Home entertainment

The new generation TV screens

With TV screens, bigger generally means better. Working by that logic, Panasonic released the best television in the world at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2008. This whopping, 150in screen is 6ft high and 11ft wide and comes with a £50,000 price tag.

If you want the very latest technology, then you can opt for a Sony Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) TV. These screens use brand new technology that offers very high contrast (1,000,000 : 1) and low energy consumption in a screen just 3mm thick. Currently only available in an 11in format costing approximately £1,700, OLED TVs have a long way to go before they challenge the plasma behemoths in terms of size, but if you’re happy with a small screen the future is high contrast.

Projectors offer an alternative to gigantic LCD and plasma or smaller OLED models. The most characterful has to be the R2D2 Nikko Projector. Capable of projecting an image up to 80in wide with an iPod dock, memory card reader, radio and loudspeaker – all encased in a life-size replica of the R2-D2 droid from Star Wars with remote control in the shape of a Millennium Falcon. If you’re rich, male and under 40 you’re probably already clicking a ‘buy’ button somewhere…

Of course, screens this good demand the highest quality sources, so either connect to one of the HD channels currently available, or plug in a Blu-Ray player. You can pick these up for a few hundred pounds (Sony PlayStation 3 has one built in), but the ultimate home cinema would be the Swiss-made Goldmund Eidos 20 BD Blu-Ray Player, costing just over £10,000.

With the picture beaming bright, sharp and hi-res on the screen, it’s time to think about the sound…

Home audio systems

A dream home entertainment set-up should whoosh sound from left to right and front to back, bringing heightened realism to everything from Hollywood blockbusters to Eastenders. For this, you’ll need a THX sound processor and at least six speakers. Originally defined by Lucasfilm (another Star Warsconnection), THX is designed to ensure you hear the soundtrack of films and games exactly as the creators intended. The best THX certification is Ultra Plus 2 and all manufacturers including Pioneer, Yamaha and Onkyo, all produce Ultra Plus 2-rated amplifiers, and you can even get change from £2,000 for one – which compared to some of the prices thus far sounds very reasonable!

One area where design counts the most, and prices can go stratospheric is in the purchase of loudspeakers.

Your THX amplifier will demand up to eight speakers for front, rear, centre, and sub-bass functions, and you will get sound studio-quality sound from plain-looking black speakers for less than £10K, but if you’re serious, you’ll augment the surround sound with a pair of esoteric speakers designed to look, as well as sound, amazing.

The Nautilus seashell speakers from Bowers and Wilkins come with an approximate £30,000 price tag per pair, but super-rich buyers should check out Wilson Audio’s Alexandria X-2 speakers which resemble robots and cost an eye-watering £130,000 per pair but do promise to replicate the live sound.

By the time you’ve bought the necessary leads, stands, delivery and installation this dream home theatre set up will cost over £200,000. Time to buy a lottery ticket…

This is why it is important that you need home insurance.