Posted Wed Jun 6, 2018 at 11:00 AM PDT by Steven Cohen
June has begun, which means Father's Day is just around the corner. And what's the perfect way to show your appreciation for dear old dad? Well, some of the latest and greatest home theater gear and gadgets, of course!
For many dads, a sweet home theater setup can offer a welcomed respite from the pressures of daily work and parenting. And with one of those fancy new smart speakers, he might not ever need to leave the couch again. Well, except for bathroom breaks, of course.
But with TVs, media players, sound bars, and other gadgets all varying wildly in quality and price, figuring out which products are right for your dad can be a little tricky. With that in mind, we've put together a special gift guide full of worthy gear items and accessories for any tech-loving father at every budget level.
Whether you're going all-in on an OLED display or opt for a more affordable streaming stick, these suggestions will all let dad know you care.
Please note: prices are subject to change, and do not include taxes or shipping.
Sure to provide dad with endless hours of 4K HDR entertainment, these two display recommendations cover both ends of the Ultra HD TV spectrum, offering a killer bang-for-your buck Roku TV option from TCL and an industry-leading flagship OLED from LG.
TCL 6-Series 55R617 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku TV ($650) - Packed with several advanced features normally reserved for more expensive sets, TCL's 6-Series just might offer the best performance to price ratio of any new display for 2018, cementing itself as one of, if not the, top 4K TV in its price range. The display includes Dolby Vision and HDR10 support, along with the Roku OS smart TV platform. In addition, the set uses full array local dimming with 96 zones (120 on the 65-inch model) for improved black levels and contrast. Likewise, the panel incorporates NBP Photon technology with LED phosphors to provide Wide Color Gamut support. A 65-inch model is available as well for an introductory price of just $1,000.
(Note: Best Buy model does not include Voice Remote)
LG OLED65C8PUA 65" 4K Ultra HD OLED TV ($3,462) - If money is no object, few home theater items would make a better gift for dad than one of LG's top-of-the-line 2018 OLED TVs. With some of the best overall picture quality on the market, this set offers perfect blacks and the company's new α (Alpha) 9 intelligent processor for improved image and color performance over last year's models. In addition, the panel also supports onboard Dolby Atmos audio and LG's 4K Cinema HDR suite of high dynamic range formats with wide color gamut capabilities, including Advanced HDR by Technicolor, Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma). Meanwhile, the TV's new ThinQ AI tech gives dad the option to take advantage of advanced voice assistant features by speaking directly into the remote. 55-inch ($2,497) and 77-inch ($8,997) C8 models are available as well.
If you're tired of watching poor dad settle for wimpy integrated TV speakers, these sound bar suggestions should all offer a sizeable upgrade without breaking the bank or upsetting mom by taking up the entire living room.
VIZIO SB2820n-E0 Sound bar Home Speaker ($71) - Basic but still a solid improvement over TV speakers, this 28" model might not include a subwoofer or advanced audio features, but it provides a simple, inexpensive 2-channel solution. The sound bar is rated for 95 dB with less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion and a frequency response of 70 Hz - 19 KHz, and offers Dolby Digital playback and DTS sound enhancement through a digital optical connection. And though HDMI and Wi-Fi are not included, the device does support Bluetooth streaming.
Polk Command Sound Bar with Amazon Alexa Voice Control ($300) - Offering added convenience, this sound bar model actually features built-in far-field microphones atop the device, enabling integrated Amazon Alexa support. With the Polk Connect Skill, users can control the speaker's master volume, mute, bass, sound modes, and source selection through voice commands. Likewise, customers can also ask Alexa to play music, control compatible smart home devices, provide news and weather, set alarms, read audiobooks from Audible, control a connected Amazon Fire TV, and more. The sound bar system incorporates two 1.25 x 3.25-inch full-range drivers, two 1-inch tweeters, and a ported, wireless 6.5-inch subwoofer. Connectivity options include dual HDMI 2.0b inputs with 4K Dolby Vision HDR passthrough, an optical input, an HDMI ARC out, a USB port, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Finally, Dolby and DTS audio decoding are offered as well.
Samsung HW-K950/ZA 5.1.4 Channel Soundbar with Dolby Atmos Technology ($1,000) - Though a new 2018 HW-N950 7.1.4 model is set to arrive later this year, this 2016 5.1.4 sound bar system still has a lot to offer, providing a compact immersive audio solution. The package includes a 3.1.2-channel 47.6" sound bar unit with eleven built-in speakers, including two upward-firing drivers, along with two separate wireless rear satellite speakers with upward-firing drivers of their own. With that said, while the unit can properly decode Dolby Atmos tracks, it does not include DTS:X support, resulting in upconverted DTS mixes. Finally, the 500-watt system also includes a wireless subwoofer, Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi, and HDMI with 4K pass-through.
While it's likely that most of your dad's TVs already offer access to some apps, these dedicated streaming players will make sure that he's not missing out any digital content. And if dad does somehow still happen to have an old "dumb" HDMI TV, these set-top boxes and dongles will up its IQ in no time.
Amazon Fire TV Stick ($40) - Amazon's compact streaming stick is limited to 1080p SDR video, but the affordable streaming solution offers access to over 15,000 apps, games, and Alexa skills including Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, YouTube, Prime Video, NBC, WatchESPN, Disney, and more. Likewise, the device includes the Alexa Voice Remote, allowing users to control functions through spoken commands.
Roku Ultra ($99) - As the company's current flagship media player, the Roku Ultra offers support for 4K Ultra HD streaming and HDR10 (but not Dolby Vision) with access to 450,000+ movies and TV episodes across 4,500+ paid or free channels. A Dolby Digital Plus decoder with support for Dolby Atmos bitstreaming, USB input, Optical Digital Out, enhanced point anywhere remote with voice search, premium headphones for private listening, and gaming buttons are all integrated as well.
Apple TV 4K ($179) - Marked by 4K playback capabilities at up to 60 frames per second with support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and an upcoming Dolby Atmos update set for the fall, the Apple TV 4K just might be the most well-rounded media streamer on the market. In addition, the device is powered by the A10X Fusion chip and includes 4K scaling for HD sources, Siri voice search, iCloud support for media sharing, standard AirPlay capabilities, and the ability to serve as a smart home hub for HomeKit accessories with remote access and automated control.
Though a flesh-and-blood personal assistant is likely not an option for most dads, you can still get him the next best thing with a voice-controlled smart speaker -- offering hands-free access to music streaming, weather updates, football scores, smart home control, and more.
Echo Dot ($40) - This compact, hands-free smart speaker is powered by Alexa -- allowing customers to ask questions, play music, turn on the lights, set timers, give sports updates, check the weather, access over 3,000 Alexa skills, and much more. The product is designed to be connected to existing speakers through a 3.5mm stereo cable or Bluetooth, enabling users to add voice control to their sound systems. In addition, the device also includes a small integrated speaker for use as an alarm clock or a voice assistant for smart home devices. The Echo Dot uses the same array of seven microphones found in the larger Amazon Echo, and this 2nd generation model features a more powerful speech processor for improved far-field speech recognition accuracy. Finally, the device also includes Amazon's new ESP (Echo Spatial Perception) tech. This feature automatically determines which Echo device should respond to a user's request when multiple Echo products are within hearing distance.
Echo ($100) - Amazon's 2nd generation flagship smart speaker model features an updated design with a dedicated tweeter, a 2.5" down-firing woofer, and
Google Home ($99) - Google's smart speaker features a high-excursion driver with a dual passive radiator design, offering clean highs and deep lows for Hi-Fi streaming audio. The device also includes hidden LED lights and a capacitive touch surface on its top face, and buyers can customize the base with different colors and finishes. Using the new Google Assistant experience, Google Home lets customers ask questions, enjoy entertainment, stream music, and manage everyday tasks through conversational speech commands. Music support includes playback from services like Google Play Music, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, and YouTube Music (with additional platforms like iHeartRadio coming soon). Likewise, users can also stream audio directly from a smartphone to their Google Home by casting tracks from 100+ Chromecast-enabled apps on Android or iOS devices. In addition, customers can get real-time answers to various questions through their Google Home using integrated Google Search, offering easy access to weather forecasts, stock market info, traffic updates, sports news, and more.
The perfect complement to many of the devices listed above, these last few suggestions will ensure that dad's living room experience is complete with OTA broadcasts, all the necessary cables, and voice-controlled light bulbs.
Philips Hue White A19 Dimmable LED Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit ($69) - After years of child-rearing and hard work, should your dad really still have to get up to turn off the lights? A great addition to any smart speaker purchase, this Smart Bulb kit includes 2 A19 60W White Bulbs and 1 Bridge designed to control up to 50 Hue lights without slowing a user's Wi-Fi. Once installed, customers can control the lights via the Philips Hue App or through voice control with an Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant device.
Winegard FlatWave FL-5000 Indoor HDTV Antenna ($34) - Streaming apps offer access to tons of content, but some cord-cutting dads may still want to tune into live local broadcasts, especially when their favorite sports team is on TV. Thankfully this digital antenna should cover most needs offering a 35 mile long range, and an extra long coaxial cable (15'),
AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable, 6 Feet, 3-Pack ($12) - All those fancy displays and media players are pretty useless without some trusty cables to connect them all with, and AmazonBasics HDMI cables get the job done for a great price. This pack includes three 6 feet cables with support for up 18 Gbps, 4K@50/60, and HDR video.
So, there you have it, those are our top gear and gadget picks for Father's Day. What do you think about the selection? Do you have suggestions of your own? Let us know your thoughts in the forum!
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