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Saturday, September 23, 2023

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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. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.


With an effective price of $3.75 per pair, this 4-pack is too good to pass up.


Yesterday’s post was, um, not good.

It was actually written a couple weeks ago, and I didn’t realize that in the interim, MileUp had doubled the point requirement to earn rewards. Because I woke up sick yesterday, I dropped in that saved-for-a-rainy-day post without re-fact-checking it. My bad. For most folks, I’d say the app is no longer worth the time or effort.

Let’s hope today’s deal helps make up for that.

For a limited time, and while supplies last, Groupon has a 4-pack of Samsung Active in-ear headphones for $14.99. Shipping adds $2.95, and you may be on the hook for a little sales tax as well. (Note that you’ll have to select the 4-pack option from the drop-down menu; by default, it shows one for $5.99.)

Update: As of around 11:45 a.m. PT, these are sold out — from this particular vendor. There’s another one offering a 3-pack for $16.99, still a very good deal, I think.)

Although these are new, they’re sold in OEM (meaning no-box) packaging, with only one spare set of ear gels, not the multiple sets you’d find in the $29.99 (!) retail version.

I tweeted about a similar deal a couple weeks ago, when the earbuds were selling for $5 apiece. Because everyone in my family seems to prefer wired headphones (what is wrong with these people?), and because those headphones always seem to be in short supply, I ordered, well, six of them.

They arrived yesterday. I plugged a pair into my iPhone and was immediately struck by two things: They sound really good, way better than I expected for earbuds that don’t make a seal inside your ear canal; and they’re surprisingly comfortable, more so than Apple‘s similarly designed EarPods. That’s because of the aforementioned ear gels, which are just soft-rubber covers for the ‘buds.

I also liked the tangle-resistant cord, which is a little more substantial than most and flattened to help reduce those hair-pulling tangles.

Now for the bad news: Although the Actives have an inline microphone and three-button control, the latter doesn’t work with iPhones. (Kind of the reverse of Apple earbuds, which have similar issues working with Android devices.) The microphone works, though, so you can make/take calls. But overall this is definitely a better option for the Android crowd.

Apple may want to force us into a wireless-headphone world, but I prefer options. Sometimes it’s just easier to plug and play. And there are still a lot of Bluetooth headphones that don’t work well outdoors. Heck, I’ve occasionally gotten to the gym, only to discover my Bluetooth ‘phones aren’t charged. That’s why you keep a set of these in your bag. (And why I won’t be buying an iPhone 7.)

Whether you buy one set for $5.99, two for $9.99, three for $12.99 or four for $14.99, these are an outright steal. (By the way, if these sell out, other Groupon vendors have the same product for a couple dollars more.)

Your thoughts?

Bonus deal: Ever wish your Amazon Echo Dot was portable? It can be if you plug in a Fremo Evo, a battery base that endows second-gen Dots with 6 hours of mobile operation. (Keep in mind, though, the Dot will still need some kind of Internet connectivity. Hotspot, anyone?) It normally sells for $35, but for a limited time, Cheapskate readers can get the Evo battery base for Echo Dot for $29.99. That’s after applying coupon code 6YBUAFL4 at checkout. Shipping is free for Prime subscribers; otherwise pad your cart to at least $35.

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Read more about the Evo and Echo Dot portability in Taylor Martin’s recent post. If nothing else, it would allow you to move the Dot around the house without constantly unplugging and replugging.

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