The media streamers and soundbars to buy this holiday season
Apple has gone to great lengths to ensure that its media services work on a number of set-top boxes, but for iOS or Mac users, the Apple TV 4K stands out as the streamer of choice. The box is tightly integrated with all of Apple's services, and it has support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10 along with Dolby Atmos audio. Add in access to thousands of apps -- including Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu and Plex -- and it can play almost anything. What's more, TV+ has just launched, offering a wide array of original TV series and movies for $4.99 per month. Buy an Apple TV 4K and a yearly TV+ subscription is thrown in for free. That, on top of the recent launch of Apple Arcade, the company's all-you-can-eat gaming service, means Apple TV can easily double as both a home entertainment box and gaming console. -- M.B.
If you know someone who could use an audio upgrade but doesn't want anything too complicated, this could be the perfect gift. Connect Roku's soundbar to a TV, plug in the wireless subwoofer somewhere out of the way and congratulations, you're finished! Since it has a Roku Ultra built in, they'll get one of the simplest and easiest-to-control smart TV interfaces with apps included for every service, plus home-theater-quality audio to fill up the room. Roku's soundbar itself costs $180 while adding on the subwoofer doubles the price -- but that's more than worth it to level up movie night for the next time you're over. -- Richard Lawler, Senior News Editor
For a slightly more powerful home-audio upgrade, Vizio's SB36312 system is easy to live with and sounds great. Forget running cords everywhere for surround sound, because this only has two parts, the soundbar with integrated, upward-firing speakers to blast audio in all directions and a slim subwoofer that can go behind or underneath practically anything in your living room. Vizio's built-in Chromecast support means there's all kinds of audio streaming just a button press away without the hassle of Bluetooth connections. Plus it supports Google Assistant and comes with six months of Tidal Hi-Fi audio service. For $470, it brings Dolby Atmos audio to any home, which is enough to make it sound like you spent a lot more money and time setting everything up -- exactly what you're looking for in a gift. -- R.L.