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The October 17, 2005 Issue Provided by System Dynamics Inc.
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Progress With Our Broadband Condo

View of the Gulf from our deck --> Click for larger pictureIn the last issue, we wrote Preparing Our Condo for the Digital Future about rewiring and equipping our Florida condo for digital media. Work is under way; we've made a lot of decisions and thought we'd provide an interim progress report.

Low-voltage outlets behind the PC --> Click for larger pictureWhile the electrician was completing the line-voltage wiring, we finished planning the low-voltage. As we reported last month, we've chosen to use A-BUS for multi-room audio. We described A-BUS for our electrician and worked out the details in a plan for him.

The most difficult set of decisions had to do with flat-screen TVs and home theater. We had decided to use a 42" plasma display in the living room for watching broadcast TV, for playing DVDs and for displaying video and pictures from our Media Center PC. Since we're going to use a cable settop box to receive HDTV, we at first planned to install a plasma monitor without a built-in tuner.

As we thought more about it, we realized that would require turning on the plasma display to see video, the home theater receiver to hear audio, and the cable box to tune a channel. While it would be clear to us, some guests might call us in a panic when they didn't hear the sound after turning on the TV. So we've decided to spend the extra money to get a full plasma TV--guests can watch and listen as soon as they turn on the TV, and can turn on the sound system if they want the full theater experience.

We also want to install a wall-mounted flat-screen TV in the master bedroom. We had been thinking about a 26" LCD, but now think we'll use a 32" LCD. We're looking for one that is "cable ready" so we can avoid installing a cable box on the wall. The only devices on the market now have the first-generation "one way" CableCard. Since CableLabs has started testing second-generation devices, and one recently passed certification tests, we may wait until they reach the market.

Wall behind the PC desk --> Click for larger pictureThe project is moving along fairly quickly now. The picture shows the wall behind the computer desk, with the surround for the whirlpool tub behind the wall. All the low-voltage cabling for the PC will run just above the white pipes, and the wiring center for the condo is in the Utility Closet just out of the picture to the left.

We'll report next month on how it all came together!