Flat panel TVs look great hanging up on the wall, but what do you look for in a TV wall mount? Are they all the same? Yes, and no (you expected a simple answer?).
First, you need to figure out how and where you want to mount your TV. If your TV is going to be right at eye level, then a basic, low-profile, fixed mount will likely serve your purposes just fine.
If your TV is going to be above eye level, then you should look for a tilting mount that allows you to tilt the TV forward a little bit to angle it toward the viewers. This will help improve the picture by reducing the brightness lost by viewing off angle (off-angle viewing can also disrupt 3D performance). People who insist on mounting their TVs above a fireplace should get a titling mount to help reduce the next strain of looking up all the time. If your TV’s inputs are behind the TV (and hard to reach) then you should get a tilting mount even if you don’t plan to tilt the TV. It’s a lot easier to reach a rear HDMI input by just tilting the TV up a little vs. removing the TV from the wall.
A less common mount, the full articulating mount, allows you to pull your TV out from the wall and move up, down and side to side. This kind of mount is useful if you put your TV in a room that may have more than one primary viewing positions or if you have to mount your TV in a place that’s not ideal for viewing. Kitchens and bedrooms are the primary rooms where full articulating mounts get used. A kitchen viewer may be seated at the table or working at the counter, so the ability to position the TV toward the viewer is crucial. It’s also handy to be able to tuck the TV away against the wall when it’s not being used. There are both single and double arm full-motion mounts, and the one you need will depend on the size and weight of your TV.
If you browse online and in physical stores, you’ll notice that TV wall mount prices can vary greatly. A little of that is due to the differences in brand—some brands are expensive and some are inexpensive—but more often it’s due to feature and build quality.
If your flat panel TV is only 30 pounds, you don’t need something built like an aircraft carrier to hold it up. Let’s face it, TVs are getting very, very light. As a person who reviews lots of TVs, I’m happy about this trend. Years ago I had to recruit help to move heavy 42-inch plasma TVs. Now I can lift a 60-inch LED LCD TV myself. This trend also has resulted in slimmer and lighter TV mounts.
Most TVs have bolt holes on the back that conform to VESA standards, and you can look up in the instruction manual which VESA mounting pattern your TV has and match it to a mount that supports the same one, and is also rated to support your TV’s weight. Most of the major mount manufacturers have a product recommendation features on their web sites so you can find the correct matching mount.
Here are a few things that can differentiate a good mount from a not-so-good one:
– Included hardware — make sure the mount kit has all the hardware for the job, and that it’s good quality. Cheap lag bolts can bend or break under strain. Also make sure that the kit includes hardware for different kinds of wall materials and studs.
– Post-mount adjustment — better mounts allow you to slightly shift the TV from side to side, sometimes even up or down, after it’s on the wall. Some slight side to side adjustment is helpful if your studs weren’t in exactly the right place.
– Post-mount leveling — this is very important. It’s a terrible feeling to have gone through all the work of drilling holes and attaching the TV only to find out that it’s ever-so-slightly crooked. A mount with a leveling feature will make you look like a pro.
– Locking — If you worry about theft, then look for a mount that will accept a small lock to keep the TV safe.
If you don’t need to tilt your TV toward you, and it’s a very large TV, this Omnimount will hold TVs up to 175 pounds and 90 inches. It fits fairly snuggly to the wall but allows enough room for cables. A lift-n-lock feature keeps the TV firmly in place. Once hung, the TV can be adjusted vertically left and right, but there’s no post-installation leveling. About $130.
OmniMount also has a new fixed wall mount with post-install leveling, the OE200F.
Perfect for most living room TVs, the Sanus VMPL50A tilting mount fits TVs up to 70 inches. Once installed, the TV tilts smoothly while staying secure (I know, because I have a TV on this mount). TVs can be adjusted slightly vertically, horizontally and leveled after installation. About $90
The Monoprice 10456 wall mount is ideal for smaller TVs in kitchens, dens or bedrooms where 180 degree adjustability is important. It can even be rotated between landscape and portrait mode (though I don’t know why you’d want to do that). It can extend up to 16 inches from the wall and holds TVs up to 44 pounds. Attaches to one wall stud. $31.71