Home Theater

Helicopter Airlifts 85” Plasma TV to High-Tech Apartment

Home theater pros hire a helicopter to carry an 85-inch Panasonic plasma TV to an apartment on the 27th floor of a Dallas high-rise.

Photos & Slideshow


An 85-inch flat-panel TV isn’t the easiest of high-tech amenities to get installed into a home. It’s heavy, rigid and very expensive - nothing you’d want to drop on your toe, or anywhere else for that matter.

Try stuffing the unbendable screen into a standard-size elevator.

Faced with the dilemma of carting an 85-inch Panasonic Premier plasma TV to a penthouse in a high-rise Dallas apartment building, the home theater and home automation pros from SoundImage commissioned a helicopter to deliver the gigantic display to the 27th floor. From deck they were able to lug the set into the great room where it was framed in a metal casing to give the illusion of floating on air.

Although the air-lifted dispatch of the big-screen TV was definitely one of the most challenging and nerve-wracking parts of the renovation project, it was a much smaller screen that prompted the 26-year-old homeowner to outfit his 8,000-square-foot residence with a complete home automation system.

”We were sitting in the empty, gutted shell of the apartment when I noticed the owner using his white iPhone - a lot,” recalls SoundImage president Tony Militello. “When I casually mentioned the fact that he could run his entire house with just that one phone, that was it. He was ready to automate from top to bottom.”

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The natural choice of system, due to its iPhone-like, Apple-based operating platform, was a Savant home automation system. “The owner was so adept at operating his iPhone, it wouldn’t be that big of a stretch for him to use it to also operate the Savant system,” Militello continues.

Confident that the owner would master the controls easily, SoundImage put all things electronic under the Savant system’s command: the heating and cooling system, the Jacuzzi, lights, gas fireplaces, motorized window shades, surveillance cameras, and every audio and video component, including, of course, the 85-inch TV.

Being able to easily access a central rack of audio and video and components from anywhere in the penthouse was of huge importance to the owner, and the Savant system delivers by presenting all of the A/V options on the screen of an iPhone and iPad (as part of the Savant mobile app). From this menu, the owner can choose from Apple TV, DirecTV, Blu-ray to watch on any of 11 TVs, ranging from 22 inches to 85 inches in size. A Savant matrix switcher and HDMI baluns enable 1080p video to be distributed to each of the displays. High-resolution views of the cityscape, captured by two Axis cameras, can also be displayed on any TV or iDevice.

Similarly, the homeowner can select from a library of music (his iTunes account or AppleTV) to play in any or all rooms, most of which were fitted with B&W in-ceiling and in-wall speakers (5 outdoor speakers from SpeakerCraft serve the patio). SoundImage preserved the integrity of the audio by pushing the audio through two Audio Control amplifiers.

The great room audio was enhanced further via a Savant surround-sound preamp. As part of the Savant control architecture, the preamp can be accessed from any iOS device, giving the owner the ability to tweak from a menu of onscreen controls the surround fields, DSP and delay time and other advanced settings for an enhanced listening experience.

  About the Author

Lisa Montgomery has been a member of the CE Pro and Electronic House editorial teams for nearly 20 years; most of that time as the Editor of Electronic House. With a knack for explaining complex high-tech topics in terms that average consumers can understand, her style of writing resonates with people who are interested in addition electronic systems to their homes, but are unsure of the steps involved and the solutions available. From basic lighting control systems to full-blown automation systems, Lisa understands the home electronics market well, and is able to point consumers in the right direction on their quest for a smarter, more convenient, efficient and enjoyable home. Over the years, she has developed close relationships with key manufacturers and seasoned custom electronics professionals, giving her a keen sense of what home technologies are hot now and what is on the horizon. She shares this wisdom regularly through feature stories, product roundups, case studies technology spotlights and comprehensive guides and books. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Lisa at [email protected]

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