Are all Bluetooth speakers created equal? Not by a longshot.
Some are big, some are small. Some are portable, some require AC power. Some are round, some are square... you get the idea.
Ah, but very few speakers can prop up your phone or tablet, which is exactly what you might want for watching movies, playing games, hands-free reading while listening to music, and so on.
This one can. For a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get the LuguLake portable Bluetooth speaker for $19.99 shipped when you apply coupon code MCELHHAT at checkout. That's for the coffee-colored version; it's also available in silver for the same price (with the same code).
LuguLake? Nope, I never heard of 'em, either. But don't let that stop you. For one thing, as you can see in the photo, the tube-shaped speaker sports a clever addition: a protruding lip that serves as a phone/tablet stand.
Silly gimmick? Maybe, but for anyone who likes to lie around watching movies on a tablet, this is such an awesome way to do it. You get the big sound of an external speaker and hands-free viewing to boot.
I had the chance to test drive one of these, and to my ears the dual 3-watt speakers embedded in the tube produced very decent stereo sound. Not great, mind you, but about what you'd expect for a unit of this size.
That said, there's something a little off about the overwhelmingly positive user reviews on Amazon: well over 500 between the two models, with an average rating of 4.6 stars. Could this speaker really be that good? Maybe, and maybe not: A coupon inside the box promises a $5 refund in exchange for a 5-star Amazon review. It seems unlikely to me that so many people would compromise their principles for just five bucks, but now you have all the facts.
Shady marketing? Or totally acceptable marketing? Your call. My take: This is a nice speaker; attractive, good sound, and especially ideal for watching movies and the like. At $39.99, I'd say "meh." At $19.99 out the door, I say, "Yup!"
Bonus deal: Game time for the iOS crowd! A whole bunch of top-rated games are on sale in the App Store today, including Hitman: GO for 99 cents (normally $4.99), XCom: Enemy Within for $6.99 (regularly $12.99), and BioShock for $4.99 (regularly $10.99). Also check out sale prices on FTL: Faster Than Light, Kingdom Rush HD, Syberia, Machinarium, and the singularly awesome (though not really a game) Loopy HD.