Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You Can't Fight Entropy:
After Suzanne came home and told me that she knew about the broken toilet and fixed it, I was starting to feel a little bit better about everything breaking. Maybe it was just a blessing in disguise, and I could get a good stereo system and the wireless headphones I'd been wanting, and this was just the right excuse.

Hah. Foolish mortal.

So I spent the better part of Sunday night researching HTIB (Home Theatre in a Box) systems online, after taking a quick glance around Best Buy that afternoon to get a general vibe. I had a few in mind, but generally decided I wanted the Panasonic SC-HT940, if the outputs would work. I could get it from Circuit City, with the wireless adapter, for about $500, and pick it up the next day, and pick up a good pair of wireless headphones for about $45 on Amazon. Not bad.

But I wanted to check the outputs, and make sure that was what I wanted, so I headed out to Best Buy on Monday. The guy there was very helpful, and after trying to steer me towards a more complicated receiver (which I didn't want, I wanted the convenience of HTIB, even if that wasn't the best possible sound), he helped me figure out that the Panasonic would work. Picked that up, with the adapter for wireless rear speakers and a wireless pair of headphones, plus a 4-year maintenance plan (hey, I just had a DVD player die on me after a year). Grand total about $900, a valuable lesson in shopping online, but the guy had done the legwork, so I wasn't about to turn around and buy it online at that point.

Got home, spent the better part of a frustrating day setting it up. The inputs didn't work entirely right and required a workaround, the wireless speakers didn't seem to be working... by the time Suzanne left to go to her mama's group, I was good and frustrated. However, I did finally get everything working, even if you had to pull the S-video cable every time you wanted to watch a VHS tape. The wireless headphones were nice, and even worked in my office. Great. Sound wasn't perfect, but new cables would probably fix that. It was a headache, but probably worth it.

Hah. Foolish mortal.

One of the primary reasons we couldn't just use my PS/2 or another pre-existing DVD player in the house is because Katy has this InteractTV thing she loves to play with, and it has to be programmed kind of like a universal remote. This morning, Suzanne discovered that the codes weren't working with the new DVD player. I called up Panasonic, and they informed me that their DVDs didn't work with most universal remotes. They even tried to present it as a *feature*, "Why would you want to use another remote? You can only access all the features on our remote!"

So, disappointing sound, high price, doesn't work with the Tivo remote or Katy's remote... guess what, it's going back. That meant I had to spend most of this morning undoing all my hard work from Monday, worrying about what kind of restocking fee I'll have to pay and if my 4-year plan will be just money wasted, or if I can get that back as well. Lesson learned? If all you need is a DVD player, and you've been fine with just the TV sound for several months, don't go out and get a home stereo unless you're willing to pay somebody else to install it and really go all out on the high end stuff. So on Wednesday, I'll try to return all this stuff (saying goodbye to the wireless headphones will be the hardest part, as I couldn't get them to work with just the TV) and buy a simple, $50+ Phillips DVD player that I saw on Sunday and should have bought in the first place.

To be continued...

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