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Microsoft Surface Duo: $1,199 price, no 5G and how to order – CNET

Microsoft’s Surface Duo is an open book.

Microsoft/GIF by Caitlin Petrakovitz/CNET

Microsoft brought the Surface Duo to market earlier this fall. The Surface Duo, powered by a modified version of Google’s Android software, puts a different spin on the foldable phone trend, joining Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy Z Fold 2, the Galaxy Z Flip and last year’s Motorola Razr reboot. In the device, originally $1,399 but currently $1,199, the Surface Duo’s hinge is the key difference, bringing together two 5.6-inch screens instead of relying on one massive display that can be folded. Microsoft created the Surface Duo over five years, developing the hinge in a way that’s easy to open but hard to accidentally close. The hinge allows the superthin screens to rotate 360 degrees. Microsoft doesn’t want to call the dual-screen Surface Duo a phone, per se. Instead, it wants us to think of this as a new type of product. 

“When we designed it, the intent was, ‘How do you make something so thin, beautiful, light and super elegant that when people pick it up they can feel that emotion in the product?'” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer and head of Surface devices, said in an exclusive interview.

Now playing: Watch this: Inside the Microsoft Surface Duo: We didn’t use it, but…

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The device brings new ideas to the mobile world, including software Microsoft wrote to make the two screens interact. You can drag a photo from one screen to the other and it works thanks to a mix of computer programming that follows your finger across the screens. There’s also an array of sensors that track where the displays are relative to each other, including if they’re open, closed or somewhere in between.

While CNET Editor at Large Scott Stein — a noted dual-screen skeptic — says the device felt good, he also says it represents a lot of money to ask of people on a normal day, let alone in the middle of an economic downturn fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.

GIF by Caitlin Petrakovitz/CNET

Still, Microsoft invited us to talk with its engineers about how the Surface Duo was conceived, the technology invented to make it possible and how it works. (Or you can just read our final Surface Duo review here.)

In I’m already folding in love with the feel of Microsoft’s Surface Duo, Stein shares what it was like to hold a Surface Duo prototype. Microsoft shipped us a near-production prototype device with the screens replaced by clear glass so we can see the inner working and learn how it works. Stein also talks about why he hasn’t like dual-screen devices before, and why the Surface Duo may be the device to change his mind. But in the end, he went deeper in in the full review and said, “The sense of flow that the Duo aspires to — that feel of things working well together, the device not getting in the way — hasn’t been there for me.”

In Microsoft’s two-screen Surface Duo isn’t an iPhone or Galaxy Fold. That’s the point, we look at where the Surface Duo fits in the world, and why Microsoft chose to make a new handheld device after a series of embarrassing multibillion-dollar attempts that ended in failure.

Here’s what else you need to know about the Surface Duo.

How much does the Surface Duo cost?

Foldable phones aren’t cheap. Last year, when Samsung released its Galaxy Fold after a series of design failures were discovered by reviewers just before launch, it cost $1,980. The (also delayed) Huawei Mate X went for the equivalent of $2,400 when it was released.

Microsoft was initially charging $1,399 for the 128GB version of the Surface Duo. On the Microsoft Store website, that’s currently $1,199, although we can’t say how long that discount will last. 

Is the Surface Duo a phone?

That question is one of the things that’s surrounded this devices since it was announced last year. Wired’s take back then summed the situation up well: “It folds, but the screen isn’t foldable. It sort of fits in your pocket. It has a camera. And it makes phone calls-but don’t you dare call it a phone.”

Ultimately, if your definition of “phone” is it takes and receives calls, then yes it is one. But so is your PC, tablet and potentially your game console too.

So, maybe “phone” is more a state of mind than a label.

Is the Surface Duo an Android?

This is easier than asking whether the Surface Duo is a phone. This device is an Android, in that it runs Google’s mobile software for tablets and phones, and it is designed to run pretty much all the apps you can use on a standard non-Apple device. 

In fact, Microsoft said it chose to build the Surface Duo using Android instead of its Windows software because of the large base of hundreds of thousands of apps that already exist in the Android store. Why reinvent the wheel?

Does the Surface Duo have 5G?

Nearly every major phone launch this year, including Apple’s new iPhones, support 5G wireless capabilities. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, announced earlier this month for $1,300, has 5G. So does its cousin, the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

The Surface Duo, on the other hand, will work with 4G networks. Microsoft said the reason comes down to tradeoffs — the company chose to stick with the previous generation wireless tech to allow for better battery life and a thinner device.

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The hinge that makes the Surface Duo possible.

Scott Stein/CNET

Where is it on sale?

Microsoft closed nearly all its brick-and-mortar retail stores, so you won’t be able to find them there even if you’re willing to venture out during the pandemic. It’s available to order online through Microsoft’s website and Best Buy. You can buy it from AT&T, too.

If the starting price is too steep for you, Microsoft offers a 24-month payment plan through Dell financing. AT&T similarly will allow you to pay in installments through its Next Up program.

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We got to peer inside the Surface Duo, beneath the screens, to see how it works.

Richard Peterson/CNET

How well do apps run in the phone?

Microsoft made a point of showing us that standard Android apps run on the device just fine, thanks to its two screens being the equivalent of two standard phone displays. For apps built with the second screen in mind, they can be designed to “span” across the two screens, meaning an email app could have your inbox on the left and opened messages on the right. They could also be programmed to open new links or companion apps in the opposite screen you’re looking at.

Microsoft demonstrated Amazon’s Kindle book reading app, which was designed to look like a book with text on the left and right. When you swipe your finger across the screen, an animated page follows along.

The company said that it’s working with Google to integrate some of the software it developed for the Surface Duo back into Android so other two-screen devices in the future will benefit from Microsoft’s work. That also means more apps may eventually be programmed for the Surface Duo as a result.

But in his review, Scott Stein ran into several app issues, for example, he says, “The laggy feel of my review Duo and its early software, plus the weird interface, make navigation a serious challenge. I try Slack and Gmail, which work together fine… until I get hamstrung by popping the keyboard up in one window or another and trying to either thumb-swipe or flip the phone and type.”

Will the Surface Duo run Windows apps like my PC?

The Surface Duo runs Microsoft apps, including Office, Teams and Outlook, but it doesn’t run the same software as your computer. That’s one of the tradeoffs Microsoft had to make when building this device.

Its larger cousin, the Surface Neo, will run many of the same apps your computer has today. That’s because it’ll be powered by Windows 10X, a variant designed for dual-screen PCs. But that device, which brings together two 9-inch screens likely wouldn’t fit in your pocket as easily as the Surface Duo. The company’s also delayed until at least 2021, if not longer. 

How many folds can the Surface Duo take?

We’ve tested a few folding devices at CNET using a special robot developed by SquareTrade. The Samsung Galaxy Fold began failing after about 120,000 folds during our test last year. That was much less than the 200,000 folds we estimated it would go through during five years of use. (Although we’re just starting to learn how people use folding phones and that could change with the different designs companies are inventing).

When we put the new Motorla Razr through FoldBot’s paces last year, that device didn’t make it to 28,000 folds.

Microsoft preemptively said folding test robots don’t simulate real life usage the same way its own labs do. Still, it wouldn’t say how many folds the Surface Duo could last through, except that the company expects the hinge mechanism to last beyond the Surface Duo’s own natural lifecycle.

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The Surface Duo’s individual screens are thinner than an iPad Air.

Richard Peterson/CNET

Does the Surface Duo have a camera?

Many companies releasing premium phones justify their $1,000 or more prices with the beautiful photographs they say you could take. Apple has that Shot on iPhone billboard campaign, and the iPhone Photography Awards contest. Samsung boasts about how its devices can deliver stunning zoom with their cameras. And Google proudly says its advanced programming makes photos on its Pixel phones unlike competitors, offering shockingly well captured low-light shots. They can even photograph stars in the sky.

By comparison, Microsoft’s mostly talked about how the Surface Duo is built for productivity and better interaction between apps. Translation: Its camera will not be a killer feature. After in-person testing, we said, “The camera on the Surface Duo (and there’s only one) is fine. Definitely not great. It’s been serviceable for Zoom, and has created some photos and video clips that aren’t as good as what I’ve come to expect. Image stabilization for video seems particularly jittery.     

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A peak at the Surface Duo’s camera.

Richard Peterson/CNET

Will it get quick Android updates?

One of the most vexing parts of owning a phone powered by Google’s Android software is Android itself. Manufacturers routinely fail to deliver timely updates to users, even with Google putting out test versions of its software months ahead of the typical fall release.

Microsoft says it’s working with Google directly on the Surface Duo, which naturally led to questions about whether that means it’ll get updated more often and more quickly. Microsoft says the device will get software updates, but has not yet comitted to timetables about when.

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It comes in a box that’s very reminiscent of a certain fruit company that also makes phones.

Richard Peterson/CNET

Other details about the Surface Duo

  • A 360-degree hinge means you can fold one screen flat against the other to hold it like a notepad.
  • You get a total of 8.3 inches of screen real estate.
  • There’s no outer screen — you have to open the device to use it.
  • It supports the Surface Pen, which you need to buy separately for at least $99.
  • The Surface Duo has thick screen bezels, but that might help keep you from accidentally tapping while you hold it. Microsoft said the bezels are a tradeoff from miniaturizing parts and making the screens so thin. It’s also Microsoft’s way of saying smaller bezels are likely in the future.
  • You can drag and drop items, like a phone number, from one screen to the other.

Surface Duo specs

  • Two 5.6-inch AMOLED displays running at a resolution of 1,800×1,350 pixels separately
  • 8.3 inches of total screen real estate when opened fully, running at an effective resolution of 2,700×1,800 pixels
  • Snapdragon 855, 6GB DRAM
  • LTE 4×4 MIMO (Not 5G), supports AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in the US
  • Fingerprint reader
  • USB-C charger
  • 128GB or 256GB of internal storage
  • Mono speaker
  • 11-megapixel camera, f2.0 with electronic image stabilization 
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When could the IRS send a second stimulus check now, and which batch would you be in? – CNET

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Not everyone gets a stimulus payment at the same time.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The first stimulus payments were sent out over the course of several months after being authorized by the CARES Act in March, with eligible Americans being divided, de-facto, into priority groups. (Most of the first checks have now been sent out, but some people are still waiting.)  The priority group system will likely be used again if there’s a second stimulus check of up to $1,200 per person (and more for dependents). 

The timeline is still a big question. While negotiators are still hopeful that a bill can pass soon (“We are waiting for the final ‘yes,'” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday,) we’ve prepared a timeline of possible dates the checks could now arrive, if the stimulus proposal hasn’t become law by the Nov. 3 election, now just nine days away.

Here are some potential timelines for money to arrive, and a breakdown of which priority groups could get paid right away, and which might receive their stimulus payment paid down the line. This story was recently updated.

How quickly could the IRS send my payment to me?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said it would take about a week to process the first payments, when and if another stimulus check is signed into law. “I can get out 50 million payments really quickly. A lot of it into people’s direct accounts,” he said in August. 

We’ve speculated as to some potential dates if a bill becomes law after the Nov. 3 election and before or after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, based on current negotiations in Washington. Keep reading for more information. 

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Nov. 6 Nov. 23 Dec. 7 Feb. 1
Senate passes final bill Nov. 9 Nov. 30 Dec. 8 Feb. 2
President signs Nov. 10 Dec. 1 Dec. 9 Feb. 3
First direct deposits issued Week of Nov. 30 Week of Dec. 14 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Feb. 8
First paper checks sent Week of Dec. 14 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Jan. 4 Week of Feb. 15
First <span data-shortcode="link" data-asset-type="article" data-uuid="f96f4f0c-3b5b-4e72-94a7-8e630b5b05b0" data-slug="eip-card-what-it-is-and-why-you-might-get-one-if-another-stimulus-check-happens" data-link-text="EIP cards” data-href=”https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/whats-an-eip-payment-and-could-you-get-one-instead-of-a-stimulus-check/” data-edition=”us” data-shortcode-hash=”596ace3476a44eda91522b04821cad77″ data-shortcode-parser-id=”596ace3476a44eda91522b04821cad77_43″>EIP cards sent Week of Dec. 28 Week of Jan. 5 Week of Feb. 1 Week of Mar. 15

What are the IRS’ payment groups?

The IRS has so far sent money to at least 160 million people three different ways, starting with people who filed for direct deposit. Some people with more complicated personal situations are still waiting for their checks or even for catch-up payments. This creates a de facto priority order that could lead some Americans to receive their checks days or even weeks before others. We expect the IRS will adopt roughly the same system for sending out a second stimulus check in 2020 as it did with the first stimulus check, which was approved in March.

Read moreEstimate the size of your check with our stimulus calculator

Direct deposit recipients: People who already have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS or who provide that info when and if registration opens again should be first in line to receive a stimulus check. An electronic transfer of funds is faster and more efficient, which is why this group largely got their first payment faster.

Now playing: Watch this: Next stimulus checks: What to expect

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Social Security beneficiaries: With the first stimulus payment, many Social Security beneficiaries who had direct deposit information on file with the federal government received checks in the first week, though not always the first day.

People who get paper checks: The IRS began to mail checks about a week later to those without direct deposit data on file. 

EIP card recipients: Economic Impact Payment debit cards are prepaid Visa cards the IRS sent to about 4 million people starting in mid-May. If the IRS follows the same payment priority order, this group could begin to see their checks weeks after the first direct deposit transfers go out.

People with more complex situations: This category includes people who received a check after June, are still waiting to receive their stimulus payment or did not know they need to complete an extra step. Direct payments will continue through the end of 2020 for some individuals who weren’t part of the previous groups. Here’s what could be holding up the stimulus check delivery for some and how to contact the IRS to report a missing, lost or stolen check.

What is the most I may have to wait to receive my check?

While we expect most people to get their money sooner, if the first round is any indication, it could still take months for the IRS to send all the checks. Six months after the first stimulus payments went out, the federal agency is still trying to track down millions of people who may be owed money.

In some cases, people will need to wait until they receive a tax refund in 2021, especially for catch-up payments and error adjustments. Some examples include people who didn’t receive their allotted $500 for their dependents, including some people who pay or are owed child support. There are also non-filers who may be owed a stimulus check, including older adults or people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance

If you’re a US citizen abroad or live in a US territory and didn’t receive a check as expected, you may also need to investigate. And a new ruling in California may bring hope for the families of people who are incarcerated and didn’t receive the first stimulus check, or who received it and were compelled to return the money.

And even with the experience of processing roughly 160 million payments in the IRS’ back pocket, some people would probably need to clear a few hurdles to receive their money. Here are common roadblocks that held up the first stimulus check.

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There’s hope that the IRS could speed up delivery of a second check, if it’s authorized.

Angela Lang/CNET

Where can I find more help while I wait?

If you’re still waiting on the first round of payments, you can track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your no-show check to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn’t arrived.

And here are resources about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, what to know about evictions and late car payments, if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS and how to take control of your budget.

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Here’s how your second stimulus check may be bigger than the first – CNET

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Would the amount of your stimulus check go up or down in the second round, or stay the same? Here’s what we know and how it could change.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Nov. 3 election may come and go before the approval of a new economic stimulus package with a second stimulus check of up to $1,200 per person. Negotiations are continuing and we still don’t know exactly when the IRS can start issuing payments.

“The fact is that the president has been back and forth: ‘Stop the negotiations,’ ‘Oh, I want more money than Nancy,’ ‘I hope she’ll agree with me,'” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday. “But he has to talk to the Senate Republicans.”

If a second round of stimulus payments gets a green light, you may get more or less than you did in the first stimulus check if you qualify — we’ve outlined all the details below. It might also be helpful to learn how the IRS calculates your payment and to get an estimate for your potential payment. This story updates frequently.

How you could actually receive more money with a new payment

If approved as part of an economic rescue bill, a second stimulus check is expected to roughly follow the guidelines used for the first stimulus check and perhaps include changes from previous proposals, possibly even the latest White House offering. For most people, the total amount you’d be likely to receive is based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI, and other eligibility requirements.

Here are the scenarios in which you could receive more money from a second payment:

More people qualify as a dependent: The Democratic proposal for the next bill expands the definition of “dependent” to include anyone you can claim on your tax returns — such as children over 16 and adults under your care — so your number of dependents could increase.

Now playing: Watch this: Next stimulus checks: What to expect

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Child dependents get more money: A recent White House proposal would keep the same age restriction for children, but double the payout to $1,000.

Your employment status changed: If you become unemployed this year or your wages drop, that could affect your AGI, which is used to determine the payment.

You got married: Depending on several variables including your spouse’s filing status and new dependents, a change in marital status could result in a larger check.

You now share custody over a child: If you meet specific qualifications, you and the child’s other parent may both be entitled to claim extra stimulus money.

A rule permanently changes about people who are incarcerated: A federal judge has ruled that the IRS owes stimulus checks to inmates in prison who qualify. If the ruling stands, these people may be entitled to first and second stimulus checks.

Here are some potential scenarios for how the two different approaches could play out for families. You can use our stimulus check calculator to get a more specific estimate for your particular situation. 

How a change in dependent status might bring more stimulus cash

There’s a good chance that the next stimulus bill will expand the qualifications for dependents one way or another. You can read more about that here or above. What we’re seeing from two different proposals (neither of them law) is that in one scenario, you could get $500 for dependents of any age, and in a different scenario, you could get $1,000 per child dependent — that would mean a 16 year old or younger.

If you have a child, see below how that could affect your family. Note that there are currently additional rules for stimulus check eligibility if you pay or collect child support.

Stimulus check calculations with dependents

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
Tax filing status Single Head of household Married Married
2018 or 2019 tax AGI $45,000 $60,000 $160,000 $190,000
ESTIMATED TOTAL WITH:
1 dependent under 17 ($1,000 total) $2,200 $2,200 $2,900 $1,400
3 dependents under 17 ($3,000 total) $4,200 $4,200 $4,900 $3,400
1 dependent of any age ($500 total) $1,700 $1,700 $2,400 $900
3 dependents of any age ($1,500 total) $2,700 $2,700 $3,400 $1,900

How you could receive less money with a next check

In the first round of stimulus checks, for most people, the IRS based the amount on their 2019 federal tax returns if they filed them and their 2018 returns if they didn’t. But some Americans who qualified for a check experienced personal or financial changes after filing that would affect a future payment. 

You might qualify for a smaller check if you:

Started a job or received higher pay: A change in your AGI, either because of a wage increase or a change in employment status, could lower the check’s size.

Have fewer qualified dependents: Congress could keep the restrictive dependent requirements of the CARES Act and any dependents you claim could age out of eligibility.

Owe child support: Under the CARES Act, the government will hold back money to cover owed child support.

Could a change in my status impact payment of the first round of checks?

With the first checks, if your financial situation changed after you filed your 2018 or 2019 tax return, you can claim that additional amount on your 2020 tax return when you file in 2021, the IRS said. You’ll likely need to take an extra step to claim your credit — the IRS will post more details closer to tax season 2020.

Also, with the first round of payments, you won’t be required to pay back a stimulus payment if, based on your 2020 tax returns, you no longer qualify for the amount you received.

Should I do anything before the IRS sends another payment?

If another stimulus payment is approved and you’re eligible, the IRS will send your check automatically. But there may be some things you can do to help make sure you receive your money quickly.

Register for direct deposit to your bank account: Direct deposit will be the fastest way to get your money. The IRS already has a system in place to electronically transfer the funds into your checking account, if you already provided those details and registered for direct deposit for your first check or as part of filing your IRS tax return. 

Look for the registration tool to reopen if another stimulus check is issued. If you don’t have a bank account, read on for other ways to prepare.

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The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undecided. 

James Martin/CNET

If you moved, you need to let the post office know: If you don’t have direct deposit, you’re most likely to receive a stimulus payment in the form of a physical check. The IRS will mail your check to your last known address, so If you’ve moved recently, you’ll need to file a change of address with the US Postal Service.

Keep an eye on the mail: For the first stimulus payment, instead of a paper check, about 4 million people received a prepaid Economic Impact Payment Card in the mail. This is money you can spend like cash on a debit card. The cards came in plain, unmarked envelopes that were prone to being tossed by mistake. When and if the time comes, you can sign up for a free USPS service to track your mail all the way to your mailbox, so there are no surprises — or disappointments.

Beware of scams: Stimulus check fraud is real, and it’s still ongoing as millions of people continue to wait for their first checks. Fraudsters prey on people they consider vulnerable. Knowing common attacks can help you recognize and avoid them. There’s no second stimulus check scheduled right now, but that won’t stop a scammer from trying to take advantage.

Looking for more stimulus check information? Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus payment here. If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delaywhat you can do if you think your payment was lost or has fallen through the cracks and whether you could receive two refund checks from the IRS.

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How do I track my ballot? Here’s how for all 50 states – CNET

Election voter information guide

You can keep track of your mail-in ballot online.

James Martin/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

More than 50.9 million Americans have voted early ahead of the 2020 elections, with over 35 million of those being mail-in votes. And if you’ve decided to vote by mail this election, like millions of other Americans, you may be surprised to know you can track your ballot online after you vote. Most states offer a way to let you see where your ballot is online, so you know when it’s received.

Tracking your ballot can give you peace of mind, knowing it arrived before your state’s deadline. If you’re concerned about voting by mail, know there’s been no evidence of coordinated vote-by-mail fraud, with fewer than 150 criminal convictions for the crime over the last 20 years. Here are some ways to make sure your vote will count

Depending on the state you live in, you may be required to enter information like your first and last name, date of birth and sometimes your Social Security number. Note that each state uses its own service for tracking your ballot, including the US Postal Service. It’s always a good idea — and, in the case of USPS, it’s necessary — to save the tracking number on your ballot to help locate its whereabouts. States like Wyoming and Mississippi require you to call your county clerk’s office for tracking information.

After you vote, here’s how to track your ballot online in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Read more: California expects ‘big, big turnout’ for November election

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5:22

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Full-body workout vs. split workout: Only one is worth your time – CNET

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Unless you have six or more hours per week to work out, bicep curls really aren’t in your best interest.

Getty Images

Hate to break it to you, but you should probably stop doing bicep curls if you only have a couple of hours per week to work out. They’re kind of useless if you’re time-limited and want to improve your fitness. Quadricep extensions, calf raises, tricep push-downs and other isolation exercises also won’t do much for you if you don’t have time to dedicate to functional movements like squats, deadlifts, push-ups and shoulder presses

There’s no skirting the fact that functional, full-body movements provide the most value for time and effort. Exercises like lunges and push-ups will always be more effective than exercises that isolate a single muscle — and for those of us with limited time, we owe it to ourselves to get the most out of each and every workout. 

Read more: Should you do cardio before or after weightlifting? | Is it better to lift light weights or heavy weights?

Full-body vs. split workouts

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Full-body workouts are a time saver.

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A full-body workout engages all of your muscle groups during one session, and takes many forms — HIIT, high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), bodyweight workouts or conventional weightlifting

Split workout plans, on the other hand, are designed to separate muscle groups from one another. People partake in split workout programs to maximize muscle growth and reduce the number of rest days they need to take. By dedicating an entire day to one muscle group, such as your chest, you can fully fatigue the muscles and target them from a variety of angles, ensuring you develop a muscle to its full extent.

The problem is, split plans lose effectiveness if you don’t have five or six days to work out each week. Take the common bodybuilding “push-pull-legs” plan as an example.

On this split plan, you rotate pushing movements, pulling movements and leg movements with a rest day after completing all three. Pushing movements isolate your chest and triceps, while pulling movements isolate your back and biceps. And leg movements, well, you know. 

You could also simply rotate upper- and lower-body days or dedicate entire days to smaller muscle groups. For example, I once knew someone who followed this split plan:

  • Monday: Chest and triceps
  • Tuesday: Legs
  • Wednesday: Back and biceps
  • Thursday: Shoulders
  • Friday: Legs
  • Saturday: Core
  • Sunday: Rest

So this person dedicated an entire day to shoulders and an entire day to abs, which worked for him but is excessive for most people. This simply doesn’t work for people who can’t exercise six days a week. If you miss one workout on this plan, you neglect an entire muscle group that week. Split workouts plans also work best if you can dedicate at least 45 minutes each day to your workout — working your arms for 20 minutes won’t benefit you nearly as much as working your whole body for 20 minutes.

Full-body workouts work best for most people 

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Compound movements like deadlifts give you the most bang for your buck (buck = time).

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There are a few reasons for this, but the main reason most people should do full-body workouts over split workouts is time. Most people don’t have enough time to dedicate an hour a day to exercising in the first place, let alone spend that much time on a single muscle group. 

Full-body workouts maximize your time, and instead of spending your one hour (or less) pumping up your biceps, you could be chasing real gains like whole-body strength, core stabilization, functional mobility and endurance

Other reasons for choosing full-body workouts instead of split workouts include: 

  • Full-body workouts generally yield a higher total energy expenditure per session (i.e., you burn more calories).
  • It’s no big deal if you miss a workout. If you train three times per week and miss one workout, you’ve already worked all of your muscle groups twice. On the contrary, missing a workout on a split plan means you neglected a certain muscle group for that week. 
  • Full-body workouts force you to focus on functional movements, which you need for longevity and a high quality of life. 
  • Full-body workouts tend to include more movements that improve core stabilization and posture. 

When to add muscle isolation to your workout

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Isolation movements have their place if you have lots of time to work out.

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I usually advise personal training clients to add muscle isolation into their workouts if and when any of the following three scenarios occur: 

  • They’re nursing an injury that requires strengthening a particular muscle (for example, strengthening the quads to help an injured knee heal).
  • They have a schedule change that allows them to work out longer or on more days.
  • They become advanced enough to safely and smartly incorporate both into the same workout.
  • They have a specific aesthetic goal and/or want to compete in a bodybuilding competition (this requires more time than most people have).

If none of the above apply to you, you’re likely better off sticking to full-body workouts focused on functional movement, longevity and overall health. 

You can incorporate both if you want to

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Some movements, like Bulgarian split squats, seem to isolate one muscle but actually recruit most muscle groups.

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All this isn’t to say you have to choose one over the other all the time. You can definitely include full-body workouts and muscle isolation movements into your workout routine if you want to — you can even do both in the same workout if you plan smartly or have good programming from a trainer.

If you already work out several days each week, you can dedicate some of those days to muscle isolation. Try this example for a good balance of full-body, functional exercise and isolation workouts: 

  • Monday: Full-body HIRT workout
  • Tuesday: 30-minute walk and 30 minutes of core work
  • Wednesday: Lower-body day 
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Full-body HIIT workout
  • Saturday: 30-minute walk and 30 minutes of upper-body work
  • Sunday: Rest

In the above example, you get a nice combination of intense full-body exercise, steady-state cardio and muscle isolation work across five workouts. 

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Good programming allows you to incorporate full-body movements and muscle isolation movements into your workouts.

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To include full-body and muscle isolation work in the same workout, throw in a few supersets like below. 

Full-body day with legs and glutes focus:

Part 1: Complete three sets

Part 2: Complete three sets

Part 3: Complete three rounds

The above workout includes full-body movements (squat to press, deadlifts and broad jumps) along with isolation movements (quad extensions, hip thrusts and barbell rows). 

All six movements primarily work your legs, glutes and back while requiring engagement of your core and upper body, making this a great full-body but also targeted workout. 

If you do something similar with an upper-body focus and another with a core focus, you have a fantastic weekly workout routine with just three sessions each week.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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The dazzling Orionid meteor shower is still active: How to watch the show – CNET

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Halley’s Comet in 1986.

NASA

Gaze upward skywatchers. The Orionid meteor shower officially peaked Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but it should continue to be worth getting up early for the rest of the week. The American Meteor Society forecasts that a handful of meteors or more per hour should be visible.

The Orionids are considered a major meteor shower based on the amount of visible meteors that can be seen racing toward inevitable doom during its active period, which runs roughly from the first week of October to the first week of November.  

The Orionids are really just bits of dust and debris left behind from famed Comet Halley on its previous trips through the inner solar system. As our planet drifts through the cloud of comet detritus each year around this time, all that cosmic gravel and grime slams into our upper atmosphere and burns up in a display we see on the ground as shooting stars and even the occasional fireball.

The Orionids can epitomize the old phrase “blink and you might miss it” as they enter our atmosphere at an extremely fast velocity of roughly 147,000 miles per hour (66 kilometers per second). That said, a fair amount of these meteors leave persistent trails that last for a few seconds. Some even fragment and break up in a more spectacular fashion. 

To catch the show, the advice is the same as for all celestial spectator events: Find a spot away from light pollution with a wide open view of the night sky. Bundle up if needed, lay back, relax and let your eyes adjust. You don’t need to focus on any part of the sky, but the Orionids are so named because their trails appear to originate from the same general area of the sky as the constellation Orion and the bright star Betelgeuse

The absolute best time to look for the Orionids in 2020 was probably in the early morning hours before dawn on Oct. 21, but this shower is known for an extended peak, so you should have a good chance of seeing some meteors if you get up early Thursday and even into the weekend.

The moon will set before peak morning viewing hours, so that’ s another perk this year. Enjoy the show and as always, please share any great meteor shots you might capture with me on Twitter @EricCMack

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How to see the dazzling Orionid meteor shower peak tonight and tomorrow – CNET

lspn-comet-halley

Halley’s Comet in 1986.

NASA

Gaze upward skywatchers. The Orionid meteor shower, already active and visible, is having its best week yet. 

The Orionids are considered a major meteor shower based on the amount of visible meteors that can be seen racing toward inevitable doom during its active period, which runs roughly from the first week of October to the first week of November.  

The American Meteor Society forecasts that a handful of meteors per hour may be visible this week, with that number increasing to as many as 20 per hour during the peak on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21.

The Orionids are really just bits of dust and debris left behind from famed Comet Halley on its previous trips through the inner solar system. As our planet drifts through the cloud of comet detritus each year around this time, all that cosmic gravel and grime slams into our upper atmosphere and burns up in a display we see on the ground as shooting stars and even the occasional fireball.

The Orionids can epitomize the old phrase “blink and you might miss it” as they enter our atmosphere at an extremely fast velocity of roughly 147,000 miles per hour (66 kilometers per second). That said, a fair amount of these meteors leave persistent trails that last for a few seconds. Some even fragment and break up in a more spectacular fashion. 

To catch the show, the advice is the same as for all celestial spectator events: Find a spot away from light pollution with a wide open view of the night sky. Bundle up if needed, lay back, relax and let your eyes adjust. You don’t need to focus on any part of the sky, but the Orionids are so named because their trails appear to originate from the same general area of the sky as the constellation Orion and the bright star Betelgeuse

The absolute best time to look for the Orionids in 2020 is probably in the early morning hours before dawn on Oct. 21, but this shower is known for an extended peak, so you should have a good chance of seeing some meteors if you get up early a few days before or after that peak date as well. 

The moon will set before peak morning viewing hours, so that’ s another perk this year. Enjoy the show and as always, please share any great meteor shots you might capture with me on Twitter @EricCMack

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Stimulus negotiations: Senate to vote on White House bill despite Trump showdown? – CNET

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Is the stimulus package in trouble? Here’s the latest.

Angela Lang/CNET

Senate Republicans have roundly criticized the White House’s $1.8 trillion stimulus package, which includes a second stimulus check. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might be willing to vote on a finalized proposal if a deal is reached. On Saturday, he said “the Senate would of course consider it,” without committing to a vote, The Washington Post reported.

That “if” is the knife’s edge of arduous negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is currently in the Middle East. On Saturday, Pelosi set a Tuesday deadline to finalize all language on the stimulus package for it to stand a chance of passing before election day on Nov. 3, which is now 15 days away. Mnuchin and Pelosi are expected to talk Monday, according to CNN.

On Sunday, Pelosi presented a list of remaining objections, including specific language on coronavirus testing, a child tax credit and the US census count. She continued to express hope, however: “I am optimistic that we can reach agreement before the election.”

Senate Republicans, who are sharply divided from President Donald Trump on the stimulus issue, pose the biggest hurdle to a deal going through. On Tuesday, McConnell will preside over a vote on a $500 billion stand-alone bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program, a loan for businesses to help retain employees during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, he’ll revive last month’s $500 billion “skinny” bill that Democrats blocked.

Now playing: Watch this: Next stimulus checks: What to expect

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While the Senate may not expect either bill to pass, voting on them now is a clear rejection of the almost $2 trillion stimulus package that Trump so vocally supports. It is the latest evidence that GOP senators could break with Trump, perhaps fearing for their personal reelection chances and the resulting “bloodbath” if the election results hand Democrats control over both chambers of Congress and the presidency. 

Trump has downplayed his concern of a Republican pushback over the last week, most recently saying on Fox News he “will take care of that problem in two minutes” if the Senate opposes the bill. “If I had something that would be good, I think I could quickly convince the Republicans to do it,” adding, “and I wanted a higher number than [Pelosi] wanted.”

Senate Republicans have repeatedly defied additional coronavirus relief aid over $1 trillion. “That’s where the administration is willing to go,” McConnell told reporters last week from Kentucky, referring to the White House offer. “My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go,” he said, referring to Tuesday’s vote.

What happens if a bill doesn’t pass before the election and how could it affect Americans and the economy? Here’s what we know. We update this story with new information.

Will the Senate’s stand-alone or ‘skinny’ bills pass?

It’s uncertain if the stand-alone PPP bill or “skinny bill,” which includes enhanced unemployment aid for $300 extra per week, will pass the Senate, especially after the latter package failed to advance in the Senate and was blocked by Democrats

A narrow Senate bill is also unlikely to pass in the House of Representatives, whose leader, Pelosi, has consistently rejected a stand-alone bill that is not tied to a larger aid package. Some Democratic lawmakers, however, have pushed for Pelosi to take a deal now rather than no deal.

Analysts consider the Senate’s bills a way to publicly demonstrate to voters that they’re taking coronavirus relief seriously, ahead of an election that could cause the Senate to lose its Republican majority.

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Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

What happens if a COVID relief bill doesn’t pass before Nov. 3? 

At this point, there’s still a possibility that a new stimulus aid package will pass, though the uncertainties are many. Here are some ways events could play out.

White House offer is finalized in time and passes: In this best-case scenario, a bill passes both chambers of Congress and is signed into law before Nov. 3. Stimulus checks and other aid would likely begin to go out within weeks.

White House offer is finalized and fails in the Senate: In this situation, the House could either attempt to pick up the Senate bills, if they pass that chamber, or wait until after the election — and potentially after the Jan. 20 inauguration — to revisit stimulus aid, potentially setting back the clock by months.

White House offer is not finalized in time and talks continue: This scenario is much like above, and would effectively stall a bill earlier than the previous scenario. It’s likely that the House would then use this bill as a starting point to push the bill through faster once negotiations revive post-election. 

Senate bills pass and House passes as last-ditch effort: In the event that the Senate’s narrow stimulus bills pass that chamber, the House would have the option to take them up. If they passed, Trump would be able to sign into law or veto. It would be likely that Congress would take up another stimulus package post-election regardless. 

Talks stop until after the election results are in: If talks don’t yield an actionable bill, negotiations could limp along or stop altogether. However, it’s likely they’ll restart in some capacity immediately after the election and leading into January. It’s been speculated that if Trump loses the election and if the Senate loses its majority, there will be little incentive to pass a sweeping package until 2021 during the transition.

To help visualize when a bill could pass, we’ve speculated five possible dates, both before and after the November election. If a bill does pass that includes a direct payment, here’s how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check.

When could a stand-alone stimulus bill or package pass?

House votes Senate votes President signs
Oct. 26 Oct. 27 Oct. 28
Nov. 9 Nov. 10 Nov. 11
Nov. 16 Nov. 17 Nov. 18
Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25
Feb. 1, 2021 Feb. 2, 2021 Feb. 3, 2021

What about the House’s new stimulus bill?

On Oct. 1, the House of Representatives passed a revised Heroes Act that includes a second stimulus check and additional benefits such as enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans. The new House bill, endorsed primarily by Democrats, was not expected to advance through the Republican-controlled Senate, and indeed has not.

According to Pelosi, the vote on the revised Heroes bill was independent of ongoing negotiations with Mnuchin. 

The vote was thought to provide cover for House Democrats as they campaign without a new relief bill, much as the Senate did earlier in September for Republican members with its $650 billion skinny bill. Like the skinny Senate bill, this new House proposal has little chance of advancing in the other chamber.

What do Republicans and Democrats agree on, if anything?

Proposals from both sides include another stimulus payment of up to $1,200 for individuals who meet the requirements, among topics like aid for airlines, enhanced unemployment insurance and extending the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses. Although the Senate’s targeted bills do not include stimulus checks, in the past, Republicans (including those in the Senate) have supported them.

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check now and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.

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Stimulus package negotiations: Senate’s Monday vote sets up a showdown with Trump – CNET

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Congress is on the clock to reach a deal before breaking for the election.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With the Nov. 3 election 17 days away, the stimulus negotiations that’ve now dragged on for months are taking a turn toward high drama. What was once a tug-of-war between Democratic and White House negotiators is now becoming a battle of wills that could reveal deep cracks in the Republican party.

On the one side, President Donald Trump is pushing his key negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to reach a stimulus agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, authorizing a larger bill than previously suggested, which makes concessions to some of Pelosi’s demands on coronavirus testing and tracing, a previous sticking point.

“We’re making progress. We have to have clarification in language because we have some big differences,” Pelosi said Friday on MSNBC. “As you know, the devil and the angels are in the details.”

On the other side are the Senate Republicans, who’ve balked at passing the nearly $2 trillion bill, a proposal they attacked when it was introduced on Oct. 9. 

On Monday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Senate is set to vote on a $500 billion stand-alone bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program, a loan for businesses to help retain employees during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It isn’t expected to pass the House of Representatives.

Now playing: Watch this: Next stimulus checks: What to expect


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“That’s where the administration is willing to go,” McConnell told reporters Thursday from Kentucky, referring to the White House offer. “My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go.” McConnell hasn’t been to the White House in two months, citing the handling of coronavirus protocols.

“Secretary Mnuchin is negotiating a deal,” Larry Kudlow, the White House’s chief economic advisor, said on Fox Business on Friday. “If Speaker Pelosi wanted a deal, I think we could round up enough Senate Republicans to get a deal. But less than three weeks to go — I don’t know.”

The administration has consistently said Senate Republicans would fall in line with Trump’s wishes, but there are signs they could break with Trump, fearing personal reelection chances and the “blood bath” if the election results give Democrats control over both chambers of Congress and the presidency.

The impending election isn’t the only source of urgency to pass more stimulus aid. By Friday, the US surpassed 8 million known coronavirus cases, with new COVID hotspots surging across the midwest. Thursday, the Department of Labor announced a total of 886,000 new jobless claims for the week — up 77,000 from the previous week. And 14 million people who were helped by the CARES Act’s $600 per week unemployment benefit fell back into poverty after benefits expired, according to a new study from the Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy (PDF).

“We need to get money to the American public now, the people that are most hurting,” Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday. 

So what could happen next? Read on for more details on the bumpy path of stimulus talks. We update this story often.

How likely is it that the Senate’s stand-alone bill will become law?

McConnell plans to bring his Senate proposal to fund more payroll assistance to a vote on Oct. 19. “Our first order of business will be voting again on targeted relief for American workers, including new funding for the PPP,” he said Tuesday.

Pelosi has consistently rejected a stand-alone bill that is not tied to a larger aid package. In other words, she has said she would support a tailored bill if there are also assurances that a larger deal is also being worked on.

It’s hard to say what will happen, and if increasing pressure in the run-up to the election will cause any side’s stance to soften. There are currently two ideas in play for a stand-alone bill.

The White House has also recently urged Congress to repurpose $130 billion in unused money from the payroll protection program that was part of the CARES Act. The money would fund new financial assistance for small businesses or the airline industry. (That isn’t enough to fund stimulus checks.)

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Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Could a new relief bill still pass before the election? 

With just a few weeks before the Nov. 3 election, Congress is running out of time to pass additional aid.

If talks fizzle before Nov. 3, Pelosi has said that Congress could pick up the thread on another economic rescue package following the election. It isn’t clear how the outcome of the election would speed up or delay the passage of a bill.

In addition to the office of president — where incumbent Trump faces off against former vice president Joe Biden — Congress could see a change to its membership along party lines, which could affect the shape of a final bill.

But with talks currently ongoing, we’ve suggested five possible dates, both before and after the November election. These are speculative only. If a bill does pass, here’s how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check.

When could a stand-alone stimulus bill or package pass?

House votes Senate votes President signs
Oct. 26 Oct. 27 Oct. 28
Nov. 9 Nov. 10 Nov. 11
Nov. 16 Nov. 17 Nov. 18
Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25
Feb. 1, 2021 Feb. 2, 2021 Feb. 3, 2021

Why did Trump’s position keep changing?

Trump has been increasingly vocal in his support of a large stimulus bill, at one point saying he wanted to corral more stimulus money than Republicans and Democrats

But while being treated for COVID-19 with a powerful steroid known to have side effects, he instructed his team on Oct. 6 to stop negotiating on a new deal, directing Congress instead to pass a stand-alone bill for another round of $1,200 checks and renew payroll assistance for the airlines and other industries. 

By Oct. 9, he was encouraging negotiators to “go big” on a new stimulus bill and on Oct. 12 he urged fellow Republicans to “pull back” on the due process for Barrett’s confirmation hearings “and go for STIMULUS for the people!!!”

According to Trump on Oct. 6, his belief that a deal on a stimulus package wouldn’t be reached in the short time left and desire to quickly confirm Supreme Court associate justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett led to the decision. Barrett’s confirmation hearing began Oct. 12. On Thursday, he tweeted yet again that he was ready to sign a bill. 

Didn’t the House recently vote on a new stimulus bill?

On Oct. 1, the House of Representatives passed a revised Heroes Act that includes a second stimulus check and additional benefits such as enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans. The new House bill, endorsed primarily by Democrats, has little chance of advancing through the Republican-controlled Senate, though.

According to Pelosi, the vote on the revised Heroes bill was independent of ongoing negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. If Pelosi and Mnuchin do agree on a new proposal, a new bill would need to be separately drafted and voted on in both the House and Senate before being signed into law. The total cost of the package and funding allocations like a child tax credit have remained chief sticking points.

The vote is thought to provide cover for House Democrats as they campaign without a new relief bill, much as the Senate did earlier in September for Republican members with its $650 billion skinny bill. Like the skinny Senate bill, this new House proposal has little chance of advancing in the other chamber.

The vote is thought to provide cover for House Democrats as they campaign without a new relief bill, much as the Senate did earlier in September for Republican members with its $650 billion skinny bill. Like the skinny Senate bill, this new House proposal has little chance of advancing in the other chamber.

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Will America pass a new stimulus bill? Both sides agree more aid is necessary.

Angela Lang/CNET

Do Republicans and Democrats agree on anything?

Proposals from both sides include another stimulus payment of up to $1,200 for individuals who meet the requirements, among topics like aid for airlines, enhanced unemployment insurance and extending the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses. Mnuchin has also said they’ve found agreement on areas like testing, contact tracing, vaccines and distribution. 

What happens next?

The situation is still in flux. For now, we wait to see if there are any developments. Anything could still happen. 

For more information, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.

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Stimulus check math: The IRS calculations are fascinating, with sometimes unexpected results – CNET

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Do you know how your stimulus check money really works out? It isn’t easy.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you care about the size of your next stimulus check, or wonder how the IRS calculated the first one, you’re in the right place. Knowing how the IRS determines how much money you get is important for understanding the complicated brew that goes into these payments. The first round of checks just appeared for the majority of the people who got them, without them having to apply or do a thing to receive them. On the flip side, there was also little clarity about why some people got what they got, and few ways to appeal if you feel there may have been a calculation error.

As negotiations for a second stimulus check heat up, we wanted to demystify the stimulus payment process, from figuring out which priority group you might be in to explaining the nuances of qualifications and how they could change.

Here, we’ll help explain how the IRS works out your total if you don’t get the full amount, and how it’s possible for a married couple who maxes out the income limit to still receive a $400 check. You can also try CNET’s stimulus check calculator for an estimate of what your payment could be, assuming one is eventually authorized in a new stimulus bill. This story was recently updated.

Now playing: Watch this: Next stimulus checks: What to expect


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Stimulus check totals: Different than you expect?

Before we unwrap the details of what the IRS is doing when it determines your share of the stimulus check money, we wanted to give you some real-world examples of how the checks could pan out for people who claim dependents, in different scenarios. 

Remember that an individual can qualify for a stimulus check of up to $1,200, a married couple who files taxes jointly can get up to $2,400, and the first check threw in an extra $500 per qualified child dependent. Note that a head of household is someone who files taxes individually and has at least one dependent. People who are considered single filers claim no dependents on their taxes, only themselves, which is why this group isn’t included in the chart below. 

These figures are based on the rules set out for the first check, worked out using CNET’s stimulus check calculator — they don’t include variables for a second check and are estimates only. There are a lot of secondary qualifications that could determine your final sum. If the amount below looks higher than what you received though, you may need to investigate a catch-up payment from the IRS for dependents who were skipped in the first check.

Stimulus check calculations with dependents (First check)

Head of household Married couple, filing jointly
Estimated total with:
AGI of $40,000 and no dependents $1,200 $2,400
AGI of $115,000 and no dependents $1,075 $2,400
AGI of $200,000 and no dependents Not eligible Not eligible
AGI of $40,000 and 1 dependent $1,700 $2,900
AGI of $115,000 and 1 dependent $1,575 $2,900
AGI of $200,000 and 1 dependent Not eligible $400
AGI of $40,000 and 2 dependents $2,200 $3,400
AGI of $115,000 and 2 dependents $2,075 $3,400
AGI of $200,000 and 2 dependents Not eligible $900

How does the IRS calculate your stimulus check allowance?

For most people, the answer is “taxes.” Specifically, the IRS starts with the adjusted gross income you put on your 2019 federal tax returns if you filed them or otherwise your 2018 returns. (If you don’t typically file taxes, here’s what you need to know.)

If you’re an individual US citizen, head of a household or part of a married couple filing jointly, the most money you could make in a year (your AGI) and still get a check looked something like this, according to the CARES Act:

  • $99,000 for eligible individuals (up to $1,200)
  • $136,500 for head of household filers (up to $1,200)
  • $198,000 for married couples filing joint returns (up to $2,400)

But there are two important facts you also need to know: First, at a certain “income cap,” the IRS reduces the total you can get by $1 for each $20 of income you have over the cap. So if you’re a single person filing alone and your AGI is less than $75,000, you’d likely get the full $1,200. As your AGI goes up, your check would get smaller.

Second, these numbers don’t factor in children. The IRS would include a $500 payment for each qualifying child 16 years or younger that you claimed on your tax return, which means you could still get more — or less — than the per-person or per-couple limit depending on your income.

When the IRS put it all together for the first payment, the agency started with the largest amount you’d be eligible to receive ($1,200 per single taxpayer or $2,400 for joint), added $500 for each qualifying child and then reduced the total possible sum according to your AGI.

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Washington continues to work on the details or a new stimulus package.

Angela Lang/CNET

It’s a little like starting a test with a perfect 100 points and subtracting every point you “miss,” rather than starting with zero points and adding them all up at the end of the test.

But in this case, the dependents you name can start you at a higher value, say 110 points in our classroom example. So by the time you subtract “points,” you may still have more than people who don’t have dependents, even if your AGI is high.

That’s why it’s possible you could be out of range for a payment based on your AGI and still receive a check for eligible dependents. Still confused? We don’t blame you. Maybe these other scenarios we looked at will help ballpark how much you could get.

What does this all mean for your second check?

If and when Congress does approve a new economic stimulus package with a second round of checks, the size of your payment could largely depend on any new rules that affect dependents, even if the $1,200 and $2,400 caps stay the same.

Right now there are two proposals to cast a wider net for dependents. One would allot more money for children (e.g., $1,000 instead of $500), and the other would include more dependents (e.g. $500 for college students and older parents who live with you). 

Both would potentially increase your family’s overall pool. Remember, the bigger the sum a family starts with, the bigger the check they are likely to receive after the IRS makes its deductions based on your AGI. 

Again, here’s a comparison of what the difference could look like for some families — with varying AGIs and types of dependents — if the rules change one of two ways. In that story we also explain different ways you could see more, or even less, money on a second check.

For now we keep our eyes on Washington. For more, see our guides to the first round of checks, SSDI recipients and checks and how older Americans can also qualify.