Tag: home audio

Bluetooth Speaker Buying Guide

Bluetooth Speakers

How much time do you spend listening to music, podcasts or the radio a day through your phone, tablet or computer? Regardless of where you spend most of your time, at home, at the office or anywhere else, chances are your answer is a lot. More often than not you’re probably using a pair of headphones to listen; but when you’re looking for a more social experience, whether you’re at a party, the beach or just relaxing at home, a Bluetooth speaker can be the perfect addition.

Because these speakers use Bluetooth streaming to play music you can carry your device around with you while streaming. They’re also compatible with common Bluetooth enabled devices, from Android smartphone to Apple iPads and everything in between. You should also be aware of what kind of Bluetooth the speaker you want has; if you’re looking for the best sounding speaker possible you’re going to want to pick up a Bluetooth speaker that supports aptX Hi-Fi streaming which gives you more detailed, less compressed audio quality.

What Are You Going to Use it For?

JBL Pulse Bluetooth Speaker

The JBL Pulse Brings the Party with You

Your first step in buying a new Bluetooth speaker, as with most purchases you make, is knowing what you want to use it for. Finding the right speaker to meet your needs is important, you won’t be satisfied with your purchase if you buy a speaker meant for use at the beach if you’re looking for something to fill your living room or office with high quality sound. At the same time, you don’t want to buy a home speaker if you’re intending to take it to the beach because chances are you’d end up ruining your speaker.

What Kind of Bluetooth Speakers Are There?

When you think of a Bluetooth speaker, a basic speaker that sits on a table in your house and plays music might be the only thing that comes to mind. It is important to understand that, whatever you plan on using a Bluetooth speaker for, there is a speaker tailored for your specific need.

Portable Bluetooth Speakers

JBL Micro Wireless Bluetooth Speakers

JBL Micro Wireless Bluetooth Speakers Go Anywhere with You!

The most versatile Bluetooth speaker is the portable Bluetooth speaker. Portable Bluetooth speakers can stream your music anywhere, from your home to the court to bring your favorite music with you. Portable Bluetooth speakers can range in size from small clip on speakers that you can attach to your bag or belt clip to larger speakers that are more meant for use in a single location. Because of their size, many portable Bluetooth speakers are ideal for travelers; they can be small enough to easily fit in your bags and powerful enough to really enjoy your music or movies in your hotel room. Portable Bluetooth speakers are commonly found as both stereo and mono speaker configurations to meet all of your audio requirements.

Limitless Creations Radiant Bluetooth Speakers

The Limitless Creation Radiant Bluetooth Home Speakers

Home Bluetooth Speakers

If you’re looking for wireless streaming but don’t need it to be portable, a home Bluetooth speaker is perfect for you. Home speakers and home speakers don’t run on batteries, they require a power connection. These speakers are great for anyone looking to add some high quality sound to their home audio experience. Bluetooth home speakers can be anything from a speaker that sits on a table or bookshelf to a full size floor standing speaker that provides full, room filling sound that is perfect for background music for entertaining or rocking out by yourself. Bluetooth home speakers are typically larger than their portable counterparts. They are also usually full-on stereo speakers and, in some cases, have built-in subwoofers to provide some extra kick to your music.
Outdoor Bluetooth Speakers

Outdoor Bluetooth Speakers

Bring Your Music Everywhere

One of the most popular, and desirable, applications for a Bluetooth speaker is using it outside. Outdoor Bluetooth speakers, which are usually portable speakers, are typically built with more rugged use in mind than your typical speaker. They almost exclusively feature, at the very least, some type of water resistance if not a full on waterproof rating. Outdoor speakers are perfect for using at the pool, taking to the beach, camping or any other outdoor activity that you want to inject some music into.

What Else Can a Bluetooth Speaker Do?

Once you’ve picked out what type of speaker best meets your needs you can start to pick out what kind of features you want. A Bluetooth speaker can be a versatile addition to your audio choices; they can be anything from a basic speaker just for playing music to a full-on complementary piece to your home sound system.

Mono vs. Stereo Speakers

To start, there are different speaker configurations available in Bluetooth speakers. If you’re just looking for something simple and aren’t too worried about sound quality, a mono speaker is probably the way to go. Mono speakers are typically portable and produce sound through a single speaker. A stereo speaker features two built-in speakers and is capable of much greater sound performance than a basic mono speaker. For optimum sound quality from your Bluetooth speaker, you’re going to want to pick up a 2.1 speaker. These speakers feature dual speakers with a built-in subwoofer to give the speaker significantly improved performance in the low end.

Hands-Free Phone Calls

Harman Kardon Esquire Bluetooth Speaker

Use Your Harman Kardon Esquire for Important Conference Calls

Many Bluetooth speakers are designed for more than just music streaming; they also can have built-in microphones for hands-free phone calls through the speaker itself. Bluetooth speakers with built-in mics are great for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s just more convenient. If your phone rings while you’re listening you can take the call directly from the speaker (some even have built-in controls so you can answer the call by pressing a button on the speaker) rather than having to physically answer your phone.

NFC Pairing

Near Field Communication (NFC) is becoming increasingly more common and is an incredibly intuitive way to pair your devices. NFC enabled Bluetooth speakers eliminates the need to enter codes to connect your device and lets you pair your device (provided it’s also NFC enabled) by simply touching them together.

Companion Apps

Some manufacturers also offer a companion app with their Bluetooth speakers. You can download these apps onto your smartphone or tablet to get the most out of your music. These apps are usually available on both the Google Play store and iTunes. They usually include an equalizer as well as bass and treble controls to give you the ultimate control over your music you usually lack with your smartphone.

Bluetooth Speakers with Additional Inputs

Keep Your Device Charged While Streaming

Other Connections

Bluetooth speakers can also usually be used as wired speakers if you want to play music from a non-Bluetooth device. They often have a 3.5mm auxiliary input as well as a USB input that can, on select speakers, be used to charge your device. Select Bluetooth speakers also include 30-pin or Lightning connection docking stations that let you play music directly through the speaker with your compatible Apple device.

Bluetooth Speakers

Check Out Our Selection of Bluetooth Speakers


What are HDMI Cables?


A High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable is able to transfer audio and video from one source to another source destination.   HDMI is a high-resolution replacement to standard audio/video (AV) cables.  Standard cables (such as composite RCA, Component video, 2-channel audio, and more) are analog cables, where as HDMI is considered a digital cable.  This cable supports the high bandwidth requirements of higher definition devices, such as Blu-ray players, HD stations, the Playstation 3, and more.  Because HDMI is able to support the transfer of high data-rates, it has the ability to transfer uncompressed data for a more accurate image.

Some of the benefits of HDMI:

  • Supports full 1080p HD resolution
  • Enables the transfer of surround sound audio (8 Channels)
  • Replaces up to 5 different A/V cables with one HDMI cable
  • Enables the transfer of Ethernet
  • HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control)

One of the greatest advantages of HDMI cables over other cables is the fact that it is an evolving cable.  This means that as technology advances, this cable is able to change to support the latest features.  Traditionally, these cables were categorized with version numbers.  As you can see in the chart below, different versions of cables will support different features.  The newer the cable, the more features that it is going to support.  Monster Cable HDMI cables have introduced a new “Speed Rating” that is changing the way that these cables are rated and categorized.  By rating cables with particular speeds, the consumer is able to determine which cable they need for their particular home theater needs.  Having the correct HDMI cable will allow you to get the most out of your HD Television, Blu-ray player, and other high-definition components.

Supported Features VS HDMI Version Number 

Supported Features 1.0 1.1 1.2
1.3 1.3a
sRGB Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
YCbCr Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
8 channel LPCM, 192kHz, 24bit audio capability Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD video and audio at full resolution Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
DVD-Audio support No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Super Audio CD Direct Stream Digital(DSD) support No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Deep Color No No No Yes Yes Yes
xxYCC No No No Yes Yes Yes
Auto lip-sync No No No Yes Yes Yes
Dolby TrueHD bitstream capable No No No Yes Yes Yes
DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream capable No No No Yes Yes Yes
Updated list of CEC commands No No No No Yes Yes
3D Over HDMI No No No No No Yes
Ethernet Channel No No No No No Yes
Audio Return Channel No No No No No Yes
4k × 2k Resolution Support No No No No No Yes

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How to Clean a Flatscreen Television

Keep Your Flatscreen Clean!

If you have a flatscreen television, then you know it made a dent in your wallet. The last thing you want to do is ruin or scratch the screen by cleaning it. Dust and fingerprints always seem to find their way onto your flatscreen, but don’t just clean it with common cleaning products or methods; there is a proper method for cleaning your expensive flatscreen TV. It’s a simple process that only requires two things, a soft cloth and cleaning liquid that is specifically manufactured to clean flatscreens. The steps below will teach you the correct approach to properly clean your television.

Step 1:
Turn the television off and disconnect the power cable, fingerprints and dust are much easier to spot when the TV is off. This is also a safe method and won’t cause any damage to the screen or static electricity built-up.

Monster Cable TV CLNKIT

High Performance Cleaning Kit

Step 2 :
Choose a cleaning solution specifically made for cleaning flatscreens, lukewarm water will work if you don’t have a cleaning liquid but it is not your best option. When choosing the cleaning product, read the label and make sure it is safe for LCD screens. There are cleaning kits available that include both the cleaning solution and a soft cloth.

Step 3:
Choose a soft cloth and lightly wipe off as much dust as possible. Then dampen the cloth with either the cleaning liquid or lukewarm water. Gently wipe the screen starting at one side and wiping straight across until dust and fingerprints are gone. Scrubbing and applying heavy pressure could cause damage and scratches to your screen.

Step 4:
In between cleanings, dust your flatscreen on a regular basis to avoid excessive dust build-up that can damage your TV. This will also save you time and money in the long run.

What Not To Do:
DO NOT use strong cleaners such as alcohol, ammonia-based cleaners, or window cleaners because they will damage.
DO NOT scrub, rub, or apply pressure when wiping the screen, this will cause damage to your screen.
DO NOT use any type of paper towel, napkin, or newspaper when cleaning your screen. These contain little wood particles that will scratch your screen.
DO NOT spray cleaner directly onto screen, it can leak into the cracks and crevices of the flatscreen and cause damage to the circuitry.
DO NOT wipe in a circular or up and down motion, this could cause scratches.
DO NOT wipe or clean with a dry cloth, this could also cause scratches in the screen.

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How to Clean a Flat-Panel Television


After spending your hard-earned money on a new television, the last thing you would want to do is damage it. Like a lot of things in your home, televisions get dirty with fingerprints and dust and require cleaning every once in a while. For televisions, there is an appropriate method when it comes to cleaning your TV. Here are some steps you should take to make sure your flat-panel television lasts.

The first thing you want to do is avoid most common cleaning products because they can damage the screen and make the picture look foggy. The Monster Cable CleanTouch is a cleaning kit for LCD Monitors and works perfectly to remove any smudges without drips, streaks or stains. After you choose the cleaning product best suited for you, turn off your television display before cleaning. Although this is not necessary, it is safer and will allow you to see the smudges and dirt better.

Second, use a soft lint-free cloth with your cleaning spray. LCD screens have a special coating on them and can suffer from too much wiping, so keep contact to a minimum with these displays. Do not spray the solution directly onto the screen; you will want to spray a minimal amount onto your cloth so it doesn’t seep into your new television screen. Gently wipe the screen to remove the smudges and spots.  Be careful, as too much pressure will damage the screen.


  • Do not spray the cleaner directly onto the screen
  • Never use chemical cleaners like alcohol, ammonia or window cleaners.
  • Do not use paper towels on your screen because they will scratch it.
  • Do not apply direct pressure to the screen.
  • Check the owner’s manual to see if there are special cleaning instructions

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Surround Sound Formats

Surround Sound will Transform Your Home Entertainment System

Surround sound uses multiple audio tracks to draw the movie-watching audience in as if they were a part of the action. Surround sound allows the listener to hear sounds coming from all around them and plays a large part in the movie world. There are different sound formats that are encoded on DVDs or ones that are used in your new home theater system. The formats below are considered true surround sound because they rely on multiple dedicated speakers.

Dolby Digital:

Dolby Digital surround is an advanced form of digital audio coding and refers to a surround sound system that employs discrete digital recordings. Dolby Digital is available on DVDs, DVD-ROM discs, digital cable system and digital broadcast systems. Not only is it used with standard definition DVD discs, it is also being used as a part of the new HDTV standard. The term “Dolby Digital surround” is most often used when describing a 5.1 Channel audio system. With the six-discrete channels, sound can be heard precisely and with improved dialogue clarity.

Dolby Pro-Logic:

Dolby Pro Logic was designed to decode soundtracks encoded with Dolby Surround.  It is standard for analog television broadcasts, since the signal can be encoded in a stereo analog signal. You can still enjoy movies even if you have an older receiver, since all DVD players convert Dolby Digital information to the Pro Logic format.

DTS Digital Surround:

An alternative to the Dolby Digital format is DTS Digital Surround, which uses less compression than Dolby Digital. Many audiophiles believe that it produces a rich bass with greater dynamics that are more accurate than Dolby Digital. Just like Dolby Digital, it is a 5.1 Channel surround sound format and is an optional soundtrack on some DVD movies. The main advantage of DTS is that it offers higher data rates that may improve the sound quality. Although sound reproduction may be enhanced, fewer DVDs are encoded with DTS as compared to Dolby Digital.


DTS-ES (Digital Theater Surround – Extended Surround) Discrete is a 6.1 channel system that provides more sound effects than a standard 5.1 surround sound system. It requires a receiver with ES Processing, which enables you to add one (or two) rear center surround channel speaker(s) to the 5.1 channel surround. An ES processor will recognize the discrete sixth channel and play it back if connected to the correct speaker. In a 7.1 channel configuration, the two rear-center speakers play in mono. Currently, there are only a few ES-encoded DVD’s, so to utilize this format an ES-capable receiver is required.

Dolby TrueHD:

Dolby TrueHD is an advanced multi-channel audio code that is primarily used for high-definition home entertainment equipment such as Blu-Ray and HD DVD players. It will allow you to experience high-definition surround sound by delivering audio that is identical to the master recording. TrueHD delivers 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound with 100% lossless coding, which is when the original data is reconstructed from the compressed data.

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LCD vs. Plasma vs. LED Televisions

You Have Choices When Looking for a New TV!

When choosing a new flat-panel television, it is no longer just about brand name recognition. It is about deciding between three technologies: LCD, Plasma or LED. All of these can deliver an outstanding picture but there are differences when it comes to each one. Below are some pros and cons of each television type. This guide should help you decide which type of television will give you the image quality you are looking for.

LCD (Liquid-Crystal Display)

LCD Flat Screen TV

LCD televisions implement liquid crystals that align themselves when activated by an electrical current. An LCD display has a light source behind the pixels that allow the picture to be shown on the screen. LCD flat screen televisions are versatile and can be installed on a wall with the appropriate mounting equipment. Unlike a Plasma television, LCD panels require less power to operate and there is no radiation emitted from the screen itself. An advantage to an LCD television is that it is not susceptible to burn-in, it runs cooler with less screen glare and it has a longer display life.


  • Longer screen life
  • Better glare response
  • Less power consumption
  • High contrast images
  • Thin display
  • Light weight for easy installation


  • Ghosting, which is a moving image that has tail following it on screen
  • Lower contrast ratio
  • Individual pixels could burn-out
  • Moving to either side will diminish picture quality


Plasma TV

Plasma televisions are made up of xenon and neon gases. Plasmas typically have a better picture than an LCD. Not only do they have a brighter picture, but they also process motion faster. They have a better contrast ratio, more color depth and the availability of larger screen sizes that an LCD television. It has a better picture quality in normal or low room lighting compared to the LCD. The color quality and uniformity matches that of a movie theater, so if you would like to simulate the typical movie theater experience, a plasma television is the way to go. Just like an LCD screen, plasma’s are capable of display high-definition TV, regular TV and home video.


  • Higher contrast ratio
  • Fast screen refresh rate
  • Wide viewing angle
  • More color depth
  • Available in larger sizes
  • Thin display
  • Long life span


  • Image retention or burn-in
  • Generate more heat
  • Do not perform well in high altitudes
  • Heavier

LED (Light-Emitting Diode)
The newest form of television technology is the LED. LED is the latest form of the LCD television, but it has superior definition display in comparison to the traditional LCD television. It enables a true-to-life range of picture brightness that an LCD television is incapable of reproducing. There are different types of LED technology that are used in LCD TV’s. One is edge-lighting, where LED backlights are placed along the outer edges of the screen. The other type is referred to as full-array. Several rows of LEDs are placed behind the surface of the screen.


  • Lower power consumption
  • More balanced color saturation
  • Better lifespan
  • Smooth picture
  • Thinner than Plasma or LCD screens


  • Cost

As you can see, there are similarities when it comes to each television, as well as pros and cons for each technology. When deciding on a television display, make sure you keep in mind exactly what it is you are looking for and compare each model.

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How to Mount a Flat-Panel Television

Wall Mounted TV

With the rapid growth of flat-panel televisions, more and more people are choosing to purchase them and use them as a focal point of their entertainment system. Wall-mounted televisions are a great way to save space while still enjoying a perfect picture. If you have never installed a television, let alone mounted one to a wall, it may be trickier than you think. The first thing you will want to do is choose a wall mount that will best suit your needs.

Choosing a Wall Mount

Flat-panel televisions look best when mounted on the wall using a TV Wall mount. There are three different types of wall mounts to choose from. First, let’s discuss low-profile wall mounts. Sanus Systems has the ML11-B1 for 26”-46” Flat-panel televisions. Even though it is a super slim wall mount, it holds the bottom of the TV away from the wall for easy cable access. This type of mount is the easiest to install and won’t break the bank. Second, is a tilting wall mount. A tilting wall mount has a pivot in the middle of the installation bracket, which makes it possible to maintain a perfect viewing angle. These mounts enable you to tilt your television to minimize any glare while still maintaining a low-profile design. The Certified LCD Mounts brand designs multiple tilting wall mounts in a wide range of sizes to fit different TV’s. Last but not least, there are full-motion wall mounts. Full-motion allows the mounts to tilt, swivel, pan and extend from the wall. These particular wall mounts allow you to easily view the television from any angle in the room. Television wall mounts are made from high-grade construction materials for strength and durability. The wall mounts mentioned above can be used with any Plasma, LCD or LED Televisions.

Where do I mount my TV?

There are two points that you should take into consideration before placing the mount on the wall. First, the height of the television needs to be at eye level while you’re seated. Your TV needs to be at a comfortable viewing level to prevent eye strain for you or your guests. Where to mount the television is one of the most important steps in this process. If it is too high, it will be hard to view, same with it being too low. The best-looking picture is seen when you view the screen straight on. The second point is screen glare. Make sure the lighting in your room does not reflect off the television screen. This can be very distracting and the picture will not look its best.

How to Mount a Flat-Panel Television

There are many different steps that need to take place before mounting your flat-panel television.  When mounting your new television, make sure there are at least two people to lift the television onto the wall mount and that the cables have been secured beforehand. If there are any safety locks or tabs, make sure that they are secure and fully functioning. If you decide to go with a tilting or full-motion wall mount, you can go ahead and adjust the television further until you find a suitable viewing angle.

How am I going to hide all these wires?

LCD, LED and Plasma televisions are meant to provide a sleek, sophisticated look to your room so hiding the wiring is necessary. There are a number of ways to conceal your A/V cables. One way to hide the wiring is to try and route them through the back of wall. This technique works well for the cosmetic look of any room but should only be done by someone with the technical skill. An easy way of masking unsightly wires is by using the Monster Cable Flatscreen CleanView, which is an on-wall cable management system. It attaches easily to the wall and it will neatly and effectively hide your cables along the walls.


Choosing a Sound Bar for your TV

The Right Soundbar can Transform Your TV into a Home Theater

If you are thinking of expanding your home theater system without the potential clutter of a conventional sound system, a sound bar is the right thing for you. They require minimal space and can be mounted right below or even above the television. A sound bar setup has a sleek design that will complement the styling of a Plasma or LCD display perfectly.

A sound bar provides great stereo sound with a clear and more defined audio than what you will get in the TV’s built-in stereo speakers. Some models will even come with a wireless subwoofer. This allows your speaker to be mounted underneath the television while the subwoofer can be placed anywhere in the room to deliver dramatic bass response. Other sound bar systems even include built-in DVD Players. These all-in-one systems provide your room with an improved sound quality plus a clean, efficient setup.

This type of audio system will work best if you have limited room for speakers and other audio equipment as it requires fewer pieces and can easily be mounted to the wall.  A sound bar will still create a cinematic like surround sound experience without having to put speakers around your whole room. The setup is very simple with only a few cables needed to install the system.

A sound bar is a great alternative if you don’t want speakers around the whole house, yet it still provides acceptable audio that will go great with a flat-panel television.

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HDMI Conversion and Up Conversion

hdmi (2)

HDMI can be confusing for most people, especially when talking about video conversion and up-conversion. The term up-conversion is also referred to as “scaling” and “upscaling” which adds to the confusion. Don’t let these unfamiliar words deter you from reading on, because if you have a receiver that has conversion capabilities, you will want to know what it is used for and how it applies to your home theater setup.

First, a receiver with HDMI conversion means that it will interpret the incoming analog video signal into a digital signal of the same resolution and send it to the television through an HDMI cable. An example would be an analog signal with 480i resolution would be converted to a 480p digital signal so it can be sent through the HDMI cable.

Depending on your television, this specific resolution may create a less-than-ideal viewing experience. As a viewer, you may see broken images and random pixels instead of the colors blending together naturally. This is where the up-conversion comes in.

If your receiver has HDMI up conversion, it will look at the incoming analog video signal and adjust them to make it better match the picture resolution on any high-definition TV it’s connected to. Now, if the incoming signals are already digital, most home audio receivers will pass them through the cable without being altered, no matter what the resolution is.  For example, if your home receiver has a resolution of 480p, the scaling circuitry will fill in any additional picture information to “upscale” it to 720p before sending it through the cable.

HDMI Up conversion does not turn a low-resolution image into a high-definition one. The picture will look as good as it can on the display with the information that was added that wasn’t there to begin with.

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How to Choose the Right Television Size


Be Kind to your Eyes

Determining the right size television for a particular room is important.  A television that is too small can be hard to see and will diminish the overall impact of a flat-panel screen. A television that is too big can be straining on the eyes, creating a less than ideal viewing experience. The best way to determine a good TV size is to measure the distance from your seating area to your TV. This is important because it optimizes the viewing experience. High-definition televisions have become increasingly popular over the years and allow you to sit closer to the screen than you could with older televisions. In fact, if you sit further away from HDTVs, you may miss out on some of the details it has to offer.

There is an optimum size display for every room and many different questions need to be answered before you decide on a size. How big is my room? What type of seating arrangement do I have? You will need to take these into account when figuring out exactly the right screen size for you. A chart has been included to reference when deciding what size television best fits you.

Choose your Size and Room


If you are thinking of putting a flat-panel television in a bedroom, a 32” or smaller set is great and living rooms should generally have a screen size bigger than 32” so the whole family can enjoy it. For bedroom applications, a flat-panel LCD or LED TV would be your best bet. There is a wide array of flat panel televisions to choose from, all with different features. High-Definition television is the most sought after feature, and some of the best television also have anti-blur technology to ensure image accuracy.

Living rooms are able to have a bigger size television because space is normally not an issue. Whether or not you mount it on a wall is entirely up to you. Some people like to save space for furniture and walking areas so they mount their flat-panel TV on the wall. You can also use a stand to mount your TV is space is less of an issue. Just be sure to not place a large TV to close to your seating because it will require you to scan across the picture causing eye strain.


Once you have decided on a television and a room to put it in, placement is next on the list. Viewing angle is an important factor that can affect the performance of your new television. A flat-panel television can either be placed on the stand or mounted on the wall using a TV Wall mount. Mounting the TV to the wall saves space and gives your home a clean, finished look. If you decide to put your new TV in an entertainment center, make sure there is enough room on each side for proper ventilation.

Room lighting should be considered before mounting your television or placing it in an entertainment center. Lights and windows can affect your TV’s performance and have a negative impact on the screen, creating a glare that makes it hard to see the screen. There are ways you can prevent lighting from affecting your new television. You may want to use adjustable blinds or curtains to help eliminate glare.