The 50-inch high-def Pioneer plasma TV in the master bedroom is the most recent addition. Like a lot of people who've bought one of these pricey flat-panel beauties, the owners opted to take down a large painting that adorned the space above the fireplace mantle and replace it with a plasma screen. When the panel's on, its crisp images become the focal point of the room; switched off, its gray screen and frame allow it to take a back seat to a roaring fire or the panoramic view of Long Island Sound out the floor-to-ceiling bedroom windows.
While the TV signal comes from the same satellite receiver that feeds the Sony TV in the family room, a Panasonic combination VCR/DVD player allows the owners to watch tapes and discs without having to tramp downstairs to feed the components there. A Niles wall switch controls the room's in-ceiling speakers, allowing whoever's watching the bedroom TV to listen either to the sound from the TV or to whatever's playing on the house system.
Both technology and families change too quickly for most multiroom installations to sit still for long, and this one is no exception. What began as a simple family-room system soon had music outposts throughout the house, followed by the loud-as-you-want-to-rock garage retreat and now the master bedroom's state-of-the-art plasma display.
But the owners don't plan to stop there, hoping to go high-def in both the house and garage, run a local-area network from their high-speed cable modem, and place a couple more SoundHenge rock speakers out by the docks. They also want to upgrade to an Elan Via system to provide more control options throughout the house as well as full-motion color video on the system's touchscreen wall panels. Young already has the wiring in place to accommodate the Via system and a multiple-satellite dish to pick up high-def broadcasts. And the garage is ready to go when Dad decides he wants a larger projector and a movie-theater-like 16:9 aspect ratio screen.
Few people live in the kind of luxury that would allow them to install a multiroom or whole-house system all at once, so most installations have the same humble beginnings as the one here. As more and more people become aware of custom installation, and find themselves with the money to actually consider one, installers have made an effort to reach out to them, giving customers a way to go from simple Point A to elaborate Point B without losing their shirts or spouses in the process. Installations like the one here might not yet be common, but falling prices, rising technological sophistication, and rapidly expanding public interest could mean they soon will be.
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