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Mounting a Thin TV Display in Your Home Theater

One of the bigger advances in TV displays in recent years has been the depth of the units — displays are getting thinner and thinner. Instead of just plunking your new display on top of a table, consider mounting it on the wall or ceiling (such as in the case of projectors) instead.

Mounting a display can be easy if you plan and design well up front. There's more than one way to mount a display. Ask yourself some questions about how you intend to use your TV before you settle on a particular mounting approach:

  • Is viewing flexibility an important consideration? If you want to be able to see the display from two different locations, a swing arm mount is great — you can merely swing the display around to face the desired room. You might do this so that you can watch your plasma TV in the family room, but then swing it out so that it can be viewed from the kitchen, too. It's great for watching cooking shows!
  • Where do you want to put the display in the room? Plan for your cabling in advance. Are you mounting this on a brick wall or in front of a window? In these instances, a ceiling mount may be better because it will be easier to run your cables invisibly.
  • Are you planning on mounting your display over a fireplace? It can get hot over a fireplace in use, and this heat can damage your display. A lot of TVs don't have a cooling fan — they use convection for cooling and have to be five inches from the wall. If you're short on space and cooling is a concern, look for a TV with a fan. If there is a lot of heat coming up from the fireplace, you will really need a mantel to deflect the heat away from your TV.
  • How do you want to use your display? Will you want to view this while lying on the floor sometimes and on the couch at other times? You might want a swing mount with a high degree of pitch so that you can change the angle as you desire. Do you want to press a button and have the display automatically appear? Look for pop-up and ceiling automated products for this purpose — often used in limited spaces.
    If you intend to use a swing mount and have chosen to buy third-party (that is, non-display-driven) speakers, you will want to make sure you can purchase an add-on accessory to mount your center speaker onto the display itself, rather than bolting that particular speaker to a wall. Doing so ensures that your center speaker swings along with the TV . . . thus avoiding that weird situation in which lips move in one place but the corresponding dialog comes from another.
  • Is this room subject to different lighting during different times of the day? Pitch wall mounts — ones that can shift a display up and down — are good for rooms that have glare during certain times of the day.
  • Is this a permanent installation or something you might change as newer TV display models come out? Many homes trade up TVs every few years and swap TV sets from room to room in a hand-me-down fashion. Automated lift mounts are pretty permanent installations in most instances.
  • How does this have to look? Is decor an issue? If you need this to be really flush with the wall with all your cables well hidden, then you might want to go with a swing arm (as opposed to a static) mount because a swing arm allows you to use a recessed area in the wall. You can connect the mount to the wall and then pull out the mount and connect all the cables and display. When you're done, you can push the mount back against the wall, and you have a fashionable flush installation. You may not be able to do this with a static mount because it's harder to hide all the connected cables. Also, you can design your mounting so that you can go with artwork that slides over the display or opt for a decorative trim to the display. You can even buy a certain material to cover your display that acts like a mirror when the display is off but is transparent when the display is on.
  • Do you care about specific orientations for your display? With some mounts, you can rotate your display into a vertical position. If you're into photography, the display can go into portrait mode, for instance, for those vertically oriented pictures. Or, you might want to view the display horizontally but store it vertically, if space is a consideration.
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