by Craig Agranoff
Vintage plush theater seats, framed movie posters and even vintage carpet that Las Vegas casinos passed on can make your home theater feel like a night on the town at a classically maintained ‘40s era cinema.
But building the ultimate home theater is about more than aesthetics and styling. You need to maximize performance, too.
Creating this ideal home theater experience entails both building the right ambiance as well as appointing the space with all the modern amenities and home theater accessories that serve to enhance the multi-sensory experience. From selecting a universal remote that’s smarter than your average film school dropout, to outfitting state-of-the-art motion seats with seat belts, today’s options have greatly expanded when compared to even a decade ago. As always, the best plan is to appoint and accessorize your home theater in a way that best takes advantage of the space and accommodates your viewing habits.
Home theater accessories range from truly useful technology to fun, “nice to have” bonus equipment. No component may embody the latter quality more than bass transducers and motion seats. Bass transducers can be attached to the bottom of any seat to deliver deep, booming low-frequency kicks set to your movie or game.
It’s like watching a drive-in aboard a synchronized jet ski. The next step up are seats programmed to shake, shimmy and slide based on the on-screen action. Similar to amusement park simulator rides, these next-generation seats are now available on the consumer market.
There are a number of home theater accessories built to enhance the visual rendering of your movies. One emerging piece of technology is a plug-and-play video processor, which increases visual clarity by adding depth information to the on-screen images. The upshot is a nearly "3D" image without the 3D glasses.
Some home theater odds-and-ends are purely functional. Anyone will tell you to get a surge protector to safeguard your investment, but these days your options have greatly expanded. Instead of recycling your grandparents’ power strip, you can now opt for comprehensive power management systems that offer battery back-up, cable connectivity and voltage monitoring capability for all of your devices.
Another practical touch is the addition of black-out curtains. Turning off the light and pulling down the mini blinds may help create the right mood for viewing a horror flick after midnight, but black-out curtains give you the creepy, pitch-black environment you need to truly get a good scare. Plus, in your living room or media room, you won’t have any popcorn-jockey employees shining flashlights around to ensure no one is illegally taping the movie. Just watch as picture quality improves and ambient noise is nearly eliminated.
Finally, you need a solid, cutting-edge universal remote to serve as the hub of your home theater system. You already know that this technology is basically one remote to rule them all, but did you know that today’s remotes can also control your lights, air conditioning and window shades? If only you could control everything from your phone… Wait, with the Sharp Central mobile app, you can custom-fit the right TV within your home theater, check out new equipment you’re considering upgrading to, and even connect to live reps who will drop some knowledge on you.
Home theater accessory technology has evolved at the same speed as the equipment these critical items support. Sometimes optimizing your viewing and listening experience is as easy as picking up a few accessories and not rebooting your entire system.
Tip #1: Get charged up
Wireless components, remotes and other pieces require a constant source of juice. Unless you’re charging admission into your home theater, you may want to consider rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones to both reduce your carbon footprint and same a little money.
Tip #2: Don’t super-size your remote
You can find computer-programmable, state-of-the-art remotes today that are the same size as the old remote you had growing up. Or you can settle for a less efficient, bulky universal remote that can concuss a friend or family member if errantly tossed around the home theater.
Tip 3#: Get the most from your system
Play Blu-ray discs designed for testing to make sure you’re getting the optimal picture and sound from your system. These discs offer prompts and tests to make sure all your setting and levels are primed for the most awesome viewing and listening experience possible.
Tip #4: Don’t forget the low-tech accessories
Coasters, coffee table books, snack bowels and board games still have a place in the living room alongside your home-theater gear. Don’t forget the old- school accessories.
References & Resources
About the Author
Craig Agranoff is a CBS & ABC television tech correspondent. He is the author of three books and a tech blogger for many well known publications.