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Buy one Ninja Loop for $4.99, get one free

From the Cheapskate: Gift shopping, done! This simple but effective product makes big phones easier -- and safer -- to use.

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.

The Ninja Loop makes one-handed operation of your smartphone easier.

Loop

This is a weird time in Cheapskateland, because although tons of stores have already started their Black Friday sales (effectively rendering actual Black Friday null and void), there seems to be a deal vacuum right now as we head into next week.

Speaking of which, I'll be traveling (hello, New York!), but of course I'll still be bringing you all the Black Friday news and deals fit to, er, blog. Stay tuned for some interesting stuff (including what not to buy on BF and what you shouldn't buy until BF).

Today, let's keep it simple and keep it cheap. Regular readers know of my fondness for this product, which my kids have mockingly dubbed the "dork strap." And you know what? I still love it.

For a limited time, and while supplies last, you can buy one Ninja Loop for $4.99 and get a second one free. That's already a buck off the regular price for just one! However, just to clarify, you get one free loop per order. So if you buy, say, three of them, you'll get a fourth for free (I mention three because that's how many you need to bag free shipping).

Back in June I described the Ninja Loop as "the best six bucks you can spend on your smartphone," and I stand by that statement. Well, one modification: now it's the best five bucks you can spend.

It's ridiculously simple, just a piece of satin or twill ribbon in your choice of colors and patterns. The two ends loop through just about any phone case and stick securely to the inside. On the outside, you slip your fingers through the strap and presto: much easier one-handed operation and a much lower chance of dropping your phone.

Mine has gotten a little dingy-looking these past few months, unsurprising given that it's in and out of my pocket all day. But it's still totally secure, and I'm completely acclimated to using it. Feels weird to hold my phone without it.

By the way, you can also get the same price and BOGO deal on the Petite Loop, which is more like a wrist strap in that it hangs from the bottom of your phone (again, between phone and case). Gave one of these to my mom a while back -- she absolutely loves it (and she's not just saying that because she's my mom).

Speaking of giving, this is just a fantastic gift item. It comes in a nice little package, works with just about every phone (so long as it's in a case) and really serves a practical purpose. Go ahead and scoff, or call it a dork-strap. Me, I'm a convert, and you can have my dork-strap when you pry it off of my securely held fingers.

"Drones for Dummies" should help explain what these flying machines are all about.

TradePub

Bonus deal: When it comes to drones, are you a dummy? Hey, not my words! For a limited time, TradePub is offering Wiley's "Drones for Dummies" e-book for free when you complete a short form. That form also enters you into a contest with a pretty excellent prize: a Parrot Bebop drone! This well-reviewed book (which runs $13 at Amazon) would make an excellent companion guide for anyone who happens to find a flying friend under the tree this year.

Bonus deal No. 2: Guys, I tried attending Mobile-Charger Deals Anonymous, but it just didn't take. For a limited time, and while supplies last, TechRabbit (a newcomer to the daily-deals space) is offering the Tylt Powerplant 5,200mAh mobile charger for $6.99 shipped when you apply coupon code AFPWRPLANT7 at checkout. It comes with a built-in cable for charging microUSB or Lightning devices; the latter version would cost you $23.99 at Amazon. These are new, not refurbished. This little power brick would make a great stocking-stuffer, especially at this price.