The Custom Installer: Your Home Theater's Newest Addition

With all the hullabaloo over format wars and switching to server-based storage, many of you are probably planning new additions to your home theater system. Well, I'm planning one, too, but it won't be a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, a hard-disk video server, or any other cutting-edge piece of technology. In fact, my addition will disrupt not only my home theater, but my entire lifestyle as well.

My wife and I are expecting our first child.

After the excitement subsided, I started thinking about the ramifications this will have . . . on my audio/video system, of course. I've already started taking stock of my current system and researching ways to baby-proof a home theater. My equipment rack is an obvious candidate for change. While its open-architecture design is great for ventilation and for working on my rig, it presents too inviting an opportunity for curious hands to push and poke. Cabinetry with securable doors is probably the way to go.

My surround speakers are already wall-mounted, and it will be years before our little girl weighs enough to pose any real threat to my floor-standing towers. But will the screen of my 61-inch HDTV too closely resemble a blank canvas on which to create some Jackson Pollock-style art? One great advantage of a flat-panel set is that you can hang it on the wall beyond the reach of curious, goo-covered fingers.

Remote controls are often the first casualty - picked up, shaken a couple of times, and then thrown to the ground. I'm already planning to slim down to a single universal remote. Now I just need to remember not to leave it sitting on the coffee table.

Since I frequently do test reports for Sound & Vision, I have more than just my system to worry about. There are usually piles of gear stacked on the floor next to my main system with wires running everywhere. I don't even know where to start with that. (Does anyone make an indoor version of the invisible fences used to keep dogs from wandering away?)