9 home theater apps to improve your big screen with a small screen

improve big screen headerCustomizing your home theater is a blast. But what do you do once you’ve already mounted that ultra-thin flat-screen, installed that nuclear speaker system, and hooked up the Blu-ray player that does everything but your taxes? Chances are, your wallet’s lost a few pounds by then; so if you’re not done optimizing your home theater experience, you’ll want a slightly cheaper alternative going forward.

Well, there’s an app for … you know the rest. Let’s try to get through an app-related article without using that particular cliché. That being said, home-theater applications have progressed far beyond the “Wow, I can use my phone as the remote” stage. Apps can now enhance your home theater experience in a ton of creative and useful ways. And the best part is, they usually won’t set you back more than a few bucks. Here’s a list of 9 apps that are great utilities for any home theater system.

runpee app icon movies home theaterRunPee (free) for iOS, Android, Windows 7

Besides being a great conversation piece, the RunPee.com app is actually very useful. Look up whatever movie you’re watching and the app will identify several spots where the action lulls and you can sneak in a bathroom break without missing much. Granted, if you’re all alone there’s something called a pause button, but if you’re the owner of a swanky new home theater system, odds are you’ll be hosting a room full of moochers from time to time.

runpee app android apple windows 7

home theater glossary iconHome Theater Glossary ($0.99) for Android

This app is a simple glossary of home-theater keywords, with each defined in layman’s terms, rather than in techy talk. Whether you’re trying to educate yourself before making a major purchase, or you want to impress your friends with your technical lexicon, this app is for you.

home theater glossary app

dijit icon mobile appDijit (free) for iOS, Android

Remember when you used to watch MTV Cribs and gawk as celebrities whipped out their home-controlling remotes? They’d turn on the lights, close the curtains, and fire up the flat-screen, all with a couple of taps on a touch screen. Nowadays, all you need for that kind of omnipotence is a smart phone and an empty bank account. Dijit’s free universal remote app, hooks up to home theater equipment and appliances alike, so you can control your home from the palm of your hand.

dijit screenshot mobile app

imdb icon home theater moviesIMDB (free) for iOS, Android, Windows 7

If an actor or actresses’ name is on the tip of your tongue and you’re wracking your brain trying to remember, fret not. You can pull up their life story in seconds with IMDB’s free app. You can also screen your movie choices by browsing user-ratings and message board chatter. What cinephile wouldn’t want a movie database at their fingertips?

imdb screen home theater movies app

 

audiocalc home theater appAudiocalc & Videocalc ($3) for iOS

A duo of apps that essentially function as one, Audiocalc & Videocalc let you optimize your audio and video systems so that you hear every decibel and see every pixel properly. Whether you’re trying to assess your amp power, or figure out where to place your projector, these apps have you covered. At $3 apiece, it’s slightly cheaper than hiring an installer.

audiocalc videocalc screen smartphone app

itv screenshot home theater appi.TV (free) for iOS

i.TV is one of the dozens of apps that offer mobile TV Guide services, but it simply does it much better than most. Its easy-on-the-eyes interface and streamlined usability are features that set it apart from the throng of apps looking to fill this particular niche. Oh, and its best feature of all? It’s free.

itv screen home theater app ios

htcables icon home theater education appHTCables ($0.99) for iOS

Another education-based app, the job of HTCables is to guide novices through the process of optimizing their home-theater by choosing the right cables and connections. Cables are typically inexpensive, but choosing the wrong types can diminish your viewing experience. HTCables provides descriptions of most major A/V cables, lists of recommended devices for each, pictures of available products, and links to purchase them – all for just a buck.

htcables screen app ios

9 home theater apps to improve your big screen with a small speakerpop iconSpeaker Pop ($5) for iOS

Speaker pop is a palm-sized polarity tester that will let you know right away whether or not your speakers are wired correctly. The app is useful for both business and pleasure and works by listening for a “pop” sound from the speaker and running a subsequent DSP analysis. Yet another way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your A/V equipment.

speakerpop screen ios home theater app

db icon iphone decibel appDB ($1) for iOS

DB is one of the more basic entries on our list. It serves as a simple decibel meter, allowing you to calibrate your speaker levels manually. If you’re an avid enough Digital Trends reader, you know that we recommend manual calibration in our home theater speaker setup guide. As an added bonus, those of you who are true audiophiles can use the app to measure the relative loudness of sporting events, concerts, and various other cacophonous events.

DB screen
Computing

A ThinkPad tablet with a foldable screen could be in Lenovo’s future

Lenovo may be working on its own version of Project Andromeda. The company is reportedly working on a 13-inch tablet that can fold down to just nine inches for travel by leveraging LG Display's foldable screen technology.
Home Theater

How to make your TV squeaky clean for not much green

Not sure how to clean the LCD, OLED, or plasma display that's the cornerstone of your living room? You don't need to buy expensive cleaning solutions to clean your TV -- we'll teach you how to do it with simple household items.
Mobile

The best Pixel 3 screen protectors to keep your phone Pixel perfect

The Pixel 3 is equipped with the hottest hardware and a beautiful 5.5-inch P-OLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 5. But it's not invincible. Here are the best Pixel 3 screen protectors to keep it safe.
Deals

Time for a new TV? Grab the 55-inch Samsung curved 4K smart TV for $598

Shopping for a new TV and want to upgrade to 4K? Consider going curved: Samsung makes some of the best UHD TVs on the market today, including its unique curved lineup. Now, you can score the 55-inch Samsung curved 4K smart TV for just $598…
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Home Theater

They’re not just for gaming: Watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X

While the Xbox One S and Xbox One X boost the visuals of your games, they also can pull double-duty as Blu-ray players, but there's a bit of set up needed. Need help? Here's our guide on how to watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and X.
Product Review

Google’s third HD Chromecast is still a good streamer, but its value is slipping

At Google’s October event, we saw a slew of new products, but the new third-generation Chromecast didn’t even make it onstage. We spent some time with the incrementally upgraded, third-generation HD Chromecast to see if it’s worth…
Movies & TV

You can ditch cable but still get your 'SportsCenter' fix with ESPN+

ESPN's streaming service, ESPN+, is finally here. Despite appearances, ESPN+ isn't a replacement for your ESPN cable channels, and it differs from other streaming apps in a few key ways.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Smart Home

SiriusXM, Amazon team up for two Echo Dot deals with freebies

Amazon and SiriusXM partnered on two joint promotions. New SiriusXM subscribers can receive a free Amazon Echo Dot. People who already own an Echo device can sign up for new SiriusXM subscription with the first three months free.
Music

Bolster your HD music catalog with the best high-res audio sites

Music connoisseurs relish HD audio, but scouring the web for all the best streaming and downloading sites can be a pain. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Check out our list, and let the high-resolution good times roll.
Home Theater

Lynxsonic’s 4:33 headphones offer premium features at a not-so-premium price

If you're looking for a set of wireless headphones that has a similar feature set to Bose's QuietComfort 35 but with a lower price, the Lynxsonic 4:33 is an intriguing new contender on Kickstarter.
Home Theater

Demystify home audio with our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide

Today's A/V receivers are packed with lots of advanced technology and just plain cool features. From understanding watt ratings to Wi-Fi, we explain how to buy one that will last you for years in our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.