HD system solutions: for apartment living, for family homes, and for those with big budgets

Where do you start with a system to enjoy high definition Olympics? We’ll show you how

All of us are in widely different personal circumstances. You may have a big budget for your enjoyment of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games — short of actually going there. Or, more likely, your finances may be more modest.

You may have a massive room just waiting to be turned into a dedicated Olympics viewing venue (later to become a home theatre). Or you may have a cosy lounge room in your apartment, which will only be properly fitted out for high definition Olympics with considerable care.

We shall outline, over the next few pages, three ‘Starter Systems’ to give you an idea of what you need in various circumstances. Before that, though, we shall make a few suggestions that apply in all cases.

Your plans

The first thing to consider is: where do you want to go with all this? Is the Olympic Games in high definition your end goal, or are you looking beyond that? Are you planning on eventually enjoying the full home theatre experience, even if you may not yet be able to afford it all?

These considerations should influence your plans. For example, for a given amount of money you may choose a small (but still high definition) TV screen and a home theatre in a box. This will give you good performance right now, but not the very best. If it is the best that you are after, perhaps deferring the home theatre in a box may be wise, and instead pour your entire budget into a larger TV, one that will meet your final, not just your interim, needs.

Your environment

A panel TV – plasma or LCD – will work pretty much anywhere. But a front projector simply must have a dark room in which to operate effectively. Sure, it gives the biggest picture, but what’s the use if you can’t see what is happening in darker areas of the picture.

Consider your room. Your equipment will generally have to fit into the environment you already have available for it. Some changes can be made, but for most of us there are limitations.

Are you in a lovely suburban home with a huge room that you plan to use for your Olympics viewing and, later, movie watching? If, when you are watching movies, you want the sound to be loud like it is at the cinema, then you will need a powerful and efficient home theatre sound system. A home theatre in a box isn’t going to do the trick. It just won’t go loud enough, even though it might be fine for a compact apartment.

Your family

How will you watch the Olympic Games? We here prefer to share the experience with friends and family. That means providing a big enough picture for half a dozen people. If you will be a couple sharing it together, then a smaller TV should do the trick.

Put these all together – where you want your system to end up, what environment it will be going into, who you will be sharing it with, and how much money you have available now, and into the future – and you can come up with a plan that ensures that you get the best Olympic Games experience now, while working towards having a full home theatre system that suits you perfectly in the future.

Of course, some may have the resources to be able to achieve that perfect system now. If that’s you, see ‘Money No Object’. For the rest of us, check out ‘Apartment Living’ and ‘Family’ over the next couple of pages.