The summer movie blockbuster season is already underway, but nowadays people can enjoy a similar experience right in the comfort of their own home. Televisions are clearer (and larger), sound systems are crisper and the availability of online streaming content means you don’t even have to leave your house to get the movie. So sit back in your favorite chair, put your legs up and check out some of the ways you can upgrade your home theater.
Television: An Ultra View
High-definition is no longer top of the line. In today’s television market it is all about Ultra HD. Sony’s XBR-65X900A ($7,000) is one of the manufacturer’s new 4K Ultra HD sets that displays over eight million individual pixels (3,840 x 2,160)—making it over four times clearer than the standard HDTV. Thanks to the TV’s 4K X-Reality PRO chip, even HD (or lower resolution) images are upgraded with refined details and brighter colors. This 65-inch television also comes equipped with Motionflow XR 960 technology, which can smooth out the picture where the camera failed to in order to make on-screen motion seem lifelike.
Media Streamer: A Popular Upgrade
Roku was already one of the most popular media streamers on the market, and its latest model should do nothing to hurt that standing. The Roku 3 ($100) is the smallest, fastest version yet—and it can stream a movie using 30 times less power than a gaming console. The interface was also updated to make it even easier to search through the more than 750 channels available to find the content you are looking for. The new remote comes with a built-in headphone jack for a private listening mode when you don’t want to disturb others.
Universal Remote: Complete Control
Logitech’s Harmony Ultimate ($350) is not like most remotes—it gives you control over everything. The Harmony Ultimate can control up to 15 devices and is compatible with over 225,000 home theater devices, including game systems such as PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 as well as Philips Hue lights so you can adjust your lighting to the perfect viewing experience from your seat. The remote can even control items behind cabinet doors and it has a 2.4-inch touchscreen that can be customized to include your favorite channels.
Speaker: The Music Bar
Sonos’ Playbar ($699) has a nine-speaker design that includes six mid-woofers and three tweeters in order to cast the widest sound-stage possible. Playbar also perfectly complements your TV’s internal speakers as the system self-adjusts based on its position for a rich, clear performance. The “Night Mode” feature boosts clarity at a lower volume so you don’t wake the rest of the house when you want to take in a late show. You can also stream your entire iTunes library to the Playbar as well as listen to your favorite online services and over 100,000 free radio stations.
Media Beamer: Small Screen to Big Screen
PLAiR ($99) is a new device from a start-up of the same name that allows you to send content you are watching on your mobile device or computer right to your HDTV. PLAiR is actually an HDMI dongle that you physically plug into your HDTV. Then you just have to download the app for your mobile device or the plug-in for your laptop or desktop. After that, beaming is easy. Every video you see on your mobile device or computer will now have a small beam icon in the top corner. Simply click it and the video starts playing on your HDTV.