Buyers guide to home entertainment
Curved televisions are a key trend. Picture supplied by Samsung

From soundbars to curved television screens, switch on to the latest in home entertainment.


While the traditional home theatre is still popular, the concept is changing, according to Surround Sounds director Mark Jeisman.

"The definition of the theatre room is becoming broader as rooms become multi-purpose," he said, adding that more people were now extending their home theatre set-ups into other rooms.

He said the full home theatre systems of sound receivers, speakers and display devices were sometimes being replaced by smaller soundbar systems for multi-purpose rooms. "While these do not, in any way, replace the full experience of the 5.1 surround sound system, they can improve the poor sound that modern TVs provide in a small package," Mr Jeisman said.

Intelligent Home custom audio visual manager Daniel King said that while homeowners were still spending big on their home theatre set-ups, it was now more important that the design related to the rest of the home.

"Full surround sound systems are being integrated into living areas, by means of discreet speakers and cabling design, to achieve a great aesthetic result," he said.

Mr Jeisman said people were also moving their home theatres outside. "WA is one of the best places to enjoy it (outdoor entertainment) with our climate and social fabric," he said.

"Via dedicated equipment such as outdoor-rated speakers, high powered projectors, and clever design, outdoor cinemas can become a pleasurable addition to any outdoor space, be it a balcony or backyard."


"Previously known as 'the idiot box', TVs have certainly evolved into very smart technology," West Coast Hi-Fi Midland proprietor Scott Stay said. "With the ability to stream and mirror audiovisual (content) from numerous devices, there has never been such variety in entertainment."

Mr Jeisman agreed. He said that smart TV technology had turned televisions into computers, with the ability to surf the web, Skype friends and access online content.

The 3D function was now somewhat of a standard feature, though it wasn't the game-changer many in the industry expected, with the function rarely used by customers and detracting from picture quality.

Mr Stay said LED LCD technologies were here to stay, thanks to the slimline designs for neat wall-hanging and bright, vivid images, while plasma televisions were now redundant in the home entertainment market.

And when it comes to size, bigger was not always better. "Going too big is a little risky with LED televisions because of the way the liquid technology works; you need to sit a certain distance away or you will see a dragging effect on the image," Mr Stay said.

Mr Jeisman said the size of your television should be based on viewing distance. "Take the viewing distance and divide by 2.5 as a rough guide to give you the width of the TV for consideration," he said. "Manufacturers, however, are churning out bigger TVs each year with TVs such as Samsung's 105-inch on the way."

Curved 4K screens will be the next big thing, according to Mr Stay. "With four times the resolution of full HD monitors, the experience of a 4K curved TV is a more natural, immersive one than consumers have seen in the past," he said.

Although there is little 4K content available now, Mr Stay said this would change in the next few years.

Mr Jeisman said LG, Sony and Samsung were leading the charge, noting that Samsung's upcoming 85-inch 4K television allowed the screen to change from flat to curved at the touch of a button.

"The other trend is motorised devices to conceal TVs from view when not in use," he said. "Many discerning homeowners will often pay three times what the actual TV itself costs just to hide the TV out of sight.

"Most popular are TV lifts, where the screen simply pops out of a low cabinet or drops down from the ceiling above."


Mr King said that while projectors were the "only true cinema solution", they were less popular because TVs offered easier installation.

The major benefit of a projector was in the cinemascope or anamorphic widescreens available on some models, which allowed movies to be viewed as they were filmed - doing away with the black bars above and below the image.

Mr King said a quality screen was as important as the projector itself; a fine-grain screen was key as "the flatter the image, the clearer and more accurate the colour representation".


Soundbars are growing at over 300 per cent year-on-year, according to Good Guys digital sound national category manager Peter Simic.

Mr Simic said a soundbar maximised sound by creating a wider sound field, and while they were this year's popular item, he expected multi-room systems to be the big trend in 2015.

"Multi-room systems are where you place speakers wherever you like in your home and control them from your phone or tablet," he said. "You can play the same music to all speakers or different music to different rooms and there are no wires required between speakers or the hub to make it work."

Mr Jeisman said that more people were also tuned into aesthetics. "Speakers have indeed become fashion items featuring in many home interiors in an array of colours and styles," he said. "Where possible, many people also prefer to have a complete system designed so that the equipment is concealed or built-in."


"Blu-ray has been the standard for some time now," Mr Stay said. "DVD discs will still play on these; however Blu-ray discs will provide better vision, sound and offer 3D playback."

Mr Jeisman said people were now buying a broad range of equipment to access a range of content. "Most systems will still have a Blu-ray DVD, a media player, Foxtel and digital TV - this gives people the option to simply select what they want at the time," he said.

"There are a number of systems available, including the top of the range Kaleidescape system from the US: this system can store Blu-ray and normal DVDs plus offering HD streaming downloads of movies and then distribute them around the home in an easy to use fashion.

"At the cheaper end of the scale, media players such as Apple TV, and networking media players similar to this, offer inexpensive avenues to download movies and access video content stored on hard drives and computers."

Mr Jeisman said there was "no question" that streaming movie content over the internet was the way forward. "Simple digital media players teamed up with great home entertainment equipment will bring great enjoyment," he said.


"The single most important piece of any home entertainment system is the control system," Mr Jeisman said. "The most common customer request is 'we want it simple'. A single remote-control automation system is the best and simplest way to tackle this.

"We recommend assigning a good part of the budget for this and there is one rule of thumb - the more you spend, the simpler it gets.

"We find that while you can use tablets and iPads to control your home theatre, most still prefer a good quality remote control that is half touch screen and half real buttons dedicated for the system."

The West Australian

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