Wanted: A Good Media Console

My electronics are a mess.
I live in a very small 1-bedroom apartment, yet I own a 42″ LCD monitor, a Denon 3808ci AVR receiver (weighing in at a more-than-respectable 39.2 lbs.), a Sony DVD jukebox big enough to hold 400 discs, a TiVo Series 3, A panasonic Blu-ray player, and an Xbox 360. On top of that, and in the same space, I have a powered external eSATA drive attached to the TiVo, a MacMini with two more external drives to house the 400 DVDs that I am ever so slowly ripping, an Apple Airport Extreme sharing the cable with the TiVo, another external drive attached to the Airport for network storage, an Apple tv to download hi-def flicks off iTunes as well as play said ripped movies over something that can actually handle hi-def streams, and I’ve just added a Playstation 3 because I got it for less than retail on eBay and I am anxiously awaiting the releases of Killzone2 and Little Big Planet for hours of useless playtime.
All told, that makes fourteen power-sucking boxes, six ethernet connections, five thick HDMI cords, 7.1 speaker cables, various USB connections and a spider’s nest of tangles stuffed behind a rather ugly but serviceable wood and glass stand that looks awful.
I have been looking and looking and looking for someone out there to make a simple, stylish, elegant media console that will allow me to display the electronics I want to display (namely, anything that I want to control via my Logitech Harmony 1 universal remote) and hide the electronic I want to hide, while also being able to somehow manage the tangle of audio, video, networking and power cords sprouting from the back of everything!
Is that such an impossible goal?

It’s rather easy to find any number of media consoles that look like crap. They either try to masquerade as armoires with brass knobs and ornate doors, or they look like folding metal boxes with glass shelves that do nothing better than gather dust.
Another problem is dealing with everything once it’s all set up. I always have to jiggle a cord or replace a network patch or reboot something and getting behind the mess is bad enough, but digging through it all is worse.
There is also not a small amount of danger involved. The Xbox power brick alone puts out enough BTUs to heat a small London flat. When you cram it under a shelf and then pile all kinds of rubberized, insulating cords on top of it, I expect it to be frying eggs.
What I’m looking for is something that will allow me to place my electronics on it, but will also allow me to manage the cords, and particularly the power connections, in a safe, simple, neat manner. But there’s nothing out there like that.
Admittedly, I am probably not the typical electronics hobbyist. I now have three ways to download movies, two ways to play Blu-ray disks, a computer with a 100-album, 9,000-song library on it, and an audio-video receiver with an Internet connection so I can play radio stations from Germany in 7.1 digital audio. That’s insane.
But is it also insane to expect someone out there, like, just one company, to create a simple stand with shelves, that sits high enough above the carpet that I can easily slide all the extra power components under it, but is also slim enough that it doesn’t just so far out from the wall that it’s like an iceberg in a swimming pool?
Here’s what I want: I want it to be square, I don’t want any obscure angles for the sake of design. Only 90º corners will do. I want it to be no more than 32 inches high and 45 inches wide. I want the back to be open, or at least accessible enough so that I can easily manage connections between equipment — and that means no little hamster holes through which I am expected to snake all the cables. Sliding doors, even, that would work. Make the shelves not quite extend all the way to the back so everything doesn’t end up all crammed up in that compartment, either.
On the bottom, I want an area where I can slide the power cords under the console. In my dream, this is a kind of “drawer without a bottom” or a facia or something that will hide the tangle from the front, but not keep it in an area so compressed that fire is a real danger. It needs two shelves that are adjustable, but adjustable in a manner that doesn’t leave unsightly peg holes all over the place. You figure that part out.
As for its materials and colors, I’m not that picky. I’ve seen some nice wood ones, I’ve seen some nice metal ones. Avoid glass. I don’t care about seeing through the shelves at the tops of the equipment. They’re all the same and there’s nothing to see. It’s stupid.
Got it? I’m willing to spend $1200 for a thing like that. $1200!
Now, who’s gonna make that for me?

April 24, 2008

3 responses to Wanted: A Good Media Console

  1. Michael said:

    How’s this?
    I’ve had my eye on their stuff for a while. The Synergy Twin fits your size requirements pretty well.

  2. Daniel Black said:

    Certainly, there’s got to be one enterprising carpenter in all of San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland capable of sitting down with you and drawing up these plans, eh? Pshah, maybe all you need is to get one of the HGTV shows on it for you (except Design on a Dime: your budget’s too high).
    You could go a bit higher, though, and get Giger to do something that also appears to be a dissected, tentacled vagina emerging from your wall.

  3. Shine said:

    Hi Lance,
    I found your site via a Delicious bookmark posting. I just read your featured story from a little magazine called “Busted” and I
    must say, the flow of your writing is so good that it truly pulled
    me in. Some of the other featured stories were cute but thankfully
    short enough to hold my attention. I certainly don’t want to knock
    any one’s efforts or writing skills but there was a huge difference and your talent for writing is way above and beyond, it’s unquestionable! I can only hope this is what you do for a living on
    a professional level.
    Sorry to say I don’t have any advice to add on your electronics
    mess, unfortunately I have the same problem! I have a pet name
    for all the wiring poking out of the back of my TV, computers etc… It’s simply called techno-schetti which I seem to trip over no fail
    when it’s time to dust.. ugh. I also have a large collection of movies as to which I have run out of shelving space. I store the
    over flow in those plastic Coca Cola crates that are stack-able and not so attractive to ones decor but it does the trick for now. I
    think I’m ready for a new media console myself, ya think? LoL
    Hey, I also switched to a Mac about two months ago! I’m still in
    the learning process and it’s still drives me nuts at times, still seems some what backwards to what I am used to. I never realised how serious people get about Mac verses PC.. wow! I purchased
    a Mac simply because I see so many high status professionals using them and I thought perhaps there might be a good reason.. plus I thought it would be cool to dabble with both.
    Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your story. Glad to hear you made the choice to move away from dusty ole Bakersfield, that place always seemed so blank to me. I don’t know how else to describe it. Although I wasn’t raised there (Long Beach, CA girl here), it just has a lonely feel to it. Not as if Long Beach was any better. Well, I take that back. It wasn’t so bad growing up but I decided in later years that it wasn’t a good place to raise kids so I packed up and moved to WA state where it rains all the time! LoL
    Thank you again for sharing your talent, I hope to read more of
    your work in the future. Good luck with the techno-schetti and finding that perfect console.
    Shine 🙂

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