Looking for a new laptop and don’t want to wait until November for Black Friday deals? Lucky for you, Amazon Prime Day 2020 arrives this Tuesday. Even better news, you don’t need to wait until then to get a great deal! Amazon is running a laptop deal right now that is Prime Day-level good, and Newegg has a laptop discount of its own worthy of your attention. The best deal is at Best Buy, however, where you can save $400 on Dell’s flagship 2-in-1 laptop.
So if you don’t want to wait for the Amazon Prime Day sale and are looking for a great laptop deal now, or if don’t have an Amazon Prime membership, take a gander at these big discounts, starting with the least expensive laptop and working our way up in price.
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Also, don’t fret if none of these are the laptop for you. More are sure to go on sale over the next few days in early Prime Day deals and more.
This story was published earlier and will be updated frequently throughout Prime Day week.
This 14-inch ZenBook is less than 0.65 inches thick and weighs only 3.2 pounds. It features the 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10510U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics. The laptop has a unique hinge that lifts the back edge of the laptop to provide some tilt to the keyboard to create a comfortable typing position. It also includes a sleeve for travel, for the day when you’re allowed to leave your house again, and an optical mouse.
Dell’s top-end Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 convertible boasts an all-aluminum chassis that’s thinner, lighter and sturdier than the midrange Inspiron 5000 series that features metal lids and keyboard decks but flimsy plastic bottom panels. This model features a 4K display powered by a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM. For storage, you get a 512GB SSD with 32GB of fast Optane memory.
This 13.3-inch, 2-in-1 laptop has a bright blue aluminum chassis and Samsung’s QLED display with a full HD 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution for a crisp image with accurate color. Inside, it supplies a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. It also includes a Bluetooth S pen for drawing and writing on the touchscreen.
No longer available
The offers below are no longer available at the originally discounted price, but we’re including them here for comparison shopping.
The Vivobook 15 packs a 15.6-inch display in a chassis that’s more typical of a 14-inch laptop. It boasts razor-thin bezels on all four sides of the display, weighs only 3.5 pounds and is less than 0.8 inches thick. Inside, it features the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU and AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics along with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. Many budget models use a 1,366×768-pixel panel, but not so with the VivoBook 15, which offers a full HD 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on every Apple product during the run up to Prime Day — the AirPods Pro are already $50 off, now selling for $199 — as well as throughout the event (and after the dust settles). You’ll have other options beyond Amazon, too. Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Newegg are all having competing sales, and they often out-discount Amazon when it comes to Apple products. So long as it’s an authorized Apple retailer (as those stores are), we’ll be sure to feature them here, too. For us, the best price always wins.
To that end, in the space below, we’ll be keeping track of current prices and how they square up with discounts we’ve seen in the past. For each product, we’ve also included a “strike price”for the entry-level model in that category, which represents our best guess for the price at which you should buy and no longer hold out for a better deal. Note that there will often a good deal on one particular model, size or color and not another. For example, at any given moment, a 44mm GPS Apple Watch may be a better deal than the 40mm model. We’ll be sure to note the specifics below.
Savings are shown versus the Apple Store, which effectively always charges the list price for Apple gear. But, to be clear, some of the more modest discounts shown are effectively the “everyday low prices” at other retailers. We’d recommend holding out until sales start next week to see if better price drops are on the way.
Though it was announced less than a month ago, Amazon and other retailers have already discounted the space gray entry-level 10.2-inch iPad, with the sale price swinging between $299 and $319. For a fleeting moment during last year’s holiday season, the now-discontinued 2019 version was available for $229, but the Prime Day low was $250. That’s a great price on the best iPad for most people, and the price we’ll be looking for this year, too. Read our Apple iPad 2020 review.
Strike price: $250 for 32GB, $330 for 128GB
In 2020, Apple upgraded the MacBook Air with an improved keyboard and twice the storage, and restored it to the sacred $1,000 price point. Amazon is already selling it for $50 off, but it could go as low as $900 during the Prime Day period. Note, however, that we expect new Macs with iPad-style “Apple silicon” chips, possibly before the end of the year.
Strike price: $900
Currently discounted to match its 2019 Black Friday low price of $169, the GPS-only Series 3, which came out in 2017, remains the least expensive model in Apple’s watch portfolio — and, in light of its age and humble feature-set, also the most dubious value. With the Apple Watch Series SE currently selling for $270, it’d be hard to recommend buying the Series 3 even at its current sale price. If Amazon drops the price significantly lower — maybe. Read our Apple Watch Series 3 review.
Strike price: $129 for 38mm, $169 for 42mm
The Apple Watch Series 5, now officially discontinued, has the potential to be one of the stars of Prime Day. As recently as September, Amazon had discounted the 44mm GPS model to $299 — that’s $130 cheaper than the 44mm GPS Series 6. Given the scant differences between them — they both have the always-on display and heart monitor, after all — any Series 5 model that’s $100 less than its Series 6 equivalent is a no-brainer. Read the Apple Watch Series 5 review.
Strike price: $299 for 40mm, $329 for 44mm
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Courtney Atencio rides low to the ground, swerving in and out of long, empty California streets. In one video, she grabs the back of a Toyota Camry and cruises along behind it. In another, she’s with her pals, practicing tricks at a local skate park. Every time, Atencio’s clips are undeniably cool, and they quickly become flooded with comments from fans asking for tips on how to start skating. Atencio didn’t start skating or her TikTok account to achieve fame, but she quickly found communities in both that she never experienced when she was growing up.
“When I was 14, guys would make fun of me for trying to go to the skate park because I’m the only female there,” Atencio told The Verge. “Having TikTok, to be able to show girls that you’re not alone, you can still skate, you don’t even listen to all those guys, is so important.”
Skate culture has found a new life on TikTok, where short videos of impressive tricks, painful wipeouts, and hangs at the local skatepark have collectively brought in billions of views. The explosion in skateboarding videos has encouraged one-time skaters to pick up the hobby again and convinced complete newbies to try it for the first time — and unlike the male-dominated world that was the face of skate culture for decades, many of TikTok’s stars are women and queer folks.
Hashtags like #girlswhoskate and #skatergirl are constantly growing, creating a never-ending sea of videos starring girls and women. Swipe around, and you’ll find skaters like Brianna King, an incredibly popular creator known for offering tips that newcomers can use when starting out, or skateboobs, an all-girl skateboard group in Scotland, which regularly post videos of their time skating. But many creators are more like Atencio, who simply posts videos of solo rides through her home in suburban Los Angeles or her time spent hanging out at skateparks with friends.
“I see a lot more women skateboarding on TikTok than I ever did growing up,” Faeth Perryman, who also posts skate videos to TikTok, told The Verge. “I don’t really know if that’s because there a lot of girls on TikTok in general, or if TikTok just made skateboarding videos more accessible.”
Thanks to TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, more than 250,000 peoplewatched a video of Perryman skateboarding down an empty road in Acadia, Maine, the Atlantic Ocean spanning for miles behind her as the sun rises. The app constantly serves up new videos to people who engage with similar types of content. Basically, if you like, comment, or share a couple of skateboarding videos, TikTok will fill your feed with more and more.
After waning in the late ‘00s and beyond, skate culture had a resurgence over the last few years. The success of streetwear brands like Supreme that lean heavily on skateboarding aesthetics helped drive new interest in boarding, the pandemic gave people more time to finally try their hands at it, and a remaster of the first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games offered up even more nostalgia. Skateboarding was even about to have its Olympic debut this year until the games got canceled.
It’s not like women and trans skaters weren’t around in the last half-century, but it was men who dominated the covers of Thrasher Magazine, men who starred in the coveted VHS compilations that would get passed around skate shops, and men who made up nearly all of the featured skaters in the hugely popular Tony Hawk games. TikTok has helped skaters with less visibility find more inclusive communities.
Perryman grew up around skateboarding — her brothers and dad all skated — but she still felt intimidated by the male-dominated culture. On TikTok, she found herself with a new platform and a group of young girls who wanted to emulate her style. Atencio, who has 76,000 followers, says she’s constantly surprised by the number of young girls who reach out to her asking about what size board they should get.
C, a trans nonbinary artist, said they were inspired by the trans skaters who popped up on the app’s main feed, and thought, “I might be able to do that myself.” While C grew up skateboarding, they fell out of it as an adult. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit, and C found more time to pick up old hobbies, that they jumped back into it.
“Skating is such a punk, anti-society thing, and in my opinion, so is being trans and existing specifically outside of the binary,” C told The Verge. “Seeing those two things happen on TikTok was so beautiful.”
Problems that existed in skate culture for years are present on TikTok, too. Men show up in comments calling girls posers and commenting negatively on the way women skate. Perryman tries not to pay attention to the comments, but Atencio argues the positive comments she receives outweigh the negative ones.
“For every negative comment there’s going to be like 20x more complimentary comments where people are pushing me and saying good job,” Atencio said.
But creators like Atencio and Perryman want to encourage people to get off TikTok and actually try skateboarding. Skateboarding to Perryman and Atencio is about getting on a board and meeting others just as much as it is watching people. It’s Atencio’s closest friends — the ones she found at skateparks, she says — who pushed her “to do what I do on TikTok.”
A lot of people consider pets to be part of their family, so it makes sense that they’d want to include them in their holiday celebrations. Whether it’s putting some leftover turkey in their bowl after Thanksgiving dinner, or wrapping toys for them to tear open on Christmas morning, these traditions are typically more for humans than their pets (but it’s not as though they’re going to turn down seasonal poultry).
This also includes Halloween. First, there’s the temptation to put them in a costume (adorable, sure, but if your pet doesn’t appear to appreciate their outfit and it’s stressing them out, it’s probably best to skip it). And beyond that, it’s also a good idea to consider how to keep your pet safe on Halloween night and the rest of the season as well. Here’s what you need to know.
What to know about pet safety on Halloween
As it turns out, some of the most popular aspects of Halloween can pose safety risks for pets. Here’s what to keep an eye on during trick-or-treating, and the rest of the Halloween season.
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You probably already know that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but it’s also something to keep away from other pets. This is for good reason: it can lead to hyperactivity, heart damage, seizures or even death.
If your dog does somehow end up eating some chocolate, immediately take them to the vet—provided the office is less than a half hour away, Dr. Mark Magazu, a veterinarian with Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey told Newsradio KYW. If it would take longer than that, Magazu recommends giving your dog hydrogen peroxide to make them vomit—about one teaspoon for every five pounds.
In addition to chocolate, candy containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can also be bad news for pets. “Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, or it can result in seizures or alter mentation or it could even cause liver damage,” Dr. Ken Drobatz, professor of emergency medicine at Penn Vet told Newsradio KYW.
They may be a staple of fall decorating, but pumpkins can also be hazardous to pets. New, fresh pumpkins should be fine, but if your pet ingests any that have become rotten and/or moldy, they could be poisonous, thanks to fungal neurotoxins, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Make sure any other decorations you have are dog-and-cat-friendly. This means avoiding anything that they could get caught in, wrapped around their neck, or be eaten and cause severe intestinal damage, according to Drobatz.
The first time you boot up an Xbox One game on an Android phone can be surreal. Earlier this month, I opened the Game Pass app on a Pixel 3A phone, connected an Xbox One controller via Bluetooth in the device settings, and tapped the “play” button on the page for Halo 5: Guardians. After a somewhat lengthy loading time, there I was on the menu screen, ready to play the exact same Halo 5 campaign that I left unfinished back in 2016.
It surprised me that my save file was intact and accessible in the cloud, letting me pick up right where I left off. The best part: I didn’t even have to unpack the Xbox One where I originally played the game. It’s sitting unplugged in a box, exactly where I left it since moving back to the East Coast at the end of the summer.
I dropped into Halo 5 and began playing once again, the lag a bit noticeable but not game-breaking and the graphics sharp enough for playing on a small Pixel screen. With a $15-a-month Game Pass subscription and a $15 PowerA MOGA controller clip, I now have a comfortable mobile game console I can play anywhere in my apartment — with Halo 5 and dozens of other games, including ones I never owned and some I wasn’t even aware of. It feels like having a work-in-progress version of the future playing out on my phone.
The ease with which Microsoft’s new cloud gaming beta slots into its existing Game Pass service and broader Xbox vision obscures the fact that xCloud is very much a rough draft. It’s a very early version of the kind of state-of-the-art platform the company will need to forge a stronger, more resilient gaming business going forward. In its current state, xCloud works well enough and brings enough unique benefits to convince us Microsoft has a coherent comeback plan after seven years playing catch-up with Sony.
Yet there is much that needs improving if xCloud is going to earn its place in the company’s $15-a-month subscription service and compete with more fully-formed services, like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now, both of which are already available on multiple platforms.
How xCloud works, and how well it works
xCloud is a deceptively simple product in its current form. You don’t need much to use it — an Android phone running version 6.0 or later is enough, plus a minimum 10Mbps internet connection and hopefully a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, and you’ll probably want a Bluetooth controller. Touch inputs are currently limited to a single game, Minecraft Dungeons, with plans to support a small slice of the Game Pass library some time in the future. (Also, playing with a touchscreen on a cloud gaming service has generally been a miserable experience.)
You’ll also need to pay $15 a month for a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, but xCloud isn’t the only benefit: it gives you access to over 100 games on Xbox and PC in addition to streaming games to your phone. The Game Pass app itself is easy to use, responsive, and well-designed.
There’s a coherent arrangement of lists that are easily maneuverable with a Bluetooth controller, so you don’t need to search for a specific game. There is a dedicated list of flagship games up top like the recently added Doom Eternal, a “jump back in” section for games you’ve played before, a list of recently added games, a “plays great on mobile” collection, and a most popular leaderboard.
Tapping any one game will let you know if it’s able to be played via streaming, or if it can only be downloaded to a paired PC or Xbox. (We have a breakdown of the pricing and various subscription tiers for Game Pass here, as well as an xCloud how-to guide here.)
Microsoft is running the service on custom server blades using Xbox One S hardware, but the company plans to transition the platform to Xbox Series S/X grade hardware to improve performance down the line. We don’t necessarily know exactly what that means, but a source familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge it’ll include the speedy solid-state drive in the Xbox Series S/X, which could improve load times and provide other performance enhancements.
Right now, however, xCloud load times and lag are quite noticeable, and fall behind those of Stadia and GeForce Now. Even with an upstate New York-based Spectrum download speed of roughly 110Mbps and over a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, games like Gears 5 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection had some noticeable sluggishness to them that needed accounting for when the games required precision and fast reflexes during high-intensity firefights. But I will say that the less graphically intensive a game was, the better it felt to stream. Ori and the Will of the Wisps played almost flawlessly compared to the experience on my PC.
As for load times, with modern Xbox One and PC games like Gears 5 and The Outer Worlds, you’re looking at load times of around one to one and a half minutes to get past the xCloud loading screen, the game’s own loading screen, and to the point when the in-game menu registers an input. That’s a bit awkward on mobile given you can’t do anything else but stare at the screen and wait for the game to load — switching to another app or exiting to the home screen suspends the loading process.
On Google Stadia, we’ve seen games load two to three times faster, with full-fledged console titles like Destiny 2 or Shadow of the Tomb Raider often taking just 20 to 30 seconds on Stadia’s Android mobile app. Mortal Kombat 11, one of the few games available on both services, loads into its menu on Stadia after just 30 to 35 seconds or so, compared with the more than a minute of time it takes to boot up on xCloud. And while Destiny 2 takes about almost the same amount of time to load on both platforms (and retains your PC save file on Stadia), I found playing on xCloud to be much choppier.
I tested xCloud load times with 15 of the most popular Xbox One titles Game Pass subscribers might want to stream, and compiled the results in the chart you’ll find below. Keep in mind these are estimates based on my experiences — your results might vary.
xCloud Beta Performance
Xbox One Games
xCloud loading time (minutes)
Xbox One Games
xCloud loading time (minutes)
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Halo: Master Chief Collection
Halo 5: Guardians
The Outer Worlds
Forza Horizons 4
Mortal Kombat X
No Man’s Sky
Sea of Thieves
Ark: Survival Evolved
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
These aren’t awful loading times, but they are a definite delay: I often found myself resting my controller with the Pixel attached to my couch and just browsing on my iPad or laptop while I waited for a game to load. And because different games load at different times, you never quite know what to expect. The inconsistency and inconvenience sounds minor on paper, but it does noticeably detract from the overall experience in a way a full-fledged, non-beta product won’t be able to afford.
Beyond load times and lag
Microsoft has ways to potentially reduce load times and lag, including the servers it’s already promised to upgrade. But arguably a bigger differentiating factor between xCloud, Google Stadia, GeForce Now, and the upcoming Amazon Luna is the business model — how they intend to make money and sustain themselves, what they have to offer game manufacturers to convince them to hop aboard, and which games each can actually offer to players like you.
Google charges Stadia players for individual games, regardless of whether the user is on its free tier or paying for a $10-a-month Stadia Pro subscription, which grants you 4K streaming and access to a library of free titles similar to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold. GeForce Now only costs $5 a month (it does have a very limited free tier), but only allows you to stream games you already own and purchased via Steam, and only if a publisher has agreed to allow Nvidia to redistribute them over its cloud platform.
PlayStation Now, Sony’s streaming service that has quietly operated since 2014, is the closest to xCloud in theory, providing more than 800 games for a $10 a month subscription. But it doesn’t typically include very recent Sony games, doesn’t let you download every one of its games for offline play like Xbox Game Pass (although it did add the feature for select titles in 2018), and doesn’t have a mobile app, though it is on Mac and Windows PC. PS Now is best designed as a service running on a Sony console you already own, as a way to experience games you’d rather not buy and wait to download.
Those various business models, as well as the fact that neither Google nor Nvidia are publishers with access to their own game catalogs (yet), mean cloud gamers are getting different software libraries with different levels of access. Some game makers, like Destiny developer Bungie, will make their games available via Stadia Pro, while others like Larian Studios (creator of Baldur’s Gate 3) will only sell their titles at full price on Google’s platform. Some game makers like Epic will opt to be a part of GeForce Now, while others like Activision Blizzard won’t let Nvidia stream their titles no matter what.
Depending on who owns what, your access to a cloud game could be revoked at any time, just as movies and TV shows come and go on Netflix, Hulu, and other video streaming services. The same is true for Sony’s PlayStation Now, which has plenty of the company’s first-party titles, but only offers access to whatever third-party games Sony can license.
Microsoft, like Sony, does have the added benefit of owning a large swath of the game industry’s biggest developers, and it most recently added the massive library of Bethesda Softworks to its roster. That gives xCloud a big boost, but the architecture of Game Pass happens to give xCloud a distinct edge over PlayStation Now because Game Pass games can be downloaded and played on an Xbox or PC with the added benefit of carrying your save progress across devices. And unlike Sony, Microsoft has committed to bringing its very latest games to Game Pass instead of limiting the cloud platform to mostly older titles.
That’s where we start to see the true promise of xCloud. You can start playing the hottest new Microsoft game locally on your Xbox, resume playing that same title downloaded to your PC via Game Pass Ultimate, and then stream on-the-go via xCloud on Android. With cross-buy and cross-progression, everything is synced in the cloud.
That’s a scenario you can’t replicate with any other service — and it’s Microsoft’s big selling point for xCloud right now, even if the likelihood of any Game Pass subscriber actually taking advantage of all of those perks remains slim. The promise of what this could mean in the future is still there, and it’s exciting.
Microsoft will no doubt improve the experience as it upgrades its network infrastructure and introduces hardware and software efficiencies to smooth out the process. And no doubt games over xCloud will feel and play much better on a wired connection when the platform does support smart TVs / streaming set-top devices, browsers, and dedicated desktop apps.
But it needs to do those things to be competitive, and Microsoft hasn’t yet detailed when and how it’ll make these things happen — though we now know it has plans to bring xCloud to iOS via mobile browsers while it works on a proper PC version, too. For now, the Android-only beta is just a small-scale way to enjoy the benefits of arguably the most forward-thinking cloud gaming service we have to date. But it’s not a compelling enough reason right now to spend $15 a month on Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate all by itself.
But a beta is all xCloud really needs to be at the moment. We’re a month out from the next-gen consoles arriving and ushering in a new, uncertain era for gaming hardware and software distribution. Google, Amazon and others are betting they can entice you away from the prospect of a shiny new box with only a few new games, by letting you play anywhere on any screen using the cloud — but Luna hasn’t launched yet and Stadia is still struggling to build consumer trust nearly a year after launch.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is offering an entire library of games you can play on its new Xbox for $15 a month, and it’s throwing a substantial taste of cloud gaming for free. The company is still trying to earn back the trust of a generation of gamers it lost through a series of corporate misfires, marketing whiffs, and a failure to keep pace with an exclusive-driven console strategy its primary competitor Sony was simply better positioned to pull off.
A lot of lapsed Xbox gamers, myself included, left the Xbox brand and built core networks of friends and a library of games on the PlayStation platform, and it’ll be difficult for Microsoft to win those consumers back.
xCloud and Game Pass could help Microsoft get there, though. These tools mean Microsoft doesn’t have to compete with Sony the way it tried for the last seven years, even if a Bethesda acquisition gives it more resources to play Sony’s game if it likes. I was a devout Xbox fan during the years of the Xbox 360, and I’ve been looking for a reason to return.
Thanks to xCloud, I’m confident Microsoft will forge a path forward in which I can migrate my library and save files to whatever screen I like. That might be reason enough for me to get a new Xbox, if it means my games come with me wherever I go.
There has been a lot of talk about burnout during the COVID pandemic, and rightfully so—new working arrangements (or unemployment), coupled with family responsibilities and the stresses of living through this ongoing public health crisis can be overwhelming.
But that’s not the only type of work-induced exhaustion that could be affecting you right now: you may be experiencing “boreout.” Here’s what you need to know about the concept, and how to deal with it.
And like burnout, boreout has been on the rise during the pandemic. “Over the last few months, you’ll have experienced a lot of change to your everyday working life,” Fatmata Kamara, a specialist mental health advisor at a British health insurance company tells Red Magazine. “Whether you’ve swapped your commute to working from home, you’ve been on furlough or you’ve stayed in the office with a reduced team, we’ve all had to adapt. It’s normal for your mental health to have been impacted.”
Along the same lines, your working environment can also impact your mental health, “especially if you have little interaction with your fellow employees,” Kamara adds.
How to cope with boreout
If what we’ve described sounds familiar, and you’re losing track of the passage of time because you’re being underutilized at work, you may be experiencing boreout. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do that could help, Red Magazine reports.
Talk to your manager
The conversation may be awkward, but if your boreout is a result of your job, it’s a good idea to at least approach the subject with your boss—similarly to how you’d bring up burnout. That doesn’t mean asking for additional work or more difficult tasks, but it should involve coming to the discussion with some ideas for how to improve your situation.
Set mini-goals throughout the day
To help give your day more structure—and help regain your sense of time—you can also try setting small, achievable goals for yourself throughout the day. Reframing your daily tasks in this way may help you to feel more accomplished.
Evaluate your bigger goals
This is a good time to take a step back and take a look at your career goals, and figure out what you need to do to achieve them. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of having a job that aligns with their goals, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least think about where you eventually want to end up.
As you revisit what were once your primary aims in life, if there’s something that causes you to immediately tense up when you think about it, it may be time to reconsider whether it belongs on your list.
Jachs NY is offering 60% off of its premium flannel shirts in a sale made for the fall. I don’t know about you, but my fall wardrobe is about 50% flannel shirts, so I am always on the lookout for a great deal.
You can get one of Jachs’s premium flannels for $39 with code F39. If you want to stock up a bit (a wise choice) you can get three shirts for $100 and free shipping with code 3FL.
I think I feel most like an adult when I spend my money on things I really don’t want, but instead on items a responsible human needs to own.
One such purchase is a car jump starter— for sure, this is the kind of thing you would rather have and never have to use than the opposite situation. Thankfully, you can get an Audew upgraded car jump starter for 30% off when you clip the coupon on Amazon’s website. That brings this slick, LCD screened device down to $68.
As an added bonus, this 2000mAh capacity device can also recharge your smaller devices and has three different flashlight modes to help you find your way in the dark.
Better safe than sorry and better 30% off than 0% off— get it at this price while you can!
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It’s the kind of polish you’d expect from Apple, which spares no expense when it comes to presenting the image of flawlessness, whether in its devices or its product launches. The kind of cinematic approach Apple takes with its virtual product unveilings, which before the coronavirus were more-standard, keynote-on-stage affairs, has redefined what these online events should look like in the age of COVID-19.
Heck, the zippy presentations and slick transitions even raise the question of whether we need in-person events at all (to be clear, I’m a firm believer that we still do).
But the downside of committing to such slick presentations, which are often created days if not weeks in advance, is missing out on more-current events. That clear blue sky in the livestream was anything but at the time, with wildfires that have raged along the West Coast of the US, killing at least 35 people and forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes amid haunting scenes of red and orange skies and air heavy with ash and smoke.
In California, the blazes now qualify for the designation “gigafire,” because they’ve burned at least a million acres. That’s a step above “megafire,” which is 100,000 acres.
Apple notably didn’t mention this disaster during its September event, despite its headquarters being based in Cupertino, California, a few miles from two wildfires that are still raging — one in Portola Redwoods State Park and another in Big Basin State Park, according to the nonprofit Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center. Here’s hoping that at its iPhone event, Apple offers a nod to the work still being done to fight this disaster.
It was a tight event, running to just a little over an hour. And though Cook referenced the impact of COVID-19 on our lives — he’s among a handful of Fortune 500 CEOs who’ve taken public stances on social, political and environmental issues — there was no mention of the other disaster befalling the residents of California, Oregon and Washington.
Even if Apple produced September’s iPad and Watch event ahead of time, it could’ve edited the presentation, and redone a few lines to address the situation. During the iPad segment, for instance, there was a scene set in the redwoods, which were hit hard by the fires. These changes could’ve been made — the wildfires had been raging for roughly a month.
After all, tech companies have developed a conscience in the last few years, taking stands on more social causes and commenting on social and political issues because so many of their employees — and customers — expect these powerful companies to use their market power for more than just selling us gear.
“It was a miss to not rerecord a portion of the sessions to share empathy for natural tragedies that so many of us are facing, including the tech world,” said Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research.
Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether the next presentation would address the wildfires.
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Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi noted that despite the damage from the wildfires, the situation may not have been as relevant to the audience outside the US. By contrast, the problems brought up by the BLM controversies and related protests and by the coronavirus are more global in nature.
Cook boasts more than 12 million followers on Twitter, so those tweets represented a nice gesture of support. But he missed out on an opportunity to highlight the problem on the grander stage of an Apple launch event, which draws more mainstream eyeballs than a tweet ever could. He could’ve called even more attention to the wildfire problem, including highlighting any other relief initiatives from Apple and setting an example for others.
Cook gets another chance next week, when he’s expected to unveil the company’s first 5G iPhone. If these virtual events are really our future, how companies juggle products with what’s going on in the world at the moment is critical. And if any company can get the messaging right, it’s Apple.
Apple just has to WANT to do it and make edits. If it’s unsure how to do that, we’ve heard of some software called Final Cut Pro that might be able to help.
But according to a Bloomberg report earlier this year, Apple isn’t giving up on the HomePod. According to “people familiar with the plans,” Apple is planning to release a smaller and cheaper HomePod. Details are few, but sources say that the new HomePod will be approximately half the size of the original. It will keep the same design, just on a smaller scale.
Apple didn’t announce the new speaker at its online Worldwide Developers Conference in June as some expected, nor at its September event. With the announcement of an Oct. 13 event, rumors are back in circulation about a possible HomePod Mini. A report from Bloomberg earlier this year tipped the new HomePod for an October release.
There’s no word on a price for the second-generation HomePod, but a smaller size likely means a smaller price as well. That’s the biggest step Apple can take to compete with the hugely popular (and often on sale) $50 Amazon Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini speakers.
Since launching the HomePod, Apple has reduced the price of its smart speaker from its original $349 to $299, though it periodically goes on sale for $199 in the US. In recent months, reports circulated that Apple is offering employees a 50% discount on the HomePod with a limit of 10 per employee (up from just two). Could these price drops indicate a stock clear-out?
New patents from Apple
There are also rumors stirring around Apple’s 2019 filing of a patent for a “Fabric-Covered Electronic Device with Touch Sensor.” The patent’s abstract description reads:
An electronic device such as a speaker device may have a curved housing characterized by a vertical longitudinal axis. A layer of fabric may cover the curved housing. A touch sensor may be used to detect touch input on the layer of fabric. The touch sensor may include capacitive touch sensor electrodes including drive lines and sense lines.
It also goes on to describe light-emitting components to mark where touch sensors are located. That’s quite different from the solid plastic top of the current HomePod, and similar to the current touch fabric design of the Nest Mini and brand new Nest Audio.
Even with a slimmer design and better price, Apple still has smart home challenges to overcome. Apple’s narrow selection of music streaming services and shorter list of compatible smart home products make it a tough sell to anyone not exclusively living the Appleverse.
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Siri is still a problem
Then there’s the issue of Siri as an assistant. Compared to the ever-evolving and personable voice assistants from Google and Amazon, Siri falls short. Interactions just feel less natural, and often simple requests aren’t handled as seamlessly as Google or Alexa. We’ve spent hours with all three and discovered there are some things Siri just can’t do.
Whether they’re rumors or fanboy wish lists, a HomePod sequel would certainly need some combination of wider music service support and serious Siri upgrades — in addition to that presumed price cut — in order to have smart home-savvy shoppers give the Apple speaker a second look.
Bonus rumor: Apple AirTags
If the possibility of a HomePod sequel doesn’t raise your eyebrows, there are other Apple products rumored to be making debuts this year. Besides the perennially rumored Apple TV upgrade, Apple may be getting into the tracker game as well with a product rumored to be called AirTags or Apple Tags.
Even if these products are up next for Apple, coronavirus-related delays could mean a later release. The Wall Street Journal in April reported a delay in Apple’s production of the newest iPhone. With manufacturing across Asia heavily impacted and consumers spending less on big-ticket items, that delay could extend to other Apple products like the HomePod or AirTags.
Last year, there were reports of Apple expanding its HomeKit team and prepping for new products. That gave us hope that Apple had a renewed interest in the connected home. If Apple is indeed planning to press forward into the smart home, it really should start with an improved HomePod. Stay tuned to CNET’s coverage of Tuesday’s event for all things Apple.