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5 sweet freebies, plus thoughts on the Pebble debacle

From the Cheapskate: Five -- count 'em, five! -- free goodies for you today, including a video editor, another game and a book about blogging.

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.


Guess Pebble ran out of (sorry) time...


Cheeps. Wow. The Pebble news. I'm still processing it. In case you haven't heard, Fitbit is acquiring key Pebble assets but the brand itself is dead. So are future products. So are warranties and tech support.

Look, companies get acquired or go out of business all the time. But to pull the plug this way, to leave an entire existing customer base blowing in the wind...that's harsh. I feel especially bad because I've shared a ton of Pebble deals in this space. If you took advantage of one, well, here's hoping you don't need technical support or warranty service. (Regarding the former, at least user forums will continue to exist.)

Just this morning I found myself thinking about the inevitable glut of Pebble deals as resellers look to clear out their inventory pronto. And, sure enough, Woot already has some Pebble Time refurbs for some of the lowest prices I've seen.

But should you even consider buying a Pebble at this point, knowing that your only recourse is the seller's return/replacement policy?

Debatable. I wouldn't jump on the Woot deal because I guarantee prices will drop even lower in the weeks to come. You'll still be able to get accessories, at least for a while. And I think if it works out of the box, it should continue to work for the duration of its expected lifespan (a few years, I'd say).

I'm curious to hear your reaction to all this. I'm sure it falls somewhere on the scale between "Grrrr" and "Class-action lawsuit time!" My bigger-picture question is whether any company will ever create a truly great smartwatch.

Today's deal

Okay, enough about all that. As creative outlets go, it's hard to beat moviemaking -- whether it's cobbling together home videos, creating your own "Black Mirror"-style film or something in between.

The hardware is the easy part -- we've all got cameras in our phones nowadays -- but you still need robust video-editing software. If you act quickly, you can get it gratis: SharewareOnSale has Cyberlink Powerdirector 14 Deluxe for free.


Although this is last year's version of Cyberlink's popular tool, it's still quite current in terms of capabilities. It features a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and plenty of titling, transition and special-effect tools. If you want support for things like 4K video and motion-tracking, you'll need to upgrade; "Deluxe" is the low-end, entry-level version of the product.

But, again, it's still very capable, and a great place for novice filmmakers to start.

The giveaway affords you a lifetime license you can use on a single PC. It does not, however, include updates or tech support. CNET hasn't reviewed it, but check out PC Mag's coverage of the Ultimate version to get a good sense for the overall product. (Verdict: an Editors' Choice.)

While you're at it, grab Hitfilm's 2016 holiday giveaway, which includes 25 free high-quality stock footage clips. Though intended for use in Hitfilm's own video-editing products (including Hitfilm Express, also free), the MP4 files should work elsewhere -- including Powerdirector 14 Deluxe.

The stock-footage collection consists of some nifty special effects, complete with sparks, smoke, explosions and so on. If nothing else, you could create your finished effect clips in Hitfilm Express, then import them into Powerdirector as part of your overall project.

The freebies don't end there, cheeps! Read on for three more...

All aboard! The Classic PC Game Freebie Express is leaving the station!


Bonus deal: Want to build a successful blog? Today only, there's a free ebook aiming to help you do just that. "Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog" Normally $9.95, the book comes from writer, speaker, podcaster and (natch) blogger Debra Eckerling. Mild-nepotism alert: I was a guest on her Guided Goals podcast earlier this year.

Bonus deal 2: This seems like a perfect match for yesterday's free-game deal (still available, by the way). Today only, and while licenses last, Giveaway of the Day is offering EZ Game Booster 1.5 (Win) for free. Normally $12.99, this utility promises to improve game performance by 10-30% by optimizing various system settings and operations. Take note that it must be installed and activated today in order to take advantage of the giveaway.

Bonus deal 3: Speaking of games and giveaways, do you like trains? Or, more to the point, Trainz? If so, you can get the original 2002 simulation Trainz absolutely free. The graphics are a little dated, but the game won awards and scored an 8.7 rating from Gamespot. Definitely worth a look for any who's into model railroading or city-building sims.