These days, there is a fabulous home cinema system available to suit every home and budget. With so many products on offer however, it can be difficult to know what will best suit your needs. The following guide will help you get to grips with the options that will fit your budget and the features you need to look out for.
Even if your budget doesn’t stretch far, you can still find a home cinema system that will keep the whole family enthralled.
For top notch picture quality, an LCD is the perfect choice as they deliver impressive colours, vibrancy and brightness. These are available is sizes ranging from 19 – 52 inches. Those on the lower price scale might lack the advanced features of their more expensive counterparts, but you can still expect a satisfying standard of picture quality. Even the least pricey models offer at least one set of component HDMI and video connections, plus in many cases an integrated Freeview service.
When it comes to sound quality that is budget-friendly, an all-in-one home cinema system is the way to go. These types of products provide your cables, speakers, amplification and other features in one neat package, so you’ll have everything you need to get going right away. It’s ideal to look for a system with a Blu-ray player – while they might be more expensive than DVD, they make up for it with enhanced sound and picture quality.
If you decide not to go for an all-in-one package, you will need to add a disc player to your system. A DVD player is the least expensive option, and due to improvements in technology you can expect enhanced detail and resolution to almost High Definition levels, plus 5.1-channel surround sound. While Blu-ray players are more expensive, the price has improved enough so that you can now pick one up for around £100.
A plasma TV is recommended for this price range. These offer a picture quality that many feel is better than LCD screens because they deliver realistic, bright colours that contrast perfectly with dark black shades, which significantly enhances the viewing quality. A good size to go for without breaking your bank balance would be 42 – 65 inches.
To get a truly impressive sound quality, it’s advisable to go for a separated home cinema system. With this you will get a dedicated receiver that enables not only better sound but the ability to fine tune performance to suit your individual tastes as well as a specific room. AV receivers are a good choice as they’re packed with extra connections for plug-in’s such as games consoles. You will really fill the room with life if you add a 5.1 surround sound speaker that has a dedicated satellite speakers and a subwoofer. It’s also a good idea to buy quality speaker cables if you want to get the most from the surround sound. If you’re worried about these cables getting in the way, you can always choose flat cables which are designed to go under carpets or a wireless speaker where you won’t need cables at all.
Plasma TV’s are an excellent option for connectivity – many models offer multiple HDMI inputs as well as an Ethernet connection for internet updates. The latest Blu-ray players boast HDMI 1.4 – this technology is in line with advancements soon to become standard such as 3D TV and will also ensure you get the best out of Blu-ray discs. Another feature to look out for in mid-range systems are extended media playback features, such as DNLA for connecting with other products in your home.
For the best cinematic experience currently available on the marketplace, an HD projector is top. They boast a picture of up to 300 inches horizontally, with the most top range models matching the Odeon experience in terms of picture quality. For the best of the best, you’ll also want to buy a quality screen to project onto since they reflect much more light which produces a brighter, clearer picture than a white wall. Another option would be the latest LED screens which offer excellent home cinema quality with superb contrast and colour quality. Those with the super-thin LED panels allow for border-less viewing, meaning the image goes right to the edge of the screen. It’s recommended you opt for a 3D compatible model as this is increasingly the way of the future.
As with mid-range models, a separated home cinema system is the best choice for optimal sound quality. A high-end receiver will allow for enough HDMI inputs to use it as a hub for Blu-ray, an HDTV set-top box and games consoles. Both picture and sound will travel through the receiver and out to your TV via a single HDMI cable, keeping clutter at a minimum and conveniently letting you to control every aspect of your audio from the receiver.
Top of the range Blu-ray players offer the best audio experience possible through a highly solid build, which amounts to less vibration and thus less sound signal interference.
The above guide gives you the main home cinema system features within your particular budget to hunt for when shopping around. It’s a good idea to take your time and compare the different models on the marketplace so you can be sure to find the best deal possible.
Barry Knightly owns a home cinema system retail outlet.