DIY or Professional Installation? Despite the self-serve atmosphere of many electronics stores, purchasing and setting up new products at home is rarely a do-it-yourself project. Even seemingly simple projects, like wireless home networks or surround sound home theater systems, are often best left to the experts. For most shoppers, choosing the right gear and connecting it properly can be a real challenge. Worse, making a bad choice can end up costing you a lot of money if the product does not deliver the performance or functions you need or if it limits your ability to upgrade in the future. If you want to ensure you’re investing in the right equipment for your needs and you want it setup and installed to perform at its best, it’s time to consult a professional — a technology integrator.
You may never have heard of technology integrators. They are product and installation professionals who specialize in home entertainment, communications, networking, security and convenience products and installed technologies. Integrators work with a variety of clients and projects that range from simple everyday solutions like wireless networks, security systems and home theaters to working with builders and contractors to integrate technology into new construction and remodeling projects. Here’s a closer look at what a technology integrator can do for you:
Plan Your Space and Your System:Just as with any purchase, you need a plan for how the new product will work in your home and with your existing devices. You may not think about your office PC as you’re choosing a new audio system, or your Internet connection when buying a new family room TV, but you probably should. As home entertainment technologies converge, products increasingly rely on home networks and the Internet for content and enhanced functionality. Before you invest in a new technology product, you’ll want to plan a system that maximizes the available space and product features and leaves room for growing or expanding the system as the technology changes. Look to a technology integrator to not only help you develop a technology and infrastructure plan, but to also make specific product recommendations based on your exact needs. They can save you money and spare you from feeling buyer’s remorse.
Choose the Right Gear:Once you know which features you need and have a plan for integrating the technology both into to your room and into your existing systems, selecting the right equipment is key. In fact, many Integrators will tell you that product selection is perhaps the most critical aspect of a project. Select the wrong product and you’ll be disappointed. Even worse, it may not be compatible with your existing products, or may limit your options for adding components in the future. You can do the online research and talk to in-store sales associates, but if you don’t know what features you need for your specific situation, you may buy a product that won’t perform as you need. One of the greatest advantages of turning to a technology integrator for help is that he gets to know you, your needs and sees the big picture. He can also make your life easier by purchasing and delivering the products for you.
Set It Up:Getting your gear home from the store, connected and working is probably the greatest challenge for most buyers. Aside from the huge learning curve and multitude of connections and cables, getting TVs, audio systems and networking products working optimally is out of the reach of most buyers. Take a plasma TV for example. You can set it on your TV stand and connect it to your cable box, but are you getting the best picture for your investment? In most cases, it’s not even close. If you use the wrong connections, your picture quality will suffer. If you don’t know how to properly adjust the brightness and contrast levels — typically factory set to overcome bright showroom lighting — you will almost certainly be watching an oversaturated picture with exaggerated colors and blacks that look grey. And don’t forget about the remote. Getting it programmed and working with your other components takes time and know-how. Finally, an integrator can conceal power wires and A/V cables behind walls and out of sight to deliver a custom-installed look you won’t get from most stores’ installers or by doing it yourself.
Bottom line: A professional knows how to help you get the most enjoyment and value out of your investment through proper setup, calibration and installation.
Don’t wait until after the purchase or until it’s too late to call in the pros. Schedule an consultation with an integrator from the start: get up to speed, make a plan, get specific product recommendations and have a professional perform the installation. With the help of a technology integrator you’ll get the full value from your technology investment and years of enjoyment from your new equipment.
Locate a technology specialist near you:
Story reprinted from Digital Tips, a service provided by CEA. Home Controls is a member of TechHome, a division of CEA (Consumer Electronics Association).