The summer of sport is almost upon us, which means you’re going to need some gold-medal gear to take in all the action.
There’s a huge stack of elite-level sport coming up. The European Championships in football, of course, but also the British Grand Prix, the Lions rugby tour, Wimbledon, Tyson Fury versus Anthony Joshua (or maybe Fury versus Deontay Wilder – you know how political boxing can get), the Tour de France, even the Tokyo Olympics (which are now 100 per cent going ahead – hurrah!).
For many sports fans, the closest we’ll get is the best seat in our own homes –hence our guide to the best kit around.
The small screen
Sport can be kryptonite to TVs, no matter how expensive. All that unpredictable movement, happening in different directions at the same time, often taking place on a big area of uniform colour can play havoc with some TVs’ picture-processing engines.
But you don’t have to suffer ghosting or smearing or doubling of lines when you watch sport and you don’t have to pay a fortune to buy a TV that does the right thing where on-screen movement is concerned.
The brilliant Samsung AU9000 4K HDR TV range (samsung.co.uk) handles motion brilliantly – and with screen sizes from 43in (£549) to a whopping 75in (£1,399), the price is as right as the performance.
Its image quality is outstanding at the money, and it grips on-screen motion like Andy Murray grips a tennis racket. Plus, it has a brilliant smart TV interface and looks slim if you hang it on your wall.
At 48in, the excellent Sony KD-48A9 (£1,399, sony.co.uk) is the littlest OLED TV you can buy. Deep, lustrous black tones are the OLED forte and the Sony has them and plenty more besides. But it also has the motion discipline we need to keep all that sport looking realistic.
Or super-size your experience with the fantastic LG OLED65G1 (£2,999, lg.com/uk). Televisions just don’t get any more chic or more accomplished where on-screen movement is concerned. Even the LG’s remote control feels lavish.
Project this… Big event, big screen
If the biggest of these TVs doesn’t satisfy your desire to watch the biggest sporting events on the biggest screen, you need a projector. Ideally a projector that gives great pictures, throws a huge image and lets the on-screen action know who’s boss.
The portable Nebula Mars 2 (£549, uk.seenebula.com) serves up colourful, enjoyable 100in pictures. It’s even got a little speaker built in, so you can have sound no matter where you’re using it.
For something even more accomplished, check out Optoma’s UHD40 projector (£1,499, amazon.co.uk). Here’s a beamer that has a 4K resolution and will work well even when the lights aren’t all that low.
Once you’ve experienced the Optoma in action, you might wonder why you ever bothered watching a picture any smaller than the 300in the UHD40 can manage.
Watching epically accomplished images is only half the story when it comes to getting the full ‘right there in the stadium’ feeling. You need to hear the roar of the crowd, the breathless commentary, the sound of the competitors themselves.
The majority of televisions – and virtually every projector – lack the audio system to give you what you need. But it’s not difficult, or expensive, to make a massive upgrade on your sonic experience.
By taking the responsibility for sound away from your TV and handing it over to a device specifically designed to do the job, you can really put the ‘audio’ into ‘audio-visual’. A soundbar is the obvious place to start – and there’s no need to break the bank.
Roku’s Streambar (£129.99, roku.com) sounds way fuller and more detailed than your TV can possibly hope to. And, because it’s a Roku, it has 4K HDR streaming smarts built in too, so it can turn an older TV into a smart TV.
Plus, it will go plenty loud enough to really make the most of those ‘sprint finish off the final bend’ moments.
The Beam soundbar by Sonos (£399, sonos.com) will fit nicely with your existing Sonos equipment, can be controlled using the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, and – most importantly – sounds big, bold, detailed and big again.
If you want to set yourself up for life, there’s the Sennheiser Ambeo (£2,199, en-uk.sennheiser.com).
That’s a lot of money for ‘just’ a soundbar and, yes, the Ambeo needs plenty of space to work in. But it’s the most convincing ‘entire Dolby Atmos home cinema audio system in a box’ out there, and by a distance.
The Sennheiser will make you think there are speakers above you and alongside you, as well as in front of you. ‘Immersive’ only begins to cover it.
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