The holidays are all about home entertainment and gifts. And what better way to keep your family and friends happy and chatty than with great music and TV? Here are some ideas that will keep any house feeling light, full, and accessible to all.
Home Entertainment: Top Choices
The televisions available this year take advantage of recent advances in home entertainment technology. The TVs we’re highlighting provide great picture quality at different price points for different types of viewers. And if you’ve had enough of cable, there are options to satisfy your needs.
LG OLED C7
OLED TVs offer better image quality than LCD TVs – more contrast, enhanced brightness, bigger color range, more flexible displays. Not surprisingly, they are also more costly. But if your budget can handle it, then the 65-inch LG OLED C7 ranks atop many Top TV lists of 2017. It’s excellent picture quality, ultra-minimalist design, and – in relative terms – first “affordable” price-tag for an OLED TV make it a standout. Price: $2700 ($1700 for the 55-inch model).
If you’re looking for exceptional LCD picture quality at a great price, look no further than the TCL P-Series 55P607. It has first-rate image clarity, vivid color, and the ability to produce stunning HDR (high dynamic range) video. Price: $649 for a 55-inch set.
What is HDR? C|NET explains.
Are you looking for a small, affordable TV that’s easy to operate? The 32-inch TCL 32S305 Roku TV is the best TV for someone on a budget. Its interface is superb at this price point, with good picture quality as well. The only drawback is the S305’s lack of an ethernet port. Price: $170.
Want to “Cut the Cable” but still watch live TV? YouTube TV makes it possible to get cable TV without a set top box. YouTube TV is coming to AppleTV and Roku digital media players, as well as Samsung, LG, and other TVs. YouTube TV can also be accessed through your phone or computer via the internet. Price: $35/month.
Engadget on the new option.
Tom’s Guide on how it stacks up compared to Sling, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now.
Speakers & Headphones
Have a love for music and movies? Now’s the time to fill your house with sound and fun. The following audio equipment are a wonder to listen to, and provide great home entertainment, all at a great price.
The Sonos Playbar is an excellent addition to any audiophile or cinephile’s TV space. It offers beautiful sound quality and good rumble in the bass. By adding fantastic integration with various apps and other Sonos products, the Sonos Playbar is well worth the money. Price: $699.
Looking for Bluetooth speakers with great sound and impressive wireless connectivity that’s a cut above the competition? The near-indestructible UE Blast combines fantastic sound quality with the functionality of Amazon’s Alexa home assistant. Price: $230.
Learn more and see our reviews of Alexa and other home assistants.
Jabra Move Wireless
Jabra’s Move Wireless headphones are lightweight and combine strong performance and an energetic design. Price: $99 ($59.99 sale price, if you can find it)
RIVA WAND Series
RIVA’s first foray into the multi-room audio arena with the WAND series of speakers is an unmitigated success. Consisting of the larger RIVA Festival and the smaller Arena, the WAND series is nicely versatile. It sounds great with only one speaker in use, or with both working in tandem. The inclusion of Bluetooth capabilities, an optical port for home theater purposes, USB port, 3.5mm audio jack, wireless connectivity, and numerous Wi-Fi streaming options means you can use these speakers in nearly any situation with nearly any audio source. The deep, warm sound quality on these speakers is well worth a listen.
Price: $499 (Festival) + $249 (Arena) (currently $399 + $199).
Gaming systems just keep getting better and better, and continue to be great gifts for anyone. Here are two to consider.
Xbox One S
The Xbox One S offers everything a modern gaming console should: sleek design, high power, higher resolution picture for both gaming and streaming, and a 2TB hard drive. Price: $399 ($349 for 1 TB; $299 for 500GB).
The Nintendo Switch takes console gaming in a new direction with its portability, motion controls, and sleek design. It’s lacking some of the graphical or processing heights a stationary console like the PS4 or Xbox One might. But it offers fantastically-received games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Splatoon 2. Plus its versatility, and much better specs and capabilities than other mobile devices, makes this a system to consider. Price: $299.
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