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These are the best humidifiers of 2020

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(CNN) —  

When winter rolls through, it carries with it dry air. Add in home heating systems — or year-round air conditioning if you’re in a warmer climate — that can suck every last bit of humidity from your home and a good humidifier becomes something of a necessity.

Humidifiers come in many different forms: cool mist, diffuser, top fill… The list goes on. And there are a number of factors you need to consider before buying one. For instance, do you need a small humidifier to keep your skin refreshed? Or maybe you’re looking for a larger unit to keep a whole floor at the proper moisture levels. How about a humidifier to help with a congested little one? Good news: There’s a humidifier for almost every situation.

In order to find the best humidifier for your needs, we researched the top offerings on the market, diving into editorial and user reviews, comparing the latest models and pulling together a pool of the nine top options. Once we settled on those, we tested and retested them in real-world settings using a considerable range of criteria (detailed below) over several weeks. We steamed, we cool-misted, we filled tanks, we tested for humidity levels and we cleaned the heck out of these machines to determine the best humidifiers, ultimately settling on three standouts:

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.

A close second, the Vicks V5100NS is a powerhouse with a larger tank than many of the other humidifiers we tested. The big tank was easy to get into the kitchen or bathroom to refill, which wasn’t the case with the other larger humidifiers we tested, and raised the humidity level up fast in a big, open space. This humidifier runs very quietly and holds enough water to keep going all day and night. The one knock: This does produce a heavy mist, so it can lead to stuffy rooms in smaller spaces. But that’s exactly what makes it ideal for larger areas.

For bedrooms (yours or the kids’), the Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier was a clear winner, as it makes virtually no noise (none of our top three were louder than a properly running refrigerator) and has a night light function that gives the cute teardrop-shaped machine a soft glow. The automatic shutoff means it’ll never be erroneously run throughout the day.

Best overall humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ($46.86, originally 49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
PHOTO: CNN

We put this humidifier through all the paces, trying it in different rooms of varying sizes, and it clearly stood out as the top performer. It was simple to get up and running out of the box, it was easy to clean without a lot of mess and it got the job done better and more efficiently than any other humidifier we tested.

The highlight might just be how boring it is. If a humidifier is grabbing your attention, then it’s just not doing its job. The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier came in first because it’s truly a set-it-and-forget-it machine. During our testing, the humidifier cranked out over 24 hours of optimal humidity in our tests, staying right at 35% (which is in line with the Envionmental Protection Agency’s recommended humidity levels — and we cross-checked with our external reader, of course). It took only an hour to get to those optimal levels, and humidity levels never spiked across 24 hours of use. We found avoiding a steamy room crucial to our vetting process, as some humidifiers can lead to sticky atmospheres.

This workhorse cranked humidity for over 24 hours without a hiccup (including refilling the tank) multiple days in a row, which was impressive for how compact it is, compared to larger (and less attractive) models. In fact, only one humidifier that we tested ran longer on one tank (the Magictec, which ultimately had a lower-quality experience all around). Since the EPA recommends that humidity in homes remain between 30% and 50%, and our testing took place during a particularly dry week in the Northeast, we looked at how long it took to hit 35% humidity and how long it stayed there. The built-in reader on this humidifier was consistent with our external gauge readings and flawlessly managed to maintain a healthy level in the room without any futzing.

From the get-go, the TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier was a breeze to use. It was packaged so that the unit was easy to remove and assemble, and it was filled and misting in short order. The bulk of this humidifier is the tank (which lights up — more on that later) so it takes up minimal space — yet another reason this ranked as our top choice.

It was also a standout when it came to cleaning, which is huge if you’ve ever dealt with a gross, moldy humidifier filter or tank. The reusable filter is permanent (read: You don’t have to buy replacements and change it all the time). It does need to be soaked in vinegar once a month, depending on how hard your water is, to keep it clean. If you have hard water, you probably know that it contains higher amounts of dissolved calcium and magnesium. While this isn’t harmful, it can leave buildup on household fixtures — like your humidifier. It’s easy to remove the filter from the cap where it’s attached in order to clean it. With a handle on the top and on the bottom, this was the easiest humidifier to refill, and it didn’t spill water on the floor (or us) in the process.

We also found in our testing that getting the proper-size humidifier for rooms and spaces was key — with some larger humidifiers overwhelming smaller rooms with moisture, and some smaller units not having the power to really make a room comfortable. This one worked well in a variety of room sizes (working effortlessly and efficiently in spaces from 400 to 500 square feet).

And the TaoTronics won’t be distracting while you sleep, as the light display has a night mode that dims, leaving just a tiny green light. Or, if you prefer a night light, the tank can be illuminated, creating a soft glow in the room that might be soothing for little ones. It’s also extremely quiet (it notched a perfect score in our testing for this aspect).

The only negative: The machine, while not aesthetically unpleasing, is available only in white, which may be an issue for some decor schemes. However, at under 50 bucks, if you’re looking for a plug-and-play humidifier you can mostly set and forget, unless it needs refilling and the occasional filter cleaning, the TaoTronics Cool Mist is the clear winner based on our testing.

Best humidifier for large spaces: Vicks V5100NS ($49.99, originally $59.99; amazon.com)

Vicks V5100NS
Vicks V5100NS
PHOTO: CNN

Coming in a few points behind the TaoTronics, with a solid, attractive build and larger tank size capacity, the Vicks V5100NS is the humidifier you want in larger spaces. This is a hardworking machine that blows a lot of moisture into the air, easily filling open spaces — we tested it in a space that was roughly 500 square feet — in just over an hour’s time (one hour and 10 minutes, to be exact). In that time, the Vicks V5100NS got the humidity rating up to 35%, according to the off-board humidity reader we used to gauge accuracy.

With a tank that holds 1.5 gallons of water — most of the others we tested held a gallon or far less — this humidifier required no assembly and, once full, was ready to crank out over 20 hours of 35% humidity in one go on a very dry day in a 200-year-old home (not exactly a lab, but probably very much like your life).

With adjustable misting functionality, you can make the Vicks spray in any direction you like, such as away from delicate furnishings and decor, or toward plants. And it’s very quiet — we noted it has the faintest, barely audible hum during our testing — while in use. It also held steady at 35% humidity and never made the space feel sticky or steamy.

What held this filter-free humidifier back from being our top pick was a slight difficulty in cleaning the tank, which is recommended on a weekly basis. You can only reach it at an awkward angle that makes it challenging to thoroughly scrub. Also, when turned to high humidity, the spray can be a lot! If you have hardwood floors or anything that could be easily damaged, you’ll want to put the Vicks V5100NS on an elevated surface to avoid condensation, which is fairly common and a tip for your use. Because of the heavy misting, trust us: This is made for larger rooms, as when we tested in smaller spaces, humidity levels started to spike.

With its larger tanks and powerhouse performance, this Vicks humidifier is the ideal pick for large, open spaces.

Best humidifier for bedrooms: Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier ($39.99; amazon.com)

Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
PHOTO: CNN

With a sleek, dare we say “water forward” droplet-style design, the Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is a stunner out of the box. It’s also easy to set up; just rinse out with water, fill, plug in and turn on. And, as we mentioned above (because we can’t mention this enough), it’s extremely quiet — emitting the barest whisper of a hum.

While this humidifier has a smaller tank than our other top picks, it easily runs overnight for the promised 16 hours, a shorter duration than some of the bigger models. But the upside of that smaller tank? It’s easy to fill in the bathroom sink (so no trip to the kitchen is necessary) without getting water everywhere.

The Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier lost points for taking over an hour to get even the smaller rooms we used for testing to the optimal moisture levels. It made those points back, though, because it kept the moisture level consistent. Again, we give points for not steaming up the room. Because this humidifier seemed to perform best in a small room or bedroom (about 400 square feet) versus larger spaces, we couldn’t give this the title of best overall, but it is a great addition to a desk or nightstand.

While this humidifier was easy to clean, many reviewers noted they used only distilled water — either filtered at home or that they bought bottled — to keep the humidifier even cleaner. After over a month of testing, we did not notice any buildup from tap water, but it could be an issue over a longer period of time.

What we love about this for bedrooms and kids’ rooms is the night light functionality that makes the whole machine and tank glow a gentle blue tone. While some of the other units have dimming lights, this one was the softest, giving off a subtle glow that reviewers note “make the product very soothing.” This felt like a special feature that went above and beyond an on/off light.

The Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier also had the best warranty of our top three, at five years. Couple that with its quietness and nighttime features, and this is the pick for any bedroom.

How we tested

The testing process for these humidifiers was comprehensive and lasted more than a month. We really wanted to get to the core of what would be most important to someone looking for a humidifier, with functionality, durability and, of course, value being paramount. We tested each machine at least twice over the course of a month, and in different spaces, for ease of setup and use, humidity levels (and the speed it took to get there) and ease of refilling and cleaning. We made notes about getting the humidifiers out of their boxes and set up, which humidifiers were difficult to clean and maintain, timed how long they took to raise humidity levels and how messy the whole process was. We took special note of which machines had distracting lights, and what the warranties looked like.

Overall function

  • Humidity level: We tracked this with an external humidity reader that told us the humidity levels each machine was able to get to, and how fast. We did each test in a partially enclosed kitchen and tried to control for external humidity as much as possible, but weather does what it wants sometimes!
  • Consistency: We also used the reader to see if humidity stayed at the same levels, with a focus on overhumidifying a room, because a steamy room and mold are not desired outcomes.
  • Ease of cleaning: Could we get in to clean the parts easily? Did it require a lot of disassembly? Was it heavy or awkward? Did water get everywhere? These are some of the things we considered for ease of cleaning.
  • Noise levels: Since many of us like a humidifier in the bedroom, silence — or at least a low hum — is pretty much nonnegotiable.
  • Setup: We looked at whether directions were inscrutable or if the whole process was painless, because humidifiers should be easy to use and set up.
  • Longevity: Ever feel like getting up in the middle of the night and refilling a humidifier? Didn’t think so. For this, we looked at how long the various machines’ tanks lasted.

Build

  • Overall quality: For every machine we unboxed, we looked at how the parts fit together, if it felt and looked flimsy and if it easily fit back together after the tank was filled.
  • Tank size: What we learned in this process is that a big tank isn’t always best, as some large tanks were difficult to fill and sometimes smaller tanks lasted longer.
  • Lights and design elements: Much like noise levels, many find bright lights or other design elements like LED displays detrimental to a good night’s sleep. So we looked at whether those were included and if so, whether they could be adjusted or shut off completely.

Warranty

  • What kind of warranty: We graded warranties by length, so you know you’ll be getting a product you can trust.

How we rated

Using the procedures described above, we gave each humidifier a score in each subcategory, then combined those numbers for a maximum score in each category, then totaled those numbers for a final overall score. We broke down the scores as follows:

  • Overall function had a maximum of 60 points: speed to a humidity point (10 points), consistent humidity (10 points), humidity reader accuracy (10 points), ease of cleaning (10 points), noise levels (10 points), ease of setup (5 points) and how long the tank lasts (5 points).
  • Build had a maximum of 35 points: overall build (15 points), tank size (10 points) and lights/distracting design (10 points).
  • Warranty had a maximum of five points: zero to two years (0 points), three to five years (2 points) and five or more years (5 points).
  • Other factors: In addition to our points rubric, we considered other factors like price and the device’s capabilities compared to other models.

Other humidifiers we tested

Honeywell Top Fill Cool Moisture Humidifier (starting at $85.73, originally starting at $99.99; amazon.com)

Honeywell Top Fill Cool Moisture Humidifier
Honeywell Top Fill Cool Moisture Humidifier

Out of two Honeywell humidifiers we tested, this one was the higher scorer and a strong contender for runner-up status. This machine was kind of a beast in the best possible way, and would be a good choice for creating moisture in a larger space. It stayed consistent overnight and kept several rooms comfortable during our tests.

In a slight downside, this machine felt bigger than it actually needed to be, with two unwieldy top-fill tanks, but it was extremely sturdy. Initially we dragged the tanks to the sink to fill, but then (a revelation!) we realized it was much easier to fill them up by bringing a pitcher of water to them. No more awkward struggling with a wet tank. With a three-year limited warranty, it’s a good investment. We also liked that it’s available in both black and white, because options are a good thing.

Crane Adorables Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $24.99, originally starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

Crane Adorables Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Crane Adorables Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Not only the cutest of the products we tested — we tried out the fox, but the chicken, frog, Hello Kitty and other character versions are adorable as well — this machine is also an easy-to-use humidifier. We loved the looks for kids (and kids at heart), along with the lack of sound and bright lights to keep little ones awake.

The simple dial allows for easy adjustment of humidity, and the humidifier runs efficiently and is easy to set up. Since it doesn’t need a filter, the machine should be cleaned with a water-and-vinegar mix fairly frequently depending on use. We really liked the ease of this charming humidifier, but it does take well over an hour to reach the desired humidity rate of 35% in a bedroom. It never made the room overly steamy, however, which we awarded points for.

Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser Humidifier ($33.99; amazon.com)

Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser Humidifier
Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser Humidifier

The smallest humidifier we tested, this machine has a tiny tank that gives off low humidity for eight hours. It really wasn’t able to provide a high humidity level in a room larger than a bathroom, or maintain a consistent humidity level, all of which cost it points.

We’d classify this as more of an essential oil diffuser than a humidifier, and what we liked about it was it was quiet, had a stylish, clean design and a soft light that changes colors. You can also add essential oils for a relaxing spa experience in your bedroom or bathroom. For the record, we loved this tiny machine for the aforementioned purpose, but it’s not ideal for someone looking to alleviate breathing issues and add major moisture to their home.

Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier ($89.99; amazon.com)

Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

This humidifier has great looks but wasn’t the best build right out of the box because of the confusing instructions, which we found overly wordy and complicated when compared to the instructions for the other units. However, the humidity went straight to 37% in the rooms we tested, and stayed there, per our external reader and the humidifier’s own reader. It ran super quietly, emitting very little noise for almost two days set to low.

This machine got low marks due to the difficulty of cleaning. It was hard to get the water out of the base, and much of it ended up on our clothes and the floor. It was also challenging to fill without making a mess, and we spent quite a bit of time on the floor with a towel cleaning up after this humidifier (at least it’s only water!). For the price, it did not seem well built.

Magictec Cool Mist Humidifier ($27.95; amazon.com)

Magictec Cool Mist Humidifier
Magictec Cool Mist Humidifier

What we liked about this machine is how fast it raised the levels of humidity in the rooms we tested it in, and how simple it was to adjust those levels with the simple front-facing dial. Set to low, it kept going for an incredible almost 40 hours!

The humidifier comes in black, has a simple, stylish look and is easy to use right out of the box. The build felt really flimsy compared to the other humidifiers we tested. The water tank sat very loosely on the base, and when people walked by it rattled a little. That said, it was super easy to clean and got the job done, and we like it for the price.

Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist ($38.48, originally $76.99; walmart.com)

Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist
Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist

While some of the machines we tested ramped up the room humidity quickly, this one really cranked up fast, getting to 35% humidity in under an hour. But it felt like it didn’t stop blowing steam and made the room feel super steamy. While it didn’t have any lights that were distracting, it was the least aesthetically appealing humidifier we tested. It ran for a solid 24 hours but was too strong, and it was difficult to adjust the levels of humidity.

The biggest points detractor, however, was the build on this humidifier, which was surprisingly shoddy. Whenever we picked up the machine the bottom would fall off and clatter on the floor. The bottom was supposed to be removable for easy cleaning but was actually super awkward to deal with.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

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World

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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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.

Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.


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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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