Ever wonder why you need a DVR in every room? So did the people at DirecTV. The result is the DirecTV Genie ($TBA), a whole home solution for TV viewing. This crazy box can record up to five shows in full HD simultaneously, lets you pause, rewind, record, and delete shows from any room, recommends new shows based on the ones you already watch, and offers 200 hours of HD storage — so you don't need to worry about running out of room due to a Honey Boo Boo marathon.
Yes, there are plenty of apps that can give you access to some of your content away from home — but if you want real-time access to all of it, the Slingbox 350 & 500 ($180-$300) can help. Both boxes offer support for placeshifting video in up to 1080p quality and integrated IR emitters for controlling set-top boxes, but while the 350 gets its Internet connection over Ethernet and connects to video sources via component or composite, the 500 boasts built-in Wi-Fi, HDMI input/output, and offers SlingProjector technology for wirelessly sharing media from a smartphone or tablet on the TV. Either way, prepare to answer some questions from curious houseguests, as neither sports a particularly subdued design.
Movie theaters don't have to be stationary. Take yours on the go with the 3M Streaming Projector By Roku ($300). This palm-sized box features a single HDMI input that comes occupied by the company's Streaming Stick, providing it with instant access to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, and more, anywhere you can find a Wi-Fi hotspot. Of course, you're going to need a screen for watching all that content, which is where the built-in projector comes in. It uses DLP Cinema technology to provide a WVGA picture at sizes up to 120", and with help from a built-in speaker and a rechargeable battery that runs for over 2.5 hours on a single charge, you can create a theater-like experience damn near anywhere.
It's been a long time coming, but Logitech has finally returned to the universal remote game — with a new flagship in tow. The Logitech Harmony Touch ($250) melds a traditional remote form factor with a smartphone-like interface that fills its centrally-located 2.4-inch touchscreen. Instead of typing in numbers or grazing through pages of guide listings, the Harmony Touch lets you place tappable channel icons right on the screen, so your favorite channels are never more than a swipe and tap away. It's also rechargeable — no more AAs — and offers backlit hardware buttons for watching in the dark.
Who cares if you can't find any content to show on it? The new Sony XBR 4K TV ($TBA) will ensure that when the content's ready, you will be, too. Measuring an impressive 84" diagonally, this new flagship set offers a 3840 x 2160, LED-backlit LCD panel, the 4K X-Reality PRO picture engine to seamlessly upscale lower-resolution content, 3D capabilities, a 10 Unit Live Speaker system cranking out virtual 5.1 surround sound, and built-in Wi-Fi for accessing online content. No price yet, but you can rest assured that it won't come cheap.
If you're an Android owner that's been looking with envy at the Apple TV, your device has arrived. The Google Nexus Q ($300) is Mountain View's answer to Apple's little black box, but isn't a total knock-off, either — it packs dual ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs, 16GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, a 25W amplifier with banana jack outputs, micro HDMI and optical audio outputs, Ethernet, a Micro USB port for service and support, and Android 4.0, all into a crazy, orb-shaped body that sports 32 LEDs that bounce to the beat of whatever you're playing. The craziest part? It's interface-less — just fire up Google Play or YouTube on your device and go.
Let's see: you want to use your iPad as a remote, but don't want to attach a dorky dongle every time you want to change the channel? Perhaps the Logitech Harmony Link ($100) is the answer. This sleek system consists of a small black transmitter that connects to your home network via Wi-Fi, letting you control your entire system from your iOS or Android device without the need for any dongles or other nonsense.
One of the big problems with portable projectors is content — while the projector itself might be easy to carry around, your satellite service? Not so much. The Epson Megaplex Projector ($800) solves this problem by building an iPad, iPhone, and iPod dock directly into its dual 10-watt speaker laden back, while a 3LCD projection system blasts out a 720p image at up to 2800 lumens. Of course, it also offers HDMI and component/composite video inputs for those times when you need something more than the movies/presentations/games that your pocketable buddy can offer. We're using our review unit every night at the campsite this summer.
And here you thought your 60-inch LED TV was cool. These new LG Cinema 3D Smart TVs ($TBA) up the home entertainment ante with a 55-inch OLED model and a monstrous 84-inch UD model that sports a crazy 3840x2160 panel, ensuring it'll be useful for years to come. Other features include bezels as little as 1mm (!), access to over 1,200 apps, newly redesigned 3D glasses, and supermodel-thin bodies.
Considering all the other things we've seen reduced to stick form, it's no surprise that the Roku Streaming Stick ($TBA) looks ready to make that not-so-smart TV of yours a lot more useful with a minimal amount of fuss. Resembling a USB thumb drive, the streaming stick packs Wi-Fi, a processor, memory, and specialized software into a tiny enclosure that connects directly to the MHL-enabled HDMI ports on modern TVs, ensuring up-to-date software and access to services like Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, and Pandora long after you've upgraded your set.
For anyone thinking of cutting the cord with their cable company, losing out on live broadcasts is often the number one thing holding them back. Boxee Live TV ($50) aims to bridge this gap by connecting the Boxee Box to an HDTV antenna or unencrypted cable connection, giving you access to local broadcast stations, and replacing the typical, boring guide with a friendly show-finding interface that lets you receive recommendations from friends, and even remove channels that you never watch.
Cheer yourself up after that devastating Red Sox loss last night with a big ol' TV. The largest LED LCD TV to date, the Sharp Aquos LC-80LE632U TV ($5,500) gives you 80-inches of viewing area (to watch anything other than the playoffs), a full HD 1080p X-Gen LCD panel, built-in Wi-Fi, and access to apps like Netflix, CinemaNow and VUDU. It's also got a full array LED backlighting system that produces a crazy dynamic contrast ratio of 6,000,000:1, along with a blur-killing 120Hz Fine Motion Enhanced engine, all packed up into a 4-inch deep casing.