While most shoppers focus their efforts on selecting precisely the right 3D TV to meet their needs and budget, too many overlook the importance of mounts and accessories in the 3D viewing experience. Without the right mount, viewing position, cabling and glasses, it’s virtually impossible to achieve the authentic, immersive experience most 3D enthusiasts desire. Ultimately, the 3D experience is only as good as the weakest link.

Beyond the TV: Choosing the Right Mount, Accessories to Maximize the 3D Experience

Brian Eble | Peerless Mounts

June 2010

Beyond the TV: Choosing the Right Mount, Accessories to Maximize the 3D Experience

Author: Brian Eble, Peerless Mounts

Fueled by the popularity of James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar, 3D TVs have become all the rage in the home theater market. In fact, the major manufacturers can hardly keep up with demand—both Panasonic and Samsung sold out their entire stock of 3D TVs within a week of their launch. Maintaining inventory continues to be a challenge for retailers, despite the still relatively small amount of 3D content readily available. The popularity of this new technology confirms that, even in a tough economy, innovation remains a driving force in consumer spending habits. Once reserved for the wealthy, home theater systems have become more accessible for the average consumer, driving the demand for 3D technology and content. While most shoppers focus their efforts on selecting precisely the right 3D TV to meet their needs and budget, too many overlook the importance of mounts and accessories in the 3D viewing experience. Without the right mount, viewing position, cabling and glasses, it’s virtually impossible to achieve the authentic, immersive experience most 3D enthusiasts desire. Ultimately, the 3D experience is only as good as the weakest link.

Proper Mounting Drives Viewing Experience
The right mount is crucial to achieving the proper viewing position to get the best possible experience from any 3D TV. The best TV technology on the market simply will not deliver this exceptional view without careful attention being paid to the height and angle of the television. Today’s active shutter 3D technology results in a “sweet spot” from which the set must be viewed to fully experience the 3D effect. If viewed off-axis, the experience is lost.

Many consumers are unaware that other mounting options exist beyond the stock mounts provided by the TV manufacturer or in-store recommendations. It’s a good idea to investigate mounting options before purchasing the TV instead of making a hasty decision as the stock clerk is hauling your new set to the car.

Choosing the Mount
When selecting a mount, consider not only the size of the room, seating arrangements and style of furniture, but also room lighting and the viewing options you may need. TV and movie viewing will likely take place from a seated position, but 3D gamers may prefer to stand.

For the best flexibility, an articulating mount provides the most viewing options, making it easy to see the TV at the proper angle from just about anywhere in the room. In addition to flat on the wall, the articulating mount allows the TV to be moved out off the wall and turned as much as 90 degrees to either side. Some models also tilt up and down for viewing at different heights—ideal for the 3D movie lover and gamer.

Articulating mounts are also ideal for smaller rooms in which you may want to position the TV in the corner. And, since it’s not likely that you’ll want to watch everything with the curtains or shades drawn, they also enable you to position the TV better to avoid light glare.

If low-profile mounting is desired, choose an ultra-slim form factor product that seemingly disappears behind the TV. Several models in the ultra-slim line provide all the flexibility you’ll ever need, discretely, without detracting from the aesthetics of the room.

Mounting Height
Often, do-it-yourself installers make the mistake of mounting the TV too high on the wall. Why? Because they mount it from a standing position. It may look great while standing, but the moment you settle into your favorite recliner with a bowl of popcorn, it becomes obvious the set is too high. This not only detracts from the 3D experience, but can also result in neck and back strain.

To achieve the right mounting height: first, get comfortable. Sit on the couch or chair in the position from which you’ll likely view the TV. From this vantage point, use a mount template or visual guide to spot the intended position of the TV on the wall so that the center of the screen  is just above eye-level. Some mount manufactures provide guides with their products to aid in this process.

For situations that require a bit higher mounting—architectural features like wainscoting or when mounting overtop a fireplace is desired, tilt mounts provide the flexibility needed to reposition the TV vertically to achieve the best viewing angle from a seated or standing position.

Mount Security
Once you’ve found the ideal position, locate the wall studs for mounting.  DO NOT attempt to mount the TV to the drywall, even for lightweight TVs. Over time, the drywall will pull free, which could allow the TV to fall, causing damage to both it and the wall. Only mount the TV to a wooden or metal stud or a cement/cinder block wall. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Commonly, the studs will not be in exactly the right location for optimum mounting position. In this case, a mount that enables horizontal adjustability can solve the issue. Some provide as much as 8” of adjustment left-to-right to help anchor the mount and position the TV properly.

When choosing a mount, consider strength and security. Choose a high-quality mount that’s tested and certified for maximum safety and reliability. Not only do you want to protect your 3D TV investment, but you’ll also want to protect it from “little hands” that learn all too soon how to push buttons—both literally and figuratively. You certainly don’t want them to pull a heavy set over on themselves and risk injury. Peerless Industries, for example, manufactures nearly 90% of its mounts in the U.S. and is one of only two manufacturers that is an accredidted UL mount safety testing facility.

Cabling
As with the mounting hardware, the 3D experience will only be as good as the cable delivering the signal. A new cable format, HDMI 1.4, recently launched with even greater bandwidth capability designed specifically to handle the demands of 3D technology. All new TVs and AV receivers will feature the full HDMI 1.4 capability.

However, retailers are stock full of the older version HDMI 1 cables, which cannot handle the demand of current 3D technology. If you don’t specifically ask for the 1.4 spec, you may end up with a cable that simply cannot deliver the complete 3D experience. Since there are various versions of the HDMI 1.4 spec cable so make sure to ask for the HDMI 1.4 cable that has the highest speed, bandwidth and should have the Ethernet built in. This will provide you with the peace of mind that you have made the best choice possible for the highest quality 3D experience. In fact, if you’re in the market for a TV, but not keen on the 3D feature, it may be wise to buy the 1.4 cable anyway to “future proof” your investment.

In keeping with the “ultra-thin” trend, a new line of slim cables is also on the market that can be plugged straight into the thinnest TV with a tight 90-degree angle on the cable to keep the TV as close to the wall as possible.

The Glasses
3D technology has evolved well beyond the blue/red paper glasses of yesteryear. As you’re planning your 3D theater investment, don’t skimp on the glasses. Purchase the highest-quality glasses you can afford because without them, you’ll certainly miss out on the full 3D experience.

By considering all aspects of the 3D theater system, from the mount to the cable and the glasses, you’ll be assured a more immersive--and impressive--3D experience. The most important factor is to do your homework beyond the TV before you enter the store. By knowing the options in advance, you can optimize your home theater experience right out of the box, with no regrets down the road.

Brian Eble has been heavily involved in the consumer electronics industry for over 20 years. He has worn many hats at various companies in the space, from marketing director to corporate management to owning his own branding company. Brian can be reached at beble@peerlessmounts.com.


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