A technology expert offers tips and tricks on how to create the perfect home theater.
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Home theaters are all the rage now, and it wouldn't take much to build one in any home. Host Corey Greenberg, a technology expert, shows the hottest gear and latest technology for building a home theater.
Home theaters are dramatically changing the way we watch television these days. Big screens and big sound are becoming the number one choice for most consumers.
When talking about home theater, we mean the marriage of large-screen video and surround-sound audio. A home theater can be as simple as a big-screen television and basic surround sound in a family room, or a dedicated room designed with digital components, a dropdown screen and booming speakers throughout the room for an all-around movie theater experience.
No matter what type of home theater, it's first important to realize that we as a culture are moving into a digital age.
Analog vs. Digital
Analog is what we’ve had for years -- VHS, cassettes, and 8-tracks are all examples of analog, which sends electricity in the form of a continuous wave that reproduces the sound.
Digital formats -- DVDs and CDs -- send pulses of electricity that represent the zeros and ones that computers can understand. Digital has a lot of advantages, including the fact that it can record repeatedly with high quality and the diskettes don't tend to wear out like cassettes can.
Studio-size or megaplex?
For the best view, buy a television that's 27" or larger. Also, decide on a type of screen, and there are lots of choices:
A rear-projection television set is also an option. It's a classic big-screen TV, and there are three from which to choose:
The next option is the high-end sports car of televisions:
A front-projection system just like what is in a real movie theater. Now there are several popular front-projection televisions on the market, and each uses a different technology to display the image, so the pros and cons vary. Front-projection DLP and LCD both offer superb picture quality, but their prices vary greatly -- from around $1,500 to $30,000 and up.
The high-end front-projection system is a CRT. They are used mainly in custom installations, and they cost anywhere from approximately $5,000 to $50,000 and up. The downside to CRT front-projection systems is that they are costly and require lots of maintenance. If a projector gets misaligned, even slightly, it will really affect the clarity of your image -- and will usually need the help of a professional installer to correct the problem.
No matter what type of projector you use, ambient light will wash out the picture. This means that a dark, dedicated room is needed to ensure the best picture quality. When choosing a screen for a front-projection system, you have two choices:
Non-perforated, which is less expensive.
Perforated, which has tiny holes that let sound pass through. This allows you to put speakers "behind" the screen.
Even after choosing the right TV technology for a home theater, there's still one decision to make. Since the advent of television, screens have had an almost square, 4x3 aspect ratio. But in recent years, widescreens have been introduced with a 16x9 image -- the native aspect ratio needed to best display high-definition television (HDTV). In fact, the colors pop off the screen. They're extremely vivid.
HDTV delivers twice the number of lines or resolution over standard analog TV, giving the picture great color and detail. Nearly all new widescreen televisions are HDTV compatible. Some cable and satellite boxes have HDTV tuners, or a separate outboard tuner can receive HDTV signals.
Although it will be more than five years before all television programming is in high definition, if planning to spend more than $500 on a TV, choose an HDTV-ready widescreen over the old standard screen size.
Finally, don't forget that there are new technologies coming out all the time.