Amazon’s Kindle Scribe dips back to an all-time low, plus the rest of this week’s best tech deals

Apple and Google recently held events to showcase new products and services. From a deals perspective, that means some older iPads are hitting new low prices — we even spotted a few modest $30 and $50 discounts on brand new iPad Air and iPad Pro models. Google's latest smartphone, the Pixel 8a, shipped this past Tuesday, but a few retailers are still offering pre-order deals of a free $100 gift card with purchase. There were plenty of deals on other tech too, like a return to an all-time low on the Kindle Scribe, a sale on one of our favorite outdoor pizza ovens and discounts on a couple of Anker portable chargers that'll keep your phone topped off as you do what you do. Here are the best tech deals from this week that you can still get today. 

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazons-kindle-scribe-dips-back-to-an-all-time-low-plus-the-rest-of-this-weeks-best-tech-deals-163858971.html?src=rss

Amazon’s Kindle Scribe dips back to an all-time low, plus the rest of this week’s best tech deals

Apple and Google recently held events to showcase new products and services. From a deals perspective, that means some older iPads are hitting new low prices — we even spotted a few modest $30 and $50 discounts on brand new iPad Air and iPad Pro models. Google's latest smartphone, the Pixel 8a, shipped this past Tuesday, but a few retailers are still offering pre-order deals of a free $100 gift card with purchase. There were plenty of deals on other tech too, like a return to an all-time low on the Kindle Scribe, a sale on one of our favorite outdoor pizza ovens and discounts on a couple of Anker portable chargers that'll keep your phone topped off as you do what you do. Here are the best tech deals from this week that you can still get today. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazons-kindle-scribe-dips-back-to-an-all-time-low-plus-the-rest-of-this-weeks-best-tech-deals-163858971.html?src=rss

The best power banks and portable chargers for 2024

A portable charger can feel like a lifeline when you can’t find an outlet. We’ve been testing batteries and updating this guide for more than a year. In that time, I’ve seen the ways power banks come in handy, from the critical (keeping my phone alive as I rode public transit in an unfamiliar city) to the slothful (recharging a tablet so I can keep doing the crossword without leaving the couch). So far, we’ve tested more than two dozen banks to determine which are worthy and as of now, these are the best power banks you can buy.   

Nearly every rechargeable power bank you can buy (and most portable devices) contain a lithium-ion battery. These beat other current battery types in terms of size-to-charge capacity, and have even increased in energy density by eight fold in the past 14 years. They also don’t suffer from a memory effect (where battery life deteriorates due to partial charges).

One drawback you may have heard is the possibility of lithium ion batteries catching fire. To limit the danger, battery packs require internal mechanisms to limit things like voltage and pressure. While you should still make sure a battery isn’t exposed to unnecessary stress like excessive heat, damage from drops or operating in freezing weather, battery packs are considered safe enough to bring on an airplane. According to the TSA, external batteries rated at 100Wh or less (which all of our recommendations are) can fly with you – just make sure you stash them in your carryon as they aren’t allowed in checked baggage.

Power bank manufacturers almost always list a battery’s capacity in milliamp hours, or mAh. Smaller batteries, say those that can charge a smartphone to between 50 and 75 percent, tend to have a 5,000mAh capacity. Larger batteries that can recharge laptops and tablets, or give phones multiple charges, can exceed 25,000mAh. Unsurprisingly, the prices on most batteries goes up as mAh capacity increases, and since batteries are physical storage units, size and weight go up with capacity as well. If you want more power, be prepared to spend more and carry around a heavier brick.

You might think that a 10,000mAh power bank could charge a 5,000mAh phone to 100 percent twice, but that’s not the case. In addition to simple energy loss through heat dissipation, factors like voltage conversion also bring down the amount of juice that makes it into your phone. Most manufacturers list how many charges a battery can give a certain smartphone. In our tests, 10,000mAh of battery pack capacity translated to roughly 5,800mAh of device charge. 20,000mAh chargers delivered around 11,250mAh to a device, and 25,000mAh banks translated to about 16,200mAh of charge. That’s an average efficiency rate of around 60 percent.

Wireless

More manufacturers are making power banks with wireless charging. Not hassling with cables is nice, but it’s important to note that wireless charging is less efficient than plugging in your phone. Outside of MagSafe options, wireless portable chargers historically didn’t make the cut for our top picks for this guide for that reason. The Qi2 wireless charging standard arrived last year and improves performance for wireless charging, including for portable banks. Currently, iPhones are the only handsets that support the new tech, but as it’s an open standard, expect Google, Samsung and others to adopt it for future phones. In my testing, I’ve noticed an uptick in the performance of non-Qi2-enabled batteries as well.

Ports

Since Apple ditched the Lightning cable and adopted USB-C, we’re getting closer to a standard for charging connections — and all of our picks have at least one such port. But plenty of other devices use older interfaces, like USB-A and microUSB ports, plus Lightning for older iPhones. You can find cables with just about any combination of those connections, so when you’re picking out a battery, just check that one end of your preferred cord will fit.

Most battery packs have more than one port, which gives you different charging options. You’ll typically see at least one port labeled “in/out,” which means you can use it to both charge the bank and charge your device. While USB-A output ports can power up smartphones and other small devices, they can’t charge larger devices. Plus, they aren’t as fast as USB-C ports overall. That’s something to keep in mind when you’re deciding which ports and charging cables to use to connect your phone to the pack.

There’s even more variation among USB-C ports themselves, with different ports on the same device supporting different power transfer rates. What that means in practical terms is an iPhone will charge just fine plugged into a power bank’s 18W port. But to properly charge, say, a MacBook or similar laptop, it’ll need the extra juice supplied by a 100W port (which larger power banks can offer). Power banks with more than one port can also charge multiple devices at the same time, but speeds and the overall charge delivered will be lower.

You’ll also want to consider your charging cable. For anything larger than a smartphone (and to access fast-charging capabilities) you’ll want to use USB-C ports and cables. But not all cables are created equal, even when they have the same USB-C plugs on the end. If you want power delivery from a 100W USB-C power bank port, you’ll need a 100W-rated USB-C cable. Luckily, power banks capable of delivering 100W tend to include a compatible cable. For any devices that don’t, we’ve tried and liked Anker’s 100W USB-C cable. For smaller devices, we used this 60W cable from Nimble and we don’t recommend bothering with cables under 60W. For around $20, higher-capacity charging cables will make sure you’re not wasting time with connections that limit your potential power transfer.

For the most part, these rechargeable batteries have a squared-off, brick-like design, though many nod towards aesthetics with attractive finishes and detailing. While that doesn’t affect how they perform, it’s a consideration for something you’ll interact with regularly. Some portable power stations include extra features like MagSafe compatibility, a built-in wall plug or even a kickstand. Nearly all have some sort of indicator to let you know how much available charge your power bank has left, usually expressed with lighted pips near the power button. Some of the newer banks take that a step further with an LED display indicating remaining battery percentage.

Overhead view of the devices used for battery testing arranged on a table, including an iPhone, Galaxy phone and iPad, all face down.
Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Before we even put our hands on a battery pack, we did extensive research. We considered brands Engadget reviewers and staff have tried over the years and we checked out customer ratings on retail sites like Amazon and Best Buy. Here’s the full list of power banks we've tested, which range from small wireless banks to large, multi-device batteries.

MagSafe-compatible

Low capacity (≤10,000mAh)

Mid capacity (10,001 - 20,000mAh)

High capacity (20,001mAh+)

We're continuously updating this guide as companies release new products and we test them. We remove some products as we find better top picks, and we add updated specs and prices where necessary. For testing, we used each battery with some combination of an iPhone 15, an iPhone 14 Plus, an iPhone 11, a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, a Galaxy S23 Ultra, a 5th-gen iPad Air and an M1 Pro 16-inch MacBook Pro. I charged one phone battery at a time, even though some packs are capable of multiple-device charging. I charged the phones and tablets from between zero and five percent until they were 100 percent full (or until the power bank was dead), and didn’t use the phones or tablets while they charged other than to power them on and enter the unlock code. In the case of the MacBook, I used it while it was charging (it’s my work computer).

an assortment of power banks sit on a wooden table
Amy Skorheim for Engadget

I used the charging cable included with each power bank to charge the Galaxy S22 Ultra, MacBook Pro and the iPad Air. For the iPhones, I used the USB-C to Lighting cable that Apple provides. In the case of the lower-capacity power banks that didn’t include a cord or included one with USB-C to USB-A connectors, I used this 60W-rated USB-C to USB-C cable.

For reference, here are the battery capacities of each device we used for testing:

I noted the times for each charge and the number of charges each bank provided. I also paid attention to things like ease of use and overall design. 

The Blade 2 from Baseus has a unique, flat shape that’s just a little wider than an ereader — which may make it easier to slip into a low profile laptop bag. It charged a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra considerably faster than any other battery bank we tried, getting it from four percent to full in just over an hour. It then filled the phone back to 62 percent from dead on a second charge in about a half an hour. But $100 is a lot for a standard power bank that holds fewer than two full charges. But if you can find the Blade 2 on sale, snap it up.

Anker’s 6.6k MagGo is pretty similar to our top pick for a MagSafe-compatible battery pack. It supports the Qi2 charging standard and props up your iPhone so you can use it or enable StandBy mode while powering up. This one even lets you set the viewing angle from 30 to 65 degrees. It was speedy in getting an iPhone 15 up to 50 percent in about 40 minutes. But for the added bulk, it doesn’t have as much capacity as the 10K MagGo, holding just enough juice for a single full charge plus about 5 percent. But it is $20 cheaper, which may be key for some.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-power-bank-143048526.html?src=rss

Blink Outdoor 4 security cameras are up to half off right now

Anyone who wants to keep an eye on their perimeter or see nighttime trash panda action may want to check out this deal on Amazon. Currently, bundles of the Blink Outdoor 4 cameras are on sale, with the deepest discount going to a five-pack set. At full price, it costs $400. With the discount, it's $200 instead. That matches the Prime member-only price we saw earlier this year, but this time, even those who don't pay for Amazon's program can get the offer. Other bundles and Blink devices are on sale too as part of a larger sale.  

The Blink Outdoor 4 security cameras allow users to see, hear and talk with anyone who comes into view and send motion-detection alerts and live feeds to a connected smartphone. They can also send footage to an Echo Show smart display and receive commands from other Alexa-enabled devices like an Echo Dot or Fire TV. Just note that Blink equipment isn't Google Assistant- or Siri-compatible, so these really only make sense for the Amazon-based smart home.  

The Outdoor 4 is the latest generation of the cameras, offering a wider field of vision and better day and night image quality over the previous generation. During the day, they shoot 1080p video and use infrared night vision in the dark. Each unit runs on a pair of AA batteries which should power the camera for two years. A plug-in Sync Module that stays inside is required to operate the Outdoor 4 cameras and, conveniently, is included in each bundle — as are enough batteries for the cameras, mounting kits and the plug for the Sync Module. 

For those who just need to keep an eye on one area outside, there's the one-camera system, which also includes the Sync Module and other accessories. It's 40 percent off right now and down to an all-time low of $60. For a longer battery life, the Outdoor 4 single-cam system can also be bundled with a battery pack that extends the run time from two years to four. That version is $80 after a 33 percent discount. 

Amazon is also discounting its Blink branded doorbells, floodlights and indoor cameras as part of a larger sale. Blanketing a home in Alexa's watchful eye just got a whole lot cheaper. 

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/blink-outdoor-4-security-cameras-are-up-to-half-off-right-now-155239715.html?src=rss

Blink Outdoor 4 security cameras are up to half off right now

Anyone who wants to keep an eye on their perimeter or see nighttime trash panda action may want to check out this deal on Amazon. Currently, bundles of the Blink Outdoor 4 cameras are on sale, with the deepest discount going to a five-pack set. At full price, it costs $400. With the discount, it's $200 instead. That matches the Prime member-only price we saw earlier this year, but this time, even those who don't pay for Amazon's program can get the offer. Other bundles and Blink devices are on sale too as part of a larger sale.  

The Blink Outdoor 4 security cameras allow users to see, hear and talk with anyone who comes into view and send motion-detection alerts and live feeds to a connected smartphone. They can also send footage to an Echo Show smart display and receive commands from other Alexa-enabled devices like an Echo Dot or Fire TV. Just note that Blink equipment isn't Google Assistant- or Siri-compatible, so these really only make sense for the Amazon-based smart home.  

The Outdoor 4 is the latest generation of the cameras, offering a wider field of vision and better day and night image quality over the previous generation. During the day, they shoot 1080p video and use infrared night vision in the dark. Each unit runs on a pair of AA batteries which should power the camera for two years. A plug-in Sync Module that stays inside is required to operate the Outdoor 4 cameras and, conveniently, is included in each bundle — as are enough batteries for the cameras, mounting kits and the plug for the Sync Module. 

For those who just need to keep an eye on one area outside, there's the one-camera system, which also includes the Sync Module and other accessories. It's 40 percent off right now and down to an all-time low of $60. For a longer battery life, the Outdoor 4 single-cam system can also be bundled with a battery pack that extends the run time from two years to four. That version is $80 after a 33 percent discount. 

Amazon is also discounting its Blink branded doorbells, floodlights and indoor cameras as part of a larger sale. Blanketing a home in Alexa's watchful eye just got a whole lot cheaper. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/blink-outdoor-4-security-cameras-are-up-to-half-off-right-now-155239715.html?src=rss

Pre-order the Google Pixel 8a from Amazon or Best Buy and get a free $100 gift card

Just moments after Google announced its latest smartphone, both Amazon and Best Buy swooped in with deals to convince you to get yours from one of them. Right now, the Pixel 8a is open for pre-orders at Google's storefront, but if you go through Amazon, you'll get a physical $100 Amazon gift card once the phone ships. Purchase through Best Buy and you'll get a$100 gift card for its store, plus a one-month membership to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Whichever way you go, your new phone will ship May 14, the same day as Google's I/O developer conference

On both Amazon and Best Buy, the offer apples to the 128GB model in any of the four colorways, including the new Aloe hue. The model with a larger 256GB capacity, a first for A-series Pixel phones, goes for $559 and also includes the $100 gift card, but only if you order it in Obsidian. 

New for this latest generation of Google's most affordable smartphone is a screen that's a little brighter and smoother thanks to a higher peak brightness and a 120Hz refresh rate. The battery is slightly larger than it was on the Pixel 7a and software improvements should help it last longer. The camera array stayed the same as with the previous generation, but a few more of Google's AI tricks, like Best Take and Magic Editor should help you get more out of what the lenses pick up.

Engadget's Sam Rutherford had a chance to check out the new Pixel 8a ahead of its release and, while a full review is still forthcoming, he said the new handset is "shaping up to once again be the mid-range Android phone to beat." And if a $100 gift card sweetens the deal for you at all, now might be a good time to pre-order. Amazon says its deal will run through 5/19 or until supplies run out, so if you want to wait to see what we think, you may have some time. 

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/pre-order-the-google-pixel-8a-from-amazon-or-best-buy-and-get-a-free-100-gift-card-181519020.html?src=rss

Adobe’s full Creative Cloud suite is 40 percent off in a rare deal

Designers, photographers and other creators may want to check out this deal from Adobe. From now through May 13, first-time subscribers can save 40 percent on the monthly cost of the Creative Cloud All Apps plan for a full year. That brings the price down from a hefty $60 per month to a slightly more palatable $36. To get the deal, you'll need to agree to a 12-month subscription commitment. After the year is up, the plan will automatically renew at the regular price, unless you cancel. If you want to pay for the whole year at once, it'll run you $396, which is also 40 percent of the standard $660. 

Creative Cloud All Apps includes online access to Adobe stalwarts like Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and InDesign, plus about 20 additional apps — including Firefly, the text-to-image generative AI tool and the social-content-focused Adobe Express. The plan also comes with 100GB of cloud storage, tutorials, Adobe Fonts and 1,000 credits per month to use towards generative AI creation in Firefly and others.  

Adobe doesn't often run discounts on their service, so this is a rare opportunity to catch a break on the tools that, for some creative pursuits, are tough to replace. The $36 monthly price tag is likely the closest most of us will get to the enviable student and teacher pricing of $20 per month.

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/adobes-full-creative-cloud-suite-is-40-percent-off-in-a-rare-deal-170847284.html?src=rss

The Google Pixel 8a was just announced, here’s how to pre-order the new smartphone

Google announced the Pixel 8a smartphone today, one week ahead of the company’s I/O conference on May 14. We no longer have to rely on leaked info, as Google has confirmed the Pixel 8a will start at $499, the same price as the Pixel 7a at launch, and will ship the same day as the event. You can pre-order it now from Google’s storefront or from Amazon. The sub-$500 price tag maintains the A-series position as the most affordable handset in Google’s lineup. We were able to spend a little time with the phone to get some initial thoughts, and our full review will be coming soon. In the meantime, here’s what’s new about the newest Pixel phone.

The Pixel 8a upgrades to the Tensor G3 chip, giving it the same processor as the standard Google Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro. The new phone carries the same 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as the previous generation, along with the option of 256GB of storage, that model is going for $559. The 6.1-inch OLED display is the same size and resolution as its predecessor, but the refresh rate is a smoother 120Hz. The screen's got a little more dazzle too, with a peak brightness of up to 2,000 nits, an increase from the Pixel 7a that now matches the Pixel 8.

The battery is very slightly (about 100mAh) bigger, leading Google to claim a 24-plus-hour battery life, instead of the 7a’s flat 24-hour promise. Speaking of promises, the new budget Pixel comes with seven years of promised security and features updates, putting it on par with the 8-series phones. That’s two years longer than the support offered with the 7a. 

As we expected, the camera array remains largely the same as the prior generation, with a 64MP wide and a 13MP ultrawide lens in back and a 13MP selfie cam up front. Magic Editor and Best Take, two of Google’s AI-assisted photography features that impressed us on the Pixel 8, have come to the Pixel 8a, as well as the new Audio Magic Eraser, which automatically cuts out distracting sounds from video recordings.

The Pixel 8a comes in three of the same colors as the Pixel 8 Pro: Obsidian, Porcelain and Bay but the 8a swaps in an Aloe option instead of Mint. Pre-orders for Google’s new Pixel 8a are now open and orders will ship on May 14.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-google-pixel-8a-was-just-announced-heres-how-to-pre-order-the-new-smartphone-160051570.html?src=rss

The Apple Watch Series 9 is back on sale for $299, plus the rest of this week’s best tech deals

As we reach the end of another week, we're looking back to see what tech deals popped up that are worth checking out. This coming Tuesday, Apple will almost certainly announce new iPads, which is probably why a slew of discounts have materialized for the company's slabs. We didn't highlight those here — even if you want an older model, it's probably wise to wait a few days to see how the announcements affect pricing. Deals that are worth checking include sales on three flagship smartwatches: Samsung's Galaxy Watch 6, the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Google Pixel 2. A couple of our favorite Anker power banks are on sale, with the USB-C Nano battery down to a new low. You can also save on one of our top gaming mice and our favorite dual-screen gaming laptop. Here are the best tech deals from this week that you can still get today. 

 

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-apple-watch-series-9-is-back-on-sale-for-299-plus-the-rest-of-this-weeks-best-tech-deals-160546259.html?src=rss

The Cheyenne Supercomputer is going for a fraction of its list price at auction right now

If you've been thinking about picking up a new supercomputer but were waiting on a good price, now might be a good time to put in your bid. Right now, the US government, via GSA Auctions, is auctioning off the Cheyenne Supercomputer to the highest bidder with three days remaining. While we haven't tested this one ourselves, we assume its 145,152 CPU cores will easily out-perform our current top pick for a laptop. You also won't need to upgrade the memory anytime soon, as there's a full 313,344GB of RAM currently installed, and the storage capacity tallies up to around 36 petabytes. No need to delete files to make room for new games or other media downloads.  

The deal was spotted by Ars Technica, who also point out that the fiber optic and CAT5/6 cabling are not included in the sale. While the price the government paid for the supercomputer has not been disclosed, it's safe to assume the cost was well into the millions, considering the price tags of other supercomputers. As of this writing, the bidding has reached $28,085, though the reserve has not yet been met. There are still three days to go and there's currently no deposit required to place a bid. 

The reason for such a hefty discount (other than the fact that Cheyenne has been decommissioned) could be faulty quick disconnects causing water spray and the fact that approximately one percent of nodes have "experienced failure" and "will remain unrepaired." One other caveat to note before you start making room in your arena-sized climate-controlled garage is that shipping is not included. As GSA Auctions notes on the details page, "moving this system necessitates the engagement of a professional moving company" and that "the purchaser assumes responsibility for transferring the racks from the facility onto trucks."    

But where else will you find such steep savings on a machine that can carry out 5.34 quadrillion calculations per second? Cheyenne is also surprisingly energy-efficient, consuming 25 percent less energy per computation than its predecessor, Yellowstone. The massive supercomputer helped researchers understand the rapid intensification of hurricanes, how wildfires impact air quality, and simulated years of climate functions to predict outcomes decades in advance. It should definitely provide you with enough processing power for extreme multitasking at work while handling even the most demanding games after hours. 

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-cheyenne-supercomputer-is-going-for-a-fraction-of-its-list-price-at-auction-right-now-235330715.html?src=rss