Dash cam reviews 2019: Catch the maniacs and meteors of daily driving


They record what’s ahead. Sometimes they record what’s behind. Most mark it with GPS (or what’s the point?). This is exactly what you need on the mean streets of modern life.

dashcam hub

Rob Schultz/IDG

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Dash cams are already essential in many countries because of scam artists who try to create accidents so they can sue you. They’ve also proven useful for catching cars flying into buildings, or the occasional meteor, as happened in Thailand and in Russia, all thanks to dash cams in the right place at the right time.

But while auto con artists aren’t as common here, recording your excursions is a reasonable precaution to take—especially if you’re driving professionally. And even if you’re not, you may unexpectedly appreciate using it to chronicle your vacation travels—or tap into your smart home, as we recently tested with an Alexa-enabled dash cam, the Garmin Speak Plus.

March 22, 2019: We just reviewed Z-Edge’s T4 dash cam (available on Amazon), which kind of broke our hearts because it’s almost the full package. It offers impressive design and construction, including a 4-inch touchscreen and an easy interface. It sports high-resolution 1440p front and 1080p rear cameras, both of which record some of the best video we’ve seen. We also like the parking mode, which turns on the camera if something (like a thief or a bumper-basher) trips its g-sensor. But it doesn’t have GPS, and that’s a bummer. Read our full review

Best front/rear dash cam

The A129 Duo is easily our favorite budget dual-camera dash cam (available on Amazon), with superior 1080p day and night video from both the front and rear cameras. It holds its own against far more expensive duos from Thinkware and Blackvue. Aside from the somewhat unwieldy rear cam cable, it’s all goodness, all the time. Read our full review.

 

Best budget front/rear dash cam

The CDR 895 D Drive HD is by far the cheapest dual-camera system we’re aware of (available on Amazon), even when you add $50 for the option GPS mount. Its controls and interface are top-notch, and day video from the 1080p/160-degree front camera is excellent. For all the details, read our full review of the Cobra CDR 895 D.

Best front dash cam

The 612GW (available on Amazon) made quite the impression with its touch display and extra-detailed 2160p video. It’s a fantastic dash cam overall, though the inferior low-light captures will be an issue for some. Read our review.

Runner-up

Garmin’s Speak Plus dash cam (available on Amazon) deserves mention because it’s the only dash cam (other than its predecessor, the Garmin Speak) that can be controlled using Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant. You can also, of course, ask Alexa to do other things around your home while you’re in the car. You’ll need to keep your smartphone handy to enjoy all the features, though. Read our full review.

Best budget front dash cam

The Vantrue OnDash N1 Pro (available on Amazon) is our new favorite low-cost dash cam. It’s compact, light, relatively inexpensive, takes good video under all conditions, and has a real battery to keep running if the 12-volt fails. Because we recommend GPS for legal and travelogue reasons, I’m going to talk about it as if the $22 optional GPS mount were part of the deal. If you’re smart, it will be. Read our full review.

What to look for in a dash cam

  • 12-volt power: All dash cams use 12-volt power sources, and the majority of them grab it from the auxiliary power outlet (also known as the cigarette lighter). But that power disappears when you turn your car off. Outliers like the Owl and PureCam use OBD-II connector for constant 12-volt power, and OBD II to USB power cables are now available separately as an alternative to hardwiring kits that draw constant 12-volt power from the wiring harness.
  • Battery power: A battery that will keep the camera recording after an accident is important if you want to be sure you record an entire incident when 12-volt power is lost. If run time is sufficient, it also allows you to record for a while with the car turned off. Supercapacitors, though they may sound like an improvement on batteries (in terms of recharge cycles and operating temperatures they are), don’t offer much recording after the fact, and in some cases—none at all. 
  • Continuous looped recording, so you’ll never lose fresh data (Of course, older data will eventually be overwritten.)
  • Incident recording triggered by impact (G) sensors
  • Continued recording when power fails so that you can be sure to capture all of an incident. This requires a battery or large supercapacitor. The camera should have a setting that allows you to set how long the camera runs off 12-volt before shutting down. 
  • A decently wide field of view: You’ll see cameras with as little as 90 degrees’ field of view, but you’ll catch more of what’s around you if you go for 120 to 140 degrees. Some cameras offer 160 to 180 degree lenses. Note that the wider the field of view, the more fish-eye distortion there is, and more processing is involved to compensate.
  • Day and night video recording (night quality is a big variant)
  • MicroSD card storage. Pricier dash cams bundle a storage card. Some come with larger cards, and some budget models come without. There are often bundles available with the card. One camera, the Owl opts for hard-wired internal storage.
  • GPS: This feature could be the tipping point if you use your captured video to resolve a dispute. GPS should either watermark or embed your video with geographical coordinates,. GPS will also automatically set the time in better cameras.
  • Parking monitoring: This simply means running the camera where you’re not in the car. We have reviewed cameras (VaVa) that have a battery large enough to monitor the car (at a reduced video frame rate) with the 12-volt turned off. But most cameras require that you hardwire to a constant 12-volt source. 
  • Dual-channel support: This is what you’ll need if you want to run both front and rear (or interior) cameras, though it’ll involve more cabling (and cost more overall). Only a few models we’ve tested have it: The Thinkware F770 (available on Amazon), for instance, though the rear camera costs an additional $80; and the Cobra CDR 895 D Drive HD (available on Amazon), which gets you into dual-channel video for a measly $200—rear camera included.

How we test dash cams

Few people are as well situated geographically as I am to test dash cams. Within two blocks there are major four- and six-lane thoroughfares, numerous bike lanes, joggers, dog walkers, oblivious ear-budded pedestrians, and a major bus nexus serving both public and private coaches. The opportunities for near-accident are endless.

For every dash cam, I mount it in my car, judging the ease and convenience of doing so. Tip: Many dash cams rely on adhesive for mounting to your windshield. Hot conditions can make it next to impossible to remove the film that protects the adhesive. Remove the film in a cool environment, or place it in the fridge for a minute or two before installing it.

I put each dash cam through several days’ and nights’ worth of driving, recording video and judging the image quality. All the dash cams I’ve reviewed in the last couple of years take good daytime video. However, night video is often plagued by murky shadows and headlight flare. That said, quality is improving rapidly with the introduction of new sensors. Take a close look at the night shots in each review. 

I try all the features: Buttons, display controls, apps. Aside from rear-view support and GPS, the most salient differences between the products are the interface controls and extra features, such as the lane departure and collision warnings that you get with some models. I try them…and I turn them off. In practice, they usually tell me I’m changing lanes, in heavy traffic, or have just been cut off. Additionally, the collision warnings generally come too late to do anything but distract you at exactly the wrong time. 

The most pertinent improvements as of late are HDR support (High Dynamic Range, for greater detail and contrast) and the aforementioned better night video processing. A warmer color palette is also apparent in many newer cameras. Some cameras definitely stand out, but nearly all the dash cams I’ve seen will capture sufficient detail during any daytime metal-on-metal encounters you’re unlucky enough to experience. Again, pay attention to the night video shots—that’s the big differentiator.

What’s next in dash cams

Dash cams have plenty of room to evolve. As nice as dual-channel is, there’s talk about true 360-degree video. Check out TechHive’s review of PowerDVD 16’s 3D playback to see how compelling that can be.

As I predicted at last writing, someone finally produced a dash cam that uploads to the cloud when an incident occurs—the Owl Car Cam. Additionally, it hard-wires by default to the OBD connector for easy-install, 24-hour surveillance. It has some foibles, but read the review—it’s the wave of the future, at least for the high end.

All our dash cam reviews

See the list below for details on dash cams we’re reviewed that are currently available, and check back for reviews of new products in this ever-expanding category.

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Z-Edge T4 dash cam review: Great video, a touchscreen, and style for miles, but no GPS

When I pulled the Z-Edge T4 out of its box, I was thinking the company had made a mistake and sent me a digital camera instead. Most dash cams, capable or not, have a rather cheap feel. The T4, on the other hand, has the heft and feel associated with the object I mistook it for.

The T4 is also a very good dash cam with a super-handy 4-inch touch display and a 1080p rear camera. Put bluntly, it’s easily the classiest dash cam system I’ve reviewed. For $170 with a 32GB SD card? Sold. If you don’t need GPS. Dang. For the whole package, the Viofo A129 remains our top pick. 

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there for buying advance and information on all the dash cams we’ve reviewed.

Design and features

Gushing and consternation aside, the T4 is a somewhat large dark gray and silver camera, measuring approximately 4.5 x 2.5 x 1 inch at the lens. As mentioned, it has a huge 4-inch touch display that’s deftly responsive. 

On the top of the camera are the micro-USB power port and the mini-USB port for the rear camera. On the left side of the unit you’ll find the SD card slot (up to 128GB) and the power button. That’s it. The touch display obviates the need for other buttons. The camera sports a 155-degree field of view, and max resolution is 1440p. You can step that down to save storage space if need be.

Note: As to power, there are now OBD II to micro-USB cables available online for around $10, if you want to hardwire the T4 or any other camera without the hassle of splicing or tapping the wiring harness.

The T4’s on-screen interface can’t match that of the PureCam for style, but it’s more efficient, with its large icons and a very well-organized menu system. It’s really a breeze, and with the nicely sensitive touch display—a joy to use.

The camera also features a 180mAh battery, which was enough to keep it chiming in my backpack for a couple of weeks. Alas, the display won’t turn on while the camera isn’t plugged in, so I couldn’t turn off parking mode until I got to an AC outlet. Yes, there’s parking mode, where the camera will use its g-sensor to wake up and record what just woke it up.

The 1080p rear camera is a plain lens on a small, squarish body, not quite as stylishly designed as its front counterpart. But where the front camera employs a suction mount, the rear uses semi-permanent adhesive tape. That means that here in the city, in an unlocked convertible (to avoid a slashed top), I had to remove the bolt and nut that attach the camera to the mount to assure it remained in my possession long enough to review. A bit of a pain, but doable.

The T4 is warrantied for 18 months, though that doesn’t include the theft I was concerned about, and support is promised for life.

But now to flesh out that bad news, i.e., the lack of GPS, which is a way of proving where incidents occurred if the video details are obscure, and therefore a feature we deem necessary for legal purposes. You might never need it, but then again, you might never need a dash cam, or a car. It’s also super-convenient for tracking your travels and landmarking highlights with mapping software.

I’d give the T4 a pass if there were a way to add GPS, but there isn’t. No port, and as far as the company made me aware, no inline USB solution.

Performance

The T4’s day, night and low-light captures are as good as they get. That may kill the suspense, but just look at them yourself, and you tell me if I have to rattle on any further.

front camera day zedge t4 IDG

The T4 has a WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) setting which didn’t show here, but should enhance color for those times you’re simply capturing a view. Day captures are nicely detailed.

The day capture above shows nice detail, and the stabilization, which you can’t see in a still photo, is also quite good. WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) is available, but wasn’t in use in this capture.

rear camera day zedge t4 IDG

The T4’s rear camera captures are better than some system’s front captures. The dark areas in the image above are from the overhanging trees and the close proximity of the window borders in my convertible.

front camera night zedge t4 IDG

Low-light and night captures show nice detail, and are largely free from excessive headlight flare.

Night captures and low-light captures are very nice, capturing lots of detail and not too much headlight flare. The image below shows how much detail will appear in your surroundings when you process the image brightness.

front camera night zedge t4 lightened IDG

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Below is the rear camera, capturing much the same scene as shown in the T4’s forward camera’s captures. It’s not as detailed, but we’ve seen worse from front cameras.

rear camera night zedge t4 IDG

The night captures from the T4’s rear camera are good, though not as detailed as the front camera’s.

I have little to no complaint about any of the video captured by the T4. Note that this was at 1080, not the 1440p it comes set at. The 1440p is slightly more detailed, but eats up storage space faster.

A great dash cam, but darn

The T4 was destined to be the number one dual-camera dash cam system on our charts until the lack of GPS intervened. If that’s of no concern to you, then it’s certainly the classiest dash cam I’m aware of outside of the Owl and PureCam, and it beats them handily in the physical style and feel of the camera. For a standalone unit that doesn’t save video online, it’s darn near perfection. But the lack of GPS is a bit of a buzz kill. Again… Dang.

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Best e-readers for digital-book lovers


With so many models to choose from, it’s hard to believe there are only two major players in this space. Don’t worry, we’ll help you find just the right model.

best e readers

Rob Shultz

Table of Contents

Folks used to think that e-readers would relegate traditional paper books to the scrapyard of the past and destroy the publishing industry as we knew it. But, in the time since the first Kindle e-reader was unveiled in 2007, the dire declarations of what effect the devices might have on our reading habits and on publishers have given way to widespread acceptance from industry wonks and bookworms alike, for one simple reason: E-readers are pretty great.

Lightweight, easily readable in direct sunlight or, on models equipped with a built-in backlight, in the dead of night, an e-reader is an excellent choice for browsing periodicals, documents, comic books, and of course, books. Most are capable of storing thousands of books—and with power-efficient E Ink displays, word aficionados can typically read for weeks at a time before their device’s battery will need to topping off. These are all great features but, as they’re all features that most e-readers share, choosing which device to buy can be daunting. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you find the device that suits your needs. We’ve assembled reviews of the most popular e-readers on the market today—as well as some you might not have heard of that deserve your attention.

The buying advice you’ll find here is the culmination of months of research and hands-on testing, reinforced by years of experience in hardware journalism and a profound love of reading. We hope you’ll enjoy our in-depth reviews, but if you’re just looking for a quick buying advice, you’ll find our top two picks—and a money-is-no-object recommendation below. Prefer to do your own research? Scroll down to the features we think you should look for in an e-reader.

Updated 3/22/2019 with news of the All-new Kindle, the updated affordable model (starting at $89.99 on Amazon with Special Offers, or $109.99 without Special Offers). Read more about it in our All-new Kindle news story, where we also compare its specs to those of our top pick, the Kindle Paperwhite. It ships April 10. Stay tuned for our review.

The best e-reader for most people: Amazon All-new Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

With the All-new Kindle Paperwhite (available on Amazon), Amazon’s not only managed to catch up to the competition like the Kobo Clara HD, it’s lapped them. The new e-reader’s premium features, reasonable price, and wide variety of content make it the best e-reader for most people. Read our full review.

When you buy a Kindle Paperwhite, you’re not just getting a piece of hardware—you’re investing in access to the largest ecosystem of downloadable text content in the world.Every Kindle owner can access Amazon’s massive online store full of electronic books, magazines, newspapers, and periodicals. That’s something no other e-reader company comes close to competing. Voracious readers can also opt for a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, which provides unlimited monthly access to more than 1.4 million titles. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll be able to borrow books from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or from Amazon Prime Reading

Runner-up best e-reader: Kobo Clara HD

Kobo’s Clara HD (available from Rakuten Kobo) appeared at a time when Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite was getting long in the tooth. While the All-New Paperwhite has caught up in features and design, the Clara HD is still a strong competitior, especially if you want to stay free of Amazon’s clutches. The content you lose if you forsake Amazon is the Clara HD’s only major challenge. Read our review.

Best luxury e-reader: Amazon Kindle Oasis 2017

Note: We’ve transitioned our e-reader coverage to PCWorld, starting with this 4.5-star review of the Amazon Kindle Oasis (2017 model). When price is no object, the Kindle Oasis is the e-reader to buy. While it doesn’t have the large display of Kobo’s Aura One, the Oasis provides luxury in the form of choice and brilliant industrial design.

With built in 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, you can download read books and periodicals on the Oasis’ bright, high-resolution display just about anywhere you go. The Oasis is the lightest e-reader we’ve tested so far, yet can still hold enough power to allow you to read for weeks at a time.

Runner-up luxury e-reader: Kobo Aura One

The Kobo Aura One is a big e-reader with a 7.8-inch, 300 ppi display and twice as much storage as any product we reviewed. We weren’t impressed with its backlight, which the manufacturer claims doesn’t emit the type of blue light that can interrupt sleep cycles, and you can’t get 3G connectivity with any of the Kobo products, but the Kobo Aura One left us happy in every other respect.

Features to look for in an e-reader

When we evaluate e-readers, experience has taught us that there are a few features an electronic reading slab should have to be a winner. To make your search for a great e-reader as pain-free as possible, you’ll want to consider the following:

Backlight You can use an e-reader with an adjustable backlight in almost any environment. The light will illuminate the text, but it won’t disturb others around you (including your bed partner). It’s a feature that adds cost to the e-reader, but we think it’s essential to having a good user experience.

Battery life and charging Part of the appeal of an e-ink reading device, especially when compared to a smartphone or tablet, is how little power it takes to display text and images. If you run across an e-reader that provides less than a few weeks of use before it needs to be recharged, keep running. When the time comes to top off your e-reader’s battery, you shouldn’t have to deal with proprietary cables, AC adapters, or charging docks, either. Look for a device that recharges and/or syncs with your computer via micro USB.

Build quality Owning a piece of technology that’s so light and thin you scarcely remember that it’s in your backpack until you pull it out to use it is a win—but only if its svelte profile and heft don’t come at the cost of durability. We’re not saying that your e-reader should be built like a tank, but it should be able to stand up to the casual abuse it’ll suffer by being knocked around in a purse, backpack, the backseat of a car, or if it’s accidentally knocked off your bedside table.

Connectivity An internet connection delivers the most convenient means of downloading new reading material and connecting to online resources such as dictionaries. Most people find Wi-Fi to be good enough, and every e-reader will have a Wi-Fi adapter onboard, but a 3G connection is a luxury you’ll appreciate every time you’re in the car, on the bus, and anywhere else you can’t log into Wi-Fi. Sure, you could create a hotspot on your phone and connect your e-reader to that, but you’ll never have to think about it if your e-reader is equipped with 3G. Yes, you’ll pay more up front for this option—like we said, it’s a luxury—but that includes the ongoing cost of service for the life of the e-reader.

Content The best e-reader is little more than an expensive paperweight if it doesn’t connect you to vast variety of reading material. This can come through a couple of different channels. Most people will top off their device with fresh reading materials from a well-stocked online store, such as the ones offered by Kobo, Amazon, and Apple’s iBook Store (for Apple products only.) Choose an e-reader that supports a wide range of electronic publishing formats and you’ll be able to draw from a nearly endless supply of free publications via public libraries and other sources.

DRM The acronym stands for digital rights management, it’s a technology designed to protect intellectual property—such as digital books—from being copied and shared.

On-device storage An e-reader typically won’t allow you to download files other than reading material—or in some cases, audio content—so you won’t need the expansive storage that you’d want with a digital audio player, a tablet, or even a smartphone. That said, you’ll want to be able to store a ton of books, magazines, and other publications when you don’t have access to the internet. An e-reader with three or four gigabytes of internal storage is capable of holding thousands of novel-length publications. You’ll also find that some devices come with expandable storage, which can come in dead handy if your reading habits include perusing large PDF files or listening to audio books.

User experience A number of factors will impact an e-reader’s user experience. Resolution is the most important—the higher the better, so as to eliminate jagged edges on letters. Variable font size support, so that you can make the text optimal size for your eyesight. An adjustable backlight, so you can dial it in for the room you’re in or let the device automatically find the right balance between optimal brightness and battery life. A user interface that makes it easy to navigate the book, turn pages, buy new books, make annotations, and share passages with friends.

Our e-reader reviews

We’ve pulled together eight e-reader reviews for this story, and we’ll add new products to the list as they become available (and remove models as they reach end of life). A note about the prices of the Amazon e-readers: You can remove Amazon’s ads from a Kindle’s lock screen before or after you order it. It will cost you $20 either way. The 3G option, of course, must be specified when you order the product, it cannot be added after delivery. That adds $70 the price tag.

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How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free

You can play a DVD in Windows 10 for free with a little help. But that help’s probably best if it doesn’t come from Microsoft. I’ll tell you how Microsoft’s solution sort-of works for some people. Then I’ll tell you about the much better alternative called VLC that anyone can use and gets regular updates. Best of all, it’s free!

Updated March 22, 2019, with a second look at the Windows Store app.

RIP Windows Media Center

When Windows 10 came along in 2015, it left behind Windows Media Center, a utility for home theater PCs that let you play DVDs on your computer. Windows 8 didn’t come with it either, but users running Windows 8 Pro could still install Windows Media Center.

Even that workaround is now gone. Windows Media Center simply doesn’t work. Microsoft offers an official solution for DVD playback, but, well, it’s bad. 

Windows DVD Player from Microsoft is a $15 Windows Store app. It’s a no-frills utility that should just work, but when I tested the app it did anything but. I’m not the only one who experienced this. Checking out the latest reviews, it appears the problems with Windows DVD Player persist since its launch.  

Windows DVD Player: Hit or miss

windowsdvdplayer

Windows DVD Player in Windows 10.

Users who upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7, or from Windows 8 with Windows Media Center, should’ve received a free copy of Windows DVD Player. Check the Windows Store, and you should be able to download it for free. If you’ve got a new PC, however, you’re out of luck for this freebie.

A word of warning: I got Windows DVD Player for free after upgrading from Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center in 2015. Once I did a clean install of Windows 10 after upgrading, however, I lost the right to download Windows DVD Player for free. 

That said, if you do fork over the $15 you can install the app on any of your Windows devices.

I tested Windows DVD Player with an Acer Aspire E 15 laptop running Windows 10 Home version 1803, an internal DVD player/burner, and five commercial DVDs. 

Microsoft offers a 7-day free trial in order to test the app. That’s helpful, given that Microsoft doesn’t offer refunds for its DVD player, but the trial version doesn’t allow you to play movies. Instead, it merely checks your system for “compatibility,” a process that takes a few minutes.

The idea that DVD software in 2019 needs to run a compatibility check is ridiculous, but there it is. In my tests on the Acer Aspire, the compatibility check didn’t work. Instead of showing a “go/no go” result, the app just kept crashing.

With no luck on the Acer, I turned to my trusty Lenovo X220 and an external Transcend standard DVD player/burner. This combo worked with Microsoft’s DVD Player app in 2015 and, as it turns out, still does. So to recap, my 7-year-old Sandy Bridge PC also running Windows 10 1803 was compatible, while an Acer Aspire with the more modern Kaby Lake processor wasn’t. Way to move with the times, Microsoft.

windowsdvdplayer resized Ian Paul/IDG

Windows DVD Player in action

So now that I know the DVD player works with the Lenovo, it’s time to invest $15 of PCWorld’s hard-earned money to see how it plays actual movies. All five DVDs I tested worked, ranging from studio movies to exercise videos. Once I inserted a disk all I had to do was fire up Windows DVD Player, and the disc started playing after a few minutes. Controls are easy enough to manipulate with a mouse, and it covers all the basics: play/pause, fast forward, rewind, and chapter skipping. There are also controls hidden under three dots to jump back to the DVD menu. 

I encountered one annoyance, where some DVD menus couldn’t be navigated properly. You’d click on the option to play the full movie, and end up on a settings screen instead—the menu option right below the one you wanted. This didn’t happen with every DVD, but I did see it once or twice.

Because I now had a full version of the DVD player I decided to test it on the Aspire E15 again, just in case the compatibility test was faulty. All those multiple crashes were correct, however, and the Acer failed to play the same five discs used on the Lenovo. That compatibility check is a key test if you’re considering purchasing this app. Still, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money even if it does work. 

For starters, the app is very bare-bones. The features and interface haven’t changed much, if at all, since it first rolled out in 2015. Taking a look at the current reviews in the Windows Store, some users are also still experiencing playback problems. It’s not even worth $0.99, let alone $15.

The good news for those of you who still want to play DVDs in their PC is there’s a much better free option available for PCs.

VideoLAN VLC for the win

vlcdvd

VLC running on Windows 10.

If you’re using a pre-built, boxed PC from a vendor like Dell or HP, your PC may already have a free commercial DVD playback solution installed.

If not, a better alternative to Microsoft’s Windows 10 DVD Player is to turn to the free and always reliable VLC video player. Make sure you download the desktop app and not the Windows Store version, which doesn’t support DVDs or Blu-ray.

Once it’s installed, open the program, insert a DVD, and click on Media > Open Disc to watch your DVDs.

It’s really that simple, though VLC packs surprising hidden powers for anyone who wants to dive a little deeper. VLC 3.0, for example, added the ability to cast videos and music to Chromecast devices, 360-degree and HDR video support, high-definition audio codec passthrough, and more.

Additional reporting by Brad Chacos

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The best Kindle: Reviews and buying advice


Amazon offers their Kindle e-readers with features and prices to suit the taste of any bookworm. We’ll help you pick the one that’s perfect for you.

kindle hub

Rob Schultz

Table of Contents

When someone says they want an e-reader, they most likely mean they want an Amazon Kindle. Knowing which Kindle to buy is the next question, and it depends on your budget and your reading preferences. With this guide and our in-depth reviews, we’ll help you find just the right Kindle for you or your lucky loved one.

Updated 3/22/2019 with news of the All-new Kindle, the updated affordable model (starting at $89.99 on Amazon with Special Offers, or $109.99 without Special Offers). Read more about it in our All-new Kindle news story, where we also compare its specs to those of our top pick, the Kindle Paperwhite. 

In the decade since Amazon’s E Ink slabs were first introduced to the world, the Kindles’ popularity has elevated its brand recognition to the same heights as Q-Tips and Kleenex—with good reason. Available in five models with varying feature sets, Amazon ensures there’s a Kindle to meet every bookworm’s needs and budget.

While Amazon’s competitors might offer more technologically advanced or less expensive hardware, not a one of them can hold a candle to the sheer volume of books, comics, and periodicals available to download and consume on a Kindle.

kindle paperwhite vs kindle oasis Seamus Bellamy

The Kindle Paperwhite has the same amount of storage and the same display resolution as the Kindle Oasis, but at a fraction of the cost.

Purchasing one of Amazon’s less expensive Kindles could mean missing out on important features that could make the time you spend reading more pleasurable. But that doesn’t mean the most-expensive Kindle is the right choice: Don’t pay for features you won’t use.

Should I choose the Special Offers discount?

With all models, you can pay an additional $15-$20 to nix Amazon’s “special offers,” a euphemism for advertisements that appear on the Kindle’s lock screen. We show the lower special-offers-included prices in our reviews, because you need to choose the more-expensive option after you put the product in online your shopping cart.

If you’ve already chosen Special Offers and now have regrets, we have you covered. You can back out of Special Offers, but it’s going to cost you. Read all about it in our guide to removing ads and Special Offers from your Kindle

To help you find the right Kindle to suit your reading needs and budget, we’ve put together this brief guide, with links to our full reviews of the hardware we recommend.

The best Kindle for most readers

With the All-new Kindle Paperwhite (available on Amazon), Amazon’s not only managed to catch up to the competition like the Kobo Clara HD, it’s lapped them. The new e-reader’s premium features, reasonable price, and wide variety of content make it the best e-reader for most people. Read our full review.

The best waterproof Kindle

If you enjoy reading by the pool, in the bathtub, or lead a lifestyle that places your expensive electronic devices in liquid peril on a regular basis, you’ll be happy to know that the best waterproof Kindle is also our pick for the best Kindle for most people: The All-new Kindle Paperwhite. 

With its IPX8 rating, it can survive in two meters of water for up to an hour at a time. This means it’s possible to take your All-new Kindle Paperwhite to the beach, into the bathtub, or poolside with a light heart. That said, using the device while it’s wet is less than ideal. As with the 2017 Kindle Oasis, the All-new Kindle Paperwhite’s operating system makes it possible to turn off touch input, lest its touchscreen mistake a splash of water for user input.

The luxury Kindle

The most luxurious Kindle is, not surprisingly, Amazon’s most-expensive Kindle, with a starting price of $270 ($250 if you can live with lockscreen ads). The 2017 version of the Kindle Oasis improves on last year’s model in some important and welcome ways: It’s larger than its predecessor: 6.3 x 5.6 x 0.13-0.33 inches, and 6.8 ounces. But it also feels sturdier, more premium. Like the earlier Oasis, the new Oasis has a 300-ppi display.

Furthermore, the new Oasis is waterproof. Indeed, it’s comparable to the Waterfi-treated Kindle Paperwhite, with an IPX8 rating. 

Another big plus is the Kindle Oasis’ support for audiobooks—as long as its via Amazon’s Audible service. Yes, that means third-party audio books, music, and podcasts are off limits, but still, we appreciate the flexibility that the Audible support allows. (Read our full review.)

Front lighting, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth controls are easy to find. It’s also easy to customize the font type and size for an optimized reading experience. Add that the wealth of content that Amazon’s Kindle line excels at, and you’re looking at the epitome of a luxury product.  

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