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Start by getting the full picture. Plasma or LCD? Plasma screens typically have better contrast and viewing angles than LCD, and will give you a better view when you’re sitting on either side of the screen. Plasmas are also slightly lower in price and may be a better choice for very large screens. LCDs generally have higher resolution and a longer lifespan than comparable plasma screens. LCDs are also lighter and use less power, making them a great choice for smaller-sized screens. However, it’s important to remember that both technologies offer a superb high-definition picture, and the differences between the two are slight. A good quality screen from a reliable manufacturer is a much more important consideration.
Blu-Ray and HD DVD are competing technologies. Both provide a high-definition signal, but DVDs recorded in one format will not play in the other. There are combo players on the market that can handle both formats, but they are generally more expensive than buying two individual players.
For optimum viewing, the center of the screen should be no more than 15 degrees above eye level. Ideal viewing distance should be 1-1/2 times the diagonal of the screen. To determine what size TV to buy, measure the distance from viewing position to television position, convert it to inches, and divide by 1.5. The result will be the approximate screen size you should consider purchasing. Sketch out your media room using the rule of thirds. Measure the room dimensions and divide each distance by three. Draw intersecting lines from each of the points. Where the lines intersect is the ideal seating position in the room.
When it comes to sound, a 5.1 component receiver with correctly placed speakers will give you a complete surround sound experience. A universal remote can control all your components. Surround sound speakers should be placed in the following layout. Center speaker as near as possible to the screen: left and right speakers on either side away from the middle, surround-sound speakers on either side in the back, and the subwoofer near the corner of the room. Moving speakers farther apart creates a wider stage, while speakers placed closer together make for a more intimate setting.
Always plug your equipment into a surge protector (Image 1) and make connections using high-quality digital cables (Image 2). For the best high-definition picture and surround sound audio, you need to connect your components with high-quality HDMI or DVI video cables, and fiber-optic audio cables. Your local electronics store can help you find the right cables and adapters to hook everything up for optimum picture and sound quality. If you’re not technically savvy, you can always consult a qualified home theater professional.