In the past (the recent past mind you) discussions of how far one should sit from a plasma, LCD, projector etc. almost always included a reference to the minimum distance as well as the maximum, 1080p has changed this somewhat. Short of the obvious tell-tale signs of trouble like eye fatigue, motion sickness and the dreaded fish-bowl effect; I personally have no qualms about sitting slightly closer than 1.5 times the diagonal width of the screen, as long as it feels comfortable.
That said the general rule of thumb is the aforementioned 1.5 times the diagonal width of the rooms display (note this applies to a 16:9 display). For example this would place me about eleven and a half feet back from my 92” screen, we sit even farther than that but again were talking about minimum not maximum here. I’ve ran into several scenarios where this formula just wasn’t realistic to implement and everything wound up just fine, again remember the 1.5 times the diagonal screen width is a guideline not a hard and fast rule.
I feel a bit strange even discussing aspect ratios in 2008 but just the other day someone asked me, “Why doesn’t it fill up the entire screen?” referring to the 2.35:1 “cinemascope” movie playing on the 16:9 screen. “It’s a different aspect ratio” I replied, “the films cinematographer picked it because they felt it was the most appropriate aspect to help tell the films story.” That generally sounds a bit better than “that’s just the way they shot it”.
There are a million different analogies one can use and most of them get the point across but in a nutshell, some films just lend themselves to wider aspect-ratios (scopes) than others. The question of zooming i.e. stretching the content vertically to fill the screen often goes hand in hand with any discussion of aspect ratios.
Personally I never zoom, crop, stretch, fill or otherwise alter anything I’m watching if it all possible. That said I understand why others may want to make sure every last inch of screen space is filled. In the end the decision to zoom or crop is yours. I’d urge you to at least give the original aspect ratio presentation a shot from time to time, you might be surprised to see how much of the image is lost when using zoom and crop functions.
The short answer to this question is obviously and unequivocally no, the long answer is of course a bit more complicated. Of course as with most things in life a home theater can be as elaborate, expensive or demure as you’d like but there are ways to make sure you wind up with the best possible system in your price range. Start off with additions to your current audio video system, no need to re-invent the wheel here.
A surround sound receiver one month, a few speakers several months later, you get the picture. Augment what you have with new equipment in your price range, don’t let anyone tell you it has to be done all at once, this is clearly sales speak and not to entertained. All equipment becomes outdated at one point or another, there’s nothing you’ll ever be able to do about this but don’t let that get in the way of taking your home entertainment to the next level today.
Home Theater generally consists of an entertainment system with a “big screen” television (42” or larger in many cases) multiple speakers in either a 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 configuration and a high quality video source, generally high definition cable or satellite, DVD and or Blu-ray. More often than not the home theater environment is a dark or darkened room which ensures the image is as sharp and bright as possible.
Another thing that typically separates a home theater setting from the everyday ‘just watching TV’ is that home theater seating faces forward, directly forward and toward the screen, contrast that with our modern off-set, angled and or otherwise non symmetrical room layouts and it’s easy to see how the pinpoint accuracy of a modern surround sound system can be compromised and diluted beyond relevance.