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Clover point of sale (POS) review
4:10 pm | July 30, 2021

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

Clover is a POS system that launched in April 2012. The company behind the product was incorporated in 2010 and was acquired after two years of existence by First Data Corporation, a well-known payments processing company. Early backers included venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Sutter Hill Ventures..

Under First Data’s ownership, Clover launched its first hardware solution, Clover Station, a point of sale terminal that allowed retailers to receive payments with ease. In 2016, First Data unveiled a second product called Clover Go, a card reader that works with smartphones. Clover’s point-of-sale products have earned a significant market share in the U.S. and abroad; the company processed over $200 billion in transactions in 2022.

In 2019, Clover’s owner, First Data, was acquired by Fiserv, another payment processing giant. Clover has remained under Fiserv since then but operates as an independent subsidiary.

Clover POS: Plans and pricing

The Clover Station Pro is the brand's most powerful point-of-sale system yet.

The Clover Station Pro is the brand's most powerful point-of-sale system yet.  (Image credit: Clover)

Clover offers four types of point-of-sale hardware; Go, Station, Flex, and Mini. You can either pay outright for a device or rent it on a monthly basis. Renting Clover Station costs $120 per month for the one-screen version and $130 monthly for the two-screen version. Flex costs $35 monthly, while Mini costs $45 monthly. The Clover Go card reader costs $49 one-time (there’s no monthly pricing option for it).

The pay monthly option allows you to get the POS system for your business with no money down, and you can cancel your subscription and return the device at any time. But, if you wish, you can also pay in full ($1,349 for the one-screen Clover Station; $1,649 for the dual-screen Station; $799 for the Mini; and $449 for Flex). The upfront costs are relatively expensive compared to the competition, which is why renting can be a better option for small businesses.

If you use Clover to process payments, then you'll pay a separate 2.3% + $0.10 or $2.6% + $0.10 for all successful card transactions depending on your monthly plan.

Clover POS is able to help you process all types of payment

Clover POS is able to help you process all types of payment (Image credit: Clover)

Clover POS: Features

Hardware

Clover offers five hardware options:

Station Solo: An all-in-one POS terminal with a single 14-inch touchscreen, cash drawer, and printer. It lets you accept payments from all major credit cards.

Station Duo: The same Station POS systems but with two screens (one for the seller and the other for the customer).

Go: A compact card reader that works together with the Clover mobile app. It uses Wi-Fi or a cellular connection.

Flex: A handheld POS system with a 6-inch touchscreen, built-in printer, camera, and barcode scanner.

Mini: A full point-of-sale system yet in a compact package. It features an 8-inch touchscreen, a card slot, a contactless card reader, and a built-in receipt printer.

 

Clover POS can be tailored to suit multiple retail and restaurant uses

Clover POS can be tailored to suit multiple retail and restaurant uses (Image credit: Clover)

Point-of-Sale System

The most important part of using Clover is the software system that works with the hardware. This system makes it easy to collect payments and run your business regardless of what type, e.g., restaurant, hotel, brick-and-mortar retailer, etc. It manages every aspect of processing payments, including organizing inventory and collecting money from customer cards.

This POS system is cloud-based, so you can track your sales, deposits, refunds, and sales reports from anywhere as long as you have the correct login details. It features integrated sales reporting, so you can use real-time or past data to track your business performance and visualize it with customizable reports.

Depending on the hardware you select, your POS system can be handheld, portable, or countertop-based. Besides, you can purchase Clover-approved third-party accessories for your POS hardware, e.g., a weight scale, barcode scanner, and cash drawer. There are also many third-party apps developed for Clover’s point-of-sale hardware, e.g., a customer discount app and accounting software.

Payment Processing

You can use Clover’s payment processing system for your hardware or choose a third-party processor (Clover does not restrict its devices to its own payment system, unlike many other rivals).

If you choose Clover's payment processing platform lets you accept payments from credit cards, debit cards, or gift cards. Customers can insert their card chip, swipe the card, or tap it to pay for your products or services. You can also scan and submit paper checks or add a cash drawer to collect and record payments as easily as you would digitally.

Clover POS gets highly praised for its user-friendly terminals

Clover POS gets highly praised for its user-friendly terminals (Image credit: Clover)

Clover POS: Interface and in use

One of the major complaints we observed when researching for this review is that Clover can be difficult to set up initially and the user interface can be confusing at times. You may face some difficulty trying to configure and use the POS system, but with time, you should get used to it.   

Clover POS offers a range of inventory and reporting options

Clover POS offers a range of inventory and reporting options (Image credit: Clover)

Clover POS: Support

Clover offers customer support through email and telephone. There's a single support email, while telephone support lines vary depending on your country. There’s no live chat option, which we consider a disadvantage, but many customers speak highly of the company’s customer service offered via email and telephone.  

Clover POS has a range of terminals at your disposal including the Mini

Clover POS has a range of terminals at your disposal including the Mini (Image credit: Clover)

Clover POS: The competition

The Stripe Terminal and GoDaddy Terminal are two major competitors to Clover’s point-of-sale systems. Stripe offers its hardware upfront at a significantly cheaper price than Clover’s, but it has higher payment processing fees. 

GoDaddy offers cheaper hardware systems and lower transaction fees. But, customers can only use GoDaddy’s payments processing software, unlike Clover which allows you to use other payment processors.

Other options in the POS marketplace include Sage Pay, PaySimple, Authorize.net, Worldpay, PayPal, Helcim and Stripe. If you want to weigh up Clover against a leading competitor, read our Square POS vs. Clover POS system review

Clover POS: Final Verdict

Clover is a reliable point-of-sale system to run your business with. It lets you accept payments with ease, and you’re free to choose whichever payment processor you want despite using Clover’s hardware. However, Clover’s hardware is expensive to purchase upfront and the user interface can be confusing to new users.    

Further reading

You may also like our articles on the best POS systems for restaurants, small businesses, and retail, or how to choose the right POS system for your business, and 9 inspiring ideas on how to use POS system customer data.

Readly review
8:03 am |

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

One-minute review

If you still love print magazines, then Readly makes it supremely easy to get all your favorites in one digital place for an affordable price. The advantage of this platform is you don't need to subscribe to each magazine separately – you just pay the one fee and get access to every single title available on Readly from around the world... which now numbers around the 6,000 mark!

Yes, there are magazines in several languages available on Readly and they’re all mixed in, although you can filter by language if you wish. If you don’t filter, there seems to be no apparent order in which the magazines are presented to you the first time you sign up, or when you’re browsing to discover new content.

Finding new magazines to read is remarkably simple. While Readly will throw up suggestions on what you’ve previously read, the search feature is very quick and filters only the specific category you’ve searched for, no mix-ups there. No matter what platform you’re using Readly on – PC, tablet or phone – the user interface is simple and smooth, with no apparent latency when turning pages.

Readly seems to have been specifically designed for use on handheld devices like a tablet or smartphone. You can select individual articles within a magazine, which also increases the font size, and also allows you to scroll to read through completely. This feature, however, is missing on the browser application and makes it a little harder to read on a larger screen like a laptop or desktop PC.

All in all, the ability to read as many magazines as you can digest for a small monthly fee makes Readly one of the best platforms for consuming print content in the digital age.

Readly interface on browser

Double-page view on a desktop browser (Image credit: Readly)

Readly free trial and price

In comparison to subscribing to individual print editions of magazines, Readly works out to be far more affordable. As of January 2023, a subscription will cost you $11.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99. That's a major change to the previous prices of $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$14.99 a month, with the US and UK subscribers now paying more than their Australian counterparts.

However, it's still a lot cheaper than signing up for several individual magazines that you might want to read. That monthly cost gets you access to around 6,000 magazines in different languages, plus a handful of newspapers from a few countries.

Importantly, Readly offers a free trial period, which is usually 30 days. Occasionally, however, we’ve found the trial period to be two or three months, which makes it an even better value option. There are no contracts to lock you in, so you can cancel your membership any time.

Readly page thumbnails on tablets

Page thumbnails and scrollbar on Android (left) and iPad (right) (Image credit: Readly)

Readly catalogue

  • Over 5,000 magazines
  • Few newspapers
  • Kids and adult content

Readly claims there are over 5,000 magazines in its catalogue and we didn’t stop to count. That number in itself is staggering, and offers options for every kind of reader – anglers to audiophiles, kids to pensioners, high-flyers to home-makers. 

At the time of writing, we couldn’t find any gaps in topic or category. There are trashy supermarket tabloids alongside the likes of National Geographic, and you can find reads on special topics like bird watching and trains. You’ll even find bookazines that teach you about a specific topic, like coding or photography, and there are plenty of puzzle issues as well.

During our testing, we didn't find any delays in new issues of subscribed magazines arriving on Readly, at least for the titles we picked.

Comics have their own category on Readly, with titles like The Walking Dead and Commando included.

There are several kids and young adult magazines also available, like The Beano, National Geographic Kids and so on. However, there are no parental controls, so the kids' titles are sharing shelf space with trashy tabloids of the "A POLTERGEIST had SEX with our DOG" variety when you’re doing a general browsing of all the magazines available on Readly.

Readly single-page view on tablet

Single-page view on an Android tablet (left) and an iPad (right) (Image credit: Readly)

Readly apps

  • Available on Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, web browser
  • Simple, easy-to-use interface

Readly apps are available for the usual suspects of iOS and Android – for smartphones and tablets – as well as an app for the Kindle Fire tablets. You can even read on a web browser via go.readly.com. All apps are free to download.

The mobile and tablet apps, irrespective of platform, are very similar, displaying thumbnails (or tiles) of each magazine’s cover art. You can browse the Discover section to start getting some ideas of what you could read, and any title you’ve tapped on begins to download automatically for offline reading. The progress of this download is visible via a thin yellow line at the bottom of the screen on tablet and mobile (note that there is no download option when reading on a browser). If you happen to be just flicking through an issue, the download stops, and then picks up where it left off when you open the same issue again at another time. Once downloaded, you’ll see a green down arrow below the specific issue’s thumbnail.

Download speed varies, depending on the size of each individual issue, but is very quick for newspapers. Storage demands aren’t excessive – after downloading four magazine issues and two newspapers, Readly took up 516MB of space on our iPhone. If you don’t think you’ll be reading offline, there is a toggle switch in the app’s settings to disable mobile data for when you’re out and about or abroad. You can, of course, remove anything you've downloaded to free up space.

Readly magazine and newspaper thumbnails on mobile

(Image credit: Readly)

In fact, Readly gives you a lot of control over how you want the app to function – you can set the maximum number of issues you can download, enabled or disable background refreshes of pages, have page-turn animations switched on and even have a sound accompany that animation, both of which are wonderful just from a nostalgic point of view when reading a digital edition.

Titles and issues you’ve read – even if they haven’t finished downloading – get added to the Recently Read section under My Content. You can Favorite any title you want for easy access later and you can even bookmark specific pages within a magazine if you need to revisit it later. Your favorites, recently read magazines and bookmarks are all listed in the My Content tab across all platforms. 

If you’re reading across several devices, your content gets synced almost immediately, including which page you stopped on. If you notice the sync hasn't happened, a quick refresh of the app will do the trick. We tested Readly in a desktop browser, an iPhone, an iPad and an Android tablet and every device synced smoothly.

Readly article view on mobile

The display options in Readly for mobile and tablet means you don't need to zoom and scroll around (Image credit: Readly)

Reading experience

  • Designed for handheld devices
  • Not perfect on desktop

Browsing and reading on Readly is fast and fluid: it's just like swooping around a photo library, and a thumbnail viewer with a scroll bar pops up for easy navigation. If your device is in portrait mode you'll see single pages full screen, and in landscape you're given the choice of single page view and double page view. On a browser, though, you only get the double-page view, with a single zoom option via double-clicking on a page.

Two-page views on any device have very small font sizes making them exceptionally difficult to read (practically illegible on a phone). We tried reading on both a 16-inch laptop as well as a 24-inch monitor and they both were hard to read. Zooming in isn’t a great experience on desktop either as that requires a lot of scrolling up and down, as well as left and right to get the full page experience.

One-page views on mobile and tablet, though, require no such zooming. You can pinch to zoom if you wish, but there is a yellow 'page' icon below each magazine page that opens up a full article in a single file. This removes some formatting aspects of the article (although images remain untouched), as well as any background colors, but it offers a smooth scrolling and reading experience for individual articles. 

Interestingly, the Readly app is intuitive enough to recognize an advertisement from the real articles, and the page icon disappears for ad placements and covers. This feature lets you read either on a white background or switch to dark mode for a black background and white text. If there are multiple articles on a single page, a pop-up is presented asking you which one you want to read. 

Unfortunately, this article view feature isn’t available when reading on a browser and is our only complaint about the Readly experience.

Readly interface on browser

Readly on a desktop browser (Image credit: Readly)

Verdict

If you love your magazines, we can’t recommend Readly highly enough, particularly since it offers such great value. Not only are you getting access to thousands of magazines you likely wouldn’t be able to get in your country, it also doesn’t cost much at all. You only need a couple of magazines to justify the monthly Readly subscription.

A simplified user experience, the ability to read offline and switch across different devices without losing your spot makes Readly a great experience… as long as you steer clear of the platform’s browser interface, which is missing some of the mobile and tablet app features.

[First reviewed 2014; updated July 2021]

Citrix Endpoint Management MDM review
5:30 pm | July 29, 2021

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

Formerly known as Xenmobile, Citrix Endpoint Manager is a unified device management system that provides a simplified platform for IT departments to monitor and administer hardware of all types.

With features beyond the scope of standard Mobile Device Management (MDM) products, Citrix Endpoint Manager supports all commercially available mobile operating systems and desktop OSs. Offered stand-alone or as part of a more comprehensive selection of Citrix business software, Citrix Endpoint Manager aims to be seamless for the end user and effortless for the IT department to manage. 

Features

Citrix Endpoint Management is a feature-packed MDM solution (Image credit: Citrix)

Features

Citrix Endpoint Manager is an upgraded version of Xenmobile, offering additional features.

In addition to the usual MDM functionalities like compliance management and application control, Citrix Endpoint Manager provides all the necessary tools for end-users to carry out their tasks. It offers a comprehensive BYOD management system with hassle-free enrollment and supports handheld scanners and similar endpoints.

The system enables easy tracking and identification of both devices and users, allowing for managing content viewed on devices (whether online or on corporate servers), deployment of software and apps, and assignment and withdrawal of permissions. The comprehensive inventory can be managed and grouped by device and other parameters, and policies can be applied and adjusted across hardware and users, all from the admin screen of Citrix Endpoint Manager.

Installation and setup

The Citrix Endpoint Manager is a powerful tool that operates seamlessly within a standard Citrix Workspace environment. It offers a comprehensive suite of tools and features for managing devices and applications within an organization. 

With the ability to integrate with existing workspaces, the Endpoint Manager makes it easy to enroll devices and manage app distribution or restrictions across the network. To enroll devices, a console with all the necessary tools is provided, and end users can use the AutoDiscovery feature for enrollment, making the process simpler and reducing the workload on the MDM administrator. 

An Apple Push Notifications developer account is required for Apple hardware, while Android devices require an organizational Google account and a Google Play account. 

With the Citrix Endpoint Manager, organizations can streamline device management processes and improve productivity and security.

Compatibility

Citrix Endpoint Manager works with most mobile and desktop operating systems (Image credit: Citrix)

Compatibility

Citrix Endpoint Manager offers integrated administration of Android and Android Enterprise, Chrome OS, macOS, iOS, tvOS, iPadOS, and Windows 10 devices. Only macOS and tvOS cannot be found on mobile hardware. Linux is only supported by a Citrix Ready workspace hub compatible with the Raspberry Pi 3.

Citrix Endpoint Manager can access and control these devices' management systems. So, for example, the Unified Endpoint Management capability in Windows 10 can be used to enroll and manage Windows 10 tablets and hybrids. Similarly, Citrix Endpoint Manager can access mobile device data, app information, and control security and other aspects in iOS for iPhone and iPadOS for the Apple iPad.

Additionally, Citrix Endpoint Manager supports Alexa for Business, making it the ideal choice for managing and administering mobile IoT devices and integrating those with the usual MDM hardware. Need to start a projector or dim the lights in the conference room? Those integrations can be handled from a permitted mobile device across the Citrix Endpoint Manager environment.

Usability

Citrix Endpoint Manager prioritizes both hardware and user compatibility. Rather than restricting users to specific devices, it takes a flexible approach, allowing organizations to determine the best machines, apps, and software vendors for their IT, colleagues, and overall business needs.

Citrix Workspace is a unified platform that can be accessed across devices and profiles, ensuring that users have the necessary tools on the hardware they use. Enrollment is simple and usually doesn't require repetition.

From an administrative perspective, each user and device can be easily managed through a user-friendly interface that provides analysis data. This interface allows you to monitor compliance information device statistics by platform and carrier and manage device security, apps, and permissions. 

Pricing

Citrix's price calculator can be quite handy for larger organizations (Image credit: Citrix)

Plans and pricing

Are you looking for pricing options for Citrix? They offer different packages that can be scaled according to the needs of your business. 

The Stand-alone package integrates with other Citrix products and supports major platforms and hardware. This package costs $4 per user or $3 per monthly device.

Workspace Premium is a more comprehensive solution that costs $18 per user per month. This package offers a secure interface to access apps and files, including Citrix Endpoint Manager and other notable Citrix products.

Workspace Premium Plus costs $25 per user per month and includes hybrid deployment options for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, with cloud management.

To know how much Citrix Endpoint Manager may cost, visit their website, which provides a helpful calculator. Simply choose a plan, usage type, and quantity to get an estimation (actual prices may vary).

For instance, if you have 500 users and choose the Stand-alone package on a one-year contract, it would cost $4.83 per user per month. If you choose a three-year contract, you could save 20% and pay only $3.87 per user monthly.

Final verdict

When selecting a mobile device management (MDM) solution, many factors must be considered. One important consideration is the offerings provided by established players in organizational collaboration networks. Citrix Endpoint Manager is a strong contender in this space due to its wide assortment of features and tools and its straightforward device enrollment process.

If your network is already utilizing Citrix Workspace or requires an upgrade, then choosing Citrix Endpoint Manager would be a sensible decision. The necessary operating systems and server software have already been installed, and the server hardware is operational. If your budget permits, transitioning to Citrix Endpoint Manager within an existing Citrix environment may be your most appropriate option.

With its powerful management capabilities and user-friendly interface, Citrix Endpoint Manager can help streamline your organization's mobile device management processes, allowing you to focus on what matters - your business. 

Whether managing a small team of mobile workers or a large enterprise with thousands of devices, Citrix Endpoint Manager has the tools and features you need to succeed. So why not try it today and see how it can help take your mobile device management to the next level?

Sage Business Cloud Accounting review
2:52 am | July 27, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro | Tags: , | Comments: Off
  • This is a review of Sage Business Cloud Accounting for North America. The product, and its features may vary depending on the country you're in. We will soon update this review to reflect the differences with the UK version which includes Payroll.

Sage is the British company that has been offering accountancy software solutions for many years. The business currently has its latest incarnation of Sage Business Cloud Accounting that, as the name suggests, offers the flexibility and dependable edge provided by a cloud-based solution. 

The service was originally called Sage One but has morphed into a beefier package that differs from Sage’s 50cloud option. The most obvious benefit of Sage Business Cloud Accounting is that you gain the flexibility and scalability provided by having a cloud back-end.

Sage is constantly evolving too, with the UK market having its own products dedicated to small business including specific accounting, payroll and HR packages. Equally, Sage also covers the medium-sized business arena with Sage Intacct, Sage200cloud and the more specialised cloud-based ERP Sage X3. Professional accountants and bookkeepers are, of course, also catered for with partner accounting and payroll options with an increasing focus on automation.

Competitor software services worth considering include QuickBooks, Xero, Zoho Books, Kashflow and FreshBooks. All practical options in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers both a starter plan as well as a more advanced plan that includes invoicing and cash flow management

Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers both a starter plan as well as a more advanced plan that includes invoicing and cash flow management (Image credit: Image Credit: Sage)

Sage: Pricing

If you like the look of the most recent edition of Sage Business Cloud Accounting then the good news is that there’s a free trial available. This is a great way of experiencing the cloud-based accountancy service head on, but if you want to get stuck into its products full-on then there are two options. Sage One Start is $10 per month, while Sage One Accounting is $25 per month. The Accounting package is the one to go for if you like the sound of access to over 100 connected apps that enable you to boost the potential of the Sage cloud-based service.

The other offering for small business accounting is the Sage 50cloud Accounting software. This combines “the convenience of cloud with the power of desktop accounting software.” This solution is able to integrate the Sage bookkeeping with Office 365 Business Premium and the Microsoft Small Business Productivity Suite. This enables key cloud based features, such as backing up to OneDrive, generating financial reports in Excel, and accessing Outlook contacts. 

This starts at the Pro Accounting tier, via a monthly subscription of $46.83 per month, with the limitation that it only supports a single user at a single company, with the option to add Microsoft 365 for an annual subscription of $150 per year. It can also automate bank feeds, and can be remotely accessed by your accountant.

You can easily connect your bank accounts to Sage Business Cloud Accounting

You can easily connect your bank accounts to Sage Business Cloud Accounting (Image credit: Image Credit: Sage)

Sage: Features

Sage Business Cloud Accounting gets regular updates and its latest version is perfect for small businesses that need a relatively straightforward solution. Once you’re signed up Sage Business Cloud Accounting lets you tackle accounting, but it’ll also simplify sales tracking, reporting and pull contact together. You’ll be able to accept and receive payments, create and send invoices as well as stay on top of bookkeeping chores all within the space of a cloud-based service. 

The additional benefit of Sage Business Cloud Accounting is that it lets you enjoy the same powerful features on your computer, tablet or phone. That way you’re on top of your accounting no matter where you happen to be.

Users in the UK get a variation on the theme. Sage offers small businesses an Accounting package, which lets you handle invoicing, cash flow, tax, payments and more. It also has a Payroll option, which allows you to pay up to 50 employees and is fully HRMC-compliant. Sage even takes care of HR issues with its refreshed Sage HR package, which used to be called CakeHR. It is a constantly evolving picture to stay in line with new rules and regulations, along with the changing face of business.

Sage: Performance

Sage has been around long enough to realize the potential of offering a product that can be used by the many and varied users that need accountancy solutions. As a result, there are versions available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad plus the web-based edition for anyone with access to a browser. 

As you’d expect from a cloud-based solution, it depends on an internet connection but all data is stored in the cloud. Sage delivers a reliable service in that respect and the performance has been carefully honed over the years to help you enjoy a pretty decent experience.

Sage: Ease of use

Sage Business Cloud Accounting is quite a dry experience in that it’s less easy on the eyes, but certainly offers a comprehensive suite of features and functions. If you’re a newcomer to its functionality then you might find it a little hard going as there’s quite a lot to get through during initial setup. This is done via a Getting Started screen, which incidentally can be switched off if preferred. 

You can, of course, import a lot of your data as well as connect to your financial institutions, which means that most of your accounting figures will self-populate the various categories. Nevertheless, there is still quite a lot to digest within the Sage Business Cloud Accounting interface, though once you’ve become familiar with it progress is much more streamlined. 

Sage has done an impressive job at shoehorning the same experience into its mobile apps too, with iPhone and Android experiences surprisingly good. You can even get it for the Apple Watch.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting

The Sage Business Cloud Accounting layout is functional but lacks the flair of other cloud-based options (Image credit: Sage)

Sage: Support

You’ll find plenty of options available to you if you need to call upon some support. Sage has got this aspect of its business down to a fine art, with email, phone and also live support options all available. 

For ongoing issues that can’t be resolved with a quick answer then there is also the provision for raising support tickets, whereby your query will be put into a queuing system and hopefully resolved as quickly as possible. You also get the benefit of a healthy community spirit within the world of Sage, while easily accessed and comprehensive FAQs also get to the bottom of many everyday questions and quandaries.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting

Support comes in a range of options including a powerful knowledge base for FAQs (Image credit: Sage)

Sage: Final verdict

Sage Cloud Business Accounting has been a reliable option for quite some time and proves consistently popular with many sole traders and smaller businesses. However, the interface can seem rather uninspiring even though it does offer an expansive range of features. 

Some elements of the workflow seem unduly labored and with missing features such as time tracking and payroll options Sage Cloud Business Accounting is at risk from the competition. While everyone might instantly know the name of Sage this cloud-based accountancy solution doesn’t satisfy in quite the same way as something like QuickBooks Online.

We find the lowest Accounting Start tier, while well priced, somewhat limiting, and only useful for a true micro business. On the other hand, the upper Accounting tier is quite a bit more capable, and the 50cloud variant has deep integration with Microsoft365, although the cost rises considerably from the lowest plan. For a medium to larger small business, without dedicated accounting resources, these higher plans become an affordable solution.

Internxt cloud storage review
9:30 am | July 23, 2021

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

Not too long ago, being able to remotely upload content and store and retrieve the data as and when you needed it seemed like a futuristic dream. But today, the best cloud storage services offer you that and so much more. If you’ve been thinking about storing your data in the cloud, Internxt - a cloud storage service with a focus on privacy and security - is a viable option.

We’ve explored the service’s pricing, features, interface, security, and support so that you can decide if it’s the right cloud storage service for your needs.  

Internxt cloud storage interface showing

(Image credit: Internxt)

Internxt: Plans & pricing

Internxt’s basic free plan offers 10GB of storage - and one of our picks for best free cloud storage providers. However there is a large emphasis on “up to”, here. All accounts start with a 2GB allowance, while more storage can be added for free by completing certain tasks. These include installing the Internxt mobile or desktop app (1GB each), sharing a file via a link (1GB) and inviting up to 5 friends (1GB each). 

Beyond that, seven other pricing plans are available for individuals and for businesses. 

One popular approach to tiered subscriptions among cloud drive services is to offer varying degrees of functionality for both personal and business users. Internxt has decided to offer single personal and business plans with access to the same features, instead focussing purely on the amount of storage available.

Personal customers can subscribe to 20GB, 200GB or 2TB for $1, $5,  or $10 a month - annual subscriptions and lifetime or ‘perpetual’ licenses are also available, giving you a great amount of flexibility for any budget. 

Business customers can gain access to larger amounts, including 200GB, 2TB and 20TB. These require a minimum of two users, and prices start at $5, $10, and $95  a month. However, business plans don’t feature a lifetime license. 

Like its competition, Internxt offers discounts for annual commitments. Payments are taken in euros, which may present some difficulties with certain banking platforms. 

Internxt also has an Enterprise plan for an unlimited number of team members. You’ll have to contact the support team for a quote based on your needs. It’s also easy for you to upgrade your plan at any time - you’ll never have to worry if your storage requirements change. 

All plans offer complete use of all of Internxt's secure services, including Internxt Drive, a zero-knowledge file storage service, Internxt Photos, which enables you to store photos privately and securely, and Internxt Send, a platform for you to send files safely and seamlessly. 

Internxt's pricing, even when converted to other currencies, is especially competitive when compared with some of the key players in the game, including Apple iCloud and Google Drive

An exclusive deal for TechRadar readers means you can save 50% of all plans, too. Just use the code TECHRADAR at the check to save even more money. 

All plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee and given that you need to already have an account to sign up, we recommend trying out the free features first before handing over your credit card details. 

Internxt: Features

As a relatively new offering, Internxt’s features are pretty basic. We’ve broken down some of the key ones here.

Internxt is available on desktop, mobile, or tablet, so you can conveniently access your files on any device. With its automatic syncing capability, Internxt ensures your information will be updated and saved regardless of the device you’re using. 

It offers its users handy offline access to their files. This means that you don’t have to frantically search for a network connection in order to access your documents out of range. You can enable selective offline access to all the files in your inventory.

One of the company’s strong points is its commitment to security, however a lot goes on behind the scenes. Internxt wants to make the process as normal as possible while maintaining the best protocol.

For business users, the service enables you and your team to store files with total security. You can collaborate privately with other members and toggle your admin features. You can even decide how many times you want a given link to be valid/shared so that your file won’t be accessible outside of its intended audience. This is particularly useful for sensitive documents. 

All plans have derestricted file sizes, which is great for people working on videos and other large media types.

Internxt cloud storage interface showing the interface and file upload proces

(Image credit: Internxt)

Internxt: Interface & experience 

Choosing a plan and creating an account on Internxt is quick and fuss-free. In fact, of all the cloud storage providers we reviewed, this is by far the fastest sign up. Simply enter your e-mail address and chosen password to log in immediately to the web interface. 

Upon doing this, you’ll find a handy introductory guide that you can access to get a quick tutorial on how the service works, which we thought was a nice touch. You can also click your account profile at the top right to download the desktop app for the device. You’ll receive 1GB extra storage for your trouble.

Internxt’s interface on mobile, web, and desktop is clean, intuitive, and user-friendly. On its main page, you can view all your files at a glance. You can also easily customize your folders with different colors and icons similar to the native tagging features in macOS and Windows. A useful search function helps you quickly locate files without having to spend time scrolling through your entire drive.  

Uploading new files onto the cloud is also a breeze with a drag-and-drop interface. Similarly, you can easily share your files through a link. Overall, Internxt’s intuitive dashboard is easy to use and streamlines your workflow.

There are two aspects to the desktop client. First is the tool that sits in the status bar, allowing a certain degree of control and an insight into your syncing activity. Unlike many competitors, there is no option here to throttle bandwidth usage, which would be useful for companies and individuals processing large amounts of documents alongside other streaming activity.

The second aspect is the built-in support for your computer’s native file management system - in our case, Finder for macOS. You can use the newly created 'Internxt' folder in your home directory to continue life as normal with plenty of dragging and dropping, while keeping things synced.

You can also use the desktop client to launch the web interface, which is necessary for certain operations. On first launch the screen is grayed out except for the "upload files" button. During our tests we noticed that this also happened even when we'd already uploaded some files, forcing us to click the button, then 'cancel' on the explorer window that opened. This was a small bug but could prove irritating if you have to upload many files. 

While Internxt’s primary focus is on cloud storage, there is a cloud backup service available to all free and paid accounts too - though remember the limitations of free accounts. You can also pick which folders to sync and any changes made in these will be updated online. We have previously complained about cloud drives that occupy a single folder, so being able to sync multiple folders across various locations is kindly welcomed. 

Internxt: Support

In terms of support, a pop-up live chat box will instantly appear when you navigate to Internxt’s site. Chat support is pretty responsive—we got a reply in eight minutes. If you’d prefer to troubleshoot on your own, you can access Internxt’s Help Centre from the same pop-up box as the live chat function. On the search bar, type any keyword that you’re looking for and you’ll be greeted with dozens of helpful articles from the team.

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, Internxt’s support team is contactable via email 24/7 and provides support in English, Spanish, and Russian.

Internxt cloud storage interface showing the app's desktop widget help screen

(Image credit: Internxt)

Internxt: Security

Security is where Internxt shines. The zero-knowledge file storage service is based on absolute privacy and uncompromising security. When you upload a file on Internxt, it’s instantly encrypted on your device. Unlike other mainstream services that encrypt customer data in transit or at rest, the service encrypts all your data before it leaves your device. When data is downloaded from the file to your device, it's also automatically decrypted. 

Additionally, Internxt doesn’t store user data in any central location. Instead, data gets fragmented prior to being uploaded, and the encrypted file shards are then uploaded onto servers based in different locations around the world. A single server never holds a whole file, making the cloud storage very secure, robust, and private. 

With its AES-256 CTR encryption model, no one else other than you holds the key to your data. If Internxt were to be hacked, intruders wouldn’t be able to access your data either. 

On the consumer’s end, two-factor authentication (2FA) is easy to enable. There is no support for SMS authentication. This can be handy for people with phone and computer integration and autofill but is actually a point in Internxt's favor as SMS messages are much easier to intercept than codes generated by legitimate authenticator apps

Even users without an account have access to the company’s free virus scanner which works by uploading a document - up to 1GB in size - to the website in order for it to be checked.

Internxt also provides a free password checker, which shows any relevant information such as that it is a frequently used or easily guessed, as well as the amount of leaks that this password has been found in and how long it would take for somebody to crack your password. It also lets you know if your password has been leaked in any public hacks recently. 

There’s some handy guidance, too, for creating the ultimate password, though we still recommend using six or more words generated by Diceware.

One of the best security aspects of Internxt though is its commitment to open source. This means that the company has released the source code used to make its app so knowledgeable programmers can verify that end-to-end encryption has been set up correctly, as well as the fact that data is split into multiple clusters.  

Internxt: Alternatives 

We found Dropbox gives Internxt a run for its money thanks to its advanced file-sharing capabilities and software integration. Similarly, Microsoft OneDrive is a great alternative with its files-on-demand feature. 

The two competitors offer a range of useful tools and great functionality at about the same price point. To enjoy these features, however, you may have to compromise on privacy and security: Dropbox and OneDrive do not offer zero-knowledge encryption. Unlike other products which do claim to offer 'zero knowledge' Internxt is also open source, which means you don't have to take your word for it that your data's safe. 

Internxt: Our tests 

We ran three key tests for Internxt, measuring sync speed, file recovery and versioning.

Our tests were done on a Windows 11 virtual machine running the Internxt desktop client. The VM was connected to the internet via fiber broadband via VPN server, which in our speed tests consistently showed an average upload speed of 70 Mbps  Measuring metrics like upload speed, results can sometimes vary depending on factors including how many share the broadband connection, how busy the cloud providers servers are, and your connection speeds.  

Internxt cloud storage interface showing our test for sync speeds

(Image credit: Internxt)
  • Test 1 - Sync speed 

After closing all third-party and internet apps, we copied a 650 MB folder of Sherlock Holmes audio books from the Internet Archive into the application directory and measured how quickly the desktop client was able to sync the files to the cloud. The folder contained 22 files including MP3s, images, metadata files and a PDF. 

Initially we tried to use the web interface to upload the folder containing our test files. Unfortunately, this didn't work as the interface doesn't seem to allow uploading folders - only one or more files.

Instead we copied the test folder to the 'Internxt' folder in our device's home folder. The desktop client started syncing files, showing each one as it was successfully uploaded. This is where we saw the files being encrypted as each upload took place. 

We were particularly impressed to see the encryption process didn't impact at all on speed. The whole upload of 625MB of data on our 70Mbps connection took only 1 minute 55 seconds. This is comparable to other cloud storage services we've reviewed that don't use encryption.

Internxt cloud storage interface showing our testing process

(Image credit: Internxt)
  • Test 2 - File recovery 

In this test we simply deleted the audiobook folder from the application directory, removing it from the device. We then checked to see if the files had been removed from the cloud drive and if it was possible to recover them. 

If the cloud provider offers you a way to store files in the cloud without keeping them on your device, we test this feature too. 

After we deleted the test files from the 'Internxt' folder we were surprised to see that the data still counted towards our data quota in the desktop client.

On logging into the web interface, we immediately saw the Trash option with the deleted folder. With two clicks of the mouse, the data was decrypted and downloaded back to the device within 90 seconds. 

Internxt cloud storage interface showing our tests for restoring files

(Image credit: Internxt)
  • Test 3 - Versioning 

If you're working on long or important documents, the last thing you want is to make changes you can't undo. Some cloud providers prevent this by regularly saving different versions of a file. This means if you change something you shouldn't have, you can just roll the file back to before this happened.

To test this we copied a Microsoft Word (.docx) file of the public domain story 'The Purple Cloud' to the cloud application folder. Once it synced, we then deleted all the text except the introduction, then saved and closed. We then tried to restore the document back to its original form, complete with all chapters. 

We did place our test document into the Internxt folder and deleted some text but there was little point. When we logged in to the web interface we saw there was no 'file version' feature, so clearly Internxt doesn't save multiple copies of edited files. 

We did take this opportunity to try out the 'Preview' feature. However, this didn't work for the Microsoft Word document or an MP3 file we tried opening. 

Internxt: Verdict 

Internxt’s affordable pricing plans, intuitive interface, and reliable support make it a great cloud storage service to consider. It doesn’t offer the same advanced features like file versioning that you’ll find with Dropbox and OneDrive. But personal and business users prioritizing security will enjoy the cloud service provider’s advanced security features and commitment to privacy. 

We rate Internxt highly for its range of useful features, including its interface which most users will find already familiar, the option to backup folders elsewhere on your computer, and the free, out-of-plan virus and password tools.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 review
11:01 pm | July 21, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: July 2021
• Launch price: $99 / £99 (approx. AU$185)
• Official price now: $89 / £99 / AU$119

Update: February 2024. Stock seems to be running down on the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 in some countries, and these days these earbuds have been largely surpassed by more advanced entries among the best budget wireless earbuds. You can get fantastic sound and solid active noise cancellation (something the Lypertek lack totally) from the Sony WF-C700N at around the same price, or you can get ANC and a bunch of other smarter features from the Earfun Air Pro 3 for cheaper than the Lypertek. However! The battery life here remains fantastic – these noise cancelling buds can only dream of 10 hours from the buds, and 80 hours in total including the case. So they still have something to recommend them, but generally we'd suggest looking to the Sony or Earfun options. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0: One-minute review

When we first reviewed the original Lypertek PurePlay Z3 true wireless earbuds (then known as the Lypertek Tevi), we were blown away. We couldn’t believe that a pair of headphones that sounded as good as they did, with the battery life they offered, could be sold so affordably and be the product of a company we’d hardly heard of. They were so good, we made them our headphone product of the year, as well as including them in our look at the best true wireless earbuds.

Dial the clock forward a couple of years, and we’re now looking at their successors, the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 true wireless earbuds. They’re very similar to the originals, with a few key improvements, and yet still come in at the same affordable price point the originals did – $99 / £99.

This gets you everything we loved about the original PurePlay Z3 (detailed balanced sound, a whopping 80 hours total battery life from its petite USB-C charging case, and a comfortably fitting bud with physical buttons), and adds wireless charging, a powerful new LDX Audio mode, improved app functionality and a hear through ambient mode. This is one of the best cheap headphones to buy in 2022.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2

(Image credit: Future)

For the most part, it’s an improvement across the board and one of our top picks of the best wireless earbuds, as well as the best headphones. LDX Audio adds a well-tuned, full bodied sound for those that want more oomph than the near-reference default, wireless charging works a treat, EQ features respond well to tweaks and battery life remains stellar.

However, app connectivity is patchy at best, and the ambient hear through mode is pretty much useless in comparison to the competition from the likes of Sony’s noise cancelling WF-1000XM4.

And yet, with the price still rock-bottom low, and nothing to detract from the quality standard the originals set out, with a few notable improvements, they remain must-have earbuds, more than a match or headphones two or three times the price. Get them.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 review: Price and availability

The Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 is out now, priced at $99 / £99 (about AU$185). That’s not a penny more than their predecessors, despite a raft of new features being included. And though they don’t feature active noise cancellation, they more than challenge rivals many times the price. That includes the Apple AirPods Pro ($249 / £249 / AU$399) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95). They are a total steal.

Design

From the outside, not much looks very different about the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 compared to its 1.0 predecessors, and that’s indicative of the product as a whole in many respects – this is a refinement on that top-notch original, rather than a revolutionary new direction.

Again, you’ll find ovoid, stemless earbuds sitting within a pill-shaped, fabric covered case, complete with a removable carrying strap. Both white and black versions of the PurePlay Z3 2.0 are available, and each features USB-C charging and four LED indicator lights to show battery levels. The earbuds securely fit into the case with a magnetic snap, which will start them charging from the case’s own internal battery – removing them from the case will start the Bluetooth pairing process, and once they’ve been paired once, you won’t have to perform the process again unless you’re looking to pair additional devices with the headphones.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2

(Image credit: Future)

The case (being just a touch too big for a comfortable trousers pocket fit), is quietly attractive, and makes use of its size to fit in a gigantic battery. You’re already getting a solid ten hours of playback from the buds themselves, but there’s an additional 70 hours to be had by recharging them in the fully-juiced charging case. That’s a whopping 80 hours total battery life before you’ve got to plug the cable back into case. And, in a first for the line, there’s wireless charging support too here. These are top-class battery specs, in case you were in any doubt.

In terms of the earbuds themselves, they’re lightweight and comfortable in the ear. Each can be paired with small, medium or large silicone ear tips, or Flexifit foam tip that expands slightly in your ear for a tighter seal and better passive noise cancellation. That’s worth pointing out as, due to the budget nature of the earbuds, there’s no active noise cancellation here. Still, with strong volume levels and a snug fit, ambient noise was very rarely a concern with the PurePlay Z3 2.0. IPX7 waterproofing makes these safe for a quick splash in the shower, though note that the case is not similarly protected.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2

(Image credit: Future)

Both earbuds also feature physical buttons, controlling volume, track selection, play, pause, call response and hear-through mode activation. They’re far more reliable than touch-sensitive buttons (and preferred here as a result), though pushing them without driving the earbuds further into your ear takes some practice.

Internally there is an improvement too, with the introduction of Bluetooth 5.2 support. This allows for SBC, AAC and aptX codecs to be handled without fuzz, with the Qualcomm QCC3040 chipset allowing for improved battery life even to offset the introduction of the afore-mentioned LDX Audio mode.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 review: Audio performance

The original Lypertek Tevi, or PurePlay Z3, excelled when it came to bringing a clear, neutral sound to your ears. Just shy of what we’d consider reference or audiophile quality, they were revelatory when considering their price point. And that base-level, out of the box tuning remains present here. Making use of 6mm graphene drivers, there’s an identical level of clarity to the Z3 2.0, presenting an unbiased sound that favours studio intentions rather than ramping up any individual frequencies. As a result, we’ll point you to our original Lypertek PurePlay Z3 review for a detailed rundown of the out-of-the-box sound of the Z3 2.0.

However, despite it being a preferred way of listening for audio connoisseurs, it’s not always the right tuning for every scenario. What about if you’re down the gym, and want a little more bass? Or generally want a punchier, more-powerful sound, even if that’s at the expense of balance?

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2

(Image credit: Future)

That’s where the PurePlay Z3 2.0’s new LDX Audio mode comes in, accessible from the also-new accompanying app. Switching on LDX Audio in the app is a bit like hitting an overdrive button – raising the volume of less-present frequencies (particularly bass tones), widening the soundstage.

It results in a more energetic, dynamic delivery, and one that certainly is a noticeable departure from the stock tuning. They are two very distinct sound profiles, and both have their merits – I found myself switching between the two depending on the listening situation, favouring LDX Audio when out and about, while going for the stock tuning when indoors and intently listening to songs and albums. What neither is lacking in is clarity – the PurePlay Z3 2.0 does well to highlight details, and does well to avoid distorting when even at high volumes. They’re simply a pleasure to listen to.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 review: Features

It’s more of a mixed bag when it comes to new features. 

First the good – the LDX Audio mode, as mentioned, is excellent, and is accompanied in the app by an equally-impressive EQ option. As well as a number of presets, from Rock to Jazz, Pop to R&B, there are also presets that favor Bass or Treble response. That’s in addition to two custom slots for your to save your own tunings. They make a noticeable impact, really letting you refine the sound to your tastes.

Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2

(Image credit: Future)

But other features aren’t as impressive. A "Hear Through" mode, which is intended to let you hear more of your ambient surroundings via the earbud mics without interrupting playback, is pretty much useless, not making anywhere near the impact needed to make you comfortably more aware of what was going on around you. A Find my Earbuds feature was similarly patchy, while the app itself sometimes struggled to identify and connect to the headphones at all – even without any nearby wireless devices to potentially cause confusion.

Despite some failings here, it’s hard to be too critical of the PurePlay Z3 2.0 though. Managing to bring more to the table than earlier models (mostly positively too), and still retaining the same price point, they remain an overall improvement to an already-impressive package.

Should I buy the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0?

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if…

Zygo Solo review
7:04 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Headphones Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Editor's note

  • Original review date: July 2021
  • Original price $229 (£218.00, around AU$400.00)
  • Prices holding steady

Update: February 2024. Zygo is still unopposed three years on as the best premium option for in-pool workouts. The Zygo Solo vs H20 Audio Tri versus feature we did last year has a lot of points that remain relevant one year on: the FM radio transmitter means if you want to stream, Zygo Solo is the best option, especially if you want to stream guided workouts. The continued limited availability in the UK and AU is a big frustration, but otherwise for US swimmers, Zygo is the premium headphone set for you. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Two-minute review

Is this the Peloton of the pool? With the success of that workout streaming service clearly in its sights comes Zygo Solo, a unique audio gadget for swimmers.

We’ve seen waterproof headphones and bone conduction headphones before, but not like this. Since Bluetooth can't penetrate water, all other swim headphones are little more than waterproof MP3 players (pretty much that music file format’s last stand). The Zygo Solo is different, and is able to stream content from a smartphone through water using an FM transmitter that can penetrate water.

It’s something of a 'hallelujah!' moment for swimmers, many of whom have by now experimented with the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 and then the Aftershokz Xtrainerz, both of which are good at what they do, but only play MP3s. Does anyone even have any MP3s anymore?

Zygo Solo equipment

The Zygo Solo kit consists of a headset, FM transmitter, stand and charging case, plus a pair of earplugs (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

A four-piece set consisting of headset, FM transmitter, stand and charging case, the Zygo Solo has a lot more hardware than your average pair of super-slim swimming headphones.

It works like this: your phone connects to the FM transmitter via Bluetooth and the transmitter to the headset via radio frequency. It’s easy to set up, though there’s definitely more physical equipment to deal with. It also means taking a lot of gear poolside. Fine in a private swimming pool, but not so great in a public pool where you’ll have to keep one eye on your stuff while you swim.

Nevertheless, committed swimmers with the right environment will adore the Zygo Solo. A long overdue audio upgrade for the pool, it’s surprisingly easy to use, offers great FM-quality sound and has hundreds of excellent on-demand workouts that can really change how you approach your swimming fitness. Or you can just listen to your own music, audiobooks or podcasts without having to drag-and-drop MP3 files prior to a swim.

How does Zygo Solo compare to its underwater MP3 player competitors? It blows them out of the water, of course – and it’s priced accordingly.

Zygo Solo price and availability

  • Out now
  • Costs $299 / £218 (about AU$400)

Available in the US, Canada and the UK in two sizes – standard and large – the Zygo Solo costs $299 / £218 (about AU$400) for the full package. A replacement headset costs $99 / £72 (about AU$150), while an external mic costs US$30/UK£22 (about AU$40), and is useful if a coach wants to use the FM transmitter as a hands-free walkie talkie.

If you want Peloton-inspired streaming swim workouts (comprising short and long audio workouts delivered by instructors and paired with music) then you also need to take out a Zygo All Access Monthly Plan, which costs $14.99 / £12.99 (about AU$20) per month after a 14-day trial.

In future Zygo tells us it’s planning metric tracking similar to that offered by the best running watches, leaderboards, and truly Peloton-style live classes. On Zygo’s website you can purchase an app gift certificate for an entire year for $149 / £108 (about AU$200), which gives you two months free.

Zygo Solo design

  • Headset weighs 66g
  • Waterproof to 2ft / 60cm
  • FM transmitter streams to 55yds / 50m

The Zygo Solo is, technically speaking, by far the most ambitious set of swimming headphones available. Predictably that means it comes with some baggage. The package consists of an IP68-rated waterproof headset, an IP67-rated (waterproof for 30 minutes) FM transmitter and stand, a pair of earplugs and a charging case.

While the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 and the Aftershokz Xtrainerz weigh 32g and 29g, respectively, the Zygo Solo headset weighs 66g. Why? It’s got a radio receiver as well as a battery inside that makes it possible to receive audio from the FM transmitter connected wirelessly to a smartphone.

The 101g FM transmitter itself is a figure of eight-shaped device that’s also waterproof, so it’s fine to leave it close to the water. Also included is a small 25g holder for the FM transmitter that keeps it upright, which extends its range.

Zygo Solo headset with transmitter

The Zygo Solo is considerably heavier than other swimming headphones due to its radio receiver (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Meanwhile, the charging case itself weighs 450g, and 623g with both the headset and the transmitter inside. Resembling the kind of case you might find housing a pair of the best noise cancelling headphones, it’s rounded and compact, and fairly easily fits inside a swim bag. The headset also has an accelerometer inside, so expect activity tracking soon.

Zygo Solo setup

  • Connects via FM transmitter
  • Streams any audio from a smartphone

Despite a slightly convoluted hardware arrangement compared to MP3 swim players, the Zygo Solo is always easy to set-up. It takes a bit of getting used to. If you’re used to entering the pool with just a pair of goggles, or even if you’re used to donning an MP3 swim player, the Zygo Solo seems a lot to get used to.

The headset feels reasonably solid and unwieldy at first – it is, after all, more substantial than a basic swim MP3 player – partly because it’s designed to stay firmly in place during underwater turns. It’s chunkier because it’s got more hardware inside.

Man wearing Zygo Solo headset

The robust, chunky design of the Zygo Solo helps it stay in place during underwater turns (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

What’s really different about the Zygo Solo compared to MP3 swim players is that you have to have the FM transmitter and your smartphone poolside. That FM transmitter works to a range of 50 meters – so the size of an Olympic swimming pool – which is generous enough (it can also transmit to an unlimited number of headsets). However, if you’re used to leaving your phone in a locker and entering a neighborhood pool deck with just a towel, having to take a smartphone and an FM transmitter is a bit of a change.

The 50m limit applies only to swimming pools, with a half-mile range promised in the great outdoors. So you could get away with wearing a Zygo Solo while open water swimming, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing and even sailing.

Zygo Solo sound

  • Bone conduction works well
  • Sounds best with earplugs
  • Only the FM transmitter has playback buttons

Make no mistake about what Zygo is trying to do here; streaming live audio underwater is not easy. In fact, the tech it took two years to perfect. The Zygo Solo’s sound is good. Out of the pool it sounds a little tinny, but in the water it suddenly gets a lot of bass.

Let’s not overdo it; this is not audiophile quality, and overall the impression is (not surprisingly) of FM radio-like sound, with a little crackle and hiss now and again. However, at all times it sounds much better than any waterproof MP3 player. That is, if you remember to use the earplugs.

Close-up of Zygo Solo earpiece

The Zygo Solo uses bone conduction to send vibrations to your auditory nerve (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Like the Aftershokz Xtrainerz the Zygo Solo are bone conduction headphones, using a technology that employs an open-ear design and transmits audio through vibrations in the cheekbones directly into the inner ear.

You don’t need to use the included earplugs, but if you don’t you’ll find that every time your ears are not immersed the quality of sound drastically changes. So for a more consistent experience it’s best to use the earplugs.

It’s possible to tweak the volume using + and - buttons on the headset’s right temple, and the FM transmitter has some too. It just about goes loud enough, but only the FM transmitter has skip track and play/pause controls, which is a shame. It means you have to make sure you have lots of songs/podcasts/content queued up, or keep the FM transmitter accessible by the side of the pool.

Man's hand holding Zygo Solo transmitter

Play, pause and skip controls are all on the FM transmitter, not on the headset itself (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

We found the headset to be reasonably comfortable when worn for long periods, largely because the bone conduction design leaves your ears alone, though it did begin to feel slightly tight after about half an hour. The advice is to put the headset on, followed by a swim hat, goggles and then earplugs.

As a nice bonus the transmitter doubles as a walkie talkie, so a coach can speak to a swimmer directly as they swim in the pool. What the headset doesn’t have is a microphone, so you can’t answer back … or make hands-free calls from the pool.

Zygo Solo companion app

  • Huge choice of pre-recorded workouts 
  • Excellent instructors and lots of music
  • Live classes and activity tracking promised

The Zygo app for iOS  and Android has had a lot of investment in it and is arguably the best reason to invest in Zygo Solo. It’s not free, but there’s a huge choice of classes and activities inside. As a few random examples we found a 20-minute beginner-level tutorial in learning backstroke, an intermediate 30-minute HIIT workout and a ‘fun’-grade 25 minute DJ drill set to music.

Each one has excellent instructors and a lot of music, the latter the result of various licensing deals struck between Zygo and the music industry.

We counted over 50 drills, which seems good value, which can be browsed on a timeline but also by specific genres, such as ‘strengthen and lengthen’, ‘5 days of fitness’ and ‘your first sprint triathlon’. It’s best to download them on WiFi within the app before hitting the pool.

Zygo Solo app screenshots

The Zygo Solo mobile app includes instructor-led workouts, with licensed music (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

However, the app does need a queue so that lessons and drills can follow-on from each other. Since some are only a few minutes long you can easily find yourself completing a drill and then swimming in silence.

In future Zygo tells us it’s planning to go full-Peloton and add live classes and leaderboards, with new software incoming that will use the built-in accelerometer to track your activity in the pool.

The app works independently of the device, so in theory you could just subscribe to the app and use all the workouts … though the Zygo Solo is so far the only way to stream content underwater.

Zygo Solo battery and charging case

  • Headset lasts for three hours
  • Charging case uses micro USB not USB-C
  • Charging case doesn’t hold a charge

Inside the Zygo Solo headset is a battery that lasts for three hours, and the transmitter lasts for around six hours. Sadly the hard-sided charging case itself doesn’t hold a charge, but if you snap both gadgets into place in its molded interior, both nestle up against precisely-placed connectors and begin charging automatically if the case is hooked up to power via a micro-USB cable.

Zygo Solo headset and transmitter in charging case

The headset and transmitter are charged by placing them inside the case, which is powered by a micro-USB cable (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

It’s a shame the case doesn’t contain a battery of some kind, and micro-USB also feels slightly outdated given the popularity of USB-C.

Buy it if

Don't buy it if

Tutanota secure email review
8:32 am |

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

Most popular email platforms are free, but nothing is really free. In exchange for using free email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, you agree to let them harvest your data for advertising purposes to earn revenue. Understandably, many people are not comfortable with such an arrangement and seek encrypted email alternatives.

Tutanota is one of the best secure email providers. It doesn’t have ads but, instead, relies on donations and premium subscriptions to earn revenue. Tutanota is open-source and customizable, meaning third parties are free to analyze its encryption standards and confirm. The platform claims to have over 2 million users worldwide, which is impressive for something that’s been around for just a decade.

Tutanota is formally blocked in some countries such as Egypt and Russia but users in these countries can still access it via Tor or a VPN network.

Tutanota: Plans and pricing

Tutanota offers a free account with limited features; it gives just 1 GB of storage and access to one calendar. You’ll need to upgrade to a premium plan for more features.

This platform offers two plans for individual users; Revolutionary and Legend. The former costs $3.60 per month and gives you access to 20 GB of storage, unlimited calendars, 15 extra email address, 3 custom domains, and email support. The latter costs $9.60 per month and gives you access to 500 GB of storage, unlimited calendars, 30 extra email addresses, 10 custom domains, and priority email support.

Tutanota offers three plans for businesses; Essential, Advanced, and Unlimited. The Essential plan costs $7.20 per user per month and gives access to 50 GB of storage, unlimited calendars, 15 extra email addresses, 3 custom domains, and email support.

The Advanced plan costs $9.60 per user per month and provides 500 GB of storage, 30 extra email addresses, and 10 custom domains. The Unlimited plan costs $14.40 per user per month and provides 1000 GB of storage, unlimited custom domains, and 30 extra email addresses.

You’ll get a significant discount on all plans if you pay for 12 months in one go. 

Tutanota in use 1

(Image credit: Tutanota)

Tutanota: Features

Tutanota offers many beneficial features, including

End-to-End Email Encryption

End-to-end encryption refers to a communication protocol that prevents any third party from accessing information as it’s transferred from one email to another. In this case, even Tutanota can not access your email contents to run any analysis whatsoever.

This platform uses 128-bit AES encryption and 2048-bit RSA encryption to protect emails. You can still send non-encrypted emails to users of other platforms; the email is only encrypted between your address and Tutanota's servers but is sent unencrypted to the recipient.

If you send encrypted mail to an external unencrypted email platform, the recipient will receive a link to a temporary Tutanota account to read the email securely.  

Mobile & Desktop Apps

Tutanota offers native apps for both desktop and email devices. You can download the iOS app on Apple's App Store or the Android app via the APK or F-Droid software repository. You can also download the desktop app on Windows or macOS. Likewise, you can access Tutanota directly on your web browser if that’s what you prefer.

Tutanota in use 2

(Image credit: Tutanota)

Calendar

Tutanota offers a complimentary calendar app that you can use to plan your schedule. Users on the free plan can create just one calendar but users on the premium plans can create and manage multiple calendars. Your calendars are encrypted just like your emails so you can plan your schedule securely. You can also share your calendars with friends, family, or colleagues that have a Tutanota account. 

Custom Domains

You can create emails using your custom domain name as the suffix. A custom domain looks professional, which is why businesses use it. A custom domain isn’t available on the free plan, so you have to subscribe to a premium plan to get access to this feature.

GDPR Compliance

Tutanota has been compliant with Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws since 2018. This means European users can request their data from the company or request a permanent deletion. Even, Tutanota deletes free accounts that have not been logged into for 6 months.

Tutanota in use 3

(Image credit: Tutanota)

Tutanota: Interface and use

Tutanota is known for having a simple, intuitive interface. The interface is minimal and uncluttered, so you shouldn’t have a problem understanding it. You can switch between different features easily. 

You can access Tutanota on your web browser or download the app on your desktop or mobile phone. The disadvantage for Android smartphone users is that Tutanota isn’t available on the Play Store. Instead, you must download and install the APK directly or use the F-Droid repository, which is pretty complex for the average user. 

Tutanota: Support

Tutanota offers customer support via email. You can send an email to the support team and wait for a few days for a reply. Customers on the most expensive plans get priority support, which implies a response within 24 hours.

You also have access to complimentary support resources such as tutorials and user guides on the official website. 

Tutanota: The competition

Protonmail is a major competitor to Tutanota. It’s one of the most popular encrypted email services out there and offers broader features than Tutanota. For instance, a Proton Mail subscription includes access to a calendar, cloud storage, and virtual private network (VPN) service.  

Tutanota: Final verdict

Tutanota provides users with an exceptional level of security and privacy. The service is affordable and incredibly easy to access. Support features are lacking, and a 48-hour verification process might put off some users, but if security is your primary concern when choosing an email provider, there's not much better than Tutanota.

We've also featured the best email hosting.

StartMail secure email review
7:00 pm | July 16, 2021

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

The most popular email platforms, such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail, are free. But you’ll be right to wonder why you’re using a service for free. No one will really spend lots of money on a product just to give it out for free, right? Yes, in exchange for using these free services, you agree to allow the owners to access your data for advertising purposes to earn revenue. Many people aren’t comfortable with this arrangement, and, thus, seek alternative email services that don’t harvest data. StartMail is one such service.

StartMail was founded in 2013 in the Netherlands. 2013 was the year of notable global surveillance leaks, so you’ll observe a lot of secure email providers popping up in that year. 

StartMail offers an alternative, secure email service that doesn’t harvest user data to make a profit. Instead, it profits by offering a subscription package to users.

StartMail: Plans and pricing

StartMail offers two pricing plans; Personal and Custom Domain. As the names suggest, the former gives you an email account ending with "startmail.com" and the latter gives you an account ending with your custom domain.

The Personal plan costs $6 per month and the Custom Domain plan costs $7 per month. You can also pay a discounted rate of $60 annually for the former and $70 for the latter.

StartMail gives a 40% discount to new customers in the first year, but you’ll pay the normal price in the ensuing years. You can take advantage of the 7-day free trial to test the platform’s features before making your final decision.

StartMail in use 2.

(Image credit: StartMail)

StartMail: Features

StartMail offers many helpful features, including: 

End-to-end email encryption

End-to-end encryption refers to a security protocol that prevents any third party from accessing data while in transit. StartMail encrypts your emails on its servers, and they can only be decrypted on the recipient’s servers. If anyone intercepts the data in transit, it’ll be gibberish to them because they don’t have the decryption keys.

StartMail uses the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption protocol. This protocol uses public and private keys to encrypt your data and prevent unauthorized access. StartMail encrypts your message using public encryption keys that the recipient's server provides. Once the recipient gets the message, it then uses its private keys to decrypt it. 

PGP also uses digital signatures to check if any message has been altered in transit and block the message if detects any such altering.

End-to-end encryption means that even StartMail can not access your emails. Neither can it provide your email’s contents to any legal body that requests it.

Custom domain

Businesses and individuals often need custom domains for their emails because it makes them look more professional. StartMail allows you to use your personal domain for your emails and look professional. You just need to adjust your domain’s settings to point to StartMail’s mail servers.

Cloud storage

StartMail gives each subscriber up to 20 GB of cloud storage for their emails. That’s enough storage for most individuals and is more than what you’d find on many popular email platforms.

StartMail in use 3.

(Image credit: StartMail)

Email alias

An alias is an alternative email address that forwards to your main address. It acts as a “front” to your main email address. The purpose of using an alias is to avoid giving out your main email address when interacting with people or apps. 

StartMail allows you to generate an unlimited number of aliases. For example, if your email is john@startmail.com, you can create john+news@startmail.com to receive newsletters, john+work@startmail.com to receive work-related messages, john+edu@startmail.com for academic matters, etc.

Migration

A major problem preventing people from switching email providers is potential data loss. To mitigate this, StartMail makes it easy to migrate from an alternative email platform to its own. It works with the ShuttleCloud platform, which allows you to migrate emails securely. You can export all your messages and contacts from other email platforms, e.g., Gmail, to StartMail. 

Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is a security feature that requires two modes of identification before granting access to your account. The first mode is your password and the second is a one-time code sent to your phone number. 

You can enable two-factor authentication to protect your StartMail account. Hence, an unauthorized party will not gain access to your account even if they somehow get hold of your password.

GDPR compliance

StartMail complies with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. Hence, you can request instant account and data deletion whenever you want.

StartMail in use 1.

(Image credit: StartMail)

StartMail: Interface and use

StartMail has an intuitive and modern interface. You’ll likely find it easy to navigate the platform and switch between different features. However, StartMail doesn’t have a native mobile or desktop app, unlike some rivals. You can add it to an existing email app such as Apple Mail, but it’s a more complicated process.

StartMail: Support

StartMail offers direct support to users via email. You can submit your request on a form on the official website or email directly. You can also check the Knowledge Base containing user guides and answers to frequently asked questions. 

StartMail: Competition

Proton Mail is the main competitor to StartMail that we’ll like to highlight. It offers a slick and intuitive interface just like StartMail. It goes further by having mobile apps (iOS and Android), unlike StartMail. Proton Mail also gives access to complementary tools such as a calendar and a virtual private network (VPN)

StartMail: Final verdict

If you’re looking for a secure email provider with a user-friendly interface, StartMail is a good choice. It’s not exactly cheap but it’s not so expensive compared to the competition. It offers good value for your money.  

We've listed the best email hosting providers.

FreshBooks accounting software review
4:11 pm | July 14, 2021

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

FreshBooks is a one-stop, cloud-based accounting software package that for a relatively small outlay can provide you with an easy-to-use package that ticks most boxes, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. Within its browser-based design you’ll find a whole host of options that cover any and all aspects of running a business. It doesn't matter if you're a lone freelancer or someone who’s growing a business and employing staff. 

FreshBooks is a doddle to use, has the capacity to expand with your business needs and, thankfully, keeps those stress levels low as you build up your accounting profile. New features for this year include advanced search, the ability to download your own statements, Dropbox connectivity, new keyboard shortcuts and much more.

In the UK, Freshbooks has teamed up with Barclays to offer joint bookkeeping solutions for customers, offering new ways to help with invoicing and wider business management tasks. It's now possible to integrate Barclaycard Payments into FreshBooks, providing extra convenience for business customers. Competitors in this software area include QuickBooks, Xero, Sage Business Cloud Accounting, Kashoo, Zoho Books and Kashflow.

View Freshbooks hereView Deal

FreshBooks

FreshBooks is easily configured using a step-by-step series of user-friendly windows (Image credit: FreshBooks)

FreshBooks: Pricing

FreshBooks comes with a selection of package and payment options that should provide a solution for most. For the self-employed there’s a no-messing $19 per month Lite package (currently available for $7.60) that allows for 5 billable clients. 

Next up, the Plus edition is $33.00 (currently available for $13.20 per month), which is aimed at small businesses and has the capacity for 50 billable clients. 

Premium, meanwhile, has potential for business that are expanding and costs $60.00 per month (currently available for $24.00 per month) with a 500 billable client capacity. 

Any requirements over and above this selection and you’re best advised to contact FreshBooks for a custom deal. FreshBooks also gets a thumbs up for its try-free option, which lets you explore the package and cancel within 30 days if it’s not right for your needs.

FreshBooks

Initial setup takes mere moments thanks to a very straightforward cloud-based design (Image credit: FreshBooks)

FreshBooks: Features

FreshBooks comes with an impressive array of features no matter which of the package options you adopt. Even the Lite edition sparkles with the capacity for unlimited and customizable invoices, unlimited expense entries, the ability to accept credit card payments online and ACH bank transfers too. 

Naturally, the beefier the package the more features you get, so Plus adds to the Lite feature set with unlimited proposals, automated recurring invoices, double entry accounting reports and more besides. Similarly, Premium gets all the Lite and Plus features along with up to 500 client capacity and the ability to add team members (at $10 per person). 

Anyone with a custom-priced deal can also enjoy a personal account manager, personal FreshBooks training for you and your team along with other value-added features.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks Dashboard is where you can control all of the features and functionality (Image credit: FreshBooks)

FreshBooks: Performance

FreshBooks has had plenty of time to perfect its operation and this cloud-based system is one that works with little to worry about. The service delivers a neat experience depending on what kind of business you run, and if you’re a one-man-band then there’s very little to go wrong it seems. 

Even if you’re operating a large or expanding business FreshBooks seems nicely engineered and rolls with the punches if you’re dealing with large chunks of customer data. 

Freshbooks is also available for iOS or Android and the app edition is a clever supplement to the desktop arrangement. Not everyone wants to do everything on their app, especially if that involves large reams of numbers, but this is a great option if you’re keeping track of things on the go.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks can also be used in expanded fashion as your business grows (Image credit: FreshBooks)

FreshBooks: Ease of use

Accounting software can be a long and arduous journey if you’re not au fait with its different sensibilities, let alone the work involved in mastering a new system. However, FreshBooks has been honed and fine-tuned over the years and is now an inviting option, especially if you’re starting out in business. 

In fact, FreshBooks is refreshing in its set-by-step setup, with initial manoeuvres involving little more than picking a package and following the email address and password route so common with cloud-based operations. 

Ease-of-use is enhanced as the system can be adapted to suit what type of user you are. Larger concerns, for example, allows team members to be added. Freelancers and self-employed sole trader-types have it even easier.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks might look simplistic but it comes with a raft of powerful tools (Image credit: FreshBooks)

FreshBooks: Support

FreshBooks has a dependable and well-established support system that goes back as long as it has been operating. To start, there’s an excellent online area of the FreshBooks site that offers up a delicious selection of quick fix answers. There are top categories too, such as dashboard and settings, invoicing and payments or handling online payments, which cover the majority of newbie enquiries. 

However, for the more unusual requests you may have, or indeed if you prefer a human to advise you, then there’s an easy-to-find phone number in the same section of the site. Live support is available from Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm EDT (Excluding Holidays) in the US. Alternatively, FreshBooks has a support email address to beef up the contact and support options.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks can be used to seamlessly connect to any or all of your financial institutions (Image credit: FreshBooks)

FreshBooks: Final verdict

We’re really pleased with the way the latest incarnation of FreshBooks looks and performs. It’s been around for a while now and that is obviously a strength as the FreshBooks folks have refined the essence of the accounts package, while making it a wonderfully straightforward user experience. 

It’s easy to setup and configure, the menu systems and sections are plain and simple, plus there’s plenty of power behind it to ensure things keep on ticking even if you’re asking a lot of it. All told, FreshBooks seems like a mighty fine way to do your accounting and, depending on your requirements, is actually pretty cost-effective.

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