|Posted on April 22, 2010 at 11:51 AM|
As an A/V dealer, you generally deal with reps that fall into three distinct categories; the ones that NEVER call or come by, the ones that you dread coming by (I have this one who I have told point blank, "Do NOT come by here without calling me. I see you pull up unannounced, I get angry and I will NOT have time for you."), and the ones that you build a personal relationship with and that you welcome a visit.
We’re fortunate enough to have one of the best reps in the biz, in the form of Dave Robinette. Now, we’ve been doing business with Dave almost since the day we opened the doors at Custom Theater. In that time, Dave has been our rep for Sharp*, B&W*, Rotel*, Monster Cable*, Sonance*, Fujitsu* Yamaha, Niles, and Elan, (All of the * items are things that Dave’s firm no longer handles. The reppin’ game can be a cruel bitch.) Dave’s one of the good guys, so when he calls and wants to swing by, the door is always open. (In one classic piece of solid reppin', Dave once drove 2 hours to bring us a much-needed spool of wire in time for a prewire after a classic shipping cluster eff.)
Now, this is just speculation, but I’m guessing that when a rep has a newish product in his arsenal, he has a kind of quota on how many people he needs to sign-up/show it to. Dave’s firm recently took on a new video line, NuVision, and Dave was out making the rounds with one of the NuV muckity-mucks yesterday and he called and asked if he could come by and introduce him. Now, I’ve told Dave in the past that I just don’t see ANY way – as in NONE – that NuV is going to fit into our product mix, but, if stopping in puts another notch in Dave’s belt with the big wig, well, come on by.
After they arrive, they come in and after introductions and handshakes – and a rather random/awkward hugging moment between my partner and the new rep – they cart in the NuV TV, a 40-inch LED-LCD set. Since, they don’t have a stand for it, we have to just kind of prop it up on some chairs in our showroom, which is fine. But, seriously, if you are toting this TV around to show it to prospective dealers, HAVE IT ON A STAND! Don’t box it up after every demo; wrap it in a moving blanket and leave it on the stand for the next demo. So my first impression is that the set is aesthetically very attractive. It has a brushed metal, matte black kind of finish that is very Runco-y and it stands in stark contrast to the cheap, plastic frames surrounding all the other sets. So, while we’re hooking it up, Mr. NuV starts explaining their modus operandi. They get the mother glass from Samsung, but they engineer all their own parts and processing. (Actually, I don’t really get this. Like, at all. NuV, you are a SMALL company. Why not contact Silicon Optix or Marvell and use their known and AWESOME processing? The wheel has been invented, mastered, and mass-produced to do a TRILLION calculations per second, crushing out jaggies like an oil-rubbed Spartan. You wheel is NOT going to be better.) They build all the sets. Highly restricted, territorial dealerships. No Internet sales or distribution. (Exclusivity in the A/V world means more controlled pricing, means the ability to actually make some money selling a product. Yes, I know, it’s a shocking, dirty little secret, but I don’t come in to work because I love all you people; I come in to work to make some money so that *hopefully* one day, I will no longer HAVE to come in to work every day. That’s actually incredibly Zen... I work so that I don’t have to work. Yes. I like it.) He also says that since some major video players have left the market – Pioneer Elite, Hitachi Director, Fujitsu, Sony Qualia – that they feel there is a real opening for another marquee, niche product to step up.
So, they fire up the TV and immediately, I’m not impressed. The image just looks really soft to me; lacking that razor detail that native HD video can deliver. We are playing a nature Blu-ray that I have seen many-a-time on a (last gen) Samsung LED set that is literally back-to-back with the NuV piece, so I’m pretty familiar with the depth and detail this disc can produce. Also, I notice a pretty radical light shift as I move around the image. Like, when I’m 6 feet away, a lot of the image is totally lost in this crush of black, but when I get to say 2 feet away, all these details appear out of the murk. Granted, I don’t normally watch a TV propped up on chairs, but it is very apparent that this set needs to have the proper tilt/angle to produce the best images.
So, the NuV guy isn’t super impressed with the picture either, so he asks me to put in HIS Blu-ray. Now, I’m not sure if this was mastered with special Nu sauce to take advantage of their processing or what, but I pop it in. Then I switch the HDMI cable to the Samsung set just for a quick look-see. There is an image of a guy wearing a kind of white mesh hat, and you can clearly see every cell and structure of the cap’s fabric. So we pop it over to Nu and it just goes soft again. So then we watch some movie clips, and blah, blah, I already know that there will be no new Nu in our store. It’s not that it is a bad looking set; in fact it has a nice, non-reflective matte screen, the blacks are really deep and noise free, it’s just that it isn’t standout compared to all of the other lines we already carry.
Then the guy hits me with the price. This 40-inch TV sells for like $3500! Thirty-Five HUNDRED! For a 40! That Ka-POW! you heard was my jaw smashing into the floor. Along with ANY chance of my even remotely ever CONSIDERING your set. And their 55, probably our most popular seller? $5999! As in SIX GRAND! And if you want a table stand, pony up another $199. Oh, and they do offer custom paint colors for the 55. For an extra $1500! We’re selling entire SYSTEMS now that people complain about costing $7500, let alone just the TV. And the one possible thing that *could* possibly (in a vacuum, WAY out in space) justify the price – the ability to do 3D or feature local dimming technology, or ideally BOTH – the set doesn’t have. Oy vey! I think the ONLY selling strategy I could use for this set would be something like, "Now, sir, I'm not going to beat around the bush here and waste either of our time. This set is VERY expensive and, frankly, only for men who recognize quality and have an obscenely oversized penis. If you're not such a man, well, then let's just step over here to something that would be more suited to your size."
Now, remember, I *really* like Dave and there is no point in being a total ass-bite to this guy. You want to sell me something, I don’t want to buy it, we don’t have to make it ugly, right? So, when he asks me what I think, I diplomatically tell him that I don’t see ANY way that we could sell that TV in our market. First, the price is WAY too high. Like, if you cut the price in half, and then offered a $500 rebate, I could probably, *maybe* sell it. Second, no one has heard of NuVision. If you are going to spend an ass-ton of money on a TV, you probably want it to be from a name you’ve heard of, and know that will be around a few years from now.