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UseNeXT

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Founded in 2004, UseNeXT is a German newsgroup service which claims to be 'one of the best Usenet providers worldwide', but its website struggles to back that up.

A claimed 3,400 days retention sounds good, for instance, but how does that break down between binary files and text? The company doesn't say.

UseNeXT's six data centers in Europe and the US is a more obvious plus point. Support for 30 simultaneous connections is also worth having – budget Giganews plans have only 20, although you can get 50 with the Diamond plan – and UseNeXT's claimed top speed of 800 Mb/s should be more than enough for most users.

UseNeXT offers six plans. It's SMART+ option is highlighted as the Best Deal, and offers 30GB a month of data at a maximum download speed of 800Mb/s. There's also a 'flatrate' server where you can download what you like, without using up your data allowance, but speeds are limited to 2,000Kbps. It's priced at 7.95 Euros (£6.99, $9.20), which is better value than some, but can't compete with the budget providers. NewsDemon gives you 50GB for £3.60 (4.12 Euro, $4.76) or unlimited traffic for £6.99 (8 Euro, $9.24), for instance, both with SlickVPN thrown in.

The Premium+ Plan gives you 250GB of data, this time at a maximum speed of 200Mbps. It costs 19.95 Euros a month for a three-month term, which again looks a little costly. Giganews Platinum plan offers unlimited monthly access with no throttling for $19.99 a month.

UseNeXT has monthly plans, too, and they're more reasonably priced, with the Smart plan providing 30GB data a month with a maximum download speed of 200Mbps.

If you're curious, UseNeXT offers a 14-day free trial with 10GB of maximum-speed access to enable finding out more.

Privacy 

The UseNeXT website states the service offers 'maximum security', but it looks much like anyone else, really: there's 256-bit SSL encryption, a promise that the company won't store your IP address, and that's essentially it (no bundled VPN or other surprise privacy extras here.)

We clicked the Privacy Policy link to find out more, but weren't impressed to find it was only available in German, even when we specifically selected the English language site.

Speedy use of Google Translate gave us an approximate idea of the document, but that didn't leave us any more impressed. Although it was almost 3,500 words long, the Privacy Policy covered the website, registration, newsletter tracking, web analytics and so on, without mentioning the Usenet service at all.

Knowledgebase

Would the web knowledgebase at least give us some idea of the privacy basics, we wondered? Nope. It's almost entirely focused on account administration tasks (how to upgrade, cancel) and simple setup information, with no general tutorials or guides. UseNeXT doesn't just avoid discussing IP addresses or VPNs; a search of the Support site found it didn't even have a single article containing the word 'privacy', which probably tells us everything we need to know. 

Performance 1

Performance

Signing up for UseNeXT starts by entering your email address and country. The service then requests your payment details, with both credit cards and PayPal accepted. It all looks very normal, but there are some potential catches here.

Although the company says you get 14 days for free, it also says you must cancel 'at least one day before the contract period expires' to avoid being automatically signed up to the Smart+ plan. This seems to contradict the terms of the service, which suggest you can cancel at any time within the 14 days, but keep it in mind.

Cancellation isn't straightforward, either. You can't just choose an option in a web console; UseNeXT requires you to call a German phone number (which isn't available 24/7) or send an email to inform the company that you're not interested. The small print warns you that your request must be 'clear', too, and of course UseNeXT gets to decide exactly what that means.

UseNeXT would argue that it explains all this in its Terms and Cancellation Policy, and maybe it does, but just take a quick look at that link, 4,000 words of dense legalese.  Here's an example:

"If you have requested the services to begin during the cancelation notice period, you must pay us a reasonable amount corresponding to the proportion of services already provided up to the time at which you notify us of the exercise of the cancelation right relating to this Agreement compared with the total extent of the services provided for in the Agreement."

Got that? Us neither. Even if you carefully read all 4000+ words, it would be easy to miss some of the implications of what you're signing up for.

We're not just talking about theoretical risks. Type UseNeXT into Google and you'll find plenty of reports of people who say they have been caught out by the free trial, have been charged unexpectedly and then pursued for 'debts' after they thought they had cancelled. 

You'll get complaints for any service, if only from customers who weren't paying attention or competitors trying to run a company down, and normally we try to avoid placing any great weight on reports we've not confirmed ourselves. But these are so numerous that we can't ignore them entirely, and you shouldn't, either. Check out UseNeXT's 1.3 out of 10 rating at Trustpilot, for instance, and make your own mind up.

Prices

We signed up to take the trial anyway, and after providing our payment details the service sent us an email with our login details. Meanwhile the website redirected us to what it optimistically called a 'tutorial', though in reality it said little more than 'download a newsgroup reader and log in using the details we've just sent you.'

Annoyingly, the welcome email and tutorial don't even mention the UseNeXT server name or ports. We had to follow a link to the Support Center and find the 'How do I set up my newsreader?' article to figure this out.

UseNeXT recommended the Grabit newsreader, so we set that up. As expected, it only took a few moments and we could use the server right away.

One issue we noticed immediately is despite the talk of 30 simultaneous connections, UseNeXT only appeared to support 10. If we tried using 30, Grabit would time out on the others or display 'too many connections' errors. Grabit could successfully use 20 connections from Giganews on the same setup, so this seemed to be a UseNeXT issue rather than some problem with our system or software.

Performance overall was unspectacular, with UseNeXT managing maybe 2Mbps from one connection and around 10Mbps when using all ten, broadly similar to our Giganews setup. Benchmarking Usenet providers is difficult, and you may see different results depending on your hardware, software and location, but from what we can see, UseNeXT's performance isn't anything out of the ordinary.

We ran a few simple retention tests where we tried downloading files dating back to around 2010. Giganews would often tell us that it didn't have that newsgroup or couldn't find the article, but UseNeXT always found the files. The service does appear to deliver on its retention promises, but keep in mind these always vary by newsgroup and file type, and you'll have to try it for yourself to confirm that it has the content you need.

We noticed small issues with the website, including another with language, where for example the site switched from English to German when our session timed out. A menu enables switching it back in a couple of clicks, but it shouldn't be necessary, and isn't what we would expect from a professional provider.

If you have problems with the service, a Help site gives you a few hints, though these are generally very limited. The Setup guide doesn't give you tailored information for popular newsgroup clients, for instance – you're just told the server name and ports the client will use.

There's also a real support team available, and you can get in touch via ticket or a German phone number. Don't hold your breath waiting for a response, though; support is only available 10am to 8pm CET on Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm CET on Saturday, and even then, the company warns that "processing your request might take some time."

Final verdict

UseNeXT offers a fair data allowance for your money, but website issues, limited support, and a stack of very poor online reviews by previous customers make it difficult to recommend.

We've also highlighted the best Usenet providers of 2018

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Dell Latitude 7490

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These are the same chips that all the other laptop makers have access to, so the challenge Dell has is to make the 7490 stand out in other ways.

Dell uses the Latitude brand for a wide range of computing products, including laptops, tablets and Ultrabooks. They’re primarily aimed at business users, though potentially some of the cheaper devices might be of interest to students too.

Of these, the 7000 Series is an Ultrabook range and contains machines that have 12, 13 or 14-inch displays, and either 7th-gen Intel hardware, or, as with the new Latitude 7490 model reviewed here, 8th-gen processors and chipsets.

Dell Latitude 7490

Price, availability and value

If you are willing to accept previous generation Intel technology and relatively little storage space, a Dell Latitude 7490 can be bought for as little £1,119 ($1,049).

However, if you’d like something with more current silicon inside and SSD storage, then the cost is £1,219 ($1,209). A flagship model, with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage is £1,529 ($2,039). Compared with what Lenovo, HP and Toshiba ask for similarly specified hardware, that price seems, like the whole 7490 series, very competitive.

Lenovo has the ThinkPad T480, although it doesn’t offer the same processor on that model (yet). It isn’t on the Lenovo X1 Carbon either, and that costs more for a lower spec.

On price, the HP EliteBook 1040 G4 is a good fit, even if it is still using Intel 7th-gen silicon on that model.

Asus has the excellent ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA that can be found for a little more, but comes with a Core i7 class CPU, 16GB of RAM and double the storage of this review model.

As with most of the Dell range, customization options are available at the point of purchase, but with this series, the amount of RAM and storage is fixed for each model.

If you don’t like the combinations on offer, some memory and storage enhancements are possible by the end user.

Dell Latitude 7490

Design 

For good or bad, the Latitude 7490 is made mostly of plastic.

Where others obfuscate the exact nature of their devices with paint and thin metal facings, Dell embraces plastic as its material of choice, and the surface finish achieved with it is admirable.

Poorly designed plastic machines flex and buckle, but the Latitude 7490 feels ridged and robust in all the critical areas, like the hinge, and where you place your palms to type.

The screen hinge is strong and allows the display to lie entirely flat. What value this might have on a machine that doesn’t have a touch display we’re unsure, but there might be some advantage we’ve overlooked. Some 7490 models do have touch displays, we’re told, although at the time of writing we couldn’t find any on the UK or US Dell sites.

Because of the 180-degree hinge travel, Dell kept the rear of the 7490 entirely clean, with no ports or vents whatsoever at the back. All the ports are on the sides, and the vents are underneath. Therefore, it’s worth bearing in mind that you should never place the machine on a soft surface where the vents could become blocked, as it would undoubtedly overheat.

The ports haven’t changed at all from the 7480 series, with triple USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-A ports and a single Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C. There is also an RJ-45 Ethernet port, Smart Card slot, microSD card and SIM card receptacles.

The review machine didn’t have the LTE module to make use of the SIM slot, and as the standard for these isn’t a global one, the options for the LTE hardware will be different around the world.

Not providing a full-size SD card slot is mildly annoying, but adapters for Type-A USB ports don’t cost much.

The keyboard and trackpad are both better than we’d anticipated and exude the quality we’d expect from a more expensive brand. We especially liked the trackpad, which has keys at both top and bottom instead of using a flexible lower edge.

Dell Latitude 7490

Given the amount of gutter space to the left and right of the keyboard, maybe a wider design could have been employed. That said, the keyboard design works well enough for typing, even with large hands.

Another strong point is the AU Optronics 14-inch IPS panel that’s a decent brightness and has a healthy color gamut. It also doesn’t use pulse-width modulation (PWM) to adjust brightness, with the negative impact that can have on eyesight.

Ergonomically, this is one of the smaller machines in this category, if only by a few millimeters. There are smaller machines, like the Lenovo X1 Carbon, but this device is certainly very portable.

As a replacement for the previous 7480 models, the new 7490 looks much the same from the outside, but has had a complete overhaul internally.

New Intel Kaby Lake R processors have gone beyond what designers could previously imagine with a 15W budget, and the review model had an Intel Core i5-8350U quad-core 1.7GHz (Turbo 3.6GHz) processor under the hood, which is the equal of many desktop CPUs.

Technically this chip can take 25W in a sprint, but also gear down to 10W should longevity be the primary objective.

Dell Latitude 7490

The processor isn’t user upgradable, but it is possible to remove the base by undoing eight screws – then you can increase the amount of RAM and change the storage options.

Security

Business machines are more focused on security than consumer notebooks, and the Dell Latitude 7490 is well endowed to keep its contents safe.

The three main pieces of the security puzzle are a Smart Card reader, NFC sensor and fingerprint reader. Those who also want face recognition can add it as an option, but the review machine just had a simple 720p 2D camera.

Those who are inherently paranoid, and we all should be by now, will be concerned that the camera doesn’t have a privacy cover.

The fingerprint reader is a high-quality device that rarely misread in our tests. As this is likely to be the security mechanism most people will use, it’s a big plus point that it works reliably.

Specifications 

The Intel Core i5-8350U quad-core CPU is rapidly becoming the darling of laptop designers. It delivers much of the power that the Intel Core i7-8550U offers but has a lower unit cost and a less detrimental impact on battery life.

The 8GB of DDR4 system memory and 256GB of storage is enough to run, but heavy users might find that storage gets somewhat snug after a few months use.

The Dell policy on memory and storage is that these things aren’t generally adjustable in the customization part of the purchase path, and therefore if you want more, then you need to choose a different model. Or, get a screwdriver out and source the parts for a user upgrade.

Usage and performance 

Many laptop makers are offering machines with the slower Core i5-8250U that runs at 1.6GHz, but less have the Core i5-8350U (1.7GHz) used in this machine.

That’s only 100MHz quicker, or 200MHz with Turbo, but this machine performs much better in many respects. It breezes through most office tasks, and the SATA SSD allows the laptop to wake rapidly from sleep and be ready to do something immediately.

Dell Latitude 7490

The only place this device doesn’t shine is when doing 3D graphics work, because the UHD Graphics 620 GPU is something of a slug at that job.

Combining the Thunderbolt and HDMI ports, it is possible to drive three displays simultaneously with this GPU. Just don’t expect much to happen rapidly on all of them if you do this, as only one will be GPU accelerated.

Without a discrete GPU this hardware isn’t of interest to a designer or gamer, but for general business use, it is an excellent workhorse.

The benchmark scores reveal that there is only one part holding back this Dell notebook, and that’s the SATA-based SSD. Compared with a machine using a conventional hard drive it is flying, but any drive-related scores could be improved by using an NVMe solution.

Dell used an Intel 545s M.2 SATA drive in the review hardware, and on paper, it looks fine. But in some of our writing tests, it didn’t perform that well, and the IOPS it delivers don’t compare favorably with those you’d get from a Corsair or Western Digital.

The CPU-related tasks all hit great numbers, and not far from what the Core i7-8550U-based machines are capable of. As they share an identical Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU, the results for anything graphical are almost the same.

That’s the other weakness of this design, but it shares this limitation with every Intel 8th-gen machine of whatever specification.

Using a Datacolor Spyder5 calibrator, we analyzed the screen and found that it could display 99% of the sRGB gamut and 75% of AdobeRGB. Those are good numbers for a portable device, even if they’re not high enough for professional color work.

Battery life 

Portable computers are often defined by their power resources and management. And the battery tests we did on the Latitude 7490 underlined what an efficient and streamlined package it is where power is concerned.

Dell Latitude 7490

Using the PCMark08 Work test, we ran the machine at maximum speed for 7 hours 51 minutes, and configured for longevity, the laptop managed an impressive 10 hours 51 minutes.

What substantially helps this model is the 60WHr battery with a whopping 7500mAh, at least 20% more capacity than most competitive products offer. With this capacity, running all day including additional time on a commute is both realistic and practical.

There is only one aspect of the machine that we don’t care for, and that’s the Dell proprietary PSU. It might have a nice glowing end so that you can find it in the darkest hotel room, but this machine has a USB Type-C port, and a Type-C charger would have been ideal.

Dell Latitude 7490

A peek inside

We can’t resist opening up machines, even if the makers occasionally aren’t keen.

Inside the 7490 is a very refined space with almost no room for anything extra, except an unused DDR SODIMM module slot, and a PCIe slot for the optional LTE modem.

Dell Latitude 7490

There isn’t room for a conventional 2.5-inch SATA device, though the M.2 slot will take a bigger module, and it is also compatible with NVMe PCIe M.2 drives.

For those who want to go inside the laptop, removing the base is a very straightforward exercise that only requires the undoing of eight screws. A nice touch is that the plastic base panel retains the screws, so you can’t misplace them once the cover is taken off.

Dell Latitude 7490

Final verdict 

There is so much to like in the Latitude 7490, despite it being a very derivative design from what came before. The new Intel silicon performs admirably, and this Dell machine has enough battery longevity so it won’t disappoint those who like to work on the move.

In short, the Latitude 7490 ticks more boxes than we have the right to expect at this price.

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Teclast F7

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The flow of MacBook-like laptops from China continues unabated. After the Teclast F6 Pro, the Chuwi LapBook Air and the Alldocube Thinker i35, we get to scrutinize the Teclast F7, which was launched earlier this year – but we received a refreshed model, one that comes with an SSD instead of the original slower (and smaller) eMMC storage.

Teclast F7

(Note: At the time of writing, and for a limited period, Gearbest is providing a free sleeve and a wireless mouse worth just over $14 for every purchase of the F7).

Design

Teclast’s F7 uses a tried-and-trusted chassis, one that we’ve seen a gazillion times before, which takes cues from the original Apple MacBook Air.

So, you get a large hinge, a brushed metal silver/aluminum finish, a matte display, a large touchpad with a notch underneath, a wedged profile, four black rubber feet and tapered edges.

Teclast F7

It’s as if Chinese laptop manufacturers have been reusing Apple’s production lines after the firm changed the design of the MacBook. The only differences are smaller bezels, more ports, and Teclast’s name etched on the top cover (in white).

Teclast F7

There are two USB 3.0 ports, one microSD slot, a microHDMI output, one audio port and a proprietary power connector. The F7 feels solid with little flex on the keyboard or display, but we’re not big fans of the bottomless USB port design.

Teclast F7

Even with a 14-inch display, this laptop is reasonably thin and light, occupying a slightly bigger footprint than an A4 page with a thickness of around 16mm and a weight of just over 1.34kg. This notebook isn’t in the Dell XPS 13 category, but it’s close enough.

Specifications

This is an Apollo Lake-based device with 6GB of non-upgradable RAM and a 128GB M.2 SSD which can be replaced by a bigger capacity model. As with the F6 Pro, this is one of Teclast’s own SSDs, the NS550-2242. Teclast is the only laptop manufacturer we know of that uses its own-brand storage.

Engineers have also incorporated a pair of microphones with noise reduction capabilities to deliver better performance when working with Microsoft’s Cortana.

The rest of the spec sheet includes a 50Whr battery, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 (thanks to the Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 3165 solution), plus Teclast judiciously bundled a white monobloc power supply unit, a 12V,2A (24W) affair, with a long cable. Impressive!

Usage and performance

The one big weakness of the F7 is its battery life. At just over two hours, it is simply not good enough and is about half what other devices based on Intel’s N3450 CPU managed to achieve. We retested the F7 several times using the same YouTube test (running a count-up timer at 100% brightness until shutdown) and got almost the same figures.

Teclast F7

However, when it came to sheer performance, this laptop exceeded all the N3450-based devices we’ve tested on all benchmarks – and that is partly because of the speedy SSD used, one that easily outdid eMMC-based hardware. This is definitely the way to go.

The F7 is also one of the very few Chinese laptops that come with an unlocked BIOS, and we checked it to make sure that the Power Limit option was not disabled. Disabling it would bump up the speed of the CPU which would have a detrimental impact on battery life (but would improve overall performance).

The keyboard felt snappy, with decent travel and feedback. The touchpad was also very responsive and accurate, one of the best we’ve seen on value laptops. The display, a matte IPS affair, was similarly impressive with good color accuracy.

Competition

Jumper’s EZBook 3S is marginally more expensive but packs a much bigger SSD (256GB) which obviously makes it a better choice if you want more storage capacity. The rest of the specification (RAM, CPU, screen dimensions, connectivity) are exactly the same which makes the final decision easier. A cheaper version with 64GB of eMMC storage exists, but the savings to be made on the EZBook 3L Pro are a false economy. Foot the extra $30 or so instead.

Teclast F7

The LapBook 12.3 from Chuwi is another slightly cheaper alternative. It uses the same CPU/RAM combination and has a smaller display but a much higher screen resolution (140% higher, in fact). The flipside is that it comes with slower eMMC storage, with less capacity, too. You can add an M.2 SSD to it though.

And if your budget can’t extend to $299.99 (£227), there’s the Yepo 737A which sports the same hardware (with a slightly smaller display and form factor) with a 64GB eMMC storage subsystem. However, you can use the savings (a substantial $80 – around £60) to add a much bigger M.2 solid-state drive for considerably smoother performance.

Teclast F7

The dark horse of the competition remains the DeeQ A3 which costs the same as the F7 at the time of writing. It is peculiar in that it uses a Celeron J1900 processor, a desktop chip, plus it combines 8GB of RAM with a 64GB SSD and a 500GB hard disk drive. Expect it to be heavier and have a worse battery life than Teclast’s laptop.

We couldn’t find a similarly configured, brand new laptop (thin-and-light, Full HD display, 6GB RAM or more system memory, 128GB or more storage) for less than $500 or £500.

Teclast F7

The business take

This is an excellent entry-level laptop. Windows 10 runs smoothly, it is portable, reasonably quick and has a good pair of input peripherals and an equally good quality display. The battery life is appalling, though, and is this device’s most glaring weakness.

We might have been unlucky with a dodgy unit as no battery-related issues have yet been reported (one reviewer mentioned a shorter battery life, but nothing as extreme as what we experienced). Businesses will like its clean, conservative design and balanced performance, while tweakers will appreciate the fact that this laptop’s BIOS is unlocked.

Teclast F7

Final verdict

Bar the short battery life – which could be an issue pertaining to this being a preproduction model – this is one of the best sub-$300 laptops on the market. That said, there’s a new wave of Gemini Lake laptops around the corner – but for now, the Teclast F7 is the one to beat in this price bracket.

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GoDaddy Website Builder

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GoDaddy's Website Builder is an easy-to-use product which the company says enables anyone to "build a better website in under an hour."

The service provides a simple editor which allows creating responsive websites from pre-built content blocks. An integrated Getty image library means great pictures are never more than a click or two away, and GoDaddy says you can design sites on anything from your desktop to your phone.

Website Builder's starter Personal plan gives you all the basics for £4.99 ($6.50) a month plus tax.

The Business plan adds an SSL certificate, some SEO assistance and simple PayPal integration for £6.99 ($9.10) a month.

Business Plus adds social media integration, including the ability to create a Facebook page for your site (or manage the one you have already). Email marketing tools allow sending up to 50,000 emails a month to a maximum of 5,000 subscribers, and website performance should be improved by "globally-optimized speed" (CDN integration). This seems reasonable value at £10.99 ($14.30) a month.

Finally, the Online Store plan includes a capable e-commerce solution, with support for up to 1,500 products. You also get credit card, PayPal and Apple Pay support, and extras including discounts and coupons, configurable shipping and tax rates, inventory management, abandoned cart recovery, and more.

There's a lot of functionality, but the price is relatively high at £19.99 ($26) a month, and specialist e-commerce platforms such as Shopify have far more powerful services for only fractionally more (around $29).

If you're even slightly tempted, the good news is that GoDaddy provides a one-month trial to check out what the service can do. There are no credit card details required, so no commitments or danger of any accidental billing – you can just browse the interface and see what you think.

Getting started

Signing up for Website Builder requires you to first create a GoDaddy account. This doesn't involve anything out of the ordinary: you can either hand over your email address and choose a username and password, or take the one-click route by using your Facebook account.

GoDaddy next asks for the name and topic of your website. This isn't to choose a template, unusually – it's just so that Website Builder can select matching images for your starting site. For example, when we chose Computers as a topic, GoDaddy picked a photo of a laptop as our main image (imaginative, it isn't).

Surprisingly, that's it. You're not asked to authenticate your email address, provide payment details or anything else. GoDaddy skips all that, generates a basic default site and displays it in the editor.

Our first results looked very simple – just a single-page website with none of the visual flash of a quality template. But there were some signs of genuine power, including a Contact Us form and an option for visitors to sign up to a mailing list, often a premium feature elsewhere. Overall, it wasn't bad for two minutes work, and you can always tweak and adjust it later.

GoDaddy Website Builder

Editor

The Website Builder editor opens by displaying a simple preview of your website. Unlike most competitors, this doesn't support in-place editing. You can't resize objects, drag and drop them, edit text directly on the page or do anything else from the editing area to immediately affect the site.

Instead, to carry out any useful work, you must click a website object – a header, a text box, an image – to view its properties in a right-hand sidebar. That gives you access to captions, text, image controls and more, and you can adjust these to customize the page.

While this works, it doesn't feel nearly as natural as editors which allow you to manipulate content more directly. With 1&1 Website Builder, for instance, just moving your mouse cursor over an image or text box highlights its border for speed resizing, and you can click inside a text box to begin editing its contents right away. Here you're forever switching your attention between the page and the sidebar, which becomes distracting over time.

As the initial site is extremely basic, you'll probably want to begin by making some major edits. You might start with choosing a new theme, a combination of font and color scheme. There are only eight of these bundled with the service, but they look very different and it's easy to create your own.

Scrolling down the page reveals multiple Add buttons in the margins. Clicking these allows adding pre-built content blocks called ‘sections’. These include basic content containers (photo galleries, video and audio players, custom HTML code), standard page elements (About Us, Contact Us, Menu and Price Lists), more complex integrations (blogs, calendars, e-commerce) and supporting tools (accept reservations, collect email subscribers).

GoDaddy's business-oriented sections are the clear highlights. The ability to build a mailing list, take appointments and integrate iCal-compatible calendars may be essential for some business sites, and GoDaddy makes it easy to add these and set them up.

One immediate problem is there aren't many other sections, and what you get isn't generally very configurable. There are just three Blog templates to choose from, for instance, and even a section called Content – which you might think would have scope for infinite variations – only includes seven.

You can't do much to customize the layout of a section. There's no way to resize a video, add an image box next to a text block, drop in a Share button or anything else.

GoDaddy Website Builder

There are no significant low-level editor features, either. We didn't notice any keyboard shortcut support, there are no right-click menus, and you don't even get a general Undo, although there is an option to manually back up a site so you can restore it later.

For the most part, though, Website Builder's editor is horribly basic. If you're looking to knock up a simple website in half an hour, you might not care. But anyone with any interest in tuning or customizing their site will get very frustrated, very quickly.

GoDaddy Website Builder

Media

Website Builder's media support is as limited as the rest of the product. Native widgets allow embedding images, slideshows and simple photo galleries, YouTube or Vimeo videos, and SoundCloud tracks and playlists. The ability to insert custom HTML might allow you to add other content, but there are no other add-ons or controls to extend your website's abilities.

There are a few small plus points. GoDaddy offers a good stock photo library, for instance. We searched on multiple keywords and most of them returned plenty of quality images. Need a shot of 'headlights', for instance? We found 25.

A My Uploads area is another handy feature. Upload your favorite images and they're stored in the cloud, allowing you to add them to additional web pages without having to find or upload them again.

Elsewhere, though, the editor delivered no more than the core media-handling essentials. This isn't a service for demanding or ambitious users.

GoDaddy Website Builder

Blogging

Until recently, Website Builder's sole blog offering was a frontend for displaying the posts on an external blog, with no management options of its own. It was a horribly basic and unprofessional approach, and totally inadequate for anyone looking to build a business site.

This is beginning to change with the introduction of Website Builder's own integrated blog, allowing you to create and publish posts from within GoDaddy's web console.

Features are limited, even by the standards of a first beta. Posts are created in a custom editor which supports only text, images and dividers; you can't schedule when posts are published; posts can have categories, but not tags, and there's no comments system (not even via a third-party like Facebook or Disqus).

The implementation is clumsy, too, with an awkward interface which is entirely separate from the main editor.

Put it all together and this clearly isn't a blog for serious users. But it's better than it was before (no, really), and hopefully GoDaddy can add more functionality over time.

GoDaddy Website Builder

E-commerce

After all our Website Builder disappointments, we didn't hold out much hope for the integrated web store. But we were wrong on that score, because it turned out to be a surprisingly decent system.

The Add Products dialog is neatly designed, and gives you plenty of control over your product details. You're able to provide names, images, regular and sale prices, an SKU for inventory management, and mark products as taxable or not. You can configure both product options (color, size) and add-ons (gift wrapping), and price them accordingly.

Shipping options allow you to calculate costs by weight, product dimensions, or by using a specific per-product shipping price. You don't get the flexibility and features of a dedicated e-commerce platform, but it's still far more useful than the very basic flat rate schemes used by many other stores.

Abandoned cart support – often a premium feature elsewhere – allows sending automated emails to remind customers to check out. There's support for accepting payments by Stripe and PayPal, and applying tax rules according to your location. Bonus features include the ability to build up subscriber lists and launch email campaigns, handy extras that (again) you won't always see with other builders.

None of this makes up for Website Builder's other limitations, and the £19.99 ($25) a month cost for the store plan is quite high – specialist e-commerce platform BigCommerce enables building industrial-strength web stores from $29.95 (£23). But it is a surprisingly capable product, and if your website needs a simple web store, GoDaddy should be on your shortlist.

Support

Website Builder has a sizeable web knowledgebase of support articles, but these can't be viewed directly from the editing screen. You must open the GoDaddy help site in a separate browser tab, and browse the articles there.

The site has a search box, and when we entered the keyword 'video' it displayed a list of supposedly relevant searches: video background, video choppy, video file size, and so on. While that sounds great, most of the search results are forum threads which have nothing to do with the apparent topic.

Searching for 'video background' doesn't tell you how to set a video as your page background, for instance (Website Builder isn't even capable of that). Instead you're linked to forum posts with titles like "Add link to video" and "How to upload video from URL?" The 'video choppy' and 'video file size' searches are equally pointless as Website Builder only plays videos hosted elsewhere, and there's nothing you can do to change the video quality or size.

We ran searches for single keywords and although these typically returned many articles, most had nothing useful to say on our chosen topic.

Even when you do reach the most important articles, the results are mixed. Our video search got us a genuinely helpful walkthrough on setting up a video control. But searching for blog help gave us setup instructions based on a different interface and a previous software version, leaving us more confused than when we started.

If you can't find your answer online, GoDaddy offers phone support, although you'll have to get through the automated menu system first. This asks for an unusual amount of information before allowing you in – your phone number, customer number, support PIN – but the questions do eventually come to an end.

What's more, when we finally reached the support line, GoDaddy delivered. Our call was answered within 20 seconds, and a friendly agent resolved our simple blog-related question right away.

There's no guarantee you'll see the same results with complex issues, but it's good to know that phone support is there, and it's far better than the 'send an email and we'll reply when we feel like it' systems you might get with smaller website builders.

Final verdict

Basic site designs and a lack of customization options mean that GoDaddy's Website Builder isn't for demanding users, but if you're mostly interested in selling online then its web store might appeal, and the responsive phone support was a plus, too. Overall, it’s worth a look – just about.

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Dell XPS 13 (2017)

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Este es un análisis de el modelo Dell XPS 13 2017. Has click en la liga para leer nuestro análisis practico de el modelo mas reciente Dell XPS 13 2018.

Por tercer año consecutivo, el modelo de la computadora portátil tipo laptop “Dell XPS 13” es todavía nuestro favorito. Al encontrar que su diseño luce la misma presentación que años anteriores te estarás preguntando cuales son las diferencias de la versión Dell XPS 13 2017 modelo “Ultrabook” mas representativo de esta compañía y de el cual años después de todo este tiempo, aun continuamos fascinados

Encima de todos, esta versión actualizada se enfoca a mejorar sus especificaciones. Así que mientras descubres los pequeños cambios por afuera, por adentro ahora consiste de un procesador Intel de octava generación de la serie “Kaby Lake Refresh”, si es que puedes adquirirlo dado a que contienen doble de “Cores” que en generaciones anteriores de el modelo Dell XPS 13.

Claro que, al concentrar la atención casi exclusivamente en mejorar el funcionamiento en esta actualización, el modelo Dell XPS 13 2017 aun hereda algunos problemas que sufría con anterioridad pero en particular, la pobre posición de la cámara web

Disponibilidad y precio

Como anticipamos, el costo de el modelo Dell XPS 13 no ha cambiado. El precio de la configuración mas básica en el mercado es de $799 dólares en los Estados  Unidos de América (USA) y no parece haber diferencia al precio de el año pasado. Pues aun continuaras recibiendo por ese precio la configuración de un procesador de séptima generación Intel Core i3-7100U, 4GB de RAM, un tarjeta de memoria (SSD) con una capacidad de 128GB y una pantalla de alta definición completa (full HD) “InfinityEdge”.

Los únicos modelos que han cambiado son aquellos que pertenecen a una línea mas alta. Esto se debe a que los procesadores de octava generación solo existen en un circulo exclusivamente lujoso de alta velocidad. Existe la opción de incrementar las especificaciones de tu Dell XPS 13 con un procesador Intel Core i7-8550U, 16 GB de RAM, y una tarjeta de memoria (SSD) con capacidad de 256GB por un precio de $1,749 dólares americanos. La configuración que hemos examinado cuesta $1,299 americanos, £1,268 libras esterlinas o $2,299 dólares australianos.

(Los precios y configuraciones incluyen Windows Hello y detector de huella dactilar) 

Sin embargo en el Reino Unido, los precios comienzan desde las £1,118.99 libras esterlinas y con una increíble variedad de 11 configuraciones diferentes empezando con un procesador de séptima generación Core i7 detrás de una pantalla FHD, con 8GB de RAM y una tarjeta de memoria (SSD) con 256GB de capacidad. En las configuraciones mas altas encontraras al Dell XPS 13 con una pantalla QHD de tacto apoyada por un procesador de octava generación Intel Core i7, al igual que contiene 16GB de RAM y tarjeta de memoria (SSD) con una capacidad de almacenamiento de 1TB a un súper precio de £1,818.98 libras esterlinas. 

(en el Reino Unido, existen varias opciones de sistema operativo pre-instalado que incluyen, Ubuntu Linux en lugar de Windows 10) 

Finalmente el modelo Australiano comienza con un precio de $799 dólares australianos por la siguiente configuración: Procesador de séptima generación Intel Core i5 detrás de una pantalla FHD, 8GB de RAM y tarjeta de memoria (SSD) con una capacidad de 256GB. La parte mas alta de esta línea ofrece 10 opciones de configuraciones diferentes en esta región. El modelo Dell XPS 13 con una configuración de procesador de octava generación Intel Core i7, pantalla QUD+, 16 GB de RAM y tarjeta de memoria (SSD) con capacidad de 512GB viene con un precio de $2,399 dólares australianos y el modelo de color “rosa-dorado” costara $100 dólares australianos mas con los mismos componentes. 

Para comparar, el modelo MacBokk Pro de 13 pulgadas tiene un precio mínimo de $1,299 dólares americanos, £1,249 libras esterlinas o $1,899 dólares Australianos por una configuración de: Procesador de séptima generación Core i5, 8GB de RAM y tarjeta de memoria (SSD) de 128GB de capacidad detrás de su pantalla Retina 2,560 x 1,600. Mientras que el modelo Surface Laptop de Microsoft cuesta $999 dólares americanos, £979 libras esterlinas o $1,499 dólares australianos con una configuración de: Pantalla de tacto 2,256 x 1,504 PixelSense, acompañada por un procesador de séptima generación Intel Core i5 con 4GB de RAM y tarjeta de memoria (SSD) de 128GB de capacidad.

Por cualquier razón, el modelo XPS 13 parece ser que continua ofreciendo no solamente mas opciones, sino también el mejor valor por su precio en todas las áreas, que los competidores de mayor popularidad.

Diseño

Si te gusta el diseño y la presentación de el modelo “Dell XPS 13” entonces, estas de suerte. Si no es así, la versión de este años no hará nada para atraerte. Esto es porque absolutamente nada acerca de el diseño exterior ha cambiado incluyendo medida, chasis o su peso.

El laptop Dell XPS 13 no es ni mas delgado o ligero que antes pues la configuración que incluye la brillante pantalla de tacto QHD+ pesa 2.9 libras (1.29kg) y la versión de pantalla opaca FHD pesa 2.7 libras (1.2kg) además que las dos configuraciones tienen el mismo grosor de 0.6 pulgadas (15mm).

Claro, aun retiene la hermosa base y tapa de aluminio que le da lugar a su cómodo tablero fabricado en material de fibra de carbón terminado en pintura suave-al-tacto. El laptop continua estando disponible como esperábamos en color Rosa dorado y también en plateado.

El funcionamiento y uso de el tablero y su área de tacto (Touchpad) son simplemente sublimes como en años anteriores. El espacio de viaje de sus teclas es suficientemente profundo lo cual ofrece una fuerte reacción al tacto. El tablero continua siendo uno de los mejores que hemos usado en una computadora portátil tipo laptop mientras que las características de acabado en cristal de el área de tacto (Touchpad) reconoce los gestos de la mano y ofrece un buen nivel de protección para evitar accidentales presiones de la palma de la mano y la muñeca mientras usas el teclado.

Con todo esto podemos decir que nos gusta mucho el diseño de el modelo Dell XPS 13 aunque nada haya cambiado para bien o para mal. Todas las conexiones de este modelo también continúan siendo las mismas y esto es algo muy bueno si consideramos que este grupo de conexiones es muy completo. Sin embargo, a pesar de que la cámara-web de 720 pixeles trabaja adecuadamente, su posición en la esquina inferior izquierda de el marco de la pantalla es sin duda un error en el diseño y pensamos que tiene que tiene que cambiar en modelos futuros.

Pantalla y sonido

En esta ocasión, hemos tenido la oportunidad de examinar la versión con pantalla  InfinityEdge FHD o resolución de 1,920 x 1,080 de el laptop Dell XPS 13. Mientras la versión QHD+ es un fantástica para trabajar, descubrimos que la opción FHD funciona mas que adecuadamente para el un uso regular que la mayoría de los usuarios necesitan. 

El color y reproducción de imágenes continua siendo excelente y la versión de pantalla opaca trabaja mucho mejor conteniendo el resplandor de luz directa que la versión que requiere cubierta de cristal para la pantalla QHD+. Además que las 400 unidades de brillo (NIT) trabajan muy bien para este propósito.

Aunque el video funciona muy bien en el laptop, en este momento podríamos apreciar una mejoría en el sonido. Como podrás ver, con solo dos bocinas que son horriblemente delgadas en cada lado de el laptop y que están posicionadas apenas encima de el lugar donde la base de aluminio y el tablero se encuentran, el sonido que emerge es bastante pobre. Lo que produce un audio muy pequeño a pesar de tener el control de volumen en un punto alto gracias al amplificador “Waves MaxxAudio Pro”. Aun cuando existe una conexión de audífonos, si este modelo tuviera unas mejores bocinas colocadas por debajo o a un lado de el tablero, esto mejoraría sin duda la calidad y el volumen de el audio.

Aun así y pesar de los puntos negativos con referencia al audio, podemos argumentar que el modelo Dell XPS 13 llega a ser un mejor que el MacBook Pro de 13 pulgadas. Por sus opciones de configuración y la cantidad de conexiones en contra de su precio, el laptop Dell XPS 13 te ofrece un mejor viaje que el ultimo modelo de la compañía Apple.

Analizada anteriormente en diciembre 2017

Ahora, con procesador de octava generación Intel Core, el laptop Dell XPS 13 sorprendentemente ha demostrado ser mas potente y mas durable que nunca antes. El procesador i7-8850U que la unidad que hemos analizado lleva por dentro, rompió toda la gama de pruebas que le asignamos brillando en su rendimiento.

Como podrás ver en la hoja de pruebas (benchmarks), la computadora portátil Dell XPS 13 simplemente ha mejorado en todos los aspectos.

Rendimiento

El procesador i7 funciona mucho mejor con aplicaciones de imagen y gráficos como por ejemplo, la producción de video o la creación de imágenes y modelos en 3D. De igual manera, su rendimiento es excelente en multitareas y la navegación de internet.

Aunque no es eficiente para jugar los mas recientes y complicados juegos de video, podrás disfrutar la habilidad que el XPS 13 ofrece para hacer multitareas al mismo tiempo y jugar juegos de video mas ligeros.

Por ejemplo, al navegar el internet con una docena de pestañas abiertas en Google Chrome incluyendo, música en línea, procesadores de texto y tabuladores, encontramos que el laptop Dell XPS 13 no pierde velocidad alguna y que su funcionamiento esta libre de interrupciones. Esto también incluye una aplicación de “chat” y aun usando el laptop solo con batería.

Además, la ranura de tarjeta de memoria SD invita al trabajo de edición de imágenes y fotografía pues el procesador i7, también funciona maravillosamente en esa área.

Duración de la batería

Dicho todo esto, la mejoría mas notable que encontramos en el Dell XPS 13 desde el modelo de 2016 al mas reciente en 2017, es su duradera carga de batería.  El laptop nos dio una hora y veintidós minutos mas de funcionamiento durante la dura PCMark 8 prueba de durabilidad de la batería y además, tres fantásticas horas con dieciséis minutos mas durante nuestra prueba de reproducción de video.

Los resultados no fueron tan cercanos a las veintidós horas continuas que Dell presume ofrecer en su modelo FHD. Sin embargo, si son mejores que los resultados  obtenidos de los modelos mas recientes de los laptops MacBook Pro y Surface de 6:73hrs y 8:37hrs respectivamente durante la prueba de reproducción de películas que ThecRadar llevo a cabo. 

Así que en general, esperamos que el funcionamiento de el modelo mas reciente de la computadora portátil Dell XPS 13 (por lo menos la versión FHD) pueda durar a lo largo de cortos a medianos vuelos y con algún tiempo de batería de sobra al llegar a tu destino final.

Lo que nos agrada

El modelo Dell XPS 13 pone a trabajar al procesador de octava generación Intel Core de excelente manera, habilitando el mas potente y duradero XPS 13 que hayamos analizado hasta ahora. Sin mencionar que al final, el XPS 13 posee una de las baterías con mas vida que cualquier otro laptop que hayamos analizado con anterioridad.

Lo que nos desagrada

Aunque sabemos que el rediseño de el XPS13 se ve en el horizonte, hubiéramos preferido ver que algunos de los problemas que nos molestan ya hayan sido resueltos en la versión actual. En particular, la mala posición de la cámara-web y el pobre funcionamiento de el audio requieren atención inmediata.

Veredicto final

Al final, la unión de estilo, funcionamiento y precio nos permite ignorar algunos de estos menores defectos y otorgamos a l modelo Dell XPS 13 nuestro premio de El mejor en su clase. Mientras su diseño continua sin cambios año tras año, es aun uno de los laptops mas atractivos a la vista y al tacto que hayamos analizado hasta hoy.

Aun antes de adentrarse al funcionamiento que descubrirás en esta computadora portátil acompañando con sus mejorías en rendimiento y vida de batería, podemos decir que, el simple hecho de superar al MacBook Pro, es un testamento a su longevidad.

Con mucho mas opciones y una mejor propuesta de precio por componente que otras computadoras portátiles líderes en el mercado como Microsoft o Apple, será realmente muy difícil encontrar otro modelo de laptop que mas se acople mejor a las necesidades de cualquier usuario que el modelo Dell XPS 13.

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1&1 MyWebsite

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1&1 MyWebsite is a drag-and-drop website builder from German hosting giant 1&1 Internet.

MyWebsite's Starter plan covers the basics for personal sites. You get unlimited pages and web space, a simple built-in blog, limited SEO settings and website backup and restore. It's priced at £2.99 ($3.75) a month for year one, £6.99 ($8.75) after that, perhaps a little expensive for what you get.

The more capable Basic plan gives you more templates, a free domain, email address and an SSL certificate. You're able to add some business-type features to your site, including customer reviews and appointment scheduling. Extras include access to MyWebsite's stock image library (you get five images for free) and support for using multiple languages within the site. The plan is £0.99 ($1.30) a month for year one, £9.99 ($13.00) a month after that.

The Plus plan allows customizing site content based on the visitor's location, time, device, the number of times they've visited your site, and more. Online marketing features include SEO analysis of the site, and support for your own newsletter. The price leaps up to £9.99 ($13) a month for year one, and a chunky £19.99 ($26) afterwards. That seems expensive when some website builders offers similar products and throw in decent ecommerce tools for a lower price.

MyWebsite used to have a Premium plan which added a web store, but that was recently dropped. Fortunately, the company has a separate ecommerce range (more on those below). There's similar template-based site creation, and prices start at £9.99 ($13) a month in year one, £14.99 ($19.50) subsequently.

All purchases are protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee. This has the usual limits you get with any hosting company – you're not covered for items like new domain registrations, and you can't get a refund if you've had one from 1&1 before – but if these aren't an issue for you, the guarantee gives you plenty of time to find out what the service can do.

1&1 MyWebsite

Getting started

You start off with 1&1 MyWebsite by choosing your free domain. You can skip this step if you're not sure yet or own the domain already, and work on the site using a temporary URL instead.

There's no free trial, and 1&1 asks you to pay for the service upfront. But the most popular Basic plan only costs you £0.99 billed monthly for year one, so there's not much in the way of financial risk or pain.

1&1 presented us with a form demanding our contact details: full name, address and phone number, with company name and type for business users. Log in via PayPal and 1&1 can grab all this information automatically, or you can fill it in yourself and pay by card. Either way, there's no lengthy wait for your email to be confirmed or your account to be 'activated' – MyWebsite redirects you to its setup wizard, allowing you to get started immediately.

At its simplest, you can enter the name and type of site (music, photography, technology, something else), then choose to create an Online Business Card. That's essentially a 'Contact us' page with a name, a little text and some contact details. It might be enough to get started, and you can have it online within minutes.

If you need something more, you're able to choose from more than 400 responsive templates. These are grouped by topics or you can search the collection by keyword, and most of our test searches returned plenty of good-looking designs.

There's a small plus in 1&1's inclusion of a few blank templates, where you get all the core layouts, but no graphics. These could make it easier to see the design of a site, as you're no longer distracted by the big photo of a dog, or a skier, or a pizza, or whatever else is plastered over the front page of a regular template.

Click a template thumbnail and you're able to view larger images of the desktop, tablet and mobile views of the sites. Unfortunately, and unlike most of the competition, there's no option to preview the template as an active site in your browser. You can't switch templates later unless you wipe everything and start again, so it's important to choose carefully.

1&1 MyWebsite

Editor

The MyWebsite editor has a very familiar look and feel. A preview of your website enables clicking and editing images, text and more. A left-hand toolbar allows adding content, changing layout options and customizing site-level settings. And the menu bar includes options to choose the page, set a view type (desktop, tablet, mobile), undo the current action, preview the site and publish it when you're finished.

We moved our mouse cursor around the page and found just hovering over an object showed a rectangle defining its size, gave us handles indicating where and how we could move and resize it, and displayed a delete button to remove the object entirely. That's far more visual feedback than you'll get with many editors, which often give you no clue whether it's possible to move or resize objects at all.

Right clicking an image gave us a well-designed context-sensitive menu. This included standard options to replace the image, customize its layout, change alignment or copy the image to the clipboard. An animation tool enables adding eight custom animations, such as fading the image in from the left, or bouncing it in from the right. We were able to selectively hide the object on desktops, tablets or mobile devices, a hugely powerful feature. Experts can even edit the object's HTML and CSS, giving detailed low-level control over functionality.

Less experienced users shouldn't feel left out. Left-clicking the image displayed a simple but feature-packed dialog with buttons to replace the picture, edit it, add or remove links, change the format, style (borders, shadows, rounded corners) and add a range of hover effects.

These dialogs do an excellent job of combining lots of features in a small space, but without intimidating novice users. The Image control alone has two sections, one with three tabs – approaching 20 function areas in total – yet most of the time you're viewing only three or four. MyWebsite's power is only ever a click or two away, but you won't run into any real complexities unless you go looking for them.

1&1 MyWebsite

The Widgets sidebar allows adding all kinds of content and tools to your pages. Standard options include text, images, buttons and forms. You can embed maps, audio and video files and a host of social content: Share buttons, Twitter feeds, Facebook and Disqus comments, Scribd documents and more.

MyWebsite also offers many more advanced apps and integrations, including Google Translate, Click to Call buttons, OpenTable-based restaurant reservations, a newsletter service, online scheduling, PollDaddy surveys and your company's TripAdvisor reviews.

There's no simple embed widget, which means you can't necessarily integrate other services by pasting in a URL. An HTML widget enables doing much the same thing, though, and the ability to edit site HTML and CSS gives plenty of integration options for users who know what they're doing.

Global site settings go well beyond what we usually see. You're able to set a favicon, social network and iOS home screen icon, or add custom HTML and JavaScript to page headers. It’s also possible to enable cookie notification messages, set a custom 404 error page that users will see if they visit an invalid URL, and even set up redirects from old URLs to their new home – an important option with standard hosting which is routinely ignored by most website builders.

Best of all, your additions, changes and tweaks are well protected by an intelligent autosave feature and a global Undo. Tapping Undo always reversed our previous steps, and even if we took some drastic steps – dragged and dropped a new control, then closed the window immediately – the editor was smart enough to save our site and restore it later.

1&1 MyWebsite

Media

MyWebsite's media support covers a decent range of file types, with widgets for embedding images, sliders, galleries, videos, SoundCloud content and documents (via Scribd). They're mostly very configurable, too.

The Image widget includes a small stock photo library and gives you five top-quality premium images, for instance. Adobe's powerful Aviary editor allows for cropping, resizing and rotating images, applying effects and overlays, tweaking colors and lighting, applying splash effects, fixing red-eye, removing blemishes and more. When you're done, MyWebsite can also apply custom hover effects for whenever the mouse cursor moves over the image (zooms, blurs, opacity and more).

MyWebsite's Photo Gallery has 10 sample layouts to display images in grids, rows, columns, mosaics and more. There's pixel-level control over spacing and many options for defining text, frames and colors. The Image Slider is similarly powerful.

The Video and SoundCloud widgets are more typical. You can embed videos from YouTube and Vimeo, for example, and set the player width, but little more.

The Scribd widget is a welcome extra which allows accessing documents posted in Scribd via your website. There aren't many options because Scribd's viewer is doing most of the work, but we're happy that the feature is available.

MyWebsite's Content Library is a central point for managing your website content, including images, documents and anything else that you need to reuse on your site without having to upload it every time. Many builders have something similar for uploading new media, but MyWebsite takes the idea to the next level by finding and importing data from your previous website, too.

The process couldn't be much easier. Tap the Import Content button, give MyWebsite a URL and it searches it for images, downloads, and contact details like your phone number, physical address and social media links.

The results were impressive. In one click we could automatically set all the details on our new website to match the imported data. There was no need to add our own address to the Facebook URL, for instance – MyWebsite could manage this all on its own.

MyWebsite imported all the images it found on our original website and Facebook account, too. These were immediately available in the Content Library, and we could reuse them in our MyWebsite image, gallery and slider controls with a couple of clicks.

This feature won't work for everyone, and if you don't need to reuse previous media, it won't matter anyway. But it is a welcome sign of 1&1's ambition, and its ability to deliver features you won't often find elsewhere.

1&1 MyWebsite

Blogging

MyWebsite comes with a simple blogging platform which can be added to your site in seconds. Unusually, this doesn't force you to start with a blank template. If you have an existing blog, point MyWebsite at its RSS feed and it can import your posts, images and Disqus comments, ideal for ensuring a smooth migration from your previous host.

Skip the import step and MyWebsite generates a couple of generic posts as an alternative. These help you see and test how the system works, although experienced users can simply delete them and start from scratch.

New posts are created in a special full-screen editor, rather than directly on the page. This is much simpler than the regular MyWebsite editor, only allowing a very small number of formatting options and widgets (text, image, heading, video, divider and custom HTML). If you want to add a photo gallery, for instance – hardly an unlikely situation – you'll be out of luck.

Even basic features of the main editor are missing in the blog. Right clicking an image on a web page displays a context-sensitive menu with all kinds of handy options; right-clicking an image on a blog page only displays the normal right click menu for your browser.

Settings and posting options are also limited. You can add tags to a post, but it’s not possible to organize posts into categories, and there's no way to schedule a post to be published on a specific date.

Once your posts are online, users automatically have the ability to comment using MyWebsite's Facebook Comments integration. This is simple and requires no effort, but also gives you no control over how they work. Weebly gives you far more power, including support for Facebook, Disqus or its own comments system, optional Captcha and a moderation scheme to control spam, email notification of comments, and the ability to close comments on a post after a fixed number of days, or whenever you like.

Overall, the blog is very easy to set up and use, and the import feature could be a major highlight, but the core engine probably won't be powerful enough for demanding users.

Ecommerce

The 1&1 MyWebsite range no longer supports a web store, but the company does have a capable selection of e-commerce plans that you can try instead.

1&1 eCommerce Website Builder Special comes with plenty of store templates, supports unlimited products and throws in a wildcard SSL certificate. The major limit is you're only able to use three payment methods: invoices, direct debits and PayPal Express Checkout. It's priced at £9.99 ($13) a month in year one, £14.99 ($19.50) afterwards.

1&1 eCommerce Website Builder Business adds support for multiple payment methods (credit cards, Stripe, Sage Pay, Amazon Pay, and more), integrated shipping support, marketing tools and the ability to reach some comparison websites (Idealo, Google Shopping, Shopping.com). It's yours for £19.99 ($26) a month for the first year, £29.99 ($39) a month after that.

1&1 eCommerce Website Builder Premium goes further by allowing you to connect to your accounts on eBay and Amazon Marketplace. It's a welcome and unusual plus point, but comes at a cost: £29.99 ($39) a month in year one, £49.99 ($65) a month after that.

We didn't review these products as they're not a part of the MyWebsite range, but you can find out more about them on the 1&1 site.

Support

MyWebsite support starts within the editor. Click any object, and the dialog box that appears will have a help icon. Tap that and a floating window pops up with information about your options. It's all very convenient, and the articles have plenty of useful details.

A general Help button opens the full Support site in a separate browser tab.

Searching the 1&1 knowledgebase didn't return many articles, but there were enough to cover the core points. When we searched on the keyword ‘video’, for instance, the site pointed us to articles on how to embed a video from YouTube or Vimeo, how to include a video in a blog, and how to set a video background.

The article quality was well above average, too. This wasn't just a case of 'paste the video URL here'; they explained other issues, offered troubleshooting advice and related tips.

If you still can't find the answer you need, 1&1 also offers 24/7 phone support. It can be busy but we were able to get connected within a few minutes, a far better response time than offered by many website builders.

Final verdict

It's a little more expensive than some, but MyWebsite's appealing templates, well-designed editor and powerful bonus features enable anyone to build feature-packed and professional websites.

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Audeara A-01 review

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The Audeara A-01 headphones really want to be perfect.

Aimed at producing a tailored listening experience, the Audeara A-01 headphones were developed in tandem with medical professionals. Much like you would wear prescription glasses matched to the capabilities and weaknesses of your eyes, Audeara hopes to offer an audio device you can calibrate to your own listening needs.

The company has some curious beginnings with its first pair of headphones, having come into being with a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter

The audio startup managed to raise over $450,000 in Australia, where the company is based (around $350,000, or £260,000).

With a stated mission to "deliver perfect sound, always", do the A-01s live up the hype?

Design

The design of the Audeara A-01 headphones is largely understated. The straightforward black headphones come in a simple, matte finish, with the Audeara logo lightly embossed on the outside earcups.

These are very well-made headphones and every section of the build boasts the same premium craftsmanship. 

The earcups offer plush padding, with a soft underside to the band to minimize the pressure exerted on your head. The left and right cups are also clearly marked on the inside mesh, meaning you shouldn't find that you've accidentally swapped your two carefully-calibrated ears around.

The buttons along the edge of each cup are satisfyingly tactile, with the feel of a bakelite radio, and are relatively easy to find with your hands.

We had a slight concern, however, with the size. We found the cups snug – if not slightly stifling – and they quickly warmed up in our test, although the premium-feel padding on the cups and band ensured a good level of comfort throughout.

The band can also only extend a very short distance. While it should fit most users, some may find they come up slightly on the small side.

A tailored listening experience

To clarify, the Audeara A-01 headphones are not ready out of the box.

When we first put the headphones on, we found that any music we played came out in a somewhat flat, dull tone. The audio is wonderfully clear, but lacking much presence for highs and lows. 

They gave the impression of listening to a speaker a slight distance away: audible, clear, but far less immersive than we’d hope for the price.

This nearly all changes when you start tinkering with Audeara's EQ app.

Downloaded to your phone from the App Store or Google Play, Audeara's app essentially allows you to fine-tune your audio output across various high, mid, and low frequencies – a process that’s performed separately for both ears.

Audeara's ambition is to allow you to create your own 'prescription' for your ears, in the same way as an eye test would create a prescription for a new pair of glasses.

The shortest 'ear test' takes you through 10 distinct frequencies, playing a number of successive beeps while you tweak the prominence of each frequency on a sliding scale – much like the mixing desk controls in a recording studio.

We fully recommend making use of the longest test (around 15 minutes) to maximize the improvements to your listening experience.

We found ourselves repeatedly jumping back into the app to tweak the output and see what effect it had on various songs on our playlist. 

For a hobbyist who wants to experiment, without investing in more complex editing software, you could happily spend hours tinkering with the frequencies to see the results; others, however, may find the process somewhat time-consuming.

Performance

The Audeara A-01s offer pretty much what we'd expect from a premium set of headphones. They come with full Bluetooth 4.2 functionality for wireless play, alongside a welcome 3.5mm headphone jack for those wanting a tethered connection.

They also offer active noise cancelling, an often indispensable feature in crowded areas or on a morning commute. There's a noticeable improvement with it activated, though we found the natural sound isolation on these snug, well-padded headphones rarely required the additional help.

Even when using the headphones in wireless mode with active noise cancelling, they should last you for an impressive 35 hours, with that extending to 65 hours with noise cancelling disabled. You won't be able to charge and play at the same time, but the battery life will mean you won't come across this issue very often.

The stress on clarity, and on highlighting the frequencies your ears may naturally struggle to pick up, means you don't really require a booming output to hear the detail on each track. This also means the headphones refrain from jumping to a sound level they can't maintain without distortion.

The flipside of this is that you really can't crank up the volume very far.

The Audeara A-01s are headphones that are designed to care for your ears, and you're in no danger of bursting your eardrums. While the audio quality can't be faulted, the controlled soundstage can feel slightly limited in that regard.

They’re really best suited for dedicated listening sessions where audio detail is crucial – say with instrumental, classical, or pop – rather than cranking out head-banging rock or bass-heavy dance tracks. These are headphones for appreciating music, not getting lost in it.

Even after tweaking our EQ prescription to boost the bass, we found the headphones stronger for blasting, say, Tina Turner's vocals than the beats on Deadmau5's Ghosts 'n' Stuff.

And we found that trying to 'game' the system to adjust this could easily throw our calibration off-balance. While the customization offers huge scope to individual listeners, it also requires a level of commitment and attention to get the full benefits.

Verdict

Audeara has set out to deliver 'perfect sound'. And for the right listener, with the right genres of music, calibrated correctly, this is what the Audeara A-01 headphones offer.

We never found the soundstage as immersive as those created by other premium over-ear headphones at this price range, such as the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless.

But in offering a highly personalized listening experience, and showing more consideration for your eardrums than many manufacturers, the Audeara A-01 headphones provide a level of care and customization that’s far ahead of the competition.

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VPNhub

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VPNhub is a new VPN provider launched by top adult video site, Pornhub.

The company says this is all about the anonymity of its users, stating that 'with 90 million visitors a day, the vast majority of whom are using devices on the go, it’s especially important that we continue to ensure the privacy of our users and maintain their confidentiality.'

You don't have to watch Pornhub – or even porn – to use the service, though, and the VPNhub website is as family-friendly as any VPN provider.

VPNhub's free plan sounds like it should appeal to just about anyone, with the website claiming it offers 'unlimited bandwidth on your device of choice.' What it doesn't highlight is that this gets you access to a single US server only, and the free plan is only available on iOS and Android. Still, a free VPN with unlimited bandwidth is always going to be useful.

Signing up for the Premium plan gives you access to 13 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States), as well as faster speeds, and allows you to use the service on Windows and Mac.

We're normally cautious of new VPNs offering lots of locations, as it's not always clear who is behind their network. VPNhub uses servers owned by StackPath, though, the cloud giant behind IPVanish, which gives some reassurance about likely service reliability.

Pricing looks high, at £10.49 ($14.69) for a one-off month dropping to £5.33 ($7.46) if you pay for a year upfront. If you like the IPVanish network, you could sign up with them directly for a little less, at $6.49 (£4.90) per month on the annual plan.

Still, if you'd like to try the service, sign up at your app store of choice and you'll get a week of testing time before you're charged.

VPNhub

Privacy

Understanding who owns a VPN and where they're based can be important, especially when you're trying to judge transparency and any implications for your privacy. Unfortunately, VPNhub makes this more difficult than most.

Checking Google Play shows the company with a Cyprus address, for instance. The VPNhub website FAQ says it’s a US company. The website privacy policy and terms of service are hosted by the developer Appatomic, though, and refer to being based on Californian law. The servers for the Premium plan appear to be owned by US cloud giant StackPath, but the free server seems to be run by someone else.

The privacy policy tries to be a little clearer, with a couple of logging-related statements.

'We do not … track the browsing activities of users who are logged into our VPN service.'

'Appatomic does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Applications or Services.'

This is a reasonable start, but it's too vague to give us any real confidence about what the service might be doing. What does VPNhub mean by saying it won't log the 'use' of its service, for instance? Presumably that means it won't record traffic or your browsing history, but what about DNS requests? Session connect and disconnect times, incoming and outgoing IP addresses? We don't know, and as VPNhub is using other people's servers, it's entirely possible that they're not sure, either.

Looking at the permissions required by an Android app can often give us clues about its intentions, and in this case, they don't look good.

A privacy-conscious VPN app asks only for the bare essential network-related permissions required for it to work. For example, ExpressVPN requires 'View network connections', 'Full network access', 'Receive data from internet' ,'Run at startup', and so on.

VPNhub's app has these, but also requires far more sensitive permissions, including 'Identity', 'Contacts', 'Phone' (device status and identity), 'Photos/Media/Files', 'Storage', 'Device ID & call information.'

None of this proves the app is doing anything to compromise your privacy, but it certainly has the opportunity.

Combine this with the ads in the free plan, which could also give some scope for tracking what you're doing, and VPNhub clearly has a few privacy issues. That may not matter if you just want a simple VPN to encrypt regular internet traffic on public Wi-Fi, but we would think carefully before you use the service for anything important.

VPNhub

Performance

VPNhub must be set up first on a mobile device, so we grabbed a copy of the Android version. Installation was hassle-free, and we were launching the app within a few seconds.

After some initial upselling where the app prompted us to try the Premium version, it bizarrely asked us to set up our VPN by entering our 'device passcode or touch ID'. Uh, what? We had no idea why this would be required – maybe it’s a leftover from the iOS version? – and it seems the app didn't, either, because even if we accepted this step, we weren't asked for any more information.

Once it was set up, using the app was more straightforward. Tap an unlocked padlock icon to connect, the icon changes to a locked padlock, tap it again to disconnect.

There's a separate list of servers, but as the free version only allows access to the US, that doesn't matter very much.

Heading off to the Settings dialog also left us underwhelmed, as it contained a single setting to toggle push notifications on or off. If you're looking for low-level VPN tweakery, you won't find it here.

Performance was reasonable for a free service. Our test Android device averaged download speeds of around 70-75Mbps on Speedtest.net, and this fell to around 18-25Mbps after connecting to VPNhub. That's a significant drop, but it still outperforms some of the commercial services we've seen, and is fast enough for most purposes.

Site unblocking results were also as expected, with VPNhub giving us access to some sites (YouTube, Comedy Central) but failing with the trickier Netflix.

Tapping the 'Start Your Free Week' gives you speedy access to VPNhub's Premium service. Be sure to read the screen carefully, though – by default you're signing up for a monthly subscription which automatically renews at a very expensive £10.49 ($14.69).

Hand over your email address, choose a password, and you're able to use the full set of VPNhub locations, as well as being able to install and use the service on Windows and Mac.

We installed and launched the Windows app and were prompted for the email address and password we had just created. While that's straightforward, there's no option to save the login, which means you'll be prompted for it every time the app launches. Perhaps worse still, even if you set up the service to launch when Windows starts, it won't be able to protect the activities of your other internet-facing startup apps until you've manually logged in.

Enter your credentials and you're prompted to choose an encryption level (AES-256 or 128) and your preferred location.

The server list displays both ping time and load figures to give an indication of which server might be best, but as up to a third of the ping times were typically missing during our tests, this didn't help a great deal.

VPNhub's Windows client doesn't automatically detect the nearest server to your location, and there's no favorites system to easily save a group of commonly-used servers. You can save a single location to become the default server, but this only applies for as long as the client is running. Close and restart it and you'll have to manually choose your favorite location again.

VPNhub

We spotted one possible workaround in the Settings dialog, where there was an option to automatically connect to the fastest server when the app launched. This would speed up the connection process, right? Well, no: it simply didn't work. Whatever automatic option we chose, the app ignored it, and continued to ask us to manually select a server.

The client had a decent selection of connection-related settings, include a choice of protocol (OpenVPN UDP or TCP), an Auto Reconnect option, a Kill Switch, and, unusually, IPv6 as well as DNS leak protection.

We tested the client by forcibly killing the OpenVPN.exe process, effectively dropping the VPN connection. Most clients reconnect after a few seconds, but VPNhub didn't even notice there was a problem. Meanwhile our system acted as though it didn't have an internet connection, and to get it back we had to click Disconnect, clear an error message and reconnect.

Site unblocking performance for US sites proved much the same as the free service: VPNhub got us access to YouTube, Comedy Central and the relatively easy sites, but Netflix detected we were using a VPN and refused to stream any content.

We checked the Premium UK server to see if it unblocked BBC iPlayer, but no luck. The website gave us its standard 'not available in your location' error message.

VPNhub did much, much better in our performance tests. Our test system managed around 75Mbps download speeds without a VPN, and this was barely changed at around 70Mbps when connecting to a UK server. Speeds dropped as we moved further away, but they were almost always very acceptable: near European connections were 50-60Mbps, UK to US connections reached 20 to 30Mbps, even Australia managed 10Mbps, good enough for HD video streaming.

There was more good news in our final privacy checks, where sites including ipleak.net and dnsleaktest.com revealed that VPNhub's servers really were in the promised locations, and there were no DNS or WebRTC leaks to give away any details about us or our web activities.

Final verdict

VPNhub's free unlimited bandwidth plan has some appeal for basic browsing tasks, but its privacy issues and buggy clients make it hard to recommend.

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BoldGrid

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BoldGrid is a powerful drag-and-drop tool for building professional WordPress-based websites.

The service doesn't include hosting. The idea is that you build and test your WordPress site on BoldGrid's Cloud WordPress platform and then transfer it to your choice of web host (all the big-name hosts are compatible, and most of the smaller ones are, too.)

While this is less convenient than other website builders, it also has lots of benefits. The WordPress platform is as reliable and robust as you'll get; it can easily be extended with a huge number of WordPress plugins; there are plenty of people and resources around to help you troubleshoot any problems, and your website can be freely migrated to another web host whenever you like (most website builders tie you forever to their own service.)

As BoldGrid doesn't include hosting, prices are surprisingly low. $60 (£42.86) a year gets you the core website builder, 200+ starter themes, a contact form builder, integrated SEO analysis and more. There are no limits on the number of websites you can build, very handy if you're a budding web designer who would like to create sites for others.

If convenience is a top priority then you can buy BoldGrid via a web hosting company. InMotion's BoldGrid plans start at just $6.39 (£4.56) a month, for instance, rising to $7.99 (£5.71) on renewal. This has a few limits, such as support for only two websites, but it's decent value and does make it easier to put your BoldGrid site online.

Getting started

Getting Started

Sampling BoldGrid's abilities is easier than we expected. Sign up for a free BoldGrid account by handing over your email address, click a button and the service creates your very own Cloud WordPress installation as a BoldGrid testbed. 

Confirm your email address and the Cloud WordPress setup is yours forever. You can use this to try out most BoldGrid features whenever you like, but you won't be able to export your designs until you've purchased a subscription.

If you'd rather not be on BoldGrid's mailing list, you can choose not to confirm your email address. You'll still get a Cloud WordPress installation to try, but it will expire after a couple of days.

We signed up and received a Welcome email only seconds later. Clicking a link to confirm our email address took us to BoldGrid's web console where the site displayed our admin URL (the wp-login.php address for our demo site) and credentials, prompting us to save them later.

Clicking an Administer Site button took us to a standard WordPress dashboard with some useful BoldGrid extras, including a First Time Users startup video and some brief text instructions.

The video is helpful, but if you're in a hurry, you can jump straight to what BoldGrid calls the Inspiration phase.

This starts by choosing a template. There are more than 200 available, and you can browse the full set or filter them by industry (Consulting, Photography, Music, Restaurant, and so on.) Most are highly professional with top-quality images and well-chosen fonts and colour schemes, a major improvement on the more basic designs you'll often find elsewhere.

Selecting a template enables previewing it as a live website in desktop or mobile views. By default you get three pages, but each template has five page and 'kitchen sink' variants, and you can enable a site blog (via WordPress, obviously) with a click.

These starter websites aren't the usual empty shells you'll often get elsewhere, with generic images and 'lorem ipsum' filler text. They look and feel like finished websites, so for example the About page on a photography template has just the kind of background detail you'd expect on a live site: 

"I’ve always had a love for awesome photography, since my father took me along on photo shoots as a young child. The way he could capture a special moment, beautiful landscape or someone’s personality on paper always seemed a little bit like magic."

You can use whatever text you like, of course, but having this kind of content included could give you ideas for what to do on your own site.

The final startup step enables entering your contact details, including name, physical and email address, phone number and social media links. This step is optional, but if you enter any or all of the details, BoldGrid will configure your website accordingly.

Contact form completed (or not), tap the Install button and your newly configured site is saved to your Cloud WordPress setup, ready for tweaking.

Editor 1

Editor

Once setup is complete, your site opens first in BoldGrid's Customizer, a one-stop module for configuring all site-wide options: title, logo, colors, background, fonts, menus and more.

There's a lot more depth than you might expect to many of these settings. Adding a site title isn't just a matter of entering text into a box: you can customise low-level font details, set margins, line height, letter spacing, shadows, and more.

An Advanced section goes even further, with options to add custom HTML, JavaScript and CSS, as well as customize the header and footer with your choice of text and widgets.

Head off to the page editor and you're able to customise the content of your site. Once you've figured out how it works, anyway, and this might take a little longer than you thought.

We clicked on an image at the top of our page, for instance, and seven separate controls appeared around the block: three sets of move and menu icons, a couple of resize icons, edit and delete buttons and a couple of drag and edit icons. There's also a border around the image you can use for resizing, and a context-sensitive toolbar at the top of the page. There are tooltips for everything, but it still makes for an intimidating start.

Explore the various menus, though, and BoldGrid's power will begin to win you over. Click in a text box, for instance, and you don't just get to edit the contents with the industrial-strength WordPress editor You can also adjust the text padding and margins, background images or colors, the border size and type, box shadows and more. There's a huge library of animations, you get the ability to add custom CSS classes, and an option to hide the current object when it's displayed on a particular device type (perhaps preventing a low-priority image from appearing in a mobile view.)

BoldGrid doesn't have a wide selection of widgets and page elements. You're able to add text, media, buttons, maps, forms, and not very much else. That's not the issue it might be elsewhere, as you can add a vast number of features simply by installing a few WordPress plugins, but it will take more time and work to find the addons you need.

The service scores much higher with its blocks, predesigned sets of content which you can use to quickly build a site.

Editor 2

When we chose to add a section to our photography site, for instance, BoldGrid displayed more than 50 relevant designs: image blocks, feature lists, a 'Contact us' section with a map, price lists, events schedules, staff bios, testimonials and more. You can add a block to your page with a click, then drag and drop to position it, before replacing the content to match your own site.

Form support is a highlight, too. Most website builders give you a basic Contact Us form at best; BoldGrid gives you standard forms for messages, addresses, sign up, event registration, shipping information, customer feedback and so on, and you can design more if you need them. As with other BoldGrid features, it takes a little work for figure out the details, but if you're the demanding type, it's worth the effort.

Media

Media

BoldGrid's use of WordPress means you automatically get excellent media support. You're able to upload images, videos, audio files and more to a central media library, organise them into galleries and playlists and easily add them to your page. These features may not be as straightforward as with the specialist website builders, but once you understand the basics, there's a lot to like here.

BoldGrid doesn't have a simple Embed YouTube widget, for instance, but what you do get is an Insert From URL option. You can paste in a link from YouTube, Vimeo and many other video sharing sites, maybe a SoundCloud or other audio URL, perhaps an image, and it'll be added to your page. That's far more effective and powerful than the standard solution of having to choose from four or five widgets which still don't deliver as much functionality.

An integrated BoldGrid Connect Search tool enables searching Flickr and a few other sites for Creative Commons-licensed images to use on your site. This sometimes worked well, but also regularly failed, warning of a BoldGrid Connection Issue. Maybe we were unlucky and this was just a temporary network problem, but it was still a hassle.

There are various customisation features available – you get a bunch of Instagram-type filters, for example – and you can add even more functionality by installing WordPress plugins. Search for Image in the plugin gallery and you'll find all kinds of tools to optimise, edit and display your chosen pictures.

Blog and e-commerce

Basing your site on WordPress can make for a more complicated design and management process than some website builders, but (as we've seen) there are plenty of compensations, and blogging is top of the list. While other services typically have either a very basic blog or nothing at all, BoldGrid enables using your very own WordPress blog with a click, giving you access to every function and feature you could ever need.

BoldGrid doesn't offer any built-in e-commerce functionality. There are no web store templates, PayPal buttons or anything else e-commerce-related.

If you really need to create a store, you could use the WordPress-based WooCommerce, a powerful open-source e-commerce platform with a ton of features.

WooCommerce isn't exactly easy to use, though, and it will add a whole new layer of complexity to your system. If there's a problem with the website, for instance, you'll have to figure out whether it's related to your web host, WordPress, BoldGrid or WooCommerce. No-one else will take ownership of an issue – BoldGrid won't be able to fix a WooCommerce problem, for example – so you'll need time and experience to manage and resolve any situations.

Support

Support

BoldGrid support starts on the website with a basic set of guides and tutorials. These are far from complete, and several are more about sales than support ('What is BoldGrid?'), but there is some genuinely useful content here.

You can address technical questions to BoldGrid in a support forum. This isn't too busy and you might have to wait a day or two for a reply, but every question gets an answer from BoldGrid staff.

If that's not enough for you, consider buying BoldGrid from a web host such as InMotion Hosting. Not only will that simplify your website setup, but you'll also be able to call on the host's support team if you have any urgent issues.

Final verdict

BoldGrid is a smart way to create stylish and configurable websites, particularly for experienced users who'll make use of WordPress, but first-timers will probably be better off elsewhere.

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DreamHost Website Builder

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DreamHost Website Builder, Remixer, is an interesting service which aims to make it easier to build your own websites.

Remixer doesn't have the hidden catches you'll often see elsewhere. You're not forced to use someone else's subdomain, for instance – DreamHost gives you a free domain for a year. There are no limits on the maximum number of pages you can have, your web space or bandwidth.

Surprisingly, you can use the service to create and manage an unlimited number of websites. That's an unusual extra which you don't often get with even some high-end hosting packages.

DreamHost's Standard plan has one significant restriction in that it doesn't support email accounts (you can't host yourdomain.com and set up [email protected] email addresses.) But that won't matter to everyone, and the price is very reasonable at just $4.95 (£3.54) a month. The similar Wix Combo plan limits you to 2GB bandwidth, 3GB storage and a single domain, and is significantly more expensive at £5.16 ($7.22).

If email is critical, the DreamHost All Access plan gives you unlimited email accounts and mail forwarding support for a still reasonable $7.95 (£5.68) a month.

DreamHost themes

Getting started 

Most website builder services spend a great deal of time boasting about their abilities, but very few allow you to get a feel for them before you sign up, even at the most basic level of displaying their templates.

DreamHost is refreshingly different. Point your browser at Remixer's site and you're not only able to look at its small selection of templates (nice designs, but only twelve in total), but you can also preview them at active websites to see how they work.

If you need to know more, that's fine – DreamHost allows you to sign up and trial the service for free, no credit card details required.

We gave this a try, and it couldn't have been much easier. Hand over your email, choose a password, and you're instantly logged in to DreamHost's account management console.

The console was just as straightforward. The body of the page had a thumbnail of the template we'd just selected. A Settings box enabled assigning an existing domain to this website, integrating Google Analytics and (once you've upgraded) adding email accounts. And clicking Edit opened our template in DreamHost's editor, just as we expected.

Alternatively, a separate Create wizard enables customizing the template with your choice of layout, images, colors and fonts. It's all very well presented and you can work your way through all the necessary steps in a very few clicks.

The end result is even total web design newbies can be logged into and browsing DreamHost's features in probably less than a minute. That works for us, but it's not just about beginners: if you're interested in website builders in general, or perhaps you've already signed up with someone else, DreamHost makes it exceptionally easy to compare their service with your current product.

DreamHost editor

Editor

Remixer templates are single-page sites based around simple content sections (text blocks, images, maps, videos.) You can navigate these sections from the left-hand sidebar, or just scroll up and down in the editor to find whatever content you need.

Unlike most website builders, you can't add new content by dragging and dropping objects onto the page. Instead, you must tap a New icon to add content above or below existing sections, greatly restricting your layout options.

You're only able to add a small set of pre-designed content blocks, such as headers, footers, maps, images and image grids, videos and forms. There's no way to add a single element to a section, such as a button to perform a particular task, and there's no 'Embed HTML' or similar option to enable adding custom services to the site. Remixer also doesn't have a library of third-party extensions, unlike top competitors such as Wix and Weebly.

Even Remixer's limited controls don't always work as you expect. Rather than have a general table control where you can directly set the number of rows and columns you need, Remixer has a table for text content and a grid for (mostly) images. There's no obvious 'Rows, Columns' setup, and instead you must add cells individually, which didn't make a lot of sense to us.

Remixer's content blocks can be customized in much the same way as other website builders, though with few options and settings. Click a text block, for instance, and you can edit the contents as required and change font, style, alignment and colors. But there are no fancy extras like shadows, background images or animations, and you can't resize the text block or drag and drop it to a new position in the content block.

There's one major annoyance in the lack of a Preview button, which would normally allow you to check out any changes to your site before you published them. There is a workaround – go to My Sites, click Settings, find the URL in the Preview box and paste it into a browser tab – and you could simplify the process by bookmarking that address, but you shouldn't have to do that much work to carry out such a basic function.

None of this will matter very much if you're making very simple changes to a basic website, maybe editing some text or replacing an image. But if you're planning anything more ambitious, the lack of power and control of the site could quickly become a problem.

DreamHost media

Media 

Remixer provides simple content sections to handle single and multiple image, as well as videos and SoundCloud audio.

There's little low-level control over the layout of these sections. Add a photo, for instance, and you'll get an image aligned to the left, with a text heading to the right and a text paragraph underneath. You can delete the heading, the text or both, but you can't reposition these elements or resize the text boxes.

Clicking an image displays a left-hand dialog box with a few useful options. You're able to rotate your picture, flip it horizontally, change its opacity or scale and reposition the image in the frame.

Competitors such as Duda and SiteBuilder.com include Adobe's excellent Aviary image editor, but all you get here is a set of Instagram-type filters. They might be useful to some, but we suspect most people would prefer options to sharpen a picture or fix lighting issues than 'make the image a bit more orange.'

There's better news with Remixer's free stock images. The interface is clumsy – you can't directly search from the Stock Images tab, for instance – but it only takes a moment to figure out how it works, and the images are sourced from the excellent Pixabay library.

We tried out Remixer's photo grid and video controls and found they had very similar issues. Formatting options are extremely limited, so for example you can't even resize a video frame, and the controls you get aren't nearly as straightforward as they should be.

Remixer does score one major media handling hit with its Content Manager, a very comprehensive tool for importing and managing content for reuse across your websites. If you've used other website builders you'll know they generally have something similar, perhaps the ability to store commonly-used images in the cloud, but Remixer goes much, much further.

The Content Manager doesn't just support images, for instance. You can use it to store audio and video files in the cloud, too.

You're not restricted to uploading content from your own computer. Remixer can also import images from Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and Twitter, as well as custom URLs.

Import a lot of content and this could make for a cluttered display, but a simple tag-based system enables organizing them in custom content groups.

These functions don't always work quite as we expected – trying an import of TechRadar returned just four thumbnails, for instance – but overall the Content Manager delivers far more than you'll get anywhere else, and we have to applaud DreamHost's ambition. 

Blogging, e-commerce

Most website builders have some level of blogging and e-commerce functionality, sometimes even with very basic plans – Wix allows selling up to ten products for £5 ($7) a month.

Remixer doesn't bother with any of that, unfortunately. There's no native blog or e-commerce platform, and with no third-party controls or an Embed HTML option, you can't even add as much as a PayPal button.

While this is a major weakness, it could be changing very soon. DreamHost's Remixer FAQ suggests that the ability to set up an e-commerce site with an SSL certificate is 'to be added in 2018.'

Support

If your website is misbehaving and you can't find the problem, it's important that your website builder has a support team ready to help.

DreamHost provides a basic set of Remixer articles on its support site, but they're mostly simple 'how to' guides and tutorials. They're not going to help you with troubleshooting or anything else more advanced.

Remixer has its own support team, but the FAQ says this is strictly limited: no telephone number, no live chat, and although you can raise tickets or send emails, you'll only get responses 'during regular staffing hours, 10AM to 6PM Pacific Time, Monday through Friday.' DreamHost says its general hosting support is available 24/7, though, so you should at least be able to get help with major server or network issues.

Final verdict

Remixer might work as a basic editor for simple personal sites, maybe one each for everyone in the family, but it's too underpowered for serious professional projects. 

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