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The new Amazon Christmas deals include the 4K Fire TV Stick for $34.99

Tue, 11/12/2018 - 00:14

New device deals have arrived at Amazon, and the retail giant has slashed prices on its most popular gadgets. Right now you'll be able to find deals on streaming players, smart speakers, tablets and more.

You can get the best-selling 4K Fire TV Stick on sale for $34.99. That's a $15 discount and the best price we've seen for this powerful streaming device. The all-new 4K Fire TV Stick allows you to enjoy 4K Ultra HD streaming with access to over thousands of movies, TV shows, and apps.

Other notable deals include the Fire TV Cube for $69.99, $20 off the Fire HD 8 Tablet, and the Ring Video Doorbell 2 for $169.

Shop the rest of Amazon's device deals below.

Amazon Device Deals:
Categories: General Technology

The best gifts for audiophiles and music lovers for all budgets

Mon, 10/12/2018 - 21:35

Choosing the perfect Christmas gift for the music lover in your life can be a tricky business, whether you’re buying for a loved one, a work colleague, or a friend this December. 

And, the bigger the audiophile, the more difficult it becomes – get the specs or the brand wrong, and you could find yourself digging out that gift receipt come Boxing Day (or December 26 if you're in the US). 

So, if you’re struggling to find the perfect present, check out our roundup of the best speakers, headphones, turntables, and other audio accessories for every budget. 

Best audio gifts under £50/$50/AU$75

While wireless headphone are all the rage right now, there are still plenty of reasons to go wired, with two of the biggest reasons being superior sound quality and price. While you can buy wireless headphones for a low cost, they usually sound much worse than wired headphones for the same price. 

In the budget in-ear headphone category, you usually sacrifice sound and build quality for price. However, there are rare gems that are affordable, sound great, and are built well. The RHA MA390s are one of those headphones. 

While the RHA MA390 is the cheapest headphone the company makes, it doesn’t sacrifice on build quality, design, or sound: These headphones are beautifully crafted out of aluminum, feature a braided cable for durability, and a universal remote that works with Android and iOS. 

While not perfect, the RHA M390s are great value, and just special enough to make a perfect gift for the music lover in your life this Christmas.

While the original Plattan headphones were just fine for a pair of on-ear headphones, Urbanears wasn’t satisfied with being mediocre. 

The company took customer feedback to heart and addressed many complaints about comfort, sound quality and isolation – and for the most part, Urbanears succeeded, making the Plattan II a worthy sequel to the company’s most popular headphone.  

In short, these are basic headphones without a ton of features. But, because they're feature-light, you get a good-sounding pair of wired headphones for significantly less than you would otherwise, and they look incredibly stylish with that minimalist design. 

Read the full review: Urbanears Plattan II

The Home Mini is the cheapest way of buying into the Assistant for those looking to buy into Google’s smart home ecosystem. 

While it's a good value for the price, its weak bass frequencies makes it a better desk buddy than a standalone speaker - so, don't buy it for the hardcore audiophile in your life, but it could make a fantastic gift for a student who needs their speaker to be as compact as possible and is looking for something to make those long nights of studying go by a little easier.

It's also a top gift for people who already have smart devices like smart lights, locks, and thermostats in the home, as it can be used as a hub to connect and control all of these devices, as long as they are compatible.

Read the full Google Home Mini review

There are lots of music streaming services to choose from these days, with new offerings entering the market every month or so, but the one that always comes to mind first for us, and which consistently delivers, is Spotify. 

Not only did Spotify get there early and claim the crown of the coolest, easiest-to-use, and arguably best music service around, it’s also still the most popular, despite stiff competition from the likes of Apple Music, Google Play Music and other music-specific services like Pandora Music and Deezer

Although you can use Spotify for free, a Premium account means you don't have to listen to annoying adds, can select songs at random, and download your playlists for offline listening. 

So, if you know someone who's struggling along with Spotify Free at the moment, why not buy them a gift card that's exchangeable for Spotify Premium this Christmas?

Know what you're after?

If you already have an idea of what you want to buy this Christmas, why not check out our audio tech round ups? 

Best audio gifts under £100/$100/AU$150

After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones and the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones we were blown away at just how much value each one gave in their prospective price ranges. 

For $100 (£100, about AU$168), it’s hard to think of a better-sounding and -built headphone than the 1MORE Triple Driver. (That said, if you want just that little extra refinement and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are still a bargain at twice the price.) 

There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Its rubber cable is annoying and its remote control feels cheap but these are just nitpicks. 

But, for its price, it’s impossible to do better than 1MORE's Triple Driver in-ear headphones, and they could make a great gift for any discerning music lover this Christmas.

Read the full review: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone

For your money, you can't do any better than Grado's SR60e. The third-generation of the Brooklyn, NY-based company's Prestige Series is its best and most refined yet. 

The SR60e in particular is a smart choice if you're looking for an entry-level set of headphones that sounds like it should cost you way more than it does. Its open-backed ear cup design makes them a more breathable experience than what most on-ear headphones can deliver. In a few words, it's our gold-standard when it comes to on-ears.

The Grado SR60es could make a great gift for anyone who loves the sound of over-ear headphones but hates how constricting they can feel after long periods of listening.

Read the full review: Grado SR60e (Our review is for the SR60i, but the newer SR60e headphones are largely similar in design and performance.)

This sequel to the UE Boom nails everything a Bluetooth speaker should be. It's loud, yet detailed. Portable, but still incredibly durable. Plus, even better, the addition of waterproofing turns what used to be the best Bluetooth speaker around for most occasions into the best one for every occasion. 

If you're deep in the search for your next – or first – Bluetooth speaker, you can stop looking now. (But if you're looking for a little more power, the Megaboom – also from UE – is a great choice, too.) 

So, if your loved one is guilty of singing in the shower, this powerful waterproof speaker could make shower time more fun for them (and easier for you to listen to).

Read the full review: UE Boom 2

This pick isn’t new, but here’s a reminder in case you’ve forgotten it exists. Chromecast Audio can be used to turn your old hi-fi or active speakers into an up-to-date wireless, smart system. 

As well as being able to stream from any app that allows “casting”, which includes just about every major Android audio app out there, using Google Home you can ask for tracks using a phone or Home smart speaker. 

Chromecast Audio may not be the most exciting gadget around, but when it could save a loved one spend hundreds on new speakers, it’s worth thinking about.

Read the full Google Chromecast Audio review

Best audio gifts over £100/$100/AU$150

All things considered, the Jabra Elite 65t are one of the best truly wireless headphones you can buy today. They cost slightly more than the Apple AirPods but they also offer better sound quality, noise isolation and adjustable ambient noise when you want it. And if you don’t like the design of the odd, alien-looking AirPods, the mature, understated look of the 65t may be to your liking. 

While the Jabra Elite 65t are easily one of the highest scoring true wireless headphones we've reviewed, there are a few others on the market worth considering: If you want a pair of exercise earbuds, there’s the Jabra Elite Sport which has a higher water resistance and handy sports-oriented features. 

For audiophiles who don’t mind stretching the budget, the active noise cancelling Sony WF-1000X are an excellent choice. Bassheads will want to try the SOL Republic Amps Air.  

If you only have the budget for one of these, though, go for the Elite 65t and your loved one will have a great Christmas. 

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t

If there’s anything surprising about the new Sony WH-1000XM3 it’s that they’re so consistent with what Sony has released in the last two years in the form of the Sony WH-1000XM2 and Sony MDR-1000X. To wit, they’re a dominant noise-cancelling pair of headphones that can beat out anything Bose has with both arms behind its back. 

That’s because, while Bose has done a tremendous job working out its noise-cancellation algorithm over the years, Sony has spent that time perfecting audio playback while simultaneously creating an adaptability algorithm that doesn’t just create a single sterile sound barrier, but multiple kinds that can adapt to whatever situation you’re in. 

Beyond being exceptional at keeping external noises at bay, Sony's headphones are Hi-Res Audio-ready, sporting aptX, aptX HD and LDAC codecs, plus offer will offer Google Assistant support right on-board. If you want to gift a pair of headphones that can live up to any challenge and excel in any environment, these are them.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM3

Sonos’ debut Alexa speaker is a cleanly-designed, feature-rich and great-sounding device that brings together the best of both ecosystems. You’ve got the ever-improving Alexa on the one hand, and on the other you’ve got Sonos with its own multi-room smarts. 

There's also a new feature in the mix that promises to change the game: AirPlay 2. With it, the Sonos One can talk to Siri and form a multi-room pairing with the Apple HomePod, making it the most versatile speaker on the list.

If there's anything holding the Sonos One back from greatness it's the fact that Google Assistant is still MIA - something Sonos has been particularly quiet about.

Still, it's one of our favorite smart speakers of 2018, and it could make the perfect gift for the music lover in your life this Christmas.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is the best introductory turntable for aspiring vinyl enthusiasts. Out of the box, it features the ability to play 33 ⅓, 45 and 78 RPM, this means there will never be an album you can’t play. There’s also a built-in phono preamp so you never have to worry about finding one on your own.

New record collectors will love the easy setup and features while more vetted users will love the option to dial in the vertical tracking angle, tracking force and easily replaceable headshell. Sure, it looks like a Technics SL-1200 ripoff but at a fraction of the price, it’s entirely worth it. 

The AT-LP120-USB also comes with a USB output that allows you to record your record collection if you want. To put it simply, this deck strikes the perfect balance of ease of use for beginners while still including some more advanced features for users to grow into – and it's a fantastic gift for anyone who has vinyls collecting dust in the attic.

Best premium audio gifts

The Beoplay E8 is a tiny yet impressive piece of audio tech. While the four-hour battery life can be a bit frustrating for all-day users, it’s certainly not something we’d hold against the E8. The touch controls are responsive, and we just can’t get over how gorgeous these things look. 

Yes, you’re going to be paying a higher price, but for this kind of premium finish and audio quality, it almost seems worth it to put a smile on your loved ones face this Christmas. 

The Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signatures are simply some of the best-sounding headphones we’ve ever used. They have a tight, refined sound that offers an almost unmatched level of detail. 

That said, the fact remains that they’re a comparatively feature-light pair of cans. If you want to spend less then you can get a much more portable pair that’ll be better suited to the morning commute or a plane ride thanks to additional features like noise-cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity.

But, if you’re looking to invest in a seriously high-quality pair of headphones to listen to a high-quality music collection, then there are few that can match the P9s at this price point. 

Read the full review: B&W P9 Signature

In life, money isn’t everything. In sound, however, it’s pretty important.

Case in point: the Definitive Technology BP9080x speakers. Right off the bat we want to make it clear that this stereo pair is a luxury item that is made only for the most avid audiophile on the market. 

If that’s you, then let us tell you just how amazing these speakers are. 

From beginning to end of the covered frequency range, the BP9080x speakers are crystal clear, articulate, and genuinely moving. The passive design is aided by an active subwoofer, giving the user independent control of the subwoofer volume on each tower, meaning it can be adjusted to fit any room with any standing waves. 

The midrange is as full and clear as any speakers we’ve ever heard, never getting overworked or muddy no matter what songs and sounds we threw at it. The pitch-perfect mid range blends perfectly into the gorgeous treble frequencies that never got harsh, even when the windows were shaking from the volume. The clarity from the top of the frequency range to the bottom can’t be overstated. 

On top of it all (literally) there are two “height channel” speakers that make this a perfect centerpiece in your Dolby Atmos or DTS:X home theater. 

All of this audio goodness is wrapped in a tall and slender package made from premium materials that is impossibly discreet, especially considering the amount of volume it can pump out. All we can say is that if you’re looking to spend the money (and it is a lot of money), we can’t recommend Definitive Technology’s BP9080x speakers enough. 

If the Clearaudio Concept and Marantz TT-15S1 seem familiar, that’s because the Marantz was built by Clearaudio to Marantz’s specifications. This means everything about the excellent build quality of the Marantz carries over to the Clearaudio Concept (i.e. this is a turntable that is as gorgeous as it sounds). 

One small but notable difference between the Marantz and the Clearaudio is the ability to play 78 rpm records. While most people will never come across 78s, it’s nice to know that the Clearaudio Concept is capable of playing them. The Concept also has a handy speed dial on the plinth, meaning you don’t have to swap the belt position manually.

As for negatives, the Clearaudio Concept has no notable flaws. Yes, it’s expensive but you’re still getting a bargain in this price range, as the included Clearaudio Concept moving-coil cartridge costs around £700 by itself. 

Read the review: Clearaudio Concept

Categories: General Technology

The best Boxing Day sales 2018: what to expect before the January sales

Sun, 09/12/2018 - 21:55

The Boxing Day sales have turned into a special event to finish off the year in style for all those last-minute bargains. But with so many stores shouting about new deals it can all turn into a bit of a blur, or maybe that's the eggnog and excessive amounts of turkey lulling us into a slumber.

The short version: you've got better things to be doing on the Christmas break than checking all the usual retailers and shifting through deals. So let us do it for you and roundup the finest ones right here!

When do the Boxing Day sales start?

Not a silly question at all. We actually saw lots of retailers push the button (probably with gravy on their fingers) quite early on Christmas Day. But it's not unusual to see some stores unleash new deals a few days earlier too. With so many super fast delivery options available now, or in-store pickup, retailers are keen to keep the deals going right until the last possible moment before Christmas Day. And a good thing too given how many of us tend to buy late - we'll start soon, honest. Maybe next week. 

If just before Christmas is the time to scramble for last-minute gifts, anytime from the day itself onwards is the chance to treat yourself or use those gift vouchers to make a great deal a truly spectacular bargain. Let's do this!

When do the January sales start?

Expect an early start here too. Although if we're going off the last few years, the January sales haven't been particularly special. It's been all about the Boxing Day deals really, although we're pleased to report some of the better ones stayed online a good few days into January. January sales are more of a continuation of the Boxing Day sales so you can probably expect to see many stores simply rebrand the sales to 'January' ones from the day after Boxing Day on December 27th. 

Given many workplaces are off until around January 2nd, retailers are keen to show you the best deals as soon as possible while you've got time off at home rather than try to push deals on you while you're heading back to work or nursing that New Year's Eve hangover.

Who's having a Boxing Day sale?

All the big stores get stuck in. With so many keen shoppers going online over the Christmas period in recent years, it's just too good a chance for them to finish 2018 off with some extra money in the bank. Let's take a look at the big hitters below and what you can nab from each.

Boxing Day sales retailer quick links

More a fan of browsing through the sales for your own special deals? Well, let us give you a head start. The links below will take you through to a wide range of retailers we're used to seeing get stuck into the Boxing Day and January sales spirit.

The best Boxing Day sales and deals from last year

Want a little taste of what to expect in the upcoming Boxing Day sales? Directly below you'll find a selection of some of the best deals we saw last year. Naturally, these prices expired a long time ago, but they they could be even cheaper now too! We'd certainly keep our fingers crossed for lower prices each year too. 

Categories: General Technology

This Marshall Bluetooth speaker is 50% off on Amazon

Fri, 07/12/2018 - 10:14

Here at TechRadar, our favorite Bluetooth speakers are the ones that both last a long time and can get loud enough to reveal all the details of our music. The Marshall Kilburn does both. You can't go wrong buying a speaker from a renowned manufacturer like Marshall, after all.

If that wasn't enough to sell you on it, Amazon is slashing the price by 50% for its 12 days of deals promotion. That means you can get this beefy Bluetooth speaker for just $149! That's a great deal if we've ever seen one. 

At 9.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches and over 6 pounds, the Marshall Kilburn is one big bluetooth speaker, but with all that added size you're getting 20 hours of battery life and sound that will knock your socks off. It's not going to be the kind of speaker that you carry around in your backpack, but if you're looking for a great speaker to bring to the beach, or some other outdoor event, you can't go wrong. 

Categories: General Technology

This deep discount on this Lenovo Smart Display finally makes it worth checking out

Fri, 07/12/2018 - 09:49

Smart displays made a splash this year with the first big products hitting the market, including the Lenovo Smart Display with Google Assistant. Today, you can pick up one of the larger 10-inch models for $159 – over 36% off the normal $249 price at Best Buy.

The smaller 8-inch model was a huge hit during Black Friday season, so it’s no surprise that they’re discounting the larger one now.

The Lenovo display works just like a voice assistant-equipped smart speaker – ask questions, voice commands – but the screen opens up much more usage. Put it in your kitchen to display recipes or watch media while cooking and cleaning, in your bathroom or living room.

The Lenovo Smart Display has a 10-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 LCD screen and 5MP front-facing camera for video chat. It runs Google Assistant, which listens in with the device’s dual two-microphone arrays.

Categories: General Technology

Do you know your top artists and songs for 2018? Find out with Spotify Wrapped

Thu, 06/12/2018 - 22:59

Whether your 2018 was a year to remember, or one you’d like to swiftly forget come New Year’s Eve, it’s safe to say that it was a fantastic year for music streaming platform Spotify, who counted 83 million users as of July this year. 

Now the streaming giant has launched its yearly ‘Your 2018 Wrapped’ feature, so all 83 million can look back on their year of music listening with (hopefully) fond memories. 

If you want to find out everything you need to know about your listening stats, you can do so through the dedicated Spotify Wrapped website, whether you are a Premium or Free account holder.

This years statistics include how many minutes of music you listened to,  as well as the different songs, artists, and genres you tapped into this year. Spotify also tests your knowledge of your own listening habits, which is rewarded by a playlists of your top 100 tracks for 2018 – the results of which can be quite embarrassing if you’ve been blaring out the guilty pleasures this year. 

Start 2019 with something new

Bored of listening to the same old songs? Well, Spotify has you covered. As well as a playlist of your top 100 tracks, the Spotify Wrapped feature also generates a ‘Tastebreakers’ playlist full of artists and genres you don’t normally listen to, so you can start 2019 with a fresh new sound. You can also check in on the first track you listened to this year, as well as the first new artist you discovered.

In other Spotify news, the company has announced that it is launching an improved user experience for the Xbox app today in the US, with a more intuitive interface. The streaming platform has also introduced support for Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortana on Xbox, meaning you can ask Cortana to play tracks on Spotify through the console. There's currently word on when this feature will be rolled out to other territories, though.

Categories: General Technology

Australia's best cheap headphones, discounts and deals in December 2018

Thu, 06/12/2018 - 13:34

With headphones of all types, colours and styles flooding the market, it’s hard knowing which ones to pick – do you go for the premium model you’ve always wanted, or are you better off just grabbing a cheap set from the discount bin?

Well, it’s worth remembering that cheap headphones are cheap for a reason, so even if saving money is priority we can’t recommend those $2 discount-bin variety that you find all over the world. And, as you’ll find out below, you don’t always have spend a lot of dosh to snag a great set of headphones either.

To save you the time and effort, we’ve put together this dedicated guide to the best bargains on great-sounding headphone. We constantly monitor major Aussie retailers and go a-huntin’ to bring you the most worthwhile deals on a variety of sets – from in-ear buds to noise-cancelling cans – so check out our continually updated list below to discover the best current headphones deals in Australia.

Best cheap over-ear headphones this week Best cheap in-ear headphones this week

The best deals on our favourite headphones

To help you decide which headphones work best for you, we've decided to put together a little buying guide with a list of our favourite recommendations. 

The headphones you'll find here have tons of features to help you to get the most out of your music, or any other form of audio-visual entertainment you prefer, however you like to listen to it.

For the most part, when shopping for noise cancellation headphones we've gotten used to making a compromise between shutting the world out and wanting great sound performance. But no longer. Sony's WH-1000XM2 cans are a great redesign of the already-excellent MDR-1000X and offer not just perfect noise cancellation but also score top marks in sound quality. These headphones easily outclass Bose's flagship QC35 II in terms of both soundscape and feature set.

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM2 review

The very popular and excellent Bose QC35s underwent an upgrade and now come with Google Assistant at your beck and call. For a premium price, not only do you get Bose's world class noise cancellation and good sound quality, you also get a personal butler and an incredibly comfortable set of cans. And with up to 40 hours of battery life, you'll get through any long-haul flight.

Read more: Bose QuietComfort 35 II review

For a little over $100, it's hard to recommend a better sounding pair of 'buds than the 1More Triple Driver in-ears. It's hard to fault the headphones, if you can put up with the rubber cable and the plastic remote. Even that is just us nitpicking. For the price, it's our top recommendation of in-ear headphones if your phone still has a headphone jack or you don't mind using an adaptor.

Read more: 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones review

If you're a frequent flyer, or commute long distances daily, you'll understand the need for a great pair of noise cancelling headphones. Unfortunately, most of them cost a pretty penny. But not the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. These headphones offer not just good sound and shut the world out, but do it at pretty much half the cost of the usual suspects of Sony, Bose and Beats. They also have a useful feature that turns the headphones off when you're not wearing them, saving battery. And did we mention you can pair two devices at once as well? If that isn't great value, then we don't know what else is.

Read more: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 review

With headphone jacks fast disappearing from flagship handsets, wireless headphones is the way to go. But not everyone likes the feel of a set of cans on their head and cables, no matter how small, can get annoying. If that's describing you, then true wireless 'buds are the answer to your prayers. While most of them compromise on sound quality, the Jabra Elite 65t not only sound good but offer ambient noise isolation as well. They're an excellent substitute if you aren't too keen on the other-worldly look of Apple's AirPods.

Read more: Jabra Elite 65t review

It's hard to find the Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 wireless 'buds, but if you're after a set of no-frills headphones that don't compromise on sound quality, you'll want to look for these. They do an excellent job of isolating sound when in a noisy environment and boast up to 10 hours of battery. And with a 15-minute quick charge, you'll get an additional two hours of playback out of them.

Read more: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 review

If you're after more information on headphones in different form factors, take a look at some of our other dedicated audio articles:

Categories: General Technology

The best wireless speaker 2018: find the best connected speakers for your home

Thu, 06/12/2018 - 03:04

Best Speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best wireless, connected speakers and speaker systems in 2018. 

Whether you're looking for floor-standing models that rattle your walls and wake up your neighbors or a portable speaker you can take anywhere, our round up of the best speakers covers all shapes and sizes.

n between those two ends of the scale lies wireless speakers - powerful chambers of sound that don't require a cable to setup, so if you're not in the mood to string wires, this is the way to go.

Ideally, the speaker that you pick will have been made with a number of built-in amps and DACs and then custom-tuned to replicate music as close to the source as possible. 

On top of pristine audio playback, you should be looking for speakers that pack in a plethora of features like smart assistant support, a built-in battery and Spotify Connect, all of which will help your speaker last you until the next big innovation in audio that will come a few years down the road.

To that end, what you'll find below is a list of the 10 best wireless speakers, ranked by their price-to-performance ratio.

If you're in the market for a cleanly designed, exceptional sounding connected speaker, you'll find none better than the Sonos One. Offering the best of both Sonos' multi-room speaker platform and Amazon's smart home prowess, the Sonos One is the pinnacle of connectivity. 

Want to hear your favorite song from Spotify? All you need to do is ask! Want every speaker in the upstairs to play the same song? Group them together via the Sonos app and you'll have a house party in minutes. 

While there are more powerful (and more expensive) speakers listed down below, for the vast majority of folks, the Sonos One is the best deal in 2018.

Read the full review: Sonos One

Sonos was one of the first companies to get into the connected speaker business, and as a result has one of the most seamlessly integrated speaker systems on the market. 

The Sonos Play:5 is the company's flagship, and has the 

Unlike solutions which rely on Bluetooth or Google Cast, Sonos' speakers are controlled directly from its own app, which has built in integration for a number of streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Deezer, TuneIn a whole range of smaller services.

Since this is a multi-room setup, you can also add additional speakers such as the Sonos Play:3 and Sonos Play:1 to built up a complete surround sound system, but if you want to keep it simple, then you should find the Play:5 to offer more than enough sound. 

Read the full review: Sonos Play:5

The Pure Evoke C-F6 isn't a flashy speaker – its modest (but refined) looks let it slip unassumingly into any decor, although it doesn't boast the premium multi-room options of pricier competitors on this list.

But that's also not really the point of the Evoke C-F6 – it's positioning itself to be the one-room, one-shop stop for all your audio playback needs. There's a dazzling array of audio source options on offer here, with the biggest draws being Spotify Connect, DAB, Internet radio, Bluetooth and old faithful CD playback.

With a solid app letting you control the speaker from across a room, and the Evoke C-F6 offering a warm and natural soundstage from its stereo speakers, it'll take pride of place on whichever bedside table or living room shelf you decide to pop it on.

Read the full review: Pure Evoke C-F6

It's a tough call between this speaker and the Mu-So Qb for the best looking music player on this list, but the Zeppelin is certainly the most striking.

But as with all these speakers, the proof is in the pudding, and the Zeppelin sounds absolutely stunning no matter what volume you play it at. Its bass is distortion free, and its mid-range is nice and punchy. 

It's also backed by a complete swath of connectivity options, so you'll have no problem getting your more obscure apps playing through the speaker. 

The only problem is its price: $699 (£499 / AU$999). But while the sticker price ensures that only serious audiophiles will give it some consideration, it's a lot less pricey than the Mu-So Qb, and you get a similar level of sound quality. 

Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless

You might not have heard of it before, but Naim audio is a company that produces some of the most stylish connected speakers in the business, and we think the Mu-So Qb is the best they've put out yet. 

It comes will a full suite of connectivity options including aptX Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and AirPlay, which means all of your music should be supported at its maximum resolution, no matter what device you're using. 

But even if you don't have your phone in hand, the speaker is still controllable using its sleek touch-screen which allows you to access internet radio stations, for example. 

It's got a premium price, but if you pluck for the Qb then you won't be disappointed. 

Read the full review: Mu-So Qb

Not content with dominating the TV world, Samsung now seems to have its sights set on becoming the number one brand for home entertainment audio, too. All this effort has already delivered outstanding results in the shape of both the HW-K850 and, especially, HW-K950 Dolby Atmos soundbars, as well as a range of ground-breaking multi-room wireless speakers.

But, above everything stands the South Korean manufacturer's HW-MS650. No other one-body soundbar has combined so much raw power with so much clarity, scale and, especially, bass, or excelled so consistently with both films and music. It’s the sort of performance that only genuine audio innovation can deliver - and with that in mind, it’s well worth its $450/£599 price tag. 

Read the full review: Samsung HW-MS650 Soundbar

When it comes to stuffing a small apartment with Google Home devices, is too much of a good thing bad? As the Google Home Max proved to us, the answer is no. 

Although absolutely massive, the Home Max makes for a surprisingly versatile addition to a space of any size, thanks to its balanced, awesome sound delivery and Smart Sound function that helps it adjust to any environment you set it in. 

Google’s big speaker is more elegant than it has any right to be, what with clever touches like the moveable resting pad and orientation-friendly touch functions. It’s also appreciated that its looks stand out if you choose to notice it, but blend into the scene during everyday use. 

The only problem? It's just available in the US for now.

Read the full review: Google Home Max

If you're looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers that handle wireless audio as well as having the traditional connections for your vinyl player, check out the KEF LS50 Wireless. While KEF's flagship speakers don't support every wireless standard on the market, they do support Tidal or Spotify, plus standard Bluetooth 4.0.   

In terms of sound quality,  they are staggeringly detailed and their stand-out sonic feature is their holographic imaging and instrumental layering: We could hear exactly where each instrument was coming from and each instrument sounded distinct and never blurry. Soundstage was expansive with good space to the side and above the listener. Resolution is excellent as the speaker can dig for the micro-details that get lost in lesser audio systems.  

If you're an audiophile who wants the convenience of wireless audio - whether that’s directly from internet streaming services like Tidal or Spotify or from a home server - the KEF LS50 Wireless should be at the top of your list. 

Read the full review: KEF LS50 Wireless

Of its trio of new multi-room speakers, the Marshall Stanmore is the middle child. However, that doesn't mean it's the unloved sibling. 

While the larger Woburn is just a little too big for most rooms, and the smaller Acton has a number of connectivity issues, the Stanmore strikes a nice balance between the two with a sound that's big and punchy, without straying too far into 'overkill' territory (although mark our words, it will if you want it to). 

It features its own app for controlling it, but we were fans of how nicely it integrates with a host of other services including AirPlay, Google Cast and Spotify Connect, meaning you can stick to the apps you're familiar with while still controlling your new toy. 

But it's the on-board controls that impressed us the most. You're able to set presets from a number of different services, meaning you can happily switch between pre-defined Spotify playlists and internet radio stations with a twist of a vintage Marshall-styled brass knob. 

It's not got the most refined sound out of the speakers on this list, but the Marshall Stanmore is intelligently designed and simple to use. 

Read the full review: Marshall Stanmore

If we only rated the Apple HomePod on the merits of sound performance, the HomePod would likely hold the top spot on this list. But, as a connected speaker, it has a long way to go.

Overall, it delivers rich, clear sound that will impress anyone who listens to it, and every facet of the way it’s designed and delivers audio has been well thought through. But there are still a few little bumps in there that remove some of the gloss – Siri not being able to search the web, a lack of Bluetooth streaming, or being able to control your Apple TV or iPhone directly from the speaker are omissions that many would like to have. 

Once it builds out these features, we'll definitely revisit it and possibly award it a higher spot on this list. Until then, however, it's a speaker that only serves a niche audience - and even then not very well.

Read the full review: Apple HomePod

Categories: General Technology

These cheap Sonos One deals are likely to be the best prices before Christmas

Thu, 06/12/2018 - 02:47

The Sonos One smart speaker has become one of the most popular speakers over the last 12 months and demand stepped up a notch recently as the stylish soundbox has made its way on to plenty of Christmas wishlists. 

Which is why we're super stoked to see this late discount arrive to knock a decent amount from the RRP. So if you missed out on any Black Friday offers, don't worry as there's still time to save a cool wedge of cash. We regularly keep our eye on the full range of Sonos deals and these one are very tempting.

Kicking things off in the USA, you can save $20 on a black or white Sonos One speaker over at Walmart. Or if you're ready to double down, there's a $50 discount on pair of them at Walmart too.

Looking to pick up a cheap Sonos One in the UK? We've got you covered there too with a £20 discount at Amazon. Not to be outdone by the Stateside offer, there's a £50 discount available too if you opt for two Sonos One speakers instead.

If you're going for a pair of Sonos One speakers, you can choose black, white or one of each for your bundle. We rarely see this with discounted bundles to be honest, more often than not you're forced to pair up two of the same colour.

If these Sonos prices are a bit steep though, other smart speakers are available for much less. Take a look at our guide for Amazon Echo deals or Google Home prices for some alternative options. If audio quality is key for you though, then these Sonos options may be better for you. 

Categories: General Technology

Bose Frames combine headphones, sunglasses and... augmented reality?

Wed, 05/12/2018 - 06:17

Bose is making the first pair of smart sunglasses that focus, as you might expect, on audio. They’re called the Bose Frames, and while its open-ear design will surprise you, that’s actually the least shocking part of the announcement.

The most surprising part is that the Frames are the first component of the Bose audio AR platform, which offers an alternative to the visual AR systems like Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens

Bose didn’t provide an example of exactly how Bose AR will work, but the company noted that the tech "knows where you are and what you’re facing using a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from your iOS or Android device — and automatically adds a layer of audio, connecting that place and time to endless possibilities for travel, learning, entertainment, gaming, and more.” 

On paper, that sounds awfully intriguing — these smart sunglasses could give you a guided museum tour, for example, or help you navigate a new city with step-by-step directions without pulling out your phone, or provide information at the tap of a button. The possibilities for integration are endless and, depending on how it’s used, frightening.

Check these specs

As for the hard details that we know right now, Bose plans to release the Frames in two styles — one that’s larger (Alto) and one that’s smaller (Rondo) — which function like regular sunglasses by blocking out 99% of UVA/UVB rays. The lenses will be  scratch- and shatter-resistant, and weigh a mere 45 grams. 

Bose claims that the built-in lithium battery lasts for up to three and a half hours of active use on a single charge, and up to 12 hours on standby. The Frames use an included pogo-pin cable for charging. 

The audio drivers are located inside the arms of the sunglasses that Bose claims will "produce discreet, jaw-dropping sound for the user, and no one else". 

Finally, the Frames will be equipped with both a mini microphone and an assistant button that will allow you to summon Siri or Google Assistant.  

While Bose won't unveil more about its AR platform until SXSW 2019 that takes place March 8 through March 17 in Austin, Texas, the headphones are due out in January 2019 and are expected to cost $199 (around £150, AU$270). 

Categories: General Technology

Apple Music for Android to finally get tablet support

Tue, 04/12/2018 - 10:51

It was back in 2015 when Apple finally played nice and launched Apple Music for Android, with the app getting a makeover last year. Now, three years after launch, the Android version of Apple Music is finally getting support for tablets.

As discovered by Android Police, version 2.7 of the app, which is currently only available to beta testers, includes “performance improvements for images and audio playback”, the usual host of bug fixes, and “tablet support” in the changelog.

For most of the public, the current stable release available on the Google Play Store is version 2.6.1, which still features the classic collapsible hamburger menu. The new beta update eliminates this part of the interface for a bottom navigation bar.

Version 2.7 of the Apple Music app for Android adds a bottom navigation bar for easier control on larger screens | Image: PixelSpot

With Android tablets not quite enjoying the popularity of the iPad, and the number of Android users subscribing to Apple Music likely quite low, this change may not benefit many people. However, anyone on a family plan with multiple devices across platforms might make good use of the changes.

This isn’t the first time Apple has played nice with third-party hardware. In September, Apple rolled out support for Android Auto, and only last week decide to played nice with Amazon to announce that Apple Music can be streamed on Echo speakers from December 17, 2018.

Categories: General Technology

Spotify may allow Android users to import songs from their phone

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:28

Spotify is reportedly testing a new feature for its music streaming app on Android devices – one that would allow users to import songs from their phone or tablet.

While Spotify boasts an expansive library of songs – over 30 million – you won't find everything there. Licensing often means that certain bands or artists are exclusive to certain platforms, much like Beyonce's 2016 album Lemonade, which is still only available on Tidal.

The change would mean users can source the gaps in the catalogue from elsewhere, say, by buying a little-known indie album from the band's own website. You could then upload the tracks into Spotify instead of having to play them through a separate music player.

On the horizon

Twitter user Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) spotted the unreleased feature in the settings for the Spotify for Android app, alongside the foundations for a 'saved for later' option for podcasts, and an overhauled Library layout that brings playlists of your saved tracks more into view.

None of these features are confirmed, of course, and may never make it to Android or iOS versions of the Spotify app. 

But the changes fit in with Spotify's recent attempts to make its streaming service a more open platform, with plans to let musicians upload tracks to rival services, while also playing nice with rival Apple for a release on the Apple Watch.

Via Engagdet

Categories: General Technology

AirPods upgrade rumored for 2019, with an all-new design in 2020

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 02:00

When it comes to Apple predictions, tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has a better record than most, so it's worth paying attention to his latest update on the future of the AirPods. Kuo says an improved pair will arrive next year, with support for wireless charging, followed by a major upgrade in 2020 with an all-new design.

As 9to5Mac reports, the case for the new AirPods will be where the wireless charging magic happens, thanks to a component upgrade. The earbuds themselves are set to get better Bluetooth technology too, according to Ming-Chi Kuo.

Kuo doesn't specify what exactly the all-new design might involve, but there are only so many shapes that work for a pair of earphones. One of the big upgrades previously rumored for the next-generation AirPods 2 is "hey Siri" integration – so you'll be able to access Apple's digital assistant without getting your phone out.

Apple's best-selling accessory

Other whispers from the rumor mill have suggested extra sensors will be fitted inside the next AirPods to enable various kinds of health and fitness monitoring. It's possible that the new AirPods will be able to augment whatever tracking is happening on your phone, adding to the number of ways the Apple Health app can keep tabs on your well-being.

In his most recent report, Ming-Chi Kuo also says the AirPods have been Apple's most popular accessory ever in terms of sales. He expects Apple to be shifting more than 100 million pairs of AirPods by the time 2021 rolls around.

What we didn't get this time is any mention of the AirPower charging mat that Apple previewed way back in September 2017 and since seems to have forgotten about. It's possible that we'll see the AirPower mat (or something like it) finally appear in early 2019 when the next revision of the AirPods earphones see the light of day.

Categories: General Technology

If you can't beat 'em: Apple Music will soon stream on Amazon Alexa devices

Sat, 01/12/2018 - 06:48

After years of feuding, it looks as though Apple and Amazon are ready to make up and play nice. The first sign of a budding friendship? Apple is bringing its widely used Apple Music streaming service to Amazon Echo devices starting on December 17.

It’s certainly a strange move for the two companies who have, at several points in the last few years, removed streaming services from one another’s platforms and refused to sell each other’s hardware in their respective stores – and that’s not even mentioning the fact that Apple has its own smart speaker, the Apple HomePod, that could use a little more attention – but it could be the start of something good. 

Whatever Apple’s motivation is, starting mid-December, you’ll be able to use the full breadth of Apple Music on Amazon Echo devices, according to a post on Amazon's Day One blog. That includes Beats Radio stations, Apple-curated playlists and access to the service’s massive song catalog. 

To use Apple Music on your Amazon Echo Show, Amazon Echo Dot or any other Amazon Echo device, you’ll need to enable the Apple Music skill from the Alexa Skill Store. Once enabled, you can use commands like "Alexa, play Bebe Rexha on Apple Music". Specifying Apple Music is important, remember, because the Echo also supports other big name streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. 

Don't expect Apple to stop gloating over how it made the best smart speaker now that Apple Music lives on Amazon Echo devices, but it might be the first signs of a thawing friendship between two of tech's biggest powerhouses.

Categories: General Technology

Great John Lewis and Partners gift ideas for lovers of the latest thing

Fri, 30/11/2018 - 22:07

Watching someone open a present is one of the best parts of gift-buying. You look for that little spark in their face that shows: you bought the right thing. The hardest part? Finding the right present, to make sure that first reaction is not disappointment. 

John Lewis and Partners is on hand to offer all the best gift ideas for lovers of the newest thing in tech, whether that's a games console or the latest smart home sensation. 

And as part of John Lewis's "Never Knowingly Undersold" promise, you can be sure you're buying quality, and that you'll get a good price too. You can shop with confidence. 

Need a little inspiration for your next buy? Here are some of the top present picks at John Lewis and Partners this year.  

Sony WH-1000XM3

Not sure whether very high-quality headphones are worth buying? Revisit that thought when you've considered whether you use them more than your car, more than your TV. If you commute to work, you may well do. 

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are some of the most capable and stylish headphones money can buy. Not only do they sound fantastic, their active noise cancellation takes the stress out of noisy environments. 

They incorporate all the latest tech too, including voice assistant support through your phone via an integrated mic, Hi-Res audio and smart on-cup touch controls.

Google Home Hub

The Google Home Hub is a great place to start for those who want to make their home, rather than headphones, smart. It's a cute smart speaker with a 7-inch screen that connects to Google Assistant. 

You can ask it questions, to set reminders, or watch YouTube on the display while you cook or do some household chores.

At just 178.5mm wide, the Home Hub won't eat up too much space on a surface either. This is smart home tech designed for real homes. Everyone can have fun with it, from the kids to grandparents. 

Xbox One X 1TB Forza bundle

Fun tech isn't just for the kids, and neither are games. The Xbox One X is the most powerful home console you can buy, capable of true 4K gaming for just a fraction the price of a top-end PC. 

The Forza Xbox One X bundle offers dozens of hours of racing fun, and the included Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7 games are a great way to show off what 4K HDR gaming can do. This bundle also includes everything you need to get started, bar a TV, including a wireless controller and trials for both Xbox Live and the Xbox Game Pass. 

Xbox Live let you play against other people online, and the Xbox Game Pass offers access to more than 200 games over your home internet. 

GoPro Hero 7 Silver

Prefer something a little more active? A GoPro Hero camera is the best way to record your bike rides, walks into the wilderness or snorkelling holidays. 

Their wide-angle view of the world gives your footage a larger than life character, and you can fit more into the frame. For most of us, the GoPro 7 Silver is the sweet spot in the current line-up. 

The price is appealing, but you still get 4K video recording, touch and voice control, 10m water resistance and GoPro’s famous image quality. If you want tech for making memories rather than wasting time, a GoPro camera is a great place to start.  

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

We tend to think of items like an action camera, or stylish headphones, as lifestyle tech. But even a serious computer like the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 has its eye on making your life easier. 

Its combination of power and portability is near-unbeatable. You get a powerful quad-core i7 CPU, capable of everything from playing Fornite to pro-grade video and photo editing, but the Surface Laptop 2 still only weighs 1.25kg. 

You could travel the world with one and it’d never give you shoulder ache. It’s beautiful 13.5-inch PixelSense screen is at home with movies as spreadsheets and the Alcantara covered keyboard has a warm, soft feel you won’t find on other laptops.  

Exclusive to John Lewis and Partners, check out the black version of the Surface Laptop 2 with 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM, for no-compromise computing. 

Categories: General Technology

Big Mouth Billy Bass with Alexa: the best smart home gadget of 2018?

Thu, 29/11/2018 - 03:14

The bass is back. That’s right, the most popular gift of 1999, Big Mouth Billy Bass, has returned; and this time it’s smarter with help from Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant.

Gemmy Industries – the company you had no idea was behind the first Big Mouth Billy Bass, and which also makes those hideous blow-up Christmas lawn ornaments – has made Bluetooth connectivity the hallmark feature of Billy’s triumphant return. With this, the talking bass placard can pair with an Amazon Echo speaker for enhanced features.

How could you possibly improve the technological marvel that is Billy Bass, you ask? Well, now the thing can dance to the beat of Amazon Music played through an Echo speaker, for one.

Alexa pairing also allows the doodad to respond to Alexa voice commands, lip syncing the speaker’s responses and reacting to timers, notifications and alarms you've set through Alexa. Oh, and Billy sings his very own song titled Fishin’ Time – whoever owns Don’t Worry, Be Happy must have lawyered up.

Anyway, the new-and-improved Billy Bass was made possible using Amazon’s Alexa Gadgets Toolkit development suite for device makers, and costs $39.99 (about £31, AU$55) on Amazon for pre-order. An expensive gag gift, but a limitless one.

Categories: General Technology

Xiaomi AirDots listed in FCC document

Mon, 26/11/2018 - 21:48

Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi seems poised to join the wireless earphone market with the imminent launch of its AirDots, a pair of earbuds that reportedly look identical to the Apple’s AirPods.

These new earbuds have already received certification from the USA’s FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The listed name on the document is ‘Mi True Wireless Earphones’. The FCC document also reveals that the earbuds will come with soft silicone tips, making them a bit more comfortable than the AirPods. They have also received Bluetooth certification. 

The document also reveals that the earbuds will come in three different size options. Alongside the earbuds, there is a charging case with a multi-function button located on the side. The USB Type-C port located underneath work in charging the case as well as the earbuds.

The Mi True Wireless Earphones will support Bluetooth 4.2, along with touch controls on the buds. Users will be able to control the voice assistant, play/pause music, and accept or reject calls through the dedicated touch zone. The AirDots come with true wireless technology (TWS), which splits audio between the two buds, thereby ensuring a balanced and enhanced hearing experience.

The claim is that the AirDots last up to four hours (on stereo) and five hours (on mono mode) with a single full charge. The charging case reportedly provides up to an additional 10 hours.

There is no word on a possible India launch date; however, we can expect it to be soon, given Xiaomi's popularity and affordability in India. 

Categories: General Technology

Amazon's Sonos Play:1 deal packs two speakers and a gift card for $300

Mon, 26/11/2018 - 19:24

We mean this in the nicest way possible, but Sonos can be kind of stingy. What we mean there is that it’s pretty rare for a Sonos speaker to go on sale - and, if it does happen, savings usually amount to $25 if we're lucky.

That’s what makes the Sonos Cyber Monday sale so special: Not only is the speaker company reducing the price of the Sonos Beam by $50/£50 at several retailers across the US and the UK, but it’s also whipped up a special deal on Sonos Play:1 - two speakers and a $50 gift card for $300 total

That’s $50 off the price of two speakers (they usually sell for $175 each) and Amazon will toss in a gift card for free.

So what can you do with Sonos speakers? Well, Sonos is probably most famous for its multi-room audio solution that allows you to set a song for one speaker at a time with multiple songs playing at once throughout the house, or syncing all your Sonos speakers to play the same song in between rooms. 

But if you’re the kind of person to confine your listening to a single room, you can set Sonos speakers in a left-right configuration to get stereo sound, too.

The deal doesn't have an expiration date but, unlike some of the other deals you'll see today, once it's sold out it's unlikely to come back in stock.

Categories: General Technology

The best cheap soundbar deals and sales in November 2018

Sun, 25/11/2018 - 18:04

There are some pieces of tech that never get a huge reduction in price. But in the same way we recommend you shouldn't doubt the huge amounts of power and high quality audio a soundbar can pump out, we also recommend you don't doubt the huge amounts of power of a good soundbar deal. 

Finding a decent saving on a unibody speaker isn't hard. What's more, even some of the cheapest soundbars on the market can still add a decent level of clarity and audio oomph to your living room on a level that your regular TV can't. 

Once you've got your hands on a new soundbar, the results speak for themselves. But trying to dig around and find the best soundbar deal right now can be a long slog. That's because the world of soundbars, and audio products more generally, are filled with a random series of numbers, Vizio SB-3830-D0 38-inch soundbar, anyone?

There are also a lot of drastic differences in price that can be overwhelming even to the most seasoned of audiophiles. But don't worry, that's where we come in. And expect prices to get even lower around Cyber Monday 2018 too.

What’s the best soundbar deal?

As you'd expect, the answer to that question is going to be different for everyone.

Some people are fine with a standard soundbar, that means no subwoofer and no streaming capabilities. Others might want the sub, but no streaming. Others might want all of the above, plus two satellite speakers. It’s a your-miles-may-vary situation. 

That said, we can give you some good ideas of what to look for and where to find those great deals when they pop up. 

For most folks, you really just want the basic package: a soundbar with a digital audio cable input that should connect to most modern TVs. You can get a bit tricky with HDMI passthroughs, RCA inputs and 3.5mm jacks, but sometimes basic is better. Of course, we also recommend looking for soundbars with a subwoofer included, that way you’ll get the full audio range from your favorite TV shows and movies, not just the highs and the mids. 

There’s plenty of soundbars to pick from, and more coming out every week, so without further ado here are the best soundbar deals we’ve found this month.

Samsung's HW-J355 is one of the best-selling soundbars, and for good reason. Not only does it offer good sound quality from its four combined-120W tweeters, but also comes with a wired subwoofer to add some meat to the sound. It's a bit on the trim side at 37.13 x 2.28 x 2.56 inches, but it only weighs 3.5 lbs. The accompanying subwoofer is wired, so that might be one hang-up, and you won't find a ton of ports here. On the plus side, though, it comes with 3D Sound Plus, which tries to simulate a surround sound effect using some clever sonic tricks. If you don't mind something basic, this is your guy.

Read the review: Samsung HW-J355

Don't want to be tied to a subwoofer? We don't blame you. If you want the same robust quality of sound without the extra black box, check out the Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System. The bar measures in at a fair 2.6 x 21.6 x 3.4 inches (H x W x D) and 3.73 lbs, making it easy to wall-mount. As far as inputs and outputs are concerned it takes optical audio, coaxial audio and 3.5mm auxiliary. It comes with a remote control, which we appreciate, and has built-in Bluetooth. 

The M3 soundbar is easy to love. It might not be the most glamorous to look at, stubbornly only supports 2.1 channels of sound, and has never heard of Wi-Fi, but if there’s a better sounding soundbar on the market for less than £300/$300, we haven’t heard it. Unfortunately, there's no subwoofer here or shot at simulated surround sound, but that's because Q Acoustics has very deliberately kept things simple by not attempting to ‘muddy the waters’ by trying to apply (often ugly) psycho-acoustic processing. 

Read the review: Q Acoustics M3 Soundbar

If you're looking for a soundbar that strikes the balance between feature set,  performance and price, LG's SH7B is it. That said, it might cost a bit more than you were looking to spend. Thankfully, it's very often on sale. This soundbar measures in at 41.73 x 2.09 x 3.35 inches, making it perfect for 49-inch and up TVs. The soundbar excels in the movie department – lasers, explosions and crushing bodily impacts in football hit home with impactful blasts of sound –that said, it's probably not the best soundbar for the music lover out there. 

Read the review: LG SH7B

Not content with dominating the TV world, Samsung now seems to have its sights set on becoming the number one brand for home entertainment audio, too. To that end, the Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Soundbar is one of our favorite pieces of AV equipment made this year – which is why we gave it our coveted Editor's Choice award when it came out last year. 

Samsung has rewritten the rulebook with the HW-MS650. No other one-body soundbar has combined so much raw power with so much clarity, scale and, especially, bass, or excelled so consistently with both films and music. It’s the sort of performance that only genuine audio innovation can deliver.

If you can afford it, this is the soundbar you need in your living room.

Read the review: Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Soundbar

One of the best deals on high-end soundbars comes in the form of Sony's HT-NT5. This 6.1 soundbar offers 400 watts of power and, for the audiophiles out there, supports 24-bit/96KHz Hi-Res Audio. The main bar is 42.51 x 2.28 x 5.00 inches (W x H x D) while the accompanying wireless subwoofer sits at a portly 7.48 × 15.0 × 15.2 inches. As far as inputs and outputs are concerned, it has Analog Audio In, Bluetooth Reception, Bluetooth Transmission, Ethernet, USB, three HDMI-Ins and one HDMI-Out. Beyond traditional Wi-Fi and Bluetooth the HT-NT5 also supports multi-room listening through Sony's SongPal app, and works with Google Home. 

Read the review: Sony HT-NT5

Just when you think you really know a company, it goes and releases something completely out of left-field. Take Razer: historically, it’s been a peddler of pointers and the king of keyboards. Then they release the Razer Leviathan, a really smart soundbar that costs less than most TVs. Razer's audio monster might not have the most power-per-inch at only 30 watts, but we really liked how low it could go with the accompanying subwoofer. Plus, while other speakers on this list might not even attempt surround sound, Razer gives it the ol' college try and actually does a decent job with it. It might not be as good as a true 7.1 system, but try finding one of those for under $199/£159. 

Read the review: Razer Leviathan

With four HDMI inputs and 4K passthrough, myriad other connections and Bluetooth streaming, it's tempting to call the Arcam Solo Bar as much of a home cinema hub as a soundbar. It also adds Bluetooth aptX for good measure, rendering your streamed tunes listenable at last. Well connected it may be, but this 1,000 x 130 x 110mm unit offers more than one-cable nirvana, with its two speakers offering a lot more meat than the average flat TV. Want more welly? Just add Arcam's wireless Solo Sub. Want it for a steal? We've got you covered.

Categories: General Technology

The best cheap Amazon Echo prices, deals and sales for Cyber Monday 2018

Sun, 25/11/2018 - 03:07

The Alexa voice assistant has become synonymous with voice-controlled smart speakers around the world in just a few short years. If you want to find out why, then take a look at our roundup of the best Amazon Echo prices. 

If there are any Amazon Echo sales or deal promos at your favourite retailers we'll be there to bring you the latest ones on this page thanks to our price comparison technology. This is a great time of year to keep an eye out for a price-drop too, as we've prices drop for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

There are lots of different Echo speakers and screens out in the wild now, with Amazon recently refreshing a bunch of them with hot new 2018 versions too. The diminutive Amazon Echo Dot deals are a popular choice all year round as it's one of the most affordable smart speakers on the planet. We've got prices for the larger versions too including the Amazon Echo, Echo Plus and the new Echo Sub (a subwoofer accessory). If you want a visual element too, then we've got you covered with both the old and new versions of the Amazon Echo Show or the bedside table -friendly Echo Spot, all of which include a screen.

While Amazon designed and built these smart devices, they're actually on sale at a large number of stores, which means they're never far away from a discount. We'll list the RRP of each of these Echo items too so you can get a better idea of how good the latest prices in the comparison charts are. If prices are clinging to the RRP, just wait a while as you never have to wait long for a cheaper Amazon Echo price on any of the product range's smart speakers.

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) deals

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) RRP: $49.99 / £49.99 / AU$79.
The new 3rd iteration of the Echo Dot is out now. It comes in three colors, charcoal, heather grey, and sandstone (that'll be black, grey or white to the rest of us). The hockey-puck-shaped speaker has a more refined look with a fabric finish this year. However, the speaker driver is much larger, going from a 1.1-inch driver to a 1.6-inch one. It's 70% louder than the previous version and keeps the aux 3.5mm connection for a physical speaker output. You can also connect it wirelessly to external speakers via Bluetooth.

We've rounded up all the current deals available for the new Echo Dot below, but be sure to check back as we'll add more prices as they become available at other retailers.

Amazon Echo deals

Amazon Echo (2nd gen) RRP: $99.99 / £89.99 / AU$119.
The Amazon Echo is the firm middle ground of the alexa family with a more powerful speaker than the Echo Dot. This second generation version is a bit shorter but houses an upgraded speaker powered by some neat Dolby processing. 

This is the 'just right' option in the Echo lineup. It's not as budget as the Amazon Echo Dot nor is it as premium as the Amazon Echo Plus. It's the one to go for if you're going to use the smart speaker a lot to play music but want to keep prices down. If you just want a smart speaker to boss around and make your home smarter, you might as well save a bit of cash by getting the Echo Dot instead.

Amazon Echo Show prices (2nd generation)

Amazon Echo Show (2nd gen) RRP: $229.99 / £219.99 / AU$349.
Amazon has released a 2018 update for the Amazon Echo Show, the Alexa smart speaker with a touchscreen. As things stand, it's a bit more expensive than the previous gen version. This version of the the Echo Show will phase out the older model soon enough and price-cuts and sales are never far away on Amazon's own devices in an increasingly-popular market for smart home devices.

The updated Amazon Echo Show has a bigger screen, with louder speakers too, making it a much better fit for video content to be enjoyed via your Amazon Prime membership or for free on other channels. You can now also use it as a smart device hub for other devices like smart thermostats or bulbs, meaning you can save some space around your router's ports. The competition for screen-sporting smart smart speakers is heating up though, with the Google Home Hub also competing for your attention.

Amazon Echo Plus prices (2nd generation)

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd gen) RRP: $149.99 / £139.99 / $229.
Amazon revamped the Echo Plus smart speaker in late 2018. It now shares a similar look to the other Echo speakers, with fabric covering the body instead of a harsh plastic, which has improved the speaker's audio output too which we appreciated during video calls.

The main advantage to the Amazon Echo Plus compared to the two smaller Echo speakers is the fact that there's a smart home hub built in. So if you have Philips Hue bulbs at home, you no longer need the Hue Bridge to work as the brain to control them via apps or Alexa voice-controls. This is great for controlling smart speakers and smart thermostats too - there's even a built-in thermometer for measuring room temperatures. The list of smart devices around our homes is growing constantly and the Echo Plus is ready for the future.

Amazon Echo Spot deals

Amazon Echo Spot RRP: $129 / £119.99 / AU$179.  
The Amazon Echo Spot is a miniature version of the Amazon Echo Show better suited to a desk or bedside table. The small screen is designed to show you little pieces of information rather than watch episodes of The Grand Tour or Mr Robot. But that might be more than enough if you just want to quickly check directions or read a news bulletin. It's very handy for video calls between other Amazon Echo screen devices too. Check out today's best Echo Spot prices below. 

Amazon Echo Sub prices

Amazon Echo Sub RRP: $129.99 / £119.99  / AU$199.
If you're going all in on the Amazon Alexa audio setup at home, then you'll want to take a look at the latest Amazon Echo Sub prices. The Echo Sub is not a smart speaker though, it's a subwoofer to connect to your other Echo speakers, so you'll need to pick up one of those (you're already on the right page for them!) if you don't have any yet. Or, check out some of the bundles available as Amazon has started selling the Echo Sub with a pair of regular Echo speakers in some regions to give you a full stereo sound setup at home. If you'd prefer to just have one beast of a smart speaker with a huge sound, then you may want to check out the latest Google Home Max prices instead - be warned, it's not cheap.

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd gen) prices

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd gen) RRP: $49.99 / £49.99 / AU$79.
The Amazon Echo Dot is the smallest of the Echo speakers. It manages to save this space by including a much smaller speaker, which consequently offers a quiter sound (but still louder than your phone). The good news is that if you want to do some serious music listening then you’re able to plug the Echo Dot into an external speaker using its 3.5mm jack. It’s also a great deal cheaper than the other Echo prices, meaning that it’s a great way of cheaply getting Alexa into your home, or perhaps adding a second speaker to your setup.

Amazon Echo Plus deals (1st gen)

Amazon Echo Plus (1st gen) RRP: $149.99 / £139.99 / $229.
The now last-gen Amazon Echo Plus, was the bigger and better version of the 2017 Amazon Echo. It's actually similar in size to the original Amazon Echo, but next to its second generation it looks a lot taller. 

The difference between the Echo and the Echo Plus is the inclusion of slightly better speakers on the Plus, as well as a smart home hub that theoretically removes the need for other hubs to be plugged into your router to get different smart home devices working.

It's generally a bit cheaper than the newer version now, but we expect stock to be slowly phased out now. Once stock becomes rarer, prices could go back up as third-party seller try to cash in. Until then though, take a look below to see if you could get a bargain.


Amazon Echo Show deals (1st gen)

Amazon Echo Show (1st gen) RRP: $149.99 / £199.99.
The original Amazon Echo Show will be phased out of stores pretty soon now that a new version is made available. You might be able to get a decent discount before they go though. 

Like its siblings, the Dot, the Plus and the Echo, the Show can play music, control your smart home and make calls to other Echo devices, but with the additional aid of a decent-sized screen.

That display allows you to get visual information as well as audio. That means you'll be able to see the name of songs while they're playing, read recipes right off the screen, or see more in-depth five-day weather forecasts without asking Alexa to repeat herself time and time again.

Categories: General Technology

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