Want more than a Chromebook? Try this 15-inch HP laptop for $299.


This HP laptop takes care of the basics — and well.Save $50: The HP 15.6-inch 1080p laptop with AMD Ryzen 3 3250, 4GB RAM, and 128GB SSD is $299 at Walmart as of Aug. 24.

Students generally only need a cheap, solid laptop to take care of schoolwork. But while Chromebooks are more popular these days, they can’t always beat a laptop with a more robust operating system — especially one that’s on sale for under $300.

Get some extra bang for your buck with this HP 15.6-inch 1080p laptop with a Ryzen 3 3250 processor, which is currently on sale for $299 at Walmart. On top of that, it qualifies for either free two-day delivery or Walmart’s next day delivery, depending on your location.

This particular HP laptop offers 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage on a speedy solid-state drive, which should be enough for most students. You’ll also enjoy access to an AMD Ryzen 3 3250 processor, which is sufficient for everything from web browsing, watching videos on the 1080p display, or using common programs like Word and Excel for school and work.

Keep in mind that this HP laptop comes with Windows 10 Home in S mode. Put briefly, S mode is meant to help with performance and runs apps exclusively from the Microsoft Store. If you want to download and run third-party apps, you’ll need to switch out of S mode.

Save $50 at Walmart

Credit: HP

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A pizza-making robot is now on the market. Will restaurants bite?


A company has started selling its pizza-making robot to restaurants. Now it has to convince chefs it’s worth the money.

Last week, Seattle-based Picnic announced that it’s now accepting pre-orders for its pizza-assembling robot. The announcement happened at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, an annual gathering of more than 13,000 pizza professionals.


Credit: picnic

The “Pizza System” consists of a collection of modules that dispense sauce, cheese, and toppings onto dough. According to a press release, the cost of leasing the machine “ranges from $3,500 to $5,000 per month including free installation and maintenance,” and that with the Pizza System, a single person can make up to 100 pizzas in an hour.

While Picnic’s robot isn’t new (it debuted in 2019,) it’s newly available to restaurants. Picnic ran successful pilot programs with T-Mobile Park and the Las Vegas Convention Center. But both are large venues that need to produce fast food for the masses. A local pizza joint has very different demands.

“I would never use that machine because I’m creating a dining experience,” wrote Paulie Giannone, owner of Paulie Gee’s, in an email while also at the Pizza Expo. Giannone, better known as “Paulie Gee,” started out cooking pizzas in an outdoor oven he built at his house in New Jersey. He now has seven pizzerias that serve pies with fun names like the “Ricotta Be Kiddin’ Me” and “Grapeful Dead.”

Paulie Gee's is just as much about personal connection as it is about pizza.

Paulie Gee’s is just as much about personal connection as it is about pizza.
Credit: Paulie Gee’s

For Giannone, a human touch is what creates a personal connection with his customers, and a machine would take away from that.

“My restaurants are not a business to me, they are my life pretty much,” he said.

Others saw more practical problems.

“I would say that the least amount of problems that a pizza place has is topping pizza,” said Matthew Hyland, executive chef and co-owner of New York City restaurants Emily and Emmy Squared. From Hyland’s perspective, topping pizzas was never really a problem that needed to be solved in the first place.

He’d be more interested in a robot that had more sophisticated skills.

“Replacing skilled labor like stretching the pie, that would definitely be more helpful,” he said.

Along the same lines, Zak Fishman, owner of Prime Pizza in Los Angeles, doesn’t see much added value. He said he didn’t see anything in the Pizza System video that made him think “that this would be better than having a human.”

When it comes to working in a kitchen, what matters most to Daniel Cutler, chef and owner of Ronan in Los Angeles, is versatility.

“If you’re pigeon-holed, you can only do one job, you’re less valuable than everyone else,” Cutler said. He also mentioned how his customers like the experience of watching the pizza being made, and called the Pizza System “a big eyesore.”

Chef Daniel Cutler of Ronan says customers like watching their pizzas being made by hand.

Chef Daniel Cutler of Ronan says customers like watching their pizzas being made by hand.
Credit: ronan

According to Cutler’s co-owner and wife Caitlin, Ronan would pay around $2,400 a month to hire a line cook to do the same job. So it actually costs more money to lease the Pizza System — almost double, in fact.

In an email, Clayton Wood, CEO of Picnic, addressed the pricing model.

“Our customers have indicated that the labor savings, reduced food waste savings, consistency of product, and ongoing support justify the monthly fee,” he said.

Wood also pointed out that because of its RaaS (robot as a service) business model, there’s not an upfront cost for the system.

A robot that stretches dough would be more helpful for Chef Matthew Hyland.

A robot that stretches dough would be more helpful for Chef Matthew Hyland.
Credit: Evan sung / emily pizza

Despite what these chefs had to say about it, Picnic says interest in the robot has been strong.

“From individual pizzeria owners and regional chains to large-scale managed food services and corporations, customers repeatedly saw the benefits that the Picnic Pizza System could have on their store’s bottom line,” said Wood.

The company said it would reveal some its customers “in the coming months.”

Waymo robo-taxi starts picking up passengers in San Francisco


Waymo One is a robo-taxi.Just when you thought there were too many self-driving cars being tested on the streets of San Francisco, get ready for even more, but with passengers.

Alphabet-owned self-driving company, Waymo, on Tuesday became the first taxi operator to offer autonomous rides to the public in SF. Waymo first started at Google before spinning off on its own.

While Waymo’s autonomous taxi service called Waymo One has been operating in the Phoenix, Arizona region since the end of 2018, the rides in a sensor-loaded Chrysler Pacifica had only been available in the desert suburbs until now.

In San Francisco early riders will be able to book a robo-ride through the Waymo app, but the rides will be free. Waymo is not yet permitted to charge for the experimental rides. Think of it as joining the beta testing group for the Level 4 autonomous system that can drive without human intervention in most scenarios.

Unlike Arizona’s fully autonomous rides, a safety driver — a position Waymo has dubbed “autonomous specialist” — will still be in the front seat, monitoring the car as it makes it way through San Francisco’s notoriously steep hills and narrow streets. Eventually, Waymo plans to transition to a fully driverless experience.

Because of the pandemic, there’s a thick plastic partition between the front seats and back seats. Waymo also provides wipes and hand sanitizer.

Another difference between Waymo’s new endeavor and the told Trusted Tester program in Arizona is choice of cars. Instead of modified minvans, Waymo will use its fleet of Jaguar I-Pace electric vehicles.

I rode in one of the white, Waymo-labeled I-Paces in SF’s Sunset District on the western side of the city, which falls into the service area where the cars will operate. The cars won’t drive in the densest parts of the city, including downtown, Civic Center, the Mission, Chinatown, or along the Embarcadero.

Where you can ride in San Francisco.

Where you can ride in San Francisco.
Credit: Waymo

After ordering my ride from the Waymo app (much like the process of ordering a Lyft or Uber ride), a Waymo appeared with a driver in the front seat. For the next 15 minutes we drove around the residential streets of the outer Sunset, making the occasional stop to see what it’d be like to use the taxi service to run errands or drop off friends. (At the start of the rollout, only family members of the selected early testers will be allowed to join the autonomous rides. Sorry, friends.)

A screen in the backseat showed the route, and offered a peek at what the car was “seeing,” including not just the road, but pedestrians and fellow cars. You can also follow along (and control the music that plays in the car) through the app.

Track your ride.

Track your ride.
Credit: Sasha Lekach / Mashable

Hovering hands.

Hovering hands.
Credit: Sasha Lekach / Mashable

The only issue occurred on one of the many two-way stops in the area. A white Tesla didn’t realize the Waymo had the right of way and barreled into the intersection. The safety driver took over driving briefly to make sure the Tesla stopped and we could continue through, even though we didn’t have a stop sign.

Other autonomous car companies like, General Motors-backed Cruise, test on San Francisco streets, but the public hasn’t been able to take rides in those vehicles yet. Instead residents have become accustomed to different vehicles from Cruise, Zoox, Waymo, and others.

To become an early Waymo One user, you can apply through the app, which is available for iPhone and Android users.

How to use iPhone’s Bedtime mode


A complete guide to using iPhone's Bedtime mode, your first step to eight hours of sleep.The iPhone’s “Bedtime mode” within the Clock app is an innovative and interesting feature.

Working on the basis that being consistent with the amount of sleep you get (i.e. going to bed and waking up at the same time every day) is better for your health, iPhone’s Bedtime mode helps make that goal easier to achieve.

In order to access and use iPhone’s Bedtime mode you’ll need to have a device that’s running on iOS 13 or earlier. If your iPhone is running on iOS 14 or later, you still have options to track your sleep, just not through Bedtime mode. If you have iOS 14 and up you can track your sleep using an Apple Watch and Apple’s Sleep feature (located in the Health app) or download one of many sleep apps from the app store. We recommend experimenting until you find the sleep app that’s right for you.

If your iPhone does have iOS 13 or earlier, however, Bedtime mode is ready to roll. Here’s everything you need to know about using iPhone’s Bedtime mode — from getting started with the feature and analyzing your sleep results to learning how to turn off Bedtime mode and more.

So, how much sleep do you need?

If you’ve never really thought about it before, it can be hard to guesstimate exactly how much sleep your body needs.

While everyone is different, there are some general guidelines, based on age, to help you come up with a figure. The guidelines, published in Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, were penned by a panel of experts that looked at 320 studies on the matter.

  • Teenagers (ages 14-17): 8-10 hours

  • Young adults (ages 18-25): 7-9 hours

  • Adults (ages 26-64): 7-9 hours

  • Older adults (ages 65-plus): 7-8 hours

It’s worth taking these guidelines seriously, as getting yourself into long-term “sleep debt” has been linked to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. That’s why iPhone’s Bedtime mode comes in handy.

Getting started with iPhone’s Bedtime mode

Time for bed!

Time for bed!
Credit: Apple

The setup process for your iPhone’s Bedtime mode is pretty simple. To start, tap the Clock app on your iPhone and then tap “Bedtime” at the bottom of your screen. Your iPhone will guide you through the necessary steps as soon as you hit the “Get Started” button. (Note: The exact order these setting options will appear to you may vary, depending which version of iOS you are running.)

Set your own bedtime.

Set your own bedtime.
Credit: apple

First, use Bedtime mode to set the time you’d like to wake in the morning, then hit Next.

You can select one, several, or all  days of the week for Bedtime.

You can select one, several, or all  days of the week for Bedtime.
Credit: apple

You’ll be asked to select which days of the week you’d like to be woken at the time you just selected. For the sake of consistency, iPhone’s Bedtime mode recommends you wake at the same time every day, even on days off.

Reach for the full eight hours. You can do it.

Reach for the full eight hours. You can do it.
Credit: apple

You’ll then be prompted to select how many hours sleep a night you need. iPhone’s Bedtime mode suggests between seven and eight hours of sleep for adults, but it’s completely up to you.

Reminder time!

Reminder time!
Credit: apple

Bedtime mode will then ask you to set up a “bedtime reminder,” an alarm that goes off right when you should be heading to bed, or give you a few minutes of notice.

Select a sound that soothes you.

Select a sound that soothes you.
Credit: apple

iPhone’s Bedtime mode will then ask you to select the sound your iPhone will play to wake you. A far cry from alarm clocks of yore, the options are really quite pleasant — from birdsong to gentle piano — all of which gradually build in volume for a more civilized wake-up experience.

Once you’ve gone through the Bedtime mode setup process, you will see something that resembles this screen:

Bedtime, baby!

Bedtime, baby!
Credit: apple

Now, whenever you go into the Bedtime screen in your alarm clock app, you’ll see your sleep time plotted in a graph. To turn off Bedtime mode on your iPhone you can toggle the feature off (and on again) by tapping the green sliding icon at the top right of the screen.

Viewing your sleep stats with iPhone’s Bedtime mode

You can view your most recent sleep stats from Bedtime more by going into the alarm clock app.

Here's where you find your sleep stats.

Here’s where you find your sleep stats.
Credit: Apple

The at-a-glance way to read your analysis in Bedtime is to see if all your “Sleep History bars” are aligned. To see more in-depth data, tap the option to view “Show more in Health” at the bottom of the screen.

This then opens your iPhone’s Health app, which is where your sleep history and analysis from Bedtime is stored.

See if you're really catching Zzzs.

See if you’re really catching Zzzs.
Credit: apple

From the Health app, you can view your Bedtime data on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis in graph format. Tapping on the graph will bring up your Bedtime data in a list format.

Look at that list!

Look at that list!
Credit: apple

Changing your iPhone’s Bedtime mode settings

To adjust your iPhone’s Bedtime mode settings at any time, simply go into the Bedtime screen of your alarm clock app and tap “Options” at the top left of your screen.

Get ready to peep some options.

Get ready to peep some options.
Credit: apple

From here you can change the days of the week that you want Bedtime enabled, your Bedtime reminder time, what sound you wake to, and the volume of your alarm.

Happy snoozing, Bedtime users.

This story was originally published in November 2020 and updated in August 2021.

Enjoy smooth flights and beautiful 4K footage with a smart drone on sale


Record stable, clear 4K photos and videos.TL;DR: Incorporate birds-eye footage into your photo and video shoots with the SG107 Smart Drone. As of Aug. 24, scoop one up on sale for only $49.99 — a 37% savings.

So you’ve finally caved and decided to buy your very own drone after watching your friends snap gorgeous aerial footage. The only problem is knowing where to start. You don’t want to spend a fortune or get something too advanced as a first-time pilot. But you also don’t want to get something that will die after a few flights.

If you’re looking for a drone to snap scenic pics from above but don’t want to break the bank, snag the SG107 Smart Drone from Genius Depot while it’s on sale. Great for beginners, the SG107 offers a stable flight and compact build but is packed with plenty of features. And because of its headless design, you don’t have to worry about making adjustments to the aircraft before flying.

During your flights, which can last up to seven minutes on a single charge, you can capture and record 4K HD images and aerial videos from plenty of angles. Use the compatible app to tap into even more features, like gesture controls, route mapping, and more. When your flight comes to an end, one-touch return will bring the drone back to you.

See the quadcopter in action:

Ready to take flight? For a limited time, the SG107 Smart Drone is available for only $49.99 (regularly $79). It comes with remote control, two remote joysticks, spare propellers, protective frames, a single body battery, and more. To make your flights last longer, you can also score the drone with a dual battery pack for just $59.99. And if you spend $50 or more on your order, you’ll automatically get a $10 credit added to your account within 14 days.

Protect your identity and access leading streaming sites: The best VPNs in August 2021


Welcome to the wonderful world of VPNs. These popular security tools protect your identity and data, bypass online restrictions, and much more. If this is all very new to you, you’ve probably got a lot of questions. Don’t worry, because we can help.

We’ve done all the hard work for you and researched these services to provide the information that matters. We’re nice like that.

This is the definitive breakdown of everything you need to know about VPNs.

What is a VPN?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide important protection for your data and identity when you’re online. They offer this online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network that hides your real IP address. This means that all of your activity is untraceable and secure.

Basically, you can think about VPNs as encrypted tunnels through which all of your online traffic passes through. Nobody can see into the tunnel, and everything inside the tunnel is protected against online threats like viruses, hackers, and malware.

Why should you consider investing in a VPN?

Any sort of activity on an unsecured WiFi network leaves your private information and browsing habits exposed to the world, unless you’re using a VPN. There’s no need to panic, because whether you’re sending important emails, doing some online shopping, or paying essential bills, VPNs make sure that everything remains private and anonymous.

First and foremost, VPNs are designed to provide online security, but there is another reason that millions of people use these services: streaming more content from around the world. By hiding your real IP address and connecting you to a server in another location, you can trick your favourite streaming services into thinking that you are based in a different country. This means that you can watch all of the shows and films from global libraries, like all the extra content on American Netflix. This is the quickest and easiest way of boosting your content options, without the need to rely on a dodgy stream.

What are the most important VPN features?

There are plenty of things that you should consider when it comes to VPNs, but we don’t have all day. Instead of listing off every feature offered by the best VPNs, we have highlighted a selection of the most important things to think about.

Before you make any sort of decision, you should look out for connection speed, server network, number of logins, and more important features:

Connection speed: Using a VPN is going to produce a drop in your connection speed, but you shouldn’t accept a significant drop that is going to result in buffering. Be sure to select a VPN that doesn’t negatively impact your connection speed to the point that you can’t watch a film or download a file without frustration.

Number of connections: Some VPNs let you connect an unlimited number of devices with the same account. Others limit you to just a single device. You should look out for a service that offers multiple simultaneous connections, so you can stay protected on all your devices at the same time.

Server network: The very best VPNs provide access to literally thousands of geographically diverse servers. It’s useful if a VPN has a lot of servers in key locations, because you should always be able to find a stable and speedy connection for streaming, shopping, or browsing anonymously. It’s not a straightforward case of more is better, but it’s always good to have options.

Access streaming sites from around the world with a VPN.

Access streaming sites from around the world with a VPN.
Credit: Pexels

Privacy policy: It’s worth paying special attention to the data-handling, storage, and usage practices of the VPN you are planning on using. These practices should be laid out in a privacy policy, and if they aren’t clear, it’s best to avoid. Most VPNs require access to your IP address, online transactions, and browsing history, plus your personal details when you sign up. If privacy is the objective, it’s absolutely essential that your VPN is not going to store these details. If it does, the whole thing is kind of pointless.

Encryption: There are different levels of encryption, and whilst it’s important to take note of the grade provided by your VPN, the best options will all offer powerful protection for your data. You are likely to come across terms like “military-grade” and “enterprise-grade,” which just means that you can rely on it to do its job.

Bandwidth: There are some VPNs out there that place monthly caps on network bandwidth, meaning you can only download a certain amount of data. You should avoid these services, unless you’re on a free trial. If you’re paying for a VPN, you should be able to download and upload as much as you want.

Should you consider free VPNs?

The good news is that there are plenty of free versions of popular VPNs, plus free trials of VPNs with full access to everything you get with a premium plan. Alternatively, you can pay for a VPN. So which option is best for you and your lifestyle?

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with VPNs. There tends to always be a catch with free versions, and it’s normally in the form of limited data usage. If you’re just an occasional user, these plans will work fine. But if you’re going to be streaming or downloading, this isn’t going to work. Free trials are a little bit different: they come with everything you get in a paid plan, but obviously they don’t tend to last very long. Trials are great for testing out a service before committing, but this isn’t a long-term solution.

What we’re saying is that the best option for streaming securely and accessing the online world without restrictions is with a paid subscription to a VPN. To gain access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you need to pay up. The best VPNs are generally the most expensive, but there are plenty of cheap plans out there, especially if you’re willing to commit to a lengthy contract.

What is the best VPN?

There are a lot of VPN providers out there all offering different sets of features, with different pricing structures. We recommend taking some time to carefully access your options, and decide on what you really need from your provider. Once you have established your priorities, you can check out this roundup of the very best VPNs.

We have tracked down everything on offer and lined up a selection of the very best VPNs for streaming, shopping, and everything else. We have tried to find something for everyone and every budget, and you can find popular services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost VPN in this list. All you need to do is weigh up these options against your own set of priorities, and then pick a favourite from the bunch. Simple, right?

These are the best VPNs in 2021.

Google wants to stop echo-shaming on Meet calls once and for all


Is this the end of echo on Google Meet calls? Let's all hope so.There’s nothing worse than being annoyed at constant echo at a Google Meet call, only to find out it was your equipment causing it.

OK, perhaps that’s not the absolute worst thing that can happen in a video call, but it’s still pretty annoying. The fact of the matter is, it’s just hard to find out whose mic is causing an echo during a video call. Now, however, Google is doing something to remedy that.

On Monday, the company announced a new feature in Google Meet, which will notify a user when echo is detected from their system. When that happens, users will see a red dot on the “more options” button at the bottom of their Meet window, along with a text notification — surely a lot better than someone yelling at you mid-meeting to “turn down your damn volume, Stan!”

Are you echoing? Here's what you can do.

Are you echoing? Here’s what you can do.
Credit: google

Furthermore, if you click on the text notification, you’ll be taken to Google’s Help Center, which has some recommendations on what you can do to fix the issue.

According to Google, the feature will be on by default, and it will roll out gradually over the next two weeks. It will be available to all Google Workspace users, as well as G Suite Basic and Business customers.

Give your record collection a modern spin with this Bluetooth turntable


Play vinyl records and stream music on one device.TL;DR: Boost your music listening experience with the mbeat® PT-18K Bluetooth Vinyl Player. As of Aug. 24, grab one for just $249 — a 31% savings.

The world can’t agree on anything, so it should come as little surprise that even the highest-quality music format is debated. Many audiophiles will say that when it comes to sound quality, nothing beats vinyl. They’re purists when it comes to music matters and can’t seem to get behind the digital versions. But the truth of the matter is, lossless digital audio is more convenient, streamlined, and can sound pretty incredible, too.

If you’re on the fence and love the convenience of digital, but the vibes and quality of vinyl, invest in a turntable that offers the best of both worlds: spinning and streaming. The mbeat® PT-18K Bluetooth Vinyl Player delivers both formats seamlessly and is currently on sale for over 30% off.

The mbeat PT-18K is a high-quality turntable that offers all the essential components of an authentic analog listening experience. It’s fitted with a full-sized metal alloy platter for reduced vibrations and signal disturbance, a moving magnet cartridge for accurate tracking, and an adjustable tonearm for distortion-free listening. You can play 33s or 45s through your own speakers, either wired (RCA/Phono out) or unwired via Bluetooth transmitter. So, if you don’t feel like investing in a full setup, you can stream your tunes through any Bluetooth speaker you have laying around. Either way, it’ll be balanced through the built-in preamp for a warm and vibrant sound.

And for true enjoyment of both analog and digital, this turntable allows you to play and record your vinyl records directly to your PC. So, not only can you digitize your record collection, but you can enjoy the convenience of modern listening with the quality of music from the past.

Check it out:

Regularly $363, you can slash over 30% off and snag the mbeat® PT-18K Bluetooth Vinyl Player for just $249 for a limited time. And while you’re at it, if you spend $50 or more (barring returns), you’ll earn a $10 credit automatically within 14 days of your purchase.

Facebook is adding Messenger’s voice and video calls to main app


Facebook's main app is getting some of the features that were previously only available in Messenger.Remember when Facebook spun off Messenger as a separate app back in 2014, and no one really understood why? It appears that Facebook itself wasn’t exactly sure what it was trying to achieve.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is now bringing some key Messenger features — namely, voice and video calls — to the Facebook main app.

Originally, chats and calls were a part of the Messenger feature which was an integral part of Facebook’s main app. But starting in 2014, users had to download a separate app, Messenger, to access these features.

The company is currently testing the feature in the U.S. and other markets. Connor Hayes, director of product management at Messenger, told Bloomberg the idea is to reduce the need to jump back and forth between the Facebook and Messenger apps.

These are not the only Messenger features Facebook is bringing back to its main app. According to Bloomberg, Facebook started testing a limited version of Messenger’s inbox in the Facebook main app. The company also started merging Messenger with Instagram’s direct messages back in September 2020.

According to Hayes, Facebook is starting to look at Messenger as a service, rather than a standalone app. So, you might see Messenger features built into more and more Facebook products “over time,” said Hayes.

There could be another reason why Facebook is looking to integrate all of its products together in a tighter fashion. In December 2020, the Federal Trade Commission alleged in a lawsuit that Facebook was a monopoly, and that it should be broken up, reinstating Instagram and WhatsApp as separate companies. The complaint was dismissed in June 2021, but there’s a chance that the FTC can make the same case again in the future.