By Signe Brewster
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.
Though 3D printers have until recently been too expensive and complex for curious beginners, it’s possible to find a relatively inexpensive and approachable model to use at home. We spent 20 hours researching and testing three of the best beginner-focused 3D printers we could find and think the Tiertime Up Mini 2 is the best choice for most people just starting out with 3D printing. It has the best combination of reliability, features, and style. It was the easiest to set up and produced the highest number of great-quality prints of all the printers we tested.
Who should get this
If you have been thinking about buying your very first 3D printer but don’t have much experience with the technology, both our top pick and budget pick are good options for you. Each printer currently retails for $600 or below and is designed to be friendly to beginners. There is minimal assembly required, and software and setup are relatively accessible.
But be warned that no 3D printer is unbreakable. A day will come when you’ll need to replace a part or get your hands dirty in some other way. You might want to avoid 3D printing altogether if you have a tough time with minor fixes to appliances.
Prospective buyers should also be aware that the 3D printing industry is constantly in a state of upheaval. It’s not out of the question that you might someday find yourself without much support from a company. It’s also possible that a new breakthrough will suddenly leave you with outdated technology.
How we picked and tested
Video: Signe Brewster
We turned to user reviews on sites like Amazon, plus guides from 3DForged, All3DP, and Make to develop a short list of the best inexpensive 3D printers, in addition to consulting experts. We looked for an ability to reliably print good-looking parts straight out of the box with as little maintenance required as possible.
We looked for machines that were under $600 and still had as many premium features as possible: heated beds and large print volumes were both bonuses. Nonproprietary filament was another important factor. For more on how we picked, see our full guide.
We decided to test three models that offer a mix of desirable features, relatively high-quality parts, and positive reviews online and among the experts we spoke to. During testing, we made note of ease of assembly, including the initial software installation and navigation process.
Then we got to printing. Each printer was required to produce two models picked to demonstrate a range of each printer’s basic capabilities before moving on to printing other models. Each printer got eight attempts to produce as many acceptable models as possible. We also noted how many times we had to repair the printers, how often they needed their print beds leveled, and what it was like to remove completed models from the print bed.
Photo: Signe Brewster
The Tiertime Up Mini 2 was the clear pick due to its winning combination of reliability, features, and style. It was the easiest to set up and produced the highest number of great-quality prints out of all the printers we tested. One after another, the prints came off of it looking perfectly smooth, with only faintly visible lines between the layers. Unlike the others we tested, there was never an obvious error.
The Mini 2 has the most features out of the group we tested. It has a heated bed and enclosed printing space, which helps keep temperatures even while printing. The printer has a touchscreen and can print over Wi-Fi or USB; both of are almost unheard of in a printer under $600. The Maker Select v2 (more on that below) relies on the open-source Cura software, a plus for users already familiar with the interface or who want finer control over the machines, but the Mini 2 came with proprietary software that is much simpler to use. The Mini 2’s print bed also slid out of the machine for easy model removal.
Prints from the Mini 2. Photo: Signe Brewster
Although the Mini 2 has a relatively enclosed design that might intimidate beginners looking to make a quick fix, the design also indicates Tiertime doesn’t expect many breakdowns. Plus, the warranty is good for 12 months.
A budget-conscious choice
Photo: Signe Brewster
The Monoprice Maker Select v2 was the surprise runner-up to the Mini 2. For an unusually low price, you get a heated print bed and a respectable 7.9 by 7.9 by-7.1-inch print volume—the largest of the group. We also liked that you could load models onto the printer via a microSD card and start prints on the printer itself, negating the need for a computer between prints. However, its onboard control menu is difficult to navigate and likely confusing for beginners.
The Maker Select v2 is based on one of the original 3D printer designs. It’s clunky and the most difficult of the group to assemble, but by not breaking the mold, it can rely on the years of thought that have gone into refining this style of printer. It failed zero times during our eight test prints—the best out of the group. The models produced by the Monoprice did come out with a few visible lines here and there where the layers of plastic separated. So though the results weren’t quite as nice as those that came off the Mini 2, the Select v2 proved itself to be a reliable workhorse.
This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
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Remember App.net, the (initially) paid-for Twitter clone that promised a platform dedicated to its users, rather than advertisers? The service launched in a blaze of glory, earning well in excess of its $500,000 crowdfunding target. Five years later, however, and co-founders Dalton Caldwell and Bryan Berg have conceded that their dream has died.
The site was conceived as “What Twitter could have been,” harking back to that company’s evolution into an ad-supported social network. Caldwell lamented the decision, saying that Twitter’s platform and API would have made an excellent system for connecting various products in real time. He felt that such a crucial piece of technology was “too important to its users to be ad-supported” and should not treat developers as shabbily as Twitter had.
The result was App.net, a site that kinda/sorta resembled Twitter, at least on paper, albeit with a barrier to entry: an annual fee. The initial $50 figure would eventually shrink, from $36 down to nothing, but from the get-go, many believed that paying such a high price for what was, essentially, Twitter wasn’t going to be a winner. Combined with the effort it would take to wrench people away from a platform they love (or at least, love to hate) and things weren’t looking good.
By 2014, after the first round of paid subscription renewals, Caldwell revealed that the company had earned just enough money to pay for hosting and servers. But that cash pile wasn’t big enough to employ developers to continue improving the site or anyone else for that matter. So, that summer, the platform essentially went into stasis, continuing to function but with only its founders operating it as if it were a hobby.
But by then, the company had struggled to grow itself to the point where paid users could invite their friends along for free. In addition, App.net had tried to push away from the idea that it was a paid-for Twitter clone, offering cloud storage to its limited user base. As Marco Arment explained, “What developers need is for App.net to add tons of users to the service,” the one thing it struggled to do.
“Ultimately, we failed to overcome the chicken-and-egg issue between application developers and user adoption,” explained Caldwell in his signoff. He added that “Our initial developer adoption exceeded expectations,” but that initial rush didn’t “translate into a big enough pool of customers for those developers.”
Since then, little has happened beyond the company’s time, user base and money gradually sliding down towards zero. As such, the service will be shutting down on March 14th, 2017, with all signups and subscription renewals suspended from today. If you want to preserve your data, you’ve got until the March deadline to clear out your stuff and pour one out for the little Twitter clone that, uh, couldn’t.
Korg Gadget, an all-in-one iOS production studio, was first introduced in 2014 and now the the mobile suite is heading to the desktop. The company announced that Gadget will soon make the leap to Mac, but it hasn’t revealed exactly when that will happen just yet. What we do know is that Korg promises seamless integration between the mobile and desktop versions. This means that you’ll be able to start a project during your commute and pick it back up when you get to your studio back home and vice versa.
Gadget provides access to a collection of instruments that range from synths and drum machines to effects and more. Think of it like GarageBand and you will have an idea of what’s going on here. All of the instruments and tools, what Korg calls “gadgets,” from the iOS version will be available on Mac. What’s more, the desktop software will include two new gadgets that enable full recording abilities as well as a new 16-pad drum machine.
This new Mac version of Gadget also includes the “Gadget Plug-in Collection” that plays nice with AU, VST, AAX and NKS. The app works with Allihoopa, Ableton Link and Bluetooth MIDI, too. Korg isn’t discussing price either, but we should know more about how much the software will cost and exactly when you will be able to use it when NAMM kicks off next week.
We’ve touched the hardware and were left with some good impressions. But that’s only half of the equation: what about the games? Nintendo is offering several upgraded (and some brand new) titles for the Switch. While some depend on the new controller interfaces (Arms) and sharing aspects of the new console (1, 2 Switch), others, in classic Nintendo style, tap in our nostalgia (Sonic Mania, Ultimate Street Fighter 2). And there was another try to play Zelda. Here’s every title that we could get our hands on at the Switch event.
It’s Splatoon, innit? It felt just as good as the original Wii U game, with smooth frame rates and Nintendo’s cutesy idealized urban environments. Barely anyone’s played the original, so the lack of progress here isn’t likely to faze either ardent fans or newcomers. We all just want more Splatoon
Incidentally, this was one of two games I played wholly on the Switch, rather than on a TV, and I loved it. I can definitely see myself using this as a handheld way more often than a home console.
I’ll be taking a more in-depth look at this game later, but initial impressions are positive. Arms is Nintendo’s big new title for Switch: a gesture-powered one-on-one boxing match with comically extending arms, boomerangs and more. Like a few games I saw during the Wii U’s era (I’m looking at you, Star Fox…), it’s going to take some time to get completely used to the controls. It’s also instantly enjoyable — especially when you land your first twisting hook on your opponent from the other side of the arena. Boom.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
With all the courses, all the characters (plus five new ones), the biggest takeaway of this Mario Kart remake was the sheer portability of 10-driver Mario Kart on the Switch. To start, the console is smaller and handier than the Wii U GamePad, making it far more comfortable to play. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe played smoothly in 720p on the console’s own screen, which was how I played it and the controls (a Joy-Con either side) worked better than on the Wii U GamePad, in my opinion. Even the screen does its job better than its predecessor. While the game will add all the DLC content that the original got, there was one notable change to the game mechanics themselves: you can carry two weapons at once. Sounds like it’s going to be messy.
Is it WarioWare, or is it Wii Sports Club? A little bit of both, but with a smarter controller. While none of the short, snackable mini-games used that crazy shape-detecting sensor that’s embedded into one of the Joy-Cons, several demos offered a great demonstration of the refined haptic feedback you’ll get from the Switch controllers. I fought a samurai, bested a rival cowboy at quick-draw, cracked a safe and copied a dance. The safe cracking mini-game, where I had to tilt the controller until I felt an uneven ‘tick’ from the controller in order to unlock a safe. It hints and the nuanced possibilities of Nintendo’s party game-in-the-making. That’s a good start, but I want to see how Nintendo packages them all together.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
As someone that’s not really got into the last few iterations of Street Fighter (but adored the Alpha series as a teen), I was pretty happy with my time with The Final Challengers. Mat and I were stuck with the “improved” graphics, rather than the old-school sprites, but the game felt smooth and responsive (I’m pretty certain it was running at 1080p/60, and it had better be.
The Pro Controller I played it with, though? Not a huge fan. At least for Street Fighter, I need a good d-pad, and a good d-pad this was not — it was just way too stiff. Maybe it’ll loosen up in time? For what it’s worth, the whole pad felt a little more… slapdash when compared to the precision of the rest of the console. The analog sticks and face buttons are fine (and, let’s be honest, not many people use the d-pad), at least.
So I don’t know if it was just 4AM (it was in London) and I missed it, but I don’t remember seeing Snipperclips during the event last night. That’s a shame, because this game is so much fun. It’s a two-player puzzle game where you need to work together to solve puzzles by… cutting each other. It sounds weird but it’s an absolute delight. I just about completed the demo in my allocated 10 minutes, and I loved every second of it. I loved Chariot, and there aren’t enough two-player puzzle games around. I can’t wait to play it with my kids.
With no (non plumber-themed) racers to be seen during today’s presentation, it fell to indie studio Shinen to save the day. Unsurprisingly, Fast RMX is another Wii U port, serving as an update to last year’s Fast Racing Neo. While many third party Switch ports have been pretty barebones, Fast RMX sounds generous, adding 30 new tracks and 10 new cups to the mix. The gameplay was left largely untouched, serving as an enjoyable F-Zero clone. While I was skeptical that it would feel alright on the controls, it looks to have survived the transition surprisingly well. While the new content is nice, it’s the bump in resolution that really made the demo shine. In full 1080p resolution and running at a flawless 60fps on the TV, this is what Fast always should have been.
Super Bomberman R
If there’s any game that sums up classic Nintendo multiplayer, it’s Bomberman. The series’ core gameplay remains unchanged, but it’s the Switch’s portability that made it feel fresh. Putting the Switch in tabletop mode and simply handing a Joy-Con to the other player was grin-inducing experience. While I was skeptical about using a single Joy-Con, thanks to the game’s simplistic one-button controls it feels surprisingly natural. If Konami get the price right, Bomberman could be an essential purchase.
We’ll be updating this report as we play our way through the event.
Click here to catch up on the latest news from Nintendo’s Switch event.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Thursday reopened a longstanding patent lawsuit related to Samsung copying the design of the iPhone nearly six years ago, following an order of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court, according to court documents filed electronically this week.
The court will seek to determine the exact amount Samsung owes Apple for infringing upon the iPhone’s patented design, including its rectangular front face with rounded edges and grid of colorful icons on a black screen. The previous $399 million damages judgment was overturned by the Supreme Court last month.
Apple’s damages were calculated based on Samsung’s entire profit from the sale of its infringing Galaxy smartphones, but the Supreme Court ruled it did not have enough info to say whether the amount should be based on the total device, or rather individual components such as the front bezel or the screen.
It will now be up to the appeals court to decide. Apple last month said the lawsuit, ongoing since 2011, has always been about Samsung’s “blatant copying” of its ideas, adding that it remains optimistic that the U.S. Court of Appeals will “again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right.”
The question before the Supreme Court was how to calculate the amount Samsung should pay for their copying. Our case has always been about Samsung’s blatant copying of our ideas, and that was never in dispute. We will continue to protect the years of hard work that has made iPhone the world’s most innovative and beloved product. We remain optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right.
Calvin Klein, Dieter Rams, Norman Foster, and over 100 other top designers filed an amicus brief in support of Apple, arguing the iPhone maker is entitled to all profits Samsung has earned from infringing designs. They cited a 1949 study showing more than 99% of Americans could identify a bottle of Coca-Cola by shape alone.
Tags: Samsung, lawsuit, patent
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Apple’s next-generation iPhone will feature IP68-rated water resistance, which would be an improvement over the IP67-certified iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, according to The Korea Herald. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 is IP68 certified, and the Galaxy S8 is naturally rumored to be as well.
In the IP68 rating, the “6” means the next iPhone would remain effectively dustproof, with “no ingress of dust” and “complete protection against contact,” while the “8” means the device will be even more water resistant. The Galaxy S7 is able to withstand 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
For comparison, IP67-rated devices like the iPhone 7 offer the same protection against dust but only have water damage protection against immersion between 15 centimeters and 1 meter by definition. However, while keeping your device dry is best, tests have shown the iPhone 7 is typically more water resistant than advertised.
Apple describes the iPhone 7 as “splash and water resistant,” but its fine print warns that “splash, water, and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear.” Despite having an IP67 rating, liquid damage is still not covered under Apple’s warranty.
Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
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P8 Lite gets a 2017 refresh with EMUI 5.0 and Kirin 655.
Huawei has refreshed the P8 Lite with a 2017 model that features upgraded hardware in the form of a 5.2-inch Full HD display and a Kirin 655 SoC. The phone also comes with 3GB of RAM and a rather disappointing 16GB internal memory, but there is a microSD card slot.
Unlike the Honor 6X — which has a dual camera setup at the back — P8 Lite offers a 12MP camera at the back and an 8MP shooter up front. There’s also a 3000mAh battery, and the phone features the Nougat-based EMUI 5.0 out of the box.
The P8 Lite 2017 is slated to go up for sale in European markets by the end of January, where it will cost €239.
2017 is finally here and this year you have promised to follow through on your resolutions. Increasing your fitness level, losing weight, and being more active is always a popular decision when it comes to making resolutions, but so many people fail because they don’t set achievable goals. What if I told you technology can help you with that?
There are plenty of wearables, both smartwatches and activity trackers, that can help you achieve your fitness goals. Unfortunately, they can be pricey and you may not have the money to splurge on the latest and greatest, but you could spend a little cash on something reasonable. If this sounds familiar, Android Central Offers has the perfect fitness tracker for you!
The Striiv Touch Activity Tracking & Notification-Enabled Smartwatch gives you the ability to track your activity without the expensive price tag of high-end fitness trackers or smartwatches.
Wearing the Striiv Touch will allow you to keep track of how many calories you have burned, steps you have taken, and how far you traveled all from your wrist. Plus, the Striiv is sleek and fashionable so you never have to take it off; it’s always in style.
Meet your fitness goals today! Learn more
Here are some other great features of the Striiv Touch:
- Track steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, and activity minutes all from your wrist.
- Monitor the duration and quality of your sleep.
- Set silent, vibrating alarms.
- Receive alerts for texts, emails, incoming calls, Twitter, Facebook, and more!
Through Android Central Offers the Striiv Touch can be your for only $29.99! That’s just a small fraction of what you would pay normally, with Android Central Offers you get a savings of 70%.
Prices for the 5.9-incher start at £31 per month.
Huawei’s biggest and best phone yet, the Mate 9, arrives on store shelves in the UK today through Three. The carrier has Huawei’s 5.9-inch flagship in space gray with 64GB of storage, with on-contract prices starting at £31 per month with a £99 upfront payment. (That’ll get you the phone with a 1GB data allowance.)
At the other end of the spectrum, the Mate 9 is available on Three’s All You Can Eat data plan for £56 per month with £29 upfront fee, which includes a 30GB tethering allowance. As usual, the carrier has a range of plans at the 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 30GB marks.
If you’re after a Mate 9 without a contract, Three’s also selling it on PAYG for £549.99 when you buy £10 of prepaid credit. That’s not a bad option, since the Mate 9 on Three, like all the network’s phones, is sold SIM-unlocked.
Why consider the Mate 9? Here’s the verdict from our review:
The Huawei Mate 9 is great big phone in every sense of that term. It delivers the strong performance and epic battery life we’ve come to expect from the Mate series, in a slightly more compact form factor, with trailblazing internals. EMUI 5 is a big, meaningful upgrade, doing away with many of our pet hates from previous versions of Huawei’s software layer.
See at Three UK
Huawei Mate 9
- Huawei Mate 9 review
- Huawei Mate 9 specs
- Where to buy the Mate 9 in the U.S.
- Porsche Design Mate 9 unboxing
- All Huawei Mate 9 news
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Right now you can pick up Aukey’s 3 pack of USB-C converters for just $6 at Amazon with coupon code AUK3USBC. The package comes with two converters to turn Micro-USB cables into USB-C and one to turn a regular USB-A cable into USB-C. Odds are you’ll have a much easier time finding one of those two cables when you need some extra charge than you are to find a USB-C cable laying around, so this makes those cables useful to you. When you break it down to just $2 per adapter, you really can’t go wrong with this deal.
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See at Amazon