RHT 2016 Holiday Gift Guide
By Chris Heinonen on
With the Holiday season approaching, we put down our thoughts on what we used this past year that was useful or fun in our home theaters. Lots of these aren’t things we have reviewed, but things we want in our home theater for ourselves, or things we want to own and test.
Favorite Reviewed Products
LG OLED: The best looking TV we’ve ever used. No TV that any of us have used have caused the dropped jaws or other reactions from guests that the LG E6 OLED has. Now that the B6 OLED has significantly dropped in price and the updated firmware has fixed the main flaws, most of us are trying to figure out how we can get one into our home theaters this Christmas.
KEF Reference Series: After reviewing these, Mark went out and bought them for himself. They look and sound fantastic, and everyone at RHT has become a convert to the KEF sound at this point. We also have a review of their in-wall THX system coming up soon, which we redid one of our home theaters in this fall.
Roku Premiere+/Ultra: The review isn’t quite up as we post this, but the Ultra or Premiere+ is the best UltraHD media streamer going today. It alone offers Amazon and Netflix in UHD with HDR and WCG support, essential for TVs and projectors that don’t have those services integrated. Combined with the classic easy Roku interface and a new form factor that drops the fan, it’s the best media streamer for UHD today.
Anthem MRX 1120: This review is also forthcoming, but rest assured this receiver has no issue powering the nine channel reference theater in one of our homes. Anthem Room Correction makes the bass tamed to the room while not altering the sound of the main speakers, and 8 HDMI inputs is plenty for most people though we are getting close to filling them all up ourselves. A real world class receiver.
HDHomeRun: Initially we just thought this would be a decent TV tuner option for our Vizio P-Series, but it has been much more than that. Being able to watch TV while being anywhere in the house, on almost any device, has been fantastic. We can have one football game up on the TV while streaming another one to our laptop or phone, and in full over-the-air HD quality. You can even use your Shield TV or NAS as a DVR making it a very flexible way to watch TV.
Cool Gear We’ve Bought or Used
We haven’t reviewed all of these products, but we’ve used them and are things we can recommend despite the lack of a full review today.
Amazon Dot: We held out a long time but finally bought a Dot when the updated version was released. For $50 it really is a no-brainer to add to your home. We use them all the time while in the kitchen to start or stop music and setting timers, while they also are able to control our home theater with a Harmony Elite and the lights with Lutron Caseta or WeMo. For $50 you really can’t go wrong.
NES Classic Edition: We’re stalking stores to find them in stock, but getting the pixel-perfect games of our youth in a tiny box is perfect. Just make sure to buy controller extensions as the included 2.5’ cables are too short for anyone.
XBox One S: By adding bitstream support for audio soon, the updated XBox One S can now work as a full fledged UHD Blu-ray player including Atmos and DTS:X. Given that it has a price that is almost the same as the cheapest UltraHD Blu-ray player on the market and it can play games, for lots of people it is a better option.
Demo Material: This year we’ve found ourselves coming back to some of the same demo material over and over again. Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Zootopia on Blu-ray, Deadpool, The Revenant, and Sausage Party (amazingly) on UltraHD Blu-ray, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Uncharted 4, and Gears of War 4 for video games. For things that show off what your home theater can do, these all offer great image and audio quality.
Denon X4300H AV Receiver: Mark just added this to his system because for only $1,500 you get Atmos and DTS:X support, Audyssey XT32 with Sub EQ HT for his dual JL Audio f113s, integration with his HEOS wireless speakers, and plenty of inputs for all the future HDMI 2.0 gear he’s likely to add. Spending a lot more adds a bit more power or amp channels, and spending less loses dual HDMI outputs for his projector + TV setup and the ability to run a 9 channel Atmos system without a dedicated amp. It even includes a free HEOS 1 wireless speaker right now.