10 Of The Greatest Entertainment Innovations Of 2012

The best of what's new in cameras, sound, gaming and more

Never has it been easier to kick back, relax, and enjoy the home entertainment of your choice. In this gallery, find the top innovations in game systems, streaming, video cameras, and more.

Sony VPL- VW1000ES

Screen quality follows a simple rule: The larger the screen, the more pixels necessary to fill it. A high-def image is 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. On a 60-inch LCD TV, the image is flawless, but go any larger—say, 80 inches or a wall-sized projection—and the individual pixels become visible, degrading image quality. The Sony VPL-VW1000ES is the first home-theater projector to produce 4,096-by-2,160-pixel, or 4K, images, which allows it to produce pictures up to 200 inches across. The company's engineers based the VPL's 8.8-million-pixel projection chip on those used in Sony's 4K theater projectors. Though 4K content is limited now, directors, including Peter Jackson, have already shot about 75 movies at the standard. As those movies reach homes, viewers will have the means to experience full, cinematic quality in their living rooms. Projection: Up to 200 inches Weight: 44 pounds Price: $25,000Sam Kaplan

Nintendo Wii U

The Wii U is not only the first new major game console from any manufacturer in more than four years, it's also the first system with two-screen play. A custom IBM processor and high-def graphics engine drive both the main TV image and the 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen on the Wii U controller, which is connected over Nintendo's proprietary wireless channel. Developers can create maps, tools, and unique camera angles for the controller screen. From $300Courtesy Nintendo

Dolby Atmos

Sound systems have been able to place audio at the periphery of theaters for more than 30 years. The Dolby Atmos system lets audio editors move sounds over an audience as well. An Atmos-equipped theater has up to 64 speakers, half of which hang from the ceiling, so editors can program the whir of a helicopter to go from back-right to front-left. Disney/Pixar used Atmos for Brave this summer, and Dolby expects at least 15 more films to use it in 2013.Courtesy Dolby

Kemper Profiling Amp

Changing guitar amps can affect sound as much as changing the guitar itself. The Kemper Profiling Amp can learn and mimic the sound of any amp. Musicians connect the Kemper to the input jack on the amplifier they want to imitate; the Kemper then issues a series of test tones (squeals, hisses, buzzes), while an onboard microphone records the feedback. With that data, the amp runs custom algorithms that convert the feedback into a savable setting. The amp can store up to 1,000 of them. $1,900Sam Kaplan

Sennheiser RS220

When music transmits from a stereo to wireless headphones, file compression shrinks the dynamic range, the difference between the highest and the lowest volumes in a track. Engineers at Sennheiser employed a compressionless standard, called direct-sequence spectrum spread, to create a pair of wireless headphones that sound as good as wired ones. The RS220 consists of a base, which users attach to their stereo, and a pair of headphones. Instead of downsizing a file, a radio in the base spreads it across several wireless frequencies, and then a receiver in the headphones recomposes it. $600

LG OLED 3-D CINEMA SMART TV

Until this year, the largest OLED panel that electronics manufacturers could mass-produce was 31 inches—four inches smaller than the average TV in U.S. homes. In January, LG debuted the 55-inch OLED 3-D Cinema Smart TV, which employs a new type of glass base panel, oxide-TFT. The material helps image data reach the diodes more quickly, thus producing the contrast, sharpness, and bright colors characteristic of OLEDs on a much larger scale. Price not setCourtesy LG

Simple.TV

The Simple.TV set-top box lets viewers watch and record live TV anywhere. Users connect the box to a TV feed through an antenna or a basic-cable line, to the Web with an Ethernet cable, and to a hard drive over USB. The box connects with Simple.TV's cloud servers, which relay high-def content to an HTML5 browser, or a mobile or Roku app. Viewers can browse listings, set recordings, and watch saved shows—in addition to catching live broadcasts. $149 ($5/month subscription)Sam Kaplan

BlackMagic Cinema Camera

Before now, the best camera an amateur filmmaker could get for under $5,000 was a video-capable DSLR. But using a still camera for video has some major trade-offs: Shots must be short to keep the camera from overheating, slow encoding degrades colors, and DSLRs don't accept standard cinema lenses. By automating production—an unusual approach for high-end video cameras—engineers at Blackmagic Design cut their costs without sacrificing professional features, such as solid-state memory, RAW recording, an EF lens mount, and a 2.5-million-pixel sensor. From $2,995Sam Kaplan

Sony Playstation Vita

The PlayStation Vita's graphics are closer to console quality than any other portable gaming system. Sony engineers built the seven-inch device around a custom quad-core processor and quad-core graphics processor. The components are so powerful that the Vita can handle versions of PlayStation 3 games; a gamer who downloads Motorstorm RC on his Vita, for example, can race a PS3 player on the same game. From $250Courtesy Sony

Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick contains all the components necessary for owners to upgrade their TV's connectivity through a single, discrete plug. Roku engineers used the new mobile high-definition link (MHL) connection standard, which allows the 2.7-inch Roku Stick to draw power from the TV and provide content—from sources including Netflix and Hulu—to the TV. Currently more than 50 HDTVs are MHL-ready, but more will arrive in 2013. **$100****Courtesy Roku