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Mount Misconceptions

Once considered a profit margin commodity, display mounts are under attack from the host of generic poor-quality alternatives that are undercutting the market price and perpetuating the viewpoint that all mounts are the same. The shrinking price point, coupled with this mentality, has become the bane of mount manufacturers, value-added resellers (VARs), and AV systems integrators.

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Mount Misconceptions

Mount Misconceptions

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    Selecting the right mount for your particular application is key. That's why it's so important for AV dealers to stock a mix of universal and dedicated mounts. In this case, the chosen mount solution enables easy installation and durability of this plasma display.

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    When you need to mount a projector very close and tight to the ceiling, be sure to determine the total offset distance from the ceiling surface to the projector - not just the bracket hardware dimensions - before making your product selection.

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    Incorporating patent-pending technology, this mount enables users to achieve precise placement of the display in virtually any application scenario.

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    An in-wall mount allows a flat-panel display to mount virtually flush to the wall surface.

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    The In-Wall Swingout Box (Model: INW-AM325) from Premier Mounts features a cable raceway, allowing you to easily move existing power cables to the back of studs, thus eliminating the need for rewiring.

Once considered a profit margin commodity, display mounts are under attack from the host of generic poor-quality alternatives that are undercutting the market price and perpetuating the viewpoint that all mounts are the same. The shrinking price point, coupled with this mentality, has become the bane of mount manufacturers, value-added resellers (VARs), and AV systems integrators.

Many believe that the ubiquitous mount is actually the unsung hero of the bottom line; a hero that is fighting a propaganda campaign built on misconceptions, misnomers, and mistaken identity. To protect margins, it's important to educate customers on the truth that not all mounts are created equal. Let's see how well you know your fact from fiction.

Fiction: Universal mounts are inferior to dedicated projector mounts.

Fact: Universal mounts can be the perfect complement to a good dedicated mount solution.

It's unrealistic to expect that any mount manufacturer will have a dedicated mount for every projector on the market. Every year, projector manufacturers introduce many new models. For example, approximately 600 models were introduced in 2006. In order to fill gaps in the product line, a universal projector mount can step in and save the day. A good dealer keeps his inventory stocked with a mix of universal and dedicated mounts to ensure his installation team is always ready to tackle any challenge.

Here are five quick things to look for to ensure you're selecting the best universal projector mount to supplement your inventory:

  • Quick installation, but not at a price. Believe it or not, you can have your cake (quick installation) and eat it, too (aesthetics and durability). Most mounts sacrifice aesthetics and/or durability to speed up installation time. Some offer both speed and style at a profitable price. Look for mounts that include cable management paths (not just cable ties or wraps) and have some style to them. Not all installations are tight to the ceiling. When you need to drop a projector from the ceiling, why not use something that's cosmetically appealing, instead of some boring old pipe?

  • Set it, and forget it. Take a close look at the hardware included with each mount. Not all hardware kits are the same, especially in the way they attach to the mount assembly. Look for hardware packs that include screws with integrated washers, plus alternative security hardware. Depending on which you use, the hardware should screw directly into threaded inserts welded (or formed) into the body of the mount. This will give you a solid surface to torque against, providing maximum holding power that will stand the test of time, which translates into fewer return visits to adjust aiming and greater likelihood that you will not receive a call from your customer. If you do have to take the projector down, (for service or relocation), avoid self-tapping screws, as they can only be installed once before they start to strip.

  • Confirm dimensions of “low-profile” options. When you need to mount a projector nice and tight to the ceiling, look for the lowest overall dimensions in your projector mount. But be careful: Some manufacturers only provide the depth dimensions of the upper portion or base box and do not include dimensions of the brackets themselves. They're not trying to be tricky; there are just so many variations of brackets that it's difficult to give a general dimension. Some manufacturers include all dimensions once you get to a specific detail page for the actual mount that fits your projector, so do your homework.

  • Make sure your mount is made from quality material. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised to learn the composition of some of the mounting products that are on the market today. Blends of tin and porous aluminum and less-than-ABS grade plastic abound at a cheap price on the Web. Consumers think they are all the same, and that eats into your margin. Manufacturers and dealers need to keep customers educated that quality materials cost a bit more, but are well worth the expense when you're hanging a 30-pound object over someone's head.

  • Protect yourself. Make sure to select a mount from a reputable company that has a history of making mounts and stands behind its product with a solid warranty. Also look for products that have been tested by a licensed agency such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The longer the warranty — and the more certifications on the product — the more confident you and your customer can feel.

Fiction: You can mount a display in either portrait or landscape — not both.

Fact: Many flexible mounts allow rotation.

Some newer models even offer 360-degree rotation so you are never stuck in such absolutes again. These mounts are ideal for digital signage, tradeshows, seminars, and corporate facilities due to their ability to change depending on the content on the screen.

Rotating mounts offer great flexibility and economy. If budgets are tight — and the customer needs a single monitor for both vertically oriented digital signage and presentations (which are typically landscape orientation) — a rotating display is ideal. When not used for portrait digital signage, the display can easily be turned to landscape for that business presentation.

Here are four things to look for in mounts that are ideal for digital signage or other applications where either portrait or landscape (or both) orientation may become necessary:

  • Quick switch. Look for mounting solutions that can easily be switched from one orientation to the other. Some mounts offer both, but you have to partially disassemble or unlock key elements of the mount prior to rotation. Others offer rotation in set increments, which can be a hassle. There are still more solutions that offer free rotation at all times that are only limited by the amount and location of the cables attached to the display.

  • Don't forget the tilt. Keep an eye out for solutions that not only offer rotation, but also provide a bit of tilt as well. This is especially true in instances where overhead lighting, a raised stage, or an elevated display might be used. Tilting the display allows you to overcome glare or variations in speaker-to-audience height. Some solutions even offer upward tilt so displays can be used as confidence monitors or digital sandwich boards.

  • Be safe. These displays are not propellers, so you may want to hinder rotation once they are set in place. Make sure your mounting solution offers an easy way to lock the display in place. Also ensure that the mount comes with some type of safety lock, knurl knob, or place to attach a padlock.

  • Cover a wide range of sizes. To maximize the lifespan of your mount, it's important to make sure it fits a wide range of displays. This way, you can keep using the mount as you upgrade or move to larger size displays. The most common sizes for digital signage are currently 42 inch to 50 inch diagonal, so this is the most critical size to cover. Keep in mind that some displays may be too small to fit a universal mount that can support up to 61-inch displays. Some manufacturers offer miniature versions of their full-size counterparts for those occasions where you need a smaller display.

Fiction: In-wall mounts are just glorified boxes that can be replicated with basic carpentry.

Fact: In-wall solutions save installers time and money.

Good in-wall boxes mount directly between one or two studs, depending on size, and should include shims to accommodate for wandering studs. Also, some box mounts come with a bit of framing or a return flange to hide your drywall cuts. Because you may be hanging up to 200 pounds on one of these, make sure it's rigid and made from thick gauge metal (16 ga. or better) and includes hat channels or added ribbing for stiffness. Some in-wall solutions require a bit of adapting for the mounts to fit, while others are ready to go right out of the box. If you're looking to save time, try to find the latter.

Don't forget about cable management. Most solutions come with knockouts for conduit; some even have junction box connections. The latest versions feature drop-in housings that hold the electrical and/or signal boxes so they can be wired away from the wall, and then dropped into a recess in the box. This will save you a lot of “fishing” time, making it a lot easier to wire up your power/signal boxes.

Have you ever planned a recessed install only to find that one of the studs has Romex running up the side? Stop everything! Now you have to disconnect and reroute the Romex to another stud — and patch up all the holes you just made — before you can continue your installation. To avoid that problem, look for an in-wall mount that features a cable raceway in the back corner that allows you to shove that wire into the rear portion of the stud and avoids all that unnecessary rerouting.

Fiction: Flat-panel mounts are all the same.

Fact: Mounts come in all shapes and sizes and fit a variety of different display sizes.

There is just as much difference between one flat-panel mount and another as there is a difference between composite video and HDMI. There are multiple layers of functionality among mounts, and it takes a savvy dealer to know what is available or, better yet, what works.

Functionality among mounts is generally dissected into three categories: flat, tilt, and swing-out (or articulating). Display location usually dictates the level of functionality, although sometimes customer preference or aesthetics drive the selection, regardless of functional merits. Obviously, if you have a need to point a display in more than one direction or wish to pull it out of a nook, recess, or cabinet, a swing-out arm is the only way to go. However, the decision between flat or tilt mounts is sometimes a tricky one. Often, a flat mount will work just fine. Tilt is typically only needed when the display will be mounted significantly higher than average seated viewing height (approximately 42 inches to 48 inches to center of screen).

With three types of mounts to choose from — and all the mount manufacturers offering the same three styles — how do you know which one is better or will perform on the job site as described? Here are some things to look for:

  • Information overload can be a good thing. Look for Web sites or literature that have more than enough information. Reputable mount manufacturers don't mind sharing technical data and will often provide schematics, high-resolution images, installation manuals, and even CAD files to dealers on their Web sites. Usually, this information can be found on the specific product pages, but some manufacturers offer specific locations (a sort of “Technical Library”) where you can search and download all technical documents in one fell swoop.

  • Templates = Time = Money. Some products include mounting templates that you slap on the wall to aid in locating and pre-drilling your pilot holes. They often include some sort of center mark that represents where the center of the screen will be once mounted. Customers really like this feature. Your back would much rather hold a piece of cardboard or paper in place for approval instead of that 50-inch display.

  • Wiggle room. In general, there are two types of installers: those that want their jobs to fit like a glove and those that want some “wiggle room.” The first type designs their projects with little or no room for error. More power to them, but these guys are gluttons for punishment, as few rooms are built square and studs are never where you need them. To alleviate frustration, some mount manufacturers have added built-in lateral shift into their mount designs. This wiggle room allows installers to place the mount on the closest studs and shift the display just slightly to match up to their ideal viewing location.

  • Protect your client's investment. Although not all installations are in theft-prone areas, a built-in security device can leave your customer with a good feeling that they got something extra. For installations that are in high-traffic areas, a theft deterrent is essential. Most flat-panel mounts include items such as security knobs, special security hardware, slots for the insertion of padlocks, etc. If the mount you're considering doesn't mention any security features in the product description, chances are it's not included.

  • Man cannot live on torque alone. In the age of universal mounts, the slotted mounted bracket is king. However, an abundance of these slotted mounts require you to excessively torque your mounting hardware in order to maintain position on the mounting bracket once it's hung on the wall. Torque will eventually loosen, resulting in the eventual “BAM!” as that 130-pound display slides down to the bottom of those slots. To avoid this, look for universal designs that incorporate dedicated holes or special washers that lock into place so that you never have to over-torque again.

Although many of these truths are common sense to industry veterans, in a world of big-box retailers and discount chains, the reality is that not everyone recognizes the propaganda. Be the champion of the mount. Your profits are not the only thing riding on the mounts you select. Your reputation, customer safety, and the customer's AV investment are all dependent upon successful and reliable performance.

Jason Cole is marketing communications manager for Premier Mounts. He can be reached at jcole@mounts.com.

 


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