New Product Additions to HTMarket.com

There’s a lot of new stuff worth checking out at HTmarket.com, the online home theater marketplace! As a lot of you have found out firsthand, their selection of home theater projectors and home theater lighting is pretty much unrivaled. Well, they’re upping the ante yet again with cool new items for your home theater from all over. For example, take a look at just a few of the new items:

The Deco Poster Frame is a straightforward, sharp-looking frame, perfect for movie posters (or any posters). With three finishes to choose from, it’s a great fit for absolutely any home theater décor (or any room where you’d like to hang a poster in a stylish movie poster frame!).

The Custom Spotlight Laser Cut Theatrical Sconce (whew!) is a steel, gloss black-finished sconce which is engraved with the message of your choice. It could say “Wayne Family Theater,” “Bruce’s Home Theater,” or even “BEWARE OF LEOPARD”. The message is laser-cut through the steel, so the light shines right through! These sconces will make your theater truly one of a kind. Especially if you go with the leopard idea.

Speaking of cutting things with lasers, they’ve also got Theatrical Laser Cut Home Theater Décor. Designs include movie tickets, clapboards, comedy/tragedy masks, popcorn, variously sized stars and, of course, a classic movie projector shape. They’re available in seven colorful finishes, too.

Whether you’re just setting up a home theater or simply spicing up your existing home theater, you should really head to HTmarket and check out all the new items, as they were designed specifically with home theaters in mind!

My Design Seats

HTMarket.com is now carrying My Design Home Theater Seating. That’s no small thing, as My Design makes some of the best custom home theater seating in the business. They’ve been around since 1956, back when the only way to get a home theater was to buy the main street cinema, so they know their stuff!

The My Design seats use the T-Max home theater seating system, designed to accommodate any room size or shape, and there’s 16 (!) styles to choose from. The My Design seats have manual or power recline, three different cupholder materials (including stainless steel), and they’re buttkicker-ready.

The best part, in my opinion, is the C.O.M. (Customer’s Own Material) covering option. You can have them build these seats using fabric you provide! Obviously, this is intended to give you the opportunity to create an absolutely perfect and customized set of seats to compliment the decor in your home theater. When I first heard of it, though, I instantly thought of tiger-print luxury recliners. I wonder what the most unusual material they’ve ever been sent is…

As if that weren’t enough, their warrantees are outstanding. On leather, there’s a 5-year warrantee on splitting and natural scars, as well as cracking, tackiness, peeling, tearing and premature fading. On fabric, there’s a 1-year warrantee on seam failure, fabric separation and nap loss. And on the frame, springs, and mechanisms, there’s a limited lifetime warrantee, with a 2-year warrantee on motor mechanisms. Whew.

If you want custom home theater seats made your way, these My Design seats are definitely the way to go, I think. The C.O.M. option is outstanding on its own, to say nothing of the quality, the warrantees or the designs themselves! Head to HTMarket.com and check out the Annular series, and tell me if those aren’t some cool looking home theater seats.

HTmarket’s new personal shopper service

So you want to set up a home theater but you’re not
quite sure how to put it all together. Or maybe you just don’t have the time to
pick it all out yourself, or you simply want the benefit of someone else’s
experience weighing in. It looks like HTmarket.com, the online theater
marketplace, may be just what you need! They’re taking advantage of the fact
that they have a very knowledgable and experienced staff, and launching a new
Personal Web Shopper program for anyone to use, free of charge. It’s totally
unique, and very useful to the aspiring home theater
owner!

This new service is probably the best way yet to get a
tailor-made home theater that’s totally you, without the remorse of having
purchased the wrong items or being stuck with something you thought you would
need, but don’t. And with over ten thousand items in their catalog, you can bet
that the home theater you get will be pretty specific to your wants and
needs!

Basically, you give HTmarket.com a ring at (888)
764-9273, and they assign you your very own shopper. You describe the home
theater you’re looking to put together (or whatever it is you’re looking to do),
and they take lots of notes. The Web Shopper then uses your specifications to
assemble the perfect setup. They go over all the products involved with you, and
help you design your room and pick what fits. With this service, you’ll stay
within budget, you’ll meet your deadlines, and you won’t have to worry about a
thing.

It’s like having Alfred take care of everything for your
Batcave. A professional home theater shopping staff at your command… I know
it’s been a while since anyone gave me that kind of service. The whole thing
is complimentary, too, and they don’t work on commission; there’s no pressure,
no obligation, no puppydog eyes. And at the end of it all, the theater you get
is YOUR theater, not some generic theater arrangement you have to settle for out
of convenience. It’s a truly personalized
experience.

If you’re putting together a home theater, I can’t think
of any reason not to see what
their Personal Web Shoppers can do. The advantages to the service are pretty
obvious, and there are no disadvantages. I recommend giving them a call!

I want a popcorn machine!

I was looking at popcorn machines over at HTmarket.com, and it got me thinking… I could really use one of these. I daresay I need one.

When I was a younger guy, I worked in a four-screen movie theater called the Glen Theater, as an usher and concessions booth worker. And lemme tell ya, was pretty much the best job a 16-year-old guy could have. The work was easy, and came in very short, very intense bursts, punctuated by hours of playing cards and talking about movies. We were allowed to see free movies anytime we liked, with no limit. We got free popcorn and soda, and the occasional bag of candy. I also had a crush on half the girls who worked there…

Anyway, Thoreau had his Walden, Lyra had her Oxford, I had the Glen. Everything about it was perfect, even the imperfect parts.

A big part of the job was keeping the popcorn machine running. It was an 8 oz. kettle machine, with an automatic oil pump. It was truly ancient- probably older than I am. Nevertheless, it worked flawlessly.

That smell was everywhere. It was completely and permanently infused into my work shirt- I only had one, after all, and I worked almost every day- and no amount of washing could cause the shirt to lose that characteristic popcorn essence. Not that I ever wanted it to, of course; I could be anywhere, and as long as I smelled that popcorn smell, I was in a good mood. Pavlov would be proud. Remarkably, over a decade later, it still works that way! I can’t imagine walking into a theater without smelling fresh, kettle-popped popcorn, and the minute I step through the doors, any theater feels like home.

Microwave popcorn is nowhere close, in my opinion. I’ve mentioned that I’m going to have a home theater of my own someday, and I still intend to do so. When I do, mark my words: it will not be complete until I have a real popcorn machine, popping away, filling my brain with memories via those marvelous popcorn sounds and smells.

To Serve and Project

Choosing a Projector!

For some people, “big” means REALLY BIG. I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m one of those people. I like my monsters big. I like my explosions big. My favorite natural phenomena are stars, oceans, and mountains, in that order. My ideal pizza is one the delivery guy can’t fit through the door.

I refer to the Giant Squid as “Medium Squid”.

It turns out, I’m not alone. Lots of home theater owners aren’t willing to settle for the mere largeness of a plasma screen. For these, my comrades in bigness, I submit the following guide to the biggest thing in any home theater: projectors!

Know Your Projector Types

There’s three types of home theater projector: LCD, DLP, and 3LCD.

LCD (liquid crystal display) projectors work a bit like an LCD TV screen, passing light through an LCD chip, creating a vibrant, sharp image. Since it’s really creating a composite from three differently colored beams, this image is subject to color breakup (the “rainbow effect”) around the edges, as well as the “screen door effect” of seeing individual, separated pixels at times. These are best suited to dimly-lit rooms, auditoriums, and boardrooms.

DLP projectors (short for Digital Light Processing) use a single digital chip, effectively projecting a digital screen through a single beam. Great for HD video, with high contrast ratios, and not much pixellation. These are ideal for home theaters.

3LCD projectors function similarly to LCD projectors. It shines a single beam of light through three LCD panels, and the light is then recombined through a prism into a single beam, which comes out of a single lens. Because the colors are recombined and projected as a single, bright image (they call this “accurate color registration”), you get the vibrancy of LCD without the rainbow effect.

Projector Qualities

There’s a few qualities you’ll see in projector specs that it’s good to pay attention to.

Projector Resolution: This is the sharpness and clarity of the picture. It’s measured by the number of pixels, and is often expressed as the number of vertical pixels used (720p = 1280 x 720 pixels, 1080i = 1920 x 1080, etc). More pixels, more resolution, sharper image!

Throw Distance: This is how big an image a projector can create from any given distance. Most manufacturer websites have throw distance calculators, which are very useful to anyone setting up a home theater and shopping for a screen.

Keystone Correction: This is a feature that lets you adjust the image to account for the angle between the projector and the screen. It “skews” the image accordingly, resulting in a perfect projection image from an odd angle.

Contrast Ratio: The difference between the lightest white and the darkest black the projector can manage. A higher contrast ratio is always a good thing.

Lumens: The measure of a projector’s illumination. This is an official measurement established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). More lumens mean a brighter image. Who doesn’t want a brighter image?

So Which One?

There’s a lot of projectors out there, all with different stats and prices. Choosing the right one, as usual, comes down to your own situation, depending on how much you care to spend and the room it’s intended for. You might care more about keystone correction than resolution, or be more concerned with cost than lumens. Hopefully, this little breakdown will be of some help!

Plasma vs. LCD: FIGHT!

If you’re shopping for a big screen TV, there’s advice all over the place on which to get. My blog is no exception! This is coming purely from a home theater point of view. If you don’t care about colors, viewing angles, or size (say, if you plan to use it to watch Bloomberg Television), my conclusions might not be what you’re looking for. However, if you want to watch Lord of the Rings and have your eyeballs melt… then read on!

What are LCD and Plasma Screens?

An LCD screen is made up of liquid crystal pixels pushed between glass plates. Current goes through the pixels, and a controlled picture is created. This is how a digital wristwatch works, basically, only with more colors and smaller pixels. It’s important to note that the pixels are backlit-they don’t light up on their own.

A plasma screen, on the other hand, uses millions of little cells filled with neon and xenon gas. When electricity zaps these cells, the gas turns into a plasma (hence the name). Each cell is coated in phosphors (red, green or blue), which fluoresces when the plasma gets charged. Think of a plasma screen as a sheet with millions of tiny, tiny fluorescent light bulbs, because that’s basically what it is.

Plasma: None More Black

One big difference a lot of people find between LCD and plasma is the deepness of blacks. Plasma screens get a deep, true black, because it’s made up of tiny lights. Turn the lights off, and you get the absence of light, which is as black as it gets! LCD screens have a constant backlight, however; LCD blackness is thus achieved by setting the pixel to block as much light as possible. There’s always a little leakage, though, so you never get true black, especially at certain angles.

This viewing angle is another big issue with LCD screens. If you’re looking at it from the wrong angle, the colors distort and the black gets even lighter. This has to do with the polarity-shifting mechanism of LCD technology. I’m told they’re getting better at this, but it’s still annoying, in my opinion. My new laptop is LCD, and while it’s bright and crisp, the top and bottom of the screen are usually a little discolored compared to the middle, because I’m viewing the top and bottom at the wrong angle. I can turn the screen to fix this, but then the middle’s at the wrong angle.

Plasma TVs are also usually bigger. Most LCDs top out at about 50″, barring a couple new (and costly) 70-inch models, whereas larger plasmas are easy to find.

 LCD: More Pixels, Less Juice

Why would anyone go with LCD TVs? Well, for one thing, they’re cheaper than similarly-sized plasma models most of the time, and they’re getting even cheaper by the day. LCDs also usually have a much higher resolution. More pixels can be better!

There’s also the issue of burn-in. The phosphors used in plasma screens wear out over time (a long time- 30k to 60k hours). Ever seen an old arcade machine, where the title screen was still visible even when the picture changed? Same deal. It’s usually not that bad these days, of course, since most pictures move around more than a Galaga high-score list, but any plasma screen’s days are numbered. LCD screens die, too, but usually much later on in their lives, and there’s no risk of ugly, mucky burn-in. If you care about power consumption, and you should, it’s worth noting that LCD uses far less power (as much as 30 percent less than plasma). That adds up to a lot of clams.

So, which one should I get?

If you’re talking about a TV screen, and not a computer monitor, I’d suggest plasma. The viewing angle issue alone should seal the deal to anyone who plans to put the TV in a family’s living room, and the lack of true black is, in my experience, not very cool. LCDs tend to be lighter and cheaper, though, and are fine for a lot of smaller applications like computers. Cheaper does go a long way, too; that’s extra money to spend on speakers, DVDs, or a whole lotta beer. Not to mention the lower power draw, which (in this age of utility bills gone mad) is a gift that keeps on giving!

Ten Ways to Recreate the Genuine Moviegoing Experience at Home

You’ve got the curtains, the projector screen, the seats… yet it’s not quite the same as a night out at the movies. Your home theater is better than going out to see a movie, sure, but is it an accurate reproduction of the genuine moviegoing experience? Well, having worked in a movie theater for years, I’ve come up with the following list of ideas to help you get the true multiplex experience in the comfort of your own home:

10. Turn on the hallway lights, and prop open the door to the home theater room.

9. Tune a radio to the most annoying talk radio station you can find. Use it to prop open the aforementioned door.

8. Invite a friend over to watch the movie with, and tell him the radio in step 9 is an advanced new radio that actually turns itself off if shushed at loudly, pointedly, and frequently.

7. Leave your soda, candy, and some wadded-up tissues in the cupholders after the movie. If you can still conceivably fit an actual cup in there, add more tissues.

6. Drizzle a fine squiggle of maple syrup on the floor, and sprinkle lightly with a garnish of stale popcorn. Don’t worry about attracting bugs; realism is the goal here, people!

5. Set your ringtone to “My Humps,” order a wakeup call for twenty minutes from now, gently toss your phone over your shoulder, and let the movie magic begin. 

4. Buy the brightest emergency exit sign you can. Two or three, if possible. As a bonus, this might also help you find your phone in the dark after following step 5. Let’s be honest, there’s only so much My Humps a person can take.

3. Don’t waste water cleaning those old gym socks. Wedge ’em between the seats, right next to your head. Save the environment and smell the ambiance!

2. Watching a noisy horror flick? Babies love those. Give mom the night off!

And finally,

1. Four words: Fart in a Can.

The Great Man Cave Home Theater Hunt

There’s a new contest over at HTmarket.com! Here’s the press release:

CHICAGO, Illinois, May 5, 2008— The leading online home theater marketplace, HTmarket.com, is pleased to announce the first-ever Great Man Cave Home Theater Hunt. Starting on May 5th, brave home theater hunters can go to HTmarket.com, follow the clues, find the codes, and win great prizes to take back to their own Man Cave!

Since the dawn of time, mankind has hunted to equip his cave with the essentials of caveman comfort. It wasn’t long before the most sought after prey of all became those of the genus Home-Theaterus Equippus, which included such beasts as home theater seating, projector screens, home theater speakers,and even elusive popcorn machines. It was held that the greatest of Man Caves should contain a home theater replete with many trophies of these hunts, so that a caveman could relax comfortable after a busy day of cave-painting and fire-questing!

Now you, too, can embark upon The Great Man Cave Home Theater Hunt and equip your Man Cave with everything a home theater requires! To play, quest over to HTmarket.com and search the product listings for cave paintings. Click on any cave painting you find, and you’ll be given a clue. Following this clue will lead you to the page where the Man Cave Code is hidden. Enter this code, and you’ll win a gift certificate valued from $25 to $500!

You can read more about the Great Man Cave Home Theater Hunt at the official contest page. Each Man Cave Code can only be used once, so be the first to follow the clues, find the code and win!

About HTmarket.Com:

Since going online in August of 2000, HTmarket.com has emerged as the premiere online home theater marketplace. Offering the finest home theater products and accessories available, from popcorn machines and home theater seating to projector screens and HD-DVD players, HTmarket.com specializes in bringing the compete theater experience into homes across the globe. With a steadily growing catalog featuring over 6,000 products and unsurpassed customer service, HTmarket.com has been given a Top Rated Yahoo Store score of 4.5 stars by their own customers.

HTmarket.com is located at 5100 N. Ravenswood Avenue, Suite 100,
Chicago, IL 60640. For direct orders, call 1-888-764-9273, fax 773-728-8162, or email sales1@HTmarket.com.

Massively Multiplayer… Golf?

I’ve been thinking a bit about Golden Tee 2008 Live lately, and I think it’s only a matter of time before most, if not all, arcade games are online and either directly multiplayer or tournament-based. Once you’ve tasted the vitality of online games, Golden Tee has proven to be a smash hit, apparently- it’s still going strong in bars all over the place, there’s a new edition and continuous tournaments for cash. As it happens, they’ve also branched out into Target Toss Bags, which is an online beanbag-tossing arcade game, as well as Silver Strike Bowling.

I’m kinda so-so about golf personally, and bean bags are cool and all, but Online Arcade Bowling? With that giant trackball and everything? I had no idea this was out there (guess I’ve been going to the wrong bars!). It is, and apparently it’s a hit as well. There’s a Silver Strike 2009 coming out toward the end of the month and it’s gonna be something; I’ll maybe find a unit and give it a proper review when it’s released. And maybe I’ll enter the tournament, too… I’m a pretty good bowler, so maybe some of that pin-smashing mojo will translate over to trackball form.

HTmarket.com carries a variety of custom arcade cabinets with LCD screens like GT2008, Target Toss, Silver Strike, and a compilation arcade machine called Global Arcade Classics (with such classics as Marble Madness, Joust, Mortal Kombat and my ol’ friend Robotron: 2084). These cabinets are built with a unique, stable method, and they use parts which allow the end user to repair the cabinet and replace parts if needed. Probably a good thing if you don’t live next door to an amusement device repair shop.

Welcome to BlogHomeTheater.com!

A little about myself, and about this blog:

I work in the IT department for an online home theater store. Since I’ve started working here I’ve been familiarizing myself with the stuff we deal in here; mainly home theater equipment and supplies, bar furniture, and billiards room stuff. A lot of this stuff is new to me; I had no idea people bought actual popcorn machines for their own homes, or that there were professional pool cues out there as elaborately and painstakingly designed as any pro sports shoe.

Along the way I’m learning things I’d never given much thought. There was a time when I couldn’t tell you what the standard movie theater aspect ratio was (it’s 1.85:1), or what Carom was (it’s like hardcore billiards, with just three balls), or that there was actually a sno-cone syrup flavor called “tiger’s blood” (I’m serious- apparently it tastes like strawberry and coconut, and not… well, cat blood).

Naturally, as someone whose product awareness never went far beyond computer parts, art supplies and frozen pizzas, I think a lot of this home theater stuff is pretty cool. In this blog, then, I’m going to talk about whatever cool stuff I’ve found in the distributor catalogs lying around,  new products or gadgets I’ve come across, things I’ve learned about the tech end of it all, or just what I plan to do to my own home theater once I’ve got a house worth sticking one in. So if you’re putting together a home theater or just like to daydream about it, by all means, bookmark this blog and see where I go with it!