Home Cinema Review UK

Welcome to our home cinema review for the UK. Home cinema systems are now becoming increasingly affordable and make it possible to recreate the cinema experience in your own home. If you are looking to buy a home cinema system we review the important features of home cinema systems below and provide links to the best home cinema systems sites in the UK where you can buy your new system.

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What is in a home cinema system?

A home cinema system will contain the following elements:

DVD Player – See our DVD Buyers Guide for more information about standalone DVD players.

Surround Sound Decoder – This converts the surround sound information encoded on the DVD disc into the six different channels of sound to feed a surround sound speaker system. Depending on the home cinema system, the decoder may either be inbuilt into a DVD player, in an external amplifier unit, or even in a standalone decoder unit (usually only on high end systems).

Amplifier – Accepts audio input from the DVD player and feeds the speaker system.

5.1 Speaker System – So called because it consists of five speakers and a subwoofer. This set of speakers is positioned around the room to replicate the surround sound system used in your local cinema.

Types of Home Cinema System

Complete home cinema system packages are available, which consist of DVD player, decoder/amplifier and 5.1 speaker system, i.e. everything needed except for the TV/display unit.

Some people prefer to buy each of the components separately, so that they can tailor their system to their exact requirements. Make sure you buy good quality cables to get the most from your component system.

Separate Component Systems - Amplifier for a Home Cinema System

The type of amplifier needed in your setup depends on whether your DVD player has a surround sound decoder (processes the audio information into the separate channels involved in surround sound). If your DVD player doesn’t have inbuilt decoders, then your amplifer must have them. We would suggest that the amplifier should have decoders for both Dolby Digital and DTS (Digital Theatre Sound).

If you are a true technophile, you can buy the decoder and amplifier separately, but this is more expensive, and most people go for a combined decoder/amplifier.

Some amplifiers also include a radio tuner and are known as receivers.

Separate Component Systems - 5.1 Speaker system for a home cinema system

The speaker system replicates that found in your local system. Known as 5.1 speaker systems (because 5 speakers plus a subwoofer), the set consists of right front, left front, centre, right rear, left rear and subwoofer.

Which display system should I choose for my home cinema system?

You have the following choices for your home cinema display system:

CRT (cathode ray tube) TV – This is the traditional type of television and still offers the highest quality picture. A disadvantage is that a CRT television is bulky and heavy in comparison to an LCD or plasma screen. However, they offer the best value for money for picture quality.

It may be that you can keep your existing television to use in your home cinema setup, providing it has the required input jacks . To connect a DVD player to a TV, the TV will require a SCART or S-Video or RCA Video In on the television. If your TV is quite old and it only has RF (aerial) input, you won’t be able to connect a DVD player.

If you are buying a new CRT TV, then consider a widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) to get the full home cinema experience from your DVD collection.

We would recommend a screen size of at least 28in, although CRT TVs now go as large as 40in. They won’t get much bigger than this because as the screen size increases, they also have to get deeper and heavier, making them impractical.

Note that the sound capability of the television itself is not important if you are buying a separate amplifier and 5.1 surround speaker system.

Rear projection TV – As the name suggests, rear projection TVs contain a projector which beams the image onto the screen, which means they have fairly large cabinets. Screen sizes go up to 60in, and for large screen sizes they offer good value for money.

Plasma TV – Plasma TVs are still relatively expensive compared to CRT TVs, but their picture quality is beginning to match that of CRT, and now offer good brightness and contrast. Plasma TVs begin at 32in, with the most popular size being 42in. Plasma televisions are thin and light, and can therefore be hung on the wall. One issue with plasma televisions is that they are susceptible to screen burn, which means if the same image is left on the screen for a long time, such as a channel logo, a permanent ghost of the image can be left on the screen. However, new plasma TVs have features to help prevent this happening.

LCD TV – LCD TVs are slightly thinner than plasma TVs, but are limited to around 40in screen size and can have limited brightness (difficult to see in bright sunlight) and viewing angle (i.e. they are best viewed sitting directly in front of them rather than from an angle). The price of LCD TVs is coming down, making them increasingly competitive with plasma televisions.

Projectors – If you want to go the whole hog, you could use a projector in your home cinema system. There are three main types available: CRT, LCD and DLP (Digital Light Processing). LCD is most popular as it offers good value for money.

Thanks for reading. If you think the above information is getting out of date, or you have a suggestion for more information that could be added, please contact us.

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Top Sites for Buying a Home Cinema System
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Other Home Cinema Links

Latest DVD releases

Home Cinema Forums at avforums.com

Home Cinema Choice Online - a rich resource of home cinema news, reviews and articles.

Compare prices of DVD Home Cinema Systems at Compare Store Prices UK

Home Cinema and Electronics at CantBarsed.com

Home Cinema Reviews for Home Cinema enthusiasts with setup & design info, home cinema reviews and much more!

WINKI DIRECTORY

www.home-cinema-accessories.co.uk - Home Cinema Accessories specialise in supplying home and office LCD, Plasma & Projector accessories such as ceiling mounts, wall mounts, swing arms, stands and trolleys. They offer a complete range of mounts for your needs and include all required parts to make a complete product.

www.automatedhome.co.uk - Lots of useful information for those interested in home automation and home networking.

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