December 10, 2009
| by Lisa Montgomery
Each screen would be connected to its own high-def satellite receiver, which would allow the Footitts to watch a different program on each TV simultaneously. It’s the ideal sports-watching setup, says Shafer, though it’s just as accommodating of movies and video games.
For instance, while Footitt and his friends are watching football, two people can pair off to play a PS3 game of Madden NFL on any two displays.
During NFL weeks 13-17, there are 11 games on at noon. In order to watch them all, Footitt takes the two 25-inch TVs and satellite receivers he has upstairs and brings them down to video wall in the basement. He plugs them into the two jacks Arctic Audio installed below the 63-inch Panasonic high-def plasma TV.
With so much video in one spot, having a simple, unified means of controlling the TVs was essential. Footitt was no stranger to the inherent difficulties of operating a multiscreen setup, but he wasn’t about to deal with a pile of remotes again.
Using dual RTI RP6 processors, Arctic Audio programmed the system so that from one remote, Footitt would be able to choose a program for every screen. Touching the icon “Game Day!!” brings up a layout of the video wall. Choosing tv1 turns on that TV and opens a new control page of favorite satellite sports stations.
Footitt simply touches which one he wants and it’s displayed. The same steps are repeated for each TV, or Footitt can hit the boom button to have every screen activate and tune each to a separate predetermined channel to start Sunday’s football lineup. Another button press changes all of the TVs to the same channel.
“To keep the system simple and affordable, only the audio from the 63-inch Samsung is played through the 7.1 surround-sound system,” Shafer says. Footitt can always swap that video for something on a smaller set with a few finger taps on the remote.
Arctic Audio’s design of the RTI remote was definitely key to the functionality of the video wall, but it also turned out to be a great way for Footitt to express his personality. During an Internet search, the tech-savvy homeowner found a site where he could purchase a user interface graphics program to create a unique, colorful look for the screen of the remote.
“The best way to describe it is ‘Styx’s Paradise Theater,’” says Shafer. Footitt spent $400 for the graphics package, and handed it over to Arctic Audio to tweak the labeling and layout of the buttons.
All that’s left to do, now, says Footitt, is to keep collecting sports memorabilia — and, of course, donate his twice-weekly ration of plasma.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.