Understanding your needs

To get started, take stock of what you already own and want to include in your new home theater. Include everything on the list — video sources like a cable box or Blu-ray player, audio players like media players and old tape decks, any existing speakers and, of course, your TV. All of these items will help you choose the best solution to meet your needs.

Complete solution: A home theater system in one box

The simplest way to outfit your home theater is with a complete home-theater-in-a-box system. It's a box full of equipment that includes a receiver, a DVD or Blu-ray player, and all the speakers you need to put surround sound in any room. Samsung HT-E6730W, for example, is easy to get up and running in a hurry; it includes a full eight speakers plus an amplifier with a Blu-ray player.

With a complete system, you need only add a television to make your home theater complete. Everything else is right in the box.

Standalone receivers: Bring your own speakers

Home theater enthusiasts are legendary for their devotion to expensive speakers. So, if you already own some, it doesn’t make sense to buy a complete system and end up with a pile of unneeded equipment. In this case, a mix-and-match approach probably makes sense. Standalone receivers like the Samsung HW-D7000 give you a powerful control system for a home theater and let you make use of your existing speakers.

Sound bars: The no-fuss solution

Many shoppers want high-end audio, but don’t want to deal with a tangle of cables and lots of equipment they don’t need. If your needs are simple, such as playing music from an MP3 player or another audio or video source, consider a sound bar like the Samsung HW-D550.

This is a simple, affordable and streamlined kit that includes just two pieces: a wall-mountable bar containing two built-in speakers and a separate, wireless subwoofer. The bar itself contains two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, letting you run both audio and video sources through it. It connects to the TV wirelessly and features vacuum tube technology for a warm, rich sound. It’s also available in different finishes to match your Samsung TV.

Other questions to ask

Most of the above options come in a variety of configurations and price levels, depending on which additional features you require. Here are a few of the big questions to ask before you buy.

How many speakers?

The most common speaker configurations for home theater equipment include 2.1 (two front speakers and a subwoofer), 5.1 (two front speakers, two rear, one center and one subwoofer) and 7.1 (two front speakers, two side, two rear, one center and one subwoofer) — the first digit refers to the number of standard speakers; the second digit refers to the subwoofer. In general, the larger the room, the more speakers it can handle, but the more complex your system will become. Samsung offers systems in all of these configurations.

Wired or wireless?

Wireless speakers are now becoming commonplace, and unlike the wireless speakers of years gone by, their quality is just as good as their wired counterparts. Some systems include wireless rear speakers, which give you much greater flexibility in where you can place these “surround sound” units. Remember: Although you won't need a speaker cable, you will need to plug each speaker into a power source.

DVD or Blu-ray?

Except for sound bars, all of Samsung’s home theater systems include an integrated optical disc player. The only question to answer is whether you want DVD or Blu-ray included. Both are compatible with older DVD discs, but Blu-ray lets you play the highest-definition content on today’s HDTVs, without any loss of quality. All of Samsung’s Blu-ray systems include 3D technology as well, letting you watch 3D movies on a 3D-capable TV. Simply don your 3D glasses and you're ready to enjoy.

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