Organizer
Gadget news
Webflow website builder review
2:42 am | September 28, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Website Building | Comments: Off

Webflow is arguably one of the best website builders for those who want to maintain code-level control over their website - without having to actually write any code. 

This makes Webflow one of the best website builders for agencies and freelancers, allowing users to create highly bespoke sites with practically boundless possibilities. Ideal for building clients' websites tailored specifically to their needs. 

Webflow also offers users access to countless helpful resources. So even if you don't currently have the knowledge and experience you need to use their powerful tools, it isn’t hard to learn everything you need to know. 

So, if you think one of the most flexible website builders might be right for you, read on to discover everything Webflow has to offer. 

screenshot of webflow pricing page

Here's a snapshot of Webflow's plans and pricing (Image credit: Webflow)

Plans and pricing

When you start using Webflow, you’ll have the option to choose between site plans and workspace plans. Site plans are for personal websites, blogs, and small businesses. Within site plans you will have access to both general site options and ecommerce options. Account plans are targeted more towards professionals, making them ideal for agencies and freelancers. 

The Starter plan is their entry level option and is totally free. It includes everything you need to try Webflow. There’s no credit card required for setup and you can use it for an unlimited time. It includes access to a Webflow.io domain, 50 CMS items, and 50 form submissions. 

The Basic plan costs $14.00 per month when you pay annually or $18.00 billed monthly. This gives you everything from the paid plan, plus extra site pages (150) and an allowance of 250K visitors. The CMS plan costs $23 monthly (paid annually) or $28 paid monthly, for this you get 3 website editors, site search, and 250GB of bandwidth. 

The Business plan costs $39.00 per month when paid annually ($49 paid monthly). It includes everything in the CMS plan, plus extra bandwidth (400GB), extra editors (10), and form file upload. For anything above and beyond the Business plan you can contact Webflow for a bespoke package. 

When it comes to ecommerce there are 3 options to choose from. Standard at $29/mo (paid annually) or $49/mo (paid monthly). This comes with 500 ecommerce items, 2000 CMS items, a 2% transaction fee, and all the features of the CMS plan.

Plus is $74/mo (paid annually) or $84/mo (paid monthly). You get 5000 ecommerce items, 10,000 CMS items, and no transaction fee (plus everything from the Business plan). Advanced is $212/mo (paid annually) or $235/mo (paid monthly). This gives you 10,000 extra ecommerce items on top of everything from the Plus plan. 

If you need a workspace plan, you have 3 options. The Starter plan is free and comes with access for one user, unlimited paid hosted sites, two webflow.io staging sites (with 2 pages and 50 CMS items), 2 agency guests, and 2 free commenters.

The Core is $19/mo (paid annually) or $28/mo (paid monthly) plan gives you extra users, staging sites, and commenters, as well as page password protection and the ability to use custom code. The Growth plan is $49/mo (paid annually) or $60/mo (paid monthly) - it gives you more users, unlimited staging sites, and publishing permissions. 

You can also contact Webflow about personalized packages for any needs which exceed these plans.

Here's a picture of a free Webflow template 

Here's a picture of a free Webflow template  (Image credit: Webflow)

Interface

The interface is very easy to navigate - you can access all of the free templates and start using them right away. It’s also easy to find any of the website building tools and features. Everything on Webflow is very well-organized. For example, if you’re looking at templates and want something for a photography portfolio, all you need to do is select free templates and then start searching by category, the style you want, or by features. Tons of examples will show up for you to look through. The organization and free easy access makes finding a template quick and easy.  

Here's an example of the video library in Webflow University

Here's an example of the video library in Webflow University (Image credit: Webflow)

Features

The best feature is the Webflow University 101 Crash Course videos

The videos are designed to teach you how to use Webflow and give you all the tricks to make website building a smooth process. The videos are organized into different lesson categories, and most of them range from 5 to 15 minutes in length. 

Anyone can enrol in Webflow University for free and access all of the videos. Even if you’re using the Webflow free version or just want to learn more about building a website, these videos are a great resource.  

Webflow has a high level of security compared to other web hosts 

Webflow has a high level of security compared to other web hosts  (Image credit: Webflow)

The competition

Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, are just a few of the top competitors to Webflow. Wix does offer a free trial for an unlimited time, however, it doesn’t even compare to Webflow’s free storage space - Wix includes 50 MB while Webflow offers 10 GB. Also, not many web hosts offer free videos to help you get started. Overall, Webflow does a great job against giant competitors such as Wix and Squarespace. 

Webflow review: Summary

No matter what stage you’re at with building a website, there’s a lot of options on Webflow that could take your website to the next level. The downside is how you can’t export CMS content, however, you will have access to plenty of free materials. Webflow comes with an entire library of video resources, hundreds of free templates, and you can use the free version for an unlimited time. The interface is also very organized - it doesn’t feel like you’re using a cheap web host. Templates look professional and everything is well organized. Overall, Webflow is a great web host, especially if you want to learn new tricks for making website building a lot easier. 

BolehVPN review
1:43 pm | September 25, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

When you’re protecting your identity and information online, you need the best VPNs to keep activities safe, secure, and secret. 

One popular use is, of course, using a VPN to block geo-restricted content on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and BBC iPlayer  - little wonder, then, that we’ve seen a rise in Netflix VPNs and streaming VPNs.  

The privacy tools are also useful for protecting IP addresses when downloading torrents. VPNs for torrenting prevent your ISP monitoring what you’re downloading. 

When looking for a VPN (even a free VPN), we always recommend looking for one that offers everything - letting you stream geo-locked content, while being the fastest VPNs - without any functional gaps. So, how does BolehVPN measure up? 

Despite having a Malaysian base, the tool’s is jurisdiction is in Seychelles. The VPN has over 65 VPN servers across more than 12 countries, including Germany, Japan, Switzerland, UK, and the US. This is a small number of servers compared to leading VPNs in the market offering thousands of servers. The servers are categorized into three groups, each with advantages and disadvantages, based on their intended use: Fully Routed, Proxied, and SurfingStreaming. 

BolehVPN: Pricing & plans 

(Image credit: Future)

BolehVPN has a 1-day free trial that allows you to test the software before deciding to make a payment, but it is extremely limited, with only 3 servers available at your disposal. It also comes with five pretty flexible subscription plans: weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, semi-annually, and annually.

The costs are

$3.70 a week, $9.99 a month, $16.99 every two months, $44.99 for six months, and $79.99 for the whole year.

All plans give you access to the same features and allow up to three simultaneous connections, which is small compared to the industry standard (5–7 simultaneous connections).

Payment options include credit cards, PaymentWall, PayPal, and cryptocurrency. All plans come with a 14-day money-back guarantee, which is manageable, but the standard in the industry is 30 days. Some other VPNs even go so far as to provide 45-day money-back guarantees. Keep in mind that refunds are not available if you pay with cryptocurrencies.

BolehVPN: Privacy and encryption 

Nearly all VPN providers in this market try to win customers by claiming to have a no-log-in policy, but they don't go as far as to support their claims by having their software audited by an outside auditor.

According to BolehVPN's no-logs policy, none of your online activity, IP addresses, or other data are logged, but according to the privacy policy, BolehVPN has the right to briefly enable logs if it notices suspicious behavior or receives a specific complaint of torrenting or spamming. This is inappropriate because it may compromise your privacy by recording your data. Despite the fact that the company claims they do not share the logged data with outside parties and that they delete the logs once the problem has been resolved, this is still a cause for concern.

The Seychelles Islands are home to BolehVPN's corporate headquarters. They have satellite offices in Malaysia and Hong Kong. These nations are not a part of the 14-Eye Alliance and are not governed by laws requiring the retention of intelligence. Therefore, BolehVPN is not required to provide information to law enforcement.

BolehVPN's log policy is transparent. The VPN provider releases a security canary once per month. This disclaimer serves to safeguard BolehVPN users in the event that the company is mandated by law to remain silent about any searches, seizures of data, or requirements to log. This is good, but we need the credibility of an impartial VPN audit report to support its assertions.

Although the platform is built on the OpenVPN security protocol, it also provides alternative ones, such as L2TP/IPsec, in case your device doesn't support OpenVPN. Additionally, it uses SHA-2 hash authentication, 4096-bit DHE-RSA keys, and 256-bit AES encryption for encryption.

There is a VPN kill switch feature, which safeguards your IP address and ensures your data is not exposed or made visible. The VPN also permits P2P torrenting. Remember, it’s unlawful to download copyrighted files. Also, there were no IPv4, IPv6, DNS, or WebRTC leaks over BolehVPN when we checked for them. 

(Image credit: Future)

BolehVPN: Streaming 

Servers on BolehVPN are separated into three categories based on their intended use: Fully Routed, Proxied, and SurfingStreaming. 

We tested the dedicated streaming servers for US Netflix and BBC iPlayer inside the app, and they functioned well without lagging. Disney+, Amazon Prime, Pandora, and Hulu could all be unblocked, although we found that long-distance servers typically had poor streaming quality.

BolehVPN: Speed and experience 

Depending on the location, connection, and internet service provider, speed can differ from person to person. Fast connections are almost as crucial as the security and privacy of a service. 

Running a series of speed tests, we found BolehVPN’s speeds were irregular. Its long-distance servers gave me contrasting results. like Singaporean servers that provided us with a 32.41 Mbps download speed over an 83.59 Mbps connection When connecting to a distant server, a slower connection speed is typical. The US servers closest to us provided us with a speed of 63.65Mbps. 

BolehVPN: Customer Support  

The support section of BolehVPN offers a number of beneficial installation guides, a help desk area with frequently asked questions (FAQs) and troubleshooting instructions, and email support. Regrettably, there is no live chat option or phone number. 

BolehVPN: Apps 

(Image credit: Future)

BolehVPN runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux, iOS, and Android. However, neither iOS or Android has native mobile VPN apps. Sabai Technologies, ASUS, and routers are also compatible with it. Moreover, unlike many other VPNs, there are no browser extensions for top browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Edge, or Opera.

There is no alternative to configuring the interface of the Windows and macOS apps to connect to a particular server when your computer starts. You must manually choose the best server because the quick connect option that many VPNs provide is not available.

Both the iOS and Android apps for BolehVPN on mobile are very difficult to set up and lack some features, such as the kill switch and split tunneling. All features are available on the Android app, but it has not yet been made mobile-friendly. 

Alternatives to BolehVPN 

CyberGhost

With a user-friendly platform, CyberGhost is one of the best. with a wealth of practical VPN features. The software never causes your computer to run slowly, is easy to use, and is free. In addition, it provides extensive P2P and torrent functionality and gives you access to more than 1200 servers spread across more than 50 nations. Features of the software include web browsing, anonymous browsing, remote access, DNS leak protection, and more. Up to five devices can be used simultaneously under one account. As a result, you can defend your mobile devices and the computers in your home.

Pure VPN 

Aside from unblocking every website we tried, PureVPN has a reasonably large network and offers all of this for some of the cheapest advertised prices available. PureVPN excels at unblocking, has lots of features, and is good value on longer-term plans.

Express VPN

ExpressVPN excels in every area, including speed, security, stable and user-friendly apps, unblocking geo-restricted websites, avoiding censorship, excellent privacy and security credentials, a ton of features, and customer support, so we would suggest it to both new and experienced VPN users.

NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the major players in the virtual private network market. It provides all the security and privacy features that customers should expect from a top-notch VPN. NordVPN is based in a country that values privacy and is incredibly fast and easy to use. 

Verdict

BolehVPN can grant you access to the most well-known streaming services, particularly those that are only available to US citizens. Due to their difficulty in use and navigation, the apps are inappropriate for novice VPN users. 

In addition to having a limited number of servers, they haven't had an independent auditor visit to check their servers for logs, so in comparison to other options, we won't fully recommend this virtual private network. 

Canon EOS R6 review
2:40 am | September 23, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Cameras Computers DSLRs Gadgets | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: September 2020
• Newer Canon EOS R6 Mark II now available
• Launch price: $2,499 / £2,499 / AU$4,499
• Discounted officially but stock may still available at retailers

Updated: February 2024. According to Canon, the EOS R6 was one of its most popular cameras since its launch, prompting it to release the Mark II version in November 2022. The original EOS R6 has since been discontinued, with listings from Canon's official regional sites either removed or listed as out of stock. That said, some new stock is still available to buy from authorized retailers for about $1,999 / £1,399 / AU$2,800. The original review remains as previously published.

Canon EOS R6: two-minute review

Canon’s new EOS R6 may have been overshadowed by its more expensive EOS R5 sibling, but given its impressive feature set, it might become Canon’s most popular camera. It fills the hole left between the EOS R’s pretty impressive skills and the top-end specs of the EOS R5 (which, admittedly, might be too much of a camera for the average user).

To put it simply, the EOS R6 is essentially a more affordable R5, albeit with a significantly lower sensor resolution and more limited (but still excellent) video recording capabilities. And, despite being classed as an enthusiast-level camera, the EOS R6 comes with features that rival Canon’s professional-level – and extremely expensive – models. All of that adds up to make the R6 one of the best Canon cameras available right now.

Taking a leaf, or two, out of the EOS 1D X Mark III playbook, the EOS R6 inherits the same 20MP sensor resolution as the DSLR but not quite the same sensor. The difference is in the architecture as an upgraded version of Canon’s tried-and-tested Dual Pixel CMOS autofocusing system has been incorporated onto the sensor. This has markedly improved autofocus and tracking performance, with the EOS R6 now able to match, and sometimes outperform, Sony’s Real-Time Tracking Autofocus.

20.1MP is a step down from the 26.2MP pixel count in the EOS 6D Mark II and EOS RP (or the 30MP one in the EOS R), and that’s evident in side-by-side comparisons, although you will have to look really close to be disappointed. However, it’s the dynamic range that’s disappointing – images taken in bright sunlight appear flat, with a lack of detail in highlights and shadows. In comparison, the EOS 6D Mark II performed better in the same situation. That said, image quality is still pretty darn good and shooting with the EOS R6 is an absolute pleasure.

Its ergonomic design makes it comfortable for all-day use, no matter how large or small your mitts are, and you can shoot handheld at shutter speeds as high as 2 seconds and still get remarkably sharp images (provided you have steady hands).

It’s Canon’s first try at in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and, boy, has the company nailed it! It also makes shooting video an absolute pleasure. Yes, there are limitations when shooting 4K footage – and you aren’t going to get the R5’s impressive 8K option here – but Canon has made it very clear that the EOS R6 is first and foremost a stills camera.

Then there’s the marked improvement in speed – while it can’t quite match the 1D X Mark III’s blitzing 16fps burst with the mechanical shutter, the R6 is capable of 12fps bursts. Switch to its electronic shutter and it will match the sports DSLR’s whopping 20fps continuous shooting speed – more than enough for wildlife or sports photography.

Overall, the EOS R6 is a massive upgrade from either the EOS 6D Mark II or even the EOS R and the EOS RP, and is deserving of its place in our guide to the best cameras for photography. But all that impressive performance doesn’t come cheap, with higher resolution full-frame mirrorless models now available at a similar price point.

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Canon EOS R6 review: price and availability

  • Announced July 2020
  • Available right now for $2,499 / £2,499 / AU$4,499
  • Limited stock in most markets

Although Canon announced the EOS R6 (and the EOS R5) in early July, the camera didn’t begin shipping until late August. Even then, there were – and still is – very limited stock reaching retailers worldwide due to the current pandemic affecting supply lines. You may be able to book an EOS R6 with authorized Canon retailers right away, and they will be able to let you know when your unit will ship.

The R6 will set you back $2,499 / £2,499 / AU$4,499, which isn’t cheap by any means. That’s an upper-midrange price tag for a camera Canon has classified as enthusiast-level, but costs about as much as other high-end contenders for the best mirrorless camera crown like the Nikon Z7 or the Sony A7R III, both of which have high-resolution sensors.

That said, given the R6’s feature set, it’s a competitive price point that’s only slightly higher than the $2,299 / £2,349 / AU$3,349 launch price of the EOS R.

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Canon EOS R6 review: specs and features

  • 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • IBIS with up to 8 stops of compensation
  • Head- and eye-detect AF for animals

There have been so many cameras aimed at video makers that it’s refreshing to know manufacturers haven’t forgotten stills photographers. Canon’s target market for the new EOS R6 is “photographers more focused on stills” who may want to take videos occasionally, with the camera inheriting some top-end features from the EOS 1D X Mark III, starting with its processor.

Canon’s latest Digic X imaging engine works alongside a slightly redesigned 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor that, the manufacturer says, is “similar” to the one used in the sports DSLR. The updated sensor incorporates Canon’s second-generation Dual Pixel autofocus architecture (called Dual Pixel CMOS AF II). This has improved phase-difference detection autofocusing in Live View on the R6, and also allows for faster readout speeds during fast continuous shooting and while capturing 4K video at high frame rates. In theory, this should even reduce rolling shutter distortions when using the sensor-based electronic shutter.

20.1MP might seem like a step down for a camera that’s meant to be an all-rounder, but it’s all about the markedly improved speed. The R6 can shoot bursts of 12fps when its mechanical shutter is in use – a remarkable number for a camera that’s aimed squarely at enthusiasts and hobbyists. If that’s not fast enough for you, just switch over to its electronic shutter and the R6 will match the EOS 1D X Mark III’s top speed of 20fps.

Lower pixel count also means bigger pixels, which translates to better light sensitivity and higher signal-to-noise ratio, giving the EOS R6 a native ISO range of 100-102,400 that can be expanded either side to ISO 50 and ISO 204,800 – a massive step up from the EOS R’s native ISO sensitivity of 100 to 40,000. Canon says the decision to use a lower resolution sensor is also to help event photographers manage their workflow – lower pixel count means the file sizes are smaller, thus speeding up transfer rates.

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The headline feature, though, is the addition of in-body image stabilization, something Canon has historically shied away from. The newly designed 5-axis system, Canon says, offers up to 8 stops of compensation when working in tandem with a stabilized lens, although the shutter speed compensation will depend on which lens is being used. For example, with the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens which has 5-stops of image stabilization, you’ll get 8 stops of coordinated control; however, with the RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM lens, which is longer and heavier but has the same 5-stop stability, you’ll get a combined 6.5 stops of stabilization. 

This latter is the lens we used during most of our testing and were able to shoot handheld at a shutter speed of 2 seconds at an effective focal length of 24mm – pretty much matching Canon’s claim. And if you use a lens without IS (like the RF 28-70mm f/2), you’ll still get a full 8 stops of stabilization.

The R6’s autofocus system has also been given an impressive boost. There are 6,072 user-selectable AF points covering 100% of the frame – an improvement over the EOS R’s 5,655 AF point system. Canon also claims the R6 (and the R5) have the “world’s fastest AF for a full-frame camera” measured at 0.05 seconds, although the EOS R also lays claim to the same AF acquisition speed. That said, Sony has beaten Canon with the APS-C format Alpha A6400 that has an AF acquisition speed of 0.02 seconds.

Like the 1D X Mark III, the EOS R6 also has HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) file support. That means images are captured in 10-bit RGB color for wider dynamic range and color gamut. This format also uses a more efficient compression algorithm that saves a lot more information than traditional JPEGs and is a great alternative to anyone who doesn’t shoot in RAW.

In terms of video, the R6 is clearly not competing with the R5. 4K/60p capture is the best you can get here, and in UHD only. There’s no DCI support for a more cinema-like look, but Canon hasn’t designed this camera for videographers. That said, being able to shoot 4K video while utilizing the full width of the sensor is a huge advantage the R6 has over the EOS R and RP.

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Canon EOS R6 review: design and handling

  • Deep, ergonomic grip
  • Joystick multi-controller
  • Dual card slots

Physically, the EOS R6 doesn’t offer a huge size advantage over its 6D Mark II DSLR cousin. It’s only marginally lighter and smaller at 680g (compared to the 765g weight of the latter) and dimensions of 138mm x 98mm x 88mm (as opposed to 144mm x 111mm x 75mm for the 6D II). In real-world use, you’ll barely register the difference. 

Thanks to its deep grip, the R6 is wonderfully ergonomic for holding and using for long periods of time. And for those worried about the elements, the R6 is weather sealed. In fact, the EOS R6 (and the R5) have the option of keeping the shutter closed when the camera is powered off to minimize dust damage, something you can set up within the menu system.

The body resembles the older EOS R in most ways but there are a few obvious differences – the main one being the return of the joystick multi-controller on the camera’s rear. The touch bar on the rear panel of the EOS R was a sore point of contention amongst many users and it’s good to see that it’s gone. The textured joystick is easy to find without taking your eye off the viewfinder. You can use it to find your choice of AF point easily or to navigate the menu system if you’re not keen on Canon’s touchscreen functionality. 

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The other difference on the rear control setup is the return of the Quick Menu (Q) button which was also missing in both the EOS R and the RP. If you’re an existing Canon user, the control layout will, for the most part, be very familiar to you, as will the menu system. For those coming from a completely different system, Canon’s setup has always been very intuitive and easy to use, and just a few minutes spent familiarizing yourself will have you up and running.

On the top, the R6 misses out on the LCD display that’s available on the EOS R and R5 (and also on Canon’s DSLRs) but gets a traditional mode dial that will be familiar to most Canon DSLR users.

The R6 also misses out on the high-resolution viewfinder that’s on the R5, instead getting a 3.69-million dot EVF (matching the EOS R). While a higher resolution EVF would have been grand, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about here – a refresh rate of 119.8fps means you’ll barely notice any blackout.

If you’re not keen on using the EVF, you can always shoot in Live View and frame your image using the 3-inch 1.62-million dot rear touchscreen. This vari-angle display is slightly smaller than the one on the EOS R5, which is 3.2 inches thanks to thinner bezels.

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Another major improvement the R6 brings is dual card slots, both of which support SD UHS-II format. You can record to both simultaneously if you wish or one at a time.

On the opposite side to the memory card slots are all the other ports you’ll need. There’s 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks, a 3.1 Gen 2 speed USB-C port, a micro HDMI port, and an E3 remote shutter terminal. The USB-C port can be used to charge the camera while on the go.

Speaking of charging, both the R6 and the R5 also benefit from a new battery – LPE-6NH – which not only offers better battery life (about 510 shots as per CIPA’s conservative rating) but is also compatible with any Canon body that uses LP-E6N or LP-E6 batteries (like the 6D Mark II, for example).

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Canon EOS R6 review: autofocus

  • 6,072 AF points
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF II
  • 100% horizontal frame coverage

Like the pro-level 1D X Mark III and the more expensive EOS R5, the R6 is remarkably quick and accurate, with autofocus performance that’s arguably best in class. Starting with subject detection, locking onto a face or eye and then tracking the subject – it was all spot-on pretty much every single time we tested it. 

Bursts of a seaplane flying show every single frame in sharp focus, as does sequences of shots we took of birds. If the animal or person we were shooting turned away from the camera, the R6 promptly increased the focus box size and locked on to the back of the head. In fact, if the subject turned back to face the camera again, the R6 was able to lock onto an eye without so much as a blink.

Canon's AF system is best-in-class and the only time we failed to capture a sharp image is when we ourselves weren't able to keep up with our subjects

Canon's AF system is best-in-class and the only time we failed to capture a sharp image is when we ourselves weren't able to keep up with our subjects (Image credit: TechRadar)

Canon says the animal recognition on the R6 is currently only for cats, dogs and birds, but that doesn’t stop the camera from focusing on anything it thinks is an eye or a head. For subjects as small as bees, the R6 was able to find the insect’s head and stick with it as long as it was on a flower. However, we failed while trying to track the bees as we were too slow to follow the busy bodies, and the out-of-focus images were no fault of the camera but the user's inability to keep up.

Canon’s new Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system allows focusing to be done on-sensor and gives you a whopping 6,072 AF points to choose from – higher than the R5’s 5.940 user-definable points. These points cover the entire horizontal frame and 90% vertically, which is more than what most intermediate-level cameras offer.

Long story short, there’s no other camera in this class that can do what the R6 does in terms of autofocus, at the speed at which it does, and, arguably, at the price point that it does.

Canon EOS R6 review: performance

  • Best-in-class full-frame IBIS
  • Up to 20fps burst speed
  • Improved battery life

With Canon’s latest Digic X imaging engine under the hood, you’d expect the R6 to be a top performer like the 1D X Mark III where the processor debuted. And our tests prove that it is.

The R6 is capable of capturing 5472x3648 pixel images (as compared to the larger 8192×5464 size on the R5) in JPEG or 14-bit RAW files. Compressed RAW is also available, but our file format pick is the 10-bit HEIF. To shoot in this format, you need to enable HDR PQ, which will swap JPEG out for HEIF, and you can convert back to JPEG in-camera as well.

To match the camera’s burst speed, it’s important the R6 have an equally impressive buffer memory. While a lot will depend on the memory card you’re using, the camera handled a burst of about 315 frames during our tests without even thinking about it to a UHS-II SD card. 

In fact, you’ll easily be able to save over 1,000 JPEGs or compressed .CR3 RAW files to a UHS-II card without the camera slowing down. If you’re shooting uncompressed RAW, then buffer depth will drop significantly to 240 consecutive files. Either way, that’s way more than what most people will need.

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 24mm, 1s (handheld) at f/4, ISO 800

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 24mm, 1s (handheld) at f/4, ISO 800 (Image credit: TechRadar)

But it was the image stabilization that we were most keen to test and, boy, did it impress. Paired with the RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM lens, which itself has 5-stops of image stability built in, we were supposed to get a total of 6.5 stops of compensation according to Canon’s own claims. That means that at 24mm effective focal length, we should be able to hold the camera for a maximum shutter speed of 2 seconds and, in practice, that worked. The only downside to us capturing pinpoint sharpness was the buffeting wind we were facing. However, 1.6 second shutter speed shot during the same windy evening was perfectly usable.

Canon EOS R6 mechanical shutter (left) vs EOS R6 electronic shutter (right): there's no discernible rolling shutter effect while panning 

Canon EOS R6 mechanical shutter (left) vs EOS R6 electronic shutter (right): there's no discernible rolling shutter effect while panning  (Image credit: TechRadar)

We also tested how the R6’s electronic shutter would handle itself while panning. Rolling shutter effects are common when shooting with a sensor-based electronic shutter but our tests showed no noticeable distortion while panning slowly, but we did see a significant lean when panning faster.

Canon EOS R6 review: image quality

  • Excellent color reproduction
  • Disappointing dynamic range in JPEGs
  • Good ISO performance

Most users would be concerned with the resolving power of the 20MP sensor. As long as you aren’t doing a side-by-side comparison with the R5 – which would be highly unfair – we found the R6 can hold its own. 

Images pop with color without appearing oversaturated, as has always been Canon’s trademark. Details are good for the most part but we did find the R6 struggles during bright sunlight. 

Canon EOS R6 (left) vs Canon EOS 6D Mark II (right): the DSLR captures more details and textures overall, although the R6 resolves the details within the building better

Canon EOS R6 (left) vs Canon EOS 6D Mark II (right): the DSLR captures more details and textures overall, although the R6 resolves the details within the building better (Image credit: TechRadar)

We took a series of shots on a very sunny day only to find images appearing flat, with lack of details. When compared to the EOS 6D Mark II, we found the latter’s 26MP had a touch more detail and texture than the R6, as you can see in the 50% crop side-by-side JPEG comparison pictured above.

While the R6 handled the resolution of the bars through the glass wall of the ferry wharf really well, the 6D II had more detail on the roof of the wharf and the water surface. Even colors on the R6 image appear flatter in comparison to the DSLR. 

That said, these are standard JPEGs – if you shoot HEIF files, the R6’s 10-bit dynamic range will come into play and you’ll be able to capture greater tonal range. Keep in mind that software support for HEIF is still limited, although it is the default file format for Apple’s Photos app, and you can convert all HEIFs into JPEGs in-camera.

Image 1 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 65mm, 1/400s at f/13, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 65mm, 1/400s at f/13, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 2 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/350s at f/6.3, ISO 320

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/350s at f/6.3, ISO 320 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 3 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/500s at f/9, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/500s at f/9, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 4 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/2000s at f/16, ISO 3200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/2000s at f/16, ISO 3200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 5 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM | 35mm, 1/250s at f/5, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM | 35mm, 1/250s at f/5, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 6 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/320s at f/7.1, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/320s at f/7.1, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 7 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 25mm, 1/400s at f/10, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 25mm, 1/400s at f/10, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 8 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/500s at f/10, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/500s at f/10, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 9 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/800s at f/10, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 240mm, 1/800s at f/10, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 10 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 118mm, 1/320s at f/9, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 118mm, 1/320s at f/9, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 11 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 24mm, 1/250s at f/8, ISO 100

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 24mm, 1/250s at f/8, ISO 100 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 12 of 12

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 42mm, 1/500s at f/13, ISO 200

Canon EOS R6 + RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM | 42mm, 1/500s at f/13, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)

You’ll also find that the camera’s 20MP sensor has enough resolving power to allow for some cropping without excessive loss in quality, provided the image was shot at low ISO. As expected, you’ll find some details being lost at high ISOs, although it was only at ISO 20,000 that we began to see this problem. The R6 also handles noise quite well.

Image 1 of 2

There's still a good amount detail at ISO 10,000...

There's still a good amount detail at ISO 10,000... (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 2 of 2

..but begin to flatten out at ISO 20,000 although the image is still usable

..but begin to flatten out at ISO 20,000 although the image is still usable (Image credit: TechRadar)

Overall, it’s a very capable camera that produces excellent images, as long as you aren’t looking to print any of them in a size larger than A3.

Should I buy the Canon EOS R6?

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

Don't buy if...

[First reviewed September 2020]

LiveAgent review
7:23 pm | September 17, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

LiveAgent  offers one of the best live chat software platforms for small- and medium-sized businesses. LiveAgent combines live chat and email ticketing so you can stay on top of customer support no matter how you connect. It offers a number of useful features, including automated ticket routing and internal coordination tools. 

So is LiveAgent right for your business? In our LiveAgent review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this helpdesk solution.

LiveAgent pricing

(Image credit: LiveAgent)

LiveAgent: Plans and pricing

Since our previous review LiveAgent's Pricing page has had a revamp : incidentally if you're using an Adblocker you may want to disable it in this instance, as the list wasn't visible at first when we visited most recently.

The good news is that LiveAgent offers a free plan that’s surprisingly full-featured. You get one live chat button, ticketing for one email address, and call center support for a single phone number. The big catch is that there are few advanced features, and the platform only captures up to seven days of your support history.

Paid 'Business' plans start at just $9 per month per agent if billed annually or $15 per agent if you're paying monthly. The lowest tier 'Small' plan includes ticketing for up to 3 incoming/outgoing e-mail accounts, 2 live chat buttons, 10 departments, a single live chat button and API key, a Knowledge Base . Ticket history is stored indefinitely and you can create up to 20 predefined answers.

The 'Medium' plan includes all of the above as well as ticketing for up to 10 incoming/outgoing e-mail accounts. You also get 5 live chat buttons, 20 departments, custom domain hosting and most crucially Call Center Support. Prices start at $29 per agent per month if paying annually or $35 per month if paying monthly.

LiveAgent claims that their 'Large' Business plan is their most popular. This includes everything in the 'Medium' plan as well as ticketing for up to 150 incoming/outgoing e-mail accounts. (We noticed though that when we signed up for a trial membership our Account page said that the 'Large' plan only offered 40 incoming/outgoing e-mail accounts). You'll also receive 20 live chat buttons and 3 WhatsApp accounts. Other features include up to 150 departments (the account page says this is 50) and 2 knowledge bases. Prices start at $49 per agent per month if billed annually or $59 per agent if paid monthly.

The 'Enterprise' plan is LiveAgent's most expensive tier at $69 per agent per month if paying annually or $85 per agent if paying month to month. It includes all the perks of the 'Large' plan plus ticketing for up to 500 incoming/outgoing e-mail accounts. (Again our account page had a discrepancy with this, showing the number to be just 100). You'll also receive 3 WhatsApp accounts, 300 departments and 10 knowledge bases.

You can optionally add support for the social networks Viber, Twitter and Facebook/Instagram for $39 each per month. (Facebook and Instagram seemingly count as one social network as far as LiveAgent is concerned). This is disappointing, considering many similar platforms support popular social media networks like Facebook for no extra charge. 

Each plan comes with its own set of limitations, which are explained well in the LiveAgent support pages. For instance, the free plan doesn't include Slack notifications each time you receive a new ticket/ticket response.

If you want to trial any of the paid plans, you can do so for 30 days provided you have a company e-mail address. If you use a regular e-mail your trial lasts just 7 days. 

LiveAgent review

LiveAgent offers basic automated rules for auto-routing tickets and assigning importance (Image credit: LiveAgent)

LiveAgent: Features

LiveAgent offers a number of features for connecting with customers and keeping your support team on the same page. The software enables you to place a chat box or email ticketing system on your business’s website or mobile app. Depending on your plan, you can easily create multiple chat boxes or email addresses for different departments.

The ticket system that LiveAgent uses is simple but effective. You can set up auto-routing for tickets so that no support requests are ever missed, as well as limit the number of tickets, chats, and phone calls any one agent is tasked at a time. Tickets can be assigned ownership at the agent or department level and transferred between owners, too. LiveAgent will even auto-route tickets from a returning customer to the same agent that helped them with previous support questions.

LiveAgent review

The LiveAgent web app interface (Image credit: LiveAgent)

LiveAgent: Interface and in use

LiveChat’s interface is relatively easy to use and helps your support agents stay on top of customer communications coming from multiple channels. At the top of the web app, three buttons keep you informed about how many support queries there are in your ticket, chat, and phone queues. Tickets and chats are automatically labeled as New, Open, or Answered, and there are simple bulk options for completing or re-assigning multiple tickets at once.

LiveAgent support page

(Image credit: LiveAgent)

LiveAgent: Support

LiveAgent offers 24/7 technical support by phone, live chat, and email. There's also an extremely comprehensive online support portal.

We were particularly pleased to see a link at the very top of the portal to the new 'live status' page, which reported that unless you were relying on LiveAgent's New Jersey data centers the network has been functioning perfectly for the past 90 days.

The 'Getting Started' section of the Knowledge Base also has some extremely useful articles, including the one mentioned above about the limitations of paid plans. There's a similar one for users of the free plan as well as a helpful video tour which walks you through the basics like adding live agents.

The KB also contains a dedicated videos section with tutorials on common tasks such as adding live chat buttons, departments and e-mail templates.

The 'Tech Support' section is particularly weighty containing almost 500 articles on subjects like integrating plugins, general tips and tricks and how to setup various LiveAgent features.

Take some time peruse the 'Awards and Certificates' section to see how LiveAgent ranks in the help desk solution industry.

LiveAgent review

LiveAgent supports two-factor authentication with Google Authenticator (Image credit: LiveAgent)

LiveAgent: Security

LiveAgent haven't been slacking on their end either. They claim to use 'renowned' data centers protected by 24-hour surveillance, security cameras and biometric locks.  

All the LiveAgent servers are hosted at Tier IV or III+, PCI DSS, SSAE-16, or ISO 27001 compliant facilities. The data centers are based in US, Asia and Europe but you can choose store your data in US the Europe, for instance if you want to be fully GDPR compliant.

Their pricing page also mentions that all accounts are secured using SSL to keep your data safe. After doing some probing in LiveAgent's comprehensive knowledge base we found that data is encrypted using TLS 1.2 when in transit between clients are load balancers. Database backups are also encrypted when at rest.

Not all information in 'live' databases is encrypted but the KB article claims that sensitive information like passwords and login credentials is secured. 

LiveAgent's Security and Privacy Policy also notes that you can further boost your security by configuring the Agent panel to only allow access from specific IP address ranges such as network addresses at your office site.

On the same page LiveAgent claims they also work with third-party security researchers to identify vulnerabilities. Customers will have to take them at their word on this and there doesn't seem to be any links to the results of independent audits to prove it. 

LiveAgent: The competition

LiveAgent competes closely with helpdesk services like LiveChat, which focuses primarily on chat but also offers multi-platform messaging support. LiveChat offers prices comparable to LiveAgent’s All-inclusive plan, from $20 per agent per month if you're paying annually. However, LiveChat doesn’t have a free plan for smaller businesses like LiveAgent does. 

LiveChat’s chat functions are somewhat more robust than what LiveAgent offers. For example, it supports chat-to-SMS, customizable post-support surveys, and more advanced real-time monitoring of visitors on your site. However, LiveChat won’t help with phone support and some important administrative features like audit logs are restricted to its Enterprise plan.

LiveAgent: Final verdict

LiveAgent is high-quality helpdesk software for businesses that want to integrate phone, email, and live chat customer support. The free plan is impressively outfitted and might be enough for small businesses, while the paid plans aren’t outrageously expensive. We’d like to see cheaper support for social media accounts and the addition of chat-to-SMS, but these aren’t critical flaws for most businesses. In addition, LiveAgent does a nice job with auto-routing tickets across teams and helping your support agents stay on the same page when dealing with an influx of customer requests.

We've also highlighted the best help desk software.

Liberty Tax online tax filing service review
3:29 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Liberty Tax has been helping people with their tax affairs since 1997. While this IRS e-filing authorized provider does offer an online cloud-based software system, its core strength is backing that up with help from real advisors. 

If you struggle with your tax filing or don't feel confident with the figures once you’ve finished then Liberty Tax could be the solution, allowing you to be sure that everything is as it should be prior to filing. Its tiered pricing structure has something for most users too.

Alongside its physical locations across the US, it has produced online tax software that’s reasonably easy to use and offers all of the features, functions and form capabilities for people with all sorts of tax filing requirements. Similar products such as TaxAct, TaxSlayer, Jackson Hewitt Online, Credit Karma Tax and FreeTaxUSA also compete for your attention in this packed marketplace.

Liberty Tax

Liberty Tax is currently available in three different package options (Image credit: Liberty Tax)

Liberty Tax: Pricing

In terms of products Liberty Tax currently has three tiered variations on the theme. Its Basic package starts things off at $45.95 (State Returns available for $36.95) and is ideally suited for simple tax situations. If you’re single or married with no dependents and have relatively little paperwork to pick through then this is a good starting point. 

Next up, Liberty Tax has Deluxe, its $65.95 package (State Returns available for $36.95) aimed at those of us with slightly more complicated lives that can make filing time more problematical. It’ll help you get through considerations such as kids, investments, childcare costs, college fees and also covers home ownership when it comes to return time. 

Top of the tree is Premium ($85.95 - State Returns available for $36.95), which is best for the self-employed, including freelancers and contractors, while it's also useful for tackling less common forms of income.

Liberty Tax

There are useful calculators within the Liberty Tax site to help you out (Image credit: Liberty Tax)

Liberty Tax: Features

When it comes to features then Liberty Tax has tailored its three packages to suit different needs and requirements. Basic, for example, supports Forms 1040, 8853 and Schedule A and B. Deluxe supports Forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 4136, 8839, 8853 and Schedule A, B, C. Premium offers support for Forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 4136, 4684, 4835, 8839, 8853 plus Schedules A, B, C, E, F, K-1. 

You can work your way around the interface via a menu system that sits to the left-hand side of your web browser. This allows you to see the various sections that include My Return, Name & Address, Federal Taxes, State Taxes and File. From here it’s possible to work down through the various sub-sections. As an online experience the design is workmanlike, but is aimed squarely at getting the job done.

Liberty Tax

Signing up for Liberty Tax is a simple exercise in form-filling (Image credit: Liberty Tax)

Liberty Tax: Performance

Liberty Tax has been carefully designed to work without too much in the way of hassle, with a series of web pages that offer up simple form-filling layouts. Design-wise it has been tweaked compared to earlier editions, and the new structure has been revised in order to make your tax filing journey a little less complicated. 

Work through the sections in series, as is intended, and you should find that Liberty Tax won't deliver any surprises. The main thing is to save your work as you go, as jumping around from section to section without doing this might result in data you’ve entered being lost. It’s all pretty basic, just as long as you use a little bit of common sense.

Liberty Tax

The big benefit is you can get your files checked at a Liberty Tax outlet (Image credit: Liberty Tax)

Liberty Tax: Ease of use

As is the case with rivals in this marketplace, Liberty Tax bills itself as a simple tax filing solution, with a website that hopes to remove much of the stress involved with the annual task. 

Following your initial sign-up, which will included the creation of a username and password combination, the theme is much the same too, with a series of web pages that help you pick through the various sections of your tax documentation, based on the package you’ve picked to suit your background. 

Depending on your personal tax situation this will include more obvious areas such as W-2, mortgage and childcare points, all of which forms the basis of your eventual filing documents. It’s quite a dry and formal approach but that’s to be expected given the subject matter. The review process, where you get the chance to pick over what you’ve entered, is subsequently able to highlight any flaws in your figures.

Liberty Tax

Liberty Tax is not available as an app but the site works okay on handheld devices (Image credit: Liberty Tax)

Liberty Tax: Support

There are several help and support options within Liberty Tax that should get to the bottom of most queries. This includes an ever-present Help menu tab at the top of every window. 

There is also the ability to chat with a representative, or email a question to the support team, while the FAQs aspect of the service can often unearth answers to more everyday quandaries. 

Of course, Liberty Tax sells itself as being there with human support when you need it, and with over 3,000 physical outlets across the US it should be pretty easy to get the back-up of a chat with a tax pro if you’re not happy with what you’ve entered into the site. Better still, it'll be an integral part of your chosen package.

Liberty Tax: Final verdict

Liberty Tax has made improvements to its online tax filing solution and this is certainly a better service than it used to be. Anyone looking for a reasonably straightforward tax filing assistant should find this one useful, even though it lacks some of the pizazz of rivals found in our guides. 

A fairly humdrum site design isn't going to fire you with enthusiasm, though Liberty Tax is certainly a practical solution, while the lack of a dedicated app might be a turn-off for some. You can, however, still use Liberty Tax on a mobile device using the same site within the confines of a smaller screen. 

The help aspect of Liberty Tax, at least in its online incarnation, could perhaps be improved too. The upside to all this though is that you can elect to have help from a real tax professional at the end of it, which is basically the whole point of services like this.

eFile online tax filing service review
11:39 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

eFile is online tax software that gets a lot of attention for being, on face value at least, completely free. While there are free aspects, eFile does require you to pay money if you’re filing a state tax return. Adding to the slightly unusual approach with this service is the way that eFile has quite a lot of limitations, which might reduce its appeal to many potential customers. 

Alternatives in the paid-for tax and accounting software world include the likes of H&R Block, TurboTax, TaxAct, TaxSlayer, Jackson Hewitt Online, Credit Karma Tax and FreeTaxUSA.

If you’ve got anything other than super-basic requirements then the chances are eFile might not fit the bill. However, it also sports some useful features and functions, especially if you’re prepared to go down its paid-for services route. 

eFile

eFile currently offers three different package options (Image credit: eFile)

eFile: Pricing

Quite how much you pay, or don’t pay, will obviously depend on what you have to file in terms of tax documentation. Currently, eFile comes in three different variants, starting out with the base-level Free Basic. This is displayed on the eFile website as originally costing $9.95, but is still currently free. 

Underneath the File Free button link though, you’ll need to read the State Returns Optional small print, which states: Prepare and eFile multiple State Returns for one low price. The price for unlimited State Returns is only $28.95. No credit card is needed if you are getting a Tax Refund. During checkout, you can choose 'e-Collect' as your payment method to have your fees deducted from your refund. 

eFile also has a middle-tier Deluxe option, which did cost $39 and currently costs $24. You can start for free, while the same State Returns point as outlined above applies too. 

The top-tier for eFile is Premium, which did cost $49 and now costs $34, while the picture for State Returns is the same as above. eFile is known to offer occasional coupon codes for further discounts, which are worth keeping an eye out for.

eFile

The eFile sign-up process is a simple case of registering for an account (Image credit: E-File.com)

eFile: Features

There are some limitations on the feature front if you’re using eFile in its most basic guise. You can't claim any income except that coming via W-2, while the Deluxe option doesn’t beef things up much either. 

Really then you need to head for the Premium tier in order to exploit the full potential of eFile, which does allow you to tackle most of the major tax filing forms that you’ll probably be interested in. It’s also useful if you're self-employed. 

The interface works using several sections, where you insert your data covering common ground such as income, expenses and so on. Inside each section there is the capacity to drill down into sub-sections, all of which culminates in arriving at the right forms to complete your filing duties. It’s no-nonsense and generally effective.

eFile

eFile has plenty of useful tools for deciding what level of filing you need (Image credit: E-File.com)

eFile: Performance

You’ll find that getting started with eFile and subsequently using it offers a reasonably brisk experience. Being browser-based it chugs away nicely and the interface doesn't have too much in the way of obstacles to slow it down. 

Once you’ve got used to the overall layout, and picked your way through the various progress pages you should find that eFile is as good as many of its rivals in performance terms. 

The other bonus is that the interface lets you skip to other sections easily, which might appeal if you’re prone to filling in random sections rather than in an orderly fashion. eFile seems perfectly happy letting you do this, without delivering any performance issues while you keep it guessing.

eFile

The eFile tax calculator tool is particularly useful (Image credit: E-File.com)

eFile: Ease of use

You’ll find that the eFile interface works reasonably well, although it doesn't have quite the same user-friendliness of other rival products outlined in our guides. The good thing is that eFile can be used in a couple of ways, which depending on your familiarity with both it and the way these online tax tackling services work might make your workflow less stressful. 

Indeed, there’s a version that effectively handholds you through the steps, which can be a real boon if you’re a newbie to the world of online tax filing. As you work through the stages of filing your tax return there are handy calculators, though these can be slightly problematical if you’re not up to speed with the subject matter. Adding to this is the fact that pages are quite busy, so there's the need to juggle a lot of balls as you go.

eFile

Support on the rather chaotic eFile website is less impressive (Image credit: E-File.com)

eFile: Support

If you get easily rattled by having to tackle your filing without much in the way of help or assistance then you might be put off by eFile’s support structure. It has a fairly limited approach in this respect, with an online ticket filing system that lets you contact eFile support staff with issues. 

The Support hub pages on the website are a bit of a mish-mash of links to other locations and the whole thing is a little bit chaotic. While you might be glad that you’re not having to pay a premium for support, some other rivals will charge for human contact and in some cases that can be worth the additional expenditure. This is especially so if you’re not confident with what you're doing.

eFile: Final verdict

eFile is authorized by the IRS, which puts it into the recommended pile of online tax preparation packages. And, it also comes with most of the features and functions that you’ll need in order to get your filing done. However, there are a few compromises by going down the budget route. 

For a start, if you live in a state with income taxes then you’ll need to pay to use eFile, so the free aspect loses its appeal somewhat. The eFile website is rather frenzied too, support is lacklustre and there’s no app for people who prefer to tackle their taxes on-the-go. 

If you’re looking for a ‘Lite’-style package then eFile might well fit the bill, but if you’re easily bamboozled come tax-filing time then it might be prudent to invest in a less chaotic option.

Cash App Taxes (formerly Credit Karma Tax) review
11:14 am | September 16, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Cash App Taxes (formerly Credit Karma) will most likely be a familiar name in the world of tax software as it’s been around for a number of years now, most notably supplying free credit scores. 

These days, it's more app focused, hence the name change whilst its wide range of services now let you 'spend, send, store, and invest money'. However, this review looks at its online service for filing personal taxes. It's essentially up against the likes of TaxAct, TaxSlayer, Jackson Hewitt Online, and FreeTaxUSA.

One of the most appealing aspects of Cash App Taxes is that it’s free to use, although the trade-off to that is the fact you’ll need to sign up for an account. If you’ve already got an account with them though it’s even easier to get started with the step-by-step filing process.

Cash App Taxes

You'll need to sign up for an account prior to being able to use Cash App Taxes (Image credit: Cash App Taxes)

Cash App Taxes: Pricing

As we pointed out, Cash App Taxes is a free-to-use online system, which on that basis alone makes it seem like a very good idea. That said, some might not like the idea of having to sign up for an account, which is a stipulation before you can use the system. 

What’s more, Cash App Taxes can help you file both Federal and State taxes and if you’re just starting out down the tax filing highway, aren’t self-employed and don't have things like rent from property to factor in then it's a pretty sweet option.

Cash App Taxes

The help areas of Cash App Taxes have seen some big improvements of late (Image credit: Cash App Taxes)

Cash App Taxes: Features

Cash App Taxes doesn’t do anything particularly innovative but much of that is down to the nature of the online filing service. Preparing to file your taxes is a dry subject at the best of times, so what you get with the Cash App Taxes interface is a by-numbers exercise in digital form filling. That’s not to talk down the user experience as it features all of the tools and functionality you’d expect.

Cash App Taxes

You'll want to check which forms will work for you however as some are not supported (Image credit: Cash App Taxes)

Cash App Taxes: Performance

Cash App Taxes is much like any of the other online filing services in that it uses a series of progressive screens to take you though the different aspects of filing your states. Thankfully, Cash App Taxes keeps things minimalistic in terms of layouts, with not much in the way of graphics. This means that once you get into your stride you can pick through the pages in a quite erudite fashion. 

The feel is similar to the way you work through your 1040, effectively allowing you to tick off things in a logical order. Performance, both your own and Cash App Taxes itself does falter a bit if you start trying to dart around as it’s not very forgiving in that respect. Cash App Taxes is therefore best tackled in page-by-page orderly fashion.

Cash App Taxes: Ease of use

As it’s a step-by-step design, the interface of Cash App Taxes is really pretty straightforward to work through, even if you’re less than confident at filing your taxes. Once you’ve selected the Start option you're on your way, plus there’s a handy search function within the pages that lets you track down answers to queries along the route. 

As is the case with other products in this arena, Cash App Taxes can handle imported W-2 forms. There are one or two negatives though, with some forms not being supported, which is worth investigating before you sign up. And, if you’ve moved from one state to another in a tax year then you might be best looking farther afield.

Cash App Taxes: Support

Along with help from within the interface itself, including some natty information bubbles that offer quick tips, Cash App Taxes also benefits from the addition of support staff who are also on hand to help get you out of tricky tax spots. There’s a beefy tax support center too, which delves even more comprehensively into areas that might otherwise have you feeling a little stumped. 

All in all, Cash App Taxes leaves you with the feeling that you’ve got a pretty good handle on things, which is always a bonus with such a crucial process as filing state and federal returns.

Cash App Taxes: Final verdict

Cash App Taxes is evolving nicely with each successive incarnation. If you have fairly simplistic tax affairs then the free-to-use aspect of this online service is very appealing. There have been improvements to the help side of things too, with plenty to assist you in steering a correct course come tax filing time. 

There’s no dedicated app edition of this package, but you do get an optimized version of the site for your phone or tablet, which can be handy if you're not always ready or able to tackle your tax affairs on a desktop machine. 

While it’s not got an exhaustive range of features, with some crucial tax forms not being supported for example, Cash App Taxes is great for anyone with less complex filing arrangements to prepare.

TaxSlayer review
2:17 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

TaxSlayer has been designed with taking on everything your tax situation has to throw at you and it has been nicely adapted to suit changes in the law. With a portfolio of options tailored to suit a variety of filers, from the single and students through to those with tangled tax situations and the self-employed it’s got a lot to offer. There's also an edition aimed at accountancy professionals called TaxSlayer Pro.

TaxSlayer has also honed its options, therefore simplifying the completion of tax filing duties. What’s more, the software service is all online and, via the completion of step-by-step wizards, you can quickly and efficiently e-file your affairs within the context of a well-proven suite of products. Lookout for other options in this crowded marketplace though, including TaxAct, Jackson Hewitt Online, Credit Karma Tax and FreeTaxUSA.

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer offers a wide range of plans to fit all of your specific tax needs  (Image credit: TaxSlayer)

TaxSlayer: Pricing

TaxSlayer delivers a solid selection of product options, with one to suit pretty much any kind of individual. If you’re starting out, have relatively simple tax affairs and are single, married and filing a joint return or a student then the similarly basic Simply Free option is a good one. It allows you to file for no outlay with $0 state included to pay. 

TaxSlayer’s stated ‘most popular’ package is the next one; Classic which is suited to all tax situations, can be started for free and costs $17 plus a per state cost of $32. Meanwhile, Premium offers up a swift way to prepare and e-file, with the added bonus of priority support as and when you need it. That costs $37 plus state additional of $32. 

Finally, TaxSlayer’s Self-Employed product will set you back $47 and also has the state additional charge of $32.

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer's suite of options means it's easy to cover most e-filing bases  (Image credit: TaxSlayer)

TaxSlayer: Features

The latest incarnation of TaxSlayer certainly comes with an impressive list of features. And, as its creators like to remind you, they’ve engineered an experience specific to your tax filing needs. 

Therefore, once you’ve signed up for an account you will be able to pay tax with your refund, enjoy personalized tax tips and reminders specific to you, get more ways to receive your refund as well as having access to new tools that enable faster more efficient filing. TaxSlayer is also adept at managing your financial situation year-round. 

In it's most basic form, TaxSlayer's Simply Free is a basic, functional way to prepare, print and e-file taxes, though does add in new coverage for education deductions and credits.

TaxSlayer

Performance is pretty impressive thanks to an array of step-by-step windows to work through (Image credit: TaxSlayer)

Performance

TaxSlayer: Performance

Step on up to the Classic edition of TaxSlayer though and you enjoy everything Simply Free has along with timesaving options, such as being able to import your W-2. This edition also includes all deductions and credits. 

Performance really steps it up a gear with the Premium edition, however, with IRS Audit Assistance (delivering a 3 full year $29 value no less). You’ll also be able to work smarter and a lot more quickly, thanks to the ability to speak to a ‘real’ tax professional. 

Naturally, being an online service means it chunters away nicely enough with a dependable internet connection, while there’s a dedicated mobile edition for those who might be tempted to file via phones or tablets.

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer has had continual improvements made in order to keep it relevant following changes in tax law (Image credit: TaxSlayer)

Ease of use

TaxSlayer: Ease of use

TaxSlayer takes you on a reasonably enjoyable journey through your e-filing duties and it is to be commended for its ease of use. The likes of basic 1040 filers and those with W-2 income will find it very accessible, with a series of relatively simple screens to fill in. 

This process starts out with the familiar sign up and register screen and from there on in you work your way through the various tabbed sections, with a left-hand menu on screen to show where you are within the context of Federal, State and Health Insurance topics. 

While TaxSlayer might not have quite the same level of finesse as witnessed within other online software filing solutions, it does reward the patient thanks to its methodical structure.

TaxSlayer

There are good levels of support within TaxSlayer, especially when it comes to the more premium options (Image credit: TaxSlayer)

TaxSlayer: Support

Though it has to be said there is less in the way of support for those starting out at the lower end of the TaxSlayer product portfolio things do take a turn for the better when you arrive at Premium. Within this option there is the aforementioned support from tax professionals, plus the ability to make the most of live support, both by phone and via email. 

The live chat avenue also delivers more on the support front, so it soon justifies its price tag. Self-Employed types can also get support from tax professionals, particularly those with knowledge of this specific tax arena. That’s a definite boon, especially as this package also features a new personalized guide to self-employed taxes.

TaxSlayer: Final verdict

The latest version of TaxSlayer ticks a lot of the e-filing boxes, but there is still room for improvement. We like the overall look and feel of the online system, and layouts are solid, if a little idiosyncratic in places. 

Help and support is at hand, though you’ll really need to invest in the more expensive editions if you’re to enjoy the benefits of wall-to-wall support including help from real tax professionals. Nevertheless, TaxSlayer also has plenty to offer the fledgling e-filer with its competent basic edition.

FreeTaxUSA review
1:56 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

FreeTaxUSA is a great solution for anyone looking to reduce the costs involved with keeping accounts in order and filing tax returns. And, considering it is kind on your wallet the tax preparation service packs plenty of features that let you pick your way through the filing process with relative ease. 

While FreeTaxUSA isn’t as sophisticated as other options such as TaxAct, TaxSlayer, Jackson Hewitt Online or Credit Karma Tax, it covers all bases in terms of working with relevant IRS forms and, ultimately, lets you file your federal taxes. For the state tax route though you’ll need to pay a fee, albeit a small one. 

A downside, it has to be said, is the lack of ability to import your W-2 or 1099 forms, which something like TurboTax can do. Other than that, FreeTaxUSA impresses with its overall look and feel.

FreeTaxUSA

While the basic version is free a Deluxe edition requires minimal outlay (Image credit: FreeTaxUSA)

FreeTaxUSA: Pricing

Although FreeTaxUSA, as the name implies, is largely free to use there is cost involved, albeit nominal. So, the service will charge you $14.99 for a state return though federal filing costs zero dollars.

There’s also a Deluxe Return edition, that comes with a pretty trifling $6.99 price tag attached to it and for that you get the benefit of being able to submit unlimited returns if you’ve needed to make amendments. Better still, there is fast-lane access to live chat support, and these tax specialists can help guide you in the right direction if you’re getting stuck at any stage in the process. 

Dig deeper into the service and you’ll find there’s also no charge for tax extensions, while prior year tax filing comes in at $14.99 for state and $0 for federal. It’s the same pattern for self-employed and small business owners too.

FreeTaxUSA

The filing solution covers a raft of financial areas and simplifies the process accordingly (Image credit: FreeTaxUSA)

FreeTaxUSA: Features

Considering that FreeTaxUSA is, by and large, free to use it still packs a decent punch. Once you get into it you find that it’ll handle all of the main areas required for filing those 1099 forms. That means retirement, government payments, debt cancellation, payment processing, sale of your home, tuition program distributions, social security as well as stocks and interest too. 

The self-employed are also well catered for. Indeed, you’ll find that FreeTaxUSA ultimately has the ability to deal with each and every state and federal form, including common credits, which is quite something given its miserly charges.

FreeTaxUSA

Such is the versatility of the service you can also import your previous year's return from another one  (Image credit: FreeTaxUSA)

FreeTaxUSA: Performance

FreeTaxUSA is an online service and, as such, works fine and dandy just as long as you have the obvious internet connection. There’s a mobile version too, for both iOS and Android, although in reality this is less of an app and more of a version of the same site you’d use on the desktop edition. 

Nevertheless, FreeTaxUSA works nicely enough if you don't mind filing your tax details in the rather confined working area, especially on a phone. The tablet experience is rather better though, but we still tend to favour the desktop FreeTaxUSA experience over the mobile one. 

The designers have worked hard to make both editions reasonably enjoyable and either version feels nicely optimized to work without trouble.

FreeTaxUSA

As you'd hope for there is a decent level of support on the FreeTaxUSA site with live help also available  (Image credit: FreeTaxUSA)

FreeTaxUSA: Ease of use

There’s nothing too intimidating about the FreeTaxUSA interface, with a pretty basic though effective page layout. Before you deep dive into the step-by-step stages there’s also a neat primer screen, which highlights the features and functionality of the following site content. From there on in it’s much like the other filing packages, with text boxes to populate with all of your data. 

Overall it's a nicely laid out affair that emulates all of the sections of the 1040. As mentioned earlier though, a weakness with FreeTaxUSA is the inability to import W-2s and 1099s, which is something that makes TurboTax such a handy option for its one-stop-shop feature set.

FreeTaxUSA

FreeTaxUSA lets you tackle your tax filing chores without the need for any outlay (Image credit: FreeTaxUSA)

FreeTaxUSA: Support

Much like the other aspects of FreeTaxUSA, customer support is certainly not overly complicated, but it is available as and when you need it. Customers can head along to a dedicated area on the FreeTaxUSA website and type in a basic query to search the help database. That’s okay and does a no-nonsense job of answering more obvious queries. 

However, if you need additional assistance then that’s at hand while you’re signed in, or using an online form, plus there’s a dedicated email address to send messages to. Better still though is the Live Chat feature, which you get if you upgrade to the still good value Deluxe package, that hooks you up with real people, who can hopefully offer real answers to your questions.

FreeTaxUSA: Final verdict

FreeTaxUSA is a good bet if you want an uncomplicated and, crucially, free way of e-filing your taxes. While the Deluxe version beefs up what's on offer in terms of support, if you’re reasonably competent with your bookkeeping and have kept an organized pile of paperwork in the run up to file time then the basic incarnation is perfectly acceptable. 

There are some drawbacks here, as we’ve outlined above, but if you’re keen to keep your overheads to an absolute minimum then FreeTaxUSA will get you to filing point without putting a dent in your finances.

TurboTax review
6:56 pm | September 15, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Intuit’s TurboTax has been around in tax software circles for a long time, over a quarter of a century in fact, which sounds like an age. But, that’s helped it get better over the years too. It’s got a well-proven track history as being a solution for all kinds of business users, from those who have lone filing to do as well as those with more complex tax ground to cover. 

While TurboTax is powerful, it’s not intimidating either, which will be reassuring to any filing newbies or people who aren’t confident using online filing systems. In fact, TurboTax is a real help because of its simple and almost chatty screen-by-screen interface. Other similar tax software options come in the shape of TaxAct, TaxSlayer, Jackson Hewitt Online, Credit Karma Tax and FreeTaxUSA.

Pricing

TurboTax is available in various incarnations, depending on your requirements and, naturally, how much you want to spend. There’s a free edition(~37% of taxpayers qualify. Form 1040 + limited credits only) that’s suitable for simple tax returns. Next up, the Deluxe package is ideal for maximizing tax deductions and credits, and that allows you to start for free for simple tax returns only (you only pay when you file) and costs $39 plus $39 state additional. The more you spend with TurboTax the more features get added on. So if you want to spend $90 (plus state additional) for Premier you get everything that comes with the Free and Deluxe editions, plus more functionality. The TurboTax Self-Employed package costs $120 (plus the $50 each state additional once again) and that too can be started for free with payment only being necessary when you file.

However, if you’re not keen on doing things yourself then it is possible to get TurboTax Live, which gets real tax experts to review your return. Live Basic(~37% of taxpayers qualify. Form 1040 + limited credits only) is for simple tax returns and can be started for free. Live Deluxe costs $89 plus state additional, Live Premier is $169 and Live Self-Employed is $200. These packages emulate what’s on offer with the packages shown above, but you gain by having a tac expert on demand. The fact that you ultimately get a final review by a professional should give plenty of piece of mind, which also makes the pricing seem more than justified.

On top of that, TurboTax is available on a CD or as a download, with four different variations on the theme. There’s Basic, which at $49.99 plus state additional and 5 federal e-files included rates as very useful for its step-by-step guidance. Deluxe, meanwhile, is recommended for maximizing your deductions, costs $79.99 and offers 1 state download. Intuit explains that once you've completed your federal tax return, they'll automatically transfer your information and give you the option of completing your state taxes using TurboTax. The same goes for the Premier edition of TurboTax, which costs $109.99 and the Home & Business package, that’s suitable for personal and self-employed returns. That costs $119.99 and also features 1 state download and 5 federal e-files as part of the deal.

Features

Any software package can have its own unique idiosyncrasies but the good news is that TurboTax is reassuringly intuitive to use. In fact, even if you’re only a casual user it can be mastered with relative ease. 

That’s mainly down to the way TurboTax has been designed, with in its most basic guise the need for inputting details of your tax year, what you do and have earned from that along with adding own or rent details, made charitable donations and so on. 

You can even get a headstart by scanning in your W-2 form, which allows the system to work out much of the overall picture for your financial year affairs. The online help aspect is impressive too and works as your fast-responding and easy-to-navigate aid as you work through the various input screens.

Performance

TurboTax performs well and so it should as much of the work is done online, which means it's the wonderful world of the cloud that is doing most of the work. With support for importing your W-2 the system is able to handle much of the grind in the background and will also prepare your final account details. 

Thanks to a fairly minimal interface – we won't say sparse as it’s got everything you’ll need without being fussy about it – it chunters along very nicely as you progress through the various stages. A practical toolbar allows you quick and easy access to core filing topics, such as your overall information as well as letting you drill down into Federal and State tax areas respectively. 

Similarly, you can import any relevant 1099 forms to cover other earnings and all without disappearing into a convoluted accounting software hole.

Ease of use

As mentioned earlier, TurboTax shouldn't faze you too much and it has the added benefit of being able to be used across all of your devices. That’s perfect if you’re pushed for time and prefer to dip into your details as and when the moment arrives. 

What’s more, once you’ve set yourself up with an account – you’ll need a username and password - the step-by-step process is sensible and organized, which is a bonus if you’re not the most organized of people when it comes to accounts. Indeed, the way TurboTax has been designed means that you’re always working in a common sense order; in other words, you’ll be asked to enter details into the system in a logical way. 

When you reach the end of a section the system dips in, checks your data and highlights any issues. When you’re good to go it’s on to the next stage. It’s all pretty simple to be honest.

Support

TurboTax is big on assistance and for good reason as filing tax returns can be stressful for all of us, especially those of us with a less than comprehensive accounting background. The built-in Expert Help area of the interface holds your hand for much of the way, and is the go-to location for more obvious enquiries as you pick you way through the filing process. 

Much more help is at hand, however, with TurboTax boasting a raft of online assistance tools. These include a powerful knowledge base along with video tutorials for excellent visual hand-holding. While the online community area is a boon, anyone needing help from a real person can enlist the assistance of the TurboTax Live option. 

Final verdict

We like TurboTax a lot, especially in its welcoming desktop incarnation. Anyone keen to spend time on their mobile device using the app version will be happy too, though this is slightly trickier to use due to the obviously more condensed working area. 

Nevertheless, you can get it for both iOS and Android, and TurboTax is one of the better options on the mobile accounting and tax software side of things. While there are costly aspects here, the core package is intuitive, dependable and good value.

Next Page »