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.
Well, cheeps! This is it until 2017. As a reminder, I'm off tomorrow and next week, though you'll see a smattering of posts from me along the way. So let's close out the year with...Bluetooth headphones! Ho, ho, ho, just kidding. I think we all have quite enough of those.
Instead, I wanted to end with something cool and unique -- and I think this is just the thing. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Kmart has the Swiftstream Robo Buddy for $49.99 shipped. (If you can find something super-cheap to add to your cart, there's a $5-off-$50 coupon available from Ebates, along with 3 percent cash back.)
I honestly hadn't heard of this product before today, and the interwebs are surprisingly bereft of reviews. In a nutshell, it's an RC off-road vehicle of sorts but designed for indoor use, with treads that allow it to drive easily on carpet. It's controlled by an app (Android or iOS) on your phone or tablet.
But here's where it gets interesting: The Robo Buddy can livestream 720-pixel video via a camera that can pan up and down on front-mounted arm. And you can operate it even while you're away from the house. In other words, it's like a webcam on wheels. Thus, you can use it to check on or torment your pets while you're away. It can also serve as a kind of roving nannycam, letting you monitor babysitters, contractors, elderly family members and so on.
Cooler (or creepier) still, Robo Buddy offers two-way communication, so you can actually talk to people or animals at the other end.
Other noteworthy features include a night-vision mode, video and photo recording and a charging dock you can drive to. The vehicle is good for about 50 minutes of runtime, according to Swiftstream. Alas, it can't auto-return to its dock like a Roomba.
How well does it actually work? That's the $49.99 question. I did find this YouTube video review, which shows a lot of Robo Buddy in action -- though doesn't really comment on things like video quality or remote (or out-of-house) control.
If you have any experience with the product, please share it in the comments. For my money, I have to say it looks like a pretty tempting item -- especially at this price. Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: Do you own or manage a small business? I do, and let me tell you one thing I've learned: Search-engine optimization (or SEO) is vital to success. I've also learned that mastering it on your own is really challenging. Hence I'm signing up for the Simplilearn Expert Lecture Series for SEO Certification for $29, a six-hour online course designed to make me an SEO expert. Price if purchased from Simplilearn proper: $499.
I should mention, too, that learning SEO skills can also make you a more marketable person. You could start a little SEO business on the side for companies that need help with it -- read: most of them. Just a thought. There's a new year coming up. Maybe you're looking for new skills?