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Bigger and Thinner Not Only Drivers for Mounts and Wall Docks

Video displays and the accessories that support them have historically followed very parallel paths of development. But in today’s world of second-screen viewing and mobile control of home electronics, there are many more trends for mounts and wall docks to respond to than simply accommodating flat-panels’ thinner-but-bigger evolution.

The slim full-motion VLF320 from Sanus translates high-end design aesthetic into the overall design.

Just a few years ago, the idea of a non-proprietary wall dock was completely off the radar for display mounting, but homeowners today need the flexibility to BYOD by day and use their mobile device for myriad entertaining and practical purposes by evening.

Crestron is taking advantage of the opportunities that current consumer trends in display devices have opened up, offering both tabletop docks for iPads and an in-wall version for controlling lights, audio, and everything else. The nature of mobile device use in the home demands the design teams stay on their toes.

“Changing connectors and form factor changes have triggered the need for continual product development,” said Nic Scott, Crestron marketing solutions manager. “Proprietary back-boxes for wall-mount touchscreens is becoming a thing of the past, except for special applications. It’s easy to install a $2 standard gang box and run Cat-5e in multiple places in a home during construction even if you’re not going to use it right away, or even at all (put a standard blank plate over the box if you’re not using).”

The Crestron iPanel in-wall docking station (IDOC-PAD-DSWC) provides an elegant wall mount solution for charging an iPad while simultaneously using it to control the home.

This mounting option helps make Crestron’s TSW 7-inch and 10-inch touchscreens an easier sell, Scott said.

For iPort, providing a solution for dealers to seamlessly integrate iOS devices into their projects is a founding principle. The company’s evolution is “driven by the sheer volume of apps that are being developed (for both residential and commercial applications),” said Simon Wehr, director of marketing, “and the ever-increasing need to keep the iOS device charged and held securely in place. These include our Control Mount range of semi-permanent mounts for iPod Touch and iPad and LaunchPort–the magnetic mounting and inductive charging solution for iPad. This demand is only going to increase as more and more manufacturers develop hardware that is specifically designed to integrate together via, or be controlled using an iOS device.”

From a design perspective, iPort aims to ensure clients will be able to upgrade their iOS devices without having to change out all their wall docks for compatibility. The soon-to-be-released CM.IW2000 V2 can be used with every full-sized iPad through the 4th generation. “This means it can use devices with either the 30-pin or the lightning connector,” Wehr said. “Not only that, we will also make an upgrade kit available to allow our dealers to easily convert any existing CM.IW2000s out there too.”

In the era of the tablet device, the ubiquity of iPads for home control is a guarantee. Austria-based iRoom takes a high-end design approach to its motorized iPad charging dock. “New bezels in aluminum or glass give iRoom’s iDock a design element that belongs in any luxury space,” said Chris Lehnen, president, iRoom U.S.

Salamander Design’s Furniture Mate floorstanding mounting system can be mated with any AV cabinet.

The iRoom iDock is targeted toward a broader base, with security models available for public and commercial applications.

The flexibility to mount devices in less traditional areas has led several manufacturers to develop novel solutions. Dynamic Mounting offers a mount specifically addressing over-fireplace flat-panel placements that otherwise can lead viewers to strain their neck to watch TV.

“The Down and Out Mount from Dynamic Mounting allows consumers to maintain a single focal point in their rooms–one that includes both their fireplace and their television–without having to sacrifice functionality,” described Kurt Massey, owner and product designer, Dynamic Mounting, in Charlotte, NC. “The TV can easily be moved to its lowered position for viewing and returned to its original position up, flush against the wall when having a fire.”

The Down and Out Mount required some creative thinking by its designers, who included a compact, adjustable counterbalance system to keep the TV in the selected viewing position. The system works for TVs from 20 to 110 pounds. “We also had to design a new locking system to keep the TV secure in its default position up and against the wall,” Massey said. “Every step we took in the design process was in pursuit of the same goal: making the mount easy to use, regardless of the user’s height or strength.”

In its mount designs, Peerless-AV has addressed the way homes are wired for cable. “Watching TV in the kitchen, usually on a wall opposite of where the cable outlet has been installed seems to be a commonplace occurrence to no fault of anyone,” Hal Traux, managing director of retail sales for Peerless-AV, pointed out. “The bathroom is another location where people like to have a TV, so they can watch the news and weather while getting ready for work. But many bathrooms were not outfitted with a cable outlet and it is difficult to find a convenient place to put the cable box. The backyard has become the new living room, and people want to be able to bring the TV entertainment out to their patio, deck, or even pool.”

The PeerAir solution features wireless AV receivers integrated into the mounts. “Our newest mount designs, integrated with these wireless AV capabilities, require only a power receptacle to make the TV fully functional,” Traux said.

Noting the changing way video displays receive content today from various sources, new solutions to house all these devices are necessary, with furniture being the most popular, according to Derek Derks, business development manager for Chief. Safety in the home is another area that Derks outlined as a big trend today, as well as mounts that accommodate the various uses for tablet devices. “We’re looking at the customer experience and how to make that better through customer-centric design,” he noted.

Salamander Designs has keyed into the furniture-friendly mount trend with the Furniture Mate, which is designed for attaching TVs directly to cabinets, bypassing on-wall wiring and installation. The floor-standing mounting system can be mated with any AV cabinet.

Salamander president Sal Carrabba also noted the design opportunities and challenges that a device like the iPad, with its broad appeal, presents. “We must consider the user, in this case from young to old,” Carrabba said. “The uses are endless: sitting, standing, lying down, or on the go (car and plane). The applications are many; browsing, chatting, tweeting, updating, posting, blogging, working, or watching.”

Crimson’s AU series of mounts boast a depth of just 1.09 inches.

Salamander’s latest product, the Saddle, was designed with all these considerations in mind. “As functional as it is simple and beautiful, the Saddle is a handmade, premium, soft leather beanbag which securely holds your tablet in any position,” Carrabba described.

The Saddle is a good example of Salamander’s design approach. “We like to look at things from a slightly different angle, which sometimes allows a new or novel use of an existing design element.” The Saddle “merges the beloved beanbag from the sixties with the hottest technology of today.”

With its ActionMount line, OmniMount has been attracting attention related to the health and wellness trend for some time now. “WellTech, the merger of wellness and technology, is one trend influencing how consumers are seeking technology products to help them improve their health,” stated John Deutsch, VP of sales for OmniMount. “As more people stand up while using their TVs, whether it be for playing games or following exercise videos, OmniMount’s latest ActionMount mount solutions offer a new compatible level of functionality–height adjustability–to facilitate and encourage the healthier interaction with TVs from different vantage points within a room,” Deutsch said.

This concept also lends itself to the multi-purpose home theater room that has become the norm for most households. OmniMount’s traditional mounts come in fixed, tilt, or full motion. The interactive mounts allow users to adjust height, post-installation, up to 20-inches, plus tilt and pan. One way that OmniMount has benefited from its merger with Ergotron last year is with the ability to integrate its sister brand’s patented CF technology, which balances a flat-panel’s weight for smooth repositioning, “so users of all ages can more safely and effectively take advantage of the added flexibility.”

The popularity of soundbars in home theater installations has driven Bell’O to release its Universal Soundbar Mounting System, according to Marc Sculler, CEO. “We saw a hole in the market for a soundbar mount that addresses the different mounting requirements for the wide range of soundbars being manufactured today,” he said. “Our Universal Soundbar Mounting System was designed so that almost any soundbar or center channel speaker can be beneath or above a mounted TV for a clean, low-profile look and a superior home theater experience.”

Responding to Bigger and Thinner 

Premier Mounts supports the ongoing trend toward bigger, yet thinner, flat panels with its AM500 mega mount and AM100 low-profile, ultra thin swing-out mount. The AM500 supports displays up to 500 pounds or 103 inches and up and includes a 90-degree rotating mounting head for portrait or landscape orientations.

Appropriate rigidity, security, and stability are critical characteristics that Crimson Mounts’ president Vlad Gleyzer identified to accommodate thinner, larger displays. Mounts, he said, “must be slender, yet built to withstand daily use and to prevent the flat-panel from warping, which some tend to do when not paired with an adequate mount.”

Crimson’s AU series of mounts boast a depth of just 1.09-inches. Crimson’s entire product line is made up of modular components shared across SKUs “to reduce cost and increase operational efficiencies,” Gleyzer said.

The biggest factor driving Sanus’ mount designs has been the increase in size and decrease in weight of TVs. “Our newest mounts accommodate all TV depths because we allow for adjustments for varying depths,” said Lauren Theobald, senior marketing channel manager at Milestone AV. “We also have translated the sleek look of TVs with thin bezels, clean lines, and modern finished in to our products as well.”

Theobald pointed out the slim full-motion VLF320, which she said translates a high-end design aesthetic “into the overall design from the curved cable-concealing arms to the wall plate that disguises the hardware.”

Video displays might mostly focus on becoming thinner and as large as possible, with razor sharp ultra high definition, but the mounts and wall docks that support them have matured to cater to a wide range of evolving consumer uses.

Lindsey Adler is associate editor for Residential Systems, Systems Contractor News, and Healthcare AV.