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CNET Top 5: Home theater essentials

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CNET Top 5: Home theater essentials

3:44 /

Must-have electronic side dishes for your new HDTV.

Maybe you waded through my recent Top 5 TV�s, which actually was 9 of the damned things. Well, to reward you for that, I�ve got the perfect side dish: Top 5 home video gear to go with that new HDTV! And yes, it�s actually 5 � no pesky ties! Let�s go. Warming things up at #5, Roku XDS streaming player. You want to join the whole �screw you cable company� movement�? This is the best way to do it for a little money -- $100. You�ll get Netflix, Amazon, Pandora as well as MLB TV and Hulu Plus for a fee. Not iTunes or YouTube support, though. This thing won�t raise a vein on your forehead when setting it up. And we like this XDS version for its USB port for playing your own movies off a thumb drive. #4 is the Slingbox Solo, our favorite placeshifting device. Now, I think the Slingbox is something of a niche device; You either don�t need one, or absolutely love it. It takes whatever�s on at home and streams it to just about computer, smartphone or other connected device that can run the sling software. It�s great if you have a pricey live sports package you waste a bunch of when you�re away from the house. You can get one of these guys for as little as $160. Coming in at #3 is the Samsung BD-C6500 Blu-ray deck, our favorite straight up BD deck. Even if you�re just lukewarm on Blu-ray, like yours truly, this box gets you streaming services like Netflix, Vudu and YouTube, 7.1 surround outputs and 1 gig of storage onboard and built-in Wi-Fi. Plus Samsung is pushing their own Apps platform so you�re just about guaranteed of an Apple-like array of apps you can load on this box to make it a do-all home media terminal. Get one of these for under $200 bucks and even if you NEVER play a Blu-ray disc it�s a good idea. At #2 we have the Harmony One do it all -- and make it easy � unified remote. These guys sort of own this space, and the model One is the sweet spot of their line. You program tasks like �play DVD in 5.1 audio via HDMI input 2� or �watch live TV with audio on the soundbar and a 4:3 aspect ratio� with single macros that are programmed via a web service. You just press one button. Yeah, kinda pricey at $250 list and maybe $170 street, but you tell me know expensive that is next time you�re screwing around trying to get something to play right while your spouse stares at ceiling wondering why they married a dork. OK, before we hit the #1 present you should give your TV, look at how many TV�s we own these days: Latest Nielsen numbers show just 17% of scraping by with one TV. 28% of us have two. 55% of us have three�or MORE! In fact the AVERAGE is now 3 per household. � OK, let�s reveal the #1 best piece of home video gear to hook up to at least one of those TV�s: It�s the Sony PS3 Slim. Just about the priciest thing on the list at $350, but still the best value. Games, Blu-ray, online streaming from its service as well as the others like Netflix. And since Sony says the PS3 will get a 3D Blu-ray update later this year, you�ve got future proofing � but you will need a new 3D TV�and that�s another Top 5. Full details on all of these are at Matt Moskoviak�s list on CNET � keep an eye on it if you�re in the market, this is a hot sector and new products pop up every few weeks. Just go to CNET, click the Home Video category, then Best Home Video products�or go to our Top 5 home at top5.cnet.com

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