The Best Everyday Carry Keychain Knives

A small knife is one of the most useful things you can carry with you. If it’s small enough, you can even hang it off your house and car keys—or use it to hold those keys itself.

There’s a remarkable variety of knife designs out there, and keychain-sized knives are no exception. Here are ten of the best that we’ve been able to find.

The Best Overall Keychain Knife: KeySmart Dapper 100 Keychain

KeySmart

If you want a blade more than anything else, along with a classic but compact style, this stainless steel design is durable and won’t draw attention. The blade folds down to 2.5 inches and comes with a wide loop for attaching directly to keys or a ring. It’s also surprisingly light at around one ounce, not to mention very affordable.

Best Overall Keychain Knife

KeySmart Dapper 100 – Ultra Slim Keychain Gentleman’s Knife

The Keysmart Dapper 100 is an excellent pocket knife small enough to hang on your keychain.

For Those Who Appreciate the Classics: Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD

Victorinox

The original Swiss Army knife has been around for over a century thanks to its compact build and versatility. The long-running Classic SD model is small and light enough to hang from your keys while keeping a small blade, scissors, nail file, flathead screwdriver, tweezers, and a toothpick, all in under an ounce of weight. It’s available in over a dozen colors and finishes.

Best Swiss Army-Style Keychain Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Black, 58mm

There Victorinox Classic SD has everything you want in a smaller Swiss Army knife.

For the Thinnest Blade Possible: SOG Keychain

This SOG folding knife is razor-thin. Pardon the pun.
SOG

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The Best USB-C Cables You Can Buy

Here are the best USB-C cables fro your newer gadgets.
Anker

USB-C cables are the new standard for charging laptops and mobile devices, not to mention their capabilities for data and video. But they’re not all created equal, and getting the right cable is crucial to the application. Here are the best options available.

The Best Overall Cable: Anker PowerLine II+

Anker's Powerline series has excellent performance and value.
Anker’s Powerline series has excellent performance and value. Anker

For general purposes, we recommend Anker’s excellent PowerLine II+ series. These cables are braided to prevent breaks and the connections use high-quality plastic. They can handle high-power connections for charging laptops or rapid chargers on phones with equal ease. Six feet should handle all of your charging needs at standard desktops. As a nice bonus, they come in red or black. These cables are available in both C-to-C and A-to-C (for connection with the older rectangular USB standard).

The Best “Tough” Cable: Belkin MIXIT DuraTek

This cable from Belkin has a reinforced braided sleeve and a metal connector.
This cable from Belkin has a reinforced braided sleeve and a metal connector. Belkin

If you need a cable that can take a bit of a beating, Belkin is happy to oblige. This C-to-C cable has a double-braided length, so it won’t wear out when bent or coiled, and the connection heads are reinforced with metal. It should be enough to protect it from anything the interior of your laptop bag can dish out, if not dedicated chewing from a toddler or pet. The cables are pricier than alternatives at the same length, but worth it if you need something that can go the distance.

The Best Travel Cable: DockCase USB C-to-C

This short, flat cable is perfect for bags with limited space.
This short, flat cable is perfect for bags with limited space. DockCase

For those who value space above all else, this tiny, inexpensive cable is ideal. At under a foot long with a flat rubberized length, it’s perfect for throwing in a pocket or carry-on bag for emergency charges. Despite being so small, it’s rated for maximum USB 3.1 speeds, 4K video, and charging at up to a hundred watts. Just make sure not to leave it behind—it’s so small you might not notice it on a hotel nightstand.

The Best Budget Cable: AmazonBasics

Amazon's house brand of cables aren't fancy, but they'll get the job done and come with bulk discounts.
Amazon’s house brand of cables aren’t fancy, but they’ll get the job done and come with bulk discounts. Amazon

Thousands of vendors are willing to sell you a USB-C cable on the cheap, but going for the least expensive option may not be a good idea, especially if you’re charging a laptop or smartphone with it. Budget-conscious shoppers would do well to buy directly from Amazon. The “AmazonBasics” line offers standard cables for as little as $7, with extra-long options and discounts for buying in multi-packs. These cables aren’t fancy, but they’re USB-IF certified. Go for the 2.0 versions if you don’t need hyper-fast data; 3.1 options are also available on the site.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490s Is a Solid Laptop with an Identity Crisis

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490s.
The ThinkPad T490s sacrifices some distinction for wider appeal. Michael Crider

When is a ThinkPad no longer a ThinkPad? As a fan of the brand, I had to ask that question to write this review of the T490s. It looks and feels the part, but mainstream compromises might put off brand devotees.

With its unmistakable keyboard and TrackPoint mouse—not to mention the button-down looks—no one’s going to mistake the T490s for anything other than a member of the long-standing laptop family. But in shaving down its dimensions and weight, Lenovo has also removed quite a few features from last year’s model—most notably the SD card reader and integrated Ethernet port.

The result is a laptop that has more in common with mainstream thin-and-light models than Lenovo’s legendary line. These changes might appeal to the more conventional consumer. However, business professionals and heavy travelers (formerly the main market for the T-series) might find they miss the flexibility and utility of last year’s design. They’ll surely miss the extended runtime of the older, dual-battery models, as well.

Looking the Part

With an all-black, magnesium alloy and carbon fiber chassis, the T490s is remarkably understated to be so high-tech. Open it up, and you’re greeted with the updated, chicklet-style version of the classic ThinkPad keyboard (backlight optional). And, of course, the iconic TrackPoint mouse is there, with its three-button control cluster above a medium-sized trackpad. A fingerprint reader (standard, not optional) sits to the side.

The T490s keyboard, TrackPoint mouse, trackpad, and fingerprint reader.
The unmistakable ThinkPad keyboard now includes a fingerprint reader. Michael Crider

With the laptop open, take note of the thinner bezels. The webcam on our review unit is equipped with an optional infrared sensor for Windows Hello and similar security tools. The standard 720p webcam has a manual shutter you can slide over for peace of mind. The 14-inch screen is standard 1080p resolution with just 250 nits of brightness—disappointing, but fairly normal for the T series. A brighter, sharper screen is available as an upgrade, or you can opt for the multi-touch. The base screen is nice and matte, which is all the better for traveling. The speakers are surprisingly loud, but less than clear, as bottom-firing types tend to be.

The webcam on the Lenovo T490s.
The webcam gets a manual shutter for privacy. Michael Crider

The bezel and body aren’t tiny by any means—certainly not when compared to more svelte, stylish laptops. But the 0.63-inch-thick machine weighs just 2.8 pounds, placing it among the lightest in Lenovo’s lineup. It’s just thin and skinny enough to slip into my Peak Design messenger bag, which is designed for the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That’s a definite improvement over previous members of the T4XXs family.

The Mystery of the Vanishing Ports

On the right, there’s a single rectangular USB-A port, a Kensington lock slot, and a spot for a smart card reader most people won’t even recognize (the reader hardware wasn’t there on our review unit). The left side is where most of the “port action” is, with two USB-C ports arranged in a specific way to enable access for Lenovo’s first-party dock. A standard USB-A (3.1) and HDMI port, and a combined microphone/headphone jack round things out. Power from the 60-watt adapter can go into either USB-C port.

The side of the T490s with the adapter plugged into one of the USB-C ports.
The ThinkPad T490s charges via USB-C, from either port. Michael Crider

What’s that weird trapezoidal port awkwardly hanging off the second USB-C hole, you ask? It’s a proprietary spot to stick an Ethernet adapter since the chassis is no longer tall enough to handle a standard Ethernet cable. Last year’s T480s had a neat sliding port that collapsed when not in use. But the T490s can’t be bothered with one, and you have to pay extra for the proprietary dongle adapter if you don’t have a USB-to-Ethernet tool already. Presumably, the proprietary port is there for better dock compatibility.

The SIM/MicroSD card tray on the back of the T490s.
A phone-style combined SIM and MicroSD card tray is on the back of the T490s. Michael Crider

Another notable omission from last year’s revision is the full-size SD card slot. To most, that might seem like a trivial exclusion in the days of insanely powerful phone cameras. However, for me, it makes the T490s more cumbersome on a conference trip, as the SD card slot is the fastest way to get show floor photos off my mirrorless camera.

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The Razer Viper is a Good Gaming Mouse, But the Fancy Switches Aren’t Obvious

The Razer Viper has cool switch tech, but it's hard to tell if it makes a difference.
Michael Crider

How much is it worth for you to have lightning-fast clicks of your gaming mouse? Razer hopes the answer is, “at least eighty bucks,” as that’s what the new Viper mouse costs. It boasts fancy new optical switches.

These switches replace a conventional mechanical button hiding beneath the primary left and mouse buttons. On top of that, it’s a typical Razer design, with the company’s standard features and an ambidextrous, shooter-friendly body. Even understanding the science and advantages of the fancy new switches, I can’t say the mouse stands out in any major way. It’s good, and possibly amazing if your reflexes are super-human. The number of people who can see a tangible benefit from this gee-whiz feature, however, is much lower than I think Razer would like to admit.

Of course, that’s the nature of gaming-marketed gadgets: relatively high prices for functional differences that are sometimes questionable at best. The Viper is a solid mouse on its own merits, and worth considering if your super-fast clicking is getting in the way of victories.

Ambidextrous Design

It’s odd to think of a product from Razer, famous for bombastic designs that defined the “gamer” aesthetic, as dull. But the Viper kind of is: It’s using the matte black look typical of the company’s last few years of designs, with only a single RGB-lit logo to stand out. In a neat trick, this LED area disappears beneath the plastic finish if you disable the light, for a nice “unbranded” look. The lines are a little more angular than on mice like the Deathadder or Mamba, but it still feels smooth and functional in the hand, even with its ambidextrous body that’s equally useful for righties or lefties. I kind of dig it.

The Viper has a symmetrical ambidextrous design, with identical buttons on the left and right.
The Viper has a symmetrical ambidextrous design, with identical buttons on the left and right. Michael Crider

The mouse is amazingly light at only 2.4 ounces on my kitchen scale. With no option to add weight, those who are used to a wireless mouse or something beefier might need a bit of adjustment time, especially with Razer’s super-slick feet. Ergonomically it’s comfy, if a little low for my taste, and I prefer the bigger, beefier thumb buttons of the Mamba or my go-to mouse, the G603. The rubberized pads underneath the thumb buttons are a nice touch.

Gamers who like to adjust their DPI on the fly might be put off by the lack of dedicated buttons beneath (above? Distal, in anatomical terms) the clicky scroll wheel. I was, since that’s usually where I put my “ultimate” button in Overwatch. But you can move DPI up and down buttons to the thumb buttons you’re not using—left or right, depending on preference—without too much bother. It’s less than handy, but such is often the case with an ambidextrous design.

The bad: The DPI button is on the bottom. The good: It flashes different colors to identify the steps.
The bad: The DPI button is on the bottom. The good: It flashes different colors to identify the steps. Michael Crider

If you’d prefer to reserve those buttons for other functions or disable them entirely, you can use the DPI button that’s placed awkwardly on the bottom of the mouse body. Apparently, this was a feature requested by Razer’s pro gamer teams. Far be it from me to disagree with the pros, but keep in mind you’ll be limited to just four standard buttons and the scroll wheel unless you’re a talented finger contortionist.

About Those Switches

The highlight of the Viper is the new optical switches for the primary and secondary buttons, left-click and right-click. It’s a novel approach, replacing a conventional on-off button beneath the plastic covering with a metal bar that intersects an optical beam. This allows for near-instantaneous activation, and—Razer claims—eliminates the periodic problem of unintentionally “bouncy” clicking. Similar technology is beginning to replace mechanical switches in keyboards like the Huntsman Elite and the Gigabyte Aorus K9.

The Viper's switches break a beam of optical signal instead of pressing a conventional button.
The Viper’s switches break a beam of optical signal instead of pressing a conventional button. Razer

So, does it work? I’m sorry to say, I can’t tell. Try as I might, testing this on the most intense strategy and shooter games I own, I just couldn’t tell the difference between these optical buttons and the conventional ones on my other gaming mice. They click and return quickly, more so than a standard desktop mouse, with a mechanical action that’s a little stiffer and more satisfying than I’m used to. But as for whether it actually impacted my gameplay, I just couldn’t give you a definite answer.

It's hard to tell whether those cool switches make a difference during gameplay.
It’s hard to tell whether those cool switches make a difference during gameplay. Michael Crider

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The Nyrius Aries Pro Beams HDMI Signals Around Your House With Ease

The Nyrius Pro is an amazingly effective wireless HDMI gadget.
Michael Crider

As amazing as all our streaming technology has become, getting rock-solid wireless video without some kind of server in between still isn’t easy. The various solutions for this all seem to include some significant compromises. Until now.

Nyrius, an electronics supplier I’d never heard of before, reached out to us with a review unit for a wireless HDMI system. The Aries Pro uses a point-to-point transmitter and receiver, as opposed to some kind of streaming software or a server-side system like Steam In-Home Streaming or Chromecast. And amazingly, it works. It works quite well: resolution is locked into 1080p at 60 frames per second, and on most content it’s almost impossible to tell you’re working with a wireless setup at all. Is it enough to justify a hefty $250 price tag? That will probably depend on the user. But the technology, and its simple application, is impressive.

Not Much to It

The Aries Pro has two basic components: the small, HDMI transmitter, which looks like more or less any “HDMI stick,” and the receiver, which is a chunkier box about the size of the Roku with a full-sized HDMI port. The former is powered by a simple USB-to-MiniUSB cable (a bit outdated, but it works), while the latter needs a dedicated outlet on your power supply. It looks surprisingly simple: The only odd thing about the design is the half-inch feet. These are presumably for the sake of allowing airflow beneath the receiver, which can get quite hot.

The receiver plugs into any HDMI port and is powered via USB. No data is going over the USB cable.
The receiver plugs into any HDMI port and is powered via USB. No data is going over the USB cable. Michael Crider

Setup couldn’t be easier. Plug the dongle into the video source, plug the receiver into a TV or monitor, make sure they both have power, and click the “Sync” button on both. Bam, you’ve got wireless video. The only other control option is a power button on the receiver.

Inside the box is an L-adapter for the transmitter (since the transmitter is quite chunky and might not fit into every HDMI port), the power cables, and a short HDMI cable for the receiver. The whole thing looks and feels rather cheap—the “Full HD” sticker on the receiver kept peeling off under the heat, and those silicone feet are held on with simple stickers that I could twist off with minimal force.

I Got No Strings

I tested the Aries Pro with my PS4 and Switch game consoles and a laptop, connecting to my television and gaming monitor. All of them worked surprisingly well. I’ve tried similar systems before and run into major issues with the connection, picture quality, and latency. None were present here.

The plastic build doesn't look like much. Ditto for the sticker, which tends to peel off during use.
The plastic build doesn’t look like much. Ditto for the sticker, which tends to peel off during use. Michael Crider

That’s quite an accomplishment in a self-contained system. In single-player sessions of Horizon: Zero Dawn on the PS4, I was able to make the same precision shots I was used to with a direct connection, with perhaps a tiny bit of “fuzz” or grain in the most visually intense moments of the game. That’s no great test for a wireless system, though. I switched over to, um, my Switch for a more strenuous experiment: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This hyper-fast 2D fighting game requires split-second reactions, and any major lag in the image would have impacted my performance. It didn’t. I was able to compete online as well as I ever do. I was impressed.

The receiver is simple, with USB power and a single HDMI port going to a monitor or TV.
The receiver is simple, with USB power and a single HDMI port going to a monitor or TV. Michael Crider

I tested both the game consoles in my office with a maximum distance of about 20 feet between the receiver and the transmitter, no major obstructions in between. I tried setting them both up in my living room and transmitting to my office, but the Bluetooth wireless controllers pooped out before the wireless video system did. Time to go for something with some more relaxed input. I switched to a standard laptop with an HDMI port, and set it up about fifty feet away with two walls in between.

Going the Distance

With a wireless mouse and keyboard, I was able to use the remote computer with no problems after about twenty seconds of initial wireless connection. Testing the video and audio syncing gave mixed results, with standard 1080p videos playing fine. The player choked on YouTube’s 60 fps video, something that didn’t happen with the 60 fps game streams from the consoles. But even so, it was watchable, and I didn’t see any major lag in the keyboard or mouse inputs. Very nice.

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