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Consumer Electronics

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Types of Speaker Enclosures: Sealed and Ported

The speaker enclosure (typically, a box) is critical in a home theater system. There are two major types of speaker enclosures, sealed and ported. Either way, a speaker enclosure should handle vibrations [more…]

Shapes and Sizes of Speakers

Home theater speaker systems come in all shapes and sizes. Speakers fall into four categories of shapes and sizes: floor-standing, bookshelf, subwoofer, and in-wall speakers. [more…]

Active Speakers vs. Passive Speakers

All speakers in a home theater system fall into one of two categories: active or passive. How active and passive speakers are classified depends on their relationship to the amplifier driving them. [more…]

How to Set Up a Surround Sound Speaker System

You can maximize the surround sound experience in a home theater by positioning the surround sound speakers properly. The speakers in a home theater system include the center channel speaker, the left [more…]

Using a Virtual Surround Sound System

Virtual surround-sound speaker systems incorporate multiple speaker drivers and fancy electronics in a single speaker unit. Virtual surround sound systems should be placed in the front of the room [more…]

Words to Know When Shopping for a Display

Get to know some basic video vocabulary before you begin shopping for a video display for your home theater system. Your display can be a direct-view television, a rear-projected television, a front-projected [more…]

Aspect Ratios: Widescreen, Letterbox, Pan and Scan

The concept of aspect ratio can be difficult to grasp, but easy to understand once you see it. Aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of a display compared to its height. For example, the aspect ratio [more…]

Introducing ATSC (aka Digital TV or DTV)

ATSC, which some people call digital TV or DTV, uses digital video signals (not analog ones) transmitted by using digital technologies. ATSC is played on televisions that are set up to display these digital [more…]

Exploring HDTV

You can buy an HDTV (high-definition TV) for well under $500 these days, so unless your budget is tight, you should make an HDTV-capable display the centerpiece of your home theater. With HDTV broadcast [more…]

Defining Analog TV Signals

The majority of television signals coming into homes are still analog. Analog TV signals reach homes through over-the-air broadcast TV, by traditional cable TV systems, and by satellite. [more…]

Defining Digital TV Signals

The move from analog to digital TV is well under way. Most homes have some form of digital TV, but the conversion from analog to digital is still an evolving process. High-definition TV is digital all [more…]

The Digital TV Transition

The digital TV transition requires that analog-only TV stations must begin transmitting ATSC digital TV signals and that all stations turn off their analog broadcasts. The deadline for this transition, [more…]

Getting to Know DVDs

The DVD is the centerpiece to a home theater. DVD offers an inexpensive, easy-to-use, high-quality system for movies and movie soundtracks. And the better your display [more…]

How to Choose a DVD Player/Recorder

When choosing a DVD player/recorder for a home theater, you'll find a huge array of advanced features. As you shop for your DVD player/recorder, consider your budget and how complex [more…]

How to Decode DVD Region Codes

DVD region codes, which you may see in catalogs or on DVDs themselves, enable movie studios to control who can watch DVDs. DVD region codes are embedded in the DVD itself and also coded into the circuitry [more…]

How to Play DVDs on an HDTV

DVD provides a great picture when you play it back on an HDTV (using a progressive-scan DVD player), but isn’t a true high-definition video source. DVD doesn’t give you the same quality of picture that [more…]

What's a Blu-Ray Disc?

Blu-ray discs, developed by Sony Corporation, are the high-definition media storage alternative to DVDs. Blu-ray gets its name from the color of the laser that reads the discs inside a Blu-ray player; [more…]

How to Choose a Blu-Ray Disc Player

Ready to choose a Blu-Ray disc player? You're likely to choose a Blu-ray disc player based upon generic characteristics such as price, brand name, and aesthetics because most units already offer advanced [more…]

Getting Started with Digital Satellite

Many home theater enthusiasts subscribe to DSS (Digital Satellite Service) for their TV source. The two main DSS services are DIRECTV and DISH Network in the United States. EchoStar provides the DISH Network [more…]

Drawbacks of Digital Satellite

Digital satellite services such as DIRECTV and DISH Network offer useful features, but do have some drawbacks. If you choose digital satellite, keep these drawbacks in mind: [more…]

What to Know Before Buying or Installing a Satellite Dish

When you subscribe to DSS, you'll need to install an 18- to 30-inch satellite dish. Typically, you install the dish on your roof, the side of your house, on top of a big rock in your backyard, or just [more…]

How to Choose a DSS Receiver

When you subscribe to DSS, you must choose a DSS receiver. You install a DSS receiver between the dish/LNB and your TV. A DSS receiver is required because the television signals feeding in from a dish [more…]

How to Choose Between Digital Cable and Satellite

Should you choose digital cable or satellite for your home theater system? Both DSS and digital cable offer hundreds of channels, including countless movie channels and pay-per-view movies. The biggest [more…]

What Is a CableCARD?

A CableCARD is a smartcard with an embedded chip that can descramble premium channels. You rent a CableCARD — which plugs in to a CableCARD slot on your HDTV — from your cable service provider. [more…]

How to Pick Up Digital TV Channels with an Antenna

Pick up digital TV (ATSC) channels by hooking up an antenna and tuning it into local broadcasters. Using an antenna to pick up digital TV channels works great if you live in a big city; it may take awhile [more…]

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