JBL’s retro-inspired Authentics speakers are on sale for nearly 25 percent off

JBL Authentics 200 sits on a table in a living room.
You can make Alexa and Google Assistant fight for your love with JBL’s retro-styled speakers. | Photo by Jon Porter / The Verge

I know that someone, somewhere, shares my thinking that the virtual assistants we’ve grown fond of are mortal enemies somewhere in a digital parallel universe. But JBL’s new line of Authentics speakers has warped everything I thought I knew about the ancient rivalry, allowing you to call on either assistant without toggling a setting.

Right now, you can pay as little as $274.95 ($75 off) for the JBL Authentics 200 at Amazon, Best Buy, and JBL’s online storefront, which is the best discount we’ve seen on the travel-friendly speaker. The Authentics 300 is also available for $349.95 ($100 off) from Amazon, Best Buy, and JBL, while the larger Authentics 500 can be had for $549.95 ($150 off) at Amazon, Best Buy, and direct from JBL.

JBL is the first to attempt a harmonious partnership between Google Assistant and Alexa. The idea’s infancy shows in its implementation, as you’ll occasionally feel a disconnect between the two. You can start a playlist using Alexa and adjust the volume or stop playback with a generic Google Assistant prompt, for example, but Google Assistant might then have trouble skipping to a specific track. The Verge’s Jon Porter encountered a few of these issues while managing timers and other scenarios, but the two assistants play well enough together.

In terms of specs, the 500 is bigger and louder than the others thanks to its larger drivers, integrated subwoofer, and Dolby Atmos support, but all three deliver impressive sound for their size. The clean, retro-inspired design of these speakers could add a nice contrast to a wooded shelf, perhaps, which is where the AC-powered Authentics 200 and 500 would have to live (the 300 includes an eight-hour battery). All three also feature top-mounted dials for volume, treble, and bass, along with a 3.5mm audio jack and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ethernet connectivity.

Read our hands-on impressions.

I love the convenience of built-in laptop webcams as much as anyone, but many of them are undeniably inferior to dedicated external webcams. There’s a good reason for that — they use bigger sensors for improved lowlight performance, and they often provide much sharper resolution and higher frame rates. The problem? No one wants to pack a webcam in their already bulging baggage. Opal’s Tadpole webcam addresses all of that, however, and is currently on sale at Amazon and direct from Opal for an all-time low of $129 ($46 off).

The Tadpole is a tiny webcam designed specifically for laptops. It’s a 1.25-inch square puck with a distinctive aesthetic that’s somehow bold yet simplistic. The 48-megapixel, 4K-capable Sony IMX582 sensor offers a noticeable improvement in sharpness and dynamic range over the webcam on the latest MacBook Air, and the rear clip gives you just enough room to mount it over your laptop’s built-in webcam. Given it’s roughly as thick as a pack of gum, you should be able to find ample room for it while traveling (even in your pockets if needed). Opal also built a touch-capacitive mute button into its USB-C connector, saving you from having to peck around in various apps when you want to disable the mic.

Read our hands-on impressions.

More deals and discounts

  • If you’re looking for something more portable than JBL’s Authentics speakers, the JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds are on sale for an all-time low of $199.95 ($50 off) at Amazon, B&H Photo, and JBL. The included charging case has a 1.45-inch LCD touchscreen for controlling playback and managing other settings, and while it doesn’t enable anything you couldn’t already do with your phone, it’s a neat trick for a pair of earbuds that measure up decently to our favorite wireless earbuds on other core metrics. Read our review.
  • Sony’s WH-1000XM5s are down to $328 ($72 off) at Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo, matching their Black Friday low. The XM5s are a respectful refinement of their universally praised predecessors with improved sound and comfort, which is why they still top our list of the best noise-canceling headphones. Read our review.
  • If you need a one-stop home charging solution, Anker’s 321 Power Strip is on sale at Amazon for $14.96 — the best price we’ve seen so far — thanks to an $11 discount. Capping the end of a five-foot extension cable is a cube with three AC outlets, two USB 3.0 ports, and a USB-C port that can deliver up to 20W of power for fast charging. Need more wiggle room? You can step up to the 10-foot version for as low as $20.39 (about $10 off) at Amazon.
  • Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Air is back down to its Black Friday price of $999 ($300 off) at Best Buy, which is still the lowest price we’ve seen. To put the value into perspective, that’s still the starting price of the original M1 Air Apple released in 2020 (though, that model is almost always on sale for $250 less these days). The current promo price applies to the base model with 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and an M2 chip, but you’ll find the same $300 discount applies to other configurations as well. Read our review.