The Best Gear for Building Your Home Theater

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Everyone loves watching a great movie on a big screen with a great speaker system, but few would complain about losing the sticky floors, uncomfortable seats, and kids with smartphones (unless they’re your own kids). Our A/V team spends thousands of hours each year to find the best looking and sounding home theater equipment. Whether you have a dedicated theater room planned or are thinking of upgrading your weeknight living room movie night, we have recommendations covering whatever space and budget you have.

Almost all of these recommendations (and more) are available in our Home Theater section, but we understand that it’s not totally clear how everything fits together. This guide compiles everything you need in one place, along with some new reviews of stuff like projector ceiling mounts and TV wall mounts not covered elsewhere. You’d be surprised at how little it can cost to upgrade your at-home movie-watching setup from functional to enjoyable. For less than $1,000, our $500 TV and budget soundbar will offer a huge step up in quality from most existing setups and leave enough money in the budget for a Blu-ray player and universal remote. The same goes for the cost of a high-performance dedicated theater compared to what home theater enthusiasts would have you believe. Our best home theater projector, screen, receiver, and speaker system cost less combined than the street price of a single 4K projector (as of January 2016).



How to Set Restrictions on The New Apple TV

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Take Control of What People See on Your New Apple TV With This Simple Guide

Houzz Study: Automated Outdoor Lighting Is Hot for 2016

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Houzz study reveals nearly two thirds of U.S. homeowners (57%) who are planning outdoor renovations in 2016 are looking to upgrade their exterior lighting. Also, 11% plan to add outdoor security features, 10% outdoor A/V, and 8% smart irrigation.

Houzz Study: Automated Outdoor Lighting Is Hot for 2016

More than half of homeowners (52 percent) are hiring a landscape contractor or designer/architect in new outdoor light projects this year. Specifically, five percent plan to hire a lighting designer.

Jason Knott · March 25, 2016Automated outdoor lighting is one of the hottest exterior technologies among homeowners today, according to new data from Houzz, a leading consumer home improvement website.

The 2016 U.S. Houzz Landscaping Trends Survey interviewed nearly 1,000 U.S. homeowners who are in the midst of, are planning, or who recently completed an outdoor project. Nearly two out of three (57 percent), plan to make upgrades to their exterior lighting in some fashion.

Specifically, a quarter of outdoor upgraders are installing motion-sensitive lighting (24 percent), while 11 percent are installing outdoor security systems, 8 percent are installing precipitation-sensitive irrigation, and 2 percent are installing smartphone-connected plant sensors.

Upgrades in exterior lighting to LEDs, for example, rose to 32 percent of homes compared to 28 percent last year. Also, 10 percent of homeowners report they are adding outdoor media (audio or video). Nearly one in four (23 percent) are installing solar lighting.

Among the outdoor features that homeowners plan to illuminate are:

  • Pathways — 60 percent
  • Decks/Patios — 57%
  • Trees/Shrubs — 53%
  • Steps — 32%
  • Home Architecture — 28%
  • Driveway — 26%
  • Water Features — 24%
  • Outdoor Structures — 24%
  • Pots/Plants — 21%
  • Swimming Pool — 10%
  • Art/Sculpture — 9%

Another positive sign from the study for integrators is that homeowners are not shying away from hiring professional help. More than half of homeowners (52 percent) are hiring a landscape contractor or designer/architect. Specifically, 5 percent plan to hire a lighting designer.

Nine out of every 10 exterior upgrade projects this year will cost less than $5,000; however, among those homeowners planning “complete overhauls” of their yards, 40 percent plan to spend more than $20,000.

The Western states are the hottest place for exterior lighting upgrades this year, with 35 percent of Western households planning to add LED lighting, followed by 31 percent in the South, 29 percent in the Northeast, and 27 percent in the Midwest.

Overall, the technology offerings in outdoor environments paled in comparison to the percentage of homeowners making upgrades in places like flower beds and borders (80 percent), structural elements (72 percent) or irrigation systems (40 percent).

Houzz is a visual platform for home remodeling and design, bringing homeowners and home professionals together. The website, which has more than 35 million visitors monthly, is the No. 1 home and garden consumer website.