Gear Guide: For Your Entertainment

Shopping for someone who loves music, TV, or movies? (And who doesn't?) We've got some suggestions, from super-thin HDMI cable to an awesome AirPlay speaker set.

Fine Lines

Apple has made it possible to take HDMI with you on the road: The iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch can output video over HDMI (using Apple’s Digital AV Adapter); recent MacBook models do the same via the Mini DisplayPort–to–HDMI adapter; the Mac mini has an HDMI port; and, of course, the Apple TV itself is portable. Yet most HDMI cables are bulky and heavy. Sanho’s HyperThin is a travel-friendly alternative: an HDMI cable that’s thinner and more flexible than Apple’s USB–to–dock-connector cable. Available in black or white, the HyperThin comes in lengths of 0.8 meters (2.6 feet) and 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).—Dan Frakes
0.8m, $20; 2.5m, $40; Sanho

Remote Rodent

Hooking up a Mac mini or even a MacBook Pro to your HDTV can be a great way to enjoy the media that's stored on your computer on the big screen. The problem is controlling that Mac when it’s on the other side of the room from your comfy couch. The wireless Logitech Couch Mouse M515 is one solution. It’s a mouse specifically designed to track easily over furniture, fabric, carpet—you name it. The bottom is sealed to prevent crud from gunking up the sensor, and the mouse itself activates only when you grip it, preventing unwanted cursor movements and preserving battery life.—Jonathan Seff
$50; Logitech

Beyond Apple TV

The latest generation of Roku’s streaming video player, the Roku 2, looks and costs very much the same as Apple TV, but offers features you won’t find in Apple’s set-top box. The top-of-the-line Roku 2 XS supports a growing collection of streaming “channels,” including Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, MLB.TV, Pandora, and Hulu Plus. It can play 1080p video; and includes a snazzy Bluetooth remote-control that doubles as a game controller, a free copy of Angry Birds so you’ve got something to use that snazzy remote with; and both a microSD port and a USB port for playing local files. If you’re a fan of a content streams not supported by Apple—and you don’t have a large investment in iTunes video content, which the Roku can’t play—it makes a great addition to your media cabinet.—Jonathan Seff
$100; Roku

Ear Candy

Few full-size headphones offer high-quality sound, superb comfort, great style, and an inline remote and mic module. Yet Skullcandy—a brand originally known for skater gear—gets just about everything right with the Roc Nation Aviator (a collaboration with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint). Available in three colors, the Aviator sports a stylish, retro design; spring hinges and copious padding for comfort; and a three-button inline module for controlling media playback and making phone calls. The sound is a bit bassy, but it’s a fun listen. The set folds up to fit in the included travel pouch, and Skullcandy throws in a polishing cloth to keep the cans shiny.—Dan Frakes
$150; Skullcandy

One-Stop Dock

There are plenty of docking speaker systems for iOS devices, but not many that can accommodate both an iPad and an iPhone/iPod at the same time. The JVC UX-VJ3 can. It’ll charge both devices at once, and offers a rotating iPhone dock so you can position it in portrait or landscape mode. It includes a pair of separated speakers with 30 watts of power, as well as outputs for connecting to a subwoofer or TV. You can control the UX-VJ3 from the illuminated base or using the included remote, and the system features an AM/FM tuner, five sound modes for different music types, simulated surround sound, a clock, and sleep and wake timers. And just to make sure it doesn’t clash with your choice of iOS device colors, it comes in either black or white.—Jonathan Seff
$200; JVC

Wheel of Steel

The Audio Technica LP120 and LP240 (pictured) are high-quality turntables with direct USB output for connecting them to a Mac. Both also include built-in phono preamplifiers, so you can connect them to your home sound system; that means you won’t have to stick them in the closet when you aren’t ripping LPs. The LP240 boasts higher-end components than the LP120, but it may be overkill for some users.—Dan Frakes
LP120, $300; LP240, $500; Audio-Technica

Wi-Fi Hi-Fi

AirPlay was announced more than a year ago, but Airplay-compatible speakers still haven’t exactly flooded the market. The iHome iW1 stands out in this sparse field for a couple of neat innovations. First, it’s flexible: In addition to playing music via Wi-Fi from your Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod, it also includes USB input for both playback and charging your device. Neater still, it comes with its own charging dock, so you can fill up its batteries, then take it with you wherever you want music (using the handy carrying handle).—Dan Miller
$300; iHome

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