Plasma + Wall Mount + Samsung Blu-Ray Player w/ PLEX = New Home “Theater” Setup

Since moving into our new condo a few months ago, we’ve had plans to get a new TV as well as a more sophisticated setup in the living room. I currently have my 56″ Samsung DLP set up in our 2nd bedroom/office which acts as my gaming setup, but with the layout of our living room there was really no good place to a TV and stand so we decided to go with a wall mount. I picked up a 51″ Samsung Plasma on sale for $650 about a month after we moved in and it’s been sitting on an end table in the corner of the room since then. Due to the layout of our living room there was really only one place that the TV would look good and be a focal point of the room, above the fireplace. I know a lot of people are really against hanging the TV above the fireplace because they feel a nice piece of art should go there and not a giant black rectangle, as well as the fact that you then need to look up at the TV, which can be a strain on your neck. I agree with you that looking up for a long period of time can be annoying, but it was definitely the best place for us to put it. Our only set back was the fact that the gas fireplace is set in the middle of the room, it’s a pass-through so you can see it in the dining room as well and you can walk around either side, so it’s kind of a floating wall with just the fireplace. Because of this design, all of the studs were steel studs so it was suggested to me that we cut open a hole in the drywall and build out a frame behind the wall on which to mount the TV. I definitely didn’t want the TV ripping the drywall off of the fireplace, so this seemed like a good option. My other request was that we didn’t have any cable boxes or blu-ray players visible or on a rack sitting next to the fireplace. I thought it would look ridiculous and dumb. So with that knowledge in mind we went to work this past Sunday.

I have 2 buddies that are electricians and who have both done work like this before so I knew our place was in good hands. They cut open the walls and used 2 x 4’s to frame out a sturdy area to mount the TV to, replaced the drywall on the wall and patched it up. We also ran a couple HDMI cables, a mini-component and a bunch of Cat-5 cables into the master bedroom closet. It was there that we decided to put the cable box and blu-ray player. They also ran power up to the closet and for right now, no internet (the Cat-5 are to future proof the wiring in case I decided to do something different, not for networking). One of the Cat-5 wires were used to run the IR blaster so that I could sit comfortably on my couch and control the boxes in the closet. All it requires is a little inch and a half long x half inch IR eye attached to the front of the TV and a little box in the closet with small little IR eyes that stick onto the devices at the IR sensors. It works like a charm. I originally had the idea to control everything using iPads and iPhones, but I already had the Logitech Harmony One remote which works extremely well so we just decided to go that route.

The last piece of the puzzle was getting PLEX into the main room. My original idea was to just run another Apple TV 2 in the closet and be done with it, but then I started thinking that I may want a Blu-Ray player hooked up in there too. Since my TV only has 2 HDMI ports, this was going to be a problem as I couldn’t have both a Blu-Ray player and the Apple TV 2. Well, technically I could hook the cable box up using component, but instead I opted for a Samsung Blu-Ray player that has the ability to run PLEX. I’m still trying to tweak it a bit, but I think the setup is going to work. I’ve been having a few issues getting some of my files to play correctly through PLEX on the device, but I’m confident that it’ll work flawlessly eventually.

So that’s my latest electronics project. I’m extremely thankful to have friends that know what they are doing when it comes to running wires through walls and electricity. I could easily setup a basic home theater, but I definitely could not do some of the things that they did. So thanks again guys.