Availability: Late September
The outlook: At CES 2012, CNET awarded Simple.TV's innovative over-the-air DVR a Best of CES award in the Home Theater category. The company didn't quite hit its spring release target, but it looks to be finally coming out by the end of September. Its low price and lack of a required monthly fee make it one of the most intriguing home theater products in a long time.
The outlook: Logitech is completely rethinking the Squeezebox brand and the UE Smart Radio shows the way forward. It's a tabletop radio with a built-in 6 hour battery and its simplified (some would say stripped-down) software is aiming to bring streaming music to a larger audience than the geekier Squeezebox products.
The outlook: The STR-DA2800ES, along with the step-up STR-DA5800ES, are the first consumer-level AV receivers to offer built-in home automation functionality. That could open up home automation as an option to a much wider audience; $1,000 is still a pricey AV receiver, but it's much less than hiring a pricey custom-installer.
The outlook: There's no doubt that Atlantic Technology wants a lot of cash for its PB-235 sound bar, but it's making a big promise too: deep bass without the need for a subwoofer. Usually we'd dismiss that as the usual manufacturer fluff, but we've heard good things about Atlantic's H-PAS technology on other products. This could be a killer (albeit pricey) entry into the increasingly crowded sound bar market.
The outlook: The pitch is simple: an entire Roku box packed into an oversized dongle. Roku's Streaming Stick uses the bleeding-edge MHL port to connect to your HDTV, which will limit its appeal at first since MHL is only available on a few TV. But the arrangement is undeniably attractive and points to the future of streaming video.
The outlook: It's hard to describe Google TV as anything but a flop, but products keep trickling out with interesting new twists. The Sony NSZ-GP9's remote has a built-in mic, which will allow it to be the first Google TV to take full advantage of the platform voice search capabilities without using a separate smartphone. That's probably not enough to overcome Google TV's software limitation, but it's a step in the right direction.
The outlook: Everybody's making a budget sound bar, but there are a lot less options if you're looking for high performance. The $800 price tag puts the Klipsch HD Theater firmly in the "premium" market and the company claims its the first sound bar to use a horn-loaded design. We'll need to have a listen to see if that leads to a better sound speaker--and it better for $800.