You Asked: TVs over fireplaces, Sonos vs. Wi-Fi smart speake…

In this installment you asked: TV over the fireplace – yes or no? Sonos vs. Amazon, Google and Apple speakers. And will 3D TV ever make a comeback?

TV over fireplace

A 2023 TCL QM8 4K mini-LED QLED TV sits above the fireplace in the living room.

Karthik Khanna writes: I’m buying an apartment where the only place to put a TV is above the fireplace. I absolutely dislike the idea of ​​mounting the LG G3 on the fireplace, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts about the merits of mounting it with a mantle mount to avoid the inevitable neck strain.

Oh, I have ideas. And I’m happy to share them.

My stance on the whole TV-over-fireplace issue has evolved a bit over the years. I wrote an article about this years ago, and boy, was I raked over the coals.

For those who don’t know, here are the three main reasons this is a bad idea:

  1. It’s literally a pain in the neck. If you can’t get the TV closer to eye level, you’ll end up with your chin tilted up so much that it can cause long-term neck discomfort or pain.
  2. The viewing angle of many LCD TVs is such that even if you tilt the TV toward your sitting area, you won’t get all the picture quality you paid for.
  3. If your fireplace and home are not properly ventilated, the heat and, sometimes, smoke can be bad for your TV in both the short and long term. heat and electronics do No Mixture.

However, what experts like me often overlook is that the space above the fireplace is often the only space you can can do Fit a TV in the room because of its layout. I don’t know what modern homes look like these days because it’s been a long time since I went home shopping, but for decades, this was extremely common – especially in so-called “great room concepts.” WITH – Designing the room in such a way that the only wall on which you can place the TV is a fireplace in the middle. Other walls are too short, or you can’t place your seating area facing another area. Therefore, many people have no option but to have a dedicated TV room or not have a TV in the main room. They are not the solution.

Sometimes you need to mount your TV over a fireplace, and if that’s the case with you, I would highly recommend using an articulating, drop-down wall mount like this. This is from mentalmount It lets you bring the TV closer to eye level and also has a sensor that tells you if the TV is getting too hot. You can also get motorized versions of these mounts so that when you turn on your TV, it automatically drops down. This way, you can protect your neck, your eyes, And Your investment.

MentalMountain isn’t the only game in town. There are other manufacturers, like Sanus for example, that make these types of mounts. But I am a fan of Mantelmount’s products and give them enthusiastic praise. We also recommend mm700,

Sonos vs Wi-Fi Smart Speaker

A Sonos Era 100 on a dresser.
sonos era 100 Simon Cohen/

Today the second question also comes from Karthik: Do you have any thoughts about the merits of spreading a few Wi-Fi-based speakers (e.g., HomePod Minis, which are less intrusive) around the house rather than adding in-ceiling Sonos speakers? I really like the first idea, but products like Sonos in-ceiling speakers are expensive, plus it’s a bit cumbersome given the number of amps required to spread the speaker around the house. As you can tell, I’m not a huge audiophile, but I do appreciate the aesthetic benefits.

The first thing I want to say is that the Sonos in-ceiling speakers are just passive in-ceiling speakers. You can use quality in-ceiling speakers from any brand, and many of them will cost less than the Sonos or Sonance brands. sonos in-ceiling speaker They don’t have a built-in amp or built-in Wi-Fi, which would make them so simple that you can just install them, run the Sonos app, and be done.

As you point out, you will have to have other Sonos devices. Sonos amps are very convenient because they bring the simplicity of Sonos to the amplification you need, resulting in fewer boxes to buy and install. But getting those Sonos amps also adds to the cost. This is true for any in-ceiling speaker setup. If you’re lucky, speaker wires for in-ceiling or in-wall speakers were run throughout the house and routed back to a central location when the house was built, so you just need to install the in-ceiling speakers. All you need to do is go where they are and then install the Sonos and amp accessories in the closet and connect it. It sounds simple, but it is somewhat involved, and frankly, I would recommend having an installer do this work.

However, if you’re attempting to retrofit a home that did not have CL3 in-wall-rated wire at the time of construction, you definitely need an installer, and you may be considering an even more expensive proposition. are doing.

Using a Wi-Fi-enabled smart speaker may not be as stealthy as in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, but it’s a much less expensive way to distribute sound throughout the home. As a bonus, they may actually sound a little better in some cases. You can buy the Sonos Era 100 speakers, or you can get multiple speakers that support Amazon Alexa or Google Home and still have a distributed audio system that works wonders.

Where it gets trickier is integrating your TV sound with these independent smart speakers. If you want your speakers to not only handle music and podcasts, etc., but also playback whatever you’re watching on your TV, you’ll have it much easier with a Sonos setup than with Amazon, Google, or others. However, the Apple smart speaker can do Finish up.

Anyway, for cost and convenience, I recommend using practical smart speakers. If you’re really into the idea of ​​doing in-ceiling work, by all means do so. But I would recommend hiring a professional and be prepared to open your wallet a little more. If you will stay in the house for a long time then this can be beneficial for you. But if you think you’ll be moving soon, don’t think you’re increasing the value of the home by making any elaborate arrangements. According to installers I talk to, these built-in systems often go unused or are removed by new owners.

3d tv

Three men are standing in front of a large 3D TV wearing 3D glasses and their hair is blowing up at the realism of the image.

Tom Swift from Waterford, Ireland asks: With your extensive connections in the digital world and especially TV, can you tell me if there are manufacturers anywhere in the world that still make 3D OLED? I heard they were great, but very expensive to buy at the time, but I think this will be my best TV ever.

I’m afraid the bad news is: As far as I’m aware, no one is making 3D OLED or any other 3D TV.

I understand that some people really enjoyed their 3D TV at home. In fact, I know some people who won’t upgrade their current TV because they’ll lose 3D functionality if they do. However, 3D TV was a major failure for manufacturers. It was too expensive to do it at a high quality, or cheap, low quality implementations disappointed audiences.

When I started reviewing TVs, you got active shutter glasses that blocked the vision in one eye while light passed through the other eye – this made the TV flicker and dim, much like the Now black frame insertion occurs on TV. It wasn’t very good. Plus, those 3D glasses either ate batteries for breakfast or required constant recharging.

The other issue with 3D was that the resolution of the film was essentially halved because the TV had to show alternate frames to achieve the 3D effect.

Anyway, TV brands know there are some die-hard 3D fans out there, but they’re not going back to old ways. So until glasses-free 3D can be done cheaply and mass-produced, I’m afraid we’ll have to reserve 3D as a cinematic treat. I’m sorry I don’t have better news on that front, but if it’s any consolation, you’re far from the first or only person to bring this up.

speaker dropout

Soundbar component of the Nakamichi Dragon Surround System.
Nakamichi Dragon Zeke Jones /

Scott Baker writes: My new Sony 77 A95L connected to the Nakamichi Dragon soundbar will intermittently switch back and forth from the external speaker (Nakamichi) to the internal TV speaker. Any way to fix this in settings? There is no software “switch” to select “External only” in the sound settings menu. Is this a bug?

Yes, Scott, that sucks, and I’m sorry for that frustrating situation. First, in the A95L menu, if you choose Adjustment cog on the remote, then settings cog icon At the top right of the screen, then scroll down to Audio Output, you should be able to select “TV Speakers” or “Audio System”.

If you chose “Audio System” and you are getting dropouts, it is because the audio system in the TV is missing. Now, is this a TV issue, or a Nakamichi issue? Or is it an HDMI cable problem? I would buy a high-quality, ultra-high-speed HDMI cable and eliminate it as a possible culprit as any signal problem caused by the cable can cause the problem you are describing. Nakamichi has told me that certain cables have caused problems when used with certain source components. For example, using Zeskit cables apparently causes problems with Sony TVs, especially when a PlayStation 5 console is involved. I have also been told this Belkin’s Ultra High-Speed ​​HDMI Cable Best for use with Apple TV.

Anyway, if you replace the cable with an ultra-high-speed cable as I suggest and this keeps happening, then, well, we need to find out if this is a Sony A95L problem – and so Maybe because I have some trouble keeping my hands off the TV. That reminds me: Make sure your A95L is running the latest software update. The problem can also be solved by that.

But, it could also be that Nakamichi is closing his handshake as well, which will be a problem for Nakamichi to fix. Nakamich says he’s gathering as much information as possible from customers and using it to build a database from which he can conduct further testing. However, sadly, eARC and ARC are considered defunct.

Samsung S89C

Samsung S89C OLED 4K TV with an abstract scene on the screen.

KevinB writes: I have a few questions about the Samsung 77-inch S89C. It looks like it’s the S90C, but it’s only sold at Best Buy. I can’t really find the difference between these TVs.

I’m so glad this question came up. I knew this would be an issue, and here it is.

Most tech journalists covering TV felt that the S89C made no sense and, worse, would cause a lot of confusion. So here’s the deal on the S89C.

The S89C is a QD-OLED TV that’s virtually indistinguishable from the Samsung S90C. It has all the hardware and features like S90C. This is just a Best Buy-exclusive model. If I had to guess, I’d say Samsung had to create a different model number and SKU so that Best Buy could offer more discounts on TVs than other retailers. But, again, this is just an educated guess. Samsung hasn’t provided any concrete information about the S89C other than confirming its existence as the first QD-OLED TV in its lineup, which is exclusive to Best Buy.

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