How to create a home theater at any budget

A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it. ~Alfred Hitchcock

A night at the movies (with popcorn and soda) for a family of four costs about $80.

Home theater systems and components are more advanced and cost-effective than ever. Whether you want to upgrade your current TV system or transform a room into your own cinema, there are a variety of ways to enhance your at-home movie experience.

1.         The Screen— the larger the screen, the more it will feel like you are watching a movie. Three years ago a 46-inch plasma screen TV cost around $1,500, today you can get a 50-inch plasma TV for less than $1,000. Samsung, Sony and Panasonic plasma TVs consistently get high marks from sources including CNET.com, PC Magazine, Retrevo.com. For more information, Consumer Reports offers a summary of the pros and cons of both plasma and LCD technologies, CNET.com offers a step-by-step HDTV buying guide, and MSNBC comes at from another angle with Top 10 mistakes made when buying an HDTV.

2.        The Sound— if you want a step up from the built-in speakers on your TV, there are many options available.

  • Soundbar — New technology allows a single speaker (“soundbar”) to mimic surround sound without requiring multiple speakers placed (and wired) around the room. Polk Audio’s soundbars are well-reviewed by CNET.com. Crutchfield offers more information on choosing the right soundbar for you.
  • Home Theater in a Box (HTIB) — offering all the components required for home theater (except the screen), HTIBs run from high-end systems with full featured receivers and powerful speakers (such as this one from Denon) to more affordable solutions with stripped down receivers and speakers meant to be better than a TV’s built-in system (such as this well reviewed system from Onkyo).

3.        The Seating —theater style seating takes your home entertainment experience to a new level. La-Z-Boy offers special theater seating in addition to its standard recliners and furniture. To find an online store, search “home theater seating” online. Wayfair.com receives high ratings from customers and offers white glove delivery. You can even find home theater seating on amazon.com, such as Coaster’s 600001 Black Theater Recliner for $330.

For more tips on creating a home theater in your home, try these resources:

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