Onkyo HT-S3200 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System

As HD media becomes more and more accessible to the average Joe, consumers are finding that its just as important to get a HD capable home entertainment system as it is in getting a HD capable wide-screen display. Vendors like Onkyo have listened and responded with affordable yet high performance systems like the Onkyo HT-S3200 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System. Although the Onkyo HT-S3200 is just the entry-level model in the company’s current line-up, the system boasts plenty of features including HDMI video and the ability to switch up to three HD sources and three audio-only sources.

Although the Onkyo HT-S3200’s setup is manual, the system’s out-of-the-box sound is good enough to not require the usual speaker volume-leveling. The system can accept up to three HDMI sources with one digital coaxial, two optical inputs, and the choice to use analog inputs (RCA) for any selected source. This means you can hook up to three HD video devices and up to three audio-only devices with space for two component sources as well. The system is optimized for users who already have a few video sources such as a next-gen game console or Blu-ray player so it doesn’t include a disc player of its own.

Audio decoding offers standard DVD modes such as Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS, DTS 96/24, and DTS Neo:6. Other features include an AM/FM radio with up to 30 presets and an optional port for an iPod dock on the receiver’s rear that must be purchased separately. You can also plug a portable device into the receiver’s front-panel 3.5-millimeter line-in jack.

The Onkyo HT-S3200 can also make use of a B speaker system turning it into the perfect party player. The Onkyo HT-S3200’s receiver also features Audyssey EQ and Audyssey Dynamic Volume without an auto-setup option that results in a fuller and richer sound with three levels of dynamic range compression. Overall, the Onkyo HT-S3200 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System offers great sound and a nice feature-set at an even better price.

A Revolution in Home Entertainment Systems – Touchscreens & Media Servers

Home entertainment systems have come a long way since you ooh’ ed and ahh’ed because your neighbor had a few pairs of speakers that actually fit flush into his walls. That’s old news now. Even homes in comparatively modest new developments are being outfitted with a full complement of audio, network, TV and telephone wiring. In many developments the builder offers a standard wiring package and various upgrades for additional wiring, speakers, wiring enclosures and even full control systems.

Systems have evolved to include sleek, wall-mounted touch screens that allow simple access to your music and other house functions such as security, lighting, HVAC, and motorized window treatments. A talented programmer can make these systems function with true “one touch” simplicity. It’s almost as if they’re reading your mind.

The touch screen’s advantage is that it can change the control interface to only show what you need at any one time. This affords tremendous flexibility while retaining the simplicity people desire. The touch screen interface is extremely powerful when combined with another technology that has come into prominence recently; the hard disc based media server.
Your CDs are downloaded, or ripped, onto a hard drive. This combination allows your entire music catalog to be displayed on the touch screen for easy searching. You can typically search by artist, song title, genre, or album. Once the desired selection is located, you just touch it on the screen and it begins to play.

These hard drive servers use computer hard drives and modern compression techniques to store phenomenal amounts of music in a simple audio component less than half the size of a 200 disc CD changer. They function just like a typical CD player, not your computer, so they are reliable and easy to use.

Media servers have exploded in popularity recently because of the enormous popularity of compressed music formats such as MP3 and the fantastic array of functionality a disc based system allows.
For those who have, or do, own CD mega changers, a hard drive music server will be like a breath of fresh air.

Access to any song is typically less than a second away. Contrast that to selecting disc 94 in your 300-disc CD changer when you are playing disc 201. With a multi-room audio system, you may be on the other side of your house trying to do this with a keypad or remote control. The wait for your changer to return the disc it was playing then trundle the carousel around to your desired disc can seem like an eternity.

Another advantage is easy cataloging. Most hard drive systems will recognize any CD you insert for ripping and if they don’t, they are connected to the internet for access to a giant database. This they access automatically to gather artist, album and track information. Gone are the days of using a keyboard or remote to tediously enter the information about your CDs into a CD changer. You can also stop worrying about which slot your discs are in. “Let’s see, was Led Zeppelin IV in slot 90 or 190?”
Using a hard drive server frees up your CDs for use elsewhere such as your car, boat or vacation home.

In addition, since your CDs are not locked up in a changer, your collection is able to be enjoyed by many members of the family at once. With a changer, if someone is listening to it, all of the discs inside it are basically off limits. With a changer, not only are your CDs free for use in other locations but many hard drive servers provide multiple audio outputs.

Multiple outputs enable you to listen to different discs in different areas of the house if your system is so configured. For example, one person could be listening to Korn in the rec room while Bach’s Requiem is being played in the kitchen and Dire Straights in the bedroom. With a conventional CD changer, this is impossible.

You can also buy and store music from many online music services and store those on your hard drive server.
Hard drive servers offer advantages over music files stored on a computer as well. Because they function like a traditional audio component, they are easier to use for many people. It is also easier to integrate them with touch screen based home control systems. This will begin to change as the popularity of multimedia PCs such as those running Microsoft XP Media Center Edition 2005 increases.

These units are many steps closer to delivering the long promised “convergence” between consumer electronics and computers. Multimedia PCs, also known as HTPCs [Home Theater PC] function as DVD players, personal video recorders (similar to a TiVO), and hard drive media storage.

They allow storage of digital photos for easy display on your TV or monitor. HTPCs can, of course, browse the net on your TV via your broadband connection. As hard drive storage becomes more economical and compression techniques become better, the storage of HD movies and HDTV programming will become commonplace.

Soon these types of servers and interfaces will become the norm rather than the exception. You’ll think nothing of the amazing array of features offered and the ability to easily access your media collection throughout your home. Once a rarity, media servers, in one form or another, will be found in almost every home.

Tips For Choosing a DVD Projector For Use in Your Home Entertainment System

A lot of people, when they set up their home entertainment systems, don’t even bother to consider buying a DVD projector. This is a big mistake. While this item will not always be the right choice, it certainly has its good uses. For example, did you know that the video picture quality of a DVD projector is very high in quality? Some people even prefer them over plasma screen TV’s.

One basic thing you will have to consider is where do you want to mount it? Some projectors can attach to the ceiling, while others will have to be rested on top of a table or some other object. I am of the mind that it is better to hang it on the ceiling because then it’s out of the way. No one is going to step on it or knock it off its surface. (Nor will they be able to spill anything on it!)

You will have to set a budget, too. If you are very serious about setting up a first rate home entertainment system then I would suggest setting aside about $500 for a DVD projector. You may very well be able to do better than this, but you certainly don’t want to get caught in the trap of buying one that will not give you a great viewing experience.

I would say that those are the two single most important factors to consider when buying a DVD projector. Issues of brand and model quality can be easily sorted out by reading some reviews or going into the store and trying it out for yourself.