This top-rated utility has never been cheaper -- or more necessary. Plus: a free game, a cheap Sega console and another Philips Hue option!
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. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!
Quick housekeeping note: I'm taking a little time off next week, but I've already got a few sweet deals queued up for when I'm gone. You may also see some deals posted by -- gasp -- someone other than me! But have no fear: I'll see you back here (in real-time) next Friday. Happy whatever-holiday-you-might-be-celebrating-this-weekend!
Every so often I return to my Cheapskate pulpit to preach the importance of three things: a car mount for your phone, a password manager for your passwords and a VPN for your laptop.
If you've yet to deploy the latter, there's no longer any justifiable excuse: For a limited time, StackSocial is offering a lifetime VPN Unlimited subscription for $18. That's after applying promo code VPNSD22 at checkout. Unless my memory fails, this has never been cheaper. I've seen it at $39.99 and even $29.99, but $18?
That's an insanely good deal on a product that normally runs $9.99 per month or $150 for life.
A VPN (virtual private network) can keep hackers at bay when you connect to open Wi-Fi networks -- like the one on the airplane or at Starbucks. Without one, things can get ugly. A hacker could capture your login info when you sign into, say, your bank or Gmail account. That's all it would take to potentially do a lot of identity-theft damage.
The subscription entitles you to protection on up to five devices, with support for all the major platforms: Android, iOS , Linux, Mac and Windows. And VPN Unlimited has servers in over 70 countries.
I don't have any first-hand experience with it, but just last month, PCMag reviewed the service and awarded it an Editors' Choice. Likewise, both the Android app and iOS app received high marks from users. You can look at other alternatives in the CNET VPN guide, too.
On paper, I'd say this is an incredibly affordable way to protect all your devices from prying hacker eyes. And a lifetime subscription is the only option that makes sense.
Bonus deal: Hot on the heels of yesterday's Philips Hue starter-kit deal comes another one: For a limited time, Best Buy has a four-bulb version of the kit for $199.99 -- a price that includes two Google Home Minis ! (Thanks to reader Allen for bringing this to my attention yesterday.)
Those smart speakers -- one in charcoal color, one in chalk -- are worth $49 apiece, so this is definitely a sweet way to kick-start a smart home . As for the Hue kit, it's just like the one I listed yesterday, with four white/color ambiance bulbs instead of three and the Hue hub.
Bonus deal No. 2: Miss your old Sega Genesis? You can relive all the Sonic the Hedgehog glory of yesteryear with the Sega Genesis Classic Game Console for $32.39 at Staples. (Check to see if your local store has it; otherwise you're on the hook for a $9.95 shipping charge.)
The console comes with two wireless controllers, 80 built-in games (including various Sonic and Mortal Kombat titles) and a slot that can accommodate old Genesis cartridges.
Weirdly, I can't find any reviews of this particular bundle; there are other, similar, Sega throwback consoles out there, just not this exact one. It's definitely not the Sega Flashback that CNET's Scott Stein reviewed last year. But if you're into this sort of gaming nostalgia, $32 feels like a steal.
Bonus deal No. 3: Two in one week?! Humble just posted yet another free game valued at $30: Spec Ops: The Line (for Windows, Mac and Linux). It's available for the next 24 hours or so, or until the available licenses run out. You'll receive a code to redeem on Steam.
Spec Ops is a third-person military shooter with a "squad-based play mechanic." But if you're thinking this is standard-issue Call of Duty-style gaming, think again: It presents a twisting narrative designed to illustrate the "brutality and emotion" of close-quarters combat.
In other words, prepare to have your morality challenged while you learn that war really is hell. The game received "very positive" ratings from Steam players.