July 31, 2009
by Lisa Montgomery
When football season hits, the owners of this six-screen video wall don’t have to decide which game to watch. They can view six different match-ups at once, switch to a totally different set of games at halftime or put a single image (see photo below) on the entire wall for a bigger view of the action.
Designed and installed by the custom electronics pros at Hi-Tech Home in Clovis, Calif., the wall consists of six individual 42-inch Panasonic flat-panel displays, mounted in two horizontal rows of three. Each TV is connected to its own DirecTV high-def satellite receiver, all of which reside out of sight in an equipment closet.
Company president Jay Cobb explains that these particular displays feature circuitry that enables them to create one merged image on all six TVs or just four (leaving the remaining two TV free to display two different programs). This circuitry, he says, doesn’t make the Panasonic units any more expensive than a typical flat-panel TV. However, any time you put six high-def flat panel TVs together, the potential for an astronomical price tag exists.
Cobb kept the cost of this project in check by paying close attention to the size of the TV bezels and the sophistication of the device that would control the video wall. The Panasonic units chosen for the job each have a 1.5-inch bezel, creating a 3-inch gap between the TVs. The gaps are most prominent when a single image is spread across the entire TV array. The cost: $15,000 for equipment, programming and labor. Had Hi-Tech installed TVs with 1/16th-inch bezels instead, the cost would have skyrocketed to $60,000, Cobb says. For these homeowners, having a more seamless video wall wasn’t worth the extra $45,000 they would have had to spend.
The homeowners also weren’t willing to shell out a lot for something to control the displays. Again, Hi-Tech went the affordable route by choosing a basic touchpanel from Control4 instead of a something more sophisticated. There are two buttons on the touchpanel, Cobb explains: “multiple” and “merged.” If the homeowners choose multiple, they use the touchpanel to individually select a game for each TV to display. A more sophisticated touchpanel might have minimize the amount of button pressing required to chose a game for each TV, says Cobb, but again, the homeowners were willing to sacrifice a little convenience for a substantial cost savings.
Hi-Tech home finished off the space with two Solid Drive speakers from Induction Dynamics which were mounted completely behind the ceiling drywall, Somfy motorized window shades, and dimmable lighting. A motion sensor automatically sets the lights to the homeowners’ preference whenever somebody walks into the room.
Click here to check out a 4-screen video wall.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.