Television is in the midst of a renaissance, and it goes beyond content. Technologies like 4K and HDR and OLED make everything look amazing. With the right components, it sounds phenomenal, too. Immersive audio setups like the ones in movie theaters are making their way into homes.
Most of this mind-blowing gear is pricey. But as TVs and speakers improve at the high end, the benefits are trickling down to more affordable models. It's reached the point that you can buy a big-screen HDTV and a bunch of A/V gear for less than $500. A versatile home-theater setup costs less than a smartphone. Seriously.
There are several ways of doing this. The easiest is to start is with one of the growing number of Roku TVs. They won't rival the picture quality of a 4K OLED, but you get decent performance and thousands of streaming channels without needing extra hardware. You'll also have enough cash left over for a soundbar, more streaming devices, handy accessories, and maybe even a pizza.
The Well-Balanced $500 Setup
Do you want as many streaming platforms as humanly possible? For less than $500, big-time cordcutters can get a big-screen Roku TV, a cheap soundbar, a Chromecast for flinging anything from your phone to your TV, the new voice-controlled Fire TV Stick with Alexa features, and an indoor HD antenna for the local morning news. Vizio's woofer-free soundbar doubles as a (giant) Bluetooth speaker for your mobile device, too.
The Well-Balanced $500 Setup (Slight Return)
If you want more low-end thump, this package has you covered. It upgrades the soundbar to one with much more powerful bass, thanks to a standalone wireless subwoofer.