Watching movies at the comfort of our own home is always preferable to trekking to the crowded movie theater and waiting in line, especially with the coming of freezing winter season. But not all of us have a killer system set up at home to match the quality of a movie theater experience or a big screen. Here are some steps to help you build your first home theater system...
Is it always better to go big or go home? The age old question of the size of the screen is definitely one of the first things to consider when setting up a home theater system. Always keep in mind, bigger is not always better. It's easy to get caught up in the size competition when you're checking out the TV at your local retailer. The 50" will always look way cooler than the 40", but if you're only sitting 4 feet away from the TV, you really don't need a big set. Check out our guide on how to pick out the best size for your home theater.
Projector vs HDTV? We had some suggestions for some projector and screen combo. The advantages to having a projector is the portability of the system, so after you survived the brutal winter, you'll be able to have those outdoor movie nights. However, projector technology has a ways to go to catch up to HDTV in terms of picture quality. Many of the HD projectors on the market are still high for us mere mortals. What's more is that with a projector system, you'd likely have to go through the hassle of setting up before you can enjoy your movies. And if you live in an apartment, space could become an issue as well.
To mount or not to mount. With a plethora of mounting solutions on the market, mounting the TV is a popular option for consumers. Mounting your TV gives you a few advantages such as, ability to hide your wires, making sure that your TV is at the optimal position. Some solutions gives mobility to your TV so it can be position where ever you're viewing from. However mounting does need more work and coule require you to drill into your wall, which is not ideal for those in a rental. For those that don't want to mount the TV, make sure you get proper furniture to help compensate. Make sure you get a TV stand that will provide the correct height to where you're sitting. And plan out your wiring, so you could organize the wires to avoid messy cables. Check out our suggestions for how to pick the correct TV mount and some creative ways to mount your TV.
Get smart with HTPC... or not. With the introduction of smarter TV and components, the need for HTPC seems less important for those who wants a more rounded viewing experience. Newer TV sets are supporting more and more online streaming sources such as Netflix and Hulu. If your TV set already support the streaming services you use and the video files you have, then a HTPC is not necessary. But if you have a more extensive collection of movies that uses different file formats or codec, then a HTPC may be necessary for your home theater system. If you are looking for a HTPC check out some of our recommendations for both PC and Mac.
How to get your audio set up started. The audio set up is what separates an TV on the wall, with a complete home theater experience. Generally, the smaller your space the need for a multiple speaker system is less important. This is also a good time to ask yourself how deep is the hole you're digging. If you believe that you will be satisfied with a Home Theater in a Box (HTiB) solution, then you'll likely save a significant amount of money in the short term but lose the long term expandability of the system. A custom set up with separate amplifier, speakers and media player may cost more up front, but upgrading is much easier in the long run. Check out our Upgrade Guide for how to pick the right home audio solution.