Do Not Let Yourself Go Camping Without Your Axe

You wouldn’t like to be stuck in a situation where you don’t have the proper equipment. No matter if you are digging, cutting, or trimming, the new generation of best camp-ax will do the task for you.

Pick an axe that makes you and your group feel safe during your camping experience. While you are on the trail, making a camp-fire or solving unforeseen problems, the proper equipment will help ease of your adventure. Active Junky tested a few axes on the market and determined which are the best camp axes for your needs. Below you will see the list with a few details of each axe to help you choose the best one for you. Don’t forget to sign up for Active Junky to see their exclusive deals and cash back on all their gear.

How to Choose the Best Camp Axe for You:

Firstly, look at the options based on your personal needs. Active Junky recommends taking in consideration the type of tasks that you will encounter in your home or cabin.

Preparation for Campsite:

Agility is an import aspect for your axe, rather than just thinking of it’s cutting power. An axe that is lighter, shorter, and sharper will be the best camp axe to use. You need the equipment that will snag less in bushes, doesn’t impede movement, and can be used in other ways rather than just with the blade.

Campsite Construction:

A controlled and accurate maneuver is important to help drive the tent stakes with a precise impact from your axe. This is also important so you don’t damage wood, plastic, aluminum or alloy stakes. Also, when constructing a shelter, cutting and trimming wood will be part of the process, make sure to find the best camp axe to ease off these demanding tasks.

Create a Campfire:

Preparation for a campfire can include shaving tinder, chopping limbs and splitting dried or hard wood. Penetration is important to make sure you get a proper pile of wood.

Traveling in the Backcountry:

Carrying a few extra pounds of axe weight is vital to insure you have the equipment necessary incase of any troubles. Your best camp axe can help you build splints or crutches, as well as aid during a storm or natural disaster. Always be prepared for a variety of scenarios. Size and weight is to be considered when transporting your best camp axe.

Home and Cabin Utility:

During tasks at home or at a cabin, your axe will come in handy. Since most axes feature a shorter handle, they are not the safest choice for powerful swings against large lumber, metal bolts or concrete. Shorter handles are usually for single-handed uses which can limit control of the axe head.

 

Best Camp Axe Attributes

Five Attributes were evaluated, and one Key Attribute was selected for each axe.

Size: The weight and dimensions are a priority

Durability: Long term use with short-term wear

Agility: Proper balance and easy single-handed maneuvers

Utility: Usage in a variety of tasks

Penetration: Cut with accuracy and productivity

KLECKER KNIVES KLAX LUMBERJACK

Starting at $139.95

Best “Quiver of One” Camp Axe:

The Klax Axe has a fold-flat tool protected by a ballistic nylon wallet, it has a 14.4oz stainless steel blade, and you can purchase de 15” hardwood handle or create your own.

Pros: Secure attachment to the handle and a stay-sharp edge on all tools.

Cons: Practice is necessary to handle tool properly.

Key Attribute: Utility

Best For: Backcountry, adventure travel, or an ultimate gift.

GRANSFORS BRUCKS OUTDOOR AXE

Starting at $177.60

Best “Cutting” Camp Axe:

This Outdoor Axe assures you a confident straight-swing, with usage on larger limbs that cuts deeper than 1lb. It has a chainsaw-like penetration that cuts into pine and hardwoods, as well as a more delicate task like shaping and shaving.

Pros: Proficient control, and good looks.

Cons: Precision is needed to make use of it with it’s short blade length.

Key Attribute: Agility

Best For: Climbing andCamping.

GERBER SPORT AXE II

$48.00 – $63.00

Best “First Camp” Axe:

It is a 14” model that works for tough limbing and splitting chores with it’s smooth 2.6” steel head. The Gerber axe weighting at 24oz helps your swinging power along with close-in control grip.

Pro: Great value, lifetime warranty.

Cons: Shorter blade length.

Key Attribute: Penetration

Best For: Cabin and camp use, some digging or paddling expeditions.

Other Best Camp Axe Brands:

  • CRKT
  • Estwing
  • Ontario Knife Company
  • Wetterlings
  • Outdoor Edge

Qualities that the Best Camping Lanterns Must Have

Mankind is always seeking to conquer its environment by traveling to strange places like in the wilderness and not getting attacked by big and scary animals that live there. To achieve this, they need light. Although they have fire, it is just hot light that cannot be carried around. It is for this reason that they require to carry their own light into the darkness. To do that, they arm themselves with camping lanterns, headlamps and flashlights. Although many campers tend to dismiss the camping lanterns as bulky and inefficient; improvements have been made and today’s camping lanterns have battery tech and LED technology. These lanterns are flameless and can last for several days on a single charge because they have become more viable and are designed to light up campsites for long duration. This article focuses on highlighting some of the best camping lanterns that people can consider when hanging out at campground or cottages away from the modern conveniences. Examples of the best camping lanterns are Coleman 1000 Lumen CPX 6 Lanterns, Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern with USB port that can charge your cellphone, The Dorcy 41-1017, NEBO Tools 5959 Eco Lantern and the Steamlight 44931 Siege Lantern.

Several factors have to be considered when choosing the perfect camping lanterns. These include the type of power source, amount of light emitted, the hours of operation, weight of lantern, adjustability of the light and any additional features.

Type of Power Source

Outdoor camping lanterns come in solar-powered, electric charged and battery charged among other types. Campers can choose from the variety available in the market and settle on the one that suits them best. It is not advisable to choose gas lanterns because they are not safe around children and cannot operate in stormy weather.

Amount of Light Emitted The rumen rating indicated on the camping lantern label will tell you the area that it can illuminate. Therefore if you are staying in a large campground, you may consider going for a camping light with a higher lumen rating and vice versa. The lumen ratings in camping lanterns often run between 200s and 300s but some run up to 1000 lumens.

Hours of Operation This is the most important consideration for campers; especially those that go on long vacations and camping to places with no access to stores where they can purchase batteries or charge their camping lanterns. The hours a lantern can provide light vary depending on the make and brand but it is mostly from 2.5 hours to 295 hours. Battery-powered camping lanterns operate for the longest time followed by solar-powered and electric-powered ones.

Weight of Lantern

Weight is crucial when packing for camping. No one wants to carry bulky loads especially if it is just a source of light. Camping lantern manufactures have taken this into consideration and therefore these lanterns weight around 1 to 3 pounds. However, battery-powered lanterns may weight more because of the weight of the batteries.The Dorcy 41-1017 is a perfect choice since it has a very small design that fits easily into any backpack without taking up a lot of space.

Adjustability of the Light The ability to adjust the amount of light emitted by the camping lantern is another important consideration because you can save energy by setting it to low light. Most camping lanterns come with a setting for high, medium and low light output. A good example is the Coleman 1000 Lumen CPX 6 Lantern which comes with these three settings. These can be set according to the preferences of the users.

Any Additional Features

These include any added options to make your camping experience a comfortable and successful one. The best camping lanterns have an MP3 player to keep your entertained, a USB Port to charge your cellphone, yellow light to attract insects, SOS option for emergency services, remote control option and red light for night vision. The Goal Zero is known for its USB charging capability that can charge all kinds of phones and still run the lantern.

In conclusion, the best camping lanterns are available in different designs and power sources. Therefore no matter which camping lantern people decide to carry to their next camp, it is important that they consider the above features so that they are guaranteed of safe and well-lit nights.

Debt Settlement Companies that You Should Consider

People get debts such as a credit card debt, a personal loan or a medical debt among others. However, when experiencing difficulty in paying the debt and are looking into the viable options that you have, one needs to educate themselves about debt settlement services and what they entail. It is also essential that one gets to know more about some of the best debt settlement companies that are available.

To begin with, debt settlement involves getting into a program with a debt settlement company. The company then gets to engage with the creditor thereby trying to negotiate on behalf of the person who owes a debt. This is in an effort of having the creditor to forgive part of the debt. However, it should be noted that this option is only available to those who are experiencing financial difficulty and the loan involved in unsecured.

This program will direct that the client ceases to make payments to the creditors and instead open an account with the debt settlement company. Every month, you will deposit a given amount to that account. Depending on the amount owed, the settlement company will commence the negotiation process. If an agreement is arrived at, you will hand over the money from the account to the creditors. As one considers reaching out to the best debt settlement companies, it is important that you know that this program comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

Some of the best debt settlement companies that might be at your disposal include;

1. National Debt Relief

This debt settlement company has proved its value and thus been deemed as one of the best debt settlement companies. It is highly praised as it has helped people by reducing their debts by up to 49 %. In addition, their customer service is excellent because they have representatives who can promptly take clients through what the program is about.

Their website has been acknowledged as being very informative as it includes all the vital information that can help a potential client to make an informed decision. Also, clients who get into a program with this company are in a position to keep track of their progress through a dashboard. It is important to note that this company only operates in 41 states. However, its accreditation with the IAPDA and AFCC goes a long way towards proving that it deserves to be among the best debt settlement companies.

2. Freedom Debt Relief

This company features among the best debt settlement companies because of their fantastic customer services. Not only is it one of the biggest debt settlement companies but also it has been around for more than a decade. Given the nature of the relationship between these companies and a client, it is important for a client to identify a company which has excellent customer services. This is exactly what Freedom Debt Relief provides. A major benefit which associated with this company is the instantaneous responses to inquiries. The representatives who are involved also give accurate information as they undergo a three-month training before they start interacting with customers.

Additionally, those under this program are provided an interactive Client Dashboard from where they can learn about the progress that is being made as to the settlement of the debt. This company is also accredited with the Better Business Bureau and is operational in more than 30 states in the USA.

3. The New Era Debt Relief

This is definitely in the category of the best-known debt settlement companies as of now. A unique feature that it has is that a representative is attached to each client that the company has. This is in an effort to achieve a more personalized and efficient customer service system. The representative is charged with the responsibility of keeping the client in the loop with what is happening regarding their debt settlement.

Further, this company is well known for being transparent with their clients. They have a section which highlights the truth on issues such as the fees that will be charged and the amount of debt that is likely to be reduced among other important details. This transparency has contributed a great deal towards getting this company on the list of the best debt settlement companies.

As one considers this option, it is important to be aware of both the pros and the cons that come with it. To begin with, indeed this option does have its benefits. The biggest of which is that one stands a chance of having part of their debt reduced. Also, you can reduce the amount that goes towards paying the loan from what it currently is to an agreed amount with the best debt settlement companies.

However, the disadvantages include having to pay a fee to the debt settlement companies for the services that they have rendered. One should also be aware that by doing a debt settlement, it will have some negative effect on their credit score. This is because your debt will be declared as being delinquent when you stop making payments to the creditor.

A client’s credit score might lose points as a result. In addition, the IRS will consider the forgiven debt as income and thus subject it to taxation.

In conclusion, there are various companies which offer debt settlement services. However, those who are looking for quality services, are advised to hire the services of among the best debt settlement companies.

How to Choose the Best Type of Student Loan

Student loans exist to help financially needy students get through college. Sometimes grants and scholarships do not cover the whole tuition fee, or you fail to get them. The next option you have is to consider getting a student loan. Well, both the government and private banks offer loans, but the government has more friendly terms such as lower interest. Let us look at the best student loans to consider.

1. Government/federal loans

There is a variety of loans within the federal government. Apart from the loans offering lower, fixed interest, they give borrowers several repayment plans. Your credit history is not a requirement when applying for a federal loan.

The other advantage of getting a federal loan is that if you get employed in the public service sector, you may access loan forgiveness plans. Federal loans can also be subsidized making them more affordable for students. You will start making payments six months after graduating. If you have decided to borrow a federal student loan, it’s mandatory to fill up a FAFSA which is a ( Free Application for the Federal Student Aid) form online. From here, you will find loan options that suit your needs.

2. Private loans

When grants, scholarships, and federal loans are not meeting your financial needs at school, it is time to consider the private sector. Banks that offer best student loans understand the higher risk the loans pose. They lack collateral or assets. For this reason, their loans have high-interest rates.

One concern about private loans is they require a great credit score. Many students fail to achieve a good score forcing them to get a cosigner. Unlike federal loans that have fixed rates, private loans have variable rates. This depends on changes in the market.

While the government can offer forbearance and defer payments due to hardships, private banks do not provide such privileges. Even if they allow forbearance, it is up to them to decide whether to grant you forbearance or not. There is no guarantee that you will get it.

Therefore, only go for a private loan when a federal loan is not enough for you.

When do you need a cosigner for a private loan?

If you have a weak credit history, think about getting a cosigner. Such an arrangement may earn you lower rates on your loan. Remember to choose a loan with a fixed interest rate so that market fluctuations do not affect you. Through cosigning, you will be able to boost your credit.

Lenders release your cosigner when they believe you are going to pay them. They determine this after you have left school and have made several payments on time within one to four years. The other terms of release vary from lender to lender.

As a cosigner in a student loan, there is a risk. If the borrower does not make payments, you will be the one to cover them. Late repayments also affect your credit. Therefore, make sure you sit down with the borrower, know him or her and agree on terms of your cosigning relationship.

As you search for the best student loans online, you need to understand the following terms.

Loan limit

Both private and federal loans have a limited amount of money you can borrow. With a federal loan, your limit will be determined by whether you are a dependent or independent student. If you are in graduate or professional school, the amount of money to borrow will be higher for the obvious reason that tuition fee at these levels is higher. Whatever loan limit a lender offers, just borrow what you need.

Loan consolidation

Loan consolidation is applicable when you acquire several student loans. It eases payment and lowers rates. The best student loans bank should be able to consolidate a private and federal loan. Nonetheless, loan consolidation only works after completing school. Before deciding to consolidate, remember you will miss federal offers, for instance, lower interest rates, forbearance and loan forgiveness. The consolidating entity pays your loans then gives you new terms and rates.

Forbearance

You are given forbearance if you are facing financial hardship. The lender allows you to pay less than the full amount. However, interest keeps accruing and there are penalties if you do not pay within the forbearance period.

Help and support

The best student loans provider is available for customers. The lender should quickly attend to your concerns about your account and payment. Look out for support avenues such as chat services, phone, and email on lender websites.

Paying back loans

There are three ways for paying your lender. You can pay after graduating, pay interest while still in school or pay the principal amount plus the interest when in school.

Conclusion

Student loans are helpful. However, it is important to keep in mind the amount you need and select the best student loans to cover your tuition fees.

The Best Solar Phone Chargers of 2018 you need to know

Mobile phones have become an essential part of our day to day activities because they connect us to the rest of the world. However, a mobile phone with a chargeless battery becomes useless and everybody strives to charge it so that he/she can be reconnected to the world. Charging involves connecting a mobile phone with a charger to a power source so that it can charge the battery.

There are different types of chargers but the main types are either electrical or solar mobile phone chargers. Today let’s focus on the best phone chargers that are solar operated. One advantage of these chargers is that they are convenient that charging can be done anywhere provided there is the presence of sunlight.

Importance of solar phone chargers

For those who are adventurous and they like camping and hiking, having a charge on the cell phones is essential. Sometimes the charge may go down. But with a solar phone charger, somebody need not worry because he/she will be able to charge them whenever and wherever.

Also, solar panels existence has been dated back in time and the best thing about them is that they are designed in different shapes and sizes. So, for the best phone chargers, a portable and efficient one is essential. That is, somebody can carry it and it will help in recharging the phone in the shortest time possible.

The best phone solar charger is the RAVPower RP-PC008 16W Dual-Port Outdoors Charger. It has won the Top Ten Reviews Gold award. Also, in the second place was the Nekteck 20W Solar Charger that received the Silver Award. Lastly, the charger that took the third position was the Anker’s PowerPort Solar Lite that received the Bronze award.

During the determination of the winners of these awards, we focused on two different types of solar phone chargers and came up with the reviews of the best solar phone chargers. The first test was on the solar panels chargers with USB charging ports. They lack built-in batteries but are so effective in conversion of solar energy into power.

Secondly, the review included those chargers that have batteries built in. These devices have a portable battery pack and are so effective that they are left in the sun for just some hours.

One advantage of the chargers with batteries is that they can store the energy during the day and somebody can use them at night in charging the cell phones. Contrary to that, their charging in the sun is not that efficient and they store less charge.

After testing several chargers, it was evident that they yielded much power in the sun. The reports we got from most people is that they use solar panels with high efficiency to charge their external batteries and then they use them to charge their phones at night.

Sometimes both devices are essential and it is advisable to determine which solar phone charger configuration that suits you before purchasing.

It is important to note that the best phone chargers are different from charging cables. Some people have charging cables in different places that they operate in and they are sometimes forced to stay in these places for long hours waiting for their phones to charge.

The best thing about these best phone chargers is that somebody can carry them to everywhere they want to go. They operate on eco-friendly energy.

There is need to comprehend how the best phone chargers operate. This is because this knowledge will assist in choosing the best solar phone charger. The basic working of a solar panel is that it converts light energy into electricity that either charge a battery built in or charges a device connected to it via a USB cable.

Discussion, explanation and the result of testing solar phone chargers

Solar panels are efficient when they are placed in direct sunlight with clear skies. First, the testing included those chargers with inbuilt batteries; the test was on how they performed with diffused light. The testing was performed on a clear day inside a windowed office. The second activity involved those that lacked batteries. They could not charge through the office windows and they were tested on direct sunlight on a clear day.

The solar panels tested were the first-generation solar technology panels that are made of crystalline silicon. The crystalline silicon is a crystal made in the lab and the best thing about it is its high conductivity properties. It is also used in the production of silicon chips.

For a photovoltaic cell, its high conductivity makes it have a high efficiency. If someone tests these panels the results will be that they have different efficiencies that range from 24 percent to 6 percent. The best phone chargers should have high efficiencies.

Factors to consider when selecting the best solar phone charger

1. Charging performance

Knowing which solar phone charger that suits somebody is so paramount. Somebody should consider using a solar panel with a built battery if he/she needs to charge the phone for 3-4 days and also want to ensure it’s always topped.

Consider the size, type, and its overall output. Different devices have different working. Some can be charged directly from the battery while others cannot. However, how they relate to the panels is different. An integrated circuitry it’s what that dictates on how you can charge.

Moreover, if somebody likes hiking for longer hours, he/she may want to keep his/her devices charged. In this case, there is need to have a solar panel that can handle that. The solar panels lack batteries and he/she should place them in the sun so that they can charge. The best phone chargers will help out.

2. Solar panel details

To make sure somebody has a good quality solar phone charger, efficiency is the factor to consider. Currently, most of the solar panels on the market today are the first-generation ones that are made of crystalline silicon. Their main advantage is their high conductivity even when there is low light intensity.

During the testing, the panels with built-in batteries produced at least a volt in unsuitable conditions. Some even exceeded the manufacturer’s output ratings when they were put under average conditions.

3. Physical characteristics

Someone who needs a solar-powered battery pack will want the one with a reasonable size and appearance. Most solar panels that were tested have two USB ports. However, the solar-powered battery pack has only one USB port.

Some have metal frames and other thick frames and others are even water resistant. In addition, the best phone chargers should be durable. 4. Help and support

Lastly, it is important for someone to know the manufacturer of these solar chargers and know the warranty given. Someone should know where to inquire if he/she needs to know about something. You can either do a direct or online inquiry.

Recommendations and our verdict

Our aim for the testing was to come up with the best phone chargers operated by solar. However, each charger is unique in its own way. Someone just needs to choose what suits him/her.

According to our results, here is our recommendation according to their performance:

1. RAVPower RP-PC008 16W Dual-Port Outdoors Charger- charges the fastest, high efficiency, long warrant.

2. The Nekteck 20W solar charger- the heaviest, a higher solar efficiency at 24 percent, second in charging speed, water resistant. It’s the best for camping and hiking.

3. Anker’s PowerPort Solar Lite- the lightest, has nylon straps making it easier to attach to a backpack.

The Best Smartphone of all the Time

Every year numerous smartphones are launched in the market. The experts review them and select the “Best Smartphones of the year”.

The year 2017 saw some of the best players in the industry launch amazing phones and it was a race which had quite a few contenders.

Samsung Galaxy S8 launched in April 2017 had 4GB RAM, 64 GB internal storage and provided support up to 256 GB micro SD card. Samsung had really hit the nail on its head with an excellent premium quality phone. It had a futuristic design coupled with excellent performance. S8 was thin, weighed around 155 grams, yet felt tough. S8 was precision personified, beautiful looking beast of a phone.

Then came Apple and launched 3 phones in quick intervals, starting with iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus in September 2017, followed by iPhone X in November. Let’s just say that Samsung’s dream of being the best smartphone for the year had been shattered. iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus were pretty impressive in their own rights, but iPhone X was in a league of its own.

iPhone X in the market had some radical changes – like no home button, use of facial recognition for authentication and a funky, fun and engaging animagi feature. Also, all the iPhones had A11 bionic processor which made it perform excellently.

People had their doubts about iPhone X being more expensive than iPhone 8 and 8 plus, but it was totally worth every penny. It simply was a class apart and will remain as the best smartphone of the year 2017.

Also other smartphone which was one of the frontrunners was OnePlus 5T. 5T felt every bit of a premium smartphone but at a considerably lower price. The Snapdragon 835 processor of One plus 5t managed to beat Samsung in quite a few performance benchmarking tests as well. It had an excellent fingerprint scanner and a USB C type like features which has helped OnePlus build its loyal following in the crowded smartphone space.

So who took the top spot? Undoubtedly it was iPhoneX that was the best smartphone of the year. Samsung can however take pride in being the “Best Android Phone” of the year.

The smartphones were considered to numerous tests before being declared the best. Their processors, cameras, battery life and many other parameters were tested using tests like Geekbench 4.2, 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme, AnTuTu and various others. They were also tested in real life practical scenarios.

Each smartphone had to go through a sequence of tests and the process remained the same in each case. This enabled them to give highly accurate and reliable results. But that’s how the nerd, geeks or let’s say the experts analyse the phones and come out with their verdict of the best smartphone.

For normal users the process varies. They might choose to analyse these smartphones in a slightly different way.

First thing that most users will consider is their budget. Do they want to buy premium flagship models, economy phones or prefer a midrange phone?

Flagship phones are premium phones, expensive and the show stoppers for that particular brand. Economy phones would fall at the opposite spectrum in terms of price and are normally available at pre-paid cell phone providers. Most of the economy smartphones have Android OS but are not big on performance. They normally struggle to handle apps which are heavy to load. Between these two extremes are the midrange phones. They are not heavy on your pocket and provide reasonably good performance.

Another important criterion for the users would be the OS, whether they want iOS, Android or Windows. iOS which is part of the Apple ecosystem is most user friendly but has limitations in terms of customization. Also, iPhones are powered by iOS and are the most expensive phones available in the market. Android is quite simply an OS which powers most of the mobiles in the world be it an economy one or in the premium segment. Windows OS is yet to capture the imagination of the users but the revamping of Windows 10 could lead to it becoming a contender.

For a regular user a best smartphone would be the one that matches one’s tastes and preferences. Period…

Get a Software That Can Design Your Home with no Hassle

Designing your home has never been this cost effective, technology has taken the world by storm and there are no limitations to. If told that you can design your home without lifting a finger, running around till you lose your breath and without having to spend a lot of money.

A home says a lot about you, and a home is different from a house in so many ways. Elements that are different have to be combined so as to give your home the desired style that you really want. There are different styles to adopt for your home, ranging from classic, modern or contemporary it all goes down to your preference.

Designing your home can be better compared to fashion, you have to firstly identify your preference and see to it that it meets the space of your home but be warned this can be quite challenging and fun too.

Our environment can either be motivating or demotivating, no matter what your reason might be, change is good. You might still be struggling to identify your style but that’s not a problem.

Fashion is all about how put your things together, your outfits don’t necessarily have to be expensive or of a popular brand, So Is decorating your home its all about putting everything together to best suit your interior layout and you style too.

Interior design has never been better, yes right at your fingertips you can have it all done for you and there is no need for you to be knowledgeable about interior design either. How amazing! Technology has advanced every aspect of life even interior designing.

Under $100 you can get a software that can design your home with no hassle at all. These are the top 10 most recommended home design software’s you must definitely have:

1) Virtual Architect Ultimate Design

Not only does it allow you to create your bathroom, kitchen and decks wizards but it also does the very same thing for your roof. The only drawback is that your phone support has to be paid for.

It requires you to refine your skills so you must be ready to learn till you can better be referred to as a master. There are tools that can be used to create your interior and exterior design for home.

After gaining it’s popularity from TV shows it not only changed its name from HGTV home design to Virtual Architect Ultimate Design but it also updated it’s features and tools so as to enhance user experience. All designs can be made from your computer all you need is to learn and familiarize yourself with it and what could be of great assistance is the tutorial and all of this for $99.99

2) Turbo Floorplan Home & Landscape Pro

Material cost estimates are provided, together with tutorial videos to guide you through but there is a limitation to your tools and wizards to design your kitchen. There’s no need for you to refine your skills since it is an easy to use software even though you might be a beginner.

It has multiple features and tools and customer designs thus it is easier to use. All this for only $99,99

3) Home designer Suite

CAD tools can help you design your home like how an architecture would, this is an amazing feature but it can be a little bit overwhelming as the tool are a lot to handle. With your video tutorials lessons and top-quality designing tools you can create professional designs for your home this is only $99.99.

4) Turbo Floorplan Home and Landscape Deluxe

This is an easy to use and the layout is a bonus, it has a range of designs and tools that one can select from and thus it makes it easier for one to use even as a beginner.

There is a limitation to the kitchen design and there is small plant library it is in 3D a floor plan can easily be built with the custom provided. The features of the design are just amazing and a lot to pin point one after the other.

All this for only $49,99 and what’s amazing is your plans can be viewed in 2D and 3D and it can easily be understood even as beginner.

5) Punch Home and Design Premium

Landscape and home libraries object, features that are relatively easy to use but a drawback on this one is there are no kitchen design tools. Interior and exterior features and the tools of this program are considered to be top niche in comparison with other programs.

The features are just mind blowing and it has a 2D and 3D view, this includes roof wizards, window and door designs it allows the menu is quick start meaning it’s easier to use and it’s under $99,99.

6) Punch Home and Landscape Design Essentials

Topography and Landscape in a nutshell to help you design your desired home these tools are amazing though a drawback to all this is that you cannot design curved walls. You can expect to design high professional and quality exquisite landscapes. You can expect easy user experience. Your designs can be viewed in 3D and there are video tutorials that can be of a great guide to you. All this and more for only $49,99.

7) Total 3D Landscape & Deck Premium

With multiple samples for home designing this software is a keeper though it is difficult to use. High quality libraries that will help you design your home and 3D features too. Irrigation system, floor plans and kitchen design this software will surely give you more than you bargained for and all this with many more features for only $29,99

8) Dream plan

Easy user experience as a result of the roof wizards though it is limited to one sample plan of house design. Its tools are straightforward one can make a design from scratch. Any 2D design can be converted to 3D. The software has multiple shortfalls from being able to grab and drag so as to place to the desired location not forgetting the plant and object library are limited. It does require one to give them enough time to learn. The software is only R19,99

9) Total 3D Home design

Multiple objects and plant library and sample plans though 3D views may cause difficulty. It is relatively affordable but doesn’t offer professional and quality designs. There are great and multiple features but there’s a short fall in tools for designing. Floor plans are high in supply, thus there are multiple floor plans that can be selected.

Learning this can be a challenge as it is considered difficult to use when compared to other relevant programs but every other feature is fairly good and it only costs $19,99.

10) Sweet Home 3D

For only $13,99 you can have this amazing program not only is it cost effective but also has 2D and 3D views and both interior and exterior tools readily available, but external tools are limited. Relatively easy to use and Both plants and object libraries available but limited there is no roof wizard. There are a lot of tools that are missing in this program so your design might be limited to the features available.

These are the software programs that you can try our so as to turn your house into a home, a place you look forward to go to.

US, China, and the smartphone in your pocket

How do the Broadcom, Qualcomm, Huawei, and Trump tariff headlines affect you, and your phone?

It seems the war of words between the United States and China is moving to a war on trade and a fight over intellectual property theft is brewing. President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese exports as a way of retaliating against China’s IP theft. A crackdown on China’s rampant IP issues is long overdue and it’s also a convenient solution to the separate problem of competition in manufacturing between the U.S. and China.

The exact details of the tariffs have been rolling out over the past day or so, with Mr. Trump true to his word, noting that they would cover electronics and IT. The full list of 1300 items across 58 pages is here. With a number of components, such as batteries, displays, and other technologies, the mobile phone industry will be affected by this. It’s more than just a price rise, or being unable to get a Huawei phone through AT&T — Chinese companies play a huge role in multiple facets of the industry. China promptly reciprocated, announcing tariffs on 106 U.S. products at a similar approximate value.

Trump’s tariffs will hurt some electronics and IT being manufactured in China

The end result of the tariff battle could affect the price of your next phone, the network it will connect to, the hardware inside it, and which phones you’re even able to buy from a carrier or a store.

Internals

Starting with many of the important components in your smartphone, including the processors and modems, we come to the failed Broadcom-Qualcomm acquisition. Without the interference of Broadcom ownership, Qualcomm will continue to rule the roost for viable SoC options. Its position is quite broad, although its main patent technologies are being phased out. Currently, its range of patents forces companies like Samsung, which make its own Exynos SoC, to use Snapdragon processors in the U.S. for CDMA support. It’s a massive patent owner, and, like Intel, it’s important to maintaining U.S. competitiveness in ARM, LTE, and 4G and 5G processing.

But Qualcomm faces a raft of difficulties ahead.

“It will have more competitive pressures than ever as Intel, among others, have put a significant amount in R&D to ensure it is a major player,” Angelo Zino, senior industry analyst at CFRA Research, told USA Today.

The company also has its own enormous proposed acquisition prospect — Dutch automotive chip maker NXP Semiconductors for $43 billion — which still needs the approval of China’s competition regulator, the Ministry of Commerce.

Read more: A lack of alternatives to Qualcomm is hurting Android.

Qualcomm owns substantially fewer patents for 4G and 5G networks, which will lessen the need to use their modems and subsequent SoCs for many manufacturers. Apple is already apparently moving away from Qualcomm modems in its 2018 devices.

Handsets

Keeping Huawei’s excellent smartphones out of U.S. hands by prohibiting AT&T and other carriers from selling phones like the Mate 10 and P20 remains a controversial call. According to reports, Best Buy will stop selling Huawei phones as well. It’s only going to get harder to buy Huawei’s devices in the U.S., despite their quality and global popularity.

The Android Authority comment sections and forums are full of people pointing out that the CIA, FBI, and NSA spy on you anyway, so it’s all hypocritical anyway. We can’t know the detailed truth about the national security risks without receiving a pretty high-level security clearance, which leaves us able to assess only what’s been released publicly.

There’s also the less actively talked about angle, another hot forum topic, whereby Trump’s move was actually designed to protect Apple as much as it was about security. Companies like Apple, Samsung, LG, and Motorola naturally win out when they have fewer competitors. But security has dominated the informed discussions — if Trump really thought he was helping Apple out, he’d have demanded Apple CEO Tim Cook thank him by now!

Regardless, less competition is always bad for consumers hoping to get more for their dollar. The ban is a major stumbling block for Huawei in trying to overtake Apple and Samsung to become the biggest smartphone manufacturer, which has been its stated goal.

Networks and carriers

Huawei is also currently prohibited from supplying its 4G and 5G equipment to the major four carriers. That’s a problem for carriers who find Huawei’s equipment to be far more cost-effective than competitors. Brian Woody, the customer relations chief of Union Wireless, which is allowed to use Huawei equipment, told The Wall Street Journal the Chinese heavyweight is both cheaper and better to work with.

“We’ve had many vendors over the years. Huawei has treated us better than anybody,” said Woody. Without Huawei, Union Wireless would be reduced to just two options for its infrastructure.

Despite the pressures, the U.S. is not alone in being wary of Huawei. The U.K. created the “Cell” as a way for cybersecurity experts to scour Huawei hardware and code for security risks to both Great Britain and consumers. More than 100 security concerns were raised by the project in 2016.

The US is not alone: the UK and Australia have significant fears about Huawei

Australia shares many of the same national security concerns, too. The Australian government blocked Huawei from being able to tender and supply equipment for the significant National Broadband Network project. Similar fears are emerging about Huawei supplying 5G network equipment to telecom companies.

Earlier this year, the Australian government even went as far as taking over the building of a high-speed internet cable between Australia and the Solomon Islands, after national security concerns were raised over Huawei Marine Services winning the contract for such a strategic asset. Australian taxpayers were stuck with the bill, and Chinese news services called Australia, “oversensitive to China’s growing presence.”

Regardless of the good that might come for security, costs to carriers and therefore costs to consumers look high. Prices may go up if the migration towards 5G happens without Huawei/ZTE equipment, which is understood to be up to 70 percent cheaper than options from Scandinavian companies like Ericsson or Nokia. Don’t expect much of a discount from the likes of AT&T and Verizon anytime soon while the FCC hold their position:

Protectionism points to higher costs – for you, and everyone

Bringing this all back, how does it affect the smartphone in your pocket? Cost-wise, it doesn’t look good. Qualcomm entrenched, at least for now, which is good for the U.S., but bad for Android. Huawei remains locked out of carrier deals and even shopfronts. It’s virtually guaranteed that carrier prices will stay at their level for some time to come.

That leaves the tariffs as the great unknown.

Overall, President Trump’s actions have created a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know what he might try next with China, or even our allies for that matter. What about the next foreign takeover? We know he’s is keen on maintaining U.S. supremacy in the world (although not if it involves Amazon) and technology is a huge part of that. But who can stop China? If even companies like Apple, which designs its devices in the U.S. but manufactures them in China, are affected by the tariffs, expect fireworks.

The only thing we can say is geopolitical uncertainty will affect your next smartphone purchase, and it’s likely going to hit you in the wallet.

PUBG Mobile Review – does it live up to the original’s legacy?

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) lit the world on fire last year. It sold millions before it even left Early Access on Steam, and kicked off the battle royale gaming craze we’re experiencing right now. Now this FPS juggernaut is on mobile.

In PUBG you play as a mercenary who parachutes, along with up to 99 other players, onto an island. Once they land, players scavenge for weapons, ammo, armor, and other supplies in a last-man-standing death match. The game’s map starts large, but quickly shrinks as the electrical storm around the island collapses into progressively smaller circles, forcing players together as the game goes on.

It’s a simple concept with tons of room for complexity. You land on an island with 99 other people and only your fists. Find a gun and stay in the circle. Last one standing wins. Is it worth playing? That’s what we aim to find out in this PUBG Mobile review.

Features

The Mobile version of PUBG has pretty much all the features of its PC counterpart, with a few exceptions. The game only offers PUBG’s original map, Erangel — an abandoned, vaguely Eastern European 8km x 8km island. Everything from the PC version of this map — from the abandoned military base to the burned out nuclear power plant — has made it to the Mobile version of the game.

The mobile version of PUBG has pretty much all the features of its PC counterpart.

All the weapons, gear, and vehicles available when PUBG first exited Early Access are here too. The guns it’s added since are absent, as is the game’s second map, Miramar.

The game is totally free. You can login as either a guest or with Facebook to play. Gameplay and daily login rewards will earn your account experience and battle points, which can be spent on crates which contain a random piece of clothing for your character. Unlike in the PC version, you don’t start with any available clothing, but getting at least a pair of pants doesn’t take too long.

Getting crates is pretty quick.

The matchmaking works pretty quickly when queueing in squad, duo, or solo mode, though many of the options from the PC version are absent. Creating a private custom match doesn’t seem to be possible just yet. There’s a menu option for creating a “room,” but it appears to be for creating chat rooms, and also doesn’t it seem to actually work yet.

I never had to wait long to be matched with a squad, though connection issues were pretty common. Every team I played with had at least one player disconnect at the outset of the game. I never ran into any connection issues when I played, but at least one teammate was unresponsive in most games.

The game has built-in voice chat, which works, though it feels like most players just use their phone’s speaker for a mic. If the mic is on the bottom of the phone, as is common, it can lead to some pretty annoying extra noise when players’ palms rub against it.

Gameplay

PUBG Mobile

It’s all well and good if PUBG Mobile faithfully recreates the island’s geography and lets you use all the guns and drive all the cars of the original game, but if the controls aren’t up to the task, everything falls apart.

To be clear: the controls in PUBG Mobile aren’t as good or accurate as the PC version. Duh.

The game uses virtual joysticks for player movement and camera control, and a big button with a bullet on the right will shoot your gun. It’s a little clumsy at first, but actually feels pretty fluid after a few games.

It’s a little clumsy at first, but actually feels pretty fluid after a few games.

The game offers a few different control options to make everything feel a bit better and get rid of the awkwardness of hunting for buttons you can’t find by feel. A floating shoot button, which moves to wherever your thumb last touched, makes shooting as simple as tapping where your finger already is, rather than having to reorient your hand to reach the spot that fires the gun. Items are automatically picked up, sorted, and equipped in game, which cuts down on be some tedious menu management. The game also offers gyroscopic control options, which I’ve never enjoyed, but some swear by.

PUBG Mobile review

Little touches like automatic item pickup improve playability a lot.

Even with those options, the game still feels a little clumsy. That clumsiness actually impacts what kinds of tactics and gameplay are effective. In the PC version, snipers can be pretty dominant. Erangel is a pretty wide open map, there are long stretches of relatively even terrain dotted with hills. Finding a good vantage point to pick people off isn’t hard. The precision of a mouse and keyboard makes this even easier.

Fights in PUBG Mobile are more oriented around mid- and close-range engagements. It’s hard to hit people really consistently at a distance in this game. It’s even harder when accounting for bullet drop. Automatic weapons, as well as shotguns, with their wider reticles, seem especially potent here.

PUBG Mobile review

Driving and shooting is a more viable strategy late in the game.

Vehicles often play a larger combat role too. In the PC version of PUBG, vehicles become a liability as the map gets smaller — they’re big, loud, and hard to miss. In PUBG Mobile, they’re actually pretty easy to miss. A fast moving target like a jeep, especially with someone in the passenger seat with a gun, can very easily ride around the perimeter of the circle and pick people off, even near the end of the game.

Performance

PUBG Mobile

The game really struggles to run when dropping onto the island.

What makes PUBG a pretty good-looking game on PC is more or less missing in the Mobile version. The lighting and particle effects that really sell the game’s look have all been pretty much stripped out, and probably for good reason. Those kinds of elements can be pretty demanding for hardware. The result is pretty bland-looking recreation. The terrain, characters, and weapons all look more or less the same as the PC version, just with muddier, lower-resolution textures.

The game ran pretty steady on my LG G6, but it definitely had its fair share of hiccups. I wouldn’t recommend playing on anything much older than that. I tried loading the game on its minimum iOS option, the iPhone 5s, and it crashed before loading the main menu every single time. I’d imagine Android phones of a similar age would struggle just as much.

Regular gameplay ran fine most of the time. There were almost always serious frame rate drops when parachuting down to the island, but that’s not totally shocking. It cleared up as soon as I landed, when the game no longer had to render the whole island.

The audio is pretty awful. In most versions of PUBG, hearing the direction and volume of noises like gunshots and footsteps is pretty important to learning an enemy’s location.  It’s a lot harder to tell this information in the mobile version. Footsteps were especially loud and all sounded pretty much the same to me. Regardless of where they were, once someone was within 15 or 20 feet of me, it all sounded the same. It all sounded bad too.

Conclusion

You don’t need to be as calculating to go far in PUBG Mobile. Part of that is due to the inclusion of bots at early levels, which let you get used to game’s controls without being totally exposed to its normally rather punishing difficulty. Even then, the game’s imprecise controls make for a looser, less tense experience. I think that’s a shame.

What really makes PUBG great on PC is the tension of having to methodically make it to the middle of the map as you alternate between cat and mouse, never knowing where the next enemy will pop up. It’s a very different kind of shooter experience than most games, and a lot of that is missing in PUBG Mobile.

PUBG Mobile is fun, but it’s not very tense.

PUBG Mobile is fun, but it’s not as tense as its PC counterpart. The stakes feel lower, and it misses out on a lot of what makes the PC version of the game so special — In essence, it feels a little hollow.

PUBG has gotten numerous updates and improvements since it launched. PUBG Mobile will probably get similar treatment; The Miramar map’s already made it’s way to the Chinese version. The game will no doubt improve and maybe one day offer the same tension as the PC version.

If you’re looking for a new mobile shooter, you could do a lot worse than PUBG Mobile. The game is all there, it works, and it’s free. But if you want the same strategic, nail-biting experience of the PC version, you may be a little disappointed.

What do you think of PUBG Mobile? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, also be sure to check out our PUBG Mobile tips and tricks feature, as well as our guide on how to change your name and appearance in PUBG Mobile.

That’s it for our PUBG Mobile review. Looking for more first person shooters for mobile? Be sure to check out our best mobile FPS guide.

5 best alternatives to Google’s URL shortener

At the end of March this year, Google announced its plans for shutting down the goo.gl URL shortening service. Those who have never used the service before won’t be able to create new short links starting from April 13, 2018, while existing users can continue to use all features until March 30, 2019. The service will be discontinued on that day, but all the links created will still work.

If you’ve been using Google’s URL shortener, it’s time to think about transitioning to a different service. In this post, we take a look at the five best ones available.

1. Bitly

Bitly

Bitly is one of the most popular and powerful URL shorteners out there. Just paste a link into the text box on Bitly’s home page, click the “Shorten” button, and you’re good to go.

To take things to the next level, you can create a free account that lets you customize your shortened URLs, track click rates, and more. Keep in mind there are a few limitations, as you can only create 500 branded links and 10,000 non-branded links per month. The company also offers paid plans that get rid of these limitations and provide more in-depth reports.


2. Ow.ly

goo.gl alternatives Hootsuite

The Ow.ly link shortener is free of charge, but you will need to create a Hootsuite account to use it. The service lets you shorten links, measure traffic, and much more, although it doesn’t have all the features offered by paid plans.

It’s a great tool for people who want to see various reports for the links created, while those who only want to shorten links and don’t care about tracking are better off using one of the alternatives that don’t require an account. Interested in giving Ow.ly a go? Visit the tool’s website via the button below.


3. TinyURL

goo.gl alternativesWebToolsWiki

This is a simple URL shortener you can use for free — there are no paid plans available. Just visit TinyURL’s website, paste the link into the text box, and the tool will do the rest. All links start with tinyurl.com/, but you can customize what comes after.

The tool has a drawback, which is that it doesn’t have any other features aside from shortening links. That means you can’t do stuff like track links, see reports, or do A/B testing. But it does offer a quick way to shorten URLs of the websites you visit that lets you avoid the whole copy/paste thing. You can add TinyURL to your browser’s toolbar and create a link of the website you’re on by clicking it. Sure, a Chrome extension would be a better option, but this works just as well.


4. Ouo.io

goo.gl alternatives Ouo.io

This tool is different than the others mentioned in this post. It lets you shorten URLs and make money with them through advertising — those who click on your shortened links will be shown an ad before getting redirected to a website.

How much money can you make? According to the company, you’ll bring in $4.1 for every 1,000 views if you’re from the US. If you live somewhere else, check out the payout rates here. But of course, looking at ads before being redirected is annoying for users, so this tool isn’t for everyone. You can sign up for the service free of charge via the button below.


5. Is.gd

goo.gl alternativesIs.gd

The last alternative to Google’s goo.gl is called Is.gd and is super simple. It sticks to the basics, allowing you to quickly shorten a link on the home page without having to sign up for an account. It also lets you customize links, although each has to start with “is.gd/” (example: is.gd/androidauthority).

Read next: How to Google reverse image search on Android devices

The great thing about it is that although you don’t need an account, you can still check a basic report that tells you how many people clicked on a link. To do so, all you have to do is add a dash at the end of the link (example: is.gd/androidauthority-) and click “I want to see statistics for this URL.”


There you have it, folks. These are the top five alternatives to Google’s URL shortener, although there are plenty of other great options out there to choose from. If you think we’ve missed any major ones, do let us know by posting a comment down below.