Heavy Lifting

An Overview of Some of the Latest Video Mounts and Home Theater Seating Products
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They literally perform the heavy lifting of the custom installation channel, yet video mounts and home theater seating never receive the credit they deserve.

CEDIA EXPO last month in Denver was the place to learn everything you need to know about these essential product categories. Never before were so many companies competing in the same category, providing a veritable cornucopia of innovative concepts for performing the relatively basic task of holding up video displays, A/V components, and the backsides of wealthy clients.
One product that seemed to merge video mounts with A/V furniture was the new wall furniture concept from companies such as Vantage Point and OmniMount. These on-wall shelving and mounts hybrids are built to be easily installed and removed, allowing for improved wire management and simplified equipment changes.

Vantage Points evo system is priced at around $3,000, for a premium-quality, modular mounting system consisting of an aluminum frame and track system that is expandable to support unlimited equipment configurations. The frame is hung on two independently mounted rails and extends four inches from the wall to create a hollow space for power and wiring distribution. Sixteen-inch x 16-inch removable real-wood veneer panels, available in maple, cherry, walnut, black ash, and espresso, have been designed to allow easy access to wiring and power connections, while creating a furniture-quality appearance. Also available are various evo accessories such as tempered glass shelves, flat-panel mounts and speaker mounts to support components and TVs.

According to Vantage Point president Mick Mulchahey, the concept for the evo system was born out of his companys frustration at seeing so many retail customers leaving their wiring unfinished behind flat-panel installations. Wed sell wire management kits and no one ever seemed to finish the job off right. It just boggled our minds, he said. Coming up with the ultimate wiring solution was really the push behind all of this. Now virtually every wire is going to be covered, youre not going to have to go into the wall to do it, and now were even adding style to the house in the process.

While the evo system will begin shipping November 1, OmniMounts own wall furniture concepts, the more value-priced Tria and Moda, were already available prior to CEDIA EXPO. The Tria is an on-wall shelving and cable management solution that can be used with or without a flat panel, while the Moda Wall Furniture System provides a step-up option to OmniMounts Elegante Wall Furniture system.

As there is no need to route the cables through the wall, the Moda Wall Furniture System provides immediate access to all cable and components in the need to service or repair any electrical equipment, said OmniMount VP of marketing, Brett Stenhouse. Should wiring need to be upgraded or repaired, the cable management covers can be removed for fast and easy access to repair or replace what is needed, all without the need to fish wires from inside the wall.

Though not wall mounted, Peerless introduced its own hybrid mounting option, the FST550 flat panel TV stand, which accommodates 32- to 50-inch screens and features two adjustable glass shelves for components. The stand offers built-in tilt and vertical adjustment to achieve the ideal viewing angle, and its adjustable glass shelves can hold up to 50 pounds each.

In the same category, BellO Internationals newest high-gloss mounting system, the $299 FP-4850HG, has been designed to suspend large-format flat-screen TVs (up to 50 inches or 125 lbs). A scratch-resistant, high-gloss, black steel frame with two black-tempered safety glass shelves accents its metallic finish. The built-in CMS Cable Management System hides wires and interconnect cables to maintain the units luxury look.

Remote-Controlled Mounts. Automation was another display mounting trend at CEDIA. Chief Manufacturing launched its Cinematic Series, a new line of automated mounting solutions for swing-arm mounts, flat-panel and projector lifts, and table stands. With the press of a button, the CM1 Automated Swing Arm Mount will extend a screen from the wall and rotate to the desired angle. Designed for flat-panel TVs up to 61 inches and 170 pounds, the CM1 features three programmable pre-set viewing positions and multiple mounting options on or recessed between 16-inch center studs. The mount extends 18 inches from the wall and swivels +/-50 degrees.

Designed for flat-panel TVs 61 inches and over or up to 200 pounds, Chiefs CM2 Automated Pop-Up lift provides up to 40 inches of travel with a stored height of 31 inches, and the exclusive Auto Drive gliding system provides fast and quiet adjustment.

At CEDIA EXPO, CLO Systems showed its X-arm product, which is the technology also featured in Peerless new MM860 unit. The X-arm is a patent-pending remote-controlled robotic arm for adjusting the viewing angle of flat-panel displays. Fully motorized variable tilt up/down and swivel functions provide maximum mounting location flexibility while maintaining optimum on-axis viewing.

Via the products universal remote control or a RS-232-controlled touch panel, the X-arm RDMS (Robotic Display Mounting Solution) can extend a display 12 inches from the wall and allows the viewer to adjust the swivel left or right, with a range of motion from 20 degrees to 28 degrees (depending on display size) in either direction and tilt it up to 25 degrees down and seven degrees up. Two programmable memory locations are provided to recall viewing preferences.

X-arms affordable robotic technology effortlessly eliminates the three major complaints associated with viewing and installing flat-panel displays: glare, reflection and limited mounting options because of off-axis viewing problems said Ken Nguyen, director of sales and marketing at CLO Systems.

Finally, the Periscope flat-panel TV stand from Mbelform (www.mobelform.com) features German-designed and manufactured remote control height adjustment. It is available in floor-standing and wall-mount configurations, priced at $5,800 and $3,800, suggested retail, respectively.
Wall MountsThe Best of the Rest. Snap AV, a new company comprised of former owners and operators of custom installation companies, is selling a full line of products that includes its Old Camden furniture and Strong brand of flat-panel and projector mounts. Adam Levy, the companys director of sales and marketing, observed that one of the trends in the mounts category is a move toward high-performance, less expensive solutions. Its not a category that has tremendous barriers to competition, he said. I think the ability to manufacture overseas for a lot of these companies is bringing prices down rapidly. For the custom installation channel this is helpful in that it creates a whole lot of margin opportunity and allows dealers to be more competitive with the electronics that they sell. If they know they can make enough money off the mounts where theres less consumer sensitivity to price, then that helps them get a little more aggressive about matching the price of a flat panel or receiver sold at a big-box retailer.

Other mounting display mount introductions at CEDIA included Sanus Systems new recessed in-wall box (Model LR1A) that allows a digital display to rest snuggly against the wall, hiding the mount in the process. Sanus Systems also added a double-sided tilt and swivel ceiling mount for large flat-panel TVs to its VisionMount line. The companys LC2A is designed to fit virtually all 30- to 50-inch LCD and plasma TVs. It has a total weight capacity of 260 pounds when two large TVs are mounted on it. Sanus Systems LCD mount, Model MF203, extends up to three inches from the wall and its MF209 up to nine inches. The MF215 includes a unique extension arm, allowing it to reach up to 15 inches from the wall for viewing from nearly every angle. All three mounts are compatible with VESA 75, VESA 100, VESA 200 x 100 and VESA 200 x 200 patterns. Sanus new Virtual Axis 3D technology features a cup-shaped design that allows mounts to move effortlessly in all directions without loosen or tighten the bolts.

Premier Mounts launched a new universal swingout arm, the AM250. The AM250 is Premier Mounts first scissor-style swingout arm, said the companys CEO, Len Dozier. It also utilizes our unique Griplate System, which safely holds the display without the need for excessive torque on the mounting hardware.

The mount is designed to pull displays up to 18 inches from the wall and retract to less than five inches. Additionally, the mount allows the display to tilt down 10 degrees and pivot to the left or right 45 degrees. The AM250 features an open design that enables easy cable management and gives installers added flexibility when placing power/signal boxes. It is designed to fit most 37- to 50-inch plasma or LCD displays up to 125 pounds.

Peerless new Outdoor Flat Panel Environmental Enclosure (EEO models) keeps LCD or plasma screens at 32, 40/42, and 50 inches, in proper working condition when exposed to various weather elements. Additionally, the companys new ST690 Universal Expandable Tilt Wall Mount is the professional-grade solution for flat-panel screens ranging from 26 to 71 inches. The 18.75-inch wall plate accommodates a 26-inch screen and can expand to handle screens as large as 71 inches. This mount provides smooth one-touch tilt for easy viewing angle adjustment. Its incremental tilt lock secures the desired viewing angle. In addition, Peerless Industries new PLAV70-UNL supports virtually any 42- to 71-inch flat-panel screen. It is designed to articulate a large flat panel out more than two and a half feet, combined with 15 degrees of tilt and 10 degrees of roll adjustment. The vertical screen adjustment feature makes it an ideal mounting solution for recessed installations, allowing the installer to raise and lower the screen after installation.

Projector Mounts. In the custom installation channel, projector mounts may be even more important as their display-hanging counterparts. So, it is no surprise that at CEDIA EXPO, new projector mounts were also in abundance.

UpRight Mounts new UP200 anodized aluminum ceiling projector mount is designed for units up to 30 pounds. The spiral mounting configuration has a 360-degree rotation capability and its special hook attachment design, combined with its built in cable management system, has a 20-degree tilt.

Premier Mounts unveiled its PDS Series projector mounts, featuring custom brackets fabricated by Premier Dedicated Solutions, a new division of Premier Mounts specializing in custom fabrication and dedicated brackets. The PDS Series is the first large-scale production that Premier Dedicated Solutions is producing, said Len Dozier, CEO of Premier Mounts. For years, weve offered dedicated brackets for projectors and plasmas. PDS simply allows us to react to custom demand even quicker than before.

The mounts include Premier Mounts Lock-It Security System, which consists of special security screws and a custom Allen key. The mounts allow for cables to be routed inside a pipe. Other features include dedicated mounting plates for specific projectors; flexibility for low profile and extended mounting; four-axis, tilt and rotational adjustments; adaptable lateral shift bracket available; and Premier Mounts lifetime guarantee.

The PRS-UNV projector mount from Peerless Industries is designed to simplify installation, while offering a safe, secure, functional, and attractive method to maximize the use of a projector. It supports projectors weighing up to 25 pounds and comes pre-assembled to reduce set-up time. Its independent image adjustment feature ensures proper alignment on a screen by enabling 15 degrees forward and five degrees backward tilt, 10 degrees left or right roll and a full 360 degrees swivel when mounted on an extension column, or 30 degrees when mounted flush to the ceiling. Additionally, the PRS-UNV offers a quick-release feature for bulb replacement or maintenance access to the projector.

Take a Seat. Not to be outdone by their video mount peers, home theater seating companies also used CEDIA EXPO 2006 to introduce new lines. The new Solara Homes Cinema series reclining media room chairs are completely leather covered in a variety of colors and padded with form-fitting memory foam. They come in three piece sets with built-in massage units in both of the side chairs, while the center chair is a well-made and comfortable power recliner.

CinemaTech introduced three new home theater inclinersthe Espada, Vantage and Azzurroto its premium Act I line of theater seating. The Espada presents CinemaTechs steel frame in a soft contemporary style and upholstered in European leathers. The Vantage, with the profile of a soft Cubic Classic, is also designed for extra comfort and added styling. The Azzurro is an Italian-style incliner that combines softness and boldness, strength and extra comfort.

United Leather added a new theater chair, the Formula One, to its collection at CEDIA. It offers a contemporary style theater seat with its sleek lines and single-needle stitching. The unique channel back cushion adds to the look of the seat while providing superb back support. This style is available in a manual or motorized recliner.

Combining the aesthetics of a traditional design and the ergonomics necessary for a theater chair, the Palladium is one of Fortress Seatings latest models to the companys Off Broadway line of theater seating. Design details include geometric patterns, quilted back, double-stitched seams, antique pewter nail heads, and handcrafted tapered wooden legs. The Palladium is available in common-arm units, chaise, sofas, and sofa beds. Fortress Seatings new motorized adjustable back pillow allows for infinite positions to satisfy all body heights. One problem with theater seating is that everybody is not the same size, so the support required for a tall person is going to be different for a short person, explained Fortress Carol Wolper. Now with the adjustable back, everyone can have the support they need and enjoy the movie in comfort.

CINEAK luxury seating allows customers to personalize their seating purchase through a wide selection of customization options, such as foam thickness, Tempur-pedic foam, modifications to width/height of seat, different leather grades and fabric options, embroidery, wood color match, etc. Customers can also upgrade their seating purchase by adding electronic lumbar support, heat/vibration mechanism, IR or contact closure control of reclining mechanism, Crowson motion, control console in between seats, etc. As with CINEAKs theater seating line, all of the Lounge products are custom-made and hand-made in Europe. The products include European leather/fabric upholstery articulating headrest and zero-gravity reclining mechanism. The recliner chairs are available with a leather or chrome spider base and in a high or low version.

This has been just a sampling of what was an abundant assortment of product introductions at CEDIA EXPO. For more on these heavy lifters of our industry, stay tuned for Residential Systems November CEDIA review.

Jeremy J. Glowacki is editor of Residential Systems in New York City.

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