Coolest Home Theater Technologies of 2014-2015
Manufacturers always seem to be unveiling “new technologies” in the home theater and entertainment market. Unfortunately, way too many of these products have at least one of these issues:
- They’re super-premium products and way beyond the average consumer’s budget.
- They’re an already-existing product marketed under a new name or brand, in an effort to simply appear new and cool (and of course, drive sales).
- They’re just not that exciting. Thankfully, some of the coolest technologies unveiled in 2014 and 2015 really are new and cool, and many of them are actually affordable. Here’s a quick rundown of the best.
Wireless Home Theater Systems
It’s amazing that companies have needed years of development to bring a high-quality, truly wireless A/V receiver to the market. However, the time has finally come. Several companies, including Enclave Audio and Klipsch, demonstrated their new 5.1/7.1 wireless systems at the 2015 International CES to rave reviews, and more manufacturers are scrambling to jump on board. These wireless home theater systems conform to the standards set by the Wireless Audio and Speaker Association, deliver audio that’s better than CD quality, and can power as many as seven speakers (plus a subwoofer).
Of course, “wireless” only means you no longer need connections between your speakers and the small A/V receiver which streams the audio. You’ll still need power cords for the receiver and the speakers, and an HDMI cable running between the receiver and your TV or video monitor. But we’ve all been waiting a long time for a home theater system with speakers that don’t need to be connected to an audio source in order to deliver high-quality sound.
This product won the “best home theater” award at CES this year, and for good reason. Many people will cringe when they hear that Sling TV is a Dish Network offering, but other companies will undoubtedly have their own version of the technology available soon.
Basically, Sling TV gives “cord cutters” the option to watch live cable TV programming (with ESPN the most important offering) on Xbox One, streaming adapters like Fire TV and Roku, and some smart TVs as well as PCs, Android and iOS devices. The service, which is rolling out in the first quarter of 2015, costs just $20 per month – far below the price of cable or satellite bundled packages.
There are still some glitches being worked out, and Dish promises added flexibility and features in the future. Even so, Sling TV already looks like the gateway to a la carte programming which will put the cherry on top of the Internet TV cherry.
Better, Faster Routers
Qualcomm is poised to release a new series of routers for the Internet age in 2015. They’ve demonstrated a new product which uses the 802.11ad standard for wireless routers, which means unprecedented speed for end users. It’s said to be able to stream a complete 4K movie from router to TV, by means of a dongle or adapter, in only fifteen seconds. These routers will only require the same types of Ethernet cable connections as their predecessors.
4K Blu-Ray players
These may not fall into the “affordable” category for many people, but their coolness factor still makes them a terrific new product expected to hit the market late in 2015. Panasonic has given sneak previews of its Ultra HD Blu-Ray player, which can deliver an extremely high resolution 4K UHD video experience far beyond traditional Blu-Ray. The new machines will be backward-compatible and will only require an HDMI connection to your TV. Of course, you’ll also need a 4K TV in order to properly enjoy the view, and there’s good news there as well; prices for 4K UHD TVs are expected to drop dramatically throughout 2015 as 4K replaces 1080p as the new video standard. That’s pretty cool, too.