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Today's Show:
We have designed whole house video and audio systems and talked about them on our show. The one room we really haven't done much with is the Bathroom. We know what you are probably thinking: the bathroom is one area in the home where you don't want to be bombarded with the world's problems. We hear you; but what if you are in the middle of a football game and your wife tells you that its time to get ready so you can go to your in-law's? Having a TV in the bathroom sounds like a good way keep everyone happy.

Bathroom TVs
TVs in the Bathroom are expensive propositions. We will discuss a couple of those and then give you the HT Guys low cost solution.

HiddenTelevision.com specializes in selling mirrors for making your own hidden television. They mount a transparent mirror over the TV to convert it into a hidden TV. Turn your TV on and your display will become visible through the mirror.

They have two different styles: dielectric and bathroom. The dielectric mirrors are optimized for maximum brightness and reduced glare. Their bathroom mirrors are highly reflective, so you can see yourself clearly while while you get ready in the morning. The mirrors are affordable running about $600 for a typical bathroom. You do need to provide your own TV and source equipment.

WaterProofTV.com is a UK company that specializes in waterproof TVs. These sets are specifically designed to function in showers, tubs, or next to the sink. These TVs are expensive with the the lowest cost version costing about $2000.

There are other manufacturers out there as well. The one thing they have in common is that they are all expensive and require serious installation expenses. You need to mount the TVs, run power, and provide source material. This will run in the thousands of dollars.

We have a solution that you can install for less than $1000. Now it will not be as slick as the above mentioned solutions and you will need some counter space, but it will get you through.

Hardware
The first solution is very simple and very mobile but it goes over our $1000 limit. You may want this solution for simplicity. We include it because you may have an old laptop around that you can put into service as a Bathroom TV. Buy yourself a small laptop. Here a Macbook ($1300) or Sony Vaio ($1100) laptop are our computers of choice but any laptop will do. The nice thing about this approach is that the computer can be taken outside of the bathroom as well. The bad thing about this approach is that the computer can be taken out of the bathroom as well. You'll still need the rest of the equipment and software we will talk about later in this feature so the total cost will be a couple of hundred dollars more.

The second solution is a bit less mobile. Take any 15-inch wide screen TV and put it on your counter top, mount it to the wall or find any other suitable are to put it. In Ara's Bathroom there is an ideal spot between both sinks. We recently remodeled the bathroom and removed the full length mirror opting for framed mirrors instead. This leaves a great spot to wall mount a 15 inch LCD. For our bathroom we are choosing a 16-inch Viewsonic widescreen LCD (N1630W $250). No need for 1080p due to screen size so this 720p will have plenty of resolution.

We will also use a Mac Mini ($600). You'll want to upgrade the RAM to 2GB which will run you an additional $50. Yes you can use a PC but the small form factor of the mini makes it ideal for use in confined spaces. Even with the small form factor you may have to drill some holes in your countertop to run the power cables for the Mini.

The last piece of equipment is the SlingBox Pro ($240 including the HD Connect Cable). External speakers are optional. For this exercise we are using the internal TV speakers.

Software
The nice thing about the software is that it is all included with the hardware. The main thing we would need is the Sling Media Sling Player. This product actually gives a nice picture when streamed on an internal network. Its not quite HD but it would be great for watching news or a television program while getting ready in the morning. Sports is a bit dicey but its better than missing the game.

The reason we didn't go with El Gato's HD Homerun is that the Mini only supports 802.11g and we have found that we need 802.11n to watch HD programming. If you have a hard wired bathroom you could add the HD Homerun in addition to the Slingbox. The HD Homerun will get you the highest quality picture but will only work for OTA content. The other advantage of the HD Homerun is that you can use your Bathroom TV as a DVR for broadcast TV.

With this setup you could even watch movies that you have on your movie server. You could also listen to music, watch podcasts or even browse the Internet.

Caution
None of this equipment is designed to run in the humidity of a bathroom so doing so may limit the life of the equipment. Also, make sure that the equipment is in a place that is protected from water splashing on it.

Conclusion
No longer will you have to run from the bathroom to the bedroom to check traffic or weather while you are getting ready in the morning. If you want to keep tabs on the market, no problem, on DirecTV, CNBC is on channel 355.

While not as sexy as the in mirror or in shower devices, our solution will get you a decent size screen at an affordable price.

Posted by The HT Guys, June 6, 2008 10:15 AM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.