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Media unit for geeks with kids?

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 04:13


Phoenix is growing up quickly and pretty soon he'll be crawling around the house. So it's time for babyproofing.

For the past year, I've been looking all over the internet for decent media units that we could get. IKEA used to have some good ones, but it doesn't look like they have any decent model anymore.

So I turn to the geeky side of the internet, as I'm sure there's lots of people out there who've gone through the same problem with an infant growing up.

So far, I'm thinking:

  • closed at the front, except for a big slot large enough to fit my central speaker (I admit I went large with a PolkAudio A4)
  • thick glass - the kind that lets IR through, but not babies when they smash into it
  • plenty of holes out the back for ventilation - in fact, mostly open
  • useful leads for cables if possible
  • 50-60 inch wide because the TV needs to go on top
  • high enough - at least 80 cm. So many units are low, why?
  • deep enough - so many media units do not even fit a standard AV receiver, let alone leave enough space for air to circulate so the unit doesn't burn up
  • cubby holes/shelves high enough so said unit fits as well
  • not butt ugly or escaped from the eighties
  • can hold A/V receiver, standard Digital TV unit, router, a NAS, a PS3, and an Atari VCS 2600. Bonus points for space left over for a future Megadrive or NES.
  • easy to attach to a wall
  • built-in custom rack for Atari VCS 2600 cartridges (though I'd begrudgingly accept a unit that ticks all the other boxes)

Any requirements I'm missing? Anyone want to share which unit made them happy?

Update: if it matters, this is for a smallish appartment in Manhattan - preference for no DIY.


  1. Why not DIY? I have created shelves out of glued laminated timber, and I guess the same could be done with MDF if you prefer a solid colour instead of a genuine wood pattern. Basically, you need the following:

    * a circular saw (miter saw, table-mounted saw or a handheld one with suitable guard rails attached)
    * a set for making dowel joints for the shelves and the top/bottom part
    * a drill for the dowel joints
    * a pair of hinges
    * a glass door with attachment for the hinges, cut according to your measures

    You could also build a wood-framed glass door, but I guess a frameless glass door would look prettier.

    When I got a second-hand game console for my kids, I created such a shelf. I took exact measurements of the equipment, so that on the top, there is just enough room for the screen and the game console and the TV remote control. Under that, I have a fixed shelf that is just high enough for the game cases. There is no door, because my kids are already older. For the same reason, the shelf is rather shallow. But I guess that even a shallow shelf could be stable if you put all the heavy stuff near the bottom.

    Comment by Marko Mäkelä — 2015-09-21 @ 08:31

  2. If I had the skills I would consider it. But at this point I have neither the skills nor the spare time. Wish I did!

    Comment by Thomas — 2015-09-22 @ 02:12

  3. The philosophy I’ve used with my kids (two and counting) is that you need to figure out whether the child can easily destroy it. If not, just let them play with it while you are nearby to try it out. While they’re that small, they’re exploring. Once they’ve explored it a couple of times, they won’t keep playing with it unless it’s actually really funny. So for instance, if there are cables that are funny to pull, tuck them away. And remember, you can always make it fun by saying no and putting on a mad face! :)

    Comment by Ole Laursen — 2015-09-21 @ 11:04

  4. That makes sense, hopefully my SO agrees. Thanks!

    Comment by Thomas — 2015-09-22 @ 02:11

  5. Have you considered restraining the infant rather than trying to ruggedise the furniture? Children grow up, I’m told. Do you really want to replace your furniture at every stage of your child’s development?

    Comment by Trouble — 2015-09-21 @ 11:26

  6. We don’t need to change it after our infants lose interest – whatever we pick for this phase we don’t have to undo at any point.

    Comment by Thomas — 2015-09-22 @ 02:11

  7. An alternative, going in a completely different direction:

    Ditch the AV receiver, put the router and NAS in a server room somewhere, and get a mounting bracket that will hold the TV and a tiny PC (smaller than mini-ITX) that can handle both streaming media and Atari/NES/Megadrive/everything emulation. Then reclaim all the space under the TV, and the room will feel much more open.

    Even if you don’t want to go that path, do consider using the VESA mount holes on the back of the TV for a tiny PC. Pick up a few USB RetroPort adapters if you want the authentic controller experience.

    Comment by Anonymous — 2015-09-21 @ 11:32

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