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Best photo boxes 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated December 1, 2023

Roger BarnettLet’s get started. I spent 37 hours researching and testing 25 different types of photo boxes and found that material, variety of sizes, and style were most important.

I have been writing about technology and entertainment since the early 90s from my secluded home in West Virginia. What I would like you to remember as you browse my website is that I don’t work in the industry so the reviews I have are based on good old fashioned honesty.

Best photo boxes of 2018

The above tidbits will bring you closer to selecting photo boxes that best serves your needs and as per your budget. If you’re reading this, it is very likely that you’re scouting for the best photo boxes.

I must say I am quite a fan of photo boxes, so when the question “What are the best photo boxes available on the market?” came to my mind, I excitedly started gathering information together with personal experience to write this article in the hope that it may help you find the suitable photo boxes. I review the three best photo boxes on the market at the moment.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
Ease of use
5 points
4 points
4 points
5 points
5 points
5 points
5 points
4 points
4 points
4 points
5 points
4 points
Awards 1
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How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the photo boxes by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



№1 – Bachelorette Party Decorations Kit–Bridal Shower Supplies with Cheers Gift Box: Veil & Bride-To-Be Sash

Bachelorette Party Decorations Kit--Bridal Shower Supplies with Cheers Gift Box: Veil & Bride-To-Be Sash

✓ PREMIUM QUALITY PARTY BOX INCLUDES: 1 bridal veil with comb, 1 satin bride-to-be sash, 1 gold miss to mrs. banner, 1 bride + 11 bride tribe tattoos, 10 party photo booth props, 1 giant (30 inch) engagement ring balloon & the perfect white party box! Quality guaranteed!
For such a price and the level of quality it can’t even have any cons, only pick holes.

Why did this photo boxes win the first place?

I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!


Ease of use
















Bright blue color
Heavy duty storage box
Metal identification plate
A bit expensive for functionality.
A bit bulky.

Why did this photo boxes come in second place?

Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made.


Ease of use














№3 – Pioneer B1BW Photo Storage Box

Pioneer B1BW Photo Storage Box

Design will vary. Assorted patterns only
Relatively pricey to buy.
The cover is not ideal.

Why did this photo boxes take third place?

It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built.


Ease of use














photo boxes Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy photo boxes, right? No!

Sign up for Google Drive

Google Drive is at the heart of the various online services that Google currently offers. You get 15GB of free space when you create a Google account – or link to an existing one. You’ll already have a Drive account if you use Gmail, Google Calendar, or even YouTube.

The space is shared across all these services, so if you have large attachments on emails then they will count in the 15GB, and enabling the automatic photo backup to Google+ from a smartphone acts the same way.

There are currently two options for uploading photos and videos. “High quality” is free and doesn’t count against your storage but the unmolested “Original” quality versions do. Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Presentations, Drawings and files that others have shared with you don’t count against your allocation either.

Drive works in the same way as most cloud storage solutions: a local folder in Windows is linked to a duplicate cloud version. Versioning is supported, as is real-time collaboration on documents via the Google Docs app.

The old Google Drive app has been replaced by Backup & Sync for Windows and macOS, with mobile versions of Google Drive for Android and iOS. There’s selective sync, so you can choose which folders sync on each PC or laptop.

On the whole, the interface across the apps is intuitive, with a basic file tree showing where your stuff is kept. You can choose specific files to be available offline on the mobile versions, and these can be edited – if they were created in Google Docs – then synced when you connect to the internet again. For other formats (such as Word) you’ll need to open them in another app – thus creating a duplicate copy.

Sign up for pCloud

Opening a new account with pCloud will give you a respectable 10GB of free storage (twice that of OneDrive, and five times Dropbox’s basic offering).

This can be quickly upgraded to 20GB through the regular incentives such as recommending friends (1GB per person) completing a tutorial (3GB) and various social media links, but the real temptation is the very reasonable prices for the larger storage options.

There are import options which can automatically transfer files from other cloud services including Dropbox and Google Drive, which is convenient if you’re switching from one, or simply want an extra backup of important files.

As with pretty much all online storage services you can share your content with friends or associates by either sending links or allowing access to folders and documents. These also feature permissions, so you can determine whether someone is capable of editing or merely viewing the file. pCloud supports file versioning for an infinite amount of changes over a specified time period. Free customers can access any previous version of a document for 30 days, while paid ones have the luxury of 180 days.

One of the more specialist features on pCloud is that of a Crypto Folder, into which you can place files that you want to keep away from prying eyes, be they hackers or certain government agencies.

The contents of this folder are encrypted locally on your device, and not even pCloud employees can read it without your key.  pCloud uses 256-bit AES encryption for the files and folders, while the encryption key uses 4096-bit RSA, meaning that both are very secure.

Not all of the files and folders are encrypted automatically, but instead you drag the contents you want to remain private into a dedicated Crypto folder. This means you can have a mixture of encrypted and non-encrypted files on your drive at the same time, handy for sharing non-confidential documents with friends while also having and added level of security for others.

Verdict pCloud is an excellent service that’s easy to use and offers a good amount of storage for free as well as very competitive rates for larger capacities. The option of Crypto folders for the security conscious is also a nice feature, especially as it doesn’t require the whole drive to be encrypted.

Sign up for Mega

Mega is a New Zealand-based company set up by the German-born entrepreneur Kim Dotcom in 2013, who now has no involvement with it.

Mega puts its security credentials front and centre. Unlike some of its rivals, this service provides encryption in every part of the process. Anything you send to the cloud is encrypted locally, on-route, and on the destination server.

Mega itself doesn’t have any way of accessing your information, as you hold the encryption key. The upshot of all this is that anything you store on Mega is only able to be opened by you.

To achieve this there are local clients for Windows, mac OS, and Linux, plus there are also secure browser plugins for Chrome and Firefox. Apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and even Blackberry.

The standard free package affords a whopping 50GB of space. If this isn’t enough you can have 500GB (€9per year), 2TB (€19per year), or 4TB (€29per year) and increased bandwidth with each package so you can share files back and forth with friends.

Sharing is easy with other members of Mega, behaving in much the same way as Google Drive and OneDrive, by allowing you to send an invitation to a friend and set the level of actions they can complete (view, edit, etc.) You can also send links to non-Mega users, but this involves also privately sending them an encryption key so they can access the files.

There are also a few secure communications features: video chat, voice calling, email and IM. These are encrypted end-to-end, making them more private than Skype or Google Hangouts.

Sign up for SpiderOak

If privacy is a major concern then SpiderOak might be the cloud storage service for you. Most of the mainstream offerings all encrypt your data on their servers, but SpiderOak has a different approach.

Traditionally this would make accessing files from numerous machines more problematic, not to mention sharing with others, but the team has worked around that. SpiderOak Hive is the control centre of your storage. This app, which runs locally, is very similar to the Dropbox folder on your desktop, although the interface has a little more detail.

This includes which of your other devices have the desktop app installed, and gives you access to the file tree within their SpiderOak Hive folders. You can also choose local files to backup via a menu, and there are helpful stats to keep you up to date with the activity on your account.

Where rivals such as Google Drive and OneDrive are tightly integrated into wider productivity suites, SpiderOak is simply there to store your files securely. This means no Office-style apps, or online collaboration with colleagues. You can easily share items and send secure links to files from the SpiderOak Hive, although this involves setting up a Share ID (free and simple) as another way to protect your data.

This obsession with security runs throughout the system, with strong warning messages appearing if you decide to let the app remained logged in all the time. Some may find this annoying, but you can override any of the warnings and it’s never a bad thing to be reminded that convenience isn’t always the bedfellow of safety.

A basic free account comes with 2GB of storage, but the snag is that it’s only a 60-day trial.

Sign up for Knowhow Cloud

Knowhow is a service offered by UK retailer Currys PCWorld, but it’s really LiveDrive rebranded. We’ve heard many good reports about the reliability of LiveDrive, so that’s a good start, as keeping your data safe is the whole point of signing up to a service such as Knowhow.

There are three storage options: 200GB, 2TB, and 4TB. However, there are other variables, such as number of devices allowed, and how many years the packages last. It’s confusing and should be simplified. The most tempting offering we found was for 2TB covering five devices and costing £30 per year.

Design-wise, the interface is clean, simple to understand, and when you finish the initial install the app immediately starts a backup of your system. We’d like to see the options of which folders you want in the cloud appearing first, but it’s an easy thing to quickly rectify. Still, presumptuous software is something that never finds us overjoyed.

Security is obviously an important element in any online service. Knowhow Cloud encrypts data in transit using TLS to fend off any interceptions, and the Briefcase files are encrypted on the users machine as well. Files on the Knowhow servers are not stored in an encrypted form, but Knowhow assure us that they remain very secure behind several layers of protection and are unidentifiable to any snoopers.

The servers are all based in the UK, which in some ways is encouraging – as it keeps the NSA at bay – but of course we have our very own GCHQ to worry about. Any problems are handled by a UK-based customer support team – a pleasant surprise.

Sign up for Mediafire

Mediafire might be a new name to many, but the Texan company has been around for nearly ten years, starting off as a file sharing service. You can still share files in much the way that you can on Google Drive, Onedrive, Dropbox and others, and can post pictures, videos, and other files directly to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr,  Google+, or Blogger, from within the Mediafire portal.

The free account comes with 10GB of space, but this can quickly be expanded by various easy tasks. All in all, you can boost the free account up to a very respectable 50GB of space.

If you install the desktop client then a new folder is created on your hard drive and you can just drag files to it like any other standard folder, except the Mediafile one will then sync automatically to the cloud drive.

Another smart feature in the desktop client is the ability to take a screenshot on your PC, annotate it, and then share it with friends. While this might seem a little random, it could be very useful if you’re collaborating with others on something and want to quickly show them what you’re thinking.

There are also new features on the way, with mentions of music and photo apps that will presumably have a focus on social media and sharing.

Sign up for Mozy

Mozy offers a very limited free service with 2GB of space and the chance to get more via referrals. Paid-for packages starting at £4.9per month.

Clients are available for Windows and mac OS, while iOS and Android platforms are also supported. We spoke to Mozy about any upcoming apps for Windows Phone or Linux variants, but at the moment there are no plans to develop in those areas.

Bear in mind though that there are some restrictions on the amount of hardware you can use. The lower tier packages are limited to backing up one PC, although you can access your files via the web on other machines. For a multi-computer setup you’ll need to move up to the £7.9p/m service, which supports three PCs and gives you 125GB of storage.

The interface is nothing special, but acceptable and stable. Once the Mozy Home and the Sync clients are set up you simply click and drag folders into the Mozy drive and it will store a copy in the cloud, plus you can adjust which folders are backed up, along with several other modifiers, all with relative ease.

The mobile apps follow a similar pattern in the design stakes, with aesthetics giving way to functionality. Performance wasn’t exactly stellar though, and we’d hope that the mobile side of things would see an overhaul in the very near future, otherwise Mozy could easily find itself left behind other more optimised services.

Mozy offers two types of encryption (256-bit AES or a 448-bit Blowfish key) which perform the essential part of encrypting your files while still on your computer, rather than sending them across the internet to the servers to do the job there. The upshot of this is that it is much harder for someone to hijack your information en route to the servers and find anything they can use.

Sign up for Zoolz

Zoolz is a service built with the business world in mind, but this means that Home users can access some pretty nifty features, even on the free tier. ‘Intelligent Cloud’ refers to the various search and storage tools available, all of which are powered by Zoolz’s AI technology.

Facial recognition is a notable example, as it can quickly locate images that include certain people. This is obviously helpful if you want to store lots of family photos, but don’t want to go through the laborious task of labeling every snap.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) also means you can find keywords in documents (including ones you’ve scanned) simply by entering the words into a search.

The service claims to offer stable streaming for any video or audio content you may have. On the free account this is limited to SD, but the 1TB £9.9tier offers 4K or HD. You just need a fast internet connection and enough storage on your account.

Pricing is granular, with the free account offering 5GB of storage for one user that can be shared across three computers and two smartphones or tablets. This also gives you the option of backing up an external hard drive if you wish. £2.4per month grants you 100GB, plus an additional mobile device and multiple external hard drives.

There are two Family plans, the £5.4per month option that has 500GB of storage which can be shared by three user accounts, using up to a maximum of nine computers and six mobile devices.

Then there’s the 1TB plan, replete with space for five users, fifteen computers, and unlimited mobile devices.

Dedicated casting

The table above shows you the best Android TV boxes today. We hope it can help you in choosing the best Android TV Box for your needs and budget. We will now move on and briefly introduce Android TV to you so that you can get a better understanding of what it is.

Android TV isn’t just a novel entertainment device. In a broader sense, it’s an ambitious scheme to put the content of all types from anywhere onto your TV. An update of the earlier Google TV system, the budding platform is designed to better integrate Android-based content and apps across more than just phones.

Google’s designers think of the new platform as recharging their effort to bring to TVs and consoles the same content streaming features that conventional Android mobiles already have. That’s why Android TV has been showing up in different smart TV as well as set-top versions over the last year or two.  Although Google has stopped selling its  Nexus Player, the company is still working to expand its presence beyond mobile ecosystems and recast its brand at the center of everyone’s living rooms and collaborated with Xiaomi to launch their new Mi Box.

China’s Xiaomi has just started marketing their own take on Android TV in their new Mi Box, apparently as a partner of Google. It has the latest Android TV features and apps, including video and music sources from streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, and Google Play.

This is actually the first device marketed directly by the tech giant in the U.S., and it is relatively unusual for it displays 4K HDR video. Its specifications include the new Amlogic S905X-H quad-core 2GHz ARM processor (Cortex-A53), 2GB RAM, 8GB flash-based storage, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, plus a default Android 6.0 installation (Marshmallow).

At the rear of its small casing are just a few standard ports, aside from a jack for the provided power adapter, comprising one each of HDMI 2.0, USB 2.0, and 3.5mm audio. There is, however, no micro-USB port that you can use for powering the Mi, using either a regular USB charger or else a spare USB port on your TV as is usually done with many Chromecast-like devices. It’s great that the Mi Box’s included Bluetooth remote does not have an old-school interface full of buttons and is easy enough to learn.

On the voice-enabled remote are the standard power, home, and back buttons, along with a d-pad with the usual controller-style select button in the center. There are additional volume up and down controls as well as a key for activating the voice-command system. It worked fine when we first set up the Mi Box, and continued to connect without issue or interference afterward. An HDMI cable is packaged as well.

This model supports the newest USH playback standards, including H.26HEVC MP-(level 5.1) format in 4K resolutions at 60fps, VPProfile 2, HDR(without Dolby Vision). If you have the appropriate subscriptions, you will be able to access just about every digital media file and streaming format available to consumers.

Android TV

The system in facts mostly refers to paid apps and other items found in the Play store. This happens even when the movie or music title you’re searching for is already available at lower cost or even for free on cloud services such as Netflix. Now, of course, Google is in business to push its own or its partners’ content whenever possible. But the problem is that this particular iteration of Android TV allows you limited ways of searching for and pulling in selections according to preferences that you can set.

That said, DIY users could always try technical methods for unofficially installing regular Play Store apps or even stuff unapproved by either Google or Xiaomi. The APK file of an app if available can be copied to a remote share or folder like that on USB flash drives, for sideloading in the Android TV filesystem as it’s usually done on rootable Android devices. Users who are already invested in Android’s mobile ecosystem will likely be tempted by its ability to duplicate on their TV screens much of the experience they’re already familiar with on their Android phones and tablets.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Android TV itself as a subset of Google’s mobile ecosystem has its usual mix of issues. The Mi Box’s UI and search functions mostly prioritize first party or Google partner content from the Play Store by generally ranking them at the top of most result tables. Its section for recommendations rarely suggests the content of much relevance to what you’re currently experiencing, although the app recommendations can be more useful.

This model can also act as a Google Cast receiver, enabling it to work with applications that support Cast but not Android TV standalone boxes. Compared to Google’s similarly-priced Chromecast Ultra, standalone media players like this have the advantage as they can duplicate the majority of the Ultra’s Cast functions with the addition of Android TV’s richer UI and universal search and streaming features.

Android TV and Media

This is far from the only set-top device to be deficient in certain services. What makes things seem worse than they are is that its content recommendations aren’t too useful for finding new media of the kinds you prefer. The clean but spare menus have the effect of making the limited catalog of apps appear smaller than it already is.

Still, Android TV is the first entertainment ecosystem to provide info on movies and shows currently playing in real time. The system already offers particularly good search for associated information from IMDB that many times can result in unexpectedly pleasing options that you’d have never found otherwise. To help tide you over the relative lack of good native apps, you will be able to cast to your TV the screens of the majority of Android and iOS apps that are compatible with Google Cast, particularly the critical everyday services for which native apps aren’t yet available.

TV remote not included

The Fire TV’s minimalist case houses a quad-core MediaTek CPU that’s said to perform 75% faster than the earlier model. A PowerVR GX6250 graphics card along with 2GB of system RAM provides the system with hybrid media and gaming capability. A good 8GB of internal storage is standard, which can be expanded via microSD to a maximum of 128GB of flash storage. Gigabit LAN provides for the best possible Ultra HD streaming in tandem with dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Media and Gaming

The animated tutorial that runs upon first use to list the main features is a good idea. It immediately makes the system more welcoming and accessible and we wish this would appear on more media players. The FireOS UI is uncluttered and easy to use and the large graphics and dark scheme of its screens should not give you trouble, as they are readily viewable from several feet away under most indoor lighting conditions.

The Fire TV enjoys a further advantage in its highly efficient codec, as it is also effective at streaming lower-resolution Full HD content. This Android TV box can efficiently stream 1080p at the half the data transmission rates that normally obtain over most network connections. Full HD videos load faster and render seamlessly and with less lag on slower internet connections, a performance feature that has no real downside any way you look at it.

Software and operation

Kodi is justifiably famous for letting its users access streams from ‘unofficial’ sites and pulling all in through a relatively easy-to-use UI. Buyers who are not familiar with the app and its suite of add-ons should research on online. There’s a slight learning curve, and you may have to tweak the default settings with the help of expert forum advice in order to have all video types to play with the issue.

As a result of the way Kodi works in retrieving some types of online content, access to certain channels may not be reliable or even feasible at times. Some could be dubious sites that ISPs in their commercial wisdom have decided to block or reduce bandwidth to, i.e. torrential sources of content and other DCMA-unfriendly IPs. Nevertheless, once you get things right and put it through its paces, it will open up your TV experiences like nothing else.

The hardware is capable of flawlessly rendering content encoded in H.26HEVC MP-(level 5.1) format in 4K resolutions at 60fps, which is impressive enough for a standalone player and streamer. It can channel DRM-protected according to the HDMI 2.0 and HDCP2.standards. Average in-game framerates peaked in the 35-3FPS range, which is decent enough for 1080p scenes. For those who are technically-focused, the T95Z attained Geekbench scoring of around 2090, while wireless bandwidth testing reported downlink speeds of about 3Mbps Down and uplinks of 1Mbps.

The T95Z performed very well with locally streamed 1080p and 4K video, using Kodi and its capable add-ons. Its powerful cortex-A5processor and graphics along with its plentiful RAM afford it huge advantages over previous boxes based on earlier ARM designs.

Android for your TV and what they can do together

Android TV and regular Android media boxes are basically small computers that run Google’s ubiquitous mobile OS as content hubs, pulling media files and streams from external sources. You can view these as standalone players and streamers that happen to run differing versions of the Android OS and access different subsets of its Play Store ecosystem.

The software side is much the same as that found on the vast majority of phones, tablets, and other mobiles worldwide. It’s usually based on an Android version that’s a generation behind that found on the latest phones, such as Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or6.0 (Marshmallow). The good news is that if you’re already familiar with Google’s mobile OS on your phone, you should have no trouble learning to use and exploit most apps that can run on your particular box.

One thing though, a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard will afford better ease-of-use with many apps aside from the Kodi or Plex apps, which are useable enough with regular Android remotes. A mouse/keyboard setup can be a necessity in anything involving configuration, search, and installation and operation of numerous native apps.

That’s because you will be using what is basically a touchscreen version of the OS that’s been repurposed for HTPC use. As many Android input elements and prompts were originally designed for touchscreen manipulation, a mouse can be handy for doing things faster and more simply. Since conventional Android media boxes do not offer the full Android TV scheme, your experiences with these will likely not be as polished, especially when compared to that of the latest Google-powered Smart TVs.

There are many terms that may be new to you that are mentioned on various Android sites and forums, and you’ll need to figure out which are important. Whether it’s called a TV box or streaming set-top box, or else a Kodi box, these all tend to work much the same outside of their custom home screens and launcher modules.

Don’t let the terminology confuse you, these things similarly designed to find and pull in free or paid content from shares on your local network or from streaming sites for display on your TV. This guide presents enough details so that you can learn the essentials and start searching for a model that meets your needs for entertainment and information.

Device and software integration

To be clear, the model that’s best for you is basically the one that enables access to the streaming media sources you care most about and can afford. If you’re planning to use it mainly with Kodi or Plex applications, then there’s a wider array of models open to you as many newer conventional boxes can easily handle their server requirements. However, if you’re hoping to stream much of the content you’re looking for, you must take note of the channels and sites that are made officially available through the built-in software and the various app stores.

DRM on different media platforms

It’s a fact that Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes are here to stay. How these are implemented in various commercial services can limit the types and quality of content that they specifically make available to various Android and iOS devices. What system you choose and how you update and configure your accounts on it will determine whether you will be able to enjoy low-definition but mostly free content, or else UHD versions of popular shows and movies that will bring the cinematic experience into your living room.

For Android TV boxes to be capable of streaming 4K Ultra-HD content from commercial services, they require not just certification from Netflix but also Widevine Level licenses from Google in order to play DRM-protected 4K as well as 1080p streaming movies and TV shows. HBO Now also requires Microsoft’s Playready licensing in addition. In other words, you’ll have to choose the right hardware/software package if you want to access more than just standard-definition and/or free content from the major services.

Features to look for at a minimum

Certain minimum features are must-haves for a next-generation Android TV device, and we list these in accordance to both users’ needs as well as market availability. The models we reviewed should have each met all or most, and we had made sure to point to any item that a model failed to support or that the manufacturer has not yet made available.

In answer to the question, you’re probably asking, of what makes a box an Android TV device, well here’s our take. Manufacturers design unique launchers and implement proprietary skins and UI elements, providing their own models with a custom look and feel that’s different from that of other Android TV or conventional Android devices. All hope to provide a pleasing experience with their set up while you’re lounging in your living room and facing your big TV from several feet away.

The bigger brands tend to follow Netflix’s screen and operating schemes as these are already widely used, given that Netflix currently hosts the most popular and streaming media services in the world. It makes sense for its rivals to mimic Netflix’s UIs, as new users of their models will then find it easier to learn the built-in functions and specialized apps.

But if you don’t care for the launcher and screens that your new box implements, you can usually find ways to improve the experience. Android is a highly modifiable operating platform, and you can usually find and install another compatible launcher and use that in place of the default. Just remember that there are functional differences between Android TV integrated into a Smart TV and an Android TV player as well as a regular Android media box that you can buy separately, particularly in terms of the available OS updates and the selection of apps.

WD My Passport Ultra

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim will do the trick. Again, more excellent storage portable drives can be found on this list.

Now if you want to know more about storage, I invite you to read on. There are three main areas you should consider when making your list: performance, capacity and data safety. I’ll explain them briefly here. After you’re finished, for an even deeper dive into the world of storage.

Using an SSD like one of these will greatly improve your computer’s performance.


Storage performance refers to the speed at which data transfers within a device or from one device to another. Currently, the speed of a single consumer-grade internal drive is largely defined by the Serial ATA interface standard (aka SATA). This determines how fast internal drives connect to a host (such as a personal computer or a server) or to one another. There are three generations of SATA — the latest and most popular, SATA 3, caps at gigabits per second (about 770 megabytes per second). The earlier SATA (largely obsolete) and SATA (available in computers made a few years ago) standards cap data speeds at 1.5Gbps and 3Gbps, respectively.

Since 2015, there’s been a new standard called M.2, which is only available for SSDs. M.allows the storage device to connect to a computer via PCI express (the type of connection once used only to connect a video card to a motherboard) and is therefore much faster than SATA. Currently only high-end desktop motherboards support M.These tend to come with two slots. Some ultracompact laptops also have an M. slot instead of SATA. Just about the size of a stick of system memory, an M.SSD is much more compact than a regular SSD. It’s also much faster and can deliver the same amount of storage space. In the future, M.is expected to replace regular SATA drives completely.

Since internal drives are used in most other types of storage devices, including external drives and network storage, the SATA standard is the common denominator of storage performance. In other words, a single-volume storage device — one that has only one internal drive on the inside — can be as fast as 6Gbps at most. In multiple-volume setups, there are techniques that aggregate the speed of each individual drive into a faster combined data speed, but I’ll discuss that in more detail in the RAID section below.

Internal drives

Though they share the same SATA interface, the performance of internal drives can vary sharply. Generally, hard drives are much slower than SSDs, but SSDs are much more expensive than hard drives, gigabyte for gigabyte.

Though not all SSDs offer the same performance, the differences are minimal. To make it easier for you to choose, here’s our list of the best internal drives currently on the market.

External drives

External storage devices are basically one or more internal drives put together inside an enclosure and connected to a computer using a peripheral connection.

There are four main peripheral connection types: USB, Thunderbolt, FireWire and eSATA. Most, if not all, new external drives now use just USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt or both. There are good reasons why.

USB 3.0 offers a cap speed of 5Gbps and is backward-compatible with USB 2.0. Thunderbolt caps at 10Gbps (or 20Gbps with Thunderbolt 2.0), and you can daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt drives together without degrading the bandwidth. Thunderbolt also makes RAID possible when you connect multiple single-volume drives of the same capacity. Note that more computers support USB 3.0 than Thunderbolt, especially among Windows computers. All existing computers support USB 2.0, which also works with USB 3.0 drives (though at USB 2.0 data speeds).

Generally, speed is not the most important factor for non-Thunderbolt external drives. That may seem counterintuitive, but the reason is that the USB 3.0 connectivity standard, which is the fastest among all non-Thunderbolt standards, is slower than the speed of SATA internal drives.

Note that there’s no difference in terms of performance between bus-powered (a data cable is also used to draw power) and non-bus-powered (a separate power adapter is required) external drives. Generally only single-volume external drives that are based on a laptop 2.5-inch internal drive can be bus-powered, and for now these drives offer 2TB of storage space at most. Non-bus-powered external storage devices mostly use 3.5-inch internal drives and can combine multiple internal drives, so they can offer more storage space.

Currently, Thunderbolt storage devices are more popular for Macs, and unlike other external drives, deliver very fast performance. They are significantly more expensive than USB 3.0 drives, with prices fluctuating a great deal depending on the number of internal drives you use. Here’s our list of the top Thunderbolt drives on the market.

Basic Product Photography Equipment and Process

For those new to photography, your first product shoot may seem overwhelming.

But after a few rounds, each step will become more natural, and you won’t even have to think about it.

The key is to find a process that suits your needs, optimize it, and create a set of guidelines to ensure you keep your images consistent.

Setting up your Product.

It’s important to make sure you set your product up in front of your background on a flat, stable surface.

Once you get the lighting right, you’re almost ready to shoot.

If you’re shooting jewelry, it’s always best to use a bust. Those on a budget can improvise by making one from a piece of cardboard, like in the image below.

Get your lighting right.

If there is one deciding factor that defines the quality of your images, it’s light.

Lighting can be very tedious to set up, but when done right, it brings beautiful results and significantly simplifies your post-processing.

Natural Light: Best if you’ve created a chair mounted sweep.

Studio Light: Best if you have the budget, or if you create a lightbox.

Recommended DSLR Settings for Product Photography

However, if you have a smartphone, you don’t need to worry about investing in a camera when you’re getting starting.

Smartphone camera technology has come a long way and sometimes you can take even better pictures than you might using a professional camera.

So as long as you get your lighting and background right, your iPhone or Samsung device can do a good job.

You might want to get a smartphone stabilizer or tripod, like Joby, at some point to help reduce blur and speed up post-processing.

Make sure you include

Share your guide with everyone involved in your product shoots, and post a copy in your in-house studio for quick reference.

Having an image guide will not only save you money in the long run, but also save you lots of time as you won’t have to repeat the training processes.

Instead, you can focus on more profitable tasks, such as growing your business.

Even if you have no good reason to justify buying one, you have to admit that drones are cool. Some models out there are glorified tech toys, but the ones we highlight here are fit for use in imaging and cinematic applications small and large. If you think you can use a flying camera in your next project, there’s some good news—the tech has come a long way in a very short time. There are models on the market now that put earlier copters to shame in terms of video quality and stabilization.

And now the bad news. You get what you pay for, and if you want an aerial video platform that can capture stunning footage, you need to be ready to spend some cash. Because drones are such pricey propositions, it pays to do your research before buying one. We’ve tested many of the ready-to-fly models on the market to determine what’s important to look for, and the best models available.

The drones we review are ready-to-fly models, so you can use them right out of the box. In most cases you’ll need to bring your own Android or iOS device to view the camera feed in real-time, but we’ve reviewed a few models that have an Android tablet built into the remote control. We haven’t delved into covering true pro models, which require you to get out a soldering iron and install flight control systems and custom gimbals that can accommodate an SLR or mirrorless camera.

Racing and Toy Drones

There are a number of products on the market that are sold as drones, but don’t quite fit the bill. Remote-controlled aircraft have been around for ages. (Check out this clip from Magnum, P.I. if you don’t believe me, or just want to see Tom Selleck in a bathrobe.) But with the recent surge in popularity, quadcopters that would simply be sold as RC products are now being tagged as drones. These products don’t include GPS stabilization, return-to-home functionality, and other automated flight modes that make a drone a drone.

We’ve reviewed a handful of these products and placed them in our Toy reviews category. If you’re interested in something you can use on the International Drone Racing Association, keep your eyes tuned there for reviews.

DJI’s Competition

Yuneec is DJI’s major competition in the consumer market. Its Typhoon series competes with DJI’s Phantom line and offers some features that Phantoms don’t provide, including a freely rotating camera on the Typhoon H and H Plus. It also has a smaller model, the Breeze, to appeal to pilots who want a more user-friendly, casual drone experience.

PowerVision is a newer player in the US market. It’s announced two copters—the consumer-friendly PowerEgg and the pro-grade PowerEye, and has dipped its toes in the underwater UAV market with the PowerRay, PowerDolphin, and PowerSeeker. Also making headway in the US is Autel Robotics. Its line of X-Star drones look like DJI Phantoms that have been dipped in bright orange paint, and it announced a Mavic Pro competitor at the most recent CES. We’ve not yet had the opportunity to review them, but they compare favorably with DJI models in terms of price.

GoPro made a drone, the Karma. But after a rocky launch, which involved a massive recall, and underwhelming performance in the market, the company decided to pull the plug on drone development. You can still buy a Karma while supplies last (at a discount), but there are better options out there.


All of the devices we’re considering here get video from the web to your television screen, usually via HDMI cable. Outside of that basic similarity, there’s plenty of variety: some streamers are sticks you plug straight into the back of a set, while others are small boxes that sit underneath; some dongles need your phone to work, others can operate independently.

It’s worth considering what else you want your new gadget to do besides video streaming. Some add music, photo viewing and even gaming to the mix as well as video from the usual providers, so if you think you’ll find these extra features handy then go for a device that includes them. A number of devices let you view locally saved files (via a memory card or external hard drive) which is a feature many users will find helpful.

Some of the top-end devices are now starting to offer 4K streaming as well. While there’s only a smattering of 4K content available on the likes of Netflix and YouTube at the moment, if you want to future-proof your purchase then it might be worth spending a little extra to get it. You’re also going to need a speedy web connection fast enough to support it, of course.

As we’ve mentioned, some devices are platform agnostic, but even if you buy a box based on Android or iOS, it’s not quite as simple as installing any of the apps you can run on a smartphone or tablet – the app stores on these devices can be quite limited in some cases, so make sure you’re getting access to the apps you use most frequently before choosing those boxes over others.

With that in mind, here’s the current state of play regarding the most popular apps on the most popular streamers: ** Videos can only be cast from the Vimeo app for iOS; there’s no support yet on the equivalent Android app. **** Google Play TV & Movies is AirPlay compatible from iOS devices, but there’s no standalone Apple TV app.

There are a few points to bear in mind: this doesn’t factor in apps that are “coming soon” (like the app Vimeo has promised for Android TV) nor does it consider third-party hacks and workarounds which can turn some of these red crosses into green ticks. Where HBO and Showtime are listed, the ticks refer to both the on-demand apps included as part of a cable subscription (HBO GO, Showtime Anytime) and the standalone apps that work exclusively over the web (HBO Now, Showtime).


The original Chromecast was a huge success for Google (sales topped 20 million) and version wants to hit the same magic combination of affordability and functionality. The dongle plugs into the back of your TV and everything is controlled via a phone or tablet: that means you need Chromecast-compatible apps, but fortunately there are plenty of them (on both Android and iOS). It can’t work on its own like the more expensive kit here, but it’s slick and simple enough to make you wonder why you would need to spend any extra.

Nexus Player

More or less Google’s answer to the Apple TV, the Nexus Player is also a small black box that sits under your TV and pipes content to it over HDMI. In this case prime position is given to Google Play’s various stores for apps, music and movies, but you can get apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Vevo and various others on here too. A remote control (with voice search) and a console-style game controller (sold separately) are the official accessories, and the Android TV interface looks stylish on a big screen.

Nvidia Shield

If you like the look of the Nexus Player but want something more sophisticated, more powerful and more expensive, there’s the Nvidia Shield. As well as all the searching and app functionality you get with Android TV, there’s also support for 4K video, the option of 500 GB on-board storage and compatibility with Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service. External hard drives packed with content can be hooked up via USB as well if you need access to locally saved files as well as online streaming services.

Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick, meanwhile, ditches 4K playback, the voice search capabilities and the headphone jack while keeping just about everything else found with its more expensive alternative, including the same appealing interface layout and the same selection of apps (or “channels” in Roku parlance). As with the Roku boxes there are accompanying smartphone apps to make use of, though you can use it independently of other devices with just the remote (something you can’t say about Google’s Chromecast).

For more of Gizmag’s holiday buying guides, you can check out our lists of the Best Mobile Devices of 2015, Best Wearables of 201and our Fitness Tracker Buying Guide.

Full HD Streaming Players

Streaming players are especially useful for viewers who still have 1080p TVs. After all, a 4K set is almost guaranteed to be a smart TV, but plenty of 1080p sets predate integrated apps — or simply don’t offer them, to keep prices down.

Roku Stick

While 4K HDR sticks will work fine with 1080p TVs and vice versa, neither idea represents a great investment. There’s no need to pay a premium price for 4K HDR support if your TV can’t handle it; by the same token, there’s no reason to miss out on top-notch picture quality just to save a few bucks.

Sling TV on the PSPro

It’s worth noting that in order to view UHD content on a PSsystem, you’ll need to invest in a PSPro, which supports 4K and HDR for both games and video content. Both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X support 4K HDR video, although only the Xbox One X supports 4K HDR gaming as well.

It’s not worth buying a game console just to watch Netflix, but if you also want to play the latest games and watch Blu-rays, a game console is probably the right investment. (The Xbox One S and Xbox One X have 4K Blu-ray players; no PSsystem does.) Check out the Tom’s Guide comparison between the Xbox One and the PSto see if one of them should be your streaming solution.

These combine a scanner, photocopier and printer in one unit (some even include a fax machine). They’re available in both inkjet and laser printer varieties.

The only way to get photo-quality prints is with a dedicated photo printer. These use additional colour cartridges to produce more colour detail.

Mobile printing

Most printer manufacturers offer apps you can install on your mobile devices so you can print from them directly.

Many printers are also compatible with Apple Airprint (for Apple devices) and Google Cloud Print (for Android devices).

Quick Tips

If you’re in a hurry, these are the most important things to consider when choosing a new laptop. For a lot more detail, see the sections below.

12.5 to 14-inch  screens offer the best balance between usability and portability. Larger screens are fine if you don’t travel much and smaller models are great for kids.

SSD Storage instead of a hard drive.

8+ hours of battery life is ideal if you plan to take your laptop anywhere at all.

Consider a 2-in-if you want to use your laptop as a tablet. If not, a standard clamshell notebook may be a better choice.

Chromebooks are good for kids. Windows laptops and MacBooks both offer plenty of functionality; which platform you prefer is a matter of personal taste.

Chrome OS

Found on inexpensive “Chromebooks” such as the Lenovo 100S Chromebook, Google’s OS is simple and secure, but limited. The user interface looks a lot like Windows with an application menu, a desktop and the ability to drag windows around, but the main app you use is the Chrome browser. The downside is that many of the “web apps” you use don’t work particularly well offline. However, that’s changing as a few Chromebooks, including the high-end, Google PixelBook, can now run Android apps.

If you need a device to surf the Web and check email, navigate social networks and chat online, Chromebooks are highly portable and tend to offer good battery life at low prices. They are also extremely popular with schools and parents, because they are hard for kids to infect with malware.

Choose the Right Size

1to 1inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability, particularly if you get a laptop that weighs under pounds.

1inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 4.to 6.pounds. Consider this size if you want a larger screen and you’re not planning to carry your notebook around often.

1to 1inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.

Here are the main components to keep an eye on.

CPU: The “brains” of your computer, the processor has a huge influence on performance, but depending on what you want to do, even the least-expensive model may be good enough. Here’s a rundown.

Intel Core i5: If you’re looking for a mainstream laptop with the best combination of price and performance, get one with an Intel Core iCPU. Models that end in U (ex: Core i5-7200U) are the most common.  Those with the a Y in the name are low power and have worse performance while models with an HQ use more wattage and appear in thicker gaming and workstation systems. Intel’s new 8th Generation, “Kaby Lake Refresh” CPUs have model numbers that begin with (ex: Core i5-8250U) and double the number of cores from two to four, which dramatically improves performance.

Intel Core i7: A step up from Core i5, which Models with numbers that end in HQ or K use higher wattage and have four cores, allowing for even faster gaming and productivity. There are also Core iY series chips that have lower power and performance. Keep an eye out for CPUs that have a in the model number (ex: Core i7-8250U) because they are part of Intel’s latest, 8th Generation Core Series, and offer better performance. However, 8th Gen processors are only available in the U series right now.

Intel Core i3: Performance is just a step below Core iand so is the price. If you can possibly step up to a Core i5, we recommend it.

AMD A, FX or E Series: Found on low-cost laptops, AMD’s processors — the company calls them APUs rather than CPUs —  provide decent performance for the money that’s good enough for web surfing, media viewing and productivity.

Intel Core m / Core i/ i”Y Series” — Low-power and low heat allow systems with these processors to go fanless. Performance is better than Celeron, but a notch below regular Core iU series.

Don’t Skimp on Battery Life

If you’re buying large, bulky notebook that you’ll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if it’s at home and or work, you’ll want at least hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being ideal. To determine a notebook’s expected battery life, don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it. Instead, read third-party results from objective sources, such as our reviews.

Who this is for

A network-attached storage device, or NAS, is a small always-on computer generally used for backing up computers and serving files to devices on your local network. It includes at least one but usually two (or more) hard-drive bays, a (usually) Linux-based operating system optimized for network storage, and enough CPU power and RAM to do everything it needs to do while using far less power than a repurposed old computer. Unlike a USB drive or an external hard drive, a NAS with two or more hard drives can provide data redundancy, copying the contents of one drive over to the other automatically.

A NAS is great if you have a large media library, because you can store your files in one place and stream them locally to computers, phones, tablets, speakers, or media centers throughout your house (or even outside it). The same goes for photographers storing photos, music producers archiving music files, designers stockpiling massive Photoshop files, and anyone else who needs needs to access large amounts of data from multiple computers. Most people don’t need to store thousands of raw photo files, terabytes of raw video, gigabytes of lossless digital music, or backups of their Blu-ray collection, but a NAS is a useful tool for the people who do.

You should consider a NAS if you have more than one computer at home, since you can back them all up to the NAS rather than connect an external backup drive to each computer. And if you want to protect your data and backups from theft and natural disasters, a good NAS is capable of uploading files directly to a cloud backup service, too.

A NAS is also useful if you have too much data to store in Dropbox or Google Drive, or if you don’t trust your data to cloud storage providers. When you use a NAS, your data remains in your home and does not go to the cloud unless you tell it to do so. Many NAS devices have even added photo-management tools and file-syncing services that attempt to replicate various cloud storage offerings. While those NAS tools aren’t as feature-rich as commercial services from Google, Apple, and others, they can at least provide an adequate alternative to pricey subscriptions.

How we tested

First we set up each NAS following its included install guide, if it had one. Next we looked at the Web interface’s organization and features. We tested ease of use by configuring user and group accounts, as well as file and folder access permissions. We checked to see if the NAS offered a secure cloud service for remote access so you don’t have to mess with port forwarding and static IP addresses. We also looked at Android and iOS mobile apps for accessing and administering the NAS.

The easiest way to measure real-world NAS performance, at least for what you’re going to be doing with a home NAS, is to copy files to and from the NAS and calculate the data rate. Since 2015, we’ve run read and write tests the simplest way we can: by copying files over Gigabit Ethernet and measuring the elapsed time. For this latest update we looked at four new NAS devices alongside our previous pick, the QNAP TS-25We installed 8 TB WD Red drives in each NAS, connected each model via Gigabit Ethernet to a Netgear Orbi router, and connected a desktop PC with Gigabit Ethernet to another port. We used Windows 10’s built-in Robocopy file-copying tool to read and write three datasets to each NAS: a 32 GB music folder with 6,15MPfiles, and a folder with two large files, an 8.1 GB MKV file and a 7.07 GB Linux ISO file. We ran each test nine times in each direction: three times with encryption turned off, three times with disk or folder encryption turned on, and three times with in-flight SMB encryption turned on.

To simulate drive failure, we pulled a drive from the NAS while it was running. A NAS should beep or flash an LED to alert you that something is wrong, and the interface should show a drive-failure notification. If the NAS allows you to set up SMS or email alerts, that’s even better. If a drive fails and the NAS doesn’t produce a notification, you’re at risk of data loss if the second drive also fails.

Next we replaced the pulled drive with one of equal or greater capacity. A NAS should detect a new drive and automatically re-create the mirrored array. With each device, as it rebuilt the RAID mirror, we confirmed that all data stored on the NAS was intact and accessible.

This process also allowed us to test the quality of each NAS device’s drive bays. A good NAS has drive trays or slots that make the drives easy to remove but are sturdy enough to ensure that the drives fit tightly and securely, with no chance of getting disconnected by a random bump.

We also connected a flash drive to one of the USB ports. A NAS interface should recognize a connected drive and display its make, model, and file system. It should allow transfers between the USB drive and the NAS.

All our NAS picks have some sort of energy-saving feature. We used a Kill A Watt EZ to test the power consumption on each NAS when it was performing a task (such as a file copy), when it was idle, and with its energy-saving options enabled.

Pull Quote

Power-saving features won’t work if you enable any media server functions, because the NAS needs to be available all the time.

In our tests, the DS218+’s data-protection features worked as advertised. With the DS218+ running, we pulled the drive out of the second bay and the NAS beeped at us until we acknowledged a drive-failure notification. We also received an email notification at the address we’d set up previously. Logging in to DSM, we found another notification as well as instructions for how to rebuild the drive array in the Storage Manager once we replaced it.

The front of the DS218+ features a removable plate that hides away the drive bays, as well as LED indicators for general status, network connectivity, and the status of each drive. If you’re not a fan of bright blinking lights, you can adjust the LED brightness or set it up on a schedule so the lights dim at night. The DS218+ has three USB 3.0 ports, including one on the front for copying data to and from a USB thumb drive. It also has an eSATA port so you can expand the NAS with external drives using one of Synology’s compatible expansion units. Like every NAS we considered for this guide, the DS218+ has two drive bays. Unlike other options, the drive bays are tool-less, so you don’t need a screwdriver to install a drive.

When it came to power consumption, the DS218+ performed similarly to the QNAP TS-251A and TS-231P2, consuming between 1and 2watts during file copy, slightly better than the QNAP models. This Synology NAS used about watts while in power-saving mode, compared with the QNAP models’ watts. Power-saving features won’t work if you enable any media server functions, because the NAS needs to be available all the time; you have to manually turn off media servers and a handful of other similar services, such as cloud access and the mail server, if you want the power-saving mode to work. You can also turn the DS218+ on and off according to a schedule, and it supports Wake-on-LAN and multiple fan-speed modes, the latter of which can help reduce the overall noise of the DS218+. No NAS is completely quiet, but to our ears the DS218+ was less noticeable than the QNAP TS-251A or TS-231P2.

You can add wireless capabilities to the DS218+ with a Wi-Fi dongle. This unit also supports more than 5,000 different IP cameras, has special configuration settings for uninterruptible power supplies, and supports SSDs. The DS218+ comes with a two-year warranty, and Synology offers various support options, including tutorials, email support, and browser-based text chat.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The DS218+ is brand-new, so at the moment it doesn’t have a ton of owner reviews or a big enough install base for us to root out any potential problems with the device. It is a successor to the well-reviewed and well-received DS216+II, though, and Synology has made reliable and well-liked NAS devices for years, so we don’t expect to run into any significant problems.

What to look forward to

After releasing the DS218+, Synology introduced the DS218play and DS218j. The DS218play ramps up the multimedia features of the DS218+ but ditches the front USB port and Btrfs support; it also has only 1 GB of memory and lacks an eSATA port. We don’t think it’ll compete with the DS218+, but we may look at it for a future update. The DS218j is the budget option, with a much slower AMD-based processor and less memory, so it will almost certainly not match the performance of the DS218+.

Synology’s DSM 6.update is currently in beta and will be released to the public soon. We don’t recommend running beta software on your NAS because doing so is too risky for something that’s storing all your data, but the beta does provide some insight into what the new version will add. Among other things, it will offer an improved storage dashboard, bit-rot prevention to help you avoid data corruption, and a new virtual machine manager that will allow you to host virtual machines on your NAS—this is one feature QNAP currently offers in its NAS devices that Synology doesn’t.

QNAP hasn’t announced anything upcoming, but since the TS-251A was released in 2016, we’d expect an update within the next year or so. Other NAS makers have been playing catch-up to QNAP and Synology on the operating system front, and while those other competitors are still nowhere near the usability of either—and most still have terrible customer support—they’re at least getting closer with their operating systems. If you’re curious, nearly every NAS maker offers a live demo of its operating system on its website that’s worth checking out, including Asustor, Thecus, and Zyxel.


First off: What is a network attached storage, or NAS, device? In its simplest form, it’s a hard drive or hard drives in a box, connected to your router. Inside the chassis is a small motherboard, with a CPU and some memory to control its functions, plus a power supply. That’s all there is to it—like we said, a simple concept wrapped in opaque terminology.

The much cheaper alternative to installing a NAS is to set up file sharing directly on an individual’s computer, then configure the settings to allow other people to connect to those files or folders. File sharing in that way presents several issues and limitations, though. First, it’s possible that either the person sharing the files or the person wanting to connect to his or her computer will not understand how to do this—setting up file sharing under Windows or macOS can be cumbersome. Second, if the person sharing the files has his or her computer powered off, then nobody can access the file content on it. Third, the entire arrangement is limited by the amount of storage space the hosting party has on his or her computer.

NAS-optimized Seagate IronWolf hard drive…

WHICH DRIVES TO USE? NAS makers that sell diskless NAS drives recommend certain drive models or families that have been tested for use with their NAS drives. This might coincide with the hard drives they actually manufacture, or not. Take a look at these drive-compatibility lists before you buy. If you already own a bank of hard drives you intend to install, you’ll want to look for such validation. If yours are not on the list, it doesn’t mean they won’t work, but if you’re buying drives new, it’s best to stick with the NAS maker’s recommendations. Most “NAS certified” hard drives have been tested to run 24/7/365, which is a bit much for regular, consumer-level drives. Seagate and Western Digital are the two drive makers that specifically offer drives meant for NAS use by homes and businesses.

If you are looking at Seagate drives, the NAS-class drives are called the “IronWolf” and “IronWolf Pro” lines, while the surveillance drives (available in capacities from 1TB to 10TB) are the “SkyHawk” drive series. Straight IronWolf drives are what you’re after for outfitting a NAS drive in a home or SOHO scenario; they come in 1TB to 10TB capacities, as well. IronWolf Pro drives are rated for service in enterprise or commercial situations.

On the Western Digital side, the NAS-specific drives are the “WD Red” (at this writing, available in 2TB to 8TB sizes), with the “WD Red Pro” series meant for enterprise use. The surveillance-minded designs are the “WD Purple” drives, which come in 1TB to 8TB sizes.

EDUNDANCY OR NO? As we mentioned earlier, NAS units that have more than one drive are built to offer the option for redundancy, so in two- and four-drive configurations the extra disks can simply mirror the contents of the other drive. Example: A two-bay unit with two 4TB drives would offer only 4TB of usable storage if you leave it in mirror mode, as the other drive is “invisible,” copying all the files from the other drive in the background.

Usually, the user has the option to reconfigure the drives in order to gain the capacity of the second drive, if desired. But since the data will span both drives (if configured in striping-only mode), if either disk fails all the data will be lost, so we don’t recommend this approach. It essentially doubles the failure risk. Many NAS units also support a JBOD mode (“Just a Bunch of Disks”), which lets you address each drive as a separate drive letter and save data to discrete drives within the NAS box. This is marginally safer than just basic striping, but any data you save to a given drive is still vulnerable to the failure of that specific mechanism.

NAS OPERATING SYSTEMS. Since all NAS units use roughly similar hard drives and enclosures, what really differentiates them is the operating system that controls everything.

This OS ships with the drive, and is generally accessed via a Web browser when you set everything up. Most NAS OSs are Linux-based, and are vendor-specific. For example, Synology’s consumer/SOHO NAS units use what it calls “DiskStation Manager” (DSM), which gets periodic updates. Likewise, NAS maker Thecus employs ThecusOS, QNAP employs its own software environment (“QTS”), and so on.

USB-drive copy port on QNAP’s TS-469L.

Some NAS units also have a “copy” button on the front panel designed to make copying the contents of an external drive, such as a flash drive, to the NAS a one-button-press affair. You just connect the drive and tap the button, and everything on the external drive is safely copied to the NAS to a pre-designated location.

REMOTE ACCESS/”PERSONAL CLOUD” FEATURES. We discussed the concept of the “personal cloud” earlier. In addition to the above sharing features, most NAS drives let you send Web links to people to allow them to access remotely certain files or folders located on your NAS, making your NAS serve like your own Dropbox or Google Drive, but with way more storage capacity—and no monthly bill. Many NAS makers tout this.

IME MACHINE SUPPORT. Got Mac users on your network? Look for this. Support for the Apple spec is almost universal across NAS drives these days, but it’s best to make it a checklist item in your buy. NAS units from Synology, QNAP, Netgear, WD, and Seagate all support it, but it’s something you should specifically look for if you’re buying any NAS, as there might be specific requirements for it to work.


In our humble opinion, the Sony RXII is one of the most beautiful bridge cameras ever made. Its 24-200mm lens boasts a constant aperture of f/2.right through the zoom range, meaning you can get maximum light transmission and strong bokeh no matter what distance you’re working at. It is just a superb optic, and an absolute joy to use.

The best part? It’s backed up by some serious imaging power. The 20.MP 1-inch sensor housed beneath the bonnet of the RXII produces exquisite images, and Sony’s ‘stacked’ design gives it a faster data readout over its predecessor.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

You can extend your zoom reach rather nicely with the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, which offers a lovely focal range of 21-1365mm equivalent. The 16.1MP high-sensitivity CMOS sensor also means you’ll get some top images out of it, and the Digic Processor is a welcome addition to improve performance.

Elsewhere you’ve got 6.4fps continuous shooting, a 922k-dot electronic viewfinder, and a nice Zoom Framing Assist feature to help with that enormous focal range. It makes for a well-rounded imaging tool.

Sony Cyber-shot RXIII

Sony has made a habit of updating models while keeping them in the range to provide a range of options at a range of prices. With its RXIII, it’s taken the bones of the RXII as a starting point and boosted the lens to a longer 24-600mm (equivalent) f/2.4-option, while also reworking the grip to support this better and throwing in another ring around the lens to allow one each for focus, zoom and aperture.

Battery life has also improved among a few other things, and pretty much all the good bits from the RXII that made that model a smash – not least that excellent 4K video recording options – have been maintained.

But there is one area we think needs an improvement

Overall, we like this photo light box for its 40 LEDs light display and portable nature. Don’t be afraid to consider it.

Getting a quality light box photography is a high priority among photographers. The growth of this need is the reason as to why the Gordon and Bond brightbox portable studio light has been introduced into the market. This product takes photography t a whole new level. It is not only portable due to its small size but also provides high-quality work.

It has a white background which makes lighting easy and is very effortless to set out. Besides this light box is protected from element interference since it is waterproof.

Customer reviews on this product are positive which a clear testament that it functions as expected. Buy yours today, and you won’t be disappointed.

Some few things need improvement

We love this product for complying with the description.

The seventh product on this list is the Limo Studio 16″ x 16″ Table Top Photo Photography Studio Lighting Light Tent Kit that comes with unique and high-quality features. This product transforms photography to a whole new level. It is a complete photography kit except that the camera does not accompany it. The tripod stand is robust and steady thus, holding the camera in place.

It also comes with light bulbs that create the perfect lighting setting for professional photography. Other than that it is simple to use and assemble. This product is also easy to disassemble which makes storage and travel effortless. Its dimensions are six by six thus can take quality pictures of both large and small objects.

Some areas need some improvement

That said, we like this product for its 570-600 Lumen LED Light and comfort.

It is important to get a light box that will give you quality output and also one that lasts long. These qualities are what the Neewer 24×2inch/60×60 cm Photo Studio Shooting Tent Light Cube Diffusion Soft Box Kit brings to the table. This light box is straightforward when it comes to setting it up.

It also has an excellent white light that gives quality output. The newer light box uses color gel gradients for light diffusion and is easy to store as the parts are effortless to disassemble. Also, you can take photos comfortably from a 4o centimeter height range.

But we found one caveat with this product

In a nutshell, the Neweer is a unique photo studio shooting tent one should get.

Professional photography has currently been on an uphill movement with the recent technological advancement. The Studio PRO 24″ Photo Studio Portable Table Top Product Photography Lighting Tent Light box Kit keeps you at par with the current technology ensuring your photography work is of high quality. This light box has two protective latches on the front and side.

It also comes with a user manual that makes installation effortless. The backdrop color is steady since it is attached with Velcro straps. It is very light which makes it highly portable and also suitable when it comes to uploading small sized pictures.

Customers attest that this product is not just durable but also works as per its description. Join these clients in singing its praises as soon as you buy one.

The only thing we find that needs an improvement is

Overall, we like this product for its low energy consumption rate and solid light display.

Are you looking for a light box to help take care of your photo needs? Are you tired of getting half-baked products in the market? Try the Elviros Professional 16”x16”x16” Photo Lighting Studio Shooting Tent Box Kit, and you won’t be disappointed. This product is a wide light box that is very easy to set up and is wide enough for professional work.

The box comes with its bag which makes storage and transportation very simple. It has a unique light bulb that generates about ten times the brightness produced by fluorescent bulbs. It also has Velcro on both the front and top flaps for protection.

Customers love this product because it is highly durable and easy to set up. The lighting on this product is also of a high quality.

Fovitec LED Professional Studio Photo Light Tent Kit

If you’re looking for a higher end photo light box, feast your eyes on the Fovitec LED Professional Studio Photo Light Tent Kit. This one comes in size options – from 16” to 24” and types of LED light tent kits – deluxe and standard. These available sizes plus the soft lighting are ideal for capturing small to large items to perfection. Its LED lights produce very low heat for energy efficiency and safety purposes. And, there are 120 pieces of LED bulbs of 5000 lumens in total.

What’s more, for easy transportation, this light box can be folded effortlessly, too. Per each purchase, you will get the light tent, a white, removable diffuser, a power adapter, and backdrops in black, white, blue, and gray colors.

Featuring openings (one from the top and the other from the front), you can snap items from the preferred angles. And, this one is known to produce lightings of great lighting uniformity with eliminated reflections as well – thanks to the diffusing fabric provided. Along with the purchase, there includes background shades and a handy carrying bag, too. Plus, installing this light box takes around minutes only.

Normal Lenses

It’s what’s known as a prime lens, one that doesn’t zoom at all. The magnification it captures is close to what the human eye naturally sees, so as big as something is in your normal vision, that’s about the size it’ll be in the photo. Prime lenses are also good tools to get you more comfortable with your gear, since they require you to think a bit more about framing and moving yourself around — zoom with your feet, as the saying goes.

Portrait Lenses

The converse is also true. If you are too far away from your subject, their features become compressed in appearance. I find this look far more attractive than the big nose look and often prefer to use longer focal lengths for my people subjects (celebrities often prefer this look as well) but be aware of what is happening in your images. Being too far from your subject makes communication difficult. Physical obstacles (such as a wall) can also inhibit the use of longer focal length lenses.

Conventional teaching is that the 85-135mm focal length range is ideal for portrait photography.

HD PENTAX DA 70mm F2.Limited

The workhorses of many photographers bags, the short telephoto can be used for group shots, wide angle landscapes, weddings, and even for some sports.  While they don’t get as much attention as the big telephotos do, they earn their keep by being sharp and usable in less then ideal situations.

With ultra-to medium-telephoto coverage, this versatile lens can be used in a wide variety of applications including landscape, snapshots and portraits. The tightly sealed, weather-resistant and dust-resistant construction enhances durability for use in both rainy and dusty conditions, making it a perfect companion for the weather-resistant PENTAX DSLR bodies like the Pentax K-50 and K-II.

HD PENTAX-D FA★ 70-200mm F2.8ED DC AW

One of Pentax’s most anticipated lenses, the HD PENTAX-DFA★ 70-200mm F2.8ED DC AW lens offers outstanding performance in the mid to telephoto zoom focal range.  It really is a much needed addition to the Pentax lineup with the launch of their full frame K-1.  The lens will significantly enhance sporting (when attached to a Pentax K-II or another crop body), portraiture and wildlife photography in any weather environment.

All In One Telephoto Lens

An all-in-one zoom for APS-C cameras, the Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.DC MACRO HSM Contemporary Lens provides users of Pentax K-mount cameras with an extremely versatile focal length equivalent of 27-450mm.

Long Telephoto Lenses

With its wide coverage over medium- to super-telephoto ranges, the smc PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.ED is perfect for a wide range of telephoto applications, including portraits, sports and landscapes. Incorporating two ED (extra-low dispersion) optical elements, it offers superb optical performance, with minimal chromatic aberrations over the entire zoom range.

HD PENTAX- D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.ED DC AW

The HD PENTAX- D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.ED DC AW is the longest zoom amongst all PENTAX lenses. With its 3-times zoom ratio, capturing a variety of distant objects is made easy. Along with impressive mid to super telephoto capabilities, the HD PENTAX- D FA150-450mm lens offers outstanding operability at an affordable price. Your photography will not be jeopardized due to unforeseen weather with high build quality, and weather-resistant construction. With a total of 2seals throughout its body, changes in the weather will not be an issue during your outdoor photography. Focusing on your subject has never been easier with the all-new Preset Button, developed to record a focus point and save it.

Wide Angle Lens

In photography a wide-angle lens refers to a lens whose focal length is substantially smaller than the focal length of a normal lens for a given film plane. This type of lens allows more of the scene to be included in the photograph, which is useful in architectural, interior and landscape photography where the photographer may not be able to move farther from the scene to photograph it.

Another use is where the photographer wishes to emphasize the difference in size or distance between objects in the foreground and the background; nearby objects appear very large and objects at a moderate distance appear small and far away.

For the purpose, there are a couple of options available for Pentax users.  Each have their own strengths.

Macro Lens

The smc PENTAX-D FA Macro 100mm F2.WR lens is designed for digital and film SLR cameras. It utilizes curvature and positioning of optical elements to virtually eliminate flare and ghosting for clear, high-quality images. Achieving life-size (1:1) magnification, it features our acclaimed multi-layer coating to lower surface reflection, reduce ultraviolet rays, and deliver clear, high-contrast images. PENTAX SP (Super Protect) coating keeps the elements at bay, while the Quick-Shift Focus System allows for instant switching from auto to manual focus. The aluminum construction with weather resistant seals offers excellent reliability in damp, inclement conditions.  At 100mm, it is long enough that you can stand back a bit and not have to crouch to get all of the shots you want.

Sungale Cloud Frame

The Sungale Cloud Frame, a tidy 7-inch Wi-Fi electronic picture frame, dazzled us with the clarity and crispness of the photos it showed. It stores pictures in the cloud, so you’ll never risk losing them. You can access images from Facebook, Dropbox, Google Plus and Twitter.

This handy frame can sit nicely on a nightstand, desk or end table, or you can hang it from a wall.

This is a multi-functional frame, so you can get considerably more use from it than a traditional device that simply shows photos. Even if the grandparents live thousands of miles away, if they own a Sungale Cloud Frame, you can remotely send photos of you and the children quickly and easily. This digital picture frame lets you share photos immediately after you take them, so everyone can share in the excitement and fun of a birthday party, a game of dress-up or just a happy meal with everyone around the table. The Sungale Cloud Frame can also stream movies, TV shows and web content.

Aluratek ADMPF108F

The Aluratek ADMPF108F lets you enjoy your photographs, and offers video and audio capabilities, but does not require or use Wi-Fi. This is mixed blessing since it means you can see the pictures you cherish even in an area that lacks Wi-Fi, but you will need to put a bit more effort into accessing your pictures.

You get the images onto your Aluratek through a thumb drive or a camera card, and the initial setup is a breeze. A helpful remote control makes it simple to control the frame from a distance. The Aluratek comes with built-in speakers so you can add musical accompaniments to your photo as they appear on the screen. It also supports videos.

Know Your Intentions

There are bikes designed specifically for certain types of riding, so knowing what you will use the bike for is huge when selecting a complete. Do you want to ride mostly street? Park? Dirt? Flaltand? For the most part, any bike you buy can be used to ride everything. Buuuut, there are key factors on completes that make certain bikes better for certain disciplines of riding. Below is a simple breakdown of different types of bikes, but like I already said, most bikes you can buy today will be ready to shred on anything.





How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the photo boxes by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your photo boxes wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of photo boxes



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