Are you looking at home theater systems? With high definition video and surround sound, today's home theater experience truly rivals anything you can see or hear at the multiplex. The good news is that buying a home theater system is simply a matter of getting the most features for your money. Once you understand what features are important, your buying decision will quickly fall into place.
A basic home theater system includes a video screen, speaker system and a control unit that allows you to manage your media experience. The best home theater systems help you manage everything from MP3s to high definition video.
You may only be interested in adding to your system if you're happy with some of your existing components. Just make sure that what you plan to add will be compatible with your old components—this can be particularly tricky when it comes to connections.
Home theater systems are available from a few hundred dollars all the way up to several thousand. Start by picking a realistic budget and then try to get the best speakers and the most flexible control center you can afford.
If you're not a home electronics expert or don&339;t plan to become one, consider a Home Theater In A Box (HTIB) solution. All the components you need come pre-selected in an easy to set up package. Prices vary, but most packages offer decent to excellent value.
Many home theater system elements are sized for the room where they're installed. Don't splurge on a giant TV or speakers if your home theater system is going into a bedroom or dorm room!
If you're looking for an integrated or HTIB systems, consider vendors like Sony, Samsung or Panasonic. If you're interested in high-end sound, Bose, Harmon Kardon and Polk are all respected names.
Home theater systems are available in a wide range of feature sets. Some of the most popular features today are Blu-Ray disc capability and HDMI connectivity. Mini Systems are a popular choice for smaller rooms.
You'll see sound systems labeled 2.1, 5.1 etc. The first number is the number of satellite speakers and the second number is the subwoofer. More speakers result in a richer, more detailed sound.
Why go to the movies when you can have a theater experience at home in your PJs? Today's home theater systems bring the big screen to your living room by combining high definition video with surround sound that puts you in the middle of the action. As an added bonus, most home theater systems will also allow you to manage your digital music and other media files.
A home theater is a high-tech combination of elements that work together to enhance your viewing and listening experience. Here are the pieces and how they fit together:
Video. A home theater experience is most impressive with the highest resolution possible. Although your existing television may work with a new system, you won't be getting the full impact without a TV that can display at least 720p resolution (720 vertical pixels)—for the best results, go with a TV that can display 1080p (1080 vertical pixels).
Speakers. While your old stereo may have had two or four speakers, most home theater systems have six or as many as eight speakers. The size and number of speakers will increase the cost of your system, but at a minimum, you should be looking for 5 satellite speakers and a subwoofer (also known as a 5.1 system).
Controller. A controller unit (usually paired with a speaker amplifier) allows you to manage all of the components of your home theater system. If you're buying a controller separately, make sure it has the right types of connectors to work with the rest of your system. You may also want to play around with the remote for a controller to make sure it's easy to manipulate and is flexible enough to handle all of your media needs.
Media players. Many controllers know also come with a media player. A DVD player will usually be able to play music CDs as well as standard DVDs, While a Blu-Ray player will play just about every type of media disk available. Higher end theater systems may have onboard hard disk storage or the ability to connect to your home computer network for Internet media streaming.
While video is important, the sound system is what really distinguishes the home theater experience. Home theater systems combine multiple speakers to create surround sound. With speakers in front of and behind the listener, these systems put your right in the middle of the movie experience. An added subwoofer provides rumbling bass that can simulate the roar of a volcano or the growl of a starship engine. Surround systems are defined by the number of channels they provide (each channel gets its own speaker) and the subwoofer. A 5.1 system, for example has 5 main channels, while a 7.1 system has 7 main channels.
Once you have all of these components in place, you'll need to connect them so they can communicate with each other. Some of the connections you'll run into are:
Video. Most modern flat screen TVs use a connection called a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). HDMI systems use a single cable to carry high quality digital audio and video. Using an HDMI connection will ensure the best quality signal with the fewest number of cables. Other video connections (from best to least quality) include Component Video, S-video and Composite video.
Audio. Many Home Theater in a Box (HTIB) systems use proprietary audio connectors to connect the controller to the speakers, but some also use standard RCA cable connections. For component-to-component connects, look for HDMI where possible or optical cables as a fallback.
Data. In today's high-tech media world there are other connections to consider, including USB connections to access storage and MP3 players and even Ethernet connections to connect to your home's computer network.