A decade ago, step into any "big screen TV" owner's family room and you'd likely find a big, two-foot deep TV wedged between two wooden towers and bridge going across the top, otherwise known as the "big screen entertainment center." While I could argue why this was probably the worst way to make a TV blend into a family room, it was believed that the only way to make a giant black box feel at home in a living room is to stuff it inside an even larger piece of furniture.
Thankfully, flat display televisions have allowed the masses to reclaim the living room while still not sacrificing TV size. Users dream about mounting a super-thin LCD or Plasma TV on the wall, then pairing it with tiny speakers with big sound that disappear into the room. Big picture and big sound, but without taking up any floor space...
... and then reality sets in.
For whatever reason, users drop thousands of dollars on nice flat TVs, only to set them on top of a giant stand. Some stands give the appearance of a mounted display, but no matter what way you try to look at it, the concept of an entertainment center simply won't die.
Believe it or not, there's a really good reason why people can't shed the furniture... it's all the other stuff that goes with it! The TV is rarely the only piece of equipment you need. Whether you use a dedicated cable box or satellite box to get pay TV service, a video game system, DVD and Blu-Ray players, media boxes like Roku, surround sound receivers, VCRs (for those old enough to know what that is), and whatever digital goods you have connected up to entertain you.
All that stuff has to go somewhere. One of the biggest challenges of designing a home theater system for your home is determining the location of the home theater components. Usually, folks just buy some kind of stand and put it underneath the TV. It's the most convenient solution, mostly because it's easier to hook things up to the TV. Many people also assume the components must be in view in order to control them, because most remote controls operate with IR signals that don't penetrate walls.
Fortunately, getting your components out of view (or even out of the room) is way easier today than it used to be...
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