0
Best rain jackets of 2021




CNN
—  

Whether you’re camping, commuting or just running errands around town, a trusty rain jacket can keep you protected from even the worst downpours. We tested 14 top-rated jackets from popular brands like The North Face, Patagonia and Arc’teryx for their waterproofness, breathability, durability and so much more to find the best option out there. And after more than three months of testing, there was one rain jacket that stood out above the rest.

Best rain jacket overall

The Patagonia Torrentshell outperformed all the other jackets we tested in key areas. It’s ridiculously waterproof and will keep you bone-dry in the worst rain, not to mention it’s extremely breathable, durable and comes with Patagonia’s lifetime Ironclad Guarantee.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Whether you’re an avid hiker or just need protection from the rain during your commute, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is the one rain jacket you should buy.

Since we couldn’t rely on frequent heavy rainstorms to test the waterproofness of our jackets, we hopped in the shower for 10 minutes with each jacket to see if we would stay dry. It turns out showers, which on average dump 2.1 gallons per minute, are surprisingly good at simulating some pretty extreme rainfall.

During our indoor monsoon, the Patagonia kept us completely dry, with only a tiny bit of water trickling in from the gap at the neck when we’d look up, and from the cuffs when we’d raise our arms (which was typical of all the jackets we tested, although some were worse and let tons of water in through the neck — more on that below). The Torrentshell’s three-layer H2No Performance Standard shell is what we have to thank for keeping us dry, and it held up just as well as GORE-TEX, probably the most well-known and trusted waterproof material in the outdoor industry.

The Patagonia’s durable water repellent (DWR) coating worked perfectly, causing any water that hit the shell to bead and run right off, preventing water from soaking into the jacket and pooling (which happened with a few of the other jackets we tested). Plus, since the water runs right off, we were able to easily shake the Torrentshell dry after our test, meaning you’ll never have to walk into work with a drenched jacket again.

All of the Torrentshell’s zippers are protected by a flap that didn’t allow a drop of water through, even when we pointed the shower’s stream directly onto them. So unlike most of the jackets we tested — which didn’t have fully waterproofed zippers, allowing water to slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) leak through both the main zipper and the pockets — the Torrentshell protects your phone and other items from getting waterlogged.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

The only aspect of the waterproofness test where the Patagonia fell a bit short was its hood. While many of the other jackets had super-sturdy storm hoods, the Torrentshell’s wasn’t as large or stiff. The heavy stream from the shower caused the hood to bend a little bit, so the water would sometimes run down our face. To compare, the Arc’teryx Beta LT had our favorite hood, which maintained its shape in the shower and kept the water far from our face.

The Patagonia Torrentshell is super packable (though not as packable as the teeny tiny Outdoor Research Helium — more on that below) and stuffs into its own pocket. It was also one of the more breathable jackets we tested. So whether you’re hiking through the backcountry or running late for work, you won’t feel as hot and muggy as with other jackets. Plus, its pit vents mean there’s an easy way to dump heat if you’re starting to build up a sweat.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

While some of the other jackets we tested felt sticky, clammy or even itchy against our bare skin, the Torrentshell had one of the most comfortable interior materials, behind only The North Face’s Dryzzle and the Arc’teryx Beta LT. It also proved quite durable, and only got a couple light marks when we rubbed it against our brick building. However, if you do some rough adventuring and your jacket does get damaged, it’s backed by Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee, which means you can send it in and get it repaired (in most cases for free) at any time.

Outdoor gear isn’t always the most eye-pleasing, which is why we love the Torrentshell’s many color options. There are 11 available at Backcountry and 12 at Patagonia in men’s, and nine colors at Backcountry and 13 at Patagonia available in women’s. Plus, it comes in six sizes from XS to XXL in men’s and seven sizes from XXS to XXL in women’s.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Rain jackets are a surprisingly complicated subject, so it’s good to know a little bit about what you’re getting into when buying one. The first thing to know is what these jackets are made out of. For years brands have been innovating waterproof materials that are also breathable and soft so they’re comfortable to wear. If all you want is protection from the rain, you can easily use a plastic poncho, but if you want to move around and not immediately start sweating, you’ll want to opt for a breathable rain jacket.

The most famous of these materials is GORE-TEX, which you’ve probably seen used in tons of brands and products, including coats, shoes and even gloves. But other brands, such as Patagonia and The North Face, have created their own versions of waterproof fabrics that work in the same basic way. These fabrics are waterproof and breathable at the same time because they have tiny little pores that are so small that water droplets can’t get through, but big enough so the air and vapor from your body can escape.

This porous membrane is key to this waterproofness, and also part of the layering system that you’ll see in the names and descriptions of rain jackets. There are two-layer, 2.5-layer and three-layer jackets, which tell you about the build of the jacket. A two-layer jacket basically just has the outer material with the waterproof membrane on the inside, a 2.5 has the same construction but with a sprayed or printed material on the inside to protect the membrane. Finally, a three-layer jacket has its outer material, the waterproof membrane and a whole other layer on the inside. There are differences in terms of the weight and feel between all three, but if you’re looking at waterproofness and durability, nothing beats a three-layer jacket because that extra material completely protects the internal membrane so dirt and oils from your skin can’t clog the pores and make it less breathable. All jackets we tested were either 2.5 or three layers.

The other key to waterproofness is a jacket’s durable water repellent, or DWR. This is a coating that is applied to the outside of a rain jacket so the water will bead up and run right off. DWR coatings stop working after a while, which will lead to the outer layer of your jacket soaking up water. The internal membrane will still keep you dry, but since that outer layer is filled with water it will be harder for your sweat vapor to escape, making your jacket less breathable. However, you can easily reapply your DWR coating with products such as Nikwax.

You’ll often see ratings for waterproofness with the measurement of millimeters, which can be a little confusing. Waterproofness is denoted this way because it’s rated using the static-column test, which puts the material at the bottom of a 1-inch-diameter tube, which is then filled with water until the material leaks. The millimeter measurement is how tall this water column can get before the materials fail and water gets through; the higher the number, the more waterproof it is.

Other than waterproofness and breathability, you’ll want to look for different features depending on what you plan on doing. Lots of pockets help with a commute, a storm hood is great if you get caught in a storm on a hike, weight and packability are essential for backpackers and if you’re a climber or biker, you’ll want a helmet-compatible hood.

To find the best rain jacket, we tested everything from waterproofness and breathability to fit, feel and packability. We broke up our tests into three categories: performance, durability and versatility so we could compare the different features of each jacket against the others directly. Here’s a full breakdown of all the tests we ran.

Performance

  • Waterproofness: We wore each jacket in the shower for 10 minutes, with all zippers closed and the hood up. We spun around and focused the shower stream on different parts of the jackets, such as the zippers, shoulders and hood. After 10 minutes we took off the jacket and took note of how wet our shirt underneath got and where. We also put tissues in all the pockets of the jacket and saw if they got wet at all during the shower.
  • Breathability: We wore each jacket and rode a Peloton bike for 10 minutes, keeping a consistent, light output. We judged how hot or sweaty we got and how soon into our ride we felt muggy.
  • Fit, feel and stretch: We tried on each jacket multiple times and stretched to see if there were any restrictive areas. We wore the jacket and judged its length as well as how roomy it was in both the torso and arms. We also wore each jacket on our bare arms and judged how comfortable each felt against our skin.
  • Weight: We weighed each jacket on a kitchen scale.

Durability

  • Rub test: We rubbed the shoulder and arm of each jacket against a brick building five times. We took note of any scuffs, scratches or wear and tear to the material.
  • Zip test: We zipped the main zipper up and down 50 times and took note of how many times it snagged or if it broke. We also paid attention to any deterioration throughout our testing process.
  • Washability: We followed the wash instructions for each jacket and judged if it shrank or deteriorated in any way.
  • Warranty: We researched the warranty for each jacket.

Versatility

  • Pockets and extra attributes: We counted any extra features, such as pit vents, helmet compatibility, pockets and more.
  • Packability: We packed each jacket (into its own pocket if possible) and compared to see which ones got the smallest.
  • Sizing and colors: We counted how many sizes and colors were available for each jacket in both men’s and women’s versions.

Arc’teryx Beta LT ($399; arcteryx.com)

This jacket was fantastic, but it fell just a bit short in a few tests. The fact that it didn’t blow the other jackets out of the water paired with the highest price tag in our testing pool, this jacket is a tough purchase to justify. Like we said earlier, it had our favorite hood we tested, plus its waterproofness and breathability performance was stellar. Its zippers, however, are only water-resistant, not waterproof, and both our shirt and the tissues in our pockets got a bit wet. You can save a lot of money and get a slightly better jacket with the Patagonia Torrentshell.

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket ($159; outdoorresearch.com)

This jacket was another one of our favorites, and while it didn’t score extremely high, it was solidly waterproof and breathable. The interior of the jacket is a bit sticky and felt clammy against our skin, but if you’re an avid hiker or backpacker, the Helium’s extreme packability just might be enough to sell you. It was the lightest jacket we weighed, coming in at only 6.26 ounces. For reference, the next lightest was about 7.5 ounces and the next after that was nearly 10 ounces. On top of that, the Helium stuffs down into its sole chest pocket into a tiny package that’s about the size of our hand. So if you’re searching for the lightest jacket that you can throw in your backpack for a thru-hike and don’t care as much about comfort or durability, the Helium is a great choice.

The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket ($230; thenorthface.com)

The North Face’s Dryzzle jacket features the brand’s latest waterproof technology, Futurelight. This membrane is just like GORE-TEX and Patagonia’s H2No, promising extreme waterproofing while maintaining breathability. We were quite impressed with The North Face’s jacket, especially the feel of the jacket both inside and out. However, it didn’t quite separate itself from other great jackets we tested. Our biggest gripe with the Dryzzle was the quality of the DWR coating on the jacket. When water hit this jacket it didn’t immediately bead up and shed like many other jackets we tested. In some places we could see visible spots where the water was soaking into the outer layer. It was one of our highest-scoring jackets, but with a lackluster DWR coating and a higher price tag than our winner we just can’t recommend it.

REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket ($89.95; rei.com)

This jacket is one of the cheapest we tested but surprised us with its solid scores throughout our testing process. It was solidly waterproof, decently breathable and an overall fantastic jacket. It didn’t score quite as high as the Torrentshell, mostly due to its sticky interior, but if you’re looking for a cheap jacket, the Rainier is a fantastic option.

Arc’teryx Zeta SL ($299; arcteryx.com)

The Zeta SL from Arc’teryx was another high-scoring jacket, coming in right around the top. It’s super waterproof and breathable, and its interior feels relatively comfortable. However, like the other Arc’teryx jacket we tested, its zippers aren’t fully waterproof, only water-resistant. It also doesn’t have as many extra features as the Torrentshell, which was a little disappointing for a $300 jacket.

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX ($173.93, originally $249; rei.com)

This jacket from REI Co-op was another high scorer but just didn’t do well enough to edge out the competition. It’s also a discontinued item, so it’s only available in one color and stock will eventually run out. Even at a massively discounted price it’s more expensive than our winner, so while it’s a solid jacket, there are better options out there.

Black Diamond Stormline ($149; rei.com)

The Stormline was the stretchiest jacket we tested and had quite a high score. It’s nice and light, and felt nice both on the outside and inside. It was mostly waterproof, with just a tiny bit of water getting into the pockets. If you need an extremely stretchy and malleable jacket, the Stormline would be a great pick for you, but overall it couldn’t beat out the other coats we tested.

Marmot Minimalist ($189; marmot.com)

This jacket was one of the more breathable jackets we tested, but its pockets — like many others — weren’t waterproof. A bit of water got into the two side pockets, and the tissue inside the chest pocket got completely soaked. It didn’t stand out for any particular reason, but it’s still a solid rain jacket. Just don’t put your phone in its pockets.

Outdoor Research Microgravity (starting at $149.40; outdoorresearch.com)

The Microgravity from Outdoor Research fell out of contention after a poor waterproofness test. Again, the pockets were its downfall, and in the Microgravity’s case, so much water came through all of its pockets that our shirt got wet underneath. The interior material also felt quite itchy, so we just can’t justify spending $250 on this jacket.

L.L.Bean H2Off ($189; llbean.com)

The L.L.Bean was the heaviest jacket we tested, but it does have tons of pockets to carry everything you need when you go out. However, those pockets are nowhere close to being waterproof. Every tissue we put in its pockets came out drenched.

Columbia OutDry Ex Nanolite Shell ($300; columbia.com)

This jacket did not score very well, mainly due to a poor waterproofness test. Its hood channeled the water down our face and right into the jacket itself. We had to look directly at the ground to keep the water out, and couldn’t move our head like we could with other jackets. At the end of our test our shirt was completely soaked. It is incredibly light, but if you’re looking for a packable jacket, go for the $159 Outdoor Research Helium instead.

Columbia OutDry Ex Reign ($150; columbia.com)

This jacket had the same hood issue as the other Columbia coat, and water ran right down into the neck of the jacket. It’s heavy, not portable, doesn’t feel comfortable on the inside and isn’t very breathable either.

Helly-Hansen Moss Hooded Raincoat (starting at $65; amazon.com)

This jacket didn’t impress us much, as it wasn’t very breathable, didn’t hold up well in our rub test and is the only jacket we tested that you can’t throw in the dryer. It was decently waterproof, but its hood is a little flimsy and its pockets don’t zip close, although the tissues we put in there didn’t get as wet as some other jackets.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

0
Kabul attack Taliban takeover, refugees and US updates



President Biden said Thursday that he has ordered up plans to strike ISIS-K targets following the attack near the Kabul airport.

“To those who carried out this attack as well as anyone who wishes America harm know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said.

ISIS in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, claimed that an ISIS militant carried out the suicide attack, but provided no evidence to support the claim.

US officials have been warning over the past week that a threat of a terror attack at the airport was becoming more acute. Earlier on Thursday local time, US diplomats in Kabul warned American citizens to “immediately” leave several gates into the airport, citing security threats.

But who are ISIS-K? ISIS-Khorasan is a branch of the terror group that first emerged in Syria and Iraq. While the affiliates share an ideology and tactics, the depth of their relationship with regards to organization and command and control has never been entirely established.

US intelligence officials previously told CNN the ISIS-K membership includes “a small number of veteran jihadists from Syria and other foreign terrorist fighters,” saying that the US had identified 10 to 15 of their top operatives in Afghanistan. The group’s name comes from its terminology for the area that includes Afghanistan and Pakistan: “Khorasan.” 

The US Defense Department Inspector-General for Afghanistan (SIGAR) said in a report covering the months April to June of this year that “ISIS-Khorasan exploited the political instability and rise in violence during the quarter by attacking minority sectarian targets and infrastructure to spread fear and highlight the Afghan government’s inability to provide adequate security.”

ISIS-K has formed cells in Kabul which have carried out a number of devastating suicide attacks in and beyond the Afghan capital since 2016. 

The group has built up a presence in eastern Afghanistan in recent years, especially in the provinces of Nangahar and Kunar. Last August, the group attacked the main prison in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangahar, in an effort to free dozens of their supporters who had been captured by the Afghan army and police.

Read more about the group here.

CNN’s Nikki Carvajal, Jim Sciutto and Tim Lister contributed reporting to this post.

0
Best Cash Back Card of 2021


Credit card rewards can be confusing – between monthly rotating categories, complicated points guides and reams of fine print, getting the most out of your credit card can almost seem like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Luckily, there’s a card out there that features not only an incredibly user-friendly rewards program, but also one that has one of the most consistent cash back packages on the market: the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Amazing Rewards – Simplified

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a standout card because of its straightforward but substantial cash rewards. Cardholders earn 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day. No matter where you shop, you’ll always be earning cash back on the purchases you make day-in and day-out. And while that may seem simple, there are a several other benefits that make it one of the most flexible rewards programs on a cash back card:

  • No rotating categories or sign-ups. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offers 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase every day – nothing else required.
  • Cash back won’t expire for the life of the account. So long as you’re a cardholder, your cash back is yours to earn and spend without having to worry about an expiration date.
  • There’s no limit on earnings. Since you’ll be earning rewards regardless of where you shop, cash back will be adding up fast.
  • No minimums for redemption. Unlike some other cards that make you wait until you’ve reached a certain cash back threshold to access your rewards, you can redeem your cash back at any time with the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Plus, there’s even more cash back on the table with this card’s excellent sign-up bonus: if you’re a new card holder, you’ll earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. And since this card has no annual fee, there won’t be any additional costs cutting into that bonus cash.

0% Intro APR on Purchases for Over a Year

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card isn’t just an amazing rewards card – it’s also an excellent choice if you’re looking for flexibility to pay off purchases over time without monthly interest charges piling up. Cardholders get an APR of 0% intro on purchases for 15 months and then 15.49% – 25.49% (Variable) APR once that intro period is up.

If you’re expecting a large expense or a big-ticket purchase coming up, that gives you more than a year to cover it without accumulating a mountain of additional fees. After all, why pay interest when you don’t have to?

A Bundle of Other Benefits

While the solid cash back rewards definitely headline the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, there are a host of other benefits on offer that contribute to make this one of our favorite cards on the market:

  • No foreign transaction fee. If you’re traveling, there won’t be any extra fees associated with using this card abroad. Plus, you’ll have access to up to $250,000 insurance for travel purchased on the card.
  • Free premier access. If you’re a cardholder, you’re entitled to access to a limited number of VIP seats for dining, sporting events and more.
  • Access to free credit reports. You’ll gain access to Capital One’s free CreditWise credit monitoring service, including access to your credit score and SSN protection.

Bottom Line

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is popular for a reason – it’s simple and low maintenance, and yet still works incredibly hard in the cash back department. Because the rewards program is so easy to use, you’ll always have peace of mind knowing you’re earning cash back whenever you swipe without exception.

Combine that with no annual fee, over a year of 0% intro APR on purchases and a host of other features and you have one of the most attractive cards on the market for everyday use. While this card might not have the highest cash back percentage for specific categories or the biggest sign-up bonuses, it’s without a doubt one of the most well-rounded cards out there and well-worth the spot in your wallet.

Interested and want to find out if you’re approved? You could get a decision in 60 seconds or less. Why wait?

Apply now.

Methodology

Each month, the CompareCards team reviews over 100 credit card offers examining the features most valuable to consumers including rewards, sign-up bonus, the interest rate, fees and other features to identify the best offers shown here.

0
Opinion: Never underestimate Nancy Pelosi


Editor’s Note: Lincoln Mitchell (@LincolnMitchell) teaches in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. His most recent book is “The Giants and Their City: Major League Baseball in San Francisco, 1976-1992.” (Kent State University Press, 2020) The opinions expressed here are his own. Read more opinion on CNN.



CNN
—  

On Tuesday, the US Senate passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package by a 69-30 vote. Now, the only obstacle that stands in the way of it becoming law is passage in the US House of Representatives.

Lincoln Mitchell

Courtesy Lincoln Mitchell

Lincoln Mitchell

At first glance this might not seem like an obstacle at all, considering the House has a Democratic majority. But Democrats only have a slim majority, and many in the progressive wing of the party have concerns about the limitations of the infrastructure bill. They want to pair it with the $3.5 trillion budget package working its way through the Senate.

Meanwhile, some moderate Democrats in the House are concerned with the price tag of the budget bill – as well as some of the provisions included within. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will therefore face a significant challenge in rounding up the necessary votes to pass the infrastructure bill.

However, it is essential that the House pass this bill. Not only will it provide necessary infrastructure upgrades agreed upon by both parties in the Senate, but its passage is a key test of the Democrats’ ability to effectively deliver for the American people when in power.

For President Joe Biden, who has made infrastructure one of his key legislative issues, the stakes could not be higher. But he can breathe a little easier because no legislator in recent decades has been as adept as Pelosi at counting the votes – and knowing when she has the votes she needs. In 2009, it was Pelosi who promised then-President Barack Obama the votes on the Affordable Care Act. She delivered then – and she will deliver more than a decade later for Biden, too.

While the progressive caucus has grown significantly since 2009, Pelosi’s seasoned political and legislative skills have prepared her for this moment. Throughout the Trump era, Pelosi kept the Democratic caucus unified in its opposition to Trump, using her majority to prevent any major legislation by the former President during his last two years in office. In addition, she delivered not one, but two, impeachment votes during that period. Nearly all Democratic House Members voted for impeachment in 2019, and the entire Democratic House conference supported impeachment in 2021. (While Trump was impeached both times, he was not convicted either time in the Senate.)

If she can keep her caucus focused on the threat that the Republican Party, largely still loyal to Trump, poses – especially if this bill fails – she should succeed. And Pelosi fully recognizes the challenge she will face from House Republicans. While 19 Senate Republicans voted for the recent infrastructure bill, Republicans in the House will likely be considerably more unified in their opposition to the bill – not least because they know the damage they can do to Biden and Pelosi by obstructing passage of the legislation.

Any Republican opposition to the infrastructure bill means that Pelosi will have to win 217 out of 220 Democratic votes in the House. (There are currently three vacancies in that chamber, so there are only 432 voting members of the House.) This leaves almost no room for error for the Speaker and other supporters of the infrastructure bill.

This is particularly problematic because almost half of Pelosi’s conference – 96 members – have objected to the passage of the infrastructure bill as is. The Speaker herself has indicated her support for these members who would like to see the bill funded by tax increases on the wealthy and who want to link the infrastructure bill to passage of the $3.5 trillion budget bill that would include more spending for health care, child care, the environment and other social programs. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated a willingness to move forward with that budget bill – by passing it by a simple majority in the fall.

While Pelosi has said that she wants to see the budget bill passed in the Senate before moving on the infrastructure bill, if that does not happen, she may still push the infrastructure bill through the House given its importance to Biden’s agenda. In that case, progressives who choose to take a strong stand against the bill will be picking a fight with a powerful political titan in the party.

If progressives decide to stop the bill from passing, they need to be prepared to be marginalized by the Speaker and given less influence in Congress. Conservative Democrats who oppose her on the budget bill, which enjoys support from the larger progressive group, may face similar consequences. This was the fate of New York Rep. Kathleen Rice, who opposed Pelosi’s bid for Speaker following the 2018 election and was then denied a seat on the powerful Judiciary Committee. Pelosi argued it was because New York was already well represented on the committee, but others saw it as an act of revenge. In other words, opposing Pelosi on this means picking a fight that could be very costly down the road.

It’s important to remember that the infrastructure bill would not have gotten this far down the road if Pelosi did not believe she had the votes to pass it. After all, Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are very experienced legislators. They have been discussing and coordinating around this bill for weeks – and Pelosi likely knows precisely what she needs to do, perhaps with a little help from the President who can make phone calls and offer incentives to noncommittal members to get the bill across the finish line.

Get our free weekly newsletter

If progressives ultimately do not listen to Pelosi and block the infrastructure bill, they will be seen as responsible not just for torpedoing a significant piece of legislation, but as weakening their party and a Democratic President. Making the perfect the enemy of the good is a problem progressives often face, but to do that now would have enormous political consequences.

Many Democratic voters could become exasperated with their party’s progressive wing and cast their primary votes in 2022 accordingly. More significantly, if the infrastructure bill is defeated in the House, Democrats running for Congress will have to go in front of the voters in 2022 without having passed such an important and popular piece of legislation.

There is still a lot that can happen as the infrastructure bill winds its way to the President’s desk. However, the Speaker of the House has been around politics too long and understands voting too well to let it go much further unless she is absolutely certain that she has the votes.

0
Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub review




CNN
—  

The Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Control explains itself with the name. For $29.98, it sets out to be a catchall solution for remote access to a garage door complete with intelligent features. By definition, it’s an entry-level smart home gadget — and not one that requires you to jump into the deep end of the smart home world.

With just two pieces of hardware, a Wi-Fi connection and the app on your phone, you’ll be able to see the status of your garage door, remotely open or close it and even add household members as users. For $29.98, it’s practically a steal. And after a few weeks of testing, it’s safe to say that it works as promised. Let’s unpack it.

A plug and play setup for remote access

The Chamberlain MyQ is truly a no-brainer. It can make nearly any garage door smart and give you the benefits of opening or closing it from anywhere.

Who this is for: The Chamberlain MyQ is for someone who wants to control or keep tabs on their garage door from near or afar.

What you need to know: Setting up this gadget took about 15 minutes, and it’s quite intuitive. Chamberlain says the MyQ supports most garage door openers made after 1993, but mileage could potentially vary. It also doesn’t support Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit integrations.

How it compares: For $29.98 (when it’s not on sale), the Chamberlain MyQ is a no-brainer addition to a home with a garage door. It doesn’t require the long install or cost of a new garage door opener with a smart hub built in and supports a long list of openers. Chances are that includes the one in your home. The mandatory app for setup and control is intuitive and less cluttered than other smart options on the market. It doesn’t feature support for core smart home ecosystems like Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit. BeamUp is a similar solution that’s more expensive at $77 but supports Alexa out of the box. Those looking for HomeKit integration can look at the $119 iSmartGate. The MyQ and the alternatives all use similar tech to get online, though, and work with most openers made after 1993.

Jacob Krol/CNN

In the Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Control box, you’ll find two main pieces of hardware and some extras. What you won’t find is a garage door opener, though — the MyQ system works alongside your current garage door to make it smart.

The smart hub, which we’ve been affectionately calling the brain, gets mounted on the ceiling, close to the actual garage door motor. It’s a square piece of plastic with technology inside to connect with your garage door, along with some buttons and a power port. Chamberlain didn’t hold back on branding with two big logos. The other piece to the puzzle is a door sensor that will live in the bottom corner of the physical garage door. It’s much smaller in comparison to the hub and opts for a battery. It’s all pretty simple, and Chamberlain includes some mounting tools (a frame and screws) for an easy installation.

Alongside the physical hardware, you’ll need the MyQ Garage & Access Control app — it’s available for Android and iOS. The app is the main control panel for both setup and using the MyQ. You’ll also need to create an account, and fair warning, it can take a bit to get the confirmation email. That delay in creating our account was the only delay we experienced.

Once you’re in, the MyQ app does an excellent job of providing clear instructions to get you through the process. It took us between 10 and 15 minutes to get the whole system working. And it essentially works by the smart hub acting as a remote control opener. It can send and receive signals with your garage door opener. Chamberlain says the MyQ system should work most garage door openers made after 1993 — some of the big names include Chamberlain, LiftMaster, Craftsman, Genie, Linear and Raynor. A good tell is a “learn button” on your garage door opener, as this is used to send out a signal for pairing with controllers or devices like the MyQ. Modern garage door openers made by Chamberlain even feature the MyQ hub built in.

The smart hub also features Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz connectivity for connecting to your home’s Wi-Fi network. Garages can sometimes be a dead zone, especially if they feature concrete walls or are detached from the house. In either of those scenarios, you may need to boost your Wi-Fi’s range, and a solution could be a Wi-Fi extender. If you have a mesh Wi-Fi system, like Eero, you could purchase another node or point to extend your network. There is no way to get around the Wi-Fi requirement, though.

And during setup, get ready to see your garage door make some sudden movements. In our experience, it will raise and lower a few times throughout the process. And when it’s done, you’ll be able to control, see a status and even link it with other smart home systems through the app.

Jacob Krol/CNN

The setup process is the only heavy lifting you’ll have to do with the Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Controller. You’ll see the garage door status and how long it’s been in that state front and center. For instance, if you closed 40 minutes ago, it will show just that. You can easily tap the garage door to open it as well. You can also view a timeline of sorts that shows you when the door was opened or closed. It’s all quite handy.

From a security standpoint, you’ll need to be actively signed in and authenticated to launch the app. You can opt for a passcode on your mobile device or use the built-in authentication method, such as unlocking with a fingerprint or your face. The app at this time doesn’t offer a two-factor authentication solution, but we’re hopeful it could be supported in the future.

You can also share access to your home and the garage door (or doors, if you have a multi-car garage) through the Users tab. They’ll need to create a MyQ account and authenticate. And the common theme here is that Chamberlain isn’t adding complex interfaces to access information or functionality. It’s all front and center with menus at the bottom. The Schedules field lets you select predetermined times for actions to happen. It’s an excellent way to make sure the door is closed at night.

In terms of compatible systems, you’ll find most of the major players here: Google Assistant, IFTT, Alarm.com, Residio Total Connect and Vivint, among others. The big two that you won’t find support for are Amazon’s Alexa and Apple HomeKit. The former is a big surprise, considering this supports Key by Amazon — the brand’s service that lets delivery drivers open the garage door to leave the package in a secure spot. It’s just strange that you can’t tie this into Alexa. HomeKit is a bit trickier to integrate with, but both would be nice to see in the future.

The simple solution here is to use the app; you’ll need it for setup after all.

At under $30, the Chamberlain MyQ is the easy way to gain remote access for your garage door and make it smart. You don’t need to rush out and spend hundreds on a new opener or opt for a specific brand. It brings a tremendous amount of value, and while it’s not perfect with some missing smart partners, it still offers plenty of functionality.

Whether you’re interested in starting a smart home or just want an easier way to control your garage door, the Chamberlain MyQ can stand on its own as a terrific gadget to add to your home. Just keep in mind that you need an opener made after 1993 and will need Wi-Fi in the garage. Otherwise, you’re set up for success.

0
Best standing desks of 2021




CNN
—  

Whether you’re a professional, a student or somewhere in between, the “new normal” has meant trading in a proper desk for a work-from-home space. It could be your kitchen tablet, a small hallway turned into an office or even tossing together something in the bedroom. But what about a standing desk or convertor desk? The trend that has taken the professional industry by storm is now readily available — with literally countless options — and could be the perfect solution for working from home.

That’s why we’ve been testing a handful of standing desks for weeks, no months, on end — from assembly to entire days spent on each, we’ve found four that rise to the top.

Best standing desk overall

With a solid and wide desktop, the Branch Adjustable Standing Desk is a near-perfect desk that can handle multiple monitors, dual laptops and a plethora of knickknacks. It’s also incredibly sturdy, with one of the best builds we’ve encountered and a smooth ascent or descent.

Best customizable standing desk

The Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk offers the widest breadth of customization options out of any standing desk we’ve encountered, from size to finish to keypads — in addition to being a high-quality desk that’s bound to look beautiful against any decor scheme.

Best budget standing desk

The SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk is a surprisingly functional, sturdy desk at an incredibly affordable price, comparatively. It was a breeze to assemble, comes with a cable management tray and features a digital keypad with memory presets. ​

Best standing desk converter

The Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter (starting at $99.99) is an excellent converter that’s available in several sizes to accommodate a range of workspaces. Both its desktop and keyboard tray provide ample space, and it adjusts with the push of a lever. ​

Jacob Krol/CNN

Branch’s standing desk might only come in two sizes and a handful of colors, but it doesn’t corner the product into oblivion. Instead, it keeps a high level of craftsmanship in a standing desk that ultimately rises above the best with seamless motion, a sturdy build and a design that doesn’t distract.

It starts with the desktop — in this case, a 48-inch wide by 30-inch depth particle board laminate. You can also opt for white or a dark walnut finish. Either route, though, you’re stuck with a set of legs in white. What’s especially lovely about the Branch option is that the depth is wider than the average desk. This makes it easy for multiple monitors, a laptop (maybe a tablet as well), a notebook with plenty of room to spare.

Furthermore, the desk isn’t entirely flat, with a slightly diagonally cut finish in the front, making it comfortable to rest your arms on or even lean into it without being stuck with a piece of wood jutting into your abdomen. During our testing, spills of water, coffee and never stained the finish, nor did the tabletop scratch. The side edges did peel a bit and showed some scuffs — but from pretty unnatural, heavy bangs.

The Branch also features a metal plate in the center rear of the desk that can either tilt backward or forward to reveal a brush system, through which you can snugly run cables to keep them tidy — and it even kept loose Lightning and USB-C cables from falling through.

While it’s not curved with an ergonomic cutout in the front like our previous overall pick — the ApexDesk Elite Series — we feel the Branch Standing Desk is a better overall package. Setup as a whole took about 20 minutes, and found a drill sped things up a bit. Branch does include all the necessary tools in the box and can be done with ease. The desk comes in two boxes — one with the legs and one that’s the desktop, and the directions were clear and thorough.

Heights range from 25 to 52 inches, and you can make adjustments by the centimeter at most heights. Whether adjusting up or down, the transition was one of the smoothest we tested no matter how heavy the items we had atop the desk. The Branch comes standard with a control switch that’s on the left-hand side that features an LED dot display showing the exact height, an up and a down switch and four presets. Those presets are easy to set and one touch to operate.

The Branch was also one of the sturdiest desks we tested, never rocking side to side or back and forth.

Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk

Natasha Hatendi/CNN

Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk

The Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk is a handsome desk that we found supremely sturdy, easy to use, relatively straightforward to assemble, and as ergonomic at all heights as any of the other electric standing desks in our pool. When it came to wobble factor, we found it a tad less sturdy than the ApexDesk, particularly at higher heights, but nothing that interfered with our ability to use it comfortably. Where it truly shines, however, is in its many options for customization.

We tested the smallest available desktop size, 42×30”, a perfect option for tighter office spaces or cramped city apartments with but a corner to spare. We found it more than comfortable for a monitor and laptop setup, though if you’re working with multiple monitors and other equipment, you’ll probably want to opt for a larger size. Good news: Uplift’s got four more to choose from. The 48×30” will cost you an extra $50, the more standard 60×30” desktop size an extra $110, 72×30” will run you an extra $210, and the massive 80×30” desktop brings you to a total starting price of $849.

Then, you’ve got a staggering 22 desktop finishes to choose from (including a whiteboard option, which could be fun for the kiddos). We tested the walnut laminate, and couldn’t be more pleased with its quality and appearance. Solid wood and bamboo options are also available, as well as a contoured shape in four finishes; that will run the price tag up a bit more than the contoured ApexDesk at the same size, which is why the latter ultimately took top honors. You also choose from four finishes for the desk’s legs, select the color of the grommets, plus you can add on a power grommet (i.e., one with two outlets) for an additional $39 or add two for $69.

As for the keypad, there are options here too (colors being one of them): The standard desk provides a no-frills keypad with just an up and down arrow. You can upgrade to the “advanced comfort keypad” — akin to what the ApexDesk comes standard with — or splurge for the advanced paddle keypad, at an extra $59.

To determine the extent of this desk’s functionality, we chose the advanced paddle keypad and were wholly impressed by its breadth of features. In addition to displaying heights within 0.1-inch increments, from 22.6” to 48.7”, the largest range of all desks we tested, the advanced paddle includes a standing reminder, which can be set to 30-, 60 and 120-minute intervals, plus a child lock feature, the ability to set minimum and maximum heights and, of course, memory presets. We found there is a bit of a learning curve with this keypad. We had some trouble lowering it from an elevated position, resetting it and setting up the memory presets. But after some tinkering and regular use, we did get the hang of it. TL;DR: You’ll definitely need to consult the instruction manual for how to use this keypad, and possibly reset it a few times.

Like our top pick, the Uplift arrived in four separate boxes, and assembly took nearly an hour due to all the parts required. Note that the instructions provided include those for two different models of the desk, so you’ll just want to make sure you follow the instructions for the particular model you’ve purchased. A Phillips screwdriver is necessary, and again, because of how heavy-duty its parts are, it’s definitely helpful to borrow a second set of hands and tackle assembly together. The desk comes standard with two grommets at the back corners as well as a cable management tray, though we found the tray to be a bit flimsy once installed.

The Uplift also comes with one of the best warranties of all the desks we tested, which is 10 years for the frame components, mechanical parts, motors and electrical components, and five years for the desktop.

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line standing desk designed exactly to your specifications that will last years to come, the Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk is the desk for you.

SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk

Natasha Hatendi/CNN

SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk

If you’re on a tight budget — or you’re just looking for a standing desk to use temporarily or infrequently — there is not a better option under $250 than the SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk.

First off, we were surprised by just how sturdy this affordable desk was once assembled, with minimal wobble from front to back and side to side at all heights. Assembly was easy-breezy, clocking it at roughly 25 minutes when all was said and done (note that you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver). The desk is lightweight enough to move around a room with one set of hands, and building it solo is more than feasible, even for the furniture-assembly-averse.

This desk comes standard with a digital keypad featuring four memory presets; while programming the memory presets was not as intuitive as it was with some of the other desks we tested, once you know how to do so, it’s a breeze. Adjustable from 28” to 46” high in round-number increments (though reflected on the LED screen as 69 to 114, which we can only explain as being a roughly accurate conversion from inches to centimeters), this desk moves smoothly up and down without a hitch. It also comes standard with one small, uncovered grommet at the left back corner as well as an under-desk mesh tray at the front.

We should note that the desktop is actually two planks of wood rather than one solid piece as the product photos may lead you to believe.

This desk efficiently supported our monitor, laptop, books, desk plants and more — including a spry cat frequently jumping on and off of it — without issue. It’s offered in just one size, 47.25×24”, a bonus for anyone working with limited space for their office setup. The desktop is available in black, oak, light cherry and walnut finishes, and while we found that the black desk easily showed smudges, you get, as they say, what you pay for.

While a few customer reviews mention the motor slowing down over time, we experienced no such issues; we’ll report back and update this piece should we notice any failure in that regard. The desk offers only a one-year warranty, but for an additional $30, an extended three-year warranty will cover any motor issues.

Sure, it looks and feels a bit cheaper than the $500+ models in our pool, and, well, that’s because it is. But if you’re looking for the best electric standing desk at an under-$250 price point that’s sturdy and easily goes up and down as promised, with presets for multiple users — and particularly if you’re a fan of the metric system — you can’t go wrong with this SHW desk.

Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter

Natasha Hatendi/CNN

Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter

If you’re in the market for a riser that will convert your standard desk into a standing one, we recommend the Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter for several reasons.

With a standard converter design, this riser is pretty much ready to be used right out of the box. Assembly only requires attaching the keyboard tray to the desktop, no tools needed. It takes a little maneuvering to align around the preinstalled screws, but within a few minutes we had it ready to roll. At just under 37 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to be moved if need be, but we were also impressed by the solid construction, experiencing minimal, if any, wobble while in use. It also arrived with cable ties to help with cord management.

This converter is available in eight widths, from 27” to 47” (you can find the larger models here) to accommodate a variety of workspace sizes. Note, however, that it is only available in black. We tested the 35” model, which can comfortably fit two small monitors, or a monitor and a laptop, and measured the depth of the desktop to be 18.75” and the keyboard tray to be 12”. Like any standard riser, a simple lever attached to a hydraulic device is used to raise it up or down, with a maximum height, from top to bottom, of 18.5”.

The only place the Flexispot converter lost major points was in ease of adjustments; while it moved smoothly upward with a press of the lever, pushing it back down proved a bit more difficult, and some elbow grease was necessary. For that reason, it might not be the best choice if the intention is to share it between people of varying heights. That caveat aside, we were more than pleased with our experience using this product, which we found ergonomically designed and comfortable to use in every way.

The converter comes with a five-year warranty for the frame and desktop, and a three-year warranty for the gas spring system and other mechanisms, which seems more than fair for such an affordably priced item.

The testing process for these desks lasted nearly two months. We unboxed and assembled each desk, paying special attention to the amount of time each unboxing and building process took. We noted how long it took to put each one together, how clear the product’s instructions were and if any special tools were needed. Once each electric standing desk was fully built, we used it at both sitting and standing heights; desk converters, of course, were used only in standing positions. We used each product for at least three full workdays and carefully noted how each desk performed in terms of ease of adjustments and ergonomics. Overall, we evaluated them on what we considered the most important factors: function, build and length of warranty. After tallying up scores for each product, we also took value into consideration, factoring the starting price of each desk with regard to the features it delivered on, to determine our final winners.

We broke the testing into the following categories and subcategories:

Function

  • Comfort: We made note of whether the desk provided proper ergonomics at all heights, and, where applicable, in both sitting and standing positions.
  • Number of different height adjustments: We noted the range of heights the desk was capable of reaching.
  • Ease of adjustments: We considered how easy it was to adjust the height of the desk, noting how smoothly it was able to move up and down as well as how easy and intuitive the keypad, if there was one, was to operate.
  • Sturdiness from front to back: We noted how much the desk wobbled, if it all, from front to back.
  • Sturdiness from side to side: We noted how much the desk wobbled, if it all, from side to side.
  • Organization: We noted if the desk came standard with any slots/grommets to organize wires, cable management trays, extra outlets. etc.

Build

  • Build quality: We looked at the quality of the desk’s materials, assessing whether it felt cheap or flimsy, as well as whether the desktop was prone to scratches and/or smudges.
  • Ease of assembly: We considered the time it took to unbox and fully assemble the desk, how clear the instructions were, if any special tools were necessary as well as if the included tools were efficient in the building process.
  • Appearance: We assessed the aesthetics of the desk — how it looked in a room/home office, if it was available in different colors and if so, how many.
  • Size: We noted how much equipment could fit on the desk, how much room it took up and whether it was available in more than one size and if so, how many.

Warranty

  • We looked into the warranty for each product and noted the length of coverage and what parts were covered.

Fully Jarvis EcoTop Standing Desk (starting at $519 for 30×24”; fully.com)

Fully Jarvis EcoTop Standing Desk

Fully

Fully Jarvis EcoTop Standing Desk

Let it be known that we adored this desk, for myriad reasons. A newer model produced by Fully’s Jarvis line, the EcoTop is the brand’s most eco-friendly design to date, crafted from locally sourced fiber in Oregon that’s a minimum 92% pre-consumer, recycled or recovered, meeting the Eco-Certified Composites (ECC) Sustainability Standard. Beyond this new desktop, it’s identical in build and function to the customer-favorite (and also earth-friendly) Jarvis Fully Bamboo Standing Desk — and it’s easy to see why it’s so beloved. It scored top marks for its range of sitting and standing heights (25.5” to 51.1”, the second largest range of all desks we tested, displayed in increments of 0.1”) as well as its ease of adjustments, with the industry-standard four memory presets being intuitive to program. This desk felt high-quality — according to Fully, it can support upwards of 350 pounds — though a bit more wobbly from side to side at higher heights than our best overall pick. Similar to the Uplift’s warranty, Jarvis desks are covered by an impressive all-inclusive 10-year warranty on all frame components, including motors and electronics, and a five-year warranty on desktop surfaces, excluding normal wear and tear, and damage caused by improper assembly, disassembly or repair.

Ultimately, this desk lost points when it came to assembly. It was one of the most complicated builds of our pool, taking the most time and clocking in at a bit over an hour; particularly we found that the giant allen key, with prongs of equal lengths, made things clumsy to assemble. While the EcoTop features two uncovered grommets at the back corners for your cables, if you’d like to attach cord organizer, you’ll need a power drill to do so, as there are no pre-drilled holes. (We did appreciate that it came packaged with a surge protector, however.) The EcoTop is available in six sizes, and in black and white finishes.

This is a solid desk — and was indeed a solid contender for winner — particularly if you value sustainable, earth-friendly materials.

Vari Electric Standing Desk (starting at $650 for 60”; amazon.com; starting at $695 for 60” models; officedepot.com)

Vari Electric Standing Desk

Amazon

Vari Electric Standing Desk

Another one of our favorites, the Vari is a classic electric standing desk, and there’s a reason — well, many reasons — why you may have seen it in myriad office spaces throughout the country as the standing desk du jour. For one, it’s impossibly sturdy, racking up top marks in that category during our testing. And despite its heavyweight build, it was by far the easiest of the non-budget-priced electric standing desks to assemble, taking approximately 20 minutes to do so. The Vari moves up and down smoothly, from a minimum height of 25” to a maximum of 50.2” (the highest maximum height of all desks we tested), and its LED keypad displays increments of 0.1. Programming the four memory presets is easy as pie; we didn’t even need to consult an instruction manual for that. And while there wasn’t much difference among all our standing desks in terms of motor noise, we’d contend that the Vari was noticeably quieter than the others in our pool. It has a five-year warranty for all components.

The Vari Electric Standing Desk is available in two sizes, 60×30”, 48×30” (starting at $550 at Amazon and Office Depot for the latter) as well as five finishes. Really the only place where it lost major points was in the category of organization. It features no grommets to contain wires, but rather a slightly indented back should you want to place it flush against the wall, so you’ll still have space for all your cables to comfortably hang; an additional wire tray is sold separately. (We did appreciate the complimentary bag hook that was included with our shipment.) The Vari came in just one point behind our overall winner, the ApexDesk Elite, so suffice it to say that we would recommend this desk in a heartbeat, so long as you can make do with that caveat.

Readydesk 2 Adjustable Standing Desk ($154.99; amazon.com)

Readydesk 2 Adjustable Standing Desk

Amazon

Readydesk 2 Adjustable Standing Desk

While we were fans of this converter’s artsy, minimalist design, constructed from sustainable birchwood (it just screams “Brooklyn architect,” does it not?), admittedly we can understand how not everyone might be — and how it may not necessarily vibe with your decor scheme. Aesthetics aside, we appreciated how easily this converter assembles: Literally, it took just five minutes to unbox and slot the shelves into the base, no tools necessary. Because of this, it’s a good option for students living in dorms, or anyone else who may be moving around a lot and have minimal desktop space to work with. Disassembling is just as simple if you need to quickly get it out of the way and store it in a corner without taking up much space at all. Despite its lightweight build (it weighs in at less than 15 pounds), we found the Readydesk 2 to be impressively sturdy, both from front to back and side to side. It’s also designed with two keyhole-esque slots on each ledge to manage wires. The product has a one-year warranty free of defects in craftsmanship and material and a generous 100-day free return policy in the US.

It fell short in a few categories, however: It’s available in just one size and color, and doesn’t provide as much room for equipment as other converters in our testing pool did. Its unfinished edges had us worried we might snag the fabric of our sleeve on it (a valid concern among reviewers as well, as we later learned). Because of the lack of grips at the base, depending on the surface beneath it, it could be prone to sliding, although we had no issues in this regard. And, given its unique design, it’s not the most ideal product if two or more people of different heights are sharing use of it, as you have remove the piece of wood and manually move it to a different slot if you’d like to change up the adjustments, which is easy enough, but obviously not as simple as raising or lowering a lever.

Flexispot Standing Desk 48×30” ($249.99; amazon.com)

Flexispot Standing Desk 48x30"

Amazon

Flexispot Standing Desk 48×30″

The Flexispot Standing Desk is another budget-priced standing desk model, similar to the SHW. It’s available in black, white and mahogany finishes, and while it does look quite sleek, and the desktop is indeed one solid piece rather than two narrow pieces assembled side by side, for the same price as our best budget winner, it comes with some noticeable downfalls. For one, the basic model includes a keypad with only an up and down button; the desk has a standing range from 28–47.6”, but in order to know what height you’re standing at (if that’s important to you), you’ll have to tack on another $90 for the “standard” model, which is 55” long and includes a digital LED keypad with memory presets. There’s also a smaller, 42×24” model, for $244.99.

We also noticed significant wobble once fully assembled, mostly from side to side but also from back to front. And on the topic of assembly: this desk arrives in two boxes, both pretty lightweight, but the instructions were confusing at times. A particularly baffling example: One step was to loosen bolts and stretch a rod, but the instructions didn’t specify to what length to stretch it. So we guessed, and when it came time to add the desktop, we had to loosen the bolts once again and then measure it to the correct length. Another step also required backtracking and unscrewing screws from a previous step. This desk comes with a five-year warranty for the frame, motor and other mechanisms, and a two-year warranty for the controller and switch, electronics.

Seville Classics 27.8” Tilting Sit-Stand Height Adjustable Mobile Laptop Computer Desk Cart with Mouse Side Ergonomic Table ($44.99; homedepot.com)

Seville Classics 27.8" Tilting Sit-Stand Height Adjustable Mobile Laptop Computer Desk Cart with Mouse Side Ergonomic Table

The Home Depot

Seville Classics 27.8″ Tilting Sit-Stand Height Adjustable Mobile Laptop Computer Desk Cart with Mouse Side Ergonomic Table

If you’re looking for a simple sit-stand option with enough room for your laptop and a mouse, and a laptop and a mouse alone, this Seville Classics desk is one worth considering. At just a hair under $50, unsurprisingly, you’re not getting a super-sturdy, smart standing desk option — but you are getting a product that gets the job done (the job being: providing the option to stand while at your computer), and on wheels to boot. Assembly was easy enough, as the desk is lightweight, and though the flimsy hexagon key wrench proved a bit difficult to use, we were able to build it in approximately 25 minutes. It comes with a one-year limited warranty.

The desk adjusts from a minimum of 27.9” to a maximum of 40.7”, so if you’re above, say, 5’9”, we can’t imagine you’d find this the most ergonomic product to use. We should also note that the desktop’s tilt is not adjustable, i.e, you cannot position it parallel with the floor, and the manual twist-lock knob can be a bit annoying to use to make adjustments to heights. Bottom line: If you’re on a tight budget and looking for something that’ll allow you to take standing breaks from time to time, this is a perfectly adequate solution. It’s a desk that’s perhaps best suited to students, children, and those with minimal space.

Vivo Height Adjustable 32-Inch Standing Desk Converter (starting at $109.95, originally $119.95; amazon.com)

Vivo Height Adjustable 32-inch Standing Desk Converter

Amazon

Vivo Height Adjustable 32-inch Standing Desk Converter

This Vivo converter was quite similar in both build and function to the Flexispot converter. Assembly required only attaching the keyboard tray to the base, which was simple enough, and adjustment is controlled via lever. It’s a standard desk riser, and we found its sturdiness to rival Flexispot’s as well, but ultimately we didn’t select it as a winner for a few reasons: We took value into consideration, and the Vivo is available only in one size, at a starting price of $119.99, versus Flexispot’s $99.99 for its 31-inch option. (For $159.99, you can snag the Vivo in light wood or white finishes, or dark wood for $179.99.) The width of both the keyboard and desktop are a bit smaller than the Flexispot converter we tested, at 10” and 15.75”, respectively, though it does rise to a maximum height of 19.5,” one inch higher than our winning converter does. It comes with two cable clips to stick to the underside of the product, and it has a three-year warranty. If you’re seeking a finish that isn’t solid black, could make use of another inch of height as a tradeoff for some desktop space, and you’re willing to shell out a bit more cash, we think the Vivo is a fine option.

Ergo Desktop Kangaroo Pro Junior ($399; amazon.com)

Ergo Desktop Kangaroo Pro Junior

Walmart

Ergo Desktop Kangaroo Pro Junior

This desktop converter is unique in its design, and we appreciated the dual ergonomics at play here: Basically, the desktop work surface and your attached monitor adjust separately, allowing you to customize the setup more so than typically possible with a traditional desk riser. The desktop surface, which measures 24×18” — enough to fit a laptop, or a keyboard and mouse — is adjustable to 14.5” above your desk. You’ll have to mount your monitor, and though it took us a bit to figure out the twist-knob situation in order to adjust our monitor, we no sooner got the hang of it. However, we found the removable stabilization leg to, initially, be quite confusing, and ultimately, a crucial design flaw; while the adjustable rod is meant to provide extra stability to your desktop at all heights, we found it difficult to stay put, and ultimately not a reliable source of stability after all. The Kangaroo Pro Junior does, however, take up minimal space, and if you’re working with a single monitor and a keyboard, we could see why you might be interested in this product.

High Rise Height Adjustable Electric Full Standing Desk DC840B (starting at $499.99, originally $609.99; victortech.com)

The highlight of the Victor Technology’s High Rise standing — available in 4-foot top or 3-foot top versions — features a deep work space paired with various height levels. All of this allowed us to comfortably fit a laptop, phone, papers, water bottle and iPad with space to spare. Made from materials including wood and metal, the build is sturdy no matter the height at which it’s set. Taking less than 20 minutes to assemble, the desk came with tools to put it together and straightforward directions.

There’s a memory function which lets you save four preferable heights — just tap the button and it adjusts to that exact height, ranging between 28.7 to 48 inches. Better yet, for anyone who works around other people, the desk is quiet when moving between heights.

The High Rise does lack additional perks, like desktop customization, options for additional accessories or a curved design like the ApexDesk. The price is very similar to our top-ranked standing desks, but for the same price, many of those desks offer unique features that create an individualized experience for customers, including white board and laminate desktops.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

0
Simone Biles drops out of individual all-around competition


Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia competes in the 200m freestyle final on July 28.
Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia competes in the 200m freestyle final on July 28. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Australia’s Ariarne Titmus has now won gold twice at the Tokyo Games, and both times, she beat out the defending Olympic champion in the event: American swimming legend Katie Ledecky.

Two days after taking gold in the women’s 400m freestyle, Titmus on Wednesday won the women’s 200m freestyle, finishing with an Olympic record time of 1:53.50.

Ledecky finished fifth. It was the first time the American had failed to make the podium in an individual Olympic event.

Ledecky is regarded as the most dominant female swimmer ever. She won gold in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events at the 2016 Rio Games. Before that, she took gold in the 800m freestyle at London 2012. Ledecky won silver in the 400m freestyle on Monday at the Tokyo Games.

She’s also considered one of swimming’s most versatile competitors. Though her best events are distance, her range, if compared to sprinting, would be like Usain Bolt running in the 200m, 400m, and 1500m events.

Dominant display: If Ledecky’s disappointing finish in the 200m freestyle fueled talk of her demise, her commanding performance just minutes later may force the doubters to think twice.

Ledecky crushed the field in the first-ever women’s 1500m freestyle event, finishing more than four seconds ahead of fellow American Erica Sullivan to take gold. That’s all the more impressive given at times, she was barely using her legs. One team USA staffer said Ledecky was saving her energy, because she has two events left to go.

Ledecky will compete in the 800m freestyle and is considered a favorite to win that, too.

By the time she’s done in Tokyo, Ledecky will have swum a stunning 6,000 meters (3.7 miles) by the time she is finished competing. To put that in context, Michael Phelps swam a total of 3,300 meters when he won eight golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

0
20 kitchen organization ideas under $20




CNN
—  

Tackling clutter in the kitchen can feel overwhelming, but the good news is that many problems — out-of-control food storage containers, impossible-to-grab lids, an overly stuffed refrigerator — can be solved by investing in a few low-cost organizational systems or tools.

With the help of professional organizers Ann Lightfoot, co-founder of Done & Done Home, and Nonnahs Driskill, founding organizer at Get Organized Already!, we picked out 20 top-rated and expert-approved kitchen organizers, all priced under $20.

mDesign Plastic Organizing Bin With Handles ($14.99, originally $17.98; amazon.com)

mDesign Plastic Organizing Bin With Handles

Amazon

mDesign Plastic Organizing Bin With Handles

Lightfoot loves this basic clear plastic bin — which she calls “one of our versatile essentials” — for organizing in pantries, kitchen cabinets and refrigerators. Opting for clear bins ensures you can see what’s inside, which will help to cut back on food waste and overpurchasing, and the handles make it easy to grab and pull down from a shelf.

__________________________________________________________________________

Simple Houseware Under-Shelf Baskets, Set of 2 ($15.87; amazon.com)

Simple Houseware Under-Shelf Basket

Amazon

Simple Houseware Under-Shelf Basket

Cabinet space can be extended to create more storage space by installing an under-shelf basket that hooks over existing, built-in shelves. Just be sure to measure your shelving before purchasing to make sure it will fit your cabinets; this is a general rule to follow when purchasing any sort of organizational system — always measure before you buy!

__________________________________________________________________________

iDesign Stackable Cabinet Shelf ($16.99; containerstore.com)

iDesign Stackable Cabinet Shelf

The Container Store

iDesign Stackable Cabinet Shelf

Using stacking shelves will double the amount of storage space inside cabinets and pantries. Skip wire-style stacking shelves, which can be unstable, and opt for this stackable shelf set that has a plastic tray top, so you can use it for small things. Bonus! It folds flat for easy storing if you temporarily need use of the entire cabinet for tall or bulky items.

__________________________________________________________________________

Oxo Good Grips Lazy Susan Turntable (starting at $12.99; amazon.com)

Oxo Good Grips Lazy Susan Turntable

Amazon

Oxo Good Grips Lazy Susan Turntable

Driskill loves this oversized lazy Susan with its 16-inch diameter for what she calls “that dark hole, aka corner kitchen cabinet.” A turntable is a great way to maximize hard-to-reach storage spaces, making it easier to get what you need when you need it.

__________________________________________________________________________

Expand-A-Shelf ($11.99; containerstore.com)

Expand-a-Shelf

The Container Store

Expand-a-Shelf

“We love using the Expand-A-Shelf when organizing kitchens,” Lightfoot says. The plastic riser-style shelf expands from 14 inches to 27 inches and can hold spices, small canned goods or jars. The genius of the design is its three-tiered shelf, which makes it easier to spot items in the back of a dark or cluttered cabinet.

Pullout Lid Organizer ($14.99; containerstore.com)

Pullout Lid Organizer

The Container Store

Pullout Lid Organizer

The lids to pots and pans are oddly shaped and can be difficult to keep organized — and even more difficult when it comes to finding the size you need from a big heap of lids. A lid organizer solves that problem, making it easy to grab for lids when you need them without all the clatter.

__________________________________________________________________________

YouCopia StoraLid Food Container Lid Organizer (starting at $15.14, originally starting at $15.99; amazon.com)

YouCopia StoraLid Food Container Lid Organizer

Amazon

YouCopia StoraLid Food Container Lid Organizer

The trick to making divided storage solutions work is to look for ones that are adjustable so that you can tailor the organizer to fit your specific needs. This organizer will keep food storage lids tidy, and its five adjustable dividers can hold round, rectangular and square container lids up to 9 inches in length or diameter.

__________________________________________________________________________

Wayfair Basics Wrap Organizer Shelving Rack ($14.25; wayfair.com)

Wayfair Basics Wrap Organizer Shelving Rack

Wayfair

Wayfair Basics Wrap Organizer Shelving Rack

A food wrap organizer is a smart way to store boxes of food storage bags, tin foil and plastic wrap, making them more accessible to reach for when putting away leftovers or making lunch to go. If you’re a big meal prepper, consider investing in one of these stations to streamline your process; it’s a small investment with a big payoff.

Cooks Innovations Fridge Mat Can Organizer ($9.99, originally $12.99; amazon.com)

Cooks Innovations Fridge Mat Can Organizer

Amazon

Cooks Innovations Fridge Mat Can Organizer

When it comes to in-fridge storage solutions, look for products with small footprints to maximize limited space. This mat-style can organizer provides stability for stacking cans, pyramid-style, without taking up any extra width.

__________________________________________________________________________

iDesign Fridge Bins Wine Holder ($9.99; containerstore.com)

iDesign Fridge Bins Wine Holder

The Container Store

iDesign Fridge Bins Wine Holder

Driskill suggests buying two or more of this stackable bottle holder “to use in the fridge for wine and water bottles, or in a cabinet for empty water/sports bottles.” The clear plastic design allows you to see what’s stored so you won’t mistake a Chablis for a chardonnay.

__________________________________________________________________________

Copco Lazy Susan Turntable ($5.99; amazon.com)

Copco Lazy Susan Turntable

Amazon

Copco Lazy Susan Turntable

Driskill calls this 9-inch lazy Susan “genius” and uses it to store small bottles in cabinets, pantries and especially in the fridge, where the smaller footprint won’t take up as much space as turntables with a larger diameter.

__________________________________________________________________________

Outus 132-Piece Removable Food Labels Stickers ($7.99, originally $8.99; amazon.com)

Outus 132-Piece Removable Food Labels Stickers

Amazon

Outus 132-Piece Removable Food Labels Stickers

If you’re a meal prepper, or if you’re just trying to cut down on food waste, labeling storage containers with the contents and date they were prepared is a crucial element of the process. These easy-to-remove labels won’t stick permanently to your storage containers, and they come with a waterproof pen.

Expandable Drawer Dividers, Set of 2 ($16.99; containerstore.com)

Expandable Drawer Dividers, Set of 2

The Container Store

Expandable Drawer Dividers, Set of 2

When it comes to storing utensils in drawers, Driskill likes this set of two expandable drawer dividers. “Keeping kitchen tools separated makes them a little bit easier to find,” she says, and this set allows you to adjust the dividers to accommodate oversized and/or oddly shaped utensils.

__________________________________________________________________________

Stoneware Tilley Utensil Holder ($13; target.com)

Stoneware Tilley Utensil Holder

Target

Stoneware Tilley Utensil Holder

Keeping counters mostly clear is a good rule to follow for an orderly kitchen. But there are some items, like the cooking tools you use most often, that are best kept in a crock on the counter next to your stove so you’ll be able to grab what you need when you need it.

__________________________________________________________________________

White Storage Bins With Handles (starting at $2.99 each; containerstore.com)

White Storage Bins With Handles

The Container Store

White Storage Bins With Handles

While clear storage bins are generally a good choice, there are times when a bit more privacy is called for. Driskill likes these white plastic storage bins for “use on top shelves for baking ingredients and to corral many bags of snacks, grains, beans or other categories of unruly packaging.”

__________________________________________________________________________

mDesign Metal Wire Sponge Storage Caddy ($7.99, originally $9.99; amazon.com)

mDesign Metal Wire Sponge Storage Caddy

Amazon

mDesign Metal Wire Sponge Storage Caddy

When it comes to sponge holders, always opt for a metal wire caddy over plastic and/or cubbyhole-style models. An open-air caddy will allow sponges to dry faster and more thoroughly when not in use, which will keep them from developing a mildew smell, and metal is less prone to develop mold growth on the caddy itself.

__________________________________________________________________________

Threshold In-Sink Dish Drying Rack ($12; target.com)

Threshold In-Sink Dish Drying Rack

Target

Threshold In-Sink Dish Drying Rack

Driskill recommends this dish drying rack for people who have a double sink because, she says, “storing a dish drying rack in your second sink frees up precious kitchen counter space.”

Caxxa Adhesive Under-Cabinet Paper Towel Holder ($11.99; amazon.com)

Caxxa Adhesive Under-Cabinet Paper Towel Holder

Amazon

Caxxa Adhesive Under-Cabinet Paper Towel Holder

Having a roll of paper towels within reach is critical for quickly wiping up spills. Opt for a wall- or cabinet-mounted paper towel holder to free up counter space without sacrificing convenience.

__________________________________________________________________________

Fastic Under-Cabinet Utensil Holder ($10.99; amazon.com)

Fastic Under-Cabinet Utensil Holder

Amazon

Fastic Under-Cabinet Utensil Holder

Keeping utensils within arm’s reach makes cooking easier, but if you lack counter space, a utensil crock may not work in your kitchen. This utensil holder turns storage upside down, literally, by mounting to the underside of a cabinet.

__________________________________________________________________________

Command Broom and Mop Grippers, 2-Pack ($11.66; amazon.com)

Command Broom and Mop Grippers, 2-Pack

Amazon

Command Broom and Mop Grippers, 2-Pack

Claw-style storage units are designed to grab onto mop or broom handles, allowing you to store them vertically on a wall for easy access. These single-clamp units that stick right onto the wall (without damaging it) are the perfect way to take advantage of a small, unused space to hang a dustpan and broom set.

0
Record Store Day 2021 offers a sign of hope for businesses working on their pandemic rebound


Of all the aspects of normality Americans missed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, physical touch has been a common theme. The touch associated with browsing at a record store is no exception — clicking a download button can’t match the feeling of walking into a shop with other music fans, flipping through album covers and holding a new disc.

Vinyl may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the impacts of the pandemic, but for some business owners, it’s everything. This Saturday, the second of two Record Store Days being held this year, offers a sign of hope for independent businesses trying to recover from some of the darkest days they have seen.

Record Store Day is a global event to “celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1,400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally,” according to organizers.

The first Record Store Day was on April 19, 2008, and has since been a single day devoted to exclusive vinyl releases only available at participating record stores. It often features performances, cookouts and artist meet-and-greets.

Because of the pandemic, celebrations looked a lot different last year. Record Store Day was split up into three “drops” in August, September and October instead of the typical one-day celebration that happens earlier in the year.
This year, celebrations have fewer restrictions, but still look different from those pre-pandemic. Record Store Day was split up into two drops this time — June 12 and July 17.

A growing trend

Despite many record stores having to shut down in 2020, last year was the largest year for vinyl album sales in the past three decades, according to MRC Data, which has been electronically tracking sales since 1991.

Vinyl sales grew by 46% to 27.5 million copies sold in 2020, MRC Data told CNN. That’s despite an overall decline in album sales, which includes digital and CDs, compared to numbers from 2019.

Last year, vinyl sales outpaced CD sales for the first time since the 1980s.
The famous artists behind history's greatest album covers

Business owners told CNN while they were able to shift to online sales during the lockdown, there’s nothing like physically going to the store and getting your hands on a record.

Celebrating recovery

June’s Record Store Day drop came as many stores were in the process of reopening in alignment with states’ relaxing restrictions.

Jon Lambert, the owner of Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, New Jersey, told CNN he has been celebrating every day since his store was able to reopen in June 2020. He said his store’s 40th anniversary fell the day before New Jersey shut down nonessential services in March 2020.

“My celebration essentially was popping a bottle of Champagne and furloughing every employee I had, except for two,” he said. “It was the most devastating day I’ve ever had — to let these people go.”

Customers wait in line to enter Chicago's Shuga Records on Record Store Day on April 13, 2019.

While the store could reopen last June, there were still restrictions in place. That made celebrating Record Store Day tricky, but some innovation went a long way. Lambert said his store used a warehouse next door and a canopy to set up tables outside, allowing people to socially distance and wait on the sidewalk instead of packing into the store, which would have more than 100 people at a time inside on a normal Record Store Day.

But Lambert said even though he doesn’t have the capacity restrictions he had last year, he planned to keep some outdoor elements for customers’ comfort.

For California’s Amoeba Music, it hasn’t been business as usual, either. There weren’t guest DJs or celebrity appearances in June. Co-owner Jim Henderson told CNN the focus was on the sales and “giving people an opportunity to really just enjoy the shopping and connect with the music.”

Amoeba, which has locations in Berkeley, Hollywood and San Francisco, had to close for several months last year and celebrated Record Store Day online. While Amoeba still has some limitations in place, Henderson expected a “holiday-type atmosphere.”

“It’s just not quite yet the normal Record Store Day, but we know it’s coming. We’re getting there,” he said.