The home theater gear worth gifting this year (even if the giftee is you)

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This way you have all the gifts you need for the kids, your family and the really important friends. But it was a tough year, you certainly deserve some joy too. Maybe it’s time to upgrade that HDTV to 4K OLED or finally get away from sad TV speakers. It’s time to do yourself a treat, in true Parks and Rec fashion. Here are some of the best home theater gadgets we would recommend if budget is not an issue.

Apple TV 4K

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While the latest Apple TV model isn’t a huge leap from its predecessor, there are a few updates that make it worthy of some vacation treat. The redesigned Siri remote is a big improvement over the previous version, both app and streaming performance are faster than ever, and there is support for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. As always, there’s deep integration with iOS, and HomeKit compatibility is a nice bonus. And when you’re tired of music and movies, the Apple TV doubles as a game console with access to Apple Arcade and support for Bluetooth gamepads. – Billy Steele, senior news editor

Buy Apple TV 4K on Amazon – $ 169

BenQ HT2050A projector

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A projector makes a great gift for any of the cinephiles or gamers in your life, and for around $ 800 the BenQ HT2050A is the best 1080p projector available. Its DLP technology delivers where it counts with the best contrast (ANSI 1,574: 1) and color accuracy in its class and is also relatively bright with 2,200 lumens in “vivid” mode. In addition, it has 1.3 times Zoom and a vertical lens shift option for maximum installation flexibility. Thanks to the relatively low input lag of 16 milliseconds, it is also a nice option for games. The disadvantages include slightly excessive fan noise, rainbow effect and reddish 3D. – Steve Dent, associate editor

Buy BenQ HT2050A Projector On Amazon – $ 850

65-inch LG C1 OLED TV

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LG

When looking for the best possible TV to buy, there is no question about it: choose an OLED model. Personally, I would stick with LG’s C1, the latest generation of the company’s amazing OLED screens. In contrast to LCD televisions, which rely on backlighting, pixels in OLED televisions can turn on and off individually. This enables them to capture deep black tones and provide better contrast than most LCD panels. The C1 isn’t much different from last year’s CX line, but it’s LG’s most advanced OLED to date. It has a refresh rate of 120 Hz for fast gaming as well as support for G-SYNC and Freesync to avoid annoying image judder. Thanks to the wide viewing angle, everyone can get a perfect picture, no matter where they sit. – Devindra Hardawar, Managing Editor

Buy 65-inch LG C1 OLED TV on Amazon – $ 2,500

Monoprice Monolith THX Atmos home theater speakers

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Monoprice

Sometimes a soundbar just isn’t enough. No matter how many drivers you can accommodate or how good the virtual surround sound is, nothing beats being immersed in a complete home theater speaker setup. Monoprice’s Monolith series is one of the best options out there: it has a powerful center channel, tower or bookshelf speaker of your choice with top-firing Dolby Atmos drivers and subwoofers powerful enough to drive your walls to rattle. There are tons of surround sound systems to choose from, but the nice thing about the Monolith line is that it features the latest in speaker technology and is reasonably priced at least when compared to other hi-fi systems. Before, you had to mix and match speakers to create an affordable surround setup. With a few towers and a subwoofer, you can start small – and once you have a complete system, you may never have to go to the movies again. – DH

Buy Monolith Speakers at Monoprice starting at $ 250

Optoma Cinemax P2

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Optoma

With high brightness and easy setup, ultra short throw projectors are all the rage these days – making them the ultimate gift for any movie lover. The CinemaX P2 is the best among those for the price thanks to a good combination of functions. It delivers 3,000 lumens of brightness while offering good contrast and accurate colors with 80 percent DCI-P3 coverage. The 40-watt NuForce Dolby Digital 2.0 soundbar is one of the best on any ultra-short throw projector, and it’s relatively stylish in white. On the flip side, while it does offer apps, these aren’t as good as you can find on Google’s Chromecast, for example – although that’s a simple solution as it has three HDMI 2.0 ports. – SD

Buy Optoma CinemaX P2 on Amazon – $ 3,300

Roku Ultra

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If you’re not a fan of Apple TV, the Roku Ultra is the only other set-top box worth considering. It’s fast enough to stream 4K videos with Dolby Vision, and it supports almost any streaming app you want. It also has a solid remote control with voice search capabilities, and you can still access all of Apple’s streaming videos through the Apple TV app. And while Roku’s user interface isn’t pretty, it is quick and gets the job done. – DH

Buy Roku Ultra on Amazon – $ 99

Sonos Arc

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Sonos finally rolled out an upgrade to its aging Playbar last summer when it debuted the Arc. In addition to an updated design, the soundbar also supports Dolby Atmos, making it an excellent choice for the living room. True to the line of Sonos, the Arc is also great for music, and you have the option to add a subwoofer or satellite speakers as you see fit. It also works as part of a new or existing Sonos multiroom setup and every time you add the main living room configuration the arc automatically adjusts to make up for the extra equipment. – BS

Buy Arc on Sonos – $ 899

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar

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Sony

Sony’s Atmos-enabled sound bars are some of the best, and the latest top-end model is no different. The A7000 replaced the HT-ST5000 as the flagship in the company’s product range, only this time the soundbar did not include a wireless subwoofer. Instead, Sony gives you the option to expand your home theater setup as needed. The company offers two subwoofer options as well as a pair of rear speakers. However, the A7000 alone is a 7.1.2-channel device that comes with HDMI 2.1 with eARC, as well as 8K and 4K / 120 Hz passthrough. This means that Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision are both in-game and have ample support for gaming. Plus, wireless connectivity includes Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect if you just need a few tunes. – BS

Buy Sony A7000 from Crutchfield – $ 1,298

65-inch TCL 6 series smart TV

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If OLED is too rich for your blood, consider TCL’s MiniLED-powered 6 series. It has far more backlight zones than typical LCDs, which can result in black and contrast levels approaching those of OLED. However, the lower cost is the big selling point here, leaving you with enough cash to invest in your sound system. It’s a solid starter for both watching movies and gaming. The 6 Series also includes some of the most affordable 8K TVs on the market, although we recommend waiting at 8K for more content to actually become available. (Something that can take a long time.) – DH

Buy 65-inch TCL 6 Series TV on Amazon – $ 1,139

Valencia theater style seating in Verona

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Valencia theater seating

Where your bum sits is just as important to your home theater as your screen and sound setup. You want seats that you can lounge in for hours without hurting your back, and they have to be sturdy enough to withstand real-world use with pets and children. Valencia’s Verona seats are a solid option if you want to recreate the experience of a high-end theater with reclining seats. They are made of real leather and offer separate reclining options for the back and head. And sure, they’re expensive, but one decent couch will set you back as much as three Veronas. And let’s face it, they’re a lot more convenient for watching and playing movies than your typical West Elm option. – DH

Buy Verona seats from Amazon – $ 1,750

Vizio M-Series 5.1 soundbar

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Vizio

If you have less space or just don’t justify running cables in your living room for a complete home theater system, Vizio’s M-Series 5.1 Soundbar Kit offers great value. It supports Dolby Atmos for enveloping surround sound and is equipped with wireless rear channels and a subwoofer. Best of all, it’s far cheaper than competing systems (although you can switch to other Vizio Atmos options like the rotating Elevate if you wish). Think of the M-Series as a solid introduction to the world of surround sound (and one that shouldn’t be badly replaced if you want bigger speakers). – DH

Buy Vizio M-Series 5.1 Soundbar on Amazon – $ 328

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