How to Get Free Stuff on Amazon: A Beginners Guide

How to Get Free Stuff on Amazon: A Beginners Guide

One of the great promises of the internet was that it would allow greater competition, and through that greater savings — yet Amazon now dominates much of the online market. For many items, there is simply no alternative but to buy through Amazon, meaning that if you want to save money, you’re going to have to know how to work that particular system. After all, why would you want to spend the money you earn if you don’t have to?
Amazon may be the largest online retailer, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t few freebies to be had — you just need to know where to look. And while finding a great deal is always a thrill, there is something about being able to combine those savings with world-leading shipping and variety that really gets the blood pumping. There’s no need for couponing, birthday freebies, or pesky survey sites to get the free stuff you deserve. Put that credit card away and check out our tips on how to get free stuff on Amazon to help you on your frugal journey.
Become a Vine reviewer Have you ever heard of Amazon Vine? The Vine program that gives consumers free stuff as a reward for an honest review of the products. These products are often things that haven’t been released yet (which is why you’ll see them on a lot of review sites) that need a bit of consumer backing to get started. Amazon Vine is by invitation only, however. You can get noticed by the right people by getting a reputation on your Amazon profile as someone who writes honest and fair in-depth product reviews.
Here are some tips on increasing your Amazon rankings to become a Vine reviewer, or just click on the button below for more info about Vine. Getting free stuff online could just be a few reviews or helpful votes away.
What is Amazon Vine?
Sign up for free sample boxes The Amazon sample box program is something you’ve probably never heard of, but it’s a great way to get Amazon products without having to spend money. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can purchase select sample boxes and get reimbursed for the cost with Amazon credit of equal value, similar to digital gift cards. If you’re already an Amazon shopper, you might as well get a free sample while you’re at it, right? These boxes have everything from free food, new products, product samples, and many other goodies.
This offer has a limit of one of each sample per customer, but they are continuously updated year-round with new free boxes. If you’re looking for an easy way to snatch up a free item or two, this is your best bet.
Get them for free
Browse free Kindle e-books If you’re an avid reader on a budget, finding something free stuff to read can be difficult. Luckily, Amazon has a variety of free Kindle e-books available online. This list is populated with a new freebie or two every day, so be sure to regularly check to see what’s new. You can also take a look at positive reviews from an Amazon customer or two to gauge whether or not a book is worth your time. That’s not something you’ll find at Barnes and Noble. If you don’t already have a Kindle, you can wait until Black Friday to take advantage of the best discounts.
While some ebooks may be permanently free, many are just for a limited time, from new up-and-coming authors . You can always exchange one free book for another if you don’t like what you’re reading, that’s the beauty of free.
Get them for free
Browse free digital albums If you love music but hate paying for it, these free things called digital albums are what the kids are into these days. You can find anything from the Foo Fighters to the jaunty twangs of bluegrass music , all completely free. Just make sure you check those Amazon reviews so you don’t end up assaulting your ears with something terrible.
To find out what Amazon has to offer in terms of free music, just sort by the list price by selecting “low to high” or click the button below. This little trick is what we like to call one of those “Amazon Hacks”, but really it’s just pressing a button.
Get them for free
Get free cloud storage Do you need a way to back up your most important files? Amazon Drive will give you free admission to 5GB of storage absolutely free. Upload files, photos, and videos to the cloud to make sure you don’t lose your most important files.
If you’re an Amazon Prime Member , you will also receive unlimited photo storage, as well as the 5GB of free storage. There are other freebie sites that offer free cloud storage, but Amazon is sure to outlast them.
Get it for free
Sort through free digital MP3 singles Did you know Amazon has a huge library of free, downloadable MP3 singles? You don’t even need a coupon code to start downloading. We have certainly come a long way since the days of looking over our shoulder while illegally downloading our favorite tunes.
You can also snag a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime to gain access to even more free downloads.
Get them for free
Download free apps Though there aren’t exactly free products flowing from the Amazon coffers, there are hundreds of free apps currently available. You can find everything from games to the classic apps simply by searching for “apps” and sorting the list by price.
You don’t need to sell your soul to start downloading apps for free, or check this list of our favorite free apps for iOS for more options.
Get them for free
Sign up for an Audible free trial There is nothing better than relaxing in a cozy little nook with a hard copy of your favorite book. That is if you have time, of course. Work, personal relationships, and adult responsibilities get in the way far more often than they should. Audible is a great way to keep up with your favorite stories while on the go.
You can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Audible from Amazon as well as two free audiobooks to get you started. Be warned though, once you take advantage of this promotional offer, it’s hard to go back to reading with your eyes.
Get it for free
Sign up for an Amazon Prime student free trial Do you have a student email address? If so, you can sign up for Amazon Prime Student free for six months , no coupon or promo codes required. This includes free shipping, access to thousands of free TV shows and movies, and exclusive college discounts. You can cancel your subscription at any time, or pay just $5.49 a month once your trial ends — its worth it to keep it for the whole year.
This free trial is great for holiday shopping or an unhealthy six-month binge of your favorite movies and shows.
Get it for free
Watch free movies and TV shows
If you are currently an Amazon Prime member or have a 30-day free trial , you have access to thousands of free movies and TV shows. Watch original content such as The Tick , new movies, and a slew of classic films — you won’t find that at Walmart.
You can enjoy unlimited streaming and more with Amazon Instant Video . If you don’t want to sign up for everything Amazon has to offer, that’s okay too.
Get it with Amazon Prime
Looking for more great deals on tech and electronics? Check out our deals page or sign up for our deals newsletter for the best deals.
We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers. Editors’ Recommendations Amazon’s first Kindle Kids Edition offers up kid-friendly ebooks, reading badges Digital Trends Live: iPhone 2020 rumors, PlayStation goes Android, moon cotton The newest Pokémon in Sword is the sophisticated and unibrowed Sirfetch’d Hulu vs. Amazon Prime Video: Which streaming service is best for you? Pokémon Sword and Shield transform gym battles into a really big deal

It came to me in the wide, swishy passenger seat of Jonathan

It came to me in the wide, swishy passenger seat of Jonathan Ward’s 1949 Mercury hot rod. All the right smells were imprinting the moment we rolled through industrial Chatsworth, California. Sun-heated steel from the dash; stretched leather; a vague tinge of nicotine on Ward’s jacket. One thing was missing, though: gasoline. The car wasn’t burning any.
But when Ward stepped on the go-pedal, the vehicle warped toward the horizon like a hipster hillbilly spaceship.
Photo: Icon There’s a mind-bending weirdness to an art deco desert rat-style car skirting off with the futuristic whirr of a Tesla. But regardless of your stance on old-versus-new, it’s conceptually pretty cool.
Ward is hardly the first person to try making a fancy electric car out of an old classic, and this Mercury isn’t even the first EV out of his Icon shop. Icon is known for rebuilding and redressing classic SUVs at the highest level of elegance–such machines fetch six-figure price tags.
Like everything else Icon’s turned out, this electric Mercury’s decorative details are lovely and it certainly feels fast off a stoplight. Dual electric motors and a Tesla Performance 85kWh battery pack will do that. So will its apparent 400 horsepower rating.
What’s really interesting about it though: exploring the unique challenges of marrying EV propulsion technology to a 70-year-old car. And more than that, figuring out where EVs fall in the ecosystem of enthusiast collector cars.
Especially for a shop like Ward’s, which has built its entire brand on selling vehicles that are more like enduring art pieces than tools for transportation.
Can EVs Be Made To Last?
Photo: Icon “Traditionally, I’m here to build shit that should last you forever. This should, and still could,” Ward said, gesturing to the only car in his gigantic shop garage with an electric powertrain instead of V8. “But it might mean you’re coming back. If you want to stay up with the latest science, you may be coming back and hemorrhaging more money to evolve with the state of the tech.”
What he means is, if you drop a healthy Chevy LS V8 into a car, it’s still going to be relevant and serviceable in a decade. (Probably.) But EV tech is improving a lot more quickly. In fact, components in Ward’s Mercury here has already been updated and upgraded in the time it’s taken to build the thing.
“I haven’t even let the client have it yet… shit, we’ve gone through three generations of [updates] for the battery management system controllers,” he said. “Even the oil cooling system for the motors—two design generational improvements from AMR. And me being the goober that I am, like, I don’t just want to deliver it with what’s already in there. I gain the knowledge that there’s a latest and greatest and I’m like, fuck.” Meaning, he felt compelled to upgrade.
Ward mentioned, several times while I was hanging out with him, that he’d been careful to “talk himself out of work” to a lot of folks who’ve asked him to build derelict-style EVs like this (and electric 4x4s, but more on that later) because it’s a huge investment of time and money to drop into uncharted territory.
“Fortunately, the client’s a geek like me too,” Ward said, adding that he’d made it clear this was a guinea pig project.
Photo: Icon Ward, having established one of the best-known custom car shops in California, now has the enviable problem of keeping up with himself. He’s set a high standard for his wares, and he’s going to have to be able to apply that to electric cars if he wants to maintain his reputation.
“What is the cultural, functional relevance of this,” he said, pointing to the Mercury, “in two years, forget 10. Is it an iPhone 5 now? Is it no longer relevant? Is the capability, refinement, and range so antiquated because the tech is moved along so fucking fast?”
It was a rhetorical question, of course, because I have no clue. But it was interesting to hear one of the custom car scene’s bigger names admit the same. I can tell you what else is fucking fast though: Ward’s Tesla-powered Mercury.
It Ain’t Rocket Science, But…
Photo: Icon There’s not a lot of ’49 Mercury left inside this particular frankencar. The body’s as-found, and the interior’s reimagined as-original in aesthetic, but the powertrain and suspension and chassis are bespoke. It’s more an exercise in building an electric driveline and placing the shell of an ancient car around it, rather than doing an EV engine swap on a classic.
The batteries had to be lifted out of a wrecked Tesla P85D since nobody can buy them off a shelf–another challenge of bringing a custom high-po electric car to life–and squirreled around the vehicle to help give the vehicle perfectly even four-corner weight distribution, according to Ward.
That exacerbated the complexities of temperature control.
“I’ve yet to see any of the companies or DIY dudes… no one’s addressing battery thermal management. At best, it’s engine coolant through a 12-volt pump through a clear plastic tube. But, like, Tesla has a dedicated heater network and a dedicated refrigerant-based system, because there’s a sweet spot for battery temperature for safety, longevity, performance, and range. and everyone’s just shitcanning it entirely.”
Photo: Icon Advertisement
Ward’s learned that keeping various components at certain temperatures has been one of the hardest parts of getting serious performance out of this car. “You can’t just throw a unit in and pump shit through, because the batteries have a different thermal cycle than, say, the controllers,” he told me.
“When people think of EV conversions, including my dumb ass, ‘well shit it can’t be that hard! just a motor, computer, and an energy source! It’s easy!’ Reality is, the [custom EV] industry started with that mentality and at the simplistic form of that, yeah, but if you really want it to be proper, it ain’t this.”
Ward went on to detail what he and his team, including an electrical engineering consultant brought on specifically to make this car work, had been thinking about:
“Let’s say you go to Mammoth [Mountain]. And charge up fully at a hotel. And then you go downhill for two and a half hours. Where are those electrons going to go? Like, into a ball of flame? Maybe. And no one’s thinking that through.”
Photo: Icon “And, like, transmissions. If I was a smarter man I’d do what 99 percent of the [EV conversion world]’s doing… you use one or two gears in [the existing] tranny, none of which are the ideal ratio in the first place, and neither is the third member.”
“Any time you go through a tranny, it scavenges so much electrical energy that your efficiency goes to shit, now depending on whatever car it is… suddenly you’re hearing shit that you never heard behind your Coyote V8 or your 454, and that further compounds the complexity. And what’s the point, because, the ideal EV scenario, in my opinion, is transmission-less.”
We didn’t really spend enough time driving the Mercury to claim a complete shakedown, but I did get to experience Ward’s point about sounds. The steering and other bits made odd squeaks you never would have heard if the car was guzzling air and gas as god intended.
As for the gearless acceleration, I’m onboard. It’s pretty fascinating the way the car simply swoops up to speed with zero punctuation whatsoever.
Photo: Icon “These AMR oil-cooled motors, they’re back to back, I placed them where the tranny was, and then I got this big crazy donkey dick of a driveshaft to a Dana 60 modular aluminum casing to an IRS rear. A friend at Dana helped me find this obscure gearset that got me as close to optimum as possible, so the end result is we’re tranmissionless. Which means more fun when you’re driving, because now you have no shift points, no gears…”
Bringing electric vehicle design details to Icon’s level was also a new challenge for Ward and the company. They had to figure out how to make a simple rectangular screen displaying information look cool, which meant utilizing yet another company to digitally model a gauge design Icon had mocked up.
Before I could ask too many questions about that, Ward dove into another engineering wall he’d come up against.
Photo: Icon “Steering! Everyone, typically, goes ‘oh that’s no problem, you know there’s this electric [power steering unit] inline with the column motors guys sell, just use that.’ The reality is that the whole EPAS world is brand new and growing, too.”
“So those off-the-shelf solutions, you literally have a knob, a potentiometer, you’re supposed to put on the dash. Because for an electric steering to really give you any proper dynamic feedback, it has to have a different rate, different feedback, different driver feel, when you’re parking versus when you’re doing 100.”
“Well, there’s a knob on the dash that you are manually adjusting. You’re not even networking to a vehicle speed sensor. So, like, that ain’t gonna fly… We did one electric rack, on electric inline… both of them sucked. So, we ended up going with electrohydraulic from an MR2! Which, oddly enough, has been the best solution.”
Once a car like this finally is buttoned up enough to ship out, it has to be kept alive. “Everything from safety to marketing to permanence and longevity, serviceability. It’s one thing to deliver something with an LS or a Coyote in it [typical car engines] and find a trusted service center. It’s another thing with EVs,” said Ward. We had moved from inside his garage to a corner of his parking lot behind the dumpsters, something I only mention because that’s how hard it was to find refuge from the sounds of welders and grinders furiously at work within his facility. Icon’s a busy place these days; the market for custom-made six-figure cars is clearly substantial.
“We design all the EVs to be submodular, so in theory, if there’s an issue with one aspect of one system, it’s removable… but at the same time, that rapidity of the design generational improvements concerns me.”
The Last Inch To Perfection Is The Hardest
Photo: Icon Ward’s revered as something of a vanguard in the custom car world right now because the things his shop are making really are on another level of magnificence. Retooling an old Land Cruiser or Bronco down to custom-machined switchgear might not make sense objectively, but the Icon execution is exceptional. That’s why Icon is unique, and porting that level of extreme detail-dialing to electric cars is a new deal for the shop.
“The premise, back to my original… idea was, evolving classic transportation in a modern context,” Ward said. “Keep that beauty and style and design that I feel so connected to relevant for myself, then clients, because I needed clients to pull it off, so, I think it would be, negligent to not continue pushing. And, like, is [electric] the future of [transportation]? I don’t know, but I know I want to be part of that exploration, that process, to find out.”
Ward certainly feels like the market for EVs is expanding, at least in the short term. “Anyone who’s remotely environmentally aware is seeing the increasing pressures we’re putting on our environment.” In that respect, he thinks “battles with consumers” on electric cars are already won.
“The cool thing I am seeing though, that’s gonna really enable the [electric car] market, is that the demand is exponentially increasing,” Ward says that’s inspiring both cottage industry and big businesses to get onboard.
As for the appeal of custom machines designed to feel retro: “Even if, god forbid, in 10 years you need a special permit to have a human-driven motorcar, and we’re all on rideshares or apps or autonomous vehicles, I still think, I would actually even argue there’d be an increase in, consumers that are yearning for that visceral man-machine [relationship.]” He leaned down to re-spark his cigarette and added: “I better hope so or I’m fucked.”
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The best keyboards of 2019: top 10 keyboards compared

Don’t wait to get one of the best keyboards until your old one finally dies on you. If your keyboard is starting to show its age, collecting dust or just not giving you want you need from it, you might want to think about picking up one of the best keyboards now. The benefits to comfort, speed and reliability you gain with one of the best keyboards easily pays the price.
Believe us when we say that once you use one of these keyboards, you’ll never look back or even want to. Whether you’re writing a term paper, chatting with friends or playing the best PC games , the best keyboards can make life so much easier. The best keyboards aren’t all about getting work done, after all: the best gaming keyboards can make your off time better, too.
Here are the best keyboards for general use we’ve tested and reviewed over the last year.
The best keyboards of 2019 at a glance: Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo Corsair K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard Topre Realforce 104UBS Silent variable Filco Majestouch-2 Tenkeyless Logitech Craft PFU Happy Hacking Professional 2 (HHKB2) Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID Leopold Fc660c Unicomp Classic 104 Das Keyboard Prime 13 Logitech K780
What you need to know about Black Friday 2019
Discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are always ideal great of year to buy a new keyboard. Normally the most common stores will have tons of keyboard sales, ranging from the entry-level devices to high-end peripherals. Because of how affordable keyboards generally tend to be, the discounts aren’t as steep on them as other products. That said, there’s no guarantee that waiting until Black Friday will get you a better deal than right now (our original price-finding tool hunts down all the latest deals). No matter what, we’ll be covering keyboard deals and sales from right now through November.
1. Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo The keyboard from the future
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Switches: Roccat Titan Switches
$149.99 View at eBay $159.99 View at Best Buy $240.19 View at Amazon See all prices (6 found) ? Beautiful design Great for gaming and typing Expensive It has become the norm for keyboard manufacturers to implement their own custom keyboard switches, and Roccat – with the Vulcan 120 Aimo – is no different. While this keyboard is primarily marketed as a gaming keyboard, its Titan Switches are tactile enough to be satisfying, while still bouncing back quickly enough to be comfortable to type on for extended periods. And, we’d be remiss to not mention the looks – the Vulcan 120 Aimo looks like a science fiction keyboard, we love it.
Read the full review: Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo
2. Corsair K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard Are you not entertained?
Interface: Bluetooth | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Switches: Corsair Ultra-low Profile Scissor
Check Walmart Check Amazon
See all prices (2 found) ? Keys feel great Sturdy and portable Small trackpad If you have a home theater PC, you might be frustrated by the lack of keyboards that explicitly appeal to your use case. Luckily, there’s a keyboard for you – the Corsair K83 Wireless is a fantastic entertainment-focused keyboard. Not only is it light and portable, it also has a bevy of entertainment functions that’ll make life easier in your living room. And, with its wealth of connectivity options, including Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless through a dongle, you can use it with many different platforms. However, it’s not great at gaming, so keep that in mind.
Read the full review: Corsair K83 Wireless
3. Topre Realforce 104UBS Silent variable For a quieter Topre experience
Interface: Wired | Switches: Topre electrostatic capacitive silenced (30, 45 and 50 grams)
$463.38 View at Amazon Check Walmart
See all prices (3 found) ? Smooth typing action Very quiet Typing can feel ‘sandy’ Expensive As long as you don’t mind missing out on some of that signature ‘thock’ sound that’s associated with regular Realforce keyboards, opting for a silenced model like the 104 UBS offers some solid benefits. Hitting the 104 UBS’s keys produces sound on par with a membrane keyboard, so it’s going to be great if you work in a busy office or a shared bedroom. The ‘dampened’ feel of Topre’s silenced switches can feel kind of like typing on sandpaper compared to a non-silenced board, but we found that it’s worth the trade-off if you need a quieter keyboard.
This product is only available in the US and UK. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 . Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 $135 Shipping from Free View We check over 130 million products every day for the best prices View All Deals
4. Filco Majestouch-2 Tenkeyless Built like a tank and compact
Interface: Wired | Switches: Cherry MX (Brown, Blue, Black, Red)
$119 View at Amazon $120 View at Amazon $186.99 View at eBay See all prices (17 found) ? 141 Amazon customer reviews ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Solid build quality Compact No media functions Filco’s keyboards tend to be built like tanks, and the Majestouch TKL is no different. This space-saving mechanical keyboard features a compact tenkeyless design that has less than 1cm of space between the edge of the keys and the keyboard. Its durability doesn’t simply allow it to stand up well to knocks and scrapes – it has a positive impact on its typing feel too. You can hammer away on it at speed, even bottoming out to your heart’s content, and the Majestouch 2 will take every bit of punishment.
5. Logitech Craft Finally, a keyboard for creatives
Interface: Wireless | Switches: Scissor switch mechanism
$169.99 View at Amazon $179.99 View at Walmart $199.99 View at Best Buy See all prices (23 found) ? Weighty, solid construction Useful and unique dial Expensive We’ve seen all kinds of keyboards over the years here at TechRadar, from stylish tenkeyless keyboards to RGB-laden gaming behemoths, but something has always been missing – a focus on creatives. Thankfully, with the Logitech Craft, this is no longer the case. Not only is this a sturdy, tactile and attractive keyboard but it also features a unique dial on its top left corner, which will help creatives expedite their workflow. This dial’s utility will vary depending on the application, from simply controlling the volume on the desktop, to changing levels in various tools in Photoshop. If you spend a lot of time creating content on your PC, the Logitech Craft is one of the best keyboards you can buy today.
Read the full review: Logitech Craft
6. PFU Happy Hacking Professional 2 (HHKB2) A coder’s dream and typist’s treasure
Interface: Wired | Switches: Topre electrostatic capacitive (45 grams)
$234 View at Amazon $316 View at Amazon $320.30 View at Amazon See all prices (5 found) ? 82 Amazon customer reviews ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Incredibly portable Lightweight Key layout not for everybody No arrow keys
The PFU Happy Hacking Professional 2 has somewhat of a cult following in the keyboard scene, and it’s not hard to see why. This keyboard is aimed at coders, but it’s fantastic for all you writers out there, too. It forgoes traditional arrow keys, instead making use of function keys and key combinations to get that stuff done. It will take a minute to get used to, but once you get that out of the way the small size is a huge benefit, as you’ll be able to take it anywhere you go. Plus, that sweet ‘thock’ sound of the Topre switches is a wonder to behold.
This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Das Keyboard Prime 13 Das Keyboard Prime 13 $129 Shipping from Free View We check over 130 million products every day for the best prices View All Deals
7. Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID Beauty meets security
Interface: Bluetooth | Keyboard backlighting: No
$117.75 View at Walmart $121.46 View at Newegg Business $125.99 View at Best Buy See all prices (7 found) ? Flawless style Fingerprint scanner Expensive
You just need to look at Microsoft’s Surface devices to know that they’re kind of killing it when it comes to design, and the Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID takes things to a whole new level. If you’re running Windows 10, and you’re into the Surface aesthetic, this is easily one of the best keyboards out there. Not only does it feel great, but it also features biometric security, by including a discrete fingerprint scanner right next to the “Alt” key. It is an expensive device, but as with everything Microsoft, you can be sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
Read the full review: Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID
8. Leopold Fc660c Has just enough keys to be useful
Interface: Wired | Switches: Topre electrostatic capacitive (45 grams)
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See all prices (2 found) ? 7 Amazon customer reviews ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Compact, but with arrow keys Satisfying typing feel Heavier than HHKB2 Leopold’s Fc660c is more portable than the Realforce 87u, but less so than the lighter and more compact HHKB2. However, the Fc660c benefits from its extra heft and feels like the more solid board. Despite having the same 45 gram actuation force as the HHKB2, the Leopold’s keys feel slightly weightier – somewhere nearer to 50 grams. It results one of the most satisfying “thock” sounds on a Topre board.
This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the HyperX Alloy Elite HyperX Alloy Elite $112.73 View We check over 130 million products every day for the best prices View All Deals
9. Unicomp Classic 104 The ultimate keyboard for typing nostalgia
Interface: Wired | Switches: Buckling spring
$99 View at Amazon $99 View at Amazon Low Stock $133.06 View at Walmart See all prices (7 found) ? Snappy buckling spring switch Retro design Can lead to tired fingers Big and bulky Remember those old IBM Model M keyboards? Well, that’s what the Unicomp Classic 104 seeks to emulate. Available in both USB and PS/2 versions, it uses a buckling spring switch that takes more effort to press than just about every other modern switch. You’re rewarded for this hard pressing with a tactile response that feels like the classic mechanical keyboards of old, along with a noise that will drive everyone around you mad.
10. Das Keyboard Prime 13 Mixing minimalistic style with premium quality
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: White | Switch type: Cherry MX Red or Brown switches
$125 View at Amazon $129 View at Walmart $129 View at Adorama See all prices (10 found) ? 87 Amazon customer reviews ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Cherry MX switches Solid, minimalistic design Pricey No volume rocker Some keyboards just ooze class, and the Das Keyboard Prime 13 is one of them. Its features a solid aluminum top panel for added rigidity and a very minimalistic look. With Cherry’s MX Red or Brown switches under the keycaps, you’re given a choice between linear and non-linear offerings with a range of actuation points.
It’s a great option for media enthusiasts thanks to side lit media control and the inclusion of white backlighting is another bonus. It’s not the most affordable keyboard on our list, but if you’re looking for something a little bit more premium, Das is the way to go.
11. Logitech K780 A great option for mobile device owners
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: No
$73.99 View at Newegg $79.99 View at Tiger Direct $118.14 View at Amazon See all prices (14 found) ? 1 Amazon customer review ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Pairs to three devices Cradle holds smartphones and tablets AA, rather than rechargeable battery With its latest keyboard, Logitech is targeting smartphone and tablet owners who prefer to use their device while sat at a desk. And, if you were a fan of the predecessor, the K380, the Logitech K780 should be right up your alley, especially with its added number pad. This keyboard still has the ability to pair with three devices using Bluetooth or wireless, so you can swap between all your gadgets on the fly. And, thanks to its comfortable rounded keycaps, it’s still a pleasure to type on. The keyboard’s base is the star of the show, however, as it can hold mobile devices up to 11.3mm thick in an upright position. This places them within arms’ reach to make anything from replying to WhatsApp messages or reading a digital magazine easier than ever.
How to determine the best keyboard for you
It goes without saying that if you demand the look and feel only mechanical switches can provide, rather than those that are slim and stealthy, we suggest perusing our best gaming keyboards round-up instead.
Gamers prioritize the actuation that clicky feeling mechanical keyboards bring, whereas traditional home and office users are more about practicality. That said, the sheer magnitude of sound produced by a lot of mechanical keyboards is offputting to some. For those folks, we have some membrane keyboards to recommend as well.
Image Credit: TechRadar Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Pixel Power: Brand ambassadors go virtual and viral

A crop of computer-generated Instagram stars are shaking up the influencer world and could revolutionize the worlds of fashion, marketing and other industries.
Tinker, tailor, soldier, … influencer? Just a few short years ago, the idea that you could make a living — perhaps even a fortune — as an influencer seemed hard to grasp. There’s no career roadmap for the gig. You don’t need a degree or venture capital. And now it turns out you don’t even need to be human.
Infiltrating the ranks of flesh-and-blood influencers like Emma Chamberlain , PewDiePie and CoryxKenshin is a new breed of digital personas. They look human enough, but they’re nothing more than collections of pixels — the offspring of artistic talent and 3D software design programs. They have names like Shudu , Lil Miquela , Koffi , Blawko and Dagny . And they have their own armies of social followers along with brands eager to open their wallets to reach those followers.
“When I first saw them, I thought, oh wow, they look so real,” says Bryan Gold, CEO of Toronto-based #paid , a platform connecting brands with creators. “It hints at the blurring between what’s real and what’s digital.”
But can virtual beings be effective brand ambassadors? Are there advantages to creating a virtual influencer versus hiring a celebrity or supermodel — foibles and all — to promote a brand?
Converting Clout to Cash
Brands spend big bucks hiring Influencers as a way to tap into social media audiences. The highest-paid influencers can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per sponsored post, and millions of dollars year year. YouTube gaming star Dan Middleton (aka DanTDM ), for example, reportedly brings in more than $16 million a year.
Virtual influencers too are starting to see traction with brands. With her 1.6 million Instagram followers, Lil Miquela has collaborated with the likes of Samsung and Nike and Prada enlisted the virtual star to promote its fall 2018 collection. Shudu, who has nearly 200,000 Insta followers, has been featured in campaigns with the likes of French luxury fashion house Balmain, and has collaborated with SOULSKY, Fenty and others.
See also: Why AI and 5G make a good team.
“Shudu is bringing in money, but I don’t chase sponsorships,” says her creator, British fashion photographer Cameron-James Wilson. “When brands approach me, I want to make sure it’s appropriate for the vision that I have.”
Perhaps some of Shudu and Lil Miquela’s success is due to the novelty factor of being the first “famous” computer-generated influencers. Both have garnered their share of media attention recently, sharing pages in The New York Times , The New Yorker , Vogue , Vice and Elle .
A (Virtual) Star Is Born
Shudu and Lil Miquela rose to fame along very different paths. Shudu was the result of what Wilson calls a “quarter-life crisis.” Professionally frustrated, he began experimenting with 3D. His tinkering led him to create a hyper-real portrait of a dark-skinned beauty using consumer software tools like Blender and DAZ 3D.
“I put it on Facebook, and a friend took it, posted it to Instagram and it went viral,” Wilson recalls.
Later, Wilson named his progeny Shudu and created an Instagram account for her. Shudu’s feed sparked debate about whether she was real or digital — which Wilson took as high praise for his work. Eventually, in an interview with Harpers Bazaar , he revealed Shudu as the world’s first digital supermodel.
“She’s a model first and an influencer second,” he says.
Freckles and Bangs
With her freckles and bangs, Lil Miquela (aka Miquela Sousa) is the offspring of the somewhat mysterious Brud , a Los Angeles startup that creates “digital character-driven story worlds,” according to its skimpy website. The company doesn’t do interviews but is raking in venture dollars , with a valuation of about $150 million.
Born online, Lil Miquela inherited a backstory as a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model and singer (you’ll find her music on Spotify). Like Shudu, her Instagram posts triggered discussions about whether she was real or CGI. Last year, in a carefully crafted narrative that smacked of an Instagram soap opera, another Brud-created CG influencer outed her as an avatar.
A brief FAQ on Brud’s website includes the question, “Is Miquela real?” The coy response: “As real as Rihanna.”
The Virtual Being Revolution
There’s an explosion of innovation around virtual beings today (the field even has its own summit). Magic Leap has released Mica — an incredibly realistic human AI prototype. Fable is turning out virtual reality experiences like the Emmy-winning “ Wolves in the Walls ,” featuring a virtual being named Lucy. And just as you were getting used to YouTubers, here come virtual YouTubers or “VTubers” — 3D avatars like Kizuna Ai whose vlogs are scoring corporate deals and drawing large social followings.
So what does the future hold for the likes of Shudu and Lil Miquela? There’s some skepticism in the industry as to just how much social influence they can wield.
“While we believe that they can be effective, there is sure to be some loss in authenticity, especially when the audience realizes that the influencer is not a real person,” says Chris Detert, chief communications officer with Influential in Beverly Hills, California. The company uses data and machine learning to connect brands with audiences.
See also: Why the future of AI needs ethical human judgment.
One prediction is that virtual beings will find a lucrative niche as “digital mascots” for corporations. KFC is already going that route with a younger, hunkier, virtual version of Colonel Sanders showing up in the company’s Instagram feed. In fact, another of Wilson’s virtual models, named Dagny, is featured in a post with the Colonel.
“I think that’s where the virtual influencer market is heading,” Gold says. “I think there’s people at McDonald’s now who are asking, how do we make Ronald McDonald relevant again?”
The World’s First Digital Modeling Agency
For his part, Wilson believes virtual beings will fill gaps in various industries. In fashion, he sees a growing demand for realistic avatars as more designers adopt 3D instead of pen and paper.
“Creating in 3D will speed up design, cut waste and provide ways to display garments for internal marketing use and to show buyers,” says Wilson, who spends up to 40 hours creating an image of a virtual model and even uses machine learning to make their smiles look realistic.
To that end, he’s created The Diigitals (that’s with two “i”s) — the world’s first all-digital modeling agency, representing his growing cadre of virtual models. But he says Shudu will always be special.
“She’s the pioneer so I’ll focus on her,” he says. “What we’ve done has influenced the industry, but I didn’t set out with that in mind. My goal with Shudu is to create beautiful images — not to get clout.” ### We welcome the re-use, republication, and distribution of “The Network” content. Please credit us with the following information: Used with the permission of .

Brief Introduction of Plastic Recycling Technology

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