The Xbox One X, which hits in November, promises to deliver true 4K gaming -- but it will also cost $500. For half that price, the Xbox One S lets you play all the same games as well as and 4K and HDR UHD Blu-rays and streaming videos, too. Plus, you'll find it bundled with one or more great games at most retailers.
At $150, the Xbox Wireless Elite Controller is the Cadillac of gaming accessories. It is ridiculously comfortable in the hands and offers the highest degree of customization, letting you remap every button as well as its analog sticks, D-pad, triggers and back paddles. It's not cheap, but it's totally worth it.
Complete control, solid value. Logitech's $130 Harmony Companion is our favorite universal remote, giving you the ability to take command of your home theater setup using your Apple or Android phone or tablet, or the included remote. It's easy to set up, simple to use and it just works.
The Nvidia Shield streamer leveled up when it launched support for Amazon Video earlier this year, stepping up into the ranks of Roku, Amazon Fire TV and the Apple TV 4K. But now Nvidia has a new trick up its sleeve, as the first TV device to receive Google Assistant, Google's voice-based answer to Amazon's Alexa. Say "OK Google" to control your Shield-connected TV, change the thermostat, call an Uber or order Domino's.
If you want the best TV picture quality money can buy, the Apple TV 4K is the little black box you're looking for. (Of course, you'll also need a new 4K, HDR or Dolby Vision TV.) In addition to delivering terrific-looking streaming video, the newest Apple TV also comes equipped with the best remote and excellent Siri voice options. And it's just $30 more than the standard, non-4K model.
The Motorola Moto G5 Plus delivers just about everything you'd expect from a top shelf phone -- with the exception of a fat price tag. Highlights include a modern, metal body; Google's Android 7.0 Nougat operating system and voice-enabled Assistant; a great gesture-based user interface; and a really good camera. A CNET Editors' Choice, and all for $230.
For the thrifty smartphone shopper, the Motorola Moto E4 covers all of the basics: you get Google's Android Nougat operating system, a fingerprint sensor, a removable battery and a selfie flash. It's not perfect -- it's a bit sluggish -- but it's dirt cheap: $130 for an unlocked model. (In the US, you can pick up an Amazon Prime version with lock screen ads for $99 and a Verizon prepaid edition for just $70.)
The new Echo Spot is Amazon's mashup of the deluxe Show and the entry-level Dot. It combines the Dot's hockey puck aesthetic and low-power output to the Show's video capabilities, while meeting at about the halfway point on price ($130). There's a front-facing camera on board, so you can make video calls and stream a live feed to another device, and you can call up Alexa via the touchscreen or by saying her name. Just keep in mind that we haven't reviewed this product yet -- and it doesn't ship until December 19.
Google is quickly establishing itself as a major player in the smart speaker market. The $130 Home is a solid smart speaker-slash-virtual assistant powered by Google Assistant, a capable conduit for controlling smart devices. It can recognize multiple voices. It supports hands-free calling. It provides lots of music and video streaming options. And it offers the best integration with your TV of any smart speaker on the market. (Google also offers the smaller, cheaper Mini and the considerably more deluxe Max.)
The $150 Echo Plus is Amazon's all-in-one smart home command center. Before, you needed a dedicated hub to control your home's smart locks, lights and so on. Now, have the Echo Plus set up, connect and control these devices automatically, while giving you all the Alexa capabilities you could ever need.
Amazon's Echo speakers can do almost anything -- except play music that sounds genuinely great. The $200 Sonos One, on the other hand, brings all the Alexa skills plus kickass audio quality. The catch: it costs twice as much as the $99 Echo. Still, in 2018, Sonos will add Google Assistant, Siri, and support for Apple AirPlay 2, making it the first multiplatform smart speaker -- and an even stronger smart speaker contender.
The Echo Show covers all the Echo bases: support for Alexa, solid sound quality, and Bluetooth connectivity. Plus you get a 2-megapixel camera and touchscreen video display. And there's the Show's "Drop In" feature that lets authorized contacts -- think parents and grandparents -- peep in on your camera feed.
GE, of all companies, has updated the story of Alladin for 2017. Instead of a genie in a lamp, however, you get Amazon's Alexa assistant. The Sol is essentially a miniaturized Amazon Echo embedded in a distinctive, appealing LED halo. At $200, the Sol isn't cheap; on the other hand, it's only $20 more than the standard Echo.
The biggest member of Amazon's Fire HD lineup offers compelling benefits for Prime members: stream movies and TV shows for free; download them for offline viewing for free; access tons of games and other multimedia for free. You get the idea. Plus, Amazon recently shored up previous weaknesses, refreshing the Fire HD 10 with better specs and a higher resolution display, while dropping the price to a very reasonable $80.
Lenovo's tasteful, vanilla 110s does nearly everything a basic laptop should. The 11.6-inch Ideapad comes equipped with a terrific keyboard -- a wonderful anomaly in the budget category -- and sufficient power for basics like working on documents and surfing the Web. Anything more may test the limits of the 110s, but for $150 (on sale at Best Buy) you can't have everything.
The second-generation Intel Compute Stick delivers on its basic premise: transforming your TV into a computer using the HDMI port. You get a full version of Windows 10, 32GB of storage and two USB ports to hook up a mouse and keyboard; the 2017 version steps up to a powerful Core m3 CPU and 64GB of storage, with a corresponding jump in price. Though it's no substitute for your primary PC, it makes for a serviceable backup or travel rig.
If you're looking for a super-fast, user-friendly router, congrats: you've found it. The Asus RT-AC68U Dual-band AC1900 Gigabit Router was very pricey ($220) when it launched a year ago but can now be had for about $140. An intuitive user interface, parental controls and USB ports only sweeten the deal for this red-hot performer in range and throughput.
The Deco M5 can bring wireless Internet connectivity to every corner of a very large home. There are a few drawbacks -- the system's persistent connection to TP-Link, which could be a privacy risk, and its inability to serve as an access point, which could disrupt your wireless speaker or network streaming setups. Still, it's reliable, reasonably-priced, and easy to use.
Bose's Bluetooth sports headphones affordable at $150, sound quite good and are more comfortable to wear than the competition. The Stay-Hear+ eartips come in three sizes, sit loosely, and yet remain securely in place. The SoundSport Wireless is both sweat and water resistant, and its inline mic and remote give you full control of your listening experience.
Apple's AirPods remain on the fringe of social acceptability due to their novel and perhaps dorky aesthetic -- but they are also well worth their $159 price. Lightweight, comfortable, easy to pair, reliable headphones that deliver good sound quality. Not the best headphones money can buy but a solid choice for iPhone owners.
V-Moda's Forza Metallo ranks among the best wireless neckband headphones on the market. At $170, it's not the cheapest option available, but it provides topnotch audio, superior comfort and high durability. Aside from one minor quibble (the headphone cord is on the long side), these are excellent headphones for exercising and everyday use.
This summer, Jabra bumped up the Elite Sport's battery life from 3 to 4.5 hours; hence, the "Upgraded." Like the original edition, the new model is sweat- and waterproof, includes an integrated heart rate monitor, and, with the help of noise reduction technology, delivers solid sound quality with music and calls. Especially in light of their new, lower $200 price (down from $250), they're among the best sports-oriented totally wireless earphones on the market.
No longer must audiophiles suffer in discomfort. The Sony MDR-1A delivers balanced, dynamic, accurate sound. And like an overstuffed leather sofa, they ensconce the listener in bulky, cushioned, over-ear comfort. Music nerds rejoice!
Bose's SoundSport Wireless earphones, despite their name, still have a wire -- the one that connects the right and left buds. Following in the footsteps of Apple's AirPods, the new SoundSport Wireless Free is literally free of exterior wires. Sure, at $250, they're significantly more expensive than the AirPods, but they also look way cooler and feature a semi-open design that doesn't require you to jam them so far into your ears.
With the BackBeat Pro 2, Plantronics offers everything you want in a paid of over-ear, noise-cancelling headphones that can shut out the world of unwanted sounds. Priced at $200, it's considerably less expensive than premium competitors, and it performs quite competently. It's not the coolest looking pair around, but if quality and value matter more than style, these are your headphones.
JBL offers a novel take on the Bluetooth speaker with the Pulse 2. A set of integrated LED lights provide some interesting visual theatrics, giving it the look and appeal of a quasi-digital lava lamp. Otherwise, it's pretty standard fare: solid sound quality; speakerphone capabilities; a compact form factor; and 10 hours of battery life for a reasonable $170.
As you would expect, Bose's Soundlink Color II is one of the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers of its size. Though it's a little pricey at $130 -- this is Bose after all -- it's highly portable, water-resistant and can double as a speakerphone. And the battery life is decent, at eight hours.
Step up to the $200 range, and Bose gives you loud, excellent sound quality -- especially in light of the SoundLink Revolve's compact though considerable stature. Water- and shock-resistant, it's designed for outdoor use and has a threaded port underneath for wall or stand mounting. Its battery will go about 12 hours on a charge -- not great -- but Bose sells a cool charging cradle; sadly, it'll run you another $30.
Designed for outdoor use, $170 UE Boom 2 can take a beating: it's fully waterproof and drop resistant. But it's got more to offer than just toughness; it offers loud, full-bodied sound; 15 hours of battery life; and robust range, remaining reliably connected from 60 feet away. Despite being a few years old, it remains one of our top Bluetooth portable speakers.
If you're willing to pay a little bit more ($230), UE has developed the Blast. It's based closely on the terrific Boom 2 -- so you get a durable, battery-powered, waterproof Bluetooth speaker primed for outdoor use -- but with Wi-Fi connectivity and Amazon Alexa voice control added to the mix. (Note that there's a higher-end version, too, the $300 Megablast, which offers louder sound and longer battery life.)
Wi-Fi speakers usually sound better than Bluetooth speakers; they also have better range and remain separate from your phone's audio channel. At $130, the JBL Playlist is one of the most affordable Chromecast speakers we've seen. It's a killer all-around value: setup is a breeze and the sound is big and loud.
The Vizio SB3621 is simply the best-sounding sound bar we've heard to date. We'd happily pay double its $150 price for its peerless combination of compact, understated style, connectivity and superb sound quality. Looking for a sound bar? Buy this one.
Though it's grown a little long in the tooth, the Yamaha YAS-203 once owned the sweet spot between value and sonic power. Even today, it delivers useful features, thoughtful design, and killer sound quality for both music and movies. The only thing missing here are HDMI inputs.
It's not the newest GoPro model, but the Hero4 Session remains a terrific value. For about $225, you get a waterproof and rugged POV camera that delivers solid video quality. And it's considerably more portable and lightweight than higher-end GoPro models.
YI's 4K Action Camera totally overshadowed its way more expensive GoPro Session4 rival when it appeared in 2016. Combining powerful hardware, high quality video and an outstanding set of features at an aggressive price point, it's one of our favorite POV video cameras. And now discounted to $190, this great camera is an even better value.
August's third-generation Smart Lock offers easy installation, support for Alexa and Google Home (though not Apple HomeKit) and DoorSense, which reports when your door is open or closed. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of other models, but it's simple and straightforward to use and evidence that don't have to spend a ton of money for a solid smart lock.
We loved it when it cost $230. Now, at $180, the second-generation August Smart Lock is an even better deal. Easy to install and use; integration with Siri and HomeKit, Nest and others; and reliable performance. What more could you ask for when you come home?
The SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell supports 1080p HD video, on-demand clip recording and free video storage. There's integration with Amazon, Google and Nest, though not Samsung's SmartThings or Wink. Still, with its responsive and straightforward app, the SkyBell is a compelling value in the smart doorbell category.
For $150, the Kuna Toucan offers high tech security on the down low. Its discreet, stylish design successfully disguises an HD security camera as a regular, old outdoor light fixture. There's motion detection, two-way talk, and an on-demand siren -- but it doesn't have night vision or support any third-party integrations, which could be a deal-breaker for some smart home enthusiasts.
It's not the newest model in the company's portfolio, but the $200 Nest Cam Indoor continues to rank among the best security cameras (Amazon sells a three-pack for $500). The crisp, 1080p HD live video and recorded footage it produces puts most other cameras to shame. And the magnetic base, pivoting stand and capable app seal the deal.
For $250, the Ecobee4 had better be more than just a smart thermostat. And, boy, is it ever. This Editors' Choice winner doubles as an Amazon Alexa speaker and comes equipped wth a responsive display, remote sensor, intuitive mobile and Web apps and integrations with just about every reputable smart home technology. It's the best smart thermostat money can buy.
A $160 light switch? Yes. Lutron beautifully fulfills the potential of the smart switch: well-designed and reliable; easy to use and loaded with helpful features; and supportive of all the leading technologies including Alexa, IFTTT, Nest, Wink, and Apple HomeKit. No one else comes close.
The concept: a smart home security apparatus disguised as a common light bulb. The $130 BeOn starter pack comes with three bulbs, three battery backup modules and some serious brains. It's got a mic that listens for the doorbell or burglar alarm, Bluetooth connectivity to sync up with your phone and the ability to learn and replay your light usage patterns.
Lawncare aficionados take note: there's a better way. Rachio's $245 Smart Sprinkler Controller will take a bunch of stuff off of your plate. Set a watering schedule and let it watch the weather and adapt accordingly. Easy setup, intuitive controls, integration with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home ecosystems, plus lots of opportunities for customization.
After a misfire with its original Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector, Nest went back into the lab. The results: a second generation model that's sleeker, smarter and a worthwhile value at $120. You can turn off alarms remotely, integrate with a whole bunch of other smart home devices and competently handle the primary task of danger detection.
Siphon brewing -- an ancient, fussy procedure for preparing coffee -- turns out a superbly rich hot beverage. The $169 Kitchenaid Siphon Brewer handles the complicated task adroitly, automating many facets of the process, and producing distinctly flavorful coffee. But, given that it also requires a good amount of cleaning and hands-on attention, non-serious dabblers need not apply.
The $150 Ninja Coffee Bar offers an impressive laundry list of features rarely found in its price range. You get multiple brewing modes and flavor options, including an "over ice brew" function and convincing espresso concoctions. Though the construction feels a bit flimsy, the coffee is undeniably hot and tasty.
It's been around for years, and it's still hands-down our favorite drip coffee maker. The Bonavita BV1900TS brews coffee that's as delicious as that which comes from far more expensive makers. It's compact, easy to clean, simple to use and comes with a thermal carafe.