretty clean. (Which really defeats the purpose of getting a robot vacuum at all, in our opinion.)

"Cheapest" does not mean "best inexpensive" robot vacuum

For the reasons already mentioned, you can gather that the cheapest option is not the best value. You want to find a good mix of functionality and price. Typically the vacuums that are $150 and up are going to be pretty decent and give you features that will actually leave your home looking and feeling clean.

Keep in mind that underside brush rolls are better for carpeted homes and if you have a big surface area to cover you'll want to pay attention to the robot vacuums with longer run times to avoid having to recharge before the job is done.

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These are the best robot vacuums for keeping small spaces sparkling clean

Fri, 03 Dec 21 18:44:57 +0000

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

I live in a studio apartment that's about 20 x 9 feet, plus a bathroom, and honestly, I've always thought my place was too small to house a robot vacuum. I mean, one arm of my sofa practically touches my bed while the other side of the couch is mere inches away from the fridge. Gotta love that zero-bedroom life.

I rely on my Swiffer and Shark Rocket stick vacuum that I can shove into my coat closet to clean the floors in my small apartment. But, it turns out you actually can have a robot vacuum in small spaces. Robot vacuum bases do need ample room around them so the vacuum sensors can find their way home, but this just means you might have to get creative about placement. Or hey, maybe you have that one awkwardly empty area that's the perfect size for a robot vacuum base. Now you know what to put there.

Some robot vacuums are clearly better for small homes and apartments — the iRobot Roomba i7+ with its self-emptying behemoth of a base is probably not the best choice when you're trying to be economical with your space.

Other, smaller robot vacuums actually do a sufficient job with little room to work. And it's not just crappy little robot vacuums from random brands you've never heard of on Amazon. iRobot and Shark make robot vacuum models that work for any sized home.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We're tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you're comfy with (whether that's under $300 or over $1,000 if it's really nice).

Do robot vacuums work in small spaces?

If your home is jam-packed with furniture and you don't have much exposed floor space, you're probably better off not getting a robot vacuum. They need sufficient space to be able to maneuver around and find their way back to their charging stations. But if you have some floor space to work with, a robot vacuum can actually do a good job cleaning.

And the nice thing about cleaning a smaller space is you don't have to worry about the vacuum's run time or battery life. It likely won't take long to sweep the entire floor, and your robot vacuum can probably do the whole route without using a full battery charge. That also means you won't have to empty the dustbin as often as you would if you lived in a big house. Modest living has its perks!

To make the most out of your space, put the robot vacuum base underneath side tables or other furniture with ample room below it. Just make sure the vacuum can return for charging without issues.

Most robot vacuums have scheduling features, so you can set your robot vacuum to run while you're out of the house or a time when you won't be walking around in your home if you want to avoid the robot vacuum nipping at your feet. And to get the best results, make sure you don't have any loose items lying around on the floor.

What to look for in a robot vacuum for small spaces

When looking for a robot vacuum for small areas, you have to think about the layout of your space. If almost every inch of floor space is covered with furniture, you're going to need a robot vacuum with a short profile that can actually maneuver under and around furniture without bumping into stuff or getting stuck underneath the bed or couch.

Robot vacuums sweep in either a random pattern or in neat rows, but with a small home, you probably don't need to shell out the extra cash for neat rows because depending on your setup, you won't have a ton of open space that would require meticulous, row-by-row cleaning.

Some of the cheaper, smaller robot vacuums aren't great for carpet, but leave hardwood floors so clean you'll actually want to walk barefoot on them. If you have carpet in your home, look for a robot with powerful suction and a deep-cleaning brush roll. For hardwood floors, there are some robot vacuums that also have mopping functionality. This is awesome for saving space because you get two appliances in one.

Are robot vacuums worth it?

I don't mind vacuuming as a chore, and in my tiny home it doesn't take more than 10 minutes, so I'll stick with my upright vacuum for now. But the appeal of a robot vacuum is absolutely there.

Deciding whether a robot vacuum is worth it is really a personal preference. They definitely add some convenience to your life by taking over the manpower of vacuuming your floors. And with app control and remote scheduling, you can clean your floors without even being at home. But robot vacuums can get quite pricey and you don't have full control over where and how they clean.

Make sure to get one that is powerful enough to suck up your messes and low-profile enough that it's not the focal point of your home to really make a robot vacuum worthwhile.

What is the best robot vacuum for small spaces?

Our top pick for the best robot vacuum for small spaces is the Shark ION AV753 because of its ultra-slim profile. It can easily work its way under furniture to get every exposed bit of floor you have in your home. Plus, it's just a downright powerful and impressive robot vacuum that truly gives you the most bang for your buck.

It's not the only robot vacuum that impressed us, though. Check out all of our picks for the best robot vacuums for small spaces.

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The best robot vacuums for hardwood floors

Fri, 03 Dec 21 18:44:30 +0000

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

Robot vacuums have revolutionized the way we clean our homes — because we don't have to be home to clean.

With scheduled sweeping sessions welcoming you home to a floor that's ready for bare feet, the work on your end shifts to choosing a robot vacuum that's best for your home's floor type.

Do robot vacuums really work?

The latest robot vacuums aren't the lazy bumper cars that you may have heard about or experienced earlier. The right ones are beasts.

If we're being honest, robot vacs are usually not as thorough as traditional upright vacuum cleaners. Their suction isn't as powerful and you just can't get the same kind of clean that you get from eyeballing your floors and going back over spots you can tell you missed.

Many higher-end robot vacuums do have heightened dirt detection features that help them to scope out problem areas that require extra attention. Smart robot vacuums that navigate based on a self-made map of your home actually know where they're going and can be sent to certain rooms on your command. Otherwise, the method is essentially a random "hope this works" pattern that covers less than the side-by-side lines you would probably do if you were the one controlling the vacuum. Though the robots try to hit every spot with this method, they're bound to miss every now and then.

Regardless, one thing to ask yourself is: Are you currently vacuuming your floors every day? Because robot vacuums can do that. Even if they miss a spot one day, they might catch it the next, leading to an overall increase in floor cleanliness.

Are robot vacuums better for hardwood floors or carpet?

Given the velcro-like grasp that carpets can have on daily droppings, most robot vacuums perform better on hardwood than on carpet. All robot vacuums have a main suction system and side brushes that push dry debris (crumbs, kitty litter, dirt) into the line of suction. Not all of them have impressive brush rolls or the sheer suction power to rake carpet threads, though, which are a necessity for cleaning carpets.

Sucking up hair (human or pet) is easier for robot vacuums on hard flooring because on carpet, the vacuums have to really be able to dig deep and pull up hair embedded in the fibers. On smooth floors, the hair has nothing to get stuck on. If you have both carpet and hard flooring, most robot vacuums automatically adjust between floor types, lowering or raising to get the closest clean possible.

What about hard floors that aren't wood?

Laminate floors, tile floors, and any other kind of hard, bare floors can get the same treatment as wood floors. Robot vacuums that work well on hardwood floors will also do a good job on these floors.

Do robot vacuums scratch hardwood floors?

Robot vacuums are purposefully are designed to work on hardwood floors without scratching them. They have rubber wheels and gentle rubber brushes that pull in dirt without gnawing at your floors.

Where you might get floor scratching is if an abrasive piece of sand, glass, rock, etc. gets caught under the wheel and drags throughout the house. This is pretty uncommon, but to be safe, make sure your floors are clear of any large, sharp debris before running the robot vacuum.

Are robot mops safe for hardwood floors?

Any avowed hardwood floor enthusiast is likely to be just as meticulous about dried shoe prints or wine spills as they are about dust and debris. A robot mop's light wet scrub offers a satisfying shine to a robot vacuum's dry sweep, especially if your hardcore mopping sessions with real hardwood cleaner are few and far between.

Many robot mops (especially hybrid robot vacuum-robot mop models, like the ones listed below) only mop with water, alleviating concerns about topcoat-damaging ingredients like vinegar, ammonia, or other alkaline products. Instructions typically strongly advise against adding any type of soap to the water tank to avoid messing with the vacuum's interior parts.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We're tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you're comfy with (whether that's under $300 or over $1,000 if it's really nice).

Here are our top picks for the best robot vacuums for wood floors in 2021:

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Tile floors have met their match in these 7 robot vacuums

Fri, 03 Dec 21 18:43:54 +0000

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

When it comes to household cleaning products and devices, most folks would agree that you’d be hard-pressed to name a more revolutionary concept than the robotic vacuum — even the dishwasher doesn’t really compare to the convenience of a device that does your floors without you ever having to lift a finger.

And it’s not just the ease of use or satisfaction of watching a robot do the work for you that makes a robotic vacuum oh-so-appealing, either. Not having to worry about stress-cleaning before guests arrive, the ability to schedule cleans while you’re away from home, and even foregoing having to empty the dustbin in certain cases are all enticing benefits of upgrading to a robot vacuum — especially if you have tile floors.

Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about the best robot vacuum for tile floors — whether you want a device to do all the vacuuming and mopping for you, you need something that self-empties, or you just want a complementary helper to pick up the dust and debris you might have missed while manually vacuuming.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We're tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you're comfy with (whether that's under $300 or over $1,000 if it's really nice).

Vacuuming carpet vs. hardwood vs. tile floors

Figuring out the right routine for your specific household is key to making sure your floors stay as tidy as possible — which is why it’s vital that you understand exactly what type of robot vacuum is right for your floor. If you’re dealing with a mix of different types of flooring — say you have tile in the kitchen but carpet in the living room, for example — you’ll want to make sure you look for a robot vacuum that has sensors to differentiate between different types of flooring.

That being said, you’ll want to keep in mind that most modern robotic vacuums are made for hardwood flooring, which is great news if you have a particular amount of tile as well. This means that the brushes are specifically made to capture dust and debris without pushing it away; something that can be tricky when you consider the lack of friction when comparing hardwood and tile flooring to carpeted areas or rugs.

Do robot vacuums work on tile floors?

Yes! There are quite a few robot vacuums on the market that work very well on tile floors. In fact, there are many robotic vacuums that are also equipped with mopping features (like the iRobot Braava Jet M6) which is especially effective when dealing with tile flooring.

What features are most important for vacuuming tile floors?

What to look for when considering a robot vacuum for tile floors depends on a handful of lifestyle and household factors as well as the budget you’re hoping to stick with. That said, if you’re looking for something that will keep your tile floors sparkling, there are a few universal factors that you’ll want to keep in mind.

Suction power and rubber brushes: If you’re looking for something that will efficiently suck up dust and debris rather than just pushing it into the corners of your home, you’ll want to get a vacuum that has both powerful suction and brushes that will catch dirt on the first pass — rather than simply pushing it around.

Integrated sensors: Here’s where things can get tricky: if you’re dealing with tile flooring but do have rugs or carpets in various rooms in your home, you’ll want to ensure that you pick up a vacuum that has integrated sensors that can adjust based on the surface area. Most modern robot vacuums do have built-in sensors but some of the older models do not — so double check the fine print accordingly.

Smart home integration: Smart home features have become so precise and efficient over the past couple of years that it only makes sense to optimize your vacuum as well. Robot vacuums with smart home and app integration will allow you to schedule cleans from your device, have clear access to maintenance information and errors, and even set up specific zones you want the robot to focus on or avoid.

Are there robot vacuums that also mop?

Yes, there are a ton of great robot vacuums on the market that also include mopping features, which can be a great option for anyone with a home that is mainly tile flooring. Not only do you skip vacuuming but integrated mopping capabilities allow you to forego dragging out that old mop and bucket.

What is the best robot vacuum for tile floors?

These days, there are a ton of robot vacuums on the market; enough to cover pretty much all types of flooring, lifestyles, and budgets. Whether you’re looking for something that can handle pet hair and dander without batting a metaphorical eye (like the Roborock S6 Pure Robot Vacuum and Mop) or you want something that can tackle both vacuuming and mopping, here are some of the best robot vacuums for tile floors.

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Have a pet? Don't do all the cleaning yourself. Here are the best robot vacuums for pet hair.

Fri, 03 Dec 21 18:43:26 +0000

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

Pets can be mediocre roommates.

Their presence makes your life better — but significantly messier, too. And unlike in a passive-aggressive roommate group chat, you can't tell a pet to clean up after itself.

Whether they have a favorite floor spot for rolling around, or prefer to spread the love (fur) around the house, it's impossible to follow their trail with a vacuum and lint roller. Sending a robot vacuum to tidy your floors on a regular schedule can cut you a major break on your chores.

SEE ALSO: The best Black Friday deals for 2021, all in one place

Robot vacuums have become a staple category for Black Friday. And great news for folks celebrating their first holidays with a pandemic pet: 2021 could be a particularly auspicious year to find a good robot vacuum deal. Illustrated by new model releases from 2020 and 2021, cheap robot vacuums are getting smarter and vacs with high-end features like LiDAR mapping and automatic empty are getting cheaper (like the Ecovacs N8+ on sale for $399.99 at Best Buy).

The chances of finding one that meets your requirements and budget on sale are high, so keep tabs on Black Friday robot vacuum deals (including early ones) on our Black Friday robot vacuum deals page.

What makes a robot vacuum good for pet hair?

You're the human here, but the types of floors in your home will probably be a big part of your decision.

Virtually all robots can master hardwood floors (as well as laminate, tile, and vinyl). Smooth surfaces don't take a spiderweb-like grasp on pet hair like carpets do. The hair may blow across and collect in furballs, but it's relatively easy for any robot vacuum to grab with a rotating brush, push it into the line of suction, and scoop it up. If your home's corners are particularly popular hangout spots for furballs, a D-shaped robot vacuum can detail those walls and 90-degree angles better than a circular vac.

A living space that contains a combination of hard floors and carpet or rugs will prove to be a little more challenging. The robot vacuum you choose should be able to detect different floor types and be able to hoist itself over the spots where they switch over without getting tripped up. Most vacs on the market today are smart enough to enact some sort of boost mode to work a little harder on carpets, though suction power itself plays a bigger role when it comes to extracting pet hair from carpeting. Veer toward a model harnessing with 2,000 (preferably closer to 2,500 Pa) of suction.

SEE ALSO: Petcube Bites 2 Lite is a budget-friendly treat tosser that keeps an eye on your pet

Stronger vacuums collect more debris in every trip, and households dealing with shedding probably require more trips to tackle the extra debris. Naturally, these dust bins will fill up faster than a vacuum cleaning a petless household once a week. A self-emptying vacuum alleviates the need for you to empty the dustbin on the daily, letting you off the hook for one to three months at a time.

Pet owners with allergies will appreciate the streamlined emptying process for another reason. The automatic emptying process involves sucking the contents of the dust bin directly from the vacuum into the canister on the loading dock, containing the blast of dust that typically clouds the trash can during manual dumping. Allergy sufferers can also look for vac models that house HEPA filters.

Do robot vacuums scare pets?

No one *wants* their robot vacuum to be loud, but noise level should be a heavier consideration in households with skittish pets. Some models are louder than others, depending on the strength of the motor or, on more high-tech models, a noise-dampening design. If your pet reacts well (or doesn't react) to the dishwasher, a hairdryer, or a blender, the low roar of most robot vacuums should be tolerable.

A robot vac that reliably follows boundaries might be helpful to avoid knocking into a water bowl or slurping up corners of a dog bed. Most low-end vacs come with adhesive magnetic strips that create a physical border around danger zones, but virtual no-go zones on nicer vacs that utilize laser mapping are far more reliable — and one less thing to chew on.

Let’s get down to our list of best robot vacuums for pet hair in 2021.

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The best robot vacuums for every budget

Fri, 03 Dec 21 18:42:55 +0000

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

We all know at least one person who claims a robot vacuum has changed their life. Honestly, they're probably right. There is something to be said for always knowing your floors are clean. Plus, some people simply hate vacuuming.

Just like all tissues are called "Kleenex," and all bandages "Band-aids," robot vacuums and the brand Roomba have become interchangeable. But we're here to put some respect on the other names in the robot vacuum game.

Given Roomba-maker iRobot's domination of the robot vacuum market since 2002, this assumption made sense for a while. Roombas have been around longer than the movie Holes and came out less than a year after Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake stepped out in that all-denim ensemble.

But the first robotic vacuum wasn't even an iRobot brainchild. iRobot may be the brand to credit for making robot vacuums attainable for mainstream households, but Swedish brand Electrolux technically introduced the first robot vac in 1996. iRobot continues its reign as one of the best, but it wasn't the first — and isn't the last either.

Roborock, Shark, and Eufy have entered the chat.

This Black Friday, expect deals on all oft the aforementioned brands, plus iRobot of course. Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We're tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you're comfy with (whether that's under $300 or over $1,000 if it's really nice).

Are robot vacuums worth it?

The crisp control of an upright Dyson vacuum comes with its own type of buzz. But if you're not one to classify cleaning as cathartic, a robot vacuum could erase that huge, agonizing task off of your chore list. (And did we mention the joy of having first-day-clean floors every. single. day.? It's not totally unlike staying in a hotel in that regard.)

But whether robot vacuums are worth it or not comes with a caveat: It can't be just any robot vacuum. A cheap robovac that acts drunk — scattering dust rather than sucking, bumping into walls, getting stuck on area rugs — is completely missing that convenience factor that draws people to robot vacs in the first place. We've gathered the best-reviewed models in general for 2021, but some extra criteria specific to your home or needs can help narrow down the options:

  • Suction power: A vacuum is the one purchase that you hope sucks a lot. Suction power is typically measured in Pascals (Pa), ranging between 600 Pa to 2,500 Pa in the ones on this list. Stronger sucking will be needed to pick up heavier pieces of debris (be sure to set up a barrier around Legos) and to pull patted-down pet hair from rugs.

  • Floor type: Carpeting and high pile rugs will probably require stronger suction than hard floors, as well as special features like an extra-wide or self-cleaning brush roll to prevent hair from wrapping and clogging. Folks in homes with multiple floor types might consider a bigger, sturdier robovac that can hurl itself and its wheels over mats, rugs, and transitions from carpet to hard floors.

  • Home layout: Every robot vacuum is equipped with sensors and drop detection. But if your home has lots of rooms, lots of turns, or lots of close-together furniture, you'll have fewer navigation issues with an advanced model that uses intelligent mapping to remember exactly how your home is laid out, including labeling of specific rooms, mental notes of staircases, and ability to deploy zone cleaning.

  • Low-profile furniture: No one should have to be scared about what's accumulated under their couch over the past year. A robot vacuum measuring three inches or less in height should be able to scoot under most low-hanging couches and beds.

  • Battery life and square footage: One of the main complaints people have about their robot vacuum is that it craps out in the middle of the floor. Larger spaces require more time to clean, and it all depends on how annoyed you'll be if it only finishes a few rooms at a time. Average run times for the list below range between 90 and 150 minutes, which translate to about 500 and 2,600 square feet covered on one charge.

  • App control: WiFi-enabled robot vacuums can be synced with a smartphone app to control scheduling, manual start, cleaning settings, as well as telling your vac to make its rounds when you're not home. Low-end models that don't connect to WiFi will usually come with a separate remote. If you're used to asking Alexa or Google to turn off the lights or tell you the weather, a model with voice integration will blend in nicely.

Robot vacuums and pet hair

Pet hair can straight-up clown a botvac without the right features. If your home is shedding heaven, a D-shaped vacuum could take some of the pressure off of you to find the spots where it collects. We can't scientifically back this, but we're pretty sure pet hair gets up and crawls into corners when we're not looking. A robot vacuum with a flat side can fit into those 90-degree angles and skim the edges of walls better than most circular bots can.

The next line of defense is a tangle-free brush roll. It's essentially an XL brush roll that prevents shedding remnants from from getting wrapped up and tangled, likely having to be cut with scissors. Rubber trim or rubber fingers are a material that hair already doesn't like to stick to, but also works to kill static that may be pinning hair to a carpet.

A robot vac's filtration system is also an important consideration for homes with pets, as well as allergy sufferers in general. Vacuuming is bound to kick up dander, dust, and pollen into the air. A good filter captures that (HEPA filters catch the smallest particle) and makes sure it also makes its way into the dust bin. (All vacuums listed below have a HEPA filter unless noted otherwise in "The Bad" section.)

Roomba vs. Shark robot vacuums

In an unspoken sort of way, Roomba has been crowned as "the best" on the sole basis that it's the most established brand in the robot vacuum market. But Shark has the automatic advantage of being a brand that's hella established in the vacuum market as a whole, from stick vacuums to handheld ones, to ones with huge canisters.

But while Shark may be experts on suction power, brush rolls that don't tangle, and other things on the upright vacuum end, Roomba dominates the robot end. The maps created by a Roomba after it gets a sense of your home feature precision down to each room and the type of messes it typically sees. Shark's vacuums struggle to make reliable maps more often. Roombas also typically have better run time.

A general comparison between the two brands doesn't work so well. Like the Instant Pot vs. Ninja Foodi debate, Roomba has significantly more models to choose from at a range of prices and features that can be tailored to your needs. Shark's whole lineup is generally more budget-friendly than its most direct counterpart from Roomba. Shark offers self-emptying, a self-cleaning brushroll, and smart-home mapping for as low as $449.99, while iRobot's cheapest self-emptier starts at $599.99 (but goes as low as $399.99 during Black Friday). A few self-emptying Roombas topple that price, going as high as $1,299.99.

Whether iRobot, Shark, Robovac, or any other brand is the best at actual cleaning is pretty subjective. "Best" to someone with four dogs and lots of carpet may not mean "best" to someone with a huge house with stairs and 100% hardwood. At any rate, patience is required. Not even the best robot vacuum is guaranteed to not be a bumbling idiot on occasion, especially when they're still learning the blueprint of your home.

Here are the best robot vacuums for any home and budget in 2021:

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Spotify Wrapped memes are the gifts that keep on giving

Fri, 03 Dec 21 17:49:17 +0000

Every year, Spotify Wrapped brings up a lot for people.

It raises the alarming issue of how much data it's collected from its users. It holds up a megawatt mirror to our music choices revealing uncomfortable truths about our love for Olivia Rodrigo. It's more than we'd care to admit — let alone share with others. And last but not least, it's the perfect fodder for the internet's favorite pastime: memes.

But for some reason, this year felt a bit different. In years past, Spotify Wrapped memes appeared in a flurry and melted as quickly as they came. But this year was more of a slow burn. Maybe the meme-making has become more thoughtful. Maybe Spotify Wrapped memes don't feel as fun since social media consultants told big brands they should jump on the bandwagon. No matter the reason, by the end of the week there's been a strong accumulation of Spotify Wrapped memes. Here are our favorites.

The cringe copywriting this year was trying just a little too hard.

Spotify Wrapped's new aura feature had a lot of people feeling vulnerable and weird.

And then of course there was this lightning rod for graphic design style.

We've gotta hand it to Spotify for making us forget we're the product.

This one uses the Wrapped template in a laughing-through-the-tears kind of way.

Speaking of tears, it wouldn't be a Spotify Wrapped meme roundup without Taylor Swift

This time of year is always really hard for Apple Music users. So be kind, it's the season of giving.

This one really sums it up.

Last but not least Kendall, the king of cringe.

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Love organization? You need Notion.

Fri, 03 Dec 21 17:00:00 +0000

Essentials Week spotlights unexpected items that make our daily lives just a little bit better.

I'm a sucker for organization tools. Planners, highlighters, Post-its — I love it all, which is why I find the study video faction of YouTube ("studytube") to be a respite years after graduating from college.

Some months ago, an influx of studytube videos about the software Notion proliferated my feed. Minimalist yet customizable with more templates than I could ever dream up, Notion is like if Google Drive and list-making app Trello had a beautiful, beautiful baby. And yes, you can highlight text or even simulate Post-its.

I signed up for Notion, which has both free and paid versions, and never looked back. Notion has become an essential not just to sort my work life, but any to-do that comes my way.

Why Notion?

Physical supplies give me that warm fuzzy feeling, but I've been hard pressed to find an online system that engenders the same.

I've used Trello professionally, but wanted an app that does more than lists. Microsoft OneNote or Evernote are best for note-taking, and I already have the Notes app on my iPhone for that. Notes, meanwhile, is a chaotic heap of random thoughts, subway observations, and word dumps. Great for when I need to jot something down, but horrid for productivity.

A better process was critical, especially when I became fully vaccinated in mid-2021 and had to juggle personal outings again. It was then that Notion videos popped up on my YouTube homepage like magic (er, more like thanks to the algorithm, but I digress).

Notion is free if you plan on using it yourself, but they also have a Personal Pro option for $5 a month (or $4/month if you bill annually) if you want to collaborate with others, say when planning a project or a vacation. They have options for professional teams, too, for $10/month (or $8 if billed annually).

I use Notion for free and, as I'm not working with anyone, I don't see the need to upgrade to Pro. It's available on desktop on a browser or MacOS or Windows app, and mobile on iOS and Android. I found it best to create and rework pages on desktop, but mobile is great for reading and quick scribbles when necessary.

Notion has thousands of baked-in templates that benefit students and employees. Students can, say, create a page for their class schedule, or a rundown of their reading list. The app is also perfect for personal organization with options like a habit tracker or budget planner.

In addition to Notion's own templates, users can also create and share their own. Further, you can customize the look of your Notion with different fonts and colors. If you need inspiration, there are plenty of YouTube videos on how to create an "aesthetic" Notion.

I'm a simple gal, so I just have my Notion in dark mode. But what I love about the program is that if you're too lazy to personalize — as I am — it's still effortless to make it look pleasing anyway. You can "assign" an emoji to every page, for one, and add cover art too. Choose from artwork that Notion already has (from cool photographs of space to Renaissance art), or upload your own pictures.

Getting started with Notion

Creating a Notion account is painless: Sign up with your Google or Apple account, or with another email address. Notion will then ask your occupation and how you plan to use the app (in order to suggest potentially-helpful templates), and then you're ready to begin.

I'll admit, staring down an empty Notion is as intimidating as watching a blinking cursor on a blank Word document. The amount of possibilities can be paralyzing. What do you do?

Notion has a handy getting started page on its site with some basics. The app is made up of pages, either blank, a template, or even imported from Evernote, Asana, or other software. You can also start with a database, like a table or calendar:

A blank Notion page.
A blank Notion page. Credit: screenshot: notion

All pages are made up of "blocks," which according to Notion's blog is a "single piece of content you add to your page, like a to-do item, an image, a code block, an embedded file, etc." They're literally the building blocks of Notion.

To add a block to a page, press the / key and you'll be met with a list of options. From a simple bulleted list to a calendar to an audio upload — or even pages within pages! — blocks make Notion what it is.

Diving into blocks and pages can be overwhelming, but the good news here is that there's no "right" way to do Notion. It'll take time to figure out what's best for you and your workflow, but there's guidance along the way with YouTube tutorials and instructions from Notion itself.

If even that is too much, take a step back. What helped me figure out Notion was first understanding what I wanted to do with it. I longed to organize my work assignments and ideas; keep my personal to-do lists, tasks, and writing in order; and lay out my budget.

From there, I knew which questions to search (on Notion's blog, YouTube, or Google). For example: How do I create a spreadsheet? How do I import photos? Knowing what I wanted to do allowed me to easily find the answer. As I learned more, I had room to experiment as well.

Notion's learning curve isn't due to the complexity of the app but rather the sheer amount of tools that are at your disposal. After spending a few days or so learning by doing (and watching a lot of YouTube), I had it down and was ready to shout from the rooftops about how awesome it is.

How I organize my Notion

My Notion has five "hubs" based on different areas of focus.

My list of Notion hubs, including work and personal pages.
My list of Notion hubs, including work and personal pages. Credit: screenshot: notion

These are all the landing pages, which is a simple Notion page without a template. Then I created specific pages within each bucket. Here's an example inside my "Mashable hub."

Landing page for the Mashable hub, with specific pages like my due date calendar listed.
Landing page for the Mashable hub, with specific pages like my due date calendar listed. Credit: screenshot: notion

I have three pages in this hub: a calendar, a master to-do list, and a space for ideas. For the calendar, I started with a calendar database; for the to-do list, I used a tutorial on a simple checklist; and the ideas page is blank with a bulleted list.

Again, there's no correct way to do anything on Notion. It's customizable and also a breeze to troubleshoot: Hover over any page on Notion's sidebar and you'll see three dots, which enable you to delete, duplicate, or rename said page:

Page functions on Notion.
Page functions on Notion. Credit: screenshot: notion

Why I love Notion

Notion is intuitive once you know your way around it, which is just one reason it's become a daily essential for me this year. The variety of choice — whether it be page function or style — is also a boon. And it's all accessible on my laptop, iPhone, and iPad.

These factors have made Notion my ride-or-die organization system. I may never need another planner again.

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Get a Ninja Foodi blender and processor on Amazon and save $40

Fri, 03 Dec 21 16:50:24 +0000

GET 29% OFF: The Ninja Foodi SS201 is a three-in-one blender that crushes, food processes, and makes dough. For a limited time, the Ninja Foodi SS201 Power Blender and Processor are on sale for $99.99 — save $40 off their usual price.

A food processor can really feel like an "adult purchase." Having one in your kitchen can open up doors to recipes you never thought of trying, like purées, sauces, dressings, and more. Even better, a combined food processor and blender will upgrade any kitchen and save some counter space. If the idea of a three-in-one blender and food processor just excited you, then that means you truly are an adult. Congratulations.

The Ninja Foodi SS201 Power Blender and Processor is just $99.99 on Amazon as of Dec. 3.

In one convenient pitcher, the Ninja Foodi SS201 crushes, food processes, and makes dough. It comes with six preset Auto-iQ programs including frozen drinks, bowls, spreads, smoothies, chopping, and dough. Yes, you can make cookie dough with this blender.

The Ninja Foodi SS201 has incredible speed control so you can start slow and build up speed to break down even the toughest fruits and veggies. With the "Smart TORQUE" feature, you can power through your blend without needing to stop and stir.

It's super easy to clean. It includes a cleaning brush for hand washing and it's dishwasher safe. Although it's great when you're making food for three or more people, it's hard to use the Ninja Foodi SS201 for smaller portions. If you want a compact blender for a quick smoothie, you should look into personal blenders.

Chop chop and check out this powerful blender and food processor from a leading brand. The Ninja Foodi SS201 Power Blender and Processor is just $99.99 on Amazon.

Ninja Foodi SS201 Power Blender and Processor on a white background.
Credit: Ninja

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This is not a drill: Bath and Body Works three-wick candles are on sale for $10.25

Fri, 03 Dec 21 16:44:18 +0000

Save 60%: Bath and Body Works three-wick candles are on sale for just $10.25 with the code BESTDAYEVER as of Dec. 3, aka Candle Day. These candles are usually $25.50, making this a whopping $15.25 markdown and the best day of the year to pick up your favorite three-wick faves.

Come all ye Winter Candy Apple faithfuls, Champagne Toast devotees, and Sweater Weather enthusiasts: our moment has arrived.

The annual Bath and Body Works Candle Day sale is here, and all three-wick candles on the store's site are only $10.25 with the code BESTDAYEVER for Dec. 3 only. Whether you've been burning through Vanilla Bean Noel every December since you were sixteen, you're a casual candle fan, or you're shopping for stocking stuffers, you'll want to jump on this deal — it's the best you'll see on Bath and Body Works candles all year.

At the time of writing, Bath and Body Works is running a virtual line to enter the sale (folks love a good candle deal, so we're assuming this is to keep the website from crashing due to high traffic). Wait times vary, but you can pop in your email, and get sent a link with your place in line and a notification when it's your turn to shop. Just make sure you click your link within 10 minutes of receiving it, or you'll lose your place in line.

Once you're in, you'll have access to all the room-filling scents Bath and Body Works has to offer. You will want to get to shopping right away, as your session will expire after about 30 minutes or so. While you can use this time to stock up on all your favorite scents, the retailer does cut off this deal at 18 candles, so keep that in mind as you add 10 Fresh Balsam candles to your cart.

While almost nothing exudes more holiday energy than frantically shopping online for the most savings on the most festive (and non-festive, tbh) scents of season, if you miss today's sale, it'll still be going tomorrow at Bath and Body Works stores. See you all in the virtual line!

champage toast candle
Credit: Bath and Body Works
Bath and Body Works 3-Wick Candles
$10.25 at Bath and Body Works (save $15.25)

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Give your life a soundtrack with these JBL wireless earphones on sale for 50% off

Fri, 03 Dec 21 16:28:08 +0000

SAVE 50%: One of the deals miraculously still available from Black Friday is the JBL Tune 125TWS True Wireless In-Ear Headphones on sale for $49.95. That's half off their original price of $99.95, and their lowest price on Amazon, matched only during last Cyber Weekend.

With all the absolute bangers dropping towards the end of the year (Taylor please, let me live), it's been crucial to have a good pair of earphones to take your tunes on the go with you. Thankfully, JBL, an audio brand known for their products' convenience and easy user experience (has anyone not seen the iconic JBL Flip in every college student's apartment?), has you covered.

The JBL Tune 125TWS True Wireless In-Ear Headphones are a super sleek pair of earbuds with a lengthy battery life — eight hours for the earphones themselves, 24 more with the case fully charged so you can party all night long (in your bedroom, alone, with your earphones in like a responsible pandemic citizen) and then some. JBL's Pure Bass technology draws on its more than 60 years of audio engineering to produce powerful bass that lets you feel the music. The eartips come in three sizes, ensuring a fit for everyone (because one size never actually fits all). There are four colors (though blue and pink are sadly out of stock) to pick from, so that your buds can match your fit.

Best of all, these earphones are equipped with JBL Dual Connect, a feature that independently plays audio from each earbud and enables you to listen to music or make calls with left, right, or both buds. Plus, you can charge one earphone while using the other so you're never caught with dead earbuds ahead of a long commute. Seriously, you'll run out of battery and fall asleep before these do.

While they lack more advanced features like water resistance and soundproofing, the JBL Tune 125TWS True Wireless In-Ear Headphones are the best deal you could get for this price. Delivering solid sound and convenient wear, they're definitely a steal on Amazon at $49.95.

Black earphones in case
Credit: JBL

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Scoop up a discounted 2022 Tile tracker for one day only

Fri, 03 Dec 21 16:12:03 +0000

Need a last-minute white elephant gift that people will actually want? These 2022 Tile trackers are on sale at Amazon for one day only through Dec. 3:

  • OUR TOP PICK: Tile Mate (2022), a classic keychain tracker, now with longer Bluetooth range — $18.99 $24.99 (save 24%)

  • BEST FOR WALLETS: Tile Slim (2022), the ideal tracker for wallets, bags, and suitcases — $27.99 $34.99 (save 20%)

  • BEST FOR REMOTES AND GLASSES: Tile Sticker (2022), a tracker ideal for anything that doesn't have a keyring — $22.99 $29.99 (save 23%)

  • BEST FOR LONG-RANGE FINDING: Tile Pro (2022), a powerful tracker with a 400 foot Bluetooth range — $26.99 $34.99 (save 23%)

Before there were Apple AirTags, there were Tile Trackers.

Designed for the terminally forgetful, Tile Trackers allow you to find your stuff, wherever you are. Use your phone to ping your wallet or keys when you're within Bluetooth range, view your item's most recent location through the app when out of range, and even use your smart home devices to ping your belongings with your voice. If those features sound like things you need, you're in luck. Amazon is offering a one-day-only deal on the new collection of Tile trackers, with up to 24% off.

If you noticed that these prices don't quite match the ones we saw for Tile trackers during Cyber Weekend, you're right. That's because those deals were on the previous generation of trackers. This deal brings us a first discount on the 2022 Tile lineup, which all include louder ringing volume, an upgraded IP67 dust and water resistance, and new sleek designs. Read on to see the difference between each tracker, or head to Amazon to shop them all.

OUR TOP PICK: Tile Mate (2022)$18.99 (save 24%)

A small, black, square bluetooth tracker
Credit: Tile
Tile Mate (2022)
$18.99 at Amazon (save 24%)

Why we like it

You truly can't go wrong with the original keychain-friendly design of the Tile Mate. Throw it on your keys, attach it to your backpack zipper, or even put one on your dog's collar to keep track of all the things that are most important to you. This Tracker supports a 250-foot Bluetooth range, allows you to find your phone using it, and comes with a three-year battery.

BEST FOR WALLETS: Tile Slim (2022)$27.99 (save 20%)

A slim, black, rectangular bluetooth tracker
Credit: Tile
Tile Slim (2022)
$27.99 at Amazon (save 20%)

Why we like it

If you're constantly patting down your pockets or ripping apart every bag you own to find your wallet, a Tile Slim may be in order. It's super thin and can be placed in the credit card section of your wallet, inside a suitcase, a purse, and more. It also has a 250-foot Bluetooth range and is the perfect traveling companion.

BEST FOR REMOTES AND GLASSES: Tile Sticker (2022)$22.99 (save 23%)

A small, black, round bluetooth tracker
Credit: Tile
Tile Sticker (2022)
$22.99 at Amazon (save 23%)

Why we like it

Never stick your hand inside your couch again with the Tile Sticker. The small, round design comes with a strong adhesive backing, so it can be attached to remotes, the case for your glasses, or any other item that cant be attached to a keychain.

BEST FOR LONG-RANGE FINDING: Tile Pro (2022)$26.99 (save 23%)

Long, black bluetooth tracker
Credit: Tile
Tile Pro (2022)
$26.99 at Amazon (save 23%)

Why we like it

If you have a big house or regularly leave your stuff in the car, the Tile Pro has a longer, 400 foot Bluetooth range. This version has a one-year replaceable battery and a new streamlined shape that isn't as clunky as its predecessor.

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Can't get enough of the MCU? 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy' is already on sale for over 50% off.

Fri, 03 Dec 21 15:52:16 +0000

SAVE $33: As of Dec. 3, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, one of the biggest game releases of 2021, is already on sale for over 50% off the original price (just $26.99).

Some of us have MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) fatigue, but some of us simply cannot get enough. Please, give us any morsel of superhero content you can. More Disney+ shows. More Funko Pops. We'll even take a movie based on Hindsight Lad at this point. And if you're a Marvel fan that also plays video games, you're even more well-fed with titles like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Avengers, and more to come.

One of the most recent Marvel game releases, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, is one that we liked very much, and it's already on sale — as a part of an extended Cyber Monday deal, you can get the game for over 50% off the original price (just $26.99).

While not connected to the MCU, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is an adventure that's worth experiencing. You'll step into the jet boots of Star-Lord and lead an unlikely group of heroes through an intergalactic journey, making stops at mysterious planets and meeting new faces (some good, some bad) along the way. You'll engage in hectic combat encounters, make narrative choices that have lasting effects on your team, and explore the far corners of each star system you travel to. There's also a sick soundtrack of iconic '80s tunes to accompany you, as expected.

Gear up and save the galaxy — pick up Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy at GameStop and save over 50% off the original price for a limited time.

'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy' box art
Credit: Eidos Montreal
'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy'
$26.99 at GameStop (save $33)

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This double-duty Keurig brews bold coffee and creamy lattes in minutes — and it's 60% off

Fri, 03 Dec 21 15:50:03 +0000

GET 60% OFF: The Keurig K-Latte brews both rich, full-flavored coffee and deliciously creamy lattes in minutes. Starting Dec. 3, the Keurig K-Latte single-serve coffee and latte maker is just $57 at Walmart — that's about $87 in savings.

It's about that time of year where getting out of bed is harder, going to work is more of a chore, and all you want to do is curl up on the couch and watch Netflix. Luckily, there's a universal solution that can help us all put a little more pep in our steps: coffee.

If you're looking for a new home brewing system to spice up your season, the Keurig K-Latte is a double-duty gem. And as of Dec. 3, it's on sale for just $57 at Walmart, which is a 60% discount from its usual price of $143.95.

The Keurig K-Latte is a single-serve coffee and latte maker, which means it can brew a cup of rich, full-flavored coffee or whip up a deliciously creamy latte in just a few minutes. It works with any K-Cup pod, too, so your options for flavor are basically endless.

For brewing basic coffee, it's pretty straightforward: pop in the K-Cup pod, press brew, and voila! A bold cup of Joe. When you're feeling fancy and craving a creamy latte instead, there's a coffee SHOT button you can push to brew a concentrated shot of coffee from any K-Cup pod. Then, you'll froth your choice of milk with the built-in milk frother — skim, soy, almond, oat, etc. — and enjoy.

The frother is easy to clean and easy to use. Plus, the clever design lets you flip up the base of the frother when it's not in use. So, despite working double duty, it'll also save counter space.

Of course, like most Keurig machines, you can also choose from 6, 8, or 10 ounce cups, and even brew tea or cocoa.

If you're a specialty coffee fan, this two-in-one Keurig machine is a treat each morning. You might actually find yourself excited to get out of bed to use it — even in the bone-chilling days of winter. It won't be $57 forever though, so snag the deal at Walmart while the sale lasts.

keurig k-latte with milk frother and cups of coffee
Credit: Keurig

Other Keurig deals at Walmart:

  • Keurig Duo Essentials, for brewing single-serve K-Cups and ground coffee carafes — $79 $99 (save $20)

  • Keurig K-Slim, a single-serve K-Cup coffee maker for tight spaces — $79 $89.99 (save $11)

  • Keurig K-Supreme, a classic Keurig that brews stronger and more personalized cups — $99.99 $149.99 (save $50)

  • Keurig DeskPro Brewing System, a simple 8-ounce cup brewer designed for hospitality — $85.32 $112.86 (save $27)

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Apple reckons it's time to go for a walk with Prince William

Fri, 03 Dec 21 15:43:07 +0000

Apple is encouraging you to go for a walk around the neighbourhood while enjoying the dulcet tones of checks notes Prince William.

His Royal Highness has been announced as the next audio guest on "Time to Walk" with Apple Fitness+. Each episode invites you to listen to influential people monologue about their lives while you're valiantly putting one foot in front of the other, with celebrities like Dolly Parton, Shawn Mendes, Uzo Aduba, Randall Park, Draymond Green, Jane Fonda, Camila Cabello, Min Jin Lee, Naomi Campbell, and more pouring their famous voices into your active eardrums.

The series is available to access through Apple Watch, in the Workout app with a Fitness+ subscription, paired with either AirPods or any other Bluetooth headphones. Each episode runs about 25 to 40 minutes, and sees the guest sharing personal stories, often with photos or music.

Prince William's episode will be released on Dec. 6. As previous episodes have done, the Duke of Cambridge and second in line to the throne will reflect on the importance of mental health. According to Apple, "He also reflects on a lighthearted moment when he was drawn out of his comfort zone, the value of listening as a way to empower others, and an experience that led him to prioritize mental health."

Prince William has spoken publicly about mental health in the past, talking to the BBC about his experience with grief following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, and calling for an end to the stigma around mental health, as hard as it can be to ask for help.

This might surprise some, however, as mental heath is notably a key issue for the royal family behind closed doors. It's also something his brother, Prince Harry, has been speaking about publicly for a while now, alongside the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who went into detail about her own struggle with mental health as part of (and let's be real here, as a direct result of) the royal family.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan and Harry, actually teamed up in 2019 to bring a version of the U.S.-founded Crisis Text Line to the UK, investing £3m in an offshoot service called Shout. Apple will, in fact, make donations to the Crisis Text Line in the U.S., Shout in the UK, and Lifeline — a 24-hour crisis support line — in Australia, all charities picked by the prince.

So it's all for a good cause. Whether you want to do your morning walk with a member of the British royal family is up to you.

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The best robot vacuum deals live as of Dec 3: Many Black Friday prices still available

Fri, 03 Dec 21 15:30:40 +0000

UPDATE: Dec. 3, 2021, 10:25 a.m. EST This story has been updated to reflect current prices and availability of multiple robot vacuums.

We've compiled the best deals on robot vacuums from brands like iRobot, Shark, and Ecovacs. Here are the ones to grab — live as of Dec. 3:

  • BUDGET PICK: The iRobot Roomba 692 offers a standard, reliable cleaning for under $175 — $174.99 $299.99 (save $125)

Only three things are certain in life: Death, taxes, and a few days each month when you need to vacuum but just don't have time. Whether you detest the chore or get a little bummed when you can't have that satisfying dance with your Dyson, a robot vacuum is a universal lifesaver. Shop models on sale below.

Robot vacuums under $200:

Black robot vacuum and phone on iRobot screen on white background
Credit: iRobot
Our pick: iRobot Roomba 692
$174.99 at Amazon (save $125)

Why we like it

We're pumped to welcome back the cheapest Roomba we've seen this season. The 694 is part of iRobot's entry-level series, offering a standard clean to keep floors tidy on a daily basis. Cleanings can be scheduled in the app based on your needs. The only difference between the 694 ($179.99) and the 692 is that the latter doesn't include an extra filter.

More robot vacuums under $200

Robot vacuums under $500

Dark grey robot vacuum with dock on white background
Credit: Shark

Why we like it

$299.99 is a stellar price for a self-emptying robot vacuum — and from a brand like Shark at that. The EZ vacuum isn't decked out with features, but cleans efficiently and returns to dirty areas that need more work. Its auto-empty dock is compact and less of an eyesore than those of other Sharks.

More robot vacuums under $500

Robot vacuums under $800

New Roomba with compact auto-empty dock
Credit: iRobot
Our pick: iRobot Roomba j7+
$649 at Amazon (save $200.99)

Why we like it

The new face in town is the Roomba j7+. Just released in Sept. 2021, the j7+ is now seeing its second big discount (24% off versus the 18% off we saw in early November). The glow-up consists of Genius Technology and PrecisionVision Navigation to avoid obstacles that were previously problem-causers, like pet waste and cords. The j7+ also self-empties.

More robot vacuums under $800:

Robot vacuum and mop hybrids and dedicated robot mops

Black robot vacuum on white background
Credit: Ecovacs
Our pick: Ecovacs Deebot T8+
$449.99 at Best Buy (save $300)

Why we like it:

The Deebot T8+ includes fundamental smart upgrades like LiDAR mapping and virtual boundaries for customizing its cleaning path down to specific rooms or areas. It also has sensors that avoid carpets while mopping and uses 3D obstacle detection to avoid small objects that cheaper vacs usually trip over.

More hybrids and robot mops on sale

Are robot vacuums worth it?

The control of an upright vacuum comes with its own type of satisfaction. But if you're not one to classify cleaning as cathartic, a robot vacuum could erase that huge, agonizing task off of your chore list. (And did we mention the joy of having first-day-clean floors all the time?)

But whether robot vacuums are worth it or not comes with a caveat: It can't be just any robot vacuum. A cheap robovac that doesn't do the job right — scattering dust, bumping into walls, getting stuck on area rugs — is completely missing the point and will actually create more work for you.

What to consider when buying a robot vacuum

  • Suction power: A vacuum is the one purchase that you hope sucks a lot. Suction power is typically measured in Pascals (Pa), ranging between 600 Pa to 2,500 Pa. Stronger sucking will be needed to pick up heavier pieces of debris (be sure to set up a barrier around Legos) and to pull matted-down pet hair from rugs.

  • Floor type: Carpeting and high pile rugs will probably require stronger suction than hard floors, as well as special features like an extra-wide or self-cleaning brush roll to prevent hair from wrapping and clogging. Folks in homes with multiple floor types might consider a bigger, sturdier robot vacuum that can hurl itself and its wheels over mats, rugs, and transitions from carpet to hard floors.

  • Home layout: Every robot vacuum is equipped with sensors and drop detection. But if your home has lots of rooms, lots of turns, or lots of close-together furniture, you'll have fewer navigation issues with an advanced model that uses intelligent mapping to remember exactly how your home is laid out, including labeling of specific rooms, mental notes of staircases, and ability to deploy zone cleaning.

  • Low-profile furniture: No one should have to be scared about what's accumulated under their couch over the past year. A robot vacuum measuring three inches or less in height should be able to scoot under most low-hanging couches and beds.

  • Battery life and square footage: One of the main complaints people have about their robot vacuum is that it craps out in the middle of the floor. Larger spaces require more time to clean, and it all depends on how annoyed you'll be if it only finishes a few rooms at a time. Average run times for the list below range between 90 and 150 minutes, which translate to about 500 and 2,600 square feet covered on one charge.

  • App control: WiFi-enabled robot vacuums can be synced with a smartphone app to control scheduling, manual start, cleaning settings, as well as telling your vac to make its rounds when you're not home. Low-end models that don't connect to WiFi will usually come with a separate remote. If you're used to asking Alexa or Google to turn off the lights or tell you the weather, a model with voice integration will blend in nicely.

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The biggest EV reveals of 2021 from Tesla, Ford, and more

Fri, 03 Dec 21 14:55:55 +0000

Even amid a pandemic and a semiconductor chip shortage, the electric vehicles keep coming.

And not just luxury cars. Subaru, Hyundai, and Kia are all releasing EVs. Also coming soon: the first generation of electric pickup trucks.

And that doesn't even cover everything. Here are the biggest EV unveilings of 2021.

Tesla Model S Plaid

Tesla went for speed with the first major redesign to the Model S. The $129,990 Plaid version goes from 0 to 60 mph in under two seconds with a top speed of 200 mph, and has nearly 400 miles of range. The Model X will also get the Plaid treatment, but not until next year.

Plaid is fast.
Plaid is fast. Credit: tesla

Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford is releasing an electric version of its popular F-150 pick-up truck. The F-150 Lightning will start at under $40,000 and has a range of 230 miles. While it was announced in May, the first electric truck from Ford will reach customers in 2022.

An electric F-150.
An electric F-150. Credit: ford

Chevy Silverado EV

This is GM's response to Ford's Lightning. The company hasn't shared many details since its announcement in April, but we do know it will use GM's modular battery platform, Ultium, that provides 400 miles of range.


The iNext concept car was the inspiration for BMW's next big EV release. Now known as the iX, the dual-motor luxury EV features fast charging and 300 miles of range. The car won't arrive until 2022, and will start at $83,200.

The iX is a luxury EV.
The iX is a luxury EV. Credit: brittany levine beckman / mashable

Hyundai Ioniq 5

A compact SUV, the Ioniq 5 has a 300-mile range. It'll come with free fast charging for two years on the Electrify America network once the car arrives later this year.

The Ioniq 5 is a compact SUV.
The Ioniq 5 is a compact SUV. Credit: hyundai

Kia EV6

This is Kia's first EV that doesn't have a gas-powered counterpart. It'll offer 315 miles of range. The $56,000 car won't make it to the U.S. until the first part of 2022. European and South Korean deliveries started in October.

More EVs coming from Kia.
More EVs coming from Kia. Credit: kia

Subaru Solterra

Subaru is going electric. Through a partnership with Toyota (of hybrid Prius fame), the Solterra will be an all-electric SUV available at some point in 2022. This will be the Japanese company's first EV.

A first look at Subaru's first electric SUV.
A first look at Subaru's first electric SUV. Credit: subaru

GMC Hummer SUV

Last year was all about the revived Hummer "supertruck." Now there's a luxury SUV version of the off-roading vehicle. The base version won't arrive until 2024 for $79,995, but an already sold-out first edition version will get here in 2023. It'll start at $105,595 with a removable glass roof and crab mode for diagonal driving.

It's like the Hummer EV pickup truck, but an SUV.
It's like the Hummer EV pickup truck, but an SUV. Credit: gmc screenshot

Audi Q4 e-tron

This is the next iteration of Audi's first EV, the e-tron. The newest version is sportier, with a sloped back windshield. It's launching in Europe and will make it to the U.S. by the end of the year for $45,000. That's cheaper than the original e-tron, which sells for nearly $66,000. The smaller Q4 e-tron can get up to 323 miles on a single charge.

Audi Q4 e-tron is the newest electric Audi.
Audi Q4 e-tron is the newest electric Audi. Credit: audi

Canoo pickup truck

The Ford Lightning wasn't the only electric truck debut this year. EV startup Canoo showed off its mini truck. Expected to arrive in 2023, it's a modular vehicle with moveable parts to customize the experience. The six-foot long bed can be extended and the battery lasts for 200 miles.

The newest Canoo EV is a pod-truck.
The newest Canoo EV is a pod-truck. Credit: canoo

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Porsche's Taycan line of electric vehicles debuted in 2019. In 2021, the German carmaker added a longer version of the car with more space in the trunk and cabin. It arrived at the end of the year for a starting price of $90,900.

The elongated Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The elongated Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo. Credit: Porsche

Porsche Taycan GTS and GTS Sport Turismo

The Taycan electric lineup keeps growing. At the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, Porsche introduced two new versions for a total of 10 Taycans. The new GTS cars are just below Turbo level and the GTS has the best range at over 310 miles. Both will be available in the spring: the Porsche Taycan GTS starts at $149,209 and the GTS Sport Turismo starts at $150,287.

More Taycan choices.
More Taycan choices. Credit: Porsche

Chevy Bolt EUV

Chevy's classic Bolt EV bulked up. The larger SUV version starts at $33,995 and gets 250 miles on a charge. A version with the Super Cruise hands-free driving system will cost $43,495. The EUV — short for electric utility vehicle — arrived over the summer but was quickly recalled (along with the original Bolt EV) after risk of battery fires.

The new look for the Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV.
The new look for the Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV. Credit: chevy

Chevy Bolt EV

The 2022 Bolt got a redesign and refreshed interior, with a new front grille and revamped front console. It also got a price reduction. The 259-mile version dropped from $36,500 to $31,995.

Cadillac Celestiq

Cadillac's second EV after the Lyriq SUV, the Celestiq is a luxury sedan that will arrive in 2022. Cadillac hasn't revealed many other details, like its price or range.

Cadillac introduces its next EV: the Celestiq.
Cadillac introduces its next EV: the Celestiq. Credit: general motors

Dodge muscle car, Ram pickup, and Jeep SUV

The Stellantis brands went all in on electric and made announcements for a series of new all-electric versions of classic cars and trucks. One is a revamped Dodge muscle car coming in 2024. Dodge has since announced that it is phasing out its gas-powered Charger and Challenger cars for its upcoming EV version.

Ram also announced an electric 1500 pickup truck, and Jeep announced an electric SUV.

Honda Prologue

Honda is finally embracing electric with its Prologue. The electric SUV is supposed to arrive in 2024 through a partnership with General Motors. But that's about all we know concerning the first e-Honda.

Genesis GV60

Hyundai's luxury brand is going electric without plugging in. The GV60 electric compact SUV will come to the U.S. in 2022 after a release in South Korea. The car will be able to charge its roughly 270-mile range battery wirelessly over a charging pad. Pricing is expected to start around $55,000 for U.S. buyers.

Easy charging.
Easy charging. Credit: GENESIS

Related Video: 10 car companies coming for Tesla's EV crown

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The 7 TikTok recipes of 2021 that actually deserved the hype

Fri, 03 Dec 21 14:48:24 +0000

Where I was once skeptical, I am now a convert: TikTok is fantastic for people who love cooking, eating, and learning about food.

There are a lot of talented cooks and creators on the app — a personal favorite is chef @sad_papi — but there are those singular dishes that transcend the platform to become global trends in and of themselves. This year, certain TikTok recipes, somehow, someway, ended up just as popular as the renegade dance. We're talking "ingredients became hard to find" popular.

With 2021 coming to a close, let's a take a moment to remember the viral recipes that went from our FYPs to our dinner tables this year.

1. The folded quesadilla

Remember this sucker? Basically, all you do is cut a slit in a large tortilla, load each quarter of the wrap with different ingredients, and then... fold it. The result is essentially a quesadilla sandwich. It's a useful culinary trick from TikTok if you want a quesadilla on the go.

Look at this fried chicken quesadilla — a hot n' saucy, cheesy monstrosity made by user @woodfireandwhiskey. 10/10, absolutely would eat again.

folded quesadilla with fried chicken, hot sauce, jalapeńo, and cheese
CHEESE. Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @woodfireandwhiskey

2. The baked feta pasta

If you didn't see this trend, on or off TikTok, I honestly don't know what you were doing this year. It was nearly impossible to get a block of feta in February and March because everyone was trying this recipe at home.

Part of its appeal is the simplicity: You bake garlic, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and a whole block of feta in the oven for roughly 30 minutes. Throw in some herbs when it's finished baking, and then toss in your favorite cooked pasta. Bam, you have the viral pasta. (Spoiler alert: It's actually really good.)

3. Air fryer pasta chips

I actually tested this recipe out for Mashable's weekly series AirFryDay and found it to be meh at best. Yet, it was undeniably popular. In effect, you boil some pasta then air fry it, creating crunchy pasta chips that you can use a vehicle for more flavorful dips and spreads.

But ultimately, I found the snack to be far too heavy and neither airy nor crisp like a classic potato chip. Though, there's nothing a generous helping of dipping sauce won't fix.

4. The ubiquitous Gigi Hadid vodka sauce pasta

Is it kind of weird that a lot of TikTok users probably think that model Gigi Hadid invented penne alla vodka? Sure. But she did show people how to make a very tasty, super easy pasta dish. Those people then posted it all over TikTok.

There are a number of variations of the dish, but pretty much every version starts with sautéing oil, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Then, you stir in some tomato paste, deglaze with a glug of vodka, douse with heavy cream, and plop in a pad of butter before tossing your cooked pasta into the sauce. It's easy and delicious.

5. Emily Mariko's salmon and rice bowl

If you don't know and love Emily Mariko, the patron saint of farmers' markets and soothing cooking TikToks, then stop what you're doing and read my story on the queen of salmon bowls right now. Her leftover creation — which involves microwaving rice (don't forget the ice cube!), shredded salmon, then topping with Kewpie mayo — took the world by storm.

And it's since afforded Mariko with a passionate following of aspiring home cooks and people who generally want to feel like they have their lives together.

salmon with rice in a bowl with woman taking bite
The recipe that took over the world. Credit: TikTok / @Emilymariko

It was such an approachable, healthy, but actually filling recipe that inspired so many others to follow in her footsteps.

6. Nature's cereal

I'm going to be honest: I did not try this one. Nature's cereal, as TikTok called it, was a trend where people put berries and fruit in a bowl, topped it with coconut water, maybe some ice, and then dug in with a spoon. It originally went viral from a post by @natures_food but really took off after Lizzo endorsed it.

fruit in a bowl, lizzo eating
Berries and coconut water...OK then. Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @Lizzo

This trend definitely benefitted from having a catchy name. Nature's cereal just sounds fresh and tasty. The Cut's verdict was that while it was pleasant to snack on a crunchy fruit bowl, nature's cereal was not as delicious as, you know, actual cereal.

7. Air fried corn ribs

And finally, our last recipe is a pretty odd one. It became a TikTok trend this year to cut corncobs into quarters (roughly the shape of a pork rib), add a healthy amount of seasoning, and air fry. The end result was a crispy, curly, appetizer-sized corn rib. This February recipe from @spicednice racked up more than 14 million views and helped spark the corn rib craze.

corn cobs cut and cooked to look like ribs
These do look tasty, to be honest. Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @spicednice

Is it odd to put in that much extra effort to make air fried corn? Sure. But I could actually see this being a great party snack, and the folks who made it seemed to really love it.

It just goes to show, don't knock any food trend from TikTok in 2022 until you've tried it. It might seem silly, but you could discover a new favorite dish.

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'Benedetta' is a sexy nun biopic with wicked wit

Fri, 03 Dec 21 14:26:39 +0000

When you hear that the director of Showgirls made a movie about lesbian nuns, you might suspect Benedetta to be outlandishly raunchy and ferociously campy, reveling in the trashy tropes. However, Paul Verhoeven brings exquisite artistry to this stranger-than-fiction tale, delivering a biopic full of outrageous moments with a sophisticated yet wicked wit. 

Based on the life of a controversial figure in Catholic history, Benedetta follows 17th-century Italian nun Benedetta Carlini from her girlhood in a convent into her vivid religious visions, her romance with a bewitching novice named Bartolemea, and the fiery rebuke from those who doubted her alleged miracles. The contents of this journey are shocking, ranging from full-frontal nudity, graphic sex, and physical torture, to Jesus Christ re-imagined as a strapping action hero, and a religious statuette refashioned as a sex toy. Yet there's a reverence in this irreverence. Verhoeven doesn't play these scandalous elements like they're some saucy joke. He regards sex and violence with awe to reflect the perspective of his rebellious heroine, who felt primal desires had a place in faith. 

A blonde woman in rags sits in a rustic carriage. A brunette woman looks on in concern, a crowd around her.
Credit: IFC Films

As Benedetta, Virginie Efira grounds the film in a glowing and nuanced performance. Her face slides smoothly from beatific to alertly aroused as unexpected excitement rushes at her, either in messages from her holy husband or her seductive sister. Verhoeven and co-writer David Birke model Jesus's scenes with her after high romance. So, they meet in a picturesque field or he busts out a sword to rescue her from a rampaging viper. Bartolomea's wooing is far more earthly, including snort-giggling, clumsy kisses, fart jokes, and an eagerness not only to please but to experiment. With a wild smile and gleeful glint in her eye, Daphne Patakia plays Benedetta's lesbian lover with a guilelessness that sweetens more sordid scenes. Together, they make for a mesmerizing odd couple. As Benedetta's high-class poise collides frenetically with Bartholomewa's low-class impulsiveness, their love sparks joy. 

Benedetta is inarguably gorgeous....It's also unapologetically ugly and blasphemous.

But all is not well in this convent. When Benedetta's visions escalate to signs of stigmata, the abbess Sister Felicita (Charlotte Rampling) begins snooping on these secret lovers. The drama brews over how the higher-ups in the church respond to Benedetta's rumored saintliness. But Rampling's role becomes a source for unexpected comedy. Surely, Verhoeven must anticipate that his audience will chuckle at some of the sisters' sexcapades. However, those laughs are sparked by surprise, not comedic crafting. His humor is keenly honed to cut through the hypocrisy in Catholicism. In this, Rampling is his high priestess of satire.

It begins in the first act, when the abbess sits down with a young Benedetta's affluent father to discuss what he will pay to surrender her to the convent. The man practically balloons with faux-pious pride as he enters, but he is quickly punctured by Felicita's stern haggling for a dowry. After all, shouldn't a father gladly pay more to marry his daughter to Christ than he would to wed her to some random mortal man? As she'll snarl later, "A convent is not a place of charity, child. You must pay to come here.”

If that doesn't amuse you, then Benedetta is not for you. 

a group of nuns sit together in silence.
Credit: IFC Films

Verhoeven unblinkingly declares that the higher-ups in the church are hypocrites and scoundrels, who have the same lust and greed as the rest of us, but hide it under their pristine robes. He exhibits the nakedness of his heroines' beautiful bodies not solely to titillate, but also to remind us of the humans hidden beneath the modest attire — and more specifically of their natural desires. The villains' skin will be exposed too. However, in a period of plague, their internal ugliness will be revealed with a body-marring metaphor that is not for the faint of stomach. 

In celebrating this provocative religious figure, Verhoeven paints Benedetta's biopic in rich tones, which make the flush of flesh stand out against the white and black of a nun's habit. The performances are fearless, yet not preposterous. These are neither the heightened performances of Showgirls or Starship Troopers nor of the kind found in a long line of religious epics, where every line of dialogue is treated as a grand pronouncement. Verhoeven took pains to exhibit this larger-than-life woman and those who knew her as people, complicated and colorful. Yet, there's still an opaqueness to Benedetta that asks: Where is the line between faith and forgery? Is Benedetta a heretic? A con artist? A sinner? A saint? Or could it be a combination of all of the above? Verhoeven will usher you into her world, rich with passion, devotion, and humanity, grimy yet glorious. However, he won't give you an easy out. 

In the end, Benedetta is inarguably gorgeous, a Renaissance painting brought to life with yearning and verve. It's also occasionally ugly and unapologetically profane. While God is divine, mankind is a mess. And this bold movie celebrates it all. 

Benedetta opens in theaters on Dec. 3 then comes to On Demand on Dec. 21.

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You can use AI to grow plants now — Future Blink

Fri, 03 Dec 21 14:23:44 +0000

La Grangette is a vertical garden that uses smart tech to monitor how your plants are growing.

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This slick, sculpture-like cubicle is actually a 3D printed toilet — Future Blink

Fri, 03 Dec 21 14:21:37 +0000

Developed by Spanish design studio Nagami, "The Throne" is a portable toilet constructed from recycled plastic and designed to compost solid waste.

The sleek-looking bathroom was put together using 3D printers and took just three days.

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