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Avast Secure Browser review
7:30 pm | September 27, 2021

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

Avast is best known for its globally-renowned antivirus. However, the company took a huge leap in 2016 when it introduced the Avast Secure Browser as an optional add-on. 

You don't have to change your default browser and go through the struggle of familiarising yourself with a whole new platform — simply add Avast as an extension to your default browser and reap the security benefits it offers without switching platforms. 

If you’re planning to give Avast a shot, this guide is for you. We’ve covered Avast’s features, usability, and competitors in great detail so that you can make the right choice.

Avast Secure Browser: Features

Avast protects you from dangerous phishing websites that can trick you into sharing sensitive information about login credentials which can later be exploited. Avast will automatically block websites known for such activities so that you don't even come across them.

Avast masks your digital identity, such as your IP address, making it impossible for any hacker to get hold of your information or reach out to you in any way. This feature also applies to trackers that are known to monitor your activity and later spam you with marketing campaigns. Avast bans such third-party software right from the get-go.

Another remarkable feature of Avast is the Extension Guard. Oftentimes, you’ll see certain websites starting downloads even if you didn't consent to it. This can be an attempt by malicious websites to plant malware or viruses in your device. To stop this, Avast puts a complete ban on untrusted websites downloading extensions in your system.

If you’re using the Avast browser on your laptop/PC and mobile at the same time, you can sync your data, such as history, bookmarks, and favorites, across all of your devices while being fully encrypted throughout. Avast ensures you don't have to go through the hassle of repeating the same old configurations for the same account on multiple devices.

It comes with a special Bank Mode that’s perfect for all your online payments and banking activities. Since you’ll be entering sensitive personal information that could be heavily exploited, the extra encryption of Avast’s special Bank Mode will certainly come in handy.

The browser comes with easy-to-add add-ons like a VPN and antivirus for extra protection. The antivirus will keep advanced digital threats such as ransomware and viruses at bay, while the VPN will keep your online activities private. The latter can also help you access geo-restricted content and hide your location.

Avast also provides excellent protection from fingerprinting by offering fake data any time software tries to copy your identity or steal your digital attributes.

Avast Secure Browser: Privacy

Avast is a privacy-friendly browser. It neither tracks your online activities and data nor lets any third-party track you. In fact, it automatically blocks all ads that could be hiding malicious links to further amp up your data security. An added benefit of this feature is that the website loading speed improves drastically.

What’s more, Avast comes with a Bank Mode, as discussed above. Enjoy additional security and encryption and enter sensitive data such as your bank account number or passwords without any second thoughts.

For added protection, you can always pair the browser with the free Avast antivirus. They're a formidable pair that'll ensure that no malware or hacker can break into your system.

Avast Secure Browser: Ease of use

Unlike other browsers such as Chrome and Edge, Avast doesn't have its own interface. It works in collaboration with other well-known browsers. 

For example, if you want the security and perks of Avast in your device’s default browser, you can get it as an add-on. This way, the look and design of your default browser (Chrome, Edge, or whichever it might be) will remain the same — you’ll just get an additional set of features, thanks to Avast.

Speaking of features, although Avast offers endless options, the good thing is that they're still easy to understand. 

First, you’ll notice the “Security and Privacy Center” that comes with tons of protective features such as an ad blocker, antivirus, VPN, web shield, and more.  

Ads

You can choose which ads are blocked when browsing the web (Image credit: Avast)

Avast Secure Browser: Competitors

There are very few browsers that challenge Avast when it comes to privacy and speed. After all, one of Avast’s biggest products is an antivirus, and the browser has been designed by the same company — surely, the company’s reputation adds to the browser's credibility.

The browser automatically blocks ads and pop-ups to keep your experience pleasant and uninterrupted. Blocking unnecessary website elements also tremendously helps you increase the website speed.

In fact, this is the reason why Avast is faster than many popular browsers like Edge and Chrome. 

Speaking of battery usage and efficiency, Avast had reportedly been using too much battery power in the past few years. However, to combat that, Avast has a tool called “Avast Battery Saver.” The only purpose of this tool is to extend the battery life of your device by minimizing the internal and external power requirements.

While Avast does fairly well against most browsers, it doesn't necessarily surpass Opera. That’s because Opera offers almost all the features that Avast does, plus a free built-in dark mode on top of that. On the other hand, if you want to use a dark mode on Avast, you’ll need access to Google Chrome themes.

The only advantage Avast has over Opera is that it works with other browsers as an add-on, whereas Opera is a separate platform that needs to be downloaded and installed separately.

Avast Secure Browser: Final verdict

Avast is surely a must-try for those who prioritize web security over everything else. Since Avast started with an antivirus, it's familiar with all the types of digital threats you can face through your browser better than any of its competitors. 

That’s why you’ll see it has a massive section dedicated to security and privacy settings where you get a VPN, a private mode, a web shield, and much more. 

Some security features, such as blocking ads, are turned on by default so that your browsing experience is pleasant right from the beginning. 

Avast is fast, lightweight, and responsive, making it a reliable browsing solution for those who need constant access to the internet.

We feature the best privacy tools and anonymous browsers.

Nanoleaf Essentials A19 E27 smart bulb review: affordable smart lighting
9:34 am | September 24, 2021

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

Nanoleaf might be better known for its beautiful light panels and lines, but the brand went back to basics in 2020 by offering a smart bulb – a great option for anyone testing the smart home waters for the first time.

The Nanoleaf Essentials A19 (or A60 in some regions) smart bulb, however, isn’t your typical smart bulb. Not only does it step away from the usual smooth dome diffuser, it also supports an incredible 16 million colors, with a white color temperature range of 2,700-6,500 Kelvin. It surpasses some of its competitors by being able to hit 1,100 lumens, making it one of the brightest available today.

Its looks and brightness aren’t the only features that make the Nanoleaf Essentials A19 smart light bulb stand apart from the crowd. This smart bulb is the first of its kind to come with both Thread and Bluetooth connectivity. That means the Essentials light bulb can be used alongside any other Thread-enabled smart device without a hub and, if you aren't using one of those, the bulbs will work via Bluetooth, giving them a wider and more future-proof appeal.

[UPDATE (April 2023): Nanoleaf has a new Essentials bulb now available in most major markets. This new model is Matter enabled, the latest standard in smart home connectivity. While the new bulb isn't very different from the model reviewed here, Matter connectivity means it should become easier to set up a smart home without having to worry about getting caught up within a specific platform or ecosystem. So whether you use Apple devices, Google or even Amazon's Alexa as a smart hub, all Matter-compatible gadgets can be controlled using any iOS or Android handset. At the time of writing this update, Nanoleaf is just one of two companies to have released Matter-compatible smart devices.]

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Price and availability

  • Cheaper than Philips Hue
  • Announced November 2020
  • Available to buy from Apple and directly from Nanoleaf

Nanoleaf announced its Essentials range in 2020, going up for pre-order on the company’s online storefront in November and available to purchase immediately from Apple. As of March 2021, the Essentials range – which currently includes the light bulb and a lightstrip – is available to buy directly from Nanoleaf and several other major retailers around the world, Apple included.

The Essential light bulb costs just $19.99 / £17.99 / AU$39.99 each. That's cheaper than the basic Philips Hue White Ambiance bulb that only offers – you guessed it – different hues of white/yellow light for $25.99 / £29.99 / AU$84.95.

Considering that the Nanoleaf bulb supports several colors and light hues, its direct competition is the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance that costs a lot more at $64.99 / £49.99 / AU$99.95 per light globe, so there's a lot more value for money here.

And if you opt to upgrade to the new Matter-enabled Essentials bulb (see update above), you won't be paying too much more either. The new Essentials bulb cost $19.99 / £19.99 / AU$39.99 and that means future-proofing your smart home setup doesn't have to cost a pretty penny.

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design

  • Unique rhombicosidodecahedron shape
  • Looks great even when switch off
  • Available in E27 and B22 fittings

The Nanoleaf Essentials smart light bulb looks more like a golf ball than a light fixture – very much in keeping with Nanoleaf’s design ethic. Its geometric dome is a rhombicosidodecahedron, a shape made up of a combination of triangular and pentagonal faces with several edges.

This interesting shape also makes it look quite good when not in use, and perfect for those industrial-looking lamps that keep the bulbs exposed.

Other than that, the Essentials smart bulb looks like any other standard bulb, measuring 6cm x 11cm (2.4in x 4.4in). Like its Philips Hue counterparts, it’s available in both Bayonet and Edison screw caps that fit most standard fixtures.

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Setup and app

  • Easy setup
  • Works with HomeKit and Google Assistant
  • Not the best app design

The Essentials light bulb is remarkably simple to set up. Just get it out of its box, screw it into a lamp, scan the QR code on the device or from the card in the box and you’re done. The bulb automatically decides what the best connection method is without you having to think about it too much. 

If it recognizes an Apple HomePod mini, it quickly latches on and you’re set up immediately, with no additional steps to go through. However, you don’t need a HomePod mini to use the Essentials bulb. HomeKit will add the bulb to your collection of smart devices if you’re an iPhone user, while the Google Home app takes care of it for Android users, and both work via Bluetooth.

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

Screw the bulb into a holder, scan the code and you're ready to go (Image credit: TechRadar)

If you’ve already set up a Nanoleaf Essentials accessory and then get a HomePod mini, it automatically shifts its communication to the Apple smart speaker (or any other Thread-enabled device) without you needing to reconnect. At present, the HomePod mini and the latest Apple TV 4K are the only Thread device commercially available to buy – other smart speakers have Thread radios installed, like the Google Nest Hub Max or Amazon’s Eero, but they haven’t been ‘switched on’.

When connected via Thread, the Nanoleaf bulb works real quick, responding to commands instantly. On a Bluetooth connection, however, there is some lag which, during our testing, wasn’t too significant – it took no more than a couple of seconds to pick up a command, provided you’re in the same room or within range.

Both Siri and Google Assistant can be used to control the Nanoleaf Essentials via voice commands but, at the time of writing, there was no Alexa support which might be a deal breaker for some.

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Nanoleaf app, while great for the light panels, is not as user-friendly for the Essentials range. At launch, you couldn't even download the several user-defined Scenes available in the Nanoleaf library. That, however, is not possible and it's a lot of fun to watch the lights previewed on the bulb before downloading a particular Scene.

If you're feeling adventurous and creative, you can create your own Scenes, although editing after you’ve saved a Scene can take a few annoying tries. A color palette in the app makes it easy to choose your preferred shade or to set white light at different hues. You can even set a specific RGB value if you know precisely what you want – a feature that isn’t common for smart lights.

The app will also let you adjust brightness, change Scenes and set a circadian rhythm for the lights. The last feature automatically adjusts the light’s color temperature through the day to calm or energize the mind by switching to warm tones for the morning and evening, and cooler white for the afternoon.

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

(Image credit: TechRadar)

However, annoyingly, you can set schedules for any of the Essentials products in the Nanoleaf app. You'll have to use Apple HomeKit or Google Home to do that, as long you have a smart home hub set up on a device. There is a dedicated section for scheduling in the app, so we’re hoping this functionality will be added as part of a future update.

Another annoyance about the app is its complete sync with HomeKit. This pushes every single default Scene in the Nanoleaf app to the Home app every time you open it, even if you’ve previously removed it from HomeKit.

Features and functionality

  • Supports 16 million colors
  • Screen mirroring
  • Quite bright for a smart bulb

The Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb is rated for a maximum of 1,100 lumens, making it one of the brightest smart lights on the market, with an average brightness of over 800 lumens. We’ve tested a few smart bulbs in the past and compared to them, including some older Philips Hue lights, it’s a lot brighter. The only other bulb that trumps Essentials bulb in brightness is the newest white-only Philips Hue light that’s rated for 1,600 lumens.

However, brightness dips significantly when you change the light from white to color, but this is not unique to Nanoleaf – every color smart bulb we’ve tested behaves the same way.

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

(Image credit: TechRadar)

While you can use Nanoleaf’s own Circadian Lighting feature in the app, the Essentials bulb currently does not support the HomeKit Adaptive Lighting option – this changes color temperature of white light automatically throughout the day to match daylight in your location. However, Nanoleaf’s Circadian Lighting feature gets deactivated every time you use HomeKit to control the accessory and you will need to switch it on again in the Nanoleaf app.

The Essentials bulb also has the best dimming ability of any smart bulb we’ve tested. While most others dim down only to a certain point, the Nanoleaf goes all the way down to zero.

At launch, Nanoleaf said the bulb would have the ability to mirror colors of Mac and Windows displays, but the feature was rolled out only months after the device has been on the market. It's here, however, and you will need to download the Nanoleaf desktop app to make it work, and keep it running as long as you want the bulb to mirror your monitor. So the only way to make the bulb mirror your TV is to cast a streaming service onto your telly. There are different mirroring 'moods' to choose from as well, which is rather nice.

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Verdict

It’s easy to recommend a smart lighting system that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, or eat through your energy bill, especially when they look as good as the Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb and work as well. Admittedly Nanoleaf has some work to do on its app to make it a little more intuitive, but you can ignore the app for the most part and use Apple's HomeKit or Google Home instead.

Moreover, with Thread support built in, this is a future-proof smart bulb that can easily be used with any other Thread-enabled device without the need for a hub, thus streamlining your smart home setup. Bluetooth connectivity might not be as quick as Thread, but that’s not the fault of the bulb but of the wireless protocol itself.

It’s also feature-packed, with circadian rhythm available on the app, and plenty of custom Scenes that you can set up yourself if you don’t like any of the default ones. There's even screen mirroring on board. 

While it needs Thread connectivity to unlock its full potential, it's still worth it on a Bluetooth connection as well.

Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Should I buy the Nanoleaf Essentials A19 smart bulb?

If you’re after an affordable HomeKit-enabled smart lighting system, then yes. And even more resounding yes if you already own an Apple HomePod mini or Apple TV 4K (the 2021 edition specifically), or plan to get either one. Its white light is brighter than most other smart bulbs on the market and its colors are beautiful and vivid, like the Nanoleaf Shapes light panels. It already has some great features, with more to come, making them well worth it.

However, there’s no Alexa support available at the time of writing, although Nanoleaf has promised to roll that out soon. So if you use an Alexa speaker to control your smart home, you may need to look elsewhere.

[First reviewed March 2021]

Krystal web hosting review
8:04 am | September 17, 2021

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

Krystal Hosting began as the brainchild of a 17 year-old Simon Blackler. While spending his summer vacation developing a fan site for an upcoming video game and learning how to build it in that process, he faced the problem of finding a suitable web hosting service. After being annoyed with a number of overpriced hosting solutions with dreadful performance on the UK market, he came up with the idea of offering an “honest, reliable, and personal” alternative. 

Krystal Hosting was then founded in 2002 and has since become one of the largest independent web hosts in the UK which is currently hosting about 200,000 websites. Today, they offer a variety of hosting solutions, from standard shared hosting to managed WordPress, cloud VPS, and reseller hosting.

As an ethical alternative to mainstream hosting providers at the time (a lot have become much better in terms for the environment). Krystal set out with a creed consisting of nine statements, which essentially cover the mission statement, "Currently the web hosting industry is dominated by two faceless corporations, who have gobbled up the competition to create a situation that is unfair to customers and harmful to the planet. But, we're here to show that there is a different way."

An image of Krystal's website showing their green credentials

Krystal is completely powered by renewable energy (Image credit: Krystal)

Krystal is headquartered in London (the UK) from where it maintains and manages its tier 1 data centers and over 220,000 websites for more than 30,000 customers. All of their data centers are 100% powered by green renewable energy, which means that their carbon footprint is reduced to a minimum and that our planet should be better with them around.

Krystal hosting's blog page

Krystal's blog is full of informative articles on a variety of web hosting topics (Image credit: Krystal)

Krystal’s official site is refreshingly modern, well-organized, user-friendly, and pretty. The same is true about its official blog, which is chock full of articles written in an interesting, informative, and somewhat witty way.

As for social networking sites, Krystal can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Krystal hosting pricing

Krystal offers three shared hosting plans that all include same-day migrations, free SSL, backups and a 99.99% uptime guarantee (Image credit: Krystal)

Plans and pricing

Krystal offers a nice variety of web hosting solutions starting with simple shared hosting and application hosting (WordPress, Joomla, Magento, Opencart, PrestaShop, and Drupal), in addition to managed WordPress and advanced solutions such as reseller, VPS, and dedicated server hosting.

If a tight budget is one of your concerns, worry not. Although Krystal is not the most budget-friendly option on the market, it offers a few reasonably priced packages that come overloaded with features and with no limitations on bandwidth, databases, e-mails, subdomains, parked domains, and email aliases. All three shared hosting packages (Amethyst, Ruby, and Sapphire) also include free SSL certificates (via LetsEncrypt), one-click installers (Softaculous and Installatron), a user-friendly website builder (with no limitation on page/site numbers), an industry-leading cPanel, 24/7 support and 99.99% uptime guarantee.

All of Krystal’s hosting solutions come with a confident 60-day money-back guarantee, except for dedicated server plans (and understandably so), while with managed WordPress plans you can get a 30-day free trial.

Available payment methods with Krystal include credit/debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, and American Express) and PayPal.

Ease of use

New users are prompted to create an account with Krystal, which requires a form to be filled out that includes  personal information, payment details, and a password.  

Onyx

This is the user interface of Krystal's fully managed Onyx platform (Image credit: Krystal)

Accounts are set up in an instant, as they promised. We picked Onyx. Onyx is a fully managed plan, which means there is always someone from the technical team on the watch in case you get stuck or have any questions.

cPanel

Easily manage your website using the industry standard cPanel (Image credit: Krystal Hosting)

Krystal’s cloud-based shared hosting plans come with the industry-standard cPanel (which is always good news), a one-click installer with a myriad of available apps (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and many more), and a drag-and-drop builder. With all these tools you’ll be able to create a compelling site without writing a single line of code.

Performance

We used GTmetrix to measure the uptime and response time of Krystal's main site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

We didn't test a website that we hosted on Krystal but we did the next best thing. We tested the Krystal website itself. Undoubtedly, this will be hosted on Krystal and quite important for them. If there's any issue on this site, not much can be said for what you host on them. As for uptime, Krystal guarantees 99.99% at all times. After getting UptimeRobot to monitor their main site for two weeks without a break, we got a glimpse of what you can expect to get while hosting with Krystal, and that is exactly what they promised. During our test, not a single second of downtime was recorded whatsoever and no major oscillations in response time to boot, which paints a picture of pretty presentable performance.

Krystal hosting support

Krystal Hosting offers support via ticket, live chat or over the phone (Image credit: Krystal)

Support

Seeking support on Krystal’s main site will give you a few options including opening a support ticket, starting a live chat, giving them a ring (if you are their client), or searching through the knowledgebase. The ticketing system is available round-the-clock but you can expect to get a reply every day from 6 AM till midnight. The same hours apply for the live chat, while telephone support can be reached Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 8 PM. However, if you’ve opted for one of their premium packages, emergency phone support will be available for you 24/7.

We tried the live support and the responses were lazy. We asked if they have 24/7 support to see how much effort they would put into their reply. Their answer, after a short wait, was, "You can obtain support via live chat (9am to 6:00pm), support ticket (24/7 submission - manned 6am - midnight) or phone (Monday - Friday 9am - 8pm and 24/7 emergency phone support)."

We found this a little misleading as we thought 24/7 emergency support is only covered in the more expensive plans.

So, we asked if this support is available for all plans. A Krystal employee responded, "That would be on the business packages only, as mentioned at  https://help.krystal.uk/getting-started/what-support-is-included-with-my-hosting."

This still didn't really answer our question as there was no indication as to what "business packages" are (there are no plans labelled as business plans). The page also didn't explain whether 24/7 emergency support is available for VPS plans and on the VPS pages it wasn't immediately clear either.

After some digging we worked out that 24/7 emergency support is also available for all VPS plans but only with a management add-on that costs an extra £80/mo.

We also found that chat history is not handed over between shifts for chat support. This meant that we had to explain our query again only ten minutes after we first opened the chat. 

Overall, we were underwhelmed by the support received and the help pages for what should have been a rather simple query. 

An image showing Krystal hosting knowledge base

You can also find answers to common web hosting questions in Krystal's knowledgebase (Image credit: Krystal)

Krystal provides a knowledgebase on the official site to help you find the best self-help option. It compiles over 300 easy-to-follow how-tos divided into 18 interconnected categories. At the end of each article, users are welcomed to leave a grade with a fitting emoji (charmed, confused, or a disappointed). As for our impression, we were pretty much charmed with everything we saw there.

The competition

If you are looking for an eco-friendly host with a similar scope of cloud-based products as Krystal’s, but with data centers across four continents, SiteGround might be a good pick. The hosts are remarkably similar in terms of pricing and features, however, SiteGround has the edge with its worldwide infrastructure.

Like Krystal, GreenGeeks is a likable beginner-friendly host that cares about the environment. However, since it offers data center locations in the USA and Canada (in addition to Europe), it may be more attractive to the wider audience.

Bluehost is another budget-friendly albeit US-based alternative to all the above, yet its US-based data centers don’t offer much flexibility in terms of location (unlike with SiteGround and GreenGeeks). Additionally, after a few years of hosting with Bluehost, the price of your package will dramatically increase, which may catch you unaware. There will be no such surprises with Krystal.

Much like Bluehost, HostGator is a US-based host offering a myriad of hosting options, features, and free apps for an attractive price. Unfortunately, just like Bluehost, it provides data centers in the USA only. Nevertheless, since all of these web hosting providers offer a money-back guarantee (Krystal’s is valid for 60 days), you can check them all out without the need to worry about wasting your money.

Final verdict

Krystal’s superiority in the UK market comes from its commitment to speed, stability, and sustainability. They also have a good reputation across multiple review sites and really nice business practices. For example, they offer free hosting to UK charities and start-ups in their first year.

Tor Browser review
8:00 am | September 15, 2021

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

Founded in 2006, Tor is a rather unique browser that was established with the intent to help people use the internet anonymously. This is quite evident through its features that resemble VPNs. 

From IP masking to triple-layer encryption, Tor will keep your online business private and lock out nosy intruders such as trackers and malware. 

Our review today covers every detail of the browser, including its features, ease of use, privacy, and much more. Read on to know more about its top competitors and how different Tor is from them so that you can make the right choice.

Tor Browser: Features

Tor is designed to handle millions of users simultaneously. Regardless of how many users are online at any given moment, you'll never experience a compromised performance, nor will you ever see the browser down. Use Tor to browse through the internet freely while masking your IP at the same time. IP masking prevents marketers from collecting your information and spamming you with unnecessary ads. It also keeps your location hidden and dismisses any chance of hackers impersonating you. The best part is that this feature is enabled by default, and there are no extra steps involved to amp up your privacy.

The browser is available on multiple devices and operating systems, such as Linux, Windows, and Mac. So if you’re someone using different types of systems, you'll still be able to use the same browser across each device.

Apart from Tor, no other browser gives you access to locked or geo-restricted content. This feature works a lot like VPNs. Since using the browser masks your location and IP, the target website cannot recognize that your request is coming from a banned location, and you get to access their content. On the flip side, if the ban is imposed by your home network, Tor will help you bypass that as well and access whatever content you need. Tor sends your network traffic through 3 layers of encryption so that the information that’s transmitted doesn't leak. 

For example, let's say you’re using the browser for online banking. If the banking details you entered are sent to your bank’s servers without encryption, any hacker can intercept the process and steal your data. However, encryption creates a safe tunnel-like route for your sensitive data, making it immune to outside attacks.

The best part about using Tor is its ease of installation. You don't have to install and configure it locally every time you’re on a new device — simply copy it to a USB and run it directly from the storage when on the second device.

Tor Browser security

(Image credit: Tor)

Tor Browser:

Tor Browser:

Tor Browser: Privacy

Tor browser is safe to use on most device types, such as Androids and macOS, and in most cases, it does fairly well in terms of privacy. 

For starters, it passes your web traffic through three layers of encryption so that no online tracker can monitor your activity or collect your data. On top of that, it's also one of the few browsers that hide your IP address by default, making it harder for spammers to target you.

However, like most other browsers, it's not 100% leak-proof. So if you’re handling sensitive data that you just cannot afford to lose, you might consider getting a VPN along with a browser.

Tor Browser: Ease of use

Tor browser is relatively easy to use. The interface is quite simple, with a minimal menu and options, so you don't have to spend too much time figuring out the setup. 

The layout is quite standard. You get the address bar and tabs on the top margin of the screen. On the left side of the address bar, you’ll find the options to control navigation, where you can choose whether to load a page or go back to the previous one.

On the right side of the address bar, you’ll find your favorites and the Safer icon that helps you disable dangerous website functions that could compromise your privacy.

Everything you’ll need to use the platform effectively is available right on the main page. Unlike Chrome, Tor does not have too many hidden settings.

Tor Browser: Competitors

Tor’s biggest competitors are Safari, Opera, and Chrome. While Chrome has the biggest market share in the industry, it cannot beat Tor in security and user privacy. 

In fact, Chrome’s quite infamous for its poor user privacy measure. The browser has also been involved in many consumer privacy rights lawsuits and is known to sell user data. 

Tor, on the other hand, goes out of its way to keep all your online sessions secure and even brought in VPN-like features to keep away hackers, trackers, and malware. For example, it helps you hide your location and contact details so that any unauthorized party can neither spam you nor impersonate you.

Another benefit of using Tor is that it protects you from fingerprinting. Each user on Tor is made to appear the same to external parties, which makes it impossible for them to find distinct users to fingerprint.

However, in terms of speed, Tor loses to Safari that’s recognized as the world's fastest browser. Continually running the Tor browser in the background can also sharply increase your overall battery usage. 

However, Tor makes up for it by offering a simple interface and installation setup. This makes working with it far more straightforward compared to browsers like Safari and Opera, which have unnecessarily chaotic designs.

Tor Browser: Final verdict

Tor is a great browser for those who take web security and data privacy very seriously. It's one of the few well-known browsers to use multiple encryption levels to filter your online traffic and prevent trackers and malware from reaching your system. 

It's also quite simple to use, lightweight, and goes easy on your battery. What’s more, it helps you bypass the site blocks imposed by your home network so that you can freely browse any content you want. In short, it's the finest example of simplicity meeting power — check it out for a taste of its full potential.

We've listed the best VPN service.

Nikon Z fc review
6:02 pm | September 9, 2021

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

Editor's Note

• Original review date: September 2021
• A pricier and tougher full-frame Nikon Zf was consequently announced
• Launch price: $959 / £899 / AU$1,799 (body only)
• Official price now: $959 / £879 / around AU$1,699 (body only)

Update: February 2024. If you love the retro look, the Nikon Z fc is still arguably the best value mirrorless camera since its September 2021 release. It goes up against the Fujifilm X-T30 II, and neither of these beginner cameras have been replaced yet. If money is no object then the Nikon Zf full-frame camera with the same analog Nikon FM2-inspired look is the sturdier option with better specs, but the Z fc remains a beautiful camera to have by your side and one of the best travel cameras. In fact, Nikon is yet to launch another APS-C camera since the Z30 designed for vlogging, so its 20.9MP sensor and 4K video spec is yet to be bettered for Nikon fans. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Nikon Z fc: Two-minute review

The Nikon Z fc is the company's second mirrorless camera with an APS-C crop sensor, after the Nikon Z50. Under the hood, the two cameras are virtually identical, but it's clear from the outside that the shooting experience is altogether different. Much of this review, therefore, focuses on the new design of the Nikon Z fc. 

The current Nikon Z lineup now consists of two APS-C cameras, two second-generation full-frame models, the Nikon Z6 II and Nikon Z7 II, plus the Nikon Z5. The native lens lineup is much more developed for full-frame, with 17 lenses to the two dedicated APS-C zoom kit lenses. However, the new Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens launched alongside the Nikon Z fc that we had during this test is an aesthetic pairing and a compelling 42mm f/2.8 equivalent lens.

The Nikon Z fc camera on a park bench

(Image credit: Future)

So what is behind this new camera's name? 'F' stands for 'fusion', as in of the old and new. This rhetoric exists in the full-frame Nikon Df from 2013, and likewise here we have a digital camera inspired by the company's own legacy analogue cameras. 

In the case of the Nikon Z fc, a beginner mirrorless camera, homage is paid to the 30-year-old Nikon FM2; the form factor and dimensions viewed from the front are practically the same. The FM2 is deeper on account of its film holder and its larger full-frame format which physically requires more depth. 

As for the 'c', in the name, it indicates that the camera is for 'casual' use. This could be anything from the competitive price, the smaller sensor format compared to full-frame, the vari-angle screen, the modest single UHS-I SD card slot, or the lack of weather-sealing. 

No, we wouldn't want to bash this beautiful camera for beginners around too much. And that's a slight shame – we can't help wish this was a 'Nikon Z f' rather than a Nikon Z fc. The camera it's inspired by, the Nikon FM2, was a serious full-frame workhorse that could take a bullet for you, with a mechanical shutter able to rattle off frames with no battery power. It's a camera that lasts, while the Nikon Z fc is aimed at an altogether different photographer.

Still, the Z fc is a beautiful, casual camera with a capable specification; 20.9MP sensor, 4K video up to 30fps, continuous tracking AF for people, animals, faces and eyes, and an inspired vari-angle touch screen. The Z fc is the affordable option too; if you want a digital camera with ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, you're looking at the twice-the-price Fujifilm X-T4, or if you can live without the ISO dial, then the Fujfilm X-T30 II enters the frame.

For travel snappers or those who want a camera that's as pretty as the photos it takes, the Nikon Zfc is one of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy, as well as of course one of the best travel cameras. Keen photographers who need features like dual card slots will want to look elsewhere, and we're hoping for a full-frame version, but not many modern cameras are as fun to use as this.         

Nikon Z fc: Release date and price

The Nikon Z fc is available to buy in a variety of bundles. If you just want to buy the camera body-only, it'll cost $959 / £899 / AU$1,499, but you can also buy it with different lenses, or in a lens kit with both wide-angle and telephoto zooms.

The ideal kit for street photographers will likely be the Nikon Zfc with the new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE prime lens, which together will cost $1,199 / £1,129 / AU$1,899. If you'd rather go for the Zfc with the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens, that kit will set you back $1,099 / £1,039 / AU$1,699.

The Nikon Z fc camera on a shelf

(Image credit: Future)

In Australia, there's a two-lens kit also available for AU$2,000 that bundles the Zfc body with the 16-50mm glass mentioned above, as well as the Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR zoom.

In the UK, there's also a vlogging kit priced at £1,169 that includes the NIKKOR Z 16-50mm VR silver lens, a Sennheiser on-camera directional microphone with wind protection, and a SmallRig tripod grip. The tripod grip features a magnetic recess that holds the Nikon ML-L7 remote control (included).

Nikon Z fc: Design

  • It's a stunning camera
  • Inspired vari-angle touch screen
  • A new retro-styled 28mm f/2.8 Z lens

You don't have to be a fan of the Nikon FM2 to appreciate the design of the Nikon Z fc. It's a beautiful-looking camera. We remember the Nikon FM2 well – an aspirational camera for enthusiasts – and the attention to detail in reimagining the FM2 for today is painstakingly admirable.

There is everything to like about the Nikon Z fc. From the front, it's virtually the same dimensions as the FM2, meaning this is one dinky camera, barely a handful. Its form factor, design cues, everything sings FM2. Even the typography is inspired by it. 

The view from the top is equally impressive. While thinner than the FM2, it still packs exposure dials for ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation dial. We love the tiny window with an LCD display of the current aperture setting. Nikon has gone most of the way there, but wait, the lenses. 

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The top of the Nikon Z fc camera on a shelf

(Image credit: Future)
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The shutter speed and exposure compensation dials on the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)
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The ISO dial of the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)

A new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens was launched alongside the Z fc, and like the camera it certainly looks the retro-part. But why is there no aperture control ring on this special edition full-frame lens? With that full complement of exposure dials on the camera's top plate, we sorely missed an aperture control ring on the lens and you won't find one on any other Nikon Z lens.

You can change the sole control ring on the 28mm lens from focus to aperture, but you can't have both at the same time. Otherwise, you shift aperture by using the camera's front command dial, but it's not nearly as intuitive as on the lens, especially when you're already shifting the shutter speed dial with those same right-hand fingers. 

Ultimately, the lack of dedicated lens aperture control ring becomes a reason to use the Z fc in auto, foregoing the top dials for exposure changes (the main point of this concept). Like with the majority of Fujifilm’s X-series lenses, we hope new special edition legacy lenses are launched for the Z-series that feature an aperture control. Still, if you don't shoot in aperture priority, who cares, right?

The ISO dial on the top of the Nikon Z fc camera

(Image credit: Future)

In understanding those exposure dials, the built-in program mode switch that includes auto, the implementation of in-camera auto ISO, you can get the exposure effect you want super-quick. By the way, in-camera auto ISO handles a charm just like high-end Nikon cameras, meaning minimum acceptable shutter speed can be manually selected.

Elsewhere, the Z fc's flip touchscreen that's on hand for selfie-shooters and vloggers is totally the right call here, but for additional reasons. This type of screen can be folded away completely – revealing a protective dappled leather finish instead. You can pretend it's screen-less in a way that's not possible with fixed or tilt screens. We're not quite in Fujifilm X-Pro 3 territory – a camera that simulates a loaded film roll on its rear – but the look is spot on. 

With a circular eyecup design for the EVF (electronic viewfinder), the look from the rear is complete. The EVF is a reasonably large display with a feature set and performance that is competitive at this price point; 2.36-million-dots and a refresh rate of 60fps. You'll have to press your eye in right up close to get a clear view though. 

The Nikon Z fc camera on a shelf

(Image credit: Future)

As for the touchscreen, it is super simple to use. You get touch focus with subject tracking, shutter response, full menu navigation and playback control, this is how touchscreens are meant to be. And the footprint of the touchscreen is minimal, adding very little to the overall size of the Z fc. 

Around the exposure dials are little hints that this is a camera for today. The shutter speed dial has a switch to shift from shooting stills to video (the Nikon Df couldn't shoot video at all – a philosophical choice). Sadly, the in-camera menu remains the same whether you are shooting photos or video. Separate custom menus would be welcome for photo and video to make navigating your options much simpler. 

The Nikon Z fc possesses a magnesium alloy 'skeleton' which is very impressive at this price point. However, there's no weather-sealing, which lives up to the 'casual' name. It might be due to its great looks, but we were particularly conscious to look after the camera.

The battery of the Nikon Z fc camera

(Image credit: Future)

From our time with the Z fc, we found battery life par-for-the-course, getting a full day of moderate use that this camera is technically designed for. Go video heavy or swing towards those extended continuous high sequences and the picture is different, of course. However, it is now possible to charge the camera on-the-go via the USB-C input. Handy. Speaking of inputs, there is a 3.5mm microphone port, plus mini HMDI. 

Elsewhere, what you get with the mirrorless tech is an option for a silent shutter. Paired with the flip screen for subtle waist-level viewing, the Z fc represents an unobtrusive shooter ideal for travel and street photography. 

Faced up to the similarly-priced Nikon Z50, we prefer the Z fc design. There's the vari-angle screen and USB-C charging, plus exposure compensation is operational when in auto exposure mode. Some may prefer the feel of the deeper handgrip of the Z50, especially with longer lenses, though there is an optional grip for the Z fc. 

Nikon Z fc: Features and performance

  • Tracking AF with priority for people and animals
  • 11fps burst shooting
  • Single UHS-I SD card slot

For all its retro charm and emphasis on manual control, the Nikon Z fc is no slouch and comes packed with a competitive feature set. 

Start up time is brisk, with the camera able to shoot within a second of powering up. No dawdling here. Z-series lenses focus quickly and quietly for general scenes, offering a manual focus override, too. There's on-screen touch tracking auto-focus that is sticky on your subject and the Z fc detects faces and eyes with a reasonable speed, accuracy and reliability. 

With the viewfinder in play, you can hit the OK button to bring up a manual AF selection area, too, though you cannot swipe the open touchscreen for autofocus area selection.

The viewfinder of the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)

High-speed action sequences can be made at up to 11fps in the 'extended' mode, with continuous auto focus and auto exposure. However, the camera only supports the older and slower UHS-I SD card, meaning those sequences are sustained for around 22 frames – that's two seconds – and you'll need to wait some time for those frames to be processed to gain full speed operation again. 

The continuous high mode is much slower at 5fps, though you will get around 35 frames, so the burst is longer. Again, it takes a little while to clear those files to regain full capture capability. In short, the Z fc is good for quick flashes of action, but it really doesn't support sustained action scenarios.

Nikon Z fc: Image and video quality

  • 20.9-million-pixel APS-C sensor
  • ISO 100-51,200
  • Basic Z-series 'DX' lens choice

With the same 20.9-million-pixel APS-C sensor as the Nikon Z50, we can expect the same image quality from the Nikon Z fc. And aside from a few handling tweaks that may impact the shots you are getting – like the at-hand exposure compensation dial – things are indeed the same, which is no bad thing. 

The 20.9MP sensor has a great handle on noise, with all settings up to ISO 6400 looking clean, especially those under ISO 800. It's a general rule of thumb to avoid the top two ISO settings if you want to avoid the adverse impact of noise, in this case ISO 25,600 and ISO 51,200. Dynamic range impresses and the implementation of a HDR mode is simple and effective.

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Some boats sailing in a bay

The exposure compensation dial is active when the Nikon Z fc is in its 'Auto' exposure mode, making creative under-exposures like exposing for the highlights a breeze. (Image credit: Future)
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Profile shot of a man wearing a hat taken on the Nikon Z fc

The new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens is an aesthetic pairing to the Z fc and provides a full-frame equivalent focal length of 42mm. Combined with the f/2.8 aperture and it is well suited for environmental portraits. (Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 10

Crates of fishing ropes and buoys

A resolution of 20.9MP is competitive rather than class-leading, but is more than enough to get good size prints, wide dynamic range and solid control over noise in a variety of shooting scenarios. (Image credit: Future)
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Profile photo of a boy taken on the Nikon Z fc camera

(Image credit: Future)
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Some beach huts overlooking water, shot on the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)
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A person running down a road under tree cover

(Image credit: Future)
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Photo of a grassy field in a bay taken on the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)
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A red phone box surrounded by foliage

(Image credit: Future)
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Grassy coastline in front of the sea

(Image credit: Future)
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A rocky bay at dusk

(Image credit: Future)

There's a host of auto white balance (AWB) options, with the possibility of maintaining warm tones as one option. Colors in general look great from the off, though dominant colors in a scene can impact the temperature and hue in other colors – for example, a dominant blue can make skin tones look a little yellow, or a green vista results in overly magenta elsewhere, and so on. It's still a standard issue for AWB.

The standard color profile gives a refreshing subtle degree of saturation more akin to a neutral color profile in other systems. In-camera raw editing enables adjustments to exposure ±2EV, white balance, color profile and picture mode among others. 

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Silhouette of a girl running across the beach

Impressive on paper, the top speed of 11fps with continuous AF and AE is limited in real-world use no doubt in part to the write speeds of the single UHS-I card slot. This is no action camera. (Image credit: Future)
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A bay under a cloudy blue sky

(Image credit: Future)
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Beach houses in a bay in front of trees

(Image credit: Future)
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An inflatable unicorn in a swimming pool

The 'standard' picture setting gives a pleasant color rendition, and if you shoot in raw format edits can be made in-camera to the color modes and picture styles. This image was converted to black and white. (Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 9

An old outhouse covered in foliage

Perhaps the biggest downside of the Nikon Z fc is that there are just two native Z-series lenses dedicated for the APS-C format, limiting the types of pictures possible with the camera. Here I would've liked to go wider than the 16mm setting of the 16-50mm kit lens. (Image credit: Future)
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Girl walking down a seaside promenade

The vari-angle screen is useful for easy-shooting at a variety of angles, in addition to the front-facing selfie mode. (Image credit: Future)
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A cow grazing in a field

(Image credit: Future)
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Fishing ropes, crates and equipment

(Image credit: Future)
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A wave crashing against a seaside walk

The 'standard' picture setting gives a pleasant color rendition, and if you shoot in raw format edits can be made in-camera to the color modes and picture styles. This image was converted to black and white. (Image credit: Future)

Perhaps one thing holding back the image quality of the Nikon Z fc is the availability of native lenses. The lens roadmap for Nikon mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors looks vaguely promising, but at the time of writing there are better lenses available for the rival Fujifilm X-series. 

Should I buy the Nikon Z fc?

The Nikon Zfc camera sitting on a red table in front of a bookcase

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

InfinityFree web hosting review
9:38 am |

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

InfinityFree is a US-based web hosting provider launched in 2016, and, as its name suggests, it offers one of the best free web hosting services for an indeterminate period of time. We all know that not everything presented as free hosting is truly free, but Infinity Free manages to live up to its name and does that without overloading your site with ads.

Besides highlighting that hosting with them is completely free (forever and ever) with unlimited disk space and bandwidth, Infinity Free fails to brief us about the company itself. From the information we were able to gather we learned that although the company was formally founded in 2016, it started providing free hosting in 2011 as a part of a passion project.

Despite providing fully free services, InfinityFree is sustainable thanks to its business deal with iFastNet, whose services are marketed on Infinity Free’s official site. Therefore, if you ever feel the need to upgrade your free plan to one of the premium ones, expect to be forwarded to iFastNet’s site.

Although we can’t be fully confident, InfinityFree’s data center appears to be located in Chicago (Illinois, the USA).

InfinityFree’s official site is pretty plain and overrun with ads, but it is easy-to-use (partly due to its simplicity). Unfortunately, like with most free hosts, it doesn’t feature an official blog nor is it particularly active on social media sites.

Pricing

Only one of InfinityFree's shared hosting plans is completely free-of-charge (Image credit: InfinityFree)

Plans and pricing

InfinityFree offers three shared hosting plans only, one of which is completely free-of-charge. It is titled “Infinity Free'' and it should include unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth (although it is limited to 50,000 daily hits), and unlimited hosting domains. It also supports 400 MySQL databases, a single FTP account, but not a single email account, and all of the above is granted with “limited server power”. Despite these limitations, at least the plan includes a free subdomain, free SSL certificates for all your domains, and a Softaculous auto-installer with over 400 handy apps.

If you want more than a handful of features and are ready to pay the cost, check out the additional premium plans provided by iFastNet. “Super Premium” goes for $3.99 per month and will considerably boost the number of resources, while “Ultimate Premium” promises unlimited hosting for the price of $6.90 per month.

Given that Infinity Free’s services are free, there’s no real reason for them to provide a money-back guarantee.

However, if you purchase one of iFastNet’s packages, you can get a refund within seven days, no questions asked. As for payment methods, they accept PayPal, WorldPay, and 2CheckOut.

Customer Area

You can manage your settings, domains, subdomains and account details from InfinityFree's client area (Image credit: Infinity Free)

Ease of use

To start your free hosting trip, tap the “Sign Up Now” button, insert your email address, think up a password, go through terms of service and deny being a robot (sorry, robots). After verifying your email, it is time to create your hosting account through three simple steps.

The first step includes choosing a domain name and there you can use a free subdomain (seven of them are available as we write) or a domain you already own and point it to Infinity Free nameservers. If you decide on a second option but are not sure how it all works, there is an in-depth guide describing every step of the way (with screenshots and everything).

After this, your account username will be generated at random, and the same goes for your account password if you (for whatever reason) decided to leave the space empty. In any case, your account will be created within seconds making this one of the simplest and most straightforward experiences of this kind. That being said, you might need to wait for up to 72 hours for your hosting account to “start working everywhere” and your newly created site to become accessible.

cPanel

The inclusion of cPanel is one of the best aspects of Infinity Free as it makes managing your site much easier than using a custom control panel (Image credit: Infinity Free)

Your account UI is easy-to-use and provides access to a simplified version of the control panel which is a long-reigning king of user-friendliness among its many competitors, a Linux-based cPanel. Although you won’t get all the tools you would with a regular cPanel, Infinity Free’s version will cover all the essentials including online FTP manager, MySQL database control, phpMyAdmin, options for PHP, DNS, cron jobs, error pages, backups, and more.

If you want to utilize some of the most useful apps out there (such as WordPress), you can have them in working order within a few clicks thanks to the Softaculous one-click app installer.

Performance

We used GTmetrix to test the uptime and response time of InfinityFree's main site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

Having in mind that we are testing a free service, we didn’t exactly expect to be blown away by neither speed nor uptime performance. First, we experimented with the speed of Infinity Free’s site via GTmetrix (our trusted tool) and got pleasantly surprised by near-perfect results topped by GTmetrix’s grade A (98%). The test revealed that it took mere 1.4 seconds to fully load the site, which is not only better than the average score but better even than the one recommended for an ideal user experience.

After this, we checked the results of our uptime test run via UptimeRobot on Infinity Free’s official site for two weeks straight. In a similar fashion with the speed test, this one left us just as impressed. The results show no downtime at all and only a few minor oscillations in response speed painted a picture of reliability.

Support

As you might have guessed, customer support provided by a free host is almost always nothing to write home about. Such is the case with Infinity Free, so don’t expect to get one-on-one consultation via telephone, live chat, or email. Although there are a few email addresses available for contact, it is stated that they are not meant for support and that all of your questions are going to be left unanswered.

Forum

You can find answers to common web hosting problems by checking the responses on InfinityFree's forum (Image credit: Infinity Free)

The one alternative you are left with is to seek help on their community forum, which is actually an amazing option to have since most of the questions there (if not all) are answered by fellow users.

Knowledgebase

InfinityFree also provides a comprehensive knowledgebase (Image credit: Infinity Free)

The other one is to consult InfinityFree’s comprehensive knowledgebase that contains, among others, a novice-friendly category called “Getting Started”. There are ten categories in total and over 80 in-depth guides that cover everything from managing your domain and DNS to making your SSL certificate work with WordPress.

The competition

A nice alternative to InfinityFree and one of the better free hosting providers out there is India-based GoogieHost (not to be confused with Googlehost). It comes a bit stronger in terms of features since their free plan includes CloudFlare, an industry-standard cPanel, a user-friendly website builder, and up to two business emails (Infinity Free currently provides none). However, in terms of security and stability Infinity Free wins the day.

FreeHostingNoAds is another noteworthy alternative to Infinity Free and it delivers exactly what its name implies - free hosting without ads. What is more, it also includes a drag-and-drop website builder, while Infinity Free doesn’t. However, unlike InfinityFree that puts no limits on disk space and bandwidth, with FreeHostingNoAds both of them are severely limited.

If you are not looking exclusively for free web hosting, there are quite a few budget-friendly hosts able to cover all the basics and more while providing round-the-clock customer support. Some of the fan-favorites are HostGator, Bluehost, and DreamHost, and all of them offer a wide variety of services and hosting packages, ranging from simple shared and flexible cloud setups to VPS and dedicated server hosting. They may not be completely free-of-charge, but as with most things in life (web hosting included) you get what you pay for.

Final verdict

Are you trying to find a free host for a blog, small portfolio, or any other personal project on a similar scale? If the answer is yes, then InfinityFree is worth a look. With user-friendly cPanel, Softaculous, and easy-to-follow how-tos you’ll be able to build a captivating website without too much trouble.  

However, if you have bigger dreams for your website and don’t mind spending a few bucks each month to make these dreams come true, check out hosts such as HostGator and Bluehost.

SpotOn POS Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
5:17 pm | September 2, 2021

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

SpotOn is a POS system designed for restaurants, food trucks, clubs, or basically any hospitality-related business. General retailers can also use it to accept payments from customers with ease. This system offers more than just point-of-sale tools. Customers can also use it to gather insights about their business and know where to make improvements.

A unique thing about SpotOn is that it’s very customizable. Customers can make significant changes to many aspects of the software to match their brand. It’s also flexible such that it works for many types of businesses.

SpotOn, the company, is based out of San Francisco, California. It was founded in 2017 by three entrepreneurs; Doron Friedman, Matt Hyman, and Zach Hyman.



SpotOn POS: Plans and pricing

SpotOn’s pricing is a little opaque compared to other competitors. You must pay a one-time setup fee plus a recurring monthly fee to use the software. Your monthly fee depends on the features and add-ons that you select, and it starts at $25 per month. 

The cost of using SpotOn includes:

- $25 per month for the software (including payment processing)

- $195 per month for the software alone (without payment processing)

- $65 per month for every extra restaurant

- $65 per month for a customer loyalty software add-on

- $65 per month for a website add-on

What you should note is that SpotOn does not have rigid pricing, so you’ll have to contact the company’s sales team directly, tell them what you want, and get a quote. The prices we listed above are the standard ones, but you may get discounts depending on your situation.

SpotOn POS free demo available

Get a free demo to see how SpotOn can be tailored to your business (Image credit: SpotOn)

Let’s say, you only need the SpotOn software but want to use your own payment processor, then you’ll have to pay $195 per month. If you need both the SpotOn software and the company’s payment processor, then the price comes down to $25 per month. If you need the solution in multiple restaurants, then you’ll have to pay an extra $65 per month for each restaurant. If you want a tool to set up customer loyalty discount programs for regular customers, that’ll run you another $65 per month.

There are many add-ons to choose from, and they all come with extra costs. Thus, SpotOn can be pretty expensive if you request many add-ons.

Of course, SpotOn also takes commissions on every transaction facilitated by its payment processing system. The fee is 1.99% + $0.25 for regular transactions and 2.99% + $0.25 for AMEX, corporate, international, and keycard transactions. The 1.99% rate for typical transactions is pretty low, but the $0.25 flat charge on every transaction is quite pricey, especially if you sell low-cost items.

The one-time setup fee is usually $250, but it may vary depending on your requirements.

SpotOn POS terminal

(Image credit: SpotOn)

SpotOn POS: Features

Hardware

SpotOn offers different hardware that enables you to collect payments from your customers, including:

SpotOn Terminal: This is an all-in-one smart device that lets you accept payments from customers' cards. Customers can swipe, insert, or tap their cards, and it'll automatically print a receipt after charging them. It also works with digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. All the payments are collated and wired to your bank account the next day.

Virtual Terminal: This is a compact card reader that works in tune with the SpotOn mobile app. With this device, you can collect payments from customers’ cards just as you’ll do with the SpotOn Terminal (swipe, insert, or tap), but your smartphone acts as the screen where you’ll confirm the payment.

Register: The SpotOn Register is a point-of-sale device that’s designed for retailers (e.g., convenience stores and supermarkets). It has a large screen that makes it easy to manage your catalog and sort the products available in your store. You’ll need to pair it with the SpotOn Terminal or Virtual Terminal to collect payments.

SpotOn continues to be an invaluable technology partner that listens well and proactively presents solutions to drive our business forward.

Kevin Youkilis

Payment Processing

Point-of-sale hardware can not work alone. It works in tune with SpotOn’s software which recognizes customers’ cards and collects payments from them. The pricing is transparent, although we observed some (unconfirmed) complaints of customers complaining of hidden fees. It does not just stop at receiving payments; you can also generate insights from your transaction data that help you know where to improve your store.

Reservation

SpotOn also offers software that lets restaurants, bars, hotels, etc., take reservations from customers. Customers can add themselves to the reservation waitlist directly from your website or Google profile page, and you can send wait times automatically. You can notify guests when their reserved table is ready via text message, and they can respond accordingly.

SpotOn POS full service delivery landing page

Connect with local delivery drivers to seamlessly offer take-out  (Image credit: SpotOn)

SpotOn POS: Interface and in use

SpotOn has a modern, intuitive interface that you’ll likely find easy to navigate. It’s designed in a way that makes it easy to find and switch between different features. If user-friendliness was the only criterion for this review, SpotOn will get a perfect score.  

SpotOn POS review

SpotOn’s interface makes it simple for POS beginners to navigate (Image credit: SpotOn)

SpotOn POS: Support

If you experience a problem with SpotOn, the first place to visit is the Knowledge Base, which contains articles, guides, and tutorials concerning all aspects of the platform. If that does not suit you, then you're free to contact SpotOn's support staff via email or telephone. There are dedicated email addresses and telephone numbers to contact depending on your inquiry. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

SpotOn POS review

24/7 support sets SpotOn POS apart from the competition (Image credit: SpotOn)

SpotOn POS: The competition

Toast POS is the most notable competitor to SpotOn because it is also designed for hospitality businesses. Toast is pretty expensive just like SpotOn and has even higher transaction fees. It has an intuitive interface just like SpotOn and is a suitable alternative to the platform.

Square POS

Square point of sale are a POS giant who are an excellent alternative to SpotOn. (Image credit: Square)

SpotOn POS: Final verdict

SpotOn is an ideal point-of-sale system for hospitality-related businesses. General retailers can also adopt it as a point-of-sale solution. It’s an intuitive tool that lets you accept payments with ease but is, however, pretty expensive.  

We've listed the best POS systems for retail.