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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

OK. We're all done here.

Posted on August 15, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Perhaps there should be a course on the proper etiquette of how to interact with someone at a high-end audio store. Perhaps the someone to prepare the syllabus for that course should be me. And in that course would definitely be the two people that came into our store on Friday under sections titled "When to shut the hell up."


First person calls and asks directions. Says they are looking for a projector and want to come and take a look. Now, at THIS point in the call what they should have done is ask what projector(s) I had on display. Because that is a pretty frickin' germane question to "I want to come and look at projectors." But they don't. So when they arrive, they are quite put out that the projector we have on display is a $15k Runco. I'm not really sure what they were expecting to find. Perhaps an east cost Infocomm projector shoot out, where manufacturers lined-up hundreds of models. And, holy serendipity, it is going on right now! Friday, Friday, Friday at the smoking Hwy 17 CTA projector show down. We'll have the top fuel projectors IN THE WORLD blasting lumens and pixels pushing their machines for the title of Big Screen Champion! Friday, Friday, Friday! In the real world, it is pretty unusual for stores to display more than one or two models. Now, I'm not talking about giant LA or NY or Atlanta showrooms; sure, they might have 4-6 rooms kitted out with projectors. But, this guy knew when he dialed 843 that he wasn't in any of those places (or even Kansas anymore) so the onus was on him. So after some conversation he says that he has been a projector owner for some time, has had a few CRTs, owns an Optoma now that is somehow broken and that he is  "really sensitive" DLP rainbow effects. (Look, if you don't know what it is, just Google it. I don't have the heart to go into it here...) So I start pitching the Runco and it's new LED lighting technology that eliminates rainbow effects has a virtually infinite lightbulb lifespan, etc. So he like begrudgingly agrees to go and look at it. So we watch for a bit, a variety of HD and DVD material. Then he stands up and goes and stands like a foot from our screen. "How big is this?" "It's a hundreds. A Stewart StudioTek." "Hmmm. Looks small. I have a 106." "Well, I assure you, it is a 100. So, it's like, well, 6 inches smaller." "Oh, I believe you."


Then he's like "I gotta be honest. My $3500 Optoma looks WAY better than this. Just WAY better. I mean, this might be brighter, and have a deeper black level and has a tighter pixel pattern, but my Optoma is WAY better." Then he goes on to say how that spending more than about $3000 for a projector offers very little in performance returns. At this point, I know I'm not getting a sale and I'm no longer trying to make a friend so I start with explaining that I have seen MANY projectors, and that the more expensive models nearly always offer something that is noticeably, visibly better. A $25k model has a better lens for sharper, tighter focus and more light output to power a bigger screen. At $50k you're getting into some amazing 3 chip models that can rival digital cinema. At $100k and above you are opening your own theater and charging admission. He wants to start talking about a double-stack Vidikron 9-inch CRT demo he saw at CES long ago, but at this point, I am *totally* done with this guy. Kaput. Finito. He clearly isn't going to buy anything from us. He wants to spend like 1/4 the value of the Runco and now he has also insulted it. (And, how exactly is your BROKEN higher black level, not as bright and 720p projector better?) This Runco and I are Juggalo Homies, stickin together like zippers on a Micheal Jackson Beat It jacket.  So I give him the old, "Well, I guess this isn't right for you. I need to get back to some work in the back so..." So...get the hell out.


Then a few hours later, the bitter taste of bile still fresh in my mouth, these two cable TV installers come in. I'm not sure why, but there is something almost instantly antagonistic between me and one of the guys. I...wait. I know what it is! It is his know-it-all I'm the Don Mega attitude. Dude. Let me break it to you in terms that you'll understand. You.... are... a.... cable....TV....INSTALLER! You don't know it all. In my experience, you barely  know how to perform your titular function of actually  installing a cable box correctly. If you were such a captain of this industry, you would not be installing cable boxes. In the technology world, you are one evolutionary step above the lady in China that put the cable box into the shipping carton. And she has to pee sitting at her station. So he marches into our theater where the Runco is still playing. "How do you get the lights on in the place?" I press the top button on our Grafik Eye and the lights come on. He stands there for a second. Then says, "Hmmm. Doesn't look too bad for a projector." (Did Obama declare Friday the 13th bash Runco day? Did my calender not get updated?) So I respond with "Wow! That's so great! Our industry has finally gotten to the point where a fifteen thousand dollar projector can look 'not too bad.'" (I can literally feel Allen's eyes rolling in the back room. It is like a wet ball rolling over fine grit sandpaper.) So Cable looks at me and says, "Fifteen grand? For all this..." arms in a sweeping gesture indicating the ENTIRE room. "Not too bad." "Yeah," I say, with as much sarcasm as I can muster, which I imagine is quite a bit. "Fifteen grand. For all this." "Really?" "No. Not really. The projector is fifteen grand. The room is 100." "Oh..."


Then, and I can't tell you why I did it, I ask him a question about cable boxes. I know, I know. This can only end badly for us both. So I'm asking him questions -- well, really it is more like a focused cross-examination between Jonnie Cochran and some supposed "expert" witness. "Isn't it true that your new Navigator system --- flips through note pad --- yes, here it is, 'licks balls'? And isn't also true that your boxes are prone to failure?" I'm actually have a problem with my box (it won't hold it's resolution output, switching between 480i, 720p, and 1080i depending on the channel, something that would normally be fine, but that seems to drive our Pioneer Plasma crazy). There is a setting that is supposed to hold a selected resolution. But it doesn't work. I explain that. He says no, it does work. I tell him that NO...IT...DOES...NOT. I've selected this setting like 10 times and it holds for a bit then reverts. Then I ask him about another feature that has suddenly vanished on some boxes...the ability to power on the box with a number key (a great I-can't-believe-this-thing-still-doesn't-have-discreet-power-commands work around for automated remotes). To this our "expert" answers, "Oh. I didn't even know about that feature." Your witness; I'm through with this quote-unquote expert!

Categories: August 2010, CTA

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