Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting


A Fond Farewell to Home Theaters…

A house is built to last at least a hundred years.  Electronic products, on the other hand, have life cycles of typically no more than about five years.  Should we then be surprised that when we try to integrate electronic gadgets into our homes that the two may not live happily ever after?  

One good example of this is the home intercom systems that were so popular in the 1980s.   They were the “must have” item in every new moderately upscale house that was built.   But it took only a few years for them to begin to look dated and their usefulness quickly declined as other communication methods came on the scene. 

Similarly, there have been numerous efforts to integrate computers into homes.  These computers were going to regulate our heating systems, turn lights on and off, and control access at every entry point.  But how many of us would want to have a home that is controlled by an old IBM PC using 5” inch floppy disks?   That’s what we would find in a home only 25 years old -- a house still very much in the prime of its life.  The computer, however, would have long ago given up any semblance of useful functionality.   Are we willing to commit our homes to something that has to be revamped every five years or so?   Even though some technologists thought otherwise, fortunately most consumers knew better. 

Now we are seeing the passing of another major home-decorating trend that depended on the integration of electronics into our houses.   Did anyone predict ten or fifteen years ago that it would soon be possible to install 60, 70, or even 80-inch flat-panel displays in just about every room of our choosing?   And that these flat-panel displays would be bright enough that we would not need darkened rooms to see them?   The home theater concept was predicated on the need for a projector to achieve display images of large size, and projectors were typically not bright enough to be comfortably viewed in rooms with normal daylight. 

Thus, was born the at-home movie-viewing experience.   Some home theater rooms that were constructed were truly impressive with movie-theater like draperies and even popcorn machines.  Subdued lighting added to the feeling of movie-theater ambiance.  But as flat panel displays grew in size, resolution, and brightness these dedicated home movie-theaters and their projection displays were used less and less.   Some homeowners tried to keep up with technology and upgraded these dedicated rooms by replacing projectors with flat-panel displays.  But for others these rooms have become places to store surplus items we all seem to accumulate. 

The home theater is no longer a must have feature for most homebuyers – even upper end buyers.  There simply is no need for such a special place when every room of the house can become an instant  “home theater”.  And installing a flat panel display does not require a special room.   

My current home was constructed in the year 2000 and the original owner had CAT5 wiring installed throughout with access plugs in every room.   That wiring is now dormant and as far as I can see will never have a useful function.  As with most of us, I now have WiFi and a computer in every room that needs no hard-wired connection.  

Will we as a society finally “see the light” and quit trying to combine 100-year houses with 3 – 5 year electronics gadgets?   Most likely not.  The desire to find new “conveniences” and invent new applications will continue as it has in the past.  And as we have already amply experienced, those gadgets will have a short life span.  The best options for home owners will be to adopt only those products that don’t require their houses to be modified or special rooms to be constructed to accommodate these new “conveniences”.  That way these “electronic marvels”  can come and go without leaving evidence of their short life spans.

Have you decided yet what to do with your home theater room?   Perhaps you were wise enough not to end up with one in the first place.  I would be interested to hear your thoughts on integrating homes and electronics.   What do you think is the best way to accomplish this?   You may reach me directly from this site, by e-mail at, or by phone at 425-898-9117.        



19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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