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Home Theater - Best Products Of The Year - 2010

Favorite Home Theater Products Of 2010 - About.com

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It is that time of year where every consumer electronics journalist picks their favorite products of the year. While many choose the most expensive and/or only high end products, I take the approach of picking items from a broad range of product classes and prices that provide a good value for the consumer. Here is the list of my favorite home theater-related product picks for 2010.

For an alternate view of the products on this list, check out my Home Theater Products of the Year - 2010 Photo Gallery.

1. LG PX950 Series THX 3D Certified Plasma TVs

LG Infinia PX950 THX Certified 3D TV on display at the 2010 CEDIA EXPO
Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Although making its debut late in the year, the LG Infinia PX950 Series Plasma TVs are definitely worthy of spot on any product of the year list. The LG Infinia PX950 Series are the first TVs that are THX Certified for both 2D and 3D performance.

These sets are compatible with 3D Blu-ray Discs, cable/satellite, and broadcast. 3D glasses must be purchased separately. Even if you don't partake in 3D, these sets produce great 1080p 2D images with the excellent motion and black level repsonse that Plasma technology provides. The PX950 series also provides access to internet content, such as Netflix and Vudu. The PC950's can also be used as a Skype terminal. The PX950 is available in either a 50-inch (50PX950) or 60-inch (60PX950) screen size.

2. Yamaha Aventage RX-A1000 3D-Compatible Network Home Theater Receiver

Aventage RX-A1000 3D-Compatible Network Home Theater Receiver - Front View w/Included Accessories
Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The Yamaha Aventage RX-A1000 Home Theater Receiver has power, up-to-date features, and an abundance of connectivity options. This receiver is rated to deliver 105wpc, and features Dolby Digital Plus, TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. On the video side, the RX-A1000 has eight 3D-compatible HDMI inputs with and dual HDMI outputs along with analog to HDMI video conversion and 1080p upscaling. Extra bonuses include Internet Radio, iPod, and Bluetooth connectivity (via optional adapters), as well as two subwoofer outputs. For more details and perspective on the Yamaha Aventage RX-A1000, check out my Review, Photo Gallery, and Video Performance Tests.

3. Toshiba BDX3000 3D Compatible and Network-Enabled Blu-ray Disc Player

Toshiba BDX3000 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories
Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The Toshiba BDX3000 is an affordable Blu-ray Disc Player that performs well. The BDX3000 provides 2D and 3D playback of Blu-ray Discs, 1080p upscaling of standard DVDs via HDMI output, and has a set of 7.1 channel analog audio outputs for connection to pre-HDMI home theater receivers.

The BDX3000 also provides built-in ability to stream audio/video content from the internet, such as Blockbuster Video, Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, and more. For more on the Toshiba BDX3000 3D and network-enabled Blu-ray Disc player, read my Review and also check out my supplementary Photo Profile and Video Performance Test Results.

4. XpanD Universal 3D Glasses

XpanD Universal 3D Glasses
Photo (c) XpanD Cinema
One of the sore points turning off many consumer from buying a 3D-TV is that those expensive 3D glasses branded for one manufacturer may not work another's 3D-TV. In other words, if you have a Samsung 3D-TV, your Samsung 3D glasses will not work with Panasonic's 3D-TVs. So, if you and your neighbors, friends, or relatives have different brand 3D-TVs, you will, in most cases, not be able to share each other's 3D glasses.

However, XpanD a third party company that makes 3D glasses for both commercial and consumer applications makes Universal 3D Glasses that can work on most currently available 3D TVs that use the Active Shutter system. For more details, check out XpanD's Official Announcement and the XpanD Universal 3D Glasses product page.

5. Toshiba 46WX800U Cinema Series 3D LCD NetTV with LED Edge Lighting

Toshiba 46WX800U Cinema Series 3D LCD NetTV with LED Edge-Light - Front View
Photos (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The Toshiba 46WX800U is one the new breed of TVs that incorporates 3D viewing and network media player capabilities, allowing access to both PC and online-based audio/video content. The 46WX800U also utilizes LED edge-lighting resulting in a thinner design and eco-friendly power consumption. In addition, the 46-inch 46WX800U also features a 1920x1080 (1080p) native pixel resolution, 120H refresh rate and 240hz Clearscan processing, 4 HDMI inputs, and two side mounted USB ports for accessing audio, video, and still image files stored on flash drives. To find out if the Toshiba 46WX800U is the right 3D/Network HDTV for you, check out my Review, Photo Gallery and Video Performance Tests. Also available in 55-inch screen size: (compare prices)

6. WD TV Live Hub by Western Digital

WD TV Live Hub by Western Digital
Photo (c) Barb Gonzalez - Licensed to About.com
It's about time that we have a network media player to rival the picture and sound quality of a Blu-ray Disc. The WD TV Live Hub is a stunning performer that comes close.

The newest media player in Western Digital's WD TV Live line has been named the Live "Hub" because it is more than a network media player. It is also a media server with an internal 1TB hard drive. You can use the WD TV Live Hub as a dumping ground to store media, rather than using network attached storage (NAS) or an external hard drive for your network's central media library. For more details and perspective on this exciting product, check out the review by About.com contributing writer, Barb Gonzalez.

7. Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR System

Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR Front View with Included Accessories
Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
If you are a TV and video recording fanatic, consider the Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR. If connected to an all-digital cable system, its three built-in tuners can allow recording of up to three TV shows simultaneously, while playing back a fourth. The Moxi can store recorded programs on its included 500GB hard drive, but can also accept external hard drives for increased storage capacity. Another bonus is that Moxi can also access streaming audio/video content from the internet.

In addition, a separate, compact, Moxi Mate unit can be added to a TV in another room for access of all the content stored on the HD DVR, as well as web-based content via network connection. For more details on the Moxi system, check out my Review and Photo Gallery

8. Paradigm SE Series Home Theater Speaker System

Paradigm SE Series Home Theater Speaker System - Speaker Grills Removed
Photos (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Finding a home theater speaker system that sounds great, looks great with your home decor, and is priced right, is not always easy. If you are looking for new set of loudspeakers for your home theater, you might want to check out the stylish and great sounding Paradigm SE Series Home Speaker System. The system consists of an SE center channel speaker, four SE-1 compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an SE 300 watt powered subwoofer. For all the details on how this system looks and sounds, check out my Review and my supplementary Photo Gallery.

9. EMP Tek Impression Series 5.1 Channel Bookshelf Home Theater Speaker Package

EMP Tek Impression Series 5.1 Channel Bookshelf Home Theater Package - Front View - Grills Removed
Photo(c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Balancing style, price, and sound quality can be a tough choice, when choosing a home theater speaker package. However, the EMP Tek Impression Series Bookshelf Home Theater Speaker Package satisfies on all three points well.

The E5Ci center channel speaker delivers good vocal presence and satisfactory detail for both movie and music listening applications.

The E5Bi satellite bookshelf speakers, which were used as both left and right mains and surrounds, projected sound into the room well.

In addition, the ES10i powered subwoofer is a good match for the system. However, from a design standpoint, it is large in relation to subs provided with more compact systems. For more details, check out my Short and Full Reviews, and Photo Gallery.

10. Panamax MX5102 Power Management System with Battery Backup

Panamax MX5102 Power Management System with Battery Backup
Photos (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
You've collected a lot of home theater components over the years. With each component upgrade or addition you have another power cord to plug in. After the wall outlet options run out, you add a surge protector, then another one, and then you still run out.

One solution to all this mess is to get a centralized power management system that not only provides all the outlets you need, but also includes additional connectivity organizes coax and ethernet cable connections, provides a practical way to monitor your voltage level, aids in clearing up power interference, and also provides emergency battery backup. One product that might do the job for you is the Panamax MX5102.

For more details, check out my Review and supplementary Photo Gallery.

11. Vivitek H1080 DLP Video Projector

Vivitek H1080 DLP Video Projector with Included Accessories
Photos (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
For less than $1,000, the Vivitek H1080 DLP Projector is a great value. With its stylish design this projector is compatible with almost any decor. With its native 1920x1080 (1080p) native pixel resolution and its 1,800 lumen output capability, the video quality is very good. Flesh tones and color saturation, once tweaked, also contribute to a satisfying viewing experience. Additional bonuses include two HDMI inputs, a built-in speaker for classroom and business use, and a very quick turn-on and cool down shut off time. I found the Vivitek H1080 to be a good performing and easy-to-use video projector. For more details, check out my Review as well as a supplementary Photo Gallery and Video Performance Tests.

12. OPPO Digital BDP-80 Blu-ray Disc Player with SACD/DVD-Audio Playback

OPPO Digital BDP-80 Blu-ray Disc Player with SACD/DVD-Audio Playback
Photos (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Introduced early in the year, the OPPO BDP-80 is a Blu-ray Disc player that has great video and audio quality. Blu-ray and Upscaled DVD playback is excellent. The BDP-80 is also one of a small number of Blu-ray Disc players that provide SACD and DVD-Audio playback. 2 USB ports are also available for importing images and sound from flash drives. the only downside is that BDP-80 does not feature internet audio/video streaming. However, if core video and audio performance is your main priority, the BDP-80 is a great choice. While this player is not currently in production, it is worth seeking out if you can find one via another source. For more details, check out my Review, as well as a supplementary Photo Profile and Video Performance Tests.
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