While heading out to the movies every once in a while is great, nothing beats curling up on the couch with some popcorn, wine, hot cocoa, and other snacks and watching a great movie, or binging your favourite series, on a large-screened TV. For those people on your list who love to enjoy at-home entertainment, check out these great gift ideas.
JBL Arena MKII Series Speakers
Help someone set up his new home theatre with a set of these speakers (Erikson Consumer), which are ideal for home stereo and home theatre applications. Each features 1" aluminum dome tweeters with high-definition waveguide sound design, and polycellulose woofers that register deep, signature JBL bass. There are three floorstanding models, two bookshelf models, two centre speaker models, and two powered subwoofers, all of which come in pantone black, and with pricing ranging from $299/pr. up to $1,199/pr. Get a pair of floorstanders, a centre, and a powered sub, and they'll be off to the races, and can update the system as they desire.
Screen Innovations Announces Motorized Short Throw ALR Screen
For families who have dedicated home theatres, or projectors set-up in the basement for the kids to enjoy movies, or to have friends over to watch the big game, the Solo Pro screen (Precor) is customizable, and easy to install. With Solo's lithium-rechargeable and low-voltage options, electricians are no longer required, enabling two-piece projection nearly anywhere. Short Throw, which uses a microscopic lenticular optical technology (think window blinds), is best suited for ultra-short throw projection applications where the projector is located directly below the screen at throw ratios as close as 0.1 times the image width. This technology can successfully reproduce 8k resolution while rejecting up to 90% of the ambient-light in the room.
Roku Premiere Streaming Player
If the person has cut the cord on cable/satellite television, they'll need a source device to access all of their favourite streaming content. Even if they own a smart TV that permits access to sites like Netflix and YouTube, a streaming player like this one can come in handy to supplement it. They can stream video at up to 4K HDR quality (to a compatible television, of course) from thousands of free and paid channels, including the Roku Channel, which offers access to classics, live news, and more with no subscriptions or fees. Featured Free provides direct links to free in-season episodes of top network shows and full past-season catch-ups. The 4K Spotlight Channel offers access to streaming movies, TV shows and more filmed in 4K Ultra HD. It includes a voice remote with TV power and volume buttons. With a quad-core processor, 802.11 b/g/n, and Dolby and DTS Digital Surround pass through over HDMI, it comes with a high-speed HDMI cable. US$50.
Bose Home Speaker 500
Bose is one of those brands that has loyal followers who might remember owning their first Wave radio decades ago. And maybe they still own one today! Help them get into the 21st century with the latest speaker from the company, which offers smart features, including support for Alexa voice control, with other voice assistants to follow, and AirPlay 2 support coming in early 2019. It uses the same proprietary mic technology found in Bose headsets and headphones, which helps to hear commands better over louder listening levels. A custom-designed eight-microphone array is positioned for accurate near-field and far-field voice pickup. With both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in, it works on its own, or with Bose's new soundbars as a multi-room system. Alternative to the app and voice, use the function buttons on the top to control playback. $500
Netgear Orbi Voice Smart Speaker
For the person who lives to go against the grain, so to speak, and always seeks out something that's different, considering getting them into the smart speaker world with a system like this one, which combines a smart speaker with a full WiFi system that works over the Qualcomm Mesh Networking platform. As part of an Orbi WiFi System, Orbi Voice creates whole-home Wi-Fi coverage up to 4,500 square feet or more at up to 3Gbps combined Wi-Fi speed. With integrated Alexa capability, and audio from Harman Kardon, a four-microphone array and far-field voice recognition enables Orbi Voice to hear you from across the room. Use the Orbi mobile app to adjust the volume and equalizer controls; set Circle Smart Parental Controls; and set up a separate guest Wi-Fi network. Each Orbi Voice Satellite offers two Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting wired devices for fast file transfers and reliable connections. Orbi Mesh WiFi System (RBK50V) consisting of the Orbi Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router plus one Orbi Voice Smart Speaker and Wi-Fi Satellite is MSRP US$430.
Pioneer VSX-LX503 AV Receiver
To power their AV system, look at this receiver, which WiFi HiFi's David Susilo reviewed earlier this year. https://www.wifihifi.ca/LatestNewsHeadlines/HANDS-ONREVIEW:PioneerVSX-LX503AVReceiver-ItComesFullCircle.html Sitting in the mid-level of the line-up, it uses an AKM DAC, has a phono stage, and Pioneer's Advanced MCACC room calibration. David classified it as an entry-level audiophile-grade receiver versus mid-level, and lauded its performance when used for a variety of content sources. $1,450
Dynaudio Music 1 Wireless All-in-One Music System
The Dynaudio Music 1 wireless all-in-one music system with multi-room capability can stream music over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, AirPlay and DLNA, has USB inputs, and 3.5mm analog inputs. Using the Music Now algorithm, it automatically generates personalized playlists for up to five users; while intelligent digital signal processing (DSP) and RoomAdapt technology sense speaker placement and noise within a room and optimize performance to deliver better sound. Set the five presets to any media accessible via the Dynaudio app; and press a button on the speaker to launch a custom playlist. NoiseAdapt technology delivers music at the right volume and tone, even as the volume of conversation or other noise in the room changes. The active speaker is battery-powered, offering 80-watts of power, and can last for up to eight hours. Light or dark grey, red, or blue cloth finish, US$549.
Yamaha RX-A1080 Aventage Series 7.2-Channel AV Receiver
The 7.2-channel Yamaha RX-A1080 Aventage series AV receiver features Surround:AI, which automatically adjusts audio levels to match program content, analyzing a scene's audio characteristics, including dialog, sound effects and channel balance. The data is compared to a reference database of movie scenes and the soundfield is automatically enhanced, including more intelligible dialogue when there's a lot of background noise, full-bodied sound with sound effects, and clearer softly spoken dialog and faint background sounds. With MusicCast Surround, the MusicCast 20 and MusicCast 50 wireless speakers can be used for the left and right surround channels, each synchronized with wired front speakers. It has seven HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs that support 4K 60fps video, with HDCP 2.2 copy protection, is compatible with HDR10, Dolby Vision and Hybrid-Log Gamma, and Cinema DSP HD3 technology expands the 3D soundfield of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks. MSRP $1,699.95
NAD Electronics C 538 CD Player
For the person on your list who still has a huge collection of CDs, consider this player (Lenbrook), which boasts a high precision clock for the lowest possible digital jitter performance, and the latest generation Wolfson High Spec 24/192 DAC. Its outputs include stereo analogue along with coaxial and optical digital outputs. Supporting MP3 and WMA playback, it can also play CD-R/CD-RW discs, including customized CDs burned from a computer. The optical and coaxial digital outputs allow connection to an external DAC or digital component, like an AVR. The included IR remote has buttons like Random, which can play tracks/files at random; Program, which lets you enter or exit program mode; Repeat for re-playing a track, file, or entire disc; and RPT A-B, which repeats a playback sequence. MSRP $419
Kanto SYD Powered Single-Piece Stereo Speaker System
The Kanto SYD includes Bluetooth with aptX for streaming music, or connect a source via mini-jack and RCA inputs, including a TOSLINK digital input, as well as a built-in switchable digital input for plugging in a turntable. The included stand tilts SYD at an optimum listening angle, while providing isolation from unwanted vibration. It features two premium-quality 1-inch silk dome tweeters and two 4-inch woven Kevlar midrange/woofers, driven by a 140 Watt peak power (70 Watts RMS) amplifier that has been designed to match the characteristics of the drivers. The cabinet is crafted from acoustic-grade MDF with a durable painted finish in matte off-black, off-white, burgundy, or pink. Use the remote to control volume, bass, treble, balance, source selection, on/off, and other functions. There's also a subwoofer output and a USB charging port. MAP $430.
Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 Soundbar
If space is an issue, such as with someone living in a small apartment or condo, or who is looking for better sound in a small living room or den, this soundbar features Yamaha MusicCast wireless multi-room audio support, and Wi-Fi access to music-streaming services including Spotify, SiriusXM Internet Radio, Tidal and Deezer. A wireless subwoofer is included. Users also have the option of adding wireless surround speakers. Yamaha's MusicCast can use Wi-Fi to send surround audio to a pair of MusicCast 20 speakers, or to either one or two stereo-capable MusicCast 50 speakers. Any of these combinations should provide immersive 5.1 sound.MusicCast allows the BAR 400 to stream music wirelessly to other MusicCast-enabled products throughout the home. The BAR 400 can be controlled using the MusicCast Controller app. It supports audio formats at sample rates up to 192kHz with 24-bit resolution. It also offers a number of Yamaha sound-enhancement technologies. Yamaha Clear Voice is said to "improve the audibility and clarity of dialogue in movies and TV shows." Compressed Music Enhancer is designed to improve the quality of compressed audio formats, by restoring high frequencies.Connectivity includes HDMI input and HDMI output with Audio Return Channel (ARC), as well as optical and analog audio inputs, and Bluetooth. Both Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround are supported, as well as DTS Virtual:X post-processing, which is said to create "a spacious 3D virtual surround, including the sensation of height, from any stereo or multichannel source." MSRP $799.95
Samsung The Frame TV
If you want to go big, grab someone special (perhaps a great gift for the family?) a new flat-screen TV. The Frame is ideal for design-conscious households, since it can display selected pieces of art, or even family photos, when it isn't being used to watch television or movies. It comes in 43", 55", and 65" sizes, and with a single cable that handles both power and data transfer from the small Connect set top box that comes with it. With 4K, HDR10 support, it also includes Samsung's Smart Hub smart TV interface for accessing streaming content. And it includes voice integration, and can communicate with other Samsung products through the Bixby voice assistant or SmartThings. Art Mode adjusts the screen's brightness so images will appear as if they are art, not bright images that look like they are being displayed on a TV screen. Access art from the Smart View app, or upload your own, and have one piece displayed, or set up a slideshow as a perfect backdrop for a gathering. The TV comes with a standard black frame, or pay an extra $250-$350 for walnut, oak, or white. A subscription for works of art is $8/mo., or buy individual pieces for $27 each. The new Samsung Frame TV models are $1,700 for the 43", $2,700 for the 55", and $3,800 for the 65".
LG W8 Wallpaper OLED TV
Go big or go home, right? The LG W8 OLED TV comes in 65" or 77" sizes, and includes the new ThinQ AI, along with an a9 intelligent processor, 4K Cinema HDR, and Dolby Atmos sound. A thing of beauty, it's the perfect upgrade for a family who's in need of one, and is willing to fork out big bucks for a new centrepiece to their living room. It includes custom-designed magnet wall mounts that provide a flush mount to the wall, and works with voice control, or use the LG Magic Remote. And it includes LG's webOS 4.0 smart operating system. It starts at about $10,000, though, so be prepared to forego that new family car in favour of one.
Streaming TV Subscription
You can't go wrong with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or CraveTV to help get someone into the streaming TV world. Each service offers a selection of legacy and new content, including both television series and movies, as well as originals. With Amazon Prime, you get the benefit of free shipping on eligible Prime purchases as well, plus things like free cloud storage and more. Pricing ranges from about $10/month up to $14/mo., depending on the service and package. But you can hook them up for a year of Netflix's top-tiered package, which includes viewing in 4K HDR on multiple screens at a time, for under $200. Plus, with Netflix and Prime, they can downoad video to watch offline, while commuting to school or work, or traveling by plane.
Uber Eats Account Credits
This might sound weird, but how many people do you know struggle with the time to make meals at home, at least a few days per week? All you want to do is relax with some good music, or watching your favourite primetime shows, but you need to figure out dinner first. Why not help them prepare for those order-in evenings with some Uber Eats credits? They can order from a wide selection of restaurants in the area, paying the standard $5 delivery fee, and get everything from pizza to pub eats, Italian, chinese, and yes, even fast food. For movie nights, you can now order authentic Cineplex popcorn and treats for delivery. So you can sit back for a movie night in with nachos and cheese, a hot dog, popcorn, soda, and M&Ms, just like if you were at the movies. Grab an Uber gift card from a variety of retailers, and it can be used towards both food, as well as Uber rides. The recipient would either have to have an existing account to which they can apple the credit, or open one.
Want more gift ideas? Check out our other themed gift guides.