CNET's Cheapskate scours the Web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.
Cheeps! How much do you love me? Don't answer that until you read this: Today I've rounded up not one, not two, but three sweet deals -- each and every one of them a Cheapskate exclusive.
In other words, just for lending me the kindness of your ears (well, eyes), you get to save money that ordinary, non-Cheapskate-reading folk wouldn't. Not bad, eh?
Say, this seems like the perfect time for some shameless self-promotion. So how about a Twitter follow? How about subscribing to my Battlestar Recaptica podcast or Challenge of the Week podcast? Heck, if you're really into quid pro quo, you could buy several dozen copies of my book, though in all honesty it's a little outdated. Maybe just an IOU on the second edition?
Nah, you don't have to do any of those things, because I'll keep dishing out the deal love even if it's just a one-way street. Starting with this:
Free* Apple EarPods
So help me, I really like the earbuds that come with iPhones. They're way more comfortable (for me, at least) than traditional earbuds, and because they're not fully noise-isolating, they're better for impact exercises (like running) than most sport earbuds I've tried.
Walmart sells them for $8.85, which is a perfectly good deal. But here's an even better one: You can get a set of Apple EarPods free when you go through TopCashback.
In case the name wasn't a good enough clue, TopCashback is a cashback service, much like the better-known Ebates. I've written about these services many times before -- here's a fairly recent recap if you're new to them.
In a nutshell, you're going to sign up for TopCashback (this offer is for new members only), return to the promo page, then click the pink Get Cashback button. That'll take you to Walmart, where you'll buy the EarPods like you normally would. Note! This is a cash-back service, meaning you'll have to pay for the product up front -- and don't freak out if you don't see any indication that TopCashback is present during the transaction. It operates behind the scenes.
(Note that there's no way to know what kind of inventory Walmart has and there's always the chance the EarPods could sell out.)
Within 21 days, TopCashback will issue an $8.85 credit to your account, which you can then cash out in the form of PayPal or a mailed check. So, yeah, there's some hoop-jumping involved, but I think it's worth it: cash-back services are a no-brainer way to save money on lots of the things you buy online. This is a great way to dip your toe in.
If you're so inclined, use my referral link to sign up for TopCashback. If not, no harm, no foul.
Windows and Android in the same tablet
There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all tablet, but this one could easily be described as one-size-fits-many.
That's because it's a dual-OS machine, hopping between Android 5.1 and Windows 10 in one fell tap. Let's see a Surface do that!
For a limited time, and while supplies last, GearBest has the Chuwi Hi12 12-inch tablet in deep gray for $229.99 shipped. That's after applying coupon code CNETGB at checkout. (You do need to have a GearBest account in order to use that code.)
I first wrote about this tablet about a month ago, when it was $249.99 and kind of an unknown. Since then I've had the opportunity to play with one, and let me just say this: I'm impressed.
Cheap tablets tend to have slow processors, poor screens, chintzy casing and other limitations. The Hi12 looks and feels extremely solid, with a metal unibody design, stereo speakers, a mini-HDMI port and two full-size USB ports (one of them USB 3.0).
As for the 12-inch IPS screen, it's positively stellar: bright and crisp (2,160x1,440-pixel native resolution!), with excellent viewing angles. I don't have a Surface 4 for comparison, but I'm hard-pressed to envision a better-looking screen in a tablet of this size.
Performance? It's about as good as you'd expect from a Cherry Trail Z8300 processor paired with 4GB of RAM: Decent for basic tasks, insufficient for anything higher-end. My litmus test is loading a bunch of browser tabs and checking to see if scrolling remains smooth. It did.
Problems? You have to hold the power button for several seconds before there's any screen activity, which sometimes made me wonder if the battery was dead. But the real issue is size: This is a big tablet, and at around 1.9 pounds, it's a heavy one (though only slightly heavier than a Surface 4 Pro).
Add the optional keyboard dock (currently priced at $40, with very limited supplies available, according to the vendor) and now you're up to 3.5 pounds -- a combined package that feels very heavy.
But that's far from a deal-breaker. The Chuwi HI12 delivers incredible bang for the buck, and this added savings just sweetens the deal. Just be prepared to wait, as delivery can take a week or two.
An awesome travel accessory
When you travel, you need more than just a mobile charger with built-in wall prongs for easy recharging. You also need a media server that can stream content to your storage-strapped phone or tablet. And a travel router in case the hotel charges for Wi-Fi (or, horrors, offers only Ethernet).
How about all three in one handy device? For a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get the HooToo TripMate Elite HT-TM06 for $31.60 when you apply coupon code EQOLUCHW at checkout.
It's a 6,000mAh mobile charger, a media server (just plug in a flash drive or hard drive) and an AP/bridge/router. The user reviews are overwhelmingly positive. What's not to like?