Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Slim Pickings; Flat and Fabulous, the Latest TVs Mean No More Ugly Boxes Cluttering Your Home. Caramel Quin Rounds Up the Skinniest and Most Stylish Buys

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Slim Pickings; Flat and Fabulous, the Latest TVs Mean No More Ugly Boxes Cluttering Your Home. Caramel Quin Rounds Up the Skinniest and Most Stylish Buys

Article excerpt

Byline: CARAMEL QUIN

WHAT'S the one constant in livingroom design? Whether you're in a Victorian terrace or a minimalist apartment, chances are there's a big, ugly television ruining the most important room in the house. You need a decent-sized screen to watch movies and get your fix of ER, but wouldn't it be nice if that screen could disappear the rest of the time? The answer is to buy one of the latest pancake-thin televisions. A few years ago their five-figure price tags meant that they were strictly for millionaires.

The good news is that recent price drops mean the rest of us can now afford to buy a telly that hangs on the wall.

Small LCD TVs start at under [pound]700 and large plasma TVs can be found for less than [pound]5,000. Both types are only a couple of inches deep because they don't use a traditional glass tube. So you can hang one on the wall like a painting, hide it away completely or put it on a stand and turn it into a design feature.

"The idea of minimalism is to have space and light, and you can do that with plasma TVs," says Kensingtonbased interior designer Francesca Basu. "In a contemporary project I'd build it into the wall. One tries to have the least amount of clutter, so I'd put it behind a wall of beautiful sliding doors."

The thin screens are easy to hide, whatever your decor.

Basu is currently updating 90 rooms at the Dorchester with NEC 42in plasma screens linked to an entertainment and computer system. To suit the hotel's English country-house style she has designed handmade wooden cabinets to house them.

Guests can unwind in 18th century opulence and then open the cabinet to reveal state-of-the-art 21st century technology, choosing from more than 500 movies on demand and using a wireless keyboard to work on business documents anywhere in the room.

It's not just the space-saving qualities of these flat screens that are attractive. "The picture is fantastic," says Basu. "If I checked into a hotel room that had one, I'd spend all evening watching movies. The image is so big, it 's like having your own private cinema."

Movie lovers can get big-screen action at home with a 32in plasma TV. Both the Hitachi CL32PD2100 (about [pound]4,900) and the Philips 32PF9964 (about [pound]5,300) can be mounted on the wall or on a stand. They come with a clever box that deals with the jumble of cables usually found at the back of the TV, leaving you with just two wires to run to the screen. These can easily be hidden behind a plaster wall. Best of all, they're just 31/2in, the width of a credit card.

A bit more cash buys an even bigger picture. The Sony KZ42TS1 (about [pound]7,000, on sale in June) is strikingly large at 42in, yet is still less than 5in deep.

The world's largest plasma screen is the 61in NEC 61MP1 ([pound]14,995, plus you'll need to buy a separate TV tuner and speakers). …

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