Installing a television set ain't what it used to be! I know! After much deliberation over where we would put it, we finally decided to get a big flat screen TV for the family room!. For years, I've enjoyed my Sony TV, which is rather large in comparison to regular TV's, but it's just not a flatscreen!
My oldest son, Joshua, decided to give us an Apple TV device for Christmas last year. It sat on our entertainment console for the better part of a year because we couldn't hook it up! It requires an HDMI interface, something you won't find on the older regular television sets. In frustration, and after upgrading himself, Joshua gave us a small flatscreen TV he had so we could try the new technology out and see. We hooked it up to cable, brought out the Apple TV, and viola'! Fantastic! So ... we're "sold"!
For Christmas this year, we stepped out and purchased a 60-inch flatscreen TV made by Vizio. The reason being, we have decided to place the new flatscreen TV in the space above our fireplace where you hang pictures. It is just a couple of inches beyond 60 inches wide, so a 60-inch was a "perfect fit"!
This being my first run, I had never taken into account of all of the options, features and capabilities of a flatscreen TV. In my usual fashion, we have to utilize "everything" that this new TV will do! This is where it gets complicated.
The space above our fireplace, on the wall, is an inset area of approximately 62 inches wide, allowing the TV to mount perfectly, with space above and below to account for the SKYPE camera, webcam, a possible XBox "Kinect" device, etc. I decided to put a wall mount that swings out, to allow connections, troubleshooting, etc. without a major ordeal in removal and re-installation each time. What I didn't realize was all of the many options that a flatscreen TV has!
In a retro (normal) TV entertainment system, you have a tuner amp that switches all of the devices, and interconnects them all together ... DVD, VHS, Billy-Ray player, etc. but with the flatscreen, the screen itself can do all of this switching, making your life simpler by cutting the number of remotes down to only 2 - one for the TV and one for the satellite device.
Our flatscreen, since it's mounting up on the fireplace wall, will have to have cables run for each and every option, running into the wall behind the TV, up into the attic, and down into the adjacent wall to a wallplate where the cables will exit and connect to the various devices we may want to utilize with it! This was proving to be a BIG project!
Our Vizio 60-inch flatscreen has 4 HDMI jacks, stereo audio output jacks, composite input jacks (video, and left and right audio), 2 USB ports, a fiber audio port, just to name a few! Now if you go to the store locally and ask for a 25 foot HDMI cable, get out your checkbook! I quickly realized that this was NOT going to be a one-day project. My younger son, John, is a big fan of shopping on Amazon, so taking his advice, I decided to order all of our cabling online. In 25-foot lengths, I was able to get all of the cabling we needed at a price equivalent to the locally priced 4 HDMI cables alone! "Thank you" John! A big savings!
Next, I went to Fry Electronics, locally, and purchased 2 25-foot spools of cable flex-wrap. This stuff looks like a black tube, about an inch in diameter, and with the slit that runs along one side, you simply insert your cabling into this tube. It keeps it all together, prevents clutter, and protects your cables, all the while keeping them together in a neat "HUGE" 1-inch thick cable bundle. Now with all of the cables I ordered, this all would have fit easily, but I also ordered a power cable extension (you've got to power this thing, you know), a coax antenna cable extension, and even a computer SVGA cable! This cable bundle was now larger than the tubing, and I had to come up with something.
I decided to put it all in (as much as would fit) and then use the other spool of cable for the rest, and piggyback that tubing onto the 1st tubing and cable bundle. Now, the cable bundle is about an inch to an inch and a half! By wrapping it in electrical tape about every 6-12 inches, it kept the cabling looking pretty good, if I do say so myself! Given all of the connections in here, and cables for later possible connections, I am patting myself on the back for making all of this bundle up so neatly! Now all I have to do is run this through the wall, to the other area for the entertainment devices, and we're in business!
Given the size and complexity, not to mention the importance of all of these connection feeds, I have decided to call this new cable creation of mind: "the spinal cord". After all, this actually connects "everything" to the TV - power, cable signals, HDMI feeds, USB feeds, fiber-optic audio feed (to the sound system we will now have to buy!), etc. and it even has the SVGA feed to use the TV with a PC computer! I figured we'd get an Apple Mac-mini and hook it up to the TV. With Bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse, we can use it as a computer also, right there from the coffee table.*
*NOTE: I have since discovered that my wife now wants to ditch our western-styled coffee table (my pride and joy) and the matching end tables, and get new stuff ... uh, to go with the new entertainment system! The cost of this is really beginning to add up!
Now comes the kicker! After getting the new swing-out wall mount for the TV, and after getting the cabling installed and run through the wall to the entertainment system area, my wife has decided that the entertainment cabinet has to go too! (I saved my country-style furniture by moving it to "The Man Cave")
And before I could get it all working and ready, I found out that Vizio has yet to release the app that makes SKYPE run on the TV! They advertised the TV to work with SKYPE. We even spent about $75 bucks to get the VIZIO BRAND camera that they said was required to work with SKYPE. But, when I tried to go in and set it all up (there's a video on YouTube that tells you how to do this), I could not find the app. A quick call to Vizio, and my heart stopped! "WHAT!" "No SKYPE!" It seems that I am now help prisoner by Vizio as I wait for them to develop a SKYPE app for this 60" and 70" model flatscreen TV's. It seems the app they have did not play well with these larger sets, so they are having to re-design it.
Not to worry! Remember all of those cables I've run? Well, one of those that I ran was an extension USB cable, and it terminates just under the Vizio Camera location. All I have to do is to add a regular PC webcam and place it right next to the Vizio webcam and I can still use my TV with SKYPE. Of course, I'll have to get that Mac Mini computer to do it, but .... if my wife and justify getting new furniture, I guess I'm entitled, right? <big smile>
I'd love to include some pics of all of this, but our new writing tool doesn't allow that as easily as it used to. Besides, it would only scare you if you saw the big holes that I cut into the wall to manage the cabling ... the "spinal cord" in connecting it all.
I would like to keep this as an open forum, where users can write in and ask questions about their installation. I'd love to share some wisdom and maybe throw some advise your way. I've got some serious connections and experience in doing them all. Just be forewarned that if you decide to get a new flat screen TV for your living room, it may end up costing you a lot more than you think! Remember this, that I warned you. It will make you laugh when you tell your wife you're getting a new flat screen TV and she seems "all for it" and you wonder why! It's all semantics. You say new flat screen TV. She hears ... "redecorate the living room"! Have fun with it!
*NOTE: Please post your comments or questions below, and I will try and post a reply in a timely manner. I really appreciate your comments and questions!