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Microsoft's Surface ANC headphones are on sale for $438 less than Apple AirPods Max

Originally $350, Microsoft's fancy headphones can be yours right now for $111. That's a historic low. Plus: Turn an old laptop into a new Chromebook -- for free.

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The Surface Headphones come in a non-ridiculous case that didn't inspire countless memes. These are the black variety; the deal is for the gray ones.

David Carnoy/CNET

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Late last year, Apple unveiled the ludicrously overpriced AirPods Max over-the-ear headphones. I think it goes without saying that few folks are going to spend $549 when there are perfectly good alternatives for less.

In some cases, way less: Today only, and while supplies last, Woot has the Microsoft Surface Headphones (gray) for $111 -- the lowest price on record. (Last time around, they were $150 -- and sold out pretty quickly.) You could literally buy five of them for the same price as one AirPods Max. (Here are some other things you could buy instead.)

Originally $350, the Surface Headphones aimed to compete with the likes of Bose and Sony models in that same range. How did they fare? According to CNET's David Carnoy, sound quality and battery life weren't quite on par, but overall he found them "almost great." Read his Surface Headphones review to learn more. (Also note that they've since been replaced by the slightly better, slightly cheaper Surface Headphones 2.)

A few things to consider: These have touch controls, on-ear dials for adjusting volume and active noise-cancellation levels, an always-on voice assistant (Cortana), USB-C charging and automatic pause/resume when you take the headphones off and put them back on.

In other words, they're easy to use. All too many headphones seem to saddle you with hard-to-find or hard-to-operate controls. Auto-pause in particular is one of my favorite features.

So if you're shopping for a premium headphone and don't have hundreds of dollars to spare, give this a look.

Your thoughts?

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Turn an old laptop into a new Chromebook

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CloudReady adds the Chrome operating system to just about any laptop. You can run it entirely from a flash drive or overwrite the existing OS.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Can't find a good deal on a Chromebook? Consider repurposing that seemingly slow, seemingly useless old Windows laptop that's sitting in your closet. It's a free and fairly easy operation; all you need is a tool called CloudReady.

CNET's Josh Goldman covered this about a year ago, when parents were scrambling to find Chromebooks for their newly housebound kids. I won't reinvent the wheel, other than to say I recently performed this resurrection on an old laptop of my own. (Crazy coincidence: It was the exact same HP model Josh wrote about.)

Anyway, it worked like a charm, and now that slow-booting Windows 7 machine from yesteryear feels like a fresh new Chromebook. I haven't fully kicked the tires on it, but there's no reason to think it won't get the job done -- especially for, say, an elementary- or middle-school student with modest needs. And I'm donating it to just such a kid.

All you need is a formatted USB flash drive (ideally not a SanDisk, because reasons) with at least 8GB of storage. On the off chance you don't have a drawerful, here's a 64GB drive for $10.


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