An improved home theater…

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve updated my website. The problem usually becomes one of finding it easier to do updates on Twitter and Facebook than it is on the site itself. One of these days I suppose I’ll put in the effort to be more productive with the site.

That being said, one thing we HAVE been working on here at the house is something I’m so happy about I wanted to share. Jennifer and I have been wanting to improve the home theater in our living room for the past year or two. It was serviceable as far as things went, but we’re both techie-oriented and knew we could do better.

The old home theater setup…

The TV is a 32″ Panasonic LCD TV. The disc player was a Samsung Blu-Ray player, and the home theater receiver was my old Onkyo unit. For speakers, we used the speakers from an older Aiwa home theater in a box set (the receiver had been destroyed in a lightning storm), and we connected the rear speakers using a Rocketfish wireless rear speaker set. The Blu-Ray was connected directly to the TV via HDMI, and to the receiver via optical audio cable. (The receiver did not support HDMI.) The Comcast HD DVR box was connected via component video and coaxial digital autio cable, and the Wii used standard RCA input.

Now, I say the unit was servicable. There were a few flaws, though. The biggest one that annoyed us was that the speakers had a tinny sound, and at some point the rear speaker outputs simply stopped working. In addition, the video on the Wii was dark enough that games like LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 simply became unplayable. Also, the entertainment center furniture was from WalMart and wasn’t well-made; the unit was bowing in the middle from all of the weight.

We knew we wanted a bigger TV in the 60″ range, so we started looking for new furniture first. After months of searching for the right furniture, we finally found the perfect one at the Dump. It’s made of much sturdier wood than the old one was and has less depth to it while being taller and wider. As it was delivered on a Friday, and we were going to Galveston for the weekend, we decided to wait until we got back to reassemble the home theater.

On our way back from Galveston, we stopped by Fry’s on a lark to look at home theater receivers. While there, we saw a Samsung receiver that had a Blu-Ray 3D player built in, had Dolby 7.1, and had wireless rear speakers. The receiver even had vacuum tubes in it for better sound. It sounded great and cost half what we were expecting to pay, so we went ahead and purchased it. That evening was spent hooking everything up.

In this setup, I hooked the HD DVR the the receiver via HDMI, and the Wii via some unused component cables. The difference in the picture quality was amazing; the Comcast box’s picture was much crisper and the light levels on the Wii made playing games like LEGO Harry Potter bearable again. In the end, we ended up with far fewer cables needed, and even had a Blu-Ray player left over. (It went to Jennifer’s parents.)

Once everything was hooked up, we put the entertainment center back against the wall, and Jennifer spent the next week putting the decorations back up. As for the final result…

The new home theater system…

Yes, we still have the same TV. :-) We figure that will be the last thing to be upgraded, and will be done in the next few months. Once we get the new TV, the old TV will go into my office for my consoles. As for the old furniture, the towers were moved into our bedroom to act as a TV stand, while the middle part is sitting to one side while we decide what to do with it.

So far, though, we’re very happy with improved picture and the MUCH improved sound. The only slight problem we have is that the TV is drowned in its space, but that’ll cease being a problem when we get a 60″ screen. In addition, there are a couple of movies in our collection that we’re holding off on watching until the big screen comes in… namely, The Hunger Games and The Avengers.

I’ll likely do another post when the new TV comes in. Until then… I’m going to go watch some TV. :-)