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HD stands for high demand
Home theaters, media rooms equipped 
with the latest technology has to offer

By JUDITH WOOD

November 2004

Experts say there are many details to consider beyond the basic components when setting up a home theater, such as lighting, seating and acoustical design.


If your home is your castle you probably prefer a night in to a night out. Staying in to catch the latest DVD release is probably the comfort food of entertainment. Now, many homes feature a theater room that comes as close as possible to seeing it on the big screen.

"People are staying home more and enjoying TV or home theater more," says Steve Kearns of Global Sight and Sound in Wauwatosa. "Whether people are watching Packers games or movies we can set up the room to get the most out of the experience."

Kearns says new home construction is making a point of setting aside entertainment space. Whether it is a game room with a big-screen TV or a dedicated room for screening movies, people want a comfortable spot with sophisticated equipment. Kearns says many of his customers are choosing between plasma and rear-projection TVs. Plasmas can start at $3,000.

"Weíve done master bedrooms with full-blown stereo and plasma TVs," Kearns says. "Most new home construction is wired for music throughout the home. In my opinion, the neatest thing to come out of TV is the High Definition television. The resolution is excellent. It is night and day next to regular TV. Most new TVs you buy now are HD ready, but the HD programming is not there yet with too many channels, but that is definitely coming."

Jason Koziol, project manager with Techteriors, has seen a growing demand for the plasma TV not only because of the picture quality, but the size.

"It is a very thin TV between 3 to 5 inches deep with a 42-inch diagonal screen. A plasma is 16-by-9 format compared to the 4-by-3 of the standard TV. High-definition images are filmed with 16-by-9 ratio camera lens that accounts for the superior picture quality," he says.

He notes that plasmas are significantly brighter than rear projection TVs. "Also, a plasma TV looks good from any angle," he says. "With a rear projection TV you have to be sitting pretty much in front of it to get the best picture."

Koziol says another high-demand technology is the liquid crystal display or LCD TVs.

"These are also very thin TVs with a 15-inch screen that is great for a kitchen or a bedroom or any tight spot," Koziol says. "They are also 16-by-9 so you have that high-quality picture."

Jack Schroeder of Sound Designs in Mequon says the effect on first-time HD viewers is evident in their faces.

"People literally get glazed over looking at it for the first time," Schroeder says. "The colors are so vibrant and the picture quality is so good that the average personís jaw just drops to the floor. That is the exciting thing about my business - it is more technically advanced than just buying a new TV."

Schroeder says his business is more than half directed toward new home construction, but the newest technology can find a niche in any home.

"I know people like to do this themselves, but there are expensive mistakes to be made and itís not as easy as some people think," he says.

"We donít want the customer to be intimidated by the technology either. We would install an easy-to-use universal remote control and make everything very accessible to the customer."

The experts advise consulting a professional whether you are building new or updating an older home.

"Weíve seen new homes wired, but the wiring is wrong and weíve had to tear up walls to replace it," Kearns says. "We take into consideration the size of the room and how the system will be used to customize that job for every family."

Koziol advises customers to define what the room will be used for before making any expensive investments. A media room is for TV, sporting events and movies. A home theater is a dedicated space for watching movies.

"If you want a home theater, there are many details to consider beyond the basic components," Koziol says. "Consider how much natural light is in the room - the plasma TVs are very bright, but you canít compete with natural sunlight. If there is a lot of light we can help with shade and light control."

Koziol says from the screen you will be watching to the seats you will occupy, every detail is important in a home theater.

"If you walk into a movie theater, some people choose the back, some the front, some the side," he says. "A lot of personal preference comes into play. The general comfort of the seats and chairs is an important detail. You want to choose something that you can sit in for three hours or more and be comfortable."

Koziol says simplicity is important even with all the technology available.

"We have a remote that controls everything from the lighting and draperies to the system itself," he says. "There are so many factors to setting up a theater that you are almost certain to fall short if you havenít done it before. Even though you can purchase a surround system in a box and install it yourself, it can be very frustrating to calibrate and set the equipment properly. I liken it to tuning a race car engine for the best performance. Many times Iíve come to a home and made a few adjustments and the customer said ĎWhat did you do?í If it is not correct, it can be just a lukewarm performance. There is a difference between watching a movie and being a part of the movie."