How to turn your living room into a cinema on a budget

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If you love movies, you will likely have fantasised about turning your living room into a full-on home cinema. If your family doesn’t object, you can do just that for much less money than you might think. 

The biggest hurdle in any man’s dream of having a home cinema is getting agreement from their nearest and dearest. Unfortunately, we can’t help you there except to say chocolates, compliments, flowers and nice dinners are usually very effective. Once you have that agreement, turning your living room into a cinema is actually quite straightforward. 

The big screen

While movie nights are a great way to spend family time, nobody wants to watch daily TV on an 85 inch screen. That’s where a projector comes in handy. The screen can disappear and the projector itself can hide at the back of the room. They are reasonably priced too.

HD projectors are cheaper than they have ever been and while nobody would call them cheap, they can often be had for less than a good LED TV. Look at lamp life, HD quality (720p or 1080p) and brightness (measured in lumens) when making your buying decision.

A projector screen is more straightforward. You can buy one that fixes to the ceiling and can be pulled down when needed or use a white bed sheet. Either will do as long as you can hang the sheet without creases.

Bring the noise

Home theatre audio is a huge subject and one many enthusiasts get very heated over. Suffice to say, surround sound is the way to go if your budget can stretch that far. Sound is as important as the picture, so plan to spend almost as much on the speakers as you do the projector and screen.

If you’re not allowed to run wires across the living room, there are wireless options you can consider. They are more expensive but saving having to pull up carpet or chase cables into the wall.

A photo posted by Polk Audio (@polkaudio) on

Media centre

Now you have the screen and sound, you need something to play the media. You can elect for a DVD or Blu-ray player and amplifier or build a media PC. Either option costs less than you might think and can be quite fun to put together. You could buy a media PC off the shelf or build one yourself, it is entirely up to you. 

The advantage of a media PC is that you can store movies on the hard disk and transfer files over a network. You can also play games and browse the internet, watch YouTube or anything else as you see fit. The downside is the cost. While you can build one on a budget, it’s all too easy to spend big on one.

Then you just need to connect it all together. You will need to run a wire from your media player of choice to the projector. You will also need to run wires to the speakers or connect them wirelessly. Then mount the projector somewhere where it won’t be knocked or damaged and that points at the screen. That’s all there is to it!

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