The Future of Home Entertainment – Part One

Recently our local Blockbuster has started their going-out-of-business clearance sale. Literally everything in the building is for sale, including the DVD shelves and racks. I was worried that would happen because the other 2 in the area have closed up shop in the last 2-3 years. Having been a Blockbuster Total Access subscriber (they send me Blu-Rays in my queue and I can turn them in locally in exchange for something immediately), I had been pretty spoiled by the access and the ability to always have an awesome selection. 

On the other hand, 3 years ago I married my dream girl and now have a full household most all the time and all sorts of activities to occupy my time, so I haven’t been watching movies anywhere close to the same rate as when I was on my own. Still, the imminent closure of Blockbuster means a change in my home entertainment setup.

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So what are the options for home entertainment right now? And what are my expectations?

My Home Entertainment Expectations:

1. HD Video (at least as an option… 720p is acceptable, 1080p as an option).

2. High Quality Audio with full surround sound (who wants to watch The Matrix or similar in plain stereo? It does make a difference)

3. The ability to watch/rent movies quickly and easily with high availability. Convenience matters.

4. Live sports on TV, specifically SEC football and basketball. (Not just replays)

5. To be able to access content on any TV in the house

6. To be able to listen to music or radio (or streaming radio) in different rooms of the house as I’m doing stuff (I love, much to Holley’s chagrin, to listen to sports talk radio on my days off)

 

My Dream Wish List:

1. Control the Video/TV experience through iPad/iPhone (so Holley isn’t intimidated by using the system)

2. Everything needs to be as cheap as possible!

3. Full surround sound all the time!

4. Integrate my iTunes library through our existing whole-house sound system (or at least reusing the wiring and speakers for it)

5. More home integration features (like the security system, lights, etc.)

6. To be able to stream all this entertainment goodness to portable devices (specifically iOS devices – we’re an Apple household)

7. Access to Amazon Prime video streaming

8. Access to Ultraviolet video streaming or downloads

At this point, I’m thinking this is a pretty tall order. But it may be doable. There are some significant challenges that seem to be more annoying than anything at this point.

Basic Assumptions:

1. I’ll be using Charter as my primary cable/TV/internet provider (as they have a chokehold here locally, but also have been really good for the most part).

2. I’m a Mac/Apple guy, so my solutions will be aimed at that axis. I may consider other options (like XBox One or PS3/4) for some media stuff or servers, but I have WAY too much invested in my Apple gear and software to jump ship. Plus, it “just works.” I love the Mac.

3. I do have PS3’s and 2 Apple TV’s, so I’ll be looking at these heavily.

4. There is an installed whole-home sound system in the house by M&S. I’m not very happy with the head unit on that, but would hate to have to replace all the wiring and/or speakers and volume control in every room. I’ll try to work within this restraint, but may end up replacing some or all of it.

 

Anybody out there working on something similar (or been through it already?) I’d love to hear feedback/advice on this!

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