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Engadget's summer gear guide 2012: home entertainment


In the interest of keeping cool this summer, we've put together a list of the hottest products out right now. From smartphones to e-readers and everything in between, there's no time like the present to re-up that post-spring-cleaning stash. So grab a popsicle or a cold one and dive in -- the water's just right.

Forget heading outside to battle the sun, bugs and whatever other dangers may lurk in the wild -- we'll be inside near the TV. Of course, the summer programming schedule can often leave something to be desired, so we'll have to take that into account in our hardware suggestions going into the break. Also key is access to our preferred programming wherever it might be, broadcast or online. So, which devices are absolute must-have's to keep you chilling where the AC blows through October and beyond? Check past the break to find out.

Editors' Choice

TiVo Premiere XL4

Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 home entertainment

If you're going to enter full hibernation mode, then that puny cable or satellite company DVR just won't cut it. Snag the TiVo Premiere XL4 DVR so you can put all four of its tuners and 2TB of storage space to work archiving any programming that suits you. If you need a boost from the internet, then you're in luck -- it packs just-updated Netflix and YouTube apps, plus support for Amazon VOD and Hulu Plus to pick up any shows you might have missed. Just add a CableCARD and you're good to go, with support for a nicely tied-in iPad app (Android version coming) and new hardware on the way. Need any more convincing? One of the reasons this unit is repeating from our holiday list is not only the updated software, but also its lower price -- $399 up front and $15 per month for service.

Price: from $399 + $15 per month at TiVo

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Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 home entertainment

Roku HD

This one is for you, last remaining Engadget reader who doesn't have a media streamer plugged into their HDTV already. Roku's Swiss Army knife-style family of streamers fits any situation and meets a variety of needs, with support for hundreds of popular channels including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and HBO Go (assuming your provider isn't DirecTV or Comcast). In the revised Roku HD, the company has added a dash of purple to make it stand out and trimmed the feature set, leaving things like an SD slot and Bluetooth gaming remote support for higher-end models and ditching the dongle for simpler, old-school component video outputs. At just $60, it gets the job done in a variety of ways (one word: Plex), and with new, official mobile remote apps for iOS and Android, you'll always have the controller in your pocket.

Price: $60 at Roku

Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 home entertainment


Feeling adventurous? Kick off your summer with LG's G2 series, the first entry into the next generation of Google TV hardware. This will require a leap of faith since production models are only just starting to hit shelves, but we had a chance to try out its funky, dual-sided QWERTY remote and customized interface at CES and came away impressed. Whether your preference for programming is pay TV or free streaming, the reworked interface and updated apps in Google TV 2.0 do a much better job of bringing the things you want to watch to you. The improvements also help to personalize the experience to fit the user, and not the other way around. LG has squeezed a powerful dual-core ARM processor into a standard, slim TV frame that leaves the first-gen Google TV units in the dust and keeps things running smoothly. The app market is starting to expand as developers try the big screen on for size. 3D support and sizes in the 47- to 55-inch range also make these more mainstream-friendly than their predecessors. Sure, you could keep living in the past with your grid guides and dumb, disconnected displays, but investing in one of these is taking a shot at TV's (possible) future.

Price: from $1,600 at Amazon

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