Comfort and style are the buzzwords when it comes to TV watching. ASHA S. MENON on how couch potatoes never had it so goodIf you want to be a couch potato, there's no better time to be one. Spend a few lakh, knock down that partition to get a larger TV room, and let loose technology and design. Sink into cowhide leather recliners (made by Ligne Roset they are priced Rs. 2.8 lakh and upwards). Want to slouch further? No, don't fumble for a lever. Use the remote, the one with pictures on buttons (so you can skip the extra reading). Recliner chairs made of leather or polysuede (mostly known as La-Z-Boys, priced between Rs. 35,000 and Rs. 47,000) are available in which you can relax in 18 different angles. You can rock in it, raise the handle to your left and fall back a little, raise the footstool and keep going that way till you are horizontal, almost. And you don't have to stretch a muscle to see the TV screen. You can place your flat screens in wall units that will slide into your line of vision with a remote control; for example, with "pop-up" options in wall units (by Signature Home Furnishings) or the electronic lift in the Contemporary Period Cabinet (by Prime Resource).
Eat while you watchThe couches have containers and trays to place soft drinks and short-eats. Some come with a massage option (by Osim, priced at Rs. 2 lakh and upwards). If what you are looking for is a family affair, try the home theatre sets by La-Z-Boys comprising four seats and priced Rs. 6 lakh and above. One lever controls all the four seats; if you like your independence, unlink the pieces. This set comes with wider armrests and trays and drink holders. Once in your chair, you will want to reach out for your remote. What better than a chair that can hold it! These are also there in the market, but how many remotes can you tuck into the holder or into the sides of your cushions? So, try the Universal Remote Control. This one spreads its tentacles beyond the TV. The one from Sony can control up to 12 components including the CD and DVD players, set top box and lights! They even come with a touch screen option, lest we strain the fingers. The luxury of this is still debated on the Internet, while some are thankful that their coffee tables aren't cluttered, others find the backlight of the touch screen lacking in brightness.Now that we have the remote in hand, lets switch on that wide screen plasma or LCD television or a projection set (currently the biggest at Sony World is 71 inches and costs Rs. 3.5 lakh). You can wall mount your screen (excluding the projection set) with an arm wall bracket, that can swivel and tilt the screen. Do not worry that your screen may now face a bulb. The television will know how to tone itself down or shine brighter, as required. Intelligence is programmed-in. The inbuilt intelligence also comes in handy when the signals are weak; the television has options where it can tune itself. The speakers should not be placed too close to the screen because their magnetic fields can cause colour distortions. But if you aren't sharp enough to guess the right distance, there are remotes that are. Also available are TV sets that can beat colour distortions and speakers that have zero-magnetic fields (from B & W, a pair would cost you somewhere between Rs. 8,500 and Rs. 25,000). Picture perfect? Now, audio needs your attention. You need more speakers than what your TV wears. You need a minimum of five two in front, two behind and a woofer for the bass, strategically placed near the television. With the perfect "surround sound", you can be "in" a war and remain safe.
Hear it rightThe placement of your speakers has to be adjusted according to the room size. Showroom consultants can help you with the placement, if not TV sets are calibrated to help you out. Connect a mike to the TV, hold the wire that dangles from its one end and keep walking till it is stretched out and voila! that's where the speakers should be. Channels there are aplenty, but if that will not do you can opt for "paperview". In India, Tata Sky offers a service that allows you to watch movies at anytime.Everything in its place, do you dread seeing a living room scarred with wires running across or crowded with bulging TV and audio sets in wrong shades? Couch potatoes don't have to make aesthetic compromises. Wireless and sleek designs in shades ranging from subtle creams to browns and blacks are available. "Television has evolved to become the home entertainment centre and the TV room, a family hangout," says Naresh Jain, Executive Director, Vijay Shanthi Builders. As a promoter of lifestyle apartments, they have created an exclusive niche in all high-end apartments, separate from the formal drawing room. Potatoes have eyes, and now we know why.