As the home theater market evolves, more and more
influences can be seen between it and the computer industry. In fact, if
some of the latest components are disassembled, a purpose-built PC is
This influence between the two industries extends to
the peripherals offered. In this case, a computer mainstay, an
uninterruptible power supply or UPS, has worked its way into the home
theater equipment rack. For the uninitiated, a UPS is a device that uses a
battery to generate AC power if the power from a wall outlet is removed.
Rotel, a 45 year old manufacturer of high quality audio components, has
combined a UPS along with the power conditioning features in demand in the
home theater market. Working with one of the main players in the UPS arena,
APC (American Power Conversion), Rotel is offering the RLC-1080 power
conditioner with built-in battery backup (making it officially an UPS). The
advantage of this design is that you can manually power down all your
components, such as projectors that need a fan to cool the bulb.
The RLC-1080 offers a number of features including
power regulation and power conditioning, all configurable via a built-in
user interface. However, it is the UPS feature that makes the RLC-1080
unique among power conditioners for the home theater market.
Why a UPS?
So why invest in a UPS for your home theater? Other
than the evil little joy you may experience while watching the latest
Hollywood blockbuster while your neighbors stumble around in the dark, there
are practical benefits as well.
Greatest among these benefits would be the protection
provided for those high-cost lamps in many new LCD and DLP-based video
projectors. To ensure the greatest longevity, the lamps in these sets must
be slowly fan-cooled as part of their shutdown process. In a power outage,
instead of a bulb-killing abrupt shutdown, with a UPS in place, you'll have
the opportunity to shut the projectors off gracefully – potentially saving
some $'s in the process.
While the protection offered to projector lamps is very practical, other
benefits of a UPS can be considered more conveniences. For example, in a
power outage, a UPS can potentially preserve the programmed memory settings
of your gear – saving you the hassle of re-programming things. Also, if a
DVR is scheduled to record, having a UPS in place can help make sure you
won't miss an episode of your favorite sitcom.
In the Box
must say I was impressed when I opened up the box that contained the RLC-1080. Well, at least I was
impressed after I managed to lug this monster to my rack – it weighs 67
As you can see in the photo of the package contents, the RLC includes an
impressive array of accessories. The cabling required to hook up the unit is
included along with a very beefy power cord. Also, a first that I've seen,
the hardware required to rack mount the unit is included.
Since Rotel provides a well written 14 page manual
describing the RLC-1080's features and set-up, I'll just gloss over the
highlights. A LCD display on the front panel of the unit is used to
configure the system and report status. Highlighted configuration settings
include: voltage tip points for switching to battery backup, sensitivity to
the voltage variations, outlet startup delay, and dimmer. The Rotel monitors
and reports the status of the power input and output (both input voltage and
frequency), building wiring condition, system power load, and battery
Twelve electrical outlets are provided by Rotel to
connect your system. These outlets are broken down by the type of filtering
provided (i.e., digital filter, video filter, etc.). Rotel recommends that
you connect components to the appropriate sub-category to optimize
performance. I followed these recommendations when I configured my system.
There are also two banks of two outlets that can be configured to start up
at a preset delay from the time system power is applied.
The RLC-1080 protects your accessories as well. Three
sets of RF jacks dedicated to cable, antenna, and satellite connection are
provided. An RJ-45 Ethernet and a RJ-11 telephone jack are provided too. The
cable and telephone jacks each have their own internal splitter, a nice
touch that can clean up your cabling.
Click Here to Go to Part II.