For a family of self-proclaimed “TV freaks,” every day at home on the north shore of Long Island is paradise. A drool-inducing 24 LCD and plasma screens hang from walls throughout the roughly 17,500-square-foot residence. Mom, Dad and two teenage children can turn on a flat-panel TV and access whole-home audio and video in virtually every room.
This paradise will be even sweeter when the dedicated home theater is completed. Until then, the family will have to settle for its high-definition TV lineup that ranges from the 20-inch Sharp LCD in the laundry room to the 46-inch SunBrite weatherproof LCDs in the loggia and master bedroom balcony to the 63-inch Fujitsu plasmas in the family room and the billiards room (and actually, there are more 20-inch Sharps in there, but we’ll get back to that). “From our initial meetings with the homeowners, the discussion was always, ‘We love TVs, we want a lot of TVs in the house,’” says Billy Cestaro, project manager for professional electronics installer Audio Command Systems of Westbury, NY.
However, with a contemporary style to the home’s interior, they also wanted clean, uncluttered electronics. The solution was straightforward: All of the source electronics and automation systems would be housed in a master control room, and the rest of the rooms would be left, mainly, with a flat-panel TV, in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, and a wall-mounted or handheld Crestron touchpanel.
Most of the TVs are silver-bezel Fujitsu plasmas that add to the contemporary flair. Notable exceptions are the outdoor spaces that house the SunBrite models, plus the son’s bedroom and kids’ playroom, where Sony Bravia XBR series LCDs handle fast-motion video gaming. Whole-house video is stored on a Kaleidescape server and distributed, along with other high-def content from cable or satellite DVRs, to the TVs via the Crestron control system. “Each member of the family has his own Kaleidescape player, his own cable box and his own satellite receiver and can access them from any room in the house with a touchscreen. It says ‘So-and-so’s’ cable box’ and they simply press that,” Cestaro says. “The kids are absolutely crazy about all that stuff. They think it’s like Disneyland.”
The billiards room earns the nod as the space with the most TVs. A 63-inch Fujitsu plasma can be viewed on one side, while four 20-inch Sharp LCDs cover the bar area on the other side. It’s ideal for these sports fans when they want to take advantage of the cable or satellite’s NBA and NFL packages, for example. If something exciting is taking place on one of the smaller displays, it can be easily swapped onto the large screen.
Two-channel sound suffices in the majority of the 35 audio zones, served predominantly by B&W speakers. The family room, though, will remain the primary entertainment space until the home theater becomes a reality. Triad Silver speakers and a REL subwoofer take care of the 5.1 surround sound for the 63-inch plasma, which has its own special wrinkle: The TV rises from a lift mechanism in front of a giant fish tank that separates the family room from the billiards room.
As much as the family loves to watch what’s on the TVs indoors, they see plenty of the outdoors, too. The home sits on a bluff overlooking the Long Island Sound, and its architecture emphasizes the vistas. A Lutron Sivoia system provides motorized shading for 90 windows in the house, frequently working in tandem with a Crestron lighting system that covers about 145 zones that the family can command with the touchpanels. Cestaro credits lead installer John Gonzalez, assistant installer Andrew Sotar and engineer Engjell Berisha with helping create such a comprehensive system for the home.
“We created nice mood lighting for [Dad], with chandeliers and sconces dimly lit to 25 percent, which is a big plus for him when he comes home from work and wants to unwind,” Cestaro says. “He’ll turn on XM Radio, hang out in the family room and read a book. He says it’s bliss.” Yes, there’s even room for books in this TV paradise.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.