This post sponsored by Best Buy
I’ve been a home theater buff since the earliest surround-sound systems came out back in the 1980s. Since then, I’ve seen my home theater transform from a 25″ Trinitron CRT with a Betamax Hi-Fi deck, giant speakers and a standalone Dolby processor to a razor-thin 64″ plasma TV with a Blu-ray player, a couple of game consoles and a 7.1 surround system.
Not only are today’s home theater options so much more refined, the image and sound quality is often more pristine in your home than in today’s crummy multiplex theaters. With that in mind, I though I’d throw out some ideas for home theater holiday gift-giving.
The centerpiece of any home theater these days is the screen. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to picture quality, and must have the best possible image quality. If a screen 64″ or under is big enough for you, then I personally recommend going with a plasma set. My personal fave has to be the Samsung 8000 series plasma TV ($2899.98 USD). I’ve got the 64″ model in my media room and I couldn’t be happier with the display.It’s got an amazing Full HD 1080p panel, with stellar black levels and an beautifully sharp and cinema-like picture. I’ve actually got the 2011 model, but the latest version adds even more features, especially in terms of the Internet “Smart TV” capabilities, with full support for Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Blockbuster and more. While it’s not the least expensive TV you can buy, you can’t beat the cinematic image quality for the price. It’s also got full support for 3D. That said, for some of you guys, bigger is always better, and you can’t go wrong with Epson’s latest PowerLite 3020e Home Cinema projector ($1799.99.)
This beast can output a full 1080p image at sizes up to 180 inches! It packs in a bright 2300 lumen light source, so you can even watch in a room without great light control. I also love how it offers wireless HDMI for up to 5 devices, so you don’t have to worry about running wires from your video sources to the projector. The image is brought to life using three 1920×1080 LCD panels, offering a substantial 40:000 to 1 contrast ratio. Like the Samsung flat-panel, it also supports active 3D.
While some home theaters can really take over a dedicated space, with today’s big flat-screen TVs making their way into our living rooms, sometimes that’s all you need. However, many of us can’t really stand wires running all over the place and surround sound speakers taking up room in our main living space. That’s where soundbar technology comes into play. And while there are dozens of soundbars on the market these days, I’m still a fan of Yamaha’s models.
Their innovations with simulated surround sound have impressed me for years, and now they’ve got some very reasonably priced options if you don’t want to drop nearly $2000 on their top-of-the-line model. The Yamaha YSP-2200 does an awesome job simulating 7.1 surround sound from a single small bar that sits at the bottom of your HDTV.
The slim 3-1/8″ tall bar offers 3 HDMI inputs so you can connect multiple devices, as well as an ample, but compact subwoofer for deep bass. It’s also got an auto-calibration feature which can optimize sound for your room nearly instantaneously. The virtual surround is very impressive, and you’ll really think there are speakers behind you – especially if you have a square or rectangular room.
If your gift recipient is already set with their TV and sound system, not to worry. I’ll be following up in a couple of weeks with some more gift ideas for taking home theater to the next level with gifts under $300.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Technabob received compensation for writing it, however, we only recommend products or services we find interesting or have used personally, and believe will be good for our readers.