Home Theater Trends to Keep in Mind for the Holiday
PUBLISHED: Monday, December 7, 2020

Home Theater Trends to Keep in Mind for the Holiday

This year’s home theater trends have largely been focused on a few very specific items: 8K displays and increasingly sophisticated soundbar audio systems. Consumer 8K displays are relatively new to the market, especially at the more affordable price-points of this year’s sets, while the proliferation of soundbars in homes and home theaters is a continuation of a trend that started several years ago. Both have helped to not only enhance the quality of home theaters but expand their functionality beyond simply screening movies.

8K displays, both panel, and projector are growing exponentially more affordable as the technology behind them becomes commonplace. While projectors have long been the favored display among the most discerning home theater owners, the new generation of 8K panels may change that. Higher resolution displays lose pixel density, and therefore image sharpness, as their size grows. In simple terms, an 85-inch 8K display has the same pixel density as a 43-inch 4K display. That means that 8K panels are being manufactured in large enough standard sizes – up to 98 inches or more – to impart a genuine “big screen” theater feeling. It doesn’t hurt that, as of this writing, 8K panels are significantly cheaper than projectors and offer true, native 8K resolution while projectors predominantly rely on pixel-shifting 4K.

The audio side of the equation has seen an explosion in high-end soundbar systems, especially since the proliferation of Dolby’s Atmos technology. These soundbars can be used as part of a traditional surround sound setup, of course, but they really shine because the bars themselves offer a rich, three-dimensional audio experience—no other equipment necessary. And, as with displays, sophisticated soundbars are becoming increasingly more affordable; self-contained models like Sonos’ Arc come in well under the $1000 mark.

The spread of these two technologies has helped to greatly expand the utility of home theaters. While they’ve long been spaces dedicated almost exclusively to movie (and maybe television) viewing, modern home theaters can be video gaming lounges, workout spaces, luxurious remote offices, and more. The versatility of new panel displays and audio equipment are largely to thank for that sea change because they make home theaters a more price-friendly and sensible option for homes and families of all sizes.