Top 5 home theater essentials (2012)

There's more to a modern home theater than a great TV. Here are the Top 5 must-have products to complete the home theater experience.

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It's easy to go over the top when it comes to outfitting your dream home theater system. One minute you're checking out HD projectors, and the next minute you're trying to figure out how to convert your entire basement into a giant subwoofer.

But it never hurts to start with the basics. In this CNET Top 5, I asked CNET Associate Editor Matthew Moskovciak for the essential ingredients in today's modern home theater system.

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Haier SBEV40-Slim

The Bottom Line: The ultraslim Haier SBEV40-Slim sounds surprisingly good for its size and features two HDMI inputs, making it one of the best budget sound bar options. / Read full review

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Roku HD (2012)

The Bottom Line: With its ability to stream hundreds of audio and video channels (including Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and Hulu Plus), the $60 Roku HD would be our top pick for those seeking an ultra-affordable Internet media box -- if not for the fact that it's nearly identical to the slightly cheaper Roku LT. / Read full review

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Microsoft Xbox 360 S (250GB)

The Bottom Line: Though the new Xbox 360 certainly addresses most of the concerns we've had with the versions before it, we don't think it warrants a purchase if you already own an Xbox 360 in working order with an HDMI-out port and a hard drive. / Read full review

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Apple TV (2012)

The Bottom Line: While it's still a step behind the Roku 3, the Apple TV is an excellent streaming box, especially for those invested in the Apple ecosystem. / Read full review

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Logitech Harmony 650

The Bottom Line: The Logitech Harmony 650 is one of the best universal remotes you can buy for less than $100. / Read full review

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Panasonic DMP-BDT220

The Bottom Line: The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is the best Blu-ray value of 2012, with built-in Wi-Fi, tons of streaming-media apps, 3D compatibility, and a simple user interface. / Read full review

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Sony PlayStation 3 Slim (120GB)

The Bottom Line: With a smaller design, more energy-efficient operation, lower price tag, and built-in Blu-ray and multimedia capabilities, the PS3 Slim delivers a compelling package for an affordable price. / Read full review

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Energy Take Classic 5.1

The Bottom Line: The Energy Take Classic 5.1 is the best budget speaker system we've reviewed, earning our Editors' Choice Award with its outstanding sound quality and exquisite looks. / Read full review

About the author

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.

 

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