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Get a leather-clad sound bar with Bluetooth for $109.99

From the Cheapskate: Yes, leather! Because who says all sound bars have to be ugly? Plus: The best Samsung Gear VR deal yet and 49-cent "Star Trek" movie rentals!

CNET's Cheapskate scours the Web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.

You've heard this song and dance from me before: TV speakers suck.

Sorry for the harsh language, but it's true. You spend all that money on a big, beautiful screen, then settle for the weak, tinny audio produced by small, thin speakers. It's just not right!

As always, I recommend some kind of external speakers -- even cheap PC speakers plugged into a headphone jack will make a huge difference. But to really improve your audio situation, get a sound bar.

Finally, sound bars that look, well, cool!


Like this one: For a limited time, StackSocial has the Freshetech Freshebar leather sound bar for $109.99 shipped. It lists for $249.95 and sells elsewhere for $170-200.

No doubt you've noticed the unusual word there: leather. No, it's not made of it, but rather clad in it, the idea being to minimize the impact on your decor. Or, perhaps, even elevate it.

Because, let's face it, most sound bars are pretty ugly: elongated black-plastic bricks that may please the ears, but don't do much for the eyes.

The Freshebars have a terrible name, but they sure do look cool. They're available in brown/black, red/black or -- even more unusual for a sound bar -- white.

The specs are solid, too: 90 watts of audio power, analog and optical inputs and, better still, Bluetooth! I seriously love that feature in a sound bar, because now you've got a Bluetooth speaker you can use when the TV is off. It's like a two-fer.

So how does it sound? Hard to say; I couldn't find any professional reviews of the Freshebar, and Amazon has just five user reviews. They're all five stars, though at least one of them was a "discount in exchange for honest review."

My take: It will absolutely sound better than your current TV speakers. And it'll look better than the vast majority of other sound bars in the same price range.

Your thoughts?

Phone not included. BYO phone.


Bonus deal: Well, I didn't think my favorite smartphone-based VR headset could get much cheaper, but it did: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Best Buy has the refurbished Samsung Gear VR for $49.99 shipped (plux tax).

That's a full 50 percent off the price of a new one. It's compatible with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge/Edge+, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. If you own one of these phones, I'm going to have to insist you buy the Gear VR. You will not be disappointed.

Bonus deal No. 2: Shocker: I'm a die-hard Trekkie from way back. And I'm pretty excited about the new movie opening in a couple weeks -- because the first two new-cast flicks were pretty excellent. If you missed them, or just want to watch again before "Star Trek Beyond" opens, Fandango is offering rentals of "Star Trek" (2009) and "Star Trek Into Darkness" for just 49 cents each. You can also buy the movies in a two-pack for $9.99. This deal ends July 10.