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DIY Home Theater Plasma TV Connections And Equipment Guide(What Equipment Do I Need With My Plasma TV Or Video Projector ?)

Blaze Display Technology Co., Ltd. | Updated: Oct 21, 2015

【R&D Department of Blaze Display】

In order to use your plasma screen you will require several items.

Wall mount , table stand or floor stand

Sound source

Video source

Cables

Power protection (optional but recommended)

Extended warranty (optional)

Plasma TVs and video projectors are basically monitors only. Most  contain no tuners or speakers. In order to use a Plasma screen for home use you will require the following.

SOUND

If the plasma TV you purchase has a built in amplifier you can buy optional speakers that match your plasma. Unfortunately these are very expensive ( around $ 500) and generally don$$$t perform very well for the money.  They will sound ok for general TV use but not much more.  They do however match the plasma screen cosmetically . If style is important to you or you do not want to use a separate stereo system then you should purchase the optional speakers. You can also add small bookshelf speakers with your plasma.  keep in mind that the built in amplifier in the plasma is usually only around 8 watts per channel so only low wattage bookshelfs will work properly or you can use powered computer speakers.

The second choice for sound is to use a surround sound stereo system or mini stereo.  This is by far the most popular choice.  Using a surround sound system allows you to listen to the sound of a DVD or digital TV in full Dolby Digital.  Systems can range from $300 for a very basic mini system to as much as you want to spend it, the sky$$$s the limit!!!.  Generally you can get a great sounding system for low volume use such as an apartment or townhome for under $1000 and room shaking sound for a full home theater for between $3,000 and $5,000. 

It is very important that your home theater surround receiver has component video switching. If you are buying a new surround sound receiver make sure it is equipped with the component switching. If you have a good receiver that does not have the component video switching you can purchase a component video switch. These do cost several hundred dollars but this may be cheaper then replacing a good surround receiver.

PLASMA MOUNTING CHOICES

When you order a plasma screen you will need to add a table stand or a wall mount.

Table Stand

 Some plasma$$$s include a table stand or "feet"  but most do not.  Table stand prices vary substantially by manufacturer and  cannot be switched. You cannot take a Panasonic table stand and use it on a Pioneer.

Wall Mounts

Wall mounts are available from the Plasma manufacturers or from "aftermarket" sources. It should be noted that the units are identical and the plasma manufacturers buy from the aftermarket company$$$s, change the part numbers and double the price. Most manufacturers do not even attempt to hide this fact   In most cases vendors will quote you a price for a  "factory" wall mount but will actually deliver the aftermarket unit which costs much less. Do not be fooled by labels.  Why pay $300 more for a sticker. 

 

Floor Stands:

 Several selections of floor stands are available. Please note when looking at a floor stand that you will also have to have  the wall mount to to attach to the stand and  may not be included in the price.

VIDEO SOURCES

In order to use a plasma TV you will require video sources.  The average system will use a DVD player and a television source. VCRs can be used but the low quality of VHS tape will disappoint you when played on a plasma screen.

DVD Player:

  The DVD player you purchase should be progressive scanning and you should connect it using component video cables. Some complete mini systems have built in dvd players. Usually they are not progressive so ensure they have at least a component video out (colorstream, Y pb, pr, etc ). You can use the Svideo out but you will lose some video quality. One note on all in one systems, DVD will be going to HD within a few years and you will have to replace the whole system if you don$$$t have separates. We always recommend buying separate components.

Note: Some plasma screens and video projectors provide substantially better pictures with progressive versus interlaced.

 TIP: If a plasma or projector has Faroudja or Genesis  chipsets, it will generally prefer interlaced signals over progressive.

Television: If you have satellite or digital cable, those boxes are your tuners!!!

Since most plasma displays do not have a built in tuner you will require a tuner if you want to watch local non digital cable TV. If you can afford a plasma or a projector you can afford digital cable or satellite. Running a plasma on local cable is like running a Ferrari on unleaded.

HDTV

 In order to watch HDTV you will require a external HDTV receiver.  If you use digital cable, please contact your cable company. If you use DirecTV you will require a new dish and receiver. We recommend the Samsung Sir-TS 160  This unit works with DirecTV and will pick up local HDTV broadcasts if available in your area.

Satellite or Digital Cable

 If you are using satellite or digital cable you will use the external box supplied by your Digital cable or satellite provider. Ensure your external box has a minimum of  a  S-video connection to feed the plasma.,  Component is preferred. Some boxes have only a composite connection ( single yellow RCA jack). You will not be happy with the picture quality from this output. ( worlds biggest understatement)

Local cable or antenna :

 In order to view local cable if digital is not available you will require a tuner of some form. Your local  standard cable box will not work.  There is several  solutions for this situation. Purchase a optional tuner card or box that matches your plasma.  A tuner card usually adds $200 to $300 to the cost of a plasma. Although not amazing picture quality, due to the poor quality of standard cable, It will give a good picture for a reasonable price until digital is available in your area.  You may wish to use a vcr as a tuner, although this will work,  You will be sadly disappointed by the quality of image. Since plasma screens provide high quality accurate images, they will accentuate a poor signal. IE Garbage in, Garbage out

Tip: If you require a dvd player and a tuner for local cable, consider a Panasonic or Pioneer DVD recorder,. These units are Progressive scan dvd players and digital video recorders. The units also have a built in NTSC tuner. Starting at just over 400 US  , you can kill a few birds with one stone

Computer

Almost every plasma ( except a few dedicated consumer plasma screens) will accept a computer input using a standard computer monitor cable.


CABLES


In order to connect your plasma you will require cables. Do not use cheap cables as they will affect picture quality.  The cable length should be less then 18 ft if you want to use standard premade cables, Over 18 ft will require custom made cables. Always use the shortest cables that you can. When calculating cable length account for how you want to run and hide the wires.  You will require a Svideo, a component video cable and if you want to use a computer  you will require a VGA cable ( computer monitor cable)  With many  plasma$$$s you will also require BNC to RCA adapters.  You can get a good set of Monster brand cables for between $80 and $120  depending on your length requirement  Do not skimp on cables but also don$$$t get raped buying special plutonium lined, iridium coated, diamond encrusted , divinely blessed , assembled by virgins in zero gravity,  $1000 "interconnects".

DVI cables....the latest greatest thing. Well until HDMI came out now its the latest greatest thing until??? comes out. HDMI has been adopted by most of the big boys and will probably last but in most cases component video will do the trick and it can be switched through a surround sound receiver. 


TIP:  If you are handy with a soldering iron you can make your own component video cables by using RG6 quadshield cable. It may not be worth the hassle for 6 footers but for long runs, well worth the time.

POWER PROTECTION

Your plasma TV is a large investment and should be protected from bad power and spikes. Good protection is a Monster Cable Power Conditioner. These units act as surge suppressor and "cleans" your ac power supply. The unit is the size of a VCR so it will need a shelf in your stereo rack but has enough connections to protect your whole system. Even if you don$$$t buy a power conditioner be sure to get a good surge suppressor,  Good  surge suppressors start at 40 dollars for a 4 socket.  Do not buy a ten dollar piece of junk at a dollar store. Remember you do get what you pay for.

TIP:  Many computer battery backups provide some filtering and work quite well for home theaters. Plus they give you a few minutes to shut down the theater if you have a power failure.

Universal Remotes:  These units are life savers ( and may save your marriage) These range from under a hundred to over a thousand.  Although initially a pain to program, once done they make life so much better.

EXTENDED WARRANTY

Whether to buy a extended warranty  for a plasma or a projector is strictly up to you.  Some people swear by them and others swear at them. Never be pressured or scared into purchasing a extended warranty.  A extended warranty may  be purchased as long as you have 90 days left on the manufacturer$$$s warranty. generally that leaves you 9 months to decide.   A two year extension for a 42 inch retails around  $280. A good rule of thumb for a extended warranty is no more then 10% of the cost of the plasma. Always make sure there is no deductible and the warranty includes in home service.

A good rule for retail is firmly tell the salesperson no only once, If he/she hassles you about it again, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM HIM/HER , TAKE YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE.

WARNING: SOME STORES OFFER EXTENDED WARRANTIES THAT INCLUDE "RECHARGING$$$ A PLASMA. THIS IS FRAUD; PLASMA SCREENS CANNOT BE RECHARGED AND DO NOT LEAK. IF A SALESPERSON TRIES THIS LINE DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM HIM/HER , TAKE YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE.

  THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF A PLASMA IS GENERALLY 40,000 to 50,000 HOURS TO HALF LIFE (HALF BRIGHTNESS) AND REQUIRE NO MAINTENANCE DURING THAT TIME.

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