Once when we were watching a DVD in the media room, my wife missed a scene because she was nodding off. But usually it’s me who does the nodding. I search for the remote control, and I can never find it when I need it. Forget about the whole remote, I’ll just settle for the right button. I fish around. There, that must be it. My fingers traverse the button terrain to find the Pause or Rewind button in the dark purely by feel. Because I’m holding the darned thing upside down, I accidentally hit the Open/Close button, which stops the movie cold and slides open the disc tray. Ah, the joys of not missing a minute of a movie!
A little motorization can add a lot of enjoyment, both functionally and aesthetically.
Plasma TVs swing and pivot in midair with the help of articulating arms. Motorized speakers unhinge and then retract. Projectors and screens gracefully descend from ceilings and then magically disappear. TVs rise and fall with the help of hydraulic lowboys. Drapes open and close at will. Seats (and parts of your anatomy) move and shake. Think your equipment needs to stay still? Think you need to stay still? Think again.
It’s no surprise that consumer electronics have become increasingly dependent upon professional installation. Consider the following categories: satellite antennae, A/V distribution systems, projectors and screens, wholehouse control, lighting and dimming systems, content-sharing DVR networks, and of course wall-mounting and wire-pulling for flat-panel TVs. Want to talk about remote access to media servers and CCTV cameras via Ethernet? A system’s operation is programming intensive and depends on physical installation, which requires construction expertise. There’s so much going on behind your walls and in your attic. I wouldn’t want to take responsibility for all of it at my house, and I know my wife wouldn’t want me to, either. I bang up my walls enough, schlepping a retractable ladder from the garage up three flights of stairs to the master bedroom just to change a 9-volt smoke alarm battery. Drill holes in my walls? Me? Are you kidding? In this article, I’ll help you find your closest local professional installers and provide an easy method to help you make the right selection.
One of the myths about lighting control systems is that you can only install them if you’re building a new house, where the walls aren’t built yet, or if you’re performing a major remodel, where all of the walls are torn down. This myth perpetuates on the assumption that you need to run lots of wire while the framing is exposed. It’s true that once the drywall is up, pulling wire becomes prohibitively expensive because of the labor required. But I’m here to bust the myth that you can’t have fun with your lighting in a finished home. In the case of lighting dimming control, you can enjoy many of the features you’d find in a whole-house wired system, without the wire and the accompanying labor expense.
The Martin Logan C2 ($799/each) and FX2 ($649/each) are eyebrow raisingly affordable entries from this longtime champion of the electrostatic speaker. What raised our other eyebrow is that we liked the model playing better than the most costly ones we've heard in the past. Go figure.
Inside tips from the pros can save you hundreds of dollars in speaker-wire installation costs.
When you build a home theater, one of the biggest expenses is the labor for installing the speaker wire. The greater the obstacles, the more time and expense involved. However, you can conquer the majority of wiring situations with a little know-how and ingenuity. Here's how: