It's somewhat cliché, but for many of us holiday shopping starts with a little something for us first. I have yet to buy a Christmas present (but I've got a good list for my six year old son, wife, and even a bad-ass present picked out for my mother-in-law) but I did pick up a nice little travel-oriented something-something for me that will hopefully positively impact my mission to resume playing the Golf Magazine Top 100 courses in America when the weather improves (I am currently at 69/100 and 19 of the top 20).
Whether you're shopping for yourself or others, we've assembled a list of a few select goodies that might make getting through your list a little easier once the turkey hangover wears off. Please note: not all holiday prices are available at the time of publishing, so you never know when things can get even more affordable. Good luck out there, be it in the stores or on the Internet. I am pretty sure everything listed here is for sale on Amazon and with Prime shipping.
Anker Portable USB 20100mAh Charger ($49)
Dennis Burger and I both travel with this higher-current portable charger in our rig. This small charger can re-power my MacBook Pro, iPad, or iPhone X with speed more than once each without needed to be charged. With wildfires raging and never knowing when the next earthquake is coming here in California, a $50 charger like this is as much of a safety item as it a luxury or convenience.
Roku Ultra 4K/HDR Streamer ($89)
Of all of the sources that I have in my home theater system, I think the Roku is the most powerful. HDR 4K video, every app known to man, an easy-to-use interface, and an under-$100 price-tag makes a Roku a must-have for anyone with a 4K HDTV and an Internet connection. Its AV performance isn't quite as good as my Kaleidescape movie server, but it's 98 percent of the way there with far more variety in terms of choices for entertainment, be it totally mainstream stuff or the nicheiest of niche content. Roku has it all.
Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones in ivory ($399)
These wireless, over-ear headphones are the top pick from my headphone guide for performance-oriented shoppers. I just donated a pair of them to church that runs the school that my son attends, and they were a big hit at the Holiday auction. I use Sennheiser HD1s in my travel rig and even bought another pair for my technophobe mother, who also now loves them. Pretty much everybody digs these wireless headphones, and the new ivory finish is a bit more stylish than the plain black (and metal) ones that I have.
Orb Audio Classic Stereo 2.1 speaker system ($588)
These boob-shaped speakers are some of the best-imaging little transducers that you may or may not have heard of. Packing a pretty powerful, small subwoofer in this combination sub/sat configuration, this system is an excellent desktop rig or can be used as soundbar alternative. Orb Audio also has some slick stands and mounting hardware. They also have an additional, small amp that you can buy if you don't want to run the system from an AV receiver. Orb Audio also has fantastic online and phone support.
SVS Prime Wireless Speakers ($599 per pair)
These speakers are brand new to the market for the holidays. In fact, they are so new that we haven't even reviewed them yet (we will and soon), but I know from personal experience that these suckers are pretty righteous. The whole category of powered speakers is raging and these look to be some of the best, with HD streaming, Alexa compatibility, and SVS' signature sound.
Denon AVR-X4400H AV Receiver ($899)
HomeTheaterReview.com readers just love this AV receiver, as it is very possibly the most popular item that people buy at Amazon.com when they click over from our reviews. 9.2 channels of surround sound, tons of HDMI inputs, easy-to-use interface, HEOS connectivity for external speakers and whatnot. What's not to love? It's packed with so much more too. Heck, for $800 it makes for a pretty fine AV preamp if you really want to get down to it.
LG 65SK9000 LED 4K HDR Smart TV ($1,296)
I have always been a fan of the benefits of video calibration. We've promoted it on the pages of HomeTheaterReview.com for years. The $350 to $500 you spend to get the Nth degree of performance out of your TV has always been what we are about around here. But check this out... this LG comes with three settings that are basically calibrated (ISF-light, ISF-Dark and Cinema) according to our in-house video calibration expert, Andrew Robinson. Less than $1,200 gets you a full-featured, fully calibrated, super-thin 65-inch HDTV? Incredible. The OLED models are even better but this is the value option.
Sony XBR65A9F 65 Inch 4K MASTER Series 4K HDR OLD TV ($4,498)
If you want the best HDTV money can buy for under (or anywhere near) your Christmas tree, then order a Sony A9F. At around $4,500, this OLED TV makes blacks that actually measure absolute black, which other than the top of the line LG OLED, no other HDTV can do.
The internal processing on this unit is second to none and even more cool--you can actually use the screen itself as a speaker be it a soundbar or a center channels. Game changer.
• HomeTheaterReview's 4K/Ultra HD TV Buyer's Guide at HomeTheaterReview.com
• HomeTheaterReview's Wireless Over-Ear Headphone Buyer's Guide at HomeTheaterReview.com