There are many options for concealing plasma displays. They can be broadly classified into moving and static categories.

What to do with that Plasma Display?

Jonathan Graham | Media Décor

What to do with that Plasma Display?
Jonathan Graham, President Media Décor

There are many options for concealing plasma displays. They can be broadly classified into moving and static categories.


What to do with that Plasma Display? Owners of large flat screen displays fall into 2 categories:

  1. "I paid $xxxxx for that screen and I like it the way it is"
  2. "I don't care what we paid for it, I don't want to see it when it is turned off"

If you are a type 'A', this article is not for you. If you are a type 'B', there are many options available, so please read on…

Before we get into the available options, let's consider the single largest subjective factor in why concealing the display is desirable: serenity.

It is far more than a visual or mechanical change when the TV is concealed; it changes the atmosphere of the room.

  • When the display is turned on, all attention is consciously or unconsciously directed towards the image on the display.
  • Once the display is turned off, there is silence, but unconsciously people's attention is drawn towards the black vacant screen.
  • Once the display is hidden or concealed, the silent visual magnetism of the plasma disappears and there is a serene sense of relief. This is not imaginary, it is real; and it has a dramatic effect on the décor and atmosphere of the room.

Of course, if we are talking about a separate home theater, none of the above necessarily applies, but that is another subject.

In all concealment systems, proper ventilation of the TV must be addressed early in the game. Inadequate ventilation will lead to premature failure of the TV or even worse. Companies such as Active Thermal Management (www.activethermal.com) specialize in addressing these problems and provide cooling solutions.

The Options:

Here are many options for concealing plasma displays. They can be broadly classified into moving and static categories:

Moving Category (Where the TV moves from set wall position)

  • Pop-Up Lift
  • Drop Down Lift
  • Folding Ceiling Lift

Sliding Art Frame Static Category (Where the TV basically stays in the same wall position)

  • Motorized Moving Art Frame
  • Robotic Moving Art Frame
  • Robotic Frame
  • Frame
  • Media-Mirror

The best option for you depends on the room, décor, cabinetry, size of plasma display, budget, and a host of other factors.

Auton Pop-Up lift Auton Drop down lift Auton Folding ceiling lift
Auton sliding frame Media Décor Motorized
Moving Art Frame
Media Décor Robotic
Moving Art Frame
Media Décor Robotic Frame Media Décor Frame Media Décor Media-Mirror™

(Auton illustrations courtesy of Auton™)

1. The pop-up lift is the oldest solution. It was originally used for larger CRT TV's. The mechanism is usually mounted in a cabinet. When the TV is turned on, it rises up to the top of the cabinet and conceals whatever is behind it.

(Photo courtesy of Auton™)

Competent carpentry is required to install it properly. When the unit is retracted in the down position, the false top must be flush to the surrounding top. This requires very accurate stops on the mechanism and a good woodworker. General costs including installation are about $4-6k, depending on the cabinetry.

This system works well if the concealing cabinet is planned well in advance, and storage space is not at a premium below the unit. It is especially suited to credenzas or in a chest at the foot of the bed for bedtime viewing. It is not well suited to mantles or free wall surfaces. Proper ventilation is not a concern unless the TV is turned on while inside the cabinet. A control system will prevent this.

The drop-down or pop down lift is essentially the opposite of the pop-up. The mechanism is concealed either in the ceiling or a cabinet soffit. When the TV is turned on, the mechanism lowers down from the cabinet work or ceiling above and conceals whatever is behind the TV.

(photos courtesy of Auton™ Lifts)

With this system, more extensive carpentry and planning are required. Plasma displays are deceptively heavy. Hence the structural requirements are rigid; once the unit is lowered, the ceiling or cabinet void above it must be carefully planned so it doesn't look like a hole in the ceiling. Of course a soffit will cover this up. Costs are higher for the drop-down system because of the carpentry and planning.

This system works well if it is planned in advance with an architect and designer. It can be used above mantles or most anywhere there is adequate room above it (at least 2-4', depending on the mechanism and plasma display size). Again, ventilation is a non-issue since the TV is in free air when being used.

2. The folding ceiling lift requires minimal depth in the ceiling (about 6-8" for a 42" Plasma). The TV literally folds down from the ceiling when being used. Some units will also tilt or swivel for optimum viewing once lowered. The 'WOW' factor is high, but so are the costs and planning.

Typically, folding ceiling lifts are better suited to custom motor homes and large yachts, where space is at a premium.

(Photos courtesy of Auton™ Lifts)

If a relatively small (20" or less) LCD TV or display is used, the smaller fold down mechanism comes into its own in residential use. For example, in the ceiling near the foot of a bed. Needless to say, it is ideal for crew and guest cabins on yachts and for custom motor homes.

The Sliding Art Frame or "IN-VIS-O-TRAK" from Auton™: At the touch of a hand-held transmitter, this product from Auton™ lets you conceal and reveal a recessed TV behind your favorite painting. There are no exposed tracks or wiring. Pressing a button on the remote moves your original artwork to reveal your TV.

The advantage of this system is that original artwork may be utilized. Since it is available in both horizontal (illustrated above) and vertical configurations, there is flexibility in finding space to move the painting. The installation must be done professionally and there must be enough horizontal or vertical free space for the painting when the TV is revealed.

The Motorized QC Art Frame from Media Décor is a 'stationary' solution patented to concealing the plasma display. When the TV is off, all that is seen is a framed piece of art. When the TV is on, the canvas retracts into the top of the frame and reveals the plasma TV with a wooden frame around it.


Artwork in Down Position

This type of concealment requires no special cabinetwork if the TV is surface mounted. It is generally mounted to the wall around the wall mounted plasma display. The plus to this type of unit is the wide variety of artwork, frames, and the ability to use your own artwork or photograph to fit the décor of the room when the TV is turned off. It is suitable for either surface or wall mounting or flush mounting. Recess or flush mounting does require cabinetwork. Original art may be painted on this canvas.


Artwork being retracted

The QX Robotic Moving Art Frame from Media Décor (Patent Pending) is unique. It is similar to the Moving Art above, but inside the unit is a robotic arm attached to the back of the TV. When the artwork furls up, the TV moves into the room and can be electronically swiveled, or tilted for the optimum viewing angle.

TV Off TV Energized
TV Moves into Room TV Swivels and Tilts

The advantages of this system are:

  • No special ventilation required
  • Tilt and swivel functions provide optimal on-axis viewing without loss of resolution, contrast or picture detail. Glare and reflection are greatly reduced or eliminated. Variable tilt-down allows simultaneous viewing on couch and floor. It is Ideal for fireplace installations.
  • High WOW factor
  • TV is concealed with artwork when not being viewed

The disadvantages are:

  • Cost
  • Depth requirements
  • A relatively intelligent control system is required.
  • Not a do-it-yourself product

The QFX Robotic Frame from Media Décor is identical to the Robotic Moving Art, except there is no moving art. Inside the unit is a robotic arm attached to the back of the TV. The TV moves into the room and can be electronically swiveled, or tilted for the optimum viewing angle.

TV Energized TV Swivels and Tilts

The advantages of this system are:

  • No need for ventilation
  • Universal Remote supplied with unit
  • Tilt and swivel functions provide optimal on-axis viewing without loss of resolution, contrast or picture detail. Glare and reflection are greatly reduced or eliminated. Variable tilt-down allows simultaneous viewing on couch and floor. It is Ideal for fireplace installations.
  • Low Cost

The disadvantages are:

  • Depth requirements
  • TV Screen is never concealed

The QF Frame from Media Décor is the simplest solution of all. It consists of a picture frame and wall enclosure. The wall enclosure is necessary because the TV must stand alone without additional weight or attachment to it. Attaching frames to expensive screens is not recommended because of warranty, weight, heat, and safety issues.

The advantages of this system are:

  • Lowest Cost
  • Simple Installation, unit does not touch TV
  • Sides of TV and wiring are hidden
  • External ventilation not required for on wall installations

The disadvantages are:

  • TV Screen is never concealed

The Media-Mirror™ is a new product developed and patented by Media Décor, LLC. In simple terms, it is a mirror when the TV is turned off and a TV when the TV is turned on.

Unlike 2 way mirrors, Media-Mirror features "Beam-Splitter" technology. Instead of a half-silvered coating, it has a high efficiency dielectric coating designed to transmit the TV picture at maximum brightness and reflect like a mirror when the TV is off. Its transmission is about 5 times that of conventional 2 way mirrors. The reflection specification is approximately the same as 2 way mirrors. The vastly higher level of picture fidelity and detail differences are dramatic (see below) and the cost is significantly higher. However, the Media-Mirror owner is rewarded with a vastly superior image and overall viewing experience.

The benefits of the Media-Mirror™ over a conventional 2 way mirror are relative ease of installation and the fact that when the TV is off, the Mirror will blend in with most any room décor. The difference in performance is significant. MediaMirror is not suitable for rooms with high ambient light.


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