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Buying a home theater system? Read this book

Mark Fleischmann's recently revised book, "Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Audio and Video Systems" (268 pages, $19.95) is chock full of useful information.

Keeping up to date with home theater technology isn't easy, buyers need all the help they can get.

Mark Fleischmann covers LCD, OLED, plasma displays, LED backlighting, DLP projection, 3D TV, AV receivers, speakers, connectivity issues, and the never-ending blizzard of features in his recently revised book, "Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Audio and Video Systems" (268 pages, $19.95). It's chock full of useful information.

Do HDMI connections confound you? Fleischmann delves deep into the continuously evolving "standard," from the original 1.0 version all the way up to version 1.4. THX certification is another one of those barely understood terms used in reviews, the book gets you up to speed on what THX certification entails. All of the various Dolby and DTS surround schemes are explained. There's a wealth of information about VCRs; right, some people still watch video tapes! The chapters on home theater setup and troubleshooting are excellent.

The book covers a wide range of audio and video technologies starting with the basics and ramps up to a pretty serious level. The best of the book focuses on deciphering the lexicon of audio and video, making sense of the constantly changing technologies. "Practical Home Theater" is a terrific resource for first time buyers and experienced home theater mavens. I'm reviewing the 2010 edition, which is the ninth edition of the annually updated book.

While the book is updated every year, some sections feel a little out of date. For example Fleischmann's coverage of Super Audio CD, DVD-Audio, and DualDisc give the impression the high-resolution audio format war is ongoing. It is not, and he fails to mention Blu-ray as the next generation high-resolution music format. The recent "Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1: 1963-1972" Blu-ray box set is likely to be the first of a trend.

Mark Fleischmann and I worked together at Home Theater magazine (he's the audio editor) and he has written for numerous publications.