You can get excellent Blu-ray playback from a lot of players, but LG's BD390 stays ahead of the competition with its truly outstanding feature set, including Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, 7.1 analog outputs, geek-friendly MKV-video file playback over USB, and 1GB of onboard memory. There are certainly compelling alternatives (PS3 Slim, Oppo BDP-83), but if you're not into gaming and plan on taking advantage of streaming media services, the BD390 is the easy top choice.
We were surprised by the quality of all the Blu-ray home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems we reviewed this year, and the Samsung HT-BD1250 was the best of the bunch. Its sound quality was much better than we were expecting, offering credible sound even with stereo music--a tough feat for HTIBs. Its built-in Blu-ray player is as good as the standalone Samsung BD-P3600 and streaming options like Netflix and Pandora should fully complement your physical media collection.
TiVo HD XL DVR
If you're opting out of the set-top box offered by your cable/satellite company, the TiVo HD XL is an excellent alternative. The user interface deserves all the credit it gets for being easy to use, and TiVo continues to add functionality - like Netflix, Rhapsody, and Amazon Video On Demand streaming - to the box.
Logitech Harmony One
You might think it's hard to get excited about a universal remote, but the Harmony One is just that good. Its touch-screen interface and Harmony activity-based functions, like "Watch Blu-ray," make it easy for anyone to use, and its built-in rechargeable battery means you won't have to go searching for fresh batteries. It's the only gadget on the list that makes all of your home theater products more fun to use.
Logitech Squeezebox Duet
Streaming music on your home network is usually either a pain or way too expensive. Enter Logitech's Squeezebox Duet: the $400 network digital audio streamer employs a winning handheld remote with a brilliant color screen (not unlike an iPod) that lets you navigate your entire music collection--including several online services and the majority of free Internet radio stations--from the palm of your hand, while you hear the music from the big speakers of your home stereo.
The LG BD390 is our Blu-ray player pick if you're into streaming media, but the Oppo BDP-83 is a better buy for the home theater purist. It has the best image quality of any Blu-ray player we've tested, plus it handles a huge variety of disc-based media (SACD, DVD-Audio, DVD, CD) with an excess of finesse.