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Design a Great Home Theater on a Budget

18 Jan Posted by in Blog | Comments
Design a Great Home Theater on a Budget
 

Many consumers can be confused about how to design a personalized home theater and how much to money to allocate to the project.  Contrary to popular belief, those on a budget can still afford a modest system that will do a good job.  In the long run, what you ultimately spend depends on how you merge your home theater dream design with your available cash.  Keep in mind that there are inexpensive and mid-range options that provide great value and performance, while other high-end and quite expensive options deliver just a negligible increase in performance.  The high-end options do not always work out to be the best value.

The following are some practical, cost-effective tips to consider as you assemble your own home theater:

1.   Determine what is most important to you in a home theater.

A home theater system is a great entertainment option that will provide you and your family with an awesome overall viewing and listening experience.  Your home theater system can be just a TV and simple sound system or a sophisticated custom-built system with a video projector, in-wall speakers, special lighting and expensive home theater seating.  As you are working out the plans for your home theater, here are some basic questions to work through:

  • Do you want the biggest viewing area possible?
  • Will you and your family be spending more time watching TV, watching movies, playing video games or listening to music?
  • Do you want the internet incorporated into your home theater system?

2.   Decide Whether to Upgrade or Start from Scratch

Determine what equipment that you already have and what you think you might want to keep. As you survey what you have, take into consideration what equipment you want your completed home theater system to include.  Here are few examples of choices you will need to make:

  • Display Device:  television or video projector/screen?
  • Different Sources:  Blu-ray disc player or DVD Player, game console, network media player, antenna, cable, or satellite TV?
  • Sound System:  Home theater receiver or stereo?
  • Equipment Storage:  Racks or cabinets, for placing components and storing discs?
  • Seating:   Regular furniture or special home theater seating for comfort and easy viewing?

3.   Sound Bar or Home Theater-in-a-Box System?

If your home theater will be in a relatively small room, or you are not really interested in an elaborate set-up, consider a smaller size screen and perhaps either a home theater-in-a-box or sound bar system.  Home theater-in-a-box systems are affordable component packages that contain most of the equipment needed, including speakers, a surround receiver, and sometimes, even a DVD or Blu-ray Disc player.  A sound bar is nice because it creates a wider surround sound-like field from a single speaker, which can be placed above or below a TV. Some sound bars have their own internal amplifiers and they may even incorporate a CD/DVD or Blu-ray Disc player.  Sound bars save a lot of space and eliminate the need for extra surround speakers in a smaller setup.

4.  Consider the Hidden Benefits of Blu-ray Disc Players 

While Blu-ray disc players are still pricier than DVD players, there are some real money-saving benefits to owning a Blu-ray disc player.  Not only do they play Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs can be played on them as well.  In fact, a growing number of Blu-ray disc players can also play audio, video, and still image content from USB flash drives via an onboard USB port.  And finally, more and more Blu-ray disc players are also network-enabled.  This means that these players can be connected to the internet via a router, allowing you to directly access online audio and video content without using a PC.

5.   Budget for Accessories, but Do Not Pay Too Much

When you buy the various components of a home theater system, such as a TV, Blu-ray disc player, home theater receiver, speakers, and subwoofer, the cost for those items isn’t your final cost.  Most likely, you will still need to purchase cables, wires, and possibly other accessories, such as a universal remote control and surge protector, to get all the components set up and fully working.  While accessories can be a significant additional expense, they don’t have to break the bank.  Avoid both the $100 six-foot HDMI cables and the too-good-to-be-true bargain basement accessories (that may not be quality products); be sure to shop around for best pricing.

6. Consider the Long-range Costs of Using Your Home Theater System

It doesn’t do any good to spend money on a home theater if you don’t have the money to enjoy it on an ongoing basis. Here are some things to take into consideration:

  • The average price of a DVD movie is about $15, while the average price of a Blu-ray Disc movie is about $25. Watch for sales or consider renting DVD/Blu-ray discs if you are not interested in keeping them.
  • For cable or satellite fees, check package pricing and choose a package that features your usage patterns.
  • Consider pay-per-view pricing; prices do vary, ranging from as little as $3.99 per view to $20 or more for many special events.
  • Review internet streaming fees; read the fine print – some providers require a monthly subscription fee, while others charge pay-per-view pricing.
  • Video projector lamp replacement costs should be in your budget;  allow for several hundred dollars a pop after a certain amount of viewing hours (usually 3,000 to 5,000).

While designing the perfect home theater entertainment area for your home takes a little research and some planning and preparation, the completed project will be a special place for you and your family to enjoy for many years to come!

 

 

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