Thinking of a television purchase? Or dreaming of a complete home theater? Either way, take these steps into consideration. This advice comes from Leon Soohoo, owner of Paradyme Sound and Vision in Sacramento and Roseville, Calif.

Thinking of a television purchase? Or dreaming of a complete home theater? Either way, take these steps into consideration. This advice comes from Leon Soohoo, owner of Paradyme Sound and Vision in Sacramento and Roseville, Calif.:


1. Plan your space. Family rooms often double as media rooms, but those spaces also likely will have other activities going on at the same time the TV is on. That means the TV will need to have a high-quality display in a well-lit room.


Your TV should be in a place where it won't have bright lights or sunlight from windows reflecting directly on the screen; that cuts down on viewability. Will viewers be watching the screen at an angle? That also impacts your TV choice.


Want a wall-mounted screen? Although lighter than sets in years past, today's flat-panel TVs still are heavier than a painting. A 32-inch flat-panel set ranges from 25 to 60 pounds, depending on model. That weight needs sturdy wall studs and a special mounting bracket. And that flat-panel set needs to be connected to a cable or satellite box, DVD player and other components; those wires will have to go somewhere -- such as inside the wall.


2. Screen size impacts viewing distance. Today's flat-panel LCD TVs can be viewed much closer than their big-screen rear-projection counterparts without losing picture quality. But you still want your eyes and neck to feel comfortable while watching.


As a general rule, seating should be at a distance at least 1-1/2 to 2 times the diagonal width of the screen. For example, seating for a 60-inch TV should be 7-1/2 to 10 feet away from the screen.


Optimum placement of the screen should be eye level while seated. A TV above the fireplace looks impressive, but it is best viewed while standing.


3. Consider sound as well as screen. What good is a great picture if the audio is awful? Most flat-panel TVs have tiny speakers and need some sort of boost. That may come from sound bars (attached to the TV), thin surface-mount speakers, in-wall speakers or traditional stand-alone speakers. Remember: A room's acoustics will impact your video experience. If you're inclined to play late-night movies loud, think about soundproofing, too.


4. Get connected. Today's (and tomorrow's) TVs do a lot more than channel broadcasts. They're interactive home-media hubs with instant access to the Internet to download movies and shows. Manufacturers are making models that operate like smartphones with downloadable apps. While wireless television is beginning to become available, most consumers will need to keep their TVs wired -- at least for now -- to get that access while maintaining high-quality video performance.


5. Don't forget the remote. That all- important clicker can do more than change channels; it can control all the other components of your media system. Consider a smart universal remote that can control the works -- not just the TV.


TV SHOPPING GLOSSARY


Some terms to learn before heading to the store or browsing for bargains online:


3DTV: Similar to 3-D movies in theaters, 3DTV is expected to be the next wave in home theaters. Like its theater counterparts, 3DTV requires special glasses to see its full effect. The video uses two full-resolution images -- one for your left eye, one for your right -- that flash back and forth rapidly. Wireless, battery-powered "active shutter" glasses have lenses that darken and lighten in coordination with the screen's flashing images, controlled by an "emitter" usually built into the TV.


Diagonal: How screens are measured. A 32-inch HDTV is 32 inches measured diagonally from one corner of the screen to the opposite corner. Its actual dimensions are 28 inches wide by 15.7 inches high. For the actual dimensions of other sets, click on www.screenmath.com.


Flat panel: Any ultra-thin, relatively lightweight TV.


HDTV: High-definition television. Although this term is often used to describe all digital TVs, true HDTV broadcasts are defined as 1,080-line interlaced (1080i) or 720-line progressive (720p). A popular format for Blu-ray discs, 1,080-line progressive (1080p) now is an established standard for HDTV screens.


LCD: Liquid crystal display, one technology used in flat-panel TVs. A liquid crystal solution is sandwiched between two transparent panels to form the display screen. When backlit, a pattern of transparent and dark crystals forms the picture.


LED: Light-emitting diode. Used in some LCD TVs, this technology allows for more energy efficiency and provides better color accuracy than fluorescent-backlit LCD TVs.


Plasma: Another technology used for flat-panel TVs, the plasma is ionized gas. Two transparent glass panels sandwich a thin layer of thousands of pixels, made up of gas-filled cells. An electrical current makes the gas glow, creating a picture. A typical plasma screen may contain 2 million pixels.


Contact Debbie Arrington at darrington@sacbee.com.


Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.