A lot of people talk about home entertainment areas, though the more likely term you will hear these days is “man cave.” OK, maybe they are not family entertainment areas except for authorized users, but here when I walk about home entertainment I am talking living room or den area surroundings.
The idea of home entertainment really came to be with the invention of the television. In the 1960’s, televisions were at the centre of the family living areas where everyone would gather after eating supper. Then consumer priced 8-millimeter video cameras came along, and added home movies to the mix. There were slide projectors, where you could have your 35-millimeter camera pictures turned into slides and placed in a carousel, but it was hardly the same thing. Home movie projectors were often shown on a wall because, well, it was cheaper than paying for a movie screen.
Later came the camcorders that recorded with sound and could be watched using a standard VHS or beta player. If one thing changed the way home entertainment was defined, it was the invention of the home VHS tape player. Today’s DVD players (those that are still used) are just a variation of these groundbreaking machines. What the VHS tape players did was to make watching home movies quick and easy, and make Hollywood come home so you could watch a movie at any time – for a price.
Did I forget about the sound? No, but the video aspect of home entertainment systems has always been far more important to most people. We are visual creatures, and while sound does make a huge difference in certain cases, most people can put up with OK quality sound as long as the video is good. Needle style phonographs that played vinyl albums were the mainstay of some sound for decades. There were stereo speakers built-in to stereo systems, but for many years if you wanted a higher quality of sound you had to go with external speakers connected to the sound device by wires.
For most people, the real age of home entertainment came right along with the digital revolution. With advances in technology came larger screens followed by lower prices as a result of consumer demand. High quality Dolby sound along with DVD players were built right into the television unit. It could be said that the television wasn’t really a television in the historical sense, and this is even truer today. What is being sold as a TV today is really a single unit home entertainment system.
Though some may not technically consider the computer as part of a home entertainment system, they have a place worth considering. Connecting a computer to a flat screen TV allows watching movies, listening to music, and playing video games from a single unit. Today the video game units such as Xbox and Wii are divorced from the computer video games, but still can be connected to the all-purpose television unit.
Reflecting back, the home entertainment systems have become more compact, cheaper, and multitasking types of units. It is no wonder that there are on average more than two TVs per household. The home entertainment system has expanded in features without increasing in size.