Installations: Heartbreak Home Theater Page 2


One theory was that the outboard video processor was overheating due to a lack of ventilation in the equipment closet. But Meridian said its processors don't overheat that easily, and the installer insisted that the closet didn't need ventilation. Another theory blamed the projector. "The installer came out and checked everything," remembers Melinda, "and said, 'It's all fine.' But he brought in a brand-new projector because he thought maybe something was jarred loose in the old one during shipping. Two or three weeks later, the picture with the new projector started turning green." Yet another theory blamed the projector's DVI cable. But swapping that out - a job Melinda took on herself, perched atop a tall ladder - didn't solve the mystery.

We usually profile installations where things have gone really, really well. But things can go wrong, and it's not always easy to figure out why. Low-end, mid-level, or high-end, any installation can become a lemon, bedeviled by problems that nobody can quite put their finger on. And solutions aren't always easy to find.

It's important to note that Pete and Melinda aren't a couple of complainers. "I hope we don't come across like the whining family," says Pete. In fact, they're two of the nicest, most decent people you could meet. But sometimes, bad home theaters happen to good people.

Curses If the problems with the image are "The Mystery of the Green Screen," you could call Pete and Melinda's struggles with an equally vexing 81/2-inch touchpanel "The Curse of the Wireless Controller." Explains Melinda: "You'll be sitting there watching a movie, and you'll want to change the volume or something, and the controller's screen will say, 'Network connection is lost. Searching for connection.' So you have to sit and wait until it finally makes the connection."

But this wouldn't be much of a curse if that were the only problem. "Since the controller's battery life is just under 2 hours, you can barely make it through a movie," she says. "To combat that, we had the controller programmed so it shuts off when it's not in use. But if you're sitting there watching something, and you want to change the volume or pause it or whatever, you have to power the controller back on. And when it does, the connection is lost. It's a terrible, terrible thing."