Friday, December 28, 2012

The Best Home Theater Seat Innovations from 2012

Since the Mayan Apocalypse didn’t happen last week, it did not save us from all of the “End-of-the-Year Roundups” that show up on blogs, news sites and news outlets across the Internet. Therefore we have decided to add ours to the mix too.

Welcome to the Theater Seat Store 2012 Home Theater Seat Roundup!

We decided to take a brief look at the innovations and trends that have shaped home theater seating over 2012. It was a big year for home theater seats as many new models were introduced with fantastic new features:

  • Ambient Base Lighting – Traditional movie theaters tend to have a small light at the end of each row that is embedded in the riser. This helps people find their way in the darkened theater. Home theater enthusiasts could mimic this effect in their own home theaters, but there was no commercial kit to help them. A popular new trend for 2012 has been to add a strip of LED lighting along the baserail of each seat. This light is usually blue to not interfere with the picture or viewers’ eyes that have adjusted to the darkness. This popular feature is now available on a wide variety of theater seat models.
  • Pocket Coil Seating – Until 2012, pretty much all home theater seats had foam seat cushions that were made up of layers of furniture foam. While these seats are comfortable and offer decent support, home theater seats got a boost in the comfort zone when some manufacturers started adding pocket coil seating to their new models. Pocket coils are an array of steel springs that are encased in layers of foam. Each coil is encased in its own fabric sheath, and coils are packed together tightly (16 coils per 10-inch square space). This offers an increased level of comfort and support thanks to the individual coils distributing weight evenly.
  • Better Bonded LeatherBonded leather is a popular and inexpensive alternative to real leather upholstery. It is made up of a small amount of real leather scraps mixed with vinyl material. Up until now, bonded leather has had a plastic-like feel and sheen to it. This year, new manufacturing techniques have produced bonded leather that looks and feels like the real thing.
  • Smartphone or Tablet Control – New products by major manufacturers now have apps that you can download to your Apple or Android smartphone. These apps allow you to control the powered features of each seat. You can use your smartphone or tablet to recline the seat, activate massage features or even turn lighting on and off. Add a remote control app and you can control your entire home theater from the comfort of your seat. Palliser Furniture even added an iPad Holder to some of their newer models! This device holds your tablet at an angle for comfortable use.
  • Built-in Charging Stations – Why let your mobile phone battery run out during a movie? Some home theater seats feature built in charging stations to charge your smartphone or tablet while you watch your favorite shows. You can also use the charging station to power your mobile device while you control the functions of your home theater seat, (see above).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Goodbye Rear Projection TV’s – Your Bulky Presence will be Missed!

Though Mark Twain famously said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”, the same cannot be said for the giant staple of many a living room and man cave – the big screen rear-projection TV. Since the 1970’s, these giant behemoths were highly sought after for home theaters across America. They were considered status symbols and held a commanding presence in the room that they were placed. Who wouldn’t want to watch the Big Game on their own home Jumbo-tron? 

Now with the popularity of plasma and LCD TV’s, the rear projection television has become a relic of the past. David Katzmeier recently wrote an article for CNET announcing the exit of Mitsubishi from the rear projection TV market. Mitsubishi is the last major manufacturer to stop making rear projection TV’s. This sounded the final death knell for rear projection technology.

The biggest reason that plasma and LCD televisions dominate the market is the simple fact that they can be mounted on the wall. Current rear projection TV’s are also high definition and use the latest technologies to produce picture quality that rivals that of a plasma or LCD screen. Their biggest problem is their size. According to an article on thestar.com, “it does not matter that most buyers never mount their TV on a wall. They want to think they can”.           

Rear-projection technology has been around since 1947, when RCA unveiled the first rear projection television. This technology saw some popularity in the 1950’s when cathode ray tubes had a maximum size of 12 inches. Products like the Philips 1800A could be found in affluent living rooms. Large rear-projection TV’s became available to the masses in the 1970’s and stayed popular through the early 2000’s.   

So fare thee well, rear projection TV’s! We will miss the simulated wood grain paneling of your cabinet and the way that you dominated the rec room. Though we had to find the right viewing height to avoid your “hot spot”, we will miss you as we try to figure out what to do with all of the new floor space.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 'IT' of Home Theater

Every year new developments in home theater have us saying "wow, this is really it!!" - why should this year be any different??

Prima Cinema
So, if you are the guy or girl who wants to have it all, then 'all' has just arrived - it comes in the shape of a small black box.  No, its not Tivo - that was the "it" of 1999 - its called the Prima Cinema System.  Burn those three words into your memory because this is what the top of the home theater food chain looks like.

The Prima Cinema allows viewers to get access to elusive first run movies - all whilst relaxing at home.  The system's focus is theatrical releases and one can now enjoy new movies released on the same day as local cinemas in the absolute comfort of your own home theater room.

This device has found a home in the screening rooms of many Hollywood directors and movie industry veterans like Brett Ratner, for instance, but is now available to everyone.  Screening rooms have become status symbols for those who receive early copies of new movies like directors, industry executives and A-list actors.  Access to early releases is  limited to those that make the exclusive insider list referred to as the 'Bell Air Circuit', if you come from Hollywood, or the 'subway circuit' if you are from New York.

The unit itself was designed by BMW DesignWorksUSA and will set you back a cool $20,000-$30,000. That's not were the money tree stops shaking either.  Be prepared to spend an additional $500 per movie on opening weekends.  So what can be better than hosting a red carpet event in your own home?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Last Supper for Cinema

The Lounge at Odeon Whiteleys
In the home theater world, there is a lot of talk about the impact of big screen home TV on the traditional cinema experience.  The advent and arrival of this new medium about 5-7 years ago - at least at a price that makes it attainable to everyone - has had a significant impact on the traditional theater business.

Most people love the experience that comes with a night out at the movies, but do they want to sacrifice the comfort of home with a comparable technical experience?  Times are changing and now, more than ever, the pressure is on the traditional theater business to evolve and compete with this formidable new challenger.  

As avid theater afficiandos, we follow the industry news and are seeing more and more of a premium cinema experience moving into the traditional theater business.  Behemoths in the space like AMC, Celebration Cinemas and Odeon (in the UK) are evolving with the times and testing the concept of bringing the living room into the movie theater.  Now the game is on!! 

AMC have renovated a theater they operate and own in Marina Del Rey and introduced 50% less of the traditional theater style rockers and replaced them with home-style theater loungers.  They are calling the concept the CinemaSuite.  This renovation has cost $5 million and includes a widening of the isle space to accommodate the fully reclined new theater chairs.  The trend has just taken hold here in the US but is also in full motion in Europe and is successfully operated by Odeon - the UK's largest cinema chain - in a number of their theaters in London.