Our Favorite Things of 2019
By Chris Heinonen on
At the end of the year, we like to look back at our favorite reviews this year. We’ve watched a lot of movies, listened to a lot of music, and reviewed lots of products. At the end of the year, these are the best things we’ve seen over 2019.
The Wizard of Oz 4K Blu-ray
A movie made 80 years ago has never looked better than this disc. With a glorious transfer that preserves all the Technicolor glory of the film, viewers of all ages will get to enjoy the film as never before. Yes, they should have included the mono soundtrack, and I would have loved to see an Atmos track, but overall the image is amazing and the story is as great as ever, so this is an easy recommendation.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 4K Blu-ray
Our favorite film from 2018, and a disc that is reference quality in both audio and video. The story here is much better than expected, and we’ve watched it countless times this year as have our kids. The soundtrack starts up at the credits and never backs off, while the image quality is as good as animation gets. There are bright, bold HDR highlights and colors that move well past the DCI/P3 color gamut. As TVs cover more of Rec2020 in the future, this movie will just keep looking better.
NAD M10 BluOS Stereo Receiver
High-end audio companies have finally caught up with how people listen to music in 2019. While some people might still love their pure analog systems, most people want to integrate them with their TV and enjoy soundtracks along with the music. With a high-quality amplifier, support for HDMI ARC, superb Dirac room correction, and a well designed compact form factor, the NAD M10 delivers on all fronts. If I’m building a living room system where I want high-quality stereo movies and music, the NAD M10 is what I put at the heart of it.
TCL 8-Series 75″ MiniLED TV
While we haven’t written a review here of the TCL 8-Series, we’ve been testing the 75” version and it’s the best LCD we’ve used since the Sony Z9D. With 2000 nits of brightness, 900 local dimming zones, and an accurate image, the TCL 8-Series is what I want in my living room today. It’s not perfect (no HDMI 2.1 features like eARC, no cable routing, no backlit remote) but it offers so much more value compared to other LCDs in the same price range that the TCL would be our first pick. It’s crazy to think that TCL made the best LCD TV of 2019, but it seems to be true.
SVS PB-3000 Subwoofer
The SVS PB-3000 subwoofer offers a ton of performance in an affordable package. With a 13” driver, a 2,500-watt amplifier, and an integrated PEQ to fix room issues, the PB-3000 had no trouble filling my 1,200 cubic foot room on its own. Those with larger rooms might want a dual pack or something like the SVS PB-16, but for an average-sized home theater, the PB-3000 is fantastic at this price.
Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Disc
While we don’t have a full review of this up yet, it’s been a staple for us since it was released earlier this year. As a reviewer, the advanced test patterns let us figure out what a TV or projector can do and where it falls short. For someone setting up their TV or projector, it helps you get the right basic TV settings, as well as figuring out what settings you want for motion and local dimming by giving you some patterns to stress test that. And the demo montage is some of the best 4K video you’ve ever seen.
KEF LSX Speaker System
We love KEF speakers and use them in our home theaters. We love the sound of the UniQ driver and have been big fans of the KEF LS50W system since it was released. The KEF LSX system cuts the price of that in half in a smaller package but still offers superb performance. For an office, bedroom, or even smaller living room system, the LSX is great. It comes in multiple colors, accepts input from a TV, has AirPlay 2, and still sounds fantastic.
SVS Prime Pinnacle Speaker
For $1,500 I don’t know of a better pair of speakers you can get. They out-performed their price by a huge margin, from solo piano and guitar to movies with deep bass and explosions. Pairing these with the NAD M10 above provided a superb two-channel system that never left me with the urge to go back to my reference speaker system. The piano black finish is very attractive, and I’d highly recommend these to anyone looking for a two-channel or a full surround sound system.