Acoustic treatments have long been considered home theater eyesores. While they’re essential to sound quality, their lack of style, to put it nicely, has left a lot to be desired. But many manufacturers have realized you can have it all and are now offering more aesthetically pleasing options. Here are five examples.
When we home theater enthusiasts dream about automation, we envision pushing a button and sinking into the sofa, beer in hand: The lights dim, a huge screen descends from the ceiling, and a magnificent picture magically appears onscreen as your speakers come to life. But why stop there? With Somfy’s TaHomA system (and the help of a professional installer), you can bring window shades, drapes or blinds, and climate control into the fold and create automated scenes for a single room or the entire house.
Price: $10,000 (23 shade system) At A Glance: Up to three-year battery life • Extremely quiet operation • Simple installation
Of all the “this is the coolest damn thing I’ve ever seen” things a home theater/wholehome automation system can do, the one that is consistently the most mesmerizing, most envied, coolest “coolest damn thing” is the control of motorized window treatments. (Although it sounds like something a doctor would prescribe for sick building syndrome, window treatments is the term people in the know use for what you and I would call curtains, blinds, and shades.) If you’ve never experienced motorized shades (or drapes or blinds)—and I mean experienced in the sense that you’ve seen them in action in someone’s home and not in a too-clean-to-be-believable picture-perfect designer’s showroom or a slickly edited online video—it’s difficult to grasp the enchanted feeling and quasi-mystical pleasure that even the least gadget-savvy person can get from being in a room in which some hidden electronic sorcery conjures the shades to obediently open and close (or stop anywhere in between) on command or makes the curtains part like the Red Sea as if Moses were holding a remote control in his hand instead of a staff. Even the reticent Wizard of Oz, himself, would rush out from his hiding place behind the curtain to watch it open and close by remote control if it were motorized.
Price: $17,000 as tested At A Glance: Control one to 200 devices • No new wires for easy retrofits • Saves electricity and lengthens bulb life
Unless you’re one of the enlightened, you probably use the same simple lighting-control system that most everyone else in the electrified world uses—your finger. Sometimes it’s the side of your hand, or when your hands are full, a nudge with your elbow or shoulder. While the electrical hardware is reliable, this type of system is prone to user error (forgetfulness), doesn’t react quickly to changing circumstances (daytime/nighttime), and is often just damned inconvenient (you’re here, but the switch is over there). On top of all that, gangs of three, four, or more switches on the wall, no matter how fancy the wall plate, are unsightly and not especially intuitive to use when it comes to flipping the right switch to turn on the right light—especially in the dark.
We marvel at how thin flat panel TVs have gotten and it stands to reason that these lighter, thinner sets would usher in a new wave of mounts and lifts. Naturally, mounts have gotten smaller and lighter offering some unique designs that were not possible with previous generation sets. Lifts conceal your TV when you are not using it, offering even greater creativity and integration into your decor. These eight models will hold, lift, tilt and swivel your TV for optimum viewing in any location.
Buying furniture for your AV components and HDTV can seem like a daunting task with all the choices available and like any type of furniture there are all types of styles, designs and sizes. Here are six of our picks for AV furniture that fit a variety of styles and budgets.
Once you add grilles no one will suspect that you have attached high-end loudspeakers to your flat panel TV, until you turn on the sound. There is no reason to have large speakers cluttering the front of your room, when you can integrates these state-of- the-art speakers that create your entire LCR (left, center, right) array with only two speakers that are just as thin as your TV.
Combine a 3D Blu-ray player with a 12TB hard drive and you have the Mozaex Solo 2. With USA retail pricing less than $6,000 for up to 12TBs of media storage, the Solo 2 is more affordable than many other media server systems, providing a highly scalable solution. Up to four additional Blu-ray Players may be added for $2,495 apiece.
The emergence of 3D movies on Blu-ray presents more of a challenge than just a new Blu-ray player, you'll also need a new display. If you are using a projector, you also have to consider the screen you are using. For optimum performance your current screen may or may not be adequate. In fact, a screen optimized for 3D doesn't always provide the best 2D image. However, Stewart Filmscreems has come up with the Daily Dual, providing a solution for optimum 2D and 3D viewing.
Ever wish you could afford a Kaleidescape system? Well, now it's more affordable than ever before to bring their intuitive and comprehensive products into you living room with the introduction of Cinema One, a stand-alone DVD Movie Server, which is their first offering to a broader audience and features kid-friendly operation.
For DIYers, it's never been easier to find the right mount for any model flat-panel TV. Just download the free Install Tool Kit iPad app from Sanus in the Apple App Store. Within seconds you'll find the perfect mount and determine the exact drilling hole placement for installation. It's also possible to keep your own notes and single out the mounts you like the most with the MyNotes feature.
I'm the owner of a small cabinet shop and decided to built this attractive and highly functional entertainment center in my home. All the woodworking throughout the room is mine (except for the chairs). It's all made from Alder that is finished in honey stain with a sable glaze. While it may look like wall paper, the wall treatment is a faux finish.
With flat panel TV's getting so thin, speaker manufacturers are again challenged to create speakers that compliment them. Artison, a leading innovator and manufacturer of custom high-performance loudspeakers, recently introduced an incredibly thin speaker that attaches directly to your TV.
Yesterday, Apple announced the next generation Apple TV, a product line that has been unchanged and virtually ignored by the company for several years. With this newest product introduction, our imagination is re-ignited with possibilities. Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, has been eluding to the magic "cloud" as the future of content distribution and management for some time and the new Apple TV delivers on that vision.