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The Best Network-Attached Storage

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article here.

After three weeks of research, plus hands-on testing of a half-dozen finalists, we found that the QNAP TS-251 is the best network-attached storage device (NAS) for people who need one. It has a faster processor and more memory than most NAS near its price, and it has flexible, powerful software that does everything most NAS users need and more.

Our three favorite NAS devices: Synology DS214 (runner-up), QNAP Turbo TS-251 (our pick), and Western Digital My Cloud Mirror (beginner-friendly).

Who's this for?

A NAS device is a small computer with an Internet connection, at least one hard drive bay, an operating system that's optimized for network storage. It's the best way to add terabytes of storage space to every computing device you own.

A NAS is great for people with large collections of movies, photos, and music: you can store all your media in one place and stream them to computers, speakers, phones and tablets, and your home theatre system. You can also use your NAS to backup your computers, or it can act as your own personal "cloud storage" with remote access and smartphone apps.

Most NAS can even act as email, database or VPN servers; BitTorrent boxes; website hosts; or as DVRs for surveillance cameras, while using about the same amount of energy as a couple of LED bulbs.

How we decided

Our ideal NAS has two hard drive bays. Dual-drive NAS devices support drive mirroring—the contents of one drive are copied to the other, so your data is safe even if a hard drive fails. It should also support hot-swapping—changing hard drives without turning off the NAS. It should have several USB ports, for backing up external drives to the NAS (and vice versa) as well as connecting printers or Wi-Fi dongles. Setup should be simple, and it should come with good mobile apps for media streaming and remote access.

We focused on NASes that cost less than $350 (diskless). Cheaper NASes have underpowered hardware, only one drive bay or operating systems that are complicated or half-baked. More expensive NAS are overkill for most home use.

The Best Android Smartphone for Your Network (July 2015)

It's about to be fall phone season, and that means you need to be extra cautious about buying a new device. Getting a new phone can be a two-year investment (at least for most people). You don't want to get the wrong thing and regret it on a daily basis. What's a phone nerd to do? Well, let's try to figure that out.

The Galaxy S6, LG G4, and what's on the horizon

The days of carrier exclusives have not come to a close, but they're very much waning. There are several great phones that are available on all four major carriers, and more on on the way. Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4 are available everywhere right now, so we'll hit those first. But in just a few weeks the new Moto X Style will arrive direct from Motorola. After we hash out the "universal choices, we'll see if any carrier-specific devices stand out.

Samsung is using a its customary Super AMOLED screen on the Galaxy S6 (and S6 Edge) and it's really just fantastic. It's a 5-inch 1440p AMOLED, which is small enough that most people should be able to use it comfortably. It's a stunningly beautiful screen, and I have no doubt it's the best you can get on a smartphone right now. It gets very bright, very dim, the colors are good, and it's extremely crisp. It's really impossible to find a fault with this display.

LG has stuck with an LCD for the G4 as its AMOLED panels still aren't very good (you need look no further than the G Flex 2 to see that). The only unique thing about this panel is the slight top to bottom curve it has. It doesn't really seem useful to me, but it does look kind of neat. Its 5.5-inches and 1440p in resolution. LG has bumped up the brightness and colors compared to the LCD on the G3, which is a good thing.

In Brief: John Hughes's Original Vacation '58 Short Story

originally a short storywhen I was a kid and Chevy Chase and company were getting laughs at the expense my dad, and it's even funnier now that I have a family of my own. What I didn't know is that Vacation was originally a short story that ran in National Lampoon, written by none other than John Hughes. The Hollywood Reporter just reprinted the original short, Vacation '58, which I'd highly recommend you read, if you have any affinity for the film.

Will
LEGO with Friends: Bonnie Burton, Part 1

For this week's LEGO with Friends, we're joined by guest Bonnie Burton! Previously at LucasFilm, Bonnie has written several Star Wars craft books and is a regular contributor to CNET and Playboy.com. Together, we're going to assemble the massive Avengers Helicarrier set! Follow along with us by signing up for a Tested Premium Membership here! (The first episode is free for everyone, but the rest of the series will be for Premium Members.)

Google Play App Roundup: Boxer Calendar, Sparkle 3, and SPACECOM

Money doesn't grow on trees, and those $0.99 app purchases do add up. It's best to go into the Play Store with some idea of what's up your alley and what isn't. That's what the Google Play App Roundup is here to do. We bring you the best new and newly updated apps and games every week. Just click on the app name to head to the Play Store and test it out yourself.

Boxer Calendar

You may know Boxer from the popular email app it released a while back but now the developer has returned with a free calendar app, and it seems quite impressive. It's called Boxer Calendar (duh), and it plugs in neatly to all the calendars already synced to your phone, including Google and Exchange.

There's no setup required in Boxer Calendar. After it's installed, the app will simply plug into the calendar data already synced to your phone. You can control which calendars are shown in the app, but it doesn't have dedicated sync settings. Opening that menu option routes you to the system-level settings. So Boxer will work with any calendar service that can be synced to the phone. Boxer also has settings for notifications, timezones, and so on.

The main interface for Boxer Calendar is split into two sections. At the top is a week view, and at the bottom is an agenda layout of the currently selected day. Several other apps do this, but Boxer's UI has a nifty trick. You can expand the top section to show a full month, which isn't all that distinct, however the bottom section can be customized with different views. You'll find the view options in the overflow menu at the top.

The bottom section can show a week, day, or agenda layout. I like this setup because you get to keep the month/week calendar at the top of the screen whereas most apps will only show other layouts in full screen. There's also a tablet UI that places the two sections side-by-side. Boxer is a material app, but it's a bit dull compared to others. It certainly doesn't look bad, though.

The app is most useful if you're also using Boxer's email app. That app has a feature that lets you reply to messages with availability times for a meeting or get together. If you have the Boxer Calendar app, it can automatically generate your available times and send them in a message.

If you use Boxer email, you should definitely take a look at Boxer Calendar. Even if you don't, it's a solid option in an already crowded field.

PinballBulbs' Mini Virtual Pinball Cabinet

We were recently at California Extreme, an annual convention celebrating classic arcade and pinball games. At the show, we were introduced to PinballBulbs' Mini Virtual Pinball machine--a cabinet designed to play emulated and digital games like Pinball FX. We play with the machine to see how the experience compares to a traditional pinball cabinet!