Remember Pioneer's former lineup of Elite plasma sets that offered up mind-blowing black levels and similarly gasp-inducing pricing? They're being reborn as Elite LED LCD TVs ($6,000-$8,500). Produced by Sharp, these new ultra premium sets offer proprietary RGB+Y technology for more accurate colors, Full Array LED backlighting with local dimming for superior black levels, 3D support, Netflix, YouTube, and other Internet-based connectivity options, THX certification, and Elite Advantage LiveSM support which allows technicians to connect to your TV over the Internet and tweak the settings until the picture is nothing short of perfect.
It's been a while since Roku last updated its set-top Internet streaming box, and that means its sequel will need to be just that much better than its predecessor. The Roku 2 ($60-$100) more or less lives up to the task. Available in three separate Wi-Fi-connecting models — the HD, XD, and XS — it offers features like support for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, NBA Game Time, Pandora, Rdio, Flickr, Vimeo, and more, up to 1080p HD video output, new gaming capabilities thanks to Bluetooth for connecting the motion-control gaming remote, a microSD slot for additional game storage, and must-have casual gaming title Angry Birds pre-installed on XS units.
Pour all the money into audio equipment that you want — your home theater will still only be as good as the screen. Which is why you want one from SMX Screens ($2,500 and up). These pro-spec screens are available in a variety of styles, including automated masking screens, curved screens, acoustically transparent screens, and just plain ol' front projection fixed screens, each a cut above what you'll find from other manufacturers. We've been testing one out in the secret underground Uncrate Cinema for a couple months now, and it's made everything from '70s horror flicks to Inception explode off the screen like a Diet Coke bottle filled with Mentos — we tried to take a picture, but the awesomeness was so overwhelming it broke our camera. True story.