2022 Top Picks of the Year

We live in a remarkable era where home entertainment delivers experiences with convenience and quality that was the stuff of science fiction not long ago. The past year yielded a lot of interesting new gear, including the first quantum-dot OLED TVs from Samsung and Sony. It's a year where Sony updated its 4K home theater projector lineup and went all-in with laser light sources. Meanwhile, Epson raised the bar on what to expect from an ultra-short-throw (UST) projector with the wall-hugging LS800, while LG made its popular OLEDs bigger and brighter than ever.

In 2022 we saw Apple update its best-selling AirPods Pro headphones with the addition of personalized spatial audio. It was a great year for bass-loving home theater enthusiasts; the new Cinema Series Marantz AV receivers introduced at CEDIA can concurrently apply discrete room correction to four independent subwoofers. There's a lot of substance to the advancements that made the past year's Top Picks so appealing.

One thing I want to mention about these selections: No single item in the list has a price exceeding four figures, a deliberate choice. The goal of our 2022 Top Picks of the Year is to highlight gear that works well and is a good value instead of including cost-no-object flagship models—many of which are priced well above the point where the law of diminishing returns kicks in. (Prices quoted are from manufacturer websites as of this writing and some may reflect current discounts.)

We live in an era where what you can achieve performance-wise in a living room with a large TV or UST projector, a good streaming source, and an Atmos soundbar or a modest AVR-based system is not something to scoff at; it's something to celebrate.

Here is gear that gives you a high-fidelity home entertainment experience but does not necessarily demand a specialized environment like a dedicated theater—or that you take out a second mortgage to pay for it. Nor is it "cheap" gear because the idea is to focus on high performance instead of entry-level. The choices are about what fits a modern lifestyle and acknowledging real-world usage scenarios. For example, with projectors, it's nice to have the superb black levels of the top projector models from JVC and Sony. But without a dedicated home theater with dark walls and ceiling, you'll miss out on the extra deep black levels of the flagship projectors. But for a mere fraction of the price, consider what you can do in a living room with a UST projector, or a midrange long-throw projector like Sony's XW5000ES, especially when paired with a good ALR (ambient light rejecting) screen.

For home entertainment, worrying about perfection can distract from enjoying what works. With TVs, pursuing some specific aspects of picture quality perfection—brightness and contrast—is much simpler than with projection. For example, rather than building a room just for a $20K+ home theater projector, you need only choose an OLED to get perfect blacks that no projector can compete with, albeit at a smaller screen size. 2022 is notable for how affordable 85-inch TVs have become. For example, an 83" LG G2 OLED is under $5000 for picture quality that home theater enthusiasts used to only dream of!

Thanks to dropping prices for ever bigger screens, home entertainment is no longer a matter of haves versus have-nots. It does not require a dedicated home theater and a projector to enjoy an impressive, cinematic viewing experience at home. There is a fertile middle ground between buying a small, cheap TV for the bedroom to stream Netflix in HD and a six-figure 4K/8K home theater with a closet full of amps and a Kaleidescape server as the source. An 85-inch TV streaming 4K UHD shows and movies that's also connected to a late-generation gaming console is a powerful entertainment solution.

Speaking of screens, size isn't everything when it comes to TVs. The new Quantum Dot OLEDs from Samsung and Sony are currently only available in 55-inch and 65-inch models. But that does not stop the Samsung S95B from snagging the Overall Top Pick of the Year, thanks to its cutting-edge picture quality performance and surprisingly accessible price. Without further ado, presenting Sound & Vision's 2022 Top Picks of the Year:


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