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Ever notice that when you cup your hand behind your tablet or smartphone speaker, the sound immediately gets better? That's because it's directed toward your head, which is where your ears are kept.
Have you also noticed how your TV speakers are terrible? That's probably because the speakers are directed straight down into your TV stand, precisely not where your ears are kept.
Enter Soundscoopz, a not-so-great name for a pretty great product. It brings the hand-cupping principle to your TV, routing the downward-directed sound out toward your face. And for a limited time, you can get a set of Soundscoopz for $31.46 shipped when you apply the coupon code RBC10 at checkout.
The product is almost annoyingly simple: a pair of molded plastic "scoops" that attach to the back of your TV with Velcro squares. And that's all you need to set up. No wires, no power supply, no special remote.
But here's the caveat: not all TVs have down-facing speakers. Some Vizio models, for example, have speakers that face the rear, and Soundscoopz doesn't really help there. So be sure to check your TV before ordering.
I was able to test the product with a higher-end Samsung, and here's my simple verdict: it works. Although sound quality is subjective, everyone in the room agreed on two things. It was much louder, so we could hear the TV at a lower volume setting than before. And it was mostly better. I say mostly because I felt like there was a slight loss of bass response, perhaps because the audio was no longer hitting the wood cabinet below it. That's pure speculation on my part, though. I'm no engineer.
There's also some independent lab testing that adds objectivity to my subjectivity. "An independent Speech Transmission Index (STI) test concluded that...TV speakers with Soundscoopz rated A+ compared to a B grade without Soundscoopz."
The 'scoopz look a little goofy hanging below the screen, but I can't say I find sound bars all that aesthetically pleasing, either. This not only costs less, it's also much easier to deploy. It works whether your TV is wall- or furniture-mounted.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a simple, inexpensive way to improve your TV audio quality, this is it. I think it's ingenious, and I'm kicking myself for not inventing it first.
Bonus deal: A short while ago I shared a Pebble smartwatch for $50 -- awesome deal. But if you were hoping for something a little less plastic to strap to your wrist, check this out. Best Buy (via Ebay) has the Pebble Steel for $99.99 shipped. It's not only a much prettier timepiece than the plastic Pebble (and much more resistant to screen scratches), but it's also a longer-lasting one. Battery life is rated at up to seven days. In my experience, it was closer to five, but YMMV.
Bonus deal 2: Well, I was going to share a seemingly cool deal from Walmart-owned video-streaming service Vudu. 67 cents for each episode of Emmy-nominated and -winning TV shows. So, for example, the entire first season of "Game of Thrones" would cost you just $6.70. Psych! That price applies only to the SD versions. Vudu's HD and HDX versions are still $3.99 each. And even if you wanted SD for some reason, you can't buy entire seasons at the discounted price. You have to buy each individual episode, one at a time. To quote one of the best moments from the past season: Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Seriously, Walmart, not cool.
Bonus deal 3: While I'm in rant mode, would it have killed Microsoft to include a DVD player in Windows 10? Apparently it would, because now it costs an extra $15. If you want to use your PC to view DVDs, try Macgo Free Media Player. It's not just for DVDs and also plays a variety of non-mainstream digital media formats. I haven't tried it myself, I'm merely presenting it as an alternative to Microsoft's non-free option.