Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Equipment

On October 9th we had our installation date. After having a friend run an outlet to behind where the television would be, our installers came in and put everything together- that's a story for another time...While the installers were assemlinb everything upstairs in our family room, Greg Harper (our Panasonic rep), was downstairs showing us how to use the computer, the cameras, and the HD camcorder. The boys got their hands on the equipment and had a great time. Miles, the 3 year old, calls the wireless camera his "special camera" and has taken to picking it up at odd times and taking pictures.

Greg told the installers not to connect anything until he told them to. This, of course, led to much grumbling once he was out of earshot...They were complaining that they had been doing this for 20 years and knew what they were doing. Greg explained to them how the Viera link worked and connected all of the components.
Then he turned on the Blu-Ray player...and the television and receiver automatically turned on with it. The installers were impressed! The Viera link makes using all of the equipment so easy because every piece of equipment automatically turns on any other piece that it needs to function properly.

We fired up the television and were blown away by the picture and sound! It finally felt like our family room was complete!

Next post, a review of the equipment!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Four big boxes

Our contact from Panasonic called us about a week and a half after we had found out that we had won. He explained the program to us:

We are family 39 and they are adding more families throughout the year. We would be asked to participate in weekly surveys and would be encouraged to use and share our equipment. Panasonic really is interested in knowing what we think about all of the equipment we would be receiving and would use the information we provided to improve and enhance future products. The entire family is encouraged to use all of it and we are expected to report the good and the bad.

A few weeks later, we finally had a date set to receive all of our equipment. Before the equipment was shipped, we participated in a family pre-interview that asked about our family, our viewing habits, our use of technology, and how we thought things would be different when we got the equipment.

To be honest, at that point, it was really hard to imagine...What would it be like to have all of this new equipment in the house. When my wife and I sat down to think about it, we realized it was very rare for us to buy the best of anything (mostly because we can't afford it). Here we were, about to receive not only all of the technology that I had ever wanted, but it was the best equipment there was- and we were getting all of once...and it was all going to be installed!

A few weeks later, Here is what we saw:

Four big boxes- The TV (WOW!!), a big mystery box simply labeled "39 Calandro ", some speaker stands, and another long box...The box was delivered while I was at work. I had to sit through a rather long meeting knowing that it was all there...waiting... My wife was kind enough to wait for me!

Needless to say, the boys were excited.

And were dying to see what was inside the big box, which contained a ton of stuff!

Like the video camera (note the stunned look on my face- not my best look!), the receiver, the speakers, two digital cameras, power strips, cables,

the Wii (the boys' favorite thing!),

and a big bag of other stuff- cables, SD cards, blu-rays, Wii games!!! Wahoo!

The youngest, of course, just wanted to play with the box from the computer.
The excitement was beginning to peak...We opened everything up and charged all of the batteries so we would be ready for the installation....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

People do win

I first came across the Panasonic Living in HD contest while searching their website looking at plasma tvs. I had long been a fan of Panasonic's equipment and had been holding off on buying a new television until my old 27" Panasonic CRT television was dead...Unfortunately for me, the tv was still going strong. My 40th birthday was coming up and my wife had mentioned that she may get me one for my birthday. I was excited, but then started looking at the next tier down- I scaled down my size and resolution to fit our budget.

When I came across the contest, I decide that I had nothing to lose by entering. At the time, Panasonic was asking the families to participate in different challenges. I wrote a very long and detailed entry about how wonderful our family was and how we would use all of the stuff, found a half-way decent picture of our famliy and quickly snapped a picture of the room all of the stuff would go in. Then I waited....and waited...and ultimately heard nothing.

I was bummed.

The websitge said to keep checking back for future entries, so I did. I watched and waited and sure enough, it popped up again. They were looking for more families to live in HD. I applied on line- this time I only had the 1000 characters in the text box to explain myself- quite a different task from what I had originally done. So, I edited...and edited...and shortened and changed and boiled it down to my 998 characters in each box.

I realized that I also could have sent a video as an answer to the questions, but decided against that as I really didn't think I would win anyway...I mean they were only going to pick six families this go-round, what were the chances it would be me?

Well, the time went by...The official rules said that winners would be notified within 3 weeks after the deadline for entries via overnight mail. As it was summer, my family was in and out of the house during the day. Each night that we would come home, I would casually check the front door to see if anything had been left for us. Nothing was. As the three weeks were coming to a close, I had all but given up hope.

Then, with only two days left in the three week window, my wife called me at work, "Honey," she said, "a truck just pulled up and left a letter for you. Is it a bill? Did you enter a contest or something?"

A glimmer of hope flared up in my brain...

"Uh, I think I may know what this is...Go ahead and open it..." I closed my eyes, hoping that I was right.

"Dear Mr. Calandro," she read, "You have been selected as a finalist in the Panasonic Living in HD sweepstakes..." She then went on to read the list of all of the stuff we had won: A 50" plasma television, Blu-Ray DVD player, a surround sound system, a laptop computer, two digital cameras, a digital HD video camera, a Nintendo Wii, movies and games, all of the cables and set up and $1000 for HD programming....Thats when the screaming and the happy dance started!!!

We filled out all of our paperwork that day and sent it back the next. For the next few days, I was stunned- I couldn't believe that I had actually won something! Not just something- all of the amazing products I had ever wanted! It really didn't set in until I had actually received a call from Greg, our Panasonic rep who explained the whole process to me.

People really do win. We did. So have at least 40 other families so far (we're family 39!). You can win too! You just need to enter. Trust me, it is SO worth it!

Watch this space for future posts about our experiences with our new stuff.

Next post: Panasonic Products galore!