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Issue #031 - What's new
11th July 2007

The Practical HT Guide Update  brings you the latest additions in a series of informative home theater design articles, unbiased system reviews, practical guidelines and free advice. If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a BIG favor and "pay it forward."

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Welcome to the July 2007 issue of
Practical HT Guide Update


In this issue:

Hiding Connecting Cables: A Wiring Solution for Flat Panel TVs

Are you looking for a DIY wiring solution that can help you hide those unsightly looking audio/video and power cables when wall mounting a flat panel LCD or plasma television?

Well, the ‘Superb Home Theater’ cabling channel system created by furniture designer Anthony Lozano promises simple to fit. The concept is ‘easy home theater installation’, and is designed with the DIY home installer in mind.


Camouflaging on-wall cabling - The Superb Home Theater solution

'Superb Home Theater' Wiring Channels:

Everyone would agree that a wall-mounted flat panel LCD TV or plasma television looks at its best when all connecting power and A/V cables are completely hidden.

However, most often, there isn't any pre in-wall ducting through which to pass A/V cables and power cords between the TV and the interconnecting gear.

And if there is any empty conduit buried in walls, this is probably the ¾-inch (20mm) diameter type used by electricians in domestic installations. This is too small to carry the larger diameter audio and video cables.

One should keep in mind that any wiring solution for audio and video cables should take into account that these cables have limited pull strength with respect to electrical wiring, and come with pre-installed connectors. In other words, you need a relatively large diameter conduit to pass audio and video cables when concealing cables in walls.

Aesthetically, running cables through a wall yields the best results. Yet from a practical perspective, this requires substantial DIY skills, and a lot of effort especially when retrofitting a room. Furthermore, should you decide to hire a professional installer, the whole job can turn out to be pretty expensive - costing several hundred dollars - and often complicated to manage.

In addition, once cables are installed in walls and access holes closed, it would not be easy to replace any faulty cables, nor pass extra cables later.

Equally important, burying cables in walls as a wiring solution is invasive in nature. It requires expensive patching should the day come when you decide to move that flat panel TV elsewhere.

Moving to a surface mounted wiring solution would do away with all these difficulties and installation expense. Up to now, most inexpensive wiring solutions intended for the DIY installer consisted of nothing more than PVC trunking. It is true that these are available in various shapes and colors, but these wiring solutions with their cheap plastic feel, do not complement the stylish look of most modern flat screen TVs.

But… don't despair! Luckily, things are starting to change thanks to the availability of a few 'stylish' wiring solutions on the market targeting the DIY home installer. One such solution we have come across is a wiring solution kit from 'Superb Home Theater'. It is well thought-out, easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and once installed, has the custom look of an in-wall installation without the permanence and expense associated with buried wiring. 


More information on the Superb Home Theater Wiring solution is available at our site at: A Wiring Solution for the DIY

Getting Rid of the Tangle & Clutter of Messy Wires:
The Rocketfish Wireless Speaker System

The Rocketfish Wireless rear speaker kit

A wireless speaker system is a great choice for anyone to get rid of unsightly and cumbersome wires trailing around the perimeter of a room between the receiver and the rear speakers in a surround sound installation.

They also provide a simple alternative to in-wall wiring when extending that second pair of speaker outputs (Zone-B speaker outputs) on an AV receiver to a set of extra speakers elsewhere in the house.

Yet, up to not long ago, performance of low cost wireless speakers has been rather disappointing. Problems related to powerline-induced hum, limited signal to noise ratio, limited audio frequency response, and signal dropouts due to interference from WI-FI networks, cordless phones, and microwave ovens, have often hampered the use of wireless speakers in the home.

Besides, these systems would often introduce a perceptible latency delay between the front and the rear speakers that would throw out of synch the sound from the different channels.

However, things have started to change, and they are changing rather fast! Thanks to advancement in wireless technology, wireless speaker systems have become more affordable and are getting better every day.

It is partly for these reasons that they are becoming more popular with consumers. Modern RF-based systems use better transmitters and receivers to decrease the interference. Sound quality has improved to the point that it is close to CD-quality. In addition, setting up one of these systems is just a few minutes job - often all that it entails is to take them out of the box and turn them on.

Admittedly, not all wireless speaker systems perform, and not all systems that perform come with an affordable price tag. The Rocketfish Wireless Speaker System reviewed here is an affordable wireless rear speaker kit that comes with a specs list that promises a lot for the price.

So we decided to take a closer look...


To read the full review of the Rocketfish Wireless Rear Speaker Kit - including details of a simple fix required with the original version of the product to solve a hum issue, please visit Practical Home Theater Guide at: RocketFish Wireless Speaker System

PC/Home Entertainment Integration through Wireless Media Players

Wireless Media Players and WI-FI enabled HT systems take home entertainment to a new level. Now, even average PC users can experience their entire collection of digital content - music - videos - photos - in full glory without being tied to a PC.

Apple TV 40GB Version

All coming together as One!

The concept of wireless integration in home entertainment is more than just adding a set of wireless speakers in a secondary room.

Rather, it encompasses access to all form of digital content present on your PC, or accessible online via an internet connection.

The scope is to enjoy this same content on your home entertainment system. In other words, a wireless home entertainment setup gives you the possibility to enjoy your digital media in its full glory over a big screen and a proper surround sound system.

The good news is that wireless technology is no longer exclusive to technically proficient users. Rather, thanks to the use of wireless media players, Wi-Fi enabled music centers, etc., it has become fairly easy to expand wireless networking from a simple home-office, to a fully integrated home entertainment solution.

There are quite a number of relatively simple and inexpensive options that will help bring together your PC, internet connection and you home entertainment system.

This type of home entertainment integration gives you the possibility to enjoy the best of both worlds. The PC makes it easy to browse, download, and manage digital media, while your home entertainment system gives you the possibility to enjoy the very best in picture and sound.

You just need a decent computer, a broadband internet connection, and a wired or wireless home network. You would also require a wired or wireless media player, or a Wi-Fi enabled home entertainment system, plus a few hours of setup time.

Even if you have a computer with Windows XP Media Center, Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate edition, you can use your Xbox 360 or a Media Center Extender, to stream TV, digital audio and video, photos, and more.


For a complete guide to wireless media players in home entertainment systems,  vide our article Wireless Home Entertainment Systems

For a product guide covering a few of the very best in wireless digital media players presently available on the market, please visit our Wireless Home Entertainment Systems review page.

Wireless Security Issues in Home Entertainment

Wireless Security is becoming more critical as the use of wireless technology is increasing in popularity. This security issue applies irrespective of whether it is a laptop connecting to a wireless network, or setting up a wireless digital media player as part of a home entertainment system.

Wireless Security Basics

You will want to set up a wireless media player or put in place a wireless-enabled entertainment system because of the various advantageous associated with wireless connectivity. In particular, there is the added convenience and flexibility when doing away with interconnecting cables.

At the same time, you do not want hackers from tapping into your home network to steal personal information or damage your system.

Unfortunately, the level of security associated with wireless networks is inherently less than that of wired systems. Wired-LANs are somewhat protected by the natural access constraint of their structure - in particular, if all parts of the LAN resides inside a building protected from unauthorized access.

Wireless LANs, being over radio, do not have the same physical access constraints. This renders wireless LAN more vulnerable to tampering than wired LANs.

For this purpose, a number of security protocols were devised to provide an acceptable level of wireless security when transmitting data over radio, by encrypting the data contents over the wireless link.

All wireless network gear - whether this being a home router, a wireless media player, etc., supports various wireless security protocols intended to make it more difficult for network hackers to tap into your home network. We are saying 'difficult' rather than 'impossible' simply because for the experienced hacker, tapping into someone else network is not impossible; it is true that it can be time-consuming but...


We suggest to read the full article on our site for detailed information on wireless security basics. The article covers the basics of wireless security from WEP, WPA, and WPA2 encryption protocols. We also list a few simple steps you can take to help better secure your wireless networking activity.

More Info at: A Guide to Wireless Security Basics


Take care and stay tuned! 



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