Technology changes so quickly these days, it can sometimes feel like your electronics are obsolete the second you walk out of the store. But buying the latest and greatest tech as soon as it becomes available simply isn’t feasible–or a priority–for the majority of us. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank to jury-rig your existing home theatre system so it’s functioning like the latest and greatest. All you need are a few budget hacks and you can put off upgrading your home theatre system until it suits your fancy.

Budget Hack #1 – Add a Slingbox

What is a SlingBox, you ask? Well, leSlingbox.pngt me tell you. It’s the latest addition to the set-top box product category, but with a twist. It promises that with it, you can “watch your TV anywhere,” and it really delivers! By broadcasting (or “slinging”) the same signal that comes into your home to a secure mobile or web-based app, the SlingBox 500 Media Streamer allows you to watch your TV, your DVR recordings, and your channels from your computer, tablet, smartphone, or connected TV from anywhere in the world. Add to that the fact that built-in wifi allows you to wirelessly enjoy and archive your personal photos and videos and view them on the big screen, and SlingBox does a great job of making any TV a smart one.

Budget Hack #2 – Add a Bluetooth AdapterAluratek.png

With a Bluetooth adapter like this one from Aluratek or this one from Avantree, you can turn any non-Bluetooth speaker equipped with an RCA or auxiliary-in port into a thing of wireless Bluetooth beauty. All you do is plug it into the appropriate port, and you can wirelessly stream music from your digital device to your home theatre stereo receiver, speakers, or even that ghetto blaster from the early 1990’s in amazing clarity. A Bluetooth adapter is a fraction of the price of a new receiver or wireless speakers, making it my favourite hack on this list.

Budget Hack #3 – Replace Your Cablescables.jpg

One low-cost, yet high-impact home theatre hack is to upgrade the cables on your TV, receiver and speakers, especially if you are still using the cables that your equipment came with. With heavier duty cables, you’ll get better picture, better sound, and reduced interference, which will make a big difference in your home theatre experience. It’s also a good idea to throw in a surge protector so you can maximize the life of your components even further.

Budget Hack #4 – Lay the Room Our the Right Way  

Lastly, to make the most of your existing home theatre components, make sure your room is laid out correctly. Believe it or not, there is a science behind the optimal distance you should sit from your TV, and which size screen is best for different sized spaces. You should also arrange your couch directly in front of the TV for optimal sound … there’s a reason movie theatres are set up the way they are! Can you imagine if they had seats going all around the sides of the screen? To find out how you should space and place the furniture in your home theatre room, check out this handy TV size to distance calculator.

Small changes like these hacks are an easy way to upgrade your existing home theatre technology to something a little more in line with the times. Although, that being said, I bet by the time I post this there will be some new-fangled technology out there that will make what I’m saying out of date!

Stacey McGregor
Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. She has a passion for the written word, loves learning about new technology and gadgets, and enjoys sharing what she learns through Best Buy's Plug In blog.