Archive for the ‘Staff’ Category

Apple’s new iPad and Apple Watch are already (slightly) discounted on Amazon

September 23rd, 2020
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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's 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.

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Grab one of our favorite budget gaming headsets for $30 today

September 19th, 2020
Grab one of our favorite budget gaming headsets for $30 today

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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.

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Apple’s AirPods Pro are on sale for $199 today

September 15th, 2020
Apple’s AirPods Pro are on sale for $199 today

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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.

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Grab a recommended 90W charger for your phone, Switch, and laptop for $43

September 11th, 2020
Grab a recommended 90W charger for your phone, Switch, and laptop for $43

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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.

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Grab leftover Labor Day deals on Switch games, Dell monitors, and more

September 8th, 2020
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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 2Splatoon 2, Mario Tennis AcesYoshi'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.

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Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Pick up The Last of Us Part II for $10 off—or take $30 off a used copy

September 3rd, 2020
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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'd 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's 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.

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Grab a new Roku Streaming Stick+ for $39 today

September 1st, 2020
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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.

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Grab a 256GB Samsung microSD card for $29 today

August 27th, 2020
Grab a 256GB Samsung microSD card for $29 today

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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.

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Apple’s AirPods Pro are back down to their lowest Amazon price

August 25th, 2020
Apple’s AirPods Pro are back down to their lowest Amazon price

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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.

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Apple’s iPad Mini is $50 off at Amazon today

August 20th, 2020
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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.

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