Archives For Deals

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The end of smartphone subsidies may be upon us, given T-Mobile’s uncarrier moves and AT&T’s new Mobile Share Value plan:

With the ‘No Annual Service Contract’ options, smartphone customers can save $15 a month on Mobile Share Value plans. Customers can receive these monthly savings when they: Get a new smartphone for no down payment with AT&T Next; bring their own smartphone; purchase a smartphone at full retail price; or when their smartphone is no longer under contract and they switch to the new plans.

Indeed, my mom received a letter from AT&T illustrating some of their new offerings. And, as CTO of the Zatz family, I reviewed her service and usage… then flipped the account to a new Mobile Share Value plan, cutting her bill nearly in half from $85 a month down to $45. The savings come via two mechanisms. First, given her limited data usage due to iPhone 4 screen size, I was able to put her on a tier that replaces 900 minutes with unlimited talk (and adds unlimited texts) but restricts data access to a mere 300mb. (I imagine many of her generation remain more interested in using phones for voice.) Oddly, the additional savings is not reflected as you’re evaluating plans, but only after you enroll – and an out-of-contract phone reduces the advertised monthly fee by $15. Continue Reading…

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Those of you who follow me on Twitter are most likely aware of my recent move from Verizon Wireless to T-Mobile. While I’d been very satisfied with Verizon’s coverage the last couple years, their egregious recurring $2.99 fee for visual voicemail (on Android) stuck in my craw every month… and basically pushed me into the arms of T-Mobile with, what I like to call, more “humane” pricing. Having said that, I wasn’t motivated to actually pull the trigger (and incur a substantial early termination fee) until T-Mobile introduced possibly insane International perks: Unlimited and free texts and EDGE data while overseas, paired with 20 cents/minute calls. Continue Reading…

Elgato Smartkey

Both Elgato and Pogoplug have released new products this month… and the two gadgets are somewhat out of character, as the companies expand their product lines and seek new customers this holiday season.

Elgato, best known for video-related solutions is trying something completely with their Smart Key ($40). The doohickey uses low power Bluetooth to report its location to an iPhone or iPad, similar to others in this space such as StickNFind. While its primary use case may be attached to a keyring, Elgato also proposes throwing the Smart Key into a handbag or suitcase to keep an eye on one’s belongings. Beyond an iOS app, Continue Reading…

tivo-roamio-pro

Outside of Apple, it’s inevitable that a vendor’s product pricing drops over time. So it comes as no surprise that TiVo is offering a $100 discount on Roamio Pro hardware to folks that call in looking for a deal, lowering TiVo’s top-end unit with 3TB of storage, 6 tuners, and streaming capabilities from $600 to $500. It’s also appears non-subscribers may be offered discounted Lifetime service pricing typically reserved for existing customers – $400 versus $500. It may not be quite as good a deal as I received and still seems somewhat pricey, but a hundred bucks is a far more logical delineation between the 1TB Plus and 3TB Pro model — with the only difference being storage space. And it may be the best we’re going to get in 2013. Having said that, CEO Tom Rogers has indicated they intend to target Premiere owners for upgrades… and I could imagine some sort of Lifetime Service transfer dealio in the works as well.

The Slingbox 350 Giveaway

Dave Zatz —  October 13, 2013

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The current generation of Slingboxes arrived about one year ago and, now that I’ve finally begun organizing my gadget laboratory, we’re ready to pass along one of our two review units. Besides the questionable aesthetics, what sets apart the Slingbox 350 and 500 from prior models is the ability to stream in true HD and direct integration of IR-blasting capabilities to control your set-top (without the unsightly cable clutter). While we’re temporarily hanging onto the Slingbox 500, given whispers of compelling updates that we intend to cover, the WiFi-less Slingbox 350 is up for grabs and just as capably allows you to placeshift your home television content. And, unlike my TiVo Roamio Pro, the Slingbox supports out-of-home, PC, Mac, and Android streaming… in addition to Apple platforms (although mobile apps run $15/each).

The giveaway is open to Zatz Not Funny Facebook fans located in the US and you can enter using the embedded widget below. Please be aware that we did crack open the enclosure to identify the transcoding chip — proceed accordingly as we will not be held responsible for burning down your house. Good luck! Continue Reading…

Vizio Costar

Despite a rocky launch and Chromecast availability, Google TV soldiers on. And, at $100, the Vizio Costar is the most economical of the bunch. After a number of software updates, including availability of a full-on Amazon Instant app, the Costar warrants a look. Also unique at this price point is Google TV‘s HDMI pass-thru functionality, allowing you to overlay the UI on top of another set-top or the HDTV itself – merging multiple sources onto a single television input. Further, the (bulky) QWERTY remote has an integrated IR blaster to potentially control those other aforementioned content sources. Due to a USPS/FedEx shipping debacle along with kind intervention by Vizio PR, we ultimately ended up with two units. Our pain is your gain and this brand spanking new Vizio Costar is up for grabs to Zatz Not Funny Facebook fans located in the US and you can enter using the embedded widget below. The giveaway ends at midnight tonight (EST), so act fast. Good luck! Continue Reading…

We quite liked the WDTV Play when we reviewed it back in February. The streamer is a step (or three) slower than the Roku and with far fewer apps, but brings several nifty tricks of its own including a fresh, customizable UI with Android-esque widgets. After receiving Sling’s monthly email blast, featuring promotional WDTV Play pricing, and inquiries from a pal maintaining an out-of-state apartment (where his children live) I figured it was time to fire up the SlingPlayer app.

The SlingCatcher may be long gone, but the dream of a television-based Slingbox endpoint lives on…. And the WDTV Play SlingPlayer app works exactly as you’d expect, relaying Slingbox video content from elsewhere in the home or cross-country (as I tested). Interacting with your remote set-top is of course somewhat sluggish and picture quality will vary dependent upon available bandwidth, but that’s the tradeoff for “real” TV Everywhere. One of WDTV Play’s most clever features is the ability to power up the box into a specific app – and I suspect my friend will put that to use as he continues to enjoy his Comcast subscription several states away.

Should you be similarly intrigued, Slingbox or no, the promo knocks $20 off the WDTV Play — click here and use coupon code WDTVPLAY20 to receive the $50 pricing (plus tax and $3 shipping).