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Smart A/V Network

You shouldn't need a PhD just to watch TV
  [vote for,

While attempting to talk (over the phone) a non-technical user through the process of getting a DVD to play on our home theater system recently (“Okay, press source, then channel up until it says HDMI 1, then press source again and see if it works”), it occurred to me that the whole process is ridiculously complicated. Even among components from the same manufacturer, true interoperability is still a pipe dream. Furthermore, each device comes with its own overly complicated remote control, which God forbid you should lose lest you are unable to use the device again. There are far too many connection paths for the average user to be able to set up, which is utterly silly since, no matter how complicated your home theater setup, you still can't watch more than one device at a time.

A vastly improved alternative would be to simply have all of the devices attached to a bus, and have the television negotiate communications across the bus. Under this system, each device would only have two (or more) identical connection ports, except for the television which would only need to have at least one. Each device would be connected into the system by daisy chaining devices together or using splitters or devices with more than two ports. Since the whole system is bus based, either daisy chaining or linking them in a star topography would result in the same effect. The process of adding a device to your network would consist of “plug one end of the cable into the new device, and plug the other end into any other device”. The bus would carry audio, video, and control data between devices and the television.

Each device would have an “Activate” button on the front, that would, when pushed, make that device active on the network and put any other devices to sleep (except for the television). Alternatively, you could simply operate the device and it would automatically become active. For example, loading a DVD into a player would turn the television on and make the DVD player the active device. The television remote would be the master remote for the system, so in this case any commands issued by the TV remote control would be then relayed to the DVD player. You could, of course, change the active device from the remote control as well. Since all functions are operated from the television, the only buttons that would need to be on the actual device would be the “Activate” button, and a button to open the tray on removable media devices such as DVD or Blu- Ray players.

Lost the remote? Not a problem. Every television equipped with this system would have a built-in keypad sufficient to operate any function on any connected device. It would have, at a minimum, a directional pad, an enter button, pause/play, stop, rewind, and fast forward buttons, and a menu button for calling up any other functions on the active device. Each device might still have its own remote (although the television's remote would be sufficient to operate any function on the entire device network), in which case simply pressing any button on the device's remote would automatically make it active.

Legacy converters would be available, in order to attach older or unique devices (e.g. video cameras, gaming consoles, or that vintage Betamax player you just can't bear to get rid of). The converter would accept video input from a single source, and effectively turn that source into a standard device on the network (including a limited control ability via a built-in IR remote transmitter).

ytk, Jul 08 2012

My DVR I bought... http://www.amazon.c...filterBy=addOneStar
Happens to be just about the worst thing on the market. Great... [RayfordSteele, Jul 10 2012]


       // non-technical user //   

       There's your problem, right there.
8th of 7, Jul 08 2012

       Even for someone who is more technical, home theater systems can be a pain to operate at best. In the worst case, they can be totally inscrutable. There's no reason all these devices shouldn't work together easily. USB has led to computer devices that cobfigure themselves automatically and are centrally controlled by the computer. There's no excuse for A/V components to still work the way they did in 1985.
ytk, Jul 08 2012

       // There's no reason all these devices shouldn't work together easily. //   

       Oh Yes There Is ...   

       (i.e. what [bigsleep] said about // Some single brand systems integrate reasonably well // )   

       // USB has led to computer devices that cobfigure themselves automatically and are centrally controlled by the computer.   

       Yeah, right. What are you being prescribed ? Can we have some ?   

       // There's no excuse for A/V components to still work the way they did in 1985. //   

       What, like, electrons moving through wires ? Yes, that's just SO nineteenth-century ...
8th of 7, Jul 08 2012

       The Denon hand-me-downs I get whenever my Dad decides to upgrade his stereo (about once every two years) set the curve for the complication factor. Then they twist it back on itself and break it.   

       The Denon Model 50 7-channel receiver/amp can play audio from three different input sources in three different zones (rooms) simultaneously. When I move the speakers around, it listens to itself hum and balances the output to each channel to 'tune the room'. It has a remote that learns the functions of all the other remotes in the house just by staring at them (the Xbox controller has it a little confused, though). The thing came with an owner's manual thicker than 'Atlas Shrugged'. Even The Good Fairy Jenny, Sorceress-Queen of All Electronics, doesn't know what some of the buttons are for. And I own this monstrosity because my father the audiophile went out and bought something even more complicated.   

       In other words, I am strongly in favor of this idea. [+]
Alterother, Jul 09 2012

       [8th], you're just being difficult. You know that USB and other modern device connections work far better than the old serial ports, parallel ports, and other interfaces they replaced in terms of centralized control and configuration.   

       And as for this statement: //What, like, electrons moving through wires ? Yes, that's just SO nineteenth- century ...//   

       Puh-leeze. You can't possibly think that's a reasonable interpretation of my point.
ytk, Jul 09 2012

       //my father the audiophile//   

       That poor, poor man. Just promise that if he ever tries to demonstrate the “improved” performance of his new speaker cables, you'll get him professional help.
ytk, Jul 09 2012

       The last time he "demonstrated" his A/V system, half of the valley showed up at his front door, demanding their electricity back. The other half were still at home trying to figure out why they'd suddenly gone deaf.   

       But, man, you should hear that thing...
Alterother, Jul 09 2012

       I made the mistake of buying a relatively high-end system from a garage sale, which was about the era when more input / output styles somehow equalled higher technology, but didn't come with the 142 page manual. I also made the mistake of buying a last unit on the shelf model Philips DVD recorder / hard disk thing, a few years before Digital TV rendered its TV Guide feature useless. I shall never purchase another Philips product ever again.
RayfordSteele, Jul 10 2012


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