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How to Choose the Right Entertainment Center for Your TV

Getting a new entertainment center is a big deal. While it might not be the same financial investment as buying a new TV or sound system, it’s a decision that’s going to have a big impact on the way your living room looks for years to come. It might even outlast that new big screen. With that in mind, there are several important things to consider before you buy.

Think About Your TV

Whether you’re in the market for a big entertainment center or a simple stand, the number one factor you need to consider is the size of the TV that will be paired with it. For an entertainment center, that simply means making sure the opening for the TV is big enough for the television you have in mind. For smaller stands it’s a little more complicated; whether your TV will be sitting on the stand or mounted above it, you want the stand to be at least a few inches wider than the TV itself. Even if a wide base isn’t needed for balance (and with most modern TVs, it isn’t), having a too-narrow stand will make your television look unbalanced and top heavy.

TV Unit

Accommodate Your Electronics

Next, you need to figure out how much other equipment your new entertainment center needs to be able to store. For some people, a home theater system starts and ends with a cable box or DVD player, in which case a very minimalist stand is probably all you need. But if you’re a gadget addict with a DVR, multiple streaming devices, gaming consoles, and an extensive sound system, you need to plan ahead for how you want to accommodate all your electronics. Think about how you’re going to run (and hide) all your cables, and make sure they’re long enough to reach if you’re planning on getting a very large entertainment center. Heat sensitive electronics (especially some gaming consoles) should never be totally enclosed, and glass panels can make it difficult for some electronics to “see” your remote, so make note ahead of time what combination and quantity of open shelves, cubbies, cabinets, or drawers you want before you start shopping.

Stowing Your Media

It’s also important to consider early on whether or not you want to store any of your media directly in your TV stand or entertainment center. This will depend both on the size of your collection and your existing storage. If you want to build a big media wall, a large entertainment center with built in cabinets is a great way to pull it off, but if you don’t have many DVDs or Blu-rays, or if you already have a fantastic set of media shelves, you might want to stick with a TV stand that’s more on the minimalist side. Either way, as with your electronics, you should figure out the space requirements of whatever you plan on storing to make sure that whatever furniture you buy, it has the right size, amount, and type of storage you need.

Be Honest About The Future

The best entertainment centers are ones that are tailored to a specific home theater setup, so it’s important to honestly consider how long you’re going to stick with your current configuration. Whether you think you might buy a new TV or sound system, or even if you’re just considering buying a new gaming console, you need to factor the possibility into the entertainment center you’re buying now so you won’t have to replace it down the line.

Remember: You Have To Move It

Unless you pay to have your entertainment center professionally delivered and set up (which costs an arm and a leg), you’re going to have to haul it around and put it together yourself, and maybe move it back out a few years down the road. Now, that isn’t to say that you should skip over a large entertainment center if you have narrow halls and three flights of stairs, but it is something worth keeping in mind, especially if you opt for a very high end stand. In addition to making sure your entertainment center matches the scale of your space, you also want to double check your measurements to ensure the box it ships in will fit into your house, and that it’s possible for the assembled unit to be moved back out.

A Note about Materials

Of all the decisions that go into buying a new entertainment center, choosing the material it’s made of is usually a no-brainer; you’ll probably buy whatever material or color matches the rest of the stuff in your living room. And ultimately, the difference between different materials is pretty much limited to maintenance – what requires special care, what shows dust, and what attracts fingerprints. But if you’re a clean freak, it’s worth noting that some setups are more difficult to clean and keep clean than others, so make note of what the manufacturer says about care and maintenance before you buy. And word to the wise: unless you want to dust it twice a day (and still have it be dusty), avoid entertainment centers made entirely of glass, no matter how cool they look!