The best early Black Friday 2018 deals

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Amazon Echo (2nd Generation) – Refurbished

Amazon Echo

Street Price: $80; Deal Price: $60

Only available in Heather Gray, this $60 refurbished sale on our pick in our Alexa guide is the best price we’ve seen on this model to date.

The Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) is our pick of Amazon’s Alexa-controlled speakers. Grant Clauser writes, “If you want music without hooking up any additional speakers, the second-generation Echo offers the complete range of functions, minus the screen features of the Show and Spot. As a speaker, it’s good for kitchens, offices, dens, bedrooms, and other places where convenience and size (it’s about the size of a Foster’s beer can) is more important than audio performance. The speaker is designed for 360-degree dispersion, so placing it in the middle of the room will give you sound in all four corners.”

Audio-Technica LP60-BT Turntable

Audio-Technica turntable

Street Price: $150; Deal Price: $120

Down to $120 in both Black and White, this pricing matches the low we’ve seen for this Bluetooth-enabled turntable. We haven’t seen a deal on this turntable since the the summer.

The Audio-Technica LP60-BT Turntable is the budget pick in our guide to the best turntable for casual listening. Chris Heinonen writes, “If you want something that can just play records easily for as little as possible, the Audio-Technica LP60-BT will do the job. Unlike the other tables we considered, LP60-BT is fully automatic: Press a button and the table spins while the arm moves into position. Once a record is done, the arm goes back into place and the table stops. It has a built-in phono stage and you can even get it with a Bluetooth output for use with wireless speakers.”

Yeti by Blue USB Microphone + Fallout 76 (PC) Bundle

Blue Yeti microphone

Street Price: $150; Deal Price: $100

Back down to $140 from the typical street price of $180, this matches the low we’ve seen for this table-top streamer and includes the bonus of a free 3rd Gen (newest version) Echo Dot, around a $35 value.

The Yeti by Blue USB Microphone is the top pick in our guide to the best USB microphone. Kevin Purdy and Lauren Dragan write, “It provided the most reliably well-rounded, natural sound out of all the mics we tested―whether on Windows or Mac, or whether recording happened in professional studios or in a small square office… It offers live headphone monitoring and gain control, two key features for any recording setup (other mics lacked these or made using them too complicated). It is more stable on its stand than most microphones we tested, and feels far more solidly constructed and durable.”

PlayStation Plus 1 Year Membership

PlayStation Plus

Street Price: $60; Deal Price: $40

Matching Cyber Monday prices we saw last year, a 12 months subscription is back down to $40 from $60, still the best price we’ve seen.

PlayStation Plus is mentioned alongside the PlayStation 4 in our guide for the best game consoles. Thorin Klosowski writes, “The PlayStation Plus subscription service provides online multiplayer and two free games a month, equivalent to what you get from the Xbox Live Gold service. Most people should get the standard PS4 model, not the PS4 Pro, unless you have a 4K TV or plan to buy one very soon.”

Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S9

Street Price: $700; Deal Price: $520

A big drop from street price and a new low for all colors, this model comes unlocked with a US warranty.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is a runner-up pick in our guide to the best android phones. Ryan Whitwam writes, “The Samsung Galaxy S9 and its larger sibling, the Samsung Galaxy S9+, have some features that the Pixel 3 phones don’t, such as a microSD card slot and a headphone jack. Plus, they’re available for purchase through any carrier. These phones have the latest curved OLED screens from Samsung—the best we’ve ever seen on a phone—and the bezel surrounding the screen is tiny. The Galaxy S9’s camera has an adjustable aperture, so it can take brighter low-light shots while also getting sharper photos in brighter light, though we still like the Pixel 3’s camera more overall.”

DJI Tello Mini

DJI Tello Mini

Street Price: $100; Deal Price: $80

The first notable drop we’ve seen since we started tracking this already affordable drone.

The DJI Tello Mini is an also great pick in our guide to the best drones under $100. Signe Brewster writes, “The DJI Tello, which is made in partnership with robotics company Ryze, is our pick if you’re looking for an inexpensive drone that can take pictures and videos. It has surprisingly advanced autonomous features normally found on much more expensive drones. And its 5-megapixel, 720p camera—about the same resolution of an iPhone 4—takes good enough photos to make it fun for basic selfies and landscape pictures. It also has a 13-minute battery life, which is the longest of any drone we tested.”

Because great deals don’t just happen on Black Friday, sign up for our daily deals email and we’ll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go here.

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'Avengers: Infinity War' comes to Netflix on Christmas Day


Disney

Ever since the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War, there’s been a looming question: when is it coming to Netflix? Right in time for some holiday viewing, it seems. Netflix has revealed that the star-studded superhero flick will be available to stream on December 25th. Yes, you too can pay tribute to Stan Lee while you’re recovering from the family feast. Just be sure to put your blinders on if you haven’t seen the movie yet — this is a Marvel title that can easily be ruined if you’re not careful.

It’s also one of the last chances you’ll have to see a recent Marvel movie on the service. Disney plans to stop offering its superhero flicks to Netflix after Ant-Man and the Wasp. From then onward, it’ll likely save Marvel blockbusters for its Disney+ service launching in 2019. Think of this as the swan song for an era when you could find the latest Marvel TV shows and movies in one place.

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You can now sync Chromecast with Google Home speakers


PA Archive/PA Images

Starting today, Google is allowing Chromecast owners to add the streaming device to speaker groups along with Home speakers. The addition of the dongle to the Home ecosystem will allow you to queue up a song, playlist, podcast or audiobook and have it play in sync across all of the speakers and Chromecast-connected devices in your home.

XDA Developers spotted the functionality in Google’s Preview program that gives an early look at upcoming features. Google confirmed to Engadget that the capability is starting to roll out to users today. The feature makes good on Google’s promise to integrate Chromecast into speaker groups, which can be set up through the Google Home app. Now devices that connect with Chromecast, including televisions, can be added to a grouping. When a TV with Chromecast is synced to a speaker group, the display will show song information on screen, atop a rotating selection of background images.

Per XDA Developers, all generations of Chromecast devices should be compatible with the feature. Smart displays including Google’s own Home Hub and the LG Xboom WK9 will be able to be added to speaker groups in the coming weeks, according to VentureBeat. Earlier this year, Google made it possible to pair bluetooth speakers with the Home app to add voice control across your sound system.

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Fossil Sport review: Just another Wear OS watch

Smartwatches seem to be enjoying a minor revival this year, with major brands like Apple and Samsung continuing to push out intriguing new wearables like the Galaxy Watch and the Apple Watch Series 4. Google launched a redesign of Wear OS, and Qualcomm created a new processor specifically for watches. The Snapdragon Wear 3100 is built around a new architecture featuring low-power cores that claim to deliver dramatically better battery life. The Fossil Sport is one of the first watches to ship with the new chipset and is also the fashion company’s first fitness-focused smartwatch. Since this is the first Wear 3100 watch we’ve got our hands on, though, I’m eager to see if the new CPU lives up to its promises.

Gallery: Fossil Sport review | 10 Photos

Engadget Score


Poor


Uninspiring


Good


Excellent

Key

Pros
  • Stylish for a fitness watch
  • Affordable
  • Long-lasting battery-saving mode
Cons
  • Doesn’t make use of Wear 3100 Sports mode
  • Regular battery life isn’t significantly improved

Summary

Despite its name, the Fossil Sport is not really a fitness-focused watch. Its design has a sporty vibe, but beyond that it’s just another Wear OS watch. It’s one of the first watches to ship with the new Snapdragon Wear 3100, but it doesn’t do much to showcase the potential of Qualcomm’s first chip designed exclusively for smartwatches. For the price, though, the Fossil Sport is a decent, good-looking smartwatch.


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New Snapdragon Wear 3100 modes

The most important thing about the Fossil Sport is that it’s a showcase for Snapdragon Wear 3100. The chipset promises better performance and battery life by offering three new modes: Sport, Battery Saver and Ambient. Sport mode promises up to 15 hours of continuous heart rate and GPS tracking, while Battery Saver extends runtime by shutting down all functions and only displaying the time and the Fossil logo. It should give you a month of wear on a full charge, or a week with just 20 percent. Ambient mode is an always-on screen that shows slightly more detail, like a moving second hand and activity rings.

Inexplicably, Sport mode is absent from the Fossil Sport, and only available on select watches — which seems kinda strange for a device with “Sport” in its name.

Fossil Sport

Despite the Wear 3100’s new architecture, its performance on the Sport doesn’t seem significantly better than the Wear 2100. I’ve been using Fossil’s Q Venture HR Gen 4 with the redesigned Wear OS and the Wear 2100 for months, and frankly I don’t see any improvement. If anything, it’s slightly worse. Sometimes apps actually take longer to load and Assistant is slower to interpret my commands than on the older watch.

To be clear, Qualcomm hasn’t explicitly spelled out exactly what sort of performance bumps we should expect. It said the Wear 3100’s quad-core A7 processors and multimedia engine should help deliver “high performance” in rich, interactive modes, but didn’t provide actual numbers on estimated improvements.

Google also said it will continue to roll out performance updates to the software over time, so perhaps we’ll see more improvements. But for now the Wear 3100’s speed doesn’t appear to be much better than its predecessor.

Battery life

Battery life is similarly disappointing. Fossil said the Sport should stick around for more than a day, but it never lasted more than 18 hours. That’s a few hours more than the older Fossil watch, but still requires nightly charging. The Sport’s battery saver mode does get me a whole lot more screen time, though. I activated it at 9:30pm when the watch was at 39%, and was happy to see it was still alive the next morning, even hanging around till 12:15pm. At that time though, the battery was too weak for me to switch back to the full smartwatch mode.

I haven’t used the watch for long enough to see if it will live up to its battery saver promises, but it already beats existing options on Wear OS watches.

To be fair, the Apple Watch Series 4 only survives about 18 hours on a charge as well. But other smartwatches like the Galaxy Watch and Fitbit Versa run for days before needing a charge.


Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Hardware

As far as fitness watches go, the Fossil Sport is one of the prettiest around. I love my review unit, which has a pink case and strap, but for real I was torn between this and the version with a gold case and gray strap. With six case colors, two sizes and 28 new straps, there’s a ton of configurations to choose from and you’ll easily find one that suits your taste. It’s noticeably lighter than other Fossil smartwatches thanks to its aluminum and nylon case, but thankfully it doesn’t feel cheap.

The competition

There’s only one other watch packing the Wear 3100 right now — the Montblanc Summit 2, which costs $1,000 and has a very different aesthetic. We haven’t been able to test it yet, so I can’t speak to its performance and battery life, but that’s a ton of money and if you’re willing to drop a grand on a watch you’re probably not going to consider something as pedestrian as the Fossil Sport anyway.

At $255, the Fossil Sport is one of the most affordable Wear OS watches available, too. The only notable option that’s cheaper is the $200 Ticwatch C2, which promises up to two days of battery life. But it uses the older Wear 2100 CPU, which might not see future performance updates.

Fossil Sport

Wrap-up

Ultimately, the Fossil Sport is a decent Wear OS watch but it doesn’t do enough to show off the potential of Snapdragon Wear 3100. It’s a good-looking device that has some nifty tricks like ambient and battery saving modes that make it less obtrusive and longer lasting. Just don’t expect dramatic performance improvements over watches with older guts. As the first of a new generation of smartwatches, the Fossil Sport is an underwhelming debut that doesn’t live up to expectations.

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Twitter tweaks profiles in iOS app to emphasize names and bios


NicolasMcComber via Getty Images

If you’ve glanced at your Twitter profile lately and noticed your follower number has shrunk (in terms of text size, at least), you’re probably not just seeing things. That’s because Twitter has tweaked how profiles appear in its iOS app to place more focus on names and bios. A spokesperson told Engadget the company reduced the font size and spacing on details such as follower and followed account numbers, locations, join dates, birthdays and mutual follows.

Twitter didn’t explain why it made the subtle change, though its comms team noted last month that “we are rethinking everything about the service to ensure we are incentivizing healthy conversation,” following reports it may remove the like button. The spokesperson noted Twitter was in the early stages of that work.

CEO Jack Dorsey has spoken about how he’d like there to be less emphasis on metrics such as follower counts. He said last week that, rather than the number of likes and retweets you receive or how many people are following you, “what is more important is the number of meaningful conversations you’re having on the platform” and whether people are replying to your tweets.

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Virgin Orbit's rocket completes its first 'captive carry' flight test


Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit just edged closer to its goal of launching rockets in mid-air. The company has completed the first “captive carry” test for its LauncherOne rocket, hauling the 70-foot machine under the wing of Cosmic Girl (its Boeing 747 launch aircraft/Jamiroquai reference) as it flew over southern California. The flight wasn’t dramatic, but it provided vital data on how well the two vehicles will behave together when the rocket is ready to fire in earnest.

You’ll have to be patient, however. Virgin is planning “several” more flights with and without LauncherOne strapped underneath, culminating in a drop test where Cosmic Girl will let go of a rocket that will freefall to Earth. The first honest-to-goodness space flight won’t happen until sometime in early 2019. As we’ve seen in recent years, Virgin is determined to err on the side of caution before committing to a trip beyond the atmosphere.

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DC Universe's 'Young Justice: Outsiders' premieres January 4th, 2019


DC

DC Universe finally has the premiere date for its first show after Titans. The company has announced that Young Justice: Outsiders‘ third season will reach the streaming service on January 4th, 2019. The teaser clip says precious little about the continuation of the story, but it does offer a peek at a sinister alien planet.

The timing is rather appropriate. With Titans episodes releasing on a weekly basis, Young Justice will conveniently debut right when DC Universe subscribers are looking for something else to watch. That could keep them attached to the service while DC builds up its original video catalog.

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NASA considers selling trips to space tourists


Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

The Jim Bridenstine-era NASA’s efforts to privatize spaceflight could involve borrowing a page from Russia. The Washington Post notes the agency is mulling the possibility of offering seats to private tourists on the ships that take astronauts to the International Space Station, similar to how Russia has accepted space tourists in the past. It’s just a proposal and would have to clear NASA’s advisory council, but it already has the support of an advisory subcommittee.

The idea comes as part of a wider set of proposals that would expand the reach of private companies in NASA’s operations. These include allowing astronauts to support private ISS activities, opening astronauts to endorsements and even letting companies name vessels. Like it or not, there’s a real chance NASA could use its flights as opportunities to compete with the likes of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.

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Alexa can now make Skype calls


Skype

Starting this week, you’ll be able to make Skype calls on your Alexa devices. Basically the entire line of Echo devices will have the ability to make voice calls via Microsoft’s VoIP platform. The Echo Show and its tablet-style screen will also be able to make and receive video calls.

In addition to calling your Skype contacts via Alexa, users will also be able to call mobile numbers and landlines using SkypeOut. The feature allows you to call existing contacts or a new number on Skype. You’ll get 100 minutes of free calls per month for two months when you link your Skype account with Alexa.

In order to set up Skype for Alexa, open the Amazon Alexa app on your Android or iOS device. Go to Settings > Communication > Skype. You’ll be prompted to login with your Microsoft account. Once you’ve successfully entered your username and password, you’ll be able to make and accept calls from Skype through Alexa.

The integration of Skype and Alexa, which was promised earlier this year, is just the latest example of Amazon and Microsoft teaming up. The companies announced a partnership last year to make Alexa and Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortona work together and earlier this year, Xbox One and Windows 10 got Alexa apps.

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NASA selects a landing site for its Mars 2020 rover


NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL

NASA has announced where its next Mars rover will be heading. The agency has chosen Jezero Crater from dozens of potential candidates in part for its potential to have preserved signs of past microbial life. “The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. “Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life.”

The Mars 2020 rover mission will not only look for habitable conditions, but will also collect rock and soil samples that may be able to be retrieved sometime in the future. Both NASA and the European Space Agency are exploring ideas for a future retrieval mission that could bring the samples back to Earth for study.

The diversity offered by Jezero Crater makes it appealing scientifically, but it also makes for a difficult landing environment. And the region has been off limits in the past because of these challenges. However, recent advances in technology have now opened Jezero Crater up to a rover mission. “The Mars community has long coveted the scientific value of sites such as Jezero Crater, and a previous mission contemplated going there, but the challenges with safely landing were considered prohibitive,” said Ken Farley, a project scientist for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “But what was once out of reach is now conceivable, thanks to the 2020 engineering team and advances in Mars entry, descent and landing technologies.”

The site proposal still has to be assessed in order to make sure the mission is set up for success, and a final report on the plan will be presented to the agency next year. The rover mission is currently scheduled to launch in July of 2020.

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