Okay, to recap: my rainbow machine is on the fritz and I've been trying to figure out what to do about it. Nobody has my part, which has to be conjured. None of the conjurers have the time to conjure my part and so I've been stuck without a rainbow machine for the better part of two weeks.
Today I finally caved and went over to Best Buy. Before I hear you screaming, "Best Buy has terrible rainbow machines! Blah blah blah" Before you say any of that, I KNOW!!! I know you never go to a "box store" for a rainbow machine, just as you never go to a pet shop for a purebred Pomeranian, but guess what? I've made THAT mistake before too.
Anyhow I get to Best Buy and I have to say, much to my surprise they had a much larger selection of rainbow machines than I anticipated. Yes, they had the basic consumer models, but they also had some high end RM's that were pretty impressive. In addition to their "home theater" room, they've also got a rainbow machine room set up in selected stores. (Check out their website or call 1-800-BEST BUY to see if they have one in your area.)
My sales associate Jeff, nice kid about 20 or 21, was pretty helpful although he freely admitted he normally sells flat-screen TVs and was "not an expert" in the rainbow machine category. "That's okay," I said. "I am."
I spent about an hour sampling different machines. Consumer Reports, to my knowledge, has never done a comprehensive review of these systems. I wrote to them a while back to ask why and they replied they don't review products which "rely on sorcery on magic." Fair enough. I'm not going to do a full review of all of the machines here, but I will share a few thoughts.
1. The Gravistar Rainbow Maker 900 ($3500.00) is a lightweight, but fully functional rainbow machine. It has all the standard features: rainbow making, rainbow projection, glittery/non-glittery, sparkly/non-sparkly (keep in mind that in RM nomenclature "glittery" and "sparkly" mean two very different things), as well as some features generally found only on high-end machines: infra-red and spectoscopic, for example. Overall, I liked it and considered buying the machine, but Gravistar has had quality issues in the past, (missing colors, chimeric imagery). Through the grapevine, I've heard they've dealt with a lot of these problems by bringing in new conjurers and warlocks, but in the end I decided I couldn't trust my rainbow maker to a company based in Bulgaria.
2. The Inner Dimension Rainbow Troubador IV ($5750.00 - on sale for $5300.00). Inner Dimension has been a player in the rainbow making business for over twenty years. They started as an Irish "micro maker" specializing in small rainbows for the office, but over the years they've really grown their business and now have RM's for every space and size. What separates Inner Dimension from the rest of the field is their attention to detail. Starting with their signature prism dial system and up through their reflective gossamer "fairy webs," an Inner Dimension Rainbow Maker is truly top of the line. Their strength is also their weakness, though, because an ID RM is considerably more expensive than comparable rainbow makers. The Troubador is their attempt to offer a midpoint RM for the home office, and it's a beautiful machine. The III Series was voted "Rainbow Maker of the Year in 2004," and the IV is the first significant redesign since then - and it's a beauty. Available in burnt umbra, copper glaze, or matte black, any professional would be proud to be bathed in the glittery rainbow magic of a Troubador IV. Unfortunately, for the money, I'd like a few more features that can be found on their higher end machines. For example, where is the Duplicator? The Magnesium Rainbow Condensor/Sizer? Yes, they've managed a facsimile of their Prismic Separator on the IV, but is it worth an extra two thousand dollars? Methinks not. Also, I'm told a lot of their magic comes from children, and I'm not comfortable with that. (For the record, the company denies the charge.)
3. The Delphinium X "P" Series ($3800.00). Delphinium is a relative newcomer to the RM scene. Founded in 1999 by Marco LeBoulle protege Hans Vilnius, Delphinium picks up where the master left off. Sleek, understated lines, intuitive controls and limitless rainbow options distinguish the entire Delphinium X Line. The P Series is their newest line, and the company calls it a "crossover" rainbow machine. Basically, what this means is, it gives you the functionality of a traditional conjured RM with the technical ease of use of some of today's synthetic models. Unlike some machines in its price point, the P has a full range of rainbow intensity (top luminescence is a staggering 6 RLU on TD 20/20!) Their warranty is not the best in the business (1 year parts/3 years magic), but I was willing to take the chance as their reputation is excellent across the industry.
In the end, I went for #3. To my surprise, the unit fit in the back of my Jeep, and it really was "plug-n-play." I was bathed in both glittery and sparkly rainbows within an hour of unpacking the box. The rainbows were sustained and strong, and did not come with that annoying RM "hum" I keep reading about on the message boards. I turned the thing full blast. This is what it looked like:
Anyway, I'm thrilled with my purchase. Hopefully it will last a long time to come. Thanks to everybody for their emails and suggestions. Yes, it's been a very trying past couple of weeks, but in the end, I "conjured" up the best rainbow machine for me.