Living Room Appliances

The technology behind your stylish space

A living room just wouldn't work if you couldn't kick back on the sofa and watch a movie. Home electronics are a big part of any room, but whether it's relaxing to some music or enjoying a TV program, gadgets make the biggest difference in the living room.

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Movie watching is a hobby for many families, so a DVD player is a must for any living room, as well as a DVD recorder to write movies from the computer to disc! But if you're thinking of upgrading your living room, why not upgrade your DVD player (or dare we say it…VCR) as well? Blu-ray and HD DVD players are hot ticket items these days and can really enhance the home theater feel of your living room.

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Blu-ray is dominating the high-definition market, so you may want to focus your upgrades there. You can buy a dedicated Blu-ray player from many big name companies such as Sony or Panasonic for under $1,000, or a combo HD DVD and Blu-ray player for a bit more. Although there isn't likely to be many new releases in HD DVD, you may find many of your favorites in bargain bins, and can save money that way.

Another alternative is to buy a gaming console that incorporates a high-definition player. Sony's Playstation 3 has a built-in Blu-ray player, while Microsoft's Xbox 360 has an HD DVD add-on device available for a couple hundred dollars or so.

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Home Audio

Music is integral to living room relaxation, and there are a number of ways to treat yourself when you upgrade your living room. A basic home stereo might only include a CD player, but these days, CD players are becoming obsolete. Mp3s are today's music format of choice, so an iPod stereo or other stereo that handles the format is a must for all home stereos.

A complete stereo system needs a few more parts, however. The addition of home stereo speakers give you a more dynamic sound, and can they can be connected to both your stereo and your TV. Ditto for a home audio receiver and a home stereo amplifier, which are crucial pieces of home audio equipment. If you're concerned about space, you'll be happy to know that many home stereo speaker systems are designed to leave only a small footprint, and wireless speakers mean you can position the speakers anywhere you like.

Home Theater

If you want to make the most of your living room and movie-watching experience, you'll want to add the makings of a digital home theater to your redesign shopping list. Home theater equipment is surprisingly affordable, especially if you opt for a home theater package rather than piecing together your own custom home theater.

Must-have pieces include home theater speakers – surround-sound being the height of home theater viewing – and some type of home theater screen. This could be as simple as an everyday TV, but a big-screen TV or even a home theater projector is as close as you can come to the movie theater experience. Expand on that feel with a few pieces of home theater furniture, such as a storage cabinet for videos and players or theater-style chairs for extra seating. With some fun home theater accessories like a popcorn machine or movie review cards, you'll never have to pay for movie tickets again!

On the Tube

Even television has seen its share of technological upgrades. If TV is something you enjoy, you may want to consider getting on the bandwagon as you revamp your space. While some refer to it as a DVR player, the device that records TV so you can watch it anytime is actually called simply a DVR (digital video recorder), PVR (personal video recorder) or DVR PVR combination (they're all the same).

These devices, no bigger than a DVD player, allow you to stockpile all of your favorite shows by recording them onto a drive so that you can watch them at a later time. They're great for anyone whose schedule is all over the place, or for those who have to share the TV and can't always watch their favorite programs.

The players themselves are surprisingly affordable. You can rent them from your cable provider for a monthly fee, or you can buy them outright for under $300.