Televisions are about to get bigger and better. Again.

TV junkies barely had time to warm the couch cushions facing their big screens before electronics companies announced plans to pull the plug. Plasma and LCD technologies are on the way out. OLED(organic light- emitting diode) is on the way in. The new screen technology, already found in the latest smartphones, produces brighter colors and deeper blacks. OLED screens are flexible (watch for curved versions, coming soon) and light enough that a 55-inch model weighs only about seven kilograms. LG’s 55EM9600 (lg.com) has a thin, 55-inch screen capable of contrast ratios 50 times greater than an LCD’s. Plasma and LCD aren’t the only things being phased out. High-definition television as we know it is on the verge of being replaced by UltraHD. Also known as 4K, UltraHD produces four times as many pixels as your current flatscreen. To upgrade to UltraHD, pick up an OLED TV or an UltraHD set, such as the 84-inch Toshiba L9300 LED TV (pictured at right). The problem? Sets sell for around R200,000 and there isn’t much UltraHD programming to watch yet. TV fanatics are better off waiting while UltraHD prepares for prime time.

For all the satisfaction of watching Band of Brothers on blitzkrieg volume, the tangle of surround sound cables tucked under the rug is a drag. To ditch the wires and still deliver serious sonic boom, audio engineers at Yamaha allegedly used submarine sonar technology to calibrate the audio timing in their new sound bars, ensuring that the bullets will seem to whiz behind your head even without rear speakers. The Yamaha YSP4300 uses 22 tiny speakers and a wireless subwoofer to precisely bounce sound to your ears and re-create 7.1-channel surround sound.

Vizio’s S4251w-B4 (pictured left, vizio.com) is the best and most affordable model we tested. The 42-inch sound bar uses a wireless subwoofer with two wired rear speakers. Drop the subwoofer to the side of the couch, position the rear speakers and built-in Dolby Digital, and DTS technology will have Iron Man rattling the windows.

Published in Playboy South Africa August 2013