Best Amazon Prime TV shows (November 2017): 25 great Amazon Prime Video series

Best Amazon Prime TV shows (November 2017): 25 great Amazon Prime Video series

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/television/best-amazon-prime-instant-video-tv-shows-25-essential-amazon-prime-tv-series-1289644

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Best soundbars for TV, movies and music in 2017

Best soundbars for TV, movies and music in 2017

Best Soundbar Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best soundbars (also spelled sound bars) you can buy in 2017. 

While the way a TV looks should (quite rightly) be the most important thing to consider when buying a new set, the way it sounds is a very close second. 

Unfortunately, as panel technology has improved over the years, less and less space has been made available for a set’s audio, leading to sound that’s often weak and tinny. 

The easiest way of rectifying this problem is with a soundbar. These speakers sit nice and neatly below your TV, and often offer tremendous sound without taking up much more space in your living room. 

Buy intelligently and you won’t just end up with better sound, but also more advanced features like virtual surround sound and Dolby Atmos support. 

Over the years we’ve tested hundreds of soundbars, and our picks below cover a range of the best models on the market at a variety of price points.  

What’s the best soundbar?

Soundbars come in many shapes and sizes, and range in price from under £100/$100 to over £1,000/$1,500. Cheaper models have basic connections, more expensive ones add superior HDMI inputs (including 4K/HDR passthrough), wireless audio streaming (e.g. Bluetooth and AirPlay), better power, more refined speaker drivers, and decoding of Blu-ray sound formats.

A full surround setup is the premium solution to bad sounding televisions, but if you’re a little shorter on space (not to mention budget) then a soundbar offers a very decent compromise. Plus, these days higher-end soundbars will also include the latest and greatest audio technologies like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Design is also important, with some models able to sit in front of your TV on a stand while others may need a separate shelf, or to be wall mounted. However, whatever your budget, there are some cracking good acoustic upgrades to be had that can give your TV the sound it deserves. 

1. Samsung HW-MS650 Soundbar

Be afraid, traditional Hi-Fi speakers. Be very afraid.

Dimensions: 1060 x 78 x 130mm (W x H x D) | Speaker configuration: 3.0 | Claimed audio power: 9 x 20W | Connections: Single 4K/HDR HDMI loopthrough, one optical audio input, 3.5mm audio port, 2-way Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Fantastically powerful sound
Physics-defying bass handling
Supports lots of sources
Slightly limited stereo effect

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

2. Sony HT-ST5000 soundbar

An unashamedly upmarket soundbar that justifies its price tag

Dimensions: 1180 x 80 x 145 mm (W x H x D) | Speaker configuration: 7.1.2 | Claimed audio power: N/A | Connections: 3 x HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI Out (ARC), analogue audio in/out, Ethernet, optical audio in, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Beautiful build quality
Dolby Atmos support
Hi-res audio compatible
Frighteningly expensive

The Sony HT-ST5000 is the most expensive soundbar on this list, but for the money you’re getting an exceptional piece of equipment that offers support for Dolby’s spatial Atmos technology as well as dealing exceptionally well with more conventional surround sound. 

The build quality and design of the soundbar is exceptional, and its general audio performance impresses with its clarity and spatial presentation. 

With that said, its high price means it won’t be for everyone, and most people will get everything they need from the Samsung HW-MS650 above. But if you want to have the best high-end soundbar around, the HT-ST5000 is the one to go for. 

Read the full review: Sony HT-ST5000

3. Q Acoustics M4 Sound Bar

‘If there’s a better sounding soundbar on the market for less than £400/$400, we haven’t heard it’

Power: 100W | Speakers: 2 | Dimensions: 1,000 x 90 x 142mm | Weight: 4.9kg | Inputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x digital optical, 1 x 3.5mm | Outputs: N/A | Wireless: Bluetooth aptX | Subwoofer included?: Yes | Special features: N/A

Beautiful musicality
Easy to use
Stereo only
No HDMI input

The Q Acoustics M4 soundbar doesn’t immediately set pulses racing with its slightly prosaic looks, ‘mere’ 2.1-channel sound and lack of any HDMI support. However, you only have to hear what the M4 can do with both music and movies for your doubts about it to evaporate almost instantly. In fact, it sounds so good that it starts to make the idea of trying to deliver more channels from an affordable sound bar look a bit silly.

In fact, though, it sounds so much better than pretty much any rival soundbar in the same price bracket that it’s actually ridiculously good value – especially if you care about music as much as you care about movies. 

Read the full review: Q Acoustics M4 Sound Bar

Philips Fidelio B5

4. Philips Fidelio B5

Surround sound or portable Bluetooth – the choice is yours

Power: 120W | Speakers: 4 | Dimensions: 1,035 x 70 x 156 mm | Weight: 16kg | Inputs: Digital coaxial in, Digital optical in, HDMI 1.4 output (ARC), HDMI IN 1, HDMI IN 2, Audio in 3.5 mm jack | Wireless: Bluetooth APT-X and AAC | Subwoofer included?: Yes | Special features: N/A

Satellites unsnap from main soundbar
Easy-to-setup surround sound
A bit too big for most TV setups

The Philips Fidelio B5 is an impressive bit of kit, and it’s the perfect soundbar for someone who appreciates good cinema sound but has no interest in tearing up their living room to install a 5.1 surround sound system to use only every now and then. The B5 enables you to pick and choose your movie moments, and do it on a whim. And it creates a pretty decent surround sound experience too, using both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround decoding.

The combination of convenience and good audio – the raison d’etre of the soundbar – with its transformative surround sound capabilities makes the Fidelio B5 a great option for the movie fan who can’t face all the aggravation of a proper 5.1 installation.

Read the full review: Philips Fidelio B5

Best Soundbars

5. Sonos Playbar

Turns your multi-room audio system into wireless surround sound

Power: Not quoted | Speakers: 9 | Dimensions: 900 x 85 x 140mm | Weight: 5.4kg | Inputs: 1 x digital optical, 2 x Ethernet LAN | Outputs: N/A | Wireless: WiFi | Special features: Sonos Play:1 speakers can be connected as wireless rear speakers

Beautiful sound
Integrates with Sonos systems
Requires particular TVs

The Sonos Playbar is a non-HDMI device that uses optical to hook up to a TV. Used simply on its own it delivers a massive sonic boost to your TV listening, but operating it does require using a smartphone or tablet app. 

The benefit is that it can seamlessly segue in to a Sonos wireless system, and can even act as the front three speakers in a 5.1 setup with two Play:1s acting as rears. 

Unfortunately although it’s optical-only setup will be great for most, it does exclude owners of TVs that lack this connector, which has pushed it a little further down this list. 

Read the full review: Sonos Playbar

Best Soundbar

6. Samsung HW-K950

This combo of soundbar, two wireless sats & Dolby Atmos is game-changing

Power: 500W | Speakers: 9 | Dimensions: 47.6 x 3.2 x 5.1 inches | Weight: 14.7lbs | Inputs: 1 x digital optical, 1 x HDMI | Outputs: 1 x HDMI | Wireless: Bluetooth and WiFi | Subwoofer included?: Yes | Special features: Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos built-in
Wireless satellites and sub
Slightly muddled surround sound

Do you need Dolby Atmos? This more immersive ‘3D bubble of surround sound’ tech is here, created not only by a standard soundbar design, but with a couple of satellite speakers and a subwoofer added. Is that verging on a messy home cinema cinema of old? Perhaps in theory, but this is one of the sleekest implementations of Dolby Atmos yet. Using rear speakers with upward-firing speakers, it actually creates a virtual 5.1.4 system.

OK, so the £1,299 / $1,499 / AU$1,499 HW-K950 is not perfect. It only plays DTS in stereo (unless you have a Blu-ray player that can convert it to Dolby Digital), but this simple-to-set-up package is an amazing performer that should be near the top of any audiophile’s soundbar audition list.

Read the full review: Samsung HW-K950

Best Soundbars

7. Focal Dimension

An impressive-sounding soundbar with a few setup faux-pas

Power: 450W | Speakers: 5 | Dimensions: 1,155 x 115 x 115mm | Weight: 5.5kg | Inputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x digital optical, 1 x 3.5mm | Outputs: N/A | Wireless: Bluetooth aptX (via dongle) | Subwoofer included?: No | Special features: designed for big rooms

Virtual surround sound
Excellent design

Focal, most known for its excellent sounding speakers (and the recently released Focal Listen headphones), is late to the soundbar space, but its Focal Dimension was worth the wait. The Dimension soundbar is simply gorgeous, with its piano black accents and aluminum unibody construction.

At $1,399 (£799, AU$1,699) it’s not exactly cheap, but you’re paying for excellent build quality, sound and design.

Read the full review: Focal Dimension

8. Sony HT-MT300 Soundbar

An affordable, compact entry-level soundbar that sounds great

Power: N/A | Speakers: 2 | Dimensions: 50 x 5.4 x 10.3cm (W x H x D) | Weight: 3.2kg | Inputs: 1 x digital optical, 1 x auxiliary | Wireless: Bluetooth | Special features: Wireless subwoofer

Simple to setup and use
Well balanced sound
Narrow sound stage
No HDMI ARC

There’s a lot to like about the Sony HT-MT300. Its compact form factor means it’ll fit just about anywhere and its wireless sub lets you put it under the couch for added bass effect. 

The soundbar sounds great with both movies and music, but be warned that it does fall on its face when it comes to offering surround sound. 

For the price, you get a great sounding, entry-level soundbar that fits just about anywhere and is easy to use and setup. If you’re on a budget and looking for a soundbar to fit into a small setup then the HT-MT300 is a great choice, but if you’re less restricted then you might want to opt for another soundbar on this list.

Read the full review: Sony HT-MT300 Soundbar

Best Soundbars

9. LG SH7B

LG’s entry-level soundbar offers impressive sound for the price

Power: 360W | Speakers: 4 | Dimensions: 41.73 x 2.09 x 3.35 inches | Weight: 5.9lbs | Inputs: 1 x HDMI In, 1 x HDMI Out, 1 x 3.5mm | Wireless: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi | Subwoofer included?: Yes | Special features: Google Cast, Spotify Connect, Multi-Room Mode, Music Flow OS Support

Flexible and painless setup
Good sound for the price
Narrow sound stage

The LG SH7B is a soundbar system that can do it all. Its feature set and solid sound quality make it a good choice for those with limited space. While music playback and surround sound aren’t mind-blowing, they’re more than respectable at this price. 

It’s a breeze to set up since its subwoofer is wireless, though Android users may be frustrated by LG’s buggy app. Sound quality is decent for the price, but in the end loses out to traditional bookshelf speakers in terms of clarity on the high-end. However, if you want a soundbar that can take on every type of media you can throw at it, the LG SH7B is a great option.

Read the full review: LG SH7B

10. Bose SoundTouch 300

A beautifully made, precise sounding soundbar

Power: N/A | Speakers: 1 | Dimensions: 42 x 6.2 x 5 inches | Weight: 15.2lbs | Inputs: 1 x digital optical, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Ethernet port, 1x 3.5 mm jack for ADAPTiQ system setup, 1 x 3.5mm jack to hardwire the bass module, 1 x micro-USB connection | Outputs: 1 x HDMI output with Audio Return Channel (ARC) | Wireless: Bluetooth | Subwoofer included?: No | Special features: Multiroom

Wide, articulate sonic presentation
Gorgeous design and build quality
Potentially frustrating set up
Doesn’t come with a subwoofer

Boasting high-end design, Bose’s slim soundbar looks superb, and sounds above average. At 97.9cm wide, it’s best partnered with larger screen sizes (50-inch+) and priced at £599/$700/AU$999, it offers great sound. There are caveats regarding usability and price, but overall it warrants a cautious two thumbs up.

It’s also worth mentioning that, as this isn’t a 2.1 package, there’s no subwoofer supplied – although Bose will sell you a wireless Acoustimas sub and the ST300 can be partnered with the brand’s Virtually Invisible (i.e. small at 10cm) 300 surround speakers. The system is also compatible with the Bose SoundTouch wireless multiroom system which includes smaller Bluetooth speakers.  

Read the full review: Bose SoundTouch 300

  • We’ve come up with a list of the best Sci-Fi movies to really put your soundbar to the test.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/audio/home-cinema-audio/tr-top-10-best-soundbars-1288008

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The best Bluetooth speaker of 2017: the best portable speakers for any budget

The best Bluetooth speaker of 2017: the best portable speakers for any budget

Best Bluetooth Speaker Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best portable Bluetooth speakers you can buy in 2017. 

Bluetooth speakers are a fast and easy way to get music playing throughout your home and even on the move. 

These days they come equipped with hefty batteries promising hours of playback on a single charge, and often have surprisingly beefy speakers that can really pack a punch. 

Choose wisely, and you can also nab yourself additional features such as the ability to charge a phone from an included USB port. 

Bluetooth speakers have improved a lot over the years in terms of sound quality and feature-set. Sure, you’ll still get better audio quality overall with a dedicated Hi-Fi setup, but even they can’t match the convenience of a small battery-powered speaker. 

Here’s a quick look at our best Bluetooth speakers list. Click on any of them to be taken directly to their location in the buying guide. 

  1. UE Boom 2
  2. Fugoo Style
  3. JBL Charge 3
  4. Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless
  5. Bose SoundLink Mini II
  6. UE Wonderboom
  7. Creative Muvo 2C
  8. B&O Beoplay P2
  9. Marshall Kilburn
  10. Bose SoundLink Color II

How to pick out the best Bluetooth speaker

One of the biggest questions we get asked when talking to folks about Bluetooth speakers is: How do I pick out the best one? The answer is to set your budget, figure out a list of must-have features and then shop within those constraints. 

Regardless of what features you want from your speaker, its imperative that it has a decent battery life and good level of sound quality. There’s no point in having a device packed full of features if its battery dies quickly and it sounds rubbish. All of our picks fulfil these two requirements, so when you’re picking from this list you can afford to focus more on features. 

On the features side, common requests include water-resistance (and water-proofed speakers), voice calling and device charging – a feature that allows you to plug your phone or tablet into the speaker to siphon off a bit of juice when it’s running a bit low.

Another good way to narrow down your search is to select a speaker based on the activity you’re going to do with it. A great travel speaker might not have the exact same attributes as the best home listening speaker, for example. 

That being said, we’ve tried to highlight some of the most common use cases below and have selected a speaker that fits perfectly with that scenario.

UE Boom 2

1. UE Boom 2

The best Bluetooth speaker

Minor, but worthwhile upgrades for a modern classic

Weight: 1.2 pounds | Battery life: 15 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | Frequency response: 90Hz-20kHz | Drivers: Two 1.75″ drivers and two 1.75″ x 3″ passive radiators | NFC: Yes | Aux-in: Yes USB charging: Yes

Brilliant design
Waterproof
Robust set of features
Battery life isn’t improved over original

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.) 

Read the full review: UE Boom 2

Fugoo

2. Fugoo Style

The best Bluetooth speaker runner-up

A small Bluetooth speaker that raises the bar

Weight: 1 pound | Battery life: Up to 40 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | Frequency response: 60Hz -20kHz | Drivers: Two 28mm neodymium tweeters, two 39mm neodymium aluminum domed mid/woofers, two 43mm x 54mm passive radiators | NFC: No | Aux-in: Yes | USB charging: Yes

Awesome sound
Amazing battery life
No flaws to note

Meet one of the Bluetooth speaker market’s best-kept secrets. The Fugoo comes in your choice of jacket style (Style, Tough, or Sport), but no matter which one you choose, this speaker is just as suited for the elements as it is your coffee table. 

Despite its small size, this option offers surprisingly good sound performance and, get this, up to 40 hours of battery life when listening at medium volume. We were able to get nearly 20 hours out of it at a high volume.

Read the full review: Fugoo

3. JBL Charge 3

The best speaker that charges your phone

A near-perfect balance between sound, features and price

Weight: 1.76 pounds | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | Frequency response: 65Hz – 20kHz | Drivers: Two 1.7″ drivers and two passive radiators | NFC: No | Bluetooth version: 3.0 | Aux-in: Yes | USB charging: Yes

Kicking bass response
Waterproof
Exposed woofers

As a package, the JBL Charge 3 offers a compelling set of features and excellent sound quality to boot. It punches well above its weight, playing loudly and distortion-free. 

The Charge line of speakers have been on our shortlist of recommendations for a long time thanks to the way they combine great sound quality with the ability to charge your devices over USB. 

The latest iteration maintains JBL’s dominance in the portable Bluetooth speaker market.

Read the full review: JBL Charge 3

4. Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless

The best high-end Bluetooth speaker

The Zeppelin brings audiophile quality to the Bluetooth speaker market

Weight: 14 pounds | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | Frequency response: 44Hz – 28kHz | Drivers: Two 25W tweeters, two 25W mid-range drivers, one 50W subwoofer | NFC: No | Bluetooth version: 4.1 | Aux-in: Yes | USB charging: No

Excellent all-around sound
Iconic design
Limited stereo effect
Slightly awkward setup

The new Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless is a beautiful piece of design. It’s a solid, reassuringly weighty wireless speaker delivering on all the B&W audio heritage which the British audio maestro has been building up throughout its  lifetime: The sound is clear and natural, delivering room-filling audio with seriously punchy mid-range, and dynamic, controlled bass.

Its price might put a bit of a damper on your wallet, but if you have audiophile tastes that extend into the portable speaker space, the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless is the only speaker you should be considering.

Read the full review: Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless

The best mid-range speaker

Slightly dated, but still one of the best sounding wireless speakers

Weight: 1.5 pounds | Dimensions: 2 x 7.1 x 2.3 inches (H x W x D) | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Wireless range: 30 ft (10 m) | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | NFC: No | Bluetooth version: N/A | Aux-in: Yes | USB charging: No

Stellar sound
Built like a tank
Compact form factor
No NFC or multipoint Bluetooth

The Bose SoundLink Mini II is relatively ancient, having been released in June 2015. However, writing off the SoundLink Mini II because of its age would be a mistake, as it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers. 

That said, it punches way above what its size would suggest, producing deep bass, sparkling highs and a lush midrange. While most wireless speakers sound OK, the Mini II proves that small speakers don’t need to compromise on sound, and other Bose conveniences like a charging pad. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Mini II

6. UE Wonderboom

The best outdoor speaker

One of the best-sounding waterproof speakers you can buy

Weight: 425g | Dimensions: 102 x 93.5mm (H x D) | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Wireless range: 100 ft (33 m) | Frequency response: 80 Hz – 20 kHz | Drivers: two 40 mm active drivers and two 46.1mm x 65.2mm passive radiators | NFC: No | Bluetooth version: N/A | Aux-in: No | USB charging: No

360-degree sound
Multipoint pairing
Waterproof
Slightly confined sounding

When someone asks us for a recommendation for a waterproof speaker, the UE Roll 2 was always on the top of our list. We loved the Roll 2’s unique form factor, 50-foot wireless range and, obviously, it sounded good, too. Where it was lacking was in the bass department. Logitech, UE’s parent company, has fixed the Roll 2’s lack of bass by creating the appropriately named UE Wonderboom. 

In our eyes, the UE Wonderboom bests the Roll 2 in just about every way –except for the Roll 2’s handy bungee cord. Still, ignoring that, if you’re looking for one of the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers on the market today, it’s hard to do better than the UE Wonderboom. 

Read the full review: UE Wonderboom

7. Creative Muvo 2C

The best budget Bluetooth speaker

A tiny budget speaker that packs a big punch

Weight: 0.35 pounds | Battery life: 6 hours | Wireless range: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: 1 x full-range | NFC: No | Aux-in: Yes | Bluetooth version: 4.2 | Weatherproofing: Yes-IP66 | Charges devices over USB: No

Feature-rich
Has some actual bass
Advanced features can be complex

The Creative Muvo 2C is a speaker than punches well above its weight in terms of its sound quality. This tiny Bluetooth speaker is one of the smallest we’ve seen to pack its own bass radiator, which results in much better dynamic range than many other speakers at this price point. Plus, it’s also feature rich in terms of its inputs, allowing you to play music either over Bluetooth, a 3.5mm jack, USB or even insert a microSD card to play MP3 files directly. 

Of course, that being said, if you spend more you’ll get a more refined sound, better bass still, and a longer battery life. But if you’re looking for a budget speaker than the Muvo 2C is hard to beat at this price. 

Read the full review: Creative Muvo 2C

8. Bang and Olufsen Beoplay P2

The best lightweight speaker

Luxury sound in a pint-sized package

Weight: 275 g (9.7 oz) | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Wireless range: N/A | Frequency response: 68 Hz – 21.000Hz | Drivers: 2 x 15W class D for woofer and tweeter (2 x 50W peak power) | NFC: No | Aux-in: No | USB charging: No

Ultra-portable
Good bass for the size
It’s lacking highs and mids
A pouch or case would be nice

B&O created a hit with the Beoplay P2. It’s a well-designed speaker that’s extremely easy to use, has a well-built companion app, and it sounds great. On top of that, the speaker is ultra-portable without compromising on much bass content. Sure, you could get something a little bigger (and stereo) for the same price, but at this size the sound quality justifies the price. The smart gestures are a nice touch too, although we wouldn’t buy the device solely for that reason.

Read the full review: B&O Beoplay P2

9. Marshall Kilburn

The best big Bluetooth speaker

Vintage looks with excellent sound

Weight: 3kg | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Wireless range: N/A | Frequency response: 62 – 20,000Hz | Drivers: two 3/4-inch dome tweeters, one 4-inch woofer | NFC: No | Aux-in: Yes | USB charging: Yes

Bass and treble controls
Earth-pounding bass
No playback controls
Not as portable as competition

The Marshall Kilburn might not appear to be the best choice in Bluetooth speakers. It’s large, heavy, doesn’t have USB charging and isn’t waterproof – plus, $299 (£239, about AU$390) is a lot to pay for a Bluetooth speaker. 

But none of this matters because the Kilburn sounds so darn good. 

Over a month’s time, we fell in love with the Kilburn’s design, feel and pristine sound quality. There’s no other portable Bluetooth speaker on the market quite like it. It’s a head turner and conversation piece. It’s a piece of audio art that you’ll be proud to show off to your friends during a party. 

Read the full review: Marshall Kilburn

The most durable speaker

A vibrant Bluetooth speaker that packs impressive sound

Weight: 1.2 pounds | Dimensions: 5.25 x 5 x 2.25 inches (H x W x D) | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | NFC: No | Aux-in: Yes | Bluetooth version: N/A | Weatherproofing: Yes | Charges devices over USB: No

Fun, curvy design
Booming sound
Average battery life
Only splash-proof

It seems just about every speaker company has a wireless speaker that can take the abuse of being outdoors and Bose, a company most well-known for its brand of excellent noise-canceling headphones, is no different. 

If you’re looking for something from Bose to take with you on your next hike, the $130 (about £100, AU$170) SoundLink Color II is the company’s only splash-proof speaker that can stand up to the elements with an IPX4 rating. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Color II

  • Now need something to listen to? Check out our collection of the best podcasts

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/audio/portable-audio/10-best-portable-speakers-1069079

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Microsoft’s Black Friday deals take Xbox One S to its lowest price ever

Microsoft’s Black Friday deals take Xbox One S to its lowest price ever

Black Friday weekend has always been a great time to be a gamer: If you’re careful, patient and observative – which, we all know gamers are – you can make out like a bandit. 

The coveted prize this holiday season? An Xbox One S for $189. 

Yes, Microsoft’s HDR-friendly, upscale 4K-capable console that began its life at $399 one short year ago is already dropping down to sub-$200 levels this year – which, for the record, is over $100 less than Sony’s $299 PS4 bundles on offer right now. 

According to a post on the Xbox News Wire, the $189 deal will be available at select U.S. retailers from November 23 to November 27, giving you ample time to snag a console and make your getaway. (Sorry, I’m still really caught up on this whole bandit analogy…) 

Not sure if you want to fight the crowds or repeatedly refresh deal pages all weekend long? Microsoft is offering a special Xbox One S bundle which includes a game and the console for $249 starting on Nov. 13 and running until Nov. 18, and $50-off any 1TB off 500GB Xbox One S from the 19th to the 27th.

Basically, as long as you buy an Xbox One S in the next two to three weeks, you’re going to chillin’ like a villain with a new cheap Xbox. (OK, OK, I’ll stop.)

 Don’t forget the stocking stuffers 

If you can’t resist the siren call of a good bargain, Microsoft is also offering a pretty steep discount on all of its first-party games – including Forza 7, Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2 and Forza Horizon 3 – as well as Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions, controllers and stereo headsets. 

Forza Motorsport 7, one of the most gorgeous-looking titles on Xbox One S and Xbox One X. will be $39.99, while Gears of War 4 and Halo Wars 2 will be available for $19.99 apiece. Finally, Forza Horizon 3, our sports/racing game of the year in 2016, will be available for $29.99. 

These deals start on November 23 and will run until November 27. 

Also on the docket are subscription deals: You can save $10 on a 3-month or 6-month subscription to Xbox Live Gold and Microsoft is making Xbox Game Pass, its game download service, available for just $1 for the first month. 

Last but not least, in the same timeframe you can save $50 on an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller with an Xbox One X purchase, $15 on Xbox Design Lab controllers and $20/$15 on Xbox Wireless Controllers and Stereo Headsets, respectively. Phew! Now, that’s a lot o’deals.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/microsofts-black-friday-deals-take-xbox-one-s-to-its-lowest-price-ever

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The best 40-inch TVs of 2017

The best 40-inch TVs of 2017

The 40-inch TV size is an anomaly for most manufacturers. On one hand, they know it’s a great size for most folk’s homes. On the other, because TVs are becoming exponentially cheaper to produce, it just makes more sense to push people to a larger size.

The push for larger TVs can be frustrating if you’re looking for something smaller than 43-inches. Sure, they exist, but most of the major manufacturers like LG and Sony only offer one – maybe two – models in that range. 

The good news for 40-inch fans is that there are still some manufacturers out there who aren’t ready to jump ship on the mid-size screens: Samsung, Vizio, Hisense, TCL and Panasonic are all equipped with at least a few panels that will blow you away at 40-inches. 

To help you narrow down your search for a great 40-inch TV, we’ve done all the ground-work to find out everything you need to know about screens and display technology. What you’ll find below should not only help you pick out the 40-inch screen of your dreams, but also educate you on the modern audiovisual landscape. It’s a win-win. 

What TVs does TechRadar recommend? 

Before we dive into specific TVs, let’s discuss what makes a good 40-inch screen. 

If we had to narrow down all the factors, the most important things to look for is a great smart TV operating system that’ll help you stream shows and movies from Amazon, Netflix and YouTube; at least an FHD (Full-HD) panel, if not 4K; and how many inputs a TV has. 

That sounds like a lot to take into account, I know, but I promise picking out a screen is as easy as can be. Let’s break it down one attribute at a time. 

Ultra HD vs. Full HD: A common misconception in the TV industry is that you can’t see a difference between Full HD and Ultra HD on a screen smaller than 55 inches. Now, I’m not saying those people are flat-out wrong, but I can promise that if you take your time and really look at a picture – especially if that picture is using High Dynamic Range – you’ll see a difference. 

To that end, I’d recommend picking out a TV with 4K Ultra-HD and HDR if you can find one. They’re a bit uncommon in this screen size because the cost might outweigh the benefits for someone shopping for an ultra-cheap TV, but if you’re serious about video, 4K is vital. 

Operating system: It used to be that many of the TVs in the 40-inch range didn’t come with an operating system. These dumb TVs were incredibly cheap to make, and therefore cheap to buy, too. But there was a problem: As Netflix and YouTube became more and more popular, people wanted to stream those services on their TV without resorting to a streaming video device like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Chromecast. 

These days, it’s fairly common to find an operating system on a 40-inch TV. All but the most bare-bones of screens will have them. But what you’re looking for, ideally, is a well-maintained operating system like Roku TV, LG’s webOS or Samsung’s Tizen operating system. If you go with a TV that uses a proprietary operating system (basically an operating system exclusive to that one TV) you might have some serious issues down the road.

Inputs and outputs: I know, I know, this sounds boring. But trust me, this is something most folks don’t think about until they bring the TV home and get it all connected, only to realize their great new TV only has one HDMI port. 

Having multiple HDMI ports (along with options for optical audio out and RCA connectors) will really allow you to connect most – if not all – of your devices. This will save you time in the long-run as you won’t have to get up and switch the cables around any time you want to change the input. 

Phew! Got all that? Good. 

Now that you know what to look for in a TV, here are a few screens that we think might be a good addition to your burgeoning home entertainment center. 

Samsung MU7000 Series

Samsung’s 40MU7000 is a winning combination of picture quality and value

Bright, colorful HDR pictures 
Attractive space-saving design 
UK model’s awkward legs 

Sitting at the top of our list is Samsung’s 40-inch MU7000. In the UK, it goes by the designation UE40MU7000T while in the US, it’s called UN40MU7000. We love this screen for so many reasons, not the least of which are its bright 4K HDR images and low price tag. 

It’s not without its flaws, but no other 40-inch TV we’ve tested that sits around this price point is even close to the MU7000 – what it’s able to do with native 4K resolution content or, especially, content shot in HDR, is simply amazing. 

If we’re being picky, High contrast scenes can look slightly grey, there aren’t as many color tones as you’d get with a more expensive 10-bit panel, and viewing angles are limited. But these concerns aren’t going to be fixed on a 40-inch screen. For the money, this is the best 40-inch screen money can buy.

Read the full review: Samsung MU7000 Series 

Samsung MU6300/MU6400 Series

Samsung’s 40-inch 6-Series screen is a good runner-up if you can’t find the MU7000

4K HDR pictures 
Costs less than the MU7000
Not as good as the MU7000 

This might seem a bit confusing – another Samsung TV that comes right after our top pick – but hang in there with us: The MU6300/MU6400 is part of Samsung’s 6-Series TVs – which, on the good, better, best scale, the MU6300 is good. 

The UN40MU6300 (or UE40MU6400 for UK folks) offers good performance and value, but there’s definitely better out there – cough, the MU7000. 

Between the two, there’s not a major difference – they both offer 4K HDR, and a smart OS – but the MU7000 has Tizen, Samsung’s licensed, well-upkept OS while the MU6300 has something a little less powerful. 

If streaming isn’t high up on your list of must-have features and you don’t mind a drop in performance, you can save a bit of cash by going with this instead.

Panasonic TX-40EX600B

A fantastic 40-inch screen with 4K and HDR for the UK audience

 4K HDR detail 
 My Home Screen 2.0 
 Freeview HD 
 Awkward feet 

UK residents don’t know how good they have it when it comes to mid-size TVs. Not only do you have great Samsung screens, but Panasonic – one of the finest panel makers out there – also makes high caliber 40-inch screens at an affordable price. For example, check out the Panasonic TX-40EX600B.

The screen is new for 2017 and packs both 4K and HDR into its 40-inch panel. 

While long time Pana owners might be a bit concerned not to see the trusty Firefox OS at the helm of the screen, don’t worry – My Home Screen 2.0 is almost the same thing, but developed entirely in-house by Panasonic. 

Add to that three HDMI ports and you have a pretty fancy screen without a fancy price tag attached to it. 

Vizio D-Series D40f-E1

Serious connectivity options in an incredibly cheap package

 Tons of connectivity options 
 Crazy cheap 
 Full HD only 
 Proprietary OS 

If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, and you live Stateside, VIZIO’s D-Series offers great FHD visuals for next-to-nothing. 

This year’s model to beat is the VIZIO D40f-E1 (a catchy name, I know). The TV offers a 120Hz effective refresh rate, full-array backlighting and a 200,000:1 contrast ratio. 

If that all sounds like gobbledygook jargon, it’s OK. Basically the TV looks good, has a great contrast ratio and can keep up with the action if you’re watching a game of football on Sunday. It doesn’t look as good as our top picks, the Samsung MU7000 and MU6300, but considering that VIZIO’s screen usually costs less than $300, you get what you pay for. 

Panasonic TX-40DX600

Panasonic’s 2016 40-inch screen is still a star one year later

 Clean, colourful 4K 
 4K digital file support 
 Tight viewing angle 

A follow-up to 2015’s excellent 40CX680B, the 40DX600 is Panasonic’s best value 4K TV. Four pegs down from Panasonic’s flagship DX900 range –five, if you count its OLED – the DX600 series claims a 4K Edge LED-backlit panel with adaptive backlight dimming, 800Hz scanning and Quad Core PRO processor for super-quick smart TV navigation.

It also has both a Firefox OS (now My Home Screen) and a Freeview Play catch-up TV app, as do all Panasonic TVs for 2016, which lend it a smart, usable interface to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Read the full review: Panasonic TX-40DX600

TCL S-Series 40S305

TCL’s S-Series is just fine for a 40-inch FHD screen

 Roku TV is awesome 
 Only $269 
 Only Full HD 

Look, we have nothing against Full HD. For some folks, Full HD is fine. They don’t want or need the spectacle of 4K HDR and can live without seeing shows and movies ooze color, flash light and be drenched in shadow. 

If you’re not into that stuff, that’s fine. 

If you find yourself in the “I don’t need 4K” camp, I’d like to introduce you to the TCL 40S305 – a FHD screen that makes up for its HD resolution with a killer operating system. 

The biggest selling point of this screen (besides its crazy low price tag of $269) is its operating system. Far and away, Roku TV is the best smart TV platform we’ve ever used. Samsung and LG might have done an exceptional job improving their UIs over the years, but Roku TV is fast, responsive and packed to the gills with content – over 3,000 channels at last count. Not only does it have a ton of content, but that content is super easy to find thanks to its universal search feature that scans over 200 channels to find films and shows at their lowest possible price. Check and mate, other TV operating systems.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/best-40-inch-tv

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Best wireless headphones of 2017

Best wireless headphones of 2017

Best Wireless Headphones: Welcome to TechRadar’s guide to the best wireless headphones (both in-ear and over-ear styles) you can buy in 2017.

With phones like the iPhone X, Pixel 2 and others dropping the 3.5mm wired jack, it’s become abundantly clear that the future of audio is wireless.  

And while an all-wireless future might sound a bit frightening, it’s not. 

You might’ve heard somewhere that wireless headphones are less superior and much more expensive than their wired predecessors, but that’s not always the case. In fact, there are plenty of awesome-sounding and super cheap wireless headphones out there just waiting to be worn. 

They come in all shapes and sizes – from sleek, workout-ready in-ear headphones to cushion-y noise-cancelling over-ear headphones – and each offer more features and better connectivity options than your old wired headphones ever could. 

Headphones, no strings attached

So what makes wireless headphones so special anyways? And how do you determine the best wireless headphones from a whole bunch of wannabes? 

Easy. You try dozens of wireless headphones and stack them against one another, mono-a-mono. (Well, stereo-a-stereo in this case.)

We’ve done this countless times over the years and have since built up a bit of an ear for picking out certain tonal characteristics. With these particular set of skills and a keen eye for value we set about trying to pick out the best headphones money could buy.

So, looking to finally ditch the cord? Here are the top 10 wireless headphones, ordered by their price-to-performance ratio:

  1. Optoma NuForce BE Sport3
  2. Sony WH-1000XM2
  3. Jabra Move Wireless
  4. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
  5. Bose QuietComfort 35
  6. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
  7. Sennheiser PXC 550
  8. AKG N60NC Wireless
  9. Beats Studio 3 Wireless
  10. Beats X

Additional resources: 

1. Optoma NuForce BE Sports3

The best wireless earphones you can buy

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 18 grams | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20kHz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 102dB +/-3dB at 1kHz | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 10m (30ft.) | NFC: N/A

Good sound
Great battery life
Incredible insolation
Remote weighs cable down

NuForce knocked it out of the park with the BE Sport3 headphones. They’re an incredible value for a pair of wireless headphones that sound good, last all day, have a bulletproof build and incredible noise isolation. While they’re not the most dynamic or resolving headphones, NuForce shows us that the future of wireless headphones is a bright one.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport3

2. Sony WH-1000XM2

Wireless noise-cancelling headphones that sound better than Bose

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 275 grams | Frequency response: 4Hz – 40kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 103dB | Impedance: 46 Ohms | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | NFC: Yes

Superb noise-cancelling 
 Great-sounding audio 
 30-hour battery life 
 Hinges are fragile 

The Sony WH-1000XM2 are an excellent revision of an already great pair of wireless headphones: They sound great, deftly wield noise cancellation technology and cost just as much as a pair of Bose QC35s. They might have a slightly shorter battery life than some other headphones on our list, but Sony’s WH-1000XM2 outclass them all in terms of performance and feature-set.  

Not only do they provide awesome noise-cancellation, but they have three neat tricks that few other wireless headphones have: One is an ambient noise mode that only lets in mid-to-high frequency tones (announcements over a loudspeaker, for instance) and another being Quick Attention mode that allows you to let in all outside noise without taking off the headphones. (The latter is perfect when giving a drink order on a plane or speaking to a coworker for a brief moment before diving back into your work.) The last trick Sony has up its sleeve is the LDAC codec. Alongside the widely adopted aptX HD standard, LDAC enables Hi-Res Audio playback using the 1000XM2.

Great-sounding and feature-packed, the Sony WH-1000XM2 are great travel companions and all-around excellent wireless headphones.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM2

3. Jabra Move Wireless

Sporty wireless headphones that will completely surprise you

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 150 grams (5.59 oz) | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 29 Ohm | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: 10m (33ft.) | NFC: N/A

Bold design
Lightweight
Full sound
Sound leakage

If in-ear headphones aren’t your style, your next best bet is the Jabra Move Wireless. These headphones may look like a budget buy, but don’t let that fool you: this set of on ear Bluetooth headphones is nothing but an all-around stellar product. From the fun and edgy design to excellent performance, these cans come recommended for anyone interested in wireless on the cheap.

Read the full review: Jabra Move Wireless

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless

4. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless

Incredible audio fidelity backed by a serious price

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: 4.6 feet | Frequency response: 16-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 28 ohms | Battery life: 25+ hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes

Best-in-class sound
Everlasting battery life
Noise-cancelling for good measure
Terribly pricey

Although they’re a much better looking, and sounding, pair of headphones, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (not to be confused with the smaller, cheaper, Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Wireless) are kept off the top spot of the list by their premium price point, which puts them out of reach of all but the most committed of music lovers. 

But for those that can afford them, these are a no-holds-barred wireless headphones are oozing with positive qualities. They’re comfortable, hard-working set of headphones that will likely last for years.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless

Best Wireless Headphones

5. Bose QuietComfort 35

Premium headphones that include industry-leading noise-cancellation

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.68 pounds | Cable length: 3.94 feet | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 20+ hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes

Broad and clear soundstage
Amazing noise cancellation
Active EQ an acquired taste
Boring looks

Sitting at the top our list is the Bose QC35. Bose has finally brought its fantastic noise-cancelling technology to a pair of wireless headphones and it’s done so without any of the traditional drawbacks of wireless headphones. They sound great, and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.

At $349.95 (£289.95 / AU pricing tbc) the QC35s sit firmly at the premium end of the spectrum, but if you want the best noise-cancelling headphones available and the best wireless pair of cans, you can’t get any better than this.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35

6. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

These wireless noise-cancelling headphones are a traveler’s best friend

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.64 lbs (289g) | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 24 hours | Wireless range: 100 meters (330 feet) | NFC: No

Incredible 24 hour battery life
Noise-canceling at a great price
Bass overwhelming at times
Styling not for everyone

If you’re a frequent traveler you’re probably all too familiar with headphones that can’t hold a charge and can’t block out sound, let alone sound very good. Let us introduce you to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, one of the few headphones on the market that can do all of the above and cost less than half as much as one of the bigger names like Beats, Bose and Sony. 

If we had to boil it down to its core, the BackBeat Pro 2 offers an excellent travel headphone with incredible battery life, supreme comfort, the ability to pair two device as once and, most importantly, good sound quality for the cost.

Read the full review: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Best wireless headphones

7. Sennheiser PXC 550

Great sound marred by fiddly controls

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .5 pounds | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 17 – 23,000 Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: Active 490 Ω / Passive 46 Ω | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes

Great sound
On/off control well implemented
Touch controls

If you’re a fan of Sennheiser’s sound, but want noise-cancellation in addition to wireless operation then the PXC 550 headphones might be exactly what you’re looking for. They might be pricey, but these headphones sound great. 

The reason we haven’t put them further up the list comes down to their controls. Although controlling the headphones with a series of swipes on the outside of the earcup feels futuristic, it’s not much help when you want to quickly skip through multiple tracks, or set the volume at a specific level.

Outside of these issues, these are a great pair of headphones that tick (almost) all the boxes. 

Read the full review: Sennheiser PXC 550

Sony MDR ZX770BT

8. AKG N60NC Wireless

Wireless noise-cancellation from the mid-range master

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 199.4g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 10-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 111dB SPL/V@1kHz | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: 15 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Great sound
Compact design
Not the most comfortable
Initially confusing controls

The AKG N60NC Wireless sound like a pair of headphones that should be much more expensive than they are. 

At their mid-range price point the headphones offer fantastic value for money, with great sound quality and a level of noise-cancellation performance that’s on a level with the much more premium entries on this list. 

Our biggest issue with these headphones is the fact that they’re on-ear rather than over-ear, meaning that we found that they got uncomfortable over longer periods. 

Regardless, the benefit of this is that this is a fantastically compact pair of headphones, and if you’re willing to make the trade-off then these are great for the price. 

Read the full review: AKG N60NC Wireless

9. Beats Studio 3 Wireless

Great wireless functionality let down by so-so sound

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .71 pounds | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 22 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: No

Great wireless performance 
Top battery life
Lack of mid presence
Overblown bass

If you’re not too picky about audio, you’ll love the Beats Studio 3 Wireless. They look good, are comfortable and sound decent while releasing the pressure valve of city life with active noise cancellation.

Add great battery life and an Apple W1 chip and you have headphones that are very easy to get on with, particularly if you own an iPhone. 

Read the full review:  Beats Studio 3 Wireless

10. Beats X

Good-sounding earbuds that can charge in five minutes

Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Quick Charge feature
Balanced sound signature
Relatively expensive
Lacking in clarity

The Beats X is a bold new product for what has quickly become a traditional headphone maker. Instead of sticking to bass-heavy workout earbuds or wildly expensive over-ears, the company has crafted a new pair of musically inclined in-ears for anyone already sick of losing their brand-new Apple AirPods.

It has a few problems of its own – including poor noise isolation and a lack of fidelity – but if you’re looking for a no-fuss pair of earbuds that charge in 5 minutes and don’t mind dropping some cash on them, the Beats X are for you.

The W1 chip also makes pairing and connecting these headphones a breeze. 

Read the full review: Beats X

We’re constantly reviewing new wireless headphones, but get in touch via email (Nick.Pino@Futurenet.com) or Twitter (@PowerstancePino) if there is a set that you’d like us to take a look at.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/audio/portable-audio/best-wireless-headphones-1280344

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Best cheap headphones: your guide to the best budget headphones in 2017

Best cheap headphones: your guide to the best budget headphones in 2017

At TechRadar, we have a reputation for covering the highest-end products on the market. From $1,000 planar magnetic headphones like the Oppo MP 1 to $8,000 OLED TVs like LG’s OLED W7, it might not appear like there’s a lot of room for people who are on a budget. But don’t worry, we enjoy finding products at budget prices that don’t compromise on quality – like finding a diamond in the rough. We know how to find the best cheap products, and we’ve put that knowledge to the test here.

With this list, we aim to prove our expertise in finding the best cheap headphones. A list of all the best headphones that will elevate your music, and even your podcasts, to a level that will blow your mind. And, they’ll all do it without making you take out a second mortgage to buy.

In order to make this guide, we exhaustively culled through the masses of cheap headphones on the internet, whether over-ear or in-ear each from reliable manufacturers. We then took all the headphones that made the cut and put them head to head against each other, testing their performance to see what sets would still be standing.

But, one thing we need to get out of the way: due to the subjective nature of headphones, it’s very likely that, despite all of our extensive testing and searching, we’ve missed your favorite pair of cheap headphones. We truly are sorry if we missed your favorite, but with the sheer number of cheap headphones on the market, it’s impossible to test them all. However, if you do really want us to test out your favorite cheap headphones, shoot us an email or reach out on Twitter, and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

What to look for in cheap headphones

In order to create this guide, we’ve tested, listened to and compared over 25 headphones in every category, shape and size. When we found a great pair, we then put it against the rest back-to-back-to-back to make sure they still really deserved the title of ‘best cheap headphones’. 

You might be wondering what we were looking for through all this expansive testing? Sound fidelity was clearly the most essential detail – but we also made sure to consider comfort, design and other features also.

Like most people, we prefer our music detail-rich and well-balanced. We can live with our music sounding a bit warm with an emphasis on the mids and highs, but we still like to be able to feel the bass. Also, it’s important to look for headphones with reasonable battery life if they’re wireless, a robust, durable build that will stand up to the trials of everyday commute and comfortable padding to help make longer listening sittings nice and comfortable. 

Keep in mind though, that testing headphones will be, at least on some level, subjective, and our taste in tonal balance might not match yours (neither will the size of our head or the shape of our ears). Still, we’ve done our best to take subjectivity out of the equation and can present, through our expertise, the best cheap headphones that won’t hurt your wallet.

  • Best cheap earbuds: RHA S500
  • Best cheap wireless earbuds: Anker SoundBuds NB10
  • Best cheap on-ear headphones: Skullcandy Grind
  • Best cheap over-ear headphones: Monoprice 8323 Hi-FI DJ Style Headphones
  • Best cheap noise-cancelling headphones: CB3 Hush 
  • Best cheap planar magnetic headphones: Tidal Force Wave 5 Headphones

Best cheap earbuds: RHA S500

These simply have no right to sound this good

Great clarity/precision
No cable noise 
Can be fatiguing
No built-in microphone

Earbuds are loved for their portability and noise-isolating capabilities. They’re great for brief walks around the neighborhood, your morning commute or a day at the office. In this contested category, the RHA S500 is our top pick. 

For its cheap price, the RHA S500 frankly has no right to sound as good as it does. We found it to have the best clarity and precision of any in-ear headphone we tested, along with a comfortable fit that doubled as a passive noise barrier. Plus, it offered solid, balanced sound with warm mids and highs and sturdy bass reproduction. 

In a category with tons of great competition, the RHA S500 stands well above the rest.

Best cheap wireless earbuds: Anker SoundBuds NB10

Looking for a workout buddy, check out the Anker SoundBuds NB10

Really good bass response
Sweat-proof
Chunky design

We knew going into this that Anker would end up on this list somewhere. Since bursting onto the scene a few years ago, Anker has destroyed the competition, offering good-sounding in-ear headphones (and battery packs, and chargers, and cables) all for unbelievably cheap prices.

When looking for a good pair of wireless in-ear headphones, We’re always on the hunt for something that sounds good (duh!), feels comfortable to wear for long periods of time and, most importantly, doesn’t fall out mid-workout. The Anker SoundBuds NB10 does all of the above perfectly. 

What we loved most about the Anker SoundBuds NB10 is its warm sound and spectacular bass response. It’s not as heavy-handed as some other in-ear headphones, but that demureness makes it great both when you’re at the gym and when it’s time to hang up the towel.

Best cheap on-ear headphones: Skullcandy Grind

For movers and shakers, these are the best on-ears for the price

Hefty bass response
Built-in microphone
No volume controls

It was love at first listen with the Skullcandy Grind. These bass-heavy headphones bring a built-in microphone to the mix and offer amazing sound quality at a bargain basement price.

They do everything we want in a pair of on-ear headphones – they’re light, but not fragile. They’re powerful, but are directional enough that sound doesn’t spew out everywhere, alerting your neighbors that you’re listening to Taylor Swift again. 

If Skullcandy’s low-end-heavy tone and teenager-esque style aren’t for you, there’s always the equally good Urbanears Plattan II – a more balanced pair of on-ears that cost almost exactly the same amount as the Skullcandy Grind. 

Best cheap over-ear headphones: Monoprice 8323 Hi-FI DJ Style Headphones

Although they’re a bit fragile for on-the-go use, the 8323s are awesome at home

Great clarity
Limited dynamic range
Plastic construction

It’s easy to spend an arm and a leg on good over-ear headphones. Barring the exception of noise-cancelling and planar magnetic cans, they are the top dogs of the audio world. Really good over-ears should be the most comfortable, most versatile headphones in your audio arsenal. They should be just as adept with Hi-Def audio sources of 16-bit/44.1KHz as they are streaming from Spotify, and they should do so without sacrificing either end of the audio spectrum. 

In our testing we found a half-dozen that can do the job (the Status Audio CB-1 come to mind, as do the Sennheiser HD201 and Audio-Technica ATH-M20X) but, of them all, the Monoprice 8323 Hi-FI DJ Style Headphones are the cream of the crop. They’re a bit cheaper constructed than the others, but for their price they sound outrageously clear. Balanced and powerful, the Monoprice 8323 is the epitome of what the best cheap headphones should be.

Best cheap noise-cancelling headphones: CB3 Hush Noise Cancelling Headphones

Want to seal the noise out without draining your bank account? Try these

Insanely cheap noise-cancelling
Hip design
Distorted highs
Weird button config

If over-ear headphones are the swiss-army knives of headphones, noise-cancelling cans are the paring knives: they’re useful for certain purposes and not so much for others. What we mean here is that typically, noise-cancelling headphones trade overall audio fidelity for the ability to cancel out incoming sound waves – reducing or eliminating external noise. 

The best noise-cancelling headphones can eliminate noise while maintaining Hi-Res Audio quality (cough, Sony MDR-1000X) while others accept the trade-off for what it is. The CB3 Hush are most definitely in the latter camp. But while we didn’t find them the best-sounding headphones of the bunch, the CB3 does deliver on its promise of cheap, effective noise-cancellation at under $100.

If you don’t mind some distorted highs and lack of low-end, the CB3 will cut out a fair amount of the external noise and should serve you well either in a busy office or on your daily commute. If you’re traveling longer distances on the regular you’ll want something a bit more heavy duty than this, but for the causal noise-canceller, the CB3 Hush will do nicely.

Best cheap planar magnetic headphones: Tidal Force Wave 5 Headphones

Planar magnetic for half the cost of the competition

Sound quality is outrageously good
Insanely immersive
Sturdy build
None really

If we’re going to explain what, exactly, planar magnetic headphones are, we’re going to need you to do something for us: please put on your nerd glasses – or simply put electric tape around the glasses you already own.

Most headphones you’ve likely heard in your life are dynamic driver headphones. They use a magnetic field to drive the diaphragm of the speaker – a.k.a. the big pulsating cone of sound. Planar magnetic headphones also use a magnetic field to move the diaphragm, but instead of a cone, it’s a thin sheet of coils that allows for much greater sound uniformity. Stay with us here. Dynamic drivers produce spherical sound waves that are unnatural for the ear while planar magnetic produce a planar wave, which sounds more natural and give the headphones their name. The result is a truer-to-life sound that is far more robust than anything you can hear from a dynamic driver-powered pair of cans. 

Tidal Force’s Wave 5 Headphones utilize this technology and cost less than half of what other companies like Oppo charge. Said simply, they sound incredible – like almost bring-a-tear-your-eye amazing. If you’re an audiophile on a budget, you should do yourself a favor and check out the Wave 5. 

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/best-cheap-headphones

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Best 65-inch 4K TVs of 2017: the best big screen TVs for any budget

Best 65-inch 4K TVs of 2017: the best big screen TVs for any budget

The best 65-inch TVs are the closest thing you can get to a real movie-theater experience without actually leaving your house. If you’re looking to completely revolutionize the way you binge your favorite TV shows or watch the best movies, one of the best 65-inch TVs might be just what you need. They may take up a lot of room, but when you’re looking at an entertainment revolution like this, it really is a small price to pay.

These days, the only TVs that can reasonably be called ‘the best 65-inch TVs’ will have a 4K Ultra-HD display and HDR capabilities – there’s really no exception. These two technologies will be able to provide a picture that is extremely clear, crisp and colorful which is basically required when you have a display that large. When combined, these technologies give you a TV that is beyond anything you’ve ever experienced in a living room.

It’s not just about the gigantic screen sizes, though. Sony, Panasonic and Philips deliver entries  with beautiful OLED display technology, a feature that boasts insane contrast ratios. Samsung has similar technology in their QLED screens that is almost identical. But it’s not just these expensive technologies, as LCD still has some life in it, offering great image fidelity in spite of its age.

Even after mentioning all of these exciting details, it’s important that you don’t forget about the essentials. You’ll still need to find a TV that’s compatible with all of your devices, and has access to all the content you want to consume. But, that’s where we come in, because we’ve created a list of the best 65-inch TVs you can buy today.   

Sony KD 75X9405C

1. The Best 65-inch TV of 2017: LG OLED65C7

Stunning pictures at an affordable price puts OLED back on top

Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Freeview Play | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: OLED | Smart TV: webOS 3.5 | Curved: No | Dimensions: 57.2 x 34.4 x 8.5 inches (W x H x D)

Stunning contrast-rich pictures
Gorgeous ultra-thin design
Excellent operating system
Lacks brightness vs LCD

Standing far above the competition and sitting comfortably on the throne is the LG OLED C7, available in a 65-inch variety as well as a 55-inch. This TV is a fantastic high dynamic range performer, thanks to its improved light control and brightness over last year’s C6, somehow achieving this without making any compromises to OLED’s fantastic standard dynamic range performance. But, what really makes the OLED C7 one of 2017’s most essential TVs is that it is able to deliver this exciting technology at a price that finally makes OLED an affordable alternative to high-end LCD TVs.

There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony’s A1E OLED or LG’s B7 and W7) but when you sit down and think about just how much LG’s OLED C7 offers for its price, there’s just no TV this year that even comes close.

Read the full review for the 55-inch version: LG OLED C7 (OLED55C7)

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Panasonic TX 65CZ950

2. The best mid-range 65-inch TV: Sony XBR-65X900E

Sleek, capable and almost what we’d consider affordable

Screen size: 65-inches | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: Direct-lit LCD with local dimming | Smart TV: Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1,447 x 830 x 60 mm (W x H x D)

Excellent motion handling
Great contrast
HDR isn’t the brightest
Remote doesn’t feel as premium

Unfortunately, you can’t avoid the fact that LCDs are just incapable of reaching the same black levels that OLED displays can. However, Sony’s X900E’s HDR capabilities do a lot of work to at least bring it close. 

This is possible because of the panels direct LED backlight, which allows it to achieve a brightness uniformity that edge-lit displays are incapable of producing. 

Add in phenomenal detail and motion handling, the Sony BRAVIA XBR-65X900E (called the KD-65XE90 in the UK) strikes a fantastic balance between price and performance for mid-range 4K TVs and is well worth considering … even if its Android TV interface can feel a little clunky, and its remote a little flimsy.    

Read the full review: Sony BRAVIA XBR-65X900E

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LG 65EF950V

3. The best TV from last year: Panasonic TX-65DX902B

2016’s best 65-inch screen holds on for a second year

Screen size: 65-inches | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Custom Panasonic | Curved: Yes | Dimensions: 1,448 x 913 x 311 mm

Astoundingly vibrant 4K HDR 
4K Netflix and Amazon onboard
Upscaling isn’t the best
Audio could use some work

The first Ultra HD Premium-rated TV to land in the UK was a real head-turner. We loved the vibrancy of its images, and the native HDR the picture performance bordered on breathtaking. The full array backlight presented problems (don’t think we forgot), but we reckon the visual benefits probably outweigh content-specific backlighting issues.

Having Netflix and Amazon 4K on tap is a major plus point, and more good news is that it can also look pretty great with Full HD content, particularly Blu-ray.

It might not have the hutzpah to overtake some of this year’s best and brightest panels from LG and Samsung, but considering how well it performs for its price, it may very well be the screen to convince you that HDR is the next giant quantum leap in image quality we’ve all been promised. 

Read the full review: Panasonic TX-65DX902B

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LG 65EC970V

4. The best premium 65-inch TV: Sony BRAVIA A1E OLED

Sony’s brand-new flagship TV for 2017 is returning to OLED

Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Youview | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: OLED | Smart TV: Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1228 x 711 x 86mm (W x H x D)

Gorgeous picture quality
Innovative and excellent sound
It’s not very bright
Android TV is clunky

If you have the money to bankroll them, the 65A1E – and the A1E OLED series overall – are crowd pleasers in just about every way. Their ‘picture only’ design has been beautifully realized, managing to be simultaneously subtle and dramatic. Their vibrating screen delivers a far more powerful and effective sound performance than we’d ever thought possible.  

The real stars of the show here, though, are the A1’s exquisitely detailed, contrast-rich and colorful pictures. These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things. 

Read the full review: Sony Bravia OLED A1E

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Samsung UE65JS9500

5. For bright HDR pictures: Samsung QE65Q9FAM

Turns out 1,500 nits peak brightness really brings out the best in HDR

Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: QLED | Smart TV: Tizen | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1450 x 829.3 x 24.9mm (W x H x D)

Fantastic color levels
Very bright screen
HDR color banding can occur
Backlight clouding can be an issue

Samsung was the first brand to introduce an HDR-compatible screen way back in 2015, but it’s not been resting on its haunches ever since. 

It’s latest flagship, the QN65Q9F (QE65Q9FAM in the UK), is a perfect example of this. It ups the brightness to 1500 nits, 50% higher than the level required for UHD Premium certification, making it one of the brightest TV we’ve ever tested. 

Outside of an impressive-sounding number this brightness has a real impact on the set’s image quality. Detail is preserved in even the brightest areas of the image, and colors are exceptionally vivid and bright. That means even non-HDR content looks fantastic thanks to Samsung’s SDR upscaling technology. 

No TV is perfect, and the Q9F can occasionally suffer from some backlight clouding around bright objects and some settings cause color striping in HDR colors, but in all other respects this is the best television around at the moment. 

Read the full review: Samsung Q9F QLED TV

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Samsung UE65JS9000

6. For the cinephile in your life: Sony XBR-65Z9D

Don’t forget about Sony’s 2016 flagship 65-inch screen

Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD and FreeSat HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LCD with direct LED lighting and local dimming | Smart TV: Android | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1462 x 847 x 78mm (W x H x D)

Brilliant SDR picture quality
Ground-breaking backlight
LOOK AT THAT PRICE TAG
Limited effective viewing angle

Look, there aren’t many people out there willing to drop a few months’ of rent on Sony’s 2016 flagship TV. But those who are will be teated to some of best images this side of a high-tech movie theater. 

In fact, it might just be the holy grail of television for 2016: a TV able to combine the extreme, high dynamic range-friendly brightness of LCD technology with a 600 LED backlight arrangement capable of getting LCD closer than ever before to the stunning light control you get with OLED technology.

If all that wasn’t enough, the 65Z9D also sports the ‘X1 Extreme’ video processing system and the latest version of Sony’s reliable Triluminos wide color technology for unlocking the extended color spectrums associated with HDR sources – a must-have if you want to get the most from your movie collection.

Read the full review: Sony XBR-65Z9D

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LG 60UF850V

7. The best entry-level OLED: LG OLED65B7

LG’s entry level OLEDs continue to impress

Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Freeview Play, Freeview Satellite | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: OLED | Smart TV: webOS 3.5 | Curved: No | Dimensions: 57.1 x 34.7 x 8.9 inches (W x H x D)

Excellent all-round image quality
Complete HDR support
No Dolby Atmos passthrough
Mediocre onboard audio

LG’s ‘B’ line of OLEDs has consistently offered a great entry point into the display technology without compromising on what makes it so exciting. 

And the B7 series is no different. 

Contained within the TVs is exactly the same panel that’s powering the more expensive C7, E7 and yes even the W7 LG televisions, which means an exceptional bump over last year’s OLED panels at a much lower price. 

So where has LG saved the money? In a word, sound. The B7’s downward firing speakers are the worst all the company’s OLED TVs. Not only that, but the set is also currently unable to pass Dolby Atmos to an external sound system over HDMI (although a firmware update to fix this is on the way). 

If however, you’re content to put up with a standard surround sound experience, then the B7 is a fantastic entryway into a piece of TV tech that still feels futuristic in 2017. 

Read the full review of the 55-inch vesion: LG OLED C7 (OLED55C7)

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Best 65 inch TV

8. For budget performers: Sony XBR-65X850E

A 4K HDR TV that doesn’t destroy your bank account

Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: FreeView HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LCD | Smart TV: Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1,454 x 905 x 266 mm

Great value
Good HDR pictures
HDR isn’t very bright
Android TV is frustrating

By introducing its exceptional X1 video processor further down its TV range than ever before and being brave enough to dial down the brightness a bit to deliver a more even, immersive backlight experience, Sony’s struck mid-range gold with the XBR-65X850E (KD-65XE8596 in the UK). 

While it’s not the brightest or most colorful TV on the list, the simple fact is that few TVs we’ve seen in recent times have balanced price, contrast, brightness and color quite so all-round effectively as the 65X850E.

All that said, if you’re looking for a great TV that doesn’t destroy the bank account, Sony’s X850E 65-inch star is the clear winner.

Read the full review: Sony XBR-65X850E

  • If you’re looking to optimize your home theater setup, check out our list of the best AV Receivers.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/best-65-inch-4k-tvs

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