Midlife Bachelor

December 3 , 2007  Updated January 7, 2008
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The AV Receiver
Once I had the TV picked out, then I needed to choose the AV Receiver.  There were two very comparable models – one from Denon, and one from Sony.  Both are brand-new top-end models – and have only shown up in stores very, very recently.  Now since an AV Receiver is not something you can look at in a store, and decide if you like it – I put my trust in several online discussion forums and reviews.   Specifically, I read editorial reviews of each on cnet.com (see the HDTV World section of cnet.com), plus I read what individual users were saying about each.  I also did a google search on each model, and read what end-users had been saying about the two models.  I settled on the Denon because it outputs 10 additional watts of power compared to the Sony … plus a number of users rated it easier to use and to setup compared to the Sony.   Either one would have been a good choice – I happened to feel better about choosing the Denon, and so I did.

Speakers – A Critical and Expensive Choice
The speakers were truly the most difficult item to pick out.  I have a set of speakers for my prior system … but they are not home theater speakers, they are very large audio speakers meant for blasting a room full of loud music.  I wanted to get a set of floor standing speakers that were narrower than my previous set … but that did not sacrifice in terms of power.   I also wanted a full set of home theater speakers … which means one center speaker, a subwoofer, and at least two rear surrounds (in addition to the front floor standing speakers).   I visited every audio and home theater store within a twenty-five mile radius to look at various speakers.  I also asked a number of people I know for their opinions.  What I learned is that you can spend anywhere from $200 to $25,000 (or more) for a set of home theater speakers.   You have to first decide on your speaker budget, and then seek out what your alternatives are based on how much you have to spend.  I personally wound up with a set of Bowers & Wilkins 600 series speakers – they fit my space, my budget, and my power requirements … plus they sound great!

Blu-ray or HD-DVD?
What would a home theater be without a Blu-ray or HD-DVD player?  It would be a home theater that is missing something important – and that is what mine is missing right now.  I actually don’t want to purchase two separate players, so I am waiting for Samsung to release its Blu-ray/HD-DVD combo player … the BD-UP5000.   According to “The Official Samsung BD-UP5000 Tracking Thread” on the Audio Visual Science Forum (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=931634), this unit will begin shipping on January 15, 2008 … and so I wait.  I do have my old 720p DVD player currently hooked up so that at least I can watch DVDs in 720p for the time being … but having Blu-ray and HD-DVD in one player after mid-January will be great! January 7, 2008 Update - I read on the avsforum thread above that several BD-UP5000s were arriving in Southern California at Best Buy stores around December 14th. To make a long story short, I kept calling various stores until I found someone who told me which stores had more than one. I wound up driving out to the Fullerton, CA store on December 15th - and I was lucky enough to purchase one of two such units that had literally just arrived. I've been using the BD-UP5000 I bought since then, and it works great! I had only tried Blu-ray disks prior to last weekend - but since I received a Best Buy gift card for Christmas, I went ahead and purchased the movie 300 on HD-DVD ... and it looks great! This "DUO" player, as it is called (because it plays both Blu-ray and HD-DVDs) works great! The format wars can continue for all I care because I am covered either way! Woohooo!

So there you have it – a brief write up on home theater nirvana.  Being a gadget man, I know that my love affair with these new gadgets will last at least several months ... it is called being “gadget high”.  If you do not yet have one of these TVs, your time is coming.  Trust me – once you’ve gone high def, you will wonder how you ever lived without it previously.   Yes – it is that good!

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