Air travelers looking to cut the weight of a checked or carry-on bag may find one offbeat solution helps: booking the right hotel room.
Consumers have more incentive these days to travel light. The 15 largest U.S. carriers collected a record $3.5 billion in bag fees during 2012, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That's 3.8 percent more than in 2011.
And it's not just travelers checking more bags. Of 52 airline fee changes tracked byTravelNerd.com in the year ended in January, more than half involved bags.
"It's become absolutely imperative to pack light," said Anne McAlpin, a packing expert behind PackItUp.com, who has seen increasing interest from travelers looking to reduce their load to an 18-pound carry-on.
Laptop sales are in the dumps. Windows 8 was supposed to give them a jump-start, but Redmond's new operating system turned out to be worse than Vista. In fact, analysts are now blaming Windows 8 for the lull in sales, which in turn is giving tablet sales such an upper hand that they're expected to surpass notebook shipments later this year. Even the mighty Intel can't save the laptop industry.
While this all may sound like a nightmare scenario for retailers, it's a blessing for consumers: this summer you'll be able to score some extraordinary laptop deals at Black Friday-like prices. And with new back-to-school sales surfacing each week, laptop deals are bound to break records. So forget about the summer BBQ. Here's why now is the perfect time to shop for a new laptop.
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1. Windows 8 Didn't Live Up to the Hype
Despite all the fanfare, Windows 8 failed to live up to the hype. Yes, Microsoft sold over 100 million licenses of its shiny new OS, but Windows 8 didn't ignite sales. It also received an unprecedented amount of negative feedback, and it simply didn't sit well with consumers. Sales were so bad that Microsoft cut licensing costs for its partners. And while Microsoft's forthcoming OS update is expected to address many concerns, it's still unlikely that it will give laptop sales the extra boost they need. That means Microsoft, big-box retailers, and manufacturers are all on the mend, desperately trying to get consumers back in stores, preferably buying new systems. And what better way to lure customers than with low prices. ( Continue… )
Aloha, travel enthusiasts! A paradise-like vacation amidst waterfalls, active volcanoes, sandy beaches, and lush vegetation awaits in Hawaii. With these airfare, vacation packages, and cruise deals, you'll be one step closer to the wondrous beauty that distinguishes our nation's 50th state from the rest of the pack.
Make your way to the northern set of Polynesian islands with United Airlines roundtrip flights to Hawaii from select departure cities such as San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas, and New York (from $455.50, a low by $7; expires June 30).
Or, take to the seas from the start by boarding a Celebrity Cruises 15-night Hawaii cruise for two (from $2,658, a low by $120; expires June 30) and witness the distinct islands from the Century's deck. You'll make pit stops in Hilo, Kailua (make sure to see Hawaii's most active volcano, Mount Kilauea), Lahaina, Honolulu, and Ensenada, Mexico. This mid-sized ship also provides plenty of perks on board including a variety of restaurants, access to the casino, and ample beverages at the Martini Bar — the first ice bar at sea.
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Looking for a more sprawling vessel to take you to Hawaii's finest islands? Book a room abord the 2,590 passenger Grand Princess and set sail on a Princess Cruises 15-night Hawaii cruise for two instead (from $3,198, a low by $116; expires June 30). This ship offers everything from movies under the stars, to private time at an adults-only sanctuary, plus live comedy acts. Coupled with half-day and day-long stops in chic Honolulu, blissful Nawiliwili, Kauai, Lahaina, Maui, and Hilo, you'll have ample time to explore the main sights before heading back to sea.
If exploring the hills, waterfalls, beaches, and volcanoes by land is more your style, we can recommend a number of airfare, hotel, and car rental packages instead. Wander Hawaii's third largest island of Oahu with exactly such a vacation package: this 3-night flight, hotel, and car rental package for two with a stay at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani will cost you less than $2,000 (from $1,889.85, a low by $408; expires June 30). Definitely take advantage of having some wheels and visit all of the island's hotspots: swimming in the warm waters of Waikiki; enjoying mountain views at Nuuanu Pali Lookout; ogling the brave surfers on the North Shore; and getting a taste of local flavors in Kapahulu. Perhaps most impressively, the hotel's status as former estate of Hawaii's last princess means you'll also have easy access to Waikiki Beach, views of Diamond Head, the Koolau Mountains, and Honolulu's city lights.
Speaking of Diamond Head, a 3-night flight, hotel, and car rental package for two at the Aston at the Waikiki Banyan (from $1,346, a low by $7; expires June 30) will put you in the center of it all. Plus, with rates starting at $735 per person, this property's 1-bedroom suites can accommodate up to five people, and are in close proximity to the beach, Kapiolani Park, and the Honolulu Zoo, which make it a great destination for families.
Often called the Magic Isle, Maui is home to a plethora of wildlife. Relish in your surroundings with a 3-night flight, hotel, and car rental package for two with a stay at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel (from $1,421, a low by $106; expires June 30). Situated on 11 acres that front the sands of famous Kaanapali Beach, the hotel is also surrounded by tropical gardens, and offers complimentary Hawaiian activities like ukulele, and hula lessons, lei-making, a cultural garden tour, nightly hula, and music shows at sunset. Explore the island by hiking through a forest of bamboo, taking a helicopter ride through pristine valleys, and waterfalls, and horseback riding near Kipahulu's Seven Sacred Pools or atop Haleakala, Maui's highest peak.
For a luxury getaway, book yourself and travel buddy a 3-night flight, hotel, and car rental package for two with a stay at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (from $2,770, a low by $200; expires June 30). Also set on an expanse of Kaanapali Beach, the Sheraton is located at the foot of the legendary Pu'u Keka'a, Black Rock, and the newly renovated resort draws honeymooners, and families alike (kids stay free!) Take a dip in the freshwater swimming lagoon, sway to nightly Hawaiian entertainment, and view a traditional cliff-diving ceremony at sunset. While you're there, check some ocean activities off your list: snorkel among popular Maui reefs, sail on a Teralani catamaran, and kayak with the dolphins.
With these deals to Hawaii, you'll get just the right dose of island paradise without even leaving the country. But, if you've got different ideas for a vacation, be sure to check out our daily travel deals for other airfare, hotel, and vacation packages.
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Summar Ghias is a contributor to dealnews.com, where this article first appeared.
It's Friday, National Doughnut Day, and Starbucks only charges $1 for some drinks. Can it get any better than this? How about a big price low on a Haier soundbar and wireless subwoofer, one of the cheapest (and coolest) Bluetooth speakers we've seen, and more in today's list of five Editors' Choice deals that we found overnight and early this morning.
Top Coffee Deal
Grande Iced Coffee, Tea, or Starbucks Refreshers Beverage
Store: Starbucks retail locations
Do You Need It?: As if national doughnut day wasn't enough, Starbucks is running a promotion for an iced coffee, iced tea, or Refresher for just a dollar. Even though we saw other drinks for free last week, anyone who's ever ordered a grande anything at Starbucks knows that it's still a bargain.
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( Continue… )
AT&T made headlines last week by imposing a new $0.61 monthly "Mobility Administration Fee" to help cover its "interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance" expenditures — you know, the costs of operating as a wireless service provider. It might be unsurprising to learn, however, that Verizon and Sprint already charge such administrative fees, on top of monthly taxes for vague things like "regulation" and "universal service."
These "below-the-line fees," which are added to a base price for essential or mandatory services, are an easy way for companies to charge more without officially raising its prices. That way, they can still advertise more attractive prices to customers. And though the new AT&T fees are just cents to the consumer, they add up. The Wall Street Journal estimates that AT&T could make more than half a billion dollars annually from its new fee.
But wireless service providers aren't the only companies slipping in extra charges to the consumer. Some banks, colleges, airlines, and other utility service providers hit customers with below-the-line or hidden fees. But there may be something you can do about it.
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Free Overdraft Protection That's Not Really Free
Ah, banks and their fine print. The federal government has limited a bank's ability to charge customers for merely swiping their debit cards, and Bank of America famously had to bow to public outrage when it tried to charge customers $5 a month for the privilege of actually using their debit cards. But are banks still finding ways to slip in fees? ( Continue… )
In the past, it wasn't very Apple-like for the Cupertino company to introduce cheaper models to its fleet of existing iDevices. But ever since March 2012, when the company kept the iPad 2 in rotation at a lower price point, it has seemed as if we're witnessing a shift in Apple's marketing strategy. In fact, just last week Apple announced a smaller 16GB version of its 5th-generation iPod touch priced at $229.
At $70 less than the 32GB model, the latest iteration also comes with some tradeoffs. While Apple did away with the much beloved 5MB back camera, this could be a smart move by the manufacturer, who hopes to grab first-time device users with a low price and hook them as future buyers. However, as many dealnews readers know, it may be smart to hold off on this Apple device; if history has taught us anything, it's that that $229 price tag could drop even further.
An iPod touch Priced to Sell ... with Some Exclusions
First off, for $70 less you should know what else Apple nixed from the iPod touch's features. Not only is there no 5MB rear-facing camera (which is found on the 32GB and 64GB models), but the photographer-friendly Loop hand strap device has been removed from the touch's design as well. Gone too are custom colors — the new 16GB model comes only in black and white.
Yet for $229, you still get an iPod touch with a front-facing Facetime HD camera, 4" retina display (something that was cut from the iPad mini to make it a cheaper alternative to the main tablet line), A5 chip, and Siri. Apple also reduced the new touch's weight slightly, making it 0.06 oz. lighter than other 5th-gen iPod touches. ( Continue… )
Many of us never lost our love for the two-wheeled bicycle adventures we first had as kids, and many folks have adopted biking as their major means of travel. If you have a yearning to pedal on in adulthood, you might start by buying a new bike that takes advantage of modern equipment which will allow you to go further and faster than the rusty beater buried somewhere in your garage.
There are two general categories of bicycles: the road bike, which is meant to be ridden on paved roads, and the mountain bike, which is designed for trails. A good road bike is the proper vehicle for commuting, touring, exercising, and racing. Road bikes come in several flavors, too: urban/commuting, touring, sport/racing/triathlon, and recumbent. Below, we've detailed the types and included some current bike deals to get you started.
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How to Buy a Road Bike: The Basics
Handlebars on a road bike come in a couple of styles. Dropped handlebars are curved below the middle, and straight towards the ends. Curved handlebars allow a rider to crouch in a more aerodynamic position, which is important when riding into the wind or attempting to maximize speed by cutting down on wind drag. However, straight handlebars are more common on commuting/urban bikes because they allow for a more comfortable upright position.
Road bikes typically come with narrower tires and lighter wheels than mountain bikes, as this cuts down on the friction with the road and makes travel easier. A racing bike can have tires as narrow as 20mm! Commuters usually choose a wider tire, however, because it offers greater puncture resistance and more cushioning, which translates into a smoother ride. ( Continue… )
A cheap television is often cheap in more ways than one, since TVs that consume less power can generate smaller electric bills over time. In fact, there are a number of variables that determine how energy efficiency impacts one's bottom line. To help consumers make sense of it all, the Enervee Blog put together a 2-page chart that lists the best-selling TVs on Amazon and the calculated cost of operating one based on number of years you have it and how many hours a day it's powered on. As it turns out though, buying one of the most energy efficient TVs doesn't necessarily mean huge savings on your electricity bills.
Technology and Size Impact HDTV Costs and Savings
The chart raises a number of questions, though. In an age when screen size is everything, how does one begin to compare the smaller televisions of a generation ago (which used cathode ray tube technology) to today's super-huge LED screens? As it turns out, while new HDTVs may be bigger, their power consumption remains smaller, says Enervee CEO Matthias Kurwig.
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"There is still a big opportunity to save a lot of energy by replacing older, less efficient TVs with newer models," Kurwig said. "For example, on average, a 65" LED TV today uses half the power compared to a 35" CRT TV from 10 years ago."
Let's next consider the question of whether buying an HDTV because of an anticipated energy savings justifies a higher price tag. Looking at this variable alone, we came to understand that superior energy efficiency, while making the cost of operating an HDTV more attractive, isn't necessarily a force behind price points. ( Continue… )
The outdoor cookout season is just about here; we can almost taste the flame-broiledness! But, if the warm spring has you drooling to buy a new grill, you may want to hold off just a bit longer as the best grill deals begin in June, and really start smoking in July.
Ideally though you should start doing your research now, so when the hottest grill deals do start rolling in, you'll be ready to pounce. To help you pick the perfect grill for your outdoor cooking needs, we'll explore the charcoal vs. gas grill debate, look at the cost of both, and weigh a number of other grilling variables.
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There's little doubt that a charcoal grill — which can be as simple as a cooking grate and a receptacle to hold the bricks — is an inexpensive outdoor grill. Of course, a high-end charcoal grill can cost upwards of $400, while the cheapest gas grills generally start at $100. But for the sake of comparison, we'll stick to typical, basic models for each; the timeless Weber 22.5" One-Touch Silver Charcoal Kettle Grill will cost you $99.99 (with free shipping, a low by $12) while the basic Char-Broil 48,000-BTU 4-Burner Gas Grill is instead $158 (with free shipping, a low by $42). The Char-Broil arguably offers a more advanced setup, but it is fairly standard for a gas grill nonetheless. ( Continue… )
If Amazon has its way, it won't just be the online retailer you use for everything from MP3s to small kitchen appliances; it will also be the producer of your new favorite TV show.
Earlier this year, Amazon had a pretty unique idea – produce TV pilots and let the viewers decide which ones would become the site's first original programming. Shows included Onion News Empire, a series that took a supposed "behind-the-scenes" look at the Onion News Network, Zombieland, a series based on the movie, and the kid's show Tumbleaf. Amazon streamed 14 pilots free, which proved to be a popular offer as thousands of people tuned in to review the pilots. According to Amazon, these TV pilots "comprised 8 of the 10 most streamed TV episodes on Amazon Instant Video" during that weekend.
And the Winners Are ...
Based on user ratings, Amazon has given the green light to five original series: three children's programs and two adult programs – Alpha House and Betas.
Alpha House, starring John Goodman, is a political comedy about four quirky U.S. senators who end up renting a house together in Washington D.C. The series was produced by Elliot Webb and Jonathan Alter and directed by Adam Bernstein. It received an average of four stars out of five from nearly 3,000 reviews. The Alpha House pilot is available free on Amazon. ( Continue… )