Best July Fourth Sales on Electronics Right Now

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Here's where to find great prices on TVs, laptops, headphones, and other popular tech gadgets

By Samantha B. Gordon

When you’re in the market for new headphones, a bigger TV, or other tech products, it can be hard to save money. But thanks in part to July Fourth and early Amazon Prime Day deals, we’re seeing some great prices on everything from Bluetooth speakers and wireless routers to fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Of course, the best sales involve more than a good price. You want the product you buy to work well, no matter how much you spend. So our tech experts look for price cuts on items that stand up to Consumer Reports’ rigorous testing. The list below features this week’s top picks.

Viewing on a mobile device? Click on the links below to skip to each section.

Bluetooth and Smart Speakers
Home Theater
Smartphone Gimbals
Laptops and Chromebooks
Headphones
Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches
GPS Pet Trackers
Tablets
Televisions
Wireless Routers

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Spotlight Deal

Insignia NS-32DF310NA19

This TV may be a good option for budget shoppers who don’t need all the bells and whistles. It offers HD picture-quality—although no 4K here—at a great price, particularly if you need a set for a guest room or playroom. The 32-inch smart TV offers above-average picture quality, but as with many sets this size, the viewing angle is fairly narrow. The model uses Amazon’s Fire TV platform for access to streaming services, and it has built-in support for Amazon’s Alexa voice-powered digital assistant. We’ve seen the model go on sale for $140 to $150 throughout the year. It dropped to $120 during the holiday season, making this the best price yet.

CR’s test results: Insignia NS-32DF310NA19

Bluetooth and Smart Speakers

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)

The Dot is the cheapest way to enter the Amazon smart speaker ecosystem, especially when it’s on sale. This discount puts the price just a few dollars higher than we usually see on Prime Day. Despite its low price and small size, it’s powered by Amazon’s cloud servers, so it offers the same smart speaker functionality as its far more expensive brethren. With stronger bass and more extended trebles, the sound quality on the latest globe-shaped model is improved over previous versions, too. Just don’t expect to get much volume, except in a very small room.

Keep in mind that Amazon Prime Day is coming up next month, and this is typically when you’ll see the best sale price for Amazon-branded products. So if you can wait, you’re likely to be able to save a bit more. Typically, the Dot drops to $25 for Prime Day.

CR’s test results: Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation) smart speaker

JBL Flip 4

The JBL Flip 4 is a bargain at this price. The classic cylindrical design takes up relatively little space in a beach bag or on a picnic table. And it comes in six fun colors, all the better to coordinate with your favorite sunglasses. The company claims a battery life of up to 12 hours, and the Flip 4’s claimed IPX7 water-resistance rating means that it can survive being fully submerged, which makes it perfect for the beach or any outdoor setting where a shower—or a dunking—is a distinct possibility.

Compared with the best-sounding speakers we’ve tested, the Flip 4 has a few shortcomings, with bass that’s a bit boomy and trebles that are somewhat subdued. But when played outdoors and in other casual environments where a speaker like this works best, its largely forgiving sonic signature encourages you to play tunes one right after the other.

CR’s test results: JBL Flip 4 speaker

Sony SRS-XB23

Sony’s SRS-XB23 has been on sale for a few weeks but just dropped an additional $10 to $88 at a few retailers. This speaker is proof that less can be more. While older Sony speakers came with superfluous features like lights and sound effects, the more straightforward XB23 still performs its primary function admirably—and at a great price. It’s a midsized speaker that checks a lot of boxes. It’s relatively inexpensive, and Sony claims that it’s water-resistant.

And it sounds good. According to our testers, the low bass of the SRS-XB23 is a bit lacking, and the midrange lacks some of the clarity of the very best portables. But on balance, the speaker delivers satisfying sound.

CR’s test results: Sony SRS-XB23

Home Theater

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

This isn’t only the latest stick-style streaming player from Amazon but also the fastest, thanks to a more powerful processor, so apps launch quicker. The model supports the new WiFi 6 standard, but you need a WiFi 6 router to take full advantage of the tech. (If you don’t have one, no worries; the device works with older routers, too.) The player supports the HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision HDR formats, as well as Dolby Atmos audio. It comes with an Alexa voice remote, so you can find, launch, and control content or even change inputs using voice commands. Enter the coupon code ADDFTV at checkout to take another $10 off the listed sale price, bringing it closer to what we typically see on Prime Day.

CR’s test results: Amazon Fire TV 4K Max

Miroir HD Pro Projector M220

This super-portable projector—about the size of a paperback book, among the smallest of the projectors CR has tested—offers hassle-free operation and the ability to project fairly big and satisfying bright images at 720p resolution. But its mediocre overall picture quality is below that of both the LG and Aaxa models CR tried when it comes to watching movies, and at $400 it’s among the pricier models we’ve tested. But with this sale it’s almost half off, so it might be worth considering.

Learn more about the Miroir HD Pro Projector M220

Roku Ultra - 2020

Roku’s top 4K streaming media player boasts a few great features, including built-in Bluetooth for streaming music from mobile devices, and support for both Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos 3D sound. It also has an improved WiFi range, so the player can be placed farther away from your router than previous models. The remote even offers voice search and programmable buttons.

CR’s test results: Roku Ultra

Samsung HW-A450/ZA

This is an impressive discount on this low-priced 2.1-channel soundbar speaker system, which comes with a wireless subwoofer. It’s a fairly basic model in Samsung’s lineup, but you can add optional Samsung wireless rear speakers to create a full surround-sound system.

The model has a digital optical input and a USB port but no HDMI connection. Features include a graphic EQ for tweaking the sound, built-in Bluetooth for wireless streaming from your mobile device, an optical cable and brackets for wall mounting, and a fairly basic remote control.

CR’s test results: Samsung HW-A450/ZA

Samsung HW-Q65T/ZA

If you’re willing to spend more, take a look at this complete 5.1-channel system with two wireless rear surround speakers and a wireless subwoofer. It delivers solid overall sound at the lowest price we’ve seen in months. (The offer has been fluctuating between $350 and $380.)

CR’s test results: Samsung HW-Q65T/ZA soundbar

TiVo Stream 4K

This streaming device runs on the Google Android platform, with a proprietary TiVo app for searches and content recommendations. The device supports 4K videos with HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG HDR formats. The player, which also supports Dolby Atmos sound, comes with a tiny peanut-shaped TiVo remote, or you can use voice commands with the built-in Google Assistant. You can access almost all streaming services via the Google Play store, but a few, such as Apple TV+, are not available.

CR’s test results: TiVo Stream 4K

Smartphone Gimbals

DJI Osmo OM5

DJI’s latest gimbal, the OM 5, is the editor’s pick for most amateur shooters. The folding design is compact and lightweight, despite concealing a nearly 9-inch (215-millimeter) built-in extension rod that enables you to film from a more diverse array of angles. None of the other smartphone gimbals CR tested has this feature. The tester also noted that while the app isn’t perfect, it was among the best, and the gimbal itself is super-easy to set up.

Learn more about the DJI Osmo OM5.

Hohem iSteady V2

The iSteady V2 is the most compact gimbal we’ve tested and weighs the least. It’s also among the best at capturing smooth and steady video from a walk. And unlike the other gimbals we’ve tried, this one has some hardware smarts—namely, an onboard vision sensor—that allows you to track faces or objects even without using the proprietary app to shoot. That means you can employ gesture control to start or stop filming or change the gimbal’s shooting orientation from landscape to portrait mode, all while using your phone’s dedicated camera app.

Learn more about the iSteady V2.

Laptops and Chromebooks

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3 11

This is an 11.6-inch 2-in-1 convertible, which means the keyboard can be fully bent behind the display via a 360-degree hinge, allowing you to use the device somewhat like a tablet or prop it up on a table in “tent mode” to more easily share your screen with others.

The specs are modest: a MediaTek processor, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of flash storage. MediaTek specializes in inexpensive processors, but our testers founnd the performance here to be somewhat slow, even with relatively simple tasks, such as editing text and browsing the web. The battery life isn’t too shabby, though, at 12 hours for web browsing and 10 hours for watching high-res video.

CR’s test results: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3 11

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go (64GB)

Microsoft has several Surface devices to choose from, but this relatively inexpensive model could be a good option for consumers looking for a smaller laptop, especially at this hefty discount. It has a 12.4-inch display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory, and a 64GB solid-state drive. That’s small, so you’ll probably want to compensate with cloud storage.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go scores well in many of our tests, though the performance is a bit sluggish compared with other options. The model is lightweight (2.5 pounds), offers decent battery life (just under 12 hours in CR’s web-browsing test), and has a bright, color-accurate display. There’s a touch screen for flipping through those photo galleries.

CR’s test results: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Go

This 14-inch Chromebook has an Intel Celeron processor, 4 GB of memory, and 64GB of flash storage. Its admirable battery life (almost 13 hours for web browsing and almost 8 for more demanding tasks) and comfortable keyboard make it a great choice for prolonged use. Performance is about average, and the display is merely so-so, but as long as you treat this as a low-cost productivity device as opposed to the only computer you’ll ever need, you should be okay.

CR’s test results: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Go

Headphones

Bose SoundLink around-ear headphones II

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Headphones II don’t have noise-canceling tech like Bose’s best-known models, but they get a great rating for sound and cost a bit less than other options. They aren’t cheap but they’re lightweight, highly portable, and beat almost every Bluetooth over-ear model we’ve tested. According to Bose, they have a 15-hour battery life.

CR’s test results: Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Headphones II

Anker SoundCore Life Q20

Shopping for noise-canceling headphones on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice performance. A case in point is the Anker SoundCore Life Q20. You can pick it up for just over $50 right now with the on-page 10 percent coupon, and our tests show that it beats models that cost hundreds more.

The model has great sound quality and outstanding noise cancellation. It doesn’t sound quite as good as top-rated options like the Sennheiser PXC 550-II, and you won’t get sought-after features like adjustable levels of noise cancellation. But at this price, those may be sacrifices worth making.

Anker does include some appealing perks, such as the ability to work over either Bluetooth or an audio cable, and a free app that adds features, including a bass boost EQ setting. According to Anker, the headphones have a generous 40-hour battery life when Bluetooth and noise cancellation are both turned on.

CR’s test results: Anker SoundCore Life Q20

Jabra Elite 85t

Want to stand out from the crowd? Skip the AirPods and try these well-rated earbuds from Jabra. The noise-canceling true wireless model gets high marks in our tests, both for sound blocking and audio quality. It has some handy features, too: adjustable noise cancellation, customizable audio that’s supposed to optimize to your hearing, an ambient sound monitoring mode, and more. Jabra advertises a 5.5-hour battery life bolstered by a charging case with a built-in battery.

CR’s test results: Jabra Elite 85t

For more discounts: Best Deals on Headphones Right Now

Sennheiser PXC 550-II

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II is such a great deal we could almost call it the best and the bargain pick. It’s one of the highest-scoring headphones in our ratings, and it costs hundreds less than many competitors. In our tests, the PXC 550-II outperforms flagship models from manufacturers such as Beats and Sony, and gets almost the same score as the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, one of our other top picks, priced at almost $400.

The PXC 550-II has appealing features, such as adjustable levels of noise cancellation and an ambient sound monitoring mode that lets noise from your environment back in, so you can hear your surroundings when necessary. Sennheiser says this model will run for up to 20 hours with both Bluetooth and noise cancellation turned on.

CR’s test results: Sennheiser PXC 550-II

For more discounts: Best Deals on Headphones Right Now

Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches

Apple Watch Series 7 GPS + Cellular (41mm)

The Apple Watch Series 7 case comes in five colors: green, blue, red, black, and white. It’s got a slightly larger screen and thinner bezel than the Series 6. And despite a slight increase in size for the screen and the case, you can still use a Series 6 watchband on the new model.

The Series 7 features a blood oxygen sensor and an EKG function designed to detect unusual heart rhythms. The model ships with a new cable that allows for faster charging, which can be useful when using the Watch’s sleep-tracking function. In our testing, the Series 7 fell just a bit short of the SE in ease of interaction—the time it takes a smartwatch to respond to user inputs—as well as heart-rate and step-count accuracy, but it still ranks toward the top of our smartwatch ratings.

CR’s test results: Apple Watch Series 7 GPS + Cellular (41mm)

Citizen CZ Smart

This retro-looking Citizen CZ Smart comes from a company best known for analog watches. The model’s price is fairly high compared with others, but the traditional styling will appeal to users who want smartwatch functionality in a model with the look of something made of chunky stainless steel. The watch performs very well in our labs, with solid scores for ease of interaction as well as accuracy measuring heart rate and counting steps. Compatible with both Android phones and iPhones, the watch offers GPS. It lacks the blood oxygen sensor found on some smartwatches, which limits its sleep-tracking functionality. Clip the on-page coupon at Amazon for the full discount.

CR’s test results: Citizen CZ Smart Smartwatch

Fitbit Versa 3

If you’re looking for a versatile smartwatch under $200, Fitbit’s Versa 3 may be a good option. It has built-in GPS, which allows you to go for a run or ride without taking your smartphone along, plus a blood oxygen sensor, which enhances its sleep-tracking capabilities. It also has a mic and a speaker that allow you to take calls via a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone. Our testers found the Versa 3 to be a solid performer when it comes to counting steps and tracking heart rate, and it’s easy to pair with a smartphone.

CR’s test results: Fitbit Versa 3

Fossil Gen 6 (44mm)

The Fossil Gen 6 may be a great choice if you’re looking for a smartwatch that looks more like a sports watch. It runs the latest Wear OS3 operating system. The Gen 6 also features stand-alone GPS, which helps runners and cyclists track their workouts, and a blood oxygen sensor that enhances sleep tracking.

But keep in mind that the Fossil Gen 6’s claimed battery life is only a day, which is short compared with what you can find with other models. It also depends on the rather basic Google Fit suite of health and fitness apps. And while it has a blood oxygen sensor, it lacks ECG functionality that can measure heart rhythm irregularities.

CR’s test results: Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Watch4 (44mm)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch4 has a bright, round, 1.3-inch AMOLED display that can showcase a variety of interesting watch faces. The model has a mic and speaker for handling phone calls. It offers a robust suite of health and fitness options, including a blood oxygen sensor, ECG monitoring (which could detect irregularities in heart rhythm), and even a sensor that is claimed to measure body fat. It works best if you have a Samsung Android phone because that gives you access to all the Samsung Health features.

CR’s test results: Samsung Galaxy Watch4

GPS Pet Trackers

Whistle Go Explore

The Whistle Go Explore is lightweight yet solidly constructed. The Whistle has a strong light for spotting your dog at night, but despite the name doesn’t emit any sound. In lost pet mode, it geolocates every 15 seconds, which is more frequently than all the models CR has tested except for the Tractive. And the accompanying app allows you to track your pet’s activity, even monitoring negative behaviors like excessive licking and scratching.

The claimed battery life of “up to 20 days” beats the Tractive by a sizable margin. One small knock: It can’t be charged without removing it from the collar, an extra step that might lead you to accidentally head out for a walk without your tracker.

CR’s test results: Whistle Go Explore

Tablets

Onn Tablet Pro 8

Walmart’s Onn Tablet Pro 8 is a great low-price option, particularly for those with school-age kids who use Google Classroom.

It ships with the Android 10 operating system and gives you access to the Google Play app store. That means you can download Google’s full suite of productivity apps (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Classroom, etc.), not to mention a wide range of popular games. By contrast, Amazon’s similarly inexpensive Fire tablets use a more limited app store.

The 8-inch Onn comes with 32 gigabytes of built-in storage, plus a microSD card slot for adding more storage as needed.

CR’s test results: Onn Tablet Pro 8

Televisions

Insignia NS-70DF710NA21

This 70-inch 4K smart TV from Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand, is a fine overall performer, but its HDR (high dynamic range) performance is ineffective, mainly because of peak brightness limitations. It uses the Amazon Fire TV smart TV system, and Alexa is built in for using voice commands.

CR’s test results: Insignia NS-70DF710NA21 70-inch TV

LG 70NANO75UPA

We tested this mainstream 2021 LG NanoCell 4K TV, and it does well for overall picture quality, but it can’t deliver a great HDR experience. It also lacks the wider-than-average viewing angle we see on many LG LCD-based sets.

CR’s test results: LG 70NANO75UPA

Pioneer PN50951-22U

If you’re looking for a budget 4K TV, this 50-inch set from Pioneer might do the trick. It gets above-average scores for picture quality and 4K UHD performance, and at under $300, it’s a real bargain for a model this size. CR’s tests did reveal that the viewing angle is narrower than average and that the HDR performance is limited, but given the impressive size, picture quality, and 40 percent discount, those details may be easy to overlook.

CR’s test results: Pioneer PN50951-22U

Toshiba 65M550KU

This model may be a good choice if you want a smart TV with 4K and don’t want to deal with a streaming device. It comes with the Fire TV platform built in, so you’re ready to stream as soon as you set the unit up, and while it doesn’t perform quite well enough to live among the best TVs CR has tested, it does get above-average scores for 4K UHD performance. It has a wide viewing angle, too, making it suitable for a family room or other commonly used space in your home.

CR’s test results: Toshiba 65M550KU

Wireless Routers

Google Nest Wifi (3-pack)

Google currently makes two WiFi routers: this Nest-branded one and another lower-end model simply known as Google WiFi. The Nest model, which is a three-pack, costs a bit more but ranks higher in our ratings in part because of its faster performance. Beyond fast speeds, this three-pack also offers smartphone-based initial setup and management and automatic firmware updates.

CR’s test results: Google Nest WiFi (3-pack)

Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 WiFi Range Extender

This WiFi range extender from Netgear delivers dual-band WiFi up to a manufacturer-claimed maximum of 1900 Mbps. Features include a mobile app for help with setup and network management, parental controls, a DLNA server that allows you to play media on a smart TV or game console, a USB 3.0 port for faster access to stored media, and five Ethernet ports for creating wireless access points and connecting a game console, Blu-ray player, smart TV, or streaming player to your WiFi network.

Learn more: Should You Buy a WiFi Range Extender?

Netgear Orbi AC1200 (3-Pack)

The Netgear Orbi AC1200 has been on sale for a while, and the price has fallen steadily from around $150 in the past few weeks. This three-unit mesh router system performs well in our tests overall. But it doesn’t rate quite as high for speed at midrange and far distances, and it isn’t compatible with the WiFi 6 standard, which might not be ideal for early adopters who want the fastest connections to the latest smartphone and other gadgets. (Don’t worry about compatibility, though; all new devices work with the earlier WiFi standard.) Given the relatively low price, however, there’s a lot to like here, including an easy app-based setup, a built-in Ethernet port, and automatic firmware updates, which protect you from hackers, malware, and other security vulnerabilities.

CR’s test results: Netgear Orbi AC1200 wireless mesh router (three-pack)

Netgear Nighthawk AX1800 (2-Pack)

This three-unit mesh router performs well in all of CR’s speed tests, and it supports many of the useful features you’d expect to see in a top-rated model, including app-based setup and automatic firmware updating. It’s also compatible with the WiFi 6 standard, which may be useful as you add new home devices that fully take advantage of the latest WiFi standard.

CR’s test results: Netgear Nighthawk AX1800 mesh router



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