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Don’t Look Up

Thanks to some unexpected freeing up of time (and more news unrelated to Feature Friday), we are happy to announce that Feature Fridays are back on the menu. As always, if you have a setup you’d like featured, feel free to send it in to natethomas AT xbmc DOT org (also, see the end of this article for a new contest).

This week, we turn to Matt, who successfully managed to buy his massive collection of harddrives before hard drive prices went crazy. Like all good enthusiasts should, he’s hidden his server running Ubuntu in a back closet, where his 12 TB of harddrive space can spin quietly, away from earshot.

When Matt designed his entertainment center, he decided that visible wires were for crazy folk. The problem was, he didn’t have an entirely new room to work with when building, and he didn’t want ugly speakers hanging out of the walls. So, he did this:

Ceiliing Speaker

That’s right, Matt skipped the walls entirely and stuck the speakers directly into his ceiling. Specifically, Matt stuck four Polk Audio 620-RT speakers in the ceiling. Those, combined with the Polk Audio TL3 center channel in his entertainment cabinet, provide for full surround without any clutter. Here’s a view of one of the 620-RTs without its cover.

Ceiling Speaker without cover

With the cover in place, as you can see below, the speakers blend almost seamlessly with the ceiling and other ceiling pieces.

A room of invisible speakers

Next, to crank up the bass, Matt hid his Polk Audio DSW Pro 660wi 12 inch subwoofer almost in plain sight. Can you see it in the above picture? (No, it’s not the dog.)

A well hidden subwoofer

How about now?

Because Matt went with a wireless subwoofer, he was able to place his sub anywhere he wanted to in the room, so long as it was relatively close to a power outlet. Even if he hadn’t though, as you can see from the above picture, Matt has done an excellent job managing cables without tearing out walls.

Finally, we turn to my favorite part of this entertainment center. Most enthusiasts, when setting up their rooms, hang their TVs on their walls using the VESA mount. The thing is, if you’ve got a perfectly acceptable entertainment center cabinet to rest your TV on, there’s almost no reason to hang the TV on the wall. So what do you do with that free VESA mount?

Matt choose to use the VESA mount to hang his XBMC-running Zotac ND22 HTPC directly onto his Sharp 42″ Aquous LCD.

The other way to use a VESA mount

Zotac, meet Sharp. You’ll be spending some time together.

And so Matt’s setup is complete. Let’s take one last look at how it all fits together.

Matt's Entertainment Center

Not bad at all. And not a wire in sight. (Though a ridiculously adorable dog is still very much in sight.) Good job, Matt!

Photo Challenge:

Next week, I’d like to change Feature Friday up a bit. Instead of highlighting one individual’s home, I’d like to set a challenge in honor of Matt’s setup. Send us a link to a picture of how you hide (or elegantly display) your HTPC. Feel free to upload the picture to your picture hosting site of choice. (I personally prefer tinypic.com, but any one that allows downloading will work.) If you’ve got a cool story to go along with the picture, send that along too. The challenge will end at 1AM, Easter Standard Time, Thursday night/ Friday morning.  A few of us Team members will then select our favorites, and we’ll present as many as seems reasonable on the blog next Friday. The winner of the challenge will earn the respect and admiration of the Team and of your fellow users. I suppose we could see if we can come up with a prize that’s a little more tangible, but no promises.

Send your links to natethomas AT xbmc DOT org with the subject: Hidden XBMC, and good luck!