Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 8:24 PM

The backs of receivers today suck

I've been looking at home entertainment receivers, trying to find one that's designed for the world we live in. They all take the same approach, and they're all, imho wrong. Just look at the back panels. Here's an example.

A picture named backPanel.jpg

Forget about the connections for the speakers. There's basically one way to do it, each speaker gets a pair of wires. It's straightforward, as simple as possible.

Where it goes crazy is on input. All the round plugs are RCA-type jacks. They have labels like Tuner, CD, VCR 1 and VCR 2 (so you can copy them, I guess), DVD. Basically all these devices are gone, obsolete, we don't use them anymore. But get this, those are the names of the devices you select on the front panel! So who has devices that have RCA jacks? I don't have a single one. All my devices use HDMI. And yes, they have HDMI jacks above, but none of them can be selected on the front panel or by the remote. What? Suppose I have a computer, a Mac Mini, a Wii, an Apple TV, a Chrome TV, XBOX. Then I have to figure out to tell it that the AppleTV is actually my DVD player, just so I can select it using the remote. And my Chromecast dongle is a VCR.

Etc etc. Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to create a receiver that just has HDMI inputs, no RCA jacks, and make the labels #1, #2, #3 etc. Forget about hard-coding the names of the devices. I doubt I'll have any of these devices in 5 years. They'll have new names and they'll do different things. The times they are a changing.

And I haven't even mentioned how you set up the HDMI output jack to give it a name you can use.

It's all a hack and a klooge, and it sucks. They all work this way. I haven't found a single manufacturer that makes a receiver that works the way our A/V world works today. I'm writing this in the hopes that you'll send me pointers to ones that work right. (BTW, I know about Sonos. I can't use it because I already have great speakers, and I have a small apartment, Sonos is not for me.) I want a simple-as-possible consumer product that weighs a few pounds and doesn't take up a lot of space, and can be set up without going crazy. I'd like to be able to set it up from my desktop via a web browser.

Last built: Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 5:50 PM

By Dave Winer, Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 8:24 PM. When in doubt, blog.