The 11 Greatest Innovations In Entertainment This Year

These are the Best of What's New

Playstation VR

Virtual Reality for Regular People: Sony Playstation VR

The strict requirements of high-def VR gaming require beefy PCs to use. The PlayStation VR makes the experience plug-and-play for Sony's more than 40 million preexisting PS4 owners. Unlike cheapo phone-based systems (think Google Cardboard), the headset delivers full 1080p images to each eye and a wide 100-degree field of view. Titles like Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One are the closest you'll get to sitting in an X-Wing. $400Sam Kaplan
Samsung 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

The First 4K Blu-Ray Player: Samsung 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

Ultrahigh-def content is coming, and Samsung's device is the first to handle it all. The player streams 4K video from Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon, along with, of course, playing physical UHD discs. $399Courtesy Samsung
Yamaha Transacoustic Guitar

Onboard Axe Effects: Yamaha Transacoustic Guitar

The acoustic guitar is a perfectly self-contained instrument. No amps, no wires—and no fun for anyone who wants to produce live effects. The Transacoustic Guitar re-creates reverb and chorus, using built-in knobs to control the two. The movement of the strings vibrates an actuator inside the instrument, which alters the guitar's sound on the fly—no electricity required—granting you on-stage rockstar prowess right in your lap. $999Courtesy Yamaha
Yamaha  YSP-5600

Yamaha YSP-5600: A Hemisphere Of Sound

Most home surround sound is two-dimensional, pinging audio front to back and side to side. When it launched two years ago, the Dolby Atmos audio standard added height to the equation; this year, Yamaha's YSP-5600 became the first to cram the spec into a single speaker. The sound bar's 32 forward-firing drivers are joined by 12 upward-firing ones, which ricochet sounds off the ceiling like a helicopter flying overhead or birds in a tree. Or simply use the first 7.1.2 channel sound bar to play your favorite tunes off Spotify, Pandora, and more. $1,600Courtesy Yamaha
Sony Portable Ultra Short Throw

Sony Portable Ultra Short Throw: Projection On Any Surface

Sony's 5-inch, laser-based projector turns surfaces into screens. Placed against a wall, the projector shoots up to produce a crisp 22-inch picture. Back up a foot, and that expands to 80 inches. $999Courtesy Sony
Anki Cozmo

Anki Cozmo: The Smartest Robot Pet

Not all A.I.-powered bots need to be virtual assistants: Some can just keep us entertained. Improving the robotic intelligence of playtime is Anki's Cozmo. The baseball-size wheeled robot has a facial-recognition camera behind its friendly OLED eyes, allowing it to learn and recognize its near and dear. Sophisticated machine learning helps Cozmo's personality evolve, while upcoming tools for developers will let them teach it a host of new tricks. $180Courtesy Anki
No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky: A Game The Size Of The Universe

It took three years to code No Man's Sky, but it will take you a lifetime to play. The science-fiction fantasy exploration game on PS4 and PC offers ungodly possibility. Its powerful rendering engine can generate 18 quintillion planets—99.9 percent of which you'll never have time to visit. Your job: Try to see them all while discovering species, trading resources, and surviving the vast expanse of the final frontier that is space. Safe travels! $60Hello Games
LG Signature OLED TV

LG Signature OLED TV: The Most Colorful Picture

Even the best 4K TVs can swallow up details in the darkest and brightest parts of the image. High-dynamic range (HDR)—a catchall term for video encoded with a billions-deep color gamut—brings those nuances into the forefront. LG's Signature OLED TVs render colors better than any other. The sets support both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR standards, so viewers can count on seeing the full rainbow, no matter their content source. From $7,999Courtesy LG
Lytro Cinema Camera

Lytro Cinema Camera: Green Screen, Sans the Green

Light-field cameras, which allow users to tweak parts of an image into focus, are increasingly common among consumer cameras. The 755-megapixel Lytro Cinema Camera brings the tech to pro filmmakers, making post-production effects easier than ever. Among the editing tricks it opens up: shifting focus, adjusting film speed, and removing and replacing any part of the background—no green screen required. Prices varyCourtesy Lytro
Parrot  Disco

Parrot Disco: The Easiest-Flying Drone

If you've thrown a paper plane, you can launch the Parrot Disco. Toss the 1.6-pound drone into the sky, and onboard sensors—gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, barometer, and GPS—navigate the fixed-wing craft to 150 feet, where it circles awaiting further command. Users set a course via remote control, and algorithms on board keep the drone on track. A top speed of 50 mph means you won't be losing any races. $1,300Sam Kaplan
ossic x

Ossic X: The Sweet Sound of Virtual Reality

When it comes to virtual reality, video gets all the glory. But hearing in VR—as bullets whiz overhead and floors creak underfoot—is just as key. Heavyweights like HTC and Oculus are working hard on their audio engines, but a San Diego startup is taking multidimensional sound a step further. Ossic's X over-ear headphones adapt to a listener's anatomy, creating the most convincing 3D audio effects yet. First, sensors at the top of the ear cups measure your head size to precisely time audio delays between the ears. Four drivers surround each ear, simulating sound that comes from multiple directions. Finally, the Ossic X's built-in head tracking uses an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a compass to match what you're hearing to your every move. $299Sam Kaplan

Read about the other Best of What's New winners from the November/December 2016 issue of Popular Science.