Best Holiday Deals on Electronics

CR's experts help you find the best bargains on TVs, laptops, headphones, and more

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Amazon Echo smart speaker Photo: Amazon

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, but you can still find plenty of deals on headphones, laptops, TVs, and other electronics in the weeks before Christmas.

Some retailers are even offering price-match guarantees to protect you if prices dip further during the holiday season—so save your receipts! At Target, for example, you can buy now and request a partial refund anytime before December 24.

No matter the reason for a sale, the best tech deals involve more than a good price. So we look for discounts on products that also stand up to Consumer Reports’ rigorous testing. The list below features this week’s top picks. We also have some great tips to help you make the most of your holiday shopping.

For info on items that earn a CR Best Buy designation for high performance at a low price, check out the ratings for all the electronics products tested in our labs.

Viewing on a mobile device? Click on the links below to skip to each section.

Laptops and Chromebooks
Televisions
Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches
Headphones
Bluetooth and Smart Speakers
Tablets
Gaming Headsets
Streaming Devices
Wireless Routers
Webcams
More Tech Deals

Go to Consumer Reports’ Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

Spotlight Deal

Not long ago, Amazon’s Echo speakers were smart but they weren’t much good at doing what speakers do: actually playing music. The newest Echo model addresses that complaint, offering improved sound with strong but slightly boomy bass, and enough volume to fill a medium-sized room. It also sports a Zigbee smart home hub that allows it to link directly to many Zigbee-compatible devices—think Philips Hue smart bulbs, some Yale smart locks, and certain Honeywell thermostats—without requiring an app. At the regular price, the model is a solid value, but at 40 percent off, it’s definitely worth a look, and you can find it for a full 50 percent off at Home Depot.

CR’s test results: Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

Laptops and Chromebooks

This is a classic Chromebook: lower-end specs in exchange for a relatively inexpensive price. The model has a MediaTek processor, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of flash storage, which is similar to but slower than solid state. If you put aside the pokey performance, you may still appreciate the lengthy battery life (12 hours) and decent display quality. The Chromebook has a 2-in-1 convertible hinge, too, that lets you fold the device into “tent mode” to prop up the screen for easy slide presentation or video viewing.

CR’s test results: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3

Released late in 2019, the 12.3-inch Surface Pro 7 performs quite well in our tests. It has a previous-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and 128GB of solid-state storage. Our testers note strong performance for everything from browsing the web to editing office documents to watching high-resolution streaming video.

If there’s one “but” here, it’s that the battery life is nothing special, coming in between 6 and 11 hours per charge depending on how hard you push it. Lighter tasks, such as browsing the web, will sip the battery; watching 4K videos will deplete it roughly twice as fast.

CR’s test results: Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Core i5 laptop

This is a Chromebook with specs you’d expect to find on a more traditional laptop: an Intel Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and a spacious 256GB solid-state drive. That makes it fast and versatile, especially when you factor in the touch screen display. The battery life is a modest 7 hours, though, so this model may be best suited for those who are fine with being tethered to a charging cable for part of the day.

CR’s test results: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

For more discounts: Best Cyber Monday Deals on Laptops, Chromebooks, and Tablets

Televisions

This model, sold only at Best Buy, offers satisfying overall picture quality, though like many less-expensive sets, it falls short when it comes to HDR (high dynamic range) performance. The set uses the Android TV system and comes with built-in Google Assistant.

CR’s test results: Hisense 70A6G 70-inch TV

This 65-inch 4K smart TV from Samsung, an entry-level model in the company’s mainstream non-QLED 4K TV lineup for 2020, is a decent overall performer, though its HDR performance is ineffective, mainly due to peak brightness limitations. (Samsung TVs support the HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG HDR formats.) Compared with the TU8000 models above it, this set lacks a few features, including an enhanced game mode, and it has only two rather than three HDMI inputs.

CR’s test results: Samsung UN65TU7000 65-inch TV

This is one of the best deals we’ve seen so far. Just a few days ago, you could save $100 on the 65-inch 4K LCD/LED smart TV. But the price just dropped even more on a set that offers a lot for the money, including satisfying overall picture quality and a very effective HDR experience—something not many TVs in this price range can match. (The set—a Roku TV model in TCL’s step-up 6-Series for 2020—supports both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR formats.) It also uses mini LEDs in its full-array LED backlight with local dimming, which can help improve dark scenes and contrast.

CR’s test results: TCL 65R635 65-inch TV

For more discounts: Best Cyber Monday TV Deals

Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches

Yes, the Apple Watch Series 6 has been replaced by the newer Series 7, but it’s still a great option, especially at a nice price. With the Series 6, you get most of the Series 7’s top features, including a blood oxygen sensor that lets you see how effectively your body circulates oxygen during workouts and slumber, and an EKG function designed to detect unusual heart rhythms. The Series 6’s display is smaller, however.

CR’s test results: Apple Watch Series 6

Loaded with features and style, the Luxe is a fitness tracker that drifts into smartwatch territory. In addition to Fitbit’s robust array of fitness functions, the model adds an EKG function usually found on smartwatches and some stress-monitoring features. The slim, sleek, and shiny case works as well in the office as the gym. The deal at Kohl’s includes $30 in Kohl’s Cash.

CR’s test results: Fitbit Luxe

This slim, inexpensive tracker offers features such as sleep tracking. The reasonably small screen may send you to the manufacturer’s app in search of more detailed fitness data, but our testers found the heart rate monitoring and step count to be reasonably accurate. The model doesn’t have GPS, though, which makes it less useful for runners looking to keep track of their mileage.

CR’s test results: Garmin Vivosmart 4

Headphones

Unlike the AirPods Pro, these second-generation AirPods don’t get high marks for sound in Consumer Reports’ testing. But there’s no denying the appeal of true wireless earphones for many Apple fans. If you buy the earbuds with the standard charging case directly from Apple, you’ll pay $160, but a number of retailers are selling them for much less.

CR’s test results: Apple AirPods (second-generation) true wireless earbuds

You could spend top dollar on the latest noise-canceling headphones from Bose, or you could pick up an older model that gets the same score from our testers. The Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II is still one of the top picks in our noise-canceling headphone ratings. It has long battery life and other sophisticated features, such as adjustable levels of sound blocking and an ambient sound mode that lets outside noise in when you want to hear it.

CR’s test results: Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II over-ear headphones

Sony makes some of the best true wireless noise-canceling earbuds on the market, and the WF-1000XM4 is the company’s best model yet. You can expect exceptional audio quality and sound-blocking performance, our testing shows. These earbuds provide advanced features such as variable noise cancellation, which you can adjust to let in more or less sound; a monitor mode to actively pipe in audio from your surroundings; and the Speak-to-Chat function, which can automatically pause the music when you start talking.

According to Sony, the XM4 has a 5.5-hour battery life and comes with a portable charging case that holds 16 hours’ worth of power before it needs to be plugged in again. We’re not seeing jaw-dropping bargains on this model so far, but we have spotted a couple of worthwhile discounts.

CR’s test results: Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds

Bluetooth and Smart Speakers

The Dot’s smart speaker functionality rates right up there with Amazon’s best options, because the processing of Alexa voice commands is done on the company’s cloud-based servers. But the model’s sound leaves a lot to be desired. This is not a bad choice, though, as a) a stocking stuffer b) a speaker for podcasts and other less-than-demanding content or c) a way to add smart speaker functionality to a higher-quality Bluetooth speaker.

CR’s test results: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen.)

The Show 5 is Amazon’s smallest smart screen, which makes it flexible in terms of where and how you position it. But our testers report that the sound is kind of unpleasant: Grainy, hazy, smeared, and sizzly are some of the terms they use to describe it. So unless you’re very tight on money or space, you may want to spring for the larger and better-sounding Show 8.

CR’s test results: Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd gen.)

The previous generation Echo Show 8 has an 8-inch touch screen (ideal for displaying online recipes) and responds to voice commands (useful when you’ve got messy hands). The device’s footprint is also significantly smaller than that of the Show 10, which needs a beach-ball-sized space on a countertop to provide clearance for a rotating screen. As with many smart speakers, though, the Show 8’s sound quality is somewhat lacking according to our testers, who note the model’s strident high frequencies. The most significant feature found on the newer second-gen Show 8 is the camera’s ability to “follow” you around the room on a video call, a benefit that’s likely not worth the price difference.

CR’s test results: Amazon Echo Show 8

Think of the Charge 4 as the smaller sibling of JBL’s Xtreme 2; its light weight and more modest dimensions make it a great choice if you’re looking for a speaker that travels with you. It’s easy to use, has admirable sound quality, and delivers enough volume for a medium-sized room. It also features an internal power bank to charge other devices, and JBL says it’s water-resistant to 1 meter, a claim that CR didn’t test. Note that the deal price varies by color.

CR’s test results: JBL Charge 4 Wireless & Bluetooth Speaker

Gaming Headsets

Corsair Void RGB Elite Gaming Headset

This Bluetooth headset has a claimed battery life of up to 15 hours. It features 3D Audio Advantage technology for PlayStation consoles and Windows Sonic surround-sound tech for Xbox consoles. On-ear controls let you adjust the game and chat volume independently and apply preset settings for bass, treble, and voice chat. According to a participant in a recent CR headset study, the SuperHuman Hearing setting is helpful for detecting footsteps and other subtle sounds. You mute the microphone by flipping it upward. The headset is compatible with the Nintendo Switch; PS5, PS4, and PS4 Pro; Windows 10 PCs; and Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One, but you have to choose the correct model for your computer or console.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 Gaming Headset

This 2.47-gigahertz wireless model has DTS Headphone:X v2.0 surround-sound technology and a claimed battery life of 24 hours. On-ear controls let you adjust the volume, mute the microphone, and tweak the balance between game and chat audio. The mic retracts into an ear cup when you don’t need it. A user in our study mentioned that the headset comes with software that allows you to put more emphasis on footsteps or fire. Another admired the ski-goggle-style headband that keeps the plastic part off your head. The manufacturer also includes a 3.5-mm audio cord for wired use with mobile devices. The headset is compatible with Macs and PCs, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation. (The PS4 doesn’t support the surround-sound feature.)

Streaming Devices

This 4K version of Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is now priced at the same 50 percent discount we saw last Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. It offers a nice array of content and features, including voice control and support for Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+. Bonuses include the ability to control it from Alexa-enabled devices such as the Amazon Echo and Dot, and the included remote, which can be used to control power and volume on many TVs and sound bar speakers.

CR’s test results: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device

This streaming device usually goes on sale for $40, so if you’re in the market for a new one, this is a very nice price—one we typically see on Black Friday or Prime Day. The Roku platform gives you the ability to access all your streaming services in one place, offering a category-leading assortment of channels so that you don’t have to switch between devices.

CR’s test results: Roku Streaming Stick+ streaming device

This streaming device from the company famous for DVRs runs on the Google Android platform. It supports 4K videos with HDR10, Dolby Vision, or HLG HDR formats and Dolby Atmos sound. It comes with a tiny peanut-shaped TiVo remote, but you can use voice commands, too, with the built-in Google Assistant. The model supports most popular streaming services, from Netflix and Hulu to Sling TV and Peacock, but not Apple TV+.

CR’s test results: TiVo Stream 4K streaming device

Wireless Routers

This mesh router three-pack scores nearly as well as the eero Pro 6 below at less than half the price, so it may be the better value for most people. It supports automatic firmware updating and WiFi 6, too.

CR’s Test Results: Eero 6 3-pack

This well-rated router system has a base unit and two secondary units that you place strategically around your home to create a mesh network, eliminating dead spots and improving WiFi coverage throughout the dwelling. The model supports automatic firmware updating (which helps keep your data safe) and the latest WiFi 6 standard, which delivers faster speeds than WiFi 5, especially as you add more devices to your WiFi network. 

CR’s Test Results: Eero Pro 6 3 pack

This three-unit mesh router system performed well in our tests but doesn’t rate quite as high for speed at midrange and far distances. It’s also not compatible with the latest WiFi 6 standard, which might not be ideal for early adopters who routinely buy the latest smartphone and gadgets, because those are increasingly designed to reap the benefits of WiFi 6.

Given the relatively low price, however, there’s a lot to like here, including an easy app-based setup, a built-in Ethernet port, and automatic firmware updates, which protect you from hackers, malware, and other security vulnerabilities.

CR’s test results: Netgear Orbi AC1200 wireless mesh router (three-pack)

Webcams

Logitech Brio Webcam

This webcam, which we recently tested, can record video at up to 4K at 30 frames per second and has a 90-degree field of view, one of the wider ones we’ve tested. (Wider fields of view are better able to fit multiple subjects in the frame at once.) The picture quality is the best we’ve tested. The audio quality is good, with minimal distortion. Features include autofocus, auto white balance, and noise reduction. But consumers with new Macs that lack a USB Type A port will need a dongle to use the webcam because it comes with a USB Type A to USB Type C cord. The built-in privacy shutter blocks video from being recorded, but the indicator light doesn’t turn on to alert you when audio is being recorded.

Razer Kiyo Webcam

This webcam, designed for gamers and livestreamers, tops out at 1080p at 30 frames per second and has an 81.6-degree field of view, which is wider than most models we’ve tested. The picture quality is fair, and the audio quality is good and mostly sounds clear. Features include autofocus, auto white balance, and a built-in ring light with settings to adjust the illumination level, which can help improve image quality in environments with poor lighting conditions. The model lacks a privacy shutter, and the indicator light doesn’t turn on to alert you when audio is being recorded.

More Tech Deals

The X-T4 takes sharp pictures, features a high-quality swiveling LCD display, and delivers long battery life for a mirrorless model. The only drawbacks: It’s a little heavier than most mirrorless models and lacks a built-in flash. Getting $200 off on this body-only deal on a rarely discounted model makes this a solid bargain. 

CR’s test results: Fujifilm X-T4 OIS camera

The Nikon Z6 features a full-frame sensor and takes great video, and our testers liked the way it feels in the hand, even if it’s a bit heavier than similar models. This body-only deal represents a serious value on a serious camera.

CR’s test results: Nikon Z6 S camera

This model, which appears to be a Best Buy exclusive, is a full-featured 5.1-channel sound bar that comes with two wireless rear surround speakers, plus a wireless subwoofer. It’s well priced for its features and among the better-sounding sound bars in our ratings. Samsung advertises this model as a 7.1-channel system, but it’s not. It will, however, use a feature called Q-Symphony to sync the sound bar’s speakers to a compatible Samsung TV’s speakers. It also supports DTS Virtual:X, which uses signal processing to simulate a 3D audio experience.

CR’s test results: Samsung HW-Q65T/ZA

Samsung 15W Wireless Charging Stand

This model, one of the best wireless chargers CR has tested, has a built-in cooling fan and a gridded surface that lets air flow behind the device, which is meant to allow for faster charging. As a small trade-off, the charger is bulkier than most of its competitors.

The angled stand also allows you to view a phone’s screen in portrait or landscape position as it charges. The LED status indicator tells you when power is on, the device is charging, and the charging is complete. The model features a proprietary power cable, which could be a problem if you misplace it. It’s also relatively short at 3 feet, 2 inches long.