Home-theater enthusiasts have a lot to play with this year, as top-quality HDTVs, media streamers, headphones, and music players from Apple, Samsung, Sonos, and Western Digital, among others, make our list.
LCD HDTV; $2900 Slim and sexy, this LED-backlit TV has it all--slick design, lots of features, and excellent image quality. Did we mention that this 55-inch TV is less than an inch thick? (#11 in the PCWorld 100)
LCD HDTV; $1100 The LN46C650, an inexpensive HDTV set that lacks the LED backlighting and 240Hz refresh rates of rivals, nonetheless clobbers them in image quality. It's a better TV, yet it costs about $2000 less than its nearest competitors. (#20)
Media streamer; $99 Want to stream your iTunes library--including your home movies and iPhoto pics--to your TV? The Apple TV does all that and streams Netflix,too, with typical Apple flair. (#21)
In Video: A Look at the New Apple TV, iPod Touch, and Nano
Media streamer; $150 The WD TV Live Plus network media player edges out the better-known Roku with its mix of online streaming services and its ability to stream your content via a network or a USB drive. (#22)
Networked audio player; $399 The S5--an affordable version of the impeccable Sonos audio system--looks a bit like a high-end iPod dock but can also play music from your hard drive, as well as from online services such as Pandora and Rhapsody. The sound is fabulous. (#30)
Mobile app; $30 This app plays the live cable TV you get at home on your mobile device. In the past year Sling Media has dramatically improved the SlingPlayer app, which runs on cellular and Wi-Fi networks. (#48)
Blu-ray player; $225 This Blu-ray player's picture is among the best we've seen, and it can bring Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, and YouTube to your TV. It also has audio options that are friendly to older home theater surround-sound systems. (#78)
Headphones; $300 If you want full-size sound quality and outstanding passive noise isolation in a truly portable (but somewhat pricey) headphone set, look no further. (#92)
Multimedia player; $229 for 8GB, $399 for 64GB This player adopts numerous features from the iPhone 4, including a front-facing camera for video chat, an A4 processor, and Apple's high-resolution Retina display. Use this versatile device for playing and capturing media, Web surfing, and pocket gaming. (#93)
Headset; $130 This gaming headset is a little smaller and lighter, and a little less expensive, than its predecessor the A40 (though it's still pricey). Paired with the company's fantastic MixAmp ($200 for the set), it's one of the best investments a PC gamer can make for comfortable, great-sounding audio. (#97)
SlingPlayer Mobile price corrected to $30 on 10/25/10
This story, "HDTVs and Home Theater: Best of 2010" was originally published by PCWorld.