Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a couple of small but notable discounts on the new 10.2-inch iPad and Apple Watch Series 6. The former is currently down to $299 at Amazon, while the latter is down to $385. Those are $30 and $15 discounts, respectively.
These are not massive deals, clearly, and as of this writing, Amazon says the Apple Watch may take a few weeks to ship. But given that both devices only became available within the past week, we figured the discounts were worth noting for early adopters who might be able to save a few bucks by not buying directly from Apple.
As for the devices themselves, the eighth-generation iPad is largely a spec bump over the previous model. It keeps the design language of older iPads, with a Lightning port, non-laminated display, and relatively large bezels. But it still supports Apple's Smart Keyboard and first-generation Pencil stylus, it still offers excellent mobile software in iPadOS, and it should provide stronger performance now that it has jumped from Apple's A10 processor to the A12 chip found in the iPhone XS and iPad Mini. It's not as sexy as the new iPad Air, but it should still hold appeal for casual entertainment and getting light work done.
President Donald Trump has reportedly granted his personal approval of Oracle's proposal to invest in TikTok, moving the entire saga one step closer to an end.
The president told reporters this afternoon he approved the deal "in concept," according to Bloomberg News.
"I have given the deal my blessing," Trump said. "I approved the deal in concept."
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice discount on HyperX's Cloud Stinger gaming headset, which is currently available for just under $30 at Amazon. Normally retailing in the $50 range, this discount marks the second-best price we've seen outside of a brief drop to $26 this past March.
The Cloud Stinger was our top budget pick in a past guide to the best gaming headsets. It's an old-fashioned wired pair that HyperX has sold for several years, but it continues to provide a commendable blend of comfort and audio quality at a wallet-friendly price. It has a lightweight design that doesn't clamp too harshly on the head. Its ear cups are spacious enough, its headband is highly adjustable, and it cushions both with ample memory foam. It doesn't have an especially detailed or balanced sound profile, but its hyped-up bass and treble give it an exciting quality and bring a little more oomph to in-game effects. Its built-in mic is a plus, too, lending voices greater clarity than a typical wireless headset.
The Cloud Stinger is still a budget-level gaming headset, so it has its share of shortcomings. That microphone isn't detachable, nor is the included 3.5mm cable. Its earcups don't fold up for easier storage. A simple volume slider is all it has in terms of built-in controls. And its plastic-heavy build makes it feel like an inexpensive device. Still, the Cloud Stinger does well where it matters most. Because it's a wired headset, it'll have no problem working with any console or PC, either, the upcoming PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X included. It's a solid value at its usual going rate, so if you're in the market for a new headset on the cheap, this deal is well worth a look.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by the best price we've seen to date for Apple's AirPods Pro, which are currently down to $199 at Amazon and Staples. While we've seen the noise-cancelling true wireless earphones hit this price briefly earlier this year, today's deal is still $50 off Apple's MSRP, about $35 off their typical street price online, and the first time we've seen them fall below $200 on Amazon.
We recently recommended the AirPods Pro in our guide to the best home office gear. In short, if you're looking for a pair of totally wireless earphones and specifically want active noise cancellation, they're still hard to beat a year after they launched. They have a largely neutral sound profile that represents a sizable upgrade over the base AirPods, even if they're a bit light on bass. They're remarkably simple to pair with other iOS devices, and they have few connection hiccups once they're hooked up. Their noise-cancelling quality is a step below top-notch over-ear headphones like Sony's WH-1000XM4, but it's still more than strong enough for most people's needs. An accompanying "transparency" mode is excellent at blending in outside noise with your music when you need it. Apple is now adding new features like automatic device switching and spatial audio support, too. And though we prefer the physical playback controls of a Jabra Elite 75t or Beats Powerbeats Pro, the AirPods Pro's touch sensors are easier to use than those of the standard AirPods.
The AirPods Pro have their share of issues: their five-ish hours of battery life is mediocre, they don't let you adjust volume from the earphones themselves, and they lose much of their intuitiveness when connected to an Android or Windows device. It's also worth noting that Apple is holding a special event today, and while we don't expect to see new AirPods Pro in the immediate future, upgraded base AirPods are expected to arrive early next year. Still, if you want a pair of noise-cancelling wireless earphones today, the AirPods Pro remain a good buy at this deal price.
Original story 10:07am EDT: US Customs and Border Protection this weekend proudly tweeted about a high-value seizure of counterfeit electronic goods at John F. Kennedy International Airport. "That's not an ," the agency wrote yesterday, sharing two pictures and linking to a press release.
"CBP officers seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple Airpod Earbuds from Hong Kong destined for Nevada at an air cargo facility," the agency wrote in the press release, dated Friday. "If the merchandise were genuine, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) would have been $398,000."
CBP was right about two things, at least: the earbuds shipped from Hong Kong, and they are not Apple AirPods. But that's about all the credit you can give it. Judging by the pictures CBP itself shared in both the press release and the tweet, the earbuds are not in any way counterfeit Apple products. They do not say "Apple" on the packaging, they do not have an Apple logo anywhere, and they do not feature any other images or text linking them to Apple.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a new low price on RavPower's 90W 2-Port USB-C Wall Charger, which is currently down to $43 on Amazon with an on-page coupon. For reference, we typically see this charger retail between $48 and $55 online.
We recommend this charger in our guide to home office gear, which we published earlier on Friday. It's one of the few USB-C chargers capable of putting out this much power through multiple ports. The device can output 90W of power through either port, which is enough to charge many laptops at or—in the case of especially power-hungry notebooks like the 16-inch MacBook Pro—at least close to their maximum speeds, provided you have an appropriate cable. Given that, the charger has no trouble charging smartphones, tablets, or USB-C devices like the Nintendo Switch as quickly as possible, either. The whole thing outputs a maximum of 90W when both ports are in use simultaneously, but it's smart enough to adjust its output based on what's plugged in, so you could charge two thinner laptops at 45W each or have one port charge a laptop at 60W while the other refills a smartphone at 18W (which is a common maximum for newer phones).
This is a gallium nitride (GaN) charger, so it's remarkably compact for its capabilities, measuring just 2.5 x 2.5 x 1.2 inches. It also includes a USB-C to USB-C charging cable in the box. While we'd prefer it have the safety of a USB-IF certification, it comes with an 18-month warranty, and other outlets have rated it highly. We wouldn't recommend spending this much on a wall charger unless you specifically need a laptop charger and multiple ports—90W is still overkill for most smartphones and tablets for now—but if you do, it will cut down the time you spend waiting for your devices to refill.
Today, Microsoft revealed prices for its next-gen consoles: $299 or $499 for an Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X, respectively, starting November 10. But Microsoft is also talking up a smartphone-style program that lets players get either system for no money upfront as part of a subscription plan called Xbox All Access.
We've seen "no money down" Xbox hardware plans like this before—a similar All Access program has been available for the Xbox One line since 2018. But we're using this high-profile occasion to remind you of a little-known fact about Xbox All Access: it can save new console buyers money in the long run, as well as upfront.
First, let's run the numbers. With Xbox All Access, you make a two-year commitment to pay $24.99/month (for the Xbox Series S) or $34.99/month (for the Xbox Series X). In exchange for that commitment, you get the relevant hardware upfront, to keep, as well as a two-year subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Today's Dealmaster roundup features a number of tech deals from this past Labor Day Weekend that are still kicking. Among the highlights are a handful of first-party Switch games for $40, including Super Mario Maker 2, Splatoon 2, Mario Tennis Aces, Yoshi's Crafted World, and New Super Mario Bros U. Deluxe. We've seen these deals before, but they remain $10-20 off their usual going rates.
Beyond that, we've got a few good price drops on recommended Dell monitors, including two—the 34-inch ultrawide UltraSharp U3419W and the 27-inch 4K S2721QS—that will soon be picks in our upcoming "working from home tech" buying guide. (Spoiler alert!) You can check our curated list below for a full rundown of today's best offers, which also include wireless noise-cancelling headphones, wireless gaming mice, USB-C wall chargers and portable batteries, among others.
Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by the first notable price drops on The Last of Us Part II, Sony's PS4-exclusive action-adventure game that released this past June. New copies are currently available for $50 in both physical and digital form, which is a $10 discount. If you're willing to buy a pre-owned copy, though, you can grab it at GameFly for $30. The latter includes the game case and any manuals or inserts that would typically come included with the title.
As for the game itself, to call The Last of Us Part II polarizing would be an understatement. Though it has achieved startlingly high review scores, we'd guess most people won't find it perfect. It's a game that deliberately tries to avoid being fun: it tells a messy story about humanity's worst traits, horrible things happen to almost everyone in it, and its stealth-action gameplay traffics in high tension. Even if you accept those terms, our own review raised issues with how the game develops its narrative.
That said, while The Last of Us Part II isn't a pandemic-friendly pick-me-up, it is bold—particularly for a mega-budget "AAA" game marketed to mainstream audiences—and how you ultimately feel about it will likely come down to your own interpretation of the story it's telling. While it can be bleak, it's often affecting, and it's one of the few high-profile games that's unafraid to toy with typical player expectations. If you're into that sort of thing, this might be a good chance to give the relatively new game a try at less than full price. If nothing else, it's hugely impressive from a technical perspective.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by the return of a nice $10 discount on Roku's Streaming Stick+, which is currently down to $39 at multiple retailers. While we saw Roku's 4K- and HDR-ready media streamer drop as low as $29 around Black Friday last year, this deal matches the best price we've seen outside of special events like that.
We've highlighted the Streaming Stick+ and its primary competitor, Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K, a few times in the past. Though the former has been on the market for a couple years now, it remains a dependable way to stream a massive library of apps, in 4K HDR quality, through an interface that's much simpler to navigate than Amazon's rival. That UI could probably use an aesthetic overhaul, there's no Dolby Vision HDR support, and Roku's status as a "neutral" platform has come into question after recent disputes have prevented users from accessing official versions of newer apps like HBO Max and Peacock (though the Fire TV Stick 4K is missing those, too). It's also worth noting that Google is expected to launch an affordable Android TV dongle of its own in the near future. But for now, if you're a cord-cutter who wants more than the apps built into your 4K TV can provide, the Streaming Stick+ is still speedy, intuitive, and a good value.
If you don't need for a new streamer, though, we also have deals on Razer mice and laptops, Samsung microSD cards, the AirPods Pro, and more. Have a look at our full rundown below.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a great price on Samsung's 256GB EVO Select microSD card, which is currently down to $29.49 at Amazon. While the street price on this card has steadily fallen over the past year, this discount is still about $9 off its typical going rate online, and it's within $2 of the lowest price we've seen for this variant. Amazon says this is a one-day sale, though the 128GB model has been discounted to $19 for the past week if you don't need as much storage.
We've highlighted sales on the EVO Select a few times in the past, but it remains a solid option for those looking to boost the storage capacity of their Nintendo Switch, GoPro, Android smartphone, dash cam, or whatever else. It's not the absolute fastest card for running apps or a Raspberry Pi's OS these days, but as a Class 10, U3-rated card, it still performs well for most people's needs. It has a 4.7 star rating on Amazon after more than 27,000 user reviews, which bodes well for its reliability over time, and Samsung backs the card with a 10-year limited warranty. In general, it has been one of the best-value microSD cards on the market for a few years now; this price only furthers that.
If you don't need any more storage space, though, we also have deals on Apple's AirPods, USB-C hubs and chargers, PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now subscriptions, and more. Have a look at our full deals roundup below.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice discount on Apple's AirPods Pro, which are currently down to $220 on Amazon. That's about $30 off Apple's MSRP and roughly $15 off the typical street price we see online. While we've seen the noise-cancelling wireless earbuds go for less in the past—Staples very briefly dropped them to $200 last month—this deal matches the lowest price we've seen on Amazon to date.
We recommend the AirPods Pro in our travel tech gift guide. Though we wouldn't say they're the best true wireless earbuds outright, they remain an excellent option for iPhone users who want active noise cancellation in this kind of cable-free design. They're still an upgrade on the base AirPods in almost every way, with more robust touch controls, a more comfortable in-ear design that creates a tighter seal in the ear, and noticeably more dynamic audio quality. They still pair easily with other Apple devices and provide a rock-steady connection once they're hooked up.
While the AirPods Pro can't match the best over-ear headphones in pure noise-cancelling strength, they're still effective at muting ambient sounds, and their "transparency" mode does a good job of layering in those outside noises with your music when needed. Their battery life is still just okay at five hours per charge, and their IPX4 sweat-resistance rating could be better, but later this year, they'll gain support for spatial audio and automatic device switching through a software update. Recent rumors suggest Apple won't launch a follow-up until later next year, so the current model shouldn't go out of date any time soon.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nifty discount on the iPad Mini, as 64GB models of Apple's 7.9-inch tablet are currently down to $350 on Amazon. That's $50 off Apple's MSRP and about $35-40 off the street price we've typically seen online over the past few months.
While we've seen the iPad Mini hit this price a few times in the past, this is the second-best deal we've tracked for the tablet in total, trailing only a brief drop to $330 in April. As of this writing, the discount only applies to the Space Gray variant. If you want more storage space, the 256GB model is $50 off as well, bringing it down to $500.
The iPad Mini is more or less exactly what its name suggests: a smaller iPad. It has the same benefits as most Apple tablets: sturdy hardware, a sharp (at 326 pixels per inch) and quality display with no air gap, well-supported software, and a rich app library. With its large bezels and lack of USB-C support, its design is decidedly more dated than the pricier iPad Pro, but its size makes it a more natural fit for ebook or magazine reading, with the occasional YouTube video or Apple Arcade game thrown in. The Mini is probably too cramped to be a reliable multitasking machine—and unlike the iPad Air, it doesn't support Apple's Smart Keyboard accessory—but iPadOS still tends to work better as a media-consumption platform than a productivity one. That said, the iPad Mini runs on Apple's A12 Bionic chip, which remains more than powerful enough for most of the tasks you'd do here. It also supports Apple's Pencil stylus.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by another round of bargains on Amazon devices, with several Fire TV media streamers, Fire tablets, Kindle ebook readers, and Echo smart speakers all discounted as part of a sale aimed at back-to-school shoppers. While most of the offers do not match the all-time lows we typically see on Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day, many of them match the best prices we've seen outside of those special shopping events.
The highlights include the Fire TV Stick 4K for $35, which matches the best price we've seen on the 4K- and HDR-ready media streamer this year. Though it's not as technically capable as a higher-end box like the Apple TV 4K or Nvidia Shield TV Pro, we still think Amazon's highest-end streaming stick is a good value for those who need more apps than a smart TV or game console can provide on their own. It's not perfect: its interface still has redundancy issues and gives favor to Amazon's own services, while negotiating disputes have kept official versions of apps like Peacock and HBO Max off the Fire TV platform entirely. But its hardware is still fast, its voice search is effective, it supports all the major HDR standards, and, if nothing else, its UI isn't as visually bland as something like Roku's OS. Plus, with a little extra effort, it's possible to sideload those missing apps on a Fire TV device, which isn't possible with Roku streamers.
Elsewhere, all the major Fire tablet deals we highlighted last week are still live, while the Kindle Paperwhite, our favorite ebook reader, is $30 off. If you're OK with having a smart speaker in your home, almost all of the major Echo devices are on sale as well. Again, Black Friday is three months away, and Amazon has confirmed that Prime Day is happening sometime in the fourth quarter, so if you can hold off a few more months, we'll likely see lower prices on most of these devices by the end of the year. But if you're looking to pick up a new tablet, streaming stick, smart speaker, or ebook reader today, the deals highlighted below are worth a look.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a trio of discounts on Amazon's Fire HD tablets. The deals drop the Fire HD 8 to $60, the Fire HD 8 Plus to $80, and the Fire HD 10 to $100. Though we've seen these tablets discounted a handful of times already this year, each offer matches the lowest price we've seen for each device to date.
The thrust of the Fire HD line is getting good enough hardware and performance for significantly lower prices than Apple's iPads or a premium Android tablet. The three slates here don't change that value proposition: even Apple's entry-level iPad offers a more premium design, a better display, and a more comprehensive app library to those willing to pay for it. But if you're determined to pay $100 or less for a tablet, the Fire HD slates are generally good buys.
At its current price, the 8-inch Fire HD 8 might be the best value of the bunch: it offers a moderately sharp 1280x800 display in a comfortable design, its battery can last a few days on a charge, and while it's never outright fast, it performs competently for the basic media consumption for which it's intended. Just don't expect much in the way of gaming.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a new low price on Final Fantasy VII Remake, with the PlayStation 4 exclusive currently available for $40 at various retailers. The discount covers both physical and digital copies. For reference, we've typically seen the game retail between $50 and $60 online since it launched this past April.
As for the game itself, "remake" is the key word here. Final Fantasy VII Remake isn't just the original PlayStation classic in high definition: it's the first installment in a planned series of action RPGs, one that takes the first few hours of the original and stretches them out into a full-length 35-hour melodrama.
On paper, that whole sentence sounds like a nightmare. But Remake manages to make it work through a thrilling combat system that fuses real-time action and menu-based commands, as well as a surprisingly subversive story that interrogates the game's past and its fanbase's expectations. It certainly has problems—some of them small, others impossible to truly look past—but if you're in the mood for a modernized JRPG, Remake is worth a look during these slower summer months.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a handful of deals on worthwhile USB-C wall chargers, cables, and portable batteries over at Amazon. The retailer is running a one-day Gold Box sale on a variety of Anker chargers, for one, but we've also compiled a few other discounts on fast-charging USB-C accessories we've tested in the past.
These include Aukey's PB-Y13, a slim 18W portable battery with a USB-C Power Delivery port—which is powerful enough to charge all recent iPhones and many Android phones at maximum speeds—alongside two USB-A ports. We've recommended it in our guide to the best USB-C accessories; it's currently down to $19 from its usual $30 with the code "YHXP6UE6" at checkout. If you need a fast wall charger, meanwhile, the Dealmaster can vouch for Aukey's PA-D5, which includes two USB-C PD ports, one of which can charge some (thinner) laptops at up to 60W, and uses gallium nitride (GaN) tech to put them both in a more-compact-than-usual package. It's down to $25 from a typical street price of $40 when you clip the on-page coupon. Elsewhere, if you're willing to pay for a higher-quality fast-charging cable, Anker's six-foot PowerLine III and PowerLine+ II can reliably refill Android and iOS devices, respectively, and are both down to their lowest prices to date.
We have more recommended USB-C charger deals below, but first, a caveat: some smartphones are already capable of utilizing higher-power charging solutions than an 18W battery like the PB-Y13 can provide, and firms like Qualcomm are working on solutions that should reduce charging times even further. But for recent devices that can't make use of all that power today, the deals below should still provide good value. And if you don't need a new charger, we also have discounts on Lenovo ThinkPads, portable SSDs, and more. Have a look at the full rundown below.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by an Amazon Gold Box sale on a variety of board games. While we can't vouch for everything on sale, we have recommended a handful of the discounted games in the past.
Perhaps the most notable deal is Kingdomino for $14, which is the cheapest we've seen it on Amazon since a brief drop to $12 last holiday season. Kingdomino won the 2017 Spiel des Jahres—the most prestigious award in board gaming—and has made it onto our ultimate board game gift guide the past few years for being a smooth and quick-playing tile-laying game that should work for both adults and kids, regardless of experience level. Elsewhere, Carpe Diem is an accessible but thinky tile-drafting and placement game we like that is down to its lowest price since January. Planet and Ecos: The First Continent, meanwhile, are another two games we've praised before; both are down to their lowest prices to date.
If you don't need a new game to play, though, we also have deals on Nintendo's Switch Pro Controller, a top slim Switch case, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and more. You can check out the full list for yourself below.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice discount on Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which are down to $299 on Amazon. The deal only applies to the white "Soapstone" model, but the deal matches the lowest price we've seen for the wireless noise-cancelling headphones to date. This discount is $100 off Bose's MSRP and about $80 off the device's typical street price online.
While we haven't formally reviewed the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 on the site, we have tested them for various gift guides over the past year. Generally speaking, they're a strong option for those in the market for a premium pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones. Their metal design has a higher-end feel than competing pairs like Sony's WH-1000XM3 or Bose's own QuietComfort 35 II, and while they're slightly heavier on the head as a result, the ample padding on their ear cups and headband keeps them comfortable to wear for longer periods. In terms of audio quality, they have a more bass-forward sound than the more neutral QuietComfort 35 II, which results in a bit less treble detail but still sounds sufficiently "fun" for those who like punchy bass. They also average around 20 hours of battery life.
As is typical of Bose headphones, the quality of the active noise cancellation here is excellent. Though they're slightly less powerful than the WH-1000XM3 in raw measurements, they're still more than capable of muting ambient sounds and low-end droning. And unlike Sony's pair, the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 give you the ability to customize the strength of their noise cancelling effect on a 10-point scale, so if you only want to partially tone down outside noise, you can.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by another sweeping round of deals on Amazon devices, with a variety of Fire TV media streamers, Kindle e-readers, and Fire tablets all discounted.
The sale's most notable discounts include a few all-time low prices on Fire HD tablets. The 10.1-inch 1080p Fire HD 10, for instance, is down to a joint-low of $100, which is a $50 discount for Amazon's most powerful slate. All three of the company's new Fire HD 8 tablets are down to new lows as well: the base Fire HD 8—which now includes 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and a faster processor—is down to $60 from its usual $90, while the upgraded Fire HD 8 Plus—which comes with a USB-C port a la the Fire HD 10, 3GB of RAM, and wireless charging support—is down to $80 from its usual $110. Each of the company's rugged Kids Edition tablets is down to the lowest prices we've seen as well, while the Fire 7 is down to $35 for those who want to pay as little as possible for a touchscreen. You'll still have to deal with the limitations of Amazon's Fire OS with any of these devices, but if you just want a competent device for browsing the Web and streaming videos, the higher-end Fire tablets in particular are still decent value.
Elsewhere, our favorite ebook reader, the Kindle Paperwhite, is down to $100, while our favorite budget ebook reader, the standard Kindle, is available for $70. Neither of these deals is the best we've seen, and both Kindles will almost certainly drop lower during Amazon's Prime Day event. But if you need an e-reader today, these are $30 and $20 discounts, respectively, for devices worth considering. It's a similar situation for the Fire TV Stick 4K, which is currently down to $35; this deal is $10 off the prices we saw on Prime Day and Black Friday, but it's a solid $15 drop for a 4K HDR media streamer we recommend.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a trio of deals on Fitbit fitness trackers. The discounts include the Fitbit Inspire HR for $69, about $30 off its usual going rate online; the new Fitbit Charge 4 for $130, which is a $20 discount; and the Fitbit Versa Lite smartwatch for $100, which is $25 off its typical street price. All three deals bring their respective devices within a dollar of the lowest prices we've seen.
The Fitbit Inspire HR is currently the top pick in our guide to the best fitness trackers. While it lacks some of the more advanced features of the other discounted trackers, we like it for providing a light and waterproof design, (relatively) accurate sleep and exercise tracking, a useful touchscreen, and a solid five-day battery life at an affordable price. If you don't need to go super in-depth with your activity tracking, it's still a worthwhile choice.
That said, stepping up to the recently released Charge 4 does add useful features such as a built-in GPS (instead of relying on a connected phone, a la the Inspire HR), Spotify and contactless payment support, and an active minutes tracker. We haven't reviewed the device on the site, but feedback around the Web has generally been positive, and we previously reviewed the Charge 3 favorably. The Versa Lite, meanwhile, is closer to the Inspire HR in functionality (with slightly less battery life), but it might work better if you prefer a bigger color touchscreen in a smartwatch form factor.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a new low price for Razer's Viper Ultimate wireless gaming mouse, which is currently down to $100 on Amazon as part of a wider one-day Gold Box sale on Razer gaming products. Normally, the Viper Ultimate retails closer to $130 online.
The Viper Ultimate is the top gaming recommendation in our guide to the best wireless mice. It's expensive, even at this discounted price, but it's tremendous in both comfort and performance. It's lightweight at 74 grams, and while its relatively flat shape makes it a bit better for claw and fingertip grips than palm grips, it's sized well enough to be comfortable for most people. It's primarily made of plastic, but it's tightly built, with grippy rubberized sides, springy click buttons, and PTFE feet that glide smoothly. Its scroll wheel could be quicker, but it's precise, and while it unfortunately uses microUSB instead of USB-C, it can work with an included (and highly flexible) cable. It does have a modicum of RGB lighting built into the logo on the front of the mouse, but for a gaming mouse, its effects are minimal enough to work in an office setting.
Beyond that, the Viper Ultimate should present no issues with accuracy, latency, or responsiveness. It has a high tracking speed (up to 650 IPS) and a massive CPI range of 150 to 20,000. You'll never need to increase the sensitivity that much, but since you can adjust it in 50 CPI increments, all this means you have room to fine-tune the mouse to a place you find comfortable, be it for twitchy shooter games or everyday office work. You can swap between five different sensitivity presets from the mouse itself. This is also a truly ambidextrous design, with a pair of macro buttons on either side, so lefties aren't left out in the cold.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a return of the best price we've seen on Apple's AirPods and Qi wireless charging case combo, which is now down to $150 on Amazon. For reference, Apple's MSRP for this configuration is $199, though we typically see it go for $169 on Amazon. The wireless charging case, meanwhile, usually costs around $70 on its own. Either way, while we've seen this price a few times before, we haven't seen this config drop any lower.
The AirPods are a known quantity at this point, so chances are you already know if you want a pair. Apple's true wireless earbuds still don't sound as good as most other headphones in this price range, and their unsealed design still won't be a tight fit in everybody's ears. But they continue to be dead simple to use and connect with other Apple devices, and they're exceedingly lightweight. If you already use a wireless charger for an iPhone, having the Qi charging case here can make refilling the headphones a bit less of a hassle, even if we wouldn't quite call it essential. This model comes with Apple's H1 wireless chip for steadier wireless connectivity and hands-free Siri support.
One caveat to note is that Apple is reportedly working on a new pair of AirPods that could arrive next year with a design similar to the AirPods Pro, which we consider a superior pair across the board. If you're in no rush, it might be best to wait. But if you're an iPhone owner who wants a new set of wireless charging headphones today, this is a good deal.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a bundle of deals on Nintendo Switch exclusives, with a quintet of Nintendo-made games available for $40 each across Amazon and GameStop.
The discounted games include Super Mario Maker 2, the Ars-approved side-scroller/level-creation tool that lets you make your own Mario courses—with either modern or NES-style looks—and play a hypothetically infinite number of levels made by other people. (Just note that you'll need a Switch Online subscription to enjoy those and that finding the good levels requires a little extra work.) New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, meanwhile, is the updated version of an excellent traditional 2D Mario platformer; here, it plays in 1080p and includes both the base game and its New Super Luigi U expansion.
Beyond that, Splatoon 2 has been out for a few years now—and is now done with new content releases—but remains both one of the Switch's best shooters and a unique take on the online shooter format as a whole. Mario Tennis Aces is another option for competitive types; while it's more of a fighting game in a tennis body than a true tennis game, post-release patches have made it much more balanced and accessible after a somewhat rocky launch. Finally, Yoshi's Crafted World is a simplistic side-scroller, but if you'd like a cute and easygoing game for young kids, you could do worse.
Greetings, Arsians! It’s Independence Day in the United States, so the Dealmaster is back with a special Fourth of July edition of their usual tech deals roundup. While today’s holiday isn’t well-known for providing big discounts on tech—the biggest price drops will still come on Black Friday and Cyber Monday—we've found a handful of genuine deals worth considering on video games, tablets, speakers, and more. Below are the best Fourth of July tech deals we could find this year.
The Sega Genesis Mini. (credit: Sam Machkovech)
This is tied for the largest discount we’ve seen on Sega’s bite-sized retro console, which we reviewed positively when it launched late last year. Much like the NES Classic and Super NES Classic before it, the Genesis Mini packs a few dozen hits in an adorably tiny replica of the console on which it’s based.
Here, you get 42 pre-loaded and well-emulated games—including favorites like Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage 2, Gunstar Heroes, and Ecco the Dolphin—along with two controllers. Those gamepads aren’t the six-button models Sega launched later in the original console’s life, unfortunately, and there’s no way to “rewind” your progress if you screw up in-game. But at half off the original MSRP, this is a good value for nostalgists or anyone who missed out on the Genesis experience back in the day.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a new low price on the Razer Viper, one of our favorite wired gaming mice for most players. Originally retailing for $80, it's currently available for $50. This is $10 cheaper than its previous best price, which we've seen the device hit on multiple occasions.
We recommended the Razer Viper in our tech-enthusiast gift guide last holiday season, and we currently recommend its wireless equivalent, the Razer Viper Ultimate, as the best gaming option in our wireless mouse buying guide. While there are plenty of cheaper mice out there, even at this deal price, the Viper is a decidedly premium device both in terms of comfort and performance.
Its biggest draw is that it's supremely lightweight: at 69 grams, the Viper is quick to slide around without locking you into the "honeycomb" design of most other ultralight mice. It's not too large for smaller hands, and its slightly humped design is contoured in a way that should work well with all grip types. (Though it'll likely be more comfortable with a claw or fingertip grip than a palm grip, especially if you have large hands.) Its rubberized sides help you keep a better grip on the device, and the design is truly ambidextrous, with two customizable side buttons on its left and right. And while the Viper is primarily made of plastic, it's smooth to the touch and feels sturdily put together.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by an Amazon Gold Box sale on storage products from SanDisk and WD. The discounts cover a number of microSD cards, SD cards, flash drives, and portable hard drives, among other devices.
The highlights include the 128GB version of SanDisk's microSDXC Card for Nintendo Switch, a speedy and reliable microSD card we recommended in our guide to the best Nintendo Switch accessories, down to $22.35. This isn't the lowest price we've ever seen, but it's a nice drop from its usual $28 and the cheapest this model has been since it went for $20 on Black Friday. If you're more concerned with storage space than performance, the 400GB SanDisk Ultra is a slower card but offers a much lower cost-per-GB ratio for devices like the Switch. It's currently down to $48 from its usual $60.
Elsewhere, the SanDisk Extreme is a durable portable SSD we've tested and recommended before—its 1TB model is down to $136 from a typical street price around $170. The company's iXpand Flash Drive Go, meanwhile, is a useful flash drive with a Lightning connector that's about $10 off its normal going rate. There are plenty more deals beyond that, but just note that, like all Gold Box sales, the deals are available for today only.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a handful of deals on recommended USB-C charging accessories. The most notable discount of the bunch is Aukey's PB-Y13—a portable battery we've highlighted in our guide to the best USB-C accessories—down to $19 with the code "WD3S7ONL" at checkout. This is a slim power bank with an 18W USB-C Power Delivery port that's powerful enough to charge most recent smartphones at maximum speeds, as well as two USB-A ports, one of which supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 standard. It normally retails for $30.
Beyond that, RavPower's RP-PC105 is a compact wall charger with a 61W USB-C PD port (alongside a standard USB-A port); it's travel-friendly but still strong enough to charge many 13-inch laptops with the appropriate cable. Using the code "4P3W38GE" brings it down to $20 from its usual $30. And if you need a sturdy USB-C cable, we can vouch for Anker's PowerLine, which is down to $9 from its usual $12 with the code "0S2GVA7N" at checkout. It can deliver up to 60W of power and comes with a lifetime warranty.
If you're all set on the USB-C charging front, though, we also have deals on Control, Ticket to Ride: Europe, Sonos speakers, noise-cancelling headphones, and more. Have a look for yourself below.
Today's Dealmaster includes a variety of deals on games, chargers, and gadgets. Some highlights include Ticket to Ride: Europe, our favorite iteration of one of our favorite family board games, down to $30, which is the lowest price we've seen in 2020. A handful of iPads are on sale as well, including the 128GB version of the 10.2-inch iPad for a joint-low of $329 and the 1TB version of the first-gen (but still plenty powerful) 11-inch iPad Pro for a new low of $949. Beyond that, a number of Amazon Echo devices are still on sale, including the lowest prices to date on the Echo Dot with Clock and the sharp-sounding Echo Studio. There's plenty more beyond that, though; you can take a look at the full list after the jump.
Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.
The latest Apple MacBook Air. (credit: Samuel Axon)
Ticket to Ride: Europe is one of our favorite board games for the family. (credit: Ars Technica)
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a recommended Metroidvania for Xbox One owners. (credit: Microsoft)
The iPad Pro on sale today isn't the latest model but is still powerful enough to be useful for the next several years. (credit: Valentina Palladino)
The Amazon Echo Dot. (credit: Amazon)
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by another round of deals on various Amazon devices, covering Echo smart speakers and displays, Kindle ebook readers, and Fire TV media streamers. Amazon is promoting these as Father's Day deals, and while most of the offers don't match the all-time low prices we've typically seen on Black Friday or Amazon Prime Day—many are about $5-10 more expensive—there are still a few good discounts worth noting.
You can find our recommended deals below, but the highlights include the latest Kindle Paperwhite, our current pick for the best ebook reader, available for $100. We've seen it drop as low as $85 a couple times in the past, but this deal is still $30 off the waterproof e-reader's usual going rate. The standard Amazon Kindle, meanwhile, is our pick for the best budget ebook reader and is down to $65, which is $5 off the lowest price we've seen.
If you have an older 1080p TV that you want to supply with streaming capabilities, the base Fire TV Stick is $10 off at $30, while the 4K- and HDR-capable Fire TV Cube includes Alexa speaker functionality and is $20 off at $100. (Just note that Roku's Premiere and Streaming Stick+ are on sale as well if you don't want to deal with Amazon's busy Fire OS.) Beyond that, several Echo devices are discounted, ranging from the Echo Dot with Clock for a new low of $35 to the bigger and strong-sounding Echo Studio for a new low of $170. While Echo devices can be plenty useful for people looking to build a smart home, we do have to give the caveat that they're designed to collect user data and have the potential to be abused by malicious apps. Per usual, you'll have to weigh any privacy concerns against that utility.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a new deal on the AirPods Pro, which are currently down to $220 on Amazon. That's $29 off Apple's MSRP and about $15 off the device's usual going rate on Amazon. The discount is the largest we've seen for Apple's noise-cancelling true wireless earphones at the retailer, beating the previous low by about $10 and matching the best price we've seen at various online stores. Outside of a very brief drop to $215 at Adorama earlier this year, it's the device's lowest price to date from any reputable retailer.
The AirPods Pro were a recommendation in our travel tech gift guide last holiday season, and they remain a top choice for anyone who wants active noise cancellation in a totally wireless design. They're pricier than the standard AirPods, but they're a noticeable upgrade in almost every major way: their in-ear design creates a tighter and more stable seal in the ear, they produce a cleaner and more detailed sound quality that doesn't overemphasize bass or treble, and they have a more reliable set of touch controls based on force feedback.
The active noise-cancellation here can't match that of the best over-ear pairs from Sony and Bose, but it's strong enough to be effective in most settings. An accompanying "Transparency" mode does a remarkable job of piping in outside noise without drowning out your music. If you own an iPhone, all of this is combined with steady Bluetooth connectivity and a dead-simple pairing and setup process. The earphones also have an IPX4 sweat-resistance rating to withstand light workouts.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a variety of discounts on Nintendo Switch games, as Nintendo has joined Sony and Microsoft in offering its own sweeping summer sale. Deals are available at Nintendo's own eShop and third-party retailers like Amazon, and Nintendo says they'll last through June 16.
Not every discount here marks an all-time low, and in general Switch games tend to run pricey—sometimes to the point of parody—especially with ports of games released on other platforms. But discounts on first-party Switch games are still uncommon, and the deals we've highlighted below are all a good ways below their usual going rates online. Buying digital also means not having to deal with the shipping delays many retailers have faced lately.
Some standouts here include a handful of major Nintendo-made games for $42, such as Super Mario Party, the latest in Nintendo's long-running digital board game/friend trolling series, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a gorgeous 2D platformer and one of our favorite couch co-op games, and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, an updated version of a classic Mario platformer we heartily recommended.
Update (06/10/2020 11:30am ET): Amazon has lowered the price of our featured deal by a couple bucks, bringing the price of a three-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership down to $23. We've updated this article accordingly.
Original post: Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a new discount on Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, as three-month subscription codes for the all-you-can-eat video game service are currently down to $23 at select retailers. That's $22 off the standard going rate and matches the previous low we saw during a sale last year. The deal is applicable to both new and existing Game Pass subscribers, so you can stock up if you wish to continue an ongoing membership.
We've highlighted various Xbox Game Pass Ultimate deals in the past, but the service remains an excellent value for those who play Xbox frequently. It rolls subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold, the standard Xbox Game Pass for consoles, and Xbox Game Pass for PC into a $15 monthly fee, which is equivalent to $180 a year. Individually, a year of Xbox Live Gold—which is required to play most Xbox games online and includes a few free games every month—normally costs $60, a year of standard Xbox Game Pass costs $120, and a year of Xbox Game Pass for PC costs $60.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by Sony's "Days of Play" sale, a now-annual summer sale that includes deals on a wide range of PlayStation games, subscriptions, and accessories. Sony technically kicked off the event on Wednesday, but the company says the sale will last through June 17, with discounts available at its own digital stores and various third-party retailers.
We've rounded up the highlights of the sale below. In general, the offerings aren't quite as diverse as what we saw in last year's sale; there are no discounts on consoles or controllers this time around. But the event does bring a number of worthwhile PS4 games down to $10, including God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Bloodborne, and The Last of Us Remastered, among many others. The "Game of the Year" edition of Marvel's Spider-Man dropping to $20 is another highlight, while more recent worthy games like Dreams, Death Stranding, and MLB The Show 20 are anywhere from $10 to $20 off their usual street price.
Outside of games, one-year subscriptions to Sony's PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services are both down to $42. This isn't the largest discount we've seen for the former, but it's still a good drop from its standard $60, and the service remains a must for playing the vast majority of PS4 games online. PlayStation Now is less essential, but its library of games has grown to the point of being a decent value—albeit not on the level of Xbox Game Pass—and it lets you download hundreds of those games alongside the usual cloud streaming. That deal price is the lowest we've tracked to date.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a sizable discount on the Apple Watch Series 5, the most recent entry in Apple's smartwatch lineup. Amazon currently has select 40mm models available for $300, which is $100 off Apple's MSRP and about $85 its usual going rate online. You'll see a notice on eligible product pages that says the full discount is visible at checkout. While we've seen the Series 5 hit this price before, this is tied for the largest discount we've seen to date.
The Apple Watch Series 5 earned the "Ars Approved" badge in our review last fall and currently sits as the top option in our guide to the best smartwatches. We like it for offering an always-on display, fall detection, NFC for Apple Pay, and several fitness tracking features like an always-on heart rate monitor and an onboard GPS, all in a comfortable and clean design with unobtrusive software.
You'll still have to charge it every other day, it's still mainly for iPhone owners, and you still have to be in on the idea of having a mini-smartphone on your wrist. If you own an Apple Watch Series 4 or are happy with your Apple Watch Series 3, there's less of a reason to upgrade, especially with an inevitable Series 6 likely arriving later this year. But if you've been interested in taking the plunge, this is a good price for a great wearable.
Today's Dealmaster is something of a special edition of our usual tech deals roundup, as it's highlighted by exclusive discount codes we've secured for a bevy of Anker charging gear.
Our selection covers 15 different devices from the popular accessory maker, including USB-C wall chargers, Qi wireless chargers, USB-C hubs, portable batteries, fast Lightning charging cables, and power strips. The deals bring several items down to their all-time lowest prices and all of them well below their typical going rates. You can find the codes for each individual item below—just apply them at checkout to see the respective discount. Anker says they'll be valid until June 4.
Some highlights here include the Anker PowerPort PD 2 wall charger, which is down to a new low of $16 with the code "ARSTECH25". This is a 30W charger that includes both an 18W USB-C Power Delivery port for charging many newer smartphones at maximum speeds as well as a 12W USB-A port for powering up a second device simultaneously. The PowerCore Metro Slim 10000 PD, meanwhile, is a newer power bank with a similarly fast 18W USB-C PD port and a fairly thin (0.59 inches) fabric-coated design; it's about $15 off and down to a new low of $30 with the code "ARSTECH11".
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice discount on the Amazon Kindle, which is currently down to $60. That's tied for the lowest price we've tracked for Amazon's entry-level ebook reader and a $30 drop from its usual going rate. The deal also bundles a three-month subscription to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited ebook service, which typically costs $30 on its own. Just note that the subscription will be set to auto-renew at $10 a month once the free period is up, so you may want to set a reminder for yourself if you wish to cancel.
The Kindle is the "best budget" option in our guide to the best ebook readers. We like it for offering a decent 6-inch display with adjustable front lighting that helps it stay visible in darker environments, a lightweight (6.01 oz.) and comfortable design that takes up little room in a bag, solid battery life that lasts roughly four weeks a charge, and Bluetooth connectivity that lets you connect wireless headphones and listen to Audible audiobooks. And like any other Kindle, it comes with access to Amazon's massive ebook library.
To be clear, though, this is priced below Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite, our favorite ebook reader, for a reason. By comparison, the entry-level Kindle's display isn't as sharp, with a 167-pixel-per-inch (ppi) density compared to the Paperwhite's crisper 300ppi display. This won't be a major nuisance unless you're coming from a sharper ereader display, but the Kindle's text is fuzzier, and the drop-off will be particularly noticeable with image-heavy material like comic books and manga. Beyond that, the Kindle lacks the Paperwhite's waterproofing, its display is a tad dimmer due to having one fewer LED front light, it has half as much storage space at 4GB, and its display is recessed from the rest of the design, not set flush à la the higher-end model. In either case, you still have to put up with home-screen ads (unless you pay a one-time fee) and DRM protection that effectively locks your ebook library into Amazon's platform.
Greetings, Arsians! It’s Memorial Day weekend, so the Dealmaster is back with a special holiday edition of their usual tech deals roundup.
To be candid, Memorial Day sales aren’t typically known for providing big tech discounts, and that’s generally the case again this year. Most of the significant offers you’ll see out there apply to mattresses, home goods, and appliances instead of electronics. Per usual, those who can hold out until the holiday season will still see better prices on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
With that caveat said, we have seen a few good deals on noteworthy smartphones, headphones, video games, and other gadgets. Below are the best Memorial Day sales on electronics we could find.
Today's Dealmaster is headed up by a nice price on the Sega Genesis Mini, which is down to $50 at a handful of retailers. While we've seen the retro game console briefly drop to $40 during a couple of sales earlier this year, today's price is tied for lowest we've seen it on Amazon specifically since the holiday season. For reference, Sega originally sold the device for $80, and it typically goes for $60 these days when it's in stock online.
We gave the Sega Genesis Mini a positive review when it launched last September. For the unfamiliar, this is a tiny retro console in the vein of Nintendo's NES Classic and SNES Classic, but with a built-in library of 42 games that were originally released for the Sega Genesis. It recreates the original machine wonderfully in a cuter, shrunken-down package, and it comes with two nicely molded controllers, both connectable via six-foot cables.
The most important piece of the Genesis Mini is that it gets the library right—mostly, at least when you consider the licensing nightmares that would come with getting classic sports and media tie-in games onto the machine. You still get a deep roster of RPGs, platformers, action games, and shoot-em-ups, ranging from expected mascot fare like the first two Sonic the Hedgehog games, Earthworm Jim, and Ecco the Dolphin, to classics like Shining Force, Contra: Hard Corps, and Gunstar Heroes, to others like Alisia Dragoon and Dynamite Headdy that are well worth playing even if their names don't ring a bell today. All of them are emulated well; our review's only nitpick was with some very slight audio delay.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice price on AMD's Ryzen 9 3900X desktop CPU, which is currently down to $410 at various retailers. This processor originally retailed for $499, but its price has steadily fallen since its release last year and has averaged around the $435 range in recent months. AMD currently sells the CPU direct for $449. Regardless, while there have been a few lower in-store-only deals at Micro Center, this is the lowest price we've seen for the Ryzen 9 3900X online since launch.
If the price didn't give it away, the Ryzen 9 3900X is a decidedly high-end CPU. The Zen 2-based processor has 12 cores split into 24 threads, with a base clock of 3.8GHz and a boost clock up to 4.6GHz. Compatibility with AMD's AM4 socket means it should have no problem fitting into most Ryzen motherboards on the market (albeit with a BIOS upgrade flashing in many cases). Since it supports the new high-bandwidth PCIe 4.0 standard, it also has a reassuring level of future-proofing for upcoming graphics cards and SSDs. The CPU comes bundled with AMD's solid Wraith Prism cooler, too, which furthers the value.
That's a lot of terms, but the short version is that the Ryzen 9 3900X is a very powerful processor, especially for consumers who plan to take on video editing, 3D rendering, and other multi-threaded workloads. It is a slight step behind comparable Intel CPUs when it comes to gaming and single-core performance, though, and if you're building an AMD-based PC and are mainly focused on higher-end gaming, AMD's Ryzen 7 3700X would be the better value for now. That CPU also consumes much less power, with a TDP of 65W versus the Ryzen 9 3900X's 105W.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a great discount on Anker's PowerCore 10000 PD Redux, which is currently down to $24.65 on Amazon. While we've seen this portable battery drop to $30 on a couple occasions, today's deal brings it down to a new all-time low. We usually see it priced in the $40 to $45 range online.
We recommended the PowerCore 10000 PD Redux in our guide to the best iPhone and iPad accessories and our most recent travel tech gift guide. While there are countless power banks that can get the job done, we like this particular Anker battery for packing a fast-charging USB-C Power Delivery port in a supremely portable design. The device measures just 4.2x2.05x1-inches and weighs a scant 0.4 pounds, making it noticeably smaller (albeit thicker) than most modern smartphones and easy to pop into a handbag or jacket pocket if need be.
The battery's USB-C port puts out 18W of power, which is enough to charge iPhones and many Android phones at maximum speeds, and there's an additional USB-A port for refilling a second device simultaneously. Its 10,000mAh (36Wh) capacity is enough to get two full charges out of most phones, while a handy quartet of LEDs lets you know how much power you have left. Anker covers the whole thing with a decent 18-month warranty and includes a USB-C-to-USB-C cable in the box.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a modest yet notable discount on Apple's AirPods Pro, which are currently down to $228 on Amazon. You'll see the full discount at checkout. While we've seen the AirPods Pro go for a couple dollars less at other retailers, this is the lowest they've been on Amazon to date. The deal takes about $20 off Apple's standard MSRP and about $12 off the average street price; given that deep discounts on the noise-cancelling earphones have been fairly rare, we consider this a decent drop.
We recommended the AirPods Pro in our travel tech gift guide last holiday season. While we don't think they're the absolute best true wireless earphones on the market, they're the best noise-cancelling earphones in their class, and they're a marked improvement over the standard AirPods in almost every meaningful way. Their active noise cancellation can't match that of the best over-ear headphones from Sony and Bose—and we're aware of reports saying that past firmware updates have lessened the overall ANC strength—but, generally speaking, the earphones still isolate noise well enough to be useful on a train or busy sidewalk. Their in-ear tips create a tighter seal than the earbud design of the regular AirPods, which helps them produce more bass and better isolate noise passively. The included eartips are soft and relatively comfortable as well.
The AirPods Pro have a largely neutral sound quality that doesn't emphasize the bass or treble too much. It's not spectacular for the money, but it's inoffensive and better than most other true wireless models. The earbuds are still dead simple to pair with an iPhone, and they rarely suffer from connection hiccups. Apple's transparency mode, which blends your audio with noise from the outside world, works beautifully. Battery life still isn't great at roughly five hours a charge, but the included charging case is at least easy to carry around. Likewise, the earphones' sensor-based controls are less consistent than physical buttons, but they're not enough of a nuisance to ruin the experience.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a deal on Roku's Streaming Stick+, which is down to $39 at various retailers. That's $10 off its typical going rate. The 4K- and HDR-ready streamer briefly fell to $29 during Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year, but this is tied for the lowest price we've seen from reputable retailers outside of that.
If you can't deal with the clunky interfaces that often come built into new smart TVs, the Streaming Stick+ is a good all-around option for streaming video up to 4K HDR. While we've given its chief competitor, Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K, a slight nod in the past, both streamers are worthwhile; the best choice is typically whichever is cheaper.
To compare: the Fire TV Stick 4K's main advantages are its support for more advanced HDR formats like Dolby Vision—the Streaming Stick+ only supports standard HDR10—and more robust voice search aided by the Alexa digital assistant. (It also has a Twitch app, which Roku doesn't.) Roku's OS can make certain apps look more dated from a design standpoint, but it's more neutral in recommending content—Amazon tends to push its own content first and foremost—and it doesn't inundate you with as many ads. The main appeal is that its UI is just simpler to navigate, with a focus on apps instead of shows, all laid out in a clean grid. It's a bit boring, but it's customizable and uncomplicated.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a deal on Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which are currently down to $299 at various retailers. That's $100 off Bose's list price and about $75 off the average price we see them go for online. The catch is that this deal only applies to the white (or "Soapstone") model, but if you like that look, this is the lowest price we've seen from reputable retailers to date. (We previously highlighted a deal that brought the pair down to $280, but that only applied to officially refurbished models.)
The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are Bose's newest pair of wireless active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones, having launched last May. While we don't have a formal review for them on Ars, we have tested them for various gift guides over the past year. They sport a more premium-feeling design than the company's older QuietComfort 35 II, with a slick metallic finish on the headband and lusher earpads. Their active noise-cancellation is virtually identical, too, which is to say it's just about best-in-class and plenty strong enough to mute out noisy kids or the rumbling of the subway.
Their sound is more bass-forward than the more laidback profile of the QuietComfort; there's less treble detail as a result, and as is usually the case with wireless ANC headphones, you can get better pure sound out of a wired non-ANC pair at the same price. But if you prefer a more "fun" sound, they should be perfectly enjoyable. Beyond all that, their 20-hour battery life is solid, and their integrated mics provide great clarity over calls.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a bundle of deals on Fitbit activity trackers. The discounts include the Fitbit Inspire HR, down to $70 from a typical street price of around $95; the Fitbit Charge 3, down to $100 from its usual $125; and the Fitbit Versa 2 smartwatch, down to $149 from its usual $200. The Inspire HR and Charge 3 deals in particular are within a dollar of the lowest prices we've tracked on Amazon to date.
We gave the Versa 2 our Ars Approved badge and recommend the Inspire HR and Charge 3 as the top two options in our fitness-tracker buying guide. We'll direct you to those posts for a more complete picture, but in short, we think the Inspire HR is the best value for most people in this market, as it comes with a quality touchscreen, reliable sleep and exercise tracking (insofar as any devices of this type can be accurate), a light and waterproof design, and a solid five-day battery life at a good price. It's a relatively streamlined tracker for those who don't need to go super in-depth.
The Charge 3 adds a slightly bigger screen, more advanced features like an altimeter for tracking stairs climbed, and a seven-day battery life. We still think it's worthwhile, though it's worth noting that Fitbit recently launched a Charge 4 tracker that includes a built-in GPS—the Charge 3 and Inspire HR use the GPS data from a connected smartphone—a new active minutes tracker, and more smartwatch-style features like Spotify controls and support for Fitbit Pay contactless payments. It costs $150.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice discount on a two-pack of Anker's PowerLine II USB-C and Lightning cables, which are down to $20 at Amazon when you use the code "AKCTLPK2" at checkout. That's tied for the lowest price we've seen for this pair of six-foot cables, which normally retail around $30.
We recommended these Anker charging cables as part of our tech under $50 gift guide last holiday season. There's not a ton to say about them as a product, but in this case, that's a good thing—they just work as advertised. The cable's rubber coating keeps the cord flexible enough, but it's protective to the point where we've seen next to no signs of wear after several months of testing and travel. If something does go wrong, Anker says it backs the cable with a lifetime warranty.
Crucially, the PowerLine II is also MFi certified, which means it has been vetted and approved by Apple as safe to use with iPhones and iPads. Just remember that you'll need a newer iPhone or iPad and an appropriately powerful USB-C Power Delivery charger to take advantage of the fast-charging this kind of cable provides. Those with an iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max get all the necessary materials in the box, but longer cables like these may be useful for rooms where an outlet is out of arm's length either way.
Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a deal on VAVA's VA-UC006 USB-C hub, which is down to $30 on Amazon when you use the code "ALVMMR83" at checkout. As of this writing, shipping times are longer than usual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but this is a bigger-than-usual drop from the hub's typical $50-60 going price online.
This USB-C adapter is a recommended pick in our guide to the best USB-C docks and hubs, particularly for those who want a compact option on a budget. If you have a laptop like the latest MacBook Air or MacBook Pro that eschews traditional ports in favor of USB-C, a hub like this can bring many of those legacy connectors back. When connected to a USB-C port, the VA-UC006 here adds three USB-A ports (two of which are USB 3.0), an HDMI port capable of playing 4K video at least 30Hz, USB-C power passthrough at about 49W (which isn't strong enough to refill all laptops at max speed but still provides a decently fast charge), SD and microSD card slots, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
To be clear, this hub can get a little hot to the touch while in use, its data-transfer speeds aren't nearly as fast as those of a beefier Thunderbolt 3 dock, and its trio of USB-A ports might be too close together to fit three devices simultaneously. It won't work with iPad Pros, either. But in testing, we found it performed safely and reliably for a device that, at just 2×0.5×4 inches, can save this much space on a desk or on the road. Especially at this discounted price, it's a strong value for the amount of functionality it enables. VAVA says it comes with an 18-month warranty.
Today's Dealmaster is headed up by a nice drop on the latest Apple AirPods, as a pair that comes with Apple's Qi wireless charging case is currently down to $150 at Amazon. That's about $50 off Apple's standard going rate, $20 off its typical street price on Amazon, and the lowest price we've seen on Amazon to date. (A separate deal at Micro Center offers this model for less, but only as part of an in-store pickup deal, which we don't recommend given the stay-at-home orders issued by several states in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.) By comparison, a new pair of AirPods without the wireless charging case is $10 cheaper as of this writing, while the case itself costs $69 independently.
Chances are you know where you stand on AirPods at this point. If you prioritize stellar audio quality, noise isolation, and a long shelf life in your headphones, it's probably safe to say these aren't for you. But Apple's true wireless earbuds have become exceedingly popular for being lightweight in the ear and dead simple to use with other iOS devices. The newest model here furthers that and includes Apple's H1 wireless chip, which helps with wireless connectivity and allows for hands-free control of the Siri voice assistant. Make sure you own a Qi wireless charger to actually make use of its wireless-charging capabilities—we have a few deals on good models below—but if you've already bought one for a newer iPhone, this spares you from having another cable sprout up on your desk.
If you don't need a new pair of wireless headphones, though, we also have deals on Marvel's Spider-Man for the PS4, Amazon's good-on-a-budget Fire HD 8 tablet, smart speakers from Google, Amazon, and Sonos, and much more. Have a look at the full rundown below.
Update (04/15 10am ET): Manufacturer refurbished models of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II appear to have sold out at Bose.com and Bose’s eBay store since this article’s publication, though the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 deal is still live as of this writing. Our original post is below.
Original post: Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nifty couple of deals on Bose noise-cancelling headphones—provided you're willing to buy refurbished. Factory-renewed models of the popular Bose QuietComfort 35 II and the newer Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are both discounted at Bose.com and Bose's official eBay storefront, with the former down to $200 and the latter down to $280.
We generally don't recommend buying refurbished tech unless the used products come directly from a trusted manufacturer, and fortunately, that's the case here. Bose itself has inspected and tested the re-sold gear, not a random third-party seller, and the refurbished headphones come with the same one-year limited warranty as new models. Bose says its refurbished gear "may occasionally have minor, nearly imperceptible blemishes," so there is some risk involved, but the obvious benefit is that the cost of entry is far lower. A new pair of QuietComfort 35 IIs usually run between $300-350, while a new set of Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 range between $350-400. Beyond that, this QuietComfort 35 II deal is about $40 cheaper than the typical cost of a refurbished pair on Amazon.
Today's Dealmaster is headed up by a nice deal on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate that makes six months of Microsoft's Netflix-esque gaming service available for $45. That's effectively a 50-percent discount, since the company typically charges $45 for a three-month membership.
The deal is available at a handful of retailers but works by emailing those who buy a three-month digital subscription code an additional three-month code shortly after purchase. Amazon, for one, says at checkout that it will email that bonus code "within two days of the purchase date." The retailer says the offer is limited to one bonus code per customer but that it's available to anyone, not just new Game Pass subscribers.
For the unfamiliar, Game Pass Ultimate rolls Xbox Live Gold, the standard Game Pass for Xbox consoles, and Game Pass for PC into one $15-a-month membership, or $180 a year. By contrast, a year of Xbox Live Gold normally costs $60 on its own, while a year of Game Pass costs $120, and a year of Game Pass for PC costs $60.