Game developers are always in search of different ways of doing things to stand out in the Play Store. Be it an innovative game feature, very easy-to-use controls, punishing difficulty, or new mechanics, companies are always trying to add new stuff to their offerings. Land Sliders successfully mixes several of these elements in a cute, challenging game with dead-easy controls and several characters to choose from.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases.
- More than 100 characters to unlock.
- Colorful, ever-changing worlds.
- The game can get a bit difficult.
- Variety thanks to quests, leaderboards, and enemies.
That’s why it’s called Land Sliders!
After the usual Google Play Games integration, the game asks to choose a character. You will have three choices: a little guy called Turny, a panda, and a fridge (seriously). Unfortunately, just as choosing your starter Pokemon, you will not be able to choose the remaining two later. Well, at least you won’t have a rival choosing a creature that has a type advantage against yours. Anyways, there are more than 100 characters available, unlockable via in-game currency or in-app purchases. Each character can develop one ability by leveling up, but more on that later.
The game drops you right into a small tutorial after finishing its initial setup. Instead of opting for a text-based tutorial, the developer chose to teach you the controls in a smaller-scaled world created only for this purpose. To move your character, you need to “slide the world” by swiping on any part of the screen. This will make your character move throughout the world. If you prefer, you can also reverse the controls and slide the character instead. Tap anywhere on the screen and your character will screech to a halt. Controls feel responsive and are easy enough to understand, but they can feel a tiny bit imprecise in situations where you need bullseye accuracy.
The main screen isn’t actually composed of buttons that you have to press, but a small piece of land with platforms scattered over it. Sliding the world so your character presses any of them trigger the desired function. It’s a really neat way of implementing a main menu and, though it is slower to access each function this way, I think it’s a good trade-off.
The menu is very innovative and fun to navigate.
Hovering your character over the red Play button will start the actual game. The main objective in each level is to find a platform that takes you to the next level. When you do, there’s a cool animation in which the ground beneath you rockets into the air to the next level. On several occasions, this animation has skipped frames, but it’s good otherwise. A thing to note is that, even though you always traverse the world starting from level one, there are many variations of each stage, so the game never feels monotonous.
The game would be easy if there was nothing more to it than cruising through levels. However, it’s not. There are multiple hazards and enemies trying to block your way to victory. There are dinosaurs jumping across the land trying to murder your character. Bulls storm towards you in a straight line in an attempt to pulverize your dreams. There are big bears that throw snowballs at you, freezing you for a while. Not only you won’t be able to control your character, but also, it will continue to move in whatever direction you were going, so good luck with that.
Fortunately, not all creatures are bad. There are gold-coated rabbits and monkeys, which you can touch and they will explode into coins or bamboos/meats/whatever your character likes (more on that in a bit). Or they can turn into bombs. You’ll have to smash into the character and pray for the best.
A normal level includes a lot of variants to keep you entertained.
Also, some levels provide additional obstacles, such as having to get a key to open the gates blocking the platform to the next level, or some landmark-like structures that sometimes attack you.
There are also lakes and unprotected edges where you can fall, halting your progress. However, an exclamation mark will appear on top of your character when you’re at risk and you’ll have some very brief moments to return to safety.
Each world has elements scattered throughout it. Some of these items are dependent on the character you choose. For example, when choosing a panda, bamboos are dispersed all over the land. The game will sprinkle oxygen tanks when you choose an astronaut, Likewise, you’ll have to collect meat if you choose the lion as your main character.
Even though these items are different in appearance, their function is the same: leveling up your character. Since every character has a special ability, such as making opponents slower or decreasing the time you’re frozen by bears, this special trait gets more powerful the more you level up, making the game a bit easier.
Speaking of which, this game can get really hard. The first two or three levels are relatively easy (especially the first), but later on, there are so many threats and hazards that you won’t be able to avoid. You’ll have multiple things trying to kill you at once, and with environmental hazards, cliffs and water, you’re gonna have a difficult time. Even worse, you only have one life, and you get only one chance of reviving in case you die, triggered by a 30-second video ad. There’s no way of reviving otherwise, even with real money.
I’ll show you the world!
There are special platforms dedicated to quests. These are events that you can complete to receive more loot. Examples of these include hitting silver rabbits, getting a dinosaur to jump into a lake, get a certain amount of elements, and similar. Also, you can get an invincibility sauce, which works exactly as the star in Mario Kart. Smash through your enemies until the time runs out to annihilate them immediately.
Going through the rest of the menu options, you’ll see a place where you can buy new characters. Each one costs $0.77, but, since there are more than 100, things can get very expensive quickly. There’s also an option to change your hard-earned coins for new characters (at random). Also, there’s a free gift option that lets you open a gift box after a certain amount of time to receive coins and other perks.
Thanks to its Google Play Games integration, the game can show you leaderboards to compare your scores with people around the world. Also, you can get achievements if you’re into that. If you want to share your deaths and frustrations with the rest of the world, there’s also a Share function. The game supposedly shares a captioned screenshot of your last frame and then sends it to registered apps. However, I could never get it to work.
Graphics and Sound
That dinosaur is totally going to kill me.
Graphics-wise, the game has vibrant, colorful elements. Characters and environments look blocky (slightly similar, but not equal, to Minecraft) and very simple, but because they’re meant to. This design choice makes every element more charming and gives the game an identity of its own.
Music follows the upbeat and happy theme that the graphics set, with different tones for the home menu, character unlock, and land sliding. Sound effects are appropriate, with bears growling very loudly and dinosaurs making a funny sound while they jump (because watching a dinosaur jump is really funny). Also, there’s an alert sound when some enemies notice you, so make sure you don’t miss those.
Land Sliders is a game with such an easy mechanic that you could master its controls within minutes. However, difficulty spikes really quickly, but what’s life without a challenge? There are many characters to choose from and Google Play Games integration to squeeze more fun out of it. Aside from minor issues, such as the inability of reviving through methods other than video ads, and some minor concerns about replay value, it’s a fun, polished that incorporates a lot of variety to its gameplay and can (and will) keep you entertained for days.
Download from the Play Store.
Nowadays, it seems like Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen. This is actually a very good thing as now you can pick up a feature rich Bluetooth speaker for an affordable price. iClever has a few different offerings in this arena, but in this review, we’ll be looking at the IC-BTS03 waterproof Bluetooth speaker.
iClever IC-BTS03 Waterproof Bluetooth speaker overview
The first thing I noticed about the iClever speaker was its diminutive size. It’s only about three and a half inches tall, 2 inches thick, and four inches wide. Despite it being small, it still manages to pack two audio drivers into the speaker. The front driver is dedicated to the mid to high range sounds while the rear driver cranks out the bass.
There are only four buttons. The power button is the only non-multifunction button. The volume buttons also change the song being listened to when they are long pressed and the pause button will answer and hang up incoming calls as well as redial the last called number when long pressed.
The speaker is housed mostly in plastic and rubber but the speaker grills are metal. It also features a very sturdy leather strap and a mounting screw hole. There are only two ports on the entire speaker, a charging port, and an auxiliary port. Both ports are covered by a waterproof rubber flap. In fact, the speaker is rated with an IP65 waterproof rating. This means that it can be splashed and sprayed by water but not submerged.
iClever IC-BTS03 Waterproof Bluetooth speaker setup
Because the iClever IC-BTS03 automatically enters pairing mode whenever it’s turned on, it’s extremely easy to setup. All you need to do is search for Bluetooth devices from your phone and connect.
iClever IC-BTS03 Waterproof Bluetooth speaker usage
There are several things that I really like about this speaker. The first is its size. It is very portable, but with its front and back audio driver design, it also packs some decent sound. Of course, it doesn’t compare with high-end speakers like Bose, but for $29.99 it doesn’t have to. I was surprised at how good the sound actually was.
The overall feel of the speaker is a little plasticky but I was surprised at was how durable it was. Not only did it survive a tumble down my stairs, but it came away unscathed. As I have three children, this is not an uncommon occurrence.
The battery life is rated at 10 hours of playtime, but I still haven’t used it continuously for that length of time. I’m still running on the same charge a week and a half later.
Of course, with it being waterproof I had to try it out in the shower. It worked wonderfully and it may just end up finding a permanent home in there since that would be the only area where I would actually need a waterproof speaker. One thing I noticed was that if the speaker had too much water in the speaker grill it interfered with the sound quality. A couple of good taps was enough to fix that problem. You probably won’t even have to worry about it unless the speaker grill is directly sprayed with water.
One thing that I would like to have seen included with the device is voice dialing. Instead of redialing the last called number, long pressing the play button could initiate Google Now. That feature would end up making it my go to speaker. But alas, for $29.99 what can I really expect. I’m already getting a lot for the price.
3.9 out of 5 stars
Overall you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better speaker in this price range. In the very least, its small size and many features make it a great option worth considering when purchasing your next Bluetooth speaker. The speaker is currently on sale for $29.99 at Amazon.com.
Your 360 camera isn’t a GoPro, but that won’t stop people from trying to use them like one.
Even though relatively few people use action cams compared to more traditional cameras and smartphone cameras, the GoPro camera designs have become iconic. This is fascinating for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the design itself. With exception to the Hero Session, GoPro cameras are not what most folks would consider attractive or stylish. They’re purpose built, industrial by nature, and they get the job done. There’s also a nearly endless supply of incredible videos captured through these cameras, which surely doesn’t hurt.
While you can take a handful of GoPros and arrange them to take 360 degree videos, the cost and complexity of doing so has lead to a rise in consumer-priced 360 cameras from an increasing number of manufacturers. 360 cameras are not necessarily action cameras, but the variety of designs seen over the last couple of months calls into question how careful manufacturers need to be with the design of such a device.
Current generation 360 cameras have had a distinct focus on being as GoPro-like as possible, meaning they’re compact and built to be installed somewhere. Take a look at 360fly and Kodak PIXPRO, and you see designs built for mounting and using remotely. These designs aren’t great for walking around and grabbing a 360 degree photo, which is where designs like the Ricoh Theta line started to take shape. There’s no shortage of incredible photos from Theta handhelds, but video is often a little clumsy. It’s usually someone walking or running, and the shaky feeling isn’t nearly as enjoyable to watch.
Durability is often a concern for these kinds of cameras.
With LG and Samsung entering the 360 camera market, we’re seeing these designs continue to evolve. LG is going the route of the handheld accessory, with a tripod mount on the bottom and a big friendly button for taking photos. You’re unlikely to strap this camera to a motorcycle and go for a ride, and the perspective from the video is always going to be a few inches away from your own. Samsung, on the other hand, built the body around the lenses so the whole design is more compact if you decide to mount it to something. There’s vaguely Portal-turret-like tripod that can be connected to the base of the sphere if you want to hold it and walk around or just prop it up somewhere, but the overall design seems more mount-friendly.
More than visual, the functional design of these cameras is significant when it comes to what you can actually do with them. 360fly is capable of descending 5ATM under water out of the box, with no special casing or anything. That is something only likely to appeal to a diver, but it’s a nice feature when you think about being able to throw it in the water with kids. It’s got a rugged design that encourages being mounted in GoPro-like fashion, whereas the Samsung Gear 360 isn’t nearly as well rated for water and dust. Durability is often a concern for these kinds of cameras, as the lens — or lenses, as is increasingly the case — are completely exposed and have no real protection.
More than anything, Samsung and LG’s offerings feel like they’ve been designed less for flinging yourself down a snowy mountain and more for capturing the world around you in day to day life. It’s a clear line of separation between the more GoPro-like cameras when you go and do the research, but it’s not overtly apparent when looking at the cameras on the shelf. It’s the kind of thing folks looking for a 360 camera will need to figure out as they’re shopping, and a lot of that will come down to the design.
Is a handheld design more functional for day-to-day life than something mounted, assuming it means you’re not worrying about it being damaged over time? Is the location of the lens a big deal when it comes to capturing the world around you? All of this comes down to the design of the camera, and knowing how you’re going to use it when you make the purchase. That’s not going to be easy for everyone, but the sheer volume of options over the next year will absolutely show which designs are the most significant to people voting with their wallets.
Which 360 camera design are you a fan of?
Dish took a major leap forward at CES 2016, introducing its first 4K receiver and DVR. But, as great as it is for customers to have that option, Hopper 3 needs compatible content in order to show true value. With this in mind, Dish has announced support for Netflix’s 4K repertoire, which will let users watch some movies and series in Ultra HD. That includes most of the streaming service’s latest original shows, including the acclaimed Daredevil and House of Cards, among others.
That said, you do need a subscription for the 4K plan on Netflix (plus a fast internet connection), which is $11.99 per month. Although the majority of 4K televisions come with a Netflix app built in, now you can access the app’s Ultra HD programming directly from your Dish set-top-box.
Samsung has already announced two flagship smartphones this year but chances are that won’t be the last we hear from the company and its smartphone arm before 2016 is out.
The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge both debuted at Mobile World Congress in February, but rumours began floating around for the company’s larger smartphones before the event in Barcelona was even confirmed. Now it’s well and truly over and focus has turned towards what Samsung will launch next.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge+ and the Galaxy Note 6 have both been speculated upon but the latter device is what this feature is focusing on. This is everything we know about the Galaxy Note 6 so far, but as usual, we will be adding to this feature as more leaks and rumours appear so keep casting your eyes back for the latest.
Samsung Galaxy Note 6 release date
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 launched on 13 August 2015 alongside the Galaxy S6 edge+, but the Note wasn’t destined for European waters in a bid to push the S6 edge+ as the phablet to consider instead.
Reports suggest Samsung considers this to be a mistake though and it has since been suggested that the Galaxy Note 6 will bring the Note device back to the UK in favour of the Galaxy S7 edge+.
Sources claim the Galaxy Note 6 will launch in Europe in August 2016, which fits with the company’s previous release cycle from last year. Previous to 2015, the Note device used to launch at the beginning of September at IFA.
Samsung Galaxy Note 6 design
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 arrived with an all-metal build, moving away from the faux-leather and plastic materials offered by its predecessors. It measures 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm, hits the scales at 171g and comes complete with the S Pen.
The rumours are few and far between when it comes to the Note 6’s design at the moment but we wouldn’t expect a dramatic change compared to the Note 5.
The Samsung S7 and S7 edge both followed the same design lines as the S6 and S6 edge with a few refinements so chances are this will also be the case for the Note 6 too given the Note 5 saw quite a few changes compared to the Note 4. Both the S7 and S7 edge added IP68 water and dust resistance however, which is something that has now been touted for the Galaxy Note 6.
It has also been claimed an iris scanner will be on board, but details were scarce so it isn’t clear if it would be infrared like Fujitsu, a light like the Lumia 950, or something more advanced.
The one feature that will almost certainly appear is the S Pen but other than that, it’s a guessing game at the moment. Metal build, some kind of security scanner whether fingerprint or iris, and the classic rectangular Note shape would all be very plausible predictions though.
Samsung Galaxy Note 6 display
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 arrived with a 5.7-inch display offering a 2560 x 1440 resolution that delivered a pixel density of 515ppi. The Note series has always been praised for its display, with the AMOLED technology delivering vibrant, punchy colours and deep blacks.
Rumours suggest the Note 6 will continue the Super AMOLED trend but it looks like the display size could increase very slightly to 5.8-inches. The resolution is said to be sticking to Quad HD which if all true, would mean a slightly lower pixel density of 506ppi. This however, will not be noticeable to the human eye so you can still expect a great display experience from the Note 6.
Things may change in this department over the coming months but for now, these rumours seem more than reasonable.
Samsung Galaxy Note 6 camera
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 comes with a 16-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, both of which offer an aperture of f/1.9, which is wider than the Note 4.
According to a Weibo report, the Note 6 will be coming with a 12-megapixel main camera offering “Super OIS Plus”. The front-facing camera sensor wasn’t detailed. Both the Note 4 and 5 were both praised for their camera capabilities so wd expect the Note 6 to follow suit.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge both have 12-megapixel rear cameras and a 5-megapixel front camera so perhaps the company will use the same sensor for the Note 6. This would make sense given the praise both the S7 and S7 edge have received. Both the front and the rear snappers offer an aperture of f/1.7 to help them excel in low-light conditions so we’d like to see the same capabilities in the Note 6 at the very least.
Samsung Galaxy Note 6 hardware
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has an octa-core Exynos chipset, 4GB or RAM and 32GB of 64GB of internal memory. The aluminium body means microSD support was removed as was a removable battery, the capacity of which dropped to 3000mAh from the 3200mAh of its predecessor.
The Galaxy Note 6 is said to be coming with either a Qualcomm Snapdragon or Exynos chipset depending on the region, along with 6GB of RAM, according to Weibo. Samsung’s S7 and S7 edge both come in two models, one of which offers the Qualcomm SD820 chip and the other of which uses the in-house Exynos Octa 8 processor so this suggestion of two variants depending on region is plausible.
Storage options have been touted as 64GB and 128GB but there was no mention in the Weibo report as to whether microSD support will be reintroduced. It has been on the S7 and S7 edge so here is hoping. Battery capacity wasn’t mentioned either but we don’t expect smaller than the Note 5 and we suspect it won’t go back to being removable either.
Samsung Galaxy Note 6 software
The Samsung Note 6 will almost certainly launch with Android Marshmallow 6.0 along with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface over the top and the various feature extras that complement the S Pen.
We’d suspect a look towards the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge will offer a good indicator as to what we can expect from the Note 6, although no doubt there will be some improvements and refinements.
Samsung Galaxy Note 6 conclusion
Whilst the rumours have started to circulate for the Samsung Galaxy Note 6, they are few and far between at the moment so there is currently a lot of guess work happening.
Based on what we have heard so far, we’d expect the Note 6 to arrive in August 2016 with a similar design to the Note 5 including S Pen functionality.
Hardware specs are likely to improve over the Note 5 including a faster processor, possibly more RAM and an improved camera experience. We will update this feature as more leaks appear so hang tight for now.
The Apple iPad Pro was announced in September 2015 after months and months of rumours and speculation. It is no small device with a display size of 12.9-inches in comparison to the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and its smaller brother, the 7.9-inch iPad mini 4, but it is a powerful one.
The company claims this huge tablet has nearly double the CPU of the iPad Air 2, along with improved multi-touch technology but it isn’t just about the size – it is the iPad that is supposed to enable you to be more creative and productive.
Whatever you plan on using it for however, chances are if you are reading this feature, you want to keep it protected. Like its siblings, the iPad Pro has a stunning design (even if it is the same size as our head) and although it always seems a shame to cover that beautiful aluminium build, scratches and bumps happen all too easily.
There are several cases out there already and no doubt more will appear soon. We have rounded up some of the best ones we have found so far but as usual, we will be updating this feature regularly so be sure to keep checking back if you don’t find one that suits you just yet.
Click here to see the best Apple iPad Pro cases
Today on In Case You Missed It: Researchers at Harvard have created a “tunable” material that can grow, shrink and change shape on command, which could lead to Capsule Corp-style housing. Italian scientists invented a robotic octopus that leverages shape memory alloys to propel it along without the need for internal robo-bones. Finally, the Intelligent Sensor Design company of Japan has developed an industrial machine capable of tasting in the same manner as the human tongue.
Then there’s the guy who decided to swordfight a quadcopter. Remember kids, it’s all fun and games until the UAV puts out your eye. As always, please share any great tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.
About a half million people were amused by a browser-based Zelda tribute, but Nintendo’s lawyers weren’t among them. As we predicted, the company told the folks behind Zelda30Tribute to take it down on account of copyright infringement. “I guess [the game] was a little too pixel perfect,” say developers Scott Lininger and Mike Magee. Overall, the duo feel that building the 2.5D enhanced demo was worth the legal action, though. “We learned a bunch and wrote some code that others might learn from, too,” they say.
That means it’s not quite the end of the fun. Magee and Lininger plan to strip out Nintendo’s Moublins and other IP and replace them with “triangles and such.” They’ll then post the source code on GitHub where anyone can play or add to it. They might want to take care to do a thorough job on removing that IP, however, as Nintendo is ultra-touchy on fan remakes and even YouTube gameplay content.
Microsoft updated its Translator app to support offline translation on Android back in February, and it’s just added the same feature to the iOS version. Like the Android app, the translation works by way of deep learning. Behind the scenes a neural network, trained on millions of phrases, does the heavy lifting, and the translations are claimed to be of “comparable” quality to online samples. Your mileage will apparently “vary by language and topic,” but even an adequate translation is probably worth it when you’re saving on data costs abroad.
When Microsoft launched the offline functionality for Android, it was really bringing the experience in line with Google’s offering on the platform. But while the search giant’s Translate app for Android does offline translation of text (and even photos containing text), its iOS app is online-only. That makes Microsoft’s Translate app the first from a major company to offer the functionality, and the first ever on the platform to use a neural network to achieve it.
The iOS app supports 43 languages, although you’ll have to download the relevant libraries before going offline. That’s a lot more than the nine the Android version launched with, but Microsoft says it’s updating that app to support the expanded catalog. Supported languages include Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.
I fed the app a couple of very pretty lines from Jules Verne’s French novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, and it did a pretty decent job. The official translation is as follows:
The undulation of these infinite numbers of mountains, whose snowy summits make them look as if covered by foam, recalled to my remembrance the surface of a storm-beaten ocean. If I looked towards the west, the ocean lay before me in all its majestic grandeur, a continuation as it were, of these fleecy hilltops.
And here’s Microsoft’s neural-network powered, offline translation:
The ripples of these endless mountains, their layers of snow seemed to make foaming, reminded my recollection the surface of a choppy sea. If I went back to the West, the Ocean is developing in its majestic scope, as a continuation of these fleecy summits.
It’s lost its structure, and is no longer grammatically sound, but all of the meaning is still there. If all you’re going to do is translate a menu or a sign post, this is pretty impressive stuff. The app is a free download from the iOS App Store and Google Play. It’s a relatively small download at 60MB, but each language packs will add around 250MB to that figure.
Source: Microsoft Translator blog, (App Store)
By Rik Paul
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.
After doing three months of research, interviewing leading experts, and driving all 11 electric vehicles that are available in the US, we’re convinced that the Kia Soul EV is the best car for most people who want to drive gas-free. Costing about $34,000 (or $26,500 after a federal tax credit), the Soul EV is a comfortable, versatile everyday car that’s easy to live with and drives better than most other EVs. Its 93-mile driving range is one of the longest you’ll find, which reduces range anxiety. It’s stocked with nifty high-tech features that make driving an EV easier. And it has a superlong warranty. Overall, the Soul EV is a great car that will cut both your driving costs and your carbon footprint.
Why you might consider an EV
An all-electric car is for people who want to drive completely gas-free, whether to cut driving costs or be more environmentally friendly. Unlike a hybrid car, an electric car runs completely on electric power and doesn’t have a backup gas engine. You can plug the car into any electrical outlet to recharge the battery, although recharge times are definitely longer than filling up at a gas pump (see Ins and outs of plugging in below).
You can save money by driving an EV because electricity is typically cheaper than gasoline; at the national average of 12 cents per kWh, electricity costs the equivalent of $1-per-gallon gas. EVs also require no oil changes or “tune-ups,” so you save money on maintenance. And in some areas you can get access to carpool lanes and other driving privileges. From the environmental perspective, an EV uses only about one-third the energy of a similar gas-powered vehicle. And it doesn’t produce any tailpipe emissions. Yes, emissions are generated by the power plants that charge an EV, but when broken down per vehicle the emissions are still much less than those from driving a typical gasoline car. EVs are also pleasantly quick and quiet to drive.
Downsides? EVs have a limited range before you need to recharge them—100 miles or less for most models. That’s enough for most commutes and around-town runs, but unless you have access to public charging you won’t be able to do longer trips. EVs cost more than a conventional car, although a federal tax incentive of $7,500 and various regional incentives help lower the price. Also, EVs aren’t sold in all states yet.
It may look like an engine under the hood, but there’s no combustion happening here.
Questions you should ask before getting an EV
- How far do you drive in a day? Estimate the average distance you travel in a day so you can choose a model that easily gets you there and back before you need to plug it in.
- Are there places where you can charge when away from home? Public chargers can give you a lot more flexibility in your daily driving.
- Do you have access to another car for longer trips? If you don’t, are you okay with renting a car for those treks?
- Do you have a convenient place to plug the car in for recharging (ideally a 240-volt outlet)? If not, how much would it cost to run an electrical line to a good location?
- Does your utility company offer special rates for EVs? If not, can you charge the car during lower-rate, off-peak hours?
- Will you need to drive the EV in freezing temperatures? Cold weather (and running the heater) can reduce an EV’s range by up to 40 percent, so add a buffer to your range estimates. If that adjusted range creates a pinch, you might consider a plug-in hybrid, such as the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which provides a gas engine while still giving you lots of gas-free miles.
- Are you okay with leasing a car? We think it’s better to lease an EV rather than buy one. You get the federal tax incentive up front, and leasing provides a hedge against the possibility of the battery pack failing prematurely (a part that might cost you thousands of dollars to replace) and possible rapid depreciation of the car because of how quickly EV technology is advancing.
Ins and outs of plugging in
Think of filling up your electric car as being more like charging your cell phone than remembering to stop for gas.
While you can plug any EV into a normal 110-volt household electrical outlet (called Level 1 in EV speak), a full charge can take a very long time: 16 to 20 hours or more. For most people, it’s much more practical to use a 240-volt charger (called Level 2) because it cuts those charging times by half or even more. But setting up your home for Level 2 charging can cost $500 to $1,200, plus installation and any necessary electrical upgrades. Some public charging locations have even-faster Level 3 chargers to give your EV a quick boost when you’re on the road.
The Kia Soul EV has great range, an affordable price, and the best set of high-tech features.
Among affordable electric cars, the Kia Soul EV offers the best combination of a long range, a reasonable price (especially with the federal tax incentive), and a practical layout. Its 93-mile range is 15 miles more than most EVs, and it offers the best collection of features that are important to EV owners. The Soul is comfortable and space-efficient and it drives nicely, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of EVs (the regular Soul is our top pick for subcompact crossover SUVs). And Kia’s extra-long five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty keeps the Soul covered longer than most cars; the powertrain, EV system, and battery are covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. The one notable drawback is that it’s available in only 10 states: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
The best EV—if money doesn’t matter
The Tesla Model S is the best electric vehicle. But because of its price tag, we can’t say the Tesla is the best electric vehicle for most people.
If you can handle its nearly $90,000 price, the Tesla Model S is easily the best overall electric car available, especially with the optional 90-kWh battery. It treats you to a long 200-mile range, luxury-car comfort, blistering acceleration, and sports-car cornering. It’s also a high-tech tour de force that makes you feel like you’re driving a bona fide car of the future.
An affordable runner-up
The Nissan Leaf SV is the go-to electric vehicle that most people know because it has been available for so long and has sold more than any other EV.
The 2016 Nissan Leaf SV, which costs about $35,000 (or about $27,500 after the federal tax credit), provides many of the same benefits as the Kia Soul EV, has an even longer range than the Soul (107 miles), and is sold nationwide. We recommend getting it with Nissan’s Quick Charge Package. The Leaf isn’t our top pick, though, because it’s not quite as roomy, comfortable, or versatile for carrying cargo and passengers as the Soul is.
This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.