The holidays have come to a close, and if you're one of those lucky Nice-Listers who was treated to an HDTV, you're undoubtedly chomping at the bit to set up that new Plasma or LCD screen and immerse yourself in the high-def lifestyle. But if you've taken the HDTV out of its box and now find yourself a little unsure of how to proceed, don't worry. CableOrganizer.com has put together a checklist of tips, accessories and money-saving suggestions that are sure to remove the "now what?" factor from first-time HDTV ownership.
First things first, HD fans: if you’re planning on hanging that new flat screen on the wall or from the ceiling, you’re going to need a strong and secure monitor mount. But before you buy the first one that you see, consider the fact that there are several different types of screen mounts out there, and that each functions a little differently based on how you want your screen to be positioned in relation to your viewing area.
Fixed: As long as you won’t need to swivel or reposition your flat screen to achieve different viewing angles, the basic fixed monitor mount is a terrific choice for wall-mounting high-def televisions. While they may not seem very exciting compared to some of the mobile screen mounts, fixed mounts not only keep HDTVs snugly against the wall and out of the way, they also provide excellent support, and won’t allow the screen to tip over.
Tilting: If you’re planning on hanging your new HDTV high on a wall, a tilting monitor mount will allow you to angle the screen as needed, so that viewers down below can get a good look at it without straining their eyes or necks. Many mounts in this category provide around 15° of tilt (up, down, right and left), and some models even feature tension knobs that lock the screen in place once the desired angle is achieved.
Swinging Arm: Not only can swinging arm mounts move flat screen displays closer to or further away from the wall, they also have the ability to tilt or swivel them in any direction. With a range of motion like that, swinging arm mounts are perfect for use in great rooms and other multipurpose spaces in which you may want to vary screen placement according to which part of the room you’ll be viewing from.
Ceiling: If you want to forgo entertainment centers and wall mounts in favor of suspending your flat-panel TV in midair, a ceiling mount is definitely the way to go. Because they require nothing more than overhead joists for support, ceiling mounts make it possible to install a flat screen anywhere in a room, independent of both walls and furniture. And did we mention that they also let you rotate your screen up to 360°?
Once you have your HDTV situated exactly where you want it, it’s time to think about connection. High-definition TVs call for high-def cables – and that means HDMI. As you shop for HDMI cables, beware of people who will tell you that high-end boutique cables are the only way to go. HDMI cables aren’t status symbols – they exist to move signals from your DVD player to your TV. And besides, when it comes to HDMI, certification is the name of the game.
It doesn’t matter how fancy the packaging is or how recognizable the brand – the only true indicator of a cable’s performance is whether or not it’s HDMI-certified. That said, why waste your hard-earned cash on window dressing when you can benefit from the really important features of HDMI for a fraction of the cost? While some A/V retailers would have you pay over $130 for a 6-foot HDMI cable, we offer a comparable HDMI cable for only $11.45 – complete with the same HDMI 1.3 certification and gold-plated connectors.
A wall-mounted flat screen TV is a thing of beauty, so don’t let trailing cables ruin the effect. Because the focal point of your high-def setup should be the screen and not the wires connected to it, cable management is a must-have for any HDTV. Our favorite is the Wiring Solution, a low-profile cable channel that is placed vertically under a wall-mounted screen to conceal home theater cables as they run between the television and the entertainment center below. And since it’s available in smooth or textured finishes and arrives primed and ready to paint, the Wiring Solution can easily “disappear” into your wall.
While electricity gets the credit for bringing your HDTV and other home electronics to life, it can also be the death of them should power levels suddenly spike. High definition televisions are full of sensitive electrical components that can be instantly destroyed if exposed to power surges caused by lightning strikes, short circuits and electromagnetic pulses, so it’s extremely important that you protect your investment with a home theater surge protector.
A surge protector is a power distribution unit that acts like a circuit breaker between your wall outlet and HDTV; if a power spike suddenly charges through your home’s circuits, the surge protector intercepts and grounds excess voltage before it has the chance to reach – and do damage to – delicate electronics. We recommend that you plug into protection with home theater surge suppressors by Power Squid® or Tripp-Lite.
Screen Cleaning Supplies
Whether dust or fingerprints turn out to be the culprit, sooner or later that pristine new HDTV is going to get dirty. And when that day comes, the last things you should reach for are rubbing alcohol, glass cleaner, and paper towels, all of which can damage delicate high definition screens. Instead, stick with synthetic-based microfiber cloths (which are free from scratchy wood-based fibers), and ammonia-free screen cleaners that are specially formulated for Plasma and LCD displays.