This medium-size space - about the dimensions of the living room in a big-city apartment or the family room in a typical suburban house - isn't so small that you should even think twice about turning it into a high-performance home theater. Moving up to a larger flat-screen HDTV like a 50-inch plasma set will give you enough picture without overwhelming the room. And because the TV is flat, you can wall-mount it - which will both save space and give your room a cool, contemporary look. A space this size also means you'll need a surround sound system that can produce a decent amount of sound. But this room is still small enough that you can use a compact satellite/subwoofer system - as long as it's one that kicks out the jams.
Pioneer Elite 50-inch plasma HDTV
There are plenty of 50-inch plasma high-def sets out there, including several bargain-basement models for under $3,000. But why gamble when it comes to picture quality? By spending more for Pioneer's $5,500 Elite PRO-1130HD, you'll be assured of getting the best plasma experience possible. This HDTV has a sleek, high-tech look and is packed with features, including the latest in digital A/V connections, tons of tweaky video adjustments, and even a swiveling stand. And its picture will look crisp, punchy, and compelling from anywhere in the room. (Reviewed in February/March 2006)
Definitive Technology Mythos GEM home theater speaker system
Definitive Technology has a long-standing reputation for making powerful yet affordable speaker systems - which is good news after you've just dropped wads of cash on the Pioneer plasma HDTV. The compact satellite speakers and subwoofer that make up the company's Mythos Gem system ($2,048) will fit nicely into any 12 x 16-foot space, and you won't ever have to worry whether they can provide dynamic, room-filling sound. Def Tech offers sleek-looking satellite stands (shown) for $270 a pair, but with cabinets measuring only around 4 inches deep, these speakers also lend themselves nicely to on-wall installation. (Reviewed in June 2005)
Plasma TVs can look good in relatively bright rooms, but you'll need some control over room lighting for best performance. So make sure your windows have opaque drapes, and make a point of putting dimmers on the overhead lights.
Handy types should find it easy to wall-mount a flat-panel TV. You'll need a stud finder, a power drill, and a socket-wrench set (see "How to Mount a Flat-Panel TV"). If you're not so handy, many retailers offer installation for a few hundred dollars extra. Check out the options - and the price - at a handful of stores before deciding.
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