Where to demo projectors?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Scott E. S., Aug 30, 2005.

  1. Scott E. S.

    Scott E. S. Auditioning

    Aug 29, 2005
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    We are remodeling our house, and for our living room we are installing a projector. Before we plop down $3-5k on a projector, we'd like to at least see several in action (i.e. instead of buying it blind based only on reviews). One might think this is pretty straightforward, especially in technologically savvy Silicon Valley.

    [rant]Our first stop was Paradise Video in San Jose. They had two or three projectors, and were pretty knowledgable. The place next door (Century) only had projectors $10k and higher.

    Magnolia in Palo Alto had three projectors on display, of which one wasn't hooked up and the remote was missing for another. We came back a few days later, and they had found the remote, but still hadn't hooked up the third. What's more, one of the projectors hadn't been set up properly and seemed out of focus. When we asked the sales person what the story was, he said that it wasn't out of focus, but he was more annoyed by the black bands at the top and bottom, which he thought weren't black enough. Thanks.

    Hermary in San Carlos had two rooms with projectors, of which we could afford one. The room had a window to the outside in the back, so to watch the projector, the sales guy pulled down a shade. A translucent shade that let in about 50% of the light. Making it a bit difficult to really tell anything about the projector's brightness, contrast, etc.

    A second Magnolia (in the Best Buy in San Carlos) had one room with a projector, but there was a pair of glass doors into the rest of the Best Buy, so again, the lighting levels could not be brought down to a point where we could really see their projector.

    The Sony Store in Valley Fair in San Jose had one projector which didn't even have a dedicated room, but more of an alcove, with no protection from the lighting of the room. An alcove in which there were also a half dozen plasma screens also playing at the same time. You could barely tell the projector was on.

    Having blown a couple days trying to look at projectors, we finally gave up (and don't even start with me about the A/V stores in New York--They were even less competent). So the question is:[/rant]

    Where in the S.F. Bay Area can we go to demo a bunch of projectors in the $3-5k range? Is this simply not how it's done? Do people just rely on reviews, or do they hire an A/V consultant who knows exactly what they should buy (and trust him blind as well)? What's the deal?
  2. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

    Oct 2, 1998
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    I'd say what you've experienced is what it's like everywhere. I'm always shocked by lackluster efforts to sell expensive equipment. Come on store owners and salespeople - the more expensive the equipment, the higher the profit and the higher the commission - earn your damn money! On one hand, I can understand - a lot of peope are just browing and have no intention of buying, some want a demo but intend to get it cheaper over the internet and so, in both cases, the effort is wasted. On the other, that's the nature of the game, it has always been this way, there's always competition - you must try harder. Undoubtedly there are stores with good demonstrations but they are so hard to find; none I'm aware of here in Minnesota.

    Go over to the AVS Forum and ask if any individual in your area has a projector in your price range that you might come over and see. A lot of people are just dying to show off their stuff and talk to a fellow enthusiast and they are much more likely to have a proper setup.
  3. Mike Selis

    Mike Selis Extra

    Mar 27, 2005
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    Many places that have projectors do not display them at all or properly for several reasons.

    1. Potential theft of projectors (can be solved with use of locks or other theft deterents)

    2. Cost to properly display product
    A. loss of valuable floor space that can be used to display more product (in their opinion)
    B. the expensive replacement bulbs (since the manufacturers likely do not provide price breaks or financial assistance in this matter)
    C. the need to properly train internally, pay and retain staff

    3. They do not know or understand what the customer's expectations for the proper display might be.

    4. If the displays also double as sellable inventory, stores might rather save the more popular products in case somebody wants to buy them. The manufacturers do not provide units to most stores to use as floor samples. In fact, I have seen many stores have dummy models of projectors, which look just like the real thing except they are empty shells.

    5. The stores feel that they should not be showrooms for product just so that customers can buy it online from a website that has little to no overhead, and a lower price.

    6. The stores must become authorized vendors of each company, which likely requires minimum purchase volume per year. As a result, stores might only sell only the one or two brands which they feel they can make the most money on, rather than the brands which they feel are the best.

    7. Your average big box electronics store is run by inexperienced first time managers, with a few more experienced managers. As a result, several problems exist.
    A. The main goal of department managers and upper store management is to make the store profitable and make themselves a big paycheck, and building nice displays might cut into their checks.
    B. They might not care if you like how the product is displayed, because this is how corporate office tells them this is how to display the product. If enough people complain about poor conditions for display of product, they might change how they display the product.
    C. The salespeople that often work in these stores cannot even afford to buy the product they sell. As a result, the only information they might know about the product is what they learn from reading a spec sheet, the box, or something that they were told by a co-worker. Company reps are unlikely to visit each store and train the employees about their product. Even if they do, it is unlikely to be in enough depth to properly allow them to help the customer make an informed decision. The manufacturers do not often have retail employee purchase plans that allow the salespeople to buy product at huge discounts from what many of the salespeople have told me.

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