This winter is the perfect time to upgrade your home theatre experience, and it makes an excellent gift for that TV, movie, or game-obsessed family member who wants to bring the cinematic experience home.
Since we’re still going to be home more this winter, and there are some incredible new TVs and devices available right now, I’ve put together few ideas to help you with your shopping lists this holiday season.
Hisense Q9G 55″ 4K QLED Android Smart TV | $999
The new Hisense Q9G Series 4K TVs offer some of the best features for under $1000, for 55″, and they’re excellent for gamers, streamers, or movie lovers.
Hisense’s Quantum Dot ULED technology offers vibrant, sharp details with a design that’s clean, modern, and very slim. It’s a beautiful package that’s smart, and pairs quickly and easily for Android phone users to share videos or photos with the family.
The Quantum Dot delivers truly vivid, gorgeous colours, thanks to a wide colour gamut, as well as exceptional contrast, brightness, with HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. That means when you’re watching 4K content on YouTube, Netflix, or Disney+, it will look its best. And for gamers, the TV has a 120Hz refresh rate, and Dolby Atmos for excellent sound.
And because it’s an Android TV, with voice control, you can quickly tell Google to jump right into your favourite streaming show without picking up a remote. Available at Visions, Costco Canada, Amazon, and Best Buy.
Bluesound PULSE soundbar 2i & PULSE Sub+ | $1499 and $999
To get the ultimate home theatre experience, you need the best audio, and one of my new favourite home audio brands is Bluesound and the PULSE soundbar 2i with the new PULSE Sub+.
Every TV deserves a soundbar, to get the most out of what you’re watching, and it doesn’t get any better than the Bluesound PULSE soundbar 2i. Made right here in Canada–in Pickering, Ontario–Bluesound makes exceptional, eye-catching products that are easy-to-use and provide big cinematic sound for anything you’re watching.
The setup is straightforward, thanks to their BluOS app, with the PULSE soundbar 2i working well in front of your TV, or mounted above or below it, while the PULSE Sub+ can go under your couch, on a wall, or anywhere nearby. Best of all, it connects wirelessly to the PULSE soundbar 2i, or other Bluesound audio products.
And the sound from these speakers is really incredible. The Mandalorian has never sounded so good, and you can also stream music to it from your favourite service, from other devices, and you can connect using an analog input, HDMI Arc, or optical. I hooked up my record player to it, for some classic Christmas records, and it was like stepping back in time.
TCL 6-Series 55″ 4K QLED Roku Smart TV | $899
TCL’s affordable lineup of Roku TVs cover a range of sizes and budgets, and my favourite of them all is the 6-Series, starting at $899 for 55″ and going up to just $1,999 for a huge 75″ TV.
For gamers, this is a fantastic 4K Ultra HD TV with Dolby Vision HDR, it’s THX Certified for gaming, and has a 120Hz variable refresh rate. The TV is also an all-around great TV for any room, from the bedroom, living room, or rec room. On top of all that, Roku smart TVs connect to the widest range of streaming services out there, so you can stream just about any series, movie, or content from services like Apple TV, Tubi, CBS All Access, BritBox, Acorn TV, Cineplex Store, and Shudder.
The QLED has excellent contrast, brightness, and TCL’s AiPQ Engine optimizes content for you, so it looks the best without any fiddling.
Beyond all the streaming services, 6-Series TVs feature voice control through the Roku mobile app and an easy-to-use interface. The TV also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can take control without a remote nearby.
Available at Best Buy and Amazon.ca.
TCL Alto 7 2.0 Channel Soundbar | $179
Whether you buy a TCL TV or not, the TCL Alto 7 40-watt 2.0 channel soundbar is an excellent, affordable option to bring quality sound to your living room, at an amazing price.
Easily paired with just about any TV, thanks to the Arc HDMI input, the TCL Alto 7 is simple to use, and also supports Aux, Bluetooth, and optical input to play from your TV, or your favourite playlist.
The soundbar offers lifelike, clear, and room-filling audio that’s especially excellent for condo living rooms, rec rooms, and bedrooms. I was consistently impressed with the sound quality considering that it’s such a small and lightweight soundbar.
Sound modes also let you get the right tone for what you’re watching, whether it’s music, movies, or news, and the soundbar is also wall-mountable. Plus, with the HDMI Arc connection on my TCL 6-Series, the soundbar is completely seamless, turning on and off with the TV, and changing volume when you adjust the TV volume.
Available at Best Buy and Amazon.ca.
Chromecast with Google TV | $69
If you already love your current TV, but you’re looking to make it smarter, Chromecast with Google TV is a great upgrade that delivers a lot of functionality in one little device.
Chromecast is easy to setup, so you just plug it into any available HDMI port, and set it up with the Google Home app. Once it’s set, the new Chromecast organizes all your streaming content and channels in one place, from your favourite TV shows on services like Netflix, to suggestions for new content. And Chromecast supports 4K content.
Chromecast also makes it easy to cast content from your phone to the TV, and the remote includes Google Assistant, for quick voice searches for shows, movies, or YouTube videos.
Available from the Google Store and Best Buy.
Google Stadia Premiere Edition | $139
Take the console out of your gaming with Google Stadia, a simple and flexible gaming system that still delivers some of the biggest games out there.
The Google Stadia kit includes Google Chromecast Ultra and a Stadia controller that pair together with your TV, monitor, or some laptops and phones. You can then subscribe to the service, for $11.99 Canadian per month, for access to their lineup of key titles, or buy games outright, like Cyberpunk 2077, Assassins Creed Valhalla, Marvel’s Avengers, Red Dead Redemption 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and more.
As excited as I am to try the two new consoles out there this year, it could be a while before most people can get their hands on the systems, and Stadia offers a great, simple experience with up to 4K graphics and 5.1 surround sound.
Available from the Google Store.