All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.
So you’ve got all the gifts you need for the kids, your family and the friends who really matter. But it’s been a tough year, surely you deserve some joy as well. Maybe it’s time to upgrade that HDTV to a 4K OLED, or replace a not so great early-gen 4K set. And we’re sure you’ve been thinking of moving on from sad TV speakers. It’s time to treat yourself, in true Parks and Rec fashion. Here are some of the best home theater gadgets we’d recommend when budget isn’t an issue.
Apple TV 4K
While the latest Apple TV model isn’t a massive leap over its predecessor, there are a few updates that make it worthy of a holiday splurge. The redesigned Siri remote is a big improvement over the previous version, both app and streaming performance is quicker than ever and there’s support for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. As always, there’s deep integration with iOS, and HomeKit compatibility is a nice bonus. And when you tire of music and movies, the Apple TV also works as a gaming console with access to Apple Arcade and support for Bluetooth gamepads. — Billy Steele, Senior News Editor
Buy Apple TV 4K at Amazon – $129
BenQ HT2050A projector
A projector is a great gift for any of the cinephiles or gamers in your life, and for around $700, the BenQ HT2050A is the best budget 1080p projector available. Its DLP tech delivers where it counts with the best contrast (ANSI 1,574:1) and color accuracy in its class, and is reasonably bright as well, with 2,200 lumens in “vivid” mode. On top of that, it comes with a 1.3x zoom and vertical lens shift option for maximum installation flexibility. It’s also a nice option for gaming, thanks to the relatively low 16-millisecond input lag. The drawbacks include slightly excessive fan noise, rainbow effect and red-tinted 3D. — Steve Dent, Associate Editor
Buy BenQ HT2050A projector at Amazon – $799
65-inch LG C2 OLED TV
If you’re looking for the best possible TV to buy, there’s no question: Pick an OLED model. Personally I’d stick with LG’s C2, the latest generation of the company’s astounding OLED screens. Unlike LCD TVs, which rely on backlights, pixels on OLED TVs can turn themselves on and off individually. That allows them to capture inky blacks and deliver better contrast than most LCD panels. The C2 is only a slight revision of last year’s C1, but that’s mainly a testament to how great the previous model was. It has a 120Hz refresh rate for speedy gaming, as well as support for G-SYNC and Freesync to avoid annoying frame stuttering. Its wide viewing angles also mean everyone can get a perfect picture, no matter where they’re sitting. — Devindra Hardawar, Senior Editor
Buy 65-inch LG C2 OLED at Amazon – $1,799
Monoprice Monolith THX Atmos home theater speakers
Sometimes, a soundbar just doesn’t cut it. No matter how many drivers you can cram in, or how good the virtual surround sound is, nothing beats the immersion of a full home theater speaker setup. Monoprice’s Monolith series is one of the best options around: It sports a powerful center channel, your choice of towers or bookshelf speakers with upward-firing Dolby Atmos drivers, and subwoofers powerful enough to rattle your walls. There are tons of surround sound systems to choose from, but the beauty of the Monolith line is that it has all of the latest speaker tech and it’s reasonably priced, at least compared to other Hi-Fi systems. It used to be that you had to mix and match speakers to create an affordable surround setup. You can start small with a few towers and a subwoofer—and once you’ve got a complete system, you may never need to go to the cinema again. — D.H.
Buy Monolith speakers at Monoprice starting at $250
If you’re looking at a trendy Ultra Short Throw projector for a lucky loved one at Noel, the model that offers the best performance and features for the price is from a new brand. The $3,500 Formovie Theater 4K projector is a triple-laser model with up to a 150-inch projection size, 2,800 lumens of brightness and an excellent 107 percent Rec.2020 color gamut. It offers several features only found on much more expensive models, most notably Dolby Vision support. It also features Bowers & Wilkins speakers with Dolby Atmos sound, along with built-in Android TV 11. The biggest issue is that it doesn’t support the Netflix app right now, but that can be fixed with a $50 Chromecast or other device. — S.D.
Buy Formovie Theater at Amazon – $3,500
If you’re not a fan of the Apple TV, the Roku Ultra is the only other set-top box worth considering. It’s fast enough to stream 4K video with Dolby Vision, and it supports just about every streaming app you’d want. It also has a solid remote with voice-search capabilities, and you can still access all of Apple’s streaming video via the Apple TV app. And while Roku’s interface isn’t pretty, it’s fast and gets the job done. — D.H.
Buy Roku Ultra at Amazon – $90
Don’t let the smaller size of the Sonos Ray fool you, it offers the same stellar sound quality you’d expect from the company. It’s more compact than the beam but it can still handle TV and music audio with ease. There’s a good amount of bass for a speaker this size and the initial setup is a breeze. If you or someone on your list has a smaller space that needs an audio boost, this is a great option to compliment your watching and listening habits. Plus, it’s only $279 – a reasonable price for a speaker that offers as much as the Ray. — B.S.
Sony HT-A7000 soundbar
Sometimes when you’re shopping for the holidays, you’re willing to splurge for the best. When it comes to soundbars, Sony’s HT-A7000 is hard to beat. The 7.1.2-channel unit beams immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio around your living room. It’s also equipped with Sony’s own tech like 360 Spatial Sound Mapping, automatic room calibration, Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Front Surround. When paired with the company’s Bravia TVs, you can harness Acoustic Center Sync that allows the television speakers to act as the center channel. The A7000 doesn’t come with a subwoofer, but Sony offers two compatible models as well as multiple rear speaker options, so you can add-on to fit your giftee’s needs. — B.S.
Buy Sony HT-A7000 at Amazon – $1,400
LG CineBeam portable projector
LG’s CineBeam FP50KA portable home projector has been around awhile now, but it’s still the best portable projector for watching outdoor movies – a fun activity for the holidays. It’s highly portable and runs on batteries, but can deliver 100-inch, Full HD video for up to 2.5 hours. It packs a 30,000-hour LED lamp to maximize brightness and battery life, offers a generous array of ports (two HDMI and USB-C) and has LG’s webOS Lite Smart TV platform built in. At 2.1 pounds it’s light enough to take camping or schlep to a presentation and it’s reasonably priced at $500. — S.D.
Buy LG CineBeam FP50KA at Amazon – $500
Valencia Theater Seating Verona seats
Where your butt sits is just as important to your home theater as your screen and sound setup. You’ll want seats that you can lounge in for hours without hurting your back, and they need to be sturdy enough to survive real-world usage with pets and kids. Valencia’s Verona seats are a solid option if you want to replicate the experience of high-end theaters with reclining seats. They’re made out of genuine leather, and they offer separate reclining options for your back and head. And sure, they’re pricey, but a decent couch will set you back just as much as three Veronas. And, let’s face it, they’ll be far more comfortable for movie watching and gaming than your typical West Elm option. — D.H.
Leave a Reply