Mrs. Cheapskate's minivan doesn't have Bluetooth. I don't even have a line-in jack. I know: the horror! Thankfully, there are gizmos that can bridge the gap between smartphone and car stereo, thus making it possible to enjoy playlists, Pandora, audiobooks, and other audio treats.
And one of the best such gizmos is now available at a Cheapskate-exclusive discount. Through Wednesday, you can get the Accessory Genie GoGroove FlexSmart X3 Bluetooth FM Transmitter for $44.99 shipped when you apply coupon code FLEX3 at checkout. Regular price: $59.99.
Like its predecessor, the FlexSmart X2, the X3 plugs into your car's cigarette lighter, which powers a transmitter that takes advantage of any weak or unused frequency on the FM dial.
It also has a Bluetooth receiver for pairing with your phone or tablet. So the audio arrives via Bluetooth and gets kicked back out via FM. In my experience, devices like these can be hit or miss, but the X3 is definitely the best of breed. In my tests, it quickly found an open frequency, and the music that came from my iPhone sounded loud and static-free -- far better than with the X2, frankly.
The X3 also has a USB charging port, line-in and line-out jacks, and a microphone for hands-free calling. (Speakerphone calls sound infinitely better when routed through your car stereo's speakers.)
I especially like the redesigned controls, which are a lot more intuitive. You simply hold down the blue button to pair your device, then press the center button for a few seconds to find an available frequency. With that done, you can use the X3's other controls for things like play/pause, volume, and track skip -- much easier than fumbling with your phone's onscreen controls.
CNET's Antuan Goodwin gave the FlexSmart X3 a 2.5-star rating, but some 130 Amazon customers collectively rated it 4.3 stars out of 5 -- and I must concur with those higher scores. In Mrs. Cheapskate's minivan, at least, the X3 blew the X2 out of the water, and quickly became an essential accessory.
If your car lacks Bluetooth and you want to enjoy the fruits of that technology, this is without question one of the best options -- and at $44.99 shipped, it's now the best price as well.
Bonus deal: Sound bars are great for improving the wimpy speakers built into your HDTV, but most of them suffer from weak/non-existent bass. That's why your best bet is one with a subwoofer. Like this one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Newegg has the Affinity SB2160 sound bar with wireless subwoofer for $99.99 shipped. That's about $70 less than it sells for elsewhere, and about the price you'd typically pay for a sound bar with no 'woofer.
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