Dealmaster: Get a 32GB Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet for $60

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today’s list is headlined by an excellent deal on the 32GB variant of Amazon’s Fire HD 8 tablet, which is down to $59 (and potentially down to $54 for some users with the code “SAVE10OFF” at checkout). That’s a low for this higher-capacity model, which normally sits between $90-$110. Amazon says this deal will expire on Friday.

The Fire HD 8 has been around for a little bit now, and it’s totally possible Amazon is cutting the price ahead of the release of a new model in the coming months. But generally speaking, it remains the most affordable tablet that’s actually worth buying. It’s no iPad, to be sure: the display only has a resolution of 1200×800, it’s not exactly a gaming powerhouse, there’s no 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and it’s all made of plastic. Amazon’s Fire OS is still a far cry from stock Android, too, with baked-in ads and no official support for Google apps like Gmail or Google Drive.

But with Android tablets an eternal mess, a dirt-cheap yet competent slate like the Fire HD 8 is arguably the only worthwhile iPad alternative. Its 1.3GHz MediaTek MT8163V/B SoC and 1.5GB of RAM are still enough to do the basic Web browsing and video streaming without too much frustration, it gets a solid 10-12 hours of battery life per charge, it’s comfortable enough, and that HD display is well worth the step up over Amazon’s cheaper Fire 7 tablet. While Fire OS pushes Amazon’s services in your face at every turn, it still has its advantages if you use the Kindle or Prime Video apps often. It recently gained the ability to work like an Echo Show, too. And if you wanted to avoid it altogether, it’s still not that difficult to load it with the Google Play Store and bring Google apps in that way. (Just know you might have to do a little extra legwork.)

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Windows 10 to get disposable sandboxes for dodgy apps

Microsoft is building a new Windows 10 sandboxing feature that will let users run untrusted software in a virtualized environment that’s discarded when the program finishes running.

The new feature was revealed in a bug-hunting quest for members of the Insider program and will carry the name “InPrivate Desktop.” While the quest has now been removed, the instructions outlined the basic system requirements—a Windows 10 Enterprise system with virtualization enabled and adequate disk and memory—and briefly described how it would be used. There will be an InPrivate Desktop app in the store; running it will present a virtualized desktop environment that can be used to run questionable programs and will be destroyed when the window is closed.

While it would, of course, be possible to manually create a virtual machine to run software of dubious merit, InPrivate Desktop will streamline and automate that process, making it painless to run things in a safe environment. There’s some level of integration with the host operating system—the clipboard can be used to transfer data, for example—but one assumes that user data is off limits, preventing data theft, ransomware, and similar nastiness.

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Dealmaster: Get a Nintendo Switch for $264 and more in this eBay sale

Greetings, Arsians! It’s your old pal The Dealmaster, checking in from his Sisyphean quest to find good tech deals with another PSA: eBay is currently holding a one-day sale that takes 15% off nearly everything greater than $25 in its store, many gadgets included.

eBay runs this kind of “flash sale” periodically, letting users apply a coupon code to various items for a limited period of time. The fine print here is similar to what it has been in the past: you use the coupon code “PRONTO15” at checkout to get 15% off the purchase price—not shipping fees or taxes—of several $25+ items from several sellers across its marketplace.

The retailer says that the discount will be capped at $100, so if you try to take 15% off an item that costs more than $666, you won’t save any extra money. The company says the deal will only last until 1am ET on August 9. You can’t use the coupon more than once, according to eBay, but you can apply it to a cart with multiple eligible items. Warranties, protection plans, gift cards, and a few other categories are excluded from the discount, but most others are up for grabs.

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Dealmaster: Get a 144Hz ViewSonic gaming monitor with FreeSync for $220

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today’s list is headlined by a deal on ViewSonic’s 24-inch XG2402 gaming monitor, which is currently down to $220 at Amazon. That’s as low as it’s been for the general public; the monitor was discounted as part of Amazon’s Prime Day event but usually hovers in the $250-260 range.

As you might suspect from the price, the XG2402 isn’t the most cutting-edge gaming monitor around: it’s a TN panel, so it doesn’t have the more accurate colors and wider viewing angles of an IPS display, and it only has a 1080p resolution, which is more acceptable on a 24-inch panel but still not as sharp as pricier options.

That said, its colors aren’t terribly inaccurate, it’s built well, and it supports FreeSync. So if you have an AMD-powered desktop, it should keep your gameplay smooth and free of screen tearing. Its maximum refresh rate of 144Hz is a plus, too; just note that its FreeSync range ends at 48Hz, so it’ll work best if games are kept running above 48 frames per second. Besides that, you get a pair of built-in speakers, two HDMI 1.4 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort connector, and a 3.5 audio-out jack. While it makes some clear sacrifices, you could still do much worse for $220.

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“___ Technica” is a clue in today’s NYT crossword

So there I was this morning, wearing my Star Trek “redshirt” bathrobe and Spider-Man slippers as I bent over my eggs and coffee, New York Times crossword puzzle splayed out on the breakfast table beside me, when I saw it.

67 across.

Right between 66 across (“Muy ____!”) and 68 across (“Holy Toledo!”). It read: “____ Technica, website with gadget news.” The puzzle had space for just three letters.

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Dealmaster: A bunch of Amazon devices are back down to Prime Day prices

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with a quick PSA for anyone who was interested in a new Amazon Echo or Kindle on Prime Day but didn’t want to sign up for Prime itself: several Amazon devices are currently down to the same prices they had during Amazon’s sales event—just at retailers other than Amazon.

The likes of Best Buy, TargetStaples and a few other stores are offering the discounts, which encompass the usual slate of Echo speakers, Fire TV media streamers, Fire tablets, and Kindle e-readers, among others. How long the deals will last is not clear for every retailer, but Best Buy says its sale, which began Friday, will only continue through August 4.

It’s worth noting that some of these devices are getting a bit long in the tooth—which helps explain why Amazon is willing to sell them for cheap—and, per usual, many of them work best if you’re already loyal to Amazon services. Plus, since there’s no Prime to use here—you’ll have to pay a little bit extra in shipping fees if you take the plunge.

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Dealmaster: Get a Google Daydream View VR headset for $30

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today’s list is headlined by a deal on Google’s latest Daydream View virtual reality headset, the charcoal model of which is down to $30 at Verizon. That’s a new low.

Ars went over the pros and cons of the Daydream View the last time the device received a big price cut, but here’s the short version: Google’s headset doesn’t have the same level of app and game support as its closest rival, Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR. However, it’s generally more comfortable to wear and works with more Android phones, including Samsung’s own Galaxy S9.

In any case, this is still a mobile VR headset, which means you get neither the fuller motion tracking nor the more fleshed-out experiences of pricier headsets. And since the whole thing is still powered by your smartphone, the screen quality will be serviceable more than spectacular, and you won’t get the total untethering of a device like the Oculus Go. Still, while there’s always a chance Google will introduce a new Daydream headset later this year, for $30 this is a solid entry point for those looking to dip their toes into VR for the first time.

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Dealmaster: Get a pair of Apple AirPods for $145, a rare discount

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today’s list is headlined by a rare deal on Apple’s popular AirPods, which are down to $145 at Amazon. That’s not the lowest price we’ve ever seen on the little wireless earbuds, but discounts on these things aren’t exactly common, so it’s a solid price nonetheless.

You probably know the deal with AirPods by now. They’re far from perfect: they neither feel nor sound much better than the plastic earbuds that come for free with every iPhone, they don’t block outside noise well, and they only last about 4-5 hours on their own before needing to go in their charging case. But they’re more than the sum of their parts. They pair easily with an iPhone, they’re lightweight, and that case extends battery life by another 20+ hours. The convenience of simply popping them in and having music start playing is hard to explain until you use them.

Now, there’s a big caveat here: Apple is likely to introduce new AirPods in the coming weeks. Images of an apparent charging case were discovered just this week, and past reports have suggested a pricier noise-cancelling model may also arrive down the road. But the release of new models always means discounts on the old one—if you’d rather save $14 and don’t care about missing the water resistance, wireless charging, and hands-free Siri expected to arrive in a new model this fall, here you go.

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