Good day, cheeps! A few housekeeping notes before we dive in...
First, CNET has added a new button to my toolset, one designed to make the reading experience easier. So, for example, I might tell you that GOG has the X-Com-style strategy game Xenonauts (Win/Mac/Linux) free for a limited time. (Steam sells it for $25.) You can click that link, of course, or use this handy new button:Get Xenonauts free!
Second, and this is somewhat related, you may have noticed a small addition to the "about the Cheapskate" text at the bottom of each post: "CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page."
Allow me to clarify: Here at The Cheapskate, I will never, ever write about a product solely to drive link-clicks or sales. I've never been asked to, and I'd never agree to. Every product or service I share in this space is because I think it's cool, unique, useful and/or an amazing deal.
That said, CNET has bills (and writers, ahem) to pay, and this revenue-sharing system -- which, incidentally, is longstanding and common across all editorial corners of the interwebs -- helps.
Last item: Next Monday, June 11, I'll be in San Francisco, where I'll be joining CNET's Brian Cooley and Lexy Savvides live to share some awesome deals for dads and grads! (Psst: They're awesome for moms, flunkies and everyone else, too, so tune in regardless of your status.) The show will air at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT; mark your calendars and watch for more details soon!
The never-ending search for cheap phone service
Sprint's. 's pay-in-advance plans. Freedompop's new . When it comes to finding cheap phone service, you've got lots of options.
Here's one more: TextNow's new unlimited-LTE plan costs $39.99 per month, making it one of the most inexpensive single-line unlimited options out there. (TextNow also has family plans, after a fashion: each additional line costs $29.99.)
All you need is an unlocked Sprint or GSM phone and TextNow's free SIM card. If it's a Sprint model, you'll be on Sprint's network; if it's GSM, you'll be on a "third-party" carrier. (TextNow isn't allowed to specify, but according to Wikipedia and other sources, it's T-Mobile.)
The plan itself is typical "unlimited": calls, texts and high-speed data, though with the usual caveat that if you burn through more than 23GB in a month, your speed may be reduced.
How much LTE do you really need? Only you can answer that, but I've seen reports indicating that the vast majority of users consume less than 5GB of mobile data each month. And for what it's worth, TextNow's 5GB plan runs $29.99 per month.
One important note: Like Republic Wireless, TextNow leverages Wi-Fi (when available) for calls and text messages. The only real advantage to that nowadays is that if you live and/or work somewhere that has poor cell coverage, but does have Wi-Fi, you'll likely enjoy much better connectivity.
Also, mobile hotspot is not included with this plan, but is coming this summer, according to a TextNow spokesperson.
Outside of occasional brief tests, I haven't used TextNow as my carrier. If you have, hit the comments and share your experiences. I think $40 per month for unlimited service is a deal worth investigating, but I also think there are lots of other options in the same price range. Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: I've shared a lot of headphone deals around these parts, but very few with this desirable feature: active noise-canceling. That's special circuitry that blocks out ambient noise, great for listening in planes, trains, buses and other noisy environments.
Normally, that tech adds a pretty penny to 'phone prices, but not today: For a limited time, and while supplies last, BEIYIusHOME (via Amazon) has the Elepawl Noise Cancelling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones for $34.99 when you apply promo code P7XGOD2N. Regular price: $70!Check it out
These are surprisingly lightweight over-the-ear phones that can be used via Bluetooth or removable 3.5mm cord (included). The earcups and headband are cushy and comfortable, and I liked the large play/pause and volume buttons on the right earcup.
As for sound quality, well, that's a subjective thing. In my tests, some songs sounded great, others seemed a bit muddy. Some sounded better with noise-canceling activated, some sounded better with it off. Of course, if you're looking at any headphones priced under, say, $100, you're probably not a serious audiophile -- in which case a $35 pair with active noise-canceling is definitely worth considering.
Giveaway! Over at TechRepublic, you've got a darn good chance to win an unlocked iPhone X -- and a TechRepublic swag-bag to boot.
To enter, all you have to do is answer one simple question (there, not here -- though I guess you're welcome to answer it here as well. It just won't count as a contest entry): "What apps are on your must-download list when setting up a new smartphone?"
In case you're wondering, mine are Dashlane, Facebook, Kindle and Overcast.
CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our . Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!