New TV and Home Theater recommendations

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Ok, so my parents are redoing the basement at home and want to put in a home theater system. My mother has given me about $800 to pick out a new TV and home theater setup. So, I need to figure out the best way to spend that money. I'm a bit overwhelmed walking into Best Buy to look at this stuff, so I'm looking for some help.



First question. HD or not? I found a 27" Panasonic HDTV for about $550. It doesn't look bad, but if I don't get a 27" HD, i could probably get a nice 32" flat tube TV. Any recommendations on features in the TV department, and is the HD worth it? The basement is fairly small, so I probably wouldn't go any bigger than 32". If I don't get HD, I'm at least getting a flat tube.



Second. Home theater systems. The room is fairly small. Think about the size of your average 2-bed college dorm room, with lower ceilings. So, I don't need something incredibly powerful to fill the room with sound, just basic 5.1 surround. When they were redoing the walls I had them install good speaker wire in the ceiling for the front and rear speakers. Basically, I'm looking for something that gives decent quality, for say around $150-200, maybe more if I don't get a really expensive TV. Also, I think I like the idea of having a DVD player built-in. Less boxes and remotes will just make things easier for my parents. However, we do have a somewhat decent DVD player we could hook up if needed.



So what are you guy's experience with home theater and this stuff? Recommendations and suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    progmacprogmac Posts: 1,850member
    while you won't get far in the home theater audio world with $150-$200, you can conceviably get something listenable. for something decent, we'd need to be in the $600-$1000 range...for something good, $1000-$2000, for something great, even more. regardless, there should be some okay options...i found this site that has reviews of a few HTiaB (home theater in a box)...my experience with Denon has been good. My experience with Pioneer and Sony has been bad.



    http://reviews-zdnet.com.com/Home_vi...6740_16-0.html



    if you find yourself with some extra money, i would really consider an Onkyo HTiaB. See: http://reviews-zdnet.com.com/4505-67....html?tag=also

    for a little review. My experience with Onkyo equipment has been outstanding. Onkyo doesn't have the razzle-dazzle displays and 14,000,000 unneeded features that sony et al tend to have, but delivers superior sound quality, from my experience.



    if you plan on shopping at big box (which i don't recommend), circuit city tends to have better stuff (polk, onkyo, etc.) than best buy, which tends to be filled with pioneer and sony. don't be afraid to go into circuit city, listen to some stuff and then buy online. you might save some money.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    HDTV on a 27" is rather pointless. Look for a good deal on a 32" the extra size will benefit you more than HD resolution. DVDs look great nowadays.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    I second the suggestion of not getting an HDTV set in this price range. In fact, I would suggest an average TV and then split the remaining money evenly between a pair of speakers and a quality amp. And then add a sub later on.



    For your budget and size of room, I am of the opinion that a two-channel setup would sound far superior than surround sound. With a surround system at this price, sure sound will come from behind you but it will be distracting rather than enhancing realism. Also, by splitting your money between so many speakers, you would have many bad sounding speakers rather than two good sounding ones.



    Unfortunately, people normally reach this conclusion only after the novelty of sound coming from behind you wears off. A properly adjusted 2.1 system in this price range will sound MUCH better than a properly adjusted surround system.
  • Reply 4 of 20
    escherescher Posts: 1,811member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dfiler

    A properly adjusted 2.1 system in this price range will sound MUCH better than a properly adjusted surround system.



    That is very interesting, dfiler. I bought a Sony 5.1 surround amp and a pair of Wharfedale speakers a year ago, because I didn't have the money for 5 speakers. I had this idea of using the two speakers in the rear in a future surround setup. But the combination with only two speakers works great. Certainly better than my old boom box or the TV's built-in speakers.



    I guess now I just need to learn how to make my setup "properly adjusted." All I really did was hook up the power and speaker wire, plus tell the amp that it only had 2 speakers to work with. Not sure whether that's an audiophile sacrilege.



    BTW: I bought a 24" flat tube Sony WEGA for something like $500 in the late 90's and it's an investment that I have never regretted. I don't know how I ever managed to live with a curved screen. But as long as I can't afford it, I can easily live without HD and plasma fanciness.



    Escher
  • Reply 5 of 20
    progmacprogmac Posts: 1,850member
    <irk>what's with people calling heavy depreciating electronics "investments?" </irk>



  • Reply 6 of 20
    dogcowdogcow Posts: 713member
    After much digging, I think I've come up with a combination that I like. Comments and further suggestion welcome.



    Sony 32" FD Trintron® WEGA® TV - KV32FS120 - $549.99



    Comb Filter - Digital

    Velocity Scan Modulation - Yes

    Audio Type - SRS® 3D Audio Effect

    Auto Volume Correction - Ye

    # AV Inputs (Front/Rear) - 1 / 2

    # S-Video Inputs (Front/Rear) - 0 / 1

    # Standard Component Inputs (Front/Rear) - 0 / 1

    # RF Jacks - 1

    Variable/Fixed Audio Output - Yes - VAO/FAO

    Other Features - Speed Surf? Channel Selection, Program Palette? Presets, Auto White Balance, Trinitone® Color Temperature, Channel Skip/Add





    Samsung Home Theater System with 5-Disc Progressive-Scan DVD Player - HTDS610 - $269.99



    Front Power - 100 Watts x 2

    Center Power - 100 Watts

    Surround Power - 100 Watts x 2

    Subwoofer Power - 100 Watts

    Dolby® Pro Logic - No

    Dolby® Pro Logic II -Yes

    DTS - Yes

    Dolby® Digital - Yes

    Disc Player Formats - CD, CD-R, CD-RW, VCD, MP3 CD, DVD, DVD-R*, CD-RW*, CD-R*, DVD+/-RW*, DVD-Audio, Picture CD* (*Playback ability depends on recording conditions)

    AM/FM Tuner - Yes

    Subwoofer Type - 8" Woofer
  • Reply 7 of 20
    dogcowdogcow Posts: 713member
    Also. If i had something like a video game system to connect to this set up, would I A) connect the video game to the TV and have the tv audio sent to the receiver? or B) connect the video game to the receiver and have the video sent to the tv?
  • Reply 8 of 20
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    I'd suggest completely ignoring watt rating on amplifiers in this price range. Instead, listen to the sound quality as it has little to do with power ratings.



    40 watts of harmon kardon or denon will sound way WAY better than 100 watts of samsung. No comparison, not even close.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    tednditedndi Posts: 1,921member
    I know you guys will hate me for this but the xbox isn't a bad DVD/CD player. you can buy one for 150 bux and the remote for 25 bux. Play decent games (grand theft auto) and add the High quality Video out with SPDIF for the higher end. It supports 5.1 and you can play xbox live. I run one on my 50" Panasonic Plasma and it looks great. I am Driving a rather high end audiophile quality THX 7.1 system. The xbox is good value for the money. You can always add a good DVD player that will support SACD and other up and coming formats.



    I like Denon as well they make a home theater in a box with subwoofer and pretty good sound. This is what I used before the larger system. In a small room it looked and sounded great. The instructions for tuning it were pretty straight forward. You can go to Radio Shack and buy a meter and take levels at the listening postition using various calebration utilities that you can buy on Amazon. Upgrade as you get the money. Remember next year anything you buy now you can get cheaper and better. Go and listen to various set ups and bring your own cd's and DVD's of various types. Old movies, new movies, animation (I like monsters inc. for testing quality of the screens) and different types of music to demonstrate the range of the speakers. Take your time listen to as many components together or at least one after another if you have to drive. Do the process by subtraction and narrow it down to whatever you like. You have to listen to the system and to watch the screen.



    Good luck. Remember it is supposed to be for entertainment. If you are not entertained doing it back off till it's fun!
  • Reply 10 of 20
    progmacprogmac Posts: 1,850member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dfiler

    I'd suggest completely ignoring watt rating on amplifiers in this price range. Instead, listen to the sound quality as it has little to do with power ratings.



    40 watts of harmon kardon or denon will sound way WAY better than 100 watts of samsung. No comparison, not even close.




    true. in fact, pretty much ignore wattage ratings altogether. sony, pioneer, and the other best buy brands tend to rate their amps in terms of peak wattage, while onkyo et al do RMS. i used to own a 55x5 Onkyo receiver that packed far more punch than i ever needed, and sounded great. honestly, don't give wattage ratings any credance (is that a word?)
  • Reply 11 of 20
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    HDTV on a 27" is rather pointless. Look for a good deal on a 32" the extra size will benefit you more than HD resolution. DVDs look great nowadays.



    Are you suggesting a 32" SDTV over a 27" HDTV?
  • Reply 12 of 20
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    JBL S38's. I don't know if they still make them, but they were awesome.



    Yes, I'm in the "two honkin' speakers" school rather than the "new-age satellite speakers" craze. Subwoofers and satellites are for sissy music. In order to get that organ-jolting, mid range power you need some real-man speakers.







    Don't tell anyone I listen to Opera.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Eugene

    Are you suggesting a 32" SDTV over a 27" HDTV?





    Of course HD on a 27" will be sharper than but not that much because the screen size just isn't large enough. A 4:3 27" will have to letterbox a HD picture down to the equivalent of a 24" widescreen. Rather pointless unless the 27" HDTV is anywhere close to the prices of a decent 32" SD. His budget is pretty tight.



    HDTV is all about larger 40" or larger screens for maximum effect. Plus much of the HD content that will be on some channels is 720p which is better than 480i/p but not "that" much of a difference on a small screen.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison



    HDTV is all about larger 40" or larger screens for maximum effect. Plus much of the HD content that will be on some channels is 720p which is better than 480i/p but not "that" much of a difference on a small screen.




    Yes it does make THAT much difference on a small screen.



    Personally, I would take an HD set at any reasonably screen size over a slightly larger SD set. There are several decent 16:9 26-27" HDTVs out there.



    Imagine if you had a 23" LCD monitor that only did 800x500. I'd rather have a much smaller screen with higher resolution. HDTVs aren't for watching DVDs. They're for watching HD material, bypassing the shittyness that is NTSC. Image size is a secondary consideration to color and sharpness.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    dogcowdogcow Posts: 713member
    Thanks all for the input so far you are very helpful. However, please keep in mind a few things that I don't think I made quite clear in my first post. This set up is for my 55+ year old parents. While I will be using it with my friends over the summer and on breaks for the next couple years, it's mostly for them. My mom wants to watch movies and my dad wants to watch ESPN and the History Channel. This set up is replacing a 25 year old television with mono sound. in other words, anything is an improvement.



    I've pretty much decided not to get HD. My parents will never know the difference and it's $5 extra per month my father will complain about on his cable bill for the HD box. So, when looking at TVs is there any recommended feature I should look for on TVs in terms of quality?



    As for the audio I am looking for something decent that will fill the room with sound and not sound like total shit. Someone commented above about ignoring wattage ratings. I'd like to know then what is important to looks for. Besides the brands that your mentioning is there any other type of spec that I should look for or should I just trust my ears?



    Thanks again for the input, it's been most helpful.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    My parents will never know the difference



    Oi...
  • Reply 17 of 20
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Dogcow

    . . . This set up is for my 55+ year old parents. . . .



    Maybe you should tell them that, in 2006, the networks - and I think cable too - has to go HD. That means you'll have to by an HD - NTSC converter box.



    And you wouldn't want to do that, now would you?
  • Reply 18 of 20
    dogcowdogcow Posts: 713member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    Maybe you should tell them that, in 2006, the networks - and I think cable too - has to go HD. That means you'll have to by an HD - NTSC converter box.



    And you wouldn't want to do that, now would you?




    There is a lot of confusion about this, but I don't think that is correct. My understanding is that all transmissions over-air must be in digital (not necessarily High Definition). Most cable is now being converted to all digital signals anyway. We have a digital cable box (not HD) which I believe is all that is required by the FCC by 2006 (which I think will be pushed back again anyway, but that's another issue).
  • Reply 19 of 20
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    The 2006 date is when OTA VHF/UHF analog TV transmissions are supposed to cease. Since the transition is going slower than planned, the giveback will occur whenever DTV reaches 85% of American households instead.



    The more people buying HDTV now the better.



    And even 55+ year old parents will be able to tell the difference.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    I doubt it. Most people don't even recognize a difference between $hitty digital TV quality from DirecTV/Dish and a clean, analog NTSC feed. You don't even need a HDTV to see the artifacts, either.
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