THE HI-FI LIFE

WITH THE RIGHT GEAR, THE AVERAGE CHANNEL SURFER CAN CHANGE A HO-HUM LIVING ROOM INTO A FULL-FLEDGED HOME THEATER

Say all you will about the Internet and the wonders of multimedia. At the end of the day, most people still prefer to leave their brain at the office and morph themselves into couch potatoes--watching Michael Jordan dazzle opponents or Mel Gibson vanquish villains. In the battle for home- entertainment supremacy, the den is no match for the living room.

And thanks to the emergence of home-theater systems, the battle is becoming even more one-sided. Once the exclusive toys of videophiles, home-theater components, which can transform a family room into a personal multiplex, are fast becoming an affordable, mainstream entertainment option....