Holiday Gifts for the Home Entertainment Aficionado

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The Voorhes


Video gamers, movie and music lovers, and couch potatoes of every stripe will be turned on by our experts' picks of the best televisions, speakers, and other entertainment gear of the season.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the December 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

This is a great gift for anyone who values sound quality and simple setup in a speaker. It’s pricey, but the Sonos Play:5 delivers very good sound and is easy to use because there are no wires to attach to anything. You can carry it from one room to another (it has enough power to fill a medium or large room with sound) or connect two or more wirelessly to pump sound throughout the entire house.

Just as the Apple TV was starting to feel a bit dated, Apple launched this version with a faster processor, a cool new touchpad remote, and Siri voice control. (Miss something a character said? Siri will rewind the video by a few seconds and turn on captions.) Apple TV has always been a no-brainer for Apple fans, and this fourth-gen model makes the choice even easier.

"This Roku model packs most of what you get with much larger Roku boxes into a small, flash-drive-shaped player that slips into a TV's HDMI port. It has excellent picture quality and is easy to set up–just plug it in and register on the Roku website. It also streams programs from all major services and alerts you when movies and TV shows you've been wanting to see are available."—Jim Willcox, Senior Electronics Editor

Xbox One S

"This is a cool two-for-one play and a great value. You get the latest Xbox gaming console and an Ultra HD blu-ray player, all in one compact unit. It also has excellent picture quality and built-in WiFi, so you can stream 4k content from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other services."–Elias Arias, Audio and Video Tester

Samsung’s UBD-K8500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player delivers excellent picture quality from new 4K Blu-ray discs, including those with high-dynamic range (HDR) technology. It’s also 3D-capable, can stream 4K videos, and will look great on the shelf: Its sleek, curved design mirrors the shape of many of Samsung’s 4K TVs.

Does your elephantine TV have mousy sound? Here’s a solution even discerning ears will applaud. In addition to delivering very good audio from your TV, the WiFi-enabled Sonos Playbar can team up with other Sonos speakers to create a multiroom sound system. It also streams from mobile devices and internet-based music services such as Pandora, SiriusXM, and Spotify.

Getting a 4K TV doesn’t have to require breaking the bank. Case in point: This 55-inch Ultra High Definition TV from LG, which costs a fraction of the price of some other 4K TVs. But it still delivers excellent HD and UHD picture quality, excellent color accuracy, and excellent black levels (for enhanced contrast). The LG 55UH6550 also has advanced internet capabilities and a full web browser.

Looking for a smaller TV for an office or a bedroom? Consider this affordable 32-inch model. It’s not loaded with features, but the LG 32LH570B delivers very good high-definition picture quality and a wider-than-average viewing angle. It’s also a smart TV, so you can access Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube without having to buy a streaming media player.

If your giftee has a small space and big TV dreams, this Samsung UN40KU6300 40-inch 4K set is a great gift. It’s well-priced and has excellent HD and Ultra HD picture quality and excellent color accuracy. Sound quality is good, and Samsung’s latest smart-TV platform lets you stream content from Amazon, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube.

Logitech 650 Universal Remote

"If your coffee table is starting to look like a remote-control crash pad, this universal remote, which can operate up to eight different electronic devices, is a smart and easy way to clean up the clutter."–Jim Willcox, Senior Electronics Editor

These might not bring peace on earth, but this wireless pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 noise-canceling, over-the-ear headphones will certainly give you some peace and quiet at home, at the office, or on an airplane. They’re big and very comfortable, produce very good sound, and most important of all, are excellent at blocking out noise.

Stellar cleaning performance on carpets and bare floors makes this light and lively 18-pound vacuum great for cleaning up kernels after a movie marathon. The Hoover WindTunnel T-Series UH70120 is also one of the few bagless uprights with a retractable cord. The only downside is that it lacks a brush on/off switch, which can safeguard bare floors and prevent scattering dust.


Consumer Reports

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