The best kit for building your own home cinema

Just add popcorn

You don't need a vast mansion and a huge wad of cash to set up your own home cinema system - although money and space are both useful to have - and there are various ways of approaching the task. In fact, you've probably got a wider choice of kit than ever before.

You can repurpose older hardware (like an ageing console or laptop) or blow the family savings on something really high-end. These are the best options we've found in terms of what's on sale at the moment, though cheaper alternatives are usually available.

Before you get started it's worth weighing up where your movies are going to come from, now and in the future: DVDs? iTunes? Netflix? Do you want to be able to play games as well as watch films? Answer those questions and you'll have a better idea of what you need.

This is such a vast topic that we could easily spend five of these articles going through your options, so consider this a small selection of what's on offer right now: if you dig around online you can easily find more options and extra hardware to suit your needs.


The advantage of choosing a television set for your home theatre is that it's very simple to set up and there are models available to fit any kind of budget - you can plug anything into a TV, from a PS4 to an Nvidia Shield, and of course you get Freeview built in as well.


Samsung UE40JU7000T - a set loved by professional reviewers and users alike, 40 inches of 4K, 3D, Wi-Fi-enabled goodness with a host of useful features. [£1,249.99 at Amazon]

Sony Bravia KDL40RD453 - if you want to save some cash and don't need 4K, this Bravia model gives you 40 inches of screen space and USB media playback. [£440 at Amazon]

LG 55UF770V - 55 inches' worth of pure 4K quality, this set is about to be replaced with a newer 2016 version so you might be able to get a decent discount. [£1,399.99 at Amazon]

HiSense K720 - HiSense may not have the brand recognition of its rivals but this 65-incher has attracted some very positive reviews from those who've used it. [£1,799.99 at Amazon]

Panasonic TX-40DX700B - this svelte, smart 40-incher lets you watch movies in glorious 4K and comes with the rather nice Firefox OS on board as well. [£799.99 at Amazon]


If you're considering a larger-sized screen - say 50 inches plus or so - then projectors tend to be better value for money, though 4K remains pricey. Like TVs they have a host of inputs you can use, but don't forget you need a screen (or a big blank wall) as well.


Z4 Aurora - we'll start with a crowdfunded project, a device promising a maximum 300-inch projection display and Android on board. [$449 (about £315) at Indiegogo]

Epson EH-TW6100 - you get full HD movie playback, around 4,000 hours of lamp life, the option of playing 3D content, and the Epson seal of quality. [£1,299.99 at Amazon]

BenQ W1070+ - while it might get out-specced by some of its competitors, this is a solid full HD choice with plenty of brightness and numerous inputs. [£815.99 at Amazon]

Optoma HD141X - another decent budget choice that brings with it full HD playback, 3D capabilities, impressive brightness levels and two HDMI inputs. [£549.99 at Amazon]

Sony VPL-VW520/B - if you want 4K, you want HDR, you want an incredible projector and you've got enough money, then this may well be your answer. [£8,599.99 at Amazon]

Consoles, streaming boxes and players

So what are you going to use to actually play your movies with? There's more choice here than ever and you might already have something in your house you can install in your home cinema. If not, here are some of the current options worth considering.


Apple TV - Apple's newly updated box brings with it support for apps and of course excellent integration with the iTunes ecosystem (though no 4K). [£129+ at Apple]

PS4 - the obvious choice if you already own one, giving you the chance to play all the latest games and watch Blu-rays, as well as access apps like Netflix. [£299.99+ at Sony]

Xbox One - or, you could go for Microsoft's console, which is arguably better suited for entertainment purposes and can also play Blu-rays and games. [£249.99+ at Microsoft]

Roku 3 - there are a whole host of little boxes and sticks you can use to power a home cinema system, but the Roku 3 is just about the best of the bunch. [£99.99 at Roku]

Oppo BDP103D - a Blu-ray player is still a solid choice, especially if you can find one with enough inputs and outputs to support all the other kit you have. [£599 at Amazon]

Sound system

Sound is just as crucial as the picture when it comes to a home cinema configuration, and again there are a wealth of options to pick from, both in terms of different speaker types and different layouts. These picks highlight some of the different choices you've got.


Sonos PlayBar - a Sonos speaker for your HDTV and everything that plugs into it, rather than your music, and the sound quality justifies the rather steep price. [£599 at Sonos]

Sony HT-RT5 - perhaps the best value soundbar and surround sound speaker set Sony has on offer right now, and it can connect up to just about anything. [£499 at Amazon]

Pioneer HTP-073 - professional-level surround sound at a budget-level price, this package gets you five speakers, a subwoofer and a 5.1 AV channel receiver. [£299.99 at Amazon]

LG LAS455H -one of the more affordable soundbar and subwoofer combinations, with a wall mount option that's always useful in a home theatre setup. [£229.99 at Amazon]

Onkyo HT-S5805 - notable for supporting the latest Dolby Atmos standard, this set costs more than many others but has the specs to make it worthwhile. [£699.99 at Amazon]

Other kit

You might feel overloaded with buying choices already, but we've not really covered all the options in terms of home cinema kit - you can of course go to town on AV receivers, complex audio setups, even soundproofing materials for the walls of your chosen room.

Remember to save some money if you think you're going to need extras, and chances are that some additional cabling and maybe a power extension or two will be required. Wall mounts, stands and brackets might be necessary as well before you're finished.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.