The weekend’s best deals: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, 8BitDo gamepads, and more

The weekend’s best deals: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, 8BitDo gamepads, and more

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It’s the weekend, which means the time has come for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes the lowest price we’ve tracked for Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. The 8GB, ad-supported version of the e-reader is currently down to $95 at Target and Best Buy, which matches the discount we saw during Amazon’s Prime Day sale. Both retailers say this deal will last through Saturday.

We gave the Paperwhite a glowing review upon its launch last year, and in general we still consider it the best Kindle—and thus, the best e-reader—for most people. Amazon’s e-book library remains comprehensive—even if Kindles still don’t fully support some open standards natively—and the Paperwhite itself offers a comfortable and waterproof design, battery life that lasts for weeks, Bluetooth audio support, and a sharp, 300-pixels-per-inch display. There’s no urgent need for owners of the previous-gen Paperwhite to upgrade, but compared to that model, the latest version offers a larger screen (at 6.8 inches, up from six) with a smoother frontlight, faster performance (albeit not without the occasional hiccup), and a USB-C port. It’s a significant upgrade from the base Kindle and close enough to the higher-end Kindle Oasis to be a better value (though both of those e-readers are also back down to their all-time lows today).

It’s worth noting that the Kids version of the Paperwhite is on sale for $10 more, though. That also matches the lowest price we’ve tracked. This variant is marketed toward children and includes a year of Amazon’s Kids+ service, but its hardware is identical to the standard model, plus it comes with a two-year warranty (compared to one year for the base model), a useful case, and, notably, no lockscreen ads. If you don’t mind spending a little bit extra, it may be the better overall value.

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Today’s best deals: Horizon Forbidden West, Apple gift cards, and more

Today’s best deals: Horizon Forbidden West, Apple gift cards, and more

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It’s Wednesday, which means the time has come for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a number of discounts on recommended PlayStation 5 games. Sony technically started its annual “PlayStation Summer Sale” late last month, but earlier this week it rolled out a fresh batch of deals that covers a range of first-party games. The new offers are available across multiple retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and GameStop—plus, for digital copies, Sony’s PlayStation Store. Sony says the sale will run until August 17.

The selection includes the first significant discount we’ve seen for Horizon Forbidden West, the big PlayStation-exclusive action-RPG that arrived in February. Its PS4 and PS5 versions are available for $40 and $50, respectively, both of which represent a $20 discount. Unless having PS5 box art really matters to you, though, you should only get the PS4 copy—it’s the last game to have a free PS4-to-PS5 upgrade path, so you might as well take advantage and save yourself the Hamilton.

Either way, our review deemed Forbidden West nothing less than “one of the greatest game sequels of all time,” praising its writing, lush visuals, and general attention to detail. You really need to have played the original Horizon Zero Dawn to get the most out of it, and at the end of the day, it’s another modern open-world game, which some players may be fatigued of at this point. But if you enjoyed the original’s robot-dinosaur hunting and sweeping sci-fi-infused plot, Forbidden West is a more polished version of that.

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4K webcam uses a built-in gimbal to follow you around, enable gesture controls

Insta360 Link 4K webcam

Enlarge / Insta360’s new Link webcam. (credit: Insta60)

These past couple of years have experienced a bit of a webcam renaissance, as the ability to get an in-person feel from a virtual meeting has become more valuable than ever. That renaissance included the introduction of helpful features, many of which focus on keeping the user center-frame. We’ve seen cameras play with AI, and in the case of Dell’s magnetic, wireless webcam concept, even magnets to keep your face perfectly in frame. The Insta360 Link announced Tuesday also leverages AI auto-framing but adds a much more obvious, yet rare, tool for capturing a moving subject: physical mobility.

Insta360, headquartered in Guangdong, China, and founded in 2015, is primarily known for sports and 360-degree cameras. The Insta360 Link is its first webcam, and it’s like if the DJI Pocket 2 and Apple Center Stage had a baby.

The Link is a 4K camera with a proprietary half-inch sensor and f/1.8 aperture living on top of a three-axis gimbal (the webcam can also be mounted on a tripod or stand purchased separately). Insta360’s camera is similar to the $269 Obsbot Tiny 4K, but the latter has a two-axis gimbal.

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Review: Beavis & Butt-Head reclaim their thrones of the reaction video genre

Look at how happy they are to be back on their TV-watching couch. Based on what we've seen, the new run of <em>Beavis & Butt-Head</em> has attached some kind of streaming box to their setup.

Enlarge / Look at how happy they are to be back on their TV-watching couch. Based on what we’ve seen, the new run of Beavis & Butt-Head has attached some kind of streaming box to their setup. (credit: Paramount / Comedy Central)

The easiest review of this week’s new Beavis & Butt-Head TV series revival could probably be written as:

Huh-huh-huh, heh-heh-heh, huh-huh-huh. He said “easiest.”

If you still fondly recall the ’90s pastiche of the world’s two stupidest teens’ giggling, moronic hijinks, with “TV” interruptions between scenes, Beavis & Butt-Head‘s newest episodes, debuting Thursday, August 4, exclusively on Paramount+, will do it for you. Yet crucially, the series has been taken over by a new generation of writers and directors who grew up on creator Mike Judge’s original version.

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Official Andor trailer shows us what the birth of a revolution looks like

Diego Luna reprises his role as Cassian Andor in the new Disney+ prequel series Andor.

Disney+ has released an action-packed trailer for Andor, the forthcoming 12-episode prequel series set five years before the events of Rogue One, starring Diego Luna as Cassian Andor.

As we’ve reported previously, our first look at the series came from a behind-the-scenes teaser in December 2020 during Disney’s Investors Day. We got a short teaser earlier this year at Star Wars Celebration. Andor has been described as a “tense, nail-biting spy thriller,” with Tony Gilroy, who co-wrote Rogue One, serving as showrunner.

The story begins with the Empire’s destruction of Cassian Andor’s homeworld and will depict his transformation from a “revolution-averse” cynic to a major player in the nascent rebellion who is willing to sacrifice himself to save the galaxy. According to Deadline Hollywood, Luna described Andor as “the journey of a migrant. That feeling of having to move is behind this story—that shapes you as a person. It defines you in many ways, and what you are willing to do.”

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The weekend’s best deals: Kindle Unlimited, Nintendo Switch games, and more

The weekend’s best deals: Kindle Unlimited, Nintendo Switch games, and more

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It’s the weekend, which means it’s time for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a hefty discount on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service. You’ll have to be a new user to take advantage, but if you’ve been thinking about giving the service a try, Amazon is currently offering a four-month membership for $5. The subscription normally costs $10 a month after a 30-day free trial, so this discount saves you $25 in total.

Not every ebook included in Kindle Unlimited’s library is a winner—a chunk of the selection consists of self-published works—and it’s always possible to use apps like Libby to borrow ebooks from your local library for free. Still, the collection is large enough to cover plenty of works that are worthwhile, including a variety of magazines and comic books, and a subscription lets you take out up to 20 titles at a time. You don’t need to own an actual Kindle device to access the library, either.

At its normal going rate, Kindle Unlimited’s value is more questionable, but this deal should make it less risky to see if the service is worth it for you. If you do subscribe, note that your subscription will be set to auto-renew at the normal $10-per-month rate, but you can cancel your membership immediately after signing up without losing access to the discounted trial period.

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Apple Watch buying guide: Which wearable is best for you?

Extreme close-up photograph of a wristwatch on a hand in a pants pocket.

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Broadly speaking, recommending an Apple Watch is simple: If you use an iPhone and want a smartwatch, staying in-house with Apple will usually be your best bet.

But there are several Apple Watches on the market right now. The introduction of the Apple Watch Series 7 in September 2021 brought Apple’s lifetime total to nine, with the company currently offering three models in stores: the Series 7, SE, and Series 3. Among those, there are multiple variants that differ in size, connectivity, design, and price.

Then there are older-but-still-updated generations you can dig up from third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, as well as options to buy refurbished devices. Everyone has different needs, and you may be able to find an Apple Watch that’s less expensive and more attuned to your desires by going these routes.

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Sega Genesis Mini 2 will be in much shorter supply than original

The Sega Genesis Mini 2 will not be sold at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, so this is instead an artistic approximation of the system's apparent scarcity.

Enlarge / The Sega Genesis Mini 2 will not be sold at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, so this is instead an artistic approximation of the system’s apparent scarcity. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The miniature console fad has abated since its NES Classic and SNES Classic peak, with fewer companies giving the concept a shot. Sega remains an exception, however, as it’s launching not one but two new retro-minded machines by year’s end.

Only one of those, the Sega Genesis Mini 2, is coming to the United States. And Sega confirmed to Ars Technica that the system in question would be in incredibly limited supply: “around one-tenth” the count of the 2019 Sega Genesis Mini.

Mini production run for Mini 2

The news came as a surprising answer to a completely different question. Ars reached out to Sega shortly after the Genesis Mini 2 was announced, because we wanted clarity on exactly who was producing and shipping the system.

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Despite $100 price increase, Meta Quest 2 still offers historically cheap VR

Screenshot of promotional video for VR equipment.

Enlarge / You could be this gleeful, too, if you were in the Meta Quest 2! (credit: Facebook)

If there’s one rule about computer and video game hardware, it’s that prices always come down after launch. The Meta Quest 2 became the exception that proves the rule this week, as Meta announced a coming $100 price increase for the popular standalone VR headset, to $400.

The increase, which Meta blamed on “rising costs,” suggests the company may be trying to rein in subsidized hardware pricing that has contributed to nearly $1 billion in monthly losses for its virtual reality division in the most recent quarter.

But when you look at the short history of consumer-grade home virtual reality headsets, the Meta Quest 2 is still a historically cheap VR entry point, even after the price increase. That’s especially true when you account for inflation and the extra hardware needed to power most other comparable headsets on the market.

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Razer’s latest wireless mechanical keyboard has a low profile and a high price

Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro

Enlarge / Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro. (credit: Razer)

Peripherals and PC maker Razer this week introduced a new wireless mechanical keyboard that resurrects one of its most creepily named products. The DeathStalker V2 Pro—as well as its wireless, tenkeyless version and wired, full-sized version—manages to be just 1 inch tall at its thickest part by using low-profile mechanical switches that rely on light-based actuation. They’re the first keyboards to use Razer’s Low-Profile Optical Switches.

Optical mechanical switches actuate when the switch’s stem interacts with an infrared light beam within the switch’s housing. Razer already sells optical switch keyboards, like the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog, whose keys are also pressure-sensitive. But this is the first time the company has made its optical mechanical technology so short.

The linear optical mechanical switches have a travel distance of 2.8 mm, and they actuate at 1.2 mm with a force of 45 g. For comparison, Cherry MX Reds, have 4 mm of travel and actuate at 2 mm with a force of 45 g.

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Pixel 6a gift card deal effectively takes $50 off Google’s new phone

The back.

Enlarge / The back. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Google’s budget-friendly juggernaut, the Pixel 6a, officially released on Thursday, but you can already snag a $50 deal on it. From now until August 7 at 11:59 pm PT, buying the $449 smartphone from one of several retailers—including AmazonTargetBest Buy, and Google itself—will net you a $50 gift card in the form of store credit for those respective shops.

To see the offer at Amazon, you’ll have to scroll down to the “Special offers” section of the Pixel 6a’s store page and click the “Add both to cart” button. The retailer will then ship a physical gift card with your purchase. You can pick up Target’s gift card in-store or online, Best Buy’s comes digitally via email, and the Google Store will apply it to your Google Store account after purchase. The deal applies to the unlocked version of the phone at each retailer, with activation at the major carriers through Best Buy or through Google Fi at the Google Store.

The Pixel 6a is the mid-range version of Google’s impressive flagship phones, the $599 Pixel 6 and $899 Pixel 6 Pro, which released in late 2021. As it’s done since the Pixel 3, Google followed up on its flagship devices with a lower-priced version through its A series, which has historically delivered great value in giving a strong taste of flagship performance (particularly in the camera) at a more palatable price.

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Earbud review: Google Pixel Buds Pro fall well short of their $200 price

All four new color variants of Google's Pixel Buds Pro.

Enlarge / All four new color variants of Google’s Pixel Buds Pro. (credit: Google)

Google announced the Pixel Buds Pro earlier this year as an apparent upgrade to Google’s impressive 2020 earbud refresh. “If you liked Pixel Buds 2, you’ll love Pixel Buds Pro” was likely music to the ears of anyone who had been charmed by Google’s audio-redemption plotline.

Ahead of their retail launch today, with nearly a week of Buds Pro testing, I learned that these new $199 earbuds do not do what the AirPods Pro did for the original AirPods. While some aspects have improved, others have regressed—so it’s tough to recommend Buds Pro over the competition.

At least the Bluetooth connectivity is better

When they debuted, Buds 2 stood out in an increasingly competitive portable-audio fray (and ran circles around Google’s first stab at the segment in 2017). They’re still my daily drivers thanks to their impeccable sound balance, attractive aesthetics, comfortable fit, solid battery life, and nifty egg-shaped case. I still recommend them to Android smartphone owners—or, in a pinch, the $99 Pixel Buds A, which nearly match the 2020 version in features and audio quality. (As a longtime Buds 2 owner, I’ll continue to compare the new Pixel Buds Pro to those earbuds for the rest of this review.)

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Today’s best deals: Google Nest Hub, Apple TV 4K, and more

Today’s best deals: Google Nest Hub, Apple TV 4K, and more

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It’s Wednesday, which means the time has come for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a strong discount on Google’s Nest Hub, as the 7-inch smart display is down to $55 at several retailers. We’ve seen a handful of discounts on the device in recent months, but this deal matches the lowest price we’ve tracked, coming in at $45 off Google’s MSRP.

We reviewed the latest Nest Hub positively after it launched last year, deeming it particularly useful as a bedside companion. The device includes an optional sleep-tracking feature, which our testing found to work surprisingly well, providing largely accurate and consistent data about how long you’re in bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how many times you get out of bed, and when you wake up, among other details. The approach here is more about detailing if you’re sleeping enough than digging deep in the weeds about the quality of your sleep, but it works, and the whole process should be more comfortable than keeping a sleep-tracking smartwatch or fitness wearable strapped on throughout the night. There is a caveat, though: While the feature is free for now, Google plans to roll it into Fitbit’s $10-a-month Premium service next year.

Besides the sleep-tracking hook, the Nest Hub does just about all the other Google Assistant things you’d expect (answering search queries, controlling smart home devices, showing recipes in the kitchen, etc.), which we generally find more useful in this class of device than Amazon’s Alexa. The device’s built-in speakers, while not amazing in a vacuum, are improved enough over the first-gen model to make casual music or podcast streaming not-aggravating. The 1024×600 resolution display isn’t especially sharp, either, but it’s enough to get by on a 7-inch touchscreen. The hardware as a whole doesn’t call too much attention to itself, and while you likely know where you stand when it comes to the privacy concerns inherent to all voice assistant-based devices, the Nest Hub does omit any sort of built-in cameras, which might provide some extra peace of mind.

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Logitech G715 hands-on: A strong typist with a polarizing look

Logitech G713 keyboard.

Enlarge / Logitech G713 keyboard. (credit: Scharon Harding)

In an explosion of color, Logitech today announced a bunch of PC peripherals draped in light shades, wireless options, and, love it or hate it, RGB lighting.

Logitech’s calling it the Aurora Collection, and while the gadgets are aimed at gamers, high programmability and premium features can make them interesting to general power users, too.

The new series is characterized by trendy white colors intensified by RGB LEDs and high price tags. The series includes the G735 wireless headset ($230), the G705 wireless mouse ($100), the G713 mechanical keyboard ($170), and its wireless version, the G715 ($200). There are also Aurora PC accessories, including top plates and keycaps for the keyboards and new Aurora colors for some of Logitech’s previously released microphones.

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Meta Quest 2 VR headset price jumps $100 to $399, gets zero new features

This week for Meta and its Quest 2 VR system, it's all about the Benjamins. One Benjamin more, to be specific.

Enlarge / This week for Meta and its Quest 2 VR system, it’s all about the Benjamins. One Benjamin more, to be specific. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images | Meta)

Many categories in consumer tech have seen substantial jumps in cost over the past two years due to a strained supply chain, chip shortages, and other economic factors. But honestly, we didn’t see this one coming.

Starting “in August,” the Meta Quest 2 virtual reality system (formerly known as Oculus Quest 2) will receive a substantial change in MSRP, jumping from a base model cost of $299 to $399. That version includes 128GB of onboard storage, while the pricier Quest 2 headset with 256GB will jump from $399 to $499.

A $30 game for $100, then

Meta’s Tuesday announcement struggles to clarify exactly why the hardware is jumping $100 across the board (33 percent for the base model, 25 percent for the higher-capacity version). Should you take the announcement at face value, its flat declaration might sound logical: “The costs to make and ship our products have been on the rise.”

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The new Formula 1 cars are pigs to drive: F1 22 reviewed

F1 22 splash screen showing Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell.

Enlarge / F1’s young guns stare out from the cover of F1 22 (credit: EA Sports)

Earlier in July saw the release of F1 22, the latest installment of the official Formula 1 racing game franchise. Unlike in years past, a lot has changed in the year since F1 2021: radical new technical rules mean the cars are very different from the ones we’ve seen for several decades, several tracks have been revised, new tracks have been added, and the race format now includes the occasional shorter sprint race alongside the main feature race. All of this is faithfully reflected in F1 22, and for some die-hard F1 fans, that will be sufficient to pick up a copy.

For everyone else, I’m not so sure. Some of that is down to the game itself. For the first time since EA Sports bought the Codemasters studio at the end of 2020, we can see the influence of the behemoth games publisher at work, and it’s not particularly positive. For example, the sheer frequency of exhortations to spend XP or purchase microtransactions will probably be enough for most Ars readers to dislike F1 22.

But my frustration is not just with the game itself—at its core are still wonderful physics that translate to engaging handling, whether that’s with a steering wheel or a controller. No, it’s F1’s new cars, which are larger and heavier than they’ve ever been, and, frankly, somewhat of a pig to drive.

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The Terraforming Mars card game is as good as we’d hoped it would be

The 2016 board game Terraforming Mars is an amazing title.

As evidence, I present the following image:

If a game this ugly can capture the hearts, minds, and continued attention of the devotees of the overcrowded board game market to become a modern classic, you know it’s something special.

And if a board game becomes popular, you can be sure of one thing: A card game version will eventually arrive. If that’s a hit, get ready for the dice version. And then, market willing, comes the roll-and-write version. That may sound like cynical resignation to cash-grabby companies endlessly returning to the same well, but these reimagined versions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some of my favorite games are card or dice versions of “bigger” board games.

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Pixel 6a review: Google pares down the Pixel 6 to perfection

Google is really swinging for the fences this year. The Pixel 6a is not only the latest entry in the reliably excellent Pixel A series; that “mid-range” A-line is also getting a massive upgrade in the form of a flagship-class system on a chip. Yes, the Google Tensor SoC that debuted in the Pixel 6 is also in the Pixel 6a. It’s the same chip, and that means the Pixel A series is doubling in speed year over year. Did we mention the phone is still $449?

Google has created a mid-range juggernaut.

A new family of smartphones

With the launch of the Pixel 6 last year, Google finally landed on a solid path forward for its smartphone division. Besides the in-house Google SoC (with lots of help from Samsung), Google also had a hardware design that it could finally call its own, based on the distinctive and even somewhat useful camera bar.

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Today’s best deals: Apple iPad Mini, Eufy security cameras, and more

Today’s best deals: Apple iPad Mini, Eufy security cameras, and more

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a discount at Best Buy that brings Apple’s iPad Mini down to $400. While this deal is only around $25-30 lower than the 8.3-inch tablet’s average price on Amazon over the last couple of months, it’s still $100 off Apple’s MSRP, and it matches the all-time lowest price we’ve tracked.

We gave the Mini itself a positive review when it launched last September. It’s still a somewhat niche device, in that you really have to find value in owning a small tablet, and not just a larger phone, for it to be worth it. The iPad Air and iPad Pro models have faster M1 SoCs and bigger displays better suited to productivity, while the 10.2-inch iPad still provides the essentials at a lower price, even if its design is dated by comparison. We wish the base model here had more than 64GB of storage, too. But if the idea of a one-handed tablet for reading, watching videos, Apple Pencil doodling, and doing other iPad things is specifically what you’re after, the iPad Mini is still the best one of those. Its A15 chip remains plenty performant for mainstream tasks, its display is accurate, and its iPad Air-like redesign, complete with squared edges and a USB-C port, makes better use of its available space.

It’s worth noting that the previous-gen iPad Mini started at $399, but this newer model is a fairly significant upgrade all the same. If you want cellular connectivity, meanwhile, the model that supports that is on sale for $550, which also matches the lowest price we’ve seen. There’s a chance Apple introduces a new iPad Mini later this year, too, potentially with the M1 chip, though we haven’t seen many reports suggesting as much (unlike other Apple products), and any new model is unlikely to reach this deal price soon after launch.

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Recapture the fun of the 1980s game crash with Lego’s $240 Atari 2600 replica

Lego's Atari 2600 set.

Enlarge / Lego’s Atari 2600 set. (credit: The Lego Group)

Even the cheapest, slowest modern game consoles are capable of pushing high-definition 3D graphics that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. But if you’re old enough to remember when video game graphics were just a series of colorful, abstract blobs, Lego has something for you.

A new 2,532-piece set re-creates the 1980-era, four-switch version of the venerable Atari Video Computer System (VCS), later known as the Atari 2600. The kit includes a moving joystick, three game cartridges that can be inserted into the system or into an ’80s-brown storage rack, and other nostalgic touches—even the chintzy wood-grain texture on the front of the console has been lovingly re-created with Lego bricks.

The Lego Atari 2600 launches for $239.99 on August 1.

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Alienware debuts 480 Hz refresh rate with new 17-inch laptops

Alienware x17 R2 laptop.

Enlarge / Alienware x17 R2 laptop.

PC display speeds are about to go up. Alienware’s updated m17 R5 and x17 R2, a pair of 17.3-inch gaming laptops, will each include the option for 480 Hz displays—about 33 percent faster than the previous top speed of 360 Hz.

As of publication time, the laptops’ 480 Hz options aren’t available for purchase, but a spokesperson for Alienware told Ars that they should be available online soon.

The 480 Hz displays have a resolution of 1920×1080 and a gray-to-gray response time of 3 ms. In its announcement, Alienware promised “animation smoothness for easier target tracking, ghosting reduction which minimizes distracting effects, and lower system latency, making it easier for you to spot other players earlier.”

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The weekend’s best deals: Pixel 6 Pro, Beats earbuds, Fitbit trackers, and more

The weekend’s best deals: Pixel 6 Pro, Beats earbuds, Fitbit trackers, and more

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

It’s the weekend, which means it’s time for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web is headlined by a number of discounts we saw during Amazon’s Prime Day sale that are still available.

Google’s Pixel 6 Pro phone, for one, is still down to $699. That’s $200 off Google’s MSRP and matches the lowest price we’ve tracked for what we consider the best Android phone you can buy right now. More budget-conscious buyers should note the Pixel 6a is just around the corner and will deliver the same clean software and fast Google Tensor SoC as its siblings for $449. For those who want more power, though, the 6 Pro will still offer a larger display (6.7 inches, instead of 6a’s 6.1-inch screen), a higher refresh rate (120 Hz instead of 60 Hz), more RAM (12GB instead of 6GB), and a bigger battery (5,000 mAh instead of 4,410 mAh), among other upgrades. Unfortunately, the deal that brought the standard Pixel 6 down to $499 earlier this week is no longer available.

Beyond that, other highlights include the Beats Fit Pro discounted to $160; that remains the lowest price to date for a set of true wireless earphones we recommend to those who want a more gym-friendly take on Apple’s AirPods Pro. Anker’s Soundcore Motion+, a powerful and waterproof Bluetooth speaker we like, represents a good value at its current price of $80. And Jaipur, a quick and accessible card game we highlight in our list of the best two-player board games, is still at the lowest price we’ve seen this year.

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The best “Prime Day” deals that are still kicking at retailers other than Amazon

Fitbit Luxe on a users wrist, close up on the display

Enlarge / The OLED display provides a nice pop of color. (credit: Corey Gaskin)

Amazon’s Prime Day sale is still chugging along, but if you’re not an Amazon Prime member (or don’t want to be), there are still some good deals to take advantage of from other retailers. It has become commonplace for competitors to match, and sometimes undercut, some of Amazon’s sale prices, and that’s once again the case this year. We poked around the web and picked through these competing sales to highlight the most worthwhile non-Prime Day tech deals that are still kicking at retailers besides Amazon.

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

More Prime Day 2022 coverage

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Buying on a budget: The best Prime Day deals we can find for $50 or less

Jabra's Elite 45h on-ear headphones may be the best value deal on headphones this Prime Day.

Enlarge / Jabra’s Elite 45h on-ear headphones may be the best value deal on headphones this Prime Day.

Amazon’s Prime Day sale is underway, and we’re rounding up all the best deals we can find. While the event’s tens of thousands of discounts include a lot of junk, we’re still seeing a handful of discounts for anyone hoping to pick up a good gadget without breaking the bank. To help those on a tighter budget, we’ve combed through Amazon’s list to bring you the best Prime Day deals under $50.

Predictably, the highlights contain a number of Amazon devices, including Echo smart speakers, Fire HD tablets, and Kindle e-readers. There’s also one of our favorite budget headphones, Tile trackers, gaming gear, Anker charging accessories, and several board games we like, among others. Most of these are at or exceed the best prices we’ve seen, and we’ve included the average street price for each product over the last few months in parenthesis.

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Ars dives into the pricey-but-fancy world of miniature arcade cabinets

20 oz. soda bottle for scale.

Enlarge / 20 oz. soda bottle for scale. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

The category of miniaturized classic arcade cabinets has exploded in recent years, and I’ve found that I’m in its target demographic. My struggle to juggle raging arcade-era nostalgia with limited apartment space means I’m not quite to the point of opening my own luxurious basement arcade, let alone purchasing every “small but still bulky” cabinet made by the likes of Arcade1Up.

Instead, I’ve compromised with a few space-saving options. In addition to a virtualized pinball machine, which condenses a mix of pinball and arcade games into one “full-size” unit, I’ve also appreciated the Sega Astro City Mini as a bookshelf decoration. Today, let’s check out a few more options in the latter category.

If you’re willing to shell out $140–$160 per game, a few companies offer decent (but not perfect) replica arcade cabinets that measure no taller than 17 inches and come with built-in screens, buttons, and batteries. None of these are highly recommended ways to play the games in question, but if you like the party trick of powering-on junior-size arcade cabs and sharing them with gamers of all ages, they get the job done.

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#1942, #1943, #ars-shopping, #capcom, #gaming-culture, #gottlieb, #miniature-gaming, #new-wave-toys, #qbert

Prime Day’s best gaming deals: Free Mass Effect, lots of board games, and more

Screenshot from Mass Effect Legendary Edition.

Enlarge / Mass Effect Legendary Edition. (credit: BioWare / EA)

Amazon’s Prime Day sale isn’t known for hosting tons of gaming deals, but this year’s sale includes a few notable discounts. After digging through Amazon’s detritus and cross-checking price histories, we’ve picked out the best Prime Day gaming deals below.

Among the highlights are a handful of PlayStation 5 exclusives, a giveaway that includes the latest Mass Effect compilation, several well-reviewed peripherals and accessories, and a bunch of board games we recommend.

We’ll update and add to this roundup if we find more gaming deals of note. Just remember that you’ll need a Prime subscription to access some of these offers, though a handful are available at other retailers as well.

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The 7 best Prime Day deals on smartwatches and fitness trackers

The apple watch series 7 showing the time on a yellow desk

Enlarge / The Apple Watch Series 7 is the best all-around smartwatch on the market and watchOS 9’s fall 2022 launch should considerably step up its already-solid fitness tracking abilities. (credit: Corey Gaskin)

For all the shoddy deals it throws out, Amazon’s Prime Day sale can still be a good time to snag a good deal on a worthwhile wearable. We’ve sifted through the detritus to spotlight the best smartwatch and fitness tracker deals we’re currently seeing from the event.

This year the Apple Watch Series 7 hits a record low to headline this list, as does Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4. We’ve called these two the best all-around smartwatches for iPhone and Android, respectively, in our guide to the best smartwatches.

If you’re more serious about fitness tracking than smartwatch capabilities, there are also a number of deals on Garmin watches we like, including models in the Forerunner, Fenix, and Vivoactive lineups. All of our picks below have solid hardware foundations in terms of health sensors—all but one will soon be picks in our forthcoming guide to the best fitness trackers—and their differences are mostly in the depth of activity-specific tools and metrics they offer. Below we break down which Garmin watch may be best for you, alongside the rest of our shortlist of top wearable deals.

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Prime Day’s best headphone deals include pairs we like from Sony, Beats, and Bose

Bose QuietComfort 45

Enlarge / Bose’s QuietComfort 45 wireless noise-canceling headphones. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Today is Amazon Prime Day, which is both a made-up holiday a corporate giant manufactured to promote its subscription service and a genuinely good time to pick up some quality gadgets on the cheap. We’re keeping a big roundup of every good Prime Day deal we can find, but in picking through those offers we noticed that several headphones we’d recommend are particularly discounted to prices we don’t normally see.

So, to help those who are specifically hoping to get a new pair of cans out of Prime Day, we’ve broken down the event’s best headphone deals below. Just remember that, like most Prime Day deals, you’ll need to have an active Prime subscription to take advantage of the discounts.

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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All the best Amazon Prime Day 2022 deals we can find

All the best Amazon Prime Day 2022 deals we can find

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Tuesday marks the start of Amazon Prime Day, a two-day shopping event Amazon created in 2015 to bolster its Prime subscription service, which is required to shop most (but not all) of the discounts available during the promotion, and help gin up sales during a typically slow period for online shopping.

To be clear, Amazon remains a behemoth that has done (and continues to do) many, many, many, many, many, manymany, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many things worthy of criticism, and Prime Day itself tends to be loaded up with a particularly high number of offers on junky products and misleading “discounts” that don’t make products significantly cheaper than they usually are.

Nevertheless, even if only a fraction of Prime Day’s offers are genuine deals, the overall selection is massive enough for that fraction to make this one of the better shopping days of the year, with several worthwhile products available at prices typically reserved for year-end holiday events like Black Friday. This is particularly true for the kind of gadgets and tech gear we cover on Ars.

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The Pixel 6 line gets steep discounts for Prime Day: Up to $200 off

Promotional image of cutting-edge smartphone.

Enlarge / The Pixel 6 Pro. (credit: Google)

Google is offering some steep discounts on the Pixel 6 line for the holiest of made-up corporate holidays, Amazon Prime Day. You can get $200 off the Pixel 6 Pro, which brings the $899 MSRP down to $699, while the Pixel 6 gets $100 off, changing from $599 to $499. The deals are now live on the Google Store (or Amazon or Target).

We’re big fans of both phones, as it seems like Google finally hit on a winning combination for its long-running smartphone line. The combination of a low price, good specs, fast updates, and the unique camera bar design make the phones a great buy, provided you live in one of the countries where Google sells the phone. In the US, both phones were already one of the best deals you can get for a 2022 smartphone, with their MSRPs both clocking in at $300 less than a comparable Samsung phone. With discounts, they are pretty hard to pass up.

If you need a quick recap, the Pixel 6 Pro has a 6.7-inch 120 Hz display OLED display, 12GB of RAM, and a 5000 mAh battery, while the Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch 90 Hz display, 8GB of RAM, and a 4600 mAh battery. Both have Google’s custom-made (by Samsung) Tensor SoC, a new camera system headlined by a 50 MP main sensor, Wi-Fi 6E, and Android 12, with a promised three years of major updates.

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Review: Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 looks good but feels warm

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 2-in-1.

Enlarge / Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 2-in-1. (credit: Scharon Harding)

Specs at a glance: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
Worst Best As reviewed
Screen 14-inch 1920×1200 IPS touchscreen @ 60 Hz 14-inch 3840×2400 IPS OLED touchscreen @ 60 HZ 14-inch 1920×1200 IPS touchscreen @ 60 Hz
OS Windows 11 Home Windows 11 Pro Windows 11 Pro
CPU Intel Core i5-1240P Intel Core i7-1280P Intel Core i7-1260P
RAM 8GB LPDDR5-5200 32GB LPDDR5-5200 16GB LPDDR5-5200
Storage 256GB SSD 1TB SSD 512GB SSD
GPU Intel Iris Xe
Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Ports 2x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4), 2x USB-A (3.2 Gen 1), 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x 3.5 mm jack
Size 12.38×8.75×0.61 inches
(314.4×222.3×15.53 mm)
Weight Starts at 3 lbs (1.38 kg)
Battery 57 WHr
Warranty 1 year
Price (MSRP) $1,589.40 $2,279.50 $1870.03
Other Stylus, optional 4G LTE Stylus, optional 4G LTE Stylus

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, now in its 7th iteration ($1,870.03 MSRP as tested, as of writing), continues its modern take on the business-focused ThinkPad. It has the durability expected of a business machine, as well as smooth navigation underscored by a thoughtfully programmed keyboard fit for frequent typists, and, of course, that famous red nub.

However, the laptop doesn’t necessarily outperform high-end consumer laptops, even some with slightly cheaper price tags. And similar to other ThinkPads we’ve tested, heat in its Best performance mode is so much of an issue that even light workloads will run the machine so warm that you won’t want to touch it in certain areas.

ThinkPad styling

Part ThinkPad, part Yoga.

Part ThinkPad, part Yoga. (credit: Scharon Harding)

Naming tells you this machine is part Lenovo ThinkPad, part Lenovo Yoga, but the styling and tough build lean more toward the former. Yes, there’s the same 360-degree hinge found on Lenovo Yoga 2-in-1s, as well as a modern, thin-and-light build in a dark gray that’s more fun than the more traditional ThinkPad black. But the density and tough feel of the aluminum chassis combined with the deep keyboard, advanced trackpad, and famous red rubber nub all scream ThinkPad.

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Ars Technica System Guide, “GPUs are kind of affordable again” edition

Ars Technica System Guide, “GPUs are kind of affordable again” edition

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

It’s been quite a while since we last put together a desktop PC-building guide, partly because trying to fight your way through bots and scalpers to pay twice the retail price for a graphics card was a miserable experience that we wouldn’t want to inflict on anyone.

But even as 2022 has made most things more expensive, PC builders have lucked out. CPUs and motherboards are in stock and easy to buy, DDR4 memory is actually cheap, and you can head online to Amazon, Best Buy, or Newegg and find virtual shelves full of GPUs at prices that, while still somewhat inflated, would have seemed miraculous six months ago.

Overall PC demand is expected to fall quite a bit in the coming months, but if you’ve been waiting patiently to build your first desktop or replace an existing build, this is probably the best time to build a PC since mid-2020.

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Today’s best deals: Early Prime Day deals, AMD Ryzen CPUs, and more

Today’s best deals: Early Prime Day deals, AMD Ryzen CPUs, and more

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best deals from around the web includes a handful of early discounts Amazon has set live ahead of its annual Prime Day promotion, which is scheduled to begin next week.

This is still Prime Day, so several of the early deals Amazon offers aren’t exactly winners: There are various discounts on middling TVs and less-recommended Amazon devices like the Halo View fitness tracker or Fire TV Cube media streamer. The pickings should improve during Prime Day proper, and as usual the Dealmaster will be sorting through the junk to help you find what’s good next week.

That said, we are seeing a few deals of note at the moment, including the lowest prices we’ve tracked for the diminutive Echo Show 5 smart display (which is down to $35), the Kindle Kids e-reader—which, at $50, is a good value for those who don’t want to pay up for the superior Kindle Paperwhite (which isn’t discounted yet)—and the Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, which are down to $60 and $20, respectively. (Just be completely sure you’re willing to accept the myriad privacy and security risks with the latter two.) The extended Audible Premium Plus trial we noted last week, which gives new subscribers three months of service for no extra cost, is still available as well. There are a couple other deals of note that we’ve highlighted below; remember that you’ll need to be a Prime member to take advantage.

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The weekend’s best deals: Apple TV 4K, OLED TVs, MacBook Pros, and more

The weekend’s best deals: Apple TV 4K, OLED TVs, MacBook Pros, and more

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

It’s the weekend, which means the time has come for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a bundle at Apple’s online store that doles out a $50 Apple Gift Card with the purchase of a new Apple TV media streamer. Apple says it will email the gift card within 24 hours of your purchase being shipped. This isn’t a straightforward price cut, but if you know you’ll use the gift card on a future Apple purchase—be it another device, an Apple subscription service, or something on the App Store—the bundle effectively matches the largest discount we’ve tracked for the Apple TV 4K. The promotion as a whole will run through July 14.

While we still recommend the more affordable Google Chromecast—which is also discounted today—for most people in need of a 4K media player, the Apple TV 4K might be worth it for those willing to pay for faster (and more futureproof) hardware and a simpler user interface that’s less stuffed with ads than other streaming platforms. The device supports all the major apps and works with both Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos, though its lack of 120 Hz support is disappointing for the price. While some Roku devices now support AirPlay, Apple’s box plays especially nice with other Apple devices, as well as platforms like HomeKit or Apple Arcade. The device is just overpriced, but this deal should lessen the blow.

It’s worth noting that, according to a recent Bloomberg report, Apple is developing a refreshed Apple TV 4K with an updated chip and an extra gigabyte of RAM, so this bundle may be Apple’s way of clearing out inventory before launching the new model. Exactly how much that new Apple TV 4K might cost is unclear. For now, though, the current Apple TV 4K is still plenty powerful for most streaming needs, so if you’re already ensconced in the Apple ecosystem and have wanted to hop aboard, this might be a good opportunity.

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Cuphead expansion pack review: As good as DLC gets

In the new expansion pack <em>The Delicious Last Course</em>, Miss Chalice makes three.

Enlarge / In the new expansion pack The Delicious Last Course, Miss Chalice makes three. (credit: Studio MDHR)

Some people will look at an expansion pack like Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course and make up their minds after a single glance. This $8 add-on’s beautiful brutality follows the same path as the original 2017 game Cuphead, a notoriously tough descendant of the Mega Man school of game design. Maybe you love playing games that are as beautiful as they are difficult. Maybe you don’t.

I’m here to talk about Last Course because I might be a lot like you. I’m not Last Course‘s target audience. I never beat the original Cuphead. I have contended that a tough game like this is easier for me to watch than it is to play. But when I saw the expansion’s hands-on demo at this month’s Summer Game Fest Play Days, I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed a gamepad, and gave it a shot. Might as well occupy myself between other scheduled game demos, I thought.

And then I fell in love. For whatever reason, the demo I played, and my subsequent completion of Last Course‘s “normal” difficulty content, grabbed me and wouldn’t let go—which is why I’m compelled to recommend picking it up.

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Belkin launches new 3-in-1 charger capable of fast-charging Apple Watch Series 7

the iphone 12 apple watch and airpods charge on belkins 3 in 1 wireless charger

Enlarge / Belkin’s new 3-in-1 MagSafe charging stand is identical to its predecessor, pictured above, but true change occurs within. (credit: Corey Gaskin / Ars Technica)

Belkin just launched its second 3-in-1 device capable of fast-charging the latest Apple Watch Series 7. The new Boost Charge Pro 3-in-1 MagSafe charging stand joins its pad-shaped sibling as the only other all-in-one solution that can charge your mobile Apple devices (MagSafe-compatible iPhones, AirPods, and Apple Watches) at the fastest wireless speeds possible.

When the Apple Watch Series 7 launched last year, it became the first Apple Watch to be fast-charge capable, cutting the protracted 2.5-hour charge time of previous generations in half. I noted it as my favorite feature in my review, and that’s because it not only made zero to 100 charges quicker, but it also made quick dashes on the charger much more efficient. For instance, only 45 minutes on the charger brought the Series 7 from zero to 80 percent. It was a big help in making sure the watch wouldn’t die right before I was about to go for a run or head to bed.

Belkin’s 3-in-1 Apple charger is one we’ve recommended before. The previous version, without fast-charging for the Apple Watch, made our list of the best iPhone 12 accessories, thanks to its sleek, modern aesthetics, and compact, efficient design. The newest version looks identical, hiding its important changes within. It was never the cheapest option, selling for $150, but its build quality and versatility bolstered its value then, as the addition of Apple Watch fast-charging does now at no additional cost.

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#apple, #ars-shopping, #belkin, #magsafe, #tech, #wireless-chargers

Today’s best deals: Google Chromecast, Audible Premium Plus, and more

Today’s best deals: Google Chromecast, Audible Premium Plus, and more

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes the Google Chromecast back down to $40 at various retailers. While we’ve seen this deal a handful of times this year, it’s still $10 off Google’s MSRP, making it another solid opportunity to save on what we consider the best 4K streaming stick for most people.

Compared to competing devices from Amazon and Roku, we still find the Chromecast’s interface to do a cleaner job of organizing and proactively recommending content you might want to watch. There are more powerful 4K set-top boxes on the market, but the Chromecast’s performance still gets the job done for casual browsing, works with all the major streaming services, and supports both Dolby Atmos and HDR video (via Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+).

The main complaints are that Google’s UI isn’t especially customizable and that Google TV’s curation is only so savvy because you’re sharing your browsing information with the company. That said, the latter is an issue with almost every major streaming device; Google’s platform is just better at using that data to make browsing more convenient. The device also doesn’t support Google’s newer, more efficient AV1 video codec, though that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for most. A new Chromecast model that supports AV1 is reportedly on the way, but it’s expected to be limited to 1080p streaming.

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Sony finally releases a 4K monitor you might actually want 

Sony InZone monitor

Enlarge / Sony’s InZone monitors use a “low-depth tripod stand” to provide more room for other peripherals, Sony said in its video announcement. (credit: Sony/YouTube)

Known for everything from TVs to cameras and smartphones, Sony is getting into gaming peripherals, it announced Tuesday. Sony’s new InZone brand will include a pair of monitors, plus wireless and wired headsets aimed at PC and, naturally, PlayStation gamers.

Sony’s first consumer monitors in ages

Sony isn’t likely a name you think of when going PC monitor shopping. It hasn’t made consumer monitors since the early 2000s, though it has continued to sell expensive, chunky professional monitors for broadcast and production. That changes with the flagship Sony inZone M9 and its sibling, the InZone M3.

The M9, never to be confused with the Samsung M8 4K smart monitor announced in March, is a 27-inch 4K HDR monitor with a 144 Hz refresh rate. Its most interesting feature, however, is its LED backlight with full-array local dimming (FALD), which—along with VESA DisplayHDR 600 certification and 95 percent claimed DCI-P3 coverage—is particularly appealing for HDR users.

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Review: Razer Kishi V2 refines the “gamepad that clamps to phone” concept

It's not a Razer device unless it's posed next to a bunch of custom RGB lighting, right? In great news, the Razer Kishi V2 includes <em>zero</em> glaring lights, which we prefer here at Ars Technica.

Enlarge / It’s not a Razer device unless it’s posed next to a bunch of custom RGB lighting, right? In great news, the Razer Kishi V2 includes zero glaring lights, which we prefer here at Ars Technica. (credit: Razer)

In the years since the phrase “don’t you people have phones” became a Blizzard-mocking meme, I’ve found myself honestly playing more video games on my smartphone. (But not Diablo Immortal, which spawned the meme.) In particular, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Google Stadia, and other cloud-gaming services have shined as options on my phone when Wi-Fi or 5G reception is decent.

While select games on these services have on-screen buttons as options, I won’t play with anything less than a physical gamepad. Until this month, I relied on a standard, slim 8Bitdo gamepad, especially when traveling, but this required a phone-to-gamepad plastic harness—and, gosh, those things fall apart when tossed into my bags. There’s gotta be something better, right?

Enter the Razer Kishi V2. At the somewhat steep price of $100, this clamp-to-your-phone gamepad is not a slam-dunk recommendation for anyone who doesn’t regularly play console-styled games on their phone. But it gets closer to earning that value than Kishi’s 2020 version.

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LCD vs. LED vs. Mini LED vs. OLED: A quick guide

Magnifying the differences, similarities, pros, and cons.

Enlarge / Magnifying the differences, similarities, pros, and cons. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Somewhere along the line, consumer display technology became an alphabet soup full of terms using the letters “LED.”

In this succinct guide, we’ll provide a brief overview of common initialisms found in the world of TV, PC monitor, and laptop displays. To keep things simple, we’ll focus on how each technology impacts expected image quality. Whether you’re looking for a handy refresher for the next time you’re shopping or a quick, digestible guide to give to inquisitive friends and family, we’ve got you covered.

LCD

You’re likely reading this article on a liquid crystal display (LCD). “LCD” refers to any display type that uses liquid crystals, including TN, IPS, and VA (which we’ll get into shortly). Even an old-school calculator or digital watch can use an LCD. But a simple “LCD” designation doesn’t tell you how a screen will perform. You need more information, like the backlight type the panel uses—usually LED, followed by the more expensive Mini LED.

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13-inch MacBook Pro review: Apple’s M2 is a worthy follow-up to the M1

Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro is a little tough to recommend given the options in Apple’s lineup, but that doesn’t change the key takeaway: The new, second-generation M2 chip doesn’t disappoint.

While Apple calls the 13-inch MacBook Pro its “most portable Pro laptop,” there’s nothing that’s particularly “Pro” about it. It has too few ports for power users, and it can’t touch the 14-inch MacBook Pro in performance—yet it offers little to draw would-be buyers away from the similarly specced and soon-to-be-launched MacBook Air redesign.

That said, the real story is that this is the first laptop Apple released with its second-generation ARM-based processors for Macs. The M2 is an exciting follow-up to the already impressive M1 and a promising herald of what’s to come to future Macs that deserve the Pro moniker.

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#13-inch-macbook-pro, #apple, #apple-m2, #apple-silicon, #ars-shopping, #features, #gadgetology, #laptop, #m2, #macbook, #macbook-pro, #notebook, #tech, #touch-bar

Today’s best deals: Apple Watch SE, gaming laptops, SSDs, and more

Today’s best deals: Apple Watch SE, gaming laptops, SSDs, and more

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a strong discount on the 44 mm version of the Apple Watch SE, which is currently down to $229 at Amazon and Walmart.

The discount only applies to the variant with Apple’s silver case and blue sports band, but if you can live with that—or don’t mind swapping in a new band later—this price matches the lowest we’ve tracked. For reference, this variant has typically gone for about $260 online in recent months, while Apple itself sells the device for $309. If you prefer a smaller case size, the 40 mm Watch SE is also available for $229, though we’ve seen that price more commonly for that model.

We generally recommend the higher-end Apple Watch Series 7 as the best smartwatch for iPhone users, but the Watch SE remains a compelling alternative for those on a tighter budget. For roughly $100 less, you retain most of the Series 7’s core features, including the same messaging, heart rate tracking, and general watchOS support. You lose the larger, always-on display of the flagship model—i.e., its screen won’t stay on when you put your wrist down—plus more advanced features like blood oxygen monitoring, ECG support, and slightly faster charging speeds. It’s also worth noting that we’ll likely see new Apple Watch models introduced this fall. But if you need to save cash, the Watch SE is a fine product, and it should represent a solid upgrade for those coming from an older Apple Watch model (think the Series 3 or below).

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Beavis & Butt-head Do the Universe review: An enjoyably stupid multiverse

Beavis and Butt-head, seen here potentially succumbing to space madness.

Enlarge / Beavis and Butt-head, seen here potentially succumbing to space madness. (credit: Paramount)

The Mike Judge-iverse has long toyed with the inherent comedy of utter stupidity. But as anyone who has looked beyond the incessant “heh heh heh” of Beavis and Butt-head knows, Judge’s cartoons, TV series, and films are at their best when they toy with the question of exactly who in the room is the “smart” or “dumb” one.

The great news about this week’s Beavis and Butt-head Do the Universe, a straight-to-Paramount+ film debuting on Thursday, June 23, is that it finally sees Judge and co. bring a smart-kind-of-stupid approach to his most famous cartoon. This week’s film achieves this far more successfully than the series’ other feature-length film from 1996. Its ideas meld well with the series’ bottom-of-the-toilet stupidity and feel fresh instead of like they were ripped from other Judge series.

Failing forward, all the way to space

The film opens with madcap comedy in its sights, as Beavis and Butt-head are in high school in the ’90s, still oblivious to anything that doesn’t resemble boobs, explosions, sticky snack foods, or phrases that sound like euphemisms. (Heh, heh. “Sticky.”)

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SteelSeries’ wireless mechanical keyboard can type 2 things with 1 keypress

SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless keyboard.

Enlarge / SteelSeries’ Apex Pro Mini Wireless keyboard connects via 2.4 GHz dongle or Bluetooth. (credit: SteelSeries)

Adjustable mechanical switches are a simple way to customize the feel of different keys in a keyboard. These switches let you choose their actuation point, or how far you press the key before it registers an input, for sensitivity that you can vary based on the key or the application you’re using.

Peripherals-maker SteelSeries today announced new wireless and wired mechanical keyboards with mechanical switches that let you adjust each key’s actuation point. The compact SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless and Apex Pro Mini also let you program the keys so that a keypress will register two inputs if you press the key down far enough.

Adjustable mechanical switches

SteelSeries first started selling its adjustable OmniPoint mechanical switches in its SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboard in 2019. The OmniPoint 2.0 switches debuting in the Apex Pro Mini Wireless and Apex Pro Mini 60 percent keyboards released today are even more adjustable.

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The 10 best games we physically played at Summer Game Fest, Tribeca

Kiosks, controllers, masks, and games: Gaming-preview events hit a little different in 2022, but we'll take whatever we can get.

Enlarge / Kiosks, controllers, masks, and games: Gaming-preview events hit a little different in 2022, but we’ll take whatever we can get. (credit: Summer Game Fest: Play Days + Seth Cuddeback)

LOS ANGELES—The past week’s Summer Game Fest has mostly been a virtual affair, full of trailers for video games that may or may not launch in the next 18 months. Still, as the game industry draws closer to convention-preview normalcy, we scored invites to two early-June events with playable coming-soon games.

You may have already seen my biggest hands-on highlights from those events: Street Fighter 6, which is fantastic, and Sonic Frontiers, which is weird but promising. This article sums up the “best of the rest,” based on hands-on tests at the Summer Game Fest Play Days event in Los Angeles and a series of remote-connection Tribeca Games Festival demos.

The events were missing some of the world’s biggest developers and publishers—arguably because many of their games have been pushed to 2023. Despite this list skewing more to the indie side, we stand behind these game preview highlights thanks to how they felt to play.

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The weekend’s best deals: MacBook Pros, “buy 2, get 1 free” sales, and more

The weekend’s best deals: MacBook Pros, “buy 2, get 1 free” sales, and more

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It’s the weekend, which means the time has come for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a couple of discounts on Apple’s 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, with the former down to $1,799 at Amazon and Best Buy and the latter available for $2,299 at the same retailers.

Both laptops are still expensive, clearly, but each offer represents a $200 drop from Apple’s MSRP and a roughly $130-150 drop from the notebooks’ usual street prices online. Both deals are only $50 more than the lowest prices we’ve tracked, too. These discounts apply to the 512GB versions of the laptops, but if you need more storage space, the 1TB variants of each model are currently $200 off MSRP as well.

We gave this MacBook Pro a glowing review when it launched last October, calling it “the best laptop you can buy” for heavier-duty tasks like software development and content creation. The M1 Pro chip found in these discounted models is still a powerful and efficient performer—though, of the options below, the 16-inch version carries a couple more CPU and GPU cores—and the battery life on each laptop is still exceptional, typically lasting around 12-15 hours per charge. These notebooks are on the heavier side (3.5 lbs. for the 14-inch, 4.7 lbs. for the 16-inch), and the iPhone-inspired “notch” above each display may not sit right with everyone. But generally speaking, each device has a premium feel, with a reliable keyboard and trackpad underneath a bright and accurate Mini LED display. For a modern Apple laptop, the port selection here is relatively diverse as well, covering three Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI port, and an SD card slot.

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The 25 best games we saw during this year’s “Not E3” showcases

While 2022 was yet another year without an E3, game publishers big and small haven’t stopped releasing tons of hype-filled trailers during the usual summer promotional season. After sifting through Summer Game Fest and the Microsoft/Bethesda showcase, we’ve spent much of the week watching literally hundreds of trailers, as featured in the Future Games Show, IGN Expo, Wholesome Direct, Day of the Devs, the PC Gaming Show, and many others.

We’ve picked out 25 titles whose presentations stood out for one reason or another. Scroll through for a collection of titles we’ll be watching over the next year or so. And keep an eye out for hands-on impressions from our own Sam Machkovech, who sampled a handful of these games at a Summer Games Fest event earlier this week.

A Little to the Left

Platforms: Switch, PC, Mac, Android, iOS
Planned release: 2022
Links: Steam | Itch.io (w/ demo) | Official website

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Hello, M2: You can now order the new 13-inch MacBook Pro

The first machine with Apple’s second-generation M2 system-on-a-chip is now available to order. Though it won’t arrive until June 24, you can buy the new 13-inch MacBook Pro today. Apple is also now selling its new dual-port USB-C charger through its online store.

The 2022 refresh of the 13-inch MacBook Pro uses the same design and has all the same features as its 2020 predecessor, which used the M1 chip. The only significant difference is the inclusion of the M2, which Apple says can be up to 40 percent faster at some tasks than the M1.

The laptop starts at $1,299 for a configuration with 256GB of solid-state storage, and there’s also a $1,499 configuration with 512GB. Beyond those base configs, you can further customize the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB of memory, and you can upgrade to 1TB or 2TB of storage. You cannot upgrade later, so those choices have to be made at the time of purchase.

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Amazon’s latest Prime Day sale is set for July 12-13

A large Amazon Prime delivery truck driving on a highway.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto)

Amazon on Thursday announced that its latest Prime Day sales event is set for July 12 through 13. The company says the event will begin at 3 am EST and run for 48 hours across 20 countries. As in past iterations of the event, you’ll need to be a subscriber to Amazon’s Prime service to receive access to the offers.

The annual promotion primarily drives sales and Prime subscriptions for Amazon during a relatively slow time of year for its e-commerce business. The event is often filled with many junk sales, in the sense that many of the items can be found at similar prices throughout the year, and many of the offers available apply to relatively generic products. That said, there are usually a few diamonds in the rough. Good deals often rival prices you typically find around the holiday season, plus various discounts on products you may buy anyway.

Amazon did not provide too many specifics on offers it will promote but noted that many of its own gadgets and services will be discounted before the event and that “select products” from Sony, Bose, Beats, and iRobot, among others, will see price cuts during the promotion. The company also said it would make more than 30 video games available at no extra cost through its Prime Gaming platform.

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Today’s best deals: A bunch of Apple devices, Amazon Fire HD tablets, and more

Today’s best deals: A bunch of Apple devices, Amazon Fire HD tablets, and more

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It’s Wednesday, which means the time has come for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a variety of discounts on Apple devices. The Apple TV 4K, for instance, is down to $130 at various retailers, which is the lowest price we’ve tracked to date. The higher-capacity 64GB model, meanwhile, is down to a new low of $150. That’s still a high price for a 4K media player—particularly when the latest Google Chromecast, our favorite 4K streaming stick, is currently on sale for $40—but if you’ve got cash to burn and prefer Apple’s interface, this deal lessens the cost at least somewhat. Apple’s set-top box isn’t as smart as Google’s streamer when it comes to proactively recommending content you might like and its lack of 120 Hz support is still disappointing. However, its hardware is more futureproof, its remote is much improved over past horrorshows, and, perhaps most notably, its UI isn’t as riddled with ads as competing platforms like Amazon and Roku. It’s still not a great value, but if you live in Apple’s world and have been looking to upgrade, its price is a little more palatable here.

Speaking of overpriced-but-high-quality Apple devices, the company’s AirPods Max are also on sale for $429. While this isn’t an all-time low, the noise-canceling headphones don’t fall to this price often, and the discount is still $120 off Apple’s MSRP. We recommended the AirPods Max in a past guide to wireless noise-canceling headphones: Their design is on the bulky side, they can’t fold up for easier storage, and they’re oddly reliant on a thin charging case, but their powerful active noise cancelation and exceptionally clear sound are arguably the best we’ve heard from a wireless headphone. If you’re an iPhone user and, again, can afford to pay up, this deal brings them closer in price to competing models from Sony, Bose, and the like. If you want a more affordable set of premium noise-cancelers, though, note that Sony’s still-great WH-1000XM4 are currently discounted to $278.

Beyond that, the excellent iPad Mini is back down to $399, which matches the best price we’ve tracked (as well as the MSRP of the previous-gen model, but we digress). The latest Apple Pencil stylus is down to a joint-low of $99, while those who prefer the 16-inch MacBook Pro can get one for $200 off Apple’s usual going rate. The free six-month Apple Music trial that we highlighted over the weekend is still going on as well, and both Target and Best Buy are running promotions that get you a $10 store gift card at no extra cost when you buy a $100 Apple gift card.

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