I'll answer a few questions. Our company is not at the top end of the tier for what we charge per hour. Actually I laughed when I read it because we are close to the bottom. That type of pay is not justified in our area, western mass not the higher priced Boston area. However, I did apprentice for a top company that did systems all over the world and routinely did 6 and 7 figure systems. They bring in the whole crew and it is a top dollar job. And you wouldn't believe how efficient these operations can run. To get it a little more realistic I would say most average companies nationwide charge $75-$150 depending on area. Remember this is what the company needs to stay in business and not what the employee makes. There are a LOT of cost of doing business that are not billable. Like health,dental and short term disability insurance I know cost $13,500 per year for my family.
For some bigger companies they do have different labor rates for Designers, Consultant, Programming, Calibration, and affectionately the 'Wire Pulling Monkey'. But the 'Wire pulling Monkeys' are still billed at a about $100/hr average. In smaller companies like ours the workers wear many hats and everybody does a little bit of everything. Some days I'm pulling wire and hammering nails, other days I'm doing design, programming or calibrating the audio and video. With an engineering degree and programming background you can probably guess which disciplines I am better at. The construction guy can program a remote for a simple system but if he can will leave it to me. I don't mind pulling wire or hammering nails and helping where I can. I leave the moving beams and walls, raising roofs and bigger stuff to him.
BTW, you got a great deal on the electrician! $600 for 2+ days that;s great! The electricians around here are not that cheap. A simple outlet ~$150 for one billable hour. We just had an electrician add two circuits in the breaker panel for our equipment and install 6 can lights and switches. Labor cost not counting materials $1200. They had 2 guys for maybe 4 hours work. You got a bargain, I imagine it was someone doing a little work himself and not going to the business.
Now as far as remotes. Most people are not techies and go nuts when something does not work in their system. If you don't get a picture on the screen, you look at your equipment and find the problem. Let's say your cable box isn't on, you go over and turn it on and all is well. Most people won't even look in their equipment closet or press the 'help' button on the remote, they call us. Reliability is key. If you don't think many integrators have tried Harmony remotes to offer a less expensive option for their clients you are greatly mistaken. We don't like them for a reason.
1. Reliability. They simply are not built as well as FatUglyGuy states. Anybody that has these in the field has experienced this.
2. Programmability. They are a Pain to customize. The 1100 won't let you change macros. The wizard makes the macros for you and you can't edit them. If you wanted to make sure the system was in a certain surround mode or picture mode when using the Blu-ray, the wizard doesn't do that. You can override but you have to call their tech support and wait until literally you get through to 'Level 3' or better tech support. Most integrators want to program and not wait on the phone. This lack of flexibility for our type of situations is just not worth it.
3. RF interference for the wireless systems. They pick up all kinds of interference and causes intermittent function if you have any other devices that uses frequencies near theirs it is a problem.
4. No assignable emitters. We see all type of installations and putting equipment out of sight is common. Often more than one system is in the equipment area. So if there are multiples of the same brand of equipment like cable/sat boxes or maybe two of the same brand of receiver or DVD player this causes problems. Change the channel on one room and all rooms will change with the Harmony.
5. No emitter output adjustments for equipment that can be fussy with these things.
6. On the more expensive models like the Control4 specified, sensors and feedback. You can know the status of equipment. You can put a sensor on that cable box because it doesn't have a discrete code. It would be programmed to turn on the cable box if when off. The Harmony doesn't know if it is on or off. Harmony gives you a 'Help' button for problems. Any remote can be programmed with a help button, but it is not needed if the remote knows the status of everything.
Again, this is an enthusiast site and you guys know your systems. Customers that haven't set up their system, have no idea if the Blu-ray is on HDMI2 or whatever input. Can't easily diagnose systems because they don't love this stuff like we do. They want to press a button and have it work, if it doesn't they call who installed it. Their priority for ease of use and reliability are different than yours for top performance.
The funny thing with all this is no one complained about the price of a $500 Blu-Ray player. To the average person that is absurd and probably couldn't tell the difference from something that is 1/2 the price like a Sony BDP-790.
And I like the Oppo, I'm just saying different people have different priorities for their system. I agree the OP is probably a little sticker shocked and wants to save some money or just make sure he isn't being ripped off. He never asked if he could do some of this himself. Most average people get sticker shocked because they are use to seeing ads for the cheapest flat panels and HTIBs. When they get a quote on a 'Real' system it is often more than they thought it would be.
I work with average non-enthusiast people everyday. Most just want a good system that is reliable and easy to use. If the OP wants to save money or maybe get a performance increase for the same price. I'd say go with a more basic screen, go with a cheaper Blu-ray player, and if possible go with a less expensive remote like a URC or Pro-control if they use them. I definitely wouldn't suggest the average person eliminate the remote. These alone could save about $1200 or used towards a better projector which we all agree would be a noticeable upgrade for even the non-enthusiast.
The other suggestion I gave a couple of times is get multiple quotes from competing companies. He might find some solutions better suited to his needs. just like any work you are going to have done to your house, it doesn't hurt to get more than one quote. I hope we haven't turned off the OP as we have not heard from him with all our bickering.