Trending March 2024 # Verizon Business Internet Review 2023 # Suggested April 2024 # Top 4 Popular

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Early Termination Credit

If you’re looking to switch to Verizon from your previous provider, you may be charged an early termination fee if your contract hasn’t yet expired. Fortunately, Verizon offers an early termination credit of up to $1,500 toward those fees, one of the most generous credits we found in our review. Material, utility and other costs to set up and operate an onsite facility can be expensive, so this feature is especially helpful when budgets are tight. You may need to show proof that your previous provider’s contract did end via an early termination fee to qualify for the credit.

Business Phone Plan Savings

Verizon is primarily known for their phone plans, and you can bundle some of these with your internet service. Business customers can cash in on savings by purchasing an unlimited business phone plan along with their business internet plan. Those who do can save up to $80 per month, a small amount that adds up over time and can be invested back into your business.

Phone plans available for bundling include those that support light mobile users and in-store phone lines for customer service. Although online communication is increasingly important for businesses, many customers still prefer to communicate via phone, so we liked that Verizon’s bundles make maintaining this option cost-effective and easy.

Choosing a business phone system can be difficult, so we’ve created a buyer’s guide on choosing a business phone system that could help both new and existing business customers.

Hassle-Free Equipment

If you’ve ever plugged a cord into an outlet, you’ll find Verizon’s router or gateway installation a breeze. Whether purchased separately or included in select business internet plans, Verizon’s internet equipment is simple to install and can get your business up and running within minutes. Verizon also offers expert installation if you prefer to have a professional install your equipment, but the straightforward setup means even a staff member can have your location connected in a matter of minutes.

Complete Business Bundle

Maybe your business needs more than just internet and phone service. It’s possible you’ll need to communicate via web conferencing, or perhaps you need security tools to protect your connection from cyberthreats. Whatever the case, Verizon’s Complete Business Bundle has you covered.

The Complete Business Bundle is an affordable and convenient way to get your business up and running on multiple devices in a pinch. In addition to Verizon’s easy-to-install 4G LTE Business Internet and 24/7 tech support, business customers who purchase the bundle also receive a One Talk desk phone that can ring multiple devices for easy communication with customers. We found this bundle takes the heavy-lifting work off of customers who want all of their internet needs taken care of in one simple and secure solution.

Verizon Business Internet Cost

Verizon Business Internet offers three different internet types, each with its own set of plans. The plans and prices are as follows:

5G Business Internet 100 Mbps: $69 per month

5G Business Internet 200 Mbps: $99 per month

5G Business Internet 400 Mbps: $199 per month

Fios Business Internet 200/200 Mbps: $69 per month

Fios Business Internet 500/500 Mbps: $129 per month

Fios Business Internet 940/880 Mbps: $249 per month

LTE Business Internet 10 Mbps: $69 per month

LTE Business Internet 25 Mbps: $99 per month

LTE Business Internet 50 Mbps: $199 per month

Fios Business Internet and LTE Wireless Internet plans come with a price guarantee for one to three years, depending on which plan you choose, as well as a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Verizon also offers assistance in saving money or providing credit toward purchases. Customers can save up to $80 per month when pairing their 5G Business Internet plan with a Business Unlimited smartphone plan. Also, If you are switching from a previous internet provider, Verizon can offer up to $1,500 in credit to help cover early termination fees.

Verizon Business Internet Setup

New Verizon Business Internet customers have the option of choosing between self-setup and professional installation, with the exception of the highest level 5G Business Internet plan, which requires professional installation. Regardless of which option you choose, all setups include a router or gateway provided by Verizon or any 5G compatible equipment. We found the self-installation setup to be straightforward, requiring a few simple plug-in connections to connect your location to the internet in minutes.

Verizon Business Internet Customer Service

Verizon Business Internet offers a variety of ways to contact customer service. You can reach their sales team by phone as either an individual business customer or as part of a public sector. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. You can also request a call to have a specialist help you figure out the right plan for your business. For Verizon Fios business customers who have questions regarding equipment, a 24/7 support phone number is available.

Verizon Business Internet Drawbacks

Verizon Business Internet only works with Verizon-specific equipment. You will need to purchase or rent a Verizon router or gateway. Any other equipment you may have purchased in the past won’t be compatible. Rentals start at $15 per month, or you can buy the equipment for a one-time cost of $299.99. If you sign up for the 5G Business Internet plan, make sure your own internet equipment is 5G-compatible.

If you compare phone plans to business internet plans, mobile features outdo business internet by a landslide. Note that if you have a small onsite business that just needs the internet to run basic business-critical tasks, you may not need to worry about this as much. However, if you need on-the-go communication or connection for your business operations, you’ll need to include phone lines with your plans for an additional charge.

Verizon’s internet speeds only go up to 400 Mbps, while other service providers we reviewed offer plans that exceed 1 Gbps. If you’re looking for faster internet speeds, consider our review of Spectrum Business Internet.

Methodology

When considering business internet providers for review, we kept in mind some of the features that business owners would need to get their business going. Part of that process included extensive research, participating in provider calls, and finally deciding on a best-pick case for each of the vendors. We considered factors such as installation times, internet speeds, business phone services, and internet availability. For brick-and-mortar businesses, we chose Verizon as the ideal business internet provider.

Verizon Business Internet FAQ Do I have to purchase a phone plan with my 5G Business Internet plan?

No. Business internet plans and business phone plans can be purchased separately. However, there may be some savings or offers if you purchase them both together.

How much is the Verizon Fios router or gateway?

The Verizon Fios router or gateway can be rented for $15 per month or purchased for a one-time price of $299.99.

Does Verizon offer discounts for small business owners?

Small business owners can save on Verizon Business Internet by bundling it with either VoIP phone services or certain Business Unlimited mobile plans.

Overall Value

We recommend Verizon Business Internet for …

Brick-and-mortar businesses.

Business in need of phone service.

Businesses that are 5G ready.

We do not recommend Verizon Business Internet for …

Tech startups.

Businesses that need more than 400 Mbps speed.

You're reading Verizon Business Internet Review 2023

Should Your Business Get Fiber Internet?

A shared fiber optic connection splits the service between your business and other businesses in your area, whether those businesses are located in the same building as you or your neighborhood. Naturally, sharing a fiber optic connection can reduce your monthly bill, but your connection may be slower during peak times (but still very fast by other internet connection standards). Installation is also less complicated, as the infrastructure is already in place. A shared fiber optic connection utilizes a single strand to service several companies at once. To prepare a shared fiber optic connection to serve your business, the ISP will place “splitters” to send the signals to different businesses, allowing each company to receive the service.

Once you choose a dedicated or shared fiber optic connection, the next step is to set up the connection in your company’s space. Choose a place where the fiber optic equipment is safe; this sensitive equipment cannot be exposed to heat, humidity or dust. The ISP will install the equipment and test the connection to ensure that it’s working before completing installation.

How fast is fiber optic internet?

Fiber optic internet is widely regarded as one of the fastest connection types for both businesses and home use. It is capable of delivering speeds up to 10 gigabits per second (10 Gbps), although most fiber optic connections typically clock in at 1 Gbps to 2 Gbps, sometimes under that. The speed of a fiber optic connection can be limited by the provider’s offerings and whether your connection is hardwired or via a Wi-Fi setup, among other considerations. Even at 1 Gbps or under, though, your company can transfer large files, stream video, rely on cloud-based software and conduct other high-intensity tasks faster than other types of high-speed internet.

How much does fiber optic internet cost?

The cost of fiber internet varies depending on the ISP, the minimum guaranteed speeds and your location, among other factors. Prices can be as low as $20 per month or as high (or higher) than $160 per month. You may also face additional costs, including installation fees, equipment purchases or equipment rental.

Benefits of fiber optic internet for business

Fiber optic internet is certainly an appealing option for many businesses. However, it’s not as simple as being “faster” than other high-speed internet options. Here’s what makes fiber optic internet a good option for your business.

Great for high bandwidth use

If your employees stream video, transfer large files back and forth, run webinars or conduct other high-intensity tasks at the same time, fiber optic internet can support these uses without impacting your overall speed.

Fast upload time

Files typically upload and download at different speeds, as internet networks are designed to download faster than they can upload. (This is seen in the FCC’s minimum download and upload speed requirements: Minimum download speeds are set at 25 Mbps, while minimum upload speeds are set at 3 Mbps.)

Fiber optic internet takes the need for uploading speed into account. This is especially important for livestreaming content, which requires steady upload speeds. Fiber optic networks offer download and upload speeds much closer to each other than other types of high-speed ISPs.

Did You Know?

Fiber optic internet is the fastest type of internet connection, but it is less accessible than other types of connections and more expensive.

How Much Internet Speed Does Your Business Need?

Tip

Visit the FCC Broadband Speed Guide to help determine the download and upload business broadband speeds you need for data-intensive tasks, such as sending and receiving large files.

What are the types of internet connections?

Various business internet service types serve specific purposes and offer different speeds. The type of internet connection you have depends on your area’s infrastructure, your business location, and the internet plan you purchase. 

Here are the four most popular internet categories and what you can expect in speed for each:

DSL: DSL stands for digital subscriber line. A DSL connection runs through your landline business phone system. The average DSL download speed starts at around 6 Mbps, while the average upload speed starts at approximately 1 Mbps.

Cable. Cable internet uses the same wiring that delivers cable television to your home. The average download speed for cable internet ranges from 10 Mbps to 500 Mbps, while the upload speeds can range from 5 Mbps to 50 Mbps. If you’re considering cable vs. DSL, note that cable is much faster, but DSL is less expensive.

Fiber optic. Fiber-optic business internet uses fiber-optic cables instead of copper wires like its cable equivalent. Fiber-optic cables use light signals to deliver data to and from your devices. Fiber internet can support download speeds up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), but its more common speeds range from 150 Mbps to 500 Mbps. Upload speeds range from 65 Mbps to 100 Mbps.

Satellite internet. Satellite internet uses radio waves to communicate with satellites in space to deliver internet connections. Download speeds can range from 12 Mbps to 150 Mbps, while upload speeds are typically around 3 Mbps.

Did You Know?

If you’re evaluating a mobile hotspot vs. satellite internet for remote business needs, note that satellite internet is more expensive and isn’t as fast or flexible as a mobile hotspot.

How fast should your business internet be?

The average business requires at least 25 Mbps of download speed and 3 Mbps of upload speed to conduct everyday tasks like emailing, exchanging files, using cloud-based software, and videoconferencing. In fact, these speeds are the FCC’s official broadband definition minimums. 

However, business internet speed requirements vary significantly between businesses, and your speed needs will likely increase as your business grows and you adopt more data-intensive processes. 

Consider these factors when determining your internet speed requirements: 

What type of business do you operate?

Do you regularly upload and download large files?

Are your internet needs limited to sending emails and communicating with customers?

To what extent does your business depend on fast internet speeds?

How many employees will use the network at any given time?

Ideal internet speeds based on task

Use the following chart to get an idea of your ideal internet speeds based on the number of devices being used and the online tasks you need to perform:

Number of users/devices

Speed

Tasks

1-2

5 Mbps

Online browsing, email, and research

3-5

25 Mbps

Downloading large files, business communications and basic business Wi-Fi use

5-10

75 Mbps

Video streaming, numerous point-of-sale transactions and frequent file-sharing

10-15

150 Mbps

Video conferencing, frequent cloud computing and data backups

15-20

250 Mbps

Seamless streaming, conferencing and server hosting

20-30

500 Mbps

Multiple servers hosted, heavy online backups and constant cloud-based computing

30+

1,000 Mbps (1GB)

Extreme speed operations with zero interruptions

Consult your ISP if you’re still unsure how much bandwidth your business needs. Many providers offer online internet bandwidth need calculators to help you better understand your needs and options.

How do you choose a business internet provider?

To find out what ISPs are available in your area, check out the InMyArea online tool. Input your address or ZIP code to see available provider options.

When you have a good idea of your business’s internet speed needs, discuss your options with available ISPs to evaluate the best choice for your business. 

Consider the following when deciding on an internet service provider: 

Speed. What is the fastest available speed at a price you can afford? 

Customer service. Will your provider help troubleshoot technical issues? Your business depends on your internet uptime, and you can’t afford to be ignored in times of trouble. 

Contracts. Will you be locked into a lengthy contract with your provider? A more flexible contact is beneficial if the provider doesn’t deliver top speeds or you find a new provider that better meets your needs. 

Tip

Internet speeds may slow over time as the network ages and more people join. Run a regular speed scan on your network to ensure you’re getting the speed you pay for.

What are the best business internet service providers?

The best internet service providers offer top-quality service with optimal speeds and excellent uptime. If you’re seeking a new provider, consider the following options:

AT&T. AT&T offers small businesses a wide selection of service plans that vary by speed and price. To learn more details about available locations and prices, read our in-depth AT&T review.

Verizon. Verizon offers extensive service plans for businesses of all sizes. Learn about plan speeds and prices in our full Verizon review.

Comcast Business. Comcast Business offers five service plans, all of which include a dynamic IP address and no data caps. Read our Comcast Business review for more information.

Cox. In addition to business internet services, Cox provides midsize and enterprise organizations with hosted VoIP phone services, trunking phone services, and business television solutions. For more information, read our in-depth Cox review.

Spectrum Business. Spectrum serves more than 9,000 ZIP codes in 43 states and offers small businesses three service plans that vary by speed and price. Read our full Spectrum Business review for more information.

Kimberlee Leonard contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.

Small Business Taxes In 2023

Tax obligations can be confusing and change frequently, so take time to review the latest tax changes for this year.

Most of the tax rules put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic are expiring this year or have already expired.

Working with a certified public accountant (CPA) can help you ensure you are complying with current regulations and paying the right amount.

This article is for small business owners who want to know what to expect for their tax obligations for the 2023 tax year.

As a small business owner, it’s important to stay up to date on tax laws. Several changes to the federal tax code will affect small businesses this tax year. Read this guide to find out the most important things to know about filing taxes next year. 

Tax changes for 2023

The following changes are in effect for the 2023 tax year, which you prepare and file in 2024.

Tip

Doing your taxes on your own? See our reviews of the best tax software for small businesses.

Modified credit for pension plan startup costs

The SECURE Act increases the Section 45E credit for all or a portion of employer contributions to small employer pensions for the first five employer tax years, starting in 2023. The credit for employer contributions is capped at $1,000 per employee. The full credit is available to employers with 50 or fewer employees and is phased out completely for employers with more than 100 employees. 

Net operating rules

The rules around how to claim a net operating loss are changing this year. A net operating loss occurs when your deductions exceed your gross income. As a general rule, you can carry the loss forward to offset income in later years. You cannot offset more than 80% of your taxable income. 

However, a net operating loss generated in 2023, 2023 or 2023 that you are carrying forward is not subject to the 80-percent-of-taxable-income limit. For net operating losses generated after 2023, the 80-percent-of-taxable-income limitations again apply. 

Excess business-loss limitation rules

Through a temporary suspension of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act rules in 2023 and 2023, businesses could carry net operating losses back five years or carry them forward indefinitely. However, the suspension has ended. Taxpayers cannot deduct losses of more than $540,000 per year if married filing jointly or $270,000 if single. This applies to all business income and losses, including Schedule C and pass-through-entity income and losses. You can carry forward losses in excess of these amounts to lower your taxable income in future years. 

In addition, W-2 wages can no longer be used to offset the business losses. Spousal income is taxed separately and may result in a tax bill even if the business losses are greater than the spousal income. 

Interest expense limitation rule

The interest expense limitation rule generally limits the amount of deductible interest expense for the year to the total of the following:

Business interest income for the year

30 percent of adjusted taxable income

Your floor plan financing interest expense

This tax rule was temporarily suspended during the pandemic, but it is back in force in 2023 and beyond.

Charitable contributions increased limits expired

The charitable contribution rule that allowed C corporations and individuals to deduct a greater percentage of their income for charitable contributions is no longer in force for the 2023 tax year.

New 1099-K form deferred

According to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2023, beginning in tax year 2023, small business owners and freelancers who receive more than $600 from third-party digital platforms were scheduled to receive Form 1099-K reporting that income. Platforms such as Amazon, Etsy and eBay also were to report this income to the Internal Revenue Service. 

After pushback from taxpayers and businesses, this requirement has been postponed for one year. If it’s applicable to your business, expect to receive a Form 1099-K in 2024 for the 2023 tax year. 

Tip

A tax professional can help make sure your business taxes are correctly prepared and filed in accordance with the latest federal, state and local laws.

State and local tax (SALT) cap

Since 2023, filers can deduct only up to $10,000 in state and local property and income taxes. The deduction is the same for single filers and couples filing a joint return. 

Many business owners who operate a pass-through entity in a high-tax state find their deductions limited by SALT rules. Wayne Winegarden, senior fellow and director of the Center for Medical Economics and Innovation at the Pacific Research Institute, said all business owners should be aware of this cap. “I really think in the high-tax states, the SALT cap is going to be meaningful, more for small businesses, just because they’re going to be filing through their personal taxes,” he said.

Tax benefits for pass-throughs and corporations

The tax reform law created a significant deduction for both pass-through and corporate entities. Pass-through businesses are small businesses structured as S corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), sole proprietorships and partnerships. Pass-throughs make up approximately 95 percent of U.S. businesses. The law now provides a 20 percent deduction for those businesses. The 2023 deduction phases out at taxable income levels between $170,050 and $220,050 (between $340,100 and $440,100 for joint filers), and the 2023 phase-out levels will be adjusted for inflation. This deduction is set to expire at the start of 2027. 

C corporations also got a big tax benefit: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent in a bid to bring major corporations back to the U.S. to employ workers and create wealth.

First-year bonus depreciation

The first-year bonus depreciation deduction was changed to 100 percent through the end of 2023. In other words, businesses that made eligible equipment and property purchases could deduct the full purchase price instead of writing off a portion of it each year. This provided businesses with more money upfront, which lawmakers hoped would be invested back into the business or be used to hire workers.

Starting with the 2023 tax year, the 100 percent bonus depreciation amount is scheduled to be reduced every year. Josh Zimmelman, founder of Westwood Tax & Consulting, said this enables businesses to write off the cost of assets in one shot.

“A company can invest in vehicles, computers and equipment, and claim the entire expense on their … tax return,” Zimmelman said.

Winegarden said the break is an incentive for businesses to spend more. “Anything that gets you closer to complete expensing is going to increase the value of the depreciation, lower the tax burden and reward those capital-intensive firms,” he said.

Did You Know?

Some provisions from the 2023 tax reform law may still affect your business today.

Important 2023 deadlines

Take note of the following tax deadlines for 2023:

2024 tax returns and payments are due by midnight on April 18, 2023, for sole proprietorships, household employers and C corporations. For S corporations and partnerships, taxes are due March 15, 2023.

Quarterly tax deadlines for 2023 for estimated income tax are April 18 for Q1, June 15 for Q2, Sept. 15 for Q3 and Jan. 15, 2024, for Q4.

2023 tax returns and payments are due April 18, 2024. S corporations and partnerships must file by March 15, 2024.

Top small business tax deductions

This isn’t a comprehensive list of tax deductions available to small businesses (and you need to ensure your business is eligible for these deductions), but it’s a great starting point:

Rent: If you rent your office space or retail location, the cost of your rent is fully deductible.

Home office: If you have a dedicated workspace in your home (it must be regularly and solely used for business), then you are eligible to deduct expenses related to that portion of your home.

Advertising: Promoting your company not only helps to grow your business; it also may shrink your taxes, as these expenses are fully deductible as well. Advertising expenses include things such as business cards, flyers and digital marketing.

Vehicle: As long as you can document and verify that the vehicle is used for business purposes, you can deduct the operation costs. As with the home office deduction, you can choose to use the simple deduction, which is 65.5 cents per mile for 2023, or you can itemize the specific costs.

Travel: Business travel costs are fully deductible. These include flights, hotels and other transportation costs you incur while on a business trip.

Employee salaries: Salaries — along with many benefits, like retirement and education offerings — are tax deductible. [Learn how to build a great employee benefits plan.]

Types of small business taxes

Small business taxes vary based on the structure of the business, but here are the five primary small business taxes:

Income tax: Except for partnerships and other pass-through entities, all businesses file annual income tax returns. Pass-through entities file information returns.

Self-employment tax: The self-employment tax is on your net earnings from self-employment and consists of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Employment taxes: If you have employees, you have taxes (and forms) related to their Social Security and Medicare taxes, federal income tax withholdings, federal unemployment tax, and other taxes, such as local transit taxes. These are referred to as payroll taxes.

Sales and excise tax: Most states require you to collect and remit sales tax on qualifying sales. You also pay excise tax on sales in specific categories. You may even have to register and collect sales tax in other states in which you do business.

Estimated taxes: Many businesses (sole proprietors, partnerships and S corporation shareholders) must pay quarterly estimated tax payments. This requirement applies if you don’t have taxes withheld from each paycheck or don’t have a sufficient amount withheld from each paycheck.

Key Takeaway

Small businesses must account for several types of taxes, including income tax, self-employment tax, employment taxes and excise tax. These vary based on your company’s structure, but there are ways to reduce your business’s tax liability.

Things to remember

If you started your business in 2023, remember these key takeaways:

To file your tax return, you will need a tax ID number. This is typically either the employer identification number issued when the articles of incorporation were approved (for corporations and LLCs) or a Social Security number, although, in rare cases, other numbers can be used. If you need an employer identification number, you can apply for and receive one online.

In addition to income taxes, you pay 15.3 percent in self-employment tax on net self-employment income. This equals what an employer would normally deduct from an employee’s paycheck for Medicare and Social Security taxes, plus the employer-paid share.

All income, including cash and noncash payments, must be reported on your tax return.

If you pay your own health insurance premiums, you may be able to deduct them as a business expense.

If you’re not ready to submit your taxes by April 15, you can file for an extension. However, you should pay your estimated taxes to avoid penalties and interest. The deadlines for requesting extensions are March 15 for S corporations and April 15 for C corporations.

Employee bonuses are taxed differently than regular wages are, with a special bonus tax of 22 percent, as well as a distinct rate for Social Security and Medicare taxes.

If you have a side hustle that supplements the income from your regular job, the IRS considers what you make on the side to be self-employment income and you are taxed accordingly.

Tip

Business travel is 100 percent deductible, but personal travel isn’t deductible at all. So, if you have airline or hotel points, use them for your personal travel and pay cash for your business travel expenses.

Tax planning should be a year-round strategy

It’s important to be proactive about tax planning for your business. Waiting until the last minute makes tax preparation more complicated and limits your money-saving options. Keeping up with current and future tax changes helps keep you in charge so you can maximize all tax benefits and run a profitable business.

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article. 

Skylum Luminar 4 Review 2023

Luminar 4 Review- Is It Worth It?

In this Skylum Luminar 4 review, I want to break down everything you need to know about the program and why it’s such a powerful photo editing tool. If you’ve been looking for an alternative to Lightroom, this may just be your answer.

For a number of years, Adobe has dominated the market of photo editing software. Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are used by millions of photographers worldwide making them a tough platform to compete with. After Adobe switched to subscription-based services, it made a lot of photographers question if it was worth the monthly price. Luckily, with Skylum Luminar 4 you can get a professional level editing software, at a one-time price of just $89.

Now if you’re like me, you might have taken one look at the price and thought

“What’s wrong with it? Why is it so cheap?”

After being a dedicated Adobe user for years, I felt uneasy about the thought of trying another platform. Surely none can be as good!

Or so I thought…

After getting my hands on the latest version of Skylum Luminar 4 (Version 4.3.0), I realized this may be the perfect all in one photo editor for beginners and professionals alike.

What Is Skylum Luminar 4?

Luminar 4 from Skylum is a photo editing program that uses AI-technology to streamle image editing adjustments and makes complicated techniques more achievable. The program can be used as a stand-alone image library and editing software, or be used as a plugin alongside Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. 

This program offers every tool a photographer could look for in an editing software, with a little extra for good measure. Alongside the typical exposure and color adjustments you’ve grown to expect, Skylum Luminar 4 takes it one step further with additional ‘creative’ adjustments.

The New And Improved Features In Luminar 4

Whether you’re completely new to Luminar or are currently using Luminar 3, here are some notable additions and upgrades in Skylum Luminar 4 you’ll want to hear about.

#1. Improved Edit Module

Luminar 4 got a significant facelift with a complete overhaul of the edit module. In previous versions of the program, the edit module was broken up into ‘filters’. Each filter had its own settings layout with tools that may prove more useful depending on the look you were going for. You could create a custom edit module if necessary.

I found this layout to be cumbersome and frustrating. I like having all the tools I want in one place without the need to make a custom menu layout. The old edit module frankly felt like a waste of time.

Luckily, Luminar 4 completely resolves every issue I had and has changed the name of ‘filters’ to ‘tools’. Now all of your adjustments can be found between 6 individual tabs along the right side of the edit window.

Here’s what’s inside each tab listed from top to bottom:

Layers: Where you can find all your layers and additional adjustments you have created.

Canvas: Where you can access the crop, erase, clone stamp, and lens correction adjustments.

Essentials: Home to all the exposure, color, and sharpening adjustments you need.

Creative: Where additional AI tools are found for extra creative looks such as sky replacements or sun rays.

Portrait: All the tools you need to edit a portrait such as AI skin smoothing, portrait enhancers, and Orton effects.

Professional: Additional color and exposure adjustments to further refine your image.

I find these tabs feel more natural and easy to understand in my workflow. Especially for those completely new to the program, this is a huge improvement.

#2. AI Sky Replacement

Realistic sky replacements were previously reserved for those who were extremely proficient in Photoshop. What was once meticulously cutting out, blending, and masking has been replaced by a single button and slider.

One would think that automatic sky replacements surely can’t be that good. The truth is, you likely wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Luminars AI sky replacement and the work of a professional retoucher. It’s incredible at how well it can mask around small edges and blend into your image seamlessly. With AI technology, sky replacements become possible for all ability levels.

What I appreciate most of all is that fact you can make further adjustments manually. If something isn’t looking quite right, you can adjust the spacing between edges, the position of the sky, or even the color!

I truly believe the AI sky replacement tool alone is reason enough to purchase Luminar 4. It saves you more time, reduces frustration, and does an incredibly good job. If you haven’t already, I’d highly suggest downloading a free trial to see it for yourself!

In addition to the AI Sky Replacement feature, Skylum has added a new AI Augmented Sky feature. This tool allows you to add additional elements into your images and easily blend them with a few sliders. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at composites, this tool makes it easier than ever!

#3. AI Skin Enhancer & Portrait Enhancer

Luminar 4 just got a whole lot better for those portrait photographers among us. If you have a face in your photo, the AI skin enhancer and portrait enhancers are going to change your life.

Before this new update to Luminar, retouching skin could be challenging to a lot of photographers, especially beginners. What was once a complicated series of steps within Photoshop, has been replaced (yet again) by just a few handy sliders.

Although each of these AI featured tools fall under the same umbrella, they serve slightly different purposed. Let’s discuss each on individually to give you a better idea of how they operate.

– AI Skin Enhancer

The skin enhancer in Luminar 4 is where you can smooth your subject’s skin and reduce shine. In other photo editing programs, this process would be known as ‘frequency separation’. Frequency separation requires a series of layers, and adjustments to create this smoothed skin effect. Before now, it has been almost like a right of passage for beginner editors to learn the process. The AI skin enhancer throws all that out the window and makes frequency separation easy and accessible for all.

The other handy slider found within the AI skin enhancer tool of Luminar is called ‘shine removal’. Shine removal helps to level out any hot spots on your subject’s face caused by oily skin. Toning down shiny skin is always something you’ve needed to do when retouching a portrait. Now it just got easier with the help of a single slider. No layer masks, adjustment layers, or smart filters required.

Upon using these features, I was really impressed with how well certain problem areas were taken care of. The AI technology has no problem recognizing the skin and making the adjustments from there. I was even further impressed with the fact it had no trouble recognizing the difference between skin and hair. Without any masking or brush adjustments, you can smooth skin even when surrounded by hair.

– AI Portrait Enhancer

The AI portrait enhancer in Luminar 4 takes things a little bit further. This tool allows you to really refine your portraits like never before. From AI eye enhancements, face slimming adjustments, eyebrow improvements, and teeth whitening, this tool has it all.

With the help of AI technology, Luminar is able to recognize the areas of your photo that you want to adjust. Whether it’s the size of the subject’s face, the whiteness of their teeth, the color of their lips, and more. This AI portrait enhancer makes it easier than ever to make adjustments you may have never even considered before.

I’ve said it a dozen times already, but I’ll say it again. The capabilities of the AI technology is more than I could have ever expected. It helps you to make quick adjustments that were once tedious and time-consuming. Everything you need as a portrait editor is right here within the AI skin and portrait enhancers. Don’t believe me? Download the free trial of Luminar 4 and see for yourself.

#4. LUT Mapping

LUTs (Look Up Tables) are extremely useful to add certain color adjustments to an image. Unlike a preset, a LUT only applies color values onto your photo. Luminar 4 allows you to quickly make cinematic looking color adjustments with the new Color Styles LUT mapping tool.

What’s useful about the LUTs in Luminar 4 is that they offer so many options built into the program. Just by going through some of the built-in LUTs, you’ll likely find something that suits your fancy. If you’re looking for something more specific, you can import your own LUTs into the program.

#5. Smart Contrast

In other photo editing programs, editing contrast has to be used in moderation. If you go too crazy, you can crush the whites and blacks of your image and lose detail. Smart contrast in Luminar 4 takes away that worry by applying contrast with more intention.

Rather than applying an even contrast across your entire image, smart contrast is more selective with its adjustments. It won’t add so much contrast that you lose details in the far reaches of your blacks and whites.

After using this tool for myself, I found it to offer a more realistic look than that of a standard contrast slider. It was less ‘aggressive’ with the contrast while still adding the right amount to enhance the image. I found that the smart contrast slider gave a more true to the eye feel that avoids an over-edited appearance.

Although a small addition to Luminar 4, I believe it’s a worthy and highly useful addition to take note of.

#6. AI Structure

The AI structure serves a very similar purpose to the clarity and texture adjustments found in other editing programs. AI structure allows you to enhance the details of your photo and make things come to life. It’s a great tool to draw more attention to areas of the image or add more overall drama.

Alongside enhancing clarity, it can be also be used to add a soft glow to the image. Overall it’s a useful creative addition to add more style to your photos.

The beauty of AI technology is that it applies different strengths across the image. Depending on the amount of details and contrast in an area, you’ll notice how the AI structure will target it differently. The AI technology in Luminar 4 helps to make adjustments blend into your image a lot better than before.

#7. Luminar Looks

No photo editing software would be complete without the help of some presets… or should I say ‘looks’. Luminar Looks are essentially a series of premade presets included in the program. Unlike the LUT mapping that only includes color adjustments, looks can hold additional information like cropping, sharpening, exposure effects, and so on. Looks can offer a great starting ground to build your edit from when you first import your image.

There is a wide array of looks that come with Luminar 4 suitable for all genres of photography. From landscape, lifestyle, portrait, aerial and more, Luminar Looks offers a ton of great options to begin building your edit.

A useful feature about Luminar Looks is that you can favorite the looks you use often. That way you can find all your favorites in a single easy to access folder. If you aren’t super keen about the built-in Looks, you can create your own! After you’ve made the adjustments you’d like, simply press ‘save new look’ and save it for future use!

Luminar Looks allow you to make quick edits to your photos, in a nicely packaged menu bar that can be accessed at any time.

In the most recent 4.3.0 Luminar update, you can now hover over the different looks to see the result. This is a big improvement since you used to have to actually select the different looks before you could see them.

Ultimately Luminar Looks are a great way to speed up your edit, or help you get some base adjustments towards a more specific creative, customized result.

#8 Seamless Editing Between Luminar & Lightroom 

If you’re already in with the Adobe Creative Cloud (like me), then getting a whole new editing software might not make sense. However, Luminar 4 now can be used as a plugin directly from Lightroom. Working as an external editor, you can take a photo from Lightroom to Luminar and back again without any issues.

Here’s how it works:

While you’re editing a photo, you may like to make your base adjustments in Lightroom. Especially if you’re more comfortable with that program, it can save you a lot of time. However, once you want to retouch skin, replace skies, or add additional elements into your photos, that’s where Luminar can shine.

From here you’ll have the option to edit the original image, or transfer over the Lightroom adjustments. That way you can continue to build off the edits you’ve made in Lightroom.

Once you’re done with your Luminar adjustments, you can save your photo and it will go directly back into Lightroom! Similar to working with other external editors from Lightroom, your new file will be saved directly beside the original in your catalog.

#9 New Search Options

A previous issue with the past version of Luminar is that it was difficult to navigate the images in your library. In the new 4.3.0 update, there is a convenient search bar to sort through all your imported images.

For example, if you wanted to find images taken during a certain month, you could search for them within the library module of Luminar. From there the results would be filtered to only show you the images matching your query.

As you start to import more and more images into Luminar, the search bar makes it easy to keep track of things.

Now keep in mind these are just the NEW features of Luminar 4 and its recent updates. I’m not even talking about all the other incredible tools this program has to offer. Right now you can get lifetime access to Skylum Luminar 4 for just $89.

Skylum was also kind enough to offer readers of my blog an exclusive discount on Luminar 4. Just use discount code BRNWILLS at checkout to save $10 off your purchase!

Download Your Free Trial Of Luminar 4

New Improvements In Luminar 4 Compared To Luminar 3 #1. Stability And Performance

In Luminar 4, they’ve made a few notable improvements over Luminar 3 in terms of performance. Here are a few ways Luminar 4 has stepped up the game from earlier versions:

Increased speed and efficiency due to improvements in the ML cache system. This makes it easier for the program to work with your computer’s processor.

Better performance and accuracy with the sky enhancer, eraser, and lens & geometry tools.

Reduced fringing left behind when using the transform or lens distortion tool with some images.

Shine removal technology to eliminate bright or oily spots on your subject’s skin.

Third-party plugins such as Aurora HDR, DxO Nik Collection, and Topaz Labs are now supported. (PC Only)

Slim Face 2.0 technology for more accurate adjustments with the AI Portrait Enhancer.

Alongside this, there have been improvements to prevent crashing when backing up files or catalogs. With that said, Luminar 4 still takes up a fair amount of processing power. It’s worth taking a look at your computer specs to ensure the program will run smoothly on your machine.

Mac System Requirements As Suggested By Skylum:

Processor Intel 64-bit Core 2 Duo or better

Mac from early 2010 or newer

Memory 8 Gb RAM or more

macOS High Sierra 10.13.1, Sierra 10.12.6, El Capitan 10.11.5, Yosemite 10.10.5

Hard disk 2 GB free space, SSD for best performance

Display 1280×768 size or better

PC System Requirements As Suggested By Skylum:

Open GL 3.3 or later compatible Graphics Cards

Processor Intel Core i5 or better

Memory 8 Gb RAM or more

Operating System Windows 7 (only 64-bit OS), Windows 8.1 (only 64-bit OS), Windows 10 (only 64-bit OS)

Hard disk 2 Gb free space, SSD for best performance

Display 1280×768 size or better

In the Luminar 4.3.0 update, they have made significant improvements to the speed that RAW files can be worked with. On less powerful computers you can expect RAW photos to open 8x faster, while on more capable machines you’ll notice them to open 3x faster according to Skylum.

Better yet, they’ve made the program far more reactive by reducing the lag while making adjustments. Previously there was a slight delay between moving a slider and seeing adjustments. Now it’s almost instant thanks to their speed enhancements.

The same thing goes for switching between different modules in the program.

#2. Denoise Filter

#3. Adjustable Gradient Filter

The Adjustable Gradient filter has been updated and placed within the ‘professional’ tab of Luminar 4. This filter still operates largely the same as in Luminar 3, but now with the addition of editing the mask directly in the tool panel.

The Adjustable Gradient Filter puts a twist on the regular gradient filters found in other programs. Rather than gradient that’s only adjustable from one side, the Adjustable Gradient Filter in Luminar lets you do both. With a single gradient filter, you can make adjustments to both sides of the gradient at once. This is extremely handy if you wanted to brighten the sky and darkening the foreground for example. Making that adjustment would commonly take 2 gradient filters in Lightroom but now takes 1 in Luminar 4.

#4.Golden Hour Filter

Improvements have been made to the golden hour filter in the latest version of Luminar. Found within the ‘Landscape Enhancer’ tool under the essentials tab, the golden hour filter makes any sunset photo come to life. In short, it boosts the red and yellow values in your image to give a more sunset-colored tone. Coupled with the Dehaze and Foliage Enhancer, your sunset photography just got a whole lot better.

#5. Direct Sharing From Luminar 4 To 500px 

From the export menu of Luminar 4, there is not an option to export directly to 500px. This saves a ton of time when it comes time to share your masterpieces with the world.

In the export menu, you can set the title, description, keywords, and hashtags for your post before adding it to 500px. You can even set the privacy setting for private or public sharing, while even marking NSFW content if need be.

For Mac users, your photos EXIF data will be sent directly to 500px when exporting from Luminar 4. Meanwhile, PC users have the option of whether or not they want to send it via a checkbox. Sorry to break it to you like this, Mac users.

Lightroom vs. Luminar 4

If you’ve been in the photography world for a while, there’s a pretty strong chance you currently use Lightroom to edit your images. Lightroom has long been the choice program in the photo industry, so how does Luminar 4 stack up?

The Comparison

In terms of actual photo editing, you won’t notice much of a difference between Lightroom and Luminar. Luminar 4 includes all of the same features you know from Lightroom, except maybe a little better. With the help of AI technology, Luminar 4 streamlines certain tools compared to Lightroom. Furthermore, Luminar takes things even further and includes tools that were once reserved for Photoshop.

When it comes to photo editing, I would go as far as saying Luminar offers slightly more diversity than Lightroom. Rather than needing to go back and forth between Lightroom and Photoshop, Luminar 4 offers most of what you need in one program.

Now with that said, I don’t see myself giving up on Lightroom completely. Currently, Lightroom has a preferable culling and sorting method compared to Luminar. I personally find it easier to deal with hundreds (or thousands) of photos through Lightrooms catalogs and folder systems. Luminar is slightly different in the sense that your photos are organized on the back end. This means you work out the folders as they are on your computer. There isn’t any further organization within the program.

Both Lightroom and Luminar are capable or rating, flagging or rejecting. Luminar even allows you to add tags/keywords to your photos similar to Lightroom. This can make certain photos easier to find when you’re working in bulk.

Additionally, you are not able to easily edit image metadata in Luminar 4. There is mention of this update coming later in 2023 but we will have to see how it plays out. That’s a pretty big issue for a lot of photographers out there, including myself.

Which Program Is Better?

Lightroom comes in at a minimum price of $9.99/month which equals out to $120 per year. Luminar on the other hand only costs $89 and you have it for life. No reoccurring fees to think about again!

For hobbyists or photographers new to the business, reoccurring fees become an annoying pain you can’t get rid of. In that sense, I think Luminar 4 is a preferable option. At a better price point, it’s a one time purchase and you’re set for life. If you’re on the fence, it’s absolutely worth getting the free trial of Luminar 4.

Personally, I find a ton of value in using Lightroom and Luminar together. They can work seamlessly together allowing you to get the best of both worlds. I have been a Lightroom user for years and I struggle to give up certain aspects of the program. With that said, the AI tools of Luminar save me heaps of times that I used to waste in Photoshop. I won’t be giving up on Lightroom anytime soon, but Luminar 4 has become an integral part of my workflow. If anything, Luminar has seriously cut down the amount of time I spend in Photoshop.

How Much Does Luminar 4 Cost?

The cost of Luminar 4 will vary depending on if you’ve already purchased an earlier version of Luminar.

New Luminar Customer:  $89 USD

Upgrading From Luminar 3: $69 USD

Additionally, Skylum offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can feel confident in your purchase. If you decide you don’t like the program after you’ve bought it, send Skylum an email within 30 days and you’ll get everything back. 

If you want to save yourself a little cash, I have a sweet discount just for readers of my blog. Just use the code BRNWILLS to get $10 off at checkout!

Try Skylum Luminar 4 For Free

Is Skylum Luminar 4 Worth It?

So the big question that remains is whether or not Luminar 4 is actually worth your attention. Luminar first got on my radar upon their initial launch and I didn’t have much of an interest in the program. It initially felt clunky, awkward, and I didn’t enjoy using it compared to Lightroom or Photoshop. With each passing update, I’ve seen the significant improvements they’ve made towards a more streamlined and enhanced user experience. Since Luminar 4 released, I started to incorporate this program into my own photo editing. It has become a useful addition to my editing workflow by speeding up previously tedious tasks. Particularly after the latest Luminar 4.2 update, this program is turning into a force to be reckoned with.

Luminar 4 is absolutely worth every cent you pay. Its capabilities are unparalleled and the AI technology in this program completely changes the game. Whether you’re completely new to photo editing or have been at it for years, you’ll enjoy Luminar 4 all the same. It allows you to get more creative in less time with streamlined sliders and non-destructive editing. This program is so incredibly versatile and (most importantly) fun!

To get yourself started, be sure to Download The Free trial Of Luminar 4 to try it for yourself. There’s zero commitment while unlocking all the best features found within the program. After your free trial is up, be sure to save yourself $10 using code BRNWILLS at checkout!

Conclusion

If you know someone who’s been looking into purchasing Luminar, make sure to share this review with them!

Happy Editing!

-Brendan

Disclaimer: The links used in this article are affiliate links. By using these links or discount codes, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Using these links helps me to create more free tutorials and reviews like this one on the site. I do not review products I do not believe in or find beneficial. This review is an honest representation of how I feel about Luminar 4 and has in no way been manipulated by Skylum.

Oticon Hearing Aids Review 2023

Bringing you closer to the sound of life could not be more apt for the Oticon hearing aids! Oticon emphasizes the beautiful sounds of life that you should hear and not miss them.

Oticon Product Range

Oticon in-the-ear- hearing aid comes in three varieties depending on the degree of hearing impairment.

Oticon Own

Oticon More

Oticon Xceed

Oticon Own

It is for mild-to-moderate hearing loss. It is for total discreetness, superior sound quality, and optimal comfort crafted for you. It offers a truly personalized and customized hearing experience.

Oticon’s Own customized hearing aid fits perfectly to the shape of your ear to complement your lifestyle. You can opt for any of the five styles and colors of the Oticon Own hearing aid that perfectly matches your preference.

The hearing aid is invisible IIC for 9 out of 10 ears, offering total discreetness. Oticon customizes and tailors it for a perfect fit into your ear for all-day superior comfort. It is a brain-friendly in-the-ear hearing aid that blends in so that you stand out first.

Oticon Own bran-friendly Hearing Aid

Oticon Own helps you stay connected with no additional hearing support and face the world confidently. The brain plays a crucial role in decoding sound collected by your ear. The brain hearing technology makes the in-the-ear Oticon Own uniquely designed to provide more access to sound.

It promotes the natural way for the brain to decode sound. Oticon Own offers customized listening to process every sound the way your brain wants to. It helps you stay connected to a conversation and listen to the sound you love.

Experience real-life Listening

The in-the-ear Oticon Own deploys Deep Neutral Network (DNN), and the Oticon Own technology provides access to more sound by reducing listening effort. DNN is trained on 12 million real-life sounds to give more information to your brain to make sense of the sounds you will hear.

It helps you in a complex listening environment, such as a restaurant, office, concert, or market. Oticon will help you select what you want to hear and thus reduce your listening effort. The brain spends less time on sound and does other essential activities.

Listen to What Matters Most

Stay connected by listening to what matters to you the most, such as your friends, family, or colleagues. Oticon Own seamlessly connects to the device to help you manage your day confidently.

Oticon Own Features

Connect to iPhone and iPad devices with two-way hands-free and enjoy direct streaming for these devices.

Enjoy direct streaming with select Android smartphones

Use Oticon adapters to stream sound directly from your TV

Discreet control over your Oticon Own hearing aid from your fingertips with the Oticon ON app

Oticon ConnectClip helps connect compatible Bluetooth devices to stream sound seamlessly

Oticon More

This one is for moderate-to-severe hearing loss. It offers superior sound quality. You can choose multiple styles and features to suit your demeanor. It comes with a charger, adding convenience to your life.

Support the Brain with Sound Decoding

While your ear is a collecting organ that collects sounds indiscriminately and sends them to your brain, it is your brain that deciphers and discriminates sound. Oticon crafted the Oticon More hearing aid to support the listening ability of the brain. It is important to note that even mild and untreated hearing loss can trigger dementia at twice as high a risk.

Make more Sense of Sound

Oticon More hearing aid can mitigate the risk by supporting your brain. BrainHearing technology revolutionizes hearing by giving the brain more relevant information to define sounds. It helps the brain to make more sense of sound. It helps you with a better understanding of speeches, less effort, and the ability to remember more. It takes good care of your brain and you.

Advantages of Using Oticon More

The brain gets 30% more sound

15% increase in understanding of speech

30% reduction in listening effort in the long run

Do Not Miss Any Sound in Life

The flagship technology, the BrainHearing, takes health care to new heights. It comes with the Deep Neutral Network (DNN) embedded chip, the first time in a hearing aid. We have already spoken about DNN in the earlier sections.

Oticon More Features

Oticon trained DNN with 12 million sounds from real life

It understands all kinds of sounds to help your brain

Oticon More understands the sound as your brain will understand

A better understanding of speech to stay active in conversations

Less effort to understand and a higher ability to remember more

Helps understands sound in noisy places

2-way hands-free communication with iPhone and iPad

Seamless streaming directly from select smartphones

Offer a variety of styles and colors (8 colors) to choose from to complement your style

Increase Your Connection Possibilities

To maximize the full potential of Oticon More, connect it with the devices you use daily.

Oticon Own Features

Connect to iPhone and iPad devices with two-way hands-free and enjoy direct streaming from these devices.

Enjoy direct streaming with select Android smartphones

Use Oticon adapters to stream sound directly from your TV

Discreet control over your Oticon Own hearing aid from your fingertips with the Oticon ON app

ConnectClip helps connect compatible Bluetooth devices to stream sound seamlessly

Connect seamlessly to Edumic, teachers or speakers, tablets, microphone systems, computers, and more.

Oticon Xceed

It is one of the most potent hearing aid; the company claims to be the most powerful in the world of hearing aids. It is for acute hearing issues. Oticon More is for severe-to-profound hearing loss. Oticon claims it to be the world’s most potent hearing aid. It boasts of Oticon flagship Oticon BrainHearing technology. This one offers you more access to speech than ever before.

Manage Feedback Sounding Like a Whistle or Static Noise

Other hearing aids try to cut the sound by lowering or turning down the volume. This method of cutting noise compromises your ability to understand speeches effectively and increases your effort to listen to the sound. Oticon Xceed uses the OpenSoundOptimizer to reduce feedback like a whistle or static noise from a close sound.

With Oticon Xceed, you can hear and enjoy the sound with the highest clarity. You can listen to stable speech signals all-day with no worry about whistling.

Oticon Xceed Features

It includes all the features of Oticon Own and Oticon More described in the previous sections, such as More confidence and freedom, fewer whistling, staying connected to all conversations of your friends, family, and colleagues, helping the brain to make more sense of sound with BrainHearing technology.

Improved sound clarity

Reduction in your effort to listen to sounds

Uplift your ability to short-term recall

Scans your surroundings faster, 100 times per second

Conclusion

With Oticon, you can stay sharp in the real world. Own an Oticon Own, Oticon More, or an Oticon Xceed that suits your preference. It comes in 2 styles and seven colors. You can match your skin tone and hair color by choosing the right color for the Oticon in-the-ear hearing aid.

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