4. Soundbars only sound so good.
Take it from me, as I have one of the top soundbars money can buy in my current theater: soundbars can't compete with today's best small speakers. Buy a couple pairs of small speakers from Paradigm, Aperion, Orb Audio, EMP Tek, or a similar company, mate them with a small sub, and you can rock the world. The experience that you get from in-HDTV speakers is pathetic. Soundbars are better but still lacking. The 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound you can get with a nicely placed and calibrated set of speakers - even at under $1,000 for 5.1 - is still the standard. Long live home theater.
5. The Internet gives more buying power to the consumer.
Brick-and-mortar stores are still my preferred method of purchase for AV gear, but there are so many top-level AV companies selling Internet-direct that consumers have dozens of options of where to buy their gear. And, thanks to sites like eBay.com, Craigslist.com, and Audiogon.com, enthusiasts are able to sell legacy components for a good price while upgrading to state-of-the-art products. People working their way up the specialty AV food chain are able to buy used AV products at fair prices, thanks to the Internet.
6. High-resolution audio is a reality right now.
Unlike the debacle of SACD and DVD-Audio, music in high resolution is a reality today. While the likes of Apple are ignoring music in anything other than one-quarter the resolution of a 33-year-old compact disc, players like Acoustic Sounds, HDTracks.com, AIX Records, 2L, and others are selling meaningful music from platinum-selling artists in 24-bit/192-kHz resolution. This music is exponentially better-sounding than a 1440 CD ripped in AIFF, so there is more reason today than ever to invest in high-performance AV electronics.
7. OLED and Ultra HD are coming to an HDTV near you.
OLED is here today at a 1080p resolution and will soon arrive in Ultra HD. Without question, OLED is pricey right now, and it's a technology that needs a year or two of development to be ready for the mainstream but, with brighter-than-LCD light output, better-than-plasma blacks, uber-thin form factors (including curved, in case you care), and modest power consumption, OLED is a promising technology for 2015 and beyond. People who bought a high-performance HDTV seven or eight years ago will have a reason to buy another one soon with a massive performance increase.
Ultra HD is also a future technology, but with four times the resolution of 1080p and the potential for billions more colors and better motion resolution, Ultra HD is also a total game-changer. Mainstream consumers are going to want new HDTVs that are Ultra HD en masse once content can flow freely via cable, satellite, and/or Blu-ray.
8. Day-and-date movie releases are not as crazy as they used to seem.
Day-and-date movie releases aren't just for the 400 Hollywood moguls with D-Cinema Bel Air Circuit screening rooms and access to studio accommodation programs, although it's still pretty much a rich guy's game. A $35,000 Prima Cinema component will bring you $500-per-movie first-run films from a few studios, but certainly not all. Day-and-date movies aren't for mainstream consumers, but they also aren't total vaporware either. Give it three to five years, and you might just see ways to get HD movies into your home theater at the same time that they are playing at the cineplex.
Clearly, the concept of home theater isn't dead. It has taken its fair share of lumps as part of a real-estate-based economic correction, but there are technologies out today and ones coming in the months/years ahead that will inspire enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike to invest in their current home theater or a completely new system.
What do you think? Is traditional home theater dead or dying, or undergoing healthy transformation? What reasons would you give? Your comments are welcomed below.