Home entertainment systems are sometimes referred to as home theatre or home cinemas. This is due to the fact that these systems often try to replicate the experience from a movie theatre with the right audio and video equipment.
It has come to a point where some homeowners have even designated a specific room in their homes to be their theatre, and all the necessary high quality components are installed there. Even the best TV on its own cannot be considered a home entertainment system because any such system has to comprise certain equipment, including audio and video input devices, such as DVD and Blu-ray players, an audio processing device, such as a preamp or AV receiver, sound processors for surround sound effect, audio output with a minimum of two speakers, and a video output, which is determined by the TV.
Whether buyers are looking to go all out with a cinema room or simply enjoy a traditional home entertainment system, they should consider the many types of equipment that make up the system and learn how to choose the best one to suit their needs and budget.
Choosing the Right Players
Most consumers who opt to buy a home entertainment system are hoping to somewhat simulate the cinema experience. It is true that a good DVD player and a high-tech contemporary TV can get you halfway there, but this goal can only be completely accomplished with the addition of surround sound speakers.
If buyers are able to afford it, they should opt for an entertainment system with a high-def DVD or Blu-ray player. When playing HD movies, the new high-def DVD players are able to output over four times the normal 540 resolution of most older DVD player models. However, buyers should be aware that they need a corresponding high-definition TV to fully realize the difference.
Some buyers are more interested in playing music than watching movies, while other buyers share equal interest in both. Either way, all DVD players are equipped to play music CDs as well, and the better ones are able to play MP3s and a host of other audio formats. It is best when a DVD player is able to read Rewritable DVDs (DVD+R) as well as the regular ones.
Choosing the Right Viewers
It is clear that DVDs can be watched on any TV, but to truly enjoy the experience, buyers need to utilize the right types of televisions. Most buyers opt for a wide screen TV because they work great with most DVD movies given their wide-screen format. Many movies are adopted from "the big screen", and they are displayed in a letterbox format, which uses a 16:9 width and height aspect ratio. Normal televisions display a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is not the best option for viewing high definition movies. As a matter of fact, high-def TVs are built with a standard 16:9 aspect ratio, and they generally provide a clearer and sharper motion picture than regular TVs.
In recent years, most manufacturers who make TVs with a measurement greater than 70 cm diagonally also make them high-def compatible, and they are also considered widescreen TVs. If buyers are also getting a new TV, they should opt for a widescreen model to accompany their home entertainment system for the maximum effect.
Flat Panel Televisions
Flat panel TVs get their names because they are usually less than 10 centimetres thick, and they are often mounted on a wall or a dedicated stand. Flat panel TVs are generally seen with Plasma or LCD screens.
LCD represents Liquid Crystal Display, and these panels are generally found in a variety of sizes from a few centimetres to widescreen TVs measuring over 150 cm. Most LCD TVs are widescreen with the exception of those measuring less than 50 cm, and they tend to also comprise HDTV resolution and inputs. LCD screens tend to be more expensive than plasmas because they are more conducive to rooms with a lot of light like the conditions in most family living rooms.
Plasma TVs are all widescreen TVs and start with a fairly large screen as its minimum measurement. The smallest Plasma television has a screen measurement of over 100 centimetres and can go up to as much as 250 cm in diagonal width. Plasma screens are generally better than LCD in producing the colours in a true form and thus provide an overall better picture.
Rear Projection Televisions
Rear projection televisions (RPTVs) are all over the market and are generally made with a widescreen design. They are made with an inside projector that casts the images onto the inside of the screen display with the use of various lenses and mirrors.
Some of the cheaper RPTVs may still utilize CRTs to project images, but most of the contemporary models use Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS), Digital Light Projection (DLP), or LCD light, which shines a high intensity lamp through display panels or chips.
RPTVs are generally thicker than flat panel televisions, up to 40 centimetres thick but a lot flatter than traditional CRT designed TVs. They can sometimes weigh up to 45 kilogrammes but are easily situated on a stand or shelf. The widescreen RPTVs can range from a diagonal measurement of approximately 100 to 175 cm.
Selecting the Right Sound Systems
It is true that the visual stimulation from your movies makes most of the experience, but the right sound enhancements can vastly improve the overall appeal. To truly experience the quality that is expected from a home entertainment system, it should includes additional external speakers in addition to those built into the TV. The two speakers that normally accompany a stereo system is an improvement, but more is needed for that cinematic experience.
It is always best to get a complete surround system from a reputable manufacturer, such as Bose or Paradigm. These complete sound systems often include a left and right speaker, a centre speaker, and two big satellite speakers. A subwoofer is also generally added to the system to accommodate and distribute the bass. In all, a complete system has at least six speakers that complement each other and utilize surround sound audio formats like Dolby Digital to provide a wonderful home theatre experience.
Most home entertainment systems place emphasis on watching movies, but for those buyers who are probably playing more music than movies, they should understand how the sounds may differ.
Most movies have a multi-channel soundtrack with a very wide range of soft-to-loud sounds. However, most song recordings are compressed and sometimes there is really no deep bass effect. For instance, the subwoofer in a home entertainment system provides high vibrations for movies, but with music, it is more aimed at providing controlled and accurate bass that integrates well with the speakers.
In recent times, a few music recordings include similar multi-channel sounds to movies, but stereo sounds are still the most popular in regards to music.
A good home theatre system also include a receiver hub for the various audio inputs from the system’s components. It decodes the surround-sound signals and then amplifies and balances the sound before it reaches all the speakers.
Home Entertainment System Buyer’s Consideration Chart
Based on the aforementioned topics, buyers may conclude that there are many choices available for display, input and output, and sound. Finding the right one for everyone’s personal needs may be a challenge. Buyers have to understand the need for each component in the system before they can decide on a preference. The chart below provides basic details to assist buyers.
Types of Displays
Flat panels (LCD and plasma displays) and rear-projection TVs
Video Input and Output
Component inputs deliver the luminance and colour components of a video signal
DVD Player Resolution
Regular DVD players generate 480i output
Number of Speakers
Five to seven speakers plus a subwoofer is recommended
TV Display Resolution
Buy a HDTV for widescreens greater than 76 centimetres
The flat panel displays can produce large, widescreen, high-definition pictures, and LCD panels work well even in rooms with bright sunlight, while front projectors often require the viewing room to be darkened or dimly lit.
The luminance and colour components of a video signal are delivered on three separate wires and allow connection of progressive scan and high-definition sources. HDMI carries digital video signals, mainly from HD video sources but also from upconverting DVD players, and S-Video inputs still uses a wire while providing a cleaner, slightly higher-resolution picture than standard composite inputs do.
The fact that regular DVD players generate 480i output means that it emits 480 video scan lines in an interlaced format, and it is the same signal type broadcasted by regular TV.
While a complete surround-sound experience from DVDs and from HDTV broadcasts requires at least five speakers plus a subwoofer, budget systems or smaller areas can opt for a lesser number of high quality speakers.
How to Buy a Home Entertainment System on eBay
Searching for home entertainment systems on eBay may not generate as many results as searching for home theatre systems, but the items returned from each search is be from the same category. To get started, perform a search with either of the above search terms from the eBay home page to generate some listings.
From the generated list, look for system sets that contains the number of speakers, players, and receivers that you need. If you would prefer to narrow the search before you start browsing, this can be achieved by selecting the required filters. You can filter the surround sound formats, such as Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Pro ll, and you can also narrow down the system configuration channel, such as 2.1, 5.0 and 5.1.
If you have a particular brand preference, this can also be used as a filter, and then a price range can be added to formulate a budget. Once all the necessary searches and filters have been administered, you can contact the sellers to finalize additional details before making a payment on any item.
First time home entertainment system buyers may be overwhelmed by the number of components that make up their system, but once they familiarize themselves with the various components, they can better determine the right ones for themselves. Most entertainment systems include a player, speakers, and a woofer. This can be enough if the components provide all the necessary features needed to emit a cinematic experience. Buyers need to examine the specifications and features of their players and ensure that enough high quality speakers are included in the system.
Buyers should also consider the TVs that their entertainment system are to be paired with, and if they plan to buy a new TV, all specifications should be considered to ensure that the system and the TV are compatible and can work together to provide the desired experience. A budget plays an integral part in the types of system that is purchased, but buyers can consider searching eBay for budget friendly home entertainment systems that can still provide a great home theatre experience.