Today, the electronics stores are promoting a different home theater experience. Their version of a home theater is an HDTV and a sound bar.

The New Home Theater

Len Calderone for | HomeToys


Maybe I'm old fashioned, but my version of a home theater is a 100" or better projection screen, a digital projector that can deliver a large cinema-like image, and a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system in a dedicated room.

Today, the electronics stores are promoting a different home theater experience. Their version of a home theater is an HDTV and a sound bar.

Although I would not call this setup a home theater as such, it does full fill a need. There are many households that cannot afford to devote an entire room to a theater, but would like the experience of a quality picture and good sound. The cost of a television centric system depends on reconciling one's desires with available cash. There are inexpensive and mid-range options that provide great value and performance.

Let's look at some of the latest products that comprise the new home theater. Of course, the television is the key to the system. The question is what size should you buy?  There are two factors in this decision. The first being your budget and the second being the size of the room.

A 32" HDTV can be purchased for under two hundred dollars, while a 65" 4K TV could run from $1,500 to about $7,000. The most expensive TVs are the 4K, and then the 1080p and the less expensive are the 720p. The cost of a 4K TV is coming down and it appears that this is the resolution that is in demand. Although there is little 4K content available at this time, 4K TVs will upscale 1080P to improve the image quality. 4K content is coming with Sony introducing a handful of 4K movies this year.  .  

Let's place the size of a TV in perspective to the room. The closest a viewer should sit to the screen is 2x the height of the screen with the furtherest at 6x the height. As an example, for ideal viewing, the closest a viewer should be to a 65" TV is 8' and the furtherest is 13'. The general rule is you don’t want your set so small you have to squint to make out details but you also don’t want the image so large that you have to actively move your eyes to follow images around the screen. 

My preference for the ultimate TV is the 4K OLED from LG.

OLED TVs use a revolutionary technology with self-lighting pixels for vivid color, infinite contrast and perfect blacks. LG OLED TVs have incomparable picture quality even from wide viewing angles. OLED TVs are ultra thin and light. With four times the resolution of a HDTV, and 8.3 million colors, the clarity is breathtaking with the finest picture details.

For sheer beauty and slim perfection, the new Sony X900C series delivers incredible 0.19" thinness. With unique Sony edge-coating technology, the display’s flush surface makes the bezel virtually disappear. Images appear to float before your eyes, making you hardly aware of the TV screen, while projecting amazing 4K resolution.

The 900 series has excellent up-scaling and conversion of standard definition, HD, DVD, and BluRay content. Rather than focus on making TVs that will only look great with 4K UHD content, Sony's up-conversion superior processing presents a 4K-like image from all resolutions. The Triluminous display produces a more realistic and life-like color performance, and the TV takes less calibration to obtain a satisfying picture.

You'll find yourself drawn deeper into the screen action with an immersive curved screen by Samsung with their UHD JU6700 smart TV experience. With 4K UHD resolution you’ll enjoy a picture with 4X the sharpness of full HD. 

You will experience a greater sensation of depth on a curved screen with optimized contrast across multiple zones of the image. The JU6700 delivers an immersive movie experience with off-angle viewing, making any seat a great seat. With Samsung's PurColor, you can enjoy remarkable shades of color that are very close to nature with technology that accurately blends primary and secondary colors for spectacular picture presentation.

Today’s thin TVs leave little room for speakers. This results in limited frequency response, terrible dynamic range, very poor bass, and very little overall volume. The solution is connecting a soundbar. The choices of soundbars run the gamut from inexpensive solutions to mind blowing theater-like sound.

Samsung announced its new portfolio of audio products, including a groundbreaking new soundbar featuring Dolby Atmos® technology at CES.

Samsung's first Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbar, the HW-K950, is the first to include dedicated rear speakers. The system includes a wireless subwoofer and wireless rear speakers in a 5.1.4 setup for overhead effects from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks. The Samsung speakers' main unit is 2.1 inches tall and features ceiling-facing drivers as well as three forward firing drivers.

The Yamaha YSP-5600 soundbar employs 46 speaker drivers and Yamaha exclusive Digital Sound Projector technology to deliver Dolby Atmos and DTS:X multi-dimensional listening experiences.

The Yamaha YSP-5600 Digital Sound Projector has an incredible array of 44 directional speakers, two subwoofers, and the Atmos sound processing jam-packed into this single, décor-friendly sound bar. The precisely angled drivers use advanced processing to reflect sound off the walls and ceiling. You get the impression that speakers are placed all around you, including overhead.

The YSP-5600 uses advanced auto calibration and an included microphone to dial in the sound of the beam drivers so they produce lifelike atmospheric effects with your specific room and exact seating position. A choice of preset listening modes, including dialogue, sports, and a dedicated stereo mode, let you adjust the sound according to your preferences.

You can upgrade your TV's audio with the VIZIO 38” 2.1 Home Theater Sound Bar with a wireless subwoofer at a very affordable cost.

This is a perfect addition to any small to medium sized HDTV, this sound bar connects easily to your TV with just one cable. The wireless subwoofer adds bass missing from your TV, all without the need to run any extra wires. Built-in Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly stream music from a smartphone or tablet, while Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround™ audio technologies turn movies, TV and games into an immersive audio experience.

Each of us have different color preferences and interpret sound differently. When looking at an array of TV sets and soundbars in a box store, let your personal feelings be the deciding factor, not the manufacturer's hype.


Len Calderone - Contributing Editor

Len contributes to this publication on a regular basis. Past articles can be found in the Article Library and his profile on our Associates Page

He also writes short stores that always have a surprise ending. These can be found at

Len Calderone


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of HomeToys

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