One of my guilty pleasures is ogling home theater systems with my nose about an inch away from my computer screen. Last year, I managed to convince my patient and loving wife that watching sci-fi essentials like Battlestar Gallactica and Star Trek on a 42" LCD TV was essential to our well-being. A multi-channel home theater surround sound system and a Blu-ray player are the next logical steps in my quest for home entertainment nirvana. So, I figure that I can lay out my home theater dream for you here and show you how to stay on budget, too.
There are a couple of challenges when setting up a home theater system on a budget. Much of the expense comes, not from the electronics, but from the remodeling of the home theater room. It can be costly to cut open your walls, run wires, repair the drywall and repaint. I live in an apartment, and I don't want to suffer the wrath of my landlord for remodeling the place, let alone leave all that work behind when I move. The full blown home theater will have to wait until I own my own home and summon the courage to steal/borrow my dad's tools for the job.
For now, I will go over some essential home theater components and accessories that you can assemble without picking up a hammer or saw. And I'll be pulling it all together for less than $1500 bucks! That's a bargain for a seat-thumping, eye-popping home entertainment system. Even if you're not entirely an electronics genius, you can still have an amazing home theater system that's ready to go right out of the box.
A quick note on the electronics I've selected: Everything in this guide was found on Overstock.com in the Electronics store. I've chosen refurbished items wherever possible, because we carry some great refurbished items at deep discounts. Items are available in limited quantities and new items are coming in all the time, so the items I list in this post may get sold out and replaced with other makes and models. That's not a problem. I only need to make sure that all the electronics are compatible, and that they have the features I want.
You're looking for three things when selecting home theater components: Picture, sound and compatibility. I've chosen an LCD TV for our display. Depending on the size of the room and how far your seating is from the screen, you may want a different size screen. I've chosen the Samsung LN40A630M1FXZA 40-inch 1080p LCD TV (refurbished) for $859.99. This HDTV has a 120Hz frame-rate and a nice dynamic contrast ratio, plus plenty of connection ports for whatever components we decide to use.
For sound, I'm going with the Samsung HT-Z320 DVD 5.1 Home Theater System (refurbished) for $171.49. You can look for a 7.1 channel home theater system, but not all movies feature sound encoding for more than 5.1 channels, and 5.1 is plenty since we're working on a budget. The Samsung system includes an up-converting DVD player. We'll be adding a Blu-ray player (which also up-converts) and HDMI output transfers HD sound and picture to our HDTV. Sound input from external players will require component cables to connect to the surround sound receiver, but that works fine with the Blu-ray player I've chosen.
The Blu-ray player is a Sony BDPS550 Blu-ray Player (refurbished) for $185.99. This player features connectivity for BD Live, which enables access to online features of Blu-ray discs and streaming online content. We'll connect the sound into our Samsung surround sound system and the video directly to the HDTV.
We will need a few audio cables to pull it all together, so I'm including 2 Fuji Labs 6-foot Premium Hi-speed HDMI Cables for $15.99 each and a Monster THX Ultra 600 8-foot Component Video Cable for $11.49.
Now we've got a pretty impressive home theater combination. With a system like this, you'll be able to watch high-definition DVD and Blu-ray movies, blast high-quality audio for music, and enjoy surround sound on your favorite movies and TV shows. All this comes at a grand total of $1260.94. That's really not bad for a great home theater experience. And if you are a DIY kind of person, you can plan and price some more advanced home theater features, like lighting control, sound-proofing and even a home theater PC into the mix.
What's your dream home theater system?
Posted by Paul Sanders