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I don't normally think of a 10' x 14' room as a theater, but this "cozy" space is home to our ours. Look for the Media Room in our floorplan. It's an interior room with two skylights, one of which opens and both of which have blackout blinds. The entry into the room is through two French doors that are installed as pocket doors.

My interest in home theater grew out of my enjoyment of movies and an unrelenting lust for gadgetry and electronics. I am neither an audiophile nor a videophile, but I love watching really good looking pictures. I have to admit to watching (at least parts of) bad movies just to see a great special effect or hear a good sound track. My wife enjoys watching movies but would be perfectly happy with a 25" TV off in some out of the way corner. Fortunately she puts up with my "hobby" and she secretly does enjoy the big screen experience.

We've stopped watching live TV since the advent of PVR's (Personal Video Recorders) such as the ReplayTV and TiVo. I bought a ReplayTV when they were first announced and never looked back. Early in 2000 when prices were dropping rapidly I bought a TiVo. I wanted a second unit so that I could record more than one thing at a time and my VCR was on the way out. I decided to get a TiVo rather than another ReplayTV so that I could compare them for myself. Unfortunately for me, there is no clear winner. Each has advantages and disadvantages. As they continue to compete they will probably both become more refined.

Component List

My system consists of the following:

Manufacturer Component Description Relevant Discussion
Mitsubishi VS-50805 Rear Projection TV This unit is a 4:3 50" HD ready TV HomeTheaterSpot Forum
Samsung SIR-T150 This is an over-the-air (OTA) HD receiver. AV Science Forum
Hughes HDVR2 DirecTV receiver with TiVo AV Science Forum
TiVo 60 Hour Digital Video Recorder Philips model HDR612 with 2 30 Gig HD's AV Science Forum
Toshiba SD-5109 DVD Player Progressive scan. Dual disc capable. Replaces Toshiba SD-3109. AV Science Forum
Pioneer Elite VSX-07TX THX Receiver Has Dolby Digital decoder, no DTS Suggestion?
B&W DM602 Front Channel Speakers Picture is off slightly newer model Suggestion?
B&W CC6 Center Channel Speaker Picture is off slightly newer model Suggestion?
Altec Lansing AHT 2100 Surround Speakers no longer manufactured Suggestion?
Solid PB100 Subwoofer Solid is part of B&W Suggestion?
Philips Pronto Touch Screen customizable remote Remote Central
Universal Remote Control Home Theater Master MX-700 Programmable remote with lots of hard buttons Remote Central
Home Brew Home Theater PC Pentium 3, Matrox, 128MB AV Science Forum
Diamond Palatino M-210 Cabinets Basic black, nice size, good price Home Theater Forum

If you have suggestion for other relevant discussion forums, let me know.

System Evolution

December 2002

January 2001

October 2000

August 2000

July 2000

June 2000

Home Theater PC

I've broken out information about my Home Theater PC into a separate page.


Click on a thumbnail image to see full size pictures of that area. I'll add more over time. Look at the gadgets section for info on the digital camera I used.

Entry Screen Shots Equipment The Room

Pronto Universal Remote

The Pronto Universal Remote is really an amazing little box made by Philips. Marantz has an equivalent unit called the RC5000. It is a touch screen remote control that can be customized to an amazing degree. There's a picture of it in the Equipment section and lots of information can be found at the Philips site and at RemoteCentral. Like many modern remotes it allows you to control a large number of devices (TV's, receivers, DVD players, etc.) and to perform macros. A macro is a list of commands that can be assigned to a single button. For instance, you can have an "All On" button the turns on your Receiver, TV, and DVD player. The Pronto goes well beyond normal universal remotes in the degree to which it can be customized and in the leverage provided by the ardent user community.

If you are willing to learn the tools and spend the time, you can make your Pronto look and act just about any way you want. All of the graphics and text displayed on the touch screen are under your control. Making a good looking, efficient, and easy to understand interface can be a daunting task. Fortunately the user community really helps. RemoteCentral has a library of designs and remote codes that anyone can download. You can start with someone else's entire layout or perhaps just the graphic that they use for a button. Furthermore, you don't have to learn all of the remote codes from your other remotes. Chances are someone else has already done it and you can simply download their work. There is also a thriving discussion group that provides lots of good info.

There's a lot to know about the Pronto and a good place to start is in this FAQ. I will list one negative thing about touch screen remotes in general and that is that you loose the tactile feedback. You can't feel where the buttons are on a touch screen. The Pronto has 7 physical buttons that you can use for some of the most common operations - that helps.


Here are some of the great web resources that I have enjoyed and learned so much from. They're not in any particular order.

Learned the hard way...