Did you score an awesome new toy during the holidays? Let’s talk about some accessories you might want to add — and some surprisingly cheap ones at that.
You got a new phone
It doesn’t matter if you spent $200 or $1,200 — the first order of business is a case. Because, let’s face it, gravity happens. Here’s what you shouldn’t do: Buy an expensive case from Apple, AT&T, Verizon or some other retailer. You may have bought your phone there, but cases are best sourced elsewhere.
My advice: Hit up Amazon and Ebay. Just search for cases for your phone model and you’ll find a dizzying array of choices. Hard cases, soft cases, clear ones, colored ones and so on. Even better, you’ll find lots of them priced around $10-15 — much better than the $30-50 you’re likely to pay in store.
Of course, putting your phone in a case doesn’t guarantee 100-percent protection against pavement encounters. The best protection is not dropping your phone in the first place, which is why I continue to champion Phone Straps (formerly Ninja Loops).
See it at Phone Loops
A mere $5 buys you a stylish strap that attaches to just about any phone case. Once you get accustomed to sliding your fingers underneath it, you’ll find it much easier to grip your phone — and you’ll be much less likely to drop it.
This remains one of my all-time favorite products. It makes a great gift, too, which is why you should buy at least three (which bags you free shipping).
Switch deals were everywhere this year — and often quite fleeting. Now that you have the console, though, you might want to consider a couple accessories — starting with a mobile charger.
The Switch relies on a USB-C input, though you don’t necessarily need a power bank that has a USB-C output. Those tend to cost a bit more, though they have the advantage of recharging your console more quickly than a standard 5V USB-A port.
Here’s a good option: The Omars 10,000-mAh Power Bank for $22.99 (minus a 5-percent coupon you can click to add). It features USB-A and USB-C outputs, the latter featuring 18-watt Power Delivery (PD) for fast Switch charging.
See it at Amazon
A lot of similar chargers sell for around $40, so this is definitely worth a look.
With the Series 3 selling for as low as $199 during holiday and pre-holiday sales, it’s no surprise that most stores sold out. Here’s hoping you didn’t also buy an extra watchband, because the Apple Store and other retailers charge a hefty premium for them.
How hefty? If you want a fancy Milanese Loop (a great way to dress up the watch, no question), be prepared to spend $149 (!) for Apple’s version. Nuts, right? Try this instead: Amazon seller Orobay offers a compatible Milanese Loop stainless-steel band for $11. No, I didn’t leave off a zero — 11 bucks.
See it at Amazon
I’ve tried a couple of these over the years; they’re great. Similarly, Apple Watch sport bands and other options can be had just as cheap (or cheaper) from Amazon and Ebay — and you’ll find considerably more styles than the handful available at retail.
There were some killer deals during the holidays, so there’s no question this headphone ended up under a lot of trees.
You can make it even better by adding a Bluetooth adapter, which effectively turns your QC25 into the already-wireless QC35.
There are a number of virtually identical adapters designed specifically for the Bose, meaning they plug into one of the earcups and “hug” it underneath, so you barely know it’s there.
Most of the sell for $50-60, but the best deal right now is this Tranesca adapter for $29.95. (Actually, it’s the best deal I’ve ever seen. These rarely drop below $40.)
See it at Amazon
During the holidays, the was an amazing deal at $20, while the was arguably even more amazing at $24 (because it’s the current model).
The latter offers better sound than its predecessor, but both Dots are pretty weak overall. To really make the most of either one, consider pairing it with a bigger, better speaker.
Obviously there are countless choices out there — just make sure the Bluetooth speaker you choose doesn’t automatically shut off after a period of inactivity. (That problem tends to affect certain portable ones.)
One option I particularly like is the Fluance Fi50, a robust bookshelf speaker with a retro design. It originally sold for $200, but you can get one now for $100.
See it at Fluance
A less expensive upgrade (for the second-gen Dot, anyway): Ninety7’s Vaux is a Dot speaker dock that also adds a rechargeable battery so you can easily move it around the house. It’s currently on sale for $24.95 with code VAUXCNET.
See it at Ninety7
You got a Fire TV or Roku streamer
The best accessory for your new streaming box or stick? Bluetooth headphones, so you can enjoy killer TV audio without disturbing your roommates. (I also find headphones indispensable when I’m exercising on a treadmill or elliptical, as I can actually hear the TV without having to blast the volume.)
You canor use Roku’s Private Listening feature with the headphones paired to your phone.
Here’s the thing: TV audio isn’t the same as music, so you don’t necessarily need fancy high-end headphones. I mean, they’re fine, but I’ve used super-cheap ones and been perfectly satisfied with the sound quality.
My advice: Check out CNET’s roundup of the best budget headphones for 2018.
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