Installations: Heartbreak Home Theater Page 3

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To avoid the "power-up" dilemma, they tried keeping the controller in its charging cradle - but that created its own problems. "The charger is next to the wireless router," notes Pete. "So we're always having to walk over to the charger to use the controller. But it's dark and you can't see, so to find the thing, you have to turn the lights on."

Since he doesn't have as much experience with the system, and its troubles, as Melinda does - and because he's a self-confessed technophobe - Pete finds he has to rely on her to get it up and running. "Sometimes I watch movies later at night, and Melinda'll be in bed, and I have to go wake her up: 'You've got to come down and help me. I can't get the thing to work.' And it shouldn't be like that. It seems that it should be a lot simpler."

But he's quick to point out that the home theater is still outstanding. "It's amazing - when it's working. I'm sitting there watching movies, and I cannot believe I have a little movie theater in my house and it sounds as good as a big movie theater. It's such a great luxury that it's the equivalent for us of having a private jet. We don't have a private jet, by the way."

I could mention the bizarre problems with the speaker positioning, or the miscommunication that led to a valance covering 3 inches of the top of the Stewart screen, or some of the many other things that went wrong with the theater. But cluing you in on everything would make even the most jaded reader feel a little ill after a while.

Out of Control Unfortunately, Pete and Melinda weren't able to keep their gremlins confined to the home theater. The little devils appear to wander freely from room to room, making the Farrellys' whole-house control system equally torturous to use.

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