Having a home theater is a dream many people share. The promise of a great viewing experience is enticing. The price tag for such an experience can be heart stopping.
Most people assume that a theater at home is going to be too expensive to realistically accomplish. While these home movie setups can be cost prohibitive, they don’t have to be. With a little bit of research and creative spending, you can find all the pieces you need without breaking the bank.
Here are nine tips for making a home theater on a budget.
Space Out Your Purchases
Most theaters will require a lot of different parts to put together. The average home theater has a screen and projector, sound system, seating, control device or PC, and other parts or furniture. The costs can easily add up, but nothing says you have to buy everything at once.
Space out your purchases and prioritize what is most important first. The things you really need for a home movie are a projector, screen, and some kind of sound. Everything else is extra.
Look For Special Deals
Depending on when you are shopping for theater equipment, you might be able to find special deals from online or local electronic stores. The holidays are a great time to shop. The start of the new year can also be a great time since new products are being released.
Even in the off season, you may find a store that is running a special to generate extra business. The best thing to do is to check in with your favorite electronic stores or ask store employees if any deals are coming up.
Nothing says you have to buy new. A lot of theater equipment will last for years of regular use. You can turn to sites like eBay or Craigslist to find something someone else might be trying to sell for a lower cost.
Unlike other tech, most home theater devices won’t suffer from designed obsolescence as much where they become outdated. Projectors and screens, in particular, will remain usable for years on end if properly taken care of.
Go With Budget Equipment
Any movie device is going to have a whole range of price points for you to consider. It may be tempting to buy the latest and greatest, but in most cases, this isn’t necessary. Budget model devices will serve most of your needs, especially as you start out.
Think about the essentials you need. For example, most projectors need to show an image and speakers need to play sound. Anything extra might be nice but won’t keep you from having a great viewing experience if you are lacking the fancy stuff.
Avoid Fancy Features
Speaking of the fancy stuff, it’s best to avoid it if you don’t really need it. The fancy things usually come in the form of advanced features companies use to sell the product.
3D capability is one such example. TV manufacturers try to market their products as cutting edge by offering a unique 3D experience unmatched by the competitors. Unfortunately, this feature also comes with a premium cost and rarely lives up to the hype.
Buy Last Year?s Model
In the same vein as avoiding the latest and greatest, you may also consider finding some leftover equipment from last year. Most electronics companies release a new model every year or two. While the previous model falls out of production, there are usually leftovers you can find with a bit of research online.
Best of all, these leftovers are usually discounted so they will sell. While you may be missing out on a few fancy features, most devices don’t change substantially in performance and capability until a few versions later.
Use An Old PC
A home theater system will require some kind of control device to play movies, tie into the cable, provide recording, etc. You can purchase a dedicated DVR or control system, but these are essentially specialized desktop computers.
If you have an old PC around, you can use that instead. Most PC?s will play DVDs and Blu-Ray with the right equipment which is usually much cheaper than buying the whole package. You can also download special software to replicate the same experience the dedicated devices will give you.
Garage Sale Furniture
Most people tend to forget that a home theater will cost more than just the technology you put into it. Unless you are going to watch your movies on the floor, you will probably need some furniture. Once again, you can spend a pretty penny on the new stuff, but you don’t have to.
Garage sales are usually full of old furniture, especially cabinets that can hold projectors and small equipment. These sales are also great for finding the small little extra decor that will spice up the space and turn it into a true movie theater in your house.
There are a couple of areas where you can get really creative while saving some money. For example, use a white wall or large bed sheet as a substitute for?a dedicated projection screen. The quality might not be as good, but it will do until you have money to upgrade.
Many companies are releasing mobile projectors you can use in place of a dedicated one. You can also repurpose old tech like audio systems. This way you are recycling stuff you have around the house for free!
Building Your Dream Home Theater
Avoid the temptation to go overboard with your spending when putting together a new home theater. With some research, patience, and creativity you can have a great system at a fraction of the cost of something state of the art.
Pay attention to deals and used equipment. When you free yourself from the need of having the newest devices, you will open yourself up to a world of opportunities.