Saturday, February 28, 2009

Making Room for High Definition Televisions

High-definition entertainment was the must-see celebrity at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Over 150,000 people descended upon Las Vegas to ogle the latest gadgets, including HD camcorders and memory sticks that stream HD video.

With all the static about digital, you may be thinking about creating a media room. Such rooms were once reserved only for residences like the Hearst Castle, which had a 50-seat screening room. Fast-forward to today, and there are do-it-yourself solutions for all budgets. Make sure your media room is a hit with our helpful tips about location and furniture.

The room with the least amount of daylight is the best place for a media room. In most homes, this room is the basement. Formerly the domain of pool tables, these sub-levels are being rediscovered by those of us seeking insulated walls and freedom from shouts of “quiet on the set!”

Face the TV away from any windows and use window treatments to prevent picture washout. To further reduce eyestrain and glare, place a light with a 10- or 15-watt incandescent (or 5-watt florescent) bulb behind the TV. Choose a white light rather than pink to enhance the accuracy of how on-screen colors are seen. Tip: To further improve how colors appear on-screen, use a neutralizing, flat gray paint on the wall behind your TV.

When it comes to equipment, it’s recommended you enlist the help of a gizmo-savvy friend if you don’t know your TiVo from your Xbox. Basically, a home theater consists of a speaker system, AM/FM receiver, DVD/VCR player, and of course, a television.

The ideal screen size depends on your budget, as well as available space and viewing preferences. An advantage of high-definition is a more refined picture, without the visible scan lines of analog televisions. This means you can sit close to the screen and not worry that “you’ll ruin your eyes,” as Mom always said. Many people find sitting close gives them a more theater-like experience, which means a small screen, as well as a small media room, might be all you need for edge-of-your-seat, lump-in-your-throat entertainment. Tip: The larger the screen, the farther away viewers should sit for an optimum picture.

Like all stars, your home theater equipment needs a supporting cast. In this case, it’s the furniture. Media room seating is a quickly growing category and there are abundant choices in padding, motion and size. These designs promise double-feature comfort, and because soft materials absorb sound waves, they also improve the audio quality of your room.

When choosing a home entertainment center, keep two shady characters in mind: dust and poor ventilation. Avoid stacking electronics on top of each other, which can block vents and reduce performance. To control dust, close cabinet doors when the system is not in use. Also, look for furniture with adjustable shelves to ensure you have enough room to frequently wipe components clean. Tip: Experts recommend small media fans that turn on automatically when temperatures rise.

That’s a wrap. Finally, while the focus of your media room is what’s on screen, you can still have fun with a theme. Consider a collection of vintage television sets. Many are inexpensive, and quite striking, such as the 1950 12-inch, mahogany-framed Admiral TV.

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