ZDNet's Business Bargain Hunter scours the web for great deals on computers, phones, services and much more. Prices and availability are accurate at the time deals are shared. Some products and services may not be available outside the US. Follow BBH on Facebook and Twitter, where he's known as The Cheapskate.
Are you one of those people who juggles two phones, one for work, one for personal?
The horror. The horror!
It's time to seriously consider a second line, which effectively turns one phone into two. Perhaps you've investigated this option before; there are numerous apps and services that can add another number to your smartphone.
As the BBH, obviously I'd prefer to recommend Google Voice, which is free. But trust me when I say it's not really suited to business use. It's limited, a bit confusing in places (starting with the vague differences between Voice and Google Hangouts) and lacking in all-important messaging encryption.
So that leaves you with other services that cost $10-15 per month. Or you could hop on this deal: For a limited time, BBH readers can get one year of Hushed Unlimited for $30. That's after entering promo code ZDNET30. This same plan normally runs $60.
If you've never used a second-line app before, it works like this: You choose (or port in) a number to use with Hushed. When someone calls that number, your phone rings (duh). To make a call, you use the Hushed app instead of the stock dialer.
Messaging works pretty much the same way, and Hushed recently added some noteworthy features to this side of the app: group chat, burnable messages (meaning they're deleted after being read) and, perhaps most important, end-to-end encrypted messaging. According to a Hushed rep, this last competes directly with Signal -- except that Hushed has "no affiliation with any major corporations and [is] in no way beholden to anyone." Ouch! You just got served, Signal!
Hushed also offers features like auto-replies to text messages, custom voicemail, Slack integration (you can send texts directly from it) and support for syncing messages, voicemail and the like to a Dropbox account.
This Unlimited Plan affords you unlimited calls and texts for an entire year after you sign up. I don't know of any other second-line service that's anywhere near this inexpensive. After the first year, you'll return to the $5/month rate if you want to stick with unlimited, though there are less-expensive plans if don't use a lot of messages and/or minutes.
My take: $60 per year for an unlimited second line is a killer deal. Which makes this $30 offer even...killer-er?
Side deal: Need to deploy an effective, affordable VPN to your road warriors? I've never seen one more affordable than this: For a limited time, StackSocial is offering a lifetime KeepSolid VPN Unlimited subscription for $18 when you apply promo code CYBER40 at checkout. (That code was active and accepted as of 5 a.m. PT this morning. YMMV.)
That deal nets you lifetime service for up to five devices (on pretty much every OS known to man). It was $49.99 until this Cyber Week sale, and it's $29.99 without the code (already an amazing bargain given that KeepSolid proper normally charges $150).
Not familiar with VPN Unlimited? Read ZDNet's recent overview of VPN services, which named it one of the five best.