When I was shopping for a new home last year, I saw my fair share of houses and was reminded just how un-TV-friendly many living/family rooms are in today's homes. The combination of an open floor plan and the desire to make the fireplace the centerpiece of the space--oftentimes centering it on the only wall in the room--doesn't leave a clear spot for even a small TV, let alone the 55-inch-plus panels that have become so popular. For many people, the easiest solution is to mount the TV over the fireplace. While this may be convenient and even eye-catching, it's hardly the most ergonomic answer, since it forces you to look up at the screen. Even a slight upward tilt of the head can be fatiguing over long periods of TV-watching. That's where ComfortVu enters the picture.
Developed by home theater installer Joseph Lee of L.A.-based Lee Entertainment Systems, the ComfortVu ($3,599) is a motorized TV mount specifically designed for an above-the-fireplace installation. With the press of a button, the mount will extend from the wall and then lower itself to the ideal viewing height. The ComfortVu is compatible with flat-panel TVs that have a screen size from 55 to 80 inches, weighing up to 200 pounds. It also supports the addition of a sound bar. The ComfortVu's maximum extension (from the wall to the back of the TV) is listed at 24.25 inches; its maximum lowering is 29 inches, or you can add the "Extra Lowering" option to lower it as much as 40 inches. If your fireplace has a mantel, the ComfortVu is designed to clear a 12-inch mantel when mounted just 3 inches above the fireplace; if your mantel is wider than that, you'll need to install the ComfortVu higher up on the wall, which may require that you add the Extra Lowering option to attain the ideal screen height. You can stop the ComfortVu anywhere in its travel path, depending on your viewing needs.
The mount itself measures 36 inches wide by 29 high by 3.69 deep and weighs 60 pounds. It is constructed of aircraft-grade T 6061 aluminum and cold-rolled steel, with a textured black powder coating. It uses stainless-steel fasteners and an aircraft-grade main motor bearing. You can control the ComfortVu via the supplied IR remote or add the optional RF receiver; it also supports RS-232/RS-422 and SPDT (single pole double throw) relays. The ComfortVu has a five-year warranty.
The ComfortVu ships fully assembled, and the installation process does not appear to be that different from other wall-mounts. No special tools are required. You can attach the mount to two or three wall studs, as well as brick, stone, and metal studs. The package includes the needed Allen wrenches; Metric screws for the rails that connect to your TV; a 6-foot, 14-gauge AC extension cord; a 1-foot right-angle AC cord; lag bolts; and tie-wrap anchors for cable management. Of course, the company recommends that you use a professional installer to set up the ComfortVu, especially if you need to run a power outlet above your fireplace.
You can see a video demo of the ComfortVu, as well as a collection of detailed photos, at the company's website.
Read about the high points and low points of the ComfortVu mount on Page 2.
• The ComfortVu can automatically lower your TV from its location above your fireplace to a more desirable viewing height.
• The standard mount can lower your TV up to 29 inches, and an Extra Lowering option is available if you have to install the mount higher on the wall.
• It supports a TV with a screen size up to 80 inches and 200 pounds.
• Multiple control options are available, and the ComfortVu appears to have excellent build quality.
• You can stop the ComvortVu anywhere along its travel path.
• While the ComfortVu is designed for above-the-fireplace home installations, it could also be convenient in a boardroom or other commercial location.
• At this time, the company does not offer a ComfortVu for a TV screen smaller than 55 inches, but that model is supposedly in the works.
• The mount does not have swivel ability to adjust the screen position after you've lowered the TV into place.
• The ComfortVu is more expensive than many TVs that you might put in it.
Competition and Comparison
The only similar product that I was able to find is the Down and Out Mount, offered by a company called Dynamic Mounting. This manual, pull-down above-the-fireplace TV mount is designed to accommodate a TV with a screen size of 32 inches or larger, weighing up to 110 pounds. With a price from $499 to $569 (if you want the swivel upgrade), the Down and Out Mount is much less expensive that the ComfortVu, but it is not motorized and it can't carry as much weight.
The ComfortVu motorized TV mount solves a very common HT installation problem in a sleek, logical, high-quality way. Frankly, I'm surprised that we don't see more products like this on the market from the big names in the TV-mount business (I suspect that we soon will). The ComfortVu can accommodate a wide range of TV sizes and weights, and it should integrate well with your existing control system. That $3,599 price tag is indeed steep, but I guess that's the price you pay for innovation. In time, there may be more options in this category; but, for now, if you're looking for a motorized above-the-fireplace mount that allows you to view your large-screen TV at an ideal height, ComfortVu.com is your first and last destination.