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Technology Showcase: Flatpanel Mounts

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

Market expands with some unique designs to show off new TV technology.

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Sanus Systems VisionMount LL22

Sanus Systems VisionMount LL22

Because OLEDs can be printed onto any suitable substrate using an inkjet printer, they can be made into displays on flexible materials that you could even roll up. Imagine the concept of a flatpanel display so light you could “mount” it on a wall with thumb tacks, like hanging up an old lithographed poster.

There are several standards organizations that set specifications for today's flatpanel mounts that still require much heavier lifting. Plasma displays have always been the weightiest design, and they have traditionally used universal mounting plates developed and patented five years ago by Sanus Systems, a division of Milestone AV Technologies.

LCD displays have their own mounting patterns because of their legacy of being initially used mostly as computer screens. The mounting hole spacing for LCD television display mounts was first standardized in 1997 by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) in its Flat Display Mounting Interface standard (FDMI) that specified the distance between screw centers for various sizes of display. The first standard in this family was originally called Flatpanel Monitor Physical Mounting Interface (FPMPMI). Today, manufacturers of FDMI-compliant devices can license the use of a hexagonal VESA-mounting-compliant logo.

Although VESA has not updated its FDMI specs, they have been working to accommodate the growing call to include other cables — especially those coming from computers — in the flatpanel display's interface. On March 6,2008, VESA announced that Allion Test Labs — via its Taiwan facility — has been approved to offer compliance testing for its new standard called DisplayPort, a next-generation digital interface designed to replace LVDS (low-voltage differential signaling), DVI (digital video imaging), and eventually VGA (video graphics array) connections. As a VESA standard, DisplayPort is intended to simplify delivering a true digital experience to all PCs and monitors, not just the most expensive professional models.

Video Mount Products PDM-C

Video Mount Products PDM-C

In order to be a viable commercial product, most flatpanel mounts are built to adhere to load-bearing specifications from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which is generally the ability to support four times the unit's actual weight. Currently, UL is working on an outline of investigation for a new specification for flatpanel-mounting systems, UL 2442, for motorized and static wall/ceiling mounts and accessories.

This will separate the standard for flatpanel mounts from the overall specs dealing with television equipment in general, which is UL 60065. Its scope will deal with structural supports for AV screens, information technology displays, and similar equipment beyond just TV monitors. UL has plans to incorporate the new, lighter, ultra-thin flatpanel displays into UL 2442 when it is finalized.

But John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager at UL, tells us that problems with flatpanel mounts falling off the wall are fairly rare. A far more consequential source of trouble comes from installers who try to hide a display's power cords by running them behind a wall.

“This is absolutely forbidden by the National Electrical Code set by the National Fire Prevention Association, who write electrical codes that have been adopted by many communities,” Drengenberg says. “Too many things can happen inside those structures when installers try to hide power cords behind walls to clean up the installation's appearance. We strongly recommend that a contractor hire a certified electrician to install a power outlet right behind the mount itself if they do not want to run cable channels down the outside of a wall.”

With flatpanel mounts coming in an eruption of configurations — from fixed to tilt, from swivel to articulating, and from static to motorized — the field is too broad to give consideration to all of them. So here is a look at what top manufacturers consider to be the most interesting models they have in their catalogs.

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