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After I procured an outdated PC laptop from my uncle (I’m an Apple guy), Todd “remoted in” to program my URC MX-1200 for the home theater.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.