Professional help may be needed to wall mount HDTV
By Chandra Orr
Copley News Service
Want to get the most from that new high-definition television? It pays to call the pros.
Proper placement, good lighting and optimal wiring are just a few things to consider - and a professional installer can make sure it's done right.
"Custom installation is becoming a more necessary service as these products get more advanced," said David Berman, spokesman for the Home Theater Specialists of America, an industry association of 62 of the top high-end home electronics dealers.
"There are several issues that preclude just hanging your plasma television above the fireplace in your family room. The goal is to integrate these products so that they're not an eyesore in the home."
The sheer weight of a flat-panel HDTV makes self-installation quite a challenge.
The average 42-inch flat panel weighs in at more than 50 pounds, and larger models can top the scales at nearly 200 pounds. Add the weight of the mounting fixture into the equation and it's simply too heavy to hang on sheetrock, drywall or plaster.
"Most of these plasmas are much too heavy to hang like a painting. The walls just weren't built to hold something that heavy," Berman said.
Most HDTVs must be bolted to wall studs, though the largest TVs will need to be installed within the infrastructure of the home itself. That means opening up the wall, installing weight-bearing brackets, rewiring the television to conform to codes, installing ventilation to dissipate heat and closing it all back up again - no small feat for the average handyman.
A custom installer will also ensure proper placement of your new HDTV with regard to windows and light fixtures.
Whether it's a window behind the couch, filtered light coming from another room or a simple table lamp next to the couch, the ambient and direct lighting in your living room can cause glare or wash out the picture completely.
"Glare and ambient light have a big impact on the quality of the picture," Berman said. "It doesn't matter how great your TV is, if it's not placed properly in the room, you won't get the benefits."
A professional can suggest the optimal location for your television to ensure perfect picture quality, and if need be, install an articulating or telescoping mount designed to angle the screen to avoid glare.
"Where you place the TV in the room determines the type of mount you should use," Berman said. "You also have to make sure that the weight capabilities of the mount are compatible with the weigh of the TV."
Plan to spend $300 to $500 for a no-frills, good-quality mounting fixture and about $1,000 for a more aesthetically pleasing experience. That's the going rate for frames that transform flat-screens into functional works of art.
Forget the notion of plug-and-play. To get optimal high-definition images you'll need to do some tweaking.
You will probably need to change the codes within your high-definition source products, including digital cable, Blu-ray players and HD DVD players. The proper codes enable the high-definition information to reach the TV. Omit this step and you might find that you have no audio, no picture or no HD.
For the top-of-the-line performance, you'll also want an HDMI connection. High Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI, is like a broadband cable for your television. The all-digital connector carries multiple signals at once, including high-definition video and digital audio, without conversion or compression.
This translates into smoother sharper images, clearer audio, fewer tangled cords behind the TV and the ability to control everything through one remote. "People want to be able to use these products easily, but people want them to be invisible," Berman said. "Custom integrators can hook up everything so that you push one button and the shades lower, the ambient temperature drops slightly, the lighting dims, the television switches on to the correct input, the stereo switches over and the Blu-ray player starts a movie."
Custom installations start at about $400. To find a custom installation specialist in your area, consult the Home Theater Specialists of America member directory at www.htsa.com.
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