CAUTION- Do this BEFORE upgrading  iOS or before getting a new iPhone
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(Note, this article was originally published September 17, 2013 when the iPhone 5 was released.  It has been updated for newest iOS 10–steps haven’t changed since iOS7)
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Home » Buying home theater, TVs, home audio & home entertainment

Shopping for a Home Theater & More – Step One: Evaluation

Submitted by on May 1, 2009 – 7:51 pmNo Comment

family-home-theater

 I’ve written much to give advice about shopping for home theater–buying TVs and components and more.  It is unfortunate (but fun for me) that I am in the position to buy a bunch of electronics.  You see, in the first few days after I made my trek from Northern California to Oregon, my house was burglarized.  There was no guard dog (he was with me) to dissuade them.  You can imagine that since I work with electronic manufacturers, and use samples or buy equipment to write articles and reviews that I’ve had a LOT of electronic equipment. These guys hit the home theater jackpot!  It’s a drag to be robbed but I’m fine. Although staying at the house there makes me feel violated, I am insured for some items (not those things lent to me), and no one and nothing was hurt. Most of it is replaceable. Rather than go into a list of what they took, I’ll use this as an opportunity to take you on a real journey of how to shop for a home theater and electronics. Hopefully my personal journey will help guide you to making the right decisions about your own home theater investment.

Begin by Knowing What You Need & What You Want

Sure, I could just run out and buy anything. It’s a good TV, it’s big, I’ll just get it.  But ultimately, size depends on where you’ll put it. What components I buy and the features I need depend on what I’m watching, or what I want to do with my home theater (more later).  A home theater is no longer a $300 TV in the corner (even the stand can cost 5 x that!) I want to consider this carefully.

So I have a list of what was taken.  But my situation has changed. I’m no longer in a medium sized house with a small living room and only one place to put a TV and entertain. Now, I have rented an “apartment” in a house and will take over the whole house in June.  It’s a big place.  And there is a new dyanmcic of the people who will live in it– my technophobic boyfriend (first time living together), my technophile teenage son, and me. So step one is about looking at ourselves.

STEP ONE: ask yourself (each person who is part of the decision should discuss this)…

  • What do you want to do in the rooms in your house? – in which rooms will you want a TV, music, surround sound?
  • Will everyone watch TV together?
  • Do different people in the household like to watch different types of programming? Play games? – what are the desires of each person?
  • What level of quality does the most picky person in the house “require?” 

To take you through my journey as an example,

Here are my answers…

1) The living room/great room/kitchen will be for entertaining friends.  Sure there will be times when I want to watch TV while I’m cooking or watch the news in the morning, but mostly I want the area for conversation, reading, playing music with friends.  There’s a built in media cabinet in the room, a small TV would be fine there.  (The room is wired for whole house sound which I’ll approach in another blog.)

– We will use the large living area of the apartment as a recreation/media room.  Here I will want to be able to watch movies in comfort with surround sound and popcorn.  Like a home theater experience.  My son will want to be able to play games with his friends, and we may want to have movie, event, or sports viewings at the house.  I’ll want a big TV and the best in surround sound here.  Also, there’s a door to this room, so we can watch and my boyfriend can read or work in peace.

– Sometimes I like to fall asleep watching the TV (Particularly when my boyfriend is traveling). It doesn’t have to be great sound, but I’ll need a TV that I can see from across the room.  

– Do I need a TV for my office?  Perhaps a monitor (they stole mine) that can handle High Definition and has an HDMI hookup so it can connect to cable/satellite or other viewing sources.  Less for entertainment and more for research.

2) We’ll watch together for movies and a couple of TV shows (Chuck, 24, Heroes) and often when we pick something to watch together.  This will be the use of the media room.  So check, yes we want to have a good system with good seating.

Otherwise, I have my weekly shows (read primetime soaps and reality shows), and my boyfriend has sports like baseball, and my son might want to be playing a game with friends.  So, there will be a few rooms where we can each be into our own thing. So check, yes multiple TVs and rooms. Less fighting.

3) I’ve answered what people will be watching

4) Picky?  Okay, I’m fanatical.  I will only be limited by my budget.

Summary.  Need 

1- Big TV of best quality for home theater plus a blu-ray player for movies (they stole one)

2- Medium size, good quality for bedroom (may want it to have good sound and definitely an easy sleep timer..but I’ll get into that later)

3-A smaller screen/monitor for my office

(I already have a small HDTV that should be able to work for the living room/dining room/kitchen)

Tomorrow, step 2: What features do I want on each TV? What features are available.

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