Sonos Play:5 Wireless Speaker, $500
This is a great gift for anyone who values sound quality and simple setup in a speaker. It’s pricey, but the Sonos Play:5 (shown) delivers very good sound and is easy to use because there are no wires to attach to anything. You can carry it from one room to another (it has enough power to fill a medium or large room with sound) or connect two or more wirelessly to pump sound throughout the entire house.
Creative Sound Blaster Roar Pro Wireless Speaker, $175
This versatile Creative Sound Blaster Roar Pro Bluetooth speaker produces satisfying sound from its 2.25x8x6-inch package. It connects wirelessly or via a 3.5-mm input and has a built-in MP3 player, allowing you to play your favorite tunes on a microSD card inserted directly into the speaker. It can even function as a PC computer’s audio output device.
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Apple TV (4th Generation), $150
Just as the Apple TV was starting to feel a bit dated, Apple launched this version with a faster processor, a cool new touchpad remote, and Siri voice control. (Miss something a character said? Siri will rewind the video by a few seconds and turn on captions.) Apple TV has always been a no-brainer for Apple fans, and this fourth-gen model makes the choice even easier.
Samsung UBD-K8500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, $320
Samsung’s UBD-K8500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player delivers excellent picture quality from new 4K Blu-ray discs, including those with high-dynamic range (HDR) technology. It’s also 3D-capable, can stream 4K videos, and will look great on the shelf: Its sleek, curved design mirrors the shape of many of Samsung’s 4K TVs.
Sonos Playbar, $700
Does your elephantine TV have mousy sound? Here’s a solution even discerning ears will applaud. In addition to delivering very good audio from your TV, the WiFi-enabled Sonos Playbar can team up with other Sonos speakers to create a multiroom sound system. It also streams from mobile devices and internet-based music services such as Pandora, SiriusXM, and Spotify.
LG SH7B Sound Bar, $350
Designed for TVs up to 50 inches, this 4.1-channel LG SH7B sound bar speaker system offers good overall sound (for music and movies) and comes with a wireless subwoofer for better bass response. It offers access to streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify, and the built-in Bluetooth lets you wirelessly send music to the speaker from a smartphone or tablet.
LG 55UH6550 55-Inch TV, $900
Getting a 4K TV doesn’t have to require breaking the bank. Case in point: This 55-inch Ultra High Definition TV from LG, which costs a fraction of the price of some other 4K TVs. But it still delivers excellent HD and UHD picture quality, excellent color accuracy, and excellent black levels (for enhanced contrast). The LG 55UH6550 also has advanced internet capabilities and a full web browser.
LG 32LH570B 32-Inch TV, $200
Looking for a smaller TV for an office or a bedroom? Consider this affordable 32-inch model. It’s not loaded with features, but the LG 32LH570B delivers very good high-definition picture quality and a wider-than-average viewing angle. It’s also a smart TV, so you can access Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube without having to buy a streaming media player.
Samsung UN40KU6300 40-Inch TV, $500
If your giftee has a small space and big TV dreams, this Samsung UN40KU6300 40-inch 4K set is a great gift. It’s well-priced and has excellent HD and Ultra HD picture quality and excellent color accuracy. Sound quality is good, and Samsung’s latest smart-TV platform lets you stream content from Amazon, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube.
Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise-Canceling Headphones, $350
These might not bring peace on earth, but this wireless pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 noise-canceling, over-the-ear headphones will certainly give you some peace and quiet at home, at the office, or on an airplane. They’re big and very comfortable, produce very good sound, and most important of all, are excellent at blocking out noise.
24-Inch Lenovo Ideacentre AIO 700, $900
Families with gamers will love this Lenovo Ideacentre AIO 700 all-in-one, lightning-fast desktop computer. It has enough muscle to handle video editing, and its 1-terabyte hard drive has room to store every family member’s favorite music (and at least a few of their favorite movies). It also has touch-screen functionality, a webcam, a very good display, and a wireless keyboard and mouse.
Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind Bagless UH70120, $130
Stellar cleaning performance on carpets and bare floors makes this light and lively 18-pound vacuum great for cleaning up kernels after a movie marathon. The Hoover WindTunnel T-Series UH70120 is also one of the few bagless uprights with a retractable cord. The only downside is that it lacks a brush on/off switch, which can safeguard bare floors and prevent scattering dust.
More Holiday Gift Ideas for . . .
- The Gadget Geek
- The Family Chef
- Your Favorite Foodie
- The Coffee Connoisseur
- The Social Animal
- The Globetrotter
- The Get Up and Go-Getter
- When You Have the Urge to Splurge
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the December 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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