The 5 best soundbars of 2021 for clear and crisp TV audio

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A soundbar is the perfect solution for anyone who wants a space-saving and budget-friendly way to upgrade their TV audio experience. Even the best TVs on the market tend to have lackluster sound. After all, TVs are focused on picture quality, so built-in speakers are usually more of an afterthought than a priority.

A good soundbar can provide better audio with cleaner highs, richer mids, and deeper low frequencies. Soundbar models are available at all price points, including solid entry-level options with simple stereo playback and more expensive models with surround sound capabilities.

Some flagship soundbar systems include support for advanced home theater formats like Dolby Atmos, enabling sound effects that come from all directions – even above your head. Voice control and wireless music streaming are also supported on select models.

Whether you just want a simple upgrade from your TV’s wimpy speakers or you want a full home theater experience, we’ve selected the best soundbar options for a variety of needs.

Here are the best soundbars of 2021

The best soundbar overall

Yamaha YAS-209 Soundbar

Yamaha’s YAS-209 delivers great sound and Amazon Alexa for a reasonable price.

Pros: Easy setup, Alexa support, room-filling sound, diverse connection options, sleek appearance, smartphone app makes fine-tuning a breeze

Cons: No onboard display, doesn’t support Dolby Vision passthrough

The YAS-209 soundbar offers the perfect blend of audio quality, features, ease of use, design, and price. This is the type of space-saving audio option that most people think of when shopping for a soundbar, and it makes for a great upgrade to most built-in TV speakers.

Despite being a modest two-piece kit, the YAS-209’s most impressive feat is its ability to fill a room with great audio. Though still a 2.1-channel design, the hardware pairs with audio-processing smarts like DTS Virtual:X for a simulated surround sound effect. It’s not as convincing as having actual rear speakers, but Yamaha’s processing does a solid job of creating an immersive experience.

The YAS-209’s specs include HDMI ARC, a technology that allows compatible TVs to control volume adjustments of connected devices, as well as an extra HDMI-in port that supports 4K HDR passthrough (but not Dolby Vision). A Toslink optical audio port is also featured for TVs without HDMI, and you can also wirelessly stream music from a mobile device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

The YAS-209 even includes integrated support for Amazon Alexa thanks to built-in microphones, enabling digital assistant features and hands-free control for functions like volume.

The best budget soundbar

A group of people watching TV in a furnished living room using the V-Series V21d-J8 soundbar

With a simple design and solid audio performance, Vizio’s V-Series soundbar is a great pick for budget buyers.

Pros: Affordable, easy to set up, ample sound for basic needs, Bluetooth, HDMI ARC port

Cons: Doesn’t support Wi-Fi, bass not as powerful as soundbar models with a separate subwoofer

Vizio got its start as a budget brand, so it’s no surprise the company still excels at affordable soundbars. This includes its entry-level V-Series V21d-J8, which serves as the successor to our previous pick in this category, the SB362An-F6

Like its predecessor, the V21d-J8 is a convenient 2.1-channel bar with built-in woofers, meaning you’ll get two main channels for pure stereo sound and a little extra bass without the need for a separate subwoofer unit.

Standing out from the typical boxy design we see on most soundbars, this Vizio model has angled sides that slope down to create a hexagonal profile. Buttons for various controls rest on the side of the bar, including volume, source, Bluetooth audio, and the all-important power button.

Vizio employs audio technology from DTS and Dolby to enhance playback, including DTS Virtual:X. This feature can create a virtual soundfield from the device’s 2.1-channels, resulting in simulated surround and height effects. Processing like this is never as convincing as a genuine multi-speaker system, but it can provide an enhanced soundstage, especially for the price.

As a welcomed upgrade over the previous model, the V-Series now includes an HDMI ARC port for easy connection to modern smart TVs. You also get an optical audio port if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI connection, and you can hook other sources up directly with a 3.5mm auxiliary port.

For wireless playback, the soundbar also supports Bluetooth, making it easy to stream music from your smartphone. An included remote handles all your needs for adjusting volume, accessing basic equalizer options, and toggling various modes.

The best smart soundbar

Sonos Beam

With the Sonos Beam, your living room becomes the center of a blissful smart home.

Pros: Offers solid sound, your choice between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, blends seamlessly into the Sonos family, AirPlay 2 support, compact build

Cons: Lacks Bluetooth audio streaming, no DTS support

The Sonos Beam is a bit different from other options on this list. While positioned as a home theater device, it can’t quite match the audio performance of bigger soundbars. It still sounds solid, but it’s really the Beam’s smart features and multi-room audio capabilities that make it so appealing.

The Beam can work with other Sonos products to facilitate a fully wireless multi-room audio setup. It syncs with other Sonos devices using a Bluetooth LE connection before letting Wi-Fi take over the data transmission duties. This means you can’t stream tunes via Bluetooth, but you can access many of your favorite services through the Sonos app to play music over a Wi-Fi connection.

The Sonos Beam’s other claim to fame is built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With five far-field microphones in play, you can choose which assistant you’d like to use to issue hands-free voice commands, manage music playback, control your smart home, and more. There’s also native AirPlay 2 support for Apple users, and the Beam even includes an Ethernet port for those times when Wi-Fi just isn’t cooperating.

Despite its lack of deep audio processing technologies (it supports standard PCM stereo and basic Dolby Digital sources), the Sonos Beam etches out a nice spot in its niche for those who want a simple all-in-one soundbar solution with wireless music playback, HDMI, and voice assistant capabilities. 

The best soundbar with Dolby Atmos

Vizio Elevate soundbar lifestyle

Vizio’s Elevate soundbar offers a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos experience with performance that rivals many full-fledged home theater systems.

Pros: Full 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos support, DTS:X capabilities, unique rotating speakers, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Cons: No voice assistant built-in, separate satellites and larger subwoofer take up more space than typical soundbar systems

When it comes to Atmos-capable soundbar systems, few options are as immersive as Vizio’s Elevate soundbar. It’s pricier than standard soundbar packages, but it’s still one of the most affordable ways to enjoy a full 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos experience.

Dolby Atmos, if you aren’t aware, is an audio format that allows soundbars to produce height effects, adding an extra layer of immersion to movies. For instance, when rain falls from the sky or a helicopter flies overhead, you can actually hear the sound coming from above.

The Elevate offers left, center, and right channels in the soundbar itself, along with two upward firing channels that bounce sound off your ceiling to create overhead effects. Two separate rear speakers with their own upward firing drivers are also included, along with an 8-inch wireless subwoofer.

The front height speakers also feature a unique rotating mechanism that allows them to automatically tilt up or forward depending on what you’re listening to. When they’re up you can hear overhead effects. When they’re down, they help to create a wider front soundstage. 

Unlike older Vizio soundbars, the Elevate even includes support for DTS:X. Like Atmos, DTS:X provides height effects on certain Blu-ray discs. DTS:X titles are less common than Dolby Atmos, but it’s still a nice option to have.

The Elevate‘s relatively large size and separate rear speakers make it less space-saving than most soundbar options, but the system provides audio performance that’s nearly on par with many genuine home theater packages.

The best media player soundbar

Roku Streambar front

The Roku Streambar is a compact soundbar and streaming video player in one convenient device.

Pros: Affordable, solid stereo playback, compact design, 4K HDR video streaming, includes a voice remote

Cons: Audio performance isn’t as good as bigger soundbars, doesn’t include a separate subwoofer, no Dolby Vision support

If you happen to be in the market for a soundbar and a new streaming media player, then the Roku Streambar could be the convenient all-in-one device you’re looking for. Not only is the Streambar smaller than any other soundbar on our list, but it also includes integrated support for streaming all your favorite video apps.

When it comes to audio performance, the 2.0-channel soundbar features four 1.9-inch full range drivers for basic stereo playback. There are no fancy virtualization options for simulated surround sound, and there’s no included subwoofer for extra bass — but the Streambar sounds surprisingly engaging for a device its size.

To be clear, you won’t get the range or separation you’d get on a bigger soundbar model, but the Streambar still offers a nice upgrade over most built-in TV speakers. Its compact design also makes it an ideal fit for apartments, dorms, and bedrooms.

As a media player, the Streambar provides access to Roku’s extensive library of channels, including popular services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, Hulu, and more. You also get support for up to 4K playback with high dynamic range using the standard HDR10 format.  

Roku’s handy voice remote is included as well, enabling you to easily search for content. Though digital assistant functionality isn’t built-in, the bar is compatible with separate Alexa and Google Assistant devices.

There are other soundbars on the market with built-in video playback, but the Streambar‘s compact size, affordable price tag, and reliable Roku interface make it our favorite of the bunch.

What you should look for in a soundbar

Yamaha YAS 209 soundbar lifestyle

When choosing a soundbar, there are several key factors you should pay close attention to.

Speaker channels

In particular, it’s important to note how many audio playback channels a soundbar supports. Channels essentially refer to audio separation, letting you know how many directions sound can from with your device.

Channel specifications are listed as a string of up to three numbers separated by decimal points. The first number represents how many standard ear-level channels are included (left, right, center, surrounds). The second number indicates if the device includes a dedicated low-frequency channel or separate subwoofer for extra bass. The final number indicates how many height channels are included for Dolby Atmos support.

A few common channel configurations found on soundbars include:

  • 2.0-channel: This kind of soundbar includes two channels for basic left and right stereo audio separation.
  • 2.1-channel: Like the above but includes a built-in low-frequency channel or a separate subwoofer unit for dedicated bass. 
  • 3.1-channel: In addition to left, right, and low-frequency channels, a 3.1-channel soundbar also features a center channel for dialogue when watching movies.
  • 5.1-channel: Soundbars with more than three channels step things up through the addition of surround sound. These extra channels can be simulated via special acoustic and virtualization techniques, or they can be physically added through separate satellite speakers meant to be placed behind or to the side of your listening position.
  • 5.1.2-channel and above: Soundbars that have a third channel designation include support for Dolby Atmos and/or DTS:X audio. This means they feature special virtualization or upfiring speaker drivers designed to simulate the effect of sound coming from above. The final number in the sequence specifies how many overhead channels are included.  

Buyers who just want a simple upgrade from their TV’s integrated audio will likely be satisfied with a compact 2.0 or 2.1 soundbar system. If you’re looking for a more complete home theater experience, however, you’ll want to opt for a 3.1 system or above.

Wired connections

Beyond channel support, connectivity is another key factor you should look at when buying a soundbar. Most include standard wired audio ports for connecting to a TV or other media device. The most common connections are Toslink optical and HDMI ARC.

Many soundbars also feature video passthrough capabilities via one or more additional HDMI ports. This allows you to connect a separate media device, like a Blu-ray player, to the soundbar via its HDMI in. The HDMI out connection from your soundbar to your TV then allows the media device’s video to appear on your display.

Wireless connectivity

In addition to wired ports, most soundbars also now support wireless connectivity, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. These features enable easy music streaming from a mobile device or music service like Spotify, Tidal, or Apple Music.

Some wireless soundbar models also support multi-room audio playback, enabling them to pair with other audio products throughout your home. Popular multi-room connectivity formats include Yamaha MusicCast, Apple AirPlay 2, DTS Play-Fi, Sonos, and more. In order to pair your soundbar with another multi-room audio product, both devices will need to include support for the same multi-room format.  

Smart features

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant functionality are becoming more common as well, giving select soundbars integrated hands-free voice control and digital assistant support. This is an especially nice feature to have for buyers who don’t already own a smart speaker.

A few soundbar models even include integrated video streaming capabilities. Though a dedicated streaming stick or box will still offer the best performance, a media player soundbar can be a convenient purchase for people who don’t have a smart TV.

The best deals on soundbars from this guide

Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos soundbar

Soundbars go on sale every week, but some discounts are better than others. Though we tend to see the best prices during events like Black FridayCyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day, many retailers offer worthwhile deals throughout the year.

Below, we’ve rounded up the best deals currently available on some of our top soundbar recommendations, so you’ll be sure you’re getting a great value.

YAS-209 Soundbar (small, Preferred: Amazon)Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (small, Preferred: Amazon)Streambar 2020 (small, Preferred: Amazon)

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

Check out our other speaker buying guides

Klipsch Reference Premiere Center Channel Speakers Atmos

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The 5 best home theater systems of 2021 for immersive surround sound

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  • A home theater system can create an immersive movie-watching experience with surround sound.
  • Compact systems offer convenience, while larger speakers with AV receivers perform the best.
  • Polk’s T Series is our top pick thanks to its impressive performance and affordable price.

Speakers built into your TV are fine for casual viewing, but if you’re looking for an immersive audio experience, you’re going to want to upgrade to an actual home theater system. Home theater systems include multiple speakers and support for surround sound, enabling you to hear movie soundtracks the way they’re meant to be heard: with effects moving throughout your room.

Most home theater systems also include subwoofers for dedicated bass, bringing more impact and rumble to explosions in action movies. An AV receiver is often required as well. The AV receiver is used to power and process your speakers, and many receivers also serve as a connection hub to hook up multiple HDMI devices to your TV.

Though buyers who want high-end systems will typically have to piece together all of these components and purchase them separately, some companies and retailers bundle everything you need in one handy package. If you want an even simpler solution, a multi-speaker soundbar system might be a good fit. Though performance isn’t on par with a genuine speaker setup, soundbar systems don’t require separate AV receivers. For those who want a no-fuss, plug-and-play home theater, a soundbar package is the way to go.

With all of these different options to consider, figuring exactly what type of home theater system works best for your needs can be complicated. Thankfully, we’re here to help simplify the process. I’ve been reviewing home theater gear for nine years, and through hands-on testing and research, I’ve selected the best home theater systems you can buy for a variety of budgets and room sizes.

Note: Some of our picks include AV receivers or built-in amplification, but if an amp isn’t included, we’ve provided a link to a recommended model.

Here are the best home theater systems you can buy:

The best home theater system overall

Polk Audio T series speaker system
Polk T Series 5.1 system

The Polk T Series 5.1 speaker system is a full-fledged home theater package with a surprisingly affordable price tag. 

Pros: impressive performance for the price, floorstanding speakers, 10-inch subwoofer

Cons: Requires a receiver, doesn’t include Dolby Atmos speakers 

Polk’s T Series has long been considered one of the best home theater packages for the money. The system was designed to compete with one of my all-time favorite speaker packages, the Pioneer SP-PK52FS, and it offers similar performance. 

Though I think Pioneer’s speakers have a slight edge, they’re no longer available. And while our previous pick in this category, the Onkyo HT-S7800, offers the added convenience of built-in Atmos support and an included receiver, that system is also completely sold out. 

When it comes to readily available home theater speakers, the Polk T Series is nearly unmatched at this price point. Unlike a lot of other budget-friendly options, the T Series doesn’t just rely on bookshelf speakers. Instead, you actually get floorstanding speakers for the front left and right channels, along with a 10-inch subwoofer that should provide ample bass. 

Reviews for the T Series have been positive. Sound and Vision gives the system an 8/10 and praises the audio quality, saying “the T50 towers deliver the kind of performance that forces you to keep reminding yourself of just how affordable they are.” 

On the downside, these speakers do require a separate AV receiver for amplification and processing, which will add to your cost. To power all of the included speakers you’ll need a 5.1-channel receiver, and the Yamaha RX-V385 is an affordable option that should get the job done well. 

Yamaha RX-V385BL 5.1-channel receiver

Product Card (button)

Polk T Series 5.1 speaker system

The best budget home theater system

Vizio SB36512 F6 Soundbar System
Vizio 5.1 soundbar system

The Vizio Sb3651n-H6 Soundbar System delivers a surround sound experience in an affordable and convenient package.

Pros: Budget-friendly price, separate rear satellites, doesn’t require an AV receiver, Bluetooth streaming

Cons: Small subwoofer, doesn’t support Atmos, performance isn’t as immersive as bigger systems

Soundbars are convenient, but full surround sound setups are more immersive. So, what if you could combine the best of both worlds in a simple, budget-friendly package? That’s where the Vizio Sb3651n-H6 Soundbar System comes in. 

The Sb3651n-H6 is one of the most budget-friendly home theater soundbar options available, delivering a full 5.1-channel experience. This means there are left, center, and right channels in the soundbar itself, along with two separate rear speakers for true surround sound. A 5-inch wireless subwoofer is also included for dedicated bass.

Best of all, the soundbar handles amplification and processing itself so there’s no need to buy a costly receiver unit. The soundbar even includes an extra HDMI input so you can connect another device, like a game console or media player, in addition to your TV. Bluetooth is featured as well for wireless music streaming.

When watching movies and TV, the Sb3651n-H6 offers impressive performance for its price, creating an enveloping soundfield. The subwoofer is also decent for its size, but I’ve found that Vizio models tend to have some balance issues. It’s also important to keep in mind that the soundbar’s overall audio separation, depth, and  clarity can’t equal the quality found on bigger and more expensive systems. 

This is an entry-level audio solution designed for buyers on a budget with smaller rooms. In that context, it delivers great value, but it’s not suited for audiophiles.

The best mid-range home theater system

Focal system
Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos system

The Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system features a compact design and good performance — but you’ll need to buy a separate receiver.

Pros: Compact size, 5.1.2 system with Dolby Atmos speakers, immersive performance

Cons: Requires a separate AV receiver, dialogue sounds a little soft

Looking for a compact, mid-range speaker package with support for Dolby Atmos? The Focal Sib Evo speaker system is for you. The package includes five speakers plus a subwoofer, and the front left and right speakers even include upward firing drivers to create overhead sound.

It’s important to note that you’ll need to buy a separate AV receiver to use this system, and the receiver will need to support Dolby Atmos if you want to take advantage of everything the speakers have to offer. We recommend the Pioneer VSX-834 7.2-channel receiver as a great model with all the features you’ll need.

The speakers deliver truly fantastic sound, offering an enveloping 5.1.2 experience. The two upward firing drivers on the left and right speakers do a great job of bouncing Dolby Atmos effects off of the ceiling, making it really sound like audio is coming from above. The effect can be a little hit or miss, but the added drivers always help to expand the soundstage. 

On the downside, the compact size of the speakers can limit their performance just a tad. Dialogue, in particular, can sound a little soft from the center speaker. The subwoofer is a nice match for medium-sized rooms, but buyers looking for a home theater system to set up in a large space might crave a bit more oomph. 

Pioneer VSX-834 7.2-Channel AV Receiver

VSX-834 7.2-Channel AV Receiver (button)

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system

The best high-end home theater system

Klipsch Reference Premiere 7.1.2 speaker system
Klipsch Reference Premiere Dolby Atmos system

If you can afford it, Klipsch’s Reference Premiere 7.1.2 speaker system is a home theater dream come true.

Pros: Incredible 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos audio performance for a true theater-like experience

Cons: Very expensive, large speakers require more space, needs a receiver for power and processing

All of the other home theater packages included in this guide are great performers in their own right, but Klipsch’s Reference Premiere 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker system is on another level. Designed for true enthusiasts, this is the speaker package to buy if you want a full movie theater experience in your living room.

Though there are several different Reference Premiere speakers you can mix and match together, this particular 7.1.2 bundle includes a pair of RP-8060FA speakers with integrated upfiring drivers for Dolby Atmos height effects. In total, the system offers nine speaker channels — two more than our mid-range pick. You’ll need a 9-channel receiver to enable the full 7.1.2 experience, and we recommend the Denon AVR-X3700H for its reliability and packed set of features. 

Klipsch is well known for its proprietary Tractrix horn-loaded technology, and that audio tech is put to good use here. Performance is simply stunning, with range, clarity, imaging, and bass that outclass all of our less expensive recommendations. 

Of course, not everyone is going to have a room large enough to accommodate a setup like this, and only the most serious home theater enthusiasts will want to spend several thousand dollars on speakers. For those willing to make the investment, however, the Reference Premiere series is hard to beat. Expert reviews rave about the performance. High-Def Digest gave the speakers a 4.5/5, and called them “a sonic joy from top to bottom.”

Denon AVR-X3700H

Product Card (button)

Klipsch’s Reference Premiere 7.1.2 speaker system

The best wireless home theater system

Enclave CineHome II 5.1 speaker system
Enclave CineHome II 5.1 speaker system

The Enclave Audio CineHome II offers solid sound quality, but its main advantage is its wireless support.

Pros: Almost completely wireless, includes wireless receiver

Cons: No Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA support, each speaker needs a power outlet

There really isn’t a completely wireless home theater on the market yet, but the Enclave Audio CineHome II is about as close as it gets, allowing you to set up a surround sound system without any speaker wires.

To be clear, each speaker still needs to be plugged into a power outlet or strip, and you do still need to run an HDMI cable to your TV. What the CineHome II does save you from, however, is the hassle of having to run speaker wires to an AV receiver. Instead, the speakers all use WiSA (Wireless Speaker and Audio Association) technology to wirelessly connect to the included transmitter. The transmitter then acts as a hub, complete with an HDMI eARC port and an optical port to connect to your playback devices.

Together, the five speakers and 8-inch subwoofer offer solid audio performance, but sound quality won’t match comparably priced wired home theater systems. It should also be noted that the CineHome II system doesn’t support Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA audio formats. This means you can’t get full lossless audio from Blu-ray discs, but you’ll still get surround sound using standard Dolby and DTS processing. 

The CineHome II replaces our previous pick in this category, the older CineHome HD. The updated model features a more modern design, along with some new connectivity features, like eARC and support for adding even more speakers via modular upgrades that the company plans to offer.

How to choose a receiver

Klipsch Reference Premiere Center Channel Speakers Atmos

If you’re buying a home theater speaker package that requires a separate receiver, there are a few key factors you should look for when choosing a model. First, you’ll need to confirm how many speakers you plan to use in your setup. In general, the more speakers you have, the more enveloping your listening experience will be. More speakers, however, require more terminals on your receiver, so you’ll need to make sure your AV receiver includes the necessary connections and processing support.

To figure this out, you’ll need to take a look at the “channel” specification on your receiver. The number of channels a receiver supports correlates to the number of speakers you’ll be able to set up. Channel designations are listed as a string of up to three numbers separated by decimal points. The first number refers to standard ear-level speakers (left, right, center, surrounds). The second number indicates how many subwoofers are supported for dedicated bass. The final number describes how many height speakers you can connect for Dolby Atmos overhead audio.

For example, if you have a standard 5.1 surround sound speaker layout you’ll need a receiver with at least 5.1-channels. If you have a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos speaker arrangement, you’ll need a receiver with at least 9.1-channels. Dolby Atmos setups will also require a receiver with Dolby Atmos processing support. 

Other key features to look for in a receiver include support for lossless audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA. This feature is pretty standard on most receivers sold today. Many receivers also feature HDMI inputs for passing video from a streaming box, Blu-ray player, or game console to your TV. For the most comprehensive 4K HDR passthrough capabilities, you’ll want to find a receiver with support for at least the HDMI 2.0 standard. 

Finally, many receivers also include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless capabilities for easy music streaming from mobile devices. Some receivers even include voice control capabilities via separate Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices. Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, and DTS Play-Fi protocols are all supported on select models as well, so you’ll want to make sure that your receiver supports whatever format works best for your ecosystem.   

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The 4 best cheap TVs in 2021 – all under $500

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  • Flagship TV models are expensive, but there are many affordable smart TVs with solid performance.
  • The Hisense U6G is our top pick thanks to its fantastic balance between price and picture quality.
  • For more TV recommendations, check out our guides to the best 4K TVs and best OLED TVs.

TV pricing has come down a lot in recent years. Gone are the days when buying a 4K TV meant having to spend thousands of dollars.

Now, you can get a nice 4K TV with decent high dynamic range (HDR) support and plenty of smart TV apps for only a few hundred bucks. You can even find big-screen options in sizes as large as 65 inches without totally breaking the bank.

Of course, there are always trade-offs to keep in mind when buying a TV on a budget. A true home theater experience still comes at a premium, but choosing an entry-level TV doesn’t mean you have to settle for poor image quality, a small screen, or a dumb display without the latest streaming services.

I’ve been covering the consumer electronics industry for nine years, and during that time I’ve reviewed numerous TV models at various price points. Through research and testing, we’ve selected the best display models you can buy on a budget.

Here are the best cheap TVs you can buy:

The best cheap 4K TV overall

Hisense U6G 4K TV
Hisense’s U6G delivers impressive picture for the price.

The Hisense U6G Android TV uses local dimming and quantum dots to deliver some of the best picture quality you can get on a budget.

Pros: 4K with every major HDR format, local dimming, quantum dots, Google Assistant voice remote, solid brightness capabilities for the price

Cons: No HDMI 2.1 ports, 50-inch model has less dimming zones than larger versions

Buying a TV on a budget typically means you have to miss out on some advanced features found on more expensive sets. The Hisense U6G totally dispels that notion, and the 50-inch model is an especially great value at under $500. 

The U6G is the 2021 successor to the Hisense H8G. It carries over everything we loved about that model while keeping a similar low price. Meanwhile, our previous pick for best cheap 4K TV overall, the 55-inch TCL 5 Series, has actually gone up in price this year. The TCL is still a fantastic set but, for the money, the Hisense now edges it out. 

One of the most important image features you should look for in a new 4K TV is high dynamic range (HDR). HDR enables enhanced contrast and wider colors for a more realistic picture. The U6G offers some of the best HDR specs in its price range. It also supports every major HDR format so all your bases are covered.

It’s a little disappointing that the TV lacks Google’s newest smart TV system, Google TV, but the older Android TV OS is still a solid performer with easy access to tons of  services. Google Assistant is also supported via the included remote for reliable voice control.

I reviewed the 2020 version of this TV last year and this new model is expected to perform even better. Buyers who want more advanced features, like HDMI 2.1 for next-gen gaming, will have to pay more for the step-up U7G or U8G, but at this price, the U6G is a bargain.

The best cheap 4K TV for wide viewing angles

LG UP7000 4K TV
The UP7000 is a great fit for people who sit off to the side of their TV.

The LG 55-inch UP7000 offers better viewing angles than most budget TVs, enabling solid picture no matter where you sit.

Pros: Wide viewing angles, affordable price for a 55-inch model

Cons: Black levels and contrast aren’t great, doesn’t include a voice remote

Though many of the 4K TVs recommended on this guide offer solid picture performance, they all suffer from one pesky drawback: mediocre viewing angles. 

This means that colors and contrast wash out when you sit off to the side. Though that’s not a problem for people who can plop down on a couch right in front of their TV, it can be an issue for buyers who have to position their seats in other parts of the room.

If viewing angles are your main priority, then the 55-inch UP7000 from LG is one of your best options on a budget. This 2021 model is the successor to our previous pick, the UN7000. 

The UP7000 uses a special type of panel that’s designed to offer improved off-axis picture. This lets you sit off to the side of you display without the TV’s colors and contrast dramatically degrading. Picture quality will still shift a bit, but not as badly as it would on a typical LED TV. 

On the downside, TVs with panels like this tend to have worse black levels and contrast than other displays. This particular model also lacks local dimming or wide color support. So, while great for viewing angles, the UP7000 doesn’t have particularly good home theater performance in a dark room.

Like most LG TVs, this one offers access to many popular streaming services. HBO Max, however, is missing. Unfortunately, the UP7000 also lacks a voice remote, but you can use the TV with a separate Alexa or Google Assistant device. 

The UP7000 is also available in a few larger and smaller screen sizes, but we think the 55-inch model offers the best value. Also, keep in mind that only the 75-, 65-, 55-, and 43-inch models use panels with wide viewing angles, according to Rtings.

The best cheap 4K TV with a big screen

Hisense A6G 4K TV
The A6G 4K TV is an affordable 60-inch display.

The Hisense A6G is one of the most affordable 60-inch 4K TVs on the market, offering a big-picture experience for a budget-friendly price. 

Pros: Big display for an affordable price, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, voice remote included

Cons: Image quality is only average, lacks local dimming or quantum dots

Flagship big-screen 4K TVs can cost a couple thousand dollars, but that doesn’t mean that budget buyers always have to settle for smaller screen sizes. In fact, there are several worthwhile big-screen models out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg. 

Our previous pick for this category, the Vizio 65-inch V-Series, remains an impressive TV for the money, but stock is now hard to come by and its price has increased a bit since its initial launch. With that in mind, we’re recommending the more affordable Hisense 60-inch A6G in its place.

The 60-inch A6G is bigger than most TVs in its price range, and boasts a 4K screen with entry-level HDR and Dolby Vision capabilities. That should net you solid picture quality for casual viewing, but the display lacks local dimming and wide color support so you won’t get the most out of HDR videos.

Android TV is integrated for easy access to most major streaming services. A voice remote is also included with built-in support for Google Assistant.

Budget buyers who favor home theater performance over size will be better off going with the smaller Hisense 50-inch U6G for a similar price, but if you want a 60-inch 4K TV in this price range, the A6G offers good value for the money.

The best cheap 1080p TV

TCL 40 in tv
TCL’s 3 Series has very basic picture performance, but its low cost is appealing.

It doesn’t have 4K resolution or other advanced features, but the TCL 40-inch 3 Series HDTV is one of the most affordable 40-inch Roku TVs you can buy.

Pros: Very affordable, Roku TV platform with easy access to streaming apps

Cons: Not 4K, no HDR or wide color support, no voice remote, smaller screen size

The TCL 3-Series is about as basic as a smart TV can get. It’s the smallest display on this list, it features a 1080p resolution screen instead of 4K, and it lacks HDR support — but when it comes to overall value for the money, the TV is still a worthy option for budget buyers. 

This 40-inch smart TV uses a modest Full HD panel. While you won’t be able to watch 4K HDR streams from Netflix, the reality is, most  live TV content is still presented in SDR high definition. With that in mind, this 1080p screen is fine for casual viewing needs. 

Overall image performance isn’t as good as the more expensive TVs on this list, but at a screen size of 40 inches, it would actually be hard to see major benefits from an upgrade to 4K. The lack of local dimming is a bit more of an issue, but contrast and black levels are decent considering the low price.

While the included remote doesn’t feature voice control, you can pair the TV with a separate Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device.

This definitely isn’t a TV geared toward buyers looking for advanced picture quality. Instead, the TCL 3 Series is meant to appeal to people who just want a reliable 40-inch smart TV with easy access to their favorite apps. Thanks to the simple yet effective Roku platform, the 3-Series does just that.

Check out our other TV buying guides

The best OLED TVs LG CX

The best 4K TVs


The best OLED TVs


 

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Don’t miss out on these TV deals from Walmart’s Deals for Days sale – you’ll still find major discounts from LG, Samsung, and more

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

LG C1 OLED 4K TV in a living room.
LG’s C1 OLED is one of several 4K TVs on sale right now during Walmart’s Deals for Days event.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

As the big retailers go to war on prices during Amazon’s Prime Day 2021 sale event, we’re seeing some tempting discounts from competing events like Walmart’s Deals for Days. The big sale has another day to go, but some of the best TV deals will likely sell out. You can find discounts on TVs from LG, Samsung, TCL, and more.

We’ve highlighted some of the best Walmart TV deals right now, with displays that range in size from just 32 inches all the way up to 65 inches. If you’re in the market for a new TV make sure you check out the best Prime Day 2021 TV deals at Amazon, too.

Best Prime Day 2021 Walmart TV deals

It’s not often that you get money off the best 4K TVs or the best OLED TVs, but there are some good panels on offer here, and discounts on some of the best cheap TVs for anyone with a limited budget.

65″ Class 4K UHD Smart OLED C1 Series TV with AI ThinQ (medium, Preferred: Walmart)55-inch OLED C1 Series 4K Smart TV (medium, Preferred: Walmart)43-inch The Sero QLED Smart TV (medium, Preferred: Walmart)65″ Class 5-Series 4K UHD QLED Roku Smart TV (medium)32″ Class 3-Series 720P HD LED Roku Smart TV (medium)40-inch FHD Roku Smart TV (medium)

How to shop for a TV

Picking the right television for your needs can be difficult. When it comes to budget-friendly displays, you can find HDTVs for as low as $100 in smaller screen sizes. On the high end, premium 65-inch 4K TVs can cost $1,500 or more. Flagship 8K TVs can even sell for over $10,000.

Buyers who prioritize picture quality will want to go for a 4K TV with at least a 65-inch screen. The best 4K TVs feature an OLED panel or an advanced LED screen with a feature called local dimming. These technologies enable the best contrast, deepest black levels, and brightest images for gorgeous high dynamic range (HDR) picture.

Though companies use different terms to describe their flagship models, in general, shoppers who focus on picture quality should look for TVs branded as OLED, QLED, Neo QLED, Quantum, NanoCell, and QNED.

People who just want a simple TV for casual viewing, however, will be better off with a smaller display using an affordable LED screen without advanced image features. Though picture quality won’t be as good as more expensive TVs, there is plenty of solid budget LED TVs, including affordable sets that include 4K resolution and reliable smart TV streaming.

If you’re looking for even more TV recommendations, be sure to read our TV buying guides:

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best OLED TVs in 2021 for vibrant, high-end picture quality

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • OLED TVs offer key benefits over LCDs, making them ideal for buyers who want high-end image quality.
  • The LG CX presents the best balance between picture and price of any OLED we’ve tested.
  • For more TV recommendations, check out our roundup of the best TV deals.

OLED TVs have become popular among home theater enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. Thanks to some key perks, OLED displays offer several benefits over traditional LCD TVs (including those branded as LED and QLED). Though they tend to be pricier, there’s no substitute for an OLED if you want the best home theater experience for movies, streaming, and gaming.

OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode.” Instead of using a traditional LED backlight like those found on an LCD TV, OLED screens are self-illuminating. This means that each pixel on an OLED can emit its own light or turn off completely, enabling an infinite contrast ratio.

As a result, OLED TVs are capable of true black levels – something even the best LCDs have a hard time producing. Viewing angles are also much better than typical LCD displays, making OLEDs a great fit for rooms where people need to sit off to the side of their TV. On the downside, OLEDs can’t get as bright as flagship LCD TVs, which makes OLED displays less ideal for living rooms that let in a lot of sunlight.

LG, Sony, and Vizio all sell OLED TVs in the US. While image quality does vary a bit between the displays, the TVs’ physical design, connectivity, and software are actually the most telling differences. With that in mind, we’ve tested and researched several OLED displays in order to select the best models for a variety of needs and budgets.

Here are the best OLED TVs you can buy:

  • Best OLED TV overall: LG CX
  • Best OLED TV for picture quality: Sony A8H
  • Best premium design OLED TV: LG GX
  • Best budget OLED TV: Vizio H1
The best OLED TV overall

LG 2020 OLED CX 4K TV

The LG CX OLED presents the best balance between picture performance, smart connectivity, design, and value of any OLED TV you can buy. 

Pros: Solid brightness for an OLED, HDMI 2.1 with next-gen gaming features, voice remote, lots of screen sizes

Cons: Processing and image accuracy aren’t as good as Sony OLEDs, HBO Max app missing

When it comes to balancing image quality and smart features, the CX remains the best OLED TV you can buy. Though LG recently released a 2021 successor to the CX, called the C1, we think the CX presents a better value since it costs less and offers very similar performance. 

Like all OLED TVs, the CX provides pixel-level contrast with deep black levels and precise highlights. Peak brightness is also high for an OLED panel, edging out similarly priced models from Sony and Vizio with a max of around 700 to 800 nits. 

Thanks to the α9 Gen 3 Intelligent Processor, the CX is capable of advanced upscaling. This feature can make lower-quality video content, like Full HD (1080p), look cleaner and sharper. That said, Sony’s OLED offerings are still known for slightly better processing.

The panel offers very low input lag and includes compatibility with Variable Refresh Rate, Nvidia G-Sync, and 120Hz high frame rate. These features help make the CX one of the best gaming displays you can buy, and we think the 48-inch model is a great alternative to a traditional monitor.

The CX is powered by LG’s webOS and ThinQ platforms, enabling extensive streaming app support and voice control. The magic remote also features a unique pointer function which allows you to navigate through menus with a virtual cursor.

The best OLED TV for picture quality

Sony A8H series

Sony’s A8H is a premium TV champ when it comes to image accuracy, but it lacks HDMI 2.1 for future-proof connectivity.

Pros: Advanced processing powered by Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor, superior image accuracy, Android TV with Google Assistant, acoustic surface audio technology

Cons: Can’t get as bright as LG’s CX, no HDMI 2.1 ports

The A8H has an edge on other OLED models thanks to Sony’s advanced X1 Ultimate Processor. Don’t get me wrong, LG’s processors are no slouch, but Sony’s solution offers a slightly better image. The A8H delivers the same inky black level performance that LG’s OLED TVs provide, and it takes things one step further with improved color accuracy. That said, the A8H can’t get quite as bright as the CX.

Based on side-by-side demos of Sony and LG OLEDs I’ve attended over the last few years, Sony’s models consistently come the closest to matching the look of professional broadcast monitors. This means that, when calibrated, the A8H allows movies to appear closer to how directors intend for them to look.

Unlike traditional TVs, the A8H also features a unique audio system with acoustic surface technology. Instead of typical speakers, this process creates sound from the screen itself. 

The A8H runs the Android TV platform for simple and responsive access to apps. AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and integrated Google Assistant voice control are all featured as well. Unlike LG’s OLED models, Amazon Alexa isn’t built-in, but you can still pair the TV with a separate Alexa device if you’d like to use Amazon’s assistant. 

On the downside, the A8H lacks HDMI 2.1 so it doesn’t offer next-gen gaming capabilities. Sony’s new 2021 A80J OLED does offer HDMI 2.1, however, so it’s a better choice for buyers willing to a pay a couple hundred bucks more for that feature. 

The best premium design OLED TV

LG GX Gallery Series 4K OLED TV

With a display so thin it can hang flush on your wall like a piece of art, the LG GX is one of the prettiest OLED TVs to look at — whether it’s turned on or off.

Pros: Same great image performance as the LG CX, thin design lets you mount it flush to a wall

Cons: Expensive compared to OLED models with standard designs

Beyond impressive picture performance, the GX boasts an exceptionally thin profile, enabling the display to be mounted like a piece of art hanging flush on your wall. At just 0.79 inches deep, the 65-inch GX Gallery TV isn’t quite as razor-thin as LG’s more expensive WX OLED, but it still offers an incredibly narrow design.

And unlike the WX model, LG has been able to keep all of the TV’s components within the panel. This means that GX TVs don’t need to use an external box or soundbar unit as a connection hub. Instead, you can simply hook up all your devices directly to the display. 

When it comes to actual image quality, the GX OLED TV offers very similar performance to the rest of the displays on our list. Since those TVs are among the best you can buy, that’s not a bad thing at all.

At the end of the day, you’re paying extra purely for style perks with this model, but if you plan to mount your TV on a wall, the GX can double as a genuine design piece for your living room.

That said, LG has a new 2021 version of the GX available, called the G1. The updated model has a new “OLED evo” panel which promises improved brightness. It’s more expensive than the 2020 model, however, so we still recommend the GX for most buyers. 

The best budget OLED TV

Vizio OLED lifestyle

Vizio’s 65-inch 4K OLED TV offers all the OLED picture quality benefits that home theater fans love for less than the competition.

Pros: Unbeatable image performance for the price, only OLED model in the US with HDR10+, HDMI 2.1 ports

Cons: Glitches, HDMI signal problems, on-screen app selection is limited, no voice remote

In the US, OLED TV models have primarily been limited to high-end offerings from LG and Sony. Though these TVs have been undeniably gorgeous, they’ve also been expensive. Thanks to Vizio’s OLED, however, that high cost barrier is starting to disappear.

Just like Sony and LG’s OLEDs, Vizio’s model offers pixel-level contrast with true black levels. The display can’t get quite as bright as LG’s OLEDs, but it can get close with a max of around 700 nits. 

Vizio’s OLED has comprehensive HDR support and it’s the only model on our list with HDR10+ playback. It also supports HDMI 2.1, which is something Sony’s 2020 models lack. On the downside, the TV is missing a voice remote. You can still pair it with a separate Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device, however.

Though image quality is nearly identical to more expensive OLEDs, the Vizio does lose some points when it comes to general stability. I encountered glitches and compatibility issues when reviewing the TV. Thankfully, most of these problems have been fixed through firmware updates, but it’s a shame the display’s software isn’t more reliable. 

Still, there’s no denying the incredible value this OLED offers. When it’s on sale it delivers unbeatable picture quality for the price. In fact, if it wasn’t for those glitches, Vizio’s OLED might even edge out the CX for the top spot on this list. As it stands, it’s not quite there, but it’s a fantastic option for budget-conscious buyers.

Should you worry about burn-in on an OLED TV?

Vizio OLED design

Like plasma TVs of yesteryear, OLED panels are susceptible to a problem known as burn-in. This means that if a static image is left on the screen for hours on end — the CNN or ESPN logo in the corner, for example — a faint, ghostly image can be left permanently stuck on the TV.

Though OLED owners should be aware of this risk, OLED TVs feature special measures to help prevent burn-in, including pixel-refreshers and pixel-shift modes. Websites like Rtings have conducted long-term tests with OLEDs, and while their results do prove that burn-in is possible, their tests show that buyers with regular viewing habits really shouldn’t worry about it. 

You’re more likely to notice temporary image retention, which is when a ghost image faintly lingers on the screen and then fades away over time. Though true burn-in is really only a risk in extreme situations, it is worth pointing out that LCD TV owners don’t have to worry about burn-in at all.

If you really only plan on watching content with the same static logos all day long, you’re better off with an LCD (also branded as LED or QLED). Buyers with regular viewing habits, however, shouldn’t be put off from buying an OLED TV because of burn-in.

What we look forward to testing

LG G1 4K OLED evo on stand

Since our last round of testing, several new OLED TVs have been released. LG and Sony, in particular, have new flagship models that promise improved brightness over previous OLED displays.

Here’s a rundown of 2021 OLED models we look forward to testing over the coming months for consideration on this guide.

LG G1 OLED 4K TV: The G1 is the successor to last year’s GX OLED. It features a similar ultra-thin design and improves upon the GX with a brand-new “OLED evo” panel. The updated screen promises improved brightness which could justify its higher price. We got a first look at the G1 back in January and were impressed with what we saw. 

Sony A80J OLED 4K TV: This display is designed to replace the A8H OLED and it carries over a lot of what we loved about that 2020 model while adding a few key improvements. Most notably, the A80J includes HDMI 2.1 ports for next-gen gaming features, along with upgraded processing and the new Google TV OS for streaming apps.

Sony A90J OLED 4K TV: Like the LG G1, Sony’s new flagship A90J promises higher brightness than any OLED the company has released before. It also boasts HDMI 2.1, Google TV, and new cognitive image processing. Though it’s the most expensive OLED released in 2021, the A90J’s impressive specifications could make it the new high-end TV to beat. 

 

Check out our other TV buying guides

Hisense H8G 4K TV lifestyle

The best cheap TVs


The best 4K TVs


The best Apple HomeKit-enabled TVs

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The best speaker deals – save $20 on Amazon’s Echo Dot smart speaker

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

echo dot
  • Speakers with good performance can be pricey, but they often go on sale.
  • We’ve compiled all the best speaker deals for May 2021.
  • Right now, you can get an Echo Dot for $30 – that’s $20 off its full price.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Great speakers can make listening to music far more enjoyable, and there are plenty of deals to be found. These days, even relatively inexpensive speakers can deliver well-rounded bass response, a well-tuned mid-range, and plenty of clarity and detail in the high end.

Whether you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker, a smart speaker, floortstanding speakers, bookshelf speakers, or even a soundbar, you may be able to stay on budget and save some cash thanks to these awesome discounts. After combing through the web, we’ve rounded up the best speaker deals out there for a variety of needs.

Here are the best speaker deals in May 2021:

Echo Dot (4th Generation) (small)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Jacket H20 4 Bluetooth speaker (medium, Preferred: Walmart)

Best Bluetooth speaker deals

Altec Lansing Jacket

Portable Bluetooth speakers make it easy to take your music on the road with you. Many of them are water-resistant, meaning you can use them near the pool or at the beach, and while they’re usually not as great-sounding as more expensive home theater speakers or soundbars, they’ll definitely get the party started at your next BBQ.

Product Card (medium)Onyx Studio 6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker (medium)Sonic Portable Bluetooth Speaker (medium)
Best soundbar deals

samsung hw t550

If you’re looking to enhance the sound quality in your living room without going all out for a full-sized surround sound system, then it’s worth considering a soundbar. Soundbars range in price and audio quality, but the best of them allow for full-bodied audio in a relatively compact package. Some models even include wireless subwoofers and separate satellite speakers for more immersive performance.

2.0-Channel Mini Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)HW-T550 Soundbar (medium)SL4Y Soundbar (medium)
Best smart speaker deals

Echo Dot light

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri have gotten a whole lot smarter over the past few years, and they can now help you with a huge range of tasks, including controlling smart home devices, finding out information from the web, and more. There are often deals on smart speakers too – so you might be able to pick one up at a super low price. So models even include screens, enabling video playback to go along with audio. 

Echo Dot (4th Generation) (small)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)
Best home theater speaker deals

Klipsch Reference 820F system

Soundbars are great, but if you truly want the most immersive movie-watching or gaming experience, it’s worth looking into home theater speakers. Home theater speakers can be set up as a simple pair of stereo speakers next to your TV, or a full surround sound system. It should be noted, however, that home theater speakers typically require a separate AV receiver for power and processing, which can make purchasing a full system pricey. Thankfully, the below discounts can help cut down your costs.

RP-8000F Speaker (medium)
Best computer speaker deals

Klipsch ProMedia 2

Want to avoid having to use headphones all the time when you’re at your computer? A great pair of computer speakers can make for a better PC gaming experience, or simply make listening to music and podcasts more enjoyable. Sometimes, computer speakers even come with a small subwoofer to help enhance bass performance.

Product Card (medium)
How to shop for speakers

There are a number of different types of speakers, and they can all serve drastically different purposes. 

If you want something to take to the beach or use on the go, then a portable Bluetooth speaker is your best option. If you’re looking to enhance your TV-viewing experience, then home theater speakers or a soundbar will do the job. If you want to bring a digital assistant into your home, then consider a smart speaker. If you just want speakers around the house, then perhaps it’s worth considering bookshelf speakers or a pair of computer speakers.

It’s also a good idea to take the brand into consideration when purchasing speakers. For example, if you’re buying a smart speaker, then it’s definitely worth looking at options from companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Sonos, and Bose. Vizio and Samsung, meanwhile, are both safe bets for soundbars. If you’re setting up a surround sound system, then brands like Klipsch and Focal will be a better fit for your needs. 

Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your budget. You can get decent Bluetooth and smart speakers for under $150 – but that probably won’t be enough if you’re looking for a soundbar or multiple home theater speakers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best speaker deals – save $120 on Vizio’s flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

VIZIO OLED TV and Elevate soundbar
  • Speakers with good performance can be pricey, but they often go on sale.
  • We’ve compiled all the best speaker deals for April 2021.
  • Right now, you can get Vizio’s 5.1.4 Elevate Soundbar for $879 – that’s $121 off its full price.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Great speakers can make listening to music far more enjoyable, and there are plenty of deals to be found. These days, even relatively inexpensive speakers can deliver well-rounded bass response, a well-tuned mid-range, and plenty of clarity and detail in the high end.

Whether you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker, a smart speaker, floortstanding speakers, bookshelf speakers, or even a soundbar, you may be able to stay on budget and save some cash thanks to these awesome discounts. After combing through the web, we’ve rounded up the best speaker deals out there for a variety of needs.

Here are the best speaker deals in April 2021:

Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pill+ (small, Preferred: Best Buy)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)

Best Bluetooth speaker deals

Altec Lansing Jacket

Portable Bluetooth speakers make it easy to take your music on the road with you. Many of them are water-resistant, meaning you can use them near the pool or at the beach, and while they’re usually not as great-sounding as more expensive home theater speakers or soundbars, they’ll definitely get the party started at your next BBQ.

Pill+ (small, Preferred: Best Buy)SRS-XB43 Bluetooth Speaker (medium)Product Card (medium)
Best soundbar deals

Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you’re looking to enhance the sound quality in your living room without going all out for a full-sized surround sound system, then it’s worth considering a soundbar. Soundbars range in price and audio quality, but the best of them allow for full-bodied audio in a relatively compact package. Some models even include wireless subwoofers and separate satellite speakers for more immersive performance.

One of the best deals you can snag right now is on the Vizio Elevate soundbar. The system is on sale for $121 off its full price, and it serves as a more affordable alternative to a traditional home theater setup. You can read our full Vizio Elevate review here

Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Amazon)SB46514-F6 46-inch 5.1.4 Channel Soundbar (small, Preferred: Best Buy)2.0-Channel Mini Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)HW-T550 Soundbar (medium)SL4Y Soundbar (medium)
Best smart speaker deals

Sonos Beam

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri have gotten a whole lot smarter over the past few years, and they can now help you with a huge range of tasks, including controlling smart home devices, finding out information from the web, and more. There are often deals on smart speakers too – so you might be able to pick one up at a super low price. So models even include screens, enabling video playback to go along with audio. 

Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)
Best home theater speaker deals

Klipsch Reference 820F system

Soundbars are great, but if you truly want the most immersive movie-watching or gaming experience, it’s worth looking into home theater speakers. Home theater speakers can be set up as a simple pair of stereo speakers next to your TV, or a full surround sound system. It should be noted, however, that home theater speakers typically require a separate AV receiver for power and processing, which can make purchasing a full system pricey. Thankfully, the below discounts can help cut down your costs.

R-620F Speaker (medium)
Best computer speaker deals

Klipsch ProMedia 2

Want to avoid having to use headphones all the time when you’re at your computer? A great pair of computer speakers can make for a better PC gaming experience, or simply make listening to music and podcasts more enjoyable. Sometimes, computer speakers even come with a small subwoofer to help enhance bass performance.

Z625 2.1 Speaker System (medium)Product Card (medium)
How to shop for speakers

There are a number of different types of speakers, and they can all serve drastically different purposes. 

If you want something to take to the beach or use on the go, then a portable Bluetooth speaker is your best option. If you’re looking to enhance your TV-viewing experience, then home theater speakers or a soundbar will do the job. If you want to bring a digital assistant into your home, then consider a smart speaker. If you just want speakers around the house, then perhaps it’s worth considering bookshelf speakers or a pair of computer speakers.

It’s also a good idea to take the brand into consideration when purchasing speakers. For example, if you’re buying a smart speaker, then it’s definitely worth looking at options from companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Sonos, and Bose. Vizio and Samsung, meanwhile, are both safe bets for soundbars. If you’re setting up a surround sound system, then brands like Klipsch and Focal will be a better fit for your needs. 

Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your budget. You can get decent Bluetooth and smart speakers for under $150 – but that probably won’t be enough if you’re looking for a soundbar or multiple home theater speakers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Vizio’s Elevate is more than just a soundbar – it’s one of the best $1,000 Dolby Atmos home theater systems you can buy

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

VIZIO OLED TV and Elevate soundbar

  • Vizio’s Elevate is more than a typical soundbar; it’s a full home theater system for under $1,000.
  • The device features unique rotating speakers and immersive 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos performance.
  • The Elevate is perfect for buyers who don’t have the cash or space for larger speakers and a receiver.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyElevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (small)

Putting together a proper Dolby Atmos home theater system can be a complicated and expensive task. For a traditional setup, you need multiple speakers and a separate AV receiver to power and process everything.

Though this type of configuration offers the best performance, there are many buyers who simply don’t have the space and budget for that kind of investment. And that’s where a Dolby Atmos soundbar system like the Vizio Elevate comes in.

The Elevate is designed to offer a full 5.1.4 surround sound solution in a convenient package, complete with a soundbar, satellite speakers, and a subwoofer. The system comes with everything you need and it even features built-in amplification so you don’t have to buy a receiver.

With its up-firing speakers, the Elevate can make it seem like sound effects are coming from above your head. The front speakers also feature a clever rotating design, which allows them to automatically switch from up-firing to front-firing positions depending on what you’re watching.

I’ve been reviewing home theater products for nearly a decade, and after spending a month with the Elevate, I’ve come away impressed by the soundbar’s performance and value. The system’s software is a little glitchy, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better 5.1.4 home theater package for this price.

Vizio Elevate Soundbar specifications

Vizio Elevate Soundbar

Specs:
Package includes: Soundbar, two satellite speakers, 8-inch wireless subwoofer
Channels: 5.1.4
Formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Ports: One HDMI eRC, two HDMI inputs, 3.5mm input, Optical input, USB
Connectivity: Chromecast built-in, Bluetooth
Features: Rotating front drivers
Remote: Backlit remote included, works with SmartCast app
Voice assistant: Works with separate Alexa and Google Assistant products
Soundbar dimensions: 2.64 (H) x 48 (W) x 6.5 (D) inches

Design

The Elevate features a sleek, industrial design with an all black finish and aluminum build. Though a system like this is compact compared to a traditional home theater setup, keep in mind that the Elevate and its subwoofer are fairly large compared to most soundbar packages.

The system offers support for a total of 5.1.4 channels. This means there are five ear-level channels, one subwoofer, and four up-firing channels for height effects.

The soundbar itself has a left, center, right, left height, and right height channel. The satellites then serve as your left surround and right surround speakers, and each has their own height channel.

The height channels work by angling sound up to bounce effects off your ceiling. This makes it sound as if the audio is coming from above your head. Vizio takes the Elevate further by incorporating special rotating drivers.

Vizoi Elevate soundbar review rotating speakers
The Vizio Elevate features a rotating speaker that can switch between up-firing and front-firing audio.

The front height speakers can automatically rotate up or forward depending on what you’re listening to. When they’re up you can hear overhead effects. When they’re down, they help to create a wider front soundstage.

Various inputs are included on the back of the bar, including one HDMI eARC to receive audio from your TV, as well as two HDMI inputs to connect additional sources, like a game console or Blu-ray player. Full 4K HDR video passthrough is supported, and the Elevate supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding. DTS:X was incompatible with older Vizio soundbars, so it’s nice to have on this model.

Vizio also includes a handy remote with a small text display to scroll through settings and modes. Unlike previous models, this year’s remote is even backlit.

Setup

Vizio Elevate review
The system includes a soundbar, two satellite speakers, and a subwoofer.

To get the system set up, you simply need to plug the power cables in, connect the soundbar to your TV, and run the satellite speaker cables to the subwoofer. The subwoofer wirelessly connects to the soundbar. Though having to use cables for the satellites is less convenient than a fully wireless design, the included speaker wires are long enough to suit small and medium rooms.

To update the firmware and enable Chromecast music streaming you can download the Vizio SmartCast mobile app. I had some issues getting the app to find the soundbar during my initial setup, but after restarting it was able to connect.

You can adjust settings using the remote or the SmartCast app. This includes setting your preference for the rotating speakers. For the most accurate audio experience with movies, I recommend using the Elevate Auto setting and the Direct EQ mode.

This will automatically angle the Elevate speakers up when you listen to Dolby Atmos or DTS:X audio. The height speakers will then automatically angle forward when you listen to music, movies, or shows that don’t support overhead audio.

Performance

Vizio Elevate Dolby atmos performance
The Elevate’s up-firing speakers bounce sound off the ceiling to create overhead effects.

For a 5.1.4 soundbar in this price range, the Vizio Elevate delivers fantastic sound quality. To be clear, this isn’t an audiophile system that can equal a dedicated home theater rig with floorstanding and bookshelf speakers, but as a space-saving and cost-saving alternative, it’s a winner.

The bar itself has good separation and imaging, while the inclusion of separate satellite speakers provides genuine surround sound immersion. The up-firing channels also do a solid job simulating overhead sound, but the effect can be hit and miss depending on where you sit.

To test the system’s performance I watched a bunch of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X titles on Blu-ray and streaming services, including “Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Vertigo,” “The Mandalorian,” and various clips from demo discs designed to show off systems like this.

Throughout all my testing, the Elevate engaged with an enveloping dome of sound, fully engulfing the room with audio from all directions. Having the heights in the front and back helps to avoid any gaps, creating a complete Atmos experience.

When switching to regular surround sound, the system performs equally well, rotating the heights down to create a wider front soundstage. Music also sounds good, though tracks can sound a little bright and small when using the Direct EQ mode. Switching to the Music preset opens things up nicely, creating a bit more depth.

The wireless subwoofer offers ample kick for medium-sized rooms. That said, I find the sub to be a little too aggressive. Room-shaking bass makes sense during explosions, but when low frequencies become overpowering watching a Netflix rom-com like “Holidate,” you know something is a little off.

Some key bass cues I use as test material in “Inception” and “The Tree of Life” also sound a little too harsh, leading to some unwanted vibrations that make the subwoofer stick out in my room. I ultimately prefer to have the Elevate’s sub adjusted five levels below the default setting. This helps dial it in, but can rob the system of some punch. In other words, finding just the right balance is a little trickier than I’d like.

Still, the overall experience you get with the Elevate is genuinely impressive. I typically use an Onkyo 5.1.4 system with a dedicated receiver, separate bookshelf speakers, and a 10-inch subwoofer. Though I still prefer that setup, the Vizio Elevate’s performance isn’t that far off, and it’s a much simpler and cheaper solution.

Problems with the Elevate Soundbar

As impressed as I am with the Elevate, the system isn’t perfect. I’ve encountered some odd glitches here and there, as well as some issues with the soundbar’s software.

After getting the Elevate set up, the first thing I did was boot up an episode of “The Mandalorian.” Despite everything being connected properly, there was no audio and the Elevate’s remote stopped working. Suddenly, the subwoofer kicked in at full blast for no reason forcing me to quickly turn the system off for fear of angering my neighbors.

This strange glitch only happened once, however, so I consider it more of an anomaly than a major issue. There have been a few other times when the remote becomes unresponsive, though, and the SmartCast app loses connection with the soundbar occasionally.

The rotating drivers work just fine during my testing, but I ‘m a little concerned there could be some issues with their longevity after lots of use. Finally, there is a faint high-pitched noise audible if you put your ears close to the satellite speakers. This isn’t noticeable during regular playback, though, so I don’t consider it to be a real problem.

While not ideal, I don’t think any of these hiccups outweigh the Elevate’s many strengths.

Should you buy it?

Vizio Elevate soundbar lifestyle

The Vizio Elevate is a good buy for anyone who wants a genuine 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos home theater system under $1,000.

Piecing together an equivalent package with separate speakers and an AV receiver is basically impossible in this price range. In fact, most 9.2 channel receivers – which is what you’d need to power 5.1.4 speakers – cost at least $1,000 on their own.

If you have that kind of cash, you can configure a larger speaker setup that sounds better than the Elevate. But, that kind of investment simply isn’t realistic for everyone. Conversely, you can find plenty of smaller and cheaper soundbars, but they just don’t offer the level of immersion you get with the Elevate.

The Elevate is designed for home theater fans who want to spend less and save a little space without losing out on a full Dolby Atmos surround sound experience. And in that sense, it delivers exceptional value and performance.

What are your alternatives?

When it comes to similar Dolby Atmos soundbars with satellite speakers, the Elevate has some competition from brands like Samsung, as well alternative models from Vizio itself.

Most notably, Samsung’s HW-Q950T offers a similar setup with dedicated surround speakers, four up-firing channels, and a wireless subwoofer. Samsung’s model even adds side-firing drivers in order to simulate extra surround channels, enabling support for a 9.1.4 system.

That said, the HW-Q950T lacks Vizio’s unique rotating speakers. The HW-Q950T is also typically sold for at least $350 more than the Elevate.

It’s also worth considering two of Vizio’s cheaper 5.1.4 soundbars: the SB46514-F6 and the SB36514-G6. The SB36514-G6 is smaller compared to the Elevate, while the SB46514-F6 is more similar in size. Both of these models lack eARC and DTS:X support, however, and neither have rotating speakers or a backlit remote.

The bottom line

Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you don’t have the space or money to invest in a traditional home theater setup, then the Vizio Elevate 5.1.4 soundbar is the next best thing.

For a retail price of $1,000, you get everything you need for a complete Dolby Atmos experience – no costly AV receiver required. And it sounds fantastic for the money. The system is even frequently on sale for around $900, which makes it an even better buy.

Pros: Full 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos support, immersive audio performance, DTS:X capabilities, unique rotating drivers, affordable price compared to a comparable setup with separate speakers and a receiver

Cons: Sporadic software and signal glitches, some concerns about longevity of the rotating function, subwoofer lacks balance, no voice assistant built-in

Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (button)

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When is the best time to buy a TV?

Samsung TV

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • The best times to buy a TV are Black Friday and around the Super Bowl. 
  • That’s when many TV makers and retailers launch sales to clear out inventory before the spring launch cycle.  
  • Check out our guide to the best TV deals and best cheap TVs

Buying a new TV can feel like a daunting task. There are a lot of different models, and sales seemingly happen every week. How do you know when it is the right time to get the best deal on a new TV?

Our team has covered TVs and home entertainment for years, and have figured out the best times to get the lowest prices. Below, we break down the best time to shop for a TV, when to expect new TV launches, and what to consider when buying a new TV. 

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best time to buy a TV

Target Black Friday
A Target store in Culver City, California on Black Friday 2016.

Black Friday

Black Friday is usually the best time of the year to buy a TV. It is the first time that new models  see major discounts, making it the perfect time to buy for those looking to score a great deal that also want the latest tech. Black Friday deals are also no longer confined to a single day, as many retailers have ongoing online sales that can last into the week and into Cyber Monday.  

This is the time when major retailers aggressively compete with each other for consumer dollars, which means that pricing, especially online, can shift throughout the day as various outlets react in real-time to their competitors’ pricing. Price matching guarantees proliferate in this environment, making it easier for gift card recipients to get the best deals at their preferred location. 

One word of caution, however: It is always a good idea to do a little research before jumping on a deal, especially during Black Friday. Sometimes retailers will advertise big Black Friday discounts, when in reality the pricing isn’t far from off from what it has been for months. The website camelcamelcamel.com is a great way to quickly verify a deal, as it tracks a product’s price on Amazon throughout the year. This way, you can see if a product is actually heavily discounted, or if it has been hovering close to the same price for a while. 

The Super Bowl

The big game traditionally means big savings on TVs. These sales often start during the playoffs in January and lead up to the Super Bowl in early February. This means t fans can still watch their team in the playoffs on a brand new TV, even if they don’t make it all the way to the championship. 

 By this point, most manufacturers are already looking at releasing their new models in the coming months, and are trying to clear out the stock from the previous year. This meshes nicely with Americans’ desire to watch the biggest game of year on a new TV set. Overall, this is one of the best times to get deep discounts on still-current models.

When new TVs are usually released

Man Watching Streaming TV
Roku shares climb as the company passes the 50 million active account figure.

New TV models are typically released during the spring of each year. Some manufacturers start their product rollout in March, while others drop models in April and May. 

Shoppers looking for the latest and greatest can expect to pay full price for these units, though it is important to note that most new models only feature modest upgrades from those in the previous year. Picking up a brand new, full-priced TV is really only best for those willing to pay more for a specific upgrade, such as improved brightness. Even then, it might be worth waiting for a few months to read reviews of the product before jumping on a purchase. 

For those interested in getting steep discounts, spring offers many closeout deals on models from the previous year. The NCAA basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, is a good time to start looking for these discounts, though the closeouts can continue to roll on throughout the spring and into the summer as different manufacturers release their new TV lineup.

How to buy a TV

LG nanocell TV

Here are some of the key factors to consider when shopping for a new TV.

Display: The best displays on high-end TVs use an OLED panel, which stands for organic light emitting diode. These panels use self-illuminating screens rather than LED backlighting, which results in better contrast and viewing angles as well as true black tones and more even lighting. 

These premium TVs are usually expensive and are best suited for a home theater setup. LED panels with features like quantum dots and local dimming are also a good choice for buyers who want the best picture quality. These sets can’t match the contrast of an OLED, but they can get even brighter.

Those looking for a more casual viewing experience can opt for a smaller screen with a budget-friendly LED panel. Even entry-level TVs offer 4K displays, which means that it is possible to get a sharp TV without spending tons of money. Of course, these TVs might not feature the greatest brightness and contrast of more expensive models, but they are often more than enough for movie nights and console gaming.

HDR Format: High Dynamic Range (HDR) is an image technology that is featured on many 4K TV displays, 4K streaming options, and 4K Blu-ray disks. HDR enhances images so that they appear brighter, with more color and deeper contrast than ever before. However, there are three different HDR formats – HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision – and not every TV supports all three.

This means that you can have a TV with HDR, but still not be able to get the best HDR quality from a specific source. When buying a TV with HDR, make sure that it supports the format that you use the most. 

Connectivity: It is important to be able to connect all of your devices to your new TV. Gaming consoles, such as the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X, each need their own HDMI port to connect to the TV, as do Roku players and other streaming boxes. The more HDMI ports the TV has, the better. 

It is also important to find out what kind of HDMI is supported by the TV. HDMI 2.0 is capable of streaming in 4k at 60Hz, while the newer HDMI 2.1 standard supports next-generation gaming features such as 4K at 120Hz, and variable refresh rate (VRR).

Smart TV Platform: These days, most TVs come with some smart capabilities. Unfortunately, content on various smart platforms can differ dramatically. For example, Spectrum TV customers can find the Spectrum TV app on Samsung Smart TVs, but not on ones made by LG or Sony. LG TVs also don’t support HBO Max. It is important to find a platform that offers all of the channels you want.

Of course, you can also purchase a separate streaming player to connect to your TV if you don’t mind spending a little extra money. Streaming devices also generally offer better performance and are easily upgradeable. 

Extra Features: It’s a good idea to check what other extra features the TV offers. Does it have a voice-controlled remote? What about Alexa, or Google Assistant? Does it offer Airplay compatibility? These features will probably not make-or-break a purchase, but are good to know about, especially when you are trying to get the best deal for yourself or your family.

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The best speaker deals – save $100 on Vizio’s flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

VIZIO OLED TV and Elevate soundbar
  • Speakers with good performance can be pricey, but they often go on sale.
  • We’ve compiled all the best speaker deals for March 2021.
  • Right now, you can get Vizio’s 5.1.4 Elevate Soundbar for $900 – that’s $100 off its full price.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Great speakers can make listening to music far more enjoyable – and speakers have been getting a whole lot better over the past few years. These days, even relatively inexpensive speakers can deliver well-rounded bass response, a well-tuned mid-range, and plenty of clarity and detail in the high end. 

Of course, if you’re in the market for a new speaker or speakers, you’ll want to think about exactly what kind of speaker best matches your needs. There are a number of different types of speakers, and they can all serve drastically different purposes. 

If you want something to take to the beach or use on the go, then a portable Bluetooth speaker is probably your best option. If you’re looking to enhance your TV-viewing experience, then home theater speakers or a soundbar will do the job. If you want to bring a digital assistant into your home, then consider a smart speaker. If you just want speakers around the house to listen to music on, then perhaps it’s worth considering bookshelf speakers. And, last but not least, if you want a more immersive computing experience, then consider buying a pair of computer speakers.

It’s also a good idea to take the brand into consideration when purchasing speakers. Depending on the type of speaker you end up buying, you’ll want to seek out different brands. For example, if you’re buying a smart speaker, then it’s definitely worth looking at options from companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple. Vizio and Samsung, meanwhile, are both safe bets for soundbars. If you’re setting up a surround sound system, then brands like Klipsch and Focal will be a better fit for your needs. 

Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your budget – and your budget might again depend on the type of speakers you’re looking for. You can get decent Bluetooth and smart speakers for under $150 – but that probably won’t be enough if you’re looking for a soundbar or multiple home theater speakers.

Thankfully, you may be able to stay on budget and save some cash thanks to these awesome deals. After combing through the web, we’ve rounded up the best speaker deals out there for a variety of needs.

Here are the best speaker deals in March 2021:

Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (medium)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)

Best Bluetooth speaker deals

Altec Lansing Jacket

Portable Bluetooth speakers make it easy to take your music on the road with you. Many of them are water-resistant, meaning you can use them near the pool or at the beach, and while they’re usually not as great-sounding as more expensive home theater speakers or soundbars, they’ll definitely get the party started at your next BBQ.

Product Card (medium)Aura Studio 3 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Best soundbar deals

Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you’re looking to enhance the sound quality in your living room without going all out for a full-sized surround sound system, then it’s worth considering a soundbar. Soundbars range in price and audio quality, but the best of them allow for full-bodied audio in a relatively compact package. Some models even include wireless subwoofers and separate satellite speakers for more immersive performance.

2.0-Channel Mini Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)TV Speaker (medium)Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (medium)SB46514-F6 46-inch 5.1.4 Channel Soundbar (small, Preferred: Best Buy)
Best smart speaker deals

Sonos Beam

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri have gotten a whole lot smarter over the past few years, and they can now help you with a huge range of tasks, including controlling smart home devices, finding out information from the web, and more. There are often deals on smart speakers too – so you might be able to pick one up at a super low price. So models even include screens, enabling video playback to go along with audio. 

Echo Show 5 (small, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)
Best home theater speaker deals

Klipsch Reference 820F system

Soundbars are great, but if you truly want the most immersive movie-watching or gaming experience, it’s worth looking into home theater speakers. Home theater speakers can be set up as a simple pair of stereo speakers next to your TV, or a full surround sound system. It should be noted, however, that home theater speakers typically require a separate AV receiver for power and processing, which can make purchasing a full system pricey. Thankfully, the below discounts can help cut down your costs.

R-620F Speaker (medium)
Best computer speaker deals

Klipsch ProMedia 2

Want to avoid having to use headphones all the time when you’re at your computer? A great pair of computer speakers can make for a better PC gaming experience, or simply make listening to music and podcasts more enjoyable. Sometimes, computer speakers even come with a small subwoofer to help enhance bass performance.

Z625 2.1 Speaker System (medium)Product Card (medium)

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