There used to be a time when you sat down in front of the television and watched television in mono sound on a screen smaller than the one you are viewing this article on. Today televisions have grown in size and capability and the home cinema and home entertainment system has come of age. Televisions come in all sizes from ones on your mobile phone to 150-inches large.
But what is the best way to set up a home cinema system in your living room and what do you need to make it work? Here is a simple check sheet to make sure you don't miss anything out.
Television or projector?
The first decision you are going to have to make is whether or not you want to have a projector or a standard LCD or Plasma television. The advantage of a projector is that you'll get a larger picture, however you'll need to factor in changing the bulbs every couple of thousand hours (not that long considering you probably watch around 20 hours of television a week) and while projector technology has improved drastically over the last couple of years, they still need a fairly dark room and a white wall to be viewed.
LCD or Plasma?
So you've decided to go for a television over a projector, now you need to decide whether or not to go for plasma or LCD technology. The main criteria will be size. Under 46-inches you can't really tell the difference. However your choice will be restricted if you opt for plasma with Pioneer's Kuro range the one to go for if your plans are to go big. If you are going LCD then there are a number of manufacturers that offer solutions from Samsung, LG, Philips, Sony, Sharp and Toshiba. Philips has Ambilight for those looking for something a bit different. Ambilight fires light out of the back, and with its Aurea model out the front, that matches the colours on the screen. The idea is that it reduces strain on your eyes.
Once you've got the visuals out of the way you need to look at the sound and you start with an amp. Amps again come in all shapes and sizes with complete kits offered by companies like Samsung and LG, while companies like Denon and Arcam specialise in a system that you add components like a DVD player or games console to. An amp is also good for controlling all your different devices within your home entertainment system.
You've got an amp, but now you need to hear the music. Yamaha and a couple of other manufacturers make a single speaker that sits under your television called a Soundbar. This saves on cluttering up your lounge with speakers, however for audiophiles it won't beat a 7.1 surround system where there are speakers everywhere you look.
Once you've got a compete system set up you need something to play on its. If you are into movies you'll need to get a good up-scalling DVD or if you're an early adopter a Blu-ray player. Of course you can also get HD movies and TV shows via Sky's HD service.
Having all this kit will mean a remote control for virtually every device. Rather than clutter up your armchair's sofa, make sure you look at getting an all in one offering from either Philips or Logitech.
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