written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/23/2011
Setting up a cheap do-it-yourself home theater system is just a matter of knowing what to buy. Find out about the best cheap LCD HDTVs, speakers, DVD players and Blu-ray players for your home theater setup.
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Overview of Cheap DIY Home Theater Systems
You don't have to blow all your money on expensive equipment to set up a great home theater system. There are plenty of cheap HDTVs, speakers, DVD players, Blu-ray players and other devices that offer high quality picture and sound quality. This type of system is also very easy for the average home theater user to set up. The trick to setting up a cheap DIY home theater system is knowing which manufacturers offer the most features and value for the least money. It's also important to remember that bigger isn't necessary better. Going with a moderately-sized HDTV screen will not only save you money upfront on your home theater costs; it will also save you money on electricity over the long term.
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Cheap LCD HDTVs
Your best bet for a cheap LCD HDTV is a screen that's 42 inches or less. There are many LCD HDTVs that are $1000 or less. The Panasonic Viera TC-l37S1 37" LCD HDTV offers full 1080p resolution for around $850. The LG 37LH30 37" 1080p HDTV is even cheaper for under $600. You'll find extraordinary value in the VIZIO VO370M 37" LCD HDTV, which also supports full HD, and which typically sells for around $500. When shopping for a quality HDTV for a low price, look for a high contrast ratio, over a billion colors, a fast response time of 10 milliseconds (ms) or less, aspect ratio control, support for progressive scan and plenty of HDMI, composite video, component video and other input jacks. There are also many cheap HDTVs available today with Internet connectivity that will allow you to watch streaming Netflix movies, post to Twitter, check news feeds and view pictures online on sites such as Flickr and listen to online radio.
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Cheap Speakers for Home Theater
Everybody loves gorgeous sound for home theater. However, nobody likes to pay thousands just for speakers. Fortunately, there are many high-quality home theater speaker systems that won't put a dent in your budget. One of the best cheap speaker systems for home theater is the Fluance AV-HTB 5. This matching 5-speaker home theater system consists of 3 floorstanding main speakers, a center channel speaker and 2 rear surround satellite speakers, and typically sells for under $300. Klipsch also offers a high definition speaker system for home theater. The Klipsch Theater 300 speaker system consists of 5 speakers and a subwoofer, and retails for around $399. The Klipsch speaker system is ideal for small rooms that have little room for larger speakers.
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Cheap DVD and Blu-ray Players
You can get an excellent picture on your HDTV if you use a cheap progressive-scan DVD player with HD upconversion. Then you can save money by watching your DVDs, both old and new, in full HD on your new television. One such DVD player is the Philips DVP5990/37, which can upconvert DVD content to 720p, 1080i or 1080p HD. It has an HDMI output to connect to your HDTV, as well as a USB port so that you can view JPEG pictures or listen to MP3 or WMA audio files on a flash drive or memory card reader. The Samsung DVD-1080P9 DVD player also offers full 1080p HD upconversion, progressive scan, digital surround sound and a USB port. Both of these players will set you back less than $70. You can also get fantastic quality video and audio by investing in a cheap Blu-ray player with lots of features. The Memorex MVBD2520 Blu-ray disc player includes features such as progressive scan, DVD HD upconversion and an HDMI digital interface. Getting a set top box or Blu-ray player with internet connectivity can also help you to cheaply access entertainment features on the Internet such as YouTube and Netflix on your HDTV. Also keep in mind that you don't have to buy expensive Blu-ray discs; you can also rent them cheaply from companies such as Netflix and Blockbuster.
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Cheap Home Theater Set Top Boxes
There are many other cheap set top boxes that can help you to set up your cheap DIY home theater. One is the Roku Digital Video Player, which is available in both standard and high definition models. Using the Roku Digital Video Player, you can connect your existing HDTV to the Internet to access services such as Netflix instant streaming movies and TV, Hulu Plus and Amazon Video on Demand. Also, the Logitech Revue features the new Google TV service, which in addition to supporting Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand and Pandora also has its own Chrome-based web browser which supports Flash and HTML5 Video.