Bev & Rebecca's Media Spot

Two of our goals were to make whatever we used for the "media room" a multipurpose living area as well as preventing the equipment itself from becoming the focal point of that room. This has been a work in progress, where, for several years, the AV equipment resided in bookshelves along one side of a non functional fireplace.

A month ago (Dec 2008) a friend and I tore out the fireplace, re-roofed the hole in the roof and built a 4.5 x 8 foot closet in it's place. When we started my plan was to build a new bookshelf in the living room to hold the AV equipment but, on reflection, it became obvious that the AV equipment could be housed in the new closet so that only the speakers, projector, screen and IR repeater needed to be located in the living area.

Using a projector as the primary display method brings with it some special needs... warmup time, cost issues such as bulb life.

Since using the projector for "quick looks" at menus and contents would be time consuming as well as reduce bulb life, I found a Westinghouse LCD TV that meets these needs the need perfectly... it's an analog and HDTV, has a VGA input for use as the media computer monitor plus has composite, component and hdmi inputs... all for $179

The computer keyboard and mouse are bluetooth so that it's a non issue to use them with either the LCD monitor or on the coffee table when viewing computer content onscreen using the projector.

The equipment that gets located in the closet (Pioneer AV Receiver/Amp/AVSwitch, Samsung HDTV Terrestrial Tuner and Phillips DVD/CD/USB player) take up minimal space on a closet rack and an old Mini Dell Optiplex serves as the media computer. Since we don't have cable and watch minimal TV, we don't currently have a pressing need for a recording device.

The equipment rack is mounted so that it allows the entire rack to swivel away from the wiring wall to allow easy access to the wiring connections in back, which, with a 7.1 speaker system, become numerous and crowded as the image shows.

Both the HDTV and DVD player use digital audio output and the difference in sound during DVD and HDTV which output extended 7.1 or 5.1 audio is astounding... taking the time to get the full 7.1 audio output working was well worth the effort.

A Harmony 620 Universal remote ties the system together in a minimal device that controls everything, including the media computer.

FWIW, this is a fairly low budget system...

Pioneer AV $200

HDTV tuner $100

DVD/CD/USB player $ 50

XGA Projector $725 (purchased 2007)

Cables ~$100

Computer $150

BT KB/Mouse $ 75

Screen $ 60

Harmony 620 Universal Remote $70

Speakers (good ones salvaged from a friend's dead audio system)

LCD TV/monitor $180 a lot of sweat equity.