The traditional home entertainment system with AV receivers, multiple speakers and lots of wires is now out of fashion; many are now looking for smart, wireless, minimalist solutions. From televisions that can do it all, to soundbars that deliver home theater sound, to smart speakers that bring the music you want on command, 2020’s home entertainment gadgets are truly a taste of the future. Our top picks for the year are just what you need to set up a truly future-proof entertainment system in your home.
We reviewed several gadgets this year, and these are our top picks in the home entertainment segment, which consists of televisions, soundbars, smart speakers, and streaming devices. We take into account the overall appeal of the product, including the value for money offered and how well it fits into its price segment. Read our top picks for 2020 home entertainment gadgets.
Best television – OnePlus TV 55U1
OnePlus entered the television segment in 2019 with the OnePlus TV Q series, but the high price of these QLED TVs has put them out of reach for many buyers. In 2020, OnePlus tried a different approach, with more affordable LED TVs in the U and Y series. Priced at Rs. 49,999, the OnePlus TV 55U1 is a 55-inch 4K HDR TV that offers a lot, including good smart functionality, support for HDR up to Dolby Vision format, Dolby Atmos sound and reliable performance.
The OnePlus TV 55U1 looks good and is well built, feeling considerably better than most other reasonably priced 55-inch televisions. Image quality is good at all resolutions and the motion interpolation is quite impressive. As with the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro, the software is a big reason to consider this TV, thanks to the UI’s fast and reliable performance, plenty of updates, and the ability to control a lot of things via the OnePlus Connect app.
This TV has its problems, including weird black levels, inconsistent sound, and the fact that you’ll have to use the company’s own wall-mount kit, as other aftermarket options don’t fit very well. However, this TV strikes an excellent balance between reasonable price and performance, offering better performance than most entry-level 55-inch 4K TVs without raising the price too much.
Best soundbar – Sony HT-G700
A multi-speaker setup might sound great, but it’s often difficult and expensive to set up. The alternative is a soundbar, and one of the best released this year is the Sony HT-G700. Priced at Rs. 47,990, the Sony HT-G700 is a 3.1-channel soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer, support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats, and plenty of connectivity options. It’s easy to set up, looks unobtrusive and non-distracting, and works well.
The various connectivity options include HDMI, digital optical audio and Bluetooth 5, which allows you to connect the soundbar to a variety of source devices. Ultra-HD passthrough with support for Dolby Vision HDR is also present, which is a useful touch if you’re short on ports on your television. While the vertical surround sound mode is a bit gimmicky, the Sony HT-G700 does its main task well, delivering big, wide, clean sound that’s far superior to what your TV delivers.
Good sound tuning, an excellent subwoofer, and great overall performance far outweigh this soundbar’s minor shortcomings. The Sony HT-G700 is generally available for around Rs. 40,000, and it’s a good choice for the price, especially if you have a decent television.
Best smart speaker – Google Nest Audio
Google Assistant is arguably the best AI-powered voice assistant for smart devices today, but Google’s range of smart speakers wasn’t quite as capable – until now. The Google Nest Audio is a huge step forward for the company’s product lineup, offering good looks, top-notch smart functionality, and excellent microphones, all at a reasonable price. While options like the Mi Smart Speaker might represent better value, the Google Nest Audio is an objectively better sounding and performing smart speaker for less than Rs. 10,000.
Google Home’s successor, Google Nest Audio, has been around for a long time, and it checks all the boxes, without any significant downsides. In addition to good sound, the speaker works well as a voice controller for any smart gadgets and gadgets you might have around the house, like robot vacuum cleaners, smart light bulbs, and air purifiers. You can also control other linked devices like TVs or get your questions answered using Google’s huge repository of information.
From music playback to reliable smart home control, Google Nest Audio offers the complete package. It’s the ideal smart speaker, and a pretty easy choice for the top device in its category for 2020.
Best streaming device – Xiaomi Mi Box 4K
There weren’t many options in the streaming device segment until this year, but the entry of several brands has opened up the space. One of the most significant players is Xiaomi, and its first streaming device launch is one that massively transformed the segment. Mi Box 4K is an Ultra-HD and HDR compatible streaming box with lots of connectivity options and a very reasonable price. At Rs. 3,499, it’s considerably more affordable than the competition with similar features like the Fire TV Stick 4K (Rs. 5,999) and Apple TV 4K (Rs. 17,430).
While many buyers may not need a 4K capable streaming device, the Mi Box 4K’s attractive price makes it possible to buy one anyway and secure your streaming for the future. Running Android TV 9 Pie with support for all major apps and streaming services, Mi Box 4K plugs into any TV’s HDMI port for easy functionality, taking over the interface and functionality of your TV’s own smart interface, if any.
There are a few shortcomings here, including a less-than-ideal remote, iffy HDMI-CEC functionality, and no Dolby Vision support, but the price and overall experience largely outweigh these issues. The Mi Box 4K is the game-changer the streaming device segment needed in 2020, and it’s our top pick for that reason.
Mi TV Stick vs Fire TV Stick Lite vs Mi Box 4K vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Which is the best budget streaming device for TVs in India? We discuss this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or RSS, download the episode or simply hit the play button below.