2018 Home Entertainment Gift Guide

Entertainment / Tech

All I want for Christmas is a new TV, or maybe a soundbar, no… no, a Bluetooth speaker… or maybe a smart display? Gah! So many choices!

All I want for Christmas is a new TV, or maybe a soundbar, no….no, a Bluetooth speaker… or maybe a smart display? Gah! So many choices! Don’t stress it! The Techaeris 2018 Home Entertainment Gift Guide is here to try and help you find some of the best choices this holiday! Take a look at some of our recommendations below! Happy shopping, Merry Christmas, and stay tuned for more gift guides over the coming days!

Televisions

Samsung 4K QLED HDR TVs

We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the 2017 65″ Samsung Q8C and the 2018 65″ Samsung Q8F both from their QLED 4K HDR lineup. Coming soon is the review for the 2018 55″ Samsung Q7CN. We’ve been nothing but impressed by what Samsung is doing with their QLED TV lineup. Their 4K HDR is among the best in the industry and their QLED technology is on par with the best OLED TVs on the market.

So we’re recommending Samsung’s QLED lineup of TVs if you’re looking for an amazing TV this holiday season. Samsung is having a holiday sale right now on select TVs on their website and you can also find them on Amazon. You can pick up the 65″ Q9FN for $2,999.99USD (regular $3,799.99USD) or the 55″ Q6FN for $999.99USD (regular $1,499.99USD). Samsung’s QLED lineup will deliver some of the best contrast, color, brightness, and viewing angles you’ll find anywhere and they don’t suffer burn-in like OLED panels. Check out Samsung’s full QLED lineup at the link below.

  Purchase from Samsung  Purchase from Amazon

TCL 4K Televisions

If Samsung’s QLED lineup of TVs are a little too rich for your blood don’t sweat it! TCL has your back when it comes to budget minded TV purchases. Now, we haven’t reviewed the TCL line of televisions but we do know they have gotten excellent reviews from consumers and reviewers alike. While the quality isn’t quiet on par with Samsung’s QLED displays, for the money, you’re getting a decent buy here.

Right now you can pick up a 2017 55″ 4K TCL Roku TV on Amazon for $349.99USD (regular $599.99USD). Or you can opt for the 2017 49″ 4K TCL Roku TV for $279.99USD (regular $479.99USD). The 2018 models likely have better pictures but cost $50 to $150USD more than the 2017 models. But they are still on sale and worth taking a look at. You can shop all of TCL’s offerings on Amazon at the link below.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from TCL

Soundbars

Samsung Soundbars

Samsung soundbars have been some of our favorites this year including the MS750 and the HW-N400. Both of these soundbars are excellent but are on opposite sides of the spectrum. The MS750 is regularly priced at $699.99USD but is on sale on Amazon right now for $447.99USD. The HW-N400 is a more budget-minded choice and while not on sale is still an affordable $117.49USD on Amazon.

For those who have a higher quality of audio taste there is the Samsung HW-N950 with Dolby Atmos. This is a premium top of the line soundbar that will deliver some of the best sound on the market. Regularly priced at $1699.99USD you can find it on Amazon now for $1397.99USD. That includes the soundbar, satellite speakers, and subwoofer.

There are plenty of other Samsung soundbar choices and given the quality we’ve already heard from them, we’re sure there’s something for everyone in the Samsung soundbar family.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Samsung

Polk Soundbars

We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the Polk MagnaFi Mini and we’re in process of reviewing the Polk Command Sound Bar with Alexa now. If you’re looking for an alternative to the pricier offerings of Samsung, Polk is a good choice. The excellent Polk Command Sound Bar with Alexa is regularly priced at $299USD but is on sale on Amazon now for $199USD.

For those looking for a bit more Polk punch, there is the Polk MagniFi Max which regularly sells for $499.95USD but can be had on Amazon right now for $299USD. There are other cheaper options such as the Polk 2.1 soundbar regularly priced at $199.95USD now on sale on Amazon for $149.95USD.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Polk Audio

Bluetooth/Home Speakers

JBL Boombox

We’ve reviewed a few JBL products over the past few years and the JBL Xtreme Bluetooth speaker remains a personal favourite, especially for outside use and camping. It turns out that JBL has one-upped the size on that and our JBL Boombox review took a look at one of the larger portable Bluetooth speakers you’ll see.

Another Top Pick/Editor’s Choice this year, the Boombox is simply rich and balanced with deep, big bass that doesn’t overpower the mids and highs. Inside, you’ll be fine with around 25-30% volume for normal listening and would be hard pressed to have it cranked to 100% for any amount of time. Even at that volume, audio is clear and crisp and you can really feel the bass as well. Even outdoors at 100% volume is rather loud and it will really depend on the space you’re entertaining in to be able to effectively utilize the speaker at maximum volume.

While it’s pricey, it’s rugged looks and build quality coupled with its nearly 24 hour battery life, the JBL Boombox has you covered both indoors and outdoors. With a regular price of $449.95USD, the speaker is currently available for just over $400 from JBL and as low as $384 on Amazon.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from JBL

Edifier S350DB bookshelf speakers

We’re kicking off our Bluetooth speaker section with some speakers that support Bluetooth but also offer other connectivity possibilities. We reviewed the Edifier S350DB and were so impressed with them they earned a Top Pick for 2018. Not only do these speakers sound fantastic and offer up multiple connectivity options. But they also bring back the look of old school speakers which we absolutely loved!

If you’re looking for a set of bookshelf speakers to hook into your TV or even just use as Bluetooth speakers, the Edifier S350DB should be on your list. There’s no question that they deserve a Top Pick of 2018 Award here at Techaeris. While there are no current sales on these Bluetooth speakers, we believe the $299.99USD price tag is well worth it. Let us know if you spot a sale on these somewhere.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Edifier

Lyric Speaker Canvas

Lyric-Speaker-Canvas-unboxing

For those of you looking for something a bit more unique and have money to spare, the Cotodama Lyric Speaker Canvas is a pretty solidly built Wi-Fi speaker. It’ll definitely look great on a bookshelf or other shelf both when in use and not in use.

Overall, the speaker has pretty decent sound during our limited testing so far. The big feature of this speaker, of course, is its ability to dispaly song lyrics while playing most tracks. I was definitely impressed by the number of songs that have lyrics in Cotodama’s lyric database.

Our full review is still coming but we do have an unboxing and first impressions posted about the speaker. If you’re already sold, you can sign up on b8ta’s website (an authorized retailer) if you’re in the U.S. to be notified as to when this $1700USD speaker is available.

  Pre-order from b8ta

Phorus PS10 Alexa Bluetooth speaker

Alexa speakers are becoming commonplace. Amazon has their own array of speakers and various manufacturers are using the Alexa service to market their own wares. While we’ve not tested every Alexa speaker out there, I’m comfortable in saying, the Phorus PS10 is easily one of the best out there. Some of you may not be familiar with Phorus but we’ve tested several of their speakers. Phorus has always delivered some excellent sound and the Phorus PS10 is no exception.

The Phorus PS10 is easily one of the best if not the best Alexa speaker on the market. The added bonus is that it’s only $99.99USD (Amazon only) which is a fantastic price for what you get in terms of sound and functionality. This is really a must buy if you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Phorus

Grace Digital Encore+

Grace-Digital-Encore-review-EC

Another Wi-Fi speaker, the Grace Digital Encore+ earned a Top Pick and an Editor’s Choice award earlier this year. This stereo Wi-Fi and internet radio speaker also has built-in Chromecast, access to over 10,000 internet radio stations including iHeartRadio, and SiriusXM, as well as local streaming support.

The Grace Digital Encore+ has a few services on board which include CBS radio, BBC, NPR, iHeartRadio (basic stations only unless you use the Chromecast-enabled app), and SiriusXM. The Encore+ also has Bluetooth, Aux-In, USB thumb or hard drive, UPnP, Spotify Connect, and Chromecast built in. There are also a few Chromecast-enabled apps built into the Encor+ which include TuneIn, Pandora, Google Play Music, and Deezer. Between all the on board services and the additional connectivity options, there really isn’t any music that you can’t access and play.

Available in black or brown finishes, the Grace Digital Encore+ has an MSRP of $299.99USD but is currently selling on Amazon fro under $210, which makes it a an extra solid purchase or gift.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Grace Digital

Smart Displays

Lenovo Smart Display 10″ and 8″

Back in January of this year, Google Assistant took over CES 2018. It didn’t take long to find out why. The Google Assistant was getting a display. It was announced that LG, JBL, and Lenovo would all be releasing displays with Google Assitant. Now, the Lenovo smart Display is finally upon us. This is Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo Show and Lenovo really did an amazing job.

The Lenovo smart Display is something unique. It’s a brilliant device especially for those who use a lot of Google services. The hardware and the software are both brilliant in their design. I’d be happy to have this on our counter and hopefully, more features have been added since our initial review. We’re in process of reviewing the 8″ version but we can safely say that it is just as good for the price as the 10″ version.

You can pick the Lenovo smart display up at Lenovo on sale right now! The 10″ version will run you $179.99USD while the 8″ is going for $99.99USD. Both great prices on two amazing smart display’s with Google Assistant.

  Purchase from Lenovo

JBL LINK VIEW smart display

If you’re looking for a smart display with a little more punch in the sound department then look no further than the JBL LINK VIEW. While the design isn’t nearly as nice as the Lenovo, the sound is far better.

The JBL LINK VIEW is perfect for the kitchen or anywhere else you need to look up and view info on the fly. We scored it a 9.3 out of 10 in our review and praised it for its sound quality, responsive screen, sleek design, and decent performance.

You can pick the JBL LINK VIEW up at JBL right now for $199.95USD which is $50 off the original price!

  Purchase from JBL

Projectors

Optoma HD27HDR 3400

Sometimes televisions take up too much space and some people prefer the portability and convenience of a projector in their home. We’ve been reviewing Optoma projectors for a few years now and often come away impressed with their quality. The Optoma HD27HDR 3400 is a budget-minded projector you can pick up on Amazon for $679USD.

This projector features a 1080p picture quality with HDR images and 3,400 lumens. It is HDR10 compliant and has an enhanced HDR gaming mode for you gamers out there. The lamp has a 15,000 hour life and it comes with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 for your 4K sources. This is a perfect entry level projector for those looking to check them out.

  Purchase from Amazon

Optoma UHD65 4K projector

Optoma-UHD65-review

Another projector on the higher end of things but perfect for 4K content. There’s no question that 4K is quickly becoming the standard resolution for entertainment and gaming. With more streaming content and gaming available in 4K UHD and 4K televisions coming down in price, more homes are adopting the technology. Thankfully, 4K UHD home theatre projectors are also coming down in price and are becoming more affordable for those who have big screen setups in their homes.

The Optoma UHD65 is a fantastic 4K HDR projector with clear, crisp, bright colours. Sound aside, this projector is great for anyone who wants to watch movies or game on a large screen. Be sure to read our review of this product!

There are two places you can get this fantastic projector. The MSRP is $2,499USD but both sources have this projector on sale right now for $1,999USD. Hit the links below!

  Purchase from Projector People  Purchase from Visual Apex

Acer V7850 4K HDR projector

With more 4K media and gaming content becoming more widely available, consumers are looking for 4K viewing options. With 4K, the larger the screen the better as 4K doesn’t give the same “wow” factor on smaller screens. As TVs get bigger, the price also increases. Fortunately, on the other hand, the price of 4K projectors is coming down into the range of affordability for home theatre setups.

The Acer V7850 is a solid UHD 4K HDR projector for both movie watching and game playing. Not only is the image crisp and bright, but there are plenty of colour and image settings to tweak it to suit your exact tastes. Be sure to read the full review on this product!

This is a higher end projector and is intended for gaming and 4K content so the price is a bit higher than the previous projector. That being said, the regular price on this projector is $2499.99USD but you can pick this up on Amazon now for $1449.99USD, a hell of a deal!

  Purchase from Amazon

And there you have our 2018 Home Entertainment Gift Guide. Of course, this is only a small sampling of the many items that we’ve reviewed this year and are available out there, so if something doesn’t quite catch your eye in this list, be sure to check out some of our other reviews from the past year!

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