Hitting the Big Time: Today’s Best Values in Entertainment Furniture

Consoles • Entertainment Centers • Wall Units

Entertainment-furniture manufacturers changed their TV consoles, entertainment centers and wall units to account for larger TVs. As a result, you’ll encounter models that are wider than were their counterparts 4 years ago as well as new storage options for soundbars and other components.

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We’re only half-joking when we suggest that the newest entertainment furniture should come with flashing lights and a yellow banner that warns: “Wide Load.” As today’s flat-panel TV screens get taller and wider, it’s only naatural that the furniture that’s designed to hold them increases in width, too. For example, we found consoles that are wider than a single-car garage door to hold a 90-inch TV.

However, size isn’t the only change that you’ll notice if you shop for a new TV console, an entertainment center or a wall unit in 2014. Manufacturers now incorporate new storage options, including dedicated shelves for a soundbar and special compartments for a set-top box or a video-game console.

WIDE OPEN. We found 14 TV consoles that are at least 80 inches wide, including a wall-consuming 123-inch-wide model by Bassett that’s nearly 3 feet wider than the next widest console that’s on the market. Recently, the widest TV console that we found was 75 inches. The expanding console widths correspond with the increase in TV screen sizes during the same time.

Fortunately, most manufacturers indicate the maximum screen size that their entertainment furniture is designed to hold. When a manufacturer doesn’t list such information, we believe that a simple formula can help you to determine the minimum width that a console should have to accommodate a particular TV: Multiply the TV’s diagonal screen measurement by 0.9.

For instance, a 60-inch TV would require a TV console that’s at least 54 inches wide. At press time, the largest TVs that were on the market were 90 inches, which would require a TV console that’s at least 81 inches wide.

This formula is derived from a chart that we found on the websites of retailer Cymax.com and manufacturer The Urban Collection. The Urban Collection general manager, Dave Gundy, tells us that the chart is based on TV industry recommendations. However, we found no other manufacturers or retailers that use this chart. Nonetheless, none of the other manufacturers or retailers that we interviewed disputes that such a formula will deliver an accurate measurement when it comes to finding the right fit for your entertainment furniture.

However, all of the manufacturers that we interviewed recommend that any TV console that you buy should be wider than your TV because of safety reasons. For example, a TV that’s wider than the console increases the likelihood that a person could knock over the TV accidentally when he/she walks past it, because the edge of the TV extends beyond the edge of the console.

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It’s unclear how much wider that TV consoles will be in the years ahead. Although the manufacturers that we interviewed say it’s possible to make even wider TV consoles to accommodate even larger TVs, Edward Tashjian of Stanley Furniture believes that people who have TVs that are larger than 60 inches prefer to use a wall mount instead of sitting the TV on a TV console anyway. As a result, it’s unclear whether furniture manufacturers have any additional incentive to expand the width of TV consoles further.

As you might expect, today’s widest TV consoles are notably more expensive than are TV consoles that are less than 80 inches wide, because manufacturers use more materials, such as larger panels and additional bracing. You can expect to pay at least $2,029 for a console that’s wider than 80 inches, but the premium that you pay for the extra space varies by manufacturer. For example, the 88-inch Hekman 8-1342 console ($2,787) costs $400 more than does a similar 66-inch model. Sligh’s 84-1/2-inch Lumina TV console ($4,529) costs $1,130 more than does a similar 64-inch model.

The widest entertainment centers and wall units hold smaller TVs than do the widest TV consoles. Of course, that’s because the hutches and shelves that enclose the TV on entertainment centers and wall units typically restrict the TV size. Today’s entertainment centers and wall units hold a TV of no bigger than 70 inches, based on our research, which is the maximum TV width that existed for entertainment centers and wall units 4 years ago.

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