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TVs keep getting bigger with a clearer, richer picture and Christmas or Boxing Day is a very popular time for people to upgrade their technology. If you are getting a new TV, and even if you aren’t, it is also a great time to get those accessories that will make any TV experience a lot better. These must-have accessories make great Christmas presents and if Santa was not so nice, Boxing Day sales are sure to give you a second chance.

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Streaming Internet Content on Your TV

A high proportion of new TVs sold these days are Smart TVs, which is a convenient way to stream. However, if you don’t have a Smart TV then a media-streaming device is definitely a must-have. It makes available so much additional content, and it puts you in total control of what you watch when you want to watch it.

We were away a few days last week and forgot to setup our PVR to record Survivor. No problem, we simply found that episode on Global TV and streamed it onto my flat screen using my Apple TV. The quality was just as good as on my PVR, and there were definitely fewer commercials to skip.

The two media streamers leading the pack are Roku and Apple TV, both of which are excellent. I know because I have both. I like my Roku 3 a little bit better because it has a lot more content and the processor seems a bit faster. I also like the remote that comes with it because you can plug headphones into it and watch in private. However, if you are embedded in the Apple ecosystem with macbooks, iPhones, and iPads, then Apple TV is a great choice. I particularly like ability to automatically send whatever you have on your Apple device to your TV and/or your stereo.

Vizio 5.1 Channel Sound Bar.jpegSound Bars

TVs keep getting thinner and thinner, so much so that it is impossible for them to have decent sound systems. The speakers are so squished that the depth and power of the sound is somewhat lacking. No fear, an easy way to boost the sound into a much more immersive experience is through a sound bar, and there are lots of excellent ones to choose from.

Although sound bars won’t create a true surround sound experience, they can emulate it and really enrich your TV experience. Sound bars don’t take up much space and are dead-easy to setup, especially if you get one with a wireless subwoofer. The other great thing is that many come with Bluetooth so you can wirelessly play music on it from your mobile device when not watching TV.

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An excellent sound bar is the Vizio 5.1 Channel Sound Bar (pictured above) because it comes with rear satellite speakers that will create a more immersive surround effect that you won’t get with most sound bars. Another great choice is the Bose Solo 15 Sound System (pictured at right). It is small but has very clear and powerful sound so it will be a great addition to your TV. The Polk Audio SurroundBar 4000iHT 180 Watt Sound Bar is yet another excellent bar that won’t disappoint. It has a wireless subwoofer and the well-engineered sound that only comes from Polk Audio.

Monster GreenPower Surge Protector.jpegSmart Power Bars / Surge Protectors

Power bars are accessories that may seem a bit mundane, but they are a necessary component of any entertainment system. To make them a bit less mundane, consider getting a “smart” power bar that is also a surge protector. No, it won’t stream Internet content for you, but it will save you energy costs. Smart power bars have multiple outlets so you can power all your components. It has a master outlet with a number of slave outlets. It works by automatically turning the slave outlets on and off when the master outlet is turned on and off. So turn off your TV and the Blu-ray player, game console, etc. power off as well. Since the PVR may need to remain powered up so it can record shows, smart surge protectors will also have some independent outlets as well that remain powered..

The Monster GreenPower Surge Protector is such a good smart bar that it comes with a $400,000 guarantee. If your equipment gets damaged by a power surge they will replace it up to a value of $400K.

PS4 and XBOX One.jpegGaming Devices

Game consoles aren’t a must-have accessory for everyone but they can provide a tremendous amount of entertainment value. The top game consoles to consider naturally are the PS4 or the XBox One. I won’t get into the merits of each one because there are a lot of posts comparing the two. Either one is a great choice as both will convert your TV into a much more holistic entertainment system. The variety of games available is endless, and the graphics these days will blow you away. If you haven’t considered a gaming console you won’t believe how much fun you can have.

Smart Blu Ray Player.jpegBlu-Ray Players

Blue-Ray players to many seem a bit old-school since everyone now seems to be streaming content. But you shouldn’t consider them old-school at all, especially if you have a large flat screen with a beautiful picture. Blu-ray is the best way to take full advantage of your TV because Blu-Ray discs have a picture quality that will show off your TV and make it really pop. There is a lot of selection to choose from with Blu-Ray movies, Best Buy has over 2,700 to choose from. Watching one of the biggest hits of this year, Guardians of the Galaxy on Blu-Ray will be an awesome movie experience for the whole family.

Blu-Ray players today are also a lot more than just a Blu-Ray player. They are also media streamers, up-converters, 3D players, and more. They are generally great value and will really enhance any TV entertainment system.

Harmony Home Remote.jpegUniversal Remote Controls

Just like there are too many passwords in life, there are too many remote controls. A simple and effective way to get rid of all that clutter is with a universal remote. Logitech is the king of the hill when it comes to universal remotes, and they have some excellent ones to choose from. I like the Home Controls that they introduced this year because they go beyond controlling your entertainment system and now will control many aspects of your home. Things like the lighting, door locks, thermostat, and alarm system to name a few.

I personally think the Harmony Home Control is the best value. In addition to providing a universal remote it also has a free app that will allow your Smartphone and tablet to act as a universal remote.

Big TVs these days are better than ever. Clearer, sharper, better contrast, richer colour, and more features; but to take advantage of this fantastic picture and have a system that will totally entertain you with ease and comfort these accessories are all great additions.

Tom Brauser
I love to try new technologies and I have a practical approach to techie stuff - it has to be easy to use and make my life better. I have my house fully wired, with a surround sound system in my family room for music and TV viewing, but also drive music throughout the house as well as outdoors. I Internet stream content on all my devices at home, which provides a huge variety of entertainment to enjoy.