In early September Panasonic is taking me and another Australia writer to the United States for the release of its new home theatre projector, the PT-AE900, in Hollywood. You can see my reviews of its predecessors, the Panasonic PT-AE700 here, and the Panasonic PT-AE500 here.
I’m quite keen on these projectors because they offer a level of performance for under $4,000 that was achievable only for more than $10,000 just a few short years ago. So I’m hopeful that the new Panasonic projector will be a further improvement for a similar price.
The only problem is that going to America is not a trivial undertaking for the likes of me. Now if I were going as a tourist, no problem. For Australian tourists, a visa waiver is granted upon entry. However journalists and writers must have a visa in order to enter the US. Molly Meldrum found out this to his distress a few years ago when he was stopped on entry, visa-less, and plonked onto the next plane coming back home.
Getting such a visa normally takes six weeks I’m told, but the US Consulate is kindly rushing mine through. Unfortunately, in addition to a couple of hundred dollars in charges (which Panasonic has rather nicely offered to pay), I have to present myself personally at the Consulate. Now since I’m in Canberra, the diplomatic capital of Australia, you’d think I could just lob up at the US Embassy. No, they don’t offer consulate services. So I have to go to Sydney for this. And get there before 11:45am on the appointed weekday, since they don’t do visas after lunch.
The good news is that once the visa is issued, it’s good for five years so I won’t have to go through this rigmarole again for a while.