Now that you've successfully showed off your new HDTV during Super Bowl Sunday, it's time to get all the pieces together to put together a home entertainment system. From networked enabled Blu-ray players and programmable remotes to media players, there are a myriad of companion pieces for your new screen...
Online Streaming Content In Lieu of Set Top Boxes
If you're thinking about cutting the cable and avoiding a traditional set top box with its
evil expensive monthly rental fees, know that there are lots and lots of options for you. The big players in online streaming video services are Netflix, Hulu (Plus), Apple TV, and Amazon Instant Video. All of these services offer online access to TV shows and movies streamed directly to your television.
While you can spend a little money on a dedicated streaming media device such as Apple TV or Roku), there is a plethora of devices to access streaming content. You might even already have one in your possession. Check your Blu-ray/DVD player to see if it might be compatible with these services or you can use a compatible video game system. If your television set is a Smart TV or Google TV you can already access online content. You can even hook your computer up to the TV set and access most anything. Most of these devices also let you stream additional content to your TV such as photos, audio, and video.
STREAMING CONTENT & DEVICES ON APARTMENT THERAPY
• Weighing the Pros & Cons of Cutting Cable
• Best Streaming Set-Top Box for Online Content
• How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Streaming Video
• First Impressions: Netflix Instant Streaming on the PS3
• Netflix Streaming on Wii and PS3 Now Disc-Free
No matter which options you choose, you absolutely must go out and get yourself a universal remote control now. You'll be happy no matter if you go with an uber fancy touchscreen remote, a simple cheapy universal remote, or take advantage of your smartphone. Once you go through the initial setup pains, you'll be thrilled no longer having to swap remotes, figure out which remote goes to which device, searching for the missing remote, confusing your guests, and the list goes on. Make sure you properly plan which devices you will be controlling to determine if you'll need a standard IR remote or upgrade to RF to access hidden devices without line of sight.
UNIVERSAL & SMARTPHONE/TABLET REMOTES ON APARTMENT THERAPY
• Logitech Remotes In Harmony: A Comparison Guide
• Logitech Harmony Touch: A Remote to Rule Them All
• Logitech Harmony Touch Brings Swipe to Universal Remote Controls
• Three Ways to Ditch the Traditional Universal Remote
• ThinkFlood RedEye Universal Remote Uses Your iPhone
• Turn Your iPhone Into a Truly Universal Remote
While there's no question that a full blown sound system makes for the absolute best home theater experience, more often than not we're limited to small spaces, budget considerations, and other constraints that keep us from going big on audio. Sound bars are a quick and stylish way to improve the audio from your TV's likely weak speakers that easily fits into small spaces, doesn't blow the budget, and means you don't have to plan where all the speakers will go in your room.
If you'd rather go the traditional route, a "home theater in a box" will give you plenty of bang for your buck with a traditional surround sound speaker setup and an integrated interface to control everything. Can't stand inferior sound and have the budget for a more professional audio setup? Then by all means go for nicer components like dedicated amps, receivers, and hifi speakers. It takes a lot of planning and research but for audiophiles it's the sound that really makes your TV viewing experience sing.
MORE SOUND SYSTEMS ON APARTMENT THERAPY
• Sound Bar Solutions for a Small Space (and Small Budget)? (Good Questions)
• Best Budget Home Theater In A Box Systems
• The Upgrade Guide: Home Audio System (Upgrading From Entry Level to Prosumer)
MORE HDTVS ON APARTMENT THERAPY
• Why the Super Bowl Might Be a Great Excuse To Upgrade To a 60" HDTV
• How To Choose Between an LED, LCD, or Plasma HDTV for Super Bowl Sunday
• The New HDTV Owner's Gift Guide (2012 Apartment Therapy Tech Gift Guide)
(Images: Sony, Logitech, Hulu, Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock)