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TV Buying Guide

TV buying guide

This TV buying guide is your decoder ring for all things TV. From simple buying advice to the technical details that matter, this guide walks you through everything you need to know when shopping for a new TV, from the differences between 8K and 4K resolution, the basics of smart TV features, why you want and HDR, and the differences between LED and OLED.

Today, there’s a ridiculously wide array of high-definition (HD), 4K Ultra HD and even 8K TVs in stores, from bargain big screens to the high-end displays that distinguish the best TVs available. The technologies and features are amazing, but it can be hard to keep up with it all, let alone determine what’s important. We’re here with our TV buying guide to help you decide.

TV buying guide quick tips

If you’re in a hurry, here are the most important things to consider before you buy a television. We explain each of these points in greater detail in our TV buying guide below:

  • Don’t buy a TV with less than 4K resolution. Avoid full HD or 1080p sets.
  • You can skip 8K TVs (for now). 8K TVs are super expensive, and 8K movies and shows aren’t available yet.
  • Expect to pay about $500 for a good 55-inch 4K TV. And at least $900 for a 65-inch model.
  • Look for 60 Hz or 120 Hz refresh rate: When it comes to refresh rates, 60 Hz is good, but 120 Hz is better. A higher refresh rate provides smoother motion for everything from movies and shows to live sports and gaming.
  • Look for an HDR-compatible set: This offers more realistic colors and better contrast.
  • OLED TVs look much better than most LCD sets: But QLED TVs from Samsung, Vizio and TCL are an affordable middle ground.
  • Look for at least four HDMI ports. And opt for the newer HDMI 2.1 format if you can.
  • Plan to buy a soundbar. TV speakers are worse nowadays because the screens are thinner.
  • Avoid extended warranties. Your credit card company may already provide purchase protection

Screen size: Finding the sweet spot

Whether you’re looking for a basic or high-performance TV, the biggest factor in your decision will probably be screen size. Consider how many people in your family typically watch at once and where you’re going to put your new set. Then pick the largest screen size that will fit comfortably into that space — and your budget. The sweet spot today, considering price, performance and the typical living room, is between 55 and 65 inches.

Screen size also depends on how close you sit to the TV. Basically, if you can see the individual pixels of the screen, you’re too close. A good rule of thumb is that you should sit at a distance from the TV that is three times more than the height of the screen for HD and just 1.5 times the screen height for 4K Ultra HD. In other words, you can sit twice as close to a 4K UHD TV.

No TV buying guide, no matter how detailed, can replace your own experience and judgement. If you have the opportunity, go to a store (and maybe bring your family) and look at the TVs. Even though 4K content is less common than 1080p, you may want that higher-resolution technology if you plan to sit close to a very large screen.

But you should also consider where the TV will be going in your home. While the above advice is intended for living rooms and home theaters, you’ll want to consider what size is appropriate for other parts of the house, like the bedroom or the kitchen, where a smaller TV may be a necessity. (And if you want something for outdoors, you’ll also need a TV built to go outside. Check out the SunBriteTV Veranda Outdoor TV review, or the new Samsung Terrace outdoor TV for some outdoor alternatives.)

Bottom Line: Choose a screen size and resolution appropriate for the distance you will sit from the screen. We’d start at 55 inches, unless you’re in a small apartment or dorm.

Screen resolution: 8K, 4K or HD?

Resolution describes the number of pixels that make up the picture on a display, described in terms of horizontal rows and vertical columns. More pixels translate into sharper picture and finer details, so higher resolution is (almost always) better.

No TV buying guide would be complete without a discussion of resolution. For many years, the 1920 x 1080 resolution, also called full HD, has been the standard, and is still the most common resolution in TVs across globe. However, TV manufacturers are rapidly shifting to Ultra HD sets (also called 4K). These 4K models have four times the number of pixels as current HDTV screens. We’re talking 2,160 horizontal lines, or 3840 x 2160 pixels.

The biggest benefit of 4K TVs is that small objects on the screen have more detail, including sharper text. Overall, images appear richer and more life-like than on an HDTV, but the benefits can be subtle. The sharper picture also has the added benefit of letting you comfortably view the screen from a shorter distance, making larger TVs more comfortable to view in a regular-sized home.

Ultra HD video looks great, and it’s getting easier to find. Several streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Video and even YouTube have started offering 4K content, making smart TVs and streaming sticks your best bet for easily finding 4K movies and shows. While ultra HD Blu-ray discs are becoming more common, they’re still less common than standard 1080p. Live TV hasn’t fully embraced 4K yet, but DirectTV, Dish Network and Comcast Xfinity have all started offering 4K movies. Although Ultra HD sets can upscale existing HD content, the results can be mixed and do not look as sharp as original 4K programming.

You might start getting 4K TV over the air in 2020. The new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard (also called NextGen TV) will be rolling out to several cities across the United States in the next 12 months, bringing the potential for better signal, better picture, and smarter features with Internet connectivity.

The first affordable 8K TVs hit the market this year, with more slated for this fall. These displays quadruple the resolution seen on 4K sets, offering a giant leap forward in picture quality, but finding content to full take advantage of that higher resolution is extremely limited. While we currently recommend sticking to 4K, the first 8K-ready game consoles will be out in late 2020, bring the first real source of 8K content just in time for the holidays.

Bottom Line: Ultra HD resolution, also called 4K, is increasingly becoming the standard, and it’s a better choice if you want to future-proof your investment. You can already buy higher resolution 8K TVs, but we suggest holding off.

HDR: Get it if you want the most colors

HDR is a new feature of 4K Ultra HD sets and it stands for high dynamic range, a reference to its ability to deliver more colors, more contrast levels and increased brightness. HDR is essentially an upgrade of the 4K, or Ultra HD, format (it is not applicable to 1080p HD sets). For this new feature, TV makers are christening new monikers for the sets to distinguish them from standard 4K Ultra HD TVs.

The basic standard for high-dynamic range content is called HDR10, as set forth by the UHD Alliance, an industry trade group. Dozens of companies are supporting this basic minimum specification for HDR compatibility, so you will see “HDR10” or “Ultra HD Premium” on a growing number of sets this year.

Dolby Vision is a more demanding version of HDR, created and licensed by the folks that brought us Dolby noise reduction and surround sound. In theory, a Dolby Vision set has to meet a stricter set of criteria to display HDR content, and our testing seems to bear this out. So far, Dolby Vision has led the industry in terms of proprietary HDR formats.

There continues to be some HDR confusion. Every HDR-enabled set on the market is currently HDR10-compatible, but Dolby Vision is only found on sets that both meet Dolby’s technical standards and pay licensing fees for the standard. Nonetheless, Dolby Vision has quickly become the industry standard for HDR content, and can be found on premium models from most brands (including LG, Sony, TCL and Vizio). 

Samsung has introduced it’s own premium HDR format, called HDR10+, for all of its smart TVs. (Yes, Samsung’s naming makes things very confusing.) While the HDR10+ format offers a great viewing experience, it’s far less common than Dolby Vision, with HDR10+ content offered on Amazon Prime Video and a handful of UHD Blu-rays. Even more troublesome, many UHD Blu-ray players don’t support HDR10+ at all, so your options are even more limited if you want to go all in on Samsung’s proprietary HDR format. You’ll still be able to enjoy the more basic HDR10 format through any HDR-capable player or TV, but HDR10+

Both Technicolor and IMAX have also brought their own proprietary standards to the market, called Technicolor Advanced HDR and IMAX Enhanced, respectively. It’s still far too soon to know if either of these newer formats will have much impact on the market.

There’s not much HDR programming available, but it’s starting to look a bit better. There are a few dozen movies in the new 4K Blu-ray disc format,  with a growing number of HDR shows available via streaming services, like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Some new 4K Blu-ray players also promise to be upgradable to handle the new HDR discs, but check before you buy. Finally, cable and satellite have their own form of HDR, called Hybrid-Log Gamma (HLG), so you should start seeing HDR pop up now and then for movies and even live TV.

Bottom Line: Don’t choose a set just for its HDR support because the standard has not yet been settled. However, if you want the best, buy an HDR set that is compatible with Dolby Vision, as that format seems to be gaining momentum.

Refresh rate: Faster is better

The refresh rate, expressed in Hertz (Hz) describes how many times per second a picture is refreshed on the screen. The standard refresh rate is 60 times per second, or 60 Hz. However, in scenes with rapidly moving objects, a 60 Hz refresh rate can make things look blurry or jittery, particularly on LCD HDTVs. So, to create a more solid picture, manufacturers doubled the refresh rate to 120 Hz (and in some cases up to 240 Hz).

Since there aren’t that many per-second images in original video content, TVs handle the faster refresh rates in different ways. One method is to simply insert black images between the original pictures, tricking the viewer’s eyes into seeing a less blurry, more solid picture. Another technique is to generate and insert new images — showing a state of movement in between the two adjacent pictures — to display more realistic-looking motion. However, depending on how the video-processing is done, it can make a movie or sitcom look flat, or as if it were a poorly lit, old-time soap opera.

Some new models are boasting High-Frame Rate (HFR) support, which means that they have both a higher refresh rate and added support for content with higher than 60 Hz frame rates. With HFR content set to come from both movies and live broadcats, and HFR will be especially good for live sports, so it’s definitely a feature to watch out for.

Gamers will be especially keen to get higher refresh rates, but if you’re using a gaming console, 60 Hz is the sweet spot. Most gaming consoles top out at 60 frames per second, and even the best 4K gaming TVs offer the best performance well below the 120 Hz we suggest for other content.

A word of caution: beware of terms like “effective refresh rate,” which means the actual frame rate is half the stated rate (e.g., a “120 Hz effective refresh rate” is actually a 60 Hz refresh rate).

Bottom line: Gamers will get a lot from a 60Hz TV, but most TV shoppers shouldn’t buy a TV with less than a 120 Hz refresh rate.

HDMI and connections: Go for more

It may seem like an afterthought, but pay attention to the number of HDMI inputs a set has. Manufacturers looking to shave costs may offer fewer HDMI plugs on the back. These ports can get used up quickly: Add a sound bar, a Roku or Chromecast and a game console, and you’ve used three ports already.

If you have decided to take the plunge and get a 4K Ultra HD, make sure the set’s ports support HDMI 2.0 to accommodate future Ultra HD sources. Many TVs on the market have only one port that supports the 4K copy-protection scheme known as HDCP 2.2 (high-bandwidth digital content protection).

The newer HDMI 2.1 format has started cropping up on TVs in recent months, and while the biggest benefits of the new standard will be seen in delivering 8K content, there are still plenty of goodies coming to 4K sets. The biggest improvement is variable refresh rate (VRR) support, which introduces the same sort of frame rate matching seen in Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync technologies. By matching the TV refresh rate to the frame rates of you content source – in this case the graphics card inside your game console or PC – you’ll get smoother action and zero screen tearing. It also adds higher frame rates for 4K video and richer HDR data that will allow adjustments at the scene level for more-precise backlighting control. 

As of now, we’ve seen HDMI 2.1 capability popping up on a few models, like the one in our LG CX OLED review, which uses the faster standard for all four of its HDMI ports. And HDMI 2.1 is appearing on more TVs this year, with models from LG, Samsung, Sony, TCL, Vizio, Philips and Hisense. Keep an eye on this TV buying guide to understand how HDMI 2.1 can benefit you and whether it’s worth holding out for in the coming year.

Bottom Line: Look for at least four HDMI ports; and opt for the newer HDMI 2.1 format if you can.

TV types and jargon explained: LCD, LED LCD, OLED

Aside from projection sets, there are basically only two types of TVs on the market: LCD and OLED. Unless you have a lot of disposable income, you’ll probably be buying an LCD TV.

LED and LCD Sets

The lion’s share of televisions today are LED LCD. These HD and Ultra HD sets use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the LCD screen and can be extremely thin. Many of these TVs can dynamically light up specific portions of the screen and dim other parts to better represent a mix of light and dark areas in a scene — a feature known as active dimming or local dimming. No-frills LED LCD sets can be had for as little as $200 for a 32-inch screen, while a top-of-the-line 90-inch model can go for $8,000.

Most LCD sets use LEDs on the edge of the screen. The better of these models support active dimming, but it takes some digital sorcery to do this by merely manipulating lights along the edge.

Full-array LED sets have light-emitting diodes directly behind the screen, in a grid of “zones” that can be lit up or darkened individually. Such an arrangement makes the backlight more precise and allows a more-detailed picture regarding contrast. Full-array backlighting was once reserved for top-tier models, but with more Ultra HD sets appearing at lower prices, this feature is becoming more common on modestly priced sets.

Another LCD technology, called quantum dots, is becoming more common, spurred on by the requirements of HDR to produce a wider array of colors and more brightness. An LCD that uses quantum dots basically has another layer, or added “rail,” of different size nanocrystal dots that light up when the LED backlight hits them. The result is a wider color spectrum and increased brightness.

Be aware that some brands offer confusing labels. The biggest offender is the name “QLED”, featured prominently on Samsung’s premium sets and other manufacturers are jumping on the QLED bandwagon. These are quantum-dot LCD TVs with LED backlighting — not to be mistaken for OLED. And while quantum dot displays still can’t match the true black levels of OLED, the gap is narrowing as manufacturers work to improve the technology. For an affordable middle ground between basic LCD and pricey OLED displays, quantum-dot enhancement is a smart way to go.

Pros: Wide array of prices, sizes and features; Some affordable Ultra HD 4K models; Bright screens visible even in a sunny room; Image quality steadily improving with full-array backlighting and quantum-dot technology.

Cons: Exhibits imperfections when displaying rapid motion, as in sports; Loses some shadow detail because pixels can’t go completely black (even with full-array backlighting); Images fade when viewing from the side (off-axis).

OLED TVs

OLED TVs go one better than full-array LED-LCDs with a few dozen lighting zones. In place of a backlight, OLEDs use a layer of organic LEDs, controlled at the pixel level, to achieve absolute black and stunning levels of contrast. (Footage of fireworks against a black sky is a favorite demonstration of OLED technology.)

LG isn’t the only company actively pursuing OLED technology in large screen sizes, however. Sony has been offering OLED models for several years, and we expect to see new OLED offerings from both Vizio and Philips later this year.

The best-in-class display technology is seen exclusively on 4K sets (and higher, with the introduction of LG’s Z9 8K OLED), and range in size from 55 inches on up to 75 inches or larger. But OLED has also gotten much more affordable, with 55-inch models selling for less than $2,000, and 65-inch models selling in the $2,000-3,000 range. (Sony is notorious for its premium pricing, and it’s selling the new Sony Bravia A8H OLED TV in 55- and 65-inch sizes for $2,299 and $3,099, respectively.)

We might even see the first sub-$1,000 OLED displays later this year as new companies compete and smaller OLED panels come to market.

Pros: Best TV picture, bar none; Colors truly pop, deeper blacks and better contrast and shadow detail than LCD TVs achieve; Retains image quality when viewed from the side.

Cons: Premium prices; lower peak brightness than some LCD sets, uncertainty about how screens will fare over time, including whether they will retain “ghost” images (also known as burn-in) from displaying a static picture for too long.

8K resolution: Hold off

If you thought the jump to 4K resolution was amazing, you’ll be floored by 8K, which ratchets up the detail even further with 7680 x 4320 pixels. It’s amazing to see, and it’s the next big thing in consumer TVs. But any worthwhile TV buying guide should be telling that it’s not worth spending your money on just yet.

TV manufacturers are betting big on 8K displays, and there’s no doubt that it’s the next big thing in TVs. But all that eye-popping detail is still missing an essential element: Content. There are no 8K movies available for purchase, and streaming in 4K is already more taxing than many people’s internet connection can handle.

So far, companies are hoping that fancy AI-powered upscaling will make everything look good enough to justify prices that far outstrip the cost of premium 4K sets. The 8K models on the market are more expensive than the 4K competition, but it’s getting better. While early models boasted enormous screens and equally outsized prices (the LG Z9 8K OLED has an 88-inch screen and sells for $29,999), smaller, more affordable 8K sets have emerged, like the 65-inch Samsung Q900TS, which is currently $4,499 – not much more than some of the top 4K smart TVs.

Bottom Line: You can leave the pricey 8K TVs to the early adopters. Until content is available, you’ll just wind up paying a lot of money for upscaled 4K video.

Smart TVs: Most already are

An increasing number of sets come with built-in Wi-Fi for connecting Internet-based services like Netflix for streaming videos or to run apps for watching special-interest programs, downloading on-demand movies, playing games or even posting to Facebook. The latest models can even search for content across streaming services and live programming on cable and satellite.

The interfaces are generally getting better. Vizio, LG and now Samsung use a handy bar of icons at the bottom of the screen. Roku offers its famously intuitive interface in budget TVs from Hisense, TCL and other inexpensive brands. Google provides its Android TV platform to companies such as Sony and Westinghouse, and Amazon has jumped into the mix with Amazon Fire Edition TVs from Toshiba and Insignia (Best Buy’s brand). While most smart TVs include the major services, such as Pandora, Hulu and Netflix, check to make sure the TV you buy has the options you want.

Streaming apps available on smart TVs are also one of the best ways to find and enjoy 4K and HDR content. With movies and shows offered by services from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube, it’s quick and easy to find both 4K resolution and HDR-enabled content – easier than finding Blu-rays with the desired formats. The only concern is whether your internet connection can provide enough bandwidth.

But not all smart TVs are created equal. Many budget-friendly brands will offer smart TV functionality without naming the actual platform that they use. In these cases, expect to run into limitations. Off-brand smart platforms frequently suffer from severely limited app selection, sub-par performance and gaping security holes.

In the past, you could have bought a less expensive “dumb” TV and made it smart with a streaming device like the $50 Roku Streaming Stick. But nowadays, it’s hard to get a TV that isn’t smart, even if you’re going for a small bargain model. Find out more about the functions and features in our guide to smart TVs.

Bottom line: Smart capability is now a standard feature in TVs, so it’s less and less of a factor in your buying decision.

Don’t forget gaming: Features matter

While movies and shows may get top billing for most TV shoppers, gaming has become a bigger focus for TV manufacturers in recent years. A good gaming TV won’t just have a great picture and sound. You also need to consider the connectivity options, gaming features and overall responsiveness of the TV.

While we already recommend holding out for more HDMI ports, an extra HDMI port can mean the difference between leaving your console connected and swapping it out for your Blu-ray player every time you want to fire up a round of Call of Duty.

While HDMI 2.1 is still relatively new, it’s a must have for any of the next-gen consoles. And certain features offered by the 2.1 spec have become much more common, like Auto-Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which switches to game mode as soon as the console is turned on, and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which matches the screen to the frame-by-frame output coming from the TV, synchronizing the two for judder-free gaming.

Contrast ratio: Unreliable numbers

The contrast ratio describes the range of brightness levels a set can display. Better contrast ratios display more subtle shadows and hues, and thus better detail. However, the way manufacturers measure such ratios varies widely. Indeed, the specification has been so thoroughly discredited that if a salesperson uses it as a selling point, you should shop somewhere else.

We use the same method for examining contrast ratios in all the TVs we test, so we can say roughly how well they compare to each other. Nevertheless, it’s still best to see for yourself how a TV displays shadow detail by finding a movie with dark scenes and seeing how well it reveals detail in the shadows of, say, a Harry Potter movie. Experiment with the TV’s brightness, sharpness and other picture settings before making a final judgment. (Hint: select “movie” or “cinema” mode on the TV.)

The best TVs will have deep, dark black levels while less expensive displays glow with a dark gray, even when they should be showing black. These grays are called “elevated black levels” and are a common problem on less premium LCD TVs.

Bottom line: You can ignore manufacturers’ contrast-ratio specs, since they are not comparable across brands. Instead, look for deep black levels and minimal haloing around high contrast objects.

Audio: Get a soundbar

Even the finest, most expensive HDTVs have an Achilles’ heel: poor sound. It’s a consequence of the svelte design of flat panels — there’s not enough room for large speakers that produce full, rich sound. So, you have three choices: Use headphones (which can make you seem antisocial), buy a surround-sound system (which can be a hassle to set up and produces clutter), or get a soundbar.

Soundbars are popular because, for $300 or less, they can significantly improve the cinematic experience and yet be installed in minutes. The best soundbars are thin enough to fit under a TV stand without blocking the bottom of the picture. Most can also mount under a wall-hanging TV. Several companies also offer sound boxes or stands that can slide under a set.

Some TVs and soundbars also support Dolby Atmos, a newer audio standard from Dolby that includes overhead sound for a fuller listening experience. While you can get the Atmos effect using in-ceiling speakers, many soundbars have Atmos audio processing and upward firing speakers built-in to create more realistic sounding audio that doesn’t require the multiple speaker placement that you’d have with 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound.

And don’t stress about additional cable clutter. Nearly all current TVs feature at least one HDMI port with Audio Return Channel (ARC) capability. This standard HDMI feature provides lets you use HDMI as both an input and an audio output, letting you not only send audio to the TV from your external media devices, but also out to your soundbar. That ARC connection means that you get great sound for all your devices, with no special receiver needed.

Extended warranties: Save your money

One of the biggest revenue generators for big-box electronics stores is the extended warranty. Why? Because they are so rarely needed, especially for a flat-panel LCD set. Most of the components in an HDTV are remarkably resilient; even the LEDs used to light the picture are virtually shockproof.

So, if you do get a lemon, it’s likely to be apparent immediately or at least within the first 30 days of ownership — a time period usually covered by a regular store-return policy. Beyond that, most manufacturers offer a one-year warranty. Credit card companies may offer additional automatic coverage on purchases, so check with your provider.

Bottom Line: Save your money and contact your credit card company to see if it has a price protection policy.

Pay the right price: Bargains are out there

While you’ll always get the latest features and best capabilities by paying full price, a lot of shoppers are holding off because they think current TVs are too expensive. The reality is that TVs have not only never been better, they’ve also never been this affordable. While premium models can easily run upwards of $2,000, there are plenty of great TVs – complete with all of the 4K resolution, HDR support and smart features we recommend – for much less.

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Toilet Cleaning Guide

The toilet is one of the most-used seats in your home, which means it requires a certain level of attention when it comes to cleaning. But it doesn’t take tons of time or loads of elbow grease to get that porcelain throne sparkling clean. Here, find our no-fail, no-germ-left-behind guide to getting the job done.

Gather Your Supplies

Trust us, you don’t want to stop mid-task to search for a pumice stone. Instead, have all of your tools within arm’s reach, perhaps organized in a handy bucket.

  • Disinfecting spray and wipes, such as Seventh Generation Lemongrass Citrus Disinfecting Wipes
  • Paper towels
  • A sturdy pair of cleaning gloves (Melissa Maker, author of Clean My Space, is a fan of the cuffed kind that guarantee unwanted runoff won’t touch your wrists)
  • A toilet bowl cleaner, either one that you’ve DIYed or a store-bought option that contains hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach, such as Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner ($3.19, amazon.com) or Greenworks Toilet Bowl Cleaner ($8.97, amazon.com)
  • Tiff-bristle toilet brush
  • Pumice stone on a stick ($9.13, amazon.com)

Make the Outside Sparkle

When cleaning the commode, most people tend to focus on the bowl’s interior—but every inch deserves attention, says Donna Smallin Kuper, certified house cleaning technician and author at Unclutter.com. Grab that disinfecting spray and liberally spritz the entire exterior of the toilet, including harder to reach areas like the back of the base and the underside of the seat. Also spray the walls behind and beside the toilet. A University of Arizona microbiologist found that with each flush, bathroom particles can launch into the air before settling onto nearby surfaces. That makes the floor and walls around the toilet prime spots for microscopic splatter. After spraying, let the cleaner sit for at least five minutes. “So many people spray and then immediately wipe away, but you have to give the cleaners time to do their thing,” says Maker. While you’re waiting, move on to the toilet’s interior.

Cleaning the Bowl

“A lot of super-strong toilet cleaners are so harsh because they then get diluted when you put them into a toilet bowl full of water,” says Leslie Reichert, green-cleaning coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning. She recommends draining the water out of the toilet before applying the cleaning solution. “If you get the water out of toilet, you can use a milder cleaner with the same squeaky-clean results,” she adds. Plus, you get a better clean with less work. It’s easier than it sounds: Simply turn the water valve at the base of the toilet off, flush once, and you’re good to go.

Reichert mixes her own big batches of toilet bowl cleaner using one cup table salt, one cup baking soda, and one cup oxygen bleach—we like OxiClean ($12.98, amazon.com). When it’s time to tidy the bathroom, she grabs her container and sprinkles the toilet bowl liberally. “The baking soda removes any gunky build-up, the salt is a natural abrasive for scrubbing, and the oxygen bleach cleans and disinfects,” she says. Smallin Kuper prefers to pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of distilled white vinegar directly into the toilet bowl, for similar sanitized-and-sparkling results. If you’d rather a store-bought solution, look for brands that rely on hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach, rather than chlorine bleach, which can be a lung irritant. But if you rather stick with chlorine bleach, make sure to prop open a window and wear gloves when using.

Whichever toilet bowl cleaner you prefer, use generously and remember to apply some under the bowl’s rim. Then, while you’re waiting five to ten minutes for those suds to fully work, turn your attention back to the toilet’s exterior.

Wipe It Down

“I’m not usually a fan of disposable products but wiping down the toilet is one task where durable paper towels are ideal,” says Maker. And while you might be tempted to use a wet cloth, when it comes to a disinfectant spray, water isn’t necessary. Using a paper towel, wipe the disinfectant off the toilet’s exterior, working from the top to the bottom. Toss those paper towels straight in the trash rather than letting them pile up nearby.

Scrub Out Stains

For those difficult toilet bowl stains, grab a stiff-bristled toilet brush to scrub the bowl’s interior and under the rim. If you notice a rust-colored ring inside the bowl, the culprit is likely minerals in your water system. Cleaning experts agree the surefire way to attack such stains is with a pumice stone. Choose a stone on a stick, so your hands don’t have to get too close to the toilet bowl. A few swipes with the pumice stone should do the trick. Don’t worry, as the pumice is a softer stone, it won’t scratch the porcelain surface. Turn the toilet’s water back on, then flush to rinse the bowl.

Sanitation Is Key

As a last step, clean your supplies. Prop the wet toilet brush under the seat cover and pour bleach or cleaning solution over its business end, into the toilet bowl. Let sit for a minute, then rinse with a pitcher of water. Clean the brush’s canister by filling it with warm, soapy water; you can dump it right in the toilet, too. Resist the urge to stick the damp brush back in the canister and be done with it, suggests Maker. Instead, you want to let the brush air out completely before putting it away, to ensure you’re not encouraging bacteria growth.

Once the toilet’s clean, you’ll probably want to peel off your gloves right away. But before you do, head for the sink and give your gloved hands a good scrubbing with soap and hot water. “It’s the best way to make sure you don’t get your hands dirty and get every inch of the gloves clean,” says Maker. Hang or prop them up to fully dry before putting them away, and your next use.

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Linux OS Guide

Linux is an open-source operating system like other operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, iOS, Google android, etc. An operating system is a software that enables the communication between computer hardware and software. It conveys input to get processed by the processor and brings output to the hardware to display it. This is the basic function of an operating system. Although it performs many other important tasks, let’s not talk about that.

Linux is around us since the mid-90s. It can be used from wristwatches to supercomputers. It is everywhere in our phones, laptops, PCs, cars and even in refrigerators. It is very much famous among developers and normal computer users.

Evolution of Linux OS

The Linux OS was developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991, which sprouted as an idea to improve the UNIX OS. He suggested improvements but was rejected by UNIX designers. Therefore, he thought of launching an OS, designed in a way that could be modified by its users.

Nowadays, Linux is the fastest-growing OS. It is used from phones to supercomputers by almost all major hardware devices.

Structure Of Linux Operating System

An operating system is a collection of software, each designed for a specific function.

Linux OS has following components:

What is Linux

1) Kernel

Linux kernel is the core part of the operating system. It establishes communication between devices and software. Moreover, it manages system resources. It has four responsibilities:

What is Linux
  • device management: A system has many devices connected to it like CPU, a memory device, sound cards, graphic cards, etc. A kernel stores all the data related to all the devices in the device driver (without this kernel won’t be able to control the devices). Thus kernel knows what a device can do and how to manipulate it to bring out the best performance. It also manages communication between all the devices. The kernel has certain rules that have to be followed by all the devices.
  • Memory management: Another function that kernel has to manage is the memory management. The kernel keeps track of used and unused memory and makes sure that processes shouldn’t manipulate data of each other using virtual memory addresses.
  • Process management: In the process, management kernel assigns enough time and gives priorities to processes before handling CPU to other processes. It also deals with security and ownership information.
  • Handling system calls: Handling system calls means a programmer can write a query or ask the kernel to perform a task.

2) System Libraries

System libraries are special programs that help in accessing the kernel’s features. A kernel has to be triggered to perform a task, and this triggering is done by the applications. But applications must know how to place a system call because each kernel has a different set of system calls. Programmers have developed a standard library of procedures to communicate with the kernel. Each operating system supports these standards, and then these are transferred to system calls for that operating system.

The most well-known system library for Linux is Glibc (GNU C library).

3) System Tools

Linux OS has a set of utility tools, which are usually simple commands. It is a software which GNU project has written and publish under their open source license so that software is freely available to everyone.

With the help of commands, you can access your files, edit and manipulate data in your directories or files, change the location of files, or anything.

4) Development Tools

With the above three components, your OS is running and working. But to update your system, you have additional tools and libraries. These additional tools and libraries are written by the programmers and are called toolchain. A toolchain is a vital development tool used by the developers to produce a working application.

5) End User Tools

These end tools make a system unique for a user. End tools are not required for the operating system but are necessary for a user.

Some examples of end tools are graphic design tools, office suites, browsers, multimedia players, etc.

Why use Linux?

This is one of the most asked questions about Linux systems. Why do we use a different and bit complex operating system, if we have a simple operating system like Windows? So there are various features of Linux systems that make it completely different and one of the most used operating systems. Linux may be a perfect operating system if you want to get rid of viruses, malware, slowdowns, crashes, costly repairs, and many more. Further, it provides various advantages over other operating systems, and we don’t have to pay for it. Let’s have a look at some of its special features that will attract you to switch your operating system.

What is Linux

Free & Open Source Operating System

Most OS come in a compiled format means the main source code has run through a program called a compiler that translates the source code into a language that is known to the computer.

Modifying this compiled code is a tough job.

On the other hand, open-source is completely different. The source code is included with the compiled version and allows modification by anyone having some knowledge. It gives us the freedom to run the program, freedom to change the code according to our use, freedom to redistribute its copies, and freedom to distribute copies, which are modified by us.

In short, Linux is an operating system that is “for the people, by the people.”

And we can dive in Linux without paying any cost. We can install it on Multiple machines without paying any cost.

It is secure

Linux supports various security options that will save you from viruses, malware, slowdowns, crashes. Further, it will keep your data protected. Its security feature is the main reason that it is the most favorable option for developers. It is not completely safe, but it is less vulnerable than others. Each application needs to authorize by the admin user. The virus cannot be executed until the administrator provides the access password. Linux systems do not require any antivirus program.

Favorable choice of Developers

Linux is suitable for the developers, as it supports almost all of the most used programming languages such as C/C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and more. Further, it facilitates with a vast range of useful applications for development.

Developers find that the Linux terminal is much better than the Windows command line, So, they prefer terminal over the Windows command line. The package manager on Linux system helps programmers to understand how things are done. Bash scripting is also a functional feature for the programmers. Also, the SSH support helps to manage the servers quickly.

A flexible operating system

Linux is a flexible OS, as, it can be used for desktop applications, embedded systems, and server applications. It can be used from wristwatches to supercomputers. It is everywhere in our phones, laptops, PCs, cars and even in refrigerators. Further, it supports various customization options.

Linux Distributions

Many agencies modified the Linux operating system and makes their Linux distributions. There are many Linux distributions available in the market. It provides a different flavor of the Linux operating system to the users. We can choose any distribution according to our needs. Some popular distros are Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Linux Mint, Arch Linux, and many more.

For the beginners, Ubuntu and Linux Mint are considered useful and, for the proficient developer, Debian and Fedora would be a good choice. To Get a list of distributions, visit Linux Distributions.

How does Linux work?

Linux is a UNIX-like operating system, but it supports a range of hardware devices from phones to supercomputers. Every Linux-based operating system has the Linux kernel and set of software packages to manage hardware resources.

Also, Linux OS includes some core GNU tools to provide a way to manage the kernel resources, install software, configure the security setting and performance, and many more. All these tools are packaged together to make a functional operating system.

How to use Linux?

We can use Linux through an interactive user interface as well as from the terminal (Command Line Interface). Different distributions have a slightly different user interface but almost all the commands will have the same behavior for all the distributions. To run Linux from the terminal, press the “CTRL+ALT+T” keys. And, to explore its functionality, press the application button given on the left down corner of your desktop.

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Android Guide

Android has evolved over the years and quickly become the dominant mobile platform across the globe. Android holds over 74% of the global mobile OS marketshare as of August 2020, according to StatCounter.

While most of us know exactly what Android is and how to use it, there are still a number of folks that are new to Google’s mobile OS, finally ditching that old-school mobile phone or making the move from an iPhone or another Android rival. Are you among those who are newer to Android? This article is just for you.

Android isn’t a phone or an application, but an operating system based on the Linux kernel. No clue what that is? In its most simple definition, Linux is an operating system most commonly found on servers and desktop computers. Android isn’t just a version of Linux, due to the many changes found under the hood, but it’s related.

Android is an operating system designed with mobile in mind, the place where your phone’s functions and applications live. Everything you see on the display of your device is a part of the operating system. When you get a call, text message, or email, the OS processes that information and puts it in a readable format.

Android 10 Q

The Android OS is divided into various version numbers, implying significant jumps in features, operation, and stability, which usually have codenames. So, if you hear someone say Android Marshmallow, Nougat, Oreo, Pie, or the latest Android 11, that is just the name of the version of Android you might have on your device. Modern smartphones and tablets released this year mostly run Android 9 Pie or Android 10, but the Android 11 update will start rolling out soon.

Android device manufacturers, such as Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony, OnePlus, and numerous others, usually have a skin on top of the OS. A skin, or UI overlay, is basically a custom design that adds extra features to your phone, different icons, and other tweaks designed to provide an experience unique to your chosen phone maker. The most popular skins include Samsung’s One UI and OnePlus’ OxygenOS. A phone without any major customizations is generally referred to as “stock Android”, and UIs with only minor changes (such as found with Motorola phones) are often called near-stock.


Getting started with Android

Android 11 logo stock photo on smartphone 15

Before we begin, it’s important to note that the steps described in this post are done using a device running stock Android without a UI overlay. In other words, there may be a few differences between your device and what is shown below, but the options and settings are similar and should be easy to follow along.

Starting at the beginning, there are a few steps you’ll need to do to set up your Android device. When you switch on the device for the first time, you’ll be greeted with a Welcome screen, where you will have to select a language. Scroll up or down to make your selection, and then go to the next step by tapping the arrow/play button.

If you haven’t put one in yet, the next screen will ask you to insert a SIM card. Don’t worry if you don’t have one around, you can skip this step and continue with the setup, and add a SIM card to the device later.

Up next, you will be given the option to select a Wi-Fi network. If you’re in the range of a Wi-Fi network, we recommend connecting to it, as the setup wizard may sync your Google information on the device. This takes some time, and more importantly, requires data. Once again, you can skip this step as well if you’re not around a Wi-Fi network and sync your device later. If you can connect to one, do so by tapping on the name that shows up on the list of available networks and then enter the password.

On the next screen, you’ll be asked whether you have an existing Google account. If you’re unsure, remember that if you use Gmail, the answer is yes. If you don’t have one, we recommend signing up. Having a Google account will make your Android experience a lot easier. Having a Google account set up on your smartphone or tablet will give you easy access to all Google apps including Gmail, the Play Store, Calendar, and more, without needing to sign in each and every time. You can sign up for a Google account on your PC or from the phone directly.

Gmail logo on Android smartphone stock photo 1

If you have a Google account ready, tap on “Yes,” after which you’ll be prompted to enter your email address and password. On a side note, if you need to enter numbers, you can get to the numbers on the keyboard by pressing the “?123” button, which will take you to the number layout. To return to the previous layout, press the “abc” button, which will be in the same location.

Next, you’ll be able to set up some key Google services, which by default, are all selected. First is “Backup and Restore,” which will let you back up all your information including downloads and contacts, which will then allow you to easily restore this information on a secondary, or future Android device, easily. All the information backed up is associated with the Google account you entered in the previous step.

Google Maps - best location sharing apps for android

The second and third options are with regards to your location. It’s entirely up to you about what options you’d like to select. Location services may be important, since some apps may require this information to work accurately, such as yellow pages, and Google Maps. These options can be accessed in the Settings menu at a later time if you change your mind. Finally, you will be asked whether you would like to receive emails about news and offers from Google Play. Now you can add a device name, and personalize it. If you’ve added a Google account, your first and last name should already be stored.

And we’re done!


The home screen

Pixel 4 XL screen in hand 2

Once you’ve completed the simple steps to set up your device, you will arrive at the home screen. Once again, the actual look of the home screen (its icons, design elements, etc) may differ significantly depending on what device you have. Most home screen experiences will have the same basic elements, however, including an app drawer, notification shade, and a dock with a few key apps such as the dialer, messaging, etc. Keep in mind that some Chinese OEMs do remove the app drawer from the equation, however. This means that all the apps you have installed on a phone are placed on the home screens, just like on iPhones.

Huawei P40 Pro Notification shade

At the top of the screen is the notification bar, which includes icons for any pending notifications you may have, such as missed calls, messages, emails, Facebook alerts, and even game alerts. You can access the notifications by swiping down from the top. Once the notification center is open, you can swipe the notification away, or press the notification to open the corresponding app.

In this notification bar, you can also access some quick toggles for select settings such as alarm modes, enable/disable Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/Airplane mode, and more. At the bottom of the screen, you will see the aforementioned dock, which includes several icons. These icons will be available on every home screen window. You can choose which apps to include in the dock, and should ideally be those that you use frequently.

Realme X50 Pro 5G navigation buttons

Depending on your device and the Android version it’s running, below the dock you might have a navigation bar made up of a “back” button (takes you back to the previous screen), a “home” button (takes you to the home screen), and a “last accessed apps” button (shows the apps that you have opened recently). Older handsets have physical buttons below the screen instead of the on-screen navigation bar, which usually have the same functionality.

On the latest Android phone, the navigation bar has been replaced with gestures that take some getting used to, but provide a faster experience and a cleaner look. On Android 10 phones, for example, you can go back by swiping in from the edge of the screen instead of tapping the dedicated back button. Learn more about Android gestures here.

To move between home screens, just swipe from left to right. When you reach the end, they will no longer move to the next screen, unless you have infinite scroll on. You can also see dots that correspond to which screen you are located on. Pressing the home button takes you back to the main screen.


Explore the Google Play Store

Google Play Store on smartphone stock photo 1

Google has the largest mobile app store around with nearly three million applications available to Android users. Just go into the Google Play Store and start browsing for great apps you may like. You can also check out some of our best apps lists to get a head start.

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Glass Bottle Manufacturing Process

Major Types of Glass:

  • Type I – Borosilicate Glass
  • Type II – Treated Soda Lime Glass
  • Type III – Soda Lime Glass

The materials used to make glass include approximately 70% sand along with a specific mixture of soda ash, limestone and other natural substances – depending on what properties are desired in the batch.

When manufacturing soda lime glass, crushed, recycled glass, or cullet, is an additional key ingredient. The amount of cullet used in the batch of glass varies. Cullet melts at a lower temperature which reduces energy consumption and requires fewer raw materials.

Borosilicate glass should not be recycled because it is heat-resistant glass. Because of its heat resistant properties, borosilicate glass will not melt at the same temperature as Soda Lime glass and will alter the viscosity of the fluid in the furnace during the re-melt stage.

All of the raw materials for making glass, including cullet, are stored in a batch house. They are then gravity fed into the weighing and mixing area and finally elevated into batch hoppers that supply the glass furnaces.

Methods for Producing Glass Containers:

Blown Glass is also known as molded glass. In creating blown glass, gobs of heated glass from the furnace are directed to a molding machine and into the cavities where air is forced in to produce the neck and general container shape. Once they are shaped, they are then known as a Parison. There are two distinct forming processes to create the final container:

  • Blow & Blow Process – used for narrow containers where the parison is formed by compressed air
  • Press & Blow Process– used for large diameter finish containers in which the parison is shaped by pressing the glass against the blank mold with the metal plunger

Tubing Glass is formed by a continuous draw process using either the Danner or Vello processes to achieve the correct diameter and thickness. The glass is drawn over a line of support rollers by a drawing machine.

  • Danner Process – glass flows from a furnace forehearth in the form of a ribbon
  • Vello Process – glass flows from a furnace forehearth into a bowl which is then shaped

Blown Glass Forming Processes

Blow and Blow Process – compressed air is used to form the gob into a parison, which establishes the neck finish and gives the gob a uniform shape. The parison is then flipped to the other side of the machine, and air is used to blow it into its desired shape.

Blow and Blow Glass Bottle Manufacturing Process

Press and Blow Process– a plunger is inserted first, air then follows to form the gob into a parison.

At one point this process was typically used for wide mouth containers, but with the addition of a Vacuum Assist Process, it can now be utilized for narrow mouth applications as well.

Strength and distribution is at its best in this method of glass formation and has allowed manufacturers to “lightweight” common items such as beer bottles to conserve energy.

Press and Blow Glass Bottle Manufacturing Process

Conditioning – no matter the process, once the blown glass containers are formed, the containers are loaded into an Annealing Lehr, where their temperature is brought back up to approximately 1500° F, then reduced gradually to below 900° F.

This reheating and slow cooling eliminates the stress in the containers. Without this step, the glass would easily shatter.

Surface Treatment – external treatment is applied to prevent abrading, which makes the glass more prone to breakage. The coating (usually a polyethylene or tin oxide based mixture) is sprayed on and reacts on the surface of the glass to form a tin oxide coating. This coating prevents the bottles from sticking to one another to reduce breakage.

Tin oxide coating is applied as a hot end treatment. For cold end treatment, the temperature of the containers is reduced to between 225 and 275° F before application. This coating can be washed off. Hot End treatment is applied before the annealing process. Treatment applied in this fashion actually reacts to the glass, and cannot be washed off.

Internal Treatment – Internal Fluorination Treatment (IFT) is the process that makes Type III glass into Type II glass and is applied to the glass to prevent bloom.

Quality Inspections – Hot End Quality Inspection includes measuring bottle weight and checking bottle dimensions with go no-go gauges. After leaving the cold end of the lehr, bottles then pass through electronic inspection machines that automatically detect faults. These include, but are not limited to: wall thickness inspection, damage detection, dimensional analysis, sealing surface inspection, side wall scanning and base scanning.

Examples of Blow & Blow Containers

  • Boston Round Bottles
  • Handled Jugs
  • Oil Sample Bottles

Examples of Press & Blow Containers

  • Wide Mouth Packer Bottles
  • French Square Bottles
  • Graduated Medium Round Bottles

Tubular Glass Forming Processes

Danner Process

  • Tubing sizes from 1.6mm to 66.5mm diameter 
  • Drawing rates of up to 400m a minute for the smaller sizes
  • Glass flows from a furnace fore hearth in the form of a ribbon, which falls on to the upper end of an inclined refractory sleeve, carried on a rotating hollow shaft or blowpipe.
  • The ribbon is wrapped around the sleeve to form a smooth layer of glass, which flows down the sleeve and over the tip of the shaft.
  • The tubing is then drawn over a line of support rollers by a drawing machine situated up to 120m away. 
  • The dimensions of the tubing are determined as the glass cools through its setting point at the unsupported section between the blowpipe and the first line roller. 

Danner Glass Manufacturing Process

Vello Process

  • Glass flows from a furnace fore hearth into a bowl in which a hollow vertical mandrel is mounted or a bell surrounded by an orifice ring. 
  • The glass flows through the annular space between the bell and the ring then travels over a line of rollers to a drawing machine up to 120m away.

Vello Glass Manufacturing Process

Tube Draw Quality Control
Once the tubes are completed they, undergo multiple tests and inspections to ensure that they comply with quality standards. A visual inspection is conducted by an advanced, high-resolution camera system for defect removal. Once formed and cut to the correct shape, the dimensions are validated.

Examples of Tubing Glass

  • Vials
  • Test Tubes
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Skiing vs Snowboarding

“Skiing is easier to learn but harder to master – whereas snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master.”

This is a common claim you will hear in the world of snowsports and while different people can take to different sports, it’s generally true.

With skiing, a beginner’s technique can be broken down into a modular approach but its perfection will require you to become extremely technical.

With snowboarding, it’s all about getting on your edges (both heel and toe edges) – this is the hardest part but once this is achieved, you have the fundamental technique of the sport nailed – and can reach a pretty impressive level pretty quickly, especially if you’re bold.

The First Few Days:

Skiing or snowboarding for beginners, which is easier 1

For the first day or two, skiing is easier to pick up than snowboarding. This is largely because skiing is more intuitive for beginners than snowboarding, for two main reasons:

Separation: With skiing, your legs remain separated so at low speeds, you can throw one leg out if you start to fall to help re-balance yourself. Snowboarding, on the other hand, requires that your feet are attached the board and this can feel awkward and restrictive at first – and can take a little getting used to. If you start to fall, you will inevitably fall and take the hit.

Body position: Skiing is done with a straightforward, straight-on stance; the beginner skier has total peripheral vision and can see exactly where he or she is going, and everything that is in front, including other people and objects. On the other hand, snowboarding stances are side-on and so the beginner has less peripheral vision, seeing only around 50% of what is in front while travelling down the slopes. This can also take a little bit of getting used to.

After the Honeymoon

Skiing or snowboarding for beginners, which is easier 2

SNOWBOARDING:

Once these two (mainly psychological) obstacles are overcome, beginner snowboarders should be able to progress relatively quickly in the sport. The attachment of the feet to the snowboard, awkward at first, becomes an advantage – as skiers find that crossing their skis can become an issue; keeping the skis apart is a skill in itself.

Beginner snowboarders, blessed with a monoski, don’t have to worry about this. So once they’ve grasped the basics of making a turn – turn shoulders, which turns hips, which turns ankles and feet, which turns snowboard – then they can start to hit the proper slopes. The next step is to work on improved balance and increased speed. And increasing speed actually makes turning even easier due to there being less contact between the base of the board and the snow, which decreases resistance when turning.

For most beginner snowboarders, the basics of riding down and making simple turns should be achievable within a week or two. So Increasing speed, finessing turns and taking your riding to the next level on the slopes, in the park (and in the backcountry), is what you will spend the rest of your time doing!

SKIING:

For skiers, however, the tough work starts after the one or two-day honeymoon period and it is likely to take a lot longer than it would for snowboarders to build up that basic level of skill. Having two separate skis on two separate legs, at first a benefit, starts to become a problem because moving both legs simultaneously, in symmetry and in harmony, takes some time to achieve.

Beginner skiers will start off with snowplough (a.k.a pizza) – which gets the tips of the skis together, tails of the skis apart – and straight skis (a.k.a. french fries) on a nursery slope to get the beginner used to travelling straight down the slopes at speed. The next step is the snowplough turn, which reintroduces the snowplough technique to get skiers to move one ski outwards so a turn can be completed in the opposite direction.

Skiing or snowboarding 3

Unlike the fast progression of snowboarders, in most cases beginner skiers are doing well to progress past snowplough turns by the end of week one. However even though progression is more difficult and technical, when skiers do begin to take on blue and red runs they will find a sport that continues to challenge technique and skill. And mastery, even though difficult, is very rewarding because of the difficulty getting there.

Fitness

You need to be pretty fit to be a good skier or snowboarder. But to begin with, skiing is a bit more demanding on the legs and thighs, whereas snowboarding tends to need more core strength, as the upper body is more involved with turning and balance. Here are few recommended exercises if you’re doing one or the other – but it helps to develop overall fitness to do both:

SKIING:

Cycling is an option recommended by Snowskool, especially for skiers, as it strengthens the legs but has a lower impact than running on knees and joints. General leg strengthening exercises are also going to help.

SNOWBOARDING:

Core strengthening exercises that focus on the abdominal muscles and lower back will improve overall fitness, balance and injury prevention – and are especially useful for snowboarders. There are some great examples of core strengthening exercises, from simple crunches to pilates, but paddleboarding is another popular sport (on a board) that offers a great core work out off-season.

Another thing to bear in mind is that beginners often fall more, and harder, when snowboarding. So learning to snowboard can be more forgiving on the body if you’re a bit younger – or in good physical shape.

A Good Addiction

For many people, snowsports become quite addictive – a skier or snowboarder looks forward to a snow holiday in the mountains with the same desperation as a beach bum looks forward to a summer holiday by the sea. And regardless if you choose skiing or snowboarding, if you get past the beginner stage and get really into it, it is quite likely that the sport will become a central part of your life. You will want to keep going and become an expert.

Unlike other addictions, this one is not so bad, you are out exercising in the mountains, in the fresh air and having a total blast to boot. Skiing and snowboarding both have a big social side with the apres scene being a big part of both sports so you’ll make a lot of friends along the way.

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Best Online Wine Shops

There are a few reasons to buy wine online. The first is convenience. You get your dinner delivered, your groceries, your toilet paper and the kid’s diapers, so why not your wine too? But more importantly, if you’re keeping to retail stores near your home, you’re missing out on unique or small-batch wines that your local store may not have access to. No one ever said, “I wish I got more email,” so don’t sign up to receive offers from every store. Instead, test out a few sites at a time until you find one whose taste and ethos jibe with your palate and needs.

Last Bottle Wines

Last Bottle offers just one wine each day, but it’s not your average flash-sale site filled with distractions like glassware and fancy chocolates. This latest venture from online retailers Stefan Blicker, Brent Pierce and Cory Wagner boasts an appealing, minimal design and no-fuss ordering. Located in Napa Valley, Last Bottle’s proximity to some of the country’s greatest producers allows it to offer very deep discounts (up to 75 percent) on the carefully chosen wines it offers. Other perks include free shipping, credits for referrals and a much-loved $25 credit for purchasing the actual last bottle of the day’s offering.

SommPicks

Founded in 2012 by Mike Zima, former head sommelier at Mario Batali’s flagship Del Posto in New York, SommPicks specializes in, as the name suggests, wines that sommeliers love. To Zima, this means pioneering producers, benchmark styles, hidden gems—in other words, wines that deliver serious value and maximum pleasure per ounce, only served at retail instead of in a fancy dining room. The celebrity somms doing the choosing include Caleb Ganzer from Eleven Madison Park and Raj Vaidya from Daniel. Often, the wines come straight from private cellars.

Bottlerocket

Bottlerocket founder Tom Geniesse came up with his store’s innovative browsing structure after becoming frustrated with traditional wine shops. “A roomful of bottles with price tags was not sufficient to help me make good, informed choices,” he says. To offer a better experience, Bottlerocket attempts to answer questions: What are you cooking for dinner tonight? Who are you giving a gift to? What goes with Thai take-out? Click on “beef,” to learn that Geniesse’s favorite steak wine right now is Rocca di Frassinello’s Le Sughere di Frassinello, a fantastic barriqu-aged project from Maremma (west of Chianti) produced with the legendary Domaines Barons de Rothschild.

Frankly Wines

Before she opened her New York City store, Christy Frank spent about seven years working for Moët Hennessy USA, most recently managing the company’s Australia and New Zealand portfolio. Part of her job was to crisscross the country, visiting more wine shops than she cared to count—which meant when she finally opened her own, Frank knew exactly what to do. With wine descriptions that are quirky, accessible and fun to read, her website offers great browsing. Try the Smallfry Joven Barossa Valley, a Tempranillo-based blend that will surprise anyone who thinks Australian wines are all big, jammy Shirazes. Frank loves the wine for its red fruits, autumn-like spice and fresh acidity. “After visiting the beautiful, biodynamically farmed vineyard where the grapes are grown,” she says, “I love it even more.

Garagiste

Founded by globe-trotting wine expert Jon Rimmerman more than 18 years ago, Garagiste bills itself as “the original email offer wine company” and operates on a model now copied by many retailers. Daily offers are sent out to members of the mailing list, and customers order bottles to be held until one of the site’s two yearly shipping dates. The site does no advertising, instead relying on word of mouth and the strength of Rimmerman’s narrative descriptions to sell its wines, all of which are sourced directly from wineries and many of which are priced under $15. Garagiste is the benchmark retailer for organic and natural wines, the “indie label of the wine trade,” as it’s been called.

Chambers Street Wines

Since launching more than a decade ago, Chambers Street has become a go-to retailer for wine geeks around the country. It’s loved for its large selection of esoteric organic and biodynamic wines (mostly from France), as well as an extensive collection of mature wines sourced from private cellars—especially bottles from Piedmont, Italy. Founders Jamie Wolff and David Lillie also share a love for the wines of the Loire Valley (Wolff spent years vacationing there, and Lillie visited as a musician in the late ’70s). The mixed cases, 12-bottle packages chosen by the extremely knowledgeable staff and priced around $120, are a great way to experience the Chambers Street mentality.

WineBid.com

Started by a group of collectors in 1996, WineBid.com is technically an online auction house, but the site’s “buy it now” option allows for straightforward shopping. The website is one of the most easily navigable in the business, and you can even sign up to receive emails when your favorite type of wine comes up for auction, whether it’s cru Beaujolais or Vin Jaune. Because the wine is sourced from private collectors, selection varies. You can get an old bottle of premier cru Burgundy for a special occasion, then round out a case with sub-$20 wines, most of which will have more bottle age than you’d find at retail.

Bonus: DrinkUpNY.com

Spirits are the draw to this off-the-radar shop, founded by Kamal Mukherjee to combine his professional IT experience with his love for, as he puts it, “fine libation.” The unassuming brick-and-mortar location in Brooklyn is hardly worth a visit, but spirits geeks could spend hours poring over the website’s selection of absinthe, shochu, Japanese whiskey and much more, including the most comprehensive and fascinating selection of tequila and mezcal anywhere on the net.

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Gaming Mouse Pad

Mousepads come in various forms and sizes; From super large to peasant small, plastic to cloth, and thick to thin. Nowadays, you have several choices for arguably one of the most important accessories for competitive gaming. This is where our gaming mouse pad buying guide steps in. It will help you choose the best mousepad for all your hardcore gaming sessions.

If you are reading this, you have already made the right brand choice. We started off by focusing on creating a large gaming mouse pad for various different competitive games. Several hundred hours went into testing and refining what we are proud to call our ultimate gaming mousepad.

THE BASICS OF A GAMING MOUSEPAD

There are three main components of a mousepad: THE SURFACE, THE BASE, and THE EDGE. Each component is important in its own regard. We are going to break down the three of them below and tell you how we have perfected them in our cloth gaming mousepads.

THE SURFACE

There are several types of surfaces available on the market today. For cloth pads, the type of fabric, the weave, and construction are the most critical features. Don’t be fooled by other products labeled as “CONTROL” or “SPEED” optimized mousepads, it is just a marketing gimmick used to drive sales. The key is to have a mousepad that combines both SPEED and CONTROL. So when designing our mousepad, this is exactly what we aimed to achieve:

Our Gaming Mouse Pad Buying Guide helps you choose the right mouse pad for your gaming sessions.

In addition to getting the perfect flow for the mousepad, the friction of the surface was also an important consideration. Because our surfaces are huge and primarily designed for people using their gaming mice on low-DPI, we wanted to have a surface that was slick enough where the wear down on your mice’s feet would be minimal. We also wanted the surface to be comfortable enough when gliding your hand (wrist) along the surface.

Ultimately, we engineered a unique surface on our mousepads (and wrist rests!) that satisfied all the requirements above – providing you an enhanced and comfortable gaming experience.

THE BASE

The base of a gaming mousepad

The skeleton of a mouse pad, and often the most overlooked component. The base can make or break a mousepad, and is often the difference between good and great mousepads. The base comes in several thicknesses, and this can play a significant role in your gaming experience:

  • Slim base (2mm) – ideal for those that prefer a more solid feel. Similar to using a plastic/hard surface mousepad, but with more comfort.
  • Heavy base (5mm) -ideal for those that prefer a more comfortable feel. The surface is much softer and comfortable. In addition, the added thickness is ideal for LAN parties/tournaments, as you are not sure what kind of surface you’ll be playing on. The added thickness helps negate any uneven surfaces the mousepad would be on, giving you the flattest surface possible.
  • Standard base (3mm) – the best of slim and heavy. It’s not too thin, but not too thick either, providing a happy medium. We use this base for most of our mousepads.

THE EDGE

The edge of a gaming mousepad

You have the surface and the base. Both these pieces are usually secured by an adhesive. But overtime, you have probably seen that it will always begin to fray as the surface and base begin to detach. This is often the case with cheap-quality mousepads.

To solve this issue, we decided to provide a thick stitched frame around the perimeter of the mousepad, securing the seams between the surface and the base. This anti-fraying frame greatly increases the lifespan and aesthetics of your mousepad, and survives the test of time with your game sessions. As a further benefit, this also allows you to wash your mousepad with ease. The construction is strong enough to survive machine washes (with a dash of soap), making your surface look brand new (just remember to air dry only).

RISE OF THE BEST EXTENDED MOUSE PAD

Glorious extended mousepad

Typically, when you think of a mousepad, you think of a small square dude that is for your mouse only. However, extended mousepads have become increasingly popular over the years, as they not only provide you massive room for your mouse, but they also support your gaming keyboard. Most gamers today use mechanical keyboards as their preferred gaming gear. By placing your mechanical keyboard on a Glorious extended mousepad, the overall typing experience is significantly increased.

On a mechanical keyboard, the surface material of your desk can vastly change your typing experience (i.e. typing on a glass desk is very different compared to typing on a real, wood desk). Our Glorious extended mousepad can absorb vibrations produced from striking keys on a mechanical keyboard and ultimately provide a more “solid” and “anchored” feeling when using your mechanical board. The extended pad’s surface also provides added grip and helps in preventing your keyboard from moving around.

These are the main reasons extended mousepads have become so popular – they are a no-brainer product for every hardcore gamer. AND they look badass; Just take a look at our gallery page for inspirational PC setups from our customers.

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Electric Motor Guide

Overview of Single Phase Electric Motor

An electric motor is a device that is used to convert electrical energy into motion. In other words, an electric motor is a device that helps in the conversion of electrical energy into kinetic energy. A single-phase motor is a type of alternating-current motor that does not depend on the availability of three-phase power to operate.

Applications of Single Phase Electric Motor

Electric motors have a wide range of application which includes conventional industrial uses like pressure blowers, fans, pumps and may power tools. Also, they are used in many small applications pertaining to electronics and robotics.

Features of electric motors

In case you have decided to use a electric motor for any of your domestic, business or commercial requirements and are not sure as to whether you have made the right decision considering the gamut of motors available to choose from, here are a few reasons why you should put these electric motors to use:

#1.Light in Weight

Single-phase electric motors are light in weight and compact in comparison with other motors available for use in similar applications. The current that is allowed to pass through the motor lines is relatively less in magnitude since the transmission voltage is high. This allows the conductor to be amply portable.

#2.Efficient Transmission

The presence of a low magnitude of current in the conductor lines serves one more advantage: the I2R losses get substantially reduced. The reduction in I2R losses, in turn, helps increase the efficiency of transmission, allowing the unit to give an optimum performance.

#3.Lesser Substation Requirement

The reduction in I2R losses is advantageous since it allows for the effective distance between two substations to be increased; this, in turn, implies that the same area can be covered completely by deploying a fewer number of substations. Also, such a setup can accommodate a substation in close proximity of the high voltage grid, thereby, reducing the cost of setting up the entire process of transmission.

#4.Compatible for Outdoor Applications

Single-phase motors are compatible for use in outdoor applications. They are resistant to water and dust. They are usually totally enclosed motors that are equipped with a fan to assist in the cooling operation, allowing easy use in rough weather conditions as well.

#5.Cheaper to Manufacture

Single-phase motors are simple in their construction and very cheap to manufacture as well when compared with other motors.

You can use these single-phase motors in your juicers, ice cream vending machines, blowers, condensers, chiller units, lawnmowers, domestic flour mills,  wood planers, cutters, hydraulic pumps, and fuel dispensers, to name a few.

What are the Uses of Single Phase motors?

Being the most commonly used among all the motors, single-phase induction motors find multiple usage in offices, home appliances, and small industries too. They serve as the perfect substitute for three-phase power motors. Moreover, these motors are even cost-effective and meet the power requirements. Single-phase motors are also an integral part of fans, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, centrifugal pumps, etc. But, due to their small size, these motors are best suited, for the most heavy-duty industrial applications along with the material handling equipment.

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Buying Bed Pillows

We spend a third of our lives in bed (and how we sleep certainly affects the other two-thirds), so the humble pillow is actually quite the important purchase. “Patients come to me in pain, and I know their pillow isn’t keeping their neck aligned with their spine,” says Dr. Darren Pollack, chiropractor and medical director of DASHA Wellness & Spa. “Over time, this wear-and-tear can cause muscle stiffness, tendonitis, nerve pain, herniated discs, and more.”

We help you find not only the best pillows to buy, but also gives you the tips you need to pillow shop with confidence. We test pillows in our Textiles Lab to make sure they retain their shape by placing weights to mimic real use. We also check for shrinkage and changes in appearance after washing each pillow according to its care label. Real consumer testers then sleep on pillows that match their preferences (sleeping position and desired fill) at home. These testers try each pillow for a minimum of two weeks before giving us feedback on comfort, support, and more. In our last test, we tested 67 pillows and had over 3,000 data points to analyze before making our recommendations.

Pillow Buying Guide - Danielle Daly Image

Recognize when it’s time to replace your pillow.

Everything from wear and tear to build up of skin cells and dust mites can signal it’s time to replace your pillow. Once your pillow starts becoming lumpy and saggy, you should definitely start shopping for a new one. We recommend using this quick trick to see if your traditional fiberfill pillow is still supportive: fold the pillow in half and then place a book on top of it. A good quality pillow will spring back to its original shape, but once a pillow stays folded in half, it’s time to go. Replace memory foam pillows once they’re crumbly or cannot maintain their original form. To extend your pillow’s lifespan, we recommend using pillow protectors and washing your pillows every four to six months.

Consider your sleeping position before you shop.

Just as with mattresses, when shopping for pillows, think about how you sleep. The best pillow that will reduce neck pain and keep you sound asleep all night long has to keep your spine aligned in a neutral position, while also being a comfy material you enjoy resting on. An easy fit test: When you’re lying down, your neck shouldn’t tilt in any direction.

  • Side sleepers need a thick, firm pillow to “keep their ears in line with their shoulders” to prevent their neck from extending in either direction when sleeping on their side, according to Dr. Jaspal R. Singh M.D., co-director of the Center for Comprehensive Spine Care at Weill Cornell Medicine.
  • Stomach sleepers should choose a soft, thinner pillow, so their neck stays in a neutral position. Some experts recommend placing a pillow under your shoulder for proper spine alignment too.
  • Back sleepers should opt for a medium thickness in between that keeps their neck aligned without arching their head forward.
  • If you switch positions throughout the night, look for a plush pillow where the fill can be moved around. This way, you will be able to find the best position as you toss and turn.

Next, decide on fill.

Time to think about what the pillow is filled with. Whether you want a fluffy pillow or a flat pillow, each type of pillow fill will have different characteristics that are important to know before purchasing. While some pillows are entirely machine washable, some styles have only a machine washable cover or cannot be cleaned whatsoever. Typically, down and down alternative pillows are machine washable, but some will require using a front loading commercial sized machine. To avoid any surprises, always check the care label before purchasing.

  • Down pillows are the fluffiest, but a down-and-feather combo will be firmer and less expensive.
  • Down alternatives feel soft and, since they’re made with synthetic fill, are even more affordable. They are great if you have a down allergy.
  • Memory foam pillows are available in two different styles: solid or shredded. Solid memory foam pillows are designed to give you that super supportive feel as your head sinks into the pillow, but the fill cannot move. Shredded memory foam pillows still give you the supportive feel, but the fill can be moved around for a plusher feel.
  • Latex pillows have a squishy feel similar to memory foam, but it bounces back much quicker. Like memory foam, latex pillows can either feature solid or shredded materials.