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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Best upgrades for the money

Channel Master Flatenna ($10)

Google Chromecast ($35)

Chromecast Audio ($35)

Roku Streaming Stick ($50)

Amazon Echo Dot ($50)

Samsung BD-J5900 ($89)

Logitech Harmony Companion Control ($150)

Apple TV ($150)

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR ($130 per pair)

Yamaha YAS-106 ($180)

Elac Debut B6 ($280 per pair)

Pioneer SP-SB23W ($400)

Xbox One S ($299)

Vizio SB4551-D5 ($400)

Sony STR-DN1070 ($400)

Yamaha RX-V481 ($400)

Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-160 ($2,500)

Samsung HW-K950 ($1,300)

Whether it's antennas, speakers, sound bars, AV receivers or streamers, these are the best products to enhance your TV and movie watching experience. We've generally ordered them from the cheapest (a $10 antenna) to the most expensive. Game on!

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew

Whether you're cutting cable or not, the dirt-cheap Channel Master Flatenna offers a wealth of entertainment with no ongoing fees. Stick it on your window and plug the captive cable into your tuner and you'll be watching daytime soaps in an instant.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Cutting the cord? You can watch plenty of shows and movies by adding an inexpensive streamer such as the Chromecast to the back of your TV. Fire up the "Netflix" app on your phone, for example, press the TV-shaped "Cast" button and open your favorite beverage -- no cable subscription required!

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Not a video device, but you listen to music occasionally right? The Chromecast Audio is more than just the aural equivalent of the original Chromecast, it also enables you to stream music around your house. It's the cheapest and best way to get into multi-room music.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku's latest Streaming Stick, equipped with a native Fox Sports Go app, offers headphone listening through your mobile device if you don't want to disturb your household with the sounds of the game. Though we can't be held responsible for any shouting you might do.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

With an Echo Dot the home theater of the future is finally a possibility. Lower the shades, turn on your receiver, fire up Netflix and dim the lights all by saying "Alexa, play a movie". While Google is said to be working on an equivalent to the Dot it's still going to be several years behind.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET

While streaming can bring you more content than you could ever possibly watch, it's not always great for watching something specific. Some movies that are available on Blu-ray or DVD may never be available to stream. Having a machine that can play back a physical library is a must for every home theater, and for under $100 the Samsung BD-J5900 does almost everything you need. It even streams.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

At $150, the Companion will let you fire up your TV, receiver and TiVo box with one button press -- and maybe dim the lights as well -- and it's one of the easiest universal remotes to program, too.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The Apple TV offers one of the best onscreen interfaces and is a definite upgrade from the Chromecast. It offers a wide selection of apps and also offers a library of games. Who needs a Nintendo Switch anyway?

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The SP-BS22-LR speaker has consistently earned raves for its sound, and is a definite step up from a sound bar. Just add a decent budget receiver and feel those explosions.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Don't want to muck around with receivers and speakers? Get a sound bar. The Yamaha YAS-106 is one of the cheapest, yet is fully featured and sounds great too.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Speaker designer Andrew Jones is a big deal, as his Debut B6 speakers attest. These can slap speakers twice the price quite silly. Again, you will need some amplification.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

One of our favorite sound bars at any price, and also designed by the ubiquitous Andrew Jones, the SP-SB23W will capture every cry and bone-rending crunch of play. Plus you can stream your music over Bluetooth to it when it's all over.

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If you're going to buy one console for its AV smarts let it be the Xbox One S. It offers home theater integration (HDMI in), a digital assistant (Cortana) and a 4K Blu-ray drive. That, and games too!

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If you're serious about movies, a real surround sound system is the way to go. Nothing captures the feeling of immersion like ambient effects from actual rear speakers. This Vizio is one of the most affordable out there, and it actually sounds good.

Caption by / Photo by Vizio

The Sony STR-DN1070 is a talented all-rounder offering excellent home theater and music performance. It's the best value-for-money receiver of the last 12 months.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Stepping up from a sound bar to a receiver means you'll get more inputs and more features -- including Yamaha's multiroom music system. Just add speakers.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The massive Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-160 5.1 system ain't cheap, but paired with a good receiver it'll pound your movie session into happy submission.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Got a fancy new TV for watching the latest blockbuster? The Samsung HW-K950 is one of the best sound bars you can get, with Atmos playback and Wi-Fi music streaming.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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