When the technical specifications of a new but humdrum TV fail to come up to snuff, the model almost certainly will be priced less than the one with better resolution, faster processing, more connections, and so on. Whether it’s manufacturer or retailer, nobody interested in making a buck will promote the TV as “nothing special”—even if that’s exactly what it is. Sellers will likely spin the spec as “great value.” But not always.
So you've walked into an electronics store or decided to find a system online, and now you're confronted with scores of HTiB choices. Now what? Well, remember that HTiBs exist for two basic reasons. The first is cost; the other is convenience. If cost is your only concern, find the least expensive system that looks the coolest for the money (just stay away from the guys selling them out of the backs of white vans). The entire experience will be painless, mindless, although it might leave you feeling cheap and dirty – not to mention the fact that you run a high chance that it will sound like pig doo-doo on a swelteringly hot day.
When it comes to the nerve center of a home theater, most consumers opt for an A/V receiver, which combines a preamp/processor (pre/pro) and multichannel power amp into one chassis. However, some enthusiasts choose to buy a separate pre/pro and power amp, believing that this results in superior sound quality, though it's generally a more-expensive way to go. If you want the best possible soundand you have the budgetyou're probably shopping for separates.
Shopping for a big screen TV is only slightly less daunting than hitting your local used car emporium. The sales promos say they're givin' 'em away, but hey, their job is to make money on the sale. And our job is to help you keep the scales balanced and make sure you get what you need and don't buy the set with the most bells and whistles and the least in pure performance chops.
Loudspeakers may not be the hardest things in the world to shop for (cars win by a landslide), but the search hasn't gotten any easier in the past few years, as the decline in dealers offering serious demonstration facilities (particularly the big-box, warehouse stores) has reduced the opportunities for an ears-on audition.
No matter what type of display you're looking for, you're no doubt going to be comparing the specs and feature lists of each. Things like contrast ratio, lumens, 3:2 pull down, and others are a marketing departments favorite tools to make their product sound better than another. Take many of these with a grain of salt. Take others as an undersold but vital aspect of a product. To sort though them, here's what they all mean.
If you've got your heart set on a new big-screen for the big game, you're in luck. The days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday are the traditional last, best chance for retailers to dump their remaining inventory before new models hit shelves in the spring. The competition is as fierce among stores this week as it will be on the field this weekend. But your primary TV shouldn't be an impulse purchase, and jumping on the first hyper-bright picture or low pricetag that catches your eye is a recipe for long-term remorse. So, slow down, take a deep breath, and tackle these tips to guard against the dreaded Monday morning quaterbacking.
Home Theater’s gift guide goes outside the black box with cool stuff for the movie, music, and game lovers on your list.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…are you humming along with me yet? Time to get in the mood and brace yourself for a few crazy weeks. The holiday hype started in stores weeks before Halloween, the commercials are nonstop now, and many folks made their wish lists months ago. So did we. We scoured pre-holiday events, called manufacturers, and went on an all-out hunt to find some of this season’s hottest holiday tech swag—gifts you’ll want to both give and get. Skipping the 3DTVs and audio gear we report on month in and month out, we instead zeroed in on some cool extras that’ll enhance your theater room or help you and your giftees enjoy your favorite movies and music on the go. Prices range from totally affordable to the serious splurge, but there’s a little something here for everyone. Read on for our selections, and happy holidays from Home Theater!