Apple HomePod (Gen 2) Wireless Smart Speaker: $299
You don’t have to be an Apple devotee to love the HomePod but if you (or your giftee) are, all the better. A follow-up to Apple’s original all-in-one smart speaker, the second generation version is a streaming marvel, capable of delivering sound that is clear, detailed, and spacious, while doubling as a Siri voice controller for all kinds of smart devices. Put two HomePods in play and you’re rewarded with true stereo sound and a genuinely immersive experience whether you’re listening to music, watching a movie, or playing a videogame. The system even decodes object-based Dolby Atmos soundtracks with remarkable results. Better yet, you can put the speakers almost anywhere and they will automatically adapt to the acoustics of the environment. At 300 bucks, the HomePod is a great gift for music lovers who appreciate a simple setup. Click here for our review.
Sonos Move 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker: $449
You simply can’t go wrong with Sonos, the company that perfected the wireless multiroom speaker more than 20 years ago. An upgrade of the original Move — the company’s first portable speaker — the Move 2 is a great gift for that special someone who could use a weather-resistant speaker they can take wherever they go — especially if that special someone belongs to a Sonos household. In addition to supporting voice control (via Sonos and Amazon), the speaker boasts a battery that will keep the tunes cranking for two days straight and comes with a super-convenient wireless charging base. Best of all, the Move 2 automatically adapts to its acoustic surroundings and delivers well-balanced sound with bass that is tighter and deeper than you would expect from a speaker of this size. Click here for our review.
Sonos Era 300 Wireless Spatial Audio Speaker: $449
The Era 300 is the indoor counterpart to the weather-resistant Move 2 portable speaker covered above. The latest in a new generation of small, Atmos-compliant “spatial audio” speakers, the Era 300 is a compelling gift for music lovers who will appreciate spacious, full-bodied sound from a small speaker that’s easy to set up and use. At $449, it costs more than the competition, though it is engineered to a fare-thee-well and delivers excellent sound quality on its own, in tandem with a second Era 300, or as a rear surround speaker in a soundbar-based home theater setup. The speaker also supports streaming via Bluetooth and AirPlay 2, with voice control through Alexa or the new Sonos Voice assistant, and includes Trueplay tuning to compensate for room acoustics no matter when you place it. Click here for our review.
Sonos Era 100 Wireless Speaker: $249
If you like the idea of giving the gift of smart sound but the Sonos Era 300 is a tad rich for your budget, consider its little brother, the Era 100. It costs 200 bucks less but offers the same key features as the 300, just in a smaller footprint. Among them: streaming via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi/AirPlay 2, voice control, and Trueplay tuning to ensure the speaker sounds good no matter where it ends up. The Era 100 might not play as loud or with as much bass as its big brother, but it can still hit surprisingly high volume levels without breaking a sweat. Click here for our review.
Sony XV800 Portable Party Speaker: $500
A no-brainer for the party animal on your list, Sony’s SRS-XV800S is more than just a portable speaker — it’s a self-contained entertainment center that will keep the good times rolling for up to 25 hours on a single charge. It can play really loud and delivers sound that is not only balanced and detailed but omnidirectional (thanks to its four tweeters). The speaker can also bring on the bass (especially when you hit the Mega Bass button) and doubles as a karaoke machine while providing a dynamic light show guaranteed to get people out on the dance floor. You can even use the speaker as a guitar amplifier. Talk about versatile. Oh, and it just happens to be on sale for $500 as of this writing (the regular price is $650). Click here for our review.
TCL 65” 6-Series Mini-LED QLED 4K Roku TV: $950
If it’s time to treat the family to a new TV and you’re on a budget, the rising Chinese brand TCL offers a value proposition that’s hard to beat. The 65-inch 6-Series R655 Roku model is a decided 5-star bargain in the world of LCD TVs that use mini-LED backlighting to bolster picture brightness and contrast. It’s also a visually striking TV that supports Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) in addition to offering a near-reference quality Movie picture mode, voice control through the Roku app and remote, and home-screen access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and other services, including The Roku Channel with its wealth of free content. The TV even has a Game mode that automatically unlocks superpowers not otherwise available, including 144 Hz support, VRR (variable refresh rate), and ALLM (auto low latency mode). Click here for our review.
TCL 85″ QM8 Mini-LED QLED 4K TV: $2,000
If a 65 inches doesn’t quite cut it for you (or that special someone), how about an 85-inch screen? At the time of our review, TCL’s 85QM8 was selling for $2,800 but is currently on sale for $2,000, making it one of the best TV values on the market today. The beauty of a screen this size is that it approaches the grandeur of a projection TV experience without the caveats — namely reduced brightness. The vast field of mini-LEDs used to backlight the 85QM8’s LCD panel in conjunction with quantum dots make possible a superb picture with spot-on color, rich blacks, and high brightness, especially when accentuated with Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) — something you won’t find on most projectors. TCL extends its utility with a full complement of game-enhancing features, including a 144 Hz refresh rate. Click here for our review.
Sony Bravia X93L Mini-LED 4K TV: $1,600
Yep, it’s a Sony and, at $1,800 (on sale for $1,600 as of this writing), the X93L is one of the better deals you will find in a 65-inch screen from the iconic brand that brought us the almighty Trinitron in the long-forgotten era of tube TVs. Thanks to a combination of sophisticated image processing and mini-LED backlighting, the X93L holds its own against OLED, delivering superb color, impressive black levels with abundant shadow detail, respectable high dynamic range (HDR) performance, and surprisingly decent sound — something you can’t say about most of today’s TVs. The set supports 120-Hz gaming through its HDMI 2.1 inputs and is built around the Google TV platform, which puts a vast range of programming at your fingertips. This may be a gift to keep for yourself and the family. Click here for our review.
Streaming & Electronics
Amazon Fire TV Cube 3 Streamer: $140
The third generation of Amazon’s Fire TV Cube is a great gift for anyone who owns a TV that lacks streaming smarts. Think of it as an Echo smart speaker and Fire TV Cube in one that lets you stream your favorite shows, summon Alexa, and control smart-home devices (if your giftee happens to have any). Compared with previous generations of the Cube, it boasts a more powerful processor for improved picture quality and smoother streaming, faster/more reliable scrolling and response to commands (via voice or remote), and improved 4K upscaling. Most important, the Fire TV Cube is super easy to set up and use. It even includes a remote finder plus an HDMI connector for easy integration with set-top boxes, a USB-A port for connecting a hard drive or web cam, and a 100 Mbps Ethernet port. Click here for our review.
Denon AVR-X3800H AV Receiver: $1,700
For the enthusiast on your list (hint: you), Denon’s AVR-X3800H delivers flagship performance without the flagship price. You get nine channels of power and all the features you need to assemble a kick-ass home theater. The list includes three flavors of immersive surround-sound processing — Dolby Atmos, DTS:X (with an IMAX Enhanced mode), and Auro-3D — multiroom wireless streaming via Denon’s proven HEOS platform, HDMI 2.1 on all inputs and outputs, 8K video capability with upscaling, Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) processing, and top-level Audyssey room-acoustics processing. But for audio geeks, what really stands out is the inclusion of four independent subwoofer outputs to support systems that have two or more subs and the ability to direct some (or all) of the receiver’s amp channels to preamplifier outputs to accommodate advanced setups. Click here for our review.
Wireless Headphones and Earbuds
JVC HA-A25T “Marshmallow” Wireless Noise-Canceling Earbuds: $70
For the on-the-go music lover, how about a cheap set of wireless earbuds that actually sound good and include decent noise cancellation? JVC’s HA-A25T “Marshmallow” ’buds are water-resistant and offer a surprising number of features for 70 bucks ($60 on Amazon), which explains the Top Value designation. The list includes intuitive touch controls, three EQ settings, an ambient-sound mode that lets you hear what’s going on around you, a low-latency mode for gamers, and a battery that lasts up to 28 hours (with the charging case). A 10-minute “instant charge” mode gets you 1 hour of play time in a pinch and JVC provides a selection of three silicone and two memory-foam eartips to ensure a proper fit. Click
here for our review.
Sony WF-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Canceling Earbuds: $299
Ideal for the sophisticated music lover, Sony’s WF-1000XM5A earbuds are a brilliant successor to the highly regarded WF-1000XM4 ’buds: They’re smaller, lighter, more comfortable, and sound amazing. They also do a great job of suppressing noise (without changing tonality) and give Apple’s terrific second-generation AirPods Pro a run for their money. For starters, you don’t need an iPhone (or other iOS device) to set them up or to experience an optimized spatial audio experience and you don’t lose any app functionality with an Android phone. The 1000XM5 earbuds are also super discreet (no protruding sticks) and manage to out-shine the AirPods Pro in terms of fit without sacrificing comfort. Then there’s the long battery life, which provides up to 8 hours of uninterrupted listening with noise cancellation turned on or 12 hours with it off. Click here for our review.
To browse all Sound & Vision-recommended AV gear, broken out by category, visit our Top Picks page.
Also see 2022 Top Picks of the Year.