The barroom scene in The Blues Brothers basically sums up the state of flatpanel TV mounts for most installers. Sitting at Bob’s Country Bunker, Elwood asks, “What kind of music do you usually have here?” and the bartender cheerily replies, “Oh, we got both kinds. We got country and western.”
The secret behind the PLAY40’s success is the employment of Ergotron’s patented Constant Force Technology.Likewise, if someone walks into your shop today and asks, “What kind of mounts do you usually install here?” You’ll probably reply, “We’ve got three kinds: flat, tilt and arm.”
I’ve been selling and installing flat-panel TV mounts since 1998 and they haven’t changed much since then. There are different thread patterns and colors, built-in levels, thinner profiles and some offer motorization, but for the most part, TV mounts come in the same three basic categories that they always have.
One of the mount styles most in need of a makeover is cantilever-arm mounts. People tend to love the idea of having their TV mounted on an arm mount. And in theory, it’s a great thing. Pull the display out, move it around, swivel and angle it to the perfect viewing angle, then push it back up close to the wall when you finish. But in reality, these mounts are so stiff and heavy and awkward to move, people end up pulling their display out one time, feel the Herculean effort required to fight the thing back into place, and then end up just leaving it where it rests. Or you’ll have mount sag, where the screen kind of droops on a loose adjustment.
OmniMount also recognized that there was real room for improvement here. So they introduced the PLAY40, offering not only the full range of horizontal and tilt/turn adjustments of conventional arm mounts, but vertical range of motion as well. Beyond that, the mount is so easy to move and adjust that my 5-year-old could position it.
The PLAY40 comes with the typical kitchen sink of universal bolts and mounting hardware and installs in a pretty standard fashion. Two lag bolts secure the back plate to a single stud or solid wall, the “arm” screws into the back plate, and the TV’s mounting plate attaches to the arm. The TV mounting plate is VESA 200 x 200, but can be adjusted for 200 x 100 and includes spider adapter arms for displays up to 600 x 400, so running into an incompatible flat-panel TV should be rare. The PLAY40 allows for some cable management by providing locations to zip-tie wiring under the arm.
All told, it took me little over an hour from unboxing to TV on the wall, and the finished product resembled a steadi-cam rig, with its multiple joints and pivot locations. There are four different adjustments allowing you to tighten or loosen the amount of pressure required to move the display and ensure that it stays put after you leave it.
I initially installed a 46-inch LCD Samsung onto the arm after checking that the weight–39.7 pounds–was within the rated 40-pound limit. However, the mount wouldn’t hold the TV in place; the arm just slowly sank to the lowest position. I tightened all the possible adjustments but to no avail. I replaced that set with a 32-inch Sony LCD weighing 28 pounds and it worked perfectly. (OmniMount commented that it should have had no problem with the 39.7-pound display and that my demo sample might have been faulty.)
The secret behind the PLAY40’s success is the employment of Ergotron’s patented constant force technology. I’m not sure the exact form of voodoo that constant force technology conjures, but whatever it is, it works amazingly well. The Sony was incredibly easy to swing, shift, tilt, turn and basically put into the perfect viewing position from wherever I was seated or standing. The display glided smoothly through all range of motion and stops and stays wherever I wanted it.
Further, the ability to adjust the display 20 inches vertically will be perfect for times when people insist on mounting their display above a 7-foot tall fireplace mantel. Or for clients that watch workout or yoga videos. Or for kids that like to lie on the floor while viewing. Or for families that play Wii or Kinect games. The PLAY40 offers so many placement and use options that owners will probably continue to discover new ways to interact with it. The PLAY40’s only noticeable weakness is that it doesn’t fit as close to wall as other mounts– holding the display 5.5 inches from the wall when fully collapsed.
There’s not much you can do to improve or change TV mounts, so it isn’t often that you find a product that is truly an evolutionary design step forward. However, the PLAY40 is such a product, and it is easily the best full-motion mount I have yet to, um, play with.
Easy to install and offers amazingly smooth movement through entire range of motion; vertical adjustment opens tons of viewing options
Holds display 5.5 inches from the wall when fully collapsed
• Offers 20-inch continuous vertical and horizontal movement of the display in all directions
• Patented Constant Force technology enables light-touch adjustments without knobs or levers
• Extends 24 inches from wall when in use and retracts to 5.5 inches when not in use
• Supports 18 to 40 pounds
• VESA compliant: 200w x100h to 600w x400h
• 5-year warranty