May 03, 2010
by Steven Castle
The pictures say it all. Three 65-inch Panasonic plasma HDTVs, flush-mounted side-by-side, form a video wall that can display content from 18 different sources. Look even more closely, and you’ll find that all the TVs in this Manhattan apartment are not only flush-mounted in the walls, the walls even cover the TVs’ bezels so only the screens remain visible. The skyline views out of the windows are pretty nice, as well.
(Click here to view additional photos)
But it was the eye candy inside this 2,400-square-foot spread that was of most concern to the homeowners - or at least the tech-savvy man of the house, whose living room man cave with its video multiplex of sources is the envy of any audio/video enthusiast.
“He had a set-up in his previous home with 12 tube TVs and a video matrix so he could watch all these different shows on them,” says John Montgomery of custom electronics (CE) pro EDG of Piscataway, N.J. Needless to say, this video matrix is a huge upgrade.
The homeowner can choose among feeds from up to 24 different video sources, including 18 cable boxes (three of which have DVRs), three DVD players and three Mac minis. The sources are routed through an Extron matrix switcher and an RGB Spectrum picture-in-picture processor that multiplexes them and allows six outputs to each of the TVs. He can view 18 sources - or 18 different channels simultaneously - with six per screen or one large picture in the middle and with six options shown on each side.
Although the TVs will show 18 video feeds at a time, he can choose among all 24, says Montgomery. That includes a high-def Blu-ray player. And if he has someone over to give a presentation, he can use his Crestron touchpanel to dig a little deeper and summon the video feed from one of the Mac minis.
This tech-happy guy doesn’t mind digging down through home control screens. He’s a tinkerer. “He wanted it complex enough so he could go in and play around, but simple enough so his wife could come in and press one button,” says Montgomery.
When the lady of this video house wishes to watch something in the living room, she indeed presses just one button, and the three 65-inch plasmas are filled with pictures from a DVR on the center screen, flanked by two of the DVD sources. Though she may opt to watch any one of the other flush-mounted TVs in the apartment.
More than Flush
Each of the 11 TVs in the apartment is completely flush-mounted - going so far as to hide the bezels. And while that provides a strikingly clean appearance, it’s hardly the ideal installation. That’s because with the exception of the screens, the TVs had to be fully enclosed in the walls, making access for servicing difficult.
“In a normal world, it would be the last thing we would do, but the architect and homeowner wanted it this way,” says Montgomery. EDG had to go through a rear wall to service one TV. The TVs are ventilated into cavities in the walls above the units.
Installation of the TVs had to take place before the Sheetrock went up EDG had to make sure the wiring and all the connections were perfect as well, because servicing would require making holes or disassembling a wall.
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