Lets get one thing straight; If you are upgrading your TV and amplifier for the first time in seven to ten years and you unplug them from a long white strip with a lit up red on/off switch, you better be replacing that too. White strips are good for one thing and that is plugging your Christmas lights into. If you think about replacing them with a fancy one with ports on the top and side that is a little thicker just because you found it in the home theater installation section of your local retailer and it said that the product was insured for up to $5,000,000 then you need a little reality check. Allow me to give it to you in a few words.
Word number one is 'Joules'. If this doesn't mean anything to you, then you will probably not choose the right unit. Joules is a unit of measurement for energy used in relation to voltage. A good example of why this rating matters is with your system. Let's say for example that you are planning a home theater installation and you purchased a new 55' Panasonic Plasma and new home theater in a box that comes with a blu ray player. You also have a cable box. You don't pick up a new strip because your old one has enough ports and has one of those million dollar warranties. Problem is, you have no idea of your combined joules 'score' for your equipment. Does the strip support that much? If it doesn't then that warranty means nothing. They won't insure you if you put too much onto it. Did you know that a Playstation 3 alone would overload those strips? 'Not Covered' are two words the owner of any damaged home theater product does not like to hear.
The next words in the home theater installation world are 'EMI' and 'RFI'. These stand for Electro Magnetic Interference and Radio Frequency Interference. These are massive forms of interference caused by absolutely everything on your power grid at home as well as the power grid everyone in your neighborhood is on without question. These WILL degrade the performance of your product as well as shorten the life of it. This is where the surge protectors fall waist-side. They have absolutely nothing for these two acronyms. Allow me to use an analogy to explain this one. Let's say you are thirsty and need a drink. You grab a cup and walk outside, dip the cup into the river and drink it. How confident would you be thinking that the water is clean and you will not get sick from it? This is what happens when you plug your home theater equipment into a unit without 'Line Filtration' and those germs and diseases are EMI and RFI. Now lets say you, instead, walked over to the sink, put water into your water filter, let it filter out and then drink it. You would be confident that the water is clean right? This is what happens when you DO plug your equipment into a power management system with line filtration.
The last two words are words you've never thought of and had no reason to care about until now. Those words are 'power sequencing'. This comes into play into home theater installation when you have an array of devices that vary in energy consumption. To explain this, let's analyze what actually happens when a surge occurs. The power suddenly drops and then in one fell swoop a surge of energy comes rushing back and all of your devices go from 0% to 100% in a fraction of a second. So now let's look at a typical surge strip. If you are like most consumers who have a nice home theater system setup, you have such a strip with your flat panel TV, cable box, blu ray player, gaming device and surround sound receiver plugged in. Question one, does all of that equipment draw the same amount of current? Absolutely not is the correct answer. So what happens when the power comes back on and all of those have to shoot from 0-100% in a millisecond knowing the receiver and the Playstation 3 draw nearly twice the amount of current as TV, cable box and blu ray player do? Power fluctuations from lack of a current will damage components within the units. This is also where your small white strip will commit suicide and die from shock when all of that hits it. Now, if you have an older surge protector, there will be absolutely no indication that the strip is dead. The current still flows through it because it is still an outlet splitter but there is no protection at all. So how do you know if your unit is still doing its surge protection job? If you had a surge protector with power sequencing, you would not need to worry about this. Typically, in the rear, they have labeled outlets based on voltage needs for different pieces of equipment and they will be grouped apart from one another so that, in the event of an outage, it will sequence one section on first and then the next as to not overload its own circuits or the circuits of the devices plugged in. In the unlikely event that the power management unit sacrifices itself to protect your equipment, most of them have some sort of an audible tone that sounds off to draw your attention to the unit so you are aware something is wrong.
Having years of experience on both the sales side and the home theater installation side, I can tell you that, with the off chance of a consumer already owning a viable unit, most consumers do not want to admit that their protector needs to be replaced. When high definition first struck, consumers were upset because it brought the idea that they would have to replace everything now and not just the CRT tube TV they are upgrading from. In the long run, yes you probably would need to but just like everything else, it should be done in priority. Let's face facts, this is a business filled with absolutely 100% 'want' and absolutely no 'need'. It is important to understand that based upon the equipment that you 'want' that the right power management system for it is what you 'need'. Do not say 'I'll get it later if I see that I need it,' because the minute you find out you need it is when it is too late. Do not forget that a Ferrari also has premium brakes to protect when it needs to stop on a dime so make sure that you run and protect your home theater system with the right power management unit. It can be the make or break for any home theater installation.