Technology Showcase: Flatpanel Mounts

Market expands with some unique designs to show off new TV technology. 6/01/2008 8:00 AM Eastern

Technology Showcase: Flatpanel Mounts

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

Market expands with some unique designs to show off new TV technology.

Chief Manufacturing PIWRF

Chief Manufacturing PIWRF

This is a great time to be in the flatpanel-mount business. Flatpanel displays are growing bigger, so there is more need to securely position them on walls or hang them from ceilings at the proper viewing level. At the same time, flatpanel displays are getting less expensive, so putting them in a place where they can make a statement is becoming ever more popular. Add in the fact that today's screens can benefit from ancillary equipment — such as video processors or cable hubs — and that they are almost always hooked up to record/playback units such as DVRs, then the need for a sophisticated mounting systems designed to hold all the extra stuff can be seen as more than a luxury. As a result, carving out a practical, secure space off the ground for that brand-new LCD or plasma display is driving the innovations being seen in flatpanel mounts.

The irony is, however, that as mounting systems become increasingly popular, the latest trend in their design is to make them practically invisible. While swivel and articulating-arm models can reach the display out into the room, the boxes that provide their support and even the mounting arms themselves are growing thinner and are being hidden by receding them right into the walls. Some mount designs sit so close to the wall that they are almost unobtrusive, while others have motorized positioning systems that automatically retract themselves when the display is turned off.

But these skinny performers are rapidly gaining in popularity. While market statistics for the mounts themselves are not available, Pacific Media Associates — which tracks information on largescreen displays — reports in its 2007 End User Survey: Professional Flatpanel Displays that survey respondents reported 50 percent of their meeting rooms are currently equipped with flatpanel displays. When asked about their plans for 2008, the average result was that respondents expected up to 62 percent of all meeting rooms to have flatpanels by the end of the current year.

Peerless Industries Slimline<

Peerless Industries Slimline

However, we may be on the threshold of a major watershed in what we look for in flatpanel mounts because the flatpanel displays themselves are skinnying down faster than a contestant on The Biggest Loser.

At this Spring's CES show, Hitachi unveiled a new line of LCDs called the Ultra Thin 1.5 series to celebrate its 1.5in. depth. Initially offered in 32in., 37in., 42in., and 47in. screen sizes, the 1.5 line of displays will provide pro AV contractors with a new range of placement options for any corporation's board room, meeting facility, training center, or even entrance lobby. Plasma screens are destined to get the same depth reduction, and other manufacturers have already announced they will be following suit.

That is nothing compared to the potential of the next jump in technology: organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. An OLED screen is composed of an emissive layer and a conductive layer made of special organic molecules that conduct electricity, a substrate for support, and anode and cathode terminals. Although the concept has been around since the early 1950s, multilayer OLED technology was first developed at Eastman Kodak Research Laboratories by Dr. Ching W. Tang in 1987 and first used on the Kodak EasyShare LS633 Digital Camera in 2003.

Small OLED screens have also been used for several years as displays on mobile phones and portable MP3 players, but at CES 2008, Samsung unveiled a 31in. OLED TV and in May, Sony started shipping the new 11in. XEL-1, an OLED desktop display that claims outstanding dark-scene detail and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. Without its stand, the XEL1 OLED is just 0.1in. thin.

Technology Showcase: Flatpanel Mounts

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

Market expands with some unique designs to show off new TV technology.

Sanus Systems VisionMount LL22

Sanus Systems VisionMount LL22

Because OLEDs can be printed onto any suitable substrate using an inkjet printer, they can be made into displays on flexible materials that you could even roll up. Imagine the concept of a flatpanel display so light you could “mount” it on a wall with thumb tacks, like hanging up an old lithographed poster.

There are several standards organizations that set specifications for today's flatpanel mounts that still require much heavier lifting. Plasma displays have always been the weightiest design, and they have traditionally used universal mounting plates developed and patented five years ago by Sanus Systems, a division of Milestone AV Technologies.

LCD displays have their own mounting patterns because of their legacy of being initially used mostly as computer screens. The mounting hole spacing for LCD television display mounts was first standardized in 1997 by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) in its Flat Display Mounting Interface standard (FDMI) that specified the distance between screw centers for various sizes of display. The first standard in this family was originally called Flatpanel Monitor Physical Mounting Interface (FPMPMI). Today, manufacturers of FDMI-compliant devices can license the use of a hexagonal VESA-mounting-compliant logo.

Although VESA has not updated its FDMI specs, they have been working to accommodate the growing call to include other cables — especially those coming from computers — in the flatpanel display's interface. On March 6,2008, VESA announced that Allion Test Labs — via its Taiwan facility — has been approved to offer compliance testing for its new standard called DisplayPort, a next-generation digital interface designed to replace LVDS (low-voltage differential signaling), DVI (digital video imaging), and eventually VGA (video graphics array) connections. As a VESA standard, DisplayPort is intended to simplify delivering a true digital experience to all PCs and monitors, not just the most expensive professional models.

Video Mount Products PDM-C

Video Mount Products PDM-C

In order to be a viable commercial product, most flatpanel mounts are built to adhere to load-bearing specifications from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which is generally the ability to support four times the unit's actual weight. Currently, UL is working on an outline of investigation for a new specification for flatpanel-mounting systems, UL 2442, for motorized and static wall/ceiling mounts and accessories.

This will separate the standard for flatpanel mounts from the overall specs dealing with television equipment in general, which is UL 60065. Its scope will deal with structural supports for AV screens, information technology displays, and similar equipment beyond just TV monitors. UL has plans to incorporate the new, lighter, ultra-thin flatpanel displays into UL 2442 when it is finalized.

But John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager at UL, tells us that problems with flatpanel mounts falling off the wall are fairly rare. A far more consequential source of trouble comes from installers who try to hide a display's power cords by running them behind a wall.

“This is absolutely forbidden by the National Electrical Code set by the National Fire Prevention Association, who write electrical codes that have been adopted by many communities,” Drengenberg says. “Too many things can happen inside those structures when installers try to hide power cords behind walls to clean up the installation's appearance. We strongly recommend that a contractor hire a certified electrician to install a power outlet right behind the mount itself if they do not want to run cable channels down the outside of a wall.”

With flatpanel mounts coming in an eruption of configurations — from fixed to tilt, from swivel to articulating, and from static to motorized — the field is too broad to give consideration to all of them. So here is a look at what top manufacturers consider to be the most interesting models they have in their catalogs.

Technology Showcase: Flatpanel Mounts

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

Market expands with some unique designs to show off new TV technology.

Founded in 1948, Bretford Manufacturing has been producing media furniture and mounts for six decades. For flatpanel screens, Bretford recommends its FPLM-ARM-AL universal wall mount that is width- and height-adjustable to fit the mounting holes on most 46in. to 61in. flatpanel displays up to 170lbs. Featuring a 0-degree to 15-degree forward-tilt adjustment, the display may be switched from portrait to landscape format by simply turning the monitor on the mount. The heavy-duty arms of Bretford's FPLM-ARM-AL allow the monitor to be pulled out from the wall up to 16 1/2in. and pivot the display left or right up to 45 degrees for best viewing. For multiple screens, Bretford also offers its FPSM-W-DIS6-AL mount that can hold six displays, but it also comes in two-screen, three-screen, and four-screen models each up to 21in. in size (25lbs.). Each monitor features a plus or minus 45-degree forward tilt and has cable-management clips that feed power and data cables to the center of the mount.

In April, the largest mount producer for pro AV, Chief Manufacturing, started shipping its Thinstall Mount series — what they are calling the industry's thinnest flatpanel TV mount. The first mount offered in the Thinstall series, the PSMT2015, has a depth of only 0.49in. and is designed for Hitachi's new 1.5 UltraThin HDTVs. For a flush-mount installation, Chief spotlights its PIWRF series In-Wall Swing Arm Mount for up to 65in. flatpanel displays. The PIWRF creates a “no-profile” installation flat to the wall when mounting a plasma TV, LCD TV, or monitor. It also allows for perfect TV centering without cutting studs. The PIWRF mount offers roll adjustment, height adjustment, and post-installation lateral shift to simplify installation and provide the ultimate in mounting flexibility.

CLO Systems is a strategic partner with Chief/Sanus Manufacturing, specializing in motorized flatpanel wall mounts. Its newest programmable robotic flatpanel wall mount, the S2, was first seen at CES 2008. Its 90 degrees of continuously variable swivel range eliminates problems such as glare, reflection, and off-axis viewing thanks to stored position settings from two user-programmable memories. In addition, building on the success of CLO Systems' award-winning X-arm, its brand new T2 arm fully retracts the display to a flush-vertical stowage position residing 3.2in. from the wall when not in use. The T2's wide range of variable downward-tilt movement (0 degrees to 15 degrees) provides an optimum viewing experience for viewers seated on the couch and floor. A new feature, Auto Mode, automatically tilts the T2 for viewing when the set is turned on and retracts the flatpanel display when it is turned off.

At the end of last year, Da-Lite announced the introduction of a Universal Wall Mount for flatpanel displays in tilting and static versions, the Advance PWM-0262 and PWS-0262, respectively. With the narrow profile of the PWM-0262 and PWS-0262, there is only a 2 1/2in. space between the back of the plasma unit and the wall. Both models will hold up to 200lbs. and the PWM-0262 features 20 degrees of tilt. Da-Lite has also added an articulating flatpanel wall mount — the Advance PWM-AR1 — that is equipped with an articulating arm, which can extend a flatpanel monitor up to 29in. away from the wall. The PWM-AR1 mount will hold up to 130lbs. and features 20 degrees of tilt.

Technology Showcase: Flatpanel Mounts

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

Market expands with some unique designs to show off new TV technology.

From its own flatpanel mounting line, Display Devices recommends its PWM-AA articulating wall mounts, which are dual-arm models designed for easy installation and service access, as well as clean cable management. The PWM-AA-6 has a 6in. extension and is intended for displays up to 150lbs. The PWM-AA-36 has a 30in. extension and holds flatpanels up to 100lbs.

Display Devices is now also distributing the mounts in the Vogel's Professional line, including that company's new LCD/Plasma Glider Remote Control Wall Support. The Glider's Auto-move function senses when the TV is switched off, returning to the wall automatically. It is suitable for 42in. to 60in. displays weighing up to 154lbs.

The Draper WFH ST2000 Wall-to-Floor Plasma Mount can hold up to three plasma displays. It uniquely features a 78in. extruded-aluminum column, which attaches to the wall and floor with a sturdy steel swivel; this means all of the weight of display and mount is supported by the floor. Designed to tilt up to 10 degrees and swivel plus or minus 20 degrees to the left or right, Draper's WFH ST2000 has cable-management channels on either side of the column and optional shelves for VCR, DVD player, amplifier, and related equipment.

Released last March, Draper's new Flatscreen Display Lift is designed to raise a plasma or LCD flatpanel display out of your own custom cabinet or furniture. Its stored dimensions are compact, and yet Draper claims the maximum extended height is greater than any other model currently available. With a 210lb. lifting capacity, Draper's new Flatscreen Display Lift can accommodate practically any available model of display up to 50in.

Since 1982, when it was founded by VESA-FDMI-standard author Harry Sweere, Ergotron has been improving the human interface with digital displays that feature creative mounting designs. The company's Neo-Flex HD Wall Mount Swing Arm provides a flexible alternative to rigid wall mounts for displays weighing up to 50lbs. The embedded CF technology in the Ergotron Neo-Flex HD Wall Mount Swing Arm enables effortless screen adjustment for optimal viewing. The Large Display Tilting Wall Mount enables effortless adjustment of plasmas and LCD TVs with the touch of your finger. With the Ergotron Large Display Tilting Wall Mount, any large screen easily tilts forward or back, yet stays put at the exact angle you select without using any knobs or levers.

The FSCR4028 is an especially sturdy rolling flatpanel cart that Lucasey Manufacturing specifically designed for American Airlines to be used in its airport terminals. The FSCR4028 can elevate the center of a monitor to 66in. and mounts flatpanel displays up to 125lbs. or 50in. But for wall mounts, Lucasey recommends its LC200WS pivoting wall mount for 20in. to 32in. flatpanel displays, with up to 200mm×200mm VESA-mounting patterns. Security screws are provided for wood-stud installation, monitor attachment, and to secure the pivot-tilt points. If the screen is not level, you simply loosen the monitor-attaching screws, adjust the monitor to level, and retighten the screws.

This month, OmniMount will be bringing out a smaller brother to its Motion52 motorized mount for 37in. to 52in. displays, the Motion40 (up to 40in.). Both allow you to tilt, pan, and swivel your flatpanel with the touch of a button. Each are remote-controllable via IR (2 memory) and RS-232 (3 memory) programmable positions with a 0- to 15-degree tilt and can pan 0 degrees to 20 degrees left and right. They are single-arm designs with auto-centering and a safety mechanism that stops motion when movement is obstructed.

But the latest from OmniMount is its Slimback Series, the SB100-F (for up to 37in. displays at 100lbs.), the SB150-F (up to 52in. screens at 150lbs.) and SB200-F (up to 63in. at 200lbs.). OmniMount's Slimback series benefit from a 3/4in. low-profile design and sliding lateral on-wall adjustment. They also have ample room for power and AV cutouts behind the panel.

Technology Showcase: Flatpanel Mounts

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

Market expands with some unique designs to show off new TV technology.

The new Slimline series of thin wall mounts from Peerless Industries that we will be seeing at InfoComm 08 is the first universal wall mount designed to fit all ultra-thin displays. The new Slimline Ultra Thin Universal Mounts deliver a practically no-profile installation that positions flatpanel screens a mere 0.4in. from the wall — barely the thickness of a CD case. Peerless also offers its SmartMount 700 series arms, such as their the new SA750PU, that provide a full 1in. of internal cable management and color-coded electrical and AV component knockouts. Its double stud, single-arm design allows for up to 10.75in. of horizontal adjustment. The SA750PU is UL-listed to hold up to four times the stated load capacity.

Premier Mounts has designed and installed the industry's first suspension mount for Panasonic's 103in. flatpanel display. A less intrusive digital-signage placement option, the custom mounting solution securely suspends the 485lb. flatpanel display from the ceiling. The 200lb. suspension mount has a maximum weight capacity of 1600lbs., and it includes a cable-management system concealed by outer covers, locations for both an outlet box and magenta box in lower cover assembly, and optional speaker brackets. Redundancy is built into the design with two sets of mounting points that allow for a second set of safety cables.

Out this summer from Sanus Systems, the new VisionMount LT25 tilting and LL22 low-profile universal wall mounts for displays from 32in. to 60in. are especially designed for ease of installation with their new ClickStand feature. Thanks to ClickStand, the flatpanel display quickly locks to the wall plate without bolts or tools, and two props — triggered by simple release levers — hold the bottom of the TV away from the wall for easy access to cables during and after installation. These universal wall mounts also boast post-installation heights and level adjustments for aesthetic conformity to their surroundings. The LT25 also features Sanus' patented Virtual Axis technology that allows smooth, effortless tilting for the perfect TV viewing angle.

In addition, Sanus has automated mounts, such as the VisionMount LA112, that started shipping last September with new ones due out this year from June onward. The LA112 features a 20-degree down tilt, 7-degree up tilt, 28-degree side-to-side swivel, and up to 12in. of extension for optimal viewing. It ships with a programmable IR remote and can be integrated with other control systems via an RS-232 port.

The PDM-C universal large flatpanel ceiling mount from Video Mount Products is designed to accommodate most 37in. to 63in. flatpanel displays. Its mast telescopes 18in. to 30in. from the ceiling and rotates 360 degrees with an adjustable 0- to 15-degree tilt and a load capacity of 180lbs. Video Mount Products also highlights its pipe/ceiling mast electronic-component holder that can hold VMP ceiling mounts and works with all manufacturers' ceiling mounts, using masting from 1in. to 2in. outside diameter. Its U-shaped mounting tray extends 13in. from the pipe to accommodate DVD players, CD players, DVRs, HD receivers, VCRs, and other electronic components up to 25lbs.

More Information

Bretford Manufacturing

Chief Manufacturing

CLO Systems

Da-Lite Screen Company

Display Devices



Lucasey Manufacturing


Peerless Industries

Premier Mounts

Sanus Systems

Video Mount Products

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