Mounting Solutions For The Thin
It’s been a while since HD Guru has looked at the task of wall-mounting a flat-panel TV and in that time screen sizes have gotten a lot thinner and generally larger, so, it was high time to take another look.
What’s significantly different this year from previous years is panel depth. Sony, LG, Samsung and others have revealed a few new sets for 2015 with unbelievably thin panel depths – well under an inch in some cases – making the TVs both lighter and more visually appealing.
The idea behind some of these designs is to give the set a low profile while mounted to the wall, so the TV and its narrow-bezel (frame) around the screen appear as a picture floating in space. Well, if you squint your eyes after a few cocktails, maybe.
More on thin-screen TV wall mounting after the jump:
Although most TV manufacturers have greatly reduced their LED-LCD TV screen depths, LG and Sony have set the bar a little higher with ultra-thin panel TVs measuring as thin as 0.2 inches deep this year. Samsung also has thin-panel curved-screen LED TV models that may not provide the flattest profiles, but still require the right mounting application to give the proper presentation.
LG set the ultra-thin-panel trend in action a couple of years ago with the introduction of its first organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TVs that afforded dramatically thinner screen designs (down to 0.177 inches). LG is currently the only consumer electronics TV manufacturer selling OLED TVs and offers a choice of flat or curved-screen styles.
Like rivals Sony and Samsung, LG also set to work to develop similarly thin LED LCD TV, and introduced at 2015 International CES its Art Slim LED LCD TV line with panel depths as thin as 0.295 inches.
Recognizing that thin-panel TVs look amazing mounted on walls, TV manufacturers have developed mounts to help the TV maintain the appearance of a picture hung on the wall. In some cases, the mounts also provide panel stability after mounting to avoid damage from accidental bending or twisting of the screen.
Location, Location, Location
Before getting started, a word to the wise: mounting a flat-panel TV isn’t the hardest task and there are a few solutions that make the process even easier, but if you aren’t exactly comfortable doing basic home repairs, it may be worth a few extra bucks (about $200 depending on the job) to hire a professional installer through a service like Amazon Home Services.
As with earlier TVs, placing the set on a wall or structure where heat, humidity and cold temperatures might exist is never a good idea – unless you have a TV specially constructed for all-weather use (and these are rarely ultra-thin).
As before, mounting a flat-panel set above a fireplace is rarely a safe option if you’re planning to keep the set working for any length of time. First and foremost, heat and electronics don’t mix well. There might be ways to do this safely, but you’re best off paying a professional to make sure it’s done properly. Drilling holes incorrectly into masonry can make for a very bad day. It’s also a good idea to check your local building codes before you go drilling holes into wall studs. Regulations provide the safest practices and specify things like bolt sizes etc. to help keep your roof from coming down.
If you are mounting a LCD set, you will want to minimize the angle of view to enjoy the best picture, so that means keeping the set low enough on the wall that it sits close to your line of sight. This will ensure the image remains sharp and colorful. If you happen to have snagged one of the last remaining plasma sets or you have an OLED screen, the viewing-angle issue isn’t as much of an issue because the screens provide very wide off-axis viewing angles, but it’s still a good idea not to mount the TV so high that you risk getting a stiff neck while viewing.
Finding the right bracket to mount the set can also help to minimize off-angle viewing. So if you need to place an LCD up above the typical line-of-sight it’s wise to invest in a mount that tilts the screen downward, or better yet, has an articulating arm that allows you to position the screen at virtually any angle. Just keep in mind that for the thinnest mounting profiles, a stationary mount is often the best bet, and in several forth-coming very thin screen displays, the manufacturer will sell, or in some cases, even include the mounting bracket with the TV.
Sony, for example, for its forthcoming XBR-65X900C and XBR-75X910C ultra-thin edge-lit LED- LCD TVs, has developed a stationary wall bracket that at its thickest point enables the TV to stand out no farther from the wall than the length of a Chapstick container. The bracket is supplied with the set.
Philip Jones, Sony TV product information manager, explained that Sony added the wall mount because the sets are so thin that a normal bracket would be wider than the thickness of the TV itself.
The mount uses a traditional VESA-standard bracket (the holes match up with the back of the TV) but it comes with a special system, “enabling the shallowest mounting TV that’s ever been made. A painting hung on the wall would standout farther from that wall than the TV,” Jones said.
Similarly, Samsung includes wall-mount adapters with some of its TVs, including those that are 85 inches and above, as well as with its curved design TVs. These adapters are designed and engineered with screen size and weight loads in mind and can be used for supporting any Samsung-branded or third-party wall mounts, according to a company spokesman.
Samsung also offers unique “mini-mounts” designed to minimize the gap between the wall and the back of the TV for ultra-thin TV mounting applications.
Meanwhile, OLED TV mounting may be a little trickier. Tim Alessi, LG Electronics new product development director, said that “most of LG’s LCD TVs are VESA compatible and can be mounted using a wide variety of the third-party wall mounts that are available. However, LG OLED TVs require specially designed LG wall mounts.”
Alessi referred interested OLED TV purchasers to www.lg.com for a listing of mounts and compatible OLED models. He said LG’s OLED mounts are specially designed for thin-wall mounting profiles. Also, take care handling the OLED set. Although OLED technology is heading for flexible displays, most of LG’s 2015 OLED sets aren’t flexible yet, and we stress, those screens are very, very thin.
For DIYers, regardless of weight, a flat-panel TV should be mounted across at least two wall studs, which can be located using any number of electronic or magnetic stud finders. It’s always best to avoid Molly bolts, toggle blots and wall anchors especially for larger screen sizes. As we mentioned earlier, Samsung also supplies a few mini-mount options to help when the studs don’t align with placement plans.
Once you’ve located the studs behind the section of wall where the TV is to be hung, measure the height where the TV is to be positioned, locate the corresponding holes in the mount for one stud, then use the bracket and a level to find the right spot to drill holes in the second stud (the typical distance between studs is 16 inches on center).
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The Other Gear
You’ll also want to figure out what you want to do about wires and out-boarded components like cable boxes, A/V receivers and so forth. Typically if a lot of gear is required, it’s best to set up an A/V cabinet or table directly below TV. This will help store and position components, like AV receivers, cable and satellite TV boxes, center channel speakers etc., that can fit inside the furnishing. From there wires can be run up to the set either over or behind the wall, depending on how involved you want to get and how slick you want the installation to look.
Running wires to components in another room is a little trickier, and may require running lines between studs into the ceiling or attic or down into the basement or floorboards.
One solution is to use one of several wireless HDMI distribution systems on the market like the Nyrius Aries Prime digital wireless HDMI transmitter/receiver to connect the TV to an A/V receiver without the need for an HDMI cable. But you’ll still have to figure out a solution for the power cord. Wireless HDMI transmitters don’t always work well when transmitting through walls, so this is a better solution for components in the same room as the TV.
Another option is to run a power cable (along with source connection cables if desired) behind the wall to a special junction receptacle, like the PowerBridge TSPBIW-6-WH. This provides a box behind the TV for power and source cables and a receptacle on the wall near the floor where a simple three-prong electrical cord can be connected between the junction receptacle and a nearby power outlet. Wah-lah! No need to call the electrician.
An easier option, though less aesthetically pleasing, is wire concealers, like the Belkin Hideaway. These use a piece of white or paintable plastic running down from the TV to cover over the dangling wires. In addition to being easy, they don’t involve cutting any holes in the dry wall, which may be something if you ever plan to sell your house.
If you have a new curved-screen or flat-panel set that didn’t come supplied with its own mounting bracket, you’ll need to get one from a third-party manufacturer there are many styles, options and manufacturers.
Chances are a mount from a third party won’t provide as thin a profile as the mount supplied with an ultra-thin set, but this aftermarket gear will often support a range of features for positioning screen angles after mounting.
If your set didn’t include a mount (and most don’t), you can select from a wide variety of options ranging from fixed-position mounts like the Chief PST ($39) to articulating thin-profile mounts like the Peerless-AV Ultra Slim Art Arm ($236.98), pictured below, that lets you pull the screen out for a better look from an adjacent room or low-seating position. Other mounts are available with articulating swivel arms, like the new Peerless-AV Designer Series mounts (pictured at top).
Regardless of whether the TV is a curved-screen or flat, many third-party mounts are designed to handle them.
According to Samsung, curved TVs are no different than a traditional flat-screen design for wall mounting. The wall mount solutions that serve a flat-panel TV will also support the installation for wall mounting a curved design TV.
But, mount suppliers recommend taking a few precautions when buying a mount for a specific model.
“Most Peerless-AV mounts work with the curved displays,” said Mike Luttrell, Peerless-AV sales application engineer. “Depending on the screen make and model, some curved displays will need additional hardware, but Peerless-AV can accommodate that need.”
Peerless-AV recommends that anyone looking to install a curved TV “work with our Customer Care team to find the best solution to meet your needs.” Luttrell said.
By Greg Tarr
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