A home theater with TV technology

March 09, 1992|By John Scalzi | John Scalzi,McClatchy News Service

Like to go to the movies but don't like having to sit with strangers in a dark room? Time to start thinking about your own home theater.

Today's technology makes it possible to have a near-cinematic experience in the comfort of your recliner.

It can be done as easily for $2,000 as for $10,000. Let's look at the elements of our home theater.

Television: You want a large screen television, obviously, but there are other things to consider.

First, you will want a television whose horizontal resolution (the number of lines that make up the picture screen) matches your video equipment.

All TVs can be used for all formats of VCRs or laser discs, but you may not get all you can out of your equipment. A laser disc uses about 425 lines of resolution, as does Super-VHS. VHS, on the other hand, uses about 280 lines. Many large-screen televisions have resolutions that can accommodate all formats; the least expensive of these, with a screen size of 26 inches, runs about $550.

Conventional televisions have bright, clear pictures from nearly any angle, but are limited in their size. They currently top off at about 35 inches diagonally.

Projection televisions can have much larger screens, but their image can deteriorate if you view them at the wrong angle or from close distances.

Many large-screen televisions have stereo and surround-sound capabilities, but you may not be able to use that technology unless your TV is hooked up to your stereo, and your stereo must have surround-sound technology.

Conventional large-screen TVs with laser disc resolution range from $550 to $2,500. Projection TVs range from $1,400 to $6,000.

A VHS VCR is the most popular format of video equipment, and there are more titles available on VHS than on any other format. On the other hand, neither the picture nor the sound of a VHS tape is as good as a laser disc.

If you get a VCR, think about getting a hi-fi stereo VCR, which can deal with surround sound encoding. Also, if you are thinking about Super-VHS, be reminded that it is an entirely different format from VHS (although you can play VHS tapes on S-VHS players). And, since the S-VHS has not yet penetrated markets outside major cities, it may be difficult to get tapes prerecorded for S-VHS in many areas.

The laser disc has digital sound and a picture resolution about 60 percent better than a VHS tape, but it is far more difficult to find a place that rents laser discs.

Hi-fi stereo VHS VCRs and laser disc players are similar in price. Hi-fi VCRs run between $400 and $1,600 (for a hi-fi S-VHS VCR). Laser discs runs from $400 to $1,200.

Stereo System: Your TV and your VCR will be hooked up to your stereo. In order to get the entire movie experience, your stereo should be equipped with surround-sound capabilities.

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