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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Pint-sized king of streamers

TV speakers don't cut it

A sound bar for small spaces

A compact music system

The all-in-one box

Handheld movie night

When it comes to streaming-video, there's nothing better than the Roku 3. It's packed with over 750 "channels," including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Spotify, HBO Go, Pandora, Rdio, and MLB.TV, with lightning-fast navigation making it a joy to use. There's also Hulu Plus, which is indispensable for a budding cinephile, thanks to its healthy selection of Criterion Collection classics. The Roku 3's remote even has a built-in headphone jack that's perfect for listening without disturbing your dorm mate.
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You can't truly experience a movie unless you've got some decent quality audio, and Sony's HT-CT260 is an excellent pick for a dorm-size living room. It's compact, sounds great, and even has built-in Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming from most smartphones and tablets. Vizio's S4251W does sound somewhat better and includes wireless rear speakers, but Sony's strictly stereo configuration is probably better for cramped living quarters.
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The Bose Solo isn't my favorite sound bar -- it's not even my favorite "pedestal" sound bar -- but if space is really tight, it's a good choice. The Solo has a very small footprint, and its sound quality is sure to trump the built-in speakers on your TV. You'll be giving up built-in Bluetooth, but you can always get a separate speaker for that. Such as...
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College life means you probably won't have space for a full speaker system, so your next best bet is a Bluetooth speaker. The Logitech UE Boom is an excellent choice as it's big enough to fill a medium-size room, yet it's still portable, with a built-in battery and a convenient handle. There are other systems that sound slightly better (like the Sony SRS-BTX500), but the UE Boom is under $250 and occasionally even sells for less than $200.
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$260.00 MSRP
The Roku 3 is the king of streaming-video, but the PS3 Super Slim brings another must-have feature for movie lovers: Blu-ray. There's still nothing that tops Blu-ray for movie image quality, and the PS3 Super Slim offers the best overall value, since you're also getting a full-fledged gaming console, too. And if you don't spring for a Roku, the PS3 is quite the competent media-streamer itself, supporting Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and MLB.TV
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The 3M Streaming Projector may be the most fun product you've never heard about. It's a hand-sized, battery-powered pico projector with a built-in Roku Streaming Stick, which means you can stream Netflix (or anything else on Roku) anywhere you have Wi-Fi and a large flat surface. Perfect for a floor-wide movie night, although you may want an external speaker to boost the audio.
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