December 19, 2006
| by Lisa Montgomery
Having a dedicated room for your computer and peripherals is never a bad idea. Sure, that laptop is convenient for on-the-go computing, but nothing beats a desktop machine when it comes to comfort and productivity. In a home office, you can settle into a big leather chair, spread out your work on a clean, flat surface and close the door for privacy. Technology has made it possible to also play video games, listen to music, watch movies and manage your house—all from the same PC you use for creating spreadsheets, reports and PowerPoint presentations. As long as your computer has the tools, you can make it do just about anything.
However, just because a computer can juggle multiple applications doesn’t mean that it really should. All those programs may make your machine run slower, and admit it: Who wants to huddle around a 17-inch screen to watch a two-hour movie? In a home office, it may be better to leave the movies and music to separate A/V equipment.
Start by investing in a 40-or-so-inch TV. A flat-panel plasma or LCD will keep your office looking sleek and modern.
Because video on these types of TVs looks crisp and vivid even when the lights are on, you can continue to work without sacrificing a good picture. If you’d like to mount the TV to the wall, be sure that the appropriate wall jacks and outlets are close by. If not, you may want to call in an electrician to install new jacks high on the wall directly behind the screen. Placing them there meansyou won’t have to string cabling down the wall to plug in the unit.
Many flat-panel TVs come with speakers, but those may not be enough if you’d also like to listen to music and enjoy movies in full surround sound. As long as you’re putting a TV on the wall, you might as well have a few speakers installed in the ceiling. In-wall versions are also available, but in-ceiling models are more inconspicuous, can be easier to install and are the best at playing background music. As long as they’re connected to the appropriate equipment, such as a surround-sound receiver and an audio switcher, these speakers can play music from your CD player as well as audio from your DVD player. And just imagine how much more realistic your video games will look and sound on a big-screen and surround-sound system.
Conceal Your Cords
Cords are a normal part of any home office, especially when you start adding entertainment equipment. Fortunately, there are ways to effectively conceal all that spaghetti. The simplest way to keep cabling under control is by locating the office desk and the A/V equipment as close to wall outlets as possible. Putting in a new electrical wall outlet may run you as much as $150 ($500 to put an outlet in the floor), so make sure you pin down the location of your office and A/V equipment early. In addition to new electrical outlets, that stack of entertainment components may need its own dedicated circuit breaker. Keeping your office equipment and entertainment equipment on separate circuits will ensure that everything in your office runs properly and that you can have your PC and TV on at the same time without overtaxing the equipment.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.