I recently replaced an old AV receiver with something newer from Onkyo, which could take 4 HDMI inputs and used just one HDMI output to my TV. And while it is generally a good receiver (as measured by sound and picture quality), There are so many things that drag down the aesthetic and usability of the receiver. The obvious ones that no AV manufacturer seems to get are:
- The remote is god awful. Buttons everywhere.
- You have to scroll through 8 AV modes in cinema and music to get to the setting you want (I know I can do some advanced programming here, but I shouldn’t have to, and probably won’t ever
- Buttons are tiny and seem to have no relationship to their function, placement or size/shape
- Lights flash on the box distracting from the TV/monitor
- Switching AV sources has a terrible lag in time between command and result
- On screen graphics for volume are pitiful. They use a white font from the days of the Apple II+ and Logo (I actually don’t need to see a graphic with the exact dBs that start in the negatives and never climb above 1…just reduce the sound)
- The pre-labeled modes (ie, Game, DVD, VCR, Aux, DVR, Cab/Sat, etc) are not appropriate for me. I have Apple TV, Mac Mini, Tivo, and Wii, and the available inputs don’t match. So for the Wii, I want component, but Game only offers HDMI. I can change the modes for the digital display, but then they don’t match the remote or physical buttons
- And, the point of this post…the endless number of unknown and completely unnecessary logos
There are 12 logos on this receiver! You would think the box was made to race around a 2 mile oval on Sundays. Some of them I know what they are, or have a general sense for what they are. But considering I bought the box, do I really need to see the features listed on the box? I know it has HDMI! Lets look at these logos:
- Onkyo: They made the box. I guess they can put their logo on it.
- THX (select 2 plus): I know that THX is supposed to mean a better movie viewing experience, but I don’t know what “select 2 plus” is, and I am not sure why they need to paint this on my black AV box.
- WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology): This logo sucks for so many reasons. First, I don’t know what it means. Second, it sounds like a bad 80s Metal radio station in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Third, what they hell is “wide range amplifier technology”? It may be amazing, but as the listener…do I have to see the painted logo on the box?
- Dolby TRUE HD – Ok, but why do they get their logo painted on the box?
- DTS-HD Master Audio – I have no idea what this is…competitor to #1?
- Audyssey Mult EQ/Dynamic EQ – Sure. Again, why is a logo painted on the box?
- XM Ready – I don’t doubt it. Logo unnecessary
- SIRIUS Ready – I don’t doubt it. Logo unnecessary
- Theater Dimensional – What does this mean?
- RIHD – Completely clueless. Logo necessary? No.
- Faroudja DCDi Cinema – This I learned about. It is good…but the logo is not needed.
- HDMI – Great. Why is a logo needed?
I am pretty sure I know why these are on the box…probably they are part of the commercial/license deal that they struck with each group. And, I am sure, Onkyo marketing team believes if they can put a logo down there, the box seems more capable. This is may be true…in the showroom, but at home lowers the value of the box by making it ugly and desperate looking.
Others products do this to their own embarrassment and detriment to the customer. The PC manufacturers do it with stickers for Intel, MS Windows (Vista Capable anyone?) DVD RW+, NVidia graphics, etc, etc. These people must be related to the guys that put gunk leaving stickers on wine glasses. Damn you! Of course, Apple doesn’t do this. For example, the iPod doesn’t list all the music and video standards it supports…that seems to sell all right.
Car manufacturers do it a bit. They report to everyone else in traffic that you are driving a 335i model BMW. Some go further and tell you that it is a “vTech” (a what?), 24v (what?), v6 (so what?), fourmatic (so what?), etc. Surely these labels are helpful on the car lot. “Which model did you want to buy, sir?”. But I am sure mostly why they do it is for their marketing department and for the the vanity of the buyer. You don’t want someone to mistaking believe that you spend $9k less on the 328i instead of the 335i, after all. So with the car guys, it says as much about the manufacturers as it does about the customer.
I drive a Smart Car, about which few in the US know. The car has a small logo on it, and doesn’t mention the manufacturer (Smart), or model (For Two). There is a small body type label, indicating I have the “Passion” vs. the “Pure” or “Cabrio”, that later of these is sort of self evident. This is one case where I could use a bit more labeling for my own sanity. The car gets so much attention that I almost need to put a sign on the side that says, “This is a Smart Car. It cost $14k. It is gasoline powered. It gets about 35 MPG. It has 81 horsepower. It is made by Mercedes.”
But thank goodness the dashboard of our cars doesn’t look like my AV receiver. The AC would have a logo (Alaska Pure HD), the radio would have its five logos (surround, road noise compensation, MP3 compatible, CD, etc). The seats would have a logo, “Contour PRO XL” or something. The leather guys would want a logo, “Corinthian 530c”. The blinker, sunroof, MPH gauge would all show the logos of the 3rd party who helped design and manufacture those. Absurd, right? But why is it this way with AV receivers?
In the end, I have to blame the product managers. They are supposed to fight to stop these blatant scarring of their products. But I suspect the core of the problem is an over-zealous set of business development people, combined with a confused marketing “professional”.
By the way, one last complaint while I have you. I honestly don’t care who produced or distributed or even co-directed the movie. Can’t we run that stuff at the end of the movie, or better yet, not at all. I guess I can rant about that in a later post.