Get Ready For The Holiday Shopping Frenzy
Shopping for electronic gadgets isn’t as easy as it used to be. A TV was a TV, a radio was a radio, and a stereo was a stereo. However, now there are LCD TVs, Plasma TVs, 4K Ultra HD TVs, 5, 6, 7, 9, and even 11 channel home theater receivers, speakers, sound bars, subwoofers, and the choices go on and on and on.
The following is a list and discussion of products that are either “Hot” or “Not” for home theater consumers this Holiday Shopping Season.
1. Internet-Enabled Components
Probably the most important development in the home theater experience in the past year or so, is the rapid integration of internet content into the home theater experience. This year, the flood of new internet-enabled products, including TVs (referred to as Smart TVs), Blu-ray Disc Players, Home Theater Receivers, and both standalone and HDMI plug-in Network Media Players/Streamers, allow consumers to access audio/video content from the internet via a home network. If you have a high-speed internet service and a router, you have the basic infrastructure to get going.
2. Blu-ray Disc Players
Blu-ray disc players are everywhere now, from standalone units, as part of new home theater-in-box systems, and even being incorporated into TV combos. In addition, with prices of an increasing number of Blu-ray disc players now coming in well below $199, and some basic playing coming in lower than $99, there is no longer a price barrier to overcome, especially if you are replacing an older DVD player. Watch for additional promotions that include free Blu-ray disc movies with a purchase of select Blu-ray Disc players and also “buy an HDTV and get a free Blu-ray Disc Player” offers. Also, check for promotions that include reduced prices for some popular Blu-ray disc movies when you purchase a Blu-ray Disc player. It is expected that Blu-ray disc player and Blu-ray movie promotions will be abundant this holiday season.
Wow! TV sure has changed in the past few years, and the type of TVs that are totally dominating the market now are LED/LCD TVs, especially now that Plasma TVs are almost gone and although OLED TVs are now available, the selection of those sets is very small, and very expensive.
This means that LED/LCD TVs are hot, hot, hot! Prices have come down significantly this year. In addition, with the maturing of LCD technology and more efficient production methods, LCD TVs are now quite common in sizes up to 60-inches, with an increasing number of sets with 70 and 80-inch screens, and Sharp offering a 90-inch LED/LCD TV.
4. 4K Ultra HD TV
2014 will mark the first time you will see some bargain-priced 4K Ultra HD TVs during the Holidays, and what I mean by bargain priced – I am talking mostly in the 50 or 55-inch screen size sets with selling prices of $999 or less.
For those that haven’t kept up with the jargon, the 4K in 4K Ultra HD TV stands for the approximate number of pixels that are displayed across the screen, which is 3840×2160. This translates to a display resolution of 2160p, which is four times the resolution of today’s 1080p HDTVs, hence the addition of the term Ultra HD. To make it easy for consumers, these TVs are referred to as 4K Ultra HD TVs.
5. Sound Bars
Sound bars are HOT! HOT! HOT! The reason for their popularity is that they are great for those that don’t want excessive connecting wires or don’t have space for separate components and speakers. This type produces a surround sound listening environment using a one speaker box, or one speaker box paired with a separate subwoofer.
6. Home Theater-In-A-Box Systems
Are you looking for something a little more flexible than a sound bar-type system, but still don’t what the hassle of an expensive home theater system? Then a home theater system-in-a-box may be just for you. Granted, these are not high-end systems, but in a price range from $200 to $2,000, there is a system out there that will fill basic needs, whether in an apartment, meeting room, or moderately-sized living room, that can fill the bill.
7. Video Projectors
How can one capture the same “magic” as a trip to the movie theater? You can come very close with your own home theater projection setup. Of course, such units have been around for some time, but they were big, bulky, power hogs, and very, very, expensive; definitely out of reach for the average consumer.
However, as an outgrowth, in recent years, of the need for compact, affordable, portable multi-media projection units for use in business presentations, new technological developments in image processing have made this once out-of-reach option more affordable for use in home theater by more and more consumers.
8. Home Theater Receivers
In addition to home theater audio features, a growing number of new home theater receivers, incorporate features such as on-board video upscaling, multi-zone, and home network connectivity.
Video upscaling is a function that adds the number of pixels need to match the specific screen resolution of an HDTV, such as 720p or 1080p. In fact, some home theater receivers provide 4K video upscaling, which you may not need right now – but it is there when you buy that 4K TV down the road. However, keep in mind that the upscaling process does not actually convert standard definition to high definition, but it does improve the image so that it looks better on an HDTV.
9. The iPod, iPhone, and Android Invade Home Theater
The growing popularity of the iPod has given rise to a whole new accessories market, from designer cases to dockable external speakers. However, one of the biggest developments involving the iPod is the growing number of Home Theater Receivers that include either a special connector that will accept an iPod docking station, or a built-in USB port that allows direct connection of an iPod, or other compatible devices, including USB flash drives. This means that you can play your personal music collection right through your big home theater system. If you are an iPod enthusiast, make sure you check out this option when shopping for a home theater receiver.