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Buying A Home Theatre System

Aug 17, 2007
When you walk into the home theatre system area of your local consumer electronics outlet, the multitude of choices are daunting. Everything is gleaming under the fluorescent lights, very new and very shiny, each system seemingly saying "buy me, buy me". Before you get to that point, there are many things you need to understand and realize to help you make the best possible decision for your home and your wallet.

First you need to determine which room of your home will house this home theatre system. Note that if you are going for the very large screen like 50 or 60 inches or more, the best viewing is from about 10 to 12 feet away. So putting a screen of this size into a small room is going to disappoint you because the screen will not look sharp. On the other hand, if you go with a smaller screen like a 36 or 42 inch screen, this would be adequate for a small family room or even a larger bedroom.

Another important component is the receiver. Some receivers for home theatre systems have inputs for your cable TV or satellite dish connection, as well as inputs for a variety of other things, such as your DVD player, your VCR, your surround sound system, and perhaps even a PC input. Some even have a built-in radio, although these are becoming less common. One of the newer additions to receivers is the ability to play XM radio, although XM radio will require a monthly subscription. So with all these choices, you need to evaluate what is important to you, as well as what you will actually USE. There is little sense, for example, in equipping the receiver with XM radio if you will never or rarely use that option.

No home theatre system is complete without a good speaker system. Ideally, the surround sound should be Dolby 7.1 or at least Dolby 5.1. More information on speakers is in another article at this site, but suffice it to say here that if you are going to spend the money on a money home theatre system, it makes little sense to "cheap out" with the speakers, since after the picture, the SOUND is the other component that lights up your internal sensory perceptors as you are enjoying your system.

I suggest you make yourself a list, or maybe even a paper spreadsheet that you take with you when you shop around. And definitely SHOP AROUND for your home theatre system! Create a budget for yourself that will NOT be exceeded, regardless of how loudly a particular system is screaming at you to buy it. Watch for systems to go on sale, which they do on a frequent basis, and you can save yourself a wad of cash. If you are buying the components separately, my recommendation would be to buy them all from the same store. That way if there is a problem, you will not have the issue of "finger pointing" from the various stores trying to blame each other.

The smart shopper is the one who gets the quality system and doesn't pay "sticker price" for it. Be informed, know what you want, be willing to learn if you run across an intelligent salesperson who knows what he is talking about, and stick to your budget. You will be able to enjoy your investment in this superb home theatre system for years to come.
About the Author
Jon Arnold is an author and computer engineer who maintains various web sites on a variety of topics. More info on this topic can be found at his Home Theatre web site at http://jag-info-resources.com/home-theatre/
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