The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a small streaming device manufactured by Amazon that plugs into an HDMI port on the back of your TV. It’s one of my most used devices in the home. It’s one my kids use a lot as well. This device allows you to connect to the internet and stream videos on demand on your tv through apps. Just about any streaming app you can think of can be found in the Amazon App store.
When it comes to streaming content with apps, the Fire TV Stick works kinda like your smartphone. In most smart TVs, it’s often difficult or impossible to sideload other apps, so you are stuck with the apps that come from your smart TVs app store. Not the case with the Fire TV Stick. This device is much more flexible as you can install apps from a wide variety. But I’ll be honest, most people just use the device with its preset settings completely unaware that you can enhance the experience.
With roughly 40 million users of the Fire TV Stick, it’s a very popular device. But what really surprises me is the lack of leveraging features to give you a better viewing experience. Out of the box, the Fire TV Stick is great. No major complaints. But there are a bunch of little tips and tricks you can do that just make it so much better (and safer).
1. Pin Your Most-Used Apps
If you have installed dozens of apps from the Amazon App store, finding the ones you want to use frequently may become difficult. I think it’s a pain to find apps I use in the app section of the interface. You can pin the most frequently used ones to the home screen so they’re easy to find. All you do is take your highlight cursor over the app you want to pin (don’t select it). Hit the Menu button on your remote (three little lines) and select “Pin To Front”.
2. Disable Automatic Audio And Video Playback On Fire TV
The Featured Content page on the Fire TV home screen plays the most recent movies and TV shows from partner apps by default, which can be REALLY annoying. I also notice my Fire TV Stick getting glitchy when they auto-play as well. You can easily disable autoplay for audio and video by just doing a simple adjustment from the Settings menu. Go to your Settings and select Preferences from the options. Scroll until you find “Featured Content” and turn off the Allow Video Autoplay and Allow Audio Autoplay features. You can thank me later.
3. Adjust Fire TV’s Privacy Settings
This is another no-brainer option everyone should do. There are concerns regarding privacy because Fire TV devices must be connected to the internet. The content you watch, the amount of time you spend using the device, your location, your most used apps, and other details can all be tracked when you use a device. If you are uncomfortable with constant tracking, disable the behavior from the Privacy menu.
4. Make Use Of Your Phone’s Virtual Fire TV Remote
You can easily control your Fire TV using the Fire TV remote app on your iPhone or Android phone. There have been times (lots of times) when the Fire TV Stick remote gets lost or it runs out of batteries. That’s when this trick really comes in handy. The app offers the same buttons and functions as the remote.
5. Create Multi-User Profiles
On your Fire TV, you can create separate profiles for you, your spouse, and your kids. With recommendations for movies, TV shows, and pinned apps, users get a personalized Fire TV experience. This is one of my favorite and most underutilized features of the Fire TV Stick. You can create Kids profiles doing this which will give you more control over what your kids are watching.
Another quick tip on profiles. To easily switch in between profiles, press and hold the Home button on the remote and a pop-up will appear prompting you to switch profiles. You can also use this little Home button trick to open other Apps and put your device to sleep.
6. Access Diagnostics Information
This is for advanced users. There is a hidden diagnostics panel on the Amazon Firestick. You are granted access to a ton of information, many of which is essential for advanced settings. Frame rate, CPU load, video codecs, display resolution, memory usage, current internet streaming speed, and other diagnostic data are just a few examples. You’ll want to press and hold Select (Center button) for one second and while still holding it, press the hold the Down direction button for three seconds. Then release both and press the Menu button. From there a pop-up will appear and you’ll want to turn On the Advanced Options and System X-Ray.
7. Restart Your Device Using The Remote
You don’t have to turn off your television if your Fire TV Stick freezes. Using the remote, you can just restart it. It’s really easy to do. Hold down the Select and Play/Pause buttons at the same time for five seconds. Even if the screen is frozen (which doesn’t happen on the later generations as it did on earlier versions), this quick restarting tip will work. As a side note, you can also restart your device from the menu screen or by simply unplugging it as well.
8. Send Video Footage From Security Camera To The Fire TV
This is a pretty cool trick you can do with your Fire TV Stick: live video feeds from home security cameras can be directly displayed on Amazon Fire TV. You’ll only be able to use this feature with Alexa-enabled devices. If you utilize an IFTTT applet, you can actually have this feature automated.
9. Disable Interest-Based Ads On Your Fire TV Stick
Going to be honest, I wish there was a way to kill advertisements altogether, but I realize corporations have to make money. You may not know that your Fire TV is tracking your behavior for a lot of purposes, and advertising is one of them. However, Amazon does allow you to turn this feature off. Please note that you will still get ads, they just won’t be lasered in on what you were just talking about with your family at the dinner table. Go to Settings, then Preferences, then Privacy Settings, then Advertising ID and turn Interest-based Ads to off. Once enabled, the apps on your device won’t be able to use your advertising ID to build a persona profile to serve you personalized ads.
There is an argument to be made about the benefits and advantages of using interest-based ads. But I think the Cons far out-weight the Pros. One reason I enabled this is that if they are collecting that data and utilizing it, it’s going to take some amount of memory and bandwidth to transfer that data. That’s more input and output for your device. Without running any formal data test on if disabling this cuts down on bandwidth usage from your Fire TV, my gut tells me it does. The other issue is privacy. Less personal data on our behaviors being sent to the cloud is a positive.
Features Vs Privacy Vs Experience: How Do You Prioritize?
You’ll notice that a handful of these tips are putting data restrictions on what Amazon collects about you. Some would argue that turning these features off will dampen your user experience. It’s the “but we’re collecting data on you to give you a better experience” argument. There’s a little bit of credence to that as well. Amazon continues to develop features that enhance the user experience for its customers. I’m all for that. However, I have found that enabling these tips and tricks hasn’t interfered one bit with how I interact with my Fire TV Stick device. Personally, I think it helps the device run smoother. You don’t have to do all of these, but I highly recommend you adopt at least one. And if you’re serious about your personal data being stored in the cloud, I’d act on all those tips. Quite frankly, you can make your watching experience more enjoyable and safer by utilizing these Fire TV tips and tricks.
If you’re pretty set on using your phone and an app to view your baby then there are a few things you should know. Parents need to understand the risks associated with using the internet for their monitor’s connection. Establishing a safe and secure home network is important when using wifi and home internet. We’ve discussed home network questions every
Owlet is a baby sleep monitor sock, camera, and phone app system which allows parents to not only see and hear their little one but to also check basic vitals like oxygen and heart rate. The Dream Sock and camera tracks quality sleep indicators for your little one, so you can rest easier each night. The Owlet system tracks awake and asleep times, heart rate, oxygen levels, movement, room temperature, humidity, and more. It’s one of the most in-depth baby monitor systems to date. This in-depth system alerts parents when the sleep indicators change and when their baby starts to wake. This alert goes off via the wifi app on Android and iOS systems. Owlet Dream Duo 2 retails for $399.99. It comes with free access to the online app, so you can use your cell phone provider or wifi to access your baby’s vitals and camera anytime, anywhere. The original Owlet Dream Sock combo retails for $299.99 and only has the sock and app access. Their website shows almost 150 reviews with an average of 4.2 stars. Most parents who reviewed the Owlet products say they couldn’t imagine newborn life without this baby monitor system.
Nanit offers many options for baby monitors, sleep and breathing trackers, plus accessories for their products and baby. To be honest, looking at their site overwhelmed me. They have so many options for parents, including smart sheets. Parents can use their Nanit camera, app, and smart sheets to track their baby’s height and share the information with others. Nanit also offers a breathing tracker swaddle and band system linked to the app along with its camera system. The Nanit Pro Smart Baby Monitor bundle retails at $509 but is on sale for $380. The basic Nanit Pro Camera Flex Stand retails at $199. Once again, all these run on cell phone data and wifi links. Nanit offers parents a sigh of relief with its breathing bands and smart sheets. Pretty neat technology, as long as your connection is secure. Otherwise, it’s pretty scary and creepy if someone hacked into your Nanit system and knew all that extra information about your child, right?
Safety 1st is one of the top baby safety brands that almost every soon-to-be parent recognizes. Between newborn baby first aid kits to baby gates to baby nail clippers, Safety 1st is a parent’s well-favored and trusted brand. There are three different versions of baby monitor wifi systems from Safety 1st. You can shop on their website, on Amazon, or other retailers. Their largest bundle called Full Connected Suite retails for $294.95 and includes the wifi monitor, a smart soother, a smart humidifier, an under-crib smart light, and a plug adapter. The Connected Suite Illuminate Trio retails for $194.97 and comes with the wifi baby monitor, smart humidifier, and the under-crib smart light. Finally, Safety 1st offers a basic wifi baby monitor for $70. Each set provides safety and security for parents via wifi and an app. The app lets parents share and connect with other caretakers. You can even add it to your home system and listen via Alexa Echo Show or Google Home Hub. If you need a friendly reminder on choosing the Best Alexa Devices, check out our thoughts.
As we’ve discussed, the safety and security of your home and home network are everything. Not only are you protecting yourself and your data from hackers, but as a parent, you are protecting your little one now, too.
We live in a world of digital connectivity where maintaining one’s security while surfing the internet or doing anything online is critical. Having a VPN service can help achieve this by making your browsing private. But not everyone wants to subscribe to a VPN service. In some regards, these VPN services have their drawbacks, as setting up VPN software one by one on every single device OR turning it on every time you want to surf the web can be a little time-consuming.
Thankfully, VPN routers provide an easier-to-use solution if you want VPN protection on your devices and your home network. These VPN routers work similarly to your typical routers but offer a secure network to all devices connected to them. These routers make it simple to set up a VPN connection.
If you are looking for VPN routers, you are probably already familiar with VPNs’ security and privacy benefits. They encrypt your data helping you stay anonymous when surfing the web and even accessing websites that are banned in your area.
Even though you can set up a VPN on any device connected to your regular Wi-Fi router, we still recommend investing in a good VPN router, as it provides various other benefits, as given below.
You will no longer have to turn your VPN on with a router manually. You will be connected to the VPN as soon as you join the network of the VPN router.
Protect Every Device
As mentioned earlier, any device connected to a VPN router’s Wi-Fi is automatically connected to the VPN network, ensuring protection on devices like smartphones, televisions, and those that generally do not have VPN software support.
Now that you know a little about the benefits of having a VPN router, there are some factors that you have to consider when choosing one that is best for you.
Many VPN routers provide a 2.4 GHz or a 5 GHz frequency, so it is best to know the use of both and choose accordingly. Firstly, the 2.4 GHz band’s Wi-Fi connection is slower but has an excellent range. On the other hand, the 5 GHz frequency supports high-quality streaming but is less powerful.
Encryption and Security
Privacy is probably the most important factor you should consider when choosing a VPN router. It is best to look for VPN routers that support Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and IP Security (IPsec) encryption and protocols, as they are better and more secure.
The speed and reliability of VPN routers are generally related to encryption standards. When choosing the best VPN router, you do not want one that provides security but makes gaming, streaming, or browsing processes slow and aggravating.
With so many different VPN routers on the market, it can be a little tough to figure out the right option for your home. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best VPN routers. If you’re looking for a powerful router for your home or office that will get you premium protection, won’t cause your network to slow down, and won’t break the bank…you’re going to want to check these out.
TP-Link ER7206 Router
The TP-Link ER7206 router comes fully configured with Omada SDN Cloud Controller, so all you need to do is connect it to your network with an ethernet wire to get started. The cloud controller’s SDN user management lets you know the device and location of anyone using your network.
The TP-Link ER7206 offers various features like Bandwidth Control, Port VLAN, UPnP, Firewall, and many more. More of its key features include:
Integration into Omada SDN
Up to 4 WAN Ports
Highly Secure VPN
Advanced firewall policies, DoS defense, and IP/MAC/URL filtering
NETGEAR ProSafe FVS336G Dual WAN VPN Firewall Router
The Netgear FVS336Gv2 ProSafe Dual WAN VPN Firewall Router has an SSL and IPsec supported VPN providing the ease of spreading broadband internet access throughout your network. This router provides Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and IP Security (IPsec) VPN tunnels in two different configurations for the most secure access to your network. We recommend it because it is a great option to securely connect remote users or remote LAN locations to your network.
It supports two broadband connections with a load-balancing structure, thus adding to its reliability. Its key features include:
The TP-Link AX 6600 WiFi Gaming Router (Archer GX90) is a tri-band router for low-latency gaming that supports the Wifi 6. But despite its popularity as a VPN router, you don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate this router. This is a great one for streaming as well.
Its setup comes with the additional benefits of antivirus and parental controls. The bandwidth for each device connection is displayed on the quality-of-service controls. Its features also allow you to configure priority on devices connected to the network, which is helpful if you have limited bandwidth. One of my favorite features of this VPN router is prioritizing device connections. Its features include:
TP-Link OneMesh Supported
4.8 Gbps Game Band
Detect and optimize gaming streams
Up to 5 WAN Ports
OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology
1.5 GHz Quad-Core CPU
Synology RT 6600ax VPN WiFi Router
By far my favorite VPN router is the Synology RT 6600ax. This tri-band VPN router features 2.5 Gbps ethernet, VLAN segmentation, supports multiple SSIDs, has robust parental controls, and enhanced threat prevention. This VPN router provides one of the most comprehensive VPN server solutions with site-to-site tunneling that provides secure remote connectivity and remote desktop capabilities. It’s everything you want out of a VPN router and then a lot more.
What I love is that this router is powered by the Synology Router Manager (SRM) which helps you manage its security and performance. And don’t worry, you won’t have to be a techy to customize its web filtering and threat detection features. It comes with default profiles that make it easy to customize your control over your home network. Some of its features include:
Supports Wifi 6
Expanded 5.9 GHz support
Support for the fastest ISPs
Ability to create up to 5 separate networks
Can be configured for WAN or LAN
1.8 GHz Quad-Core CPU
1 GB of Memory
Incredible tech support from Synology
Users of this VPN router agree with me on how incredible it is. On Amazon, it scores 4.4 out of a 5 rating. There are nearly 3.4K reviews pushing that rating as well. It’s most highly rated features according to verified users are WiFi signal (4.3), User Interface (4.2), Ease of Use (4.2), and Easy To Install (4.1). In fact,
VPN Routers Are A Solid Home Network Device
If you’re looking for a way to improve your home network, you might want to consider buying a VPN router. To recap, a VPN router can provide many benefits over a traditional router, including improved security and privacy. One of the biggest benefits of a VPN router is that it can help to protect your devices from hackers. I’ve pounded this drum time and time again: any time you can add an extra layer of security to your devices, you should seriously explore that option. When you connect to the internet through a VPN router, all of your traffic is encrypted. This means that hackers won’t be able to see what you’re doing or gather any information about you.
Another benefit of a VPN router is that it can help to improve your privacy. I’ve been in the business a long time and can tell you that almost every app and every website is tracking everything you do and storing that data. That’s why every website blasts you with pop-ups about cookie policies. When you use a traditional router, your ISP (and most websites) can see everything that you’re doing online. However, when you use a VPN router, your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel. This means for the most part that your ISP can’t see what you’re doing or collect any data about you.
And another awesome perk with these router types is a VPN router can also help to improve your speed and performance. When you use a traditional router, your traffic has to travel through several different servers before it reaches its destination. However, when you use a VPN router, your traffic is routed directly to the server that you’re trying to reach. This can help to improve your speed and performance, especially if you’re trying to stream video or play online games.
If you use a VPN service or are considering doing so, getting one of the top VPN routers we’ve touched on above will really help heap on that extra level of security. I love these routers because you get VPN protection at the network level and not the device level. However, one drawback is if your device disconnects from the network and uses cellular data, you won’t have the protection. This is one of the advantages a VPN service has over a VPN router and why I’m a big proponent of a VPN service. Regardless, if you’re not into getting a VPN service and still want that VPN level of security, one of these routers is a fantastic addition to your home network.
Electronics rule. Phones and technology are everywhere. Smartphone apps dominate everything. Let’s face it, it’s getting harder to live without technology. Recharging powered devices is not possible everywhere. I love to camp. Love to be outdoors. And I love to work remotely off the grid so having an additional power supply for my devices matters.
A very viable and affordable option is portable power stations. Essentially, it’s like a power bank. Pocket-sized power banks typically use USB power and they’re great for powering your phone for about 5-6 charges, but when you’re away for a handful of days (or even a week), the pocket-size battery banks just don’t cut it. Power stations go beyond USB power. One I’ve had my eye on is the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240. There’s a lot to love about this power station. Let’s take a look at what this power station offers in the review below.
Jackery The Brand
I’ve heard nothing but good things from customers and users of Jackery’s portable power stations. In fact, that’s what originally drew me to their brand in the first place. Yes, I trust reviews. Yes, I love to read about what critics have to say. BUT…word of mouth promotion from people I know and trust matters a lot more. Aside from what friends and family have had to say about I’ve done some digging and Jackery has quite the reputation. In terms of longevity, they’ve only been around for about a decade, but they are one of the early pioneers of portable solar-generated power. That stands for something. They’ve been doing this for a long time in regard to the industry. Their products have also been featured on Forbes, Digital Trends, Tom’s Guide, CNet, and a handful of other reputable publishers so having that endorsement is a good indicator of the quality of their products.
When you couple word-of-mouth endorsements and other reputable source’s endorsements with a solid warranty (2-year limited warranty on products) plus great service, Jackery is a brand that stands behind its products.
Jackery Explorer 240 Model Design
The Jackery Explorer 240 is roughly rectangular. It’s not so tall, but because of its handle, it kind of feels that way. Durable plastic adorns the exterior of the handle with grooves to provide a better grip. It is primarily black with orange highlights and bears a bold “Jackery” imprint. I dig the colors. Love the design elements of this. When you first pick it up, it just feels like a quality-built product.
Jackery Explorer 240- Power and Performance
Power stations heavily rely on their batteries. A 240Wh battery powers the Jackery Explorer 240. Some of the more popular uses and devices that people use in the Jackery 240 are smartphones, tablets, laptops, lamps, cameras, drones, and tire inflators.
Now…you won’t be able to charge a blender, electric grill, small fridge, or microwave with this model, BUT Jackery has some upgraded models that will give you that kind of power (more on that below). What I really love about the performance of this model is it’s quiet, clean, easy to use, and relatively safe.
Jackery Explorer 240 Safety and Compliance
Jackery Explorer 240 has four charging ports. A pure sinewave AC outlet. The sine wave has smooth waves, not sharp peaks. Therefore, sensitive electronics are safe. There is a maximum current limit of 200 watts. This will lead to the inability to operate heating devices, which will consume 400 watts for a short time. If you want more power, then get the upgrade. There is no automatic shutdown of small coolers when the input is active either. 12-volt DC is standard in cars, and the USB ports deliver 2.4 amps and 12 watts.
The Explorer 240 has power-saving circuitry. The power station shuts down if not fed with 10 watts for 12 hours. Definitely a nice safety feature. This function reduces battery drain.
Built-in MPPT. MPPT controllers increase battery current by 30%. A solar panel can quickly recharge the Explorer 240 (you’ll need to purchase this separately)
Sine wave inverter. A pure sine wave inverter produces similar AV power. Inverters that modify sine waves cannot charge sensitive electronics.
Smart display. Its backlit display is right in the middle so that nobody will miss it. Input power, remaining battery, and output power appear on the screen.
On/off switches. A power station generally has a single on/off switch for all outputs. All three outputs of the Explorer 240 have separate on/off switches.
Pass-through charging. Pass-through charging lets you charge your devices while the Explorer 240 charges.
Wattage: 200 watts
Frequency: 60 Hz
Power Source: AC, CarPort, Solar Panel
Item Weight: 6.83 lbs
Voltage: 110 Volts (AC)
Output Wattage: 200 Watts
AC sine wave.
An ultracompact design
Not suitable for CPAP (although it will work with it)
You will not be able to carry on this item due to travel restrictions with lithium batteries and due to FAA restrictions, no more than 100-watt hours capacity is allowed with checked baggage.
The battery is not replaceable
The USB Type-A ports don’t support quick charging.
Let’s Talk Jackery Upgrades
There are two reasons why you’d want to get an upgrade: you want the Solar Generator unit or you want more power. Below you can see the extra charges broken down by device type. One advantage of getting a solar generator model is the ability to charge appliances like an electric grill, coffee maker, and microwave. You will not be able to do that with the 240, 300, or 500 models. In my opinion, if I were to opt-in for an upgrade it would be the Jackery Solar Generator 1000. It’ll cost you around $1700, but right now on Amazon, you can get an extra $250 dollars off when you apply the coupon. Now, if that is a too high of a price tag and you really like the 240 models BUT really want the solar option, this Jackery Solar Generator model is what you’ll want.
Image Credit: Amazon.com:
Jackery Portable Power Station 240 User Reviews
This product has an amazing 4.7 rating out of 5 on Amazon. What makes that even more impressive is that the rating is carried across 16K+ reviews. Based on customer ratings by feature, noise level (5.0), portability (4.8), value for money (4.8), lightweight (4.7), and charging power (4.6) are the most important features customers love about the Jackery 240 portable power station. Those ratings are slightly better than Anker’s with each feature rating respectively.
There’s a lot to love about the Jackery Explorer 240. Despite its lightweight, it provides USB, AC, and DC power. With its LCD, it’s easy to use. For entry-level portable power stations, you’re not going to find a better option for portability mixed with power.
Are you going to buy a speaker or a smart home automation assistant but finding it difficult to choose between Google Nest Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot? Do you want a voice-activated assistant to help you with your day-to-day tasks? You’re probably wondering if the Google Nest Mini or Amazon Echo Dot is the right device for you and your family. We break down the most important features as we compare these two devices and help you decide which one is best for your needs.
The Features That Matter For Your Smart Home Assistant
Both the Google Mini and Amazon Echo Dot are great devices for families. Not going to lie, we have both in my home. That’s how good both of these are. But which one is better? Let’s compare the features that matter most between these two devices to help you decide which one might be best. We analyzed feature sets like design, utility, sound, technology, and ease of use to help you make the best decision possible.
Both of these speakers have slightly different sizes. There are LED lights present in both of them. I do think that the Amazon Echo Dot utilizes their LED lights more efficiently than the Google Mini. Seeing my Amazon Echo Dot with an orange-yellow light for notifications is something I’ve grown accustomed to.
The new version of the Echo Dot has a spherical shape and assists in making it look bigger compared to its counterpart. Furthermore, the Google Nest Mini doesn’t contain a clock option, but still, it utilizes LED dots for communication. It is also worth mentioning that it is available in charcoal, chalk, and sky. To me, colors don’t matter that much because the color doesn’t necessarily add any extra value (at least not significantly), but it’s a design feature worth mentioning.
One thing I want to point out: the build quality is remarkable in the Google Nest Mini as well. I love the compact design of both of these because you can integrate them into your home with one of these wall mounts for the Google Nest Mini or the Amazon Echo Dot. You can easily place them around the house without sacrificing your home décor or just getting in the way (note that you need a plug to use one of these home assistant mounts). And the ultra-compact design (and price for that matter) allows you to create an easy-to-use plus cheap smart home intercom system.
Amazon Echo Dot has a powerful smart home ecosystem. Compared to the Google Nest Mini, it’s a little better because of some cool utility options. Alexa has got a lot of amazing smart features that include things like skill blueprints as well as the whisper mode.
Moreover, Alexa has learned a lot of new stuff and keeps learning daily. I’m impressed at how Amazon strives to make the smart home experience better. It should also be noted that the routines and the reminders of Alexa are much improved than when the technology was first launched. But I want to return to a feature I just mentioned: I love Alexa Skills. Essentially, these are enhancements where you can really amp up the performance and utility of your device. Google does have skills and commands for their home assistant devices, but they just don’t compare in utility and efficacy vs Amazon’s Alexa. In this regard, the Amazon Echo dot is a better option when it comes to connectivity and utility.
Sound matters. Whereas most people aren’t going to use one of these for blasting music, sound quality and the technology behind it are still important for these small home assistants. If you’re looking for a quality small speaker system, the Amazon Echo Dot is the better option. The Echo Dot has a noticeable advantage with sound quality compared to the Google Nest Mini and it’s also more affordable. The Echo Dot uses a combination of Dolby processing and seven microphones to deliver clear, loud, and nuanced sounds. The Google Mini, on the other hand, only has two microphones and doesn’t use any Dolby processing. As a result, the Mini just can’t match the Echo Dot’s sound quality.
In addition, the Echo Dot has a more robust speaker system than the Mini. The Dot has a 2.5-inch woofer and a 0.6-inch tweeter, while the Mini only has a single 1.57-inch full-range driver. The Echo Dot’s superior speaker system ensures that you’ll have great sound quality, no matter what you’re listening to. And it’s not just about music either. I rely on my mini smart home speaker to deliver news, updates, reminders, and a slew of other notifications.
Winner: Amazon Echo Dot
Ease of Use
One of the main reasons why the Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini are so popular is because they are very easy to use. Both devices have a simple design. Both have impeccable technology that lends itself to making these devices simple.
Google Nest Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot devices both do a decent job of catching voice commands. Occasionally, if there is slight noise interference, you’ll run into issues, but generally speaking, both are adequate at picking up voice commands. In my opinion, if there’s a difference, the Mini’s voice recognition technology isn’t as accurate as the Echo Dot’s, which can sometimes lead to frustration when trying to give commands. I think that’s due largely in part because the Echo Dot having more microphones AND Amazon’s sound engineers are some of the best in the world. By a slight margin, I’d give the edge to the Echo Dot for those looking for a simple, easy-to-use voice assistant.
In terms of smart home integration and syncing these home assistants with another internet of thing devices, both do a phenomenal job. Most smart devices integrate with both Google Assistant and Alexa, so I don’t think either one of these home assistants has an advantage there.
Winner: Narrow Win For Amazon Echo Dot
It Really Comes Down To You
The best option really comes down to you. Before investing in one of these smart home assistants, it is essential to know all the specs and features so you won’t end up buying a useless thing. One of my pet peeves is seeing or hearing of people not using a smart device simply because they “don’t know how” or “it doesn’t work with what we have”. Even more important and on that note, take an inventory of all your smart home devices and get the home assistant that will fit your technology needs. Get one that will augment your smart home ecosystem. If you have devices that mesh better with Alexa, get the Amazon Echo Dot. If you like Google or you have more smart devices that fit with Google Assistant, go that route.
For the record, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a Google-based ecosystem AND an Alexa-based ecosystem either. There are some in my family who love certain things about the Amazon Echo Dot and there are some who like Google Assistant devices better. It doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. In fact, I have both in my home, which does lead to some confusion on my part.
In this modern age of technology, staying online while traveling is a must for many people. A stable connection while traveling is essential as you might want to check emails, upload media, get directions, check-into hotels, or access sensitive information. Travel routers can help save you money and time while providing a secure and stable internet connection.
Travel routers can easily connect and manage electronic devices while using public Wi-Fi. They can be helpful in various situations: hotels, conference centers, airport lounges, and other places where connections are restricted to limited devices.
How Do Travel Routers Work?
When choosing the best travel router for yourself, it is essential to understand how these routers work. Knowing a travel router’s specifications, security options, bandwidths, etc., will help make that decision easy.
Travel routers work as private hotspots for the available internet connection and create a Wi-Fi network bubble. They provide an internet connection to all the electronic devices you want from a single connection. Good routers are compatible with the latest Wi-Fi standard and provide advanced security encryption. Essentially, a travel router is expected to do the following:
Extend the range of wireless networks which have poor signals
Detects and amplifies weak signals
Create a wireless network to secure the connection
Incorporate a firewall to protect from DDoS threats
When the time comes to buy a new travel router, you should give several important characteristics careful thought. According to Forbes, you’ll need to locate a router that satisfies your speed, frequency, and security requirements, which are the most critical factors to look out for in a travel router.
Speed And Frequency
When choosing a travel router, the speed and frequency of the network that it can support is a significant factor. Another factor is network frequency; a dual-band router transmits both a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz signal instead of a single-band router that only generates a 2.4 GHz signal. Double-band routers allow for a faster network, increased range, and more device connections overall.
Security and Protection
Security is a significant concern when using public connections. Travel routers can help eliminate this concern. We suggest choosing a travel router with minimum WPA2 encryption and VPN capabilities.
When choosing a travel router, many choices are available in the market, each offering a diverse range of functionality and benefits. Following are what I would consider being the best choices when it comes to travel routers. Although these routers are great for travel, I personally travel with my Firewalla Purple. It’s a fantastic travel companion for technology. It’s compact, easy to travel with, has built-in Wi-Fi (so I get that protection on the go), and I can still monitor all of my devices with parental controls.
Among travel routers, TP-Link’s AC750 (TL-WR902AC) is one of the fastest travel routers available in the market. It is portable and cost-effective and has a low price of only $39.99. Its small size makes it portable enough to carry around in your pocket.
It offers dual-band Wi-Fi performance and can be used as a bridge to link a wired device to a wireless network by utilizing its built-in Ethernet connector. It can also work as a range extender, a private Wi-Fi hotspot, or even a router to build a wireless network.
This product has a 4-star rating out of 5 on Amazon. More than 15.5K reviews are what generate this rating. Based on customer ratings by feature, ease of use (4.3), versatility (4.2), and easy to install (4.0) are the most important features customers love about the TP-Link AC750. Those ratings are slightly better than Anker’s with each feature rating respectively.
GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 (Mango) Portable Mini Travel VPN Router
The GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 is one of the more affordable travel routers. Though its functionality makes it a router more suited for beginners hoping to try out the technology, it still boasts many features that are a must in a travel router.
You get two 100 Mbps Ethernet ports for sharing a wired network, 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi support, and support for WPA2 and WPA3. Additionally, privacy is a big focus as it has VPN capabilities and built-in support for Cloudflare’s DNS over TLS.
Another fantastic feature is connecting a smartphone with tethering capabilities using the router’s USB 2 port.
Some of its features are:
Dual Ethernet ports
OpenVPN client pre-installed
Small and super light
Enhanced security protocols and data encryption
Speeds up to 300Mbps
GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 User Reviews
This product has a 4.2 rating out of 5 on Amazon. More than 8.9K reviews are what generate this rating. Based on customer ratings by feature, value for money (4.3), versatility (4.2), and user interface (4.1) are the most important features customers love about the GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2. That rating is slightly better than the TP-Link unit.
The GL-MT1300 from GL.iNet is a great travel router for veterans that know how to utilize a travel router’s features to their maximum. It provides up to 867Mbps on the 5 GHz channel and 400Mbps on the 2.4Ghz channel. It has capabilities like WPA3, making it an excellent router for traveling and at-home usage.