Nowadays, we’re used to watching films and TV shows in our beds on laptops and tablets. While there’s certainly a time and a place for this (when you simply cannot muster the energy to get up), the low-quality, poorly calibrated screen and tinny speakers just do not do certain films and shows justice.
Remember the incredibly dark episode in the last season of Game of Thrones? The cinematographer responded to complaints about it being too gloomy by lamenting that too many had watched it on iPads and poorly tuned TVs. And while it really was rather dark, higher quality gear would have vastly improved viewers’ experience.
Through Back Market, acquiring a decent home cinema system doesn’t have to come at a huge cost, and doesn’t have to contribute to the huge amounts of electronic waste being produced every day. We take you through the ins and outs of bringing a low-cost and eco-friendly cinema experience into your home.
From the small screen to the silver screen
Your first port of call is a decent (and preferably big) screen. While home TV screens are not yet being measured in feet like their cinema counterparts, they are bigger than ever, with the large models reaching a whopping 75 inches. Obviously what size you go for depends on how big a space you have and crucially, how far you can sit from it.
Unless you’re desperate to recreate the experience of craning your neck in the last remaining front-row seats at your local cinema, you don’t want to be getting an absolutely humungous home cinema screen when your sofa is a few feet away. You can find recommended sitting distances for each screen size easily online. Make sure you do your measurements, and also consider whether you need a stand or can mount the screen on a wall.
Talkin’ bout resolution
The next thing you have to think about is screen resolution – where a confusing array of different, rapidly evolving terms, like 4K, HD, UHD and HDR, are here to greet you. HD, or High Definition, is our starting point: it’s been around a while and is now the standard for most terrestrial and satellite TV, as well as Blu-ray.
UHD stands for Ultra High Definition and this new format quadrupled the resolution of HD, making the picture even sharper. 4K is technically a term reserved for professional cinemas and video producers, and has an almost identical resolution to UHD. Confusingly, the term 4K really took off with the general public and now it is used to refer to consumer screens that are actually UHD.
Unless you’re sat there counting the pixels, you can essentially consider 4K and UHD to be interchangeable. 8K, which you can probably guess is better still than 4K, is now starting to arrive on the scene.
Colours you didn’t know existed
HDR, or high-dynamic range, is the new kid on the block. It has nothing to do with the number of pixels the screen has, but more to do with how it enhances colour to produce brighter, richer and more lifelike images with better contrast between light and dark.
As well as helping you make out which character is which in that gloomy Game of Thrones episode, HDR opens up a world of colour you did not know you were missing, and the saturated colours of your pre-HDR days will become a distant memory (and something you would actually just prefer not to talk about).
Miss me with those screens!
You could, of course, just completely forgo a screen and get yourself a projector for that authentic cinema feel. Like screens, these are available in HD, UHD (marketed as 4K, naturally) and our new friend HDR (although the picture won’t be quite as bright and colourful as on a screen).
Projectors are perfect if you want a big screen experience without all the clutter – you can project on to a blank white wall or even fit a retractable screen. Back Market often has refurbished projectors, at a low cost to you and the environment.
Modern screens aren’t designed with sound in mind, so a decent home cinema set-up will have some form of external speaker system. One option is a soundbar, a long, thin and usually wall-mounted unit, designed to provide great quality sound while using as little space and as few wires as possible.
You could also get a soundbase, which is bulkier than a soundbar and designed to lurk under your TV, giving you loud, crystal clear audio and, most importantly, the bass you have been missing listening through your screen’s tinny speakers.
While soundbases and soundbars do an excellent job of replicating cinema audio, true purists will opt for full surround sound, requiring a subwoofer for the bass and usually five speakers positioned around the room. Check out Back Market for some great deals on lovingly refurbished wireless soundbars and surround sound systems.
Wait, what can I watch?
Once you’ve got sight and sound sorted, you need something to actually watch. Most films and shows are at our fingertips today on various streaming services, and thankfully companies like Netflix have a vast number of titles available in UHD, and more and more in HDR, so you can get the most out of your new set-up.
The actual quality of this does very much rely on your internet connection, however, so it is worth investing in a Blu-ray player – with the added comfort of actually owning your favourite films and not being at the mercy of increasingly fragmented streaming services.
Most games consoles, except for the Xbox One X and the forthcoming Playstation 5, can only play standard Blu-rays, so this is another reason to invest in a dedicated Blu-ray player if you’re craving that ultra-crisp UHD picture.
If you’re champing at the bit to re-watch that Game of Thrones episode (and find out what actually happens), check out Back Market’s home cinema and audio sections for our latest deals. Every high-quality item is saved from life in a landfill and refurbished to work as new, saving the planet while saving you money.