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Projectors

This 1080p projector with Harman Kardon speakers: $765 with exclusive code

Normally $900, the XGIMI H2 has the best built-in speakers of any projector I've tried. Plus: The coolest $21 drone I've seen yet.

xgimi-h2

Yep, this projector is practically all speaker -- all Harman Kardon speaker.

XGIMI

Projectors are all over the place these days. I don't mean they're ubiquitous, but rather all different sizes, prices and capabilities. You've got your $100 cheapies that aren't good for much, your drool-worthy $2,500 4K ultra short-throw models and several zillion others in between.

Today let's look in between. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Cheapskate readers can get the XGIMI H2 1080p home-theater projector for $765. That's after clipping the on-page $45 coupon and then applying promo code XGIMICNET at checkout. Regular price: $900.

Projectors are all about image quality, right? Yes, but there's another factor to consider, especially if you're not looking to deal with the hassles and expense of audio gear: built-in speakers.

I'd say most of the projector speakers I've listened to over the years have ranged from bleh to terrible. That's one big reason the H2 stands out: It employs Harman Kardon speakers that sound really, really good. So good, in fact, that you can also use the projector as a standalone Bluetooth speaker.

I've spent a couple weeks test-driving the H2 in my basement, where it's pointed at a gray-colored wall and positioned to give me over 90 inches of big-screen goodness. I've been using it with both a Roku Streaming Stick and an Xbox.

First impression: terrible. That's because no amount of fiddling with the otherwise comprehensive settings could overcome the dreaded soap-opera effect, which I, like Tom Cruise, simply will not tolerate. Thankfully, an XGIMI rep suggested I switch to Game Mode, which, thank goodness, solved the problem.

One problem I couldn't overcome: A slight audio lag when pairing the projector with a Bluetooth speaker. That's not uncommon, and of course there's always the wired option. (The H2 has headphone and optical outputs.)

Of course, the whole point is not to need external speakers, right? I won't say the H2 can take the place of a proper home-theater audio setup, because of course it can't, but it's absolutely good enough for things like playing Mortal Kombat and bingeing episodes of BoJack Horseman. I think it's even loud enough for backyard movie nights, which can otherwise be a huge hassle, audio-wise.

The onboard Aptoide software can run Netflix and a few other apps, but trust me when I say you'll want to connect a Fire TV or Roku. Please, please, projector makers, take a page from TV makers and build in one of those operating systems.

The automatic keystone correction allows you to plop the projector on a coffee table or end table and quickly get a perfectly framed image. The remote works well, but isn't backlit. 

As for image quality, I found it really excellent overall: bright, colorful and crisp. This isn't my area of expertise, but I'll just say the H2 greatly exceeded the old Epson MovieMate I'd been using.

It's not perfect, no, sir. But if you're looking for a projector that's as great for the ears as it is for the eyes, and you're not holding out (and saving up) for a native-4K model, this is worth a look.

Your thoughts?

Read more: The best home theater projectors for 2019

Bonus deal: I'm sending this drone back in time to 10-year-old Rick

When I was a kid, I loved playing with those little plastic army guys -- especially the ones with parachutes -- because I could build a narrative around it. You know: imagination and all that.

eachine-e019

This cool character can ride this drone skateboard-style or as a paraglider.

Eachine

Oh, to have had this in the mix: For a limited time, and while supplies last, EachineDirect via Amazon has the Eachine E019 2-in-1 Stunt Drone for $20.99 with promo code 22WNVKU8. Regular price: $35.

The photo really tells the whole story: The E019 has a Green Beret-looking dude riding on top of it, skateboard-style, which is already super cool. But it can also convert to a paratrooper configuration, meaning you can have him swoop in from above just when it looks like your guys are about to get overrun by the invading aliens/zombies/robots/whatever.

Yaaaaassss. I haven't tried this one (yet), but other Eachine drones I've flown were solid. The only thing I'd recommend is maybe an extra battery or two, as flight time is probably limited to 10 minutes or less. You should be able to find matching extras on Amazon for pretty cheap.


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