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25 of the best holiday gifts to give (or get) this year

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In a year where time barely has any meaning, it should come as no surprise that the holidays are right around the corner. That happened fast! Anyway, it’s never too early to shop for presents, whether they’re for your parents, friends, significant other or even yourself.

Everyone deserves a little something for making it through 2020, so we’ve put together this list of presents to put a smile on anyone’s face. We combed the internet and went into our testing archives to find the best gifts for him, her and everyone else. And don’t worry, we won’t tell if you get a couple of gifts for yourself too.

Best gifts for him

Apple Watch Series 6 (starting at $499; amazon.com)

Apple Watch Series 6
Apple Watch Series 6
PHOTO: Amazon

Apple’s new smartwatch made a splash in September, when new colors, loops and blood oxygen monitoring capabilities were unveiled. We tested it out and are happy to report it’s our pick for the best smartwatch of 2020. We’re sure it’s going to be a hot gift this year, so get yours early.

Baboon Go-Bag Small ($149; baboontothemoon.com)

Baboon Go-Bag Small
Baboon Go-Bag Small
PHOTO: Baboon to the Moon

If the guy in your life has been locked up inside the house, it might be time for a weekend getaway (while being safe and socially distant, of course). If that’s the case, he’ll love this small duffel bag from Baboon to the Moon, which is waterproof and made with super-durable OM Stardust Ballistic shell material. Need more than a weekend? It also comes in a larger size for a more extended escape.

Remington Smart Beard Trimmer ($69.26; amazon.com)

Remington Smart Beard Trimmer
Remington Smart Beard Trimmer
PHOTO: Amazon

If his stay-at-home beard is getting out of hand, the Remington Smart Beard Trimmer will help him trim it down so he can start looking respectable in those Zoom meetings again. Winner of our roundup of best beard trimmers of 2020, this fully washable trimmer has memory settings to help him shave down exactly to his liking.

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Digital Timer Display ($249; crateandbarrel.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Digital Timer Display
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Digital Timer Display
PHOTO: Crate & Barrel

If he loves his morning coffee, upgrade his setup with this conical burr grinder from Baratza. Our winner for the best coffee grinder, it has 40 grind settings and a digital timer display and gave us precise and consistent grinds time and time again.

Rastelli’s Rib-eye Steaks ($99; rastellis.com)

Rastelli
Rastelli’s Rib-eye Steaks
PHOTO: Rastelli’s

If you just can’t think of a good gift, a safe bet for the carnivore on your list is a big slab of meat. This eight-pack of 8-ounce rib-eyes from Rastelli’s will make mouthwateringly luxurious steak dinners for weeks. If beef isn’t his thing, try Rastelli’s Faroe Island Salmon Filets, our favorite item when we tested Rastelli’s ourselves.

Men’s Wicked Good Moccasin ($79; llbean.com)

Men
Men’s Wicked Good Moccasin
PHOTO: L.L.Bean

He’s probably spending a lot more time at home, so make sure his feet are warm and cozy this winter season with these amazingly comfortable moccasins from L.L.Bean. Made with sheepskin, shearling and a memory foam footbed, they feel so good he’ll never want to take them off.

Best gifts for her

Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On
PHOTO: Away

Our pick for the best carry-on suitcase of 2020, the Away Carry-On features a durable shell, fantastic internal compression and Instagram-worthy style. With smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, this will be her go-to bag for adventures (once it’s safe to go) for years to come.

CRZ Yoga Women’s Naked Feeling High-Waist Yoga Pants (starting at $24; amazon.com)

CRZ Yoga Women
CRZ Yoga Women’s Naked Feeling High-Waist Yoga Pants
PHOTO: Amazon

If she needs a refresh to her work-from-home outfit, or just a pair of cozy leggings to lounge around in, this pair from CRZ Yoga is the gift for her. They’re similar to Lululemon’s cult-favorite Align leggings, but for just $24 you can give her the buttery soft feel without draining your wallet.

Apple iPad 8th Generation (starting at $299, originally $329; amazon.com)

Apple iPad 8th-Generation
Apple iPad 8th-Generation
PHOTO: Amazon

Apple also released its newest iteration of the always great iPad, bringing faster processing times and a smooth user interface with iPadOS. We tested it and thought the balance of price and performance was so excellent we named it the best tablet of 2020.

S’well Bottle (starting at $25; swell.com)

S
S’well Bottle
PHOTO: S’well

Staying hydrated is always important, and whether the woman in your life is hitting at-home workouts harder than ever or just needs a bottle to live on the desk at her home office, the S’well bottle is a perfect choice. Its dual-wall vacuum insulation keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for hours on end. When we tested it against some of the other best water bottles on the market, its insulation ability stood out from the pack and we named it the best water bottle for holding temperature.

GlobeIn 3-Month Gift Subscription ($114; globein.com)

GlobeIn 3-Month Gift Subscription
GlobeIn 3-Month Gift Subscription
PHOTO: GlobeIn

If you’re shopping for a lady who seems to have everything, a gift subscription to GlobeIn is the pick for you. Every month she’ll get a box filled with handcrafted, artisanal goods from around the world. Everything from beautifully woven baskets and hand-blown glasses to tea kits and pottery is up for grabs in GlobeIn’s wonderful variety of products.

The Essential $75 Cashmere Sweater ($75; naadam.co)

The Essential $75 Cashmere Sweater
The Essential $75 Cashmere Sweater
PHOTO: Naadam

Every woman needs a solid cashmere sweater in her closet. Normally, these fancy sweaters can cost a pretty penny, but Naadam sells a high-quality cashmere sweater for only $75. It’s a versatile, stylish and comfy closet staple that’s made from sustainable and responsibly sourced materials.

Best gifts for the foodie or home cook

Home Chef Meal Delivery Service (gift cards starting at $65; homechef.com)

Home Chef Meal Delivery Service
Home Chef Meal Delivery Service
PHOTO: Home Chef

If you’re shopping for a home cook, tell them to ditch the sourdough and give them some meal kits from Home Chef. With dinner meals starting at $9.99, your aspiring chef will have tons of gourmet options to pick and choose from. Check out more of our meal kit delivery service recommendations here.

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($106.75, originally $119.99; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
PHOTO: Amazon

Every serious cook needs a top-notch knife set, and if the chef in your life is still chopping with hand-me-downs, this set from Chicago Cutlery has everything they’ll ever need. Our pick for the best kitchen knife set of 2020, these sliced and diced with the best of the best at a fraction of the price.

Instant Pot Duo Nova Pressure Cooker 7 in 1, 6-Quart ($99.99; amazon.com)

Instant Pot Duo Nova Pressure Cooker 7 in 1, 6-Quart
Instant Pot Duo Nova Pressure Cooker 7 in 1, 6-Quart
PHOTO: Amazon

For someone in your life who loves cooking, but can’t always find the time for it, an Instant Pot will be a welcome addition to the kitchen. Cutting down the cooking time for nearly any meal, this pressure cooker has gained immense popularity for its convenience and — most importantly — delicious results.

Our Place Always Pan ($145; fromourplace.com)

Our Place Always Pan
Our Place Always Pan
PHOTO: Our Place

If there’s someone in your life who’s just starting out on their cooking journey and needs a versatile pan that can do a bunch of different jobs, the Always Pan from Our Place has got to make it into their cabinet. We tested it ourselves and think it’s a nifty pan, perfect for those trying to save space or do as few dishes as possible.

Swedish Dishcloth Cellulose Sponge Cloths ($19.95, originally $24.95; amazon.com)

Swedish Dishcloth Cellulose Sponge Cloths
Swedish Dishcloth Cellulose Sponge Cloths
PHOTO: Amazon

Be warned — if you buy these Swedish Dishcloths for the chef in your life, they may never buy a roll of paper towels again. A more sustainable option than traditional paper towels, these reusable cloths can be washed and are truly great for cleaning anything and everything. Trust us, we still can’t stop using them.

Chef’n Kale, Chard, Collard Greens and Herb Stripper ($7.99; amazon.com)

Chef
Chef’n Kale, Chard, Collard Greens and Herb Stripper
PHOTO: Amazon

The perfect stocking stuffer, this little gadget works wonders on kale, chard, herbs and other leafy greens your cook needs to separate from their stems. If you need some more stocking stuffer ideas, check out our staff’s favorite Amazon products under $15.

KitchenAid 100 Year Limited Edition Queen of Hearts Stand Mixer ($279.99, originally $399.99; amazon.com)

KitchenAid 100 Year Limited Edition Queen of Hearts Stand Mixer
KitchenAid 100 Year Limited Edition Queen of Hearts Stand Mixer
PHOTO: Amazon

The crown jewel of any baker’s kitchen, the KitchenAid stand mixer is a storied appliance that just so happens to be celebrating 100 years of mixing, kneading and whisking. If your home cook already has one of these legendary machines, check out KitchenAid’s variety of attachments such as a pasta maker, juicer and food grinder.

Unique gift ideas

Small Packages Fun in Quarantine Box (starting at $35; smallpackages.co)

Small Packages Fun in Quarantine Box
Small Packages Fun in Quarantine Box
PHOTO: Small Packages

For someone who’s hard to shop for, we recommend taking a shotgun approach and buying a lot of little things so you’re more likely to hit the mark. Small Packages is a service that can help you out by sending themed boxes of cute goodies. Plus, you can accompany your gift with a handwritten note to add a personal touch.

Tushy Classic Bidet ($89, originally $109; hellotushy.com)

Tushy Classic Bidet
Tushy Classic Bidet
PHOTO: Tushy

We know it sounds weird, but hear us out: Bidets might just be the best gift idea this holiday season. Remember that ridiculous toilet paper shortage? No one wants to go through that again! Plus, Tushy’s bidets are remarkably easy to install, simple to use and literally changed the way we go to the bathroom for good.

Atlas Coffee Club 3-Month Gift Subscription ($60; atlascoffeeclub.com)

Atlas Coffee Club 3-Month Gift Subscription
Atlas Coffee Club 3-Month Gift Subscription
PHOTO: Atlas Coffee Club

If you have a frustrated traveler on your hands, Atlas Coffee Club might just satisfy their wanderlust until it’s safe to get on a plane again. Every month Atlas delivers coffees from all around the world right to their doorstep. With vastly differing flavors and interesting postcards that detail the history of the coffee from each country, this just might provide your giftee with their fill of adventure in their morning cup of joe.

Alera Elusion Series Mesh Mid-Back Chair ($176.59, originally $189.78; amazon.com)

Alera Elusion Series Mesh Mid-Back Chair
Alera Elusion Series Mesh Mid-Back Chair
PHOTO: Amazon

Many people are working from home these days, which makes a good office chair an absolute necessity. Spare your giftee from any more back pain with this incredibly comfortable and well-priced chair from Alera. It was our budget pick among the best office chairs of 2020, but if you really want to splurge, look into our top pick, the Steelcase Series 1. It comes in at $415 but is worth every penny.

Grafomap (starting at $49; grafomap.com)

Grafomap
PHOTO: Grafomap

Sometimes someone is so close to you that getting them a standard gift doesn’t feel heartfelt or meaningful enough. In that case, going with a personalized or custom present is a surefire way to show you really put your heart into it. Grafomap is a service that will make a custom map of anywhere in the world, whether it’s the city where you met your significant other, the town they were born in, or any other place they hold dear.

Storyworth ($89, originally $99; storyworth.com)

Storyworth
Storyworth
PHOTO: Storyworth

For the storyteller in your life, Storyworth is a service that will send your giftee questions and prompts every week via email for a whole year. The questions will urge the recipient to tell sentimental stories that give a window into their life. After the year is up, Storyworth compiles all those stories into a beautifully bound book, permanently recording all of their best anecdotes and memories.

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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year

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(CNN) —  

Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.

Coffee

Best burr coffee grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder With Digital Timer Display ($249; amazon.com or walmart.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)

Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker

During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.

Read more from our testing of single-serve coffee makers here.

Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid
T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.

Audio

Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.

Read more from our testing of noise-canceling headphones here.

Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.

Read more from our testing of on-ear headphones here.

Beauty

Best matte lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

Best everyday liquid liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22; stilacosmetics.com or macys.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

Best office chair: Steelcase Series 1 (starting at $381.60; amazon.com or $415, wayfair.com)

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)

Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light
Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light

The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.

Home

Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.

Video

Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.

Travel

Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.

Read more from our testing of carry-on luggage here.

Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.

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Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained

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Open Sourced logo

Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.

In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.

Twitter did not attach a label to Trump’s recent tweet.
Twitter

Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.

It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.

Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.

Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.

Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.

The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”

Trump’s post on Facebook was accompanied by a link to Facebook’s Voting Information Center.
Facebook

At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.

On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.

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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year

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From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.

From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.

Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.

An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital after an attack in Khost province [Anwarullah/Reuters]

The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.

Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.

Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.

Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.

At least 24 people , mostly teens, were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an education centre in Kabul [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.

Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.

“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.

There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.

A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.

But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.

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