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cheap wearables

Best early 2016 Android smartwatches money can buy

The signs were there for a pretty long time, but it wasn’t until the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show kicked off in Las Vegas a few weeks back that we realized how wearables had graduated from experimental companion devices to mainstream-oriented tech headliners.

Model smartwatch

Quick, can you name a tablet introduced at CES that stuck with you and has the potential of selling in more than a couple thousand copies? How about two or three phones? Meanwhile, we bet you immediately recall the Fitbit Blaze, Casio Smart Outdoor Watch, HTC HealthBox, Mio Slice, Withings Go, Fossil Q54 Pilot or Razer Nabu Watch.

Granted, we don’t think each of those products will make it in millions of connected homes or on millions of wrists by the end of the year. But even if only one or two strike gold at the global box-office, that means something, given the overall recent rise of the smartwatch, and further forecasted segment growth.

Android-Wear

Besides, the Mobile World Congress approaches, and so, in just a few short months, we might be looking at an entirely different top ten list than the one we’ll lay out as follows:

Huawei Watch – $329 and up

It feels odd to begin one of these roundups, where gadgets are ordered from costliest to cheapest, with a Huawei, since the Chinese OEM generally stands out by offering unbeatable quality – price ratios. But truly, if fashion’s all you care about, the Huawei Watch is your go-to smartwatch.

Huawei Watch

It blends premium scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with cold-forged stainless steel casing, and tops it all off with your choice of leather or steel straps. If money’s not an issue, you can even plate the Android Wear timepiece in rose gold, and both men and women will see their very different thirst for elegance quenched.

Motorola Moto 360 (2nd gen) – $300

Moto 360

Again with the ill-fated flat tire? Come on, Lenovo, there has to be a better, chicer way of masking sensors. Oh, well, at least the 2015 Moto 360 is sold in separate “collections” for gentlemen and ladies, with 300 bucks, for instance, buying you a robust 42mm model for men coated entirely in black, leather band included.

Motorola Moto 360 Sport – $300

Moto 360 Sport

In a nutshell, it’s the same device as the one above, only sportier. At first glance, it’s slightly less physically attractive, but it makes up with a “hybrid” AnyLight display, built-in GPS, and water resistance up to 30 minutes and 3 feet.

Samsung Gear S2 – $290; $349 Classic version

Not quite as stylish as Huawei’s eye-catching Apple Watch “killer”, at least in standard, non-gold or platinum editions, the Gear S2 also doesn’t run Android Wear. But technically, it supports all 4.4 and up smartphones no problem, so aside from minor UI distinctions, it’s the same exact thing.

Samsung Gear S2

It’s ironically not compatible with iPhones however (not yet), and in entry-level configurations, it comes paired with a chintzy plastic band. On the bright side, it’s circular, which is always a good thing, and that rotating bezel ensures easy, intuitive navigation.

Fossil Q Founder – $275

“Classic design meets smart technology.” It’s how the well-known American manufacturer of dumb watches, jewelry, and other fashion accessories promotes its rookie Android Wear effort. The question is just how classic and smart the Q Founder really is?

Fossil Q Founder

On one hand, the design is indeed enticing but not overly flashy, and on the other, you get basic touchscreen functionality, notifications and activity tracking but no GPS capabilities, heart rate monitoring or liquid protection. Bottom line, perhaps a price cut is already in order.

LG Watch Urbane – $239 in pink gold; $249 in silver

LG Watch Urbane

Speaking of discounts, this flamboyant bad boy used to fetch 350 bucks, and now, it feels slightly underwhelming even at less than 250. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still in the top three prettiest Android-supporting smartwatches in the world, but it’s hardly a fitness pro or battery champion.

Only rated at around a day of normal usage between charges, the Urbane continues to shine in the display department, thanks to a perfectly round 1.3-inch 320 x 320 pixels resolution P-OLED.

Pebble Time Round – starting at $230

Pebble Time Round

Launched at $250, the first circular, semi-handsome Pebble was at one point slashed to $200, and currently goes for $230, which is a little steep for such a “bezelicious” smartwatch. Its main claim to fame is a lightweight, skinny construction (28 grams and 7.5mm), while the e-paper screen looks a little cartoonish, but saves battery, letting you aggressively use the Time Round for north of two days on a single charge.

Fitbit Blaze – $200 on pre-order

A new wave pioneer from the leader in fitness wristbands, the Blaze tries hard to copy the Apple Watch without also mimicking its extravagant pricing. Thus, it’s nowhere near as premium-looking and robustly built as the best-selling iOS-compatible wearable, but the form factor, shape and even advertising campaign sure feel familiar.

Fitbit Blaze

Like any Fitbit, the focus is on getting the owner in shape, via guided workouts, all-day, everyday activity and sleep tracking, multi-sport modes for real-time statistic separation, and last but not least, no-chest strap PurePulse heart rate checkups. Such a shame you need to wait until mid-March to have this amazing smartwatch/fitness band crossover device shipped stateside.

Sony SmartWatch 3 – $195

Sony SmartWatch 3

Very recently axed by Google from its official store, this transflective display-sporting wearable remains an Amazon must-buy, as long as you don’t care how it looks on your wrist. Spoiler alert – pretty crappy. Its key strength is a standalone GPS chip, which keeps up with you while disconnected from your handheld, but the 320 x 320 screen is quite sharp too, and the gizmo can easily withstand the occasional splash or light rain.

Also, the SmartWatch 3 should last “up to 2 days of normal use” between charges.

Asus ZenWatch 2 – $129

Asus ZenWatch 2

Why exactly is this Android Wear piece available at such a ridiculously low price? Is it because it’s ugly? Well, it’s not, though we wouldn’t exactly call it beautiful either. Is it because it’s manufactured by Asus? It shouldn’t, since the Taiwanese OEM has been responsible for many Android and Windows hits over the past few years.

Then what the heck is it? We honestly have no idea, so before retailers start catching on, be sure to buy a couple. They provide all the basics and more, including a Gorilla Glass 3-protected 1.63-inch AMOLED panel, built-in Wi-Fi, IP67 water resistance, Google Now cards, notifications, voice actions, “accurate” fitness tracking, and 4GB internal storage space.

Black Friday 2015 Android deals: Toys R Us, Shopko, Kohl’s, and more

We have a brand new selection of Android-powered, Android-running and Android-compatible Black Friday bargains to preview today, and this one’s quite heavy on ultra-low-cost wearable devices and mobile accessories.

Black Friday

Without a doubt, you’ll have your work cut out for you in a week or so if you’re in the market for a health-improving activity tracker, nice pair of wireless headphones, loud and sharp Bluetooth speaker, or convenient external battery charger.

At the same time, you already know Android tablets have never been as cheap and compelling as this holiday shopping season, and although our fourth chapter of the Black Friday 2015 deal saga is much lighter on attractive phones, you can find a few good ones listed below at unbelievable prices:

Toys R Us

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite – $79.99

Galaxy Tab 3 Lite Kids – $99.99

Polaroid 7 – $39

Toys R Us Black Friday

Polaroid 9 – $49.99

Nabi 2 Learning Tablet – $79.99

Amazon Fire Kids tablet – $85

Nabi Jr. tablet – $50

Camelio 2 7.0 – $30

The juvenile products retailer extraordinaire stays true to its one and only focus group, catering to children of all ages with mostly rudimentary slates. Rudimentary but affordable, and centered on learning through play, which guarantees your little one’s attention.

Galaxy Tab 3 Lite Kids

Toys R Us will be kicking off the promo bonanza on Thanksgiving, November 26, at 5 pm, with a slew of “doorbusters” valid squarely until midnight, while supplies last, and a second round of limited steals entering the equation Friday morning, at 7 am, through Saturday. Our top recommendations? The Nabi Jr., currently listed at north of $80 on Amazon, and the Tab 3 Lite Kids Edition, typically priced at $150.

Shopko

Garmin Vivofit – $40

Jawbone Up Move – $30

Tracfone LG 16 Lucky – $9.99

Net10 LG Optimus II – $19.99

Samsung Galaxy Tab A (?) 7.0 – $77.99

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 – $228

Shopko Black Friday

Polaroid Kids Smart Tab – $50

Polaroid 9 tablet bundle – $70

Polaroid 5 Link – $69.99

HMDX Hangtime Bluetooth speaker – $12.99

iLive Color Changing Bluetooth speaker – $6.99

HMDX Craze wireless earbuds – $20

iLive Bluetooth headphones – $15

Innovative Technology 2,200 mAh Power Stick – $5.99

Skullcandy Uprock headphones – $9.99

First things first, there’s no 7-inch Galaxy Tab A, so what Shopko will be charging 78 bucks for is most likely the Tab 3 7.0. Maybe the Tab 4 7.0, even if that’s a stretch, considering the $150 MSRP. Second, a question we’re sure you’re all looking the answer to. What exactly are the LG 16 Lucky and Optimus II?

Garmin Vivofit

As you probably presumed by reading those ridiculous tags, they’re super-basic prepaid Android phones. Why buy them in the age of the $90 Lollipop second-gen Moto E? As travel backups, or perhaps for a child or elder who doesn’t need very advanced technology.

That said, let’s mention Shopko’s deals begin online on Wednesday, November 25, followed the next day, at 4 pm, in physical stores nationwide. Also, the Vivofit smart band sounds like a phenomenal purchase at $40, costing $50 on Amazon after an $80 deduction.

Kohl’s

Fitbit Charge – $90; Charge HR – $120

Fitbit Zip – $40

Garmin Vivofit – $50

Black Friday Kohl's

HDMX Jam Replay Bluetooth speaker – $20

JBL Flip 2 portable Bluetooth speaker – $60

Sony Bluetooth noise-canceling stereo headset – $70

Monster NTune on-ear HD headphones – $50

Skullcandy Hesh 2 Bluetooth headphones – $70

Monster SuperStar Bluetooth speaker and Mobile PowerCard portable battery bundle – $70

2.600 mAh power bank – $5.99

Innovative Technology 40-inch Bluetooth stereo tower speaker – $40

Honestly, we expected more from the 50 year-old department store chain that employs around 140,000 people and earns billions of dollars annually. We expected “great things”, based on the merchant’s motto, and not just in the jewelry, clothing, and home appliance departments.

Fitbit Charge HR

$90 and $120 Fitbit Charge and Charge HR? Everybody’s prepping that deal. The Zip is primitive and fugly, the Vivofit can be had for less from others, and all those speakers, headsets and power banks are quite convenient, but nothing to write home about. Is it worth leaving the house on Thanksgiving Day, around 6 pm, to hunt down a $20 portable speaker in a brick and mortar Kohl’s shop? Probably not.

Dicks Sporting Goods

Fitbit Zip – $40

Fitbit Charge – $90

Fitbit Charge HR – $120

Fitbit Surge – $200

Black Friday Dicks Sporting Goods

Garmin Vivofit 2 – $70

Garmin Forerunner 220 – $150

Garmin Vivoactive GPS smartwatch – $170

Garmin Forerunner 225 – $250

Beats Urbeats headphones – $50

Beats Studio – $150

Well, well, well, what have we here? Possibly the most thorough list of alluring fitness-oriented wearables around, available both on and offline, all day on the 26 and up to 2 pm on the 27 and beginning at 6 pm on Turkey Day respectively.

Garmin Vivoactive

Each and every fitness tracker also offers “real” savings, not going through the B.S. pre-Black Friday price inflation in order to slide back down to the MSRP when the time is right. No siree, as the Vivofit 2, for instance, starts at $90 or so nowadays, the Forerunner 220 at $170, the Vivoactive costs $200, and the Forerunner 225 at least $260.

Okay, so perhaps the cuts aren’t very deep, but sports nuts know steeper drops have been rarer sights than Bigfoot.

Hhgregg

Fitbit Flex – $50

Samsung Gear S2 – $250

Fitbit Charge – $90

Garmin Vivofit 2 – $70

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 – $80; Tab 3 Kids – $100

Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 – $120

Black Friday Hhgregg

Galaxy Tab A 8.0 – $180; Tab A 9.7 – $230

Amazon Fire 7 tablet with case and 32 GB microSD card – $55

Beats Powerbeats 2 wireless headphones – $100

Jam Classic wireless speaker – $20; Jam Plus – $30; Thrill – $40

Altec Bluetooth waterproof speaker – $100

Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth speaker – $120

LG Tone Pro wireless stereo headset – $40

Beats Studio wireless over-the-ear headphones – $280

Beats Solo 2 wireless on-ear headphones – $200

samsung-gear-s2

Many of you may not have heard of this “smaller” retailer with the weirdest name ever, so it’ll come as a big surprise to hear Hhgregg, or Gregg Appliances, operates more than 220 stores in 20 American states. Select deals from the above will be available on the official company website on Thursday and Friday, November 26 and 27, alongside exclusive e-bargains.

Offline, look for your budget Fitbit, mid-range Galaxy Tab, exquisite Fire 7 bundle, or super-premium headphones from 4 to midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and then, between 10 am and 7 pm the following day.

Oh, and don’t overlook the beautiful Gear S2 smartwatch, which might run Tizen, but works best in combination with an Android handheld, and it’s only gone on sale a few weeks ago stateside for $300.

Sources: BlackFriday.com, TheBlackFriday.com

This week’s best deals on phones, tabs, wearables, and accessories: September 28 – October 4

Have you had enough of the shameless iPhone 6s and 6s Plus marketing propaganda, revolving around 3D Touch “breakthroughs”, “7000 series” aluminum, and the sales records Apple will inevitably crush if we don’t properly do our jobs of recruiting iFans onto the “dark side” before it’s too late?

Deals

You’re not seriously going to fall for the avalanche of build quality-lauding drop, bend and even water immersion tests, are you? Clearly, you can’t take Cupertino’s flagships for a swim, and the fact they don’t curve under mild pressure is hardly a selling point.

As far as robustness go, we know a dozen Android-powered handhelds made of metal that probably resist free falls and contacts with tough surfaces at least as well as the new iPhones, and some cost half as much. Don’t get us started on the countless super-affordable iPad rivals, or the Apple Watch “killers” that will soon support iOS if you really must own one of those.

Without further ado, here’s another installment in our never-ending weekly deal saga:

This week’s top smartphone bargains

 

Samsung Galaxy S6 – $530 factory unlocked blue topaz; $534 white pearl

Galaxy S6 blue

You know the drill. We’re going to keep recommending a member or two of the S6 – S6 Edge – Edge Plus – Note 5 quadrumvirate every week until you all make up your mind, the Galaxy S7 comes out, or Samsung stops discounting these models. Whichever comes first.

A halt to price trims? It’s not very close-by, as the standard GS6 used to cost $650 three or four months back, and gradually dropped ever since. Any chance of seeing it go below the $500 mark? It’s all possible with Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the horizon, but a Marshmallow software update could help the non-edgy, non-phablet powerhouse stay in the limelight.

Samsung Galaxy J5 – $218.99

The humble J1 wasn’t the greatest family pioneer in history, and the J5 sits miles behind the Note 5 on the Galaxy totem pole, yet at 220 bucks, it’s not half bad. It’s got 5.1 Lollipop goodies pre-installed, a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor under the hood, 1.5 gigs of RAM, a 13 megapixel camera around the back, and get this, a 5 MP selfie shooter equipped with LED flash, always ready to light up your face.

Asus ZenFone 2 Laser – $233

asus_zenfone_2_laser

Everybody loves the 4 GB RAM configuration! But this photography-centric 2 gig version, with the same arched design, LG-homaging rear controls, 5.5-inch 720p display, octa-core SD615 chip and, most importantly, laser autofocus camera, offers pretty remarkable bang for your buck too.

Oh, and did we mention you also receive 4G LTE connectivity for US GSM networks (including AT&T and T-Mobile) for less than $250? How cool is that?

Sony Xperia Z3 – $459

Now that it’s becoming clearer and clearer 4K resolution is a gimmick on a screen smaller than, well, 15 inches, are you ready to give the Z5 Premium and Z5 the cold shoulder, admit the Z4 doesn’t exist, and settle for the Z3?

It’s relatively inexpensive, waterproof (to a certain extent), a multitasking champ, courtesy of 3 GB memory, not to mention an excellent choice for shutterbugs, with a 20.7 MP main cam in tow.

LG G Flex 2 – $49.99 with Sprint pacts

LG G Flex 2

We don’t often speak highly of on-contract phones, but when you can skip a less-than-extravagant dinner in town for two, and score a curved Snapdragon 810 beast with the savings, it’s worth we bend our rules a little. Remember, LGs are microSD-expandable, so storage isn’t a problem, and the 13 MP rear camera on the G Flex 2 sports a dual LED flash system, OIS, and laser autofocus. A-mazing!

Tablet deals and steals

 

Google Nexus 9 – $318 with 16 GB internal storage space; $340 in 32 GB config

Nexus 9

They say the search giant’s glamorous press event tomorrow won’t be about any new stock Android-running tablets, but do you really want to risk losing the N9 to a prospective N8? There’s no telling when Big G will pull the plug on the HTC-manufactured 9 incher, which reportedly didn’t do so well at the box-office.

Get it while you still can therefore, and while it’s accessible to the masses, super-high-res panel, Tegra K1 SoC, 8 MP cam and all.

Nexus 7 2013 – $149

Why in the world would anyone purchase a slate over two years old, with an ancient Snapdragon S4 Pro processor onboard, and a price tag three times as exorbitant as the newest Fire 7? One word – Marshmallow.

Asus MeMo Pad 8 ME181CX-A1 – $99.99

It’s no ZenPad S, it’s stuck on KitKat, it looks… humdrum, and the cameras are crappy, but it’s larger than your typical sub-$100 7 incher, can accommodate 16 GB data internally, another 64 via a microSD card, and it’s no slouch, with Intel inside.

Toshiba Excite Go – $64

Toshiba Excite Go

The Japanese OEM is far from a household name in the business, the Excite Go is archaic and outdated, and the specs almost couldn’t be worse. But at a little over 60 clams, this remains a decent $50 Fire alternative for those who simply can’t make peace with Amazon’s Google-rejecting ecosystem.

Low-cost wearable recommendations for the week

 

Microsoft Band – starting at $137

Normally listed at $200, the cross-platform (Android, iOS and Microsoft) fitness tracker is awaiting for a sequel, and fluctuating of late between $100 and $180. There’s no question the wrist-worn gadget is a must-buy at $99.99, while for $137, it’s… reasonable.

Microsoft Band

Strongest points? A sharp 1.4-inch TFT display, built-in GPS, and wide array of sensors, from ambient light to skin temperature and UV. Fatal flaws? Design, comfort (or lack thereof), plus battery life.

Pebble Time Round – $249.99

Finally, a Pebble released directly on Amazon instead of Kickstarter. Alas, merely pre-orders are open now, with deliveries underway November 10. Slimmer, sleeker and, well, rounder than the Time and Time Steel, this bad boy compromises on autonomy and liquid protection. It’s also too “bezelicious” for some. But it’s circular. And it weighs 28 (!!!) grams.

Garmin Vivoactive – $199 without heart rate monitor

Garmin Vivoactive

Yes, the HR-bundled variant is more convenient and functional for hardcore sports users, but it’s $100 pricier as well. Meanwhile, this sub-$200 contraption “only” vows to monitor your runs, walks, swims and various other specific athletic endeavors, lasting up to three weeks on a charge with a high-res, sunlight-readable, color touchscreen display.

Huawei Watch – $350 and up

Low-cost? Not even close. Recommended? Highly, for fashionistas first and foremost, and Android and Apple enthusiasts alike. No, the Huawei Watch hasn’t shaved a dime off its MSRP following the recent public announcement, but if you hurry, you might actually receive it before long, given it’s in stock at last on Amazon.

Pivotal Living Tracker 1 (second generation) – $15

Pivotal Living Tracker 1

Little more than a glorified pedometer, the “smart” band looks a little awkward, may act out from time to time, and break easily. But if it does, you can simply skip breakfast one day, and buy another unit. It’s that cheap.

Mobile accessories on the cheap

 

Samsung wireless charging pad – $39.93 (60 percent off)

Samsung wireless charging pad

It’s not the “fast” type, but it’ll help you get rid of (a few) cables, requiring just one. And a Qi-certified handheld, like the S6, S6 Edge, Edge+, Note 5, Note 4, Note Edge, Note 3, S5 or S4.

Vtin Dew Bluetooth wireless headphones – $19.99

They didn’t make our recent list of best earbuds available today, but a sizzling hot discount puts them on our radar, where they deserve to be also thanks to their comfort-focused design, resistance to sweat, 5-hour talk/play time stamina, and 12-month worry-free manufacturer guarantee.

Braven BRV-1 wireless Bluetooth speaker – $69.99

What can we say about this muscular audio player? It’s universally compatible, of course, protected from rainfall, water jets, splashing and even immersion, capable of delivering 3-watt sound, absorbing outside shocks, and rocking on for up to 12 hours continuously.

This week’s best deals on phones, tabs, wearables, and accessories: September 21 – 27

Following the highly anticipated commercial launches of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5, the Android race has essentially come to a standstill. No one goes in, and no one goes out, until the fall floodgates open, with Sony, HTC, LG and Huawei among the tier 1 device manufacturers looking to take stores by storm during the holiday season using unannounced or, at least, unreleased gear.

Savings

The downside of shopping for discounted smartphones, tablets, wearable gadgets and mobile accessories before events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday is pretty obvious. But you might be surprised to find out there are also upsides to getting a jump on your end-of-the-year spending.

For one thing, a few of the below items may vanish by Thanksgiving, due to their advanced age and sequel imminence. Others have barely seen daylight, and so, holding off even a few weeks, let alone months, seems unnecessary torture.

Black Friday crowd

Last but not least, wouldn’t it be nice to dodge the holiday frenzy for a change? Simply order what you need or want today, and get it on your doorsteps in 24 or 48 hours, absolutely no fuss required? Admit it, it sounds… peaceful.

This week’s best smartphone deals

 

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge – $610 unlocked in black; $619 emerald green

It’s a given at this point we’ll recommend at least one of the S6 – S6 Edge – Edge Plus – Note 5 group week in and week out. Today, it’s the turn of the lesser expensive dual-curved model to shine, dangerously closing the price gap to the standard, non-edgy GS6.

Galaxy S6 Edge

Can’t think of any applicability for the avant-garde design? Buy it for the fashion statement then, as well as the enduring Exynos 7420 processing power, 3 GB RAM, and 16/5 MP camera prowess.

LG G4 – $430 in red leather; $438 black leather; $439 brown leather; $441 and up non-leather versions

Another phone we’ve basically lost count of all the times we’ve endorsed. An instant classic. Different in almost every way from rival Samsung Galaxy flagships, and proud of it. MicroSD-capable, open to battery removal and replacement, slim-bezeled, subtly arched, excellent for both “normal” pic-taking and selfies, and above all, affordable by high-end standards. So much so that it may soon challenge the likes of the OnePlus 2 and Moto X Style.

LG G3 – $300 in black or white

LG G3

We don’t have to remind you we’ve seen it go for less on eBay, but 300 bucks is hardly an extravagant ask, considering you get a Quad HD 5.5-inch display for the money, plus a 75 percent screen-to-body ratio, Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3 GB RAM, 3,000 mAh battery, Dolby mobile sound enhancements, and 13 MP dual-LED flash rear cam. Hurry, as inventory is likely running out.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact – $380

One last oldie but goldie in danger of extinction. Granted, it feels pricey, with a ho hum 720p panel in tow, “only” 2 gigs of memory, 2,600 mAh cell, and 2.2 MP front shooter. But if you’re a fan of easily pocketable phones, you still can’t do much better… until the Z5 Compact goes on sale.

Xperia Z3 Compact

Besides, the 20.7 MP main photographic unit is outstanding, and the water protection, with or without limitations, unique.

Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE – $69.99 for Boost Mobile

Android 4.4 KitKat?! Thanks, but no thanks… is what we’d say if we had a better choice for 70 clams, LTE speeds included. But we don’t, given the newest Prevail model is also HD Voice enabled, and packs 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 410 punch.

LG Tribute Duo – $69.99 no contract for Sprint

Never heard of this oddly named Tribute Duo? You may not forget it very easily now, seeing as how it offers 5.1 Lollipop goodies, quad SD410 muscle, and a simplified rear physical button design.

Tablet deals and steals

 

Amazon Fire 7 – $49.99

Fire 7

We know the branding is confusing, but try to keep your eyes on the price. That’s fifty American dollars, free of contractual obligations, no strings attached (aside from “special offers”), or $250 for a six-pack, which you can share with friends or family come Christmas.

Trust us, Santa Claus isn’t going to bring you a superior deal. Not when the world’s cheapest brand-name slate provides quad-core power, expandable storage, and up to seven hours of continuous “mixed” use between charges.

Fire HD 10 – $229.99

The lesser yet bigger brother of the Fire HDX 8.9 squeezes into a slimmer package than ever before, also lets you use microSD cards, and can last a little longer without hugging a wall. Not to mention the software experience is way closer to stock on Fire OS 5 “Bellini.”

Dell Venue 10 5050 – $193

We covered everything there was to cover about the 10 incher last week, when we deemed it a bargain… at $263 (!!!). Now, it’s 70 clams cheaper.

Top low-cost wearable purchases for the week

 

Fitbit One – $88

Fitbit One

We won’t act as if this is one of those great Apple Watch slayers. Thankfully (for Fitbit), it doesn’t have to be, at under $90, lacking advanced smartwatch functionality, but promising to accurately track your calories burned, stairs climbed, steps, distance covered and sleep quality, then delivering all the important stats and goals to both Androids and iPhones.

LG G Watch – $99.99

Only slightly costlier than a rudimentary fitness band… or clip, this ancient, physically unattractive intelligent timepiece pulls notifications from your handheld to your wrist, and displays Google Now cards on a rectangular 1.65-inch 280 x 280 glass, kept alive by a Snapdragon 400 chip and 400 mAh juicer.

Jawbone Up Move – $36

You can wear it on your wrist (with an optional strap), or hang it to various clothing items and accessories, and hands down the key selling point is the unobtrusive, slim, tiny body. You’ll literally forget you’re using it, until it’s time to check your daily progress towards losing weight, simply getting fit or sleeping right. Obviously, it’s cross-platform-compatible too.

Basis Peak – $149.99

Basis Peak

Billed as the “ultimate fitness and sleep tracker”, the Peak kinda sorta looks like a smartwatch, only uglier, bulkier and stiffer. But the monochrome low-power LCD screen is the best of both worlds, presenting your notifications, texts, emails and reminders on a large enough surface while at the same time helping the battery stay on for up to 4 days.

The part fitness band/part smartwatch hybrid is also “safe for swimming”, i.e. water-resistant to 5 ATM, and it monitors your heart rate 24/7, no separate accessories needed.

Mobile accessories on the cheap

 

RAVPower Wireless charging pad – $19.99 (50 percent off list)

Speaking of accessories, this cord-free charging station does what you expect with little to no fuss, minimal effort, and no compatibility issues. If you have a QI-enabled phone, any QI-enabled phone, and want to get rid of pesky cables, this 0.3 inches thin, 8.9 ounces contraption is definitely the way to go.

Samsung Fast Charge Qi Wireless charging pad – $69.97

Samsung fast charge wireless

Erroneously ranked #1 in new MP3 player car cradles & mounts Amazon releases, this does what the name suggests, and it does it well. Alas, the only gadgets that support fast wireless charging technology at the moment are the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5, capable of going from 0 to 100 capacity in around two hours.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 S-View flip cover folio case – $39.95

Galaxy Note 5 S-View

Why buy third-party covers when you’re sure this protective accessory fits your fancy new phablet like a glove, and keeps it shielded against scratches and (light) drops in style? Yes, it’s a tad expensive, but can you put a price on quality?

Plantronics Voyager PRO UC B230-M earset – $59.99 ($86 discount)

This Bluetooth headset targets professionals who want to have their hands “clean” and free while talking on the phone, with state-of-the-art noise cancellation, voice alerts, Smart Sensor technology, QuickPair functions, 6-hour autonomy, and so on, and so forth.

This week’s best deals on phones, tabs, wearables, and accessories: September 7 – 13

With a fairly exciting and eventful IFA 2015 trade show behind us (full roundup coming soon), and only a prospectively humdrum Apple iPhone 6s/6s Plus introductory affair close-by, our Android-devoted readers have but a couple of options for short-term time fillers.

Hot_Offers

You can overanalyze the products unveiled in Berlin last week, and wait for them to actually go on sale, likely alongside a couple of new Nexus handhelds and whatnot, or seize the day, understand this is the perfect time to purchase slightly older gear at unbeatable prices, and go for it.

Carpe diem feels almost like the unofficial motto of our weekly deal gathering section here, so let’s see what are some of today’s best smartphone, tablet, wearable, and mobile accessory buys:

This week’s top Android handheld promotions

 

LG G4 – $448 factory unlocked in brown leather; $453 in black; $457 in metallic gold

LG G4

We’re not going to lie, and claim the G4 is in any way better than Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+. Well, other than selfie prowess, expandable storage friendliness, and battery removability. But it’s so much cheaper, you’ll gladly give up the dual curves and embrace the leathery construction, or settle for hexa-core Snapdragon 808 power in lieu of octa Exynos 7420.

The bang for buck is simply superior, following a series of LG discounts, and so, the G4 can be safely deemed the ultimate back-to-school flagship bargain.

LG G3 – $0 down with AT&T financing, $200 gift card included

Wait, wait, wait, so Amazon and Ma Bell are paying you to get the classic G3 off their hands? That’s bananas, considering the “veteran” runs contemporary Lollipop, sports a high-caliber Quad HD 5.5-inch display, and packs a quad-core Snapdragon 801 SoC that’s perhaps not as speedy as an 810, but it’s at least cool as a cucumber.

LG G3 – $211 in used, “very good” condition for AT&T off-contract

It’s the same phone, just pre-owned, free of contractual obligations, and sold through the always reliable Amazon Warehouse with “small cosmetic imperfections” or “small scratches on screen.” Risky but enticing.

Sony Xperia T2 Ultra – $239.99

Xperia T2 Ultra

Recently updated to Android 5.1 Lollipop, the beastly 6 incher fails to amaze in image quality or sheer muscle, but it’s relatively lightweight, at 172 grams, skinny (7.7 mm), and long-lasting, courtesy of a 3,000 mAh battery.

The 13 megapixel rear-facing camera isn’t half bad either, given the T2 Ultra is ultimately a mid-range soldier.

Lenovo Vibe Shot – $370

Look out, OnePlus 2, you have serious competition in the sub-$400 market segment! Particularly as far as photo buffs and selfie addicts are concerned, spoiled by Lenovo with remarkable triple-LED 16 MP and 8 MP snappers.

Lenovo-Vibe-Shot

We know a few power users who would have preferred to pay a little extra and score an SD808 chip instead of a 615, but guess you can’t always get what you want.

LG G Stylo – $147 for Boost Mobile

Not very keen to abandon your top-level, “big four” member carrier for a prepaid subsidiary of the least popular in that quartet? Well, the G Stylo isn’t easy to turn down, what with its productivity-enhancing pen capabilities, Lollipop software, large 5.7-inch 720p display, high 73 percent screen-to-body ratio, 8 and 5 MP cams, 4G LTE connectivity, and sizable 3,000 mAh juicer.

Tablet deals and steals

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 GSM factory unlocked – $510

Whew, that’s an extravagant tag for an iPad rival with specs that strikingly resemble last year’s cream of the crop. Yet the cellular support, high-res Super AMOLED panel, robust octa-core processor, and phenomenally slim 5.6 mm profile should more than justify the purchase for anyone who enjoys the large-screen Android experience and ecosystem.

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0

LG G Pad 7.0 4G LTE for AT&T – $0.01 with two-year contracts

Sorry, Samsung, you too, Sony and Lenovo, this is LG’s week, and it’s physically impossible for someone to offer a better tablet deal than this gratis 7-inch G Pad. It’s by no means a powerhouse, that much is clear, with overall sub-par features including 3 and 1.3 MP cams, 8 GB internal storage, and a 4,000 mAh cell.

Surprisingly, the on-board software nowadays is top-notch, with Lollipop and a slew of practical LG proprietary add-ons, and the 1,280 x 800 pix res display, as well as the quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip aren’t that bad. Also, it’s free, and who doesn’t like free stuff?

Lenovo IdeaTab A8-50 – $112.50

Why cough up $110+ for a Jelly Beaner that’s arguably uglier than the G Pad 7.0? Well, it’s bigger, for one thing, provides twice the data hoarding room, more than respectable 8-hour battery life, and sharp Dolby Audio sound.

Best wearable deals for the week

 

Huawei Watch – $349.99 stainless steel with black suture leather strap (shipping September 17)

Huawei Watch

We know, we know, it’s crazy to charge 350 bucks for an Android Wear timepiece when the trendy Apple Watch starts at… $350. But is it really, when the design is so cool, you’re offered both Android and iOS compatibility, plus a vibrant full circle AMOLED panel with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, heart rate monitoring, and advanced fitness tracking of all sorts?

Stop being so uptight about China-made gadgets, and admit the Huawei Watch is well worth $350! Besides, guess what, your precious, “premium” Apple Watch is also made in China.

Pebble Time – $195

It’s simple. If you can afford it, don’t give it a second thought, and grab the Huawei Watch! If not, there’s always the Pebble Time, and as you’ll find out in a few seconds, the Sony SmartWatch 3. The Pebble Time doesn’t run Android Wear, but that actually helps with autonomy. And so does the somewhat lackluster color e-paper display.

Straightforward, functional and water-resistant, this is definitely not for fashionistas. Everyone else would be lucky to own it, not to mention receive it as a Christmas gift in three months or so.

Sony SmartWatch 3 – $182.50 (39 percent off list)

Sony SmartWatch 3

After flying well under our radar for many months, the SW3 was discounted, and discounted, and discounted until it finally became a heavyweight contender. What’s odd is its sequel hasn’t been announced yet, a full year on the back of SW3’s launch, which perhaps suggests a major redesign, requiring more time than expected.

Misfit Flash – $23.99

No typos, no zero overlooked. The Flash fitness and sleep monitor is really less than 25 bucks. As such, it’s extremely minimalistic and rudimentary. However, it gets the job done, counting your steps, tracking distance covered, calories burned, etc., etc.

Mobile accessories on the cheap

 

LUXA2 TX-200 dual wireless charging station – $49.99

Dual wireless charging station

Now this is what we call an ingenious appliance. Of course, you’ll only find it useful if you happen to own at least two Qi-enabled smartphones, or if that cable-hating childhood friend tends to crash at your place every other day.

Fenix ultra-portable wireless Bluetooth speaker – $9.99 (down from $29.99)

It’s not particularly powerful, so don’t expect it to be enough to get the party started. On the bright side, it’s colorful, playful, universally compatible with Android devices, capable of lasting up to five hours between charges, and very, very small.

Aukey 3,300 mAh portable external battery charger – $9.99

Aukey 3300

You know our motto – no traveling without a USB power bank, and no weekly deal roundup without recommending a super-cheap, ultra-reliable model. This one’s not colossal in capacity, but will still take care of your S6 Edge+ and have a little something left in the robust, aluminum tank.

Sony SRSX5 portable NFC Bluetooth wireless speaker system – $107.99

Another item that very rarely misses the cut in our promo collections is a Bluetooth speaker. And those things don’t come much better than the 20 watt-producing SRSX5 with Bluetooth audio streaming support, AAC, aptX, subwoofer, and dual passive radiators for 50 Hz to 20 kHz sound.

This week’s best deals on phones, tabs, wearables and accessories : July 20 – 26

It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new week, and we’re feeling… like shopping. As we do essentially every beginning of the week, when work has that overwhelming, suffocating, hopeless vibe and you could use any distraction you can find.

android_king

A spanking new powerhouse Android smartphone, perhaps a dirt-cheap backup handheld, soon-to-be-replaced but nonetheless respectable tablet, basic yet beneficial fitness tracker, fancy advanced smartwatch and, last but not least, one or two mobile accessories to go with all the above.

Of course, you’ll have to wait a couple of days for Amazon to ship the hope-inducing entertainment devices, during which time you and your employers will be surprised to realize formerly strenuous tasks start feeling like a breeze and every business predicament is figured out almost instinctively.

promotions

It’s the eagerness effect, making everything tolerable and life just a little bit sweeter. Win-win, right? For hard-working bargain hunters, their challenging supervisors, as well as Amazon and Android gadget manufacturers. Without further preface, let’s dig in:

This week’s best smartphone deals

 

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge – $693

After a slew of successive discounts on Sammy’s latest non-edgy flagship, the time has finally come for the dual-curved incarnation to also drop to a more affordable level. Well, sure, affordable might be a bit of a stretch, but $700 is definitely a lot better than $900 or $800.

Galaxy S6 Edge

Clearly not a great sign for the Korean OEM’s financial outlook, the reduction is obviously tied to the imminent arrival of the S6 Edge+ and the ensuing confusion regarding the high-end Galaxy roster. Still, aside from the Note 5, and maybe the LG G4 Pro, no Android shall eclipse S6 Edge’s brawn this year, so if you’re into non-phablet mobile juggernauts, it’s time to cough up the moolah.

LG L Bello – $167

Everybody knows that the aftermath of a product introduction is the ideal moment to purchase… said device’s ancestor. Now, the Bello II caters to selfie addicts with a fairly nice front-facing camera, but the OG L Bello also provides decent bang for your buck at sub-$170.

Specifically, a large 5-inch IPS screen (granted, low-res as hell), quad-core 1.3 GHz MediaTek processor, 8 MP LED flash rear snapper, massive 2,540 mAh battery and, unlike its successor, snazzy, rear button-including construction.

LG/Google Nexus 5 – $295 white; $310 black

Nexus 5

A veteran player in a whole different league, the 2013 N5 should soon get a long overdue sequel. Meaning further cuts may be on the way… or extinction. It’s probably wise not to take the risk, and “settle” for the vivid 5-inch Full HD display, silky smooth Lollipop UI, beefy Snapdragon 800 SoC and 2 GB RAM of the always young two-year-old.

HTC Desire 610 – $130

Can’t afford the second-gen Motorola Moto G? Though smaller, lower-res and running ancient KitKat, this Desire-series old-timer is a not-too-shabby budget rival, with a very attractive design, BoomSound speakers, quad-core CPU and sizable battery.

LG G4 factory unlocked – $535 in black leather; $540 brown leather; $545 metallic white

LG G4

Would you look at that, the proudest steed in LG’s all-accommodating stable already costs only a little over five Benjamins. Blame that on heated competition, or maybe the extremely nigh G4 Pro. Or don’t blame it on anything, and cherish it! How great is it you’re able to score such a beautiful leather-clad slab for around $300 less than, ahem, opposing fruit-themed spearheads?

Tablet bargains

 

Lenovo Tab 2 A7-30 – $80

Remember what type of equipment 80 bucks used to procure you one or two years ago? Very rudimentary, to say the least. Now, this 7-inch Lenovo can apparently last up to eight hours between charges, even though it’s slim, sleek and quad-core. Awesome first-time “laptop replacement”, don’t you think?

LG G Pad 8.0 – $149

LG G Pad

Needless to emphasize this isn’t just bigger than the A7-30, it’s handsomer too, and offers up-to-date Lollipop goodies. Plus, quad-core Snapdragon 400 power, 16 GB internal storage (!!!), microSD support (duh), 1 GB RAM and a 5 MP rear camera.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 certified refurbished – $349

Yes, it’s used and therefore “risky”, but it’s covered by a 90-day manufacturer warranty and so ahead of its time in the hardware department that the second-gen will no doubt have trouble standing out. Seriously now, what more do you want from an Apple iPad Air 2 “killer” than this bad boy’s impressive 2,560 x 1,600 Super AMOLED screen, octa-core Exynos 5 chip, 3 GB RAM and fingerprint scanner?

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 – $300

Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1

Feel fingerprint recognition is gimmicky, and find LCD quality adequate? Also, do a couple of gigs of random-access memory suffice? Then why go refurb when the brand-new Tab Pro is so reasonable?

Android-compatible wearables on the cheap

 

Moov – $64.95

Another gizmo with a follow-up nearby, this “smart fitness coach” is dangerously close to oblivion. And it’s clearly not a match for its successor as far as capabilities go, but it’s arguably better-looking and, overall, it does what sports fans need it to – accurately monitors a bunch of activities, distinguishes between them, and even uses a complex AI to train and guide you in a path of self-improvement.

Garmin Forerunner 220 – $200

Garmin Forerunner 220

Also a fitness enthusiast favorite, the stylish Garmin watch isn’t adept at pulling notifications from smartphones, alerts, messages and whatnot. On the decidedly bright side (literally), the color screen looks amazing. And the built-in GPS support truly has best-in-class material written all over it, as you’d expect from a Garmin product.

Sony SmartWatch 3 – $160 ($90 off list price)

It’s a “full-on” smartwatch, so it excels at the whole displaying info via a synched handheld affair. Then again, it’s not a battery champion by any means, and strictly from an aesthetical standpoint, it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. It’s not ugly, it’s simply not terribly attractive either. Hard to choose between this and the Forerunner 220, eh? Well, it all depends on what your primary use for a wearable is.

Mobile accessories deals for the week

 

Jawbone Big Jambox certified refurbished – $128

Jawbone Big Jambox

Typically, we wouldn’t think of recommending pre-owned accessories. Because typically, they’re cheap enough out the box. Not this premium, virtually unbreakable, ultra-compact, “amazingly clear”, rich and immersive wireless Bluetooth speaker. This one’s usually $300, occasionally $220 or so, and at less than $130, a “certified” steal in graphite hex and white wave color schemes.

Bastek extendable handheld selfie stick – $9.99 (68 percent off)

We’ve been pretty vocal about our aversion to vulgar selfie sticks on several occasions in the past, but if you go this tasteless route, at least do it right and buy one that’s inexpensive, versatile, Bluetooth 3.0 compatible, Android 4.2 and up supporting, plus equipped with a very practical Wireless Bluetooth Shutter system.

Motorola S11-Flex HD wireless stereo Bluetooth headset – $50

motorola-S11-Flex-HD

No matter how hard we tried, we could never pay this 5-point adjustable, long-lasting, sweat and humidity-eliminating, HD audio-boasting contraption a higher compliment than highlighting its number one best seller title in Amazon’s Bluetooth cell phone headset ranks. Granted, not every customer had words of praise for the S11-Flex HD in their reviews, yielding an average score of 3.5 stars, yet at 50 bucks, the headset is definitely worth a try.

Aukey 12,000 mAh portable power bank – $21.49

Backed by a lengthy 18-month warranty, capable of juicing up even your beefiest phone twice and protected against overcurrent, overvoltage, overload and short circuits, the external charger inspires the most admiration with its subtle, straightforward design and 245 grams (!!!) weight. That’s got to be a lightness record, considering the towering capacity.

This week’s best deals on phones, tabs, wearables and accessories: July 13 – 19

The Weather Channel is currently forecasting another adequately warm week on both the East and West Coast of the United States, with the occasional drizzle likely to interrupt your sunbathing enterprises from time to time.

hot-summer-deals

But it’s legitimately raining deals over at Amazon, and the emphasis mostly falls on Android gear that was already fairly affordable. Hence, you’ve got now a barrage of ultra-low-cost handhelds, slates, smartwatches, fitness bands and various mobile accessories to choose from, all excellent distractions for when clouds gather up and a beach timeout is obligatory.

This week’s top smartphone bargains

 

LG G Flex 2 – $360 unlocked international

LG G Flex 2

It truly boggles the mind why the perennial Korean underdog hasn’t been more aggressive in its efforts to make curvaceous gadgets appeal to the masses, particularly since the second-gen G Flex debuted back in February at a reasonable price point.

Following a series of discounts , the tag has dropped into “WTF” territory (in a decidedly good way), and the 5.5-inch banana phone can be had for half of Galaxy S6 Edge’s tariff. Granted, the latter is clearly handsomer, sharper and punchier, but the G Flex 2 doesn’t fall so far behind, with octa-core Snapdragon 810 muscle, 3 GB RAM, Lollipop software and 3,000 mAh battery juice.

Samsung Galaxy A5 – starting at $280

In a desperate attempt to improve their mid-end sales achievements, the overall Android kings but especially flagship dominators have taken a cool $120 off the all-metal A5’s original valuation. If this doesn’t work either, there really is a slump in the mobile tech landscape manufacturers need to deal with before it replicates the PC’s downward spiral.

Seriously, what more could Sammy possibly offer at $280 than a premium aluminum skeleton, 5-inch 720p Super AMOLED screen, 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 410 SoC, 2 GB RAM, 13 MP LED flash rear cam, 5 MP selfie shooter and Android 5.0 Lollipop?

Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime – $170

Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime

Up to a point, the Grand Prime eerily resembles the A5. Both panels measure 5 inches in diagonal, both front cams sport 5 megapixel sensors, and the hardware shows are run by identical S410 processors. Obviously, the sub-$200 Android soldier needs to cut serious build quality corners (plastic red alert), as well as ditch a gig of memory, 5 rear cam MPs and close to 80 ppi.

On the bright side, the lower-res qHD display, backed by a larger 2,600 mAh cell, should produce higher endurance scores. Decent quality – cost ratio overall.

Samsung Galaxy J1 – $79.99 Verizon prepaid

We bet you weren’t aware this humble little guy was available with no-contract Big Red Plans and 4G LTE connectivity. No wonder, given the cringe worthy spec sheet… of the international model. Surprise, surprise, VZW actually picked up a revised variant, still low-res as hell, but at least quad-core-powered and endowed with 1 GB RAM.

Also, Android 5.0 Lollipop-running. Watch your back, second-gen Moto E!

Tablet deals and steals

 

Asus ZenPad Z170C-A1 – $99

Asus ZenPad Z170C

It’s not the best ZenPad Asus has in the pipeline, yet it’s extremely stylish… for the price. Slim bezels, 8.4 mm waist, tipping the scales at 265 grams, “ergonomically” curved at the edges, and leathery around the back.

Now, Amazon says the dirt-cheap 7 incher provides decrepit KitKat software, but that’s unlikely. Lollipop goodies all the way, claims the pad’s manufacturer, with 16 GB internal storage and quad-core Intel Atom x3 heat key selling points as well.

Asus ZenPad 10 Z300C-A1 – $179

Bigger, badder, (slightly) brighter, an amazing multitasker, courtesy of 2 GB RAM, and just as elegant. Too bad it’s backordered, with 2 to 4 weeks listed as the shipping estimate at the time of this writing.

Asus MeMo Pad 8 ME181C – $116 in light blue

This is turning into an Asus device blowout all of a sudden, with an OG 8 incher situated smack-dab in the middle of the two aforementioned newcomers on the totem pole. The ME181C is also slender and chic, and lets you save 500 GB of data in the cloud for free within your first two years of ownership. In addition to the 16 gigs of local space, that is.

Huawei MediaPad T1 – $184 4G unlocked

Huawei MediaPad T1

Compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T’s high-speed cellular networks, this aluminum-crafted 8 incher can be used as a ridiculously large phone. It makes and receives voice calls, that’s right, and “keeps going”, thanks to a 4,800 mAh battery.

Android-compatible wearables on the cheap

 

Alcatel OneTouch Watch – $129 size M/L

It’s not technically an Android Wear family member, and it welcomes iPhone synchronization (boo!), but it’s circular, can pull most of the fundamental notifications you allegedly want on your wrist, and withstands dust and water contact with grace.

Alcatel_OneTouch_Watch

Plus, it should last several days between charges, specifically because it relies on a simplified proprietary OS in lieu of Android W.

Pebble Time – $229.99 in white or black

It’s perhaps futile to underline the newest crowd-funded Pebble gizmo can’t be procured very widely or easily at the moment, so you may want to jump at the (limited) opportunity offered by third-party Amazon seller Chachi Toys.

Android and iOS-supporting, as always, the Time ups the display color ante, yet somehow easily exceeds all its rivals in autonomy. What else is new? The interface, as expected, overall device robustness, slimness and, apparently, activity tracking accuracy.

Microsoft Band – $178 large; $180 medium

Microsoft Band

For the first time in the history of our little promotion roundups, none of the week’s recommended wearables is a “fancy” Android Wear smartwatch and instead, all contraptions in this section work with Androids and iPhones.

The Microsoft Band further provides for Windows Phones (as if anyone cares), and stands out with a minimalistic design, decent battery life, 24-hour heart rate monitoring and built-in GPS functionality.

Best deals on mobile accessories

 

RAVPower 7,800 mAh power bank – $10.99

It’s become so easy (and cheap) to greatly extend your phone or tablet’s endurance, it’s almost ridiculous. Think about it, for only 11 bucks, you can add a full on-the-go charge to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5.

RAVPower power bank

TaoTronics Bluetooth car kit – $18.99

What does the kit include? “Just” a Bluetooth music receiver and USB car charger, with a built in microphone for easy, safe and, above all, legal calls while driving. Not to mention the sound quality rocks, by virtue of aptX coding.

The Friendly Swede universal capacitive touch screen stylus – $5.99 bundle of 6

The Friendly Swede universal stylus pack

We’ll be honest with you. These types of universal pens don’t work so amazing with all phones and slates. But if you keep your expectations low, in line with the outrageous price, you may end up as satisfied as the 881 Amazon customers that gave this stylus pack a phenomenal review average of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Samsung Galaxy S5 replacement battery – $11

So, after careful consideration, you decided to stick with the “ancient” GS5 and skip its sequel due to underwhelming battery capacity, no removal possibility, microSD support and lack of waterproofing. Clearly though, to get the most out of the 2015 flagship, you require a backup cell. At $11, why not purchase two… or ten?

2015 Premium Flexion selfie stick – $27.99

Flexion selfie stick

Don’t listen to Vladimir Putin’s extremist government. Selfies are tacky, but they’re not dangerous… if you’re not a complete moron. Selfie sticks, meanwhile, are even sillier, but still not hazardous to one’s health. This “premium” mobile accessory is adjustable, ultra-compact, simple to use and fully compatible with everything. Even a front-facing cam-equipped potato.

This week’s best deals on phones, tabs, wearables, accessories and apps – April 17

We might as well call this the Samsung Galaxy S6 promotion collection. The most exciting smartphone in Android history since… ever (?) reportedly got off to a roaring start at the box-office, and is fairly hard to come by in many brick and mortar US outlets.

Save Money

Things will likely get worse in the next few weeks, despite LG G4’s imminent debut, so we’ve gathered for you today a slew of Amazon listings that you can use to dodge the in-store frenzy. But of course, we have our budget-conscious handheld buyers covered as well, plus basic wearable enthusiasts and especially Android app bargain hunters.

Listen up, y’all, and listen good, because discounts galore:

April 17’s best smartphone deals

 

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, gold platinum 32 GB$300 with AT&T contracts; $815 outright (pre-order only; shipping April 27)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, gold platinum 128 GB$500 with AT&T pacts; $990 outright (available April 27)

Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S6, gold platinum 64 GBstarting at $300 with Sprint

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, gold platinum 64 GB Sprint$400 and up

What we’ve selected here for you is far more precious than your typical $10 off “deal”. It’s a bunch of exotic flavors of the “next big things” that no one can deliver earlier than Amazon. Have at it, and remember, gold is best! Particularly when paired with enough digital hoarding space to store every episode of The Simpsons ever made.

Samsung Galaxy S6 factory unlocked, white – $754.94

Still not exactly affordable, the SIM-free metallic beast is a cool $100 cheaper than last week.

Samsung-Galaxy-S6-White

Samsung Galaxy S5 unlocked – $397 in black; $396 in white

If your reaction to a one-year-old high-end mobile is “Ew! No way!”, then this promo isn’t for you. Everyone else, consider this – HTC’s One M8 is $470 and up. And the S5 isn’t that bad, with waterproof features, a sharp Super AMOLED 1,080p screen and 16 MP rear-facing camera.

BLU Vivo Air – $189.97 in black; $199.99 in white gold

Say hello to the world’s slimmest smartphone. At 5.1 mm thin, the Vivo Air looks like it may crumble out of the blue. But all things considered, it’s pretty durable in addition to incredibly stylish and well-endowed in the photography department.

Blu Vivo Air

Motorola Moto G for Boost Mobile – $43 (67 percent off list)

This is the original model, so you don’t get LTE speeds or microSD support. At 43 bucks, consider yourselves lucky you’re getting a touchscreen. With 720p resolution, no less.

LG G2 AT&T unlocked – $211

It’s got Lollipop now, it’s cheaper than ever before, so you’ll want to look beyond its advanced age. After all, a Full HD display, quad-core S800 punch and 2 GB RAM are anything but 2013-reminiscent specs.

Tablet bargains

 

Lenovo A10-70 – $209

In the age of ultra-low-cost gear, it’s still not easy to find a half-decent 10 incher at sub-$250. Lenovo’s low-profile trooper qualifies, with 9-hour battery, KitKat software and a 9 mm waist.

Lenovo A10-70

Asus MeMo Pad 7 ME176CX – $125

Always a team player, always focused on squeezing the best quality out of the least pricey contraptions, Asus gives you quad-core Intel Atom speed, a respectable 1,280 x 800 7-inch screen and 16 GB internal storage for a little over a Benjamin. Not bad!

Wearable deals and steals

 

Jawbone Up2 – $99.99

Jawbone Up2

It literally just broke cover, and it’s already up for grabs. Forget savings, that alone is a fact worth mentioning. Also, the Up2 is sleeker and handsomer than its predecessor, offering the basics of fitness tracking in a long-lasting package.

Garmin Forerunner 220 heart rate monitor bundle – $259.99

It’s perhaps not the “smartest” watch as far as Android users are concerned, but sports addicts go nuts about “advanced” Garmin wearables, and for a good reason. Make that several reasons: built-in GPS support, high-res color display, stellar battery life, water protection, shock resistance, more sensors than we can count.

Jawbone Up24 – $33.69 used, very good condition

No better time to purchase older Jawbones than just as newer models debut. While you’re at it, why not score a pre-owned, mint-like smart band?

Accessories

 

Bastex Samsung Galaxy S6 Anti-Glare Anti-Fingerprint screen protector – $2.99

Bastex Heavy Duty hybrid armor case for Galaxy S6 – $6.99

Galaxy S6 case

Bastex Heavy Duty Galaxy S6 protective armor case – $7.99

No matter what various drop tests might try to tell you, the glass-and-aluminum GS6 ain’t indestructible. The screen can be a finger magnet too, and not in a good way, but in exchange for only 10 bucks, you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Satechi Divoom Bluetune-Bean portable Bluetooth speaker – $16.99 and up

“Small enough to fit in one hand”, this baby is a little on the unattractive side, but it can last 6 hours between charges and packs “powerful 360-degree sound.”

Belkin Fusive portable Bluetooth speaker – $33.48 (67 percent off)

Belkin Fusive

At under one pound, the Fusive is extremely light for its size… and capabilities – 10-hour autonomy, 30 feet range, “room-filling”, distortion-free audio.

VicTsing wireless Bluetooth 3.0 waterproof speaker – $20.99 ($59 savings)

Another portable speaker? Is there something in the air or what? No idea, but the cool thing about this product is it conveys 5W sound in the shower.

Free Android app of the day bundle

Runtastic Pro

 

You all know and love these “routine” Amazon Appstore freebie accumulations, and this week in particular, you can find an impressive number of gems downloadable with no charge. Runtastic PRO for outdoorsy individuals. Virtua Tennis Challenge for Sega fans. Flightradar24 Pro for frequent fliers. Prince of Persia Classic. A Better Camera Unlocked. Splashtop Whiteboard, typically available for $34.99 (!!!), and so on and so forth.

Hurry though, as app promos tend to expire before you can take full advantage of them.

This week’s best deals on phones, tablets, wearables and accessories – March 27

How’s it going, bargain hunters, shopping addicts, yard sale junkies and thrift store connoisseurs? Ready to refresh your gadget depository? In the market for a spanking new smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, fitness tracker or anything in between, as long as it’s green robot-certified?

sale

You’re in luck, we’re back with a slew of sizzling hot fresh Android promotions, and as usual, there’s something for everyone in our selection. No matter the budget, no matter the performance requirements:

Best Android smartphone deals

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $615 unlocked octa-core in white

Galaxy Note 4

The next big things aren’t technically here yet, and Amazon doesn’t take pre-orders either at the moment, but maybe the S6 and S6 Edge aren’t a great fit for you anyway. If you think bigger is better and don’t care too much about gimmicky, useless side panels, the Note 4 is at least as good as the GS6 pair.

It supports microSD expansion, it’s got an S Pen in tow, gargantuan user removable 3,220 mAh battery and, last but not least, it’s cheaper outright.

Unlocked Motorola Moto E with global GSM compatibility – $89.85 ($40 off list)

Okay, so perhaps the second-gen E is the wiser buy. Check that, definitely. But if you don’t have the $120 required for the 3G variant, or the $150 the 4G LTE model goes for, you’ll be very happy settling for the $90 original. It has Lollipop on the way, 1 GB RAM and a respectable 1,980 mAh cell inside.

LG Optimus F3 for Boost Mobile – $89 ($41 savings)

It’s an Optimus, so it’s clearly a little dated. And it’s stuck on Jelly Bean in an age KitKat is slowly but steadily heading for oblivion. Yet it offers advanced LTE connectivity and 2,460 mAh battery juice on a frugal 4-inch IPS LCD screen. Translation – it’s going to outlast every gizmo you bought in the past half a decade.

Prepaid Virgin Mobile HTC Desire 816 – $189.99

HTC Desire 816

Originally listed on Amazon at $250, the KitKat-running 5.5 incher is still sold via Best Buy for a prohibitive $300. At $190 therefore, it’s quite the steal, what with 720p display resolution, quad-core 1.6 GHz Snapdragon 400 punch, 1.5 GB RAM and 13 MP/5 MP cameras.

Tablets to buy on the cheap

 

Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition – starting at $124 in 6-inch config; $164 and up at 7 inches

Fire HD Kids Edition

The smaller version is hardly a tab, but at least it’s not a toy, delivering 1,280 x 800 pixels resolution, quad-core speed and up to 8 hours of continuous use between charges. Designed to handle your youngster’s clumsiness, these babies come with two-year worry-free guarantee even if they break and are attractive and powerful enough to fascinate your three-year-old, as well as your teenage son or daughter.

LG G Pad 7.0 GSM unlocked LTE variant with 16 GB storage – $85 in used, like new condition

Look, if purchasing pre-owned gear sounds as daunting as flying low-cost these days, the brand new G Pad 7 is only 20 bucks more. Either way, you’ll be lucky to have the battery champ, due for Lollipop goodies in the near future and packing quad-core S400 oomph.

Google Nexus 9 16 GB black – $269.44 from Amazon Warehouse in used, very good condition

Nexus 9

Think about it, how much wear do you think the N9 suffered, given it barely saw daylight four months ago? Besides, the seller is 100 percent trusted, and the cosmetic imperfections are said to be unnoticeable.

Acer Iconia One 7 B1-730 – $79.99 ($20 off)

It’s untouched, just 80 bucks, features 16 GB internal storage space, Intel Atom inside, 1 GB RAM and 7-hour autonomy. It’s a no-brainer, really.

The week’s biggest Android-compatible wearable savings

 

Jawbone Up 24 – $54.99 in persimmon; $66.12 in onyx

Back in the day available for $129, this minimalistic but reliable fitness band is now half off with the same winning one-week battery and straightforward sports and sleep monitoring functions.

Garmin Vivofit – $85 standalone; $110 with heart rate monitor

Garmin Vivofit

Discounted by $45 and a whopping $60 respectively, the Vivofit is far superior to the Up 24 across the board. The old pacemaker doesn’t need recharging and will require a replacement after a whole year, the display is impressive for the little guy’s price range, and you also get water protection.

Sony SmartWatch 2 – $116 with silicon band; $140 metal

Bet you forgot this old thing existed, eh? Well, Amazon didn’t, even if the sequel is much better, and discounts here range from $84 to $140 (!!!). Android 4.0 and up handhelds are supported via Bluetooth 3.0, NFC is offered as well, plus a 220 x 176 1.6-inch touchscreen and 7-day endurance.

Accessories

 

MEElectronics Air-Fi Journey AF16 portable stereo wireless headset – $24

MEElectronics headset

Let’s keep this short. The ultra-lightweight headphones used to cost $60, now they’re less than half. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, we don’t know what could ever hit the spot.

Aukey 40W/8A 5-port USB charging station – $17 (down from $50)

The perfect accessory for large families and parties, this thing can juice up five Androids simultaneously and it’s zippy, low-profile aesthetically and nowhere near as bulky as you’d expect.

Polar H7 Bluetooth smart hear rate sensor – $51.98 in black

Polar H7

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free less? Admit it, most of you fitness nuts don’t need 90 percent of smartwatch or smartband features. And if you really just want a solid HR monitor that can provide ultra-accurate readings, Polar is the way to go.

Fenix 6,000 mAh external power bank – $11.99 (76 percent off list)

By now, you should know everything there is to know about external smartphone and tablet chargers. Ergo, you realize how hard it is to find such a high-capacity power bank at 12 bucks. Especially with an ultra-thin brushed aluminum design. Score!

Aaand… that’s it for today and this week. But meet us back here in seven days and we’ll start all over again.

Top ten Apple Watch alternatives that support both Android and iOS

As an unapologetic (wink, wink), self-acknowledged Android aficionado (don’t call me a fanboy), and writer who earns money off Google’s prosperity, I’m practically and almost unconsciously compelled to dislike, scorn and mock Apple.

apple-watch-parody

But oftentimes, Cupertino makes it really hard to hate on them. The iPad Air and Air 2 are gorgeous and their “ecosystem” still makes a lot more sense than Android on a large, 7 inch+ screen. Then you have the iPhone 6 Plus, which is a bit overpriced but otherwise a mighty LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 contender.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch was expected to similarly blow the competition out of the water. That was one to two years ago, when the first rumors popped up. The waiting suggested something really special would eventually come to light. Only last fall’s introduction and yesterday’s re-introduction events delivered a stink bomb for hardcore iFans.

apple-watch

(Unfashionably) late to the wearable party, the “iWatch” is costly, insipid-looking, and all-around boring. It’s virtually useless without an iPhone, and far from a battery champion. Above all, you can find dozens of superior alternatives everywhere.

Seeking a premium yet cheaper Android-compatible option? Here are seven. And don’t forget the soon-to-be LG Watch Urbane or Huawei Watch. Want a basic activity tracker with stellar autonomy? We have another slew of seven Apple Watch “killers” for you. Finally, in case cross-platform support is what tickles your fancy, we bring you today ten top-shelf wearables boasting both Android and iOS compatibility. This is how it’s done, Apple:

Pebble, Pebble Steel, Pebble Time and Time Steel – the “something for all” alternative

Pebble

The ones that started it all showed moxie when taking the wraps off the Time/Time Steel pair just days ahead of Apple Watch’s second announcement. And the world rewarded their courage with over $17 million and counting.

But as good-looking the always-on color e-paper display is, you don’t want to write off the OG Pebble and Steel. With full-week energy, retro designs, minimalistic interfaces, iPhone and Android notifications and water protection, they essentially offer all the basics of an intelligent timepiece at a fraction of Apple Watch’s price. Besides, the advanced software on the Time and Time Steel is headed to their predecessors in a matter of months.

Fitbit Surge – the fitness “superwatch” option

Fitbit Surge

Specialized in ultra-low-cost sporting gear, Fitbit pushes the envelope with the Surge, loading it up with everything from GPS location services to a heart rate monitor and sleep quality supervisor functions. Plus, you get a small but respectable monochrome LCD touchscreen, water resistance and up to 7-day battery.

Lastly, Bluetooth 4.0 technology for automatic wireless synching to more than 120 iOS, Android and Windows Phones. And it’s still 100 bucks cheaper than the Apple Watch.

Garmin Vivoactive – the Batman of “superwatches”

You got the Batman metaphor, so don’t even act puzzled. Basically, if the Surge is Superman, the Vivoactive is the “Caped Crusader”. Slicker, with more tricks up its sleeve, it’s this generation’s ultimate fitness hero.

Garmin Vivoactive

The display is a lot prettier, larger and higher-res, but somehow, Garmin feels comfortable enough to promise up to three-week continuous life. Then there’s obligatory built-in GPS, an amazing interface that keeps various athletic activities separate, and of course, “smart notifications” for contemporary Androids and iPhones.

Wondering what superhero identity we’d give the Apple Watch if these last two are Superman and Batman? Robin, maybe. Or Seth Rogen’s Green Hornet.

Alcatel OneTouch Watch – the “future’s bright” contestant

Our number seven (yes, we’re counting the four Pebbles separately) isn’t out yet, but it’s nigh and too good to ignore, regardless of its creator’s lack of mainstream fame and credibility stateside. Obviously running a rudimentary, untried proprietary OS instead of Android Wear, the One Touch unbelievably aims to bring the big apple and green robot together starting at a measly $150.

Alcatel OneTouch Watch

That’s almost entry-level activity tracker territory, but for all intents and purposes this is a full-on smartwatch. It tells the time on a beautiful 240 x 204 pix res 1.22-inch IPS panel, it’s round, lightweight and stylish, and features IP67 certification for water and dust resistance, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, a (presumably primitive) heart rate sensor, altimeter, gyroscope and accelerometer.

And for a bit of extra dough ($50 or so), you’ll even be able to pair the handsome gadget with a metal-made band. Nice!

Microsoft Band – the surprise contender

This is rich. An Android blog trying to plug a Redmond concoction as an Apple replacement device. What can we say, we like to keep an open mind, and in an unforeseen twist, so does MS all of a sudden. With Windows Phone 8.1, plus iOS 7.1 and 8, and Android 4.3 and 4.4 sync compatibility.

Microsoft Band

Not too shabby, which is also what we can say about the Band’s abundance of sensors – optical heart rate, GPS, ambient light, skin temperature, UV, galvanic skin, accelerometer and gyro. How many do you provide, Apple?

Unfortunately, the Microsoft Band is hardly a battery powerhouse, despite its frugal-looking display and overall basic set of specifications. And the price tag isn’t ideal either. Make it $150, or throw in the towel, MS!

Garmin Forerunner 920XT – the pro athlete’s wet dream

First of all, yes, this baby is costlier than an Apple Watch. And for the typical, geeky smartwatch enthusiast, it’s a bit on the bulky and fugly side. But that’s not really the target audience here. Instead, it’s people who want the most accurate fitness readings and “metrics that matter.”

Garmin Forerunner 920XT

Speed, distance covered, cadence, power, ascent and descent, you name it, the highest-end Forerunner is there to report it. In a continuous loop up to 720 hours (aka a month), underwater or out in the wild. And yes, it brings smart Android and iOS notifications to your wrist as well.

Martian Notifier – the underdog

Colorful, analog, simplistic and inexpensive, this thing came out of nowhere and, with little to no conventional promotion, it’s now one of the most popular and well-reviewed products in its class on Amazon. Of course, it’s all about expectations with the Notifier. By no means is it an Apple Watch or Moto 360 slayer.

Martian Notifier

For sub-$100 though, it offers a lot: multi-platform support, honorable battery life, a 1.5-inch OLED screen, customizable vibration patterns, and alerts for incoming calls, text messages, social media posts, news headlines, fitness stats, etc., etc.

Now, who here is thinking of pairing their Android or iPhone with literally anything but the Apple Watch? Have a favorite, or still weighing different options? Did we maybe forget your pick? Sound off below.

CES 2015 recap: All the new Android-compatible wearables launched in Vegas

It’s over. It’s really, really over. The Consumer Electronics Show effectively wrapped up a couple of days back, even though certain exhibitors will continue to, well, exhibit their spanking new products until Friday, hoping for a last-minute publicity boost.

Best of CES 2015

The bad news? A similar onslaught of sizzling hot fresh Android gear isn’t set to go down again for the next couple of months or so, when everyone from HTC to Sony, LG and perhaps even Samsung are expected to take Barcelona, Spain by storm for the Mobile World Congress.

The good news? As long as you know where to look, and are wise enough to disregard natural born haters, you have quite a lot to take in from Las Vegas. Almost enough to keep you busy until March 2.

Granted, not much happened on the high-end smartphone front, and tablets in general have hit a major slump. But piles of unusually capable budget handhelds and oodles of rudimentary yet solid and affordable fitness trackers saved face for mobile at CES, shining nearly as bright as Intel Broadwell-powered laptops and convertibles.

garmin-fenix3

In the following lines, we’ll try our best to round up all the Android-supporting wearables introduced in Vegas the past few days. Since everyone and their mother had something to showcase in the niche though, we’re afraid we had to handpick the most promising dozen or so new gizmos. And yes, we stuck to conventional activity trackers and smartwatches, ignoring the nutty smart insoles, mouth guards, light bulbs and so on and so forth. Call us conservatory or uptight, but those things are a little too eccentric in our book.

Stainless steel Sony SmartWatch 3

It’s weird, but amid all the new announcements at CES, the wearable that caught our eye the most was a rehashed take on a classic. That said, you really have to wonder why Sony didn’t go the metal route earlier to bring out the very best in the near-flawless SmartWatch 3.

Sony SmartWatch 3 steel

Available for $236 on Amazon in a standard, basic, silicon band-strapped flavor, the timepiece is unlikely to be cheap in the premium steel finish. But boy, is it sexy, and jam-packed with sensors, GPS included, plus Android Wear-running.

Alcatel OneTouch Watch

A stylish, retro-evocative, round-faced gadget with lengthy battery life, all the typical functionality found on a complex smartwatch, and priced at $100 less than Motorola’s Moto 360? Where do we sign up?

Alcatel-OneTouch-Watch

Not so fast, grasshoppers, as Alcatel’s rookie effort in the increasingly competitive market segment snubs Android Wear in favor of a proprietary, thus far unproven OS. The “rookie” part should put you on the alert as well, with build quality a potential worry. All in all though, for $150, it’s probably worth the risk.  

Lenovo Vibe Band

Extreme affordability is what this basic activity tracker has going for it too, plus mind-blowing autonomy, courtesy of a deliciously frugal E Ink display with 296 x 128 pixels resolution. Seven days is six days more than what most smartwatches around can last between charges, and being able to charge just $90 for the privilege is an amazing feat on Lenovo’s part.

Lenovo-Vibe-Band

The fundamental downside? To our knowledge, the Vibe Band is unlikely to ever set foot on American soil, with wide European availability also a stretch.

Garmin Vivoactive, Vivofit 2, Fenix 3 and Epix

My oh my, did this once navigation-focused titan take CES seriously. As does Garmin seem to take the wearable landscape as a whole, with more products rolled out in the niche recently than I can count on the fingers of one hand.

Garmin watches

Though it’s hard, if we were to pick a standout performer from Garmin’s CES 2015 quartet, we’d probably go with the Vivoactive. Priced at $250, this is billed as the ultimate low-cost smartwatch for athletes, and fits the description beautifully.

Don’t get us wrong, the Fenix 3 is in many ways superior to the Vivoactive. But it’s also $500. Meanwhile, the Epix is aimed at extreme outdoors enthusiasts, and the Vivofit 2 is budget-friendly, at $130, and mighty elegant… for the price range.

Razer Nabu X

One word number. 50. As in, $50. The rest almost doesn’t count, and the minimalistic, straightforward design, as well as the long-lasting battery (five to seven days) just make the deal that much sweeter.

razer_nabu_x

And in case you’re wondering, no, there’s no screen in sight, and the number of sensors is skimpy, to say the least. But it’s 50 frigging bucks.

Withings Activité Pop

Never heard of Withings? You don’t know what you’re missing out on. Case in point, a $150 full-featured fitness tracker in smartwatch clothing. Smooth, round, metallic, premium clothing, that is, with playful color added in the mix upon request, and, get this, 8 month+ autonomy.

withings-activite-pop

Of course, that raises the problem of spending extra on spare batteries, but how cool is it to forget about charging cables, docks or whatnot, and still get detailed athletics stats, water resistance and sleep monitoring?

Unfortunately, Android compatibility isn’t offered yet, albeit it should be on the way in a matter of a few months, maybe weeks. The sooner, the better, Withings.

Omate Roma and Racer

Not familiar with Omate either? Maybe you should look around Amazon, and closely explore the $128 X smartwatch, or the $210 3G-capable TrueSmart. Yes, this start-up is beginning to shine, and become one of the greats, with a new $99 Racer targeting unfussy sports addicts, and the pricier Roma going after, well, men.

Omate-Racer-Roma

Men who still love the feel of leather against their skin, and the look of a classical, “conventional” watch. With a number of contemporary upgrades and improvements, full Android support for notification displaying included.

Misfit Swarovski Shine

Ladies, this one goes out to you in a big way. Essentially a jewel-adorned sibling of the standard $75 Shine, the Swarovski line looks exquisite as a watch, necklace or small clip attached to your clothing, breaking new ground in alternative battery-powering techniques with solar charging.

Misfit-Swarovski-Shine

You’d think a charming, cutting-edge ensemble of that nature would force you to break the bank, but amazingly, Misfit plans to price the Swarovski Shine at between $170 and $250, depending on specific capabilities and some add-ons. Wow!

Polar A300

Polar’s back, and this time, it’s showing off a lower-end variant of the omnipotent $315 and up V800 GPS sports watch. GPS support is now missing, and by the looks of it, certain build quality compromises were obligatory.

Polar A300

But at $140, with 24/7 activity tracking, advanced sleep monitoring and convenient health guidance, the A300 is a must-buy for anyone that’s not overly attached to Android Wear or just doesn’t dig “real”, beefy smartwatches in general.

Magellan Echo Fit

This company we’ll admit to not knowing it very well beforehand, but after proper vetting, Magellan checks out. Their OG Echo is vastly praised on Amazon, and costs a measly $94, whereas the just-unveiled Echo Fit is already up for grabs at $129 and up, and the swift turnaround is bound to go a long way.

Magellan Echo Fit

Round and pretty handsome for just 130 greens, this bad boy doesn’t need charging, and works with an entire slew of third-party sports apps. From RunKeeper to MayMapRun and GolfPad, you can throw everything at the Echo Fit, and business will be handled smoothly as butter.

iHealth Edge

Don’t let the name fool you. This $70 economical wearable doesn’t play OS favorites, and shows Android the same respect as iOS. As is often the case when paying so little for a gizmo of this kind, you shouldn’t rely on its data and statistics accuracy too much.

iHealth Edge

But the Edge is a fun, little, affordable fitness tracker with all the essentials, a five to seven days battery life, and automatic sleep monitoring. It’s tough to recommend it over Misfit or Fitbit-built contenders, but it could be the beginning of iHealth’s rise to fame.

That’s a wrap, boys and girls, both for our wearable roundup, and CES 2015 coverage. We wanted to do a tablet recap too, we really did, and perhaps something to cover the hybrid and “others” sections, but there’s simply not enough material to bother. See you all at MWC!

Best Android-supporting fitness trackers you can stuff into a Christmas stocking

If you’ve been following our site closely of late, and decided to sit the Black Friday shopping craze out waiting for Christmas deals and bargains, you should already be able to put together a decent gift list for any gadget enthusiast.

fitness tracker

We’ve rounded up the best Android-compatible smartwatches around for your selecting pleasure, the best business-friendly tablets, as well as the smartphone big-battery champions and top rugged choices in both the handheld and slate sector.

The smartphones, tablets, budget phones and high-end handhelds we recommended for Black Friday remain excellent choices for Christmas too, and the low-cost and 4G LTE equation doesn’t have to be solved by breaking the bank, as we demonstrated here and here.

Still, there’s something missing. A buying guide for fitness nuts who merely want a device to support their hobby, nay raison d’etre. Forget fancy, stylish, smartphone-replacing smartwatches. These guys are all about stats, sleep tracking and health advice, and they couldn’t care less if their wearable piece lets them make or receive voice calls via the wrist.

fitness trackers

Stellar battery life means a week, not a day of continuous use for the target audience of today’s story, and a heart rate monitor is always going to be preferred over a punchy Snapdragon processor. Without further ado, our health enthusiastic friends, here are the seven best activity trackers for your money available today:

7. Garmin Vivofit – $75 without heart rate monitor; $120 with heart rate monitor

Time hasn’t been too kind to the aging Vivofit, which put simply can’t keep up with 2015 wearable standards. Sure, it’s still nice you can bundle the band with an external heart rate monitor, and the combo’s price is hardly prohibitive.

Garmin Vivofit

Then there’s the traditional watch-like battery, which will never get old and could well outlast the actual fitness tracker. It’s the replaceable kind, and Garmin says it can stay on for “more than a year.” Of course, some may prefer recharging the thing rather than paying extra to swap it once it’s dead.

Also, we hardcore Android geeks would really really reheally like it if Garmin stopped shoving its clunky Connect app down our throats. Not to mention at the end of the day, the Vivofit just doesn’t do very much for its $75 and up price. It’s basically a glorified pedometer, and as we’re about to show you, you can get one of those for a lot less.

6. Misfit Flash – available for $25 in black or red

This little guy is a third of Vivofit’s price, and all in all, it offers mostly the same functionality. Granted, heart rate monitoring is nowhere to be found here, neither standard, nor as a paid add-on, but much like the Vivofit, the Flash is a decent, unpretentious, tiny running companion.

Misfit Flash

It also helps you sleep better, and it’s splash-proof, so it’s safe to wear around the pool. Around it, not in the pool, got that? As far as Android support and app compatibility goes, we love Misfit lets you choose between a number of “connected partners”, Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal included.

The minimalistic interface makes it a little difficult for the Flash to be used as a watch, but otherwise, the LED light assortment is a neat, ingenious way of keeping production costs low, yet not cut very many corners in terms of functionality.

5. Basis Peak – $200 on Amazon in black or white

The Peak means business, no question about it, and in many ways, it’s closer to a smartwatch than a basic fitness band. It’s got an LCD screen that’s not too fancy but not rudimentary either, displays notifications from synched Androids, and puts out vibrating alerts for stuff like incoming messages, calls or alarms.

Basis Peak

It’s also pretty impressive in the autonomy department, holding a charge for “up to four days”, and is completely water-resistant, not just splash-proof. It’s perfect for swims, as well as runs and whatever sporting activities you can think of, and it even passively measures your heart rate.

Why is it only #5 then? First and foremost, it’s far too expensive. Second, as it can’t decide whether it’s a smartwatch or fitness band, it looks like an ugly cross between the two. And third, the swipe-based interface is just a little awkward to use and get used to.

4. Fitbit Flex – $94 in slate; $95 in black; $100 in blue or tangerine; $130 in pink

It’s Amazon’s number one best seller in health and personal care products, but while we personally love, love, love the Flex, we can’t put it on our podium. It would be unfair to the three medalists we’ll dissect a little later, as it has started showing its age, similarly to Garmin’s Vivofit.

Fitbit Flex

The Flex’s biggest problem today is it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. A forte. A key selling point. The battery life is decent, at around five days, but not the best. Design-wise, the band is sleek and low-key, but perhaps a little too low-key.

There’s no heart rate monitor, the price is fairly steep, and the Android app showing those detailed statistics you all love so much… well, that’s pretty great, but not enough for more than a spot just under the podium.

3. Misfit Shine – starting at $77

Cheaper than ever before, the Shine is very similar to the Flash, but it’s obviously better-looking, more functional and productive. It’s also waterproof up to 50 meters deep, and can be worn as a necklace or clip, not just as a watch.

Misfit Shine

The minimalistic interface is perhaps too rudimentary for almost 80 bucks, which is why the Shine has to settle for bronze.

2. Jawbone Up 24 – $70 in red; $100 in “onyx” or lemon lime

No display, no problem? Then you can’t do any better than the Up 24. This thing is uber-cheap, extremely easy to use and master, and highly reliable for anything from running to sleep tracking.

Jawbone Up 24

It also comes with perhaps the world’s best companion Android app, as well as Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal and Nest support. Sure, it’s basic, really, really basic, and uses indicator lights that make Misfit’s gizmos look light-years more advanced.

But because it doesn’t waste energy on a screen or complex LED light arrangement, it can outlast pretty much every other rechargeable fitness band out and about, with 7 days of real-life continuous use. A-mazing!

1. Garmin Vivosmart – $170 without heart rate monitor; $200 with heart rate monitor

It’s a matter of personal preference at the end of the day, and it’s perhaps not fair to compare the Vivosmart and Up 24 or Shine. But if you have the extra money, and want the extra functionality, the Vivosmart is hands down better. A lot better.

Its battery holds a single charge for five to seven days, yet you also get a nice OLED touch screen for email, text message, incoming calls, Twitter or Facebook notifications. It sounds like a smartwatch from that standpoint, and it’s part that, but it’s an activity tracker first and foremost.

garmin-vivosmart

And it does the job stupendously, with its optional heart rate monitor, mind-blowing slew of sensors, personalized stats and goals, sleep observing abilities and record-setting water resistance. The review scores the Vivosmart has been garnering recently speak volumes about the near-perfect execution of Garmin’s simple but inspired concept.

A wearable to tick all the essential boxes of a smartwatch, and leave every fitness tracker in the dust with the best activity-monitoring user experience. Nicely done, Garmin.