Wanted: SACD and DVD-A Home Theater

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After being tempted many times by the enhanced music-listening and movie-watching experience of surround sound, I’ve decided to splurge on a home theater system. For my first one, a home theater in a box (HTiB, as the industry says) is exactly the right match for the space, funds, and patience of assembling components I have at the moment.

Finding a system that meets my needs, however, is proving nearly impossible. I really want the ability to play both competing formats of surround-sound audio discs—SACD and DVD-A. This rules out Sony, which created SACD, and almost all of the other vendors as well, which either donn’t offer both formats in one box, or don’t offer them in my price range.

So, after much confusing research, the only product that meets my needs is the Pioneer Electronics HTD-540DV. The dealer locator on Pioneer’s Web site hapilly tells me that this model is available at every Best Buy in my area, and only at that chain. But Best Buy doesn’t have any on the floor, on their Web site, and at least one salesperson has said it’s been discontinued.

To make things even more frustrating, a few days ago, I found a 24/7 phone number for Pioneer that would connect me to a live person, but of course, looking for that number today, I can find no trace of it on Pioneer’s site. I spent a good half-hour looking before I found it again. Why? Because the only place it appears is the page linked from the title of the Service & Support menu, which displays a pop-up menu when moused over, indicating that you should click on one of the menu links. Neither major operating system (Windows and Mac) does anything when you click on the title of a menu, so why should the Web work any differently?

After navigating the frustrating robot system on the Pioneer “Customer Service” line, I finally reached a live person that was able to tell me why I’ve been having difficulty locating the system. It has been discontinued, to be replaced in late April by the HTZ-450.


Author: Peter Sheerin

Peter Sheerin is best known for the decade he spent as the Technical Editor of CADENCE magazine, where he was the acknowledged expert in Computer-Aided Design hardware and software. He has a long-standing passion for improving usability of software, hardware, and everyday objects that is always interwoven in his articles. Peter is available for freelance technical writing and product reviews, and is exploring career opportunities in interaction design. His pet personal project is exploring the best ways to harmonize visual, tactile, and audible symbols for improving the effectiveness of alerting systems.

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