Has your personality been feeling a little one-dimensional lately? Maybe you're always Good Guy Greg, and never Scumbag Steve? With this week's best shoe deals, we're highlighting footwear that'll let you unleash your inner bad boy or girl ... or rein them in. Save $140 on a pair of Steve Madden boots, get $39 off some L.L.Bean penny loafers, or score a pair of Body Central ballet flats for just $7.
Steve Madden Men's Sulstice Boots
Store: Steve Madden
Price: $49.99 via coupon code "BONUS50" with $7.95 s&h
Lowest By: $50
Is It Worth It?: You're not exactly bad to the bone, but sometimes you want to be. Slip into your secret bad boy persona with the Steve Madden Sulstice boots in Black. These leather boots feature a worn-in look that says you do dangerous things all the time, and a 1" heel for extra confidence. Plus, coupon code "BONUS50" cuts them to $50, saving you $140 off list. They're available in sizes 10 to 13. ( Continue… )
Quad-core laptops offer unparalleled performance at (usually) higher-than-average prices. However, this week's best laptop deals include four quad systems starting at $699. We've also found discounts on Sony's unique slider, the VAIO Duo 13, and a budget Inspiron from Dell. ( Continue… )
Parents tend to stick to the birthday/Christmas gift schedule, but sometimes it's fun to just surprise your kid with a new toy. Turn your little one's ordinary day into an awesome day with this weeks' best toy deals. Get a Disney digital camera for just $7, save $25 on a Griffin RC monster truck, or get a Lego City set at $13 off. ( Continue… )
The app markets are filled with so-called "free-to-play" or "freemium" games, and it's no wonder: the most popular free games, like Candy Crush Saga, can rake in millions of dollars per day. These apps generally make money through a combination of advertising and in-app purchases, in which players are encouraged to pay for items to improve their gaming experience.
However, a recent survey from analytics and app marketing firm Swrve found that most people aren't spending all that much on in-app purchases. Instead, "about 0.15 percent of mobile gamers contribute 50 percent of all of the in-app purchases generated in free-to-play games," VentureBeat reported. In truth, these microtransactions seem to drive most gamers crazy. So why do game developers keep including in-app purchases, if only a small number of gamers are spending a lot on them? Are we stuck with microtransactions forever, or is there another way? Read on as we take a hard look at this trend in mobile gaming.
Shocking: In-App Purchases Aren't Popular with Gamers
Ask a gamer what they think of microtransactions in freemium games, and you'll probably hear a tirade. Citing EA's Dungeon Keeper game, in which players can pay to have minions dig holes faster, blogger Thomas Baekdal said in-app purchases are hurting gamers: "What EA has done here has nothing to do with gaming, and the same is true for pretty much all other 'free-to-play + in-app purchase' games. We don't have a mobile gaming industry anymore. We have a mobile scamming industry." ( Continue… )
Accessories often get a bum rap and are relegated to the "unnecessary fashion" corner where we keep the experimental shoes and ballroom attire. But if you don't think about buying acc, you'll miss out on some really useful wearables. That's why we've rounded up the week's best deals on practical accessories. Save $19 on a pair of Gunnar gaming glasses, score an Alpine Swiss wallet for as little as $10, or pick up a cooling bandana for $5. ( Continue… )
The largest Bitcoin exchange in the world appears to have gone belly-up after apparently losing hundreds of millions of dollars in Bitcoins after a long-term hacker attack. The fallout has resulted in an increased scrutiny of Bitcoin safety — leading more people to consider pulling their Bitcoins offline — and raises questions about how far this nascent unregulated financial market will go.
According to Wired, an exploit in Mt. Gox's website allowed hackers to siphon off millions of Bitcoins over a two year period. The crumbling of Mt. Gox, which lost around $350 million in Bitcoins, has prompted some Bitcoin investors to start storing their digital currency offline, according to MarketWatch.
Going Back to Paper for Digital Currency
And yes, you can store Bitcoins offline: each Bitcoin has a key, like a serial number, which allows the Bitcoin to be spent. Without the key, there's no Bitcoin. So some users have taken to printing out the key on paper, or storing the data on a device not connected to the Internet, or a 'cold' device. While some customers want security in lieu of this disaster, they are still operating within a completely unregulated market.
No Real Banks Means Little Safety
Printing out Bitcoins or keeping them offline isn't like pulling money out of a bank and storing it under a mattress because Bitcoin 'banks' aren't recognized as banks. A recent article by MarketWatch mentions one company that stores Bitcoins offline in a bank vault for a 2% annual fee. And while it's insured against theft, it's not a real bank. Another company, FlexCoin, claims it is the "world's first Bitcoin bank" but also states "technically we're not a licensed bank. We're a Bitcoin bank." A thumb drive can be lost, a hard drive fried, or a Bitcoin key trashed. Once a Bitcoin is gone, it's gone; there's no Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. covering your loss. ( Continue… )
This week's best laptop deals include a healthy mix of powerful Haswell-based machines alongside previous-generation laptops like the Apple Ivy Bridge-based MacBook Pro Retina laptop. We've also found an all-time low on the 11.6" ASUS VivoBook X200CA and a Haswell-based desktop replacement that's just $20 over its Black Friday mention.
Apple MacBook Pro Core i7 2.8GHz 15.4" Laptop with Retina Display
Price: $2,299.99 via $50 mail-in rebate with free shipping
Lowest By: $749
Is It Worth It?: It may not be the current Haswell MacBook Pro, but this Ivy Bridge-based machine still packs a powerful punch. It's been fitted with 16GB of RAM, a 768GB SSD, and a 2.8GHz quad-core Ivy Bridge CPU. It also packs the stunning 15.4" 2880x1800 Retina display along with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1GB video card and 802.11a/n WiFi.
HP ENVY 15t-j100 Quad Edition Intel Haswell Core i7 2.4GHz 15.6" 1080p LED-Backlit Laptop
Store: HP Home & Home Office
Price: $759.99 via coupon code "WANT175" with free shipping
Lowest By: $55
Expires: March 1
Is It Worth It?: Although it's $159 pricier than last week's mention, this 5.6-lb. HP ENVY 15t-j100 packs significantly better specs, starting with a 15.6" 1080p display (last week's model topped out at 1366x768) and an NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M 2GB graphics card. Add to that a Core i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz Haswell quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive and you've got a killer system in the making. Even better, coupon code "WANT175" takes $55 off. ( Continue… )
Even before you work diligently to get your car reach 200,000 miles, it's important to know which makes and models have the better shot of reaching that milestone without a bevy of mechanical issues. Publications such as Consumer Reports do a great job of testing products that are new to the market. But it’s another matter entirely to collect data on cars that are already on the road. That’s what makes Fixya’s newest “Test of Time“ report on sedans so special.
RECOMMENDED: Make your car last: 7 tips
What Cars Make the Grade?
To compile their "grades," Fixya collected data from more than 30 million users and tracked troubleshooting requests of five top-selling sedans: the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus. What emerges is a two-digit decimal score (.15 for the Camry, for example) that indicates how reliable the car will be. ( Continue… )
The time to finalize your spring break plans is drawing nigh, but this popular travel season can put you in the red faster than a student loan if you're not careful. Hopper, a travel website, recently studied the prices of February to April travel to popular spring break destinations. The site's data revealed that choosing the right time to book and the right time to travel are the key components of scoring awesome spring break deals.
Buying your ticket at the right time can save you a ton of money. "Book your ticket at least 15 days in advance," the site advises. A "4 to 14 day advance purchase will increase your ticket price by 29% and a last minute purchase (0-3 days) will increase the price by 62%." Importantly, opting for the convenience of a non-stop flight won't save you a lot of money over a multi-stop flight. Because spring break destinations are so popular during this time of year, the site found that "including a Saturday night stay, which often has a large impact on price, did not offer additional savings."
When you travel can also have a huge impact on the price of your ticket, especially if you're traveling in mid-March. According to Hopper, the weeks of March 16 and March 23 will see a 34% and 33% jump in airfare rates, respectively. No matter when you travel, try to avoid peak days: "A Thursday departure, on average, will add 12% to your ticket price. A Friday departure will add 22% and a Saturday departure will add 18%." ( Continue… )
Coupons rule this week's best laptop deals with codes that slash up to $480 off a variety of machines with the latest Intel processor, starting with the Editors' Choice HP ENVY 15, which packs a quad-core CPU and 8GB of RAM. Hybrid fans can also take $200 off Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro while Dell's $550 desktop replacement sports the latest hardware without the sticker shock.
HP ENVY 15t-j100 Quad Edition Intel Haswell Core i7 2.4GHz 15.6" LED-Backlit Laptop
Store: HP Home & Home Office
Price: $599.99 via coupon code "50PDS599" with free shipping
Lowest By: $264
Expires: February 22
Is It Worth It?: In addition to being $250 cheaper than last week's mention, this HP ENVY 15t-j100 also packs significantly better specs, starting with a Core i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz Haswell quad-core processor. (Which tops last week's dual-core CPU.) The 5.6-lb. Editors' Choice laptop also includes 8GB of RAM, a 15.6" 1366x768 LED-backlit LCD, and a 1TB hard drive. Sure, you lose the touch-screen capabilities found in last week's configuration, but you save $250, get a faster processor, and snag free shipping too.
Lenovo IdeaPad Z510 Intel Haswell Core i5 2.5GHz 15.6" LED-Backlit Laptop
Price: $579 via coupon code "USPZ5197213" with free shipping
Lowest By: $20
Expires: February 20
Is It Worth It?: Part of Lenovo's entertainment series of laptops, the Z510 is built for media, whether you're consuming or creating it. The 4.9-lb. laptop even packs a 15.6" 1366x768 anti-glare LED-backlit LCD. Also onboard you'll find an Intel Haswell Core i5 2.5GHz dual-core processor, a generous 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. Though we saw it $30 less in November, it's still among the cheapest Z510s we've seen with 8GB of RAM.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro Intel Haswell Core i7 1.8GHz 13.3" Touchscreen Laptop
Price: $1,199 via coupon code "YOGA2PRODEAL" with free shipping
Lowest By: $380
Is It Worth It?: "The Yoga 2 Pro is the most versatile Windows convertible we know of," says Engadget. More importantly, it addresses many of the flaws of the original Yoga while simultaneously being lighter, thinner, and faster. Indeed, one of the Yoga 2 Pro's biggest upgrades is its 13.3" QHD+ 3200x1800 screen. This configuration also includes a Core i7 Haswell dual-core 1.8GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. At 3.1 lbs., the folks at PC Mag believe it's too heavy for prolonged use as a tablet, but call it an otherwise attractive gift for early adopters and graphics arts mavens.
Dell Inspiron 17 Intel Haswell Core i5 1.6GHz 17.3" LED-Backlit Laptop
Store: Dell Home
Price: $549.99 with free shipping
Lowest By: $200
Is It Worth It?: Although it's the heaviest laptop in our roundup this week, the 7.3-lb. Dell Inspiron 17 doesn't lack anything in the specs department. Housing a Core i5 1.6GHz dual-core Haswell CPU, the laptop features a 17.3" 1600x900 LED-backlit LCD, 6GB RAM, and a 750GB hard drive. Sure, we've seen cheaper configurations of this laptop, but this model packs better-than-average specs.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y410p Intel Haswell Core i7 2.4GHz 14" LED-Backlit Laptop
Price: $819 via coupon code "PRESIDENTS" with free shipping
Lowest By: $480
Expires: February 19
Is It Worth It?: With its alluring red accents and backlit keyboard, there's no mistaking the Y410p's gaming DNA. This 5.5-lb. machine sports Intel's latest Core i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz Haswell quad-core processor, a 1600x900 LED-backlit LCD, 8GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive with 24GB SSD, and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M 2GB video card.
Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Haswell Core i5 1.6GHz 15.6" LED-Backlit Laptop
Store: Dell Home
Price: $599.99 with free shipping
Lowest By: $290
Expires: March 20
Is It Worth It?: Powered by a dual-core Core i5 Haswell 1.6GHz processor, the Inspiron 15R makes for an excellent everyday laptop. It includes a 15.6" 1366x768 LED-backlit LCD, 8GB RAM, and 1TB hard drive. Even better, it's currently $290 off through March 20.
– Louis Ramirez is a senior features writer for dealnews.com, where this article first appeared.