Home entertainment covers so many products these days that working out what will suit you and your lifestyle is an exciting if not slightly daunting challenge – from multi-room sound bars to 4k UHD televisions and Blu-ray recorders, the options to create that perfect living room experience seem endless.
To help navigate the abundance of products and terminology we’ve put together this handy guide to arm you with the knowledge to build a home entertainment system that is perfect for you.
CHOOSE A TYPE OF TV/AUDIO PRODUCT
Let’s start by having a think about what kind of TV watcher you are and once you’ve found a TV that is perfect for you, have a look at our TV product reviews here.
TV screens range in size from 30-inches to a whopping 86-inches. The size of TV that will work in your home depends on the room and how far you are from the screen. See our handy size guide below…
There are many different terms and acronyms used to describe functionality and technology used in TVs. We’ve put together a glossary of the most common ones so you know exactly what they mean…
Liquid crystal display TVs are the most common available and use lamps to shine light through liquid crystal cells in the TV to present an impressive image.
These are thinner than back-lit LED TVs as they use a panel of LED edge lighting. They are the most energy-efficient screens available.
This stands for organic light emitting diode, but the simple answer is they don’t require back lighting and are therefore thinner than LCD TVs. It is a relatively new technology giving you even greater life-like image quality with richer and more vibrant colours. Brands who offer OLED TVs include LG, Hisense, Panasonic and Sony.
Quantum dots are simply, small particles. TVs using this technology do not use traditional filtering that back lit LED LCD use that can ‘dull’ the brightness of the image. Without the use of a filter, the image is brighter and more efficient. Quantum Dot technology can be found in TVs from Hisense, Samsung and TCL.
HDR or High Dynamic Range refers to technology that allows a greater range of contrast and colour. HDR allows brighter whites and deeper, darker blacks. The result is a more realistic and natural image. Look out for the accreditation for HDR. Sometimes you will see a number listed after the words High Dynamic Range e.g. HDR 1000. This means that the TV is HDR compatible and has a 1,000 nit luminance. ‘Nit’ refers to a measure of brightness of a light. The more nits, the brighter the TV. HDR10+ differs from HDR10 in that HDR10+ uses dynamic metadata opposed to static metadata. In other words, with HDR10+, every different scene in a movie uses different settings, whereas HDR10 uses the same settings throughout. Dolby Vision is another type of HDR, which changes settings per scene like HDR10+, but also can calibrate the images for depending on your hardware.
ULTRAHD™ PREMIUM is a certification only granted to TVs that meet a very high minimum specification. This ensures that all viewers get a premium 4k experience. Featured in TVs from Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Hisense, and Philips.
Speakers with artificial intelligence and voice command controls such as Google Assist and Amazon Alexia. Capable of doing anything from making calls, turning on the lights, playing music, or just ask it any question.
Similar to ULTRAHDTM™ PREMIUM, Dolby Vision is a certification issued to TVs that meet strict minimum specifications for amazing cinematic like viewing.
Full HD gives you up to five times sharper an image than a standard TV. You can watch content produced in FHD and Blu-ray.
This provides 4 times the resolution of FHD with greater clarity and depth; making you feel like you’re watching real life. As this a new technology, content is still growing. 4K is also referred to as Ultra HD or UHD.
Local dimming is specific to LED TVs and refers to the dynamic adjusting of brightness of an image. It allows the screen to show a dark image in one part of the screen and a bright one in another; maximising contrast and reducing overall power consumption.
Direct dimming uses dimming blocks which enhances contrast and intense colour representation.
TVs with full array include a series of LEDs behind the TV panel which are lit depending on need. Full array typically produces the best images possible with an LCD.
Measured in Hertz, refresh rate simply refers to how many times the picture is refreshed per second. Standard is 50Hz, but 100Hz or even 200Hz is available. The higher the refresh rate is better for action footage with rapidly moving objects.
A TV that can connect to the internet through a wireless or Ethernet connection. They usually have an interface on the TV to navigate to various options including Netflix, Facebook, YouTube and browsing the web.
This provides high-definition input to your TV from another HD device. TVs have approximately 2-4 HDMI ports. We recommend a minimum of 3. Less than 3 inputs will limit your options in terms of being able to use multiple devices at the same time like a video game system, Blu-ray player, set-top box etc.
Apart from a stylish modern look, a curved screen is designed to give you more immersive TV watching. The curve is intended to make every pixel equidistant from the viewer.
Completely Immerse Yourself In All the Action
To really get the best out of your TV viewing experience take a look below in our TV section to find the best product to suit your specific requirements.
Before we start to explain the different sound systems, players and recorders on the market, take some time to understand what your needs are so you can find the perfect solution for your home…
Once you’ve made your decision, take a look at our Audio Visual product reviews here.
HiFi systems come in many shapes and sizes and the one that suits you will come down to how you want to use it and what you want to listen to…
Where: Large room to multiple rooms
Source: TV, music, streaming content, radio, DVD/Blu-ray, gaming console… the list is endless
This system gives you the ability to connect all your audio and video devices through the one device to send to your surround sound speakers. They come with varying functionality from a basic plug and play to the ability to play in multiple.
Where: One room to full house
Source: CD, radio, music streaming via smart device
A mini HiFi system is great if you’re after powerful sound at an affordable price. Some systems can pump out serious power that can send sound throughout your whole house. Some come with fun functionality, like disco lighting and DJ mixing controls, Karaoke, P.A system.
Where: A small room or space
Source: CD, Radio, music streaming via smart device
These are great for those tight on space. They take up little room but can give you powerful sound. Many have in built docs for your smart devices or a USB port to plug into.
OTHER TYPES OF AUDIO
Where: TV & sound bar should be no more than a few metres away from the viewer for best effect. Most soundbars, however, are also suitable for large rooms.
Source: Movies, TV and music streamed through Smart TV
A sound bar is exactly as it sounds – a bar or box containing several speakers that is designed to sit below your TV to give you a great home movie experience. It’s well suited for those tight on space or if you’re just not interested in the multiple wires and speakers of a surround sound system.
Many soundbars come with a subwoofer included. This gives you the same great bass experience you get with a complete system but without committing to a large number of units. Soundbars are great at creating a minimalist look in your living room. Typically they can be mounted onto your wall or placed on top of your entertainment unit.
Players and recorders
Where: Connected to TV
Source: DVDs, Blu-ray discs, streamed online content, 4K Blu-ray disc
Choosing the right player or recorder depends on a few things, but most importantly you should understand what kind of TV you have. If the TV you have is 4K, then you should consider getting a player or recorder that can play 4K content.
Blu-ray is the latest standard and can play movies in HD and some can upscale to 4K or UHD. Blu-ray also features sound innovation as it provides multiple streams of audio giving you a more cinema-like experience.
Where: Anywhere you want – poolside, BBQs, picnics or holidays
Source: Music streamed from your smart device via Bluetooth®, radio
A wireless Bluetooth® speaker is great if you want to listen to music wherever you are. They are light and portable.
Network or Multi-Room Audio
Where: Multiple rooms in the home or outside in the entertaining area.
Source: Digital music collection, radio, streamed music, CDs
If you want the flexibility of listening to music in multiple rooms then networked audio might be the thing for you. Essentially, it’s a speaker system that can operate as a standalone connected to your WiFi or you can add more speakers from the range to extend your music listening experience.
As you start to look at different sound systems you will no doubt come across some terms that you may not understand. Please use this handy table to explain the most commonly used terms.
This refers to the number of speakers in your set up. 5.1 simply means five speakers plus one sub-woofer. The more speakers you have the more immersive the experience.
This refers to an AV receiver’s ability to send a second source signal to connected speakers in another room.
Found in sound bars, an IR blaster allows you to place the bar in front of the TVs infrared receptor without blocking the signal from the remote.
This sets up the speakers to ensure you have equalised sound coming from your surround sound system.
The lowest part of the frequency range reproduced by woofers and subwoofers.
Sound that comes from all directions to give you an immersive realistic experience.
It is a digital audio coding technique to reduce the amount of data needed to produce high quality sound.
This refers to the speaker set up and uses overhead speakers to give a more immersive experience. Some home speakers incorporate this technology by sending the sound upwards. The benefit of Dolby Atmos sound is that it uses object based surround sound, meaning that sounds comes from all directions and provides incredible richness and depth of sound. It can be found in receivers, speakers and soundbars.
This allows you to make a connection between the music player and the speaker without needing to be a part of a home wireless network.
This is an input that lets you connect devices that don’t use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Multidirectional sound which gives you an immersive experience – sounds come from the directions that they are supposed to as if you were really in the movie.
Lossless audio with a very high sampling frequency or bit depth. In other words, very high quality audio.
Technology which enhances the quality of sound, e.g. from music or DVDs
Near Field Communication. Usually found in smartphones or other portable devices, allows you to wirelessly send and transfer information when devices are in close proximity to one another.
Allows 4K HD video data to pass through a receiver without losing any of its quality.
Wirelessly stream audio, video, device screens, photos etc. between compatible devices.
A small dongle which lets you stream from your laptop or smartphone to your TV.
A device with voice control lets you communicate with it using voice commands.
Such as Netflix, Stan, Hulu etc. These services offer a wide range of TV series and movies.
Digital radio broadcasting service.
Active Noise Cancelling is used in headphones to block out unwanted sounds and outside noises.
Get wired for sound
For a full immersive sound experience, we recommend you take a look below in our audio section for advice on purchasing more powerful sound.