The Custom Installer: TV Shopping the Custom Way

Like most people who've joined the cult of audio/video, I enjoy visiting other custom-installation firms and high-end A/V showrooms. But I usually avoid venturing into big-box electronics stores. Inevitably, I'll stumble across a salesperson giving inaccurate or misleading information - like claiming that a $500 theater-in-a-box system will deliver "true theater sound!" Frankly, such encounters just don't do anything good for my blood pressure.

Recently, the need for some printer cartridges and the desire to get a new CD compelled me to visit both Costco and Best Buy. And once I'd breached the lair, the lure of their A/V displays was too much to overcome. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.

The state of audio in both stores could be described as an afterthought at best. Clearly, these retailers know their bread is buttered with video dollars, and they don't "waste" a lot of real estate on hokey add-ons such as receivers and speakers.

Costco had boxes of TVs stacked up, but most had model numbers that didn't quite match any I could find at other retailers - so much for making comparisons. Worse, several TVs were hooked up with either the red or the blue missing from the component-video connection.

The TVs at Best Buy were far nicer, and other than a couple of wrong aspect ratios, they appeared to be set up more or less correctly. But the HD DVD camp will love to hear that a salesman told me I should get Blu-ray "because HD DVD can't do true HD - it won't do 1080p."