You've probably experienced this: When watching a video on your phone or tablet, you cup your hand near the speaker and suddenly the sound comes through more loudly and clearly. Because science! You're simply redirecting the sound toward your head-holes.
A couple years back, an enterprising (and rather entertaining) rabbi appeared on "Shark Tank" with a simple clip-on gizmo designed to take the place of that cupped hand -- and landed a deal.
I don't know if Steve Boden saw that episode and had a light bulb moment, but either way he created something similar for a device that desperately needs an audio fix: your TV.
Kickstarter project SoundScoopz bills itself as the affordable sound bar alternative, and with good reason: For just $19, it's possible that you can vastly improve the audio coming from your TV's existing speakers.
Regular Cheapskate readers know that I routinely recommend sound bars, precisely because those built-in speakers typically sound terrible. (See CNET's picks of best sound bars here.) As Boden rightly notes, however, a big part of the problem is their location: they face down, meaning the audio plows right into your TV stand.
As you know from the cupped-hand example above, a simple redirection of that sound can make a big difference. The concept of SoundScoopz is that they adhere to the back of your TV, "scoop" the sound from its down-firing speakers and send it forward toward your face.
That's why even a cheap sound bar makes such a big difference. I'm not saying the SoundScoopz will be just as good, only that they're likely to produce a noticeable improvement in volume and clarity. Because science! And they don't require power, wires, juggling an extra remote or any other such hassles.
Of course, the product won't work with every TV. The one in my living room, for example, has speakers built into the rear of the cabinet, not the bottom -- though Boden notes that "almost all TVs shipped in the last six to seven ears have down-aiming speakers." (Mine's not that old, but it is a cheap, discontinued off-brand model.) And given the width of the "scoops," they probably wouldn't fit smaller TVs, like the 24-inch LCD in my bedroom.
No matter -- I'm backing this anyway. It's ingenious, and assuming Boden is awarded his patents, it has the potential to become a zillion-dollar product. My only complaint is I didn't think of it first.
At the $19 funding level, you can get one pair of SoundScoopz; at $36 you get two pairs and $51 nets you three. Shipping adds $5, and delivery is expected for August (but certainly subject to change, this being Kickstarter). Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: I've tried my best to swear off Bluetooth speakers, just because I'm sick of them and so are you. But in case you're looking for a dad/grad gift or the like, Tanga has the Urge Basics Soundbrick Bluetooth speaker for $16.99, plus $2.99 for shipping. That's by far the lowest I've ever seen this very popular speaker, which is available (as of this morning, anyway) in five colors.
Bonus deal No. 2: The first-gen Roku 3 may not be the gold-standard streaming box any longer, but it's still one of the best in its class -- and the only one to offer the super-cool headphone jack right in the remote. For a limited time (as part of a "flash" sale), Newegg has the refurbished first-gen Roku 3 for $62.95 shipped. Price for a new one: $99. But even a new Roku has only a 90-day warranty, same as the refurb, so there's no downside to choosing a refurbished one.
Bonus deal No. 3: The only thing more amazing than the quality of video you can capture with an iPhone or iPad is the level of editing you can perform on that very same device -- if you have the right software, that is. For a limited time, Pinnacle Studio (iOS) is on sale for just 99 cents. It originally sold for $9.99, and even its was $4.99. I'm not saying this is the best video-editing app you can get, merely that it's pretty capable -- and definitely a steal at this price.