The difference between you and me is that I
dread adding new audio-video electronics to my
home just about as much as going to the dentist.
For me, the grammatically incorrect adage, “If it
ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” couldn’t be more true
than when I’m dealing with the entertainment
devices in my home.
That’s why my decision to upgrade remote
controls in both my dedicated home theater and
family room entertainment system created more
headaches, initially. I knew from experience that
pain almost certainly would precede the pleasure
of having new AV toys.
Connecting components together isn’t difficult
for me, and I’m much more knowledgeable than
the average consumer. But I’m not a trained
programmer, nor do I have the disposable income
to hire one. Therefore, I depend on the kindness
of my friends and colleagues to help me out. In this
case Residential Systems writer (and professional
integrator) Todd Puma came to my assistance.
The challenge for Todd was that both of my
aging AV receivers lacked switching HDMI
and were otherwise filled to capacity in terms of
inputs. Also, programming the system remotely
(Todd is in New Jersey and I’m in Indiana)
would take longer than doing it on-site and
require more client handholding than usual.
After I procured an outdated PC laptop from
my uncle (I’m an Apple guy), Todd “remoted
in” to program my URC MX-1200 for the home
theater. Todd’s Christmas gift of an AppleTV
created an unfortunate stumbling block in
the theater, because of my receiver’s dearth of
inputs, my lack of basement Ethernet, and poor
Wi-Fi coverage. So once Todd got the 1200
working, I moved the AppleTV upstairs, bought
a new Marantz receiver with switching HDMI
for the family room, and Todd programmed the
MX-980 for that room.
I’ll admit that sometimes I wasn’t the best
client, but Todd’s patience paid off as he walked
me through user errors or set-up idiosyncrasies
that only a seasoned integrator would understand.
Many of the challenges I faced would have never
occurred had Todd been on-site to set the system
up personally or train me in-person. For instance,
I learned about the challenges of RF interference
and misplaced IR “bugs” the hard way, which
is something Todd would have never allowed to
happen on his local projects.
Ultimately, my new controllers are head and
shoulders above what they replaced. I love my
new AppleTV the most, but enjoying it to the
fullest was made possible by a well-designed
and professionally programmed remote and
the behind-the-scenes magic of a reliable AV
receiver with switching HDMI inputs.
I’m very happy I took the leap and upgraded
my systems. I learned more about the little
challenges our industry faces every day and the
great products it offers. And I was reminded
what it’s like for you guys to deal with a difficult
client in this business.