In the Christmas classic Its a Wonderful Life, heaven intervenes to show Jimmy Stewart how the world would be remarkably different without him. To show his character, George Bailey, how his life has made a difference, an angel shows him the world as if had never been born. This busy holiday season, as we work long and hard to finish up all of our installations, lets pause for a moment to think what the world would be like without custom AV installersour services and the remote control systems that we provide.
In this imaginary world, we see a modern-day George visiting Sears on Christmas Eve in search of a new home theater system for his family Christmas gift. He has been planning this surprise for weeks and he arrives at the store with great anticipation of how wonderful the high-definition TV with complete surround system will be in his family room. He proudly chooses a great looking 42-inch plasma and asks the salesgirl to see the speakers he should use with it. He finds the aisle with the great hi-fi speakers he likes, and chooses five of them along with a subwoofer. The salesgirl happily rings up his $7,000 purchase including surround receiver, DVD player, TiVo, a pile of Monster cables, surge protector, and an extended service warranty.
On Christmas morning, George is a hero! The whole family is overwhelmed as, together, they unwrap the awesome home theater package. After breakfast he and his boys manage to get the TV hooked up to their cable but the picture doesnt look right. The kids try all the channels and search in vain for an HD program. They soon realize they cant get any HD without new service from the cable company.
Undaunted, they begin hooking up the rest of the system. They start to read the manuals that come with each device, but after an hour they realize that each user manual shows different methods of wiring or none at all. They become confused because none of the manuals explain how the different audio and video outputs should connect with the surround receiver and TV in their system. Should they use the cables they got for component video or S-video?
The TV manual shows something called HDMI, but they have no wire for that. They wonder how 5.1 channels of surround sound could work on a tiny optical cable. Within the setup menus for the TV, they have no idea which inputs to use or what type of resolution to choose. They just cant get the DVD, TiVo, or the PS2 to work on the TV screen. On the coffee table, sit six new remote controls and no one has a clue how they work together.
The next day, George calls the cable company and hope in vain to get it all working before the football games on New Years. He drives to his local cable company to pick up his new HD cable box where the counter person gives him yet another remote that he must use with the HD cable box. They offer little help on how to hookup his system. The neighbors come by to see the fantastic new home theater and offer their assistance, spending the evening on the floor in the pile of wires and manuals. Even though the family heads out to a movie, George instead calls Sony tech support and spends two hours on hold before giving up.
Georges humiliation is complete when the boys insist on going to the sports bar to watch the big games on New Years Day. The next morning, George sadly puts all of the presents back into their boxes and returns them to Sears.
The moral of this story is clear. Retail stores cant do it. Manufacturer-supplied remote controls and manuals cant do it. Cable companies cant do it. If clients want a wonderful home theater experience, we are the established experts. They need us to install it, wire it, and to create a simple but powerful remote control that brings you all the power of todays HD technology at the push of a button.
So we should all take a moment to celebrate the joy and happiness we bring to our clients especially at this time of year. Happy holidays to you.
Richard Riehl ([email protected]) is a consultant to AV Businesses and the creator of BidMagicAV software.