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184 of 189 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
I went out and got Home Theater for Everyone (Harley), Build Your Home Theater in a Weekend (Bruyn/Karabian), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Home Theater Systems (Miller), Use Your PC to Build An Incredible Home Theater System (Farkas and Govier), and Home Theater for Dummies (Briere and Hurley). (I've posted this review in each of the books).
There's a clear difference among these books, and approaches. In order, I would get these books:
1. (tie) Home Theater for Everyone; Home Theater for Dummies. This surprised me. I've heard a lot about Harley's book and it is great. It's getting dated though, and some stuff was simply way over my head for what I'm going to do with my home theater. But it's one of those books you have to read even if you don't understand a lot of it (and mind you, I've got seven computers in my house, a 100Meg LAN, multiple wireless systems, etc...I'm not scared of technical stuff.) It's not so much not understanding it, as much as it is that a lot of it while important to a magazine editor such as Harley, it's not something that you're going to use in putting in your home theater.
Home Theater for Dummies surprised me. I must say, I found it incredibly well researched, practical, and more homey and less academic than Harley's book. I think the title would keep a lot of the HT mags from reviewing it, thinking it beneath them. And the authors clearly know how to have fun (they have sections on how to create your own drive-in and another on bathroom theater.) They cover home theater PCs and Windows XP Media Center PCs, as well as wireless projectors -- so this is truly up to day at publication time because these are relatively new things. (Harley's book does not even mention HTPCs and gives relatively small coverage to personal video recorders (PVRs) which HT for Dummies covers well. I'd say just get this book, but no one would believe me.
3. User Your PC To Build An Incredible Home Theater System. This is a niche book for the techies that like to build their own PCs. Sort of like me :-) I found it knowledgeable and fun, but like I said, you would not buy this book to build a home theater.
4. The Complete Idiots Guide to Home Theater Systems. I liked this book's coverage of budgets and little facts in the book. However there was nothing on HTPCs, the pricing is already dated, and there was nothing in it not covered in Home Theater for Dummies. So if I have to choose between being a Dummy or an Idiot, I'd say I'm a Dummy.
5. Build Your Home Theater In A Weekend. This was basically a waste of money. It was a nice effort, but outclassed by the competition above. It's not worth a longer review.
If you are looking to put a home theater in your home, I'd recommend Harley and Briere/Hurley. Briere/Hurley also wrote Smart Homes for Dummies which they referenced in the HT book -- I'm getting that now, because it basically tells me how to extend my home theater all over the house. Since I spent a lot of money on my home theater, I'm betting, based on HT4Dummies, that their book is worth the $$$.
My two cents.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Three months ago, my wife suggested that we upgrade our 15 year old TV to a "home entertainment center". So off we go to the local store to look at options. Spoke to a couple of salesmen who were worse than useless. In frustration, I bought this book. After a quick and pleasant read, I felt that I had a reasonable understanding of the options one has when setting up a "home entertainment center." We now have a v-e-r-y nice component system that is a breeze to use.

It isn't difficult to specify and install a system. However, now that I've done it, I realize that most people make a number of unneccesary mistakes. If you know all about this stuff then don't buy the book. However, if you have questions like I did then buy the book and you'll find that you'll end up with a system far superior to the ones owned by most "know it alls".
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Wish I'd bought this when I first started researching home theaters. I was a novice, having purchased only a couple of 27" analog sets in the past 15 years. Rather than starting with a book like this, I researched mine the time consuming way: talking to knowledgable friends; wasting time with sales droids at electronic stores, reading home theater magazines. About two months later things reached critical mass and I could finally make an informed decision.
My advice: buy this book, read it, and afterwards *still* do what I did. Only save the sales droids for last (by then you'll know more than they do), and look but don't buy. Then go home and buy what you want at Amazon.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is great if you are new to home theater, and is also useful if you have not kept up with the latest (as of 2003). I also own "Home Theater for Everyone" but I prefer the Dummies book for 2 reason: it is more comprehensive, covering different subjects with proportional weight and (2) Home theater for Every One is somewhat outdated, especially when it comes to home theater PC or HTPC, and therefore isn't very helpful in those departments. What I did not like was the depth of the subjects, or more precisely the lack of it. For example, I wanted to know about subwoofer setup options, but there were none other than the simplest LFE line connection. After writing a whole book on the subject you would think they would write in more depth. However, overall, this book was good for starter home theater owners.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
For someone who's entirely new to home theater -- from A/V receivers to speakers to display monitors to hooking everything up -- "Home Theater for Dummies" offers a quick primer on the subject. It covers both sound and sight and gives honest opinions on many things.
However, it suffers from excessive use of parenthesis and side notes and confusing run-on sentences. Also, the explanation of key topics such DVI and a display's aspect ratio still leaves the reader highly confused. The trouble seems to stem from the fact that neither author has a deep grasp of the home theater technologies and they might have just lifted all this information from various sources and put it in book form.
Since the book is cheap on Amazon, I still recommend it to all newcomers to the wonderful world of home theater. If you need more information, get the optimizer discs the books recommends and also check the web for detailed discussions.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2005
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is a bit dated. But since I am really a dummy in this area, it has been good to bone up my knowledge, as I gear up to buy and build up a audio home theater - I skipped most of the stuff on the video chapters as I don't plan a movie theater at home.

It does need to be updated. PC and network information are old, so are some of the things around emerging standards. It could also do with some pictures and wiring diagrams - I am no dummy with electronics, but had difficulty understanding what was mean by a central panel, that could be placed in my basement or some place out of sight.
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on December 29, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Great item, fast delivery
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book was GREAT!
It starts off simple, gives you all the basics and then adds layers of great information. It allows you to pick up the home theater magazines or walk into the specialty stores and feel comfortable making sense of it all.
A definite must read if your'e starting to build or expand a home theater!
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This a dense and detailed book. This is really good, current, well researched. I was impressed.
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