From high-tech projectors to the latest apps, find out what's new in home cinema.
By John RihaMore in Home Improvement
What's new in home theater? Everything - literally.
While home theater remains its own category, the lines are blurring. Home automation, Web-based mobile apps and streaming Internet content are - dare we say it? - converging. The home theater experience is becoming the integrated entertainment component of today's homeowner-centric smarthome that includes security, lighting, heating and cooling, and convenience. It's all accessible, programmable and definitely cool.
So, with technology surging ahead at a multi-megahertz pace, what's in store for the home theater aficionado? Here's what's on that fast-approaching horizon.
TVs and Blu-Ray With 3-D
Today's quick-twitch breakthrough and marketing darling, 3-D technology is fast becoming the latest must-have audio-visual treat. A curiosity not more than two years ago, 3-D got a tremendous boost in consumer acceptance from the big-screen behemoth Avatar. Now, major appliance makers are cranking out 3-D capable TVs and Blu-ray DVD players, while gaming producers and movie/television studios are wakening to the growing appetite for 3-D content. Already, 3-D television broadcast channels from ESPN, Discovery and Direct TV are a reality.
Those 3-D images look best on big screens, so right now TV manufacturers are only offering the technology on sets larger than 40 inches. While 3-D home viewing is in what looks to be a short-lived infancy, you'll currently pay $2,000 to $7,000 for the privilege of being an early adopter. The good news is that most 3-D sets excel at regular 2-D as well.
One key to this dimensionally enhanced visual experience isn't necessarily the television sets - it's the glasses. All 3-D televisions use battery-powered glasses that flicker 120 times per second, triggered by an infrared signal from the TV. The 3-D television images are shown at 240 frames per second, and the glasses pick up a slightly different viewing angle between the right and left eyes, creating the 3-D effect.
It's nifty but pricey - glasses cost about $100 to $200 per pair - so you could easily shell out close to a grand to outfit your entire family. To add a dollop of frustration, glasses are proprietary - you can't bring your Samsung glasses to a Sony 3-D gala showing at a friend's house. At least one company, XpanD, offers universal viewing glasses, and reviews are positive.