The high-definition television revolution is already under way, as most of the major TV networks and cable outlets are quickly adopting this cutting-edge version of digital television as their broadcasting standard and offering consumers more shows in high definition.
In fact, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, 9 million households are likely to purchase HDTV products during the next 18 months. Another 30 million consumers consider themselves likely purchasers within the next three years.
This newer technology can be overwhelming for consumers, especially when they are not properly educated about the tools needed for the best setup of a high-definition home theater system.
Four basic elements are needed: picture, source, sound and assembly. Interestingly enough, the CEA says that approximately 30 percent of U.S. homes already have these basic ingredients.
* Picture: Most digital, high-definition televisions feature large screens in widescreen formats that create a theater-like experience right in your home. HDTV delivers crisp images that make you feel like you're part of the action.
Plasma and liquid crystal display televisions have generated the most excitement so far. These thin, lightweight sets can hang on a wall and only take up four inches of depth. Other examples include the microdisplay rear-projection televisions such as digital light processing sets. These TV sets are thinner, lighter and brighter than traditional projection TV sets.
* Source: Some high-definition televisions have a built-in tuner to receive local high-definition broadcasts. These are referred to as having "HD Built-In." Sets without an integrated tuner are "HD-Ready" and need a set-top box to decode the high-definition signal. Starting next year, many digital televisions will come with a high-definition tuner and the cable box built in, simplifying the connection for consumers.
* Sound: Most people don't realize that the high-definition television format incorporates digital 5.1 surround sound into high-definition broadcasts, giving you that "in the middle of the action" feel. For a truly engaging viewing experience, it is important to get a sound system that is comparable in quality to your television.
* Assembly: To tie it all together, you need to make sure you have the right cables and accessories to connect your system. Many consumers prefer using service personnel to deliver and set up the system at home - making sure everything is in place, connected and calibrated for the optimal home theater experience.
So how much does a home theater system cost? A wide range of prices are available, depending on an individual's needs and desires. For example, high-definition televisions sold at Best Buy start at less than $500 and go all the way up to $10,000, with numerous models in between.