Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

How to build the ultimate home theatre

What’s the point of spending a small fortune on the best audio and video hardware if you have nothing interesting to watch? And what good is having great content if your TV stinks? Here's how to round up the best of both worlds, high-priced options and less so

1 of 4

When size matters: If you’re only interested in picture size and quality, Sony national manager Michael Neujahr recommends the 84-inch XBR 4K Ultra HD set. This behemoth is the largest, sharpest TV ever designed by Sony and the 4K resolution standard is about four times as sharp as regular HD content, meaning you can pretty much mash your face against the screen and still not be able to differentiate among individual pixels. There are, however, some drawbacks. For one thing, there isn’t that much 4K content available right now, so some of the TV’s brawn might be wasted. There is also the small issue of price: Sony’s highest-end set will set you back a cool $25,000. If you don’t care about 4K or don’t have the cash equivalent of a Honda Civic just lying around, there’s the newly released KDL-65S990A, Sony’s first curved TV set. The 65-inch TV, designed to mimic the curve of a theatre screen, supports regular HD as well as 3-D and costs a relatively minuscule $4,500.

Remie Geoffroi/The Globe and Mail

2 of 4

Sound investments: A lot of high-end TVs tend to come with their own speaker systems. If, however, money is no object, you may as well get the best sound possible. For years, Bang & Olufsen has built the world’s most insanely high-performance, insanely expensive speakers. At the top end of the company’s current product lineup is the BeoLab 5 speaker (pictured at left). Shaped like a cross between a highway construction cone and a spaceship, these speaker towers are as state-of-the-art as it gets. Each speaker has four amplifiers and a built-in microphone that measures a room’s acoustics and adjusts output accordingly. “It’s sublime,” says Ross McKim of B&O’s Toronto store. He adds that B&O will also set up each system in person, measuring out the space, hiding wires and getting the speaker positioning just right. It won’t, again, be cheap – a pair of Beolab 5 speakers will cost a cool $29,000. Never fear, though – you can get lower-end BeoLabs starting at around $5,000 a pair.

Remie Geoffroi/The Globe and Mail

3 of 4

A game changer: While non-gamers may dismiss both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (each is due out in mid-November) as mere video-game devices, the new consoles also function as entertainment units. Both the new PlayStation and the new Xbox come with 500-gigabyte hard drives, on which you can store everything from games to movies to TV shows. Most importantly, both have sprawling online content stores that let you buy, rent or stream all kinds of media directly from your device. And because you can save that media to the cloud, you can also access it from any other console with an Internet connection. The price difference between the two consoles is negligible – the PS4 will run you about $400, the Xbox One $500. The Xbox, however, forces you to buy a monthly subscription to access more of its streaming services, while the Xbox online store is generally better designed and stocked than the PlayStation’s.

Remie Geoffroi/The Globe and Mail

4 of 4

Amping up content: While Canadians are still waiting for such hyper-popular U.S. services as the Internet radio station Pandora and the online TV streamer Hulu (not to mention the better-stocked American version of Netflix), there are ways to access them, some even legal. To get American Netflix, for instance, you can try replacing the Canadian IP address on your iPad, PlayStation and other devices with an American one (plenty are available on the Web, but beware: Netflix has been clamping down on this tactic of late). It’s also worth investing $35 in a Google Chromecast, a USB-key-like attachment that plugs in to your TV’s HDMI port, allowing you to stream anything from YouTube or anywhere else on the Web using your smartphone as a remote control. And if, after trying these suggestions, you still can’t find anything worth watching, there’s always BitTorrent – but you didn’t hear that from me.

Remie Geoffroi/The Globe and Mail

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error