June 02, 2009
by Steven Castle
Football is not just a one-screen affair in this house. The action can be on as many as eight video displays in the space alone.
Four 40-inch Sony LCDs flank a 52-incher in the lounge area, and three more 32-inch Sonys float over the bar. As if that’s not enough, there’s a 110-inch screen in the nearby home theater.
But back to the sports bar. These rooms were designed in a unique Hawaiian - Mediterranean fusion that reflects the heritage of the homeowners. Bringing these styles together to create an elegant sports bar was a unique challenge for the architect/builder W. Douglas Beims, who used African and sapele mahoganies for the woodwork and Canadian maple for the ceilings.
But an even bigger challenge was making the operation of eight different TVs simple and intuitive. “When you have multiple TVs in the room, it can be very complicated,” says Jay Basen, programming manager for custom electronics installer Gramophone, Timonium, Md. For real simplicity, the Crestron touchpanels feature buttons that turn on all the TVs to predefined choices, with a single press.
Each of the eight TVs can be also controlled separately. Each touchpanel has a screen that pictorially shows the TVs as they are mounted on the wall. “Touching the picture of a TV takes you to a screen where you can choose what to watch on that TV and then operate the selected source,” Basen explains. Each TV has a dedicated HD satellite receiver with a DVR. And there’s a whole-house DVD player that can feed any TV.
So what about sound? “Holding down the picture of a TV on the touchscreen for two seconds will switch the audio for the room to what is being shown on that TV,” Basen explains. Audio comes from four Niles MP6 in-ceiling speakers in the bar and four more in the lounge area, playing in stereo. Surround-sound action and Blu-ray are limited to the theater.
According to Basen, simplicity is the key in a multidisplay system. To make sure anyone can operate the system, instructions are included on the touchpanel so anyone can walk up and use the system.
In addition, the touchpanels allow control of the HVAC system, LiteTouch lighting system and the security cameras located around the house. To minimize interruptions, the Panasonic phone system can be used to talk to other family members around the house, or to answer a call from the door phone at the front driveway gate and remotely operate the gate to let in a visitor.
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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