To be at the cutting edge of home entertainment technology, look no further than the Consumer Electronics Show held every January in Las Vegas. Manufacturers from around the world make the annual pilgrimage to show off the latest in beyond-HD displays, high-resolution audio, virtual reality and more.
We’ve rounded up the biggest trends and products we expect to lead the way at CES 2016. If you’re looking to create the best possible at-home entertainment experience in the near future, these are the essentials.
We’ve been hearing about it for decades now, but VR is finally taking over the living room. This should be the year that a version of Oculus Rift finally makes its way to regular consumers. Lines at the Oculus demonstration booth at CES have been some of the longest at the show the past few years. Since being purchased by Facebook, the company has developed the unique Oculus Touch handheld controller and plans to release the Rift to the masses in the first quarter of the new year. We don’t have details on technical specs or a price yet, but Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has said to expect the consumer Rift to cost more than the $350 developers’ version.
The Oculus Rift isn’t the only big name in VR. CES could be the perfect venue for Sony to finally announce details on pricing and availability of its PlayStation VR, formerly known as Project Morpheus. Sony has specifically designed its VR experience for the living room by displaying gameplay both in the headset and on your home entertainment display for spectators.
Last year, mind-blowing 8K proof-of-concept displays appeared at CES for the first time, and in 2016 we should see the technology begin to mature. Sharp has already released an 85-inch 8K TV — one of the world’s first 8K displays to go on sale for the tidy sum of $133,000 — and it surely will be shown off at the show this week. There’s also reason to expect that LG may debut its latest 8K displays with some surprises. We may see some new OLED 8K displays running the Korean company’s WebOS platform that are flexible and demonstrate the so-called “wallpaper” edge-to-edge, super-thin display form factor.
As for new displays that are more within reach of regular consumers, China’s TCL is the lone winner of a CES 2016 Innovation Award in the video display category for its beautiful 110-inch curved 4K LED-LCD display with Active 3D technology. Pricing and availability details will be revealed at the show.
A golden age of home audio is currently underway, with countless options for wireless and wired setups that fit almost any environment and aesthetic. One of the Innovation Award winners for CES 2016 is the Reference Premiere Dolby Atmos speaker system from Klipsch, which takes the sound from commercial Dolby Atmos cinema systems and brings it to the home theater. The entire system is made up of three components and costs about $2,000 for the complete set.
As for wireless audio setups, Sonos has more competition this year from Hong Kong’s OneAudio, another Innovation Award winner for its OneSurround.mini surround-sound system. The company claims its system has the “world’s first true wireless surround speakers” with no power cord, speaker cable or noticeable lag between video and audio. It also has an 80-hour playing time per charge. The complete system costs between $2,200 and $2,500.
To get the complete aural experience, a high-quality subwoofer is necessary to feel the rumbling bass from your home entertainment system. Maryland-based Golden Ear Technology’s SuperSub XXL compact subwoofer is another CES 2016 Innovation Award winner that delivers 360 degrees of low-end sound around your living room. It starts at $199.
No home entertainment system is complete without a simple way to control the ever-expanding universe of content platforms and devices. The Ray Super Remote is a $249 touch-screen remote that can control thousands of devices, including Apple TV, XBox, TV, set-top boxes, Roku, audio receivers, soundbars and Blu-ray players. It will be on display at CES 2016, and although it only works in the U.S. right now, it is slated to go global soon.