Best home video products(Updated May 3, 2013 2:10 AM PDT)
Though the TV is the centerpiece of any home theater, it's really just a glorified monitor. The real fun comes with picking the video sources that will plug into it.
We've chosen a cross-section of some of the best home video devices to round out any home theater. But given the wide variety of home video options--Blu-ray, video game consoles, HDTV services, and streaming-media players--we're providing plenty of alternatives and caveats, too.
Looking for all-in-one home theater systems that deliver both video and audio? Check out our choices for best home theater systems.
See all home video reviews.
The PS3 Super Slim flat-out offers more value than any other home video device. Yes, it's primarily a gaming console, but it also has Blu-ray playback, network media streaming, and streaming-video content from online sources like Netflix and Sony's online video store. Not everybody is comfortable using a gaming console, but if you are, the PS3 Super Slim can take care of the majority of your home video needs in a single box.
If I could recommend just one Blu-ray player in 2012, it would be the Panasonic DMP-BDT220. Yes, there are plenty of competing Blu-ray players with built-in Wi-Fi and lots of streaming-media services, but Panasonic is the only option with both a good interface and a wide selection of apps. And with a street price of about $130, you won't be paying for any unnecessary features. If you're looking to buy a Blu-ray player, start with the Panasonic DMP-BDT220.
Roku's boxes offer the most content, but the Apple TV is a worthy competitor if you own other Apple devices. Its AirPlay compatible, which means you can wirelessly stream music, videos and photos directly from other iOS devices. It also saves all your TV and movie purchases in the cloud, so you can download them to an iPhone or iPad in the future--perfect entertainment for a long flight without internet access. Need more help choosing between a Roku box and the Apple TV? Check out our head-to-head comparison.
It's not a "home video" product per se, but a universal remote is a key element in any serious home theater. The Logitech Harmony 650 is the best value you're going to find, with its task-based macros letting you simply choose "Watch TV" and the remote handles the rest. Need more flexibility? Check out the high-end Harmony One, which is the best universal remote we've ever tested, although it costs over $150.