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Smart Home

The Google Home Max smart speaker drops to $212 (save $87)

That's the lowest price to date! Plus: Eliminate summertime boredom with this kid-friendly drone for $21.

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The best-sounding smart speaker is now almost $200 less than it was at launch.

CNET

This is an update of a deal from just a couple weeks ago. I'm starting to wonder if the Google Home Max will follow in the footsteps of the Google Home Hub, which has been slowly but steadily dropping in price. (Interestingly, the competing Apple HomePod briefly hit $199 at Target over the weekend, but quickly sold out. To me that indicates all these "big" smart speakers will continue to see bigger and bigger discounts.)

When the Google Home Max smart speaker debuted in late 2017, CNET's Ty Pendlebury raved about its responsive microphones and excellent room-filling sound. (Read his Google Home Max review to learn more.)

Read more: Best Wi-Fi speakers and music systems of 2019

Less raveworthy, however, was the price: $399. Ouch. Thankfully, last month Google slashed prices on all its Google Home smart speakers, with the Max getting a very welcome $100 discount. And right now, you can find it on sale for $249 at numerous stores.

Pish. We can do better than that, right? Yes. We. Can. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Beach Camera via Rakuten has the Google Home Max (charcoal) for $212 shipped when you apply promo code SAVE15 at checkout.

Actually, Beach Camera is just one of several Rakuten vendors offering the Home Max for $249, minus 15% with the aforementioned code. So if Beach sells out or you want the speaker in the chalk color, just search the Rakuten store.

The Max's chief rival is the Apple HomePod, which normally sells for $299. Unfortunately, Ty's Max review doesn't directly compare sound quality between the two, though the former was found to be superior to both the Bose SoundTouch 30 and Sonos Play:5. Ultimately, Pendlebury said, it's "the best-sounding smart speaker yet."

Those smarts come from the Google Assistant, of course, which most would agree is smarter than Siri (in her current incarnation, anyway). Meanwhile, the Max supports a much broader array of connected services than the HomePod; you're not limited to music from just one source.

Amazon, meanwhile, still doesn't offer a "big" Alexa speaker; your only option there is to pair an Echo or Echo Dot with something larger and more powerful.

But if you're accustomed to Google, this is a great way to add room-filling sound and a crackerjack Google Assistant to your home -- and for a price that's quite a bit more palatable than $399.

Now playing: Watch this: Google Home Max is a smart speaker built to party
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Bonus deal: Eliminate summertime boredom with this kid-friendly drone for $21

This may sound like odd parenting advice, but I think all kids should learn to fly drones -- not just because it's a super-fun screen-free activity, but also because it teaches some basic skills: physics, hand-eye coordination, etc.

Of course, a few crashes are probably inevitable, so I wouldn't spend a lot on your first drone. But I would get one with blade guards and a spare battery, the better to protect walls/siblings/the drone itself and to extend flight time.

Bam: For a limited time, and while supplies last, EachineDirect via Amazon has the Eachine E61H drone for $20.99 with promo code HLNHR29Y.

I like this one for a couple reasons. First: It comes with two batteries, and modular batteries at that -- kids don't have to deal with tiny plugs extending from an awkward battery compartment. Second, it has a simple two-stick handheld remote -- though I do wish the buttons were labeled.

It auto-hovers and has front-facing LED headlights, so it might also be fun to fly in a semi-darkened basement. It's suitable for outdoor use as well, but only when there's very little wind.

Originally published on June 19.
Update, July 1: New pricing and availability; different bonus deals.


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