The 21st Century tech revolution continues unabated, with new gizmos and gadgets flooding the market that would've seemed inconceivable just a generation ago. But no matter how sophisticated the tech gets, bargain hunting will never go out of style. In fact, the urge to snag a great deal on a home theater receiver probably traces its roots to the hunter-gatherer behaviors of our knuckle-dragging ancestors with surnames like Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon.
Now it's time to put those instincts of yours to work figuring out which of these deals fits you to a T — or if you prefer, a TV. We did the research so you don't have to; you do the buying and plop down on the couch with a bucket of popcorn and the beverage of your choice. That already sounds like one sweet deal to us.
Yamaha 525-Watt 5.1 Channel 3D-Ready Receiver with Apple TV
Price: $329.95 with free shipping
Lowest By: $67
Is It Worth It?: When two great brands intersect, look out! B&H is one of New York City's most beloved camera and sound gear retailers, and Yamaha has a place up there with Sony as one of the best consumer electronics brands. Together, you have a home entertainment juggernaut. This receiver gets you 105 watts per channel split into five channels, 3D support, built-in Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS decoding — plus four HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, and other video inputs. The Apple TV (which is added to your cart automatically) displays 720p video and features Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, and Mobile Me integration, Airplay support, 802.11n wireless ... need we go on? We could. But excuse this writer, who is now hopping online to buy this bundle.
Sony 770-Watt 7.1 Channel 3D-Ready Home Theater Receiver
Price: $219 with free shipping
Lowest By: $40
Is It Worth It?: As mentioned above, Sony belongs in a rare league of consumer electronics companies, having almost invented the category in the Swinging '60s. To this day, they still make very reliable hardware, and here's a prime example of their state-of-the art know-how: a receiver that shoots 110 watts per channel into seven channels, and features DVD upconversion to 1080p, plus four HDMI inputs. While it's not as tricked out as the Yamaha with Apple TV bundle, it's still a great buy, especially for those who already own other Sony gear and subscribe to the theory of "matching components" for home entertainment systems.
Sony 700-Watt 7.1 Channel 3D-Ready Home Theater Receiver
Price: $159.99 via coupon code "EZU45400" with free shipping
Lowest By: $19
Is It Worth It?: This Sony is the baby brother of the aforementioned 770-watt model, and you will likely not notice the 10 watts less per channel pumped into seven channels. (Remember folks, sound works on a logarithm, so you need ten times the wattage to double the volume.) Moreover, it features 24p True Cinema pass-through, BRAVIA Sync, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS decoding, and four HDMI inputs.
Boxee Box HD Media Player by D-Link
Price: $169 via coupon code "JRGOOG" with free shipping
Lowest By: $10
Is It Worth It?: The looks of the Boxee put it far outside the box, if you will, as this undeniably cute cube of consumer electronics can play TV shows, movies, music, and other media from the Internet or your hard drive on your TV. The idea of making your computer talk to your TV holds massive appeal for many a couch potato, and the simplicity of this concept makes it a winner for those who don't feel like breaking out a technical manual to understand all the ports, settings, and wiring schematics that go with other digital gadgets. Plus Boxee features a remote with a QWERTY keyboard, 802.11n wireless, Ethernet port, SD card slot, two USB ports, HDMI connectivity, and more.
Logitech Revue Google TV Receiver
Price: $89.99 with free shipping
Lowest By: $10
Is It Worth It?: The Revue features support for Android-based Google TV service, which allows you to watch Internet content on your HDTV. It's compatible with iPhone or Android-enabled smartphones, has 802.11n wireless, Ethernet, and HDMI capabilities, and offers support for Netflix, Twitter, Pandora, CNBC, and more. Sometimes, exploring a new technology is made easier by the right gadget for the job, and this Google TV receiver fits the bill in terms of offering a nice mix of installation simplicity and a low price point.
Front page photo credit: Miaerbus via Flickr