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The Best Gifts Under $500 for 2022

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Giving a meaningful gift doesn’t have to be expensive. However, sometimes it feels good to spend a little more on our loved ones and give them something exceptional. Whether you’re shopping for a special birthday, graduation, holiday, or just because, these are some of the best gifts in the $200 to $500 price range. 

Ready to find the perfect gift? This list will help you find just the right thing to order and send. One thing to note though: Because they’re unlikely to be easily found over the coming weeks, we’ve left the PS5 ($400 to $500) and Xbox Series X ($500) and Series S ($300) off this list. If you can get your hands on one, however, it would make a great gift.

Scott Stein/CNET

Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 could be the device that makes virtual reality mainstream. It’s not only better than the original but also less expensive, starting at $300 for the 128GB version (the 256GB version is $400). 

CNET’s Scott Stein praised it for being lighter and faster, with revised controllers and longer battery life. The display resolution is notably crisper and remarkably easy to read text on. The only downside: You now have to have a Facebook login in to use it.

Read our Oculus Quest 2 review.

 

Scott Stein/CNET

The ninth generation of Apple’s entry-level iPad came out last fall with an updated A13 Bionic chip processor that gives it a nice performance boost (a keyboard or case is not included). Otherwise it’s pretty much the same as last year’s entry-level iPad, which remains the best value in Apple’s iPad line. While prices start at $396, you get double the storage over the previous year’s model, at 64GB (and $479 for the 256GB version), look for special offers as this iPad often gets the flash-deal treatment.

Theragun

The Theragun Prime is a new Theragun included in the company’s rebrand and launch of four new massage guns. Its prior equivalent was the Theragun Liv, which is reviewed in-depth here.

Like the high-end Theragun Pro ($599), the Theragun Prime’s main impressive feature is that it’s much quieter than its now-retired predecessor. In fact, the Prime rivals the famously quiet Hypervolt Plus in terms of volume level — that’s a massive improvement from the Liv.

The improvements don’t stop there, though: Where the Theragun Liv only had two preprogrammed speeds and came with two closed-cell foam attachments, the Theragun Prime has five built-in speeds (from 1,750 rpm to 2,400 rpm) and comes with five closed-cell foam attachments. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

No, you can’t get a truly high-performance TV for less than $500, but with TCL’s 55-inch 55S535 you can get a great gift with a nice size screen, very solid 4K picture quality and the best streaming system available (Roku) for $500. If you want under $400, TCL’s latest 4-series 4K line is a respectable choice.

Read our TCL 55S425 review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Hypervolt Plus is the next-generation Hyperice percussive massager, and rivals the slightly better-known Theragun in effectiveness. Despite being quite forceful, thanks to a 90-watt high-torque motor, it’s notably quiet, so it’s not annoying to use — to yourself or others. It’s cordless, of course, and the lithium-ion battery gives you about two hours per charge. It comes with five head attachments and features three speed settings.

Sarah Tew/CNET

So maybe your gift recipients already have a nice TV, but they’re stuck listening to its terrible built-in speakers. A soundbar is the easiest way to fix that problem, and this $350 Yamaha is one our favorites in this price range. As a bonus it also works with Alexa, so you can ask Amazon’s voice assistant to play your tunes, even when the TV is turned off.

Read our Yamaha YAS-209 review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo’s massively popular platform may have a newer, cheaper entry in the Switch Lite at $200, but the original got a minor improvement in the V2 version with improved battery life. The big difference between the two? The Switch Lite has a smaller screen and is strictly portable, without the big-screen TV dockability and detachable controllers that make the V2 so unique. We break down the differences here; the main thing to know is we still consider the bigger Switch to be the better choice.

Read our Nintendo Switch review.

 

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Overwatch 2 Beta Begins Tomorrow: Start Time and What to Expect

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Overwatch 2 starts its second beta on Tuesday, June 28, for PC and console players. The beta begins at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT and runs through Monday, July 18. Sign-ups are still open for a chance to participate, and you can still get guaranteed access if you’re willing to spend some cash.  

The next beta will be our first look at Junker Queen, a new tank hero who first appeared in posters on the Junkertown map that was released in 2017. Fans have been hoping to play her ever since, and five years later, we’re finally getting the chance. The new beta also adds a new hybrid map, Paraiso. The developers have laid out their goals for the beta, which include testing server capacity and hero balance. 

Overwatch 2 is the sequel to Blizzard’s class-based shooter, featuring two teams of five players fighting over objectives. Overwatch devs announced in June that the game will be free to play and will launch in early access on Oct. 4. The first beta injected a frantic pace into the game, which was a welcome change from the slower, more grinding pacing that’s plagued Overwatch in recent years. The free-to-play PvP element will bring the game more in line with other competitive shooters, like Valorant and Apex Legends.

How to sign up for the Overwatch 2 beta

Anyone can sign up for Overwatch 2’s second beta, but it’s not technically an open beta. The game will add people gradually as it ramps up server capacity, and the first big wave of beta access will happen on July 5, according to the beta FAQ page. Even if you were in the previous beta, you’ll need to sign up again. 

Here’s how to sign up:

1. Go to the Overwatch 2 beta site.
2. In the top right corner, log in to your Blizzard Account.
3. At the bottom of the Overwatch 2 beta page, choose your platform (and region for PlayStation players).
4. Then hit Request Beta Access.

If you want guaranteed beta access on June 28, you can purchase the Watchpoint Pack ($40). In addition to beta access on day one, you’ll also get two legendary character skins, a unique player icon and enough digital currency to buy the first two battle passes.

How do I download the Overwatch 2 beta?

Blizzard hasn’t released details on downloading the second beta, but it should follow the same process as the first beta. Here’s how that worked:

1. Log in to your Battle.net account and navigate to Overwatch on the game launcher.

2. In the bottom left, click the Game Version drop-down.

3. Select Overwatch 2 Tech Beta to install.

4. When the download is complete, hit the blue Play button to start.

Junker Queen spinning her axe

Junker Queen’s ultimate ability helps her close distance and end fights quickly.


Blizzard

Junker Queen abilities

The new beta finally gives fans a chance to play as Junker Queen, a hero we’ve all been excited about and/or thirsting over since she was first teased on the Junkertown map. Here’s what we know about Junker Queen’s abilities, from the Overwatch Twitter account:

New Hybrid Map: Paraiso

The beta also adds Paraiso, a new hybrid map that explores Lucio’s home, including the DJ’s Clube Sinestesia. As with all hybrid maps, players will start by attacking or defending a control point, and if the attackers succeed, players will spend the rest of the map attacking or defending a payload. 

An underground club with light-up floor

Clube Sinestesia is where support hero Lucio found fame as a DJ.


Blizzard

For more Overwatch 2 news, check out everything we learned from the Overwatch 2 reveal event.



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Icebergify: How To Create an Iceberg of Your Most Listened to Spotify Artists

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Been on social media today? Seen those bizarre musical Icebergs floating around in your feed? You’re not alone. Screenshots like this have been doing the rounds today, particularly on Twitter. 

It’s all created via the magic of a website called Icebergify.

Using the data from your Spotify listening habits, Icebergify creates an Iceberg of your most listened to artists ranked by popularity. At the tip of the iceberg? Your favourite “mainstream” artists. Your Taylor Swifts, your Beyonces, your Drakes, etc. The further down you go, the more obscure it becomes. It looks a little like this…

If you want to see your own iceberg, you can head to the website directly. Be warned: it does require your Spotify log-in. 

The Icebergify website was developed by Akshay Raj, a freshman studying Computer & Data Science at Rice University. He says he has no plans to monetize the site or use the data collected — which is limited to your username, Spotify account ID and the top 50 tracks and artists listened to over the past few years. 

How does it work? It’s fairly simple. Icebergify takes your most listened to artists and sorts them according to popularity rankings. Streams, shares, saves, likes, and followers are all taken into account. This is why Beyonce might be at the top of your iceberg, but lesser known artists are at the bottom, beneath the ocean. Also worth noting: It seems like Icebergify is being flooded due to its surprising popularity. Head back later if it doesn’t immediately work.





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Apple’s First Mixed-Reality Headset May Sport New M2 Processor

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Apple’s first mixed-reality headset could come with the company’s flagship M2 processor, just one of the “deluge” of new products the company is expected to unveil in the next year, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported Sunday.

The M2, unveiled in June, features redesigned central processing units and a significant memory increase, which would provide a significant boost to the much-rumored headset over the previous M1 chip.

The much-rumored headset incorporating both virtual and augmented reality environments is expected to provide a boon to the gaming industry. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier week that the headset — expected to be announced in January 2023 — would be the most complicated product Apple has designed yet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been vocal about his excitement about AR. Earlier this week, he explained that the tech industry is still in the “very early innings” of this technology’s possibilities.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we’ve seen in this space, and sort of stay tuned and you’ll see what we have to offer,” Cook told China Daily.

Other products Gurman expects to debut in the next 12 months include four iPhone 14 models, three Apple Watch variations, several Macs with M2 and M3 chips, iPads, updated AirPods Pro earbuds, a fresh HomePod, and an upgraded Apple TV. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read moreApple AR, VR Headset Rumors: WWDC, Release Rumors, M1 Chip and More



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