Here at The Verge, we are just as eager to take advantage of sales and other good deals as anyone else (more so, perhaps, since we do have a slight interest in cool new stuff). What with inflation and all, the name of the game this year has been how to pick up devices that you need (or just want) for less than it usually costs, whether it’s a special holiday sale like Black Friday or is part of a lightning deal or is just available for less than usual.
At this time of the year, there are more of these special prices available than usual. So here, just in case you’re curious, are some of the deals that Verge staffers have picked up for themselves or as holiday gifts throughout the year. They include audio devices, a great camera, and a couple of wearables. Take a look.
Saving $100 on our favorite noise-canceling earbuds
As a reviewer, I get sent a wealth of mediocre earbuds, but I spent $179.99 of my own money to purchase the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds. While they’re often discounted to around $228 from their original $280 price, the earbuds dropped to $180 over Prime Day.
I regret nothing. Every word of Chris Welch’s review of these earbuds is true. While they are a bit bulkier than the less expensive options from the likes of Jabra or the ubiquitous AirPods, they sound amazing and have some of the best battery life out of the dozens of pairs or earbuds I’ve tried over the years. No wonder we still consider the XM4s to be one of the best wireless earbuds you can currently get.
Yeah, the limited number of prepackaged ear tips is a bit of a bummer, but that’s something that can be easily rectified with a $4 purchase on Amazon. However, Sony was able to address one of the issues we originally had with the XM4s by adding multipoint Bluetooth support with a post-release firmware update, so that’s pretty dope. Honestly, even with some small caveats, I’d still wholeheartedly recommend these earbuds.
One more thing I’ll gush about is how great the XM4s are at blocking out unwanted noise. I have a partner who snores, but popping these earbuds in allows me to catch up on my essential viewing in bed without one of us disturbing the other. If $180 is all I have to pay for domestic bliss, I’ll take it. — Alice Newcome-Beill, commerce writer
Sony’s WF-1000XM4 have the best noise cancellation of any true wireless earbuds, and the sound quality is second to none. With a new design that’s smaller and rated IPX4, the earbuds also can now be charged wirelessly.
The $180 earbuds I got for $48
I love a good deal, and this one was just too irresistible to pass up — I grabbed the AKG N400 wireless earbuds for a measly $48 back in February of this year. That’s about $132 off their launch price and over $80 less than you can get them for on Amazon right now.
The N400 were quietly launched in 2020 to little fanfare — yet another true wireless earbud option among a sea of many. But they are well-equipped: active noise cancellation, Bluetooth 5.0, five hours of battery life with ANC on, a metal charging case with wireless charging, and four sets of tips (including Comply foam options) along with three wingtips for a secure fit.
The real appeal of these earbuds, however, is their sound quality. As audiophile YouTuber Crinacle explains, the N400 have excellent audio reproduction, hewing very closely to the Harman curve of frequency response. (That’s not a huge surprise considering AKG is part of the Harman group of companies, now owned by Samsung.) They have an engaging sound, with strong bass yet clear mids and highs that work well for any kind of audio genre or application you might use them for. They even work well for calls, thanks to clear microphones.
I have a couple of gripes, such as the over-reliance on swipe gestures to control them, the limited battery in the charging case, and a lack of multipoint support, but I’d still be happy with these had I paid twice as much as I did. That, reader, is the mark of a good deal. — Dan Seifert, deputy editor
These waterproof wireless earbuds offer 8.2mm high sensitivity driver with metal acoustic chamber and noise cancellation.
Continuing my father’s Nikon shooting legacy and saving $800 in the process
2022 was the year I decided to get back into photography. Like my father, photography and video was a hobby for me, but it was also part of my major in college. My father, however, used to own a photography studio and business in the 1980s and early ’90s — and he used Nikon cameras. I was shooting with a Canon EOS 7D in the late ’00s and early ’10s until I sold it with the intention of upgrading it. But I never did.
Now I have discovered my father’s old lens collection that includes a big 300mm lens. Problem is, those lenses my father has uses F-mount, which Nikon is slowly replacing with its new Z-mount lenses. Luckily, Nikon makes an official F-to-Z adapter, so the transition is relatively easy. That adapter is normally $250, but when packaged with some Nikon cameras, it got discounted down to $150.
Cool, now all I needed was a body. After some research, I went with the Nikon Z 6II because it has in-body stabilization, something I’d probably need with all these classic lenses that have no Vibration Reduction features. In a package deal with a 24-70 S Lens (Z-mount), I saved $700, plus the $100 off the adapter. I also went with the Z 6II because it has dual SD and CF express slots for redundancy, and it can support 12-bit ProRes RAW 4K video on an external recorder — which is useful for when I totally break into Hollywood. — Umar Shakir, news writer
A package deal for a Nikon Z 6II 4k video mirrorless camera body along with a compatible zoom lens for a $700 discount.
Replacement ear pads for my Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones
Most of what I buy online is practical stuff, not tech. Coffee filters, trash bags, and the like make up a large part of my orders. However, I’ve gotten some great deals on tech products that I may or may not have needed. During Black Friday, I upgraded my single Google Nest Wifi router and got this two-pack of TP-Link Deco XE75 Wi-Fi 6E mesh routers for around $200. So far, they’ve treated me well. It’s likely the “best” deal of the year for me, but it’s not my favorite.
I recently purchased a set of well-rated Soulwit ear pad replacements for my Sony WH-1000XM3. My wife originally purchased these over-ear headphones for me in 2018, and they still sound amazing and have long-lasting battery life. However, the pads are getting torn up after multiple years of putting them on, taking them off, subjecting them to little scratches from five o’clock stubble, sleeping with them on airplanes, and so much more. I’ve probably spent months of combined time with them on my head. So it felt really good to give them a fresh component instead of simply upgrading to the latest model. The installation was easy, and even though it wasn’t an official Sony part, the sound quality is exactly the same, as far as I can tell. — Cameron Faulkner, writer
New cushions for the Sony WH-1000XM3 over-ear headphones.
An Echo Dot for my mom’s bedroom
My mother, who (despite having been born well before the time of personal computers) is pretty comfortable with laptops and other tech, has recently discovered the advantages of having an Echo Show 8 in her living room. She uses it to listen to her favorite music, incessantly demands to know what the current weather is (yeah, she’s one of those), and occasionally asks a question or two. Okay, she doesn’t use the vast number of skills that the interface boasts — but she does use it and enjoys having it available.
Recently, though, I felt that it would be a good idea to have an Echo device in her bedroom as well. She’s of an age where I want to make sure she can contact me in an emergency, and having the Echo Show in the living room pretty much puts it out of reach. So when her ancient bedside alarm clock finally gave up the ghost — just in time for the Black Friday sales — I saw my chance. I got her an Echo Dot, the one with the clock, and much to my delight, she was charmed. She can see what time it is at a glance and can also listen to music or the news while in bed. But more importantly, she can now contact me from anywhere in her apartment by just calling out “Alexa — call Barbara.” It wasn’t much of a sale — $20 off what is usually a $60 item — but for me, it’s one of the best deals I’ve come across this year. — Barbara Krasnoff, reviews editor
The fifth-gen Echo Dot touts a temperature sensor, better sound, and faster response time than the prior model. It can also act as an extender for your Eero Wi-Fi system.
A headphone amp for my electric bass
One of the benefits of having a birthday fall right before Black Friday is that I usually have a gift card in my back pocket for an impulse buy when the deals roll around. This year, my little passion purchase was a Fender Mustang Micro Headphone Amplifier. It basically gives your electric guitar or bass a headphone jack, so you can practice and have some fun without making anyone around you have to tolerate your crappy, repetitive playing — complete with Bluetooth so you can listen and play over music from a connected device.
I was initially turned onto this handy little tool from our own Holiday Gift Guide, and I knew I had to have it once I saw it drop from $119.99 to a sale price of $89.99. I have casually played electric bass for a little over 10 years, though my instrument has been lying mostly dormant for a while now, which is criminal because I spent some reckless money on my lovely Rickenbacker 4003 years ago, and it deserves to be played — even if it’s just with my dumb fingers and a penchant for aging punk music (remember, fast down-strokes make everything sound better).
I figured anything that allows me to pick it up and start jamming along to a song with minimum inertia is a worthwhile investment. I can noodle around right on the couch right beside my wife while she yells at the TV as the New York Rangers blow another multi-goal lead, and I don’t even have to wait for tubes to warm up like on my regular amp. Plus, if I crank the volume, at least I’m only ruining my own ears and not rattling picture frames off the wall. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, commerce writer
An all-in-one personal headphone amplifier with onboard DSP.
Some sneaker drip for my 74-year-old mother
Another hot pickup of mine from our own Holiday Gift Guide was a pair of Nike Go FlyEase sneakers that my wife and I gifted to my mother for her recent 74th birthday. They were on sale during the Black Friday weekend, and we managed to cop them for around $87 instead of the usual $120.
I thought these sneakers looked sick as hell, and you know who would look the best in them? A lil’ ol’ Italian lady, of course. I’m hoping that the easy on / easy off hands-free design of these sneakers helps with her limited mobility, and meanwhile, she can look fly as $*#&@. Now I just need to get her an oversized graphic tee and some slick joggers to complete her drip. The town senior center ain’t ready for this! — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, commerce writer
Sneakers that you just have to step into and out of, without the hassle of shoelaces.
A $50 watch for $38
After dousing my Apple Watch with dirty transmission fluid and spending the next hour not knowing how much time I had left in a rented mechanic bay, I decided I needed a simple digital watch. But while I’ve long been a devotee of the $10–$15 Casio F-91W, I wanted something just a little bit nicer. Mainly, I was looking for a functional backlight and, if I could swing it, something that told me the day of the week, month, and day (greedy, I know). After some searching (and daring to go outside the Casio bubble), I found the Timex Expedition 39mm, which seemed to tick all the boxes.
The one problem is that it’s normally $50, which felt like just a bit too much of a price premium for the relatively basic creature comforts I was looking for. That’s when my colleague Antonio came to the rescue by alerting our watch-fans Slack channel to Timex’s 30 percent off sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which brought the Expedition down to around $35. That felt a lot more reasonable to me, so I picked it up.
While I haven’t really put it through the wringer yet, so far, it has the best UI (and backlight) of any digital watch I’ve owned. Sure, it’s not like I saved a boatload of cash on it, but there’s just something magic about buying something basic via a sale that puts it right within your price range. — Mitchell Clark, news writer
An inexpensive and rugged digital watch.