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What is a home theater?
There are three main components of a home theater system, which are a video display, a source, and sound systems. A basic home theater has a television (at least 27”), a good DVD player, and a surround sound system with at least 4 speakers. Today, we can benefit from recent breakthroughs in electronic such as progressive scan DVD players, flat panel TV and Dolby Digital surround sound. And also the packaged systems make assembling home theater easier than you can imagine.
The video display is the most important component of your home theater. If the picture doesn't look good or isn't big enough, it will lower the impact of the movie considerably. The display is also probably the most expensive piece of a home theater, generally covering half of the total value of the system. There are so many types of displays but the ones to look at are traditional tube TVs for the lower end systems, rear projection TVs for mid range systems and front projection systems for high end system.
There are several things you need to look to buy a TV:
1. Fit in the room
Screen size is the most important factor in choosing a TV because you'll still want the most immense pictures you can get, which generally means you want to sit 1.5 times the screen's diagonal measurement away from a wide-screen HDTV. For example, a 42-inch HDTV should be placed at least 63 inches from the couch. You need to consider viewing distance too in order to get full performance of your television.
2.Size and display type
Most sets up to 40 inches diagonally are direct view, meaning they use the common glass to display the image. Direct-view TVs remain the most popular thanks to their smaller sizes but also because they generally provide a brighter picture with a wider viewing angle than larger rear-projection TVs. The main advantage of a rear-projection set is size because they range between 40 and 82 inches diagonally.
3. Choosing Aspect Ratio
If you watch mostly television, like news and sports, you are better off with conventional 4:3 aspect ratio, but if you watch mostly movies, you are better off with wide screen 16:9 aspect ratio. But, it always depends on what you watch and what you need the most. Wide-screen sets also let you stretch the image horizontally to eliminate the window-box bars or otherwise broaden or crop the picture to fill the wide screen.
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Regardless of the type of TV you choose, the quality of the picture starts with the source. Digital cable on a bad TV can look better than antenna reception on even the best TV.
5. Features you need to watch
Many good TVs are capable of displaying full resolution of DVD, but if you don’t watch DVD, you don’t need that feature.
6. HDTV’s price
If you're thinking about getting a bigger TV, you should seriously consider going high-definition. In addition to displaying the latest high definition digital broadcasts, HDTVs make regular TV look better and DVDs look spectacular. You can also find 27-inch HDTVs for less than $700.
7. HDTV’s progress
As we mentioned earlier, every HDTV has the ability to take regular antenna, cable, and satellite broadcasts and make them look a heck of a lot better. The process they use is called progressive scanning, or line doubling, because it essentially doubles the amount of picture information on the screen. Each horizontal slat is like a line on a regular TV, and if you sit too close, you can see the lines themselves making up the picture. Progressive scan closes the blinds, so all you see is the picture and no lines. A progressive-scan picture is much more stable and film like than anything you'll see on a standard TV.
8. HDTV’s broadcasts
Most major metropolitan areas have HDTV broadcasts, but the majority of HDTV owners don't have any way to view them. That's because most HDTVs actually don't contain high-definition tuners. The tuners, sold separately as set-top boxes, cost an extra $750 and up. Most people buy HDTVs for the improved picture when watching DVD and standard television, not for actual high-definition viewing.
9. Look at other screen types
Even more expensive than direct-view and rear-projection TVs, ultra-thin plasma and LCD screens are the ultimate in tomorrow's TV tech. LCDs are generally smaller, from 15 to 30 inches diagonally, while plasmas start at 32 inches and go from there. You can hang these TVs on the wall or even the ceiling, and their pixel-driven panels are perfect for use as computer screens. Most of these panels will accept HDTV signals, but only a rare few are powerful enough to display all the resolutions of HDTV.
DVD is the best and most popular format to watch films at home. Compare to video tape, DVDs are more compact, more durable, and offer much faster access to individual movie scenes.
There are several features that you need to look for:
1. Progressive Scan : This feature effectively doubles the picture quality. To get the benefit of progressive scan, you will want to connect your DVD player to high scanning, high definition monitor television.
2. 3-2 reverse conversion : This technology retains the integrity of the movie’s original frames. You will see a clearer picture, especially on scenes with movement.
3. Component video outputs : The Y/Pb/Pr outputs is needed to preserving high quality pictures and also compatible with other players.
4. MegaStorage DVD changer capability : This lets you load any mix of up to 300 CDs and DVDs, so you don’t need to change CDs regularly.
5. Super Audio CD, DVD-R/RW, CD MP3 playback : It’s best to get a DVD player that can handle all different types of discs.
6. Digital audio outputs : You will need to connect the optical or coaxial digital audio output of the DVD player to your A/V receiver to enjoy surround sound.
Surround sound systems
Actually the audio video receiver is the brain of your Home theater. It’s not only something that we need to produce accurate sound from the highest note (20khz) to the lowest (20hz), but it’s also where you connect all your entertainment sources. It is where the surround sound signals are decoded into their separate speaker channels, which are amplified to drive the full range speakers.
There are several features that you to look for:
1. Surround sound decoding : All modern A/V receivers will decode Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic signals, but you should also look for dts decoding, so you might need to have a sound system that can handle all types of decoding.
2. 32-bit decoding : While many decoders operate with 24 bits of precision, some might need the 32 bit decoding. It delivers higher precision and lower noise.
3. Digital Cinema Sound processing : This technology recreates the actual, measured acoustics of three Hollywood dubbing stages.
4. Input and outputs : The receiver needs a good complement of inputs and outputs as the center of your entire A/V system. Make sure that the type of inputs and outputs matches and compatible with other equipments. If you have a high definition television, look for componet (Y/Pb/Pr) inputs and outputs that can support 480p and 1080i signals and you also want optical or coaxial digital inputs for connecting your DVD player.
5. Power amplifiers : Make sure the receiver has the number of power amplifiers are needed to decode the surround system. Today it’s up to 7 channels of amplification for 7.1 channel surround sound system.
My Choice of Home Theater sets
- 32" Plasma WEGA™ Integrated Plasma TV KE-32TS2
Plasma models have wide 16:9 aspect ratio screens and a high enough pixelto reach HDTV resolution. It’s thin and light, so you can mount it on the wall. The retail price from Sony.com is $4,999.99
- SONY DVD Dream™ System DAV-C990
The retail price from Sony.com is $999.99.
- BOSE Lifestyle 18 Home Entertainment System
The retail price from Bose.com is $1,999.00. It has a better performance than Sony, but more expensive.
Setting up your room
Setting up equipment is the last step you need to do to have an optimal performance from your home theater. This is more like how you put you TV, DVD player and speakers to have a good angle and perfect surround sound.
If you want to look at more excellent examples of a proper home teather layout, look at Dolby website in references.
On With The Show. 14 June 2001. ConnectedHome Online. 9 June 2003. < http://www.connectedhomemag.com/HomeTheater/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=22626>.
Shea, Mike. Home Theater 101. 21 November 1999. LiquidTheater. 9 June 2003.< http://liquidtheater.com/editorials/66>.
Shea, Mike. Digital TVs. 21 November 1999. LiquidTheater. 9 June 2003.< http://liquidtheater.com/editorials/70>.
The Dolby Guide to Home Theater Sound. Dolby. 10 June 2003. <http://www.dolby.com/ht/Guide.HomeTheater.0110.html>.