Best coffee subscriptions and monthly clubs to gift in 2021 – CNET

If you’re looking for a great gift for a coffee lover, my advice is to just get straight to the point and saddle them with the good stuff. Coffee, that is. There are other options, but it’s more likely than not they’ll want to choose their own coffee-making device. And if the coffee drinker in your life is anything like me, they’ve already got more mugs than cupboard space. Gifting a coffee subscription to the caffeine consumer on your list will ensure they have good beans month after month for as long as you send them.

Need a gift for your boss, a colleague or a friend? A subscription to one of these coffee clubs is as close to a no-brainer gift as there is. Remember, caffeine stimulates dopamine, which is one of the main chemicals the brain and body use to feel pleasure. So yeah, being responsible for good coffee showing up to a java-loving friend or family member’s door is likely to land you in good graces. 

The benefits of a coffee subscription or coffee-of-the-month club are obvious. For one, they’ll never go without so you’re always looking at it and never looking for it. Then there’s the variety, with beans procured from far-off lands and micro-roasters to deliver truly unique coffee tasting experiences. And if a subscription feels like to much, most of these coffee clubs and retailers offer a one-time send of special beans — ground or whole. Hey, it’s certainly more interesting than a bottle of wine or fruit basket.

There are many coffee delivery services to choose from in 2021, so finding the best coffee subscription or coffee-of-the-month club to gift this holiday takes a little comparison shopping and we’re here to make that easier. Different coffee subscriptions have carved out their niche in the category, whether that means delivering really (really) good and rare coffee beans from small roasters, a fun theme or charitable element or an emphasis on ethical, fair-trade coffee. But the best coffee subscription for you is the one that delivers the beans they love most with the least hassle and also fits within your budget. 

Maybe your giftee is a coffee creature of habit and likes to have the same — or similar — coffee beans sent monthly. Or perhaps they are a more adventurous coffee drinker looking to try as many new styles, blends and roasts as possible. The good news is all of these online coffee delivery outfits let you subscribe without long-term commitments or complicated contracts. Many also have flexible plans or allow you to make one-time purchases if you have a subscription phobia. (I blame those CD clubs from the ’90s.)

Whether it’s a gift for the 2021 holiday season or just for you, read on to learn more about the best popular coffee subscriptions available in 2021. We’ve tested several but not all of these services and made note of the ones we did. As we continue to try more coffee clubs, we’ll update this list with the things we liked and those we didn’t.

Any of these subscriptions can be gifted seamlessly, too. In most cases, all you’ll need is the recipient’s address. Many have curated gift packs and curated sends if you’re going for the one-time send. 

Cream not included.

Read more: Best coffee maker in 2021

crema-coffee-subscription

A coffee subscription ensures you never run out of java.

Crema.co

Mistobox

Some folks can be particular about their coffee beans and Mistobox understands that. Celebrates it, even. When you join this slick coffee subscription club, it’ll take you through a tasting quiz to hone in on exactly what types of coffee you like. You’ll answer questions about the preferred roast level and intensity, blends versus single-origin and more. MistoBox even wants to know how you take your coffee — black, with cream or espresso-style. From there it’ll pull from a roster of over 50 roasters and get the best beans in your hands monthly. The service will then use an algorithm based on what you liked and didn’t like to keep the coffee you do like — and similar roasts — rolling in.

With shipping ($5 per order) a 12-ounce bag of beans will run you in the neighborhood of $15 a bag but you can save a little by paying up front for a longer subscription. I tried this subscription and found it had one of the most impressive rosters of producers including cult favorites such as Methodical, Bixby Brothers and Ritual.

Bean & Bean

If supporting women-owned businesses and drinking good coffee are both important to you, Bean & Bean is the best option for a coffee subscription. This NYC-based roaster sends some of the best organic, fair trade coffee from various regions around the world to you in signature bright purple packaging. Many of the service’s producers are female-owned and you can use a filter to narrow your search to include only those. 

The subscription process starts off with a quick questionnaire in which you can select a specific roast or you can choose to have Bean & Bean send a variety of female-powered coffees each month. They’ll even grind the beans to the exact consistency you want — or they can send whole beans. I tried the organic Peru Las Damas (chocolate lemon and orange notes) and a female-owned Santa Felisha Purple Gesha honey coffee from Guatemala and both were fresh-tasting, complex and flavorful. 

This is one of the pricier services and breaks down to about $19 a bag (inclusive of shipping). But considering it’s mostly organic and fair-trade coffee that supports female-owned businesses and the coffee is all roasted and ground to order, I think it’s worth the extra few bucks a month. Bean & Bean also has an online marketplace with other products like tea, matcha, instant coffee, honey coffee and more.

Atlas Coffee Club

Atlas Coffee Club delivers single origin craft coffee from one of 50-plus countries of independent coffee roasters where amazing coffee is produced. Not only is the coffee high quality — I got two incredible roasts from Peru – but every coffee subscription box delivery comes with a postcard featuring its country of origin, as well as a message with tasting notes and some brewing tips. It’s a feature I loved and makes the subscription service giftable too.

A full bag of coffee costs $14, and a sample shipping cost is $4.95 (to Chicago, for example), making this specialty coffee subscription a bit pricier. But it’s a fun and delicious way to try different coffees with variety and freshness from around the globe.

Trade

With a slick website and fun marketing copy this is the cool kid coffee club, to be certain. The good news is that Trade has some great beans too. If you love traveling around the US, and always check out the local coffee scene when you do, a Trade coffee subscription box is a good one for you. They’ve got all the best coffee roasters from across the country, like Gimme! from the East Coast, Sightglass from the West Coast, Intelligentsia from the third coast and even more artisan coffee roasters. 

As far as types of coffee subscription options go, you can get two 12-ounce bags of classic blends for $25 total per delivery ($12.50 a bag), or a single amazing coffee bag from one of 400 roasters for between $15 and $22 per delivery (shipping included for both options). Trade takes you through a few coffee onboarding questions to suss out your preferred coffee lover roasts, and if you need freshly ground coffee, it even lets you select your usual brew method for the perfect grind size. You can also sign up for a personalized cold brew subscription.

Grounds and Hounds

“Every pound saves a hound,” is the slogan of Grounds and Hounds coffee company, which donates 20% of all profits to dog rescue organizations. With blends like Morning Walk, Paper & Slippers and even a decaf roast called Hush Puppy, this is the perfect subscription for dog lovers. The coffee I had when I tried Ground and Hounds was fresh, smooth and mild. A great roast to please a wide range of coffee drinkers across the spectrum. You won’t find as many niche roasters with this service but what it does send is high-quality and consistently good.

You can join the Grounds and Hounds Coffee Club with a subscription starting at $14 a bag and $2 per shipment. It’s the ideal way to keep a steady supply of coffee at the ready for those post-walk mornings in front of the fireplace, with your best buddy snoozing at your feet.

Jot

Jot is a simple concept but one that works well for all you iced coffee drinkers. It’s quality cold brew concentrate delivered at a frequency of your choosing. From there you just add water and your favorite milk or nut milk (or nothing) and enjoy. The coffee actually tastes pretty good and you have total control over the strength. Honestly, sometimes all you want is a quick and easy cold brew and it don’t get much easier than this.

As a bonus, Jot comes in these chic little apothecary bottles that make a very satisfying glug when you pour them. A 6.8-ounce bottle makes 14 cups and will run you $20 a month but Jot will send the first bottle for 50% off. So give it a whirl if you love cold brew but don’t love paying $5 a cup at the coffee shop.

Just Coffee Co-Op

Completely worker-owned and established with the goal of building strong relationships with the coffee farmers from which they source their beans, Just Coffee Cooperative independent coffee roasters is a great option for those wanting a more sustainable coffee subscription. Shipping is included, and so when you select a 12-month monthly coffee subscription box, you get two 12-ounce bags each month for $26. 

Crema.co

Crema.co puts a fun spin on coffee subscriptions by allowing you to set up your coffee “playlist.” Peruse their list of coffee types or get started with a little guidance based on craft coffee roasts, types of coffee, and flavor notes. As you select coffees, they are added to your playlist to be delivered one at a time at your chosen frequency, with the option to pause deliveries at any time. Bags of roasted and blended coffee range from $15 to $19, and shipping is free. You can also send a flight of three 4-ounce bags for as little as $19.50. Just make sure you have a coffee grinder, as these bags are whole bean only.

Passion House

Passion House embodies what we mean by really, really good beans. Go with the Roaster’s Choice subscription for a different pick of coffee “genre” with each delivery, or keep it blend-free with the Roaster’s Choice Single Origin coffee subscription. Whether you pick weekly, bi-weekly or monthly coffee box delivery, you’re paying $17 per 12-ounce bag for freshly roasted coffee, plus a one-time shipping fee that averages out to be less than a dollar a bag (a single charge of $7.25). For delicious coffee made from beans this flavorful and aromatic, that is money well-spent.

Bean Box

Bean Box highlights renowned Seattle roasters and has two subscription options. The Coffee of the Month Club brings you 12 ounces of freshly roasted, hand-picked whole bean coffee (you choose the roast, or leave it open to all possibilities: light roast, medium, dark, espresso or decaf) with tasting notes and tips for freshly brewing roasted coffee to perfection, plus a sample of artisanal chocolate to enjoy with your joe. Plans start at a very affordable $69 for three months. Or if you like more variety of coffee, the Bean Box coffee sampler includes four 1.8 ounce bags of coffee in whole bean or ground format; again, you can pick your roast preference. You’ll get a caramel with this option, which starts at $24 for one month. In any case, shipping is included and you can pause or skip deliveries at any time if need be.

Sudden Coffee

If you don’t have time to wait for drip coffee or pour-over, or if you want to ensure you have better quality coffee with you at all times (whether at work, on the road or even camping) you’re in luck, because instant coffee has come a long way. Sudden Coffee is a subscription service that specializes in high-quality, single-origin coffee beans that are freeze-dried in small batches and shipped in recyclable, single-serving test tubes, so you can take them with you anywhere you go. Just add hot water (or cold if you want iced brew) and you have a shockingly great cup of amazing coffee. Deliveries come every month but you can adjust your frequency, and you receive a new variety of coffee blend each quarter (but can choose either light or dark roast). The price varies depending on how many servings you want and how frequently, but start at $20 for an 8-cup pack every month. 

More coffee and food service recommendations 

Are Chromebooks worth it? The pros, cons and why they’re all most people need – CNET

A lot more people were introduced to the world of Chromebooks in the past year as they were snatched up for remote learning and at-home work during the pandemic. It’s likely because of this that I spent more time fielding questions about them from family and friends than I have since they first launched in 2011. That’s right: Chromebooks are now 10 years old and a lot has changed.

Most of my Chromebook conversations are with people buying them for kids. But these Q&A sessions regularly end with them asking “Should I buy one for myself?” And the stock answer is usually, “It depends on your needs.” But after just a little digging, many people realize they simply don’t need to do any more than what can be done on a Chromebook. 

Read more: Best Chromebooks for 2021

A common argument against getting a Chromebook is that you can do so much more with a real computer, i.e., a laptop running on MacOS, Windows or a Linux distro. This is generally true, but again, many people don’t need to do more. What can be done with web, Linux and Android apps on Chromebooks are increasingly more than enough to get through your day-to-day tasks. 

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 2021

Acer’s updated Chromebook Spin 713 is the first Intel Evo-verified Chromebook.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Is a Chromebook enough for me?

Not sure if a Chromebook is right for you? Start by making a list of exactly what you need to do on a computer. Include what you’d like to do, too. If everything on your list is done in a web browser, congratulations, Chromebooks are a perfect fit. 

So many things, especially when it comes to productivity tasks like word processing and spreadsheets, can happen in a browser or with a web app. Web apps are essentially websites that function like downloadable mobile apps and Google has a web store full of them. 

If you can’t find a web app to meet your needs, all modern Chromebooks can run Android apps, too, from the Google Play store. It’s basically this combination and some other key Chrome OS features (I’ll get to those in a sec) that make Chromebooks an easier recommendation than they were even just a few years ago. 

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Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet is part pen-enabled tablet, part laptop. 

Joshua Goldman/CNET

What’s good about Chromebooks? 

Price is one of the big things that makes Chromebooks so attractive. While premium models start at around $500, you can find excellent options for everyday use for $200 to $300. One of my favorite models from last year, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, sells for less than $300. It’s a two-in-one Chromebook with a detachable keyboard cover so it can be used as a tablet or a laptop. With its USI pen support, you can draw and take notes on the screen. You can connect a Bluetooth gaming controller to it and play Android games on it. 

Speaking of gaming, while you won’t be able to play the latest PC games directly from a Chromebook, game-streaming services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now make gaming possible. And, again, you can play Android and browser-based games on them, too. Plus, the availability of apps for services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and, of course, YouTube and YouTube Music mean you’ve got plenty of entertainment options. 

Also, some of the same reasons Chromebooks are good for schools and businesses make them excellent family computers. Everyone in the family can have separate Google accounts and signing in gives them access to only their stuff and not yours. Accounts for kids can be managed with Google Family Link. It’s more difficult for Chromebooks to get hit with viruses or other malware. And if it isn’t running quite right, you can reset it with Chrome’s Powerwash feature and in a couple of minutes, the system is clean and fresh. 

Read more: Laptop vs. Chromebook: What’s the difference and which works better for you

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Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook 2 delivers a premium Chrome experience.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Google regularly updates the OS for security and adding new features and installs are quick and painless. In fact, Google just announced several new tools and updates to celebrate its 10th anniversary. And if you’re an Android user, there’s even more reason to pick up a Chromebook. Google added a Phone Hub feature that makes it easier than ever for the two devices to work together. 

There is one thing to be aware of in regard to updates. Google Chrome devices have an Auto Update Expiration date. Non-Google hardware is only supported for so long before it stops receiving Chrome OS and browser updates. For models released in 2020, the date is roughly 7 to 8 years from the initial release of the device, but that’s not always the case. Google maintains a list of AUE dates for all models and it’s definitely worth checking before you buy a Chromebook, new or used. 

What can I do with a Chromebook?

A hurdle for some is the need to run Microsoft Office or some other native Windows or Mac software. While there are web and mobile app versions of Office software, not all features of Office are duplicated. You’ll want to be sure all the tools you need are available online or in the apps before making the switch. Take this same approach with every application on your list that is a must-have.

For example, if you need a laptop to run full Adobe Creative Cloud software like InDesign and Photoshop, a Chromebook’s not a good fit. Adobe does have limited versions of CC apps for Android that are supported on Chromebooks, so depending on what exactly you’re doing you might be able to get by. Again, though, Chromebooks are not natively compatible with software for Windows or Mac. 

That said, software maker Parallels now makes Parallels for Chrome for Chrome Enterprise. It allows you to run full-featured Windows applications. It is mainly for business users, though, and not the best option for regular consumer use. 

You can also use a Chromebook and its Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to other computers with the Chrome browser installed on them. Remote Desktop only takes a few minutes to set up and can be used as a workaround for accessing Windows and Mac software on a Chromebook. You can also use it to give tech support to family and friends or share your computer with them so they can securely access your apps and files. 

Chromebooks have grown up a lot in the past 10 years and while they’re not a solution for everyone or for everything, they do meet the needs of a lot of laptop buyers now.

Now playing: Watch this: Chromebooks turn 10: From the first prototype to the…


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Apple Watch Series 7: All the questions we still have about the watch’s price, launch, features – CNET

Apple announcements September 14 2021: iPhone 13, new iPads, Apple Watch Series 7, and more

We know the Apple Watch Series 7 has a bigger screen, but its exact size is unclear. 

screenshot/Apple

Apple gave us a preview of the Apple Watch Series 7’s more durable design, larger screen and new colors during its iPhone 13 launch event on Sept. 14. While we know a lot of the high-level upgrades, we still don’t know exactly when it will be released or what processor it will run on. 

The Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399, just like last year’s Series 6. International pricing wasn’t clarified, but if it matches the current Series 6 pricing it would be £379 and AU$599. Based on what we know, the Series 7 seems like a modest upgrade compared to its predecessor that could be ideal for first-time buyers or those upgrading from an older watch. 

Here’s a look at some of the details we still haven’t learned about the Apple Watch Series 7.

Read more: The Apple Watch Series 7’s best new features and how you’ll use them

When is the Apple Watch Series 7’s exact release date?

The biggest question surrounding the Apple Watch Series 7 is when you’ll be able to buy it. Apple said it will be available later this fall, suggesting it’ll arrive in time for the holiday shopping season. But it hasn’t provided any more specific details beyond that.

Apple typically releases new models of the iPhone and Apple Watch in September, but it’s made some exceptions to that routine in recent years. Last year’s iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max, for example, launched in November. The iPhone X also debuted in November back when it launched in 2017.

What’s the pricing for the Apple Watch Series 7’s stainless steel and titanium models?

We know the Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399 and we heard a lot about the new color options for the aluminum versions during Apple’s Sept. 14 event. But we don’t know much else about what pricing will look like across the entire Apple Watch Series 7 lineup.

The Apple Watch Series 6 also begins at $399, so it’s likely that the Series 7 will follow the same pricing structure. The more premium finishes typically drive up the price significantly. The 40-millimeter Apple Watch Series 6 in a stainless steel casing with both GPS and cellular currently costs $700 through Apple, for example, while the company is selling the titanium model for $800. 

We do know that the stainless steel version of the Apple Watch Series 7 will be available in silver, graphite and gold, while the titanium edition will come in natural and space black. 

What’s the Apple Watch Series 7’s processor?

Much like the iPhone, Apple’s new smartwatches typically get a new processor each year. However, Apple didn’t make any mention of the Series 7’s processor or performance during its Sept. 14 event. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith said on Twitter that he found evidence showing Series 7 runs on the same processor as the Series 6 in Apple’s development program Xcode, as 9to5Mac reported. But the company has yet to provide any confirmation.  

Will the Apple Watch Series 7’s always-on screen be brighter outdoors, too?

We know the Apple Watch Series 7 should have an always-on display that’s 70% brighter indoors when the wrist is down. But I’m curious about whether we’ll see any improvements outdoors as well, especially since increased brightness could be particularly useful in direct sunlight. Apple hasn’t discussed any other details regarding improvements it’s made to the always-on display, so we may have to wait until we try the watch to see for ourselves. 

Read more: iPhone 13 review: Familiarity is part of the phone’s charm

What’s the size and resolution of the Apple Watch Series 7’s new screen?

The Apple Watch Series 7’s screen is larger, but exactly how big is it? Apple says it’s about 20% larger than the Series 6’s screen and more than 50% roomier than the Series 3’s display.

Still, we don’t know the exact display area just yet. For context, the 40mm version of the Apple Watch Series 6 has a 759 square mm display area with a resolution of 324 by 394. The 44mm Series 6 measures 977 square mm with a 368 by 448 resolution. 

How much storage is in the Apple Watch Series 7?

Apple also has yet to reveal how much storage space is in its newest smartwatch. The Apple Watch Series 5 and later all have 32GB of onboard storage, so it seems plausible that the Series 7 will have the same capacity.

How many watch faces will be optimized for the Apple Watch Series 7’s larger screen?

Apple is making some changes to the Apple Watch Series 7’s software to take advantage of its bigger screen and that includes updated watch faces. The company said new versions of the Modular Duo and Contour watch faces will be available on the Series 7, but it’s unclear if Apple has plans to similarly tailor other watch faces as well. 

The new Contour face animates when you raise your wrist and will push the dial out to the edge, while the Modular face displays more information in its complications.

We likely won’t have these answers until closer to the Apple Watch Series 7’s launch, but here’s how it compares to the Series 6 based on what we currently know.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Series 6

Apple Watch Series 7 Apple Watch Series 6
Size and display 41mm/45mm, always-on screen that’s about 20% larger 40mm/44mm, always-on screen
Durability IP6X dust resistance, water resistant up to 50 meters Water resistant up to 50 meters
Health Blood oxygen sensor, electrical heart rate sensor, ECG app Blood oxygen sensor, electrical heart rate sensor, ECG app
Safety features Emergency SOS, updated fall detection for workout-specific events Emergency SOS, updated fall detection for workout-specific events (with WatchOS 8 update)
Battery life (estimated) Up to 18 hours with 33% faster charging Up to 18 hours
Software WatchOS 8 WatchOS 8 (via update)
Starting price $399 $399
Colors Midnight, starlight, green, blue, red (aluminum) Silver, space gray, gold, blue red (aluminum)

Now playing: Watch this: Apple Watch Series 7: Here is what’s new


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Best streaming service of 2021: Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and more – CNET

Welcome to the era of the “streaming wars,” when it seems like every major network and media company has launched a new streaming service. There’s more great TV to watch than ever, but deciding which subscriptions are worth your time and money can be daunting. Your choices likely depend on which original shows and movies you want, how important an older, back catalog of streaming TV shows is to you, whether you need to consider kids or roommates, and of course your budget. Some of these services offer cheaper options (like Peacock’s free tier) and some have a broader selection of older shows.

That’s where this list of the best streaming service options comes in. I’ve reviewed each of these streaming services individually, and assigned numeric ratings based on content, app design and features and overall value. Certainly, some personal preference regarding content mix influences my decisions, so note that if you love a specific show or style of show, you may have a different favorite.

With that in mind, here’s the list, ranked in order starting with the best streaming services first.

Read more: Best streaming service deals

Angela Lang/CNET

There’s a reason why Netflix has become shorthand for streaming in general. The veteran service, which launched its DVD-by-mail rentals in 1998, has evolved into the top-tier streaming service that’s a must-have in 2021. When big originals like The Queen’s Gambit or Stranger Things drop, they grab the attention of millions of viewers along with critical praise and awards, giving us the closest thing to watercooler conversations we have nowadays. 

While Netflix has lost a couple of major back catalog channel titles to other streamers this past year (specifically TV series favorites The Office to Peacock and Friends to HBO Max), Netflix still offers a wide variety of familiar network shows and more original series, films, documentaries and specials than any of its competitors. New shows and movies arrive each week, and 70 new original movies will arrive on the Netflix platform this year alone. Starting at $9 a month, its price is in the middle of the TV service pack, but for the variety you get (and no commercials ever), it’s worth it.

Read our Netflix review.

Angela Lang/CNET

Disney Plus is a phenomenon and Netflix’s closest competitor for good reason. The streaming platform launched less than two years ago and has already amassed more than 116 million subscribers. It’s the only place where you can stream the vast majority of the Disney and Pixar libraries, along with every Star Wars movie, Marvel films and new original TV shows, National Geographic content and 31 seasons of The Simpsons. While The Mandalorian was its only breakout series at first, its slate of Marvel shows WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki have since drawn millions of viewers. And there’s lots more Star Wars and Marvel original programming coming in the next few years. 

Even after the recent price hike to $8 a month, Disney Plus is still one of the least expensive ad-free streaming TV choices and a great value. We consider it a must-have if you have kids or are a fan of any of its other titles (and who isn’t a fan of Baby Yoda?).

Read our Disney Plus review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon Prime Video features lots of ad-free, high-quality original shows and movies, an impressive back catalog of older favorites (and B-movies you haven’t heard of) and NFL on Thursday nights. It lacks the catalogs of Netflix and Hulu, and the star power of Disney streaming platform, and I found its menus more confusing since there’s some paid content mixed in with free content. But for millions of Prime subscribers, the Prime Video channel is already included at no extra cost. If you’re interested in checking out any of its originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or The Expanse (or the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel), or its large movie selection, it may even be worth paying the stand-alone $9 a month TV service fee (if you don’t have Amazon Prime).

Read our Amazon Prime Video review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

HBO Max is a well-designed app full of popular TV shows and movies. It’s got HBO’s entire catalog, along with favorites such as Friends, Rick and Morty, Sesame Street, the Lord of the Rings movies and almost every Studio Ghibli film. It’s also the only streaming service to debut movies on the same day as theaters at no extra cost, including Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Dune and Matrix 4. It’s not Disney Plus, but HBO Max has a solid streaming collection for kids too, with the ability to control ratings on kids’ profiles better than most other services. 

Where the service loses points is its price tag: At $15 a month, it’s at the higher end of the streaming spectrum. However, a less expensive, ad-supported tier is now available, though it’s only $5 cheaper, and you won’t be able to stream the newest movies. In general, HBO Max is also a bit light on new originals, but we expect that to change over time.

Read our HBO Max review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock has one major advantage over its peers: It has a free, ad-supported tier with about 13,000 hours of shows, movies, news and live sports. You can upgrade to premium for $5 a month (with ads) or premium plus for $10 a month (with no ads) to unlock more content, including every season of fan favorites like the TV series The Office and Parks and Recreation, originals like Brave New World, popular series like Yellowstone as well as live Premier League soccer matches and WWE events. Peacock drops in the rankings due to its lack of mobile downloads for its non-premium plus tiers and 4K HDR streaming, which most of its competitors offer. But it doesn’t hurt to try out the free version — all you need to sign up is an email address.

Read our Peacock review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Paramount Plus — the streaming service formerly known as CBS All Access — brings together live news and sports with on-demand shows and movies, including originals, leaning on parent company ViacomCBS‘ brands like popular channels CBS, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network, plus its Paramount Pictures movie studio. 

The service has a ton of content: 30,000 episodes of TV and 2,500 movies, plus 36 original series arriving this year, for either $6 a month (with ads) or $10 a month (ad-free). Two of its biggest draws from its CBS All Access days include the Star Trek catalog and new originals like Star Trek: Discovery and Picard, and the series The Good Fight. Upcoming originals include two Yellowstone spinoffs (though Yellowstone itself is on rival Peacock), a new Star Trek series and a series based on Halo, and new movies like Mission: Impossible 7 arriving 45 days after theaters. But right now, its main value lies in nostalgia: You can watch just about every old Nickelodeon show, Comedy Central stand-up special and popular series ranging from Frasier and Cheers to Spongebob Squarepants and Young Sheldon.

Read our Paramount Plus review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At $5 a month, Apple TV Plus is the lowest-priced premium, ad-free streaming service available, with high-end features like 4K resolution, HDR and mobile downloads. However, it’s also the only service on this list that includes only original content, and no back catalog of shows or movies to explore. While it now has more than 50 exclusive, big-budget original programming shows and movies, only a few have captured widespread attention (looking at you, Ted Lasso and The Morning Show, and potentially Foundation, arriving in September). And that library is far smaller than any of the others on this list. 

The app is also confusing, since it’s housed in the larger Apple TV app with other content. However, Apple TV Plus has one big advantage: There are a lot of ways to get it for free, at least for a while (like when you buy a new Apple device or subscribe to the Apple One bundle).

Read our Apple TV Plus review.

What else do you need to know?

Chances are you’re already pretty familiar with most of the names on this list, but it’s by no means comprehensive. There are plenty of other ways to stream, and hundreds of other choices out there. As you weigh your streaming choices, keep the following notes in mind.

  • This list is ordered based on the numerical value I assigned to each streaming service in their individual review, which I determined by design (i.e. ease of use across different TV and mobile platforms), features (like 4K HDR, mobile downloads, recommendations, watch lists and number of streams), content (number of shows and quality of originals and back catalogs) and value (price compared to these other factors). Click through to the full reviews for more details.
  • This list includes major on-demand streaming services only. It does not include live TV streaming services for cord-cutters (think Sling TV, YouTube TV, which offer live channels intended to replace cable), free streaming services like Tubi or Crackle or smaller, niche services like ESPN Plus and PBS Kids or regional sports networks.
  • To watch any of the services on this list you’ll need a solid internet connection, a compatible device (like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV, a smart TV, phone, tablet or computer) and a valid username and password. 
  • This best streaming service list will be updated periodically as new services become available and are reviewed, and as existing reviews are updated. 

Want more? Check out CNET’s Streaming TV Insider for advice on what to watch, the latest streaming news, help, how-to and more.

More recommendations 

Watch Cowboy Bebop’s super-stylish new Netflix title sequence – CNET

netflix

John Cho as Spike Spiegel.

Netflix

The strike rate for live-action anime remakes has — so far — not been good. Can Netflix change this with Cowboy Bebop? Based on what we’ve seen at this point… probably? After announcing a killer cast and revealing that cast in a killer way, Netflix released a first look at the title sequence of Cowboy Bebop at its Tudum online fan event Saturday. Surprise surprise, it looks very promising. 

Watch the title sequence for the live-action Cowboy Bebop:

The first episode of the series streams Nov. 19, featuring John Cho as Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir as Jet Black and Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine.

For many people in the West, Cowboy Bebop, a Japanese sci-fi noir anime set in the year 2071, represents their intro to anime, so there’s a nostalgic quality to this show. People are fiending for this. Part of its appeal? The characters, the music… the whole aesthetic.

Based on the title sequence shown Saturday, it looks like Netflix has nailed it. Hopefully the streaming service can stretch things out for an entire season of television. 

Now playing: Watch this: 5 ways to get more out of Netflix


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Missed Netflix’s Tudum fan event? See the big trailers and video clips here – CNET

stranger-things-season-3-kids-eleven-scrunchie

Red Notice leads Netflix’s upcoming star-studded titles.

Netflix

At its Tudum global online fan event Saturday, Netflix dropped first glimpses of trailers and clips from its most exciting upcoming movies and TV shows, and we’ve gathered them all right here.

That means new seasons of Stranger Things 4, Bridgerton, OzarkThe Witcher, La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist) and Cobra Kai, as well as star-studded movies like Red Notice, Don’t Look Up, The Harder They Fall and sequels to Extraction and The Old Guard, among dozens of others.

Stranger Things season 4 Creel House teaser

Bridgerton Kathony clip

Tiger King season 2 date announcement

The Witcher season 2 trailer

The Witcher season 2 Geralt & Ciri clip

The Witcher season 2 Nivellen clip

The Witcher: Blood Origin behind-the-scenes

Don’t Look Up Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill and Meryl Streep clip

Ozark season 4 teaser

Sandman first look

Cowboy Bebop title sequence

Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) season 5 volume 2 teaser

Red Notice fight scene

Jeen-Yuhs (Kanye West documentary) clip

Super Crooks teaser

Army of Thieves trailer

Sex Education season 4 date announcement

Through My Window (A Traves de Mi Ventana) teaser

Maldivas teaser

Dark Desires (Oscuro Deseo) teaser

De Volta Aos 15 (aka Back to 15) teaser

The Crown season 5 message from Imelda Staunton

Extraction 2 teaser

Drifting Home teaser

Vikings: Valhalla teaser

Arcane teaser

Emily in Paris season 2 trailer

Soy Georgina / I Am Georgina teaser

The Umbrella Academy cast Q&A

Enola Holmes 2 preview with Millie Bobby Brown

The Chestnut Man teaser

Colin in Black & White clip

Rebelde teaser

Inside Job trailer

The many, many trailers and videos dropped Saturday during Netflix’s Tudum, an hours-long online “fan event.” Named after that instantly recognizable drumbeat that plays at the start of all its original shows, Tudum recruited the stars and creators of its many shows to hype the streaming service.

Netflix dominates the streaming world as the biggest subscription service, with 209 million members worldwide. But even a company as dominant as Netflix faces intensifying competition from upstart streaming rivals like Disney Plus, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus and others. 

Oldest fossil footprints in North America are teaching us about early humans – CNET

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The fossilized human footprints were discovered at White Sands National Park in New Mexico in 2009. A recent analysis of seeds found trapped in the prints helped date them.

National Park Service, USGS and Bournemouth University

Fossil footprints found in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park in 2009 now prove that humans were walking across North America around 23,000 years ago. A recent analysis of seeds trapped in the fossils helped scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey date the footprints, which may help prove when people first arrived in the Americas. The analysis is explained in a study published this week in the journal Science.

Scientists believe ancient humans came to the Americas via a land bridge, now submerged, that once connected current Siberia to Alaska. But the exact date the earliest humans made it here is still unknown, and scientific estimates vary. 

These fossils help narrow it down, indicating that the prints were made sometime between 22,800 and 21,130 years ago. That upends a previous theory that early humans didn’t make it south of Canada until glaciers melted between 16,000 and 13,500 years ago.

Before the seeds helped date these footprints, the oldest print known in the Americas was found in Chile in 2011, and was only (only!) 15,600 years old.

David Bustos, a resource program manager at White Sands National Park, was the first to spot the prints in 2009.

“We knew they were old, but we had no way to date the prints before we discovered some with (tiny seeds from aquatic plants) on top,” he told the Associated Press. 

The footprints are so fragile, researchers had to be careful examining them.

“The only way we can save them is to record them — to take a lot of photos and make 3D models,” Bustos said.

The size of the footprints indicates most were probably made by children and teenagers. 

This James Bond movie is the one you should watch right now – CNET

Movie posters for No Time to Die displayed at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas during CinemaCon on Aug. 26, 2021.

The latest James Bond movie, No Time to Die, brings to an end the Daniel Craig 007 era.

Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

This is the moment to get reacquainted with James Bond or, if it’s all new to you, to take your first plunge into the world of 007. The latest Bond film is nearly upon us: No Time to Die, aka Bond 25, arrives in movie theaters in just a matter of days. It’ll be the final outing for Daniel Craig as the super-spy from MI6, wrapping up a five-film series that reinvigorated the long-running franchise.

There’s a lot to dig into. The James Bond movie franchise is a pop culture institution, with one of the most indelible movie characters of all time. Through the two dozen films featuring 007 — starring six different actors, from Craig all the way back to Sean Connery — we’ve witnessed the exploits of a suave, stylish secret agent and been wowed by spectacular stunts and gorgeous locales. Even if you’ve never seen a Bond movie, you probably know something about 007: the timeless pose (man in a tux, pistol in hand), the catchphrase (“vodka martini, shaken not stirred”), the villainous Blofeld lampooned as Dr. Evil.

But where exactly do you start? The Bond movies began with Connery in Dr. No all the way back in 1962; it’s a spirited outing from a very different era of moviemaking. Over the years, there have been serious phases and silly phases, and Pierce Brosnan gives you a very different Bond from Connery, Craig or Roger Moore. Movie fans have strong feelings about who played Bond best (and worst). Soon, we’ll all be on the lookout for who’ll be tapped to step into the role as the next James Bond.   

I got started watching back in the Connery era, so I’m eternally bonded to those movies. But for contemporary audiences, I’m going with a different recommendation for which Bond movie to watch first, and where to go from there.

Daniel Craig as James Bond

Daniel Craig means business as MI6 secret agent James Bond, aka 007.

Greg Williams/Getty Images

Start with Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s debut

Daniel Craig’s first outing as James Bond is a terrific spy/action movie, period. It’s that heart-poundingly good. But Casino Royale (2006) also did what no previous Bond movie could do: It completely rebooted the franchise, blowing up a formula that many saw as played out, with far-fetched gimmicks and belabored puns, even as it remained a steady box office draw. It’s based on Ian Fleming‘s very first Bond novel and gives us Bond very much as he was introduced to the world. It stays true to that original story in many essential ways (not a hallmark of Bond movies in general) while at the same time updating it for modern audiences attuned to the Jason Bourne and Mission: Impossible movies.

Craig himself delivers all the muscle and menace the character deserves, in keeping with Fleming’s depictions and as measured against Connery, still the standard by which all other Bonds are invariably judged. There’s nothing glib about this Bond, and if he does look good in a tuxedo, you always know there’s a brute inside ready to battle the baddies. You learn right off the bat how he earned his double-0 (license to kill) rating, then it’s off to a spectacular chase and gunfight. That’s just in the first 18 minutes.

See also: James Bond villains build the best lairs, from volcanoes to space

High points, too, for a nasty villain in Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre, Judi Dench as Bond’s no-nonsense boss M and Eva Green as Bond’s female foil.

Casino Royale also opens the door to the strong series of movies that follow — Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015), with No Time to Die waiting in the wings. There’s more than just action here: There’s an arc that leads us deeper into Bond’s past and how it drives him in the here and now.

Follow up with From Russia With Love / Goldfinger

This whole franchise got going with Connery, so you can’t go wrong starting there. But for now let’s skip the very first movie, Dr. No. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but the two movies that followed are more definitive — they’re often the top two in lists of the best Bond movies. Pick either of these and you’re getting absolutely top-shelf Connery, the man who defined Bond and who was the heart of the franchise when it exploded into a phenomenon.

From Russia With Love (1963) gives you an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned spy story, with no tech wizardry to speak of and no evil plan to destroy the world. It’s Bond on an intimate scale, a character-driven tale of our spy, the woman sent to seduce him and the assassin (a buff and square-jawed Robert Shaw) assigned to take him down. (It also gives us our first glimpse of Blofeld, the recurring uber-villain.) In the finest Bondian tradition of exotic locales, this one cozies up to Istanbul and takes a memorable ride on the Orient Express. The fight scene in the train compartment is rightfully a classic.

Sean Connery with Aston Martin DB5

Sean Connery seems to be enjoying himself. Why not, when you can drive the iconic 1964 Aston Martin DB5, his co-star in Goldfinger.

Getty Images

Then along came Goldfinger (1964), the third movie. This one ratcheted things up and pretty much set the splashy tone for all the movies up till Craig arrived — the outlandish plot (set off a nuke to irradiate the gold at Fort Knox), the over-the-top villain and henchman, the Aston Martin DB-5 sports car tricked out with machine guns and ejector seat, the laser with which Goldfinger memorably threatens 007 (“No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die”). Plus: One of the greatest theme songs of the series.

Connery is dashing, virile, devilish, supremely confident — everything you’d expect from a modern action hero, in part because he was the template.

See also: The aircraft of James Bond: Little Nellie, a Vulcan bomber and a Concorde

Take a deeper dive into Bond

I’d recommend getting a handful of Craig and/or Connery movies under your belt before venturing out more widely. Best to watch the Craig installments in sequence, but the Connerys (like the Moores, Daltons and Brosnans) you can watch in any order. Stick with the five Connery films from the 1960s before looking toward his two comeback efforts. The early movies are very much of their time, of course, so while you might chuckle at the quaintness of the tech and the fashions and the cinematography, you may cringe a bit at some of the ethnic depictions and sexual mores.

The other Bonds: Get to know them, too

Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan are the two horses besides Connery and Craig. Moore brought a lighter touch to Bond over the course of seven films throughout the 1970s and halfway into the 1980s. They’re mostly romps, really, never too dark and often veering into the downright silly, with ever more outlandish stunts and situations — he even makes it into space, in 1979’s Moonraker, at the start of the space shuttle era. A good Moore vehicle to start with is For Your Eyes Only (1981), which is one of the more grounded stories from his run.

Brosnan picked up the baton in the mid-1990s and starred in four films. More muscular than the Moore movies, they continued the tradition of ultra-spectacular stunts and groaner puns. It was steady work and enduring box office appeal, if not quite at peak levels. Your best bet: Goldeneye (1995), Brosnan’s first outing.

More in the footnote category are Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby. Dalton made two movies in the late 1980s, and it was a bit of a grim turn. Flip a coin, but hope that it turns up The Living Daylights. For a more intriguing entry, try Lazenby’s one go at it, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), the producers’ first stab at casting a different actor as 007. It’s the one in which Bond gets married — to Diana Rigg, no less.

James Bond movies in chronological order

In the official Bond canon — the films made by Eon Productions, starting with Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, and continuing with others in the Broccoli clan — there are 25 films, including the upcoming No Time to Die. Because of licensing issues, there were two other, non-canonical movies, including (confusingly) one starring Connery, for a grand total of 27.

Sean Connery

David Niven, et al.

George Lazenby

Roger Moore

Timothy Dalton

Pierce Brosnan

Daniel Craig

Fun fact: Casino Royale has been filmed 3 times

There have been three versions of Casino Royale, all radically different. We’ve already gone over the Daniel Craig version, a strong contender for best and most definitive Bond movie ever. 

Don’t confuse it with the 1967 version of Casino Royale that’s both a spoof and a god-awful big-budget mess of a movie. It’s an odd blend of Bondian motifs, old-time Hollywood stars and then-trendy psychedelia. The plot, such as it is, involves trying to fool the bad guys with a number of different people claiming to be James Bond, including David Niven (the real Bond), Peter Sellers, Woody Allen and former “Bond Girl” Ursula Andress.

Then there’s the true footnote, and totally not a Bond movie, the 1954 adaptation of Casino Royale for an American TV anthology series called Climax! It’s a roughly 52-minute episode in which American actor Barry Nelson plays the hero as “Card Sense Jimmy Bond,” an agent for the “Combined Intelligence Agency” whose delivery tends toward watered-down Sam Spade. The highlight: Peter Lorre plays the villain, a sad-eyed and shopworn Le Chiffre.

Laughing matters: The James Bond spoofs

Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me movie poster

In the Austin Powers movies, Mike Myers spoofs both Bond and his archnemesis, Blofeld.

Jody Cortes/Getty Images

Once you’ve seen a few Bonds, especially the ones from the Connery and Moore eras, you’ll have a rich lode of references for the many, many Bond spoofs over the decades. 

How powerful a hold has Bond had on the Hollywood imagination? It brought Mike Myers to the peak of his fame with the Austin Powers movies, which got started in 1997 but drew heavily on the ’60s and ’70s Bonds. The first Johnny English movie, with a comically inept Rowan Atkinson, didn’t come till 2003. You’ll find homages to Bond in everything from the Kingsman franchise to the Despicable Me movies (especially the first one) to 2019’s Spies in Disguise, an animated comedy with Will Smith as a tuxedo-wearing, gadget-equipped secret agent (who gets turned into a pigeon).

For a deeper album cut, look out for a pair of movies from the 1960s — Our Man Flint and In Like Flint — in which James Coburn gives a goofy-brilliant turn as a very Bond-like secret agent. That era brought a whole host of TV shows that very entertainingly mined the same soil — The Man From UNCLE, Get Smart, I Spy, The Wild Wild West — and then served as fodder for movie reboots in more recent years.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger got into the game, in the James Cameron-directed True Lies (1994).

Literary matters: The James Bond books

James Bond got his start in a series of novels by Ian Fleming — 12 of them, plus a smattering of short stories. The first novel, Casino Royale, came out in 1953, less than a decade after the end of World War II, during which Fleming gained first-hand knowledge of spies and spying. It’s worth picking up one or two of the books if only for the comparison with the movies — which diverge anywhere between a little and “lose everything but the title.” 

Try Casino Royale for sure, or maybe From Russia With Love (President Kennedy famously was a fan) or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Note: The books are all a lot less flashy than the films, and they’re of a very different era, the last ones having been written by about the time Goldfinger (movie No. 3) was hitting the screen.

There have also been Bond books written by other authors. Kingsley Amis kicked things off in 1968 with Colonel Sun, and was followed by writers including John Gardner and Sebastian Faulks.

Little did you suspect, but Fleming also wrote the children’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.

Ian Fleming’s Bond books, in chronological order:

  • Casino Royale (1953)
  • Live and Let Die (1954)
  • Moonraker (1955)
  • Diamonds Are Forever (1956)
  • From Russia, With Love (1957)
  • Dr. No (1958)
  • Goldfinger (1959)
  • For Your Eyes Only (1960) — collection of short stories including the title story, Quantum of Solace and From a View to a Kill
  • Thunderball (1961)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) 
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)
  • You Only Live Twice (1964)
  • The Man With the Golden Gun (1965)
  • Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966) — those two short stories and, in later editions, two others

Bonus movie: The documentary

The Hulu original documentary Becoming Bond is a quirky and absolutely fascinating biopic about George Lazenby, who came out of nowhere to become the man who took over for Sean Connery. You get a good look at how On Her Majesty’s Secret Service fits into the franchise, but more than that, a riveting picture of Lazenby himself — through sometimes truly moving reminiscences of a 70-something Lazenby and through re-enactments of his early years that have something of a Drunk History vibe.

Now playing: Watch this: Roger Moore’s coolest 007 gadgets


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Best AirPods Pro accessories for 2021: Cases, eartips, wireless in-flight transmitters and chargers – CNET

Do you really need an accessory for an accessory? You do when it’s an accessory for one of the most popular wireless headphones around. Apple’s AirPods Pro earbuds have created their own accessory ecosystem, complete with supplementary Apple AirPods case options and other add-ons that help overcome minor shortcomings that, for some people, may be major. 

When it comes to Apple AirPods and their accessories, there’s no shortage of variety. If you want a charging case or a wireless charging case, a genuine leather case versus silicone material, all of those are available. If you want a waterproof case, a fun carrying case, a carabiner clip or something that hangs from your keychain, those exist as well. Most don’t interfere with wireless charging, but many include a spot for your charging port regardless. If you’re looking to personalize things further, you can even get an AirPods case cover or an AirPods skin. The options are seemingly endless, whether you want to upgrade your eartips or protect your AirPods and their case from scuffs.

But you need to start somewhere. From the best AirPods Pro case to the best wireless charger and more, here’s a look at some of CNET’s top picks of accessories for AirPods, based on my own hands-on experience with each product. Most of them fall into the protective case and earbud enhancement buckets, with a few other interesting things I’ve found. I’ll update this as I test more of the best AirPods Pro accessories. 

David Carnoy/CNET

You can find cheaper knockoff versions of Catalyst’s AirPods Pro case ($30), but the Catalyst is a better Apple AirPod case than many of the imitators, not to mention one of the top AirPods case options you can purchase. This AirPods case cover protects your AirPods’ own case, as well as makes it fully waterproof. Another key feature: The bundled detachable carabiner lets you strap the AirPods case onto a belt loop or backpack or use it as a keychain case to help keep your wireless earbuds from getting lost. This Catalyst waterproof case is currently available in black, blue or red. Expect more colors in the future.

David Carnoy/CNET

For several years Comply has been the gold standard for memory foam eartips and now you can get Comply tips for your AirPods Pro. I tried them and they work quite well and even the large tip fit just fine in the AirPods Pro charging case. With the Apple-issued tips, I found that the AirPod Pro in my left ear got a little loose when I ran with the buds. With the Comply tip, it didn’t get loose and fit very securely. They also seem to help a bit with noise-canceling because you get an even tighter seal. 

Comply tips are fairly pricey at $25. You can get foam tips that cost less (more like $12-$15), but as I said, Comply is the gold standard and it may be worth paying a little more. If you know your specific size, you do get three sets of tips in a pack (of the same size. Comply also sells a pack with small, medium and large tips though it’s currently only available on the Comply website, not Amazon). That might be a good option for your new AirPods Pro eartips if you have a couple of people in your family who own the AirPods Pro and have different sized ears.

David Carnoy/CNET

Speck’s initial AirPods Pro cases, the Presidio Pro and Presidio Perfect-Clear, are decent but not anything special. However, the newer Presidio ClickFlip is more intriguing. It offers IPX5 water resistance, as well as dust resistance and is generally well-designed though a bit thicker than more minimalist AirPods Pro cases.

The Lightning port is covered by a gasket, but the port is still easy to access, and wireless charging works fine even though the case is thicker. Also, the carabiner seems securely attached to the case (with some silicone cases, the carabiner can end up getting torn off if you snag the case on something). The case has a kind of band that slides up and clicks into the lid, locking it down.

The ClickFlip is usually available in three color options, but currently the only one that’s in stock is the blue version.

David Carnoy/CNET

The husband-and-wife team of Charlie and Jen at CharJenPro pulled off a successful Kickstarter for AirPods foam earbuds in early 2020 and now have a growing line of AirPods Pro foam eartips, including the new AirFoams Pro Active ($28) that have a silicone layer over the foam that’s designed to protect the tips from sweat and ear wax and help them last longer (the company claims three times longer).

CharJenPro also sells its AirFoams Pro Form Fit eartips ($20) that have a slightly more convex shape than the original AirFoams Pro ($12). (Note: I did notice that the large Comply tip is slightly larger than the large CharJenPro AirFoams Pro Form Fit tip, and it’s also probably worth pointing out that if you typically use a medium tip for your AirPods Pro, you may want to go with a large foam tip here). 

The AirFoams Pro Active include three different sized tips (small, medium and large), so you can choose the tip size that fits you best and possibly pass the other tips onto friends). Since I know I require a large tip, I’d prefer it if there was an option that included a couple of sets large tips instead — that would be the better value — but CharJen Pro doesn’t offer that option. 

Amazon

Again, when it comes to generic tough cases, there are dozens available on Amazon. However, this model from amBand, which mainly sells smartwatch bands, manages to stand out for its attractive design and reasonable price (around $10 and sometimes a little less). Just be warned that it’s a little bulky, but you can still wirelessly charge your AirPods Pro with the case on. It’s available in 4 color options and comes with a carabiner.

David Carnoy/CNET

If you’re a PopSockets fan, the PopSockets PopGrip AirPods Pro Holder + PopChain 2 is a surprisingly good deal on Amazon for $20. It has a stick on attachment for the back of your phone, that lets you clip the case (and the AirPods Pro) to your phone. Or you can attach your AirPods Pro to the included PopChain 2, which clips onto your belt loop or the loop on your backpack. The case itself fits like a glove and seems nicely protective.  

Note that the version I got included the PopChain Premium. The model linked here includes the PopChain 2, which has a carabiner clip instead of a keychain. The case is compatible with PopSockets’ PopGrip base so you can use it with another PopGrip if you own one already.

David Carnoy/CNET

I like Catalyst’s original Waterproof Case (see above — $30) but if you want something that delivers maximum protection, its newer Total Protection case certainly measures up to its title. If you happen to drop your AirPods in the ocean or a deep lake, the case is rated as waterproof down to 330 feet (100 meters). It’s also shock-proof. 

Catalyst’s original Waterproof case has a rubberized finish, while this has a hard plastic finish. Both include a carabiner and this model literally clamps shut. Still, you can access your AirPods fairly quickly. The case is available in army green or black.

David Carnoy/CNET

You have a couple of choices if you want to add some additional grip to the AirPods Pro to promote them staying in your ears more securely. You can get very thin silicone skins that cover the bud portion of the AirPods Pro or a set of wings like these that not only cover the bud but add a sport fin (they do help lock the AirPods Pro in your ears). The only issue with the fin approach is that the AirPods Pro won’t fit in their case with an appendage on them so you have to remove them whenever you want to charge the AirPods.

It’s actually pretty easy to get them on and off but you just have to avoid losing them. Two sets of ear hooks are included — one that’s translucent (shown here) and one that’s white.

If you go the silicone skin route (with no fin), you should be able to get your AirPods in the case without having to take the skins off. However, some people complain that because the rubber is so thin it has a tendency to stretch easily and end up not fitting as well as it should. That isn’t a problem with CharJenPro AirFoams Pro Ear Hooks (and other ear-hook accessories) because the rubber is thicker and more durable.

Amazon

What do you do if you want to use your AirPods with an in-flight entertainment system or the TV built into a machine at the gym that requires a wired connection? Well, one workaround is buying a Bluetooth transmitter that you can plug into any 3.5mm audio jack. There are several transmitters available from TaoTronics and other little-known brands (I’ve also tried the TaoTronics.) 

To pair your AirPods with a transmitter, you have to turn off the Bluetooth on your phone (or just put it into airplane mode), put your AirPods in their case, hold down the Bluetooth button on the transmitter until it goes into pairing mode, and then hit the pairing button on the AirPods case. (This video explains how to pair to your AirPods.)

Battery life is rated at 16 hours and the AirFly Pro uses Bluetooth 5.0.

Satechi

If you’re looking for a mini USB-C wireless charging dock for your AirPods Pro (or standard AirPods), this Satechi accessory fits the bill nicely. It’s very compact — basically slightly bigger than the AirPods Pro’s case — and easily fits in a pocket. It works with any USB-C port that outputs power. The only issue is that you may have trouble plugging it in if you have some sort of case on your computer (it has to plug all the way into the port to work).

RHA

RHA has a slightly different take on a wireless flight transmitter. This one has two foldable 3.5mm jacks: You can either opt to use one 3.5mm plug, or two for those older in-flight systems that have two jacks. Both plugs tuck back into the transmitter. The pairing process is the same as with the Twelve South transmitter and was straightforward. Like that model, this uses Bluetooth 5.0. It’s rated for 16 hours of battery life and charges via USB-C. It also works with the Nintendo Switch.

David Carnoy/CNET

The reviews for the ZenPod fidget spinner case may be a little mixed on Amazon, but I’ve always liked it and while it doesn’t spin as fast or smoothly as a quality fidget spinner, it does spin reasonably well and gives you something to do with your AirPods Pro while they’re sitting around. 

It does say you can wirelessly charge your AirPods in the case, but I did a few times and things heated up a bit so I went with wired charging because it seemed safer. Also, it’s hard to tell they’re charging because the LED that lets you initially know the AirPods are charging is hidden under the case. 

The ZenPod Pro comes in black or tan colors. It’s a fun case.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Made of rugged leather and equipped with a snap closing system, as well a “loss-prevention” S-Clip, Twelve South’s AirSnap leather case is a slightly different take on an Apple AirPods Pro case. It’s available in several colors in leather, and depending on the color, prices range from $20-$40. You can wirelessly charge your AirPods Pro with the leather case on.

Anker

The AirPods Pro can charge wirelessly, so you’ll need a wireless charging pad to take advantage of that feature. A good affordable option for both your AirPods Pro and your phone is the Anker PowerWave. It offers 7.5-watt charging for your iPhone and 10-watt charging for Android models that support it. It costs $14 to $16, depending on the color, but sometimes goes on sale for less than $10. Available in black, white and blue.

David Carnoy/CNET

If money is no object, I’ve got an AirPods Pro case for you: the Gray Raptor Titanium. At $199, it basically costs as much as the AirPods Pro themselves. It’s not actually made out of titanium but has aerospace-grade titanium bits inlayed into its design, including inserts at the flanks for a “more ergonomic grip,” according to Gray, and a triangular element that frames the AirPods’ charging LED, giving the case — and your AirPods Pro — a sort of Iron Man vibe.

The case also comes in versions with aluminum “variants” that brings the price down to $130. All of Gray’s cases are handcrafted, and the company says, “Make no mistake about it, this is a work of art, not a case.”

I don’t know if I’d personally pay $199 for it, but it is a sweet case (though not waterproof, and it does attract some dust) and I had no trouble wirelessly charging the AirPods Pro with the Raptor on.

More AirPods and headphone advice

UFC 266 with Nick Diaz: Start time, how to watch or stream online, full fight card – CNET

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Nick Diaz makes his long awaited return to the UFC.

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Nick Diaz hasn’t fought in six years but, tonight, he makes his return to the Octagon.

There are other major fights on UFC 266. Featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski faces off against jiu jitsu savant Brian Ortega and we get another chance to see the unbeatable Valentina Shevchenko perform — but you can guarantee all eyes will be on Nick Diaz this weekend as he makes his return to the octagon.

Nick Diaz hasn’t competed since fighting Anderson Silva at UFC 183 in 2015. In the time since, his brother Nate Diaz carved out his own legend, defeating Conor McGregor and becoming one of MMA’s biggest stars in the process. But Nick Diaz was historically the more famous of the two. His comeback is huge news.

And the matchmaking for his return is sublime. At UFC 266, Nick Diaz is fighting fellow legend Robbie Lawler. 

This one’s a long awaited rematch. Diaz and Lawler fought in the UFC all the way back in 2004 and the fight was incredible. Given both fighters are much older, and far from their prime, this is perfect timing for a perfect fight. 

You can watch their first fight below.

Who wins this time around? It’s a coin toss really. No-one knows what kind of shape Nick Diaz is in, but Lawler has struggled as of late. My gut is telling me Lawler is the safe bet here, since he’s improved massively since the first fight and has been far more active in the last decade. There’s also the fact that Nick Diaz recently asked for the fight to be bumped from welterweight to middleweight. Is Diaz struggling with weight issues? Possibly.

Diaz and Lawler just had their first staredown at a press conference which took place today.

We have no idea what Nick Diaz is showing up though and that’s what makes this fight so exciting.

UFC 266 Start time

The UFC 266 main card starts at 10 p.m EDT (7 p.m. PDT) but here are all the details from multiple timezones.

US

  • The main card starts Sept 25, 10 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. PDT).
  • The prelims start Sept 25, 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT).
  • The early prelims start Sept 25, 6.00 p.m. EDT (3.15 p.m. PDT).

UK

  • The main card starts Sept 26, 3 a.m. BST.
  • The prelims start Sept 26, 1 a.m. BST.
  • The early prelims start Sept 25, 11.00 p.m. BST.

Australia

  • The main card starts Sept 26, 12 noon AEST.
  • The prelims start Sept 26, 10 a.m. AEST.
  • The early prelims start Sept 26, 8.00 a.m. AEST.

How to watch UFC 266

The UFC now has a partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 266, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

  • Existing yearly ESPN Plus subscribers can order the upcoming UFC fight for $70.
  • Existing monthly ESPN Plus subscribers will be able to either upgrade to an annual plan and buy UFC PPV for $85 or purchase the ability to watch the UFC event on PPV for $70 by itself.
  • New ESPN Plus subscribers can buy a bundle of one UFC PPV event (streaming in HD) and an ESPN Plus annual recurring subscription for $90. This is a decent deal. The previous bundle gave a saving of 25% but this new bundle is a 35% saving. The ESPN Plus annual ESPN subscription will auto-renew after one year, at the price of an ESPN Plus annual subscription at the time of auto-renewal.

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 266 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 266 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN to change your IP address to access those US, UK or Australian options listed above. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

UFC 266 fight card

Main card

  • Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega
  • Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy
  • Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler
  • Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
  • Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo

Prelims

  • Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishlivi
  • Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast
  • Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus

Early prelims

  • Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
  • Karl Roberson vs. Nick Maximov
  • Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano