Joe, we're warning you that you're about to delve into a hazardous hobby to both your wallet and any free time. But if you're so inclined to jump down the rabbit hole, we have a couple resources that could get you started on your magical journey toward home theater nirvana, all set to a 7.1 channel surround sound soundtrack...First, get yourself a copy of Mark Fleischmann's, Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Video and Audio Systems. In its 8th edition and penned by the audio editor of Home Theater Magazine, this is your go-to answer resource, filled with info for both newbs and prosumers alike:
Pros and cons of new DTV technologies are discussed including LCD, plasma, DLP, and CRT based sets. Among the other technologies discussed are HDTV, DTV up- and downconversion, copy-protected DTV interfaces, Blu-ray, DVD-Video, 7.1- vs. 5.1-channel surround sound, the latest surround standards, high-res audio formats including SACD, and audio file formats including MP3 and FLAC.
If you're looking to delve into the wonderful world of 1080p HD displays and Blu-ray, we'd also point you out to Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics, a home theater calibration tool with chock full of information about the basics of HD image quality, and maximizing it (and least, on a basic level; you can also look into a hardware solution).