Hey you! Yes, you. Take your eyes away from your screen for just a second and look back over the previous two decades, and it’s amazing to see how much home entertainment has changed. 20 years ago, most people were still using VHS’s to play their movies. People were going to Blockbuster to rent a scratchy video for a few days and resenting the previous owners lack of effort in rewinding it. We were taping songs off the radio and playing them until they sounded squiggly and more. Then came DVDs, the failed experiment of HD-DVDs and finally Blu-ray. But now, streaming services rule supreme. Finding it hard to keep up? Yep, us too. But one way to keep things consistent and up to date is this; our 5 IDEAL ways to get the most out of your home entertainment system.
SPLASH OUT ON SOME SPEAKERS
A home entertainment system would be nothing without sound. Though the emphasis is so often placed on visual clarity, it’s amazing what a crisp, clear sonic environment can do to your viewing experience. When it comes to sound, there are generally two main options: 5.1 surround sound and 2.1 surround sound. The former means you’ll need five additional speakers spread out around the room while the second calls for just two.To go layman on you, in a smaller space, two speakers do the trick perfectly but in a large room designed specifically as an entertainment space or dedicated completely to film watching, a 5:1 will do that dedication justice.
ADD A STREAMING DEVICE
While just about any device can play your favorite shows, it might be wise to invest in a streaming device. Your laptop, phone, gaming console or TV might be able to stream content, but a dedicated device makes the process smooth and less likely to result in the much dreaded ‘buffer’.
An added bonus of dedicated streaming devices is that they’re generally on the small side, only a little larger than a USB stick, and come with a remote, making their presence in the room seamless. This is ideal for compact living spaces where you don’t want to always be doing battle with an HDMI cable and precariously balanced laptop. The final piece of good news? They’re remarkably cheap, generally clocking in at around the forty pound mark.
CREATE A MINI HOME THEATRE
If you’re living in New York City or London where space is a luxury, chances are you don’t have a lot of room for a big screen TV or home theatre. That said, even if things are a little cosy, you can still create your own small piece of escapism in the form of a mini home theatre.
First, you’ll have to decide what kind of TV you want. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting one that won’t dwarf the room itself but is big enough to make a statement of intent; you don’t, after all, want to disappoint after deeming a whole room as a space for viewing pleasure. A good rule of thumb is to measure the distance between where you’ll sit and the TV in inches. Then, divide that number by two. The result is the maximum size TV you should buy for your apartment. Or, you could opt for a projector; many are no bigger than a TV remote, so do little to daunt a room, and you could use your blank wall space or hang up a bedsheet to give you the best viewing options. Just be careful not to make it look like a crack den.
PURCHASE A VPN
We’ve all been there, trying to access a film online only to find its availability doesn’t coincide with the country we’re in. Curse, repeat, curse again and resist the urge to throw your laptop out the window. Well, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can place you, virtually of course, in any place you wish to be, negating that twinge of disappointment when the film you want to watch hasn’t yet reached these shores. Netflix, for instance (other streaming platforms exist) has wildly varied libraries according to country – the US Netflix has almost double the content than the UK Netflix – and the only way to access them without actually going there (which would be pretty expensive, wouldn’t it?) is to harness the power of the VPN. Moreover, by unlocking entertainment from around the world via a VPN, you’ll also be adding an extra layer of security for your devices – a double whammy of internet safety and extra entertainment; what more could you want?