Top Home Theater Gifts for Grads - 2016 Edition

Get That Grad a Great Home Theater Gift

If you are looking for a gift to give to your favorite Grad, check out some great choices in several home theater-related product categories.

Also, in addition to the entries offered on this list, I have more suggestion options in each of the product categories represented, for your consideration: 4K Ultra HD TVs, 40-inch and Larger 1080p LED/LCD TVs, 32 to 39-inch LCD and LED/LCD TVs, DLP and LCD Video Projectors, Blu-ray Disc Players, Sound Bars, Media Streamers, Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems, Home Theater Receivers Priced at $399 or Less, and Home Theater Speaker Packages.

NOTE: Product entries are subject to change throughout the year.

TVs always make great graduation gifts - but how about a brand new 4K Ultra HD TV? Vizio is offering up it 40-inch D40u-D1 for less than $500!

Although it doesn't offer some features you will find on higher-end Ultra HD TVs, it still offers up 4K resolution detail and some other practical features.

The D40u-D1 weighs less than 18 pounds - However, don't let the light weight full you. This set packs it in with full array LED backlighting with 8 active dimming zones for more precise control of bright and dark objects in localized parts of the screen as well as more even black level and contrast across the entire screen surface, and 120-Hz effective refresh rate.

In addition, with 2 HDMI inputs and ATSC tuner, you can enjoy HD or  4K content from a variety of sources. However, it must be pointed out that there is a shared composite/component video input for standard definition sources).

There is also a USB port that enables access to music, still photo, and video files stored on USB flash drives or other compatible devices, as well as both an ethernet port and built-in Wifi that allows the D40u-D1 to connect to the internet, enabling access to an abundance of streaming content without the need to connect an additional external media streamer.

To make navigating through the TV's internet streaming features, Vizio also supplies a remote control that has standard buttons one side, and a keyboard on the other side.
 

What makes the Samsung UN32J6300 a great Grad Gift is that you get access to a lot of high-end TV features (with the exception of 3D) in a smaller 32-inch size TV. This makes it a great fit for a small apartment, bedroom, or office.

The UN32J6300 features full 1920x1080 (1080p) display resolution, LED Edge lighting, wide contrast ratio, and processing that provides smooth motion. Four HDMI inputs are included for connecting a Blu-ray Disc player or other HDMI-equipped devices, as well as a tuner for reception of over-the-air HDTV broadcasts.

For connection of older components (such as VCRs and DVD players that may not HDMI connections), a shared composite/component vide input option is provided.

3 USB ports are also included to provide access to music, still photo, and video files stored on USB flash drives or other compatible devices, and built-in WiFi and Ethernet connection options provide access to a host of network and internet streaming content (includes a full web browser).

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Here is a great gift idea to reward your favorite grad. Blu-ray Disc players are a great and very affordable entertainment option. The BDJ-7500 is a versatile Blu-ray Disc player that definitely offers a lot for the price. First off the BD-J7500 plays both 2D and 3D Blu-ray discs (3DTV needed for 3D playback), DVDs, and CDs and can upscale DVDs to 1080p and DVDs or Blu-ray Discs to 4K via its HDMI output.

Also, with both built-in Ethernet and WiFi connectivity options, the BDJ-7500 can access internet content related to some Blu-ray Disc releases, as well as the content streamed from Netflix, CinemaNow, and Vudu.

The BDJ-7500 also has a front mounted USB port for access to media content stored on USB flash drives, as well as allowing users to copy CDs to a USB flash drive. You can even access media content stored your PC, as well as WiFi Direct provides wireless streaming from compatible portable devices.

Review

Here is a great graduation gift idea: a video projector! However, the LG PF1500 isn't your ordinary projector.

What makes this projector different is not only its small size (5.2 x 3.3 x 8.7-inches), it packs in more features that many higher-end full-size projectors.

For starters, the PF1500 combines DLP Pico chip and LED light source technology (that means no periodic lamp replacement hassle or cost). The LEDs provide enough light to project acceptable viewable images in darkened room that may have a small amount of ambient light present.

The PF1500 also provides (1920x1080) 1080p native display resolution for ​a detailed image, which isn't that common in such a small projector.

There are also has built-in speakers that are louder than you would expect (However, with for a full surround sound experience, I always recommend an external audio system).

However, the most unusual (and practical) thing about the PF1500, is that it features both a TV tuner (you can connect an antenna or cable directly to the projector for watching TV programs) as well as Smart TV platform that provides access to several internet streaming services, such as Netflix.

Of course, with its small size, you can not only easily move it around from room to room and project on a screen or white wall, but you can also pack it up and take it traveling with you.

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Streaming music, movies, and TV programs from the internet is now the mainstream. However, if you don't have a Smart TV, you need an external media streamer. With that in mind, one solution is the Amazon Fire TV.

The latest version of Fire TV provides 1080p and 4K video resolution output (content and TV compatibility dependent).

For connectivity, Fire TV includes HDMI, and both WiFi and Ethernet connection options for accessing the internet.

Although Amazon Instant Video is emphasized, Amazon's Fire Tv also includes access to a larger number of content services, including Crackle, HBOGo (must already be an HBO cable/satellite subscriber for access), HuluPlus, iHeart Radio, Netflix, Pandora, YouTube and more.

Amazon's Fire TV also provides access over 200 online games, but you need to purchase a game controller separately.

An added bonus is the inclusion of Alexa Voice Search and Assistance via the included remote control.

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Here is a great Grad gift that is very inexpensive, but opens up a wide selection of home entertainment possibilities.

The Streaming Stick is a very affordable plug-in media streamer that provides access more than 3,500 internet streaming sites, including Amazon Video, Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, Google Play and a whole lot more...

The Model 3600R also offers enhancements over previous versions with a faster processor, compatibility with Roku's Mobile control app for iOS and Android smartphones, and the incorporation of Roku's OS7.1 operating system.

If your grad has TV with an HDMI input, the Roku Streaming Stick for HDMI makes for a very affordable gift that can provide a comprehensive home entertainment experience.
 

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If you are looking for a great graduation gift that will provide a lot of enjoyment, then check out the Onkyo HT-S5700 Home Theater System. This system consists of an Onkyo 5.2 channel home theater receiver (HT-R593) combined with 5 attractive bookshelf speakers and a 10-inch 120 watt powered subwoofer. Some of the additional features include 4 3D, 4K Pass-Through, Audio Return Channel-compatible HDMI inputs, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio Decoding, and iPod/Flash Drive connectivity via the front-mounted USB port.

For added flexibility, Bluetooth is also built-in, which allows direct streaming from compatible portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as both Ethernet/LAN and Wifi for convenient access to internet music streaming services and radio stations, such as Pandora and Spotify.

Definitely put the Onkyo HT-S5700 on your graduation gift list.

Product Profile

For $299 or less, the Yamaha RX-V381 home theater receiver offers a lot for a Grad that wants to start putting together a basic home theater system. Features include a 5.1 channel configuration, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, decoding for Blu-ray Discs.

A feature called SCENE allows preset or customized listening and viewing modes. Another great feature is Silent Cinema, which allows you to listen to surround sound using any set of headphones. This is great for late night viewing when you don't want to disturb others in the house or your neighbors. Also, Bluetooth capability is built-in which provides direct streaming is streaming capability from compatible smartphones and tablets.

To make speaker setup easy, Yamaha includes its offers the YPAO speaker setup system.

Other features provided on the RX-V381 include 3D and Audio Return Channel support and 1080p, 4K, HDR, and Wide Color Gamut pass through switching (no video upscaling is provided) via 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output.

Review

The Monoprice 10565 home theater speaker system is a surprisingly good sounding compact speaker system that makes a great gift for that special grad.

The 10565 a full 5.1 channel speaker system that consists of​ center and four satellite bookshelf speakers, combined with an 8-inch powered subwoofer, all featuring a black matte finish. The connections on the center and satellite speaker are the easy-to-use spring loaded push in type, and both line-in and speaker terminal connections are provided on the subwoofer.

Product Profile

A sound bar provides an easy way to beef-up sound for TV viewing, without the hassle of a home theater system, and ZVOX has one that may be a great gift idea for that Grad.

Packaged with a Power Cord/External power supply, one Digital Optical cable, one set of RCA analog stereo cables, One set of analog audio RCA-to-3.5mm stereo cables, remote control, Quick Start Guide, and User Manual, everything your Grad needs to get it set-up and running is provided.

The SB400 provides both physical connectivity and Bluetooth.

The SB400 incorporates full range speaker for bass, mid-range, and high frequencies, as well as a built-in subwoofer for that low bass.

ZVOX also provides some additional features that will aid getting great sound including:

- ZVOX AccuVoice (also referred to as Dialog Emphasis), which improves vocal presence and clarity.

- Output Leveling (OL), which smooths out unwanted volume spikes, such as from commercials - similar to what is often referred to as Dynamic Range Compression.

- MegaBass, which employs audio processing to precise more control over subwoofer output, resulting in clean bass response without excessive booming.

With its light 12 pound weight and 35-inch width, the SB400 is a good match for 32 to 42-inch TVs.

Review

Does your grad already have a TV, but would like a sound system to go with it? Here is a convenient, no hassle, space-saving way to get better sound for that TV without having to spend money on a home theater receiver and lots of speakers.

The Pyle PSBV600BT Wave Base incorporates an amplified 2.1 channel audio system, that can also serve as a sturdy TV platform for LCD or Plasma TVs weighing up to 44 pounds. 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 and compatible USB devices. The PSBV600BT is loud enough to fill a small to medium size room with sound quality that is on par with many sound bars, and definitely above and beyond what you can get from those cheap built-in TV speakers.

Photo Illustrated Review

Here is really interesting Grad gift idea.

The Benq TreVolo is a compact Bluetooth-enabled audio system that can stream audio content directly from compatible portable devices such as many smartphones and tablets. Also, it provides both analog audio (3.5mm input) and USB inputs for physical connection of other source devices, such as a CD player or flash drive.

However, what makes this system really different not that it is compact and does ​Bluetooth, it is the incorporation of its innovative fold-out flat panel Electrostatic speakers (read How Electrostatic Speakers Work).

To complement the electrostatic speakers, there are also two compact woofers and two passive radiators are included for the lower frequencies.

The system can be taken from room-to-room, and can run off AC or its built-in up-to-12-hour rechargeable battery capacity (rechargeable battery included).