One of the big advantages of the sexy new plasma television sets is their ability to be mounted or placed just about anywhere, therefore opening up limitless possibilities for making your decor a smashing success or an unmitigated disaster.
To add to your stress level there are many technical aspects to consider that are indeed quite "technical". However there are a few simple guidelines that will help you save your sanity (and for God's sake don't leave the decisions up to your 15 year old teenager)
Size does matter
Due to the society of greed and avarice in which we live, people want to buy the absolutely most gigantic TV they can afford. This is great if you live in a Hefner size Mansion but not so great in a tiny yurt. Size does matter - but it is the room size that is important. If you to sit too close to a large screen the pixels will appear as an attacking force and "Braveheart" will suddenly be a bit too intense. Sit too far away and your eyes will no longer be able to resolve all the picture detail, leading to much confusion as to which Bond this one is. So when you are tackling this question remember the following handy equation:
The nearest TV viewing distance should be twice the width of the screen size. (ie cuddly loveseat)
The furthest distance should be no more than five times the width of your screen. (ie huge man-eating sectional)
It's also valuable to use greatly researched personality types in making your decision. Do most of your family members, friends or freeloaders like to sit in the first few rows, middle rows or at the back of a movie theatre? Of course once you offer them free bevvies they won't care where the TV is.
Above & Beyond
The next great debate is how high should you place or hang your plasma tv. If you "Hang'em High" (apologies to Clint) you could risk lawsuits from your friends because of neck strain injuries caused while watching a 3 hour epic. The height standard for televsions used to be eye level (while sitting in your favoute chair) but there now seems to be varying opinions for many reasons.
If you want your TV to be the central focus of the room and you already have your large fireplace as the central focus....guess what - one option. This brings up the afore mentioned neck strains. 30 degrees is an acceptable maximum angle for looking up at the centre of the TV. Having said that don't run out and buy a protractor yet.
Many people also treat their great rooms as Grand Central Station with family constantly coming and going and the TV constantly on with their favorite anchor telling them of the latest political debacle. In this case the over fire option makes perfect sense as these folks will likely be standing. Heed must be given to temperature however as nothing says home cooking like a melting plasma. Here's the drill:
Take a thermometer and stick it to the wall above the mantel in the place where the plasma TV will live. Grab the marshmallows, build a fire and let the sucker roar for half and hour. Now get up, put down your drink, stride confidently over and check the thermometer. If the temperature is above 90 degrees F (that's 30 degress celcius for those above the 49th parallel) then your TV will definitely be part of the evening's menu. One thing to add - this only applies if the TV is on during the flaming process. If you promise, without fingers crossed, to never have the TV on during fires then you obviously don't live where I do and you'd be fine to hang it there.
Keep in mind that those pesky components (dvd player, cable box, vcr - just kidding - surround sound system, etc.) must go somewhere. It's just not right to have to go into the kitchen cupboards in order to watch things blow up frame by frame. Also beware of just using those built-in speakers as your only source for audio. It's quite disturbing to sit down to "Walk the Line" and hear Peewee Herman come out of the speakers. Never fear - the answer lies ahead....
So the obvious answer here is hanging the TV on a wall above (or placing it on top of) a cabinet or stand in which the components can nestle. Oh I know what you're thinking - how boring and mundane and just like the Robertsons across the street. Did you know both the Robertsons have PHd's? This option might take up some space in the room in which we love to impress others, but it does give you the most options in hiding those beastly boxes.
*** One of those wonderful options is that now you are not stuck only considering a plasma TV and can open your mind to the possibility of an LCD TV (they are a bit thicker and can't hang on the wall, but sit nice and calmly on any sturdy well-built cabinet) For more details on LCD's speak with that nice young man at that electronic store at the Plaza.
You have an empty corner. You say "I think it would be really great to cram the TV in that empty corner over there." Fine. Go for it. But remember fellow videophile that you don't get the benefits of the thin screen (as opposed to flat, which is simply flat and could still be 3 ft deep) as your angles will take up almost the same space as the old behemoth you're replacing. If you don't believe me take a moment and get that protractor, or just spend a bit more time around pool halls. Tis also much more difficult to hang it in the corner, wouldn't we agree? I await clever emails to tell me how wrong I am.
I have witnessed a few other options. There is a sleak and clever rotating stand that can be raised and lowered and rotated 360 degrees - just remember you'll need a chair with wheels in case it starts to malfunction.
There's also hydraulics, meaning the TV appears magically from a cabinet like Chris Angel and disappears again with the push of a button when you tire of it. If you can afford either of these options please let me know what you do for a living as I would like to have your job.
So to review: Base the TV size on the room size; Base the TV placement on your dearly beloved's viewing habits and let's not lose any more sleep on this one. How will you know who deserves the Oscars if you don't start getting through those DVDs?
*** The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and are not endorsed by Greentea Design. There is however some darn useful information if you can get through the sauciness. Please send any comments or opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org and who knows - Mr. Dreffel might even deign to read them
"Do most of your family members, friends or freeloaders like to sit in the first few rows, middle rows or at the back of a movie theatre?"