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With You, the AV Pro

AN INTERVIEW WITH YOU, THE AV PRO: It began on Pro AV's 2,000-member LinkedIn group. Kevin Diaz, CTS, of Visual Solutions Distributing, asked, "How do we convince consultants and their clientele to avoid using residential equipment in commercial applications?" We let the comments fly. Here are the highlights. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Diaz: I have seen a surge of residential equipment in commercial and public-sector bids. It seems demand is growing, which is discouraging. Any thoughts?

Mark Hothem, Technology Services Corp.: The price-conscious customer is just that, the one who when asked what is most important in the system, answers price before functionality, ease of use, or aesthetics. That is not an end user. Get to the end user or those who will be maintaining the system and convince them to [tell] the purchasing department what is needed.

Scott Hoaglund, Samsung Pro AV: I'm usually competing against my own company (the consumer side) for the same project. It really boils down to all of us doing a better job of educating our customers (the pro AV dealers, consultants, and end users) on the long-term TCO benefits of buying a commercial-grade product. There are those customers who simply look at acquistion cost. We will lose that battle every time. It's not until they start having failures or service issues that they begin to understand.

Bill Kistler, CTS-D, WJHW: Does adding an RS-232 port to a "resi" monitor make it a "commercial" unit? The line is not always clear-cut. Sometimes a higher end [residential] unit is the right fit for the application.

Dawn Meade, CTS, advanced Video Systems: We deal with this daily with some of our more budget-conscious customers. Many manufacturers will not honor the warranty on their consumer units if they are installed and deployed in a commercial application. And there's at least one major flat-panel manufacturer that assigns levels of use to different monitors, so even a commercial unit might not have full coverage if it's a "light-use" monitor installed in a "heavy-use" application.

Ronnie Spang, CTS, York Telecom: Some of the responsibility must rest with the commercial manufacturers themselves. Commercial gear is becoming increasingly notorious for having the same unbalanced inputs as consumer systems. Remember when "pro" meant balanced? XLR not RCA? RS-422 not RS-232? What happened? It all went cheap. Now the commercial stuff looks, acts, and feels like consumer grade.

Phil Kipnis, Pacific Coast Visions: We get more calls than we should from enlightened end users about the power supplies on their cosmetically beautiful consumer-grade specials. The biggest problem we see is heat build-up in consumer units with a three- to four-hour duty cycle that are left on eight to 10 hours.

Thom Mullins, CTS, BRC Acoustics: It is always a struggle when [clients] ask why a display, VTR, DVD, or CD player costs so much. I usually win the argument. Sometimes, however, I have heard them say "Well, at $150 a pop I can afford to throw the old one away and get a new one when it breaks." That ignores the cost of removal and installation, peripherals such as rack mounts, and potential re-programming of control systems.

Chris Depaola, Blazing Star Cinema: In the end, aren't the client's needs, budget, etc. the real drivers? Not every client can afford the often huge price difference between pro and consumer [gear]. No matter how much we try and sell someone on the fact that a unit has a better warranty, in the end, if the unit is beyond their budget, it's beyond their budget.

Diaz: I fear there could be a backlash from end users pointed at our community. When things go right, only a few hear about it. When things go wrong, everybody hears about it. With the resi upswing there could be more wrong than right in the future.

To read more or to chime in, join the group at

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