Upgrade That Home Theater: Eight Great Gift Ideas for 2018
Looking to help someone upgrade their personal home theater this year? One of the nice things about having a personal home theater is getting the surround sound benefits of a real theater without having to put up with the annoying sounds of people talking on their cell phones, babies and young children making noise or chatterboxes commenting about everything that’s happening on the screen. Check out our picks from some of the best home theater tech that would make great gifts this year.
Buy This Gift for Someone Who Wants Streaming 4K Video
Definitely a solid upgrade for anyone with an older streaming set-top box like the early Roku boxes or an Apple TV, the Roku Ultra is one of the top set-top boxes to access applications like Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU and Amazon Instant Video. Able to stream 4K Ultra HD video, other features of the Roku Ultra include HDR capability, a remote control finder, headphone jack in remote, universal search across all apps and 802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi connectivity.
MSRP: $100 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $70
Buy This Gift for Someone Who Wants Dolby Atmos / DTS:X Audio
Ideal for someone with speaker already, the Onkyo TX-NR686 5.2.2-channel Network A/V Receiver will bump up a home theater into the 4K world. Including decoding for the newest audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, this receiver supports both HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 as well as HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It also includes built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Airplay for streaming music from services like Pandora and Spotify.
MSRP: $449 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
Buy This Gift for Someone Who Hates Their Cable Box
While cable companies are catching up slowly, TiVo is still a superior company when it comes to user interface and the quality of the software on DVR boxes. Enter the TiVo Bolt Vox, a killer DVR box that offers 4K Ultra HD recording and a commercial break skip option that will zip you through your favorite shows. The base model of the Bolt can record 4 shows at once with a 500 GB recording capacity (75 Hours).
MSRP: $169 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
Buy This Gift for Someone Who Needs to Protect their Home Theater
It’s surprising how often people purchase expensive televisions and home theater systems, but neglect to protect their investment with a powerful surge protector. While Monster has actually produced a decent line of these devices, we are partial to the Tripp Lite HT10DBS surge protector. This hardcore surge protector provides 3840 joules of total protection and includes connections for coaxial cable, the home phone line and the high speed Internet line.
MSRP: $139 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $48
Buy This Gift to Upgrade Audio in a Bedroom / Office / Apartment
Using a full home theater setup with a large 12-inch subwoofer is not ideal for small rooms or apartments. It’s tough to fit tons of large speakers into a small area and can rattle your neighbors if living in a multi-unit apartment. That’s where the Yamaha YAS-108 Sound Bar with built-in subs comes in. This 35-inch soundbar provides a much higher quality of audio than speakers built into a television while keeping the volume tolerable for small or shared spaces.
MSRP: $199| Lowest Price on Ben’s: $150
Buy This Gift for Someone Who Isn’t Happy with a “Small” 70-inch HDTV
Definitely a great gift for someone with a room in their home dedicated to a home theater, the Optoma UHD50 projector offers 4K playback as well as HDR10 playback. Providing 2,400 lumens of total brightness, you can easily project a 140-inch image from 16 feet away. The projector includes two HDMI inputs if connecting a secondary video source like a gaming console.
MSRP: $1,499 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $999
Buy This Gift for Someone Who Already Has an A/V Receiver
Ideal for someone setting up their first 7.1 system, the Onkyo SKS-HT993THX 7.1 Ch. THX speaker system is an extremely well-reviewed speaker package that includes a solid 130-watt rating per speaker and a 125-watt, 12-inch subwoofer. The speakers have a fairly small footprint compared to large, floorstanding models and are ideal for content with significant directional audio effects such as action movies or video games.
MSRP: $799 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $599
Buy This Gift for Someone Who Hates Having Seven Remote Controls
While the Harmony Elite is getting great reviews, we actually recommend going with a previous generation model due to the high $300+ price tags of the new Harmony models. Check out the Harmony Touch Universal Remote (with color touchscreen) at a $100 sale price ($200 MSRP) or the Logitech Harmony Home at a $75 sale price ($150 MSRP). Both will give you significant control over the remotes currently lost in your couch cushions.
MSRP: $249 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $60