Sunday, 16 January 2011

Onkyo HT-S6305B AV Amplifier setup problems

I consider myself to be fairly confident with audio visual equipment and computers.  I am consistently amazed at how complicated modern home equipment is to set up and operate.  We have a TV, a disc player, a PS3 and all I wanted to do was to hear the surround sound than each is capable of producing via a set of 5 speakers and a sub-woofer.  I found the Onkyo HT-S6305B product that sounded perfect for the job and tried to set it up yesterday but although the actual sound was amazing, it made the equipment so difficult to use that I had to give up and put it all back in the box.

It is supposed to have a universal remote controller which can be programmed to operate the TV and the disc player as well as the amp itself as well as numerous other components too.  Sounds good but this universal remote means working out how to get from one thing to another which is impossible.  If I can't work out how to do it, how will anyone else in the family work it out?

It is also supposed to have a feature that works for late night viewing.  The main thing I was expecting was a reduction in output of the sub-woofer as it is this that thunders through the house and disturbs people who have already gone to bed.  I switched this feature on, turned down the volume and the bass was still blasting out!  The only way to get rid of it was to physically reach behind the sub-woofer and turn it down with the volume knob.  I don't consider this to be the most sophisticated solution to late night TV viewing.

All of these items have hundreds of settings within their respective set-up menus which makes for millions of different combinations of settings to get right.  I couldn't even just turn off the amp and rely on the TV volume for late night viewing because when you switch off the amp, it switches the TV off as well.

I'll probably end up having another stab at this another day but looks like having to leave printed instructions next to the TV so everyone can switch from one thing to another.  Surely not necessary.

Playstation 3 multiplayer features

I have finally started to take a closer look at the new PS3 we got at Christmas as a 'family' present. One aspect I'm not thrilled with is the way it handles multiple players.  I am new to this so shoot in a comment if I've got this all wrong . . .

To start with, the Playstation 3 allows us to all have our own logins.  We quickly got started by setting up each person with a login. We also have several games including Start the Party, Blur, Aragorn's Quest and Sports Champions.  All of these games allows more than one player to take part either at the same time or by taking turns.  They also support the 'trophies' feature which means that you are awarded bronze, silver and gold trophies as you progress through the games.

At this point, I am stupidly assuming that you can use the login accounts to play against one another in the multi-player games and because we have already named ourselves in these logins, the games should allow you to pick from a list.  When playing the games together, the trophies would be awarded to each player's login account as they earn them.  Well, the PS3 doesn't appear to do this.  You can only sign into one login at a time and the other logins/players/family members are nowhere to be seen once a game is started.  All the trophies that player 1 earns (i.e. the player who has logged in) are allocated to their account but all the other players, despite having an account on the console are referred to simply as Player 2, Player 3 etc. and do not have their hard earned trophies stored.  To make things more complicated, you also need to set up a login to the Playstation Network which requires an email address and numerous additional passwords and user IDs.  This allows people to play online with anyone in the world.  All this is very clever but we don't need to play with the rest of the world - we have the rest of our family to play with.  Short of buying a PS3 console for each of us and then connecting to the PSN, we cannot play and keep track of our scores, achievements and trophies when playing with each other at home.

I am told there are a few games which support an offline multiplayer feature but there aren't many.  So here is the scenario.  We all play 'Start the Party' as a family with 4 players.  Each time we start it, we have to register the user photo and voice ID when I feel we should be able to store this once as part of our named console login account.  All the data regarding the game should then be available; high scores, last level completed, trophies earned etc.

I expected more from a 3rd generation games console and foolishly assumed this kind of basic stuff was par for the course.  It seems that in the fight to offer ever impressive graphics, sound, levels, options and other stuff, the original point has been lost.  This seems to be a console designed for a lonely single person to own rather than a family of 6.  Have I got it wrong?  Let me know.  Maybe there are other consoles which actually work and I've bought into the wrong one (XBox360 or Wii??).