Your Guide to High-End Accessories Page 5

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The most crucial things to consider are how your walls are constructed and what they're made of, since these factors will determine whether the walls can support the TV's weight. If you have a typical modern home with sheetrock walls framed with wooden studs, you should be able to securely anchor most modest-size flat-panels to the studs. But the margin of error is much smaller if you have metal studs. In that case, Sciacca strongly recommends hiring an installer to do the job. And if the flat-panel is going against a brick or concrete wall, special hardware must be used.

Choosing a Mount Now that you know where you'll place your flat-panel TV, it's time to choose a mount. Fixed mounts are the least expensive option and are best for DIY installations. They hold a flat-panel closest to the wall for a smooth, clean look, but they also make it hard to get to the sides and bottom of the set to connect wires. This shouldn't be a problem, though, if you took the time to hook up the TV to your components before moving it into place.

Tilt or swivel mounts let you adjust the angle of the screen up or down. With some of these, you have to detach the TV before you can adjust the mount, so check if this is the case before you attach the set. Also test the amount of tilt that the mount offers to make sure it's sufficient for your needs. Articulating or swing-arm mounts allow the most flexibility, since the TV can be pulled away from the wall and moved side to side and, in most cases, tilted up or down. Of course, with tilting and articulating mounts, the flat-panel isn't flush against the wall, and more design-conscious viewers might feel like this makes the TV stick out like a sore thumb.

Check Your VESA Flat-panel TVs come with a variety of mounting-hole patterns, not all of which match every mount. So, once you've decided on a mount, make sure its pattern matches the location of the mounting holes on your TV. One way to make sure the TV and the mount match is to look for the VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) label on products. The label will tell you how the holes are configured and how far apart they're located. (You can usually find information on VESA compliance in your TV's owner's manual.) But all is not lost if your flat-panel and mount don't match, since many companies make adapter plates.

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