VPN: Why you should hide your IP address You've heard the advice before: Whether you're in the office or on the road, a VPN is one of the best ways to protect yourself on the internet. But how effective are VPNs? What's the best one for you? What are the downsides? Our executive guide aims to answer all your VPN-related questions -- including a few you probably haven't thought about before.What is a VPN? VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network. The purpose of a VPN is to provide you with security and privacy as you communicate over the internet.Read also: Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies Here's the problem with the internet: It's inherently insecure. When the internet was first designed, the priority was to be able to send packets (chunks of data) as reliably as possible. Networking across the country and the world was relatively new, and nodes often went down. Most of the internet's core protocols (methods of communicating) were … [Read more...] about VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data on the internet
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Update: It's Thanksgiving in the US, and Ars staffers have taken the day off to experiment in the kitchen rather than on the page. That said, tomorrow is the annual shop-a-palooza known as Black Friday, and the deals have already started. To help, we're resurfacing our 2017 guide to Amazon's Echo products and adding a few updates (like blurbs on the Alexa Smart Plug, the Echo Auto, the Echo Input, and the Echo Sub). This piece originally ran on November 23, 2017. Amazon debuted the original Echo a few years ago, and it raised eyebrows in the tech industry. The Echo is a smart home speaker that houses Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant, an AI helper that helps you complete daily tasks using only your voice. Since its debut, users of all levels of tech prowess have embraced Echo and Alexa, finding practicality in a voice-controlled assistant and all the things it can do. Both Alexa and the Echo have evolved since then to meet the needs of an ever-growing market. After the Echo and Alexa … [Read more...] about Guidemaster: Want an Alexa device? Here’s every Amazon Echo, compared
Smartphones are getting bigger and bigger. So many devices today, especially flagships, now offer displays measuring at least 5.5 inches. Large smartphones have their share of problems. They are not easy to use with one hand and can be difficult to carry around. Some consumers actually still prefer small Android phones. But are there any options left? Actually yes, though it depends on what you’re looking for. Best unlocked Android phones Best cheap Android phones Google Pixel 2 See more Google Pixel 2 photos If you’re in the market for one of the best small Android phones, definitely look at the Pixel 2. Though it is no longer brand new, Google’s 2017 flagship is great at just about everything. The device has a 5-inch OLED 1080p display with a pixel density of 441ppi. It doesn’t have a fancy 18:9 aspect ratio screen or a bezel-less design, but it has front-facing speakers above and below the display. Inside, it comes with a speedy Qualcomm … [Read more...] about Do small Android phones still exist?
This is part of CNET's "Crossing the Broadband Divide" series exploring the challenges of getting internet access to everyone.I stare at my computer screen, waiting for my email to load. And I wait. And wait. Whipping out my phone, I try to run a speed test. But the internet's too slow for even that to load. I'm working from my parents' home in rural Iowa. Or trying to, anyway. But it's nearly lunchtime, and too many people are in their nearby houses, browsing the internet. I unplug my mom's wireless printer, turn off Wi-Fi on my smartphone and make sure the living room Roku TV box -- a well-intentioned but little-used Christmas gift from me -- is disconnected. When I finally get the Ookla speed test to work, it tells me my download speed is crawling along at 0.61 Mbps. Five hours later, at 4:21 p.m., it's only 2.12 Mbps. That's barely fast enough for me to access Twitter, let alone stream any videos on YouTube. Soon, I give up on work for the day. I'll try again at 2 a.m. when … [Read more...] about Life in the slow lane: Welcome to the internet in rural America
This is part of CNET's "Crossing the Broadband Divide" series exploring the challenges of getting internet access to everyone.A year ago, Cathy Hansen got the kind of breakup letter everyone dreads. Her internet provider was shutting down service in her area in the next couple of months. "We do apologize for the inconvenience this interruption of service may cause and wish you the best in finding a new internet service provider," the Cumberland Telephone Company said as it suggested satellite and cellular companies as possible alternatives. This may not be a big deal for many Americans who have multiple, affordable options when it comes to broadband, but Hansen didn't have that luxury. Alternatives like satellite-based HughesNet have problems with lag time and are notoriously finicky in bad weather, while a cellular hotspot from a carrier like Verizon offers too small a data cap. None of the smaller telephone companies near her home in Iowa wanted to invest the millions needed to wire … [Read more...] about In farm country, forget broadband. You might not have internet at all