3 Tips for a Great Home Entertainment System on a Budget


Who doesn’t want a great home entertainment system? Technology has improved significantly in the last few years, making it possible to get that movie theater experience in the comfort of your own home. It feels great to skip the crowds and overpriced popcorn and enjoy an evening with the family while the car stays parked in the driveway.

The biggest hurdle to this experience, though, is getting the right setup without getting a second mortgage. With a little due diligence, it’s definitely possible to build a great home theater without breaking the budget. Here are 3 tips to getting the most bang for your buck on a home entertainment system.

1) Skip the Smart TV

Smart TVs are all the rage today. Practically every major brand is pushing the ability to stream online content directly to your TV without the need for external devices. It is a great feature, but it increases the cost of the television significantly. The cost of smart TVs are typically 25% – 30% higher than their “dumb” counterparts. That means you are paying hundreds of dollars in order to watch Netflix and YouTube on your TV.

A better option is to buy the cheaper set and then purchase a streaming device separately. Companies like Amazon, Google and Roku have various options that cost $35 – $100 to add most if not all of the options you’ll find on a smart TV.

2) Over-the-top Sound Systems are Over-Rated

Next to the TV itself, the sound system will be the largest expense for a home theater. It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars if you’re not careful. Don’t get caught up in the marketing hype. Unless you’re trying to fill a very large room, a low to moderate-range sound system is more than adequate. In fact, once you move past the $1,000 price-point, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to distinguish the difference in sound quality.

3) Don’t Neglect the Content

So many people get caught up in the perfect equipment, but don’t give much consideration to how the content will be delivered to their home theater. If you don’t have high-quality content, it’s not going to look good no matter how much you spent on the equipment.

Consider the following:

  • If you have a 4k TV, you will need to see if you cable or satellite provider offers Ultra HD content.
  • Physical media, specifically Blu-ray Discs, will typically provide the most consistent quality.
  • If you are using internet based content, make sure that your internet connection is at least 25 Mbps.

With regards to cable and satellite providers, DirectTV is doing a great job making the switch to Ultra HD. Unless you have a fantastic internet connection, satellite is your best option for the highest quality content. Packages vary by region, so find DirectTV in your area and see what is available to you. It will likely be the best option for content.

Don’t feel like a great home entertainment experience is only available to those with thousands to spend. You can easily get a great experience on a budget.