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.
Quick housekeeping note: I'm pleased to report that Gearbest seems to be making good on its promise of, well, making good to those who were left hanging on their December VR headset purchases. As I mentioned the other day, if you didn't receive your headset or a refund, contact me and I'll forward your info to someone who will help.
Now, then. (That's an odd expression, isn't it? English language, you so crazy!) Deals popped up fast and furious this morning, to the point where I couldn't choose just one. And, lo, another five-deal Friday was born! ("Lo"? What the heck kind of word is "lo"? Anyway.)
First up, an honest-to-goodness gadget:
1. Folding Bluetooth keyboard
Something in my brain goes tilt (in a good way) when I'm presented with a folding keyboard. (This dates back to the Stowaway for PalmPilot -- anyone remember those?) It's like, "What is this small slab of plastic, wait, what's happening, OH MY GOD IT'S A KEYBOARD!"
And for anyone wishing to use their phone or tablet as a surrogate laptop, a keyboard is essential. That's why I'm giddy over this deal, a Cheapskate first: Battop has its folding Bluetooth keyboard for $26.95 when you apply discount code CNETBATP at checkout.
When folded, the Battop looks remarkably like a three-hole punch and feels very solid, like you could whack someone upside the head if they were giving you trouble. Unfold it and it's a full QWERTY keyboard -- a touch narrower than standard, but comfortable enough for touch-typing. What's more, it has a built in stand to hold your phone or tablet upright. (Just don't expect to use it -- or any folding keyboard, really -- in your lap.)
To my thinking this is a way better solution than a keyboard case, which adds significant full-time bulk to your tablet. Here, you whip out the keyboard when you need it, stow it when you don't. My only complaint is there's no clasp or catch to keep it shut when folded.
2. Non-folding wireless numeric keypad
Speaking of keyboards, anyone who works with spreadsheets or other number-heavy applications knows a numeric keypad is essential. If your laptop lacks one, here's an easy fix: Get the Kmashi 18-key wireless numeric keypad for $10.99 when you apply coupon code XRZPQRF3 at checkout. (Free shipping with Prime, yada yada.) Update: Code does not appear to be working. Stay tuned, I'm investigating...
Update No. 2: I'm informed the code was inadvertently deactivated early and will be reactivated today at 2 p.m. PT. So please try again later!
The battery-powered keypad connects to just about any PC via an included USB adapter, one that's low-profile enough to leave plugged in full-time. A rubber base keeps it from slipping around when you're furiously mashing out numbers.
I haven't tried this, but I've checked out some other Kmashi products, and they've all been pretty solid. Do check the user reviews, though: While most are very positive, a few point to reliability issues.
3. War is hell. Free war games are awesome.
Origin's latest On the House giveaway has arrived: Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault. It's pretty old (release year: 2004), with graphics that might charitably be described as "dated," but GameSpot rated it an 8.3 out of 10. In fact, the chief complaints were with the long load times and system-hog performance -- two issues that aren't likely to be a factor on any reasonably current PC.
And did I mention it's free? Not temporarily free, but free forever. All you need is an Origin account and the Origin desktop client (also free). Give 'em hell, soldier!
4. Photo effects in the Nik of time
Until yesterday, I'd never heard of the Google Nik Collection. Turns out it's a popular bunch of effect and editing plug-ins for Adobe Aperture, Lightroom and Photoshop.
5. Stream your iPhone or iPad to your PC
Yesterday I shared a deal on an HDMI dongle for mirroring your laptop, phone or tablet to your TV or monitor. No love for the iOS crowd, though!
Here's some love: Apowersoft iPhone/iPad Recorder lets you mirror your iDevice to your PC or Mac, and the browser-based version is free. (The desktop version costs $39.95, just FYI.)
It works like this: You click Launch Application, then run the installer. (Note that the utility relies on Apple's Bonjour service, which is usually installed along with iTunes.) From there you just enable mirroring on your iDevice and presto! You've got AirPlay, no Apple TV (or TV) required.
Bonus deal: Because why not? If you're old enough to remember Duran Duran, you might be surprised to learn the band has released three new albums since reuniting in 2004. The latest, "Paper Gods," is free from Google Play for a limited time.