I remember, years ago, reading about a 40-inch CRT television set. It had a 4:3 aspect ratio, weighed several hundred pounds, and cost around $100,000. I think it was a Sony. It was completely impractical, but it got me to thinking that some day I wanted to own a TV set with a screen that size. Today I own a 46-inch flat panel, but I saw something this week that got me thinking again. Panasonic just announced its new 152-inch plasma display that should be available early next year.
The giant balloons in the Thanksgiving Day Parade cry out to be seen on a big screen. The roar of a football game shouts surround sound. Classic holiday movies demand to be seen anew in high definition. And home videos and digital slide shows of gatherings past signal family members to come to the sofa.
The holidays and home theater were made for each other. After all, when the eating's done, it's then that sports nuts and movie connoisseurs get down to some serious holiday viewing. Unless you're a video equipment enthusiast, though, creating a crowd pleasing system can be as elusive as putting together the perfect black truffle soufflé.
Setting up a home theater isn't difficult once you understand how each component contributes to the big picture. Here's grandma's recipe for what you need – or what someone you know deserves.
One TV Screen
There seem to be as many flat screen choices as boxes in the cereal aisle. Don't despair. Your first choice should be a known brand featuring "Full HD" resolution, meaning if you counted the number of picture elements, you'd find 1920 pixels across and 1080 pixels down. The bigger the screen, the more you'll appreciate the lifelike quality of high definition programs. So, a 40-inch model (measured diagonally) is an entry point, but a 50-incher is even better.
LCD and plasma technologies have become such strong performers that you can't go wrong with either type of TV. One example is the Samsung LN40A650, a 40-inch LCD model. Another is the Panasonic TH-50PZ85U Viera 50-inch plasma HDTV. Both come with built-in stands for placement on furniture, but the stand can be removed if you'd prefer an optional wall mount.
Families with digital cameras take thousands of pictures but banish most to a computer hard drive never to be seen again. They never make the connection that their home theaters are digital photo-ready. This despite the fact that gathering people on the couch for a slide show was second-nature a generation ago, especially after a vacation or during the holidays. With some advance planning, setting up and running a picture show is a lot less labor intensive than dragging a mechanical projector and retractable screen out of the closet each time you want to impress the neighbors.
Loading slides correctly was a hassle before the show turned digital.
Today, your big screen is already in place. And with that bright display, you don't even have to dim the lights. So why wait? Here are five ways to do it.
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