New homeowners (and renters) will appreciate new TV, audio, and home theatre items to upgrade their entertainment space. As with choosing tech gifts and gadgets, new products in these areas are released on a routine basis, and when you’re gifting items, you’re balancing what you think they want, with what will be a practical and useful item that can be enjoyed for years – or until the next great technology is released.
We’ve got some expert tips to help you choose, along with some suggestions.
People moving to a larger space will want to get something more powerful, and with a wireless subwoofer to add bass, says Carl Prouty, a technologist at Abt Electronics in Glenview, IL. “If they’re moving into a smaller space, consider something that doesn’t include a separate subwoofer, as that may take up floor space they don’t have available,” he tells us.
With people moving into a condo or apartment, Prouty says you may also want to consider something without a subwoofer since some of them are powerful enough to shake the ceiling of a downstairs neighbor, or the floor of an upstairs neighbor. “A key feature to look for would be an HDMI connection, as that is currently the most popular way to connect a TV to a soundbar.”
Bluetooth and WiFi are also useful as they allow users to stream music from a phone, tablet, or computer to the speaker. “Some brands, like Bose, offer soundbars that you can integrate into a full home audio system through Wi-Fi so you don’t need to run wires all over the place if you want sound throughout the home,” Prouty says.
Space is again a major factor to consider as you’re pondering what screen size to get as a gift. Prouty says you’ll also want to keep in mind how it’s being installed. “If the TV is going on the wall, then size tends to be less of a factor; however, if it’s going on an entertainment stand, you’ll need to make sure the pedestal of the TV will fit on top of the stand.”
You can get a home theater with a speaker only, or with an A/V receiver. “The safer bet is to purchase a system that comes with a receiver, as those will have the essential main components,” Prouty says. If the new homeowner already has a receiver, he notes that a speaker package can be a nice way to upgrade their sound, but warns they’re not always a universal fit. “You’ll also want to consider the additional work involved in setting up a home theater system,” Prouty says. “Most will require wires, which aren’t typically included with the set, to be run from the receiver to the speakers, which can make the install quite a bit trickier. “It’s far easier to install a soundbar than a full set of speakers in most cases.”
These are some of the TV/audio/home theatre items to consider for housewarming gifts:
TCL 55” Q Class 4K QLED HDR Smart TV
Not too big, not to small, the TCL 55” Q-Class 4K QLED HDR Smart TV is the perfect size for most people — and it also comes in 65-inch, 75-inch, and 85-inch versions as well. Quantum dot technology and 4K UHD resolution produce bright, vivid, lifelike images with over 200 local dimming zones. The TV has Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos, along with a 120Hz fresh rate. It also has a voice remote and works with Alexa.
Polk Audio Magnifi Mini AX Sound Bar
A powerful sound bar that doesn’t take up much space, the Polk Audio Magnifi Mini AX also has a subwoofer, and provides Dolby Atmos and DTS:X cinematic surround sound. The 3D soundstage, clear dialogue, and deep bass make the soundbar great for music streaming as well. The subwoofer can be set up 30 feet away from the soundbar, and has a bass adjust setting. The sound bar includes HDMI, eARC, optical, and 3.5mm inputs.
Victrola Hi-Res Carbon Turntable
Vinyl records are making a comeback — in fact, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl sales have grown for the past straight 16 years. The user-friendly Victrola Hi-Res Carbon Turntable connects wirelessly (to speakers or headphones) using built-in aptX Adaptive Bluetooth connectivity, but it can also provide a wired connection using the switchable preamp and RCA outputs. The quality materials, including the carbon fiber tonearm, adjustable counterweight, and cartridge combine to produce a sound that’s quite impressive.
Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar
The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar can connect with other Bose speakers and headphones, and it connect vis WiFi, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, and Apple Airplay. The surround sound system includes both Dolby Atmos and Bose True Space (which can separate sounds), as well as AI dialogue mode, for immersive experiences. The soundbar is also easy to set up: just plug and play. The Bose Music App can be used to set up the soundbar, choose a voice assistant, and also control the TV instead of using the included remote. Bose also makes a Steal the Thunder Home Theater Sound System, which includes a soundboard, bass module, and a pair of surround speakers.
XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K Projector
An alternative to a TV is to watch movies on the XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K Projector, which provides 4K resolution for stunningly clear images in sizes ranging from 40 inches to 200 inches. The projector is bright (with 1500 ISO lumens), and has auto focus and auto keystone correction. Built-in speakers with DTS HD and Dolby Audio result in home theatre surround sound. The projector has an Android TV 10. 0 operating system, and Google Play Store is integrated for access to over 5,000 apps, including Showtime, HBO, and YouTube. In addition, Google Assistant provides voice control.
U-Turn Audio Orbit Basic Turntable
A great entry-level record player is the U-Turn Audio Orbit Basic Turntable, which is easy to set up and play. It has a seamless silicon drive belt with a low-noise AC synchronous motor, and manual speed control (from 33 to 45 RPM). The turntable has a one-piece magnesium armtube and uses an Audio-Technica cartridge. It’s available with or without a built-in preamp. Color choices are plentiful and include Black, White, Red, Blue, Green, Oak, and Walnut.
Klipsch R-50M Bookshelf Speakers
For space-challenged gift recipients, the Klipsch R-50M Bookshelf Speakers don’t take up much space, but look and sound good wherever they’re placed. And the outer horn dimensions have been increased to provide even more immersive sound, whether watching movies or listening to music. In addition, the linear travel suspension in the aluminum tweeters provide detailed, clear audio and eliminates distortion. The housing is also quite durable: the MDF cabinets are made of textured wood grain vinyl that resists scratches.
VMP (Vinyl Me, Please)
Vinyl lovers will also appreciate new music, and VMP (Vinyl Me, Please) has a record of the month club and also an online record store. The company sells music to anyone, but club members get discounts and early access. Music ranges from rock and country to soul and hip-hop. Some of the available artists available on the website include Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Fiona Apple, Dolly Parton, Stone Temple Pilots, and Fleetwood Mac.
OnePlus Open Smartphone
To stream from the smartphone to speakers and the TV, your new homeowner or renter may need a new, powerful phone. The OnePlus Open Smartphone uses Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, has 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of read-only memory. It supports Wi-Fi-7 and dual 5G for fast and stable connections. The smartphone also has a 48MP Sony Lytia pixel-stacked primary camera and a 48MP ultra-wide angle camera that includes auto focus. There are also two self cameras (20MP and 32MP) on the cover screen. This fun flip phone is available in Voyager Black and Emerald Dush.
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e Headphones
If you’re not sure which would item would make a suitable homewarming gift, you can’t go wrong with the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e Headphones (or another type of noise-cancelling headphones). With a 30-hour battery life, the headphones provide over a day’s worth of listening time, and can also be used to accept phone calls. They’re comfortable, with foam earpads that are luxurious and cushy, and an adjustable headband makes it easy to find the best fit. The active noise cancelling feature blocks unwanted sounds, and the Bowers & Wilkins Music App can be used for voice assistant support and direct streaming.