Do you need all the features and technology packed into the latest gear, or not? Anthony Fordham outlines those worthy of your home entertainment dollar.

You?ve decided to take the plunge. A decent TV and all-in-one home theatre kit just isn?t enough for you anymore, and it?s time to upgrade to a proper setup.

That means visiting a whole bunch of different shops looking for the components that are right for you. You?ll need a display device, be it an LCD, plasma TV, or even a projector. Then there?s the digital TV tuner. Next, you?ll need a DVD, HD-DVD or Blu-ray player and video recorder, preferably with a built-in hard drive. When it comes to sound, you?ll need at least one surround amplifier, speakers to suit it, as well as a radio tuner and CD player. And don?t forget the cables to connect all this together.

That?s a lot of kit, and the problem is only exacerbated when you go into the special room at the back of the shop, and the slightly strange shop assistant begins to espouse his baffling wares.

What you?ll notice very quickly is that some home entertainment components cost a lot, and others cost an awful lot. Like almost any serious hobby, you can spend all your money on big-ticket items and be the envy of all the other kids in the club who have to struggle on with their entry-level kit.

But are the big dollars really worth it? Is a policy of spend as much as you possibly can really the best way to get the ultimate setup? There are so many components with so many different features, it stands to reason that at least some of those features are included just to dazzle unwary shoppers.

One of the advantages of being a home entertainment lover is that your hobby deals in concrete results ? it?s all about getting the best picture and sound quality. There?s some degree of personal bias in this, of course, because you might prefer a slightly bluer image or enjoy listening to music with slightly reduced bass.

The various features attached to every home entertainment device are designed to give you the flexibility you need to create the perfect setup ? for you. If you?re also trying to work inside a sensible budget, some of those features may just be wasted cash. Let?s look at some important aspects of this technology, to see exactly what your hard-earned money buys you.