By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Home theater viewing is getting a bigger piece of the action in the growing digital consumer electronics business — namely full-size furniture which houses larger screen-size rear projection and flat-panel televisions and accommodates a host of components.
And much of this home theater furniture is making holiday season debuts in finishes that range from the finest solids and veneers to ready-to-assemble types that combine practicality with good looks.
An "innovative" series of furniture designed for the new breed of televisions — plasma, DLP, LCD and LCOS, is available from Diamond Case Designs. Called Evolution, the system features a variety of credenzas that can be used with or without matching "tops" or "decks."
Users select one of four credenzas, ranging from 58 inches to 94 inches wide, that are ideal for larger plasma or tabletop DLP/LCD televisions. By adding one of three "top decks" for different applications, home viewers can mount a 42- to 50-in. plasma TV. A second top has bi-fold doors that allow complete TV concealment, while a third features media or speaker storage.
Evolution, from the Yorba Linda, Calif.-based company, offers abundant storage for large media collections, multiple components and front surround speakers, at suggested retails ranging from $1,999 to $5,499, depending on model and configuration.
A versatile audio/video furniture system from Bell'O International, model AVS-4210S, understates its display capabilities. The oversized top of this three-shelf design accommodates most direct view televisions of up to 40 inches, plasma TVs up to 63 inches, most tabletop projection TVs or DLP TVs up to 50 inches or the largest LCD TVs.
The unit's lower shelves accommodate up to 10 or more A/V components, bookshelf speakers and a center channel speaker. It features green frosted Italian tempered safety glass, lightweight, but sturdy, extruded aluminum rear legs, scratch resistant powder coated steel frame, height adjustable front feet and a CMS cable management system to hide wires and interconnect cables.
Suggested retail is $1,100 and the unit is available from the Morganville, N.J.-based maker.
Encore! Home Entertainment is offering a line of home theater furniture, namely consoles for plasma and rear projection tabletop types, that blends up-to-date technology with fine finishes and detail work.
The line features forced air ventilation for audio compartments, removable back panels for ease of access to components, touch lighting, multiple all-media storage pullouts and speaker cloth inserts for front channel and subwoofer components.
It offers multiple large cable wiring ports, shelving engineered for ease of transit of cable between components and light bridges and expandable shelving to fit televisions up to 73 inches. There is rear projection back panels to give the entertainment wall system a custom look and cable ready surge protected power strips in each pier cabinet.
The Commerce, Calif.-based company offers same-week shipping as well as container-direct pricing, with suggested retails ranging from $799 to $2,999.
Low end Orchard Grove retails for $1,699, and $2,399, including a pair of media storage ends. Williamsport is $1,799 and $2,499, including a pair of media storage ends. Kingston and Tableau have suggested $1,999 retails.
Laurier Furniture is dedicating the design of its Milano collection of premium selected maple veneers and solids toward all plasma and LCD televisions.
The Laurier-Station, Quebec-based maker's collection offers speaker storage on top of the unit for better sound, while all shelves for audio components have a solid maple molding at the front. The top bridge has halogen lighting to enhance the front of the unit, and is adjustable from 40 inches wide to 70 inches wide.
At the rear, a ventilation system evacuates heat to protect components. The rear panel can be removed easily in order to wire the components. A 6-outlet power bar also is included in the cabinet.
Suggested retail for the Milano, model 21PLB60, is $4,999.
Baker Road is introducing its New Traditional collection of home theater cabinetry solutions — made of maple, cherry and oak solids and veneers.
Wall systems can be configured to accommodate plasma, DLP, rear projection or direct view screens. Units offer 72- and 80-inch tall side towers, with and without attached, vertical media libraries.
Fully finished tops on bridge and towers are standard. Units offer matching wood back panel overscreen for a full-finished appearance, as well as a halogen lighting system with touch dimmer. Product ships fully assembled, and matching occasional tables are available to complete the home theater.
Suggested retail range for a big screen system is $2,500 to $5,000, depending on wood choice. Oak is the least expensive, while maple is mid-range and cherry is the most expensive. Baker Road is headquartered in South Elgin, Ill.
Woodbrook furniture, from St. Paul, Minn.-based Sanus Systems, is made to satisfy both audio/video and interior design enthusiasts. Using solid maple or cherry hardwoods and natural glass, the line offers flexibility, with a variety of door and drawer options as well as clever concealing of components. The result is an A/V setting with clean lines and a modern look.
Features include extra-deep cabinets, a hidden wire management channel and a built-in convection cooling system that offers hidden venting at both the top and bottom of the cabinets. This allows heated air to flow out the top, drawing cool air in through the bottom.
Sanus Woodbrook offers a combination of materials that creates an ultra-dense product that eliminates resonance. MDF pillars, locking cam construction and shelf locking clips produce a cabinet that is rigid enough to allow speakers to be used in the same cabinet as A/V components.
The Woodbrook line is available at suggested retails that range from $699 to $1,099.
Flat-panel television is highlighted this fall in ready-to-assemble product from Jamestown, N.Y.-based Bush Furniture. Among the company's new offerings is the Universal Flat Panel Video Base, model VS47388, a contemporary-design combination video/audio stand made of metal and glass.
The metal frame has a satin chrome finish and shelves are made of tempered glass. A rear panel conceals wires and levelers adjust for uneven floors.
Measuring about 23 inches high by 58 inches wide by 20 inches deep, and weighing 106 pounds, the Universal has a suggested $299.99 retail.
To match the range of new TV cabinetry, makers are offering growing lines of theater seating, which bring all the comforts of "stadium" viewing into the home living room.
Premiere Home Theatre Surroundings has expanded its MovieLounger line, with the addition of the Bijou and La Reina models. Both boast a "euro-deco" contemporary home theater design.
Bijou offers a rounded, styled seatback, with decorative contrast welting combinations. LaReina comes with a bolder, chiseled design and squared seatback.
Both models from the Agoura Hills, Calif.-based company, are available in vibrant leather colors, including purple, hot blue and lipstick red. Both incorporate the company's MovieGlide mechanism, which allows for smoother manual and motorized recline, and both also feature a new, fuller lumbar-support system for extra comfort and lower-back fatigue reduction.
Suggested retail for each of the two models starts at $2,095, including either Italian leather or CineSuede micro fiber fabrics.
Pullman Furniture has launched a new home theater seating division offering unique designs exclusively to audio/video retailers and custom installers. The initial offering from the handcrafted seating company includes six styles — Carmel, Laguna, La Jolla, Monterey, Redondo and Ventura.
Products are designed to integrate, not just into home theaters, but into the actual living rooms and other domestic environments within a home. The modular seating, from the Pullman, Calif.-based maker, offers consumers contrast welting and cup holders. All seats have manual or power wall-hugger recliner mechanisms, allowing consumers to place any chair within 4 inches of a wall.
Seating designs range from traditional to contemporary and are available in three grades of leather, suede or customer's own materials. Chairs have a good mix of color options, said Pullman.
On a single chair, suggested retail starts at $1,440 for Pinnacle Suede in a manual chair, and go to $3,040 for a motorized chair in Pullman's Grade 3 leather. Suggested retail can start at $1,200 for a manual chair in the customer's own material.
A new theater chair from Acoustic Innovations, designed for custom installers and retailers, is said by the company to be truly unique in that it hits a price point under $1,000 for a chair made in the United States.
Called the BridgePointe theater recliner, the product, from Boca Raton, Fla.-based Acoustic Innovations, uses a popular "club chair" styling and features a recline mechanism that allows for a factory adjustable mid-recline position.
The recliner requires only six inches of wall clearance in a full recline position and a total length of 58 inches, said to be as much as a full foot shorter than other club chair-style seats on the market. The chair allows for shared-arm and row configuration for space conservation and a true theater appearance.
Starting at a suggested $995 retail in Sanibel suede, BridgePointe is offered in a wide variety of current designer colors and a selection of designer-grade fabrics, as well as Italian and Scandinavian leathers. The Matteo Theater Chair, from Hartford, Conn.-based Salamander Designs is a contemporary version of the movie-house original, trimmed with a sleek wooden base. It's comfortably roomy, yet a relatively small footprint makes it appropriate for modestly sized spaces, said the company.
Available in leather and five finishes for $1,299 suggested retail, the Matteo employs an easy-to-use recliner mechanism with a footrest. The chair also features an adjustable headrest that can be raised to maximize personal comfort and even articulates forward to provide head support to eliminate eyestrain in reclined positions.
Each Matteo chair offers an integrated drink holder in silver or black colors. Wedge-shaped inner arms are available for curved rows of chairs. For the ultimate custom look, the wooden arm base is available unfinished, ready to match a home theater's trim work.
For viewers who want to relax while they watch television, Panasonic is introducing a massage lounger, model EP1016K, that incorporates the techniques of soothing Swedish massage and strong Shiatsu-style massage, all in one unit. The lounger is available at a lower suggested retail, $1,599.99, than previous Panasonic models with similar features.
Called Swede-Atsu, to represent a combination of the two massage technologies, the lounger offers two 15-minute pre-programmed massages in either Swedish or Shiatsu styles. The Shiatsu program uses mainly two massage heads to provide a deep invigorating experience, while the Swedish program utilizes four heads to create a more calm and relaxed experience.
Secaucus, N.J.-based Panasonic's three-motor massage mechanism enables a near infinite array of massage possibilities that cover 98 square inches of a user's back and neck — said by the company to be more massage coverage than any chair from any other major manufacturer.
Home office/small office furniture remains both utilitarian and pleasing to the eye.
Gusdorf, in adding new models to its home entertainment, home office and audio and television furniture lines, is offering a multitude of designs and finishes at affordable price points, to accommodate a wide variety of consumer tastes.
Typical for its office selection is the Mystic Collection, model 58926, workstation, with scratch resistant, tempered glass including chrome structure and wood accents. Any size monitor fits on the working surface, while the unit features a "sliding" system on the keyboard pullout and a hutch that allows shelves to easily glide from side to side. Suggested retail is $169.96.
Gusdorf's Metal Works Generation 2, model 58008, is an L-shaped workstation with model 58108 mobile file cart. The unit, from Laval, Quebec-headquartered Gusdorf, offers an accessory supply drawer, perforated accessory panel to accommodate pen/pencil holder, CD-ROM storage slots, swing-out monitor hutch and mobile file cart on casters. Suggested retail is $229.95 for the desk and $89.95 for the file cart.
Carina Furniture, located in Brampton, Ontario, is introducing Laptop Caddy, model NT20, a versatile workspace that offers easy-to-adjust split-top design. The ready-to-assemble unit, which is said to fit any combination of height and angle, is designed for laptop computers, books, notebooks and cups.
The caddy is offered in a cherry finish with a powder-coated steel base and locking casters, with a height adjustable from 26 inches to 38 inches.
Suggested retail is $59.99 and the unit is available.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.