When you build out your connected home, don’t overlook the smart home theater.
Everyone has completely different needs here. Whether you want to upgrade the entertainment in your living room or you have a dedicated room crying out for the latest tech, we have something for everyone here.
Rather than attempting to outline a single solution, we’ve touched upon the core basics by category. You can mix and match then depending on your requirements and budget.
We’ll walk you through the following areas:
- Home Theater Projector
- Smart Speaker or Smart Display
- Home Theater Projector Screen
- Smart TV
- Speakers and Soundbar
- Streaming Device
- Blu-ray Player
- Universal Remote
- Wireless Headphones
Home Theater Projector
A powerful projector is the centerpiece of any effective smart home theater.
While the JVC DLA-X590R could certainly not be described as cheap, if you have deep pockets and exacting tastes, it’s one of the strongest options in a crowded market. Also, this model is substantially cheaper than some pure 4K models that can easily run into five figures.
The optical upscaling technology baked in enables you to get a 4K image from a 1080p chip.
This projector responds best to a totally blacked-out home theater. You’ll be rewarded with exceptional contrast and dynamic range. You’ll also get fine detailing.
The motorized lens locks on to a handful of standard screen sizes. This simplifies set-up and means you shouldn’t need to call in a contractor.
If the JVC is priced too high for your liking, you have plenty of choice with budget projectors.
The Epson Home Cinema 2150 is not only keenly priced, but it also packs a real punch, too.
This projector works especially well in family rooms where you don’t get complete control over ambient brightness levels.
You’ll also benefit from limited vertical lens shift which streamlines installation and screen alignment.
With widescreen in full HD to 11 feet or more, you really will get the next best thing to the movies without needing to leave home. Brightness is rated at 2500 lumens, impressive for a budget projector.
You’ll be able to stream movies and games from both wired and wireless HDMI devices with Miracast and MHL supported.
Although you’ll likely want to build out superior audio, there’s even a 10-watt speaker on board, so you're really getting more bang for your buck.
Kicking out between 29 and 37 decibels, the projector is not whisper-quiet, but it won’t create too much noise either.
All you need now is something to throw the projected image onto.
Home Theater Projector Screen
The Silver Ticket Products 4K Ultra HD-Ready Projector Screen gives you a sweeping 160-degree viewing angle. Wherever you’re sitting, you won’t suffer any loss in resolution.
The black bevels on the aluminum frame are designed to absorb the light effectively. You’ll get the perfect canvas for that blockbuster and it costs far less than you might imagine.
The screen is made from heavy white vinyl with a 1:1 gain reflectivity. In plain English, the reflective properties will make the colors pop off the screen.
Installation couldn’t be much quicker. You’ll get a tensioning rod system so you can customize things perfectly. Brackets at the top and bottom allow for horizontal adjustment.
Projectors are certainly not the only solution at your disposal, with smart TVs arguably even more popular. Before that, though, a quick interlude.
Smart Speaker or Smart Display
Even if you’re planning to use powerful dedicated speakers, no smart home theater would be complete without a digital assistant.
Alexa and Google Assistant are by some distance the most popular virtual butlers. Siri remains lagging in third place with Samsung’s Bixby left trailing in the distance.
With a display half the size of its bigger brother, you’ll get a nifty little smart home portal without needing too much space on the shelves.
As with all Echo devices, potentially the key selling point is the way you can control other devices in your smart home. From the kit in your home theater to lighting, heating, and cooling, you’ll be able to take the helm hands-free.
Our favorite Google Assistant vehicle is undoubtedly Google Home Max. While most smart speakers disappoint enormously on the audio, Home Max kicks like a mule. A pair of 4.5-inch woofers give you a deep and pulsing low-end, while a couple of custom tweeters bring higher frequencies to life.
The “room-filling” sound promised by Google is delivered here so you can get that home theater rocking. You’ll even be able to pair a couple of Home Max speakers wirelessly for surround sound.
Although Alexa makes a mighty fine virtual assistant, the search powers of Google Assistant are even stronger. You’ll get the same smarts and the same ability to control your connected home with voice commands.
Whichever route you choose here, a good smart speaker is a versatile piece of equipment and valuable in a smart home theater.
What if you don’t fancy the expense and the hassle of a projector screen? Smart TVs are the obvious solution here.
Many home theaters are actually the living room. In this case, you probably don’t want a projector screen, so go for a solid smart TV instead.
If you want something that makes a real statement while still coming in at a reasonable price-point, this 65-inch Samsung 4K UHD TV is well worth your consideration.
The curved screen serves to grab you and pull you right into the action. Auto Depth Enhancer makes your viewing even more immersive than ever. 4K detailing with high dynamic range produces far more detail than you could expect with regular HDTV.
There’s an easily navigable on-screen guide for all the streamed content and live TV you can handle. You can also use OneRemote or your favorite digital assistant for hands-free convenience.
The SmartThings dashboard extends your control beyond the smart home theater. You can easily manipulate a suite of other compatible devices throughout your house.
There’s also a 55-inch model available if you can’t quite make space for this beast.
For a powerful and exciting viewing experience without spending as much as you might fear, the mighty Samsung delivers once again.
The AV receiver in a dedicated home theater is put through its paces more than most components since it acts as both the amplifier and the processor for your theater. With audio and video inputs routed through the receiver then processed and channeled to the projector or speakers, the receiver is key.
The Yamaha RX-V485BL is a no-nonsense 5.1-channel receiver packing advanced wireless technologies. Along with WiFi and Bluetooth, you’ll get AirPlay 2 and MusicCast.
4K Ultra HD and HDR 10 are supported. Dolby Vision is a nice touch.
You’ll get 4 HDMI in and 1 out which is more than enough for most reasonable needs.
A range of streaming services is built-in. These vary from region to region.
As with all the best smart tech, you’ll be able to take charge of your media with voice commands assuming you have an Echo device or Google Home speaker hooked up.
With MusicCast, you’ll be able to build out audio beyond the home theater and across the rest of the house. You can add wireless speakers for surround sound, too.
What else can you do on the audio front in the smart home theater, then?
Speakers and Soundbar
For simple but effective wireless speakers on a budget, it’s hard to rival the classic Sonos One.
Available individually, as a 2-pack or a 4-pack, these understated speakers give you enough oomph to fill a reasonably large room.
Built out on the PLAY:1 blueprints, you’ll enjoy class-D amps onboard and some highly tuned drivers giving you a precise and warm soundscape across all frequencies.
By using a pair of Sonos One in the home theater, you can harness surround sound without needing to spend a fortune or endure trailing wires everywhere.
You’ll be able to take voice command and put Alexa to action so you can control all compatible devices hands-free.
If you’re looking for even more grunt, how about calling in the big guns?
Well, the Sonos Beam can be added to your One speakers along with a wireless subwoofer, so you have a complete home theater system with no need for cables everywhere.
Sonos shows that you don’t need to pay silly money for solid whole-room audio. Try out some of their impressive range and you won’t look back.
So far, so good. How about some entertainment, though?
No smart home theater is complete without some form of streaming device.
You have a huge spread of options here, but Fire Stick 4K remains our favorite.
Fire Stick 4K comes with Alexa baked in so you’ll enjoy hands-free control without needing a third-party smart speaker.
With support for 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision, you have all the main bases covered.
If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you’ll get access to an enormous library of free content. If you’re not a member, it’s well worth joining up. Beyond this, you can access a large variety of free content and there are a number of subscription services available. Whatever you feel like watching, you’ll find it with Fire TV. There are over half a million movies and TV shows up for grabs so you’re not going to run dry any time soon.
What if you want to watch a classic old movie you can’t find, but you still have on Blu-ray?
This Panasonic 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player is a robust unit coming in at a reasonably keen price compared to some of the competition. What do you get for your money, then?
Support is in place for 4 different 4K/HDR formats:
- Dolby Vision
- Hybrid Log-Gamma
So, you can grab 4K content to your heart’s content and you’ll also enjoy high-res audio to do the visuals justice.
Designed to work with Alexa, kick your feet up and control your entertainment without lifting a finger.
This Blu-ray player is designed to hook up easily to your audio if you want to build it into your system. If not, pop it in the drawer and pull it out when it’s time for a disc.
Depending on how you’ve chosen to build out your home theater, chances are you have a whole suite of devices. The last thing you want is a huge collection of remote controls.
While controlling smart devices in-app on your cellphone is standard practice, many people don’t want phones in the home theater.
The obvious solution comes in the form of a universal remote. The Logitech Harmony Elite is by no means cheap, but it’s the slickest remote on the market.
This pack comes with the Harmony Hub enabling control of devices and appliances inside closed cabinets. It also allows for remote control.
The full color touchscreen allows you to swipe and tap your way through your connected home and control anything you like without getting out of your chair.
And while today has been all about kicking out the noise, when it’s time to unwind, what else would complete your home theater?
If you’re looking for the best wireless headphones so you can relax with some music or a movie while others sleep, you’re spoiled for choice.
Unfortunately, this is one area where it’s tough to find a bargain that doesn’t let you down. Here at Smarthome, we’ve had our share of cheap Bluetooth headphones and they just don’t last the distance. Why not save yourself the headache and invest in the classic Bose QuietComfort 35?
The QuietComfort line has flown off the shelves since 2006 when Bose introduced this modern classic.
The fit of these over-ears is snug and comfy. You won’t end up feeling overheated, a common problem when you’re wearing headphones.
The sound is very slightly artificial, but precise and pleasurable across all frequencies.
Active noise-cancellation is class-leading and you’ll feel like you’re in a world of your own.
20 hours of wireless runtime is enough for a late-night movie marathon or a transatlantic red-eye flight.
If you can afford the Bose QuietComfort 35, they should give you years of faithful service.
Well, you should have all the essentials in place now to liven up movie nights over the holiday season. Whether you go all-in on a dedicated home theater or you just spruce up your set-up in the living room, treat yourself this coming Christmas.
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