The Cheapskate's favorite tech deals of 2017

Join me for a look back at the year that was, including some deals that are still around!

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
5 min read

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!

Well, friends, this is it until 2018! I'm off next week and won't have another deal to share until Jan. 2! (Honestly, I think I may experience withdrawal. You too?) Of course, if I spot something particularly sweet, I'll probably share it on Facebook and Twitter, so if you're not averse to social media, follow me there!

In the meantime, I wish all of you a safe and happy holiday and a healthy, peaceful new year. My resolution for 2018: to keep reminding myself that we're all on the same team -- the human team -- and that everyone deserves kindness, respect and understanding, even if we don't agree with them. (Yep, bloggers, too! LOL.)

Before we go forward, I'd like to pause and look back. There were some amazing deals to be had this year, so in no particular order, here's a list of my favorites -- many of which are still available!

Movies Anywhere

Movies Anywhere

Are you kidding me? One service that lets me access my Amazon , Apple, Google and Vudu movie libraries on just about any device? And it's legal? And free?!

That's Movies Anywhere, arguably the best gift we all received in 2017. I really did have movies scattered across all four of those services, and now I can watch them anywhere via just one app. The icing on this awesome cake: Movies Anywhere gives you five free movies when you sign up and link at least two of the aforementioned services.


While we're on the subject of movies, you can now visit the cineplex every single day for just $10 per month. Shut up and pass the popcorn!

I've written about MoviePass a lot lately, including a hard look at whether it really is a good deal. (Spoiler alert: heck, yes, it is!) There are some limitations, including notoriously bad customer service, so you might want to consider another movie-subscription service. But the value here is just extraordinary.

Sprint's $1 deal


Can I get the deal if I'm feeling ripped-off by AT&T, too?


Speaking of extraordinary, how about Sprint this year? Back in June, the carrier offered the ultimate cheapskate deal: One year of unlimited phone service for $1. And not some weird, asterisk-laden version of "unlimited," but the same exact plan that normally costs $60 per month.

And guess what: It's back! Although the offer was originally intended to end June 30, Sprint ran it through August, I believe -- and I just discovered that it's running again right now. Holy impossible savings, Batman!

Hulu's price cut

Say what you will about Hulu's wretched new interface -- the streaming service lowered its price right around the same time Netflix started charging more. For your first year, at least, you can get the limited-commercials plan for just $5.99 per month. (After that, it goes back to the regular $7.99 rate.)

I crushed hard on Hulu this year. I thought its original series "The Handmaid's Tale" was one of the best shows of 2017 (and Emmy voters agreed), and it's now the only place to find favorites like "30 Rock," "Bob's Burgers," "The Last Man on Earth" and "Rick and Morty." I now consider the service just as essential as Netflix. 

Oh, and college students can get an even better deal: Hulu and Spotify for just $5 per month! (Lucky college kids, always getting the best stuff, grumble grumble.)

Awesome drones


The TB-802 is a gesture-controlled drone priced under $30. It's a 2017 favorite.


Don't ask me to pick a favorite drone this year. I can't, because there were some really amazing newcomers that also had amazing prices.

Indeed, if you were among the lucky few to score a DJI Spark for under $300 earlier this month, I'd say you scored the drone deal of the year.

But I also have to tip my hat to the TechBoy TB-802 (which has a red doppelganger, the GoolRC T100), arguably the most fun indoor drone to date and definitely the best for novices. It's controlled by hand gestures, not some awkward app. It routinely sells for under $30, but I've occasionally seen it as low as $20.

Fire tablet upgrades

Last month I called the Amazon Fire HD 10 the best tablet deal in history. That was based on the $100 Black Friday sale price, but even at the usual $150 it's a steal. The same could be said for the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 : All three models received modest but welcome spec bumps in 2017, and the Fire HD 10 saw a significant price cut as well.

So: improved models, same (or lower) prices. Yes, please and thank you. Of course, there's always room for improvement, so check out these five ways to make your Fire tablet better.

Really good Android phones for cheap

I'm at a crossroads. I've been an iPhone user since the beginning, and I prefer iOS to Android. But as a card-carrying cheapskate, I can no longer justify paying Apple prices. Not when there are so many good Android phones (most with headphone jacks!) for so much less.

To wit: the Alcatel Idol 5S ($280); the Motorola Moto X4 (currently $280 at Amazon) and Moto G5 Plus ($229); and the ZTE Max XL ($130). Obviously it's not just iPhone users who benefit: Anyone thinking they need to spend $800 or more for the latest LG or Samsung can get a really good phone for a fraction of the price.

This portable Spotify player


Another possible name for the Mighty: the Spotify Shuffle.

Mighty Audio Inc.

I'm not sure why the Mighty didn't attract more attention this year. It looks like an iPod Shuffle (of blessed memory), but instead of syncing with iTunes, it syncs with Spotify. Yep, it slurps up your playlists (via Wi-Fi!) and makes them mobile, so you can listen on the go without using up valuable phone storage, data or battery.

At $86, it's a little pricier than the Shuffle was, but it's also more capable, supporting Bluetooth speakers and headphones and surviving encounters with water. It makes the "best deals" list because it was $68 when I shared it last month. Hopefully it will be again sometime next year. (Stay tuned!)

The $20 Wi-Fi cam


How can this thing cost only $20?

Wyze Labs

If you've ever priced a smart-home or IP camera, meaning one that livestreams via Wi-Fi so you can keep tabs on the house, the dog, the kids, the elderly -- you know they tend to be expensive.

The WyzeCam, impossibly, costs $20. And it ticks nearly all the boxes: 1080p video, night vision, motion detection and 14 days' worth of free looping cloud storage. It's not waterproof, so don't set it up outside, but you can deploy half a dozen of these inside your house for less than the price of some single-camera solutions. I'm still kind of in awe of this thing. Apparently, I'm not the only one: the WyzeCam is backordered on both the company's site and Amazon. Expect delivery in two to three weeks.

Heavily discounted Samsung Gear Fit 2

Finally, one last gushing love note to the Gear Fit 2, my favorite smartwatch or fitness band. Great screen, great features... and, several times in 2017, great price: I think the best deal was $60 for a refurb, though I also saw it new sometimes for as low as $80. In 2018 I'm hoping to see similar deals on the newer Gear Fit 2 Pro .

OK, that's it! My favorite deals of 2017. Now hit the comments and name some of yours.

See you next year! 💗