Stay in and get cosy with a bowl of popcorn this winter, by curating a cinema room at home. It only takes a handful of essentials to recreate a dark movie room, giving you full control over the watch list, time and audience. Binge on your favourite TV shows and films on screens far larger than televisions. Add a few ambient lights and a booming audio system, among other peripherals in our list, and you’ll never want to consume home entertainment in any other way.
For the authentic theatre experience, we asked an online supplier of electronics, based out of Dubai, about products film buffs usually shop for. The first item on your list should, no doubt, be a home cinema projector. Muhsin Ameen Mubarak, an e-commerce business development manager, says out of the three common projector types (LED, DLP and laser), DLPs are the most popular in the UAE.
“A laser projector is on the premium end, offered by brands like Samsung, Philips and Hisense, where the picture quality is nearly the same as the TV. Conversely, LED [light emitting diode] projectors are quite chunky and budget-friendly, starting from Dh150, such as those by Wownect. The DLP or digital light processing technology sits between the two – it’s better than conventional LED projectors and gives you the best movie experience you can have in a small room,” said Mubarak.
Each projector comes with its own throw ratio, an aspect movie enthusiasts will have to factor in, before purchasing. An incompatible projector-to-screen distance could project a picture that’s either too large or too small. For instance, Mubarak says to project a 100-inch display in a small room, the throw distance of a projector would ideally be 2.5 metres.
Another deciding factor is the projector’s brightness, or how many lumens it boasts, to overpower ambient daylight. The higher the number of lumens, the pricier the equipment will be, adds Mubarak.
With these tips in mind, we’ve drawn up a list of home cinema essentials, featuring recommendations from our expert. Check these out below and sign up for Prime to get some of these delivered to you the same or the very next day.
1. Best Projector: BenQ Tk700Sti 4K HDR Gaming Projector
- Low input lag with refresh rates of up to 240Hz
- Supports intensive gaming via special mode
- Quiet operation
- Short throw distance
- Built-in Android TV
- Adding external speakers improves audio, say reviewers
- Keystone correction is not supported in game mode
BenQ’s short-throw DLP projector brings you 100 inches of entertainment, with a throw of two metres. Its 4K resolution, 3,000 ANSI lumens and stunning 96 per cent colour gamut make up for the premium price tag. Plus, since the projector is designed with gaming support, expect 240Hz refresh rates at 1080p and smooth 4K pictures at 60Hz refresh rates, with PlayStation 5, PS4, Xbox Series X and more. Connect to your external systems with HDMI, USB, micro USB and infrared. If you’re not planning to mount the unit, its 2D keystone correction fixes the skewed picture from various room locations. The best part is its built-in Android TV, which Mubrark says saves you from investing in media streaming devices. Download your favourite apps from Google Play Store and project live sports, music, shows and movies, just as you would on your Android phone. Reviewers say the input lag is truly low, the unit is quiet unlike most projectors and doesn’t fail to deliver the desired immersive experience. Check out this bundle with a projector screen, as well.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh524.17 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best Projector Mount: BenQ CM00G3 Ceiling Mount
Compatible with our best projector pick, this BenQ ceiling mount suspends your unit at an angle, away from accidental tampering. Consider a mount, advises Mubarak, to streamline the cinema experience, as there will be fewer chances of objects obstructing the light. The mount rotates 360 degrees, extends all the way to 22.7 inches in length and can be angled. You’ll want to ensure all the bolts and screws are turned to a tee, which is why buyers vouch for this sturdy mount.
3. Best Screen: Teluxsee Pull-Up Projection Screen
While you could opt for a stick-on screen, a pull-up mechanism makes it easier to put away the setup when not in use. “There are plenty of screens made of cloth or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) material, but pull-ups give you the best quality,” said Mubarak. The Teluxsee foldable projection screen is available in two sizes – 110 and 120 inches. It’s designed per industry standards and buyers say the 110-inch version looks bigger and wider than expected.
4. Best Cinema Recliner: More4Homes Oscar Bonded Leather Recliner (Black)
- Compact leather recliner
- Includes cup holders and footrest
- Lumbar support
- Comfortable padding for long seating hours
Kick back in the Oscar manual recliner with your choice of beverage in the cup holders on either armrest. It's upholstered in soft bonded leather and offers lumbar support, the foam construction allowing you to sink into the chair for long movie marathons. Buyers like how luxurious the material feels and say that the recliner blends into the interior seamlessly. We have more recliner options here.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh222.08 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh263.
5. Best Sound System: JBL Cinema SB170 2.1 Channel Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
- Bluetooth streaming
- One-cable connectivity
- Comes with a subwoofer for bass
- Sound mode enhances dialogues
- Not a surround sound system
Now that the picture is taken care of, consider whether a separate audio system will work for you. While a projector’s in-built speakers could suffice for a small room, they might not be up to the cinematic standards you’re used to. To capture the high and low frequencies and everything in between, a decent soundbar can do a lot to elevate the soundscape. Mubarak recommends JBL for the best quality – this 2.1-channel soundbar comes with a wireless subwoofer. It only takes one HDMI cable to get the system going. When the projector is off, you can wirelessly stream tunes straight from any mobile device. A dedicated feature on the remote controller even enhances movie dialogues. For the full surround sound system, check out these home theatre picks.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh49.92 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh35 and two years for Dh49.
6. Best Streaming Device: Google Chromecast with Google TV
- Compact and neat – doesn’t add to clutter
- Voice remote
- Streams in 4K resolution
- Cast media from phone
- Might not be compatible with all projectors
If you’ve picked a projector that doesn’t come with Android TV, plug this streaming device into the unit, instead. The Google Chromecast with Google TV brings you over 700,000 movies and TV shows from a wide range of streaming platforms, like Prime Video, HBO Max, Netflix, YouTube and more. Tap into this massive media library in 4K resolution or cast whatever you were watching on your phone to the screen. Want to pick up from where you left off? Press the Google Assistant button on the voice remote to give a command. Several reviewers with projectors love this convenient compact gadget, impressed by its speed and easy setup.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29, a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh48 and a two-year damage protection plus a one-year extended warranty for Dh61.
7. Best Lighting: Govee LED Light Bars
- Choose from 16 million colours
- Syncs with beats using a built-in mic
- Control via Alexa or Google and app
- Come with wall brackets
- Could be brighter, say reviewers
Get moody backlights to sync with the eerie score of a horror movie or the thrilling beats of an action flick. The Govee LED light bars use a highly sensitive mic to pick up ambient sounds and paint them using 16 million colours. Control the pair via Wi-Fi using voice commands or the app, turning them on and off, changing the brightness, colours and more. The bars sit facing the wall behind the screen or TV, and can be mounted to the wall using the included brackets. According to reviews, they’re very responsive and work just as well for gaming.
8. Best Blackout Curtains: Sun Zero Nordic Theatre-Grade Blackout Grommet Curtain, Black
Relying on a projector’s lumens count can only do so much during the day. Make sure no ambient light is seeping through the windows to ruin the contrast on the screen. We’ve picked out these threatre-grade blackout curtains by Sun Zero as an option worth looking into. Measuring 132cm across and 213cm in height, this single panel has thermal properties to keep the heat out and provides limited sound isolation. Reviews attest to the complete blackout with five-star ratings.
9. Best HDMI Cable: UGREEN HDMI Cable, 5m
A couple of solid HDMI cables are going to be the backbone of your setup. “If your projector is wall- or ceiling-mounted, get a long HDMI cable to connect your laptop,” said Mubarak. The UGREEN five-metre wire supports up to Kk video and is backward compatible with lower resolutions, too. It reaches incredible speeds of 48Gbps and works perfectly fine with projectors by brands such as BenQ, Samsung, Xiaomi and Wownect. Add adhesive wall clips for cable management.
10. Best Couch Caddy: Introducing Sofa Buddy
If you've opted for a couch in the cinema room instead of recliners with built-in cup holders, don't bother precariously balancing your movie snacks. Get a couch caddy to hold all your cups, streaming devices and remote controllers, without any spills. The Sofa Buddy secures your beverages with cushion foam and a hard flat base. This accessory is going to keep all your peripherals safe, for when you return to them next. Reviewers say the caddy balances well on the couch and bed, as well, and doesn’t budge with movement.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.