Viewing habits and lifestyles have changed significantly post-pandemic. So should your sales and design approach to home theater.
So much has changed since the Covid-19 virus surfaced a few years ago. The way we work, play, learn, collaborate, socialize, communicate, and relax has shifted profoundly. New habits and pastimes have formed. New modes of entertainment have emerged. For some industries, like home theater, it’s been a watershed moment ripe with opportunity, as well as challenges, for systems integrators, designers, and builders. People are demanding better AV amenities for their entertainment spaces, accessing and consuming content via online sources, and engaging more actively with the technologies delivering their home theater experiences. Here are six trends shaping the home theater environment today and tips on how you can capitalize on the “new normal.”
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- Dedicated Home Theaters Are Back and Better Than Ever. With the breadth of streaming content available — according to the 2021 Theme Report there are more than 135 online services in the U.S. providing movies and TV shows — the image and audio quality of that content has improved significantly. The situation has created the perfect storm for two-piece projection systems. Rather than squeezing projection systems into smallish spaces, homeowners are starting to dedicate private rooms to the pursuit. It’s a great time to take advantage of the new interest — solutions are more design-forward, technologically innovative, installation-friendly, and affordable than ever before.
- Projection Systems Settle Into the Mainstream. The whole point of a home theater is having a big picture. Certainly, there are huge TVs, but their dimensions still pale in comparison to projection screens. It’s the experience that matters in a home theater, and the bigger the picture, the more engaging, dynamic, immersive, and memorable the viewing experience. Plus, once you get past 120 inches in diagonal screen dimension, dollar for dollar a complete projection system is typically less expensive than a huge TV — making it a no-brainer for budget-conscious customers. A projection setup also contributes to integrators’ bottom line, as the profit margins of commoditized TVs continue to dwindle. Another upside: Transporting and installing a projection screen won’t eat up manpower. It ships rolled up for easy delivery and transport and is lightweight enough for a couple of techs to easily handle and install. A TV of the same size, on the other hand, is significantly heavier and more cumbersome, requiring an entire crew to lift, carry, and install it.
- Casual Vibes Dictate. Despite the rebirth of the dedicated theater, it’s not the same kind of space as it used to be. Families grew to realize and appreciate the importance of connecting with loved ones, so today’s home theaters, whether they occupy a private area or share space with a living room, are decidedly low-key and casual. The formality and isolation of sitting in an individual seat in the dark is a practice of the past. In today’s home theater, the lights can stay on, off, or anywhere in between; people can socialize freely; and more than just movie viewing occurs. The modern definition of a home theater is a place that accommodates many activities and serves many functions — conducting Zoom calls, hosting holiday parties, exercising and meditating, and relaxing with music, to name a few. No matter what’s happening in the entertainment space, the excitement of a big screen drives people to it.
- Meshing With Multi-Purpose Pursuits. Driving the multifunctional home theater trend are uber-discreet projection screen designs. Slim and sleek and available in a variety of finishes, motorized screen housings can go virtually unnoticed, if not invisible, when mounted above the ceiling. Meanwhile, new imaging technologies, such as ultra-short-throw (UST) screens, ambient light rejecting (ALR) screens, and 360-degree screens, along with their respective projectors, have expanded the market, making home theater a viable amenity for just about any room — even outdoor living spaces. Adding to the appeal are longer lifespans and more attractive pricing.
- Outdoor Experiences Still in High Demand. Pushed by the pandemic, people are pursuing ways to lead healthier lifestyles. For many, this means getting outside — and they’re taking their entertainment with them, including two-piece projection systems. Thanks to innovative designs and technology, installing a system outdoors is much simpler than it used to be. This is your chance to go really big. Unlike indoors, the sky is truly the limit outside. No matter how big you go, the screen can blend in with the surrounding environment. Motorized housings designed for exterior installation conceal the screen when it’s not in use and can be customized to accommodate the screen size, power source (DC- or AC-powered), and design intent — painted to complement the outdoor aesthetic when surface-mounted or hidden when recessed within a structure. Plus, Zipper tracks keep the screen taut when down on windy days; the durable, rugged ISP-67-rated housing protects the material from wear and tear when it’s up. Battery and solar-powered options preclude wiring to simplify installation.
- Playing Well With Others Sets Projection on an Upward Trajectory. To become a seamless, natural part of a residential setting, a projection system needs to be easy to program, control, and interoperate with other systems. Available to systems integrators is a rich variety of devices to streamline this process. Setpoints for the screen can be programmed in seconds; integration with projectors, audio components, lights, and control systems can be accomplished without complicated software; and technologically advanced motorized housings featuring built-in control boards can make setup nearly plug-and-play.
All the stars have aligned for the home theater industry. Consumers want projection systems, high-res content is easily and widely accessible, and a wide range of smart, stylish imaging solutions are driving two-piece projection systems mainstream. Whether the entertainment space is big or small, located inside or outside, designed for dedicated viewing or as a multi-purpose gathering spot, there’s a big-screen option that can be easily integrated for a boost in your bottom line.
Related: 5 Home Theater Trends in 2022