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Speakers

Get the ultimate Echo Dot speaker for $38.95

Normally $50, the Vaux turns your Dot into a full-size Echo -- and makes it portable! Plus: a free audiobook and $10 waterproof speaker.

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. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!


vaux-speaker-on-table

The Vaux swallows up your second-gen Echo Dot in a speaker dock that just happens to be portable.

Ninety7

Good news, everyone! You still have a chance to enter the Cheapskate 10th-Anniversary Mega Giveaway. How mega is it? I'm giving away 25 prizes! You've got until Sunday to get your entry (or entries, if you do a little strategic sharing) in. Good luck!

OK, let's talk Dot. Most everyone digs Amazon's little smart speaker, and with good reason: It's adorable, it works well and it's cheap. (In fact, it'll be just $30 on Black Friday!)

Its only shortcoming: the rather anemic built-in speaker. You can, of course, connect or pair an external speaker, but then you've got at least one extra cord cluttering up the place, another item that needs an outlet, potential pairing issues if you're using Bluetooth and so on.

Oh, and although the Dot may be small, it doesn't travel well: You need an outlet for power.

Crazy like a Vaux

Today's deal remedies those Dot deficiencies. For a limited time, you can get the Ninety7 Vaux speaker dock/battery base for $38.95 shipped. That's after applying promo code CNETVAUX at checkout. That's yet another Cheapskate exclusive! (How hard do I rock? So hard.)

Compatible with the second-gen Echo Dot, the Vaux (pronounced "vox," though my brain wants to say either "vo" or "vawks") docks your Dot inside an upper tray, resulting in something that looks very much like the current-gen full-size Echo.

It's a wired connection, too: The Vaux plugs into the Dot's line-out and power ports. No monkeying with Bluetooth; this is a plug-and-play affair.

And a portable one: The Vaux promises up to 6 hours of music playback. Just keep in mind the Dot itself still needs an internet connection to do its thing, so it's not like you can take this to the beach (unless you connect it to a mobile hotspot, of course).

The portability is nice, but if you don't already own a Dot and that's what you're after, you're probably better off with an Amazon Tap.

Me, I'm excited about giving the Dot a full-throated speaker, one that's both aesthetically pleasing and, well, super cheap! Does it sound as good as the Tap or a full-size, $100 Echo? Not quite, according to CNET's Vaux review. But it's a huge improvement over the Dot's tiny built-in speaker and, to my ears, pretty good overall.

At $50 for this, plus $50 for the Dot itself, you'd be wiser to consider a regular Echo or a Tap. But if you already have a Dot or can pick one up for $30, the Vaux is a steal at $38.95.

Your thoughts? 

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Free!

Audible

Bonus deal: Free audiobook, anyone? For a limited time, Audible is offering "Anne of Green Gables" for free. As you might expect, you'll need an Audible account (though not a subscription -- don't click the bright orange "Free with 30-day trial" button, but rather the subtle gray "Buy for $0.00" button). Regular price: $25!

Mrs. Cheapskate and Miss Cheapskate (my daughter, natch) absolutely love this classic book, so I know they'll be excited to get this freebie. An Audible exclusive, it's narrated by Rachel McAdams and runs over 9 hours. And it has an average user rating of 4.8 stars -- from over 3,500 listeners!

smartomi-ant-speaker

The ruggedized, waterproof Smartomi Ant speaker is compact and -- for a limited time -- 10 bucks.

Smartomi

Bonus deal No. 2: Need a secret-Santa gift? How about something for the latter days of Chanukah? Your contribution to the Yankee-swap/white-elephant gift exchange?

You're covered. For a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get the Smartomi Ant portable Bluetooth speaker for $9.99. That's with promo code TLCJ97I4 at checkout. Update: Sold out! Not too surprising given the price. Will watch for (and share) similar deals!

The Ant is slim enough to slip into a pocket, yet it has dual drivers, an IPX7 waterproof rating, a built-in mic for speakerphone calls and a battery that's good for up to 12 hours (according to Smartomi). It's both rugged and rugged-looking, with a red control-button strip breaking up the otherwise all-black design.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has mostly positive reviews -- many of which are questionable, according to both Fakespot and ReviewMeta. Does that mean it's a bad product? Not at all. It just means Amazon's review system continues to be gameable. Smartomi does back this with a 12-month warranty, for what that's worth.

Just be real about what you're getting: a small speaker for $10. No doubt it'll sound much better than your phone's built-in speaker. It'll also make you look like you bought a $21 gift, even though you secretly spent half as much. (Hey, don't judge! We are cheapskates, after all.)

Black Friday deals: See every Black Friday 2017 deal we've found so far.

Holiday Gift GuideCNET's full gift guide, including dozens of products priced under $25, $50 and $100.