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 2009. For an alternate view of the products on this list, check out my Home Theater Products of the Year - 2009 Photo Gallery.
The OPPO BDP-83 is a feature-packed Blu-ray Disc Player that is also an excellent performer. Besides Blu-ray disc playback, the BDP-83 also provides excellent 1080p upscaling of standard DVDs using Anchor Bay VRS technology. Also, other features, such as SACD and DVD-Audio playback, front and rear mounted USB ports for importing images, video, and music from flash drives, add great audio and video flexibility. Although having a somewhat higher price tag than many players, the OPPO BDP-83 takes Blu-ray Disc Player performance and flexibility to the highest level. To find out if the OPPO BDP-83 is right for you, check out my Short and Full Reviews, as well as a supplementary Photo Profile and Video Performance Tests.
LG has experience with both the now-defunct HD-DVD and surviving Blu-ray Disc formats, and was the first manufacturer to introduce a networked Blu-ray Disc player at CEDIA 2008. However, their new BD390 expands on the success of their previous networked Blu-ray Disc player platform and incorporates not only expanded video and audio streaming options (which include CinemaNow, YouTube, Vudu, and Netflix), but wireless network connectivity via built-in WiFi. This is definitely a player for those that want a complete Blu-ray and internet streaming entertainment experience.
The DVDO Edge is a feature-packed, affordable, standalone video scaler and processor that delivers what it promises. Anchor Bay VRS technology enables the DVDO Edge to deliver the best possible image on an HDTV from Composite, S-Video, Component, PC, or HDMI sources. In addition, other features, such as 6 HDMI inputs (including one on the front panel), a complete array of NTSC, PAL, and HD output resolutions, variable zoom adjustment, mosquito noise reduction, and audio synch give the DVDO Edge a great deal of flexibility. To find out more about the DVDO Edge, and whether it is a product that is right for you, check out my Short and Full Reviews, as well as my Photo Profile and Video Performance Test Results.
The Yamaha RX-V3900 is a high-end home theater receiver designed to be a complete centerpiece for a home theater system. Having used the RX-V3900, I can say that it just about does everything except make the popcorn and pour the soft drinks. With features such as extensive audio decoding options (including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio), HDMI upscaling and switching, iPod connectivity and control, XM/Sirius Satellite and Internet radio (including Rhapsody access), and also built-in Network and Bluetooth capability, this receiver can perform any audio or video task required now, and in the foreseeable future. Check out both my Short and Full reviews, as well as my RX-V3900 Photo Gallery and Video Performance Test Results.
At an MSRP of $5,300.00, the DreamVision Dream'E 1080p LCOS Video Projector bucks the trend towards sub-$3,000 1080p video projectors, but is worth the extra cash. Its 3 LCOS chips, native 1080p resolution, and acceptable light output provide excellent image quality, providing a very natural looking image, with no screen door effects or other unwanted artifacts. Also, the Dream'E comes equipped with two HDMI ver 1.3a inputs, and provides video upscaling for standard DVDs via its built-in Silicon Optix Reon-VX HQV video processor. For more details, check out both my Short and Full Reviews, as well as my Supplementary Photo Gallery and Video Performance Test Results.
You've spent a lot of money and collected a lot home theater components over the years. With each upgrade or addition you have another power cord to plug in. After the number of wall outlet options run out, you add a surge protector, then another one, and then you still run out. One solution to this mess is to get a centralized power management system, such as the Panamax M5400-PM 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 both monitor and regulate your voltage level, and aids in clearing up power interference. To find out more details on the M5400-PM, read my Short and Full Reviews and also check out my Photo Gallery.
Check out the stylish, and great sounding Paradigm Millenia 20 Trio LCR Loudspeaker. This speaker system combines all three front channel speakers (left, center, and right) into a 41-inch long housing that is attractive and can be either table or wall mounted. The Trio is intended to complement flat panel LCD and Plasma televisions and can be used alone, or combined with a subwoofer and/or a set of rear surround speakers in a full surround sound home theater setup. The left, center, right sound image is wider that you would think and the sound quality is very good for this type of speaker design. For more details, check out my Short and Full Reviews, and my Paradigm Millenia 20 Trio Photo Gallery.
Balancing style, price, and sound quality can be tough when choosing loudspeakers. If you are looking a compact loudspeaker system to complement your HDTV, DVD and/or Blu-ray Disc player, check out the stylish, compact, great sounding, and affordable, Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 Surround Speaker System. The system consists of five compact satellite speakers which can be set on a shelf or wall mounted (even in a corner wall space), and a compact 8-inch powered subwoofer. To find out if the Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 Surround Speaker System is right for you, check out both my Short and Full Reviews, and also my supplementary Photo Gallery.
The 50-inch Panasonic VIERA TC-P50G10 plasma TV delivers great image quality at a reasonable price. Bolstered by THX Certification, this set features 1920x1080 (1080p) pixel resolution, excellent contrast ratio, and pixel orbiting to eliminate screen burn-in. Inputs are not a problem as the TC-P50G10 includes, HDMI, HD-Component, and VGA. This set also has ATSC/QAM tuners for receiving HDTV broadcast and unscrambled cable programs, and also an SD card slot for digital photo playback. Inclusion of Viera Cast also allows access to YouTube, Amazon video, and other web content without a PC connection. For more details and perspective, check out my Panasonic TC-P50G10 Product Profile. Also, check out the 42-inch version: TC-P42G10 Compare Prices
Vizio is an aggressive competitor that offers good performing products at low price points. The VF551XVT LCD TV offers consumers a large 55-inch screen, full 1920x1080 (1080p) native pixel resolution, 240Hz smooth motion processing, and LED backlighting with local dimming at a suggested price of $2,199. I had the opportunity to see an extensive demonstration of this set at CEDIA 2009 and it looks great. The black levels and color consistency are very good, and the set also has more than enough connections, including 5 HDMI inputs. In addition, for those that are concerned about energy consumption in such a large screen set, the VF551XVT only draws an average of 154 Watts, which is excellent for an LCD TV of this size.
If you want to the get the most out of your HDTV and don't want the hassle of, or have the budget for, both a Blu-ray Disc Player and a Surround Sound System, the Samsung HT-BD1250 gives you both in one affordable unit. The Blu-ray Disc player section provides Blu-ray Profile 2.0 capability, Netflix/Pandora audio/video streaming, plus an HDMI output for connection to your HDTV. You can even access content from your iPod or iPhone. The audio side of this system decodes all Dolby Digital and DTS formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Also, don't forget the included onboard 5.1 channel amplifier, speakers, and powered subwoofer. Give the HT-BD1250 a look and a listen.
At an MSRP of $1,199, the Vivitek D326WX DLP Projector is a great value. With its extremely compact design this projector can be placed just about anywhere, and with its included carrying case, you can take it with you to the office or grandma's house. With its native 1280x800 native pixel resolution (approx - 720p) and impressive 2,600 lumen output capability, the video quality is very good. Flesh tones and overall color saturation produce a very natural looking image. Another bonus is that the D326WX has a very quick turn-on and cool down shut off time. For more details, check out my Short and Full Reviews, as well as a Photo Gallery and results from a series of Video Performance Tests.