A.I. rocks? It does when you power up the Google Home MAX smart speaker

Pump up the volume, and order me some takeout

This year, you can bet that smart speakers, or home hubs, or smart home speakers or whatever those things are called, are going to be a big hit this holiday season. Let’s face it, talking to an inanimate object and having it order you a pizza and turn on the lights is a special kind of magic. But what’s even more magical? When it can also rattle the windows with high-quality sound. And for that, we found a great option: The Google Home MAX.

Because, who knew that Google’s A.I. could really rock out? The nearly 12-pound MAX lets the good times roll, with a pair of 4.5-inch woofers helped out by a pair of tweeters, and we have to say, it sounds pretty great. And, of course, it also functions as a smart home hub, although when the volume is up, you do have to kinda yell at it to get its attention. Not cheap, though: At $400 bucks it’s as pricey as some complete audio systems.

Home is where the home theater is

We are in the home stretch towards the holiday season, and if your home audio system is, say a bit on the older side of things, we’ve got a great story on how to upgrade to the latest gear – and keep it all pretty invisible while it entertains you. We rolled into this home here and started pulling out the nice but dated gear and replacing it with state-of-the art modern equipment including Apple TV boxes, Dolby Atmos- capable surround sound amplifiers, a 4K UltraHD Bluray player, a quiet new 4K projector and other needed devices, including Control Four remote interfaces throughout the house.

The end result? The house actually required a bit less gear that worked far better, and operating it all became a simpler exercise as well. We’ll be looking at more details on how the system came together in future episodes, but if you’re thinking of upgrading your home audio and video systems, this is a good look at some worthwhile options.Gutting this A/V rack was just the start of our home-theater overhaul

The literal warm and fuzzy story

Everyone likes a feel-good holiday story, especially if it includes video games. Meet Mikah Frye, age 9, an Ohio kid who just wanted a new Xbox for Christmas. He saved up a bunch of money for the console, but when saw some homeless people on the street who needed blankets, he put his cash to good use – and bought a whole mess of blankets that went to a shelter for the less fortunate – the same shelter Mikah spent some time in when his family had fallen on hard times a few years back.

Word of Mikah’s generosity got around, and it didn’t go unnoticed at Microsoft. Mikah and his family got a private visit to a Microsoft store where two big bags full of goodies – including a new Xbox One console – were waiting. Have fun, Mikah, you deserve it. We’ve got the full video from Fox 8 in Cleveland right here.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcastsTrends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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