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If you are looking for more from your home theater unit than a television, a VHS/DVD recorder and speakers, then you may be in the market for the most sophisticated home theater on the market. Perhaps you began with a “home theater in a box” and want to upgrade your current equipment, or perhaps you want to start again from scratch. Needless to say, the most high-tech items do cost some money, but for those who prefer state of the art home theater equipment, it is well worth it.
The premise behind the home theater is that it should replicate, as much as possible, the auditory and visual experience of the cinema. This is the reason many good home theaters have wide-screen televisions and surround sound technology. Your high tech home theater equipment can create this effect with a few extra items. If you purchase the best items you can afford, you can have a home theater that will be a source of pride.
Tower speakers with built-in amplifiers and subwoofers are quite popular. An all-in-one system is preferable to purchasing separate units, and will save you a lot of space on your floor and your power strip. You can find designs that have a hardwood base, or a more contemporary metallic look.
If you are looking for the best high-tech sound system on the market and are concerned about space and aesthetics, satellite “nucleus” speakers in the form of heavy, colored balls are the best option. For their modest size (some have a diameter of as little as four inches) they really are a powerhouse of sound. Their cool, fun design merits placing them on bookshelves or plant stands to be displayed rather than hidden away. These small speakers pick up dialogue just as well as music and they do not have that cut-in/cut-out effect you may experience as you walk past other speakers. Most micros have 22 H2 high frequency, which means a lot of power in a small space. Although many micros need about 50 hours to really “warm up” after being taken out of the box, the nucleus speakers perform at their highest capacity when they are brand new. These little round speakers are a great value for money, and a subwoofer disguised as a footrest is usually included.
The VHS recorder is quickly becoming a thing of the past, so most high-tech home theaters will eschew a traditional VCR in favor of a DVD player and recorder. The best DVD recorders are combined with a hard drive, and the prices keep plunging as more and more consumers are investing in these models. The best DVD recorders use laserdisc technology, which enables smooth functioning. DVD recorders usually function much like VHS recorders, and most models have AV inputs, and a TV tuner. You can usually copy home made videos or recordings from other sources, but you cannot bypass anti-copy encoding. Other features included in a good DVD recorder are: playback format, AV inputs for 3 composites, AV outputs for 5 composites, Dolby digital, a built-in channel programming system.
Plasma TV definitely says “high tech”. These can be mounted on the wall and are quickly consigning those bulky boxes to the history books. These can be used as a centerpiece of your high-tech home theater or can be mounted on the wall. A typical plasma television has around 1024x768 pixel resolution, a 60,000-screen life and can display HDTV signals. The average size of a plasma TV is 42” with a 16x9 screen, although some “compact” varieties are around 37” with a 4” thickness for easy wall mounting. Some Plasma TVs have built-in stereo capabilities are compatible with most sound systems.
Even the typical camcorder is going digital these days, so you will want to put the same care in selecting your digital camcorder as you would your digital camera. Basically, there are two varieties of digital camcorder on the market: MiniDV and Digital 8. The former was developed first and is the most common variety. Most consider it to be the most users friendly, and it uses a 6mm tape with 90 minutes of recording. The digital 8 models are slightly larger but use 4 mm tapes with one hour of recording time. However, digital 8 models can sometimes have more sophisticated copying capabilities and other special features. If you are looking for a basic digital camcorder with a good reputation, try a MiniDV, although if you like the special features of the Digital 8, it may be worth your investment.