Tales from the Sharp End: There's a Rat in the Kitchen

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas break, all of your installs got finished on time and you had no service calls to interrupt your family time.

I got a few interesting things in my Christmas stocking, including a Pebble watch and a Fitbit activity tracker, so I can now time my exercise and turn the lights on, all at the same time! What was the coolest thing you got this year?

Woe Woe Woe
On the subject of service calls, we had a couple of niggles that happened over the break. Nothing major, and all cured by a little bit of off-site diagnostics and some help from the client on site. We got off lightly, but servicing and repairs cost us a lot of money each year. In fact I was doing some analysis of the service issues we experienced, and whilst I'm not surprised by the results, it does highlight an area that perhaps we should be kicking our suppliers about. The biggest cause of callouts for us last year was the failure of power supplies. Specifically, those cheap, nasty little blocks of plastic that we now refer to as a Barrel-Tailed Rat. We have so much equipment in an install that uses them, including HDMI baluns etc, that when one fails it's always a big deal.

We have learned to overcome some of this by trying to use PoE equipment wherever possible and even aggregating power supply to devices using a different supply, but in the end, we always end up with a Barrel-Tailed Rat in there somewhere. The problem is that these things are bought by manufacturers from factories that make them for as little money as possible. It may seem good business, it leads to greater profits, but I'd rather pay a bit more and not have these service woes. So here is my plea - it goes out to all those manufacturers who supply us with products that use a Barrel-Tailed Rat: where possible, please don't use the pesky little devils. If it connects over a network cable, try to make your kit work with PoE. If it doesn't, then spend a bit more, give me a power supply you can guarantee for a minimum of three years and allow us to make money and not have to incur servicing costs because your great product is not that great because it comes with a cheap and nasty power adapter!

Urbane_Installer_P5Product of the Year
I was also thinking of the new products that came out last year and which was my favourite. I have adored my B+W P5 headphones (pictured left with Beck). They are awesome, but I think they are older than last year. I love the Nest Learning Thermostat I have in my house, but it's not really out yet.

I do however make no bones about the fact that I love Kaleidescape, and this year I think they changed the game, made their customer experience available to more people and allowed the product (that everyone was saying was dead) to dominate the market again. The introduction of the Kaleidescape Store earlier this year opened the way to a new dimension in film buying - the Ultraviolet tie-in and the DVD/BD upgrade path was inspired - but it was the affordable Cinema One system that they launched mid-year, that totally blew me away.

Moreover, it has opened up the sales opportunities to people we couldn't sell a full-priced Kaleidescape system to, so we got additional revenue from the last few years' work again, and it has enabled us to sell a product to clients that opened up opportunities for us to do more. So for helping us make more money, my product of 2013 goes to the Kaleidescape Cinema One System. Can't wait to see what comes out this year! That's all folks. My ISE tickets and hotel are booked, and I'm raring to go on what promises to be our busiest year ever. Happy installing!

The Urbane Installer is a home control expert based in Middle England.

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