Wlecome to the forum. There are enough options out there to make your head spin, for sure. I would personally start with your budget. How much are you willing to spend per chair? Then answer these questions to help you hone in a manufacturer.
* How tall are you (and other persons that may be using the chairs)?
- This will let you hone in on the proper height of the backrest/chair.
* Are you looking for chairs made in the USA (or Canada)? Does this matter?
- There are a number of options made in the USA or Canada or "North America" (to include Mexico) if you prefer a non-China-made product. RowOne, Albany and Lane (ranked in my order of preference) are making very good import chairs. From what I have read and heard, Roman's import line is also nice.
* Are you looking for chairs to last a long time? Something you invest in to last 10+ years. Or do you foresee moving or replacing the chairs with another style in a few years.
- Brands like Fortress, Elite, Jaymar, Palliser and RowOne (especially their Domestic Line) make excellent chairs built to provide you with many years of use.
* Is the Warranty important to you?
- Brands like Elite and Fortress offer incredible warranties. Palliser also offers an excellent warranty. Lane and RowOne have very good warranties. Berkline is no longer in business, so the only warranty you will have is a third-party one supplied by the reseller.
* Are you looking for a custom color and/or a very soft leather?
- You can find a number of "in stock" chairs in Black or Brown and sometimes even Red, but if you prefer another color you'll likely need to do a special order. Jaymar, Palliser, RowOne, Lane and other manufacturers offer custom leathers in many colors.
To answer your questions:
What is worth the money?
This is a pretty subjective question since everyone has their own budget and a ceiling for what they are willing to spend. Power recline, however, is a must in a home theater application. It allows you to stop the chair in a position where you have a good viewing angle to your screen. The chair will also stay locked in this position, even if you move around in the chair.
What is not? Leather vs bonded leather (not leather?) Pocketed coil springs? Power vs manual recline? Lighted cup holders??? How are they constructed? Durable?
* Leather vs Bonded Leather: I personally prefer real leather- either 100% or a Leather match (leather in the "touch" areas and matching vinyl on the sides and very back of the chair). Bonded leather is 12-20% leather scraps, glue and polyurethane. Many bonded leathers are new to the market so the durability has still not been proven. If you are on a budget, this is an excellent way to go, however.
* Pocketed Coil Springs: This is the latest trend employed by a few manufacturers the past year and a half. The idea is that the coils provide a firmer seat for better support and durability. You don't sink into these like a "marshmallow".
* Lighted Cup Holders- This is not a must, in my opinion. It has the "neat factor" more than anything and it's nice to be able to find your cup holder in the dark.
* Construction- this varies considerbly among the various manufacturers. Most use plywood, some use kiln-dried hardwood. Some chairs have fiber-filled backs, some have foam-filled. I have a Jaymar chair in my office and it is extremely heavy. If you flip it over to look at the underside you can clearly see the difference in construstion between this chair and other, less-expensive chairs.
Another Option to Consider:
Tactile Sound- Whether Buttkicker or the more responsive Clark Synthesis models, this is a great add-on option for chairs.
I hope this serves as a good primer for you and gets you thinking about things other than how chairs look in photos. A good reseller will have experience with various manufacturers, have sat in chairs and may have them in their store or warehouse to touch and feel for you. Depending on where you are located and what kind of chairs you are looking to purchase it may be worth a drive or a flight to go and sit in the chair.