Instant Home Theater in Two Hours or Less
Amazon Prime changed the game. You can have pretty much anything you need, including an entire home theater, delivered to your home in two days or less. And you never have to get off the couch. A recent conversation with a friend who needed a TV and an HDMI cable and had them delivered in an hour using the new Prime Now app got us thinking. What if you wanted an entire home theater delivered to your home within an hour or two? Is that even possible?
The scenarios are endless. You have company over and everyone decides to watch a movie, but they brought kids and the kids need something to watch too. Or you and your family, friends, guests, whatever can’t decide if you want to watch a live sports event or that night’s episode of Dancing with the Stars, so, in the spirit of ‘why not both?’ you need to add a second home theater to keep everyone happy. Or, simply, just cuz.
Prime Now is a new service from Amazon, available to Prime members in select markets at no additional charge, that allows you to order products for delivery in two hours, sometimes less, depending on your proximity to the distribution center. We assume the products available may vary by market, since not all distribution centers would have the exact same inventory, so this adventure is what the HT Guys would be able to put together from their local distribution center in Orange County, California.
Prime Now is currently only available as an app for your smartphone. You cannot tap into it from your computer, not yet at least. For our discussion we’ll provide links to the products at the main Amazon website, but if you want to get them delivered in an hour, you’ll need to download the app and find them there.
Every home theater needs an HDTV. What options are available from Prime Now? We assumed they would be small TVs, easy to store and easy to deliver. What we found surprised us. There were a bunch of options for HDTVs from Prime Now. Small TVs, like you would imagine, a 32” model from LG or Sharp, 43” options from Vizio and Sharp, etc. But they also had some bigger sets available. There’s a 50” Vizio, a 55” Vizio, and a 55” LG. Sure 55” isn’t huge, but it isn’t tiny either. A 55” TV would make a pretty good cornerstone in a 2 hour or less home theater.
LG Electronics 55LF6000 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz LED TV. If you buy it from the Amazon website, you’ll pay $647.99 and the strange thing is, it isn’t available for Prime shipping – you actually pay an extra $36.36 for shipping. If you buy if from the Prime Now app you pay more than $100 less, $538, and you get same day shipping. That’s a great deal.
VIZIO E50-C1 50-Inch 1080p Smart LED HDTV. Probably not the way to go unless you’re a huge Vizio fanboy, the TV is 50 inches compared with the 55 inches of the LG, but you only save $10. It costs $528 from both the Amazon website, where it is available for Prime shipping, and from the Prime Now app. The consistence makes sense, but the price for the screen size doesn’t.
VIZIO M55-C2 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED HDTV. If you want to go super impressive in a couple hours or less, there is one 4K TV available from Prime Now. For some reason this one is also more expensive from the website than from the app, and isn’t available for Prime shipping from the site either. At Amazon.com you pay $921.99. Although the shipping isn’t Prime, it is free. From Prime Now you only pay $849.99.
But what if your emergency home theater needs to go really big? You want to watch in the backyard by the pool or set the kids up in the front yard so they can share with the whole neighborhood. Prime Now has you covered there as well. These should be much easier to stock and ship, making it that much easier to be an instant hero.
Optoma HD141X 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector, $574 from Prime Now, 3000 Lumen
Optoma HD26 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector, $649 from Prime Now, 3200 Lumen
BenQ W1070 1080P 3D DLP Home Theater Projector, $696 from Prime Now, 2000 Lumen
And of course you’ll need a screen. The Epson Duet 80-Inch Dual Aspect Ratio Projection Screen is $105.78 from Prime Now, includes a floor stand and can be expanded to the size that best meets your needs – old school 4:3 or widescreen 16:9.
This is where it gets tricky and you have to be a bit creative. We didn’t find any AV Receivers through the app, and the speakers we could get were all more computer speakers than home theater speakers. That said, the Logitech Surround Sound Speakers Z506 would probably do a decent job for you, and at $57.99 they aren’t going to break the bank. You get a center speaker, four satellites and a subwoofer for that price. Certainly better than the built-in TV speaker.
There are a couple of sound bar options, like the VIZIO SB2920-C6 29-Inch 2.0 Channel Sound Bar for $78 or the VIZIO SB4051-C0 40-Inch 5.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer and Satellite Speakers for $348. With the inclusion of the wireless subwoofer and satellites (which are not wireless), the SB4051-C0 is probably the best option available to us in the Orange County area. And it has built-in Bluetooth if you want to stream music to it from your smartphone or tablet.
But if you want to be creative, you can get a Sonos Playbar TV Sound Bar for $699, add a couple Sonos Play:1 speakers at $199 each for surround sound and cap it off with a Sonos Sub Wireless Subwoofer to make it go boom for another $699. At a total cost of $1796 it isn’t cheap, but at least you won’t have to buy speaker wire (yes, that is available on Prime Now) and they can be used to stream music as part of a whole house audio system if you need them to as well.
Odds and Ends
Pretty much any cable or wire you’ll need to connect a home theater is available from Prime Now. They have a plethora of choices for OTA antennas and a couple set top bot OTA tuners if that’s how you choose to get content onto your instant home theater. There are a few Blu-ray players, like the Samsung BD-J5100 for $57.99 or the Sony BDPS6500 that has built-in WiFi, does 3D and has 4K upscaling for $128. And, of course, a wide variety of Blu-ray movies if you need something to watch. Or, you could certainly pick up a Fire TV Stick for $39.99 if you want to stream all the content you already get for free as part of your Prime membership (the standard $99 Fire TV wasn’t available to us as an option through Prime Now. Seems like they’re out of stock everywhere until early November).
All in all, you can build a pretty killer home theater setup and have it delivered to your door in under 2 hours, should you need it in a pinch. A 3200 lumen 1080p projector, an 80” screen, a sound bar with wireless sub and satellites, and maybe a fire TV stick to round out the package would be about $1145.
And one really interesting tidbit we found in our research is that pricing on Prime Now can sometimes be better than the Amazon website. Talk about win-win. Get the product in an hour or two and pay less for it.
Posted by The HT Guys, October 29, 2015 11:20 PM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.