What in the world is a home theater? Is it a large dark room with curtains on 3 walls, bad carpeting, and cupholders built into all the seats? Well, I guess it can be, but when most people refer to a home theater, they are referring to the components that make up the entertainment center of the home. The basic components of a home theater are a television, satellite or cable system, DVD/Video system, sound system with speakers, and hundreds of feet of wiring.
To begin, you will want a high quality television to be an integral part of your home theater. Televisions have come a long way from your grandparents console TV that took 3 minutes to “warm up" before it would show a picture. There is SDTV, HDTV, flat screens, projection models, and flat panels. Let's go over a few of the terms so you don't start your shopping adventure completely ignorant of the modern terminology.
HDTV - High Definition Television SDTV - Standard Definition Television EDTV - Enhanced Definition Television DLP - Digital Light Processor LCD - Liquid Crystal Display 480p - 640x480 pixels progressive 1080i - 1920x1080 pixels interlaced
Regarding the numbers, generally, the higher the number, the better the picture. Progressive provides a smoother and clearer picture without the flicker like an interlaced model. It is normally found in larger sets. Progressive scan also applies to DVD players for the same reason. DLP is a device that uses lots of tiny mirrors, one for each pixel. EDTV is generally 480p or 720p while HDTV is normally at least 1080p.
Plasma screens use a gas similar to neon in tiny chambers. These are flat and very thin to be hung on the wall. These models are usually the most expensive of the television sets. LCDs are based on laptop displays. Like Plasma, they are flat, but generally on a stand. If you have seen a laptop computer, you have seen an LCD display. Rear Projections and projectors use 3 “guns" to project an image on the screen. The projectors are generally small and lightweight and can be hidden in areas usually from the ceiling for unobstructed views of the projection screen.
Plasma screens are the television of the future. Everyone wants one, but few can afford one. Keep in mind, though, that the washing machine was once a luxury only afforded to the wealthy, and now it is a staple in every home. The Plasma generally has a life span of about 10 years. The rear projection televisions are less expensive, but generally very heavy. With these, as well as projectors, the best viewing is from a distance. The closer you get to the screen, the less clear the picture becomes. The size of many of these televisions is a deciding factor for many people. If you are set in your home and know you will be there for a great time, then the larger, heavier models may be a good choice for you. If you rent and move from apartment to apartment regularly, then you may consider a projector or lightweight plasma or LCD model.
Understanding a home theater system is extremely necessary before you begin your search for the perfect home theater. You must know what you are looking for so that you do not spend needless money on an accessory that the salesboy at Electronics World wishes his parents had bought him for his last birthday. Do your homework online as well as in the stores before making any purchase towards your new home theater.
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