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Gadgets

Get an Apple TV and $10 Target gift card for $69

Yeah, the deal is only so-so, but it does raise the question of whether Apple TV remains a competitive streamer. Plus: two bonus deals!

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TV not included. Apple

Just when you thought Apple TV was dead in the water, Apple lowered the price of its set-top box, struck an exclusive deal with HBO and started adding new channels.

Is there more to come? That's the question. And if there is, will you need a new Apple TV box to take advantage of it?

I don't know, but I do know this: Target has the Apple TV and a $10 Target gift card for $69 shipped (plus tax). Given that the box sells for $69 everywhere else, the gift card is the only noteworthy item here -- but it's a good jumping-off point for a discussion.

Which starts like this: Is Apple TV still dead in the water, even with the aforementioned developments? Or is it suddenly a contender against the less-expensive likes of the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick?

I'll go. For anyone who owns an iDevice, be it iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, there's much to be said for pairing it with an Apple TV. It's the only way to stream iTunes content, natch, and the screen-mirroring capabilities are mighty slick -- especially for playing small-screen games on your big TV.

It streams nearly all the major services, of course (though obviously not Amazon), and for the first three months of HBO Now's existence, Apple TV will be the only box that has it.

I must admit to liking the speed and simplicity of Apple TV's interface, which also makes Roku's look like it went three rounds with the Ugly Stick. Like most, if not all, Apple products, it has an elegance I appreciate.

But where's the voice search? Where's the support for Bluetooth headphones? Where's the remote with the Netflix and Hulu buttons? (Not bloody likely.) On the feature front, Apple TV still lags behind the competition.

So help me, I still like it. And the reality these days is that there's probably no single one-box-fits-all solution, which is why my Apple TV sits alongside my Roku box. If you've been considering a similar setup, this might be the deal to jump on. (Hint: Use that $10 gift card for a $10 iTunes card!)

Bonus deal: Game time! If you like co-op games like Left 4 Dead, you'll love Payday 2, which is all about working together to pull off daring (and often deadly) heists. Released in summer, 2013, the game currently sells for $29.99 on Steam -- but for a limited time, Green Man Gaming has Payday 2 (Win) for just $4.80 when you apply coupon code 20OFFE-RENADB-SJUGCV at checkout. If you want to learn more, read GameSpot's mostly positive review.

Bonus deal No. 2: Remember yesterday's Chromebook deal? Consider canceling your order. Today, Best Buy has the very similar Acer Chromebook CB3-111-C8UB 11.6-inch laptop in Moonstone White for $129.99 shipped (plus tax). No touchscreen, and the specs are a bit lower (including 16GB of storage instead of 32GB), but holy dirt-cheap computers, Batman! I can't recall seeing a non-refurbished Chromebook priced this low.