It's the time of year for cheap -- sorry, inexpensive -- audio gear. Maybe you're a college student looking to make the dorm room more like home. Maybe you're the little brother who just got to move into the college student's old room. Maybe you're the parent getting a jump on Christmas gift ideas.
Whichever it is, I've rounded up four great systems for you, at prices starting at just $66.68. I've personally tested each of these products and even done lab measurements on them, so I can vouch for their overall goodness and excellent within their price range.
More Than Stereo: Vizio S4221w-S4 Soundbar
There's a new class of Bluetooth speakers that generally plays much louder than the typical iPod-dock-style BT speakers -- and also works as a home theater sound system -- and can also cost a lot less. Except it's not really a Bluetooth speaker per se. It's a soundbar. Most of the latest soundbars have Bluetooth built in, so you can easily pair one with your smartphone or tablet or laptop to play music. Plus, of course, you can plug one into your flat-panel TV and have a mini home theater system.
My pick for best value among the latest soundbars is Vizio's $249 S4221w-S4. Its best attribute is simply that it sounds really good. It also plays surprisingly loud -- maybe not such a great trait for the dorm, but you'll be all set when you move out and rent a house. It also has a great remote with a little LCD display at the top that shows you all the key operating info. This one's 42 inches long, so it's best for use with bigger TVs, but if you've got a smaller TV, try the 38-inch S3821w-C0 for just $159.
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