About two years ago, outfitting or upgrading your living room to give you the full HD experience from audio to video, all the way to your media consumption was quite a tall order. After all, going HD was the in-thing and was the next frontier back then. HDTVs boasting of 1080p video resolution, home theatre systems and AV receivers being able to decode HD audio were expensive and of course you had the format wars between HD DVD and Blu-ray to contend with, which is in addition to the high hardware prices and media.
Nowadays with technology progressing to bring the 3D experience from theatres to your home being all the rage along with ever sleeker and aesthetically pleasing equipment like LG's ultra-thin displays and Sony's artistic TV designs to name a few, TVs boasting Full HD resolution are dime a dozen - and cheap. If you're not exactly fussy nor seeking for the full Monty in the latest features like LED-backlit TVs and 200Hz refresh amongst others, you can pretty much get yourself a very competent 1080p resolution capable 40-inch LCD TV for about S$1000. That's certainly very decent considering that 40 and 42-inch TVs are the new sweet spot for Singapore shoppers for both size and price.
Of course it's probably not your everyday pricing, but come the quarterly consumer technology shows and other big sales throughout the year, you can pretty much be sure that's a reality. Plasma TVs boasting 1080p video resolutions are available too, but they are relatively more recent and still command a notable premium.
Next on the HD AV experience is media consumption with the most immediate and best possible experience presented by Blu-ray movies. With HD DVD long out of the competition and no longer fighting for mindshare, manufacturers need only concentrate to produce equipment to support one format. It also helps that more consumers are also adopting HDTVs, thus widening the target audience at the same time. These combined forces have pushed Blu-ray player prices from about S$1000 to bargain-basement pricing of just about S$200 for some models on special offer - that's about the price of a 1080p up-scaling DVD player just over a year ago. The Blu-ray movies themselves are also pegged to prices of what DVDs once commanded and that too helps in the overall scheme of adoption.
Finally, you no longer need to invest in top home theatre packages and AV receivers to support HD audio decoding/processing of uncompressed multi-channel PCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio standards. These days the decoding of these high fidelity audio tracks found on Blu-ray movies is easily tackled by most new entry-level AV Receivers and mid-range compact home theatre systems.
All-in-all, today, you can outfit your living room for the full HD experience at well under S$2000 which includes a 40-inch HDTV, HD audio capable home theatre system and Blu-ray player (if your HTS isn't equipped with one). That's almost a third of the over $5000 price tag that an early adopter would have had to invest in early 2008 for the same experience. We're not comparing the merits or demerits in waiting for a technology to go mainstream, but rather, we're highlighting to you today that you can have a pretty satisfying HD home theatre experience quite affordably.
The next big leap for the living room is 3D. Whether that will be met with enthusiasm by the mass market remains to be seen, but what's for sure is that it will eventually have its place in the living room thanks to its unique experience. The bigger factor would be the kind of 3D TV content available and if consumers can gel along with those 3D glasses. Till that happens, now's the time for bargain hunters to go shopping as TV vendors clear existing models for the newer 3D capable versions. Happy shopping!
Vijay Anand / Editor of HardwareZone.com
A pioneering contributor of HardwareZone.com since its inception in 1998, his keen interest in DIY computing has helped establish standards for testing, reporting, layout and styling of online articles. As the Editor of the site since 2005, he oversees all content production with the editorial team and the several contributors who power the portal and maintain the popular forums.