Technology and lifestyle go hand in hand. When home theaters first appeared consumers built dedicated spaces around them — rooms in which they could maximize their large investment by controlling the environment. They still do, of course.
But the mainstreaming of custom installed home theater has mae other trends necessary. Rather than building the room around the technology, the A/V industry has to make the technology work within clients' existing environments. In this view, a sophisticated-looking room is not necessarily exempt from sophisticated technology, especially if you have the right accessories and equipment to help hide that technology, and therefore meet the needs of an evolving, design-savvy public. We took a look at five companies that are translating this trend into products that make sense for both the custom retailers who install them, and the end users who ultimately enjoy them — whether they realize it or not.
Vutec made its mark with high-gain curved screens. Almost 30 years later, the Florida-based company offers more than just screens to meet the needs of every room and projector. It provides solutions. "We like to think we offer something for everyone," says company president Howard L. Sinkoff. "For any type of installation, home theater or commercial."
The company's ArtScreen is one of these solutions-based products, having actually first been suggested by a customer. It's a masking system disguised as art, for flat-panel displays and customized projection screens of all sizes. A hardwood frame surrounds a piece of artwork, and with the touch of a programmed remote control, the artwork retracts to reveal a flat-panel display or screen. There is a catalog of more than 200 works of art from which the client can choose, and the client's screen can be customized with a family picture or corporate logo. Available through Vutec dealers, the ArtScreen begins at $2,800 for a 42-inch plasma. The company offers monthly training at their factory and will soon have Web-based modules to learn from.