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Mounts Prosper As Flat-Panel TV Biz Grows

6/23/2003 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Once primarily limited to commercial enterprise, wall and ceiling mounts have followed flat-screen televisions into the home.

Whether designed for smaller screen size LCD televisions or ever more popular larger screen plasma displays, mounting devices have extended their retail toehold to become an accessory category up and comer.

"With the booming interest we're seeing in digital TV technology, we're expecting accessory sales for flat panels to explode during the second half of 2003," said Keith Pribyl, Sanus Systems VP. "And as profits start to erode in the digital TV category, these accessories will play an even bigger role for retailers."

To this end, St. Paul, Minn.-based Sanus this month is introducing a line of five products that provides comprehensive mounting solutions for flat-panel TVs of any size.

Called VisionMount, features include rigid extruded aluminum construction, a finish that matches the look and feel of today's LCD televisions, and tilt and swivel capability. The device holds up to 30 pounds, offers mounting simplicity for most small flat-panel TVs and has a design that includes under-cabinet location and ease of installation.

"We've invented a new tapered bearing that creates an incredibly simple, smooth adjustment with extreme rigidity," said Jim Wohlford, president, about the new mounts.

One Sanus model in the line, the VM2 flat-panel TV wall mount, designed for LCD units and computer monitors, has a suggested $99.99 retail and will be available in mid-June.

Currently, wall mounts hold a decided volume advantage over ceiling extensions, with LCD types, mainly 40 inches and under, the most popular, compared with plasma.

"We have noticed a steady upward trend toward wall mounting," said Jason Cole, marketing communications manager at Anaheim, Calif.-based Premier Mounts. "About 75 percent of all flat-panel displays sold are being mounted on the wall.

"The real surge for us recently has been in the LCD market. The interesting trend is the increasing numbers of large LCD panels [28 inches to 40 inches] which are starting to compete with plasma sales," said Cole.

Premier is reinventing the traditional "one mount for each plasma" concept with its Clevis mount, a semi-universal design that fits over 150 different chassis, limiting the number of SKUs. This allows retailers to stock a few models and feel confident these will provide a mounting solution for most major flat-screen TV brands.

The Clevis line consists of two models, the PCM series for wall-only mounting and the CTM series for mounting to walls, stands, carts and ceilings.

Both easy-to-install models offer over 12 inches of continuously adjustable tilt, significant lateral shift, 16-inch-mounting slots, cable routing ports and security knobs. The PCM provides the additional feature of 24-inch-mounting slots and multiple 16-inch slots for greater horizontal flexibility. Suggested retails for both models range upward from $250, hitting $300 for 61-inch plasma displays.

Premier, claiming steady business growth the past five years, has found TV mounts are replacing projector mounts, which initially accounted for the overwhelming majority of its sales. "As plasma displays are priced lower and lower, we are noticing sales of plasma mounting solutions increasing dramatically to match our projector mount sales," said Cole.

"However, we have also noticed the 25 percent who do not opt for a wall mount are looking for more unique options other than the standard table stand that usually comes with their display," said Cole. Thus Premier also is aggressively promoting a line of floor and stable stands with over a dozen different solutions.

Peerless Industries is offering two new mounts for LCD flat-panel TVs, done up in a sleek, clear aluminum finish. Both mounts feature a ball joint that easily adjusts the viewing angle manually. The mounts fold flat against the wall to hide behind the screen in a closed position, while both include bracket, screen mounting plates and theft-resistant security screws.

The Vision-Point Pivot Wall Mount is said to be ideal for obtaining side-to-side rotation and tilt with small to medium size LCD screens. The LPS model features a 3-inch long arm and is suitable for smaller screens or when less side-to-side rotation is required. The longer LPL model is 5 7/8 inches in length and offers a broader range of side-to-side rotation.

Suggested retails are $109 for the LPS Pivot Wall Mount and $135 for the LPL model.

The Articulating Wall Arm/Cabinet Side Mount, from Melrose Park, Ill.-based Peerless, offers three pivot points for 180 degrees of swivel on a wall, or up to 270 degrees of swivel around the side of a cabinet or corner. Offered in two sizes, the LCS model is 18 inches long for 10- to 15-inch screens, and for screens over 15 inches wide, the LCL model is 22.75 inches long. Both offer complete swivel capability.

Suggested retails are $169 for the LCS Articulating model and $179 for the LCL.

Vantage Point Products is pointing toward increased user satisfaction by eliminating any decision hassle when choosing a suitable mount. To do this, the Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based company is promoting its AXSYS Universal LCD Mount, designed to be versatile in function so that one mount can perform in several different applications.

"The product is multifunctional, which allows retailers to carry [fewer] SKUs and inventory, while offering consumers an all-in-one product to fit several different applications," said Vantage Point CEO Don Burns.

The slotted mono-arm design provides wire control feature and has advanced 4-AXSYS positioning for the most flexibility. AXSYS LCD mounts are aluminum-die cast and are offered in silver or black for a suggested $99.95 retail.

When it comes to larger and heavier plasma displays, mounts require more safety controls than their smaller LCD sisters.

"Safety and reliability are key aspects of our four plasma mounts," said Brian Koperski, digital media specialist for public relations/advertising at OmniMount Systems. "The added weight of plasma displays requires serious attention when it comes to mounting them securely in any given situation. Our designs reflect an attention to detail and engineering expertise," he said.

OmniMount's plasma cantilever, like its LCD cantilever, allows horizontal extension, 180 degrees lateral rotation and tilt and swivel for optimum viewing, said the Phoenix-based company. More than just mounting hardware, OmniMount claims the cantilever has a tactile quality that enhances the high-tech look and lines of any plasma installation.

Each plasma mount requires a product-specific adapter plate to mount virtually any plasma display. Hardware is supplied with all mounts and a powder coat finish ensures long-lasting and handsome appearance.

The plasma CL cantilever mount has a suggested $299.95 retail.

Omnimount also is introducing PLAD UM-1, a universal plasma adapter plate for most current 37- to 63-inch plasma TVs. The thin-profile unit, which offers a sliding rail to help fit plasma screens both horizontally and vertically, is able to mate with all of Omnimount's plasma mounts — including the QM300F, QM300T, cantilever, tilt pipe and 120.0 series. Suggested retail is $149.95.

In response to what it calls the consumer electronics industry's need for highly functional, low-profile universal mounting solutions, Savage, Minn.-based Chief Manufacturing has introduced universal wall mounts for large flat-panel displays.

The new mounts include the Universal Static Mount (USM) Series and Universal Pitch-Adjustable Mount (UPM) Series. Each series consists of two models that fit more than 200 large flat-panel display models, said Chief.

The USM is said to be the first ever static-style universal mount, which provides a cost-effective solution for mounting displays. The UPM boasts Chief's Pull-N-Pitch adjustment control that allows smooth pitch adjustment of zero to 15 degrees by hand. Both types feature integrated lateral shift, one-piece wall brackets and a mounting system that allows displays to be easily lifted, placed and secured. Suggested retail for the UPM is $279.

"Large flat-panel display wall mounting for plasma displays and large LCD screens above 30 inches is the fastest growing support system category for Chief," said Brian Davis, director of sales. "Nearly 50 percent of Chief's large flat-panel display product line is wall mounts, reflecting the high demand for wall mounts over any other type of support," said Davis.

Multiple trends making wall mounts advantageous, he said, include product that allows installation personnel ease of lift and setting the plasma display on the mount once it is attached to the wall.

For CE stores that sell many different display models, wall mounts now come in a small number of models to fit a large variety of display manufacturers, continued Davis. "Wall mounting solutions are also becoming more low profile, which is pleasing to the end user and dealer alike because they produce an attractive installation. Wall mounts remain hidden behind the displays and tend to be slim.

"The first thing a CE store should look for in a wall mount is product quality," Davis continued. "And, be sure the mount is strong enough to hold the weight of today's large, fragile flat-panel displays."

Not all mounts are designed for walls or ceilings. Salamander Designs, Hartford, Conn., is offering a universal plasma mount for flat-panel TV monitors that attaches to the company's Synergy twin and triple cabinet modular furniture. Called Plasma Mount, the unit accommodates all flat-panel TVs with screens from 42 inches to 50 inches. Viewers can set screen height and use the mount to angle TV panels up or down for more direct viewing.

Suggested retail for the PM1 mount, designed for twin modular furniture, is $399. The PM2 mount, for triple-width cabinets, has a suggested $599 retail.

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