IKEA's newly-announced Uppleva entertainment centre promises the holy grail of home theatre systems: a fully integrated, organised TV, stereo, and peripherals. If you'd like something similar but with a bit more choice, you can build it yourself. Here's how.
As we noted earlier today, not only is a local release of the IKEA kit some way off, it's also so entirely-singled purpose that it might not prove a good long-term investment. Doing DIY allows you to incorporate that approach into any home theatre furniture (and gear) of your choosing. Here's a look at some our favourite solutions for doing just that.
One Set-Top Box with All the Media You Need
If you're running your own home theatre PC, you could toss XBMC on there with a few add-ons and get everything you could ever want in a single machine.
Now, you're still dealing with a big ugly computer in most conventional cases, but if you really wanted to fit perfectly into your entertainment centre, you could. Obviously, the best way would be to build that entertainment centre yourself from the ground up -- as described in this Instructable -- but that isn't ideal for everyone. If your unit is open, you can add your own doors to keep it a bit cleaner, and armed with an infrared repeater, you could control them without ever opening up and exposing your electronics.
One Remote Control to Control Everything
Speaking of controlling your electronics, IKEA also mentions that its unit has one master remote control for everything, but these days, that shouldn't be considered a huge feat. Judging from our recent poll, plenty of people have taken up universal remotes, and the basic models are surprisingly cheap. You can even use it to control that home theatre PC with LIRC. In a nutshell: if you have more than one remote on your coffee table, there's no reason you can't consolidate them down to one.
Small, Wireless Speakers
If you want better sound than your TV gives you, you have two choices -- you can go big (ugly) or go small (less ugly). However, high quality small speakers can be harder to come by, so we'll defer to our gadget-obsessed friends at Gizmodo for this one: they recommend the Audyssey Loser East Side Speakers for true space savings, or if you're looking for a more intense 5.1 setup, you can grab a space-efficient systems without spending a lot. And, while some good cable management is all you need to get everything neat (see below), you can also go completely wireless with any set of speakers using an adaptor like the previously mentioned Audioengine W1.
Cable Clutter Solutions
The real draw of IKEA's system is how clean it looks -- there are no cables to be found anywhere on that thing. Chances are you have a stack of cables cluttering up your living room, especially if you're doing awesome things with the unused ports on your TV. However, if you're willing to work at it, you can get the same effect on nearly any entertainment centre yourself. You could even go completely wireless if you want -- though that can get expensive quickly, so if you want to try hiding your cables first, we have suggestions for that too. In fact, we've done a whole start-to-finish guide on decluttering your entertainment center, from shortening your cables to hiding your power strip. And, if all else fails, you can embrace your cables instead of cursing them.
Obviously, the main appeal of IKEA's setup is that it's hassle-free: you buy the unit, bring it home, and it's pre-designed to be clean, organised, and unified. But chances are you already have a lot of things you don't want to get rid of, like your 50 inch TV or home-built media PC. With the above tricks, you should be able to take the things you already have and get a similar, if not almost identical setup to the IKEA one. Got any of your own tips for decluttering and unifying your entertainment center? Share them with us in the comments.