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A truly awe-inspiring movie watching experience comes from more than just the film itself. It’s the watching environment, who you’re with, what you see and hear. It’s why theaters across the U.S. and the world ask you to turn off your cellphones and avoid conversation when a movie is about to start. You don’t want to have the feeling of being in the middle of a battle or on an adventure broken by a loud someone persistently narrating the movie from the row behind you or by playing on their phone.

To avoid these challenges altogether, many of us opt to watch our movies at home. And with the availability of new rental and streaming options, there’s no better time than the present to do so. But home can also be a bad environment for getting sucked into a film – distractions and noise from a range of sources can stop even the best movies from making a lasting impact.

Have no fear, film buffs, as there is hope! Just follow these easy tips and turn any ordinary living room into your very own mini home theater!


The Screen

 TV technology has improved dramatically since the introduction of the first consumer color unit in the late 1920s and 30s. The future includes transparent screens, bendable and packable televisions, social integration, Quantum Dot LED technology, just to name a few potential trends. On top of this, the price of a quality 1080p or even 4K television has significantly decreased over the last five years, as components become cheaper and technology matures.

As you might expect then, turning your at-home movie experience into a memorable one begins with your television. First, you should consider resolution. Generally speaking, picture quality is determined by the number of pixels that are fit into a given space. Most cheap, LCD TVs have a display resolution of 720p, or 1366 x 768 pixels. Alternatively, 4K TVs work with 3840 x 2160 pixels, allowing for far cleaner, crisper, and more detailed images.

While resolution is critical, there are two other considerations to keep in mind. The technology inside the TV itself matters. LCD-based TVs use LED lights to shine through pixels on the screen to create images and overall brightness. AMOLED, in contrast, works by having each pixel produce light independent of an external source. Head on over to your local electronics store to see which one works better for your eyes and preferences. As well, consider the size of TV in relation to the room you’ll be using at home. A recommended formula to follow is: viewing distance in inches between your TV and couch divided by three equals your optimal TV size.

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The Speakers

It’s amazing to think that the next generation growing up in America will have likely never seen or even heard of silent movies. The names of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, and Marion Davies will fall on deaf ears. But for home theaters today, getting the best possible sound from your speakers is essential for driving an immersive movie experience. Across the board, flat screen TVs, especially as they continue to get thinner, lack good audio quality. Your kids will wonder what’s the point of great picture if they can’t hear what’s going on.

On top of that, houses themselves are getting smaller, especially in big cities where micro-condos are the latest trend. It means no room for large, home theater sound systems that rely on back or down-firing technology, big subwoofers, and wall mounted peripherals. There must be another option!

We’d suggest you go grab yourself a sound bar! What’s that, you ask? A sound bar is, in essence, an all-in-one sound experience, achieved without giving up precious floor space. They are long, slender, and will often house at least two speakers and a built-in amplifier, providing surround sound for all your favorite movies. Some even come with a subwoofer to deliver heart pounding bass, perfect for war or horror flicks. Just be sure you purchase a sound bar that fits the size of your room, with units ranging from one to five feet in length.

The Lights

 While we don’t recommend burning torches or candelabras to simulate the environment of that medieval movie you plan on watching tonight, lighting is very important for an optimal, engaging viewing experience. Start by making sure lights in the room are dim, whether that be by using a wall switch or closing blinds to remove light sources from outside. But be careful, watching a movie in complete darkness can be bad for your eyes. It can cause headaches, make you dizzy or temporarily impact your vision.

To avoid these problems, consider buying a television with built-in adjustable LED lighting, which allows you to brighten and dim the screen just like you would on a cellphone or laptop computer. Alternatively, you can grab yourself an ambient light that’s dimmable and that comes with adjustable color modes so you can have the perfect illumination at any given time. Take a look at the VAVA Floor Lamp, a dimmable LED reading light with 5 color temperatures and brightness levels that allows a fully customizable movie watching experience.


The Couch

The history of the couch derives from humanity’s move from a nomadic to sedentary, agricultural based existence. Some research suggests that the first sofa that we might recognize as such can be traced back to 2000 B.C. and ancient Egypt, where long, ornate benches were carved for pharaohs. More modern incarnations of the sofa find their origin with Lord Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, who was one of the first to commission a leather couch for use in his home.

Today, couches are a permanent and important fixture of furniture stores everywhere, and are an essential component of your home theater setup. But not just couches either – lounge chairs, lazy-boys, sectionals – what matters most is that you’re comfy and cozy while watching the latest James Bond movie or Disney musical (we’re hoping for Frozen 2!).

When buying seating for your movie-watching room, consider a couple of things. First, think about the number of people who will be there at any given time, your preferred material, and even the color of the unit, so as to match the rest of your décor. As well, make sure your seating is at an appropriate distance from your TV, so as to avoid neck and eye strain: for a 50-inch HDTV, it should be placed between 6 to 10 feet away; 7.5 to 12.5 feet for a 60-inch screen; and, 8.75 to 14.5 for a 70-inch TV. You can shave a few feet off of these recommendations for a 4K television.

Movies are More Than What’s on the Screen

Without the right watching environment, even the most incredible movies can fail to impress. Noise, poor lighting, bad sound – it can all detrimentally impact your viewing experience. But, by following the tips above, you can ensure that every movie watched at home will be one to remember.


What’s your favorite movie of last year? Tell us in the comments below.