Best Home Theater Gifts for Holiday Shoppers - 2016 Edition

Home Theater Christmas and Winter Holiday Product Picks

It is that time of year when stores begin to fill with eager Christmas and Holiday Shoppers looking for great deals on home theater and consumer electronics products.

For those who haven't been able to keep up with the latest in electronics, check out the suggestions on the following product list that represent a great value in both price and performance, and enable that special someone to get a taste of the home theater experience.

Also, in addition to the entries offered on this list, I have more items in each of the product categories represented, for your consideration: 4K Ultra HD TVs, 40-inch and Larger 1080p LED/LCD TVs, DLP and LCD Video Projectors, Blu-ray Disc Players, Sound Bars, Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems, Media Streamers, Speaker Systems, and Home Theater Receivers.

NOTE: As the Holiday Season progresses,  product entries are subject to change, depending on availability or other factors.

1
LG OLEDB6P Series 4K OLED TV

LG OLEDB6P Series 4K OLED TV
LG OLEDB6P Series 4K OLED TV. Image courtesy of Amazon.com

If you are looking for a for TV for the holidays to give as a gift or for yourself but want something that is different than what everyone else seems to be grabbing up, then check go for an OLED TV.

The LG OLEDB6P Series TVs are different than most TVs in three ways: The screen is pencil-thin and 4K Ultra HD TV and it incorporates cutting-edge OLED display technology.

OLED technology delivers exceptional black level performance that rivals Plasma as light output from each pixel can be controlled individually. If you currently have a Plasma TV and are shopping for a replacement, but have found LED/LCD TVs not up to the task with deep blacks, this set might be the solution for you.

Also, along with deep blacks, the OLEDB6P series also provides HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatibility.

The OLEDB6P series TVs are also Smart. Using ethernet or built-in Wifi, this set can access services such as Netflix or content stored on PCs or other compatible devices.

In addition to streaming, this TV also includes WiDi and Miracast, which allows wireless streaming from compatible WiDi-equipped Laptops or Ultrabooks, as well as four HDMI inputs for physical connection of home theater components.

The OLEDB6P is a high-end TV that is more expensive that its LED/LCD counterparts, but once you see it, reaching into your wallet might not be so painful after all.

Available in 55 and 65-inch screen sizes

2
Samung KS8000 Series SUHD TV

Samsung KS8000 Series SUHD TV with Quantum Dots and HDR
Samsung KS8000 Series SUHD TV with Quantum Dots and HDR. Image provided by Samsung USA

So you are looking for a great 4K Ultra HD TV as a holiday gift, but the LG OLEDB6P Series OLED TV is a little out of your budget, don't fret, Samsung offers up its KS8000 Series SUHD TVs.

First off, this series features a flat screen, native 4K resolution, as well as 4K upscaling capability for lower resolution sources.

To bolster image quality, the Samsung KS8000 incorporates four key technologies:

  • Edge-lit LED with UHD dimming for more precise localized black level control.
  • Quantum Dots which improves color performance that rivals Plasma or OLED technology that is more cost-effective.
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) capability which allows the display of a much wider brightness and contrast range than previously possible with LED/LCD TVs, but does require compatible-encoded content for best results.
  • CMR 240 (Clear Motion Rate) which combines a 120Hz screen refresh rate and additional processing for smooth display of fast moving objects.

Of course, that isn't all this set offers. Connectivity support includes 4 HDMI inputs that are compatible with all 480p, 720p, 1080p, and 4K sources that are currently available from HDMI source components (DVD, Blu-ray, cable/satellite box).

  • 3 USB 2.0 inputs for connection of compatible USB media playback devices, as well as other compatible devices.
  • Ethernet/LAN and Wifi connectivity options for access to network and internet streaming content, cloud gaming, and web browsing. 4K streaming is supported from services such as Netflix.

The Samsung KS Series TVs available in the 49, 55, 60, and 65-inch screen sizes.

3
Vizio D50-D1 50-inch 1080p Smart LED/LCD TV

Vizio D-Series 1080p LED/LCD TV Example
Vizio D-Series 1080p LED/LCD TV Example. Image provided by Vizio

Although 4K Ultra HD TVs have hit the mainstream, there are still a lot of great, and very affordable 1080p TVs out there. If you are looking for a 1080p TV, check out the Vizio D50-D1 for yourself, or to give as a gift, this Christmas/Winter Holiday Shopping Season.

First off, the Vizio D50-D1 features great styling and a matte screen that reduces glare. Behind its screen, as stated above, this set provides a 1080p native resolution, supported by additional motion processing for smooth fast moving images.

However, what really boosts picture quality is the inclusion of Full Array backlighting with 12-zone local dimming. This provides both even black levels across the entire screen area, as well as control of brightness for specific areas of the screen as screen content changes.

This TV also provides 3 HDMI inputs, HD tuner, and a USB port so that still images and music can be accessed from compatible USB-equipped playback devices, such as flash drives, media players, and digital cameras.

Another great bonus included on this TV is built-in internet connectivity (via Ethernet or WiFi) for access to an abundance of streaming content, such as movies and TV shows from providers such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, M-GO, Pandora, and more.

The best part of all is that this TV is priced less than $500!

4
Samsung BD-J7500 Blu-ray Disc Player

Samsung BD-J7500 Blu-ray Disc Player
Samsung BD-J7500 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front and Rear Views. Images provided by Samsung

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If you have an HD or Ultra HD TV, to get the best viewing experience, there is nothing like a Blu-ray Disc player.

Although listed as a 2015 model, the BD-J7500 is still in Samsung's product line for 2016 and is on par with equivalent 2016 models from other major brands.

The BD-J7500 is a Blu-ray Disc player not only spins Blu-ray discs, but is a complete media playback device for physical, network, and internet-based content. On the physical playback front, the BD-J7500 provides 2D and 3D Blu-ray Disc playback, and also plays DVDs, CDs (it can also rip CDs to USB flash drives), and also provides both 1080p and 4K upscaling.

The BD-J7500 also provides both and Ethernet connection and built-in WiFi for easy connection to the internet for accessing audio/video streaming content, such as CinemaNow, Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, and more.

Another bonus is the inclusion of Wi-Fi Direct, which provides wireless streaming directly from compatible smartphones and tablets, and compatibility with Samsung's Wireless Multiroom Audio Link system allows content being played on the BD-J7500 (that includes physical discs) to be wirelessly streamed to compatible wireless playback devices around the house.

NOTE: Only HDMI and Digital Optical Outputs are provided for connection to a TV and home theater receiver.

5
BenQ i500 Smart Video Projector

BenQ i500 Smart Video Projector With Remote
BenQ i500 Smart Video Projector With Remote. Images provided by BenQ

If you are looking for really special gifts this holiday season, consider a video projector. As it turns out, you don't have to spend a fortune to own one and a prime example if the BenQ i500, which is really unusual, but in a very good way that makes it a great gift idea.

First off, this projector is very compact (8.5 x 7.9 x 3.5 inches), which makes it really easy to move from room-to-room.

However, despite its diminutive size, (made possible by DLP Pico chip (a smaller version of a standard-sized chip) and 20,000 hour life LED light source instead of an energy-hogging lamp) it still provides 500 ANSI lumens of light output and also provides (1200x800 - approximately 720p) native display resolution. For best viewing results, you should use the projector in a room that can be made completely dark or does not have ambient light issues. However, this projector is great for small spaces as you can project a large 80-inch image from about a 3-foot distance.

In addition, the projector also has built-in speakers that are louder than you would expect, and can serve in a pinch - but just as with all projectors that have built-in speakers, for a full surround sound experience, I alway recommend as an external audio system. However, one added speaker bonus is that when the projector is in standby mode, you can stream music directly to its built-in speakers from your smartphone, or another compatible source, using the projector's built-in Bluetooth  compatibility.

However, that being said, what makes the BenQ i500 really attractive is that it also includes a built-in Android OS Smart TV platform that provides access to several internet streaming services, such as Netflix.

6
Onkyo TX-NR555 Network Home Theater Receiver

Onkyo TX-NR555 Home Theater Receiver
Onkyo TX-NR555 Home Theater Receiver. Image provided by Onkyo USA

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If you are looking for a home theater receiver for yourself or to give as a gift this 2016 holiday season, one good choice would be the Onkyo TX-NR555.

This receiver provides seven channels with enough power output for a medium-sized room.

For surround sound audio support, the TX-NR555 provides Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Atmos (5.1.2 channel configuration) and DTS:X decoding capability.

In terms of physical connectivity, the TX-NR555 has everything most will need, including 6 3D, HDR, and 4K 60Hz pass-through compatible HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output.

For video, analog to HDMI video conversion, and both 1080p and 4K upscaling are provided.

For additional audio setup flexibility, the TX-NR555 also provides Zone 2 connectivity, which allows users to send a second two-channel audio source to another location using wired speaker connections or the Zone 2 preamp output connected to an external amplifier and speakers.

In addition to audio and video, the TX-NR555 also provides Ethernet and Wifi, as well as Bluetooth and even Apple Airplay which support media player functions, including both internet radio and access from music services, such as Pandora, and Spotify, as well as access to content stored on local network-connected devices, such as PCs and NAS drives, and also compatible USB devices.

7
The Pioneer SP-PK22BS Home Theater Speaker System

Photo of the Pioneer SP-PK22BS Home Theater Speaker System - Front View with Grills On and Off
Photo of the Pioneer SP-PK22BS Home Theater Speaker System - Front View with Grills On and Off. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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Holiday time is a great excuse to get some new speakers, and if you are looking for something that will provide good sound for a small or medium-size space (15x20 feet or less) without a lot of cash, the Pioneer SP-PK22BS 5.1 channel speaker system might be a great choice.

Introduced by Pioneer in 2013, the SP-PK22BS Speaker System is still a very popular surround sound speaker system.

What makes this system worth your consideration is that for less than $500, you get a 5.1 channel speaker system that has solid MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) construction, and provides an immersive surround sound field, as well accurate sound placement for both music and movie listening. The center and satellite speakers feature a compact 2-way bass reflex bookshelf design. The center channel speaker incorporates a 1-inch tweeter and two 4-inch mid-range driver, while the left, right, and surround speakers each contain a 1-inch tweeter and on 4-inch midrange driver.​

The center and satellite speakers are complemented by an 8-inch down-firing subwoofer with maximum power output rating of 100 watts.

The entire system has a frequency range of 38Hz to 20kHz.

8
Onkyo HT-S5800 Home-Theater-in-a-Box System

Onkyo HT-S5800 Home Theater-in-a-Box System
Onkyo HT-S5800 Dolby Atmos-Enabled Home Theater-in-a-Box System. Image provided by Onkyo USA

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One great holiday gift option is a compact all-in-one home theater system that includes a home theater receiver, speakers, and subwoofer, but a lot of these systems are made cheaply and sound cheap. However, there are good quality options, such as the Onkyo HT-S5800.

The HT-S7700 is a complete Home Theater Receiver/Speaker Package that consists of a home theater receiver featuring Dolby Atmos audio decoding, which provides access to 3D immersive home theater listening experience with compatible content.

The speaker package that is included, in addition to providing traditional center and surround speakers, the front left and right speakers have a slight variation - forward firing drivers for main left and right channels plus vertically angled drivers for the Dolby Atmos-required height channels (results in a 5.1.2 channel speaker configuration). The vertically angled drivers bounce sound off the ceiling that provides provides overhead sound when called upon to do so.

Of course, for that deep base, a 10-inch powered subwoofer is also included.

The HT-S7700 provides 4 HDMI inputs with 4K and 3D pass-through, as well as Audio Return Channel capability. A USB port is also provided for accessing music files from iPods, iPhones, or USB flash drives.

Also, another connection convenience is that the USB port is placed right next to one of the HDMI inputs so you can connect third party media streaming sticks (Roku, Amazon, Chromecast, etc...).

In addition to physical connectivity, the HT-S5800 also provides built-in Bluetooth, which allows direct streaming from compatible smartphones and tablets.

9
VIZIO SB4031-D5 3.1 Channel Sound Bar System

VIZIO SB4031-D5 3.1 Channel Sound Bar System
VIZIO SB4031-D5 3.1 Channel Sound Bar System. Image provided by Vizio

If you are looking for a great Holiday Gift, a sound bar is a great idea, and one to definitely consider is the VIZIO SB4031-D5.

The centerpiece of the VIZIO SB4031-D5 system is a thin profile 40-inch Sound Bar that can be wall or shelf mounted and visually matches well with TVs up to 55-inches .

The sound bar incorporates speakers for the left, center, and right channels supported by Dolby Digital decoding and a suite of DTS sound processing options, which include Studio Sound, TruSurround, and TruVolume. Wireless Bluetooth built-in for access of audio content directly from compatible portable devices is also provided..

The sound bar also features built-in access to internet streaming content via Ethernet connection or Wifi, and is also GoogleCast and multi-room audio enabled with Vizio Wifi-enabled speakers.

1 HDMI connection is provided for access to audio, as well as pass-through for video, as well Digital Optical/Coaxial and Analog Stereo audio input options.

The also SB4031-D5 supplies great bass with its Wireless Slim Profile Subwoofer. For added convenience, the subwoofer can be configured vertically or horizontally. In the vertical configuration it is only 3-inches wide, or, if you prefer, in the horizontal configuration it is only 3-inches, which allows users to place it under a couch (great for feeling those low frequency effects).

A wireless remote is included, but an added bonus is that more extensive content management and operational control support is also provided by Vizio's SmartCast App that can be downloaded to any compatible iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.

10
ZVOX SoundBase 670 Single Cabinet Surround Sound System

ZVOX SoundBase 670 Single Cabinet Surround Sound System - Front and Rear View
ZVOX SoundBase 670 Single Cabinet Surround Sound System - Photo of Front and Rear View. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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An alternative to the sound bar, that must be placed in front, above, or on a shelf below a TV, there are a growing number of "Under-TV Audio Systems" that incorporate the features of a sound bar, but inside a cabinet that you can place your TV on top of, provided your TV has a center mounted stand.

One example is the ZVOX SoundBase 670, which might be a great gift idea for someone that has an LCD/Plasma, or OLED TV, but would like an attractive way to provide better sound that what is coming out of the TV's built-in speakers.

The Zvox Soundbase 670 has an amplified 3.1 channel audio system (with five speakers and three subwoofers total), supported by Dolby Digital decoding and Zvox's Phase Cue II virtual surround sound audio processing. Connection options are provided for your TV, and additional analog and digital audio sources (such as CD player, Blu-ray Disc/DVD player, or set-top box), as well as wireless Bluetooth devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

The SoundBase 670 can support a TV weighing to 120 pounds.

11
The Roku Streaming Stick

Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Package Contents
Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Package Contents. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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If you are looking for a really practical home entertainment gift this Christmas/Holiday Shopping Season, the Roku Model 3600R streaming stick is one the most practical gifts you can give.

Just a little larger than a typical USB flash drive, the Roku Streaming stick can plug into any TV that has an HDMI input (you can also connect it to most HDMI-equipped home theater receivers that can route video through to a TV), and, via built-in Wifi, can provide that special someone with over 3,500 streaming channels of great video and audio entertainment (Netflix is definitely included!).

The Streaming stick comes with its own remote and easy-to-use onscreen interface that provides easy navigation of all channel options and features. Also, if you prefer, you can use your Smartphone instead of the provided remote to control the Stick. In fact, with the screen mirroring feature, you can even send photo video content from your smartphone to your TV through the Streaming Stick.

The Streaming stick has the ability to stream and output 720p and 1080p (No access to 4K streaming).

For audio, the Streaming Stick is compatible with Digital Stereo as well as pass-through of Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS Digital Surround(content dependent).

The Streaming Stick comes with everything you need including micro-USB to USB cable, USB-to-AC power adapter,Quick Start Guide and Information Guides, remote control, and two AAA batteries to power the remote.

12
Sceptre E408BD-FMQR 40-inch 1080p TV/DVD Combo

Sceptre E408BD-FMQR 40-inch 1080p TV/DVD Combo
Sceptre E408BD-FMQR 40-inch 1080p TV/DVD Combo. Image provided by Amazon.com

Another great gift to consider this holiday season is a TV that also has a built-in DVD player. These are getting very rare, and you won't find any with brand names, such as Sony or Panasonic, but there are still some available, such as the Sceptre E408BD-FMQR

The Sceptre E408BD-FMQR is a 40-inch LCD TV that is LED-backlit and provides a 1080p display resolution. The TV section also comes equipped with a built-in ATSC tuner, which allows direct reception of the digital over-the-air TV broadcasts. This unit is also equipped with additional AV inputs, including 3 HDMI, as well as a PC monitor input, a USB slot for accessing compatible content from flash drives or digital cameras, as well as a digital optical audio output for connection to a home theater audio system. Even a headphone jack is included for more a private listening experience.

The built-in DVD player provides DVD and CD playback.

Roku Streaming Stick Pre-Installed. What this means is that right out the box, you not only have access to traditional TV viewing and DVD playback, but you also get access to over 2,000 streaming channels via Roku.

This TV Combo definitely qualifies as a great holiday gift option.