Posts with «home & garden» label

Dyson’s first dedicated hard floor cleaner doesn’t suck

It’s a new direction for Dyson: a floor cleaner without mention of suction, cyclone technology or any of its usual vacuum vocabulary. The Wash G1 is the company’s debut hard-floor cleaner, and it swaps suction for high-speed rollers, water and nylon bristles. It’ll go on sale later this year for $700/ £600, which is expensive but still cheaper than Dyson’s top-of-the-line Gen 5 vacuum. I got to test out the Wash G1 at Dyson’s HQ, a few hours west of London in the UK. 

The product was born from the increased presence of hard floors in our lives. Dyson says there are fewer and fewer carpeted rooms in homes around the world. However, hard-floor cleaning (industrial processes aside) has remained a pretty manual process, usually involving mops (or Swiffer cloths, you monster) that leave smears and streaks. Typical mopping also leads to wiping diluted dirt and stains around your floors after the first dunk.

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

Dyson’s method keeps the fresh and dirty water separate as you clean, with dual microfiber rollers that apply the water, mechanically removing stains and dirt. The company dabbled with this on its V15 Detect Submarine, which had a dedicated cleaning head with (much smaller) water compartments built in. The Wash G1 pulls dirty liquid up into its own container, capturing any physical debris into a slim tray with a mesh filter.

The rollers rotate in opposite directions, which helps lift stains and dirt. While testing it, the rollers also gave the cleaner a floaty sensation as I swished it around. The high-density microfiber cloths then absorb and trap both liquids and solid dirt, while hardened nylon bristles pull away bigger dirt and objects into a tray. The dirty water is also squeezed out of the rollers and pulled upwards into the machine.

The Wash G1 has 26 hydration points to “precisely” soak the microfiber rollers, ensuring they’re hydrated enough to tackle stains and dried dirt. The company claims there’s enough water in a single tank to clean the surface area equivalent to a tennis court – but that will depend on the machine’s settings.

There are three hydration levels, while an additional max setting drains the tank much faster, applying as much water as possible for the most stubborn stains. This doesn’t notably affect battery power, as the maximum setting would on a vacuum, because the Wash G1 isn’t pushing the engines harder – it’s just using more water. To reach floor edges, Dyson shifted the roller’s engines to one side so the right side can closely brush up against walls and edges.

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

The Wash G1 can even perform a self-clean, using half of the clean water tank to flush out the system and clean the brushes. There’s no heating feature, but the rotation should wring out most of the water. This is all done while the Wash G1 is docked and charging, which, instead of the typical cable or rack that Dyson’s other vacuums use, is a flat surface that plugs into the wall.

After using up the clean water tank, it was straightforward to remove and refill – much easier than a coffee machine. The unit with both containers clicks out of the body so you can tip away the dirty stuff and refill it with clean water. The container for the filthy water has a wide mouth, so it’s easy to clean without touching the accumulated dirt.

One issue though: The dirty water tank is… gross. I understand the satisfaction of seeing the dirt and muck as you clean your floors, but a container of cloudy beige mystery is, in person, rather icky. Perhaps Dyson could make it out of a smoky plastic that obfuscates the dirty water, at least a little?

The way Dyson separates out liquid and solid mess also reduces the amount of sludgy muck you’ll get from cleaning floors with water (not to brag, but I may have cleaned a carpet or two in my life). It does this by ensuring that solids aren’t in the water for too long. Dirty water is pulled into its removable container through a pressure differential, meaning there’s also no chance for the dirt to meddle with motors, filters and other delicate parts.

A final microfiber roller then takes up any residual water, and Dyson says it buffs the floor to avoid a streaky finish. During my brief time with the Wash G1, it was still leaving a streaky finish, but maybe Dyson will fix this. After all, there’s plenty of time before this ships to consumers. In the UK, the company is aiming for a fall (well, Autumn) launch, with the Wash G1 coming to the US later this year. The demo space was also a reflective marble surface – arguably a more challenging surface to clean perfectly. My hardwood floors at home probably wouldn’t have shown streaks.

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

This is Dyson’s first attempt at dedicated hard floor cleaning, and I still have a lot of questions about how well the filtration tray works. How much can you cram into such a slender little thing? We hope to get more answers when we take a closer look ahead of launch later this year.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Our favorite air purifier is $30 off right now in a limited time deal

As clean as your home may be, there are plenty of factors at play that can contribute to the accumulation of pollutants indoors. An air purifier is an easy way to freshen things up and improve the air quality in your home — and one of our favorites, the Levoit Core 400S, is currently 14 percent off. In a limited time deal on Amazon, the Levoit Core 400S in white is down to $190 from its usual price of $220.

The Levoit Core 400S is a standard air purifier in terms of its design, with a cylindrical body that has vents at the top and a simple display that offers touch controls and air quality readings. A color-changing ring at the center of the device surrounding the pollution measurement provides quick information at a glance; it’ll be either blue, green, orange or red depending on the air quality. It has a 360-degree filtration system and is stated to capture over 99.9 percent of pollutants as small as .3 microns, including dust, pollen and pet dander.

The Core 400S is one of our top picks for the best air purifiers you can get this year. It is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice controls, and can perform automatic purification duties. When running on auto, it’ll adjust its fan speeds based on changes in the surrounding air quality. The smart air purifier also connects to an app, where you can check the air quality reports even if you’re not home. It also has a sleep mode for quieter performance at night, and it’ll dim or turn off the display so you aren’t disturbed by bright lights.

The Levoit Core 400S combines pre-filter, activated carbon and HEPA into a ring-shaped filter that can be replaced for $50. The company claims it can purify an area of 1980 square feet once per hour. It may not have a standout design, but it gets the job done.

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GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker review: Turning your kitchen into a BBQ joint

It sounds too good to be true. The ability to smoke meats, seafood and more inside your kitchen without risking your security deposit doesn’t seem like something that should be possible. GE Appliances begs to differ. The company debuted the final version of its GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker just before CES, quickly nabbing the attention of this wood-fired-grill reviewer. Thanks to a unique filtration system, the unit captures smoke while cooking and only expels warm air (out of the front). After getting a small taste (literally one bite) in Vegas of what the smoker could do, I’ve spent the last few weeks cooking a variety of proteins to see if the $999 device is as compelling as it seems.


The GE indoor smoker has the stature of a small mini fridge. It’s not far off from the quick-cooking ovens behind the counter at Starbucks either. Its glossy front is two-thirds door, complete with viewing window, while the remaining space is dedicated to the control panel and pellet waste bin. Up top is a small sliding door at the front left for adding food-grade wood pellets. The sides and back look plain and boring, like a countertop oven or microwave, but that’s just fine. The contraption is short enough to fit under cabinets, but you’ll want to leave space on the sides and back for radiant heat.

At the bottom of the front, there’s a vent where the GE indoor smoker expels warm air while it’s cooking. The company also provides a small drip tray that slides under the front edge to help keep your counter clean. Over to the right, a display sits up top to show you status, probe temperature, smoker temperature, cook time and smoke level. You turn a knob to navigate settings and menus and then press to confirm your choices. Back and Start buttons flank that dial on the left and right sides respectively. There’s progress and status lights that encircle the knob too, adding a visual cue during preheating, cooking and more.

Under the knob is a smattering of buttons to get to certain functions quickly. These include settings, cancel, the interior light, activating the Clear Smoke feature and toggling between probe temperature and cooking time on the display. There’s also a power switch in this group and they’re all touch-based rather than clicky physical buttons.

Inside, supports snap onto the sides to hold the three moveable racks in place. A drip pan slides into the bottom to catch grease and other debris. To keep tabs on food temps, a probe snaps into a jack at the top right of the cooking chamber and can be stored on the outside of the smoker via a magnetic holder when not in use. Lastly, the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker’s prime piece of tech, the Active Smoke Filtration system, is on the back interior wall.

Setup and use

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Another benefit of the GE indoor smoker is that it’s ready to go out of the box. There’s no seasoning or burn-off required to get rid of oils or other manufacturing leftovers. Simply snap the rack supports in place, slide in the racks, put the drip pan in the bottom and that’s it for the cooking chamber. Once you add pellets in the slot up top and fill the water tank to the indicated level, the smoker is almost ready to start cooking.

One more step you’ll need to do the first time you cook, or anytime you empty the pellet chute, is to prime the auger. This ensures that the device will start producing smoke quickly and efficiently, giving your food as much time as possible to bathe in it. Afterwards, you can choose a preset or opt to go full manual mode (called Customize) and you’re off and running.

GE has dialed-in selections for brisket, pork ribs, pork butt, wings, chicken and salmon. These offer the necessary time and temperature settings for proper cooking, including a recommended smoke level. Additionally, you can determine the duration of the cook based on time or internal food temperature. Once either of those are achieved, the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker can automatically go into Keep Warm mode until you’re ready to eat.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

A word on larger cuts: you’ll need to portion them out in order to make them fit. For things like ribs and brisket, you can easily slice them in half and make use of the rack system. I did chuckle when reading the recipe book as GE says you can fit a 18-pound brisket in this smoker. That single cut of beef would take up most of the cooking area on some pellet grills, so you definitely have to cut it to fit here. And even then, the pieces will be quite large.

Pork butts fit with ease, as do whole chickens. If you prefer to spatchcock your birds to cook them, that won’t work here. However, you could easily do two chicken halves. I was also able to accommodate nearly four pounds of wings (flats and drums) across the three racks. Basically, any meat you’d smoke on an outdoor grill can be done on this unit, but some of them will take a bit of extra planning, and maybe a few cuts, to get them to fit.

How does the GE Indoor Smoker work?

After you’ve selected your preset or manually entered your cooking parameters and pressed start, the GE indoor smoker will ask you to confirm that you’ve added both pellets to the chute and water to the waste bin. From there, the device will preheat to the appropriate temperature before it begins producing any smoke. This will allow you to put your food inside without having to clear the smoke immediately. The last step is to push the start dial once more to begin the smoking process.

Before you open the door while things are cooking, you’ll need to activate the Clear Smoke function to avoid setting off any alarms in your kitchen. This takes 10 minutes, so you’ll have to plan ahead a bit – unless you don’t mind smoking up the room. I mention this because you will have to flip and rotate nearly everything you prepare in this thing to make sure it cooks evenly. I learned this lesson the hard way with a pork butt that burned on top but was undercooked near the bone. A simple flip and front-to-back rotation for everything about half-way through the process remedied the issue for everything I cooked after that, but it is an extra step that outdoor grills don’t require. You can leave a pork butt on a pellet grill unbothered until it’s done, but those have fans pushing heat around the cooking chamber. GE says it didn’t opt for a convection fan in this unit because of how it would’ve affected the flow of smoke.

Can you taste the smoke?

One of the biggest questions I had about the GE indoor smoker is if you’d actually be able to taste the smoke. The unit burns just enough wood pellets to fill the cooking chamber with smoke, which is enough to give proteins a kiss of flavor. It’s certainly not as intense as what you get on an outdoor grill, but it’s definitely there.

Since the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker does an excellent job of regulating temperature, the texture of all of those meats, and even seafood, is consistently moist and tender. Smoke flavor was most prominent in wings, chicken and salmon, but I could taste it in larger cuts of meat, too. GE allows you to adjust the smoke level from 0 to 5, so you can crank it all the way up to maximize the flavor if that’s your culinary preference. I almost always set it to level 5.

Let’s talk about smoke rings

One thing you won’t see on meat cooked low-and-slow in the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker is a smoke ring. This is the pink area along the outside of sliced meats that most people think indicates how well smoke has penetrated the food. That’s actually a misconception. A smoke ring is caused by a chemical reaction with nitric oxide gas produced by burning wood or charcoal. It isn’t by any means an indication of the level of smoke flavor, or even good barbecue.

Outdoor pellet grills, offset smokers and even a Weber kettle with charcoal will create a noticeable smoke ring on things like ribs, pork butts and briskets. The GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker will not. That’s because the appliance isn’t burning wood pellets as the heat source – it’s only using them to flavor the food. That takes very little fuel, and it also requires barely any heat to smolder them.

You can actually fake a smoke ring if you really want one for the ‘gram, but overdoing it can ruin your food, so tread carefully. For that, you’ll need a small amount of something that contains sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, like Morton’s Tender Quick. It’s the stuff that’s used to cure pastrami, where the pink color is essential.

Cleanup and maintenance

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Unlike most outdoor grills, all of the racks and rack supports inside the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker are dishwasher safe – simply by virtue of being small enough to fit. Since you’ll have to wipe down the interior of the cooking chamber with a solution of either mild soap and water or vinegar and water, not having to hand-wash what’s sure to be the dirtiest part of the machine is a plus. The drip pan is made out of a similar material to roasting pans you’d use in an oven, so you can probably stick it in the dishwasher too. I have been doing this with no issues so far, but you can always wrap it in foil before you start smoking for easy cleaning.

You’ll also need to empty the water tank that collects and extinguishes the spent pellets after each use, though the smoker may ask you to do so midway through longer sessions. You’ll need to strain out the remaining wood particles from the water before discarding the cooled solids in the trash. Since the water container doesn’t touch any food, a quick wipe and rinse is all that’s needed here.

GE says you’ll occasionally need to clean the pellet ramp to ensure proper smoke production. The company includes a small brush that’s used to keep unwanted debris out of the cooking chamber. Simply lift the smoke inlet cover on the right side of the cooking area and use the brush to remove anything that’s accumulated there. The company also recommends that you wipe the interior light after each use. I assume that’s so you’ll be able to see well during the cooking process, but GE doesn’t elaborate on why you need to do it.

GE Profile SmartHQ app

The Smart Indoor Smoker works with GE’s SmartHQ app to allow you to monitor the small appliance over Wi-Fi. With this software, you can monitor smoker and food temperatures from anywhere, as well as activate the 10-minute Clear Smoke process from the sofa. The app also lets you turn the internal light on and off, but that’s really about it. You can’t actually adjust the smoker temperature without walking over to it.

The smoker comes with a recipe book, but it would’ve been great if those (and many more) were available inside the app. Those instructions, paired with the ability to send the appropriate cooking info to the device, would give new users a lot of ways to get started beyond the simple protein-specific presets. I would also love it if there was a way to trigger the Keep Warm function or shut down the smoker remotely. You know, for the times when I get too excited about putting pulled pork in my mouth and forget to turn the machine off before sitting down at the table.

Is it better than an outdoor grill?

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

While it’s tempting to compare the results from the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker to those of a pellet, charcoal or wood-burning grill, it would be like discussing apples and oranges. Since all of the other options have an open flame and use significantly more fuel as the primary heat source, the smoke flavor is much more intense. They also require a lot more planning. First, you’d need dedicated outdoor space where those grills and smokers will be safe to use. You’ll also need to consider the added cleaning and maintenance needed to keep them running well.

All of these outdoor grills have a wider temperature range, so they can be used for more than just smoking. You could use a pellet grill, for example, to do everything from brisket to searing steaks. Ditto for charcoal or wood-burning units. And if you factor in Wi-Fi-enabled features, outdoor grills typically allow you to adjust temperature in addition to just monitoring it. Some of them even offer advanced tools like the Super Smoke mode from Traeger or the ability to send recipes to the grill as part of step-by-step guidance.

All this considered, the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker is still a good option for people who can’t have an outdoor smoker due to rental agreements or a lack of space. You’ll certainly need to plan ahead on how to store the appliance when you’re not using it. But, the fact that you can put it in your kitchen opens up the ability to cook barbecue, smoked wings, tasty seafood and more that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. It’s not entirely a “set it and forget it” type of device, and there are some hoops to jump through in terms of rotating things during the cook. However, you won't have to spend hours babying the meats the cooking starts.


The GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker works just like the company describes. The only real nuisance is having to flip and rotate foods to make sure they’re cooked properly. I really wish the company was more up-front about this somewhere other than the troubleshooting table and recipe book. It’s a key action that shouldn’t be left to trial and error. Even with that caveat, the device produces noticeably smoky flavor in a range of foods, albeit in a more-subdued way than what an outdoor grill.

Presets make it easy to get started and the manual mode will provide an open playground once you gain some experience. This won’t replace your pellet or charcoal grill, but that’s not really the point. It lets people who can’t own one of those make some tasty barbecue inside their kitchens. You just have to find a place to store it, or give up previously allocated countertop space, between smoke sessions.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Dyson enters the US robot vacuum market with the 360 Vis Nav

Dyson’s one of the biggest players in the cordless vacuum and air purifier space (and, more recently, hair styling as well), but it’s kept a relatively low profile in the robot vacuum market. Today, the company’s bringing its latest robot vacuum to the US and Canada. After being available in other regions, the Dyson 360 Vis Nav is now available to order in the US for a whopping $1,199 from Dyson direct and other retailers like Amazon.

While we haven’t had the chance to test the 360 Vis Nav yet, we were able to get more details from Dyson about how the new robot vacuum works. A few things stand out as departures from traditional robot vacuums, the first being the 360-degree vision system that uses a camera on the top-center of the robot to map out your home as it cleans. Home mapping isn’t new in this space, but Dyson claims that the images captured by this vision system will help the machine better understand the layout of your home, including where obstacles like furniture live, make note of corners and edges and help it recognize where it’s cleaned and where it still needs to go to finish a job. The camera is surrounded by eight LEDs that balance exposure and better help the robovac navigate in low-light situations as well.

Second, whereas most robot vacuums use small sweepers to collect dust bunnies hiding in room corners and along furniture edges, Dyson’s machine has a side-edge actuator that opens automatically when cleaning spaces like these. It then uses suction to collect debris, which Dyson claims provides an even more thorough cleanup. I’m eager to see how this works in practice because cleaning the corners of rooms is one of the hardest things for a robot vacuum to do right, even for those that have the advantage of a D-shaped design like the 360 Vis Nav.

Finally, Dyson’s robot vacuum uses a Piezo sensor similar to those found in the company’s stick vacs to detect dirt and, subsequently, help the machine do a couple of things: kick up its suction power to the max 65 air watts when necessary, and create a heatmap in the My Dyson app of the dirtiest parts of your home. This sounds like a more useful application for a piezo sensor than that of Dyson’s cordless vacuums; I found in my testing that seeing how many dirt particles you’re sucking up with a manual vacuum might be fun to watch change on a digital display as you clean, but it’s not very actionable once you’re done vacuuming. But in this application, particularly with the heatmap, that information can show you areas of your home you may want to clean more often and you can program the 360 Vis Nav to only clean those spots from within the app.

The Dyson 360 Vis Nav has a similar design to some of the higher-end robot vacuums on the market right now, with two squared-off edges that help it get into room corners more easily. Under the hood, it has a Hyperdymium motor and a removable filter, plus a triple-action brush bar that spans the entire width of the machine, something you don’t often see in competing robot vacuums. Naturally, the cleaning surfaces borrow a lot from those on the company’s stick vacs: there are carbon fiber bristles and stiff nylon bristles for deep-cleaning carpets and a “fluffy” softer nylon surface that’s better on hard floors. The whole machine is HEPA-compliant, which means air that’s been sucked up cannot escape through other parts of the machine, making it better at trapping microscopic particles like allergens and dust mites.

Dyson may have waited a bit to enter the US robot vacuum market, but it appears it wanted to find the right ways of integrating technology from its cordless vacuums into this space before doing so. On paper, that technology could set the 360 Vis Nav apart from other robot vacuums when it comes to raw suction power. When we’re able to get testing time with the device, I’ll be interested to try out its four cleaning modes (Auto, Boost, Quick and Quiet), see if the advertised 65-minute runtime (in Auto Mode) actually holds up and judge how robust and easy to use the My Dyson app is.

But what already sets the 360 Vis Nav apart from the competition is its sky-high, $1,199 price tag. That’s a price we’ve only seen on robot vacuums that come with self-emptying bases, and the 360 Vis Nav doesn’t have one of those (its dock only recharges). But this won’t be a surprise if you’re familiar with other Dyson products, which are often priced at a premium.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Govee’s chatbot programs your smart lights for you

At CES 2024, Govee not only revealed an upgraded AI Sync Box Kit, Neon Rope Light 2 and, because it’s 2024, there’s even a dedicated chatbot. While it wasn't available for testing at CES Unveiled, the media preview event that takes place two days before the CES show floor opens, Govee’s AI Lighting Bot will eventually be bundled into the company’s smartphone app, where you’ll apparently be able to cajole it into generating using natural language inputs, a la ChatGPT.

As you can see in Govee’s concept video, it’ll apparently source lighting designs and transmit them to your Govee lights, whether they’re lighting spots, strips or anything else. In one example in Govee’s video, a user asked for a “Barbie Dreamhouse-inspired lighting effect” for their outdoor lights and spotlights, which then undulated between various shades of hot, powder and another-kind-of pink.

Of course, you’ll need even more lighting strips to accomplish grander smart lighting visions, and Govee is willing to oblige with its second-generation Neon Rope Light 2. A spokesperson explained that it will now offer smoother lighting transitions and upgraded bend clips and is made of an even more flexible material, which should be easier to shape around furniture, corners and even into shapes.


You’ll also be able to customize the lighting effects of the Neon Rope more easily too. Govee’s app can apply lighting effects through different segments using your smartphone camera and shape recognition, hopefully better evoking your smart lighting vision. The Neon Rope Light 2 will also be Matter-compatible when it launches in the first half of 2024.

Finally, the AI Sync Box Kit 2 will be HDMI 2.1 compatible and following feedback from its users on Govee’s first kit, will support resolutions up to 8K and output video (with matching light effects) at 4K at 120Hz. Govee says its new CogniGlow AI recognition tech will automatically activate tailored lighting effects for compatible games. One example is a blue healing ‘bloom’ when a character heals in Apex Legends. You’ll even be able to personalize these AI effects if you want more subtle lighting twists. A Matter-compatible update will also land on the sync box later this year.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker brings BBQ inside for $1,000

After an Indiegogo campaign that amassed over $800,000 in funding, GE Appliances is bringing its indoor smoker to consumers nationwide in the US. Originally dubbed the Arden as a project of GE Appliance's "maker space and micro factory" FirstBuild, the appliance is now known as the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker. While the design has been updated to a degree, the basic idea remains the same: a larger countertop device that brings the ability to smoke foods inside the kitchen without setting off the fire alarm in your house or apartment. 

With an appliance the size of a compact mini fridge, the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker uses so-called Active Smoke Filtration technology that employs a "catalyst system" to create wood smoke from pellets and combine it with an electric heating element. The airflow setup is designed to impart "maximum flavor" into a variety of foods while tight gaskets keep the smoke inside. GE Appliances says the unit is suitable for all skill levels thanks to five smoke presets. There are also six food-specific settings for popular smoked foods like brisket, ribs, pork butt, chicken wings, chicken breast and salmon. The company says the customization available on the smoker also allows users to prepare side dishes and desserts with the device. 

GE Appliances

What's more, there are some conveniences that outdoor smokers don't offer. A Smoke and Hold feature prepares foods and then keeps them at food-safe temperatures for up to 24 hours. GE Appliances says the smoker also uses a fraction of the wood pellets as outdoor grills, thanks in part to the additional heating element, and that a pellet capture system extinguishes used pellets in a water tank. Lastly, all of the racks and drip trays are dishwasher safe where those components are typically so large on outdoor smokers they need to be washed by hand. 

As the name implies, there's a connected aspect to the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker. With GE Profile Connect+, you can adjust smoke levels and monitor the cooking process as the unit includes a food probe. The company says feature updates like guided recipes will be available in the future. This is an indoor device, but you don't have to sacrifice capacity. GE Appliances says there's enough room for three racks of baby back ribs, a brisket, up to 40 wings or a 14-pounds pork butt. Since most pork butts you'll find at grocery stores are around eight pounds or less, there's ample room for pulled pork. 

The GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker will be available from retailers this month for $1,000. The unit will be on display at CES, so hopefully we'll get an early look and taste of what it can do. If you're already convinced, you can order one now.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

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iRobot’s new flagship Roombas ship with an updated OS to make cleaning simpler

Amazon’s iRobot just released a pair of budget-friendly robo-vacs to suit modest cleaning tasks, but it’s been a while since the flagship J7+ vacuum got a refresh. Well, the wait is over. The company announced presales for the forthcoming J9+ line of vacuums, and these high-end appliances boast plenty of nifty features for those who absolutely hate manually pushing a vacuum or mop around.

The J9+ is available in two versions, which is normally the case with modern Roomba devices. There’s the traditional vacuum-only J9+ and the Roomba Combo J9+ that mops in addition to sucking up dirt. The latter ships with a redesigned fill dock that automatically empties debris and replenishes the robot with mopping liquid, removing yet another manual cleaning step so you can get back to the important work of clearing out that Netflix queue.

These robots are more powerful than ever before, with an amped-up motor designed to “tackle dirt, pet fur and debris with unmatched precision.” The four-stage cleaning system provides multiple passthroughs and the newly-added dual rubber brushes take the suction power up a notch, in addition to allowing for pressurized scrubbing when necessary. The Combo J9+ features a motor that automatically lifts the mop pads when vacuuming carpets and rugs to avoid moisture leakage.

The hardware updates are well and good, and certainly useful, but it’s the software that provides the lion’s share of new features. These Roombas ship with OS 7, which looks to take automation and efficiency to the next level. The software boasts a tool called Dirt Detective that uses a proprietary algorithm to keep track of previous cleaning tasks to assess the dirtiest parts of the home, prioritizing those locations accordingly. In other words, it’ll start with the dirtiest rooms and move on from there.

The Combo J9+ goes a step further, and Dirt Detective will force the vacuum and mop to clean the bathroom last, no matter how dirty it is. This means that the vacuum won’t be tracking gross bathroom stuff throughout the rest of the home. If you want a more hands-on approach, you can use the app to manually select the navigation route through your house.

Other software improvements include the SmartScrub feature that ensures the Combo J9+ makes multiple passes through certain parts of the home, like the kitchen, when mopping. It’ll even boost the scrubbing power in these locations to eliminate dirt and stains. This also works in the other direction, so the vacuum will scrub less in cleaner areas to protect hardwood flooring and the like.

The Roomba J9+ and the Combo J9+ are available for preorder today from iRobot and tomorrow from third-party retailers, with shipments going out sometime during the fall. The vacuum-only J9+ costs $900 and the Combo J9+ costs $1,400. As for OS 7, it’s coming to other Roomba models beyond the J9+, but the company hasn’t said which ones.

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The best dorm room essentials for college students

College will be back in session soon enough, which also means a new batch of freshmen will start living the dorm life. If that applies to you, we think it’s a good idea to stock up on a few essentials for your new tiny abode before you get there, especially if this is your first time away from home. We’ve got tech recommendations, of course, but not everything on this list is a gadget. That’s because we also wanted to cover the other items that will bring you the comforts of home to your dorm and hopefully make student life less stressful.

Echo Dot

I resisted a smart speaker until a few months ago. After getting an Echo Dot, I now use Alexa to set alarms, play focus music, remind me about stuff and keep tabs on the weather — all of which would have been very helpful back in school. Sure, your phone can do most of that, but anything that helps you pick up your phone less is a productivity booster in itself. Plus, the Dot works with all major music services and the sound quality is surprisingly good for its size. There’s more than enough punch here to entertain a dorm room and do justice to your study beats. — Amy Skorheim, Commerce Writer

Belkin MagSafe 3-in-1 wireless charger

If you own multiple Apple products and you’re constantly detangling charging cables, we highly recommend a 3-in-1 wireless charger like the Belkin BoostCharge Pro. It has a 15W MagSafe charging base for your iPhone and charging spaces for your Apple Watch and AirPods as well. The horizontal layout lets you charge any Qi-capable phone, though at reduced speeds, or other compatible earbuds and accessories. On top of that, the flat pad format means you can easily pack it in your bag the next time you go on a trip. — Nicole Lee, Commerce Writer

Anker Soundcore Space A40

A good set of noise-canceling headphones can help you get some peace and quiet anytime you need to work or want to escape the rowdiness of your fellow dormmates. You don’t need to spend a ton to find a quality pair, either: The Anker Soundcore Space A40 delivers effective active noise cancellation, eight to 10 hours of battery life per charge, a transparency mode, IPX4-rated water resistance and solid audio quality for less than $100 (and even less than $80 often times when on sale). If you don’t like their bassy default sound, you can also customize the profile through a useful companion app. Just note that these are earbuds; if you’d prefer an over-ear pair, try the Anker Soundcore Life Q30. — Jeff Dunn, Senior Commerce Writer

Linenspa shredded foam pillow

Comfort is key to dorm living, which is why we recommend an oversized reading pillow like this one from Linenspa. It helps change up your seating position so you’re not in your desk chair all the time, and it’s definitely a lot more comfortable than just piling up bed pillows against the wall. The pillow is filled with shredded memory foam so it won’t put a lot of stress on your back, plus it comes with a soft velour cover. That posture support makes it great for reading, playing games or watching TV. As a bonus, there’s also a handle on the top that makes it easy to carry around. — N.L.

Zwilling Electric Kettle

Dorms may limit the number and types of kitchen appliances you can have, but most are fine with a simple electric kettle like this one. Zwilling’s Electric Kettle boils water eerily fast and doesn’t have an exposed heating element, which some housing regulations don’t allow. It also looks lovely and, in our experiments, boiled 16 ounces of water in two minutes flat. Sure, it can help you make tea or coffee, but the real pro-level move is stocking up on instant cup foods for morning oatmeal, midnight Cup Noodles and the cravings in between. — A.S.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

For when their phone’s speakers just won’t cut it, the UE Wonderboom 3 can make their dorm-room parties and chill sessions on the quad even better with punchy sound. The small, barrel-shaped speaker is compact enough to fit in a backpack, and it could be attached to the outside of a bag with a carabiner clip thanks to its built-in top loop. We found the Wonderboom 3 to deliver the biggest sound of all the portable Bluetooth speakers we tested in its size range, and the latest model has improved battery life and wireless range. There’s no app, but it can be paired with other UE speakers for stereo sound. And if it accidentally falls off a table or takes a bit of a beating, its IP67-rating and drop-proof design should sufficiently protect it. — Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor

Nanoleaf Lines

Nanoleaf’s modular smart lights let you add personality and functional lighting to your half of the room. The 90-degree “Smarter” kit comes with four Lines that attach at right angles, so you can make a few different designs (a square and an X come to mind). The set is expandable and each bar has millions of available colors with the ability to display two hues at once. Lines works with Alexa, HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT and other smart home platforms, so you can set themes, create routines and control the lights with your voice. But possibly the best news for dorm dwellers is the included mounting tape that won’t punch holes in your walls and anger your RA. — A.S.

LapGear Designer

When you’re just too lazy to sit at your actual desk, a lap desk like the LapGear Designer can make working from the bed or couch more comfortable. The Designer is softly padded and lightweight, with an easy-to-clean top that’s large enough to fit a 15-inch laptop. A stopper at the bottom helps keep things from slipping off when you’re sitting at an angle, plus there’s a slot for holding a phone and a handle for carrying the whole thing around. — J.D.

Vornado 630 Medium Air Circulator

Many dorms lack air conditioning, so having a fan that’s powerful enough to keep you cool during the late-summer months is crucial. The Vornado 630 should do the job, as it moves air around a room powerfully yet takes up little room on a tabletop or larger window sill. It doesn’t oscillate, but you can tilt its head vertically, and the way it circulates air allows it to send a breeze through most of a room. A simple dial lets you swap between three speed settings, while the sturdy plastic frame is easy to clean and keeps the thing relatively quiet when it’s on. If you’re moving into a particularly large dorm room, the Vornado 660 is a stronger alternative. — J.D.

OXO Good Grips cereal dispenser

When I was in college, we called cereal, ramen and vodka “the five food groups.” I hear today’s college-bound generation drinks less (and is probably better with numbers), but I suspect cereal is still a staple, which is why this dispenser from OXO is a must-get. The silicone seal on the pop-top lid keeps Crispix crunchy and Lucky Charms fresh (though it can do nothing to make Grape Nuts less gravel-like). It also keeps ants and other pests out and the clear plastic looks nice on a shelf. But I particularly like being able to open the lid, pour out the cereal and close it back up with just one hand. — A.S.

Pure Green 100% Natural Latex mattress topper

Chances are, the bed in your dorm room isn’t very comfortable. It’s also probably not easy (or cost effective) to change the mattress. That’s why we recommend getting a mattress topper: It’s the one way to control how your bed feels without spending a lot of money. We prefer a natural latex option like this one from Pure Green because it delivers comfort and support without the sinking feeling of memory foam. It also won’t absorb much body heat, which helps keep you cool throughout the night. Pure Green sells its mattress topper in three different thicknesses — from one inch to three — to fit your particular needs. Opt for the 1- or 2-inch if you want firm or medium-firm, or spring for the 3-inch model if you prefer a something softer. — N.L.

Lunya Sleep Mask

Roommate pulling an all-nighter with the lights on? Want to catch some z’s in the afternoon in between classes? Or maybe you’re just particularly sensitive to light? If you can relate to any of this, we recommend getting a sleep mask to make it easier for you to drift off into dreamland. This one from Lunya is one of our personal favorites because it completely blocks out light and feels comfortable to boot; it’s like wearing pillows on your eyes. We tend to prefer this model over masks with eye cups because it’s not quite as bulky. The Lunya’s wide elasticized band will fit most people and it even covers the ears, which helps reduce noise. It’s also machine washable, so you can easily keep it clean. — N.L.


Playing casual board games is a great way to socialize at gatherings without the need to engage in small talk. A really popular one is called Codenames, a party game that pits two teams of spies against each other. Each “spymaster” has to get their teammates to guess hidden words (which are plotted out on a grid) using only one-word clues and a number. For example, if you wanted your team to guess the words “costume,” “web,” and “spider,” you might say “Peter, 3” to indicate that there are three clues on the board that match that word. There are also clues you have to avoid, which makes the game a little harder. The game is easy to explain and it encourages communication, which helps break the ice. — N.L.

Herd Mentality

If you want a game that’s more light-hearted, we recommend Herd Mentality. It accommodates four to 20 players, which makes it perfect for parties. In it, you simply take turns flipping over a question and trying to write down what you think everyone else will answer as well. For example, if the question is “What is the best way to cook an egg?” you write “scrambled” and it turns out that is what most other players answered as well, you will get points. But beware of giving the answer that’s the odd one out, because you’ll get the dreaded Pink Cow and be in danger of losing the game – unless you can somehow trick someone else into getting it instead. — N.L.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

What we bought: Are touch-activated faucets smart or silly?

Even for someone like me who spends a ton of time testing phones and laptops, it can be hard to keep up with innovations across every category of device – especially when it comes to things like fixtures and appliances that aren’t meant to be replaced very often. So a little while ago when my kitchen faucet sprung a leak I was faced with a question: Are today’s new-fangled touch-activated models a worthwhile purchase or are they just a waste of money?

At first, I was annoyed by the whole affair since we had only moved into our place in 2018 and as it was new construction, I expected the faucet to last longer than five years. But after getting it checked out things got worse as we learned it would cost more to fix it than to just buy a new one. So after the plumber told us to “treat yourselves” and we learned that apparently Delta is the Colgate of faucets (four out five plumbers recommend it!), we started looking at our options.

Unlike a traditional faucet, it feels like the best way to use the Touch20 tech is leaving the handle open all the time and rely entirely on touch inputs to turn the water on and off.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Now, as someone who’s never had to buy a faucet before, my wife and I were initially a bit lost. We started by looking at models that had a similar design to what we already had because we knew it would fit. But eventually, my love of gadgets drew me to Delta’s Touch2O line, which lets you control water simply by tapping instead of yanking the handle around. So even though I was already aware that some prominent chefs like J. Kenji Lopez-Alt aren’t a fan of touch-activated faucets, since I had never used one before, I figured why the hell not?

However, there are a couple of important considerations that come into play when buying one of these. The first is that they’re more expensive than a regular faucet due to the extra electronics and whatnot. Thankfully, despite being listed at around $1,000 on Delta’s website, the Trinsic Pro Touch2O we eventually settled on was available for half that on Amazon. And, compared to a traditional non-touch model, we were looking at about a $100 premium, which isn’t nothing, but it was low enough that my curiosity ultimately won out.

One of the really nice things about the Trinsic Pro with Touch20 is that you can basically tap anywhere on the faucet to turn the water on and off.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

But more importantly, the only reason the Touch2O model wasn’t rejected outright is because we already had an outlet installed under our sink. By default, Delta’s Touch2O faucet runs on six included AA batteries that the company says should last about a year (or up to three years if you buy some larger C batteries). And while swapping in fresh cells every 12 months isn’t that much of a hassle, it’s something I’d rather not have to think about., Not to mention the waste of tossing dead akalines in the trash on a semi-regular basis isn't ideal. Thankfully, Delta sells an AC adapter for its faucets that’s relatively cheap (about $40), which means that you only need to rely on the batteries if your power goes out (which is quite rare for us because we live in the city).

If it wasn’t for this, buying a touch-activated faucet that requires a constant power supply would have been a non-starter. Regardless, if you’re considering getting a Touch2O faucet from Delta, expect to pay about $150 or so more than a basic version. At least when it comes to installation, things are relatively straightforward. The main differences are making sure you don’t get your wires crossed and remembering to save a spot to stash the AC adapter so that it stays dry and out of the way.

Another handy feature on Delta's Touch20 faucets is a built-in temperature sensor that makes it easy to tell if the water is hot or cold, which can be really helpful around small children.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Anyways, now that I’ve been using a Touch2O faucet for about three months, here are my thoughts. First, it takes a little getting used to, because ideally, you should leave the handle open all the time and rely entirely on touch controls to turn the water on and off. And after years of muscle memory telling me to do that exact opposite, this practice felt really unnatural for a couple weeks. But once I got past that, I really started to like it. Sure, it’s a small thing, but being able to touch the neck of the faucet quickly to shut off the water is nice when you’re trying to multitask. I think it’s slightly more sanitary too, because I can use the back of my hand to tap the neck of the faucet instead of reaching for the handle, which is nice if you’ve been trimming chicken or whatever.

After a while, using the faucet becomes one less thing to think about and I also really appreciate that Delta’s touch activation works pretty much anywhere, which makes it more fun for my toddler to play with when we’re washing our hands. And if he gets out of control, I can simply use the handle as normal to prevent unnecessary splashing. Another little bonus is that the Trinsic Pro Touch2O also features a little temperature indicator built into its base, which makes it easier for children to tell if the water is too hot to touch (red means stop). Finally, while it's not directly related to the touch technology, I also really like how sturdy the coil is that supports the gooseneck.

While the touch model costs slightly more than the standard version, Delta's Touch20 tech adds some nice (but not essential) functions so it doesn't feel like a complete gimmick.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

So in the end, I will fully admit that although a touch faucet is hardly a game-changer, having one in my kitchen offers a few small perks that I think were worth the extra $150. That said, it still remains to be seen how this thing will hold up over time. I’m hoping that because Delta’s Touch20 devices use solenoid valves – which have been around since as far back as the early 1900s – there shouldn’t be any major tradeoff on durability. Because I really don’t want to think about buying another faucet for a long time.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

How to choose the best pizza oven in 2023

Small outdoor pizza ovens have become popular backyard cooking options in recent years. While anyone with a decent-sized patio could have a permanent one installed, these versatile products are more compact and store easily in a bag when you’re not using them. That makes them great for people who have limited outdoor space and allows you to take them on the road as needed. There are also great options for having a dedicated pizza oven indoors. Here are a few specs you’ll want to consider before making a purchase, plus some recommendations to get you started.

What to look for

When shopping for an oven, you’ll first want to consider what types of pizza you plan to make. Most portable outdoor pizza ovens from the likes of Ooni, Solo Stove and others use wood and are primarily designed for the high-heat cooking required for light and airy Neapolitan-style pies. We’re talking temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. These units can certainly cook different styles at cooler temperatures, but they’re easiest to use when you’re running them wide open with a full load of wood.

If you purchase a propane or natural gas burner, you can adjust temperatures easily by turning a knob. For this reason, I recommend you spend the extra $100 or so on that accessory. It makes your pizza oven a lot more versatile and gives you the option to still have a freshly fired pie when you don’t feel like messing with wood or charcoal. If you only want to cook with gas, there are models available that only use propane or natural gas.

The other key consideration is size. Most companies make ovens that fit 12-inch pizzas, a perfect size for one person. They’re also great for parties, since people can customize their own without having to pick off toppings they don’t like. If you want to make larger pizzas or plan to use your oven for other things (pans, etc), consider a larger version that can accommodate more than just small pies. The interior dimensions – or at the very least the stone size – will be listed on most product pages.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Plan for success

Making pizza at home requires a considerable amount of counter or table space. You’ll need room to stretch and prep your dough, lay out your toppings and load pizzas onto a peel. Of course, some folks will be comfortable working in the tight confines of a small kitchen, but I’ve found it much easier to use extra space to make sure I’m not constantly moving things around during the various steps in the process.

It’s also less hassle to set up your pizza station in close proximity to your pizza oven. As a rookie baker, I did the running back and forth from the kitchen to the back porch. It’s far from ideal. It’s difficult to maintain your fire (if using wood or charcoal) when you’re unable to watch it closely. The good news is a patio table can be easily converted into a pizza station with a large cutting board. This also gets your oven off the ground so it’s easier to access.

Ooni sells tables for its ovens that also offer shelving and storage for peels and other accessories. Solo Stove has a rolling stand for its Pi oven too, with small side shelves and a spot for your propane tank underneath. Of course, you can find other tables and stands to suit your needs, just make sure they can withstand any heat that may radiate from the bottom of the oven while cooking. Most ovens are either well insulated or don’t project too much excess heat toward the table, but you can never be too careful. For that reason, a stainless steel or metal surface is a good choice to set up an outdoor model.

Most of these pizza ovens cook quickly at high heat, especially if you’re making Neapolitan-style pies. Having everything you need nearby so you can keep tabs on the oven and quickly make the next pizza will ease a lot of unnecessary headaches. When your cook time is two minutes or less, you don’t want to venture too far.

Outdoor pizza ovens

A good multi-fuel outdoor pizza oven: Ooni Karu 16

If you’re looking to go all-in on an outdoor pizza oven, you can’t go wrong with Ooni’s Karu 16. It’s the company’s largest multi-fuel model, which means you can choose between wood, charcoal or gas (propane and natural gas burners sold separately). This one is equipped with a hinged glass door for keeping tabs on your progress and a digital thermometer monitors the ambient temperature inside. The larger size means you can not only cook bigger pizzas, but the Karu 16 can also accommodate pans and cast iron, so baking, roasting and searing are all possible here. It’s this versatility that makes the Karu 16 our top pick.

A solid outdoor pizza oven: Solo Stove Pi

Solo Stove may be on your radar for its fire pits, but the company also makes a solid pizza oven. Dubbed the Pi, this unit is made out of stainless steel and is round like the company’s trademark products. Solo Stove says Pi can hit temperatures of 850 degrees Fahrenheit with wood and 900 degrees with a gas burner (sold separately). It explains that those figures translate to maximum stone temps of 750 and 800 degrees respectively. The Pi’s big difference from the Karu 16 and other Ooni ovens is that it doesn’t have a front door and stays open the whole time like a brick oven.

A great smaller option: Ooni Fyra 12

The Ooni Fyra 12 was the first outdoor pizza oven I used and it remains one of my favorites. It’s compact compared to some of the alternatives (22 pounds), so it won’t take up quite as much storage space. It also runs on wood pellets instead of chunks, and once you get the fire going, you just refill the chute from the top. This means there’s much less tending a fire on the Fyra than other wood-burning models, so you can focus on making and cooking your pizzas. The Fyra does all the things other Ooni pizza ovens do well, including high-heat bakes (950 degrees) in as little as a minute.

Indoor pizza ovens

Let me preface this section by saying you probably already have an indoor option that you can use to make some great pizza. Whether that’s the main oven in your kitchen or a multi-function countertop unit, with some affordable accessories, you can easily up your game without spending $1,000 on a dedicated appliance. For example, my Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer has a convection pizza setting that automatically adjusts cook time based on the size, temperature and whether the pie is fresh or frozen. A key consideration here is size. These things are massive, about the size of a large microwave, so you likely won’t want to keep them out all the time unless you have a huge kitchen.

A versatile indoor pizza oven: Ooni Volt 12

Ooni made its name on outdoor pizza ovens that primarily burn wood or run on gas. For 2023, the company is taking things indoors with the Volt 12. Ooni’s first electric oven can also be used outside thanks to weather resistant construction, but this behemoth brings the company’s design and efficiency to your kitchen for the first time. Capable of temperatures up to 850 degrees Fahrenheit in as little as 20 minutes, the Volt 12 can fire up Neapolitan style pies in 90 seconds. Controls on the front give you the ability to adjust both the top and bottom heating elements. There are also cooking presets and a Boost function to quickly get the stone back to temp between pizzas. The 13-inch stone inside is square, so you can slide in pans for Detroit recipes or other baked goods.

A solid indoor pizza oven: Breville Pizzaiolo

If you’re set on buying a dedicated pizza oven, the Breville Pizzaiolo is another great option, but it’s just as pricey as the Volt 12. The Pizzaiolo cooks 12-inch pies as well, but the stone on this unit is perfectly sized for them and there’s a metal heat reflector panel inside that will also keep you from overshooting the cooking surface. This means you won’t be sliding larger rectangle pans in here like you can with the electric Ooni. Round pans fit just fine and some smaller square ones likely will too.

In terms of cooking ability, Breville offers presets for “Wood Fired,” New York, Pan, Thin & Crispy and Frozen pizzas with the added option to run the oven full blast at 750 degrees Fahrenheit. A second dial allows you to adjust the top heating element depending on how dark you want your pizza. Like it does on other Breville appliances, Element IQ tech adjusts the heating elements based on the selected style, creating the ideal environment for each one. For advanced users, the company offers a manual mode that turns the timer dial into a control for the bottom deck while the style preset selector manages the top. Breville includes a magnetic overlay for the front panel to show you temperatures for the converted controls. The instruction manual also gives you recommendations for where to begin with manual mode for the aforementioned styles.

The best pizza accessories for the oven you already have

If you want to make good pizza at home without spending hundreds of dollars on a dedicated oven, you can definitely do it with the oven you already have in your kitchen. With a few accessories, you can improve your game without splurging on a Breville, Ooni or Solo Stove. First, I’d recommend a high quality baking steel or stone.

Baking stones are great for getting better browning on the bottom of your pies than a pizza or sheet pan. You can also use them for bread, cookies and other items. The stone absorbs heat to cook pizza quickly, like the inside of a brick oven, which leads to a crisp crust. They’re also more affordable compared to baking steels. Those metal slabs do have one key advantage: higher heat conductivity. This means a steel will cook your pizzas faster since it can absorb more heat from your oven. While baking steels can be used as griddles on your stovetop and for other types of baking, they’re not ideal for some leavened breads.

The second item you’ll want is a pizza peel. These come in all shapes and sizes, made out of a variety of materials. I typically use a bamboo or wooden peel when topping and launching my pizzas and then a metal one for retrieving them. I’ve found that dough doesn’t stick as easily to bamboo during prep and the metal resists the high heat of the oven when turning or retrieving a finished pizza (bamboo will burn). There are also perforated peels which allow both steam and excess flour to escape. A peel is a great tool for loading and turning pizzas, and since you’ll typically be cooking them with your oven at 500 degrees or hotter, using something like parchment paper to move them around won’t work.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at