According to high-tech research firm Parks Associates and the Consumer Design & Installation Association, more than 28% of households now have home theater system, with the number continuing to grow.
If you’re looking to join those ranks and set up your own personal media-viewing mecca, check out our home theater buying guide below for the basic information you’ll need to know.
It’s the devices that help make a home into a home theater, and you’ve got any number of choices to make up front when deciding on your set up. There are really two options you can choose when setting up – selecting an “all-in-one” component system, or buying each piece individually.
Component Systems – Component Systems Offer DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming devices, receivers and speakers all in one convenient package that are built to work together. The advantages of component systems are that you can easily set up and control all your devices at once, but a drawback is that you may not be able to find one with all the exact features you want.
Individual Devices – Instead of going the all-in-one route, you can choose to select each media player, audio system, game console and speakers separately. Going with this option assures you can the choices and functionality you want, but you may run into problems with creating optimal connections and control systems. This can also be more expensive, especially if you’re one who likes to choose “top-of-the-line” equipment.
The Room & Seating
As you look at the size and dimensions of your room, you must also consider the configuration. Where will everything be situated? Will you be able to run wires to all the components and speakers you need? Think about not only how you’ll be wiring everything behind the TV, but also how you’ll be reaching the rear and surround speakers. There are many wireless options which make this easier.
Careful thought should also be put into the type of seating you want. What types of chairs, couches or customized theater seating are you going to have. If it’s your standard living room, you may want to get sectional with a chaise for additional lounging. If it’s a dedicated room, you can get posh, comfortable rows of two, three and even four leather recliners with plenty of spots for drink holders and more.
All this talk about the home theater, and we’re only just now getting to the display, the visual centerpiece of your home theater system. With HDTVs getting larger and thinner, and more affordable, choosing the display that’s right for your room, and where to put it, can be one of the most important decisions you can make.
For starters, you’ll need to figure out if you’re going to get a 3D HDTV or not. There are many 3D options today, some that require glasses, and some that don’t. Will you be playing a lot of video games in your home theater, or watching many of the latest blockbusters? Chances are, you’ll want to consider 3D.
You’ll also want to measure the distance between your seating and your TV to get the optimum size HDTV. Most retailers, such as Amazon, will provide a nice chart that give you a range of TV sizes depending on your viewing distance. For example, if you’re going to be sitting 10 feet away, consider TVs between 40” and 80”.
Or, you could eschew the HDTV entirely and can an HD projector to project an image at whatever size you desire against a blank surface. Smart TVs (Internet connected models) also make a great option, letting you stream audio or video on-demand, or access photos, the Internet, social networking and more through downloadable apps.
When we think of home theater systems, we think of surround sound. But there are different options . Do you want 5.1, or 7.1. The first number indicates the number of speakers, and the one after the decimal point is for the subwoofer. They’re all designed to create an immersive movie, sports or video game experience. Don’t forget to set all your devices to the appropriate audio setting to make sure you’re taking advantage of whatever audio set up you choose.
Now that you’ve got your home theater, you need to control the simplest and best way possible. From all-in-one remotes, to control panels (LINKS), figure out how you want to control everything. You can program the remote that comes with your TV or cable box to control devices, or you may want to consider a top-of-the line touch screen remote that can simply control everything. Many components even have options to allow Apps on your tablet to work as a remote, as well.