DIY Home Theatre Plasma TV Connections and equipment
What equipment do I need with my Plasma TV or video
In order to use your plasma screen you will require several
Wall mount, table stand or floor stand
Power protection (optional but recommended)
Extended warranty (optional)
Plasma tvs and video projectors are basically monitors only.
Most contain no tuners or speakers. In order to use a Plasma screen
for home use you will require the following.
If the plasma tv you purchase has a built
in amplifier you can buy optional speakers that match your plasma.
unfortunately these are very expensive (around $ 500) and generally don't
perform very well for the money. They will sound ok for general tv use
but not much more. They do however match the
plasma screen cosmetically. If style is important to you or you do not want
to use a separate stereo system then you should purchase the optional
speakers. You can also add small bookshelf speakers with your plasma.
keep in mind that the built in amplifier in the plasma is usually only
around 8 watts per channel so only low wattage bookshelfs will work properly
or you can use powered computer speakers.
The second choice for sound is to use a surround sound
stereo system or mini stereo. This is by far the most popular choice.
Using a surround sound system allows you to listen to the sound of a dvd or
digital tv in full Dolby Digital. Systems can range from $300
for a very basic mini system to as much as you want to spend it, the skys
the limit!!!. Generally you can get a great sounding system for low
volume use such as an apartment or townhome for under $1000 and room shaking
sound for a full home theatre for between $3,000 and $5,000.
It is very important that your home theatre
surround receiver has component video switching. If you are buying a new
surround sound receiver make sure it is equipped with the component
switching. If you have a good receiver that does not have the component
video switching you can purchase a HDTV component video switch. These do cost several
hundred dollars but this may be cheaper then replacing a good surround
PLASMA MOUNTING CHOICES
When you order a plasma
screen you will need to add a table stand or a wall mount.
Some plasma's include a table stand or "feet"
but most do not. Table stand prices vary substantially by manufacturer
and cannot be switched. You cannot take a Panasonic table stand
and use it on a Pioneer.
Wall mounts are available
from the Plasma manufacturers or from "aftermarket" sources. It should be
noted that the units are identical and the plasma manufacturers buy from the
aftermarket company's, change the part numbers and double the price. Most
manufacturers do not even attempt to hide this fact In most
cases vendors will quote you a price for a "factory" wall mount but
will actually deliver the aftermarket unit which costs much less. Do not be
fooled by labels. Why pay $300 more for a sticker.
There are multiple types of wall mounts for a standard
installation but we offer many
types and recommend the tilt clevis mount. or a simple flat mount For non standard there is a large
selection of swing arms, ceiling mounts, lifts etc available
Tilt Clevis Mount:
This mount is our favorite. At a cost of s 199.99 for any plasma tv.
The unit in flat position is only 1 7/8 thick and allows up to 10 degrees of
tilt. The unit is easy to install and allows you to tilt you screen
out for working on connections Once mounted you can tilt the plasma
and work behind it without having a second person. It is also good for
inwall installations since the unit will not need a large gap above
the plasma for positioning. Please note for all inwall installations you
will need ventilation.
Slimline Flat Mount:
The slimline flat mount is only one inch
thick and costs 229.99. The main drawback to this mount is that it requires
two people to remove the plasma for any work such as hooking up cables or
checking connections. It also requires about a 1 1/2 inches above the unit
to drop on the hooks when installing..
Swivel Tilt Mount .
At a cost of 229.99 ,this unit allows up down tilt and left right swivel.
Unfortunately it sticks out over 5 inches and very rarely will a home
installation require the few degrees of swivel that it allows
Floor Stands: Several selections of floor stands are available. Please note when
looking at a floor stand that you will also have to have the wall
mount to to attach to the stand and may not be included in the
In order to use a plasma tv you will require video sources.
The average system will use a dvd player and a television
source. VCRs can be used but the low quality of VHS tape will disappoint
you. when played on a plasma screen
The dvd player you purchase should be progressive
scanning and you should connect it using component video cables. Some
complete mini systems have built in dvd players. Usually they are not
progressive so ensure they have at least a component video out (colorstream,
Y pb, pr, etc ). You can use the S-Video out but you will lose some video
quality. One note on all in one systems, DVD will be going to HD within a
few years and you will have to replace the whole system if you don't have
separates. We always recommend buying separate components.
Note: Some plasma screens and video projectors provide substantially better pictures with progressive versus interlaced.
TIP: If a plasma or projector has Faroudja or Genesis
chipsets, it will generally prefer interlaced signals over progressive.
Television: If you have satellite or
digital cable, those boxes are your tuners!!!
Since most plasma displays do not have a built in
tuner you will require a tuner if you want to watch local non digital cable tv.
If you can afford a plasma or a projector you can afford digital cable or
satellite. Running a plasma on local cable is like running a Ferrari on
In order to watch HDTV you will require a external HDTV receiver. If
you use digital cable, please contact your cable company. If you use DirecTv
you will require a new dish and receiver. We recommend the Samsung Sir-TS 160 This unit
works with DirecTv and will pick up local HDTV broadcasts if available in
Satellite or Digital Cable If you are using satellite or digital cable you will use the
external box supplied by your Digital cable or satellite provider. Ensure
your external box has a minimum of a S-video connection to feed
the plasma., Component is preferred. Some boxes have only a composite
connection (single yellow RCA jack). You will not be happy with the picture
quality from this output. (worlds biggest understatement)
Local cable or antenna :
In order to view local cable if digital is not
available you will require a tuner of some form. Your local standard
cable box will not work. There is several solutions for this
situation. Purchase a optional tuner card or box that matches your plasma.
A tuner card usually adds $300 to $400 to the cost of a plasma. A cost
effective solution can be as simple as a Viewsonic Nextvision 5 for
Although not amazing picture quality, due to the poor quality of standard
cable, It will give a good picture for a reasonable price until digital is
available in your area. You may wish to use a vcr as a tuner, although
this will work, You will be sadly disappointed by the quality of
image. Since plasma screens provide high quality accurate images, they will
accentuate a poor signal. IE Garbage in, Garbage out
Tip: If you require a dvd player and a tuner for
local cable, consider a Panasonic
or Pioneer DVD recorder. These units are Progressive scan dvd players
and digital video recorders. The units also have a built in NTSC tuner.
Starting at just over 400 US , you can kill a few birds with one stone
Almost every plasma ( except a few dedicated consumer plasma
screens) will accept a computer input using a standard computer monitor
In order to connect your plasma you will require cables. Do
not use cheap cables as they will affect picture quality. The cable
length should be less then 18 ft if you want to use standard premade cables,
Over 18 ft will require custom made cables. Always use the shortest cables
that you can. When calculating cable length account for how you want to run
and hide the wires. You will require a Svideo, a component video cable
and if you want to use a computer you will require a VGA cable (
computer monitor cable) With many plasmas you will also require
BNC to RCA adapters. You can get a good set of Monster brand cables
for between $80 and $120 depending on your length requirement Do
not skimp on cables but also don't get raped buying special plutonium
lined, iridium coated, diamond encrusted , divinely blessed ,
assembled by virgins in zero gravity , $1000 "interconnects".
DVI cables....the latest greatest thing. well until HDMI came
out now its the latest greatest thing until??? comes out. HDMI has been
adopted by most of the big boys and will probably last but in most cases
component video will do the trick and it can be switched through a surround
TIP: If you are handy with a soldering iron you can make your own
component video cables by using RG6 quadshield cable. It may not be worth
the hassle for 6 footers but for long runs, well worth the time.
Your plasma tv is a large investment and should be protected from bad power
and spikes. Good protection is a Power Conditioner such as a Monster cable
mp-hts2500. This unit acts as surge suppressor and "cleans" your ac power
supply. At around $299 this is the best protection for your system.
The unit is the size of a VCR so it will need a shelf in your stereo rack
but has enough connections to protect your whole system. Even if you
don't buy a power conditioner be sure to get a good surge suppressor, Good
surge suppressors start at 40 dollars for a 4 socket. Do not buy a ten
dollar piece of junk at a dollar store. Remember you do get what you pay for
TIP: Many computer battery backups provide some filtering and work
quite well for home theatres. Plus they give you a few minutes to shut down
the theatre if you have a power failure.
These units are life savers ( and may save your marriage) These range from
under a hundred to over a thousand. Although initially a pain to
program, once done they make life so much better.
Whether to buy a extended
warranty for a plasma or a projector is strictly up to you. Some
people swear by them and others swear at them. Never be pressured or scared
into purchasing a extended warranty. A extended warranty may be
purchased as long as you have 90 days left on the manufacturer's warranty.
generally that leaves you 9 months to decide. A two
year extension for a 42 inch retails around $280. A good rule of
thumb for a extended warranty is no more then 10% of the cost of the plasma.
Always make sure there is no deductible and the warranty includes in home
A good rule for retail is
firmly tell the salesperson no once, If he/she hassles you about
it again, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM HIM/HER, TAKE YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE.
WARNING: SOME STORES OFFER EXTENDED WARRANTIES THAT INCLUDE
"RECHARGING' A PLASMA. THIS IS FRAUD; PLASMA SCREENS CANNOT BE
RECHARGED AND DO NOT LEAK. IF A SALESPERSON TRIES THIS LINE .DO NOT BUY
ANYTHING FROM HIM/HER , TAKE YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE.
THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF A PLASMA IS GENERALLY 40,000 to 50,000 HOURS
TO HALF LIFE (HALF BRIGHTNESS) AND REQUIRE NO MAINTENANCE DURING THAT TIME.