Best Home Theater Systems For College Students

Going off to College doesn't mean you have to leave your home entertainment behind. Of course, you have your Android, iPhone, tablet, or laptop that can stream and/or store music and videos, but when you come back to your dorm, apartment, or group house after a long day of classes - it is great to kick back in a comfortable chair or couch and enjoy some great entertainment on a good TV and audio system.

Check out some great TV options for college students that are perfect for a small apartment, dorm, or group house. If you are starting from scratch you can build an entire system based on my suggestions, or just chose one or two products to fill the gaps you might have.

Vizio D32-D1 32-inch 1080p Smart TV
Vizio D32-D1 32-inch 1080p Smart TV. Image provided by Vizio

Product Profile of Vizio D-Series TVs

If you are a college student who lives in a dorm - Don't fret, you can still have a great TV that doesn't take up a lot of space.

One example of such a set the Vizio D32-D1. Coming in with a screen size of 32-inches, this set should fit comfortably in a dorm room, and, in fact, if you have a desktop PC that has an HDMI output, and with this set's 1080p native display resolution, you can have it do double duty as a PC monitor.

However, getting back to the TV entertainment side, this set provides lots of features that will make any college student happy.

For example, in addition to its 108p display resolution, small-but-big enough screen size, and HDMI connectivity, this set also incorporates Full Array Backlighting which provides consistent black levels across the entire screen - this means better contrast and more vivid color.

In addition, this set has both Ethernet and Wifi connectivity with provides access to a host of internet streaming services via the Vizio Internet Apps Plus platform.

Of course, with its HDMI, cable, and AV inputs, you can connect your DVD or Blu-ray Disc player, cable box, and more. More »

Pyle-PSBV600BT-Wave-Base.jpg
Pyle Audio PSBV600BT Wave Base. Image provided by Pyle Audio

Review - Photo Profile

Most TVs these days provide good picture quality, and lots of additional features, that provide a good viewing experience - but when it comes to sound quality, those built-in TV speakers just don't cut it. The solution is​ a connection to an external audio system and the easiest option is a sound bar or sound base.

On very affordable choice is the Pyle PSBV600BT. This is a self-amplified 2.1 channel system that has audio connections for your TV and other components (including wireless Bluetooth for streaming audio from compatible portable devices), and can also serve as a platform to set your TV on top of - which saves more space. More »

Vizio SB2920x-C6 Sound Bar
Vizio SB2920x-C6 Sound Bar. Image provided by Vizio

If you live in a dorm (or a small apartment), another good choice to boost your TV's sound quality is the Vizio SB2920x sound bar.

What makes this a good choice is that is small (29-inches wide) and very inexpensive (less than $99).

Although it isn't going to deliver that room filling surround sound and thundering bass experience, it definitely provides a good alternative to those underpowered speakers built into your TV - especially in terms of improved voice/dialog clarity and adding more sound depth for music, TV, and movie viewing.

The SB29020x houses two compact full-range speakers, and although it doesn't come with a subwoofer, it does provide a subwoofer output connection so that you can add one of your own, if you desire.

As far as input connections go, the SB29020x has you covered with both RCA and 3.5mm analog audio inputs as well as a digital optical input for your DVD or Blu-ray Disc player. There is even a USB port for access to .WAV files stored on USB flash Drives.

Another added bonus that the Vizio SB29020x also includes is built-in Bluetooth, which allows you to hear music wirelessly from compatible smartphones.

To top it off, the SB2920 comes packaged with a wireless remote, analog and digital optical cables, and even Wall Mounts. More »

Onkyo HT-S3800 Home Theater-in-a-Box System
Onkyo HT-S3800 Home Theater-in-a-Box System. Images Provided by Onkyo USA

Product Profile

Getting a sound bar or sound base to enhance audio for TV listing is one option, especially if you have a small room - but for a better surround sound experience, a home theater-in-a-box system is a good step-up option.

One choice in this category is the Onkyo HT-S3800. This system includes a 5.2 channel home theater receiver, 5 bookshelf speakers, and a 6.5-inch passive subwoofer in one package - even the speaker wire and subwoofer cable are included.

Additional features include 4 HDMI inputs with video pass-through for 3D and 4K video signals, as well as access to Audio Return Channel.

Audio decoding is provided for the Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio formats that are commonly used on Blu-ray Discs. Also, there is a front mounted USB port for connection of iPods and USB Flash Drives.

Bluetooth is also built-in, which allows direct wireless streaming from compatible portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets. More »

Pioneer VSX-531 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver
Pioneer VSX-531 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver. Image provided by Pioneer Electronics

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Although a Home Theater-in-a-Box system is definitely a cut-above most sound bar systems, choosing your own home theater receiver and speakers gives you more options to find the receiver and speakers that suit your room and your listening preferences.

In the home theater receiver category, one very affordable option is the Pioneer VSX-531.

The VSX-531 provides a 5.1 channel configuration, along with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding.

Bluetooth capability is built-in providing direct streaming from compatible smartphones and tablets. Also, a front mounted USB port allows access to music files stored on flash drives or other compatible plug-in USB devices.

On the video side of the equation, the VSX-531 can pass-through any currently used video signals via its 4 HDMI inputs. More »

Monoprice 108247 5.1 Channel Speaker System
Monoprice 108247 5.1 Channel Speaker System. Image courtesy of Amazon.com

OK, so you have a home theater receiver picked out - but you don't have much money left for speakers - but you still need speakers that provide decent sound on a College Student budget.

As it turns out, there are some speaker systems that are surprisingly affordable, but still sound good. Although not designed for large rooms, for small or medium size room, one example of a good sounding, inexpensive speaker system is the Monoprice 108247.

The 108247 is a full 5.1 channel speaker system that consists of a center and four satellite bookshelf speakers, combined with an 8-inch 60-watt powered subwoofer. The satellite speakers are housed in plastic cabinets. The connections on the center and satellite speaker are the easy-to-use spring loaded push in type, and both line-in and speaker terminal connections are provided on the subwoofer.

The package even includes wall mounting brackets for the satellite speakers (mounting screws are extra, though). For College Student budget, this system is definitely worth consideration. More »

Sony BDP-S3700 Blu-ray Disc Player
Sony BDP-S3700 Blu-ray Disc Player. Image provided by Sony Electronics

Although internet streaming is fast becoming the most convenient way to access TV and movie content, if you want the best possible video quality for watching movies, definitely consider a Blu-ray Disc player.

The Sony BDP-S3700 is a very affordable player that is compatible with Blu-ray discs, DVDs, and audio CDs.

Also, Ethernet and WiFi connectivity is provided, enabling access to audio/video streaming content from Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, as well as content stored on network-connected PCs.

Built-in Web Browsing is also supported. You can even stream content directly from compatible smartphones and tablets using the player's Miracast capability.

For additional content access from flash drives and other compatible devices, a USB port is provided. To make operation easier, the BDP-S3700 provides access to Sony's free TV SideView iOS and Android remote control Apps.

NOTE: The Sony BD-S3700 is not 3D compatible. More »

Amazon Fire TV Stick - Package Contents
Amazon Fire TV Stick - Package Contents. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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So, when your parents sent you off to college they gave you their old TV. Well, if that TV has at least one HDMI input, you can give it new life by adding internet streaming capability via Amazon's Fire TV Streaming Stick.

This product is about the size of USB flash drive and plugs into any TV that has an HDMI input, and for power, there is USB power cable provided that is also adaptable to an AC outlet if you don't have a USB power port nearby.

The Stick contains everything you need to access streaming content, starting with built-in Wifi.

Although Amazon Instant Video is emphasized, Amazon's Fire TV Stick also includes access to a larger number of content services, including Crackle, HBOGo (must already be an HBO cable/satellite subscriber for access), HuluPlus, iHeart Radio, Netflix, Pandora, YouTube and more.

Amazon's Fire TV Stick also provides access to over 200 online games - and is compatible with several game controllers.

You also have a choice of a standard remote or an Alexa-enabled voice control remote. More »

More Options

Samsung BD-J7500 Blu-ray Disc Player
Samsung BD-J7500 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front and Rear Views. Images provided by Samsung

If you want additional related product suggestions, check out my periodically updated lists for 26 to 29-inch LED/LCD TVs, 32 to 39-inch LED/LCD TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, Sound Bars, Network Media players and Media Streamers, Home Theater-in-a-Box SystemsHome Theater Receivers priced at $399 or Less, as well as Compact Audio Systems.

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