To choose the best home theater stereo, you need to consider how much power you need, how many and what kinds of connections you need, and how you want to balance quality and price. There are several ways to measure the amount of power that a stereo puts out as well as several factors to consider in determining how much power you actually need. It is also important to make sure that your stereo will work well within your overall home theater system, so you need to make sure you understand how your other devices will connect to your stereo. As with many electronic items, there can be a wide range of prices for home theater stereos depending on the brand and the quality of the item, so it is up to you to determine what level you are comfortable with.
The sensitivity of your speakers and the size of your room are factors to consider when determining how much power you need out of your home theater stereo. Typically, you need a more powerful output if you have less sensitive speakers or are providing sound for a larger area. There are measures of power that rate how well the system amplifies sound in a variety of pitch ranges as well as how it handles large bursts of sound. Look for these ratings if you want to have the best quality of sound for movies as they tend to have sound with a wide dynamic range.
Next, determine how many inputs for other devices you need. If you are using your home theater stereo as a receiver that will be the central hub of your home theater system, make sure it has enough inputs to plug everything in. Think about factors such as whether or not you are using surround-sound, whether you have a separate cable or satellite box, and whether you want devices such as a DVD player to go through your stereo receiver. These things will determine how many inputs you need. Also pay attention to the number of HDMI inputs the stero has because these ports allow you to use higher quality cables that can even upconvert other equipment so that you always have the optimum sound and picture quality.
Price and quality usually go hand in hand, especially when it comes to electronics. Make sure you determine what your budget is for a home theater stereo before you look at too many details so that you won't be tempted out of your comfort zone by the lure of extra features or a fancy brand name. That being said, a manufacturer's reputation and overall quality shouldn't be ignored either. Look for the right balance between getting the features and quality you want in a price range that you can live with.