The family room has a state-of-the-art video projector concealed in a metal oven hood. The projector and custom-made 138-inch curved screen are not only capable of showing CinemaScope movies—in a superwide 2.35:1 aspect ratio versus the 1.78:1 of widescreen HDTV—they can also show Ben-Hur in its original, very seriously wide 2.76:1 format. In the billiards room adjacent to the kitchen are four 32-inch LCD HDTVs behind a mirror, so they’re only visible when turned on. And that’s just the first floor.
The guy behind this home-based video paradise is Sam Runco, CEO of high-end video projector and flat-panel TV maker Runco International. Sam and his wife, Lori, use their modest San Francisco Bay Area home as more than a respite; it’s also a testing pad for home entertainment systems.
Press a button on the Crestron home system’s remote, and the door over the oven hood lifts to reveal Runco’s new VX-55d three-chip, 1080p DLP projector with a CineWide lens. A mural ascends into the ceiling, curved wooden pieces roll from behind the Stewart screen to mask it for numerous format shapes, and when the score begins, either of two sets of speakers sound off. When the movie or show is over, the mural is lowered, the projector is hidden and the space reverts to a family room.
Three JBL Synthesis speakers are positioned behind grilles beneath the screen, with JBL subwoofers on either side, while three Kef speakers descend from the ceiling in the front, and four more emerge from the walls for the surround channels in the sides and rear. Runco and his family have many options: They can watch a movie with the JBL front speakers and Kef surrounds and subwoofers, use just the Kef speakers all around and the subwoofers, use both systems with six front speakers, or listen to music with the left and right JBL speakers in stereo.
Runco also has a Kaleidescape video server that stores DVDs to hard drives and enables him to call up any movie in the family’s collection via genre, actor or director. And he’s been playing with Niveus’ Denali media server, which functions as a DVR, features hard drive storage for music and movies, runs Windows Media Center, and has an add-on DVD changer.
Not bad for just one floor of the home. We can’t wait to see what he does with the second floor.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates