Christmas Gift Guide: Home Entertainment

If you're looking to brighten someone's Christmas day with some home entertainment hardware, you've got a vast range of options.

If you're looking to brighten someone's Christmas day with some home entertainment hardware, you've got a vast range of options.

Home Theatre

If you've got plenty of dosh to spare, you can't go wrong with an all-in-one home theatre system like Panasonic's SC-BT105. While it might be a bit expensive to stick in the stocking on the mantelpiece, it does everything you'll ever need — making it a great gift for someone who's just indulged in a flat-panel TV but forgot the audio side of things.

What's Hot: It's powerful, iPod and Blu-ray integration works well

Other options include Philips' HTS6100 and Sony's DAV-IS50 for simple, easy-to-use additions to a living space.

Media Streamers

Most people have Internet access and a hi-fi system in their house. Why not combine the two? A media streamer will allow streaming Internet radio to be played on your home’s hi-fi system, while if you’ve got a home computer connected to a wireless network you’ll also be able to play back all of your MP3s easily as well.

Logitech’s Squeezebox family of devices have a strong following thanks to their combination of incredible ease of use and amazing functionality. If you’ve got a tech-head friend who’s into music but is still living in the age of CDs, introduce them to the 21st century.

What’s Hot: Unbelievably easy to use, excellent services through Squeezenetwork, supports a great array of file types

A newer Squeezebox device is the Squeezebox Duet, while Logitech’s Transporter is a great option for audiophiles. Boutique manufacturer Tivoli Audio offers the highly regarded NetWorks Radio.

High-Definition Players

With the format war won, Blu-ray is the format of choice for displaying high-definition content on your Full HD television. With manufacturers swarming to the format there’s a huge range of choice. If you want a budget model, companies like Olin make players like the OBDP-1000 that come in at very reasonable prices for their feature sets. There are models all the way up to our favourite, the Pioneer BDP-LX70A.

What’s Hot: Great quality Blu-ray and DVD playback, media streaming.

For more versatile product look at Panasonic’s DMR-BW500, which combines a Blu-ray player with dual HD tuners and a 500GB hard disk.

Mini Hi-Fis

If you’ve got kids, odds are you’ll have to put up with their constant bickering. Why not give them a mini hi-fi system to keep them quiet — or better yet, buy yourself one and turn it up!

If you’ve got an iPod, LG’s FB163 will suit you. It’s slick and glossy enough to impress the neighbours, while the sound quality is some of the best we’ve heard.

What’s Hot: Remarkably simple and easy to use

Other options in the crowded market include LG’s XA63, and Sharp’s XL-UH2080H, XL-UH25H and CD-MPX880H.

Media Centres

For the family that has it all... pick up a media centre to consolidate it into a single streamlined unit. A media centre PC will handle everything a regular PC can — Web browsing, menial word-processing duties and some gaming — with the added bonus of vast media playback options. Media centre PC is are usually user friendly and a range of upgrades are available. Literally any video or audio format on the market can be handled by a media centre PC.

For a media centre that looks great while performing a huge range of tasks, have a look at the Sony VAIO TP2. Its striking styling complements today’s flat-panel televisions.

What’s Hot: Blu-ray player, wireless keyboard with touchpad, HDMI output, 500GB storage

For some high-end gift ideas for audiophiles, check out our AV Enthusiast Centre.

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