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Mpow's H19 IPO over-the-ear headphones offer active noise-canceling for just $27 (Update: Sold out)

The real shockers: they're comfortable, they sound good and the ANC works well. Plus, this inflatable kayak is only $36.

- 04:14

Mpow's H19 IPO headphones offer active noise cancellation, which seems all but impossible given the price. Thankfully, they also sound good.

Rick Broida/CNET

You know this: Before you spend $249 on Apple's AirPods Pro, you owe it to yourself (and your wallet) to investigate less expensive alternatives. They're out there, many of them great. OK, that takes care of true-wireless earbuds, but what about over-the-ear headphones? If you want active noise-canceling goodness, do you really need to spend $200-$400 for something from Bose, Jabra, Sennheiser or Sony?

Nope. You don't even need to spend $150. Or $100. Or $50! For a limited time, and while supplies last, Amazon seller Topyo Pro has the Mpow H19 IPO Active Noise Cancelling Headphones for $26.99 when you clip the on-page $15-off coupon. Update: These are sold out from this seller, which is why the coupon no longer appears.

Bonkers, right? How in the world can there be such a huge discrepancy in price -- unless the H19 IPO is just complete junk? It's not. For starters, the headphones look and feel substantial, not cheap, with extremely cushy ear pads that, even without ANC, block a fair bit of ambient noise.

With ANC activated (which is done by sliding a switch, with no annoying audible accompaniment), it does a decent job reducing, for example, the hum of an air conditioner. I didn't have many different environments in which to thoroughly test this, but I can say I definitely noticed a reduction in outside noise. I can't say how these would compare with $300 headphones, because I don't own a pair of $300 headphones.

Read more: Best headphones of 2020  

As for overall sound quality, I think it's quite good -- maybe even surprisingly good. This is a subjective thing, and my ear isn't highly attuned to highs, lows and all that. When I spooled up Weezer's Buddy Holly, the underlying guitar riff come through deep and balanced; every "woo-ooh!" clear and full. In Coldplay's Hymn for the Weekend, Chris Martin's vocals sounded great, but the background seemed a little muddy in places.

I also did a test call. The person I spoke with sounded just fine, and he said I sounded pretty good overall, maybe a little harsh at times. That might be because I was talking louder than usual, because with over-the-ear headphones it's hard to hear yourself -- one reason I don't like making calls while wearing them.

One thing I need to mention about the customer reviews, which number a little over 650 and average out to 4.5 stars: they're not all for this product. See, the seller previously used this same listing page for earlier Mpow headphone models and even an Mpow carrying case. So the reviews and ratings encompass all those products, not just this one. Ugh. From what I've been able to glean from ReviewMeta, which alerted me to this discrepancy, the H19 IPO actually has about 20 user reviews -- and nearly all of them are legit, with an average of 4.9 stars.

OK, let's sum up: Can the $27 Mpow H19 IPO really measure up to, say, a $300 Bose? Not likely. Will they make our list of the best noise-canceling headphones of 2020? I doubt it. Here's the real question: Should you try it before spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on big-name ANC headphones? I think definitely.

Your thoughts?

Float your boat with this Intex inflatable kayak for $36


Kayaking is a wonderful way to relax on a river or lake, but hauling those huge, heavy plastic things? Not so wonderful. That's why I'm eyeballing an inflatable for this summer -- maybe this one right here.

For a limited time, and while supplies last, Walmart has the Intex Challenger K1 inflatable kayak for $35.99. Regular price: $80.

This is a nine-footer, able to carry a maximum of 220 pounds. It includes an oar, a pump and a carrying bag. There's also a cargo net in case you want to carry some gear.

User reviews: 4.3 stars (out of 5) from about 100 buyers. No question, an inflatable isn't going to withstand the rigors of shallow or rocky rivers. But otherwise this could be a great floater, for a price that's just about impossible to beat.

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