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Different situations call for different kinds of headphones. (Or earphones. Or earbuds. Whatever you want to call them. Side-hole covers?)
For example, sitting in your favorite comfy chair listening to some relaxing tunes? Give me full-on over-the-ear headphones. Working out at the gym? Noise-isolating Bluetooth neck-'buds.
Then we come to wire-free earbuds, the kind made famous by Apple's AirPods. I suspect a lot of folks wonder if these are somehow better than their wired counterparts -- and by "wired" I mean "connected to each other," not "plugged into a headphone jack."
Here's your chance to find out. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Syllable Direct (via Amazon) has the Syllable D900 Mini wireless earbuds for $29.99, shipped free with Prime. That's after applying promo code BHNTAGWQ at checkout.
Normally these sell for $49.99, and of course a set of AirPods would run you $150. I've seen lots of similar products selling in the $60-70 range but I've never seen fully wireless earbuds for $30.
These little black buds have zero wires. The right one pairs with the left one while the left one pairs with your phone. The kit includes three sets of silicone caps, each a different size to help you get the best fit, each with little "wings" to help them stay in your ears.
Amazingly, the left earbud also has a noise-cancelling microphone, meaning you can make and take phone calls.
Here's the rub: The earbuds can play for only about two hours before needing to return to their case, which is also their charging station. However, that case can recharge the D900s up to six times before needing to be recharged itself (which happens via the usual microUSB charging cable, but it's up to you to supply the USB port).
Now for the most important questions: How do they fit and how do they sound? I have no first-hand (first-ear?) knowledge, so I'm forced to rely on user reviews. They average out to 3.9 stars, which is pretty good, but a few users did encounter reliability issues.
Fortunately, you've got Amazon standing behind you if they prove to be defective out of the box, and a one-year warranty if things go awry later on.
I think $30 is a pretty compelling price if you're looking to satisfy your curiosity about wire-free earbuds. I don't know if these would be a good companion at the gym, because sometimes you want to take your 'buds out and just let them dangle, nor do I know if they'd be good for walks, because some Bluetooth earbuds don't fare well outdoors.
But $30 to find out? That's not bad at all, if you ask me. Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: Free game time! Late yesterday I shared the news that Blizzard is giving away the original StarCraft, one of the all-time great real-time strategy games. In fact, you get not only StarCraft, but also the Brood War expansion pack. Sure, the graphics are a bit dated, but the gameplay? Still awesome.
To get the freebie (available for Windows and Mac), all you have to do is follow the above link, then click the appropriate installer. Note that once you run it, the setup seems to include only Brood War, but don't worry -- you're getting the full game.
Bonus deal 2: Need an inexpensive PC with a big screen, lots of storage and one of those old-fangled optical drives? Here's one, with only a couple of small caveats: Woot has the refurbished HP 15 quad-core laptop for $294.99, plus $5 for shipping.
Available in your choice of very snazzy colors, the HP features a 15.6-inch touchscreen (!) display, a 1TB hard drive, a SuperMulti DVD burner, three USB ports (only one of them USB 3.0, though) and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Now for the caveats: that screen tops out at 1,366 x 768, which is okay but on the low side. And the processor is Intel's N3710, by no means a powerhouse. Is it good enough for everyday productivity, web browsing and the like? Absolutely. Heck, it'll even run the aforementioned StarCraft just fine. But don't expect to edit video or play the new Doom.