A Sony digital home theater systemA digital home theater system is a great addition to a new home TV. After all, it doesn't make much sense to listen to that great new TV with it's on board speakers does it? Whether you just want to be immersed in the action of a great movie, or hear the screams of your victims when you play the latest PS3 or Xbox game, the addition of a digital home theater system is the final step in creating a home theater experience right in your own home that will be the envy of your friends and the bane to your neighbors.

What kind of digital home theater system should you get?

There are four types of digital home theater systems on the market today.  Some take up less space and are easier to setup with less wiring, while others provide a more 'realistic' surround sound experience but need more wiring, room and cost more.

  1. The 5.1 digital home theater system. To a purist this is the only true surround sound system there is. These provide great sound with their side and rear speakers as well as a subwoofer. On the down side this type of digital home theater system has wires all over the place. There are some 5.1 systems that have wireless rear speakers though.
  2. The 2.1 system has a subwoofer and two side speakers. They use software to give the illusion of real surround sound. These do provide a decent surround sound experience without all the wires.
  3. The sound bar digital home theater system. These are very compact units with only one bar that houses it's speakers. Decent sound, take up the least room and usually look great.  Some believe these have the worst surround sound though.
  4. the 7.1 system.  Like the 5.1 system many purists believe this is the only way to go.  It costs a bit more, there's more wiring but if you want the ultimate this is the only way to go.  Watch out for underpowered speaker pairs though.  Some manufacturers simply added another pair of speakers to their 5.1 systems so they can advertise 7.1 without adding any power.

When choosing the type of digital home theater system you'll need to consider the wiring and the amount of space the system will take up.  Remember the trade offs, less space and easy to setup usually means less authentic surround sound experience, while better sound means more space and more complicated setup, not to mention cost.

How much power should a digital home theater system have?

Don't fall victim to advertising and go for the most powerful system you can find. Instead choose the system by the size of the room it'll be in. Also keep in mind, when it comes to a 5.1 style system, that many companies will skimp on the rear speakers so they can advertise more power on the other speakers, especially the subwoofer, pay close attention to this since that is where the surround sound experience comes from.

What kind of connectors should the digital home theater system have?

This depends on the equipment you currently own, or plan to get. DO NOT go off buying a digital home theater system until you know what connectors you'll need. The last thing you want to do is get a great new digital home theater system home only to discover your Tivo won't connect to it (I did this..)

That sleek new digital home theater system sure is pretty, what's the problem with it?

Yep, they are small, sleek and look real good. Turn it over and look at the connectors.. Are there enough connections for all of your electronic devices?  Does it include a dvd/blu ray player?  Small means small electronics, are the speakers (any of them) underpowered?  Remember, there's always a trade off, you just have to find it.

How much does a great digital home theater system cost?

Here's an example of a fine digital home theater system available on Amazon.

That depends on the features and quality as well as type.  One way to maximize your savings is to use ebates, which gives you cashback on your online purchases. There could also be some sales going on. I suggest you read home theater system reviews from such sites as ConsumerSearch and ConsumerReports. They have unbiased home theater system reviews written by users just like yourself. You'll also find many useful links right here on this page to help you find the best digital home theater system.