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A lot of speakers come and go in the Cheapskate labs, but there's one that has earned a permanent home: the Fluance Fi30. I've long enjoyed its curved, retro design and warm, room-filling sound.
Just a few weeks ago, Fluance took the wraps off a new version of the same speaker: the Fi50. It's better in every conceivable way except price: It'll run you $199.99.
Not today! For a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get the Fluance Fi50 two-way Bluetooth bookshelf speaker for $149.99, shipped. That's after applying coupon code Fi50CNET at checkout. Cheapskate exclusive, cheeps!
Available in three color combinations, the Fi50 is noteworthy in part for its use of an MDF cabinet. Most audiophiles will tell you that wood speakers produce a warmer, more natural sound than you get from plastic or other materials.
The Fi50 shares its predecessor's pleasing rounded design but adds a very welcome LED display that shows volume, bass and treble levels, plus Bluetooth connection status. It also adds a USB port at the rear for charging your phone or tablet and top-mounted touch controls for adjusting volume. (The Fi30 had no physical controls; you had to rely on your music source for everything.)
Perhaps best of all, the Fi50 raises the audio stakes with a 40-watt amplifier and improved drivers and tweeters.
I haven't had any ears-on time with it, so I'll turn you over to David Carnoy's review . Spoiler alert: he loved it, awarding a four-star rating and calling it "one of the best-sounding wireless speakers you can buy for the money." And that was based on 200 monies.
The caveat: The Fi50 requires AC power. It's not really portable, though honestly it's not intended to be. If you're looking for a sweet-sounding permanent resident for your lab (or, you know, den, office, etc.), this one is hard to beat.
Bonus deal: Ever wonder what would happen if you needed to reinstall Windows? It's not like you have the OS on DVD -- nor even a DVD drive! Solution: copy your current installation to a bootable flash drive. With this: SharewareOnSale has WinToFlash Professional for free. Normally $29.95, this utility can create a bootable drive from nearly any version of Windows (including 10). Are there freeware tools that can do likewise? Yes, but why not go Pro if you can?
Bonus deal No. 2: If you're still into that crazy idea of owning music, Google Play has a sweet deal running today: Ed Sheeran's "X" for 99 cents. You've heard his top-rated, award-winning tunes on the radio for months: "Sing," "Photograph," "Thinking Out Loud" and so on. The album sells elsewhere for at least eight bucks.