The term home theater is used to stir up mental images of a dedicated, specially set up room optimized for watching movies.  It looked like a miniature version of a real, large theater.  While those are indeed still popular and viable options, today’s technology allows for many variations on that theme.

The rise of flat-panel technologies, projection options, sound systems, control and automation gear, and content services allow designers and homeowners free reign to devise the perfect media or theater room setup.

Take a look at five current trends in home theater design to make your media room into a state-of-the-art entertainment oasis – right here around Sugarland.

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HYBRID ROOMS

Many traditional home theaters were purpose-built or remodeled rooms, with outside light blocked out by heavy window treatment.  Some even had no windows at all!  Today, families often like a media-centric room that can also host games or other entertainment. 

These less restrictive layouts open the possibility of a wider range of experiences. For example, sports, live music events, or major news might be on tap for an evening instead of a movie. With an updated entertainment room, your family and guests can enjoy multiple media sources in conjunction with food, drinks, and conversation.

SCREENS

A typical home theater setup is used to call for a projector and screen to get the desired cinematic effect.  No more.

The newest flat-panel technologies – OLED at the high end, and zone dimming LED panels at a variety of price points – zoom up to 80 inches or more in size, making it an excellent option for smaller rooms.  HDR (high dynamic range) capability is the latest technology that makes the picture really “pop”. 

Ultra short-throw projectors – those that project a wide screen from a short distance – are also coming in at price points to fit many budgets. They are easier to set up than traditional projectors and can throw screens up to 120 inches onto regular walls or mounted screens.  

The latest trend is a combination of screens.  This type of setup may involve one or more flat panels for casual viewing and a drop-down screen paired with a projector for movies and events. It’s perfect for hybrid rooms.

With the right control equipment installed by a home theater professional, homeowners can have their own version of a sports bar or movie theater with a few taps on a tablet or remote – or even a voice command. 

4K CONTENT

4K devices are now standard, with most TVs and projectors capable of high resolution, and increasingly HDR as well.  Ultra HD Blu-ray is the best quality format for movies, but the streaming services from Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Vudu, and others are offering increasing amounts of movies and shows available in 4K. 

SOUNDBARS AND DOLBY ATMOS

Introduced in 2015, Dolby Atmos is a surround sound format that adds increased height and breadth to movie sound.  While the content that takes full advantage of it has been slow to come, a future-proof media or theater room would be wise to include it.  Designers, don’t forget to pay attention to ceiling height in designing or remodeling, as height matters for the best Dolby Atmos experience.

Soundbars started off as a better sound experience to accompany flat-screen TVs, whose speakers generally have poor audio quality.  They have evolved to the point where the highest-end models can rival systems with separate speakers.  For certain multipurpose media rooms, a sound bar may be the right fit to combine powerful audio, design, and simplicity. 

VOICE CONTROL

Voice control has captured the public’s fancy.  Whether it’s Siri on Apple products, Amazon’s Alexa Google Assistant, or other variants, voice control has arrived, and the universe of controllable things is rapidly expanding.  The latest streaming devices from Apple, Google, Amazon, and Roku – as well as smart TVs from Samsung and Sony – have varying degrees of voice capability for content search and control functions.  Systems from Control4 can extend voice control over a variety of other devices like lights, window treatments, and thermostats while playing well with Alexa and Siri.

The possibilities for combining these trends into a beautiful, fun media room are virtually endless. To learn more, give us a call or fill out this quick contact form for a no-obligation consultation with our team.