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A couple weeks ago, I shared a giveaway from the fine folks at Ignition Design Labs -- a chance to win one of their Portal mesh routers.
Didn't win? Sorry about that, but here's your consolation prize: a deal.
For a limited time, and while supplies last, Amazon has the Portal Wi-Fi router for $148.02 shipped -- or a two-pack for $279.83. Regular price: $199.99 for one.
I've touched on mesh routers before. They're basically fancy repeaters designed to help Wi-Fi signals reach all corners of your home. A standalone Portal doesn't really create a mesh network unless you deploy two of them, but it does have some performance-improving tricks up its sleeve.
Specifically, it's designed for environments where there's a lot of Wi-Fi congestion. That means an apartment building, a neighborhood with homes crowded together and so on.
In fact, the company takes a bit of umbrage with CNET's less-than-enthusiastic review of the Portal, noting that it wasn't really tested in such a setting, and therefore didn't perform as well as it might have. (Do read that review, though, if only to learn more about setup, features, and so on.)
So here's where it gets interesting. As you'll see at Amazon, nearly 400 buyers collectively gave the Portal a 4.4-star rating -- very good for any router. However, Fakespot says over 70 percent of those reviews are questionable, and ReviewMeta agrees.
Update (4/29/17): A representative from Ignition Design Labs stated that the company has "never paid for a positive review," and that the high volume of "unverified" Amazon reviews are the result of a giveaway that ran back in December. That campaign solicited Amazon reviews, though not as part of the entry process. As with all products shared here, I recommend readers do their homework and weigh all the available data before making a purchase decision.
I found a smattering of reviews from other tech sites, and they were all quite positive. I think this one from Techcrunch is probably the most telling; the reviewer tested it in a San Francisco apartment, where it worked wonders.. the company ran in December.
Your mileage may vary, of course. I have to admit I'm kind of scratching my head over this one. If you already own a Portal, by all means hit the comments and share some feedback.
Bonus deal: The last time I shared a folding keyboard, it was quite popular -- and sold out quickly, as I recall. Here's hoping it doesn't go so quickly this time: Thousandshores (via Amazon) has the iClever tri-folding portable Bluetooth keyboard for $22.99 when you apply coupon code 85EWZK3R at checkout.
Update: Sorry, folks -- communication mishap, here. The keyboard is actually $56.99, minus $17 when you apply the coupon code, for a total of $39.99.
What's interesting about this one is it includes a touchpad, making it an especially good option for Windows tablets. (I believe Android also supports mouse input, so the touchpad would potentially work there as well.) And it can stay paired with up to three devices.
When unfolded, you get a set of keys that's just smaller than a laptop's. User reviews average out to 4.4 stars. I think my only reservation is it lacks any sort of stand for your phone or tablet.
Bonus deal 2: Fancy outdoor-minded drones are all well and good, but what to you give a kid who wants to fly something around the basement or bedroom? This: Tmart has the BoldClash B-03 mini-drone for $17.59 shipped -- though it's coming from China and may take awhile.
Before this I hadn't seen an inexpensive mini that has these three important features: blade guards, headless mode and auto-hover. Oh, and a remote, rather than app control. So the kiddo can fly this around without hurting herself, the walls or you. (Small lamps might still be in danger, though.) At press time it's available in your choice of orange or blue -- with only about 90 of each color left in stock.
Bonus deal 3: Feel like your nightstand is missing a little je ne sais quoi? Here's an interesting addition: The Elegiant LED Bluetooth speaker for $9.99, a cute little bedside "lamp" (it's not really bright enough to read by, though) with multi-color LEDs, an alarm clock and even rechargeable battery.
I think I wrote about this many moons ago -- though I can't find the post, thanks for nothing, Google -- and I think it was quite a bit pricier. In fact, I remember the reseller asking me to run it again, and me objecting because it was too expensive for what it was. But $10 out the door? That's a deal.