Tag: consumer-electronics connectivity

Sony now issues the latest premium home-theatre system with the expected features

Article – From the horse’s mouth


Sony launches new premium 3D Blu-ray Home Cinema System : Consumer Products Press Releases : Sony Australia

My Comments

I had some experience with two of Sony’s premium network-capable Blu-Ray-based home-theatre systems, especially the BDV-E990W (BDV-N990W) unit. This was in the form of setting up the prior model which was the BDV-E980W (BDV-N980W) for them and eventually troubleshooting it to find out they had ended up with a faulty unit which was replaced under warranty with the ‘E990W. Even when they received the replacement model, I was involved in setting it up and testing it to make sure it worked.

These home-theatre systems were very capable when it came to functionality such as being able to work with their setup which involved their first flatscreen TV which was a low-end entry-level model from a discount store along with a recent-issue cable-TV set-top box. This was because of the number of HDMI input ports along with the HDMI output port that these systems were equipped with.

The reality with this setup was that most older and low-end “bargain-basement” flatscreen TVs don’t have the HDMI-ARC functionality for returning sound from the TV’s tuner or video peripherals connected to the TV’s HDMI ports. Also, by connecting the cable box to the home theatre system, there is a guarantee of “best-case” video and audio quality for the premium pay-TV channels even if the TV had just one HDMI connection which is something that a lot of cheaper sets like the Kogan “Kevin 37”, which was on sale at the time of Kevin Rudd’s economic stimulus package, had. Here, you have the ability to have best-case sound and vision even if you start out cheap with your flatscreen TV and gradually upgrade to better equipment as you can afford it.

For that matter, I would like to see the HDMI Consumer Electronics Control and Audio Return Channel features effectively “pushed down” to lower-tier flatscreen TV sets. This is more so as we see manufacturers equip Blu-Ray home-theatre systems, soundbars and similar “compact” AV equipment with this functionality and use it as a way to cut costs by reducing the number of HDMI and other connections on these devices. Similarly, from my experience the HDMI Consumer Electronics Control functionality has helped with simplifying the operation requirements with consumer AV setups and this has been a boon with older friends of mine who aren’t confident with operating consumer-electronics equipment.

I have also been pleased with the wireless surround-speaker link which pleased the house-proud owner who wouldn’t like the sight of cables coming from the front to the back of the viewing area. The microphone-assisted auto calibration routine made things easier for keeping the soundfield at an optimum level which has led to a “properly-placed” surround-sound experience when I watched the “Back To The Future” Blu-Ray with her and is to be used when you rearrange the lounge area in such a way as to relocate the speakers relative to each other.

These sets also offered what was expected for equipment that was to be part of the home network where they gave access to Internet-hosted radio and TV services as well as access to DLNA-hosted media collections on that network.

But the Sony BDV-N9100 Series adds some extra icing on the cake for Android users. It has integrated Bluetooth A2DP audio streaming so you can wirelessly play your smartphone or tablet through the system’s speakers. This is finished off with NFC “touch-and-go” setup for Android devices that implement NFC functionality. Like the rest of the current Sony Blu-Ray home-theatre range, this unit also has the “sports sound” mode labelled as “Football” but this should be used with all of the stadium sports like cricket, baseball or most Olympic Games events.

An improvement that I would like to see for these systems is for Sony to provide units with the same connectivity and functionality at a more reasonable price that can appeal to most purchasers. The best way to go about this would be to add some of the high-end functionality to mid-tier models and add extra functionality just to the high-end models. Similarly, these units could effectively answer Panasonic by integrating Skype capability with the optional camera. But, as high-end highly-capable home-theatre setups that are part of the home network, they have earnt their keep in this regard.

First time government consumer watchdogs have taken action with Wi-Fi Ready


‘Wi-Fi Ready’ ruse snuffed out by ACCC | The Age

My Comments

I have given a fair bit of space in HomeNetworking01.info to the issue of “Wi-Fi Ready”, including writing an article dedicated to this issue. This is where consumer electronics that are marked as “Wi-Fi Ready” can work directly with a Wi-Fi segment only if they are equipped with a dongle or module that the manufacturer sells at an exorbitant price.

In some cases, these dongles or modules don’t perform as they should and is something I had observed with a TiVo that being demonstrated at a consumer-electronics show a few years ago. Here, the PVR was being connected to a 3G Wi-Fi router via the official USB dongle that was to be used with this device but the unit, which was in a metal AV rack as part of a large-screen demonstration, threw up “out-of-range” error messages even though the router was in the stand opposite the demonstration space.

I even though of the issue where a manufacturer could have equipment not able to connect to a home network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi unless the customer purchases extra accessories through them. This is although most of these “Wi-Fi ready” TVs, Blu-Ray players and other consumer-electronics equipment, like the Sony BDP-S380 that I previously reviewed, have an Ethernet socket so you can connect them to an Ethernet (or HomePlug AV powerline) segment.

Other situations that could come of this include customers having to order the modules through the manufacturer or distributor rather than picking them up from their favourite retail outlet. Or a requirement that a technician has to fit the module to the TV or other device, requiring either a service call or the equipment sent to a workshop for this to happen, which also entails extra cost to the consumer.

Now the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have taken steps in tackling this issue. Here, they have required the main consumer-electronics brands to qualify this statement in their promotional material that they provide to consumers and retailers about these products. This means they have to mention in the brochures that the customer has to buy the module to enable this feature.

Previously, whenever the European TV manufacturers provided the ability for customers to have add-on modules installed in to their TVs to enable functions like teletext, stereo audio reception or picture-in-picture, they would emphasise in the promotional material that these were options for the sets concerned. This put in to the customers’ minds that you didn’t necessarily get the feature with the set.

The European Union could tackle this issue using a directive; and other consumer-protection agencies could make sure that this issue is raised concerning “Wi-Fi ready” consumer electronics.

But what was never looked at was the continued availability of the extra-cost accessories that enable these functions. This can definitely affect TV sets that typically serve more than 10 years with older units being “pushed down” to secondary areas like bedrooms.

What can typically happen is that, as part of superseding a model, a manufacturer could cease to supply the accessories available for that model and design similar-function accessories for the newer model so they don’t work with the product in question. When the consumer-protection departments look in to this issue, they should raise the issue of having customers able to use newer accessories to enable prior models using the lessons learnt from computer design.

Similarly newer standards concerning the network interface will arrive and customers could be limited in to using accessories that only support the older standards. This can happen as the Wi-Fi wireless-network standard evolves to faster technologies or is able to use newer frequencies.

These issues such as disclosing whether extra-cost accessories are needed or whether such accessories are available beyond the equipment’s lifecycle need to be looked at to encourage a consumer-friendly experience when buying network-capable consumer electronics.

“Wi-Fi-ready” consumer electronics–what should you know


Why you should avoid proprietary Wi-Fi dongles | Crave – CNET

My comments

Previously, I had written an article about using HomePlug to connect a TiVo device to your home network if you don’t have Ethernet connectivity near the TiVo device. This was after I had seen poor Wi-Fi performance from the TiVo-specified 802.11g Wi-Fi adaptor that a TiVo that was on show at a consumer-electronics show was connected to. This is infact the beginning of a trend by consumer-electronics manufacturers to differentiate their product ranges.

What does it mean if consumer-electronics is “Wi-Fi-ready”

Consumer-electronics manufacturers will place a range of network-enabled consumer-electronics products like flatscreen TVs or Blu-Ray players as “Wi-Fi-ready” or “Wi-Fi-enabled” units. These units will be cheaper than the products that have Wi-Fi functionality integrated in them and this fact is used as a way of differentiating between particular models or ranges.

When you want to use the “Wi-Fi-ready” TV or Blu-Ray player on your home network’s Wi-Fi segment, you have to buy a special Wi-Fi network-adaptor module from the consumer-electronics manufacturer through their retail front. Most such adaptor modules will come in the form of a USB “dongle” that plugs in to a specified USB socket on the device but some manufacturers may require that their technicians install the module in the set for you. This latter practice may be more so with TVs sold by some European manufacturers who are used to having add-on functionality modules available for installation by their technicians at a later date upon their customers’ request.

Of course, nearly all of these items of consumer electronics will have an Ethernet socket on them so you can connect them to an Ethernet network segment or a HomePlug networks segment with the appropriate bridge device.

The Wi-Fi dongles or modules

The dongles or modules are usually peculiar to a manufacturer’s products or may only work with a certain subset of their products such as those that are based on a particular design. They usually cost more than a USB-Wi-Fi network adaptor sold for general-purpose computers. As well, the modules, especially the dongles, may not give the same kind of Wi-Fi performance as a setup where the Wi-Fi functionality is integrated in the device.

It may also be worth paying attention to the price difference for the model that comes with Wi-Fi and the model that is “Wi-Fi-ready”. If the device of concern is a TV set, I would suggest that you compare the two models that have the same screen size and display technology. It is also worth asking if the retailer does sell the Wi-Fi module and how much for. This is because in some cases, the aforementioned price difference at the store may be less than the cost of buying this module.

What can you do with a “Wi-Fi-ready” device if you don’t have Ethernet at its location?

This same situation can also hold true if you wish to go for the cheaper “Wi-Fi-ready” model yet integrate it in to the home network in a “no-new-wires” manner.

I would suggest that you use a HomePlug AV setup to connect the “Wi-Fi-ready” device to the home network if you don’t have an Ethernet connection in place at the device’s location. This also includes situations where you may move the device to a newer location such as “pushing” the existing Internet-enabled “Wi-Fi-ready” TV to the secondary lounge area or bedroom.

Most of the HomePlug AV starter kits which comprise of two HomePlug AV-Ethernet bridges (a.k.a “homeplugs”) can typically cost the same as the add-on Wi-Fi adaptors. It is also worth knowing that if you pay a bit more, some of these kits even come with an integrated Ethernet switch which may be useful if you have two or three network-enabled video peripherals near the TV or are likely to connect the PS3 or Xbox 360 to the TV.

Other comments

One situation that I would fear most with consumer-electronics would be to use the optional Wi-Fi module technique used in the current crop of “Wi-Fi-ready” equipment to provide network / Internet connectivity to cheaper equipment at extra cost to the consumer.

Here, the equipment would have no Ethernet socket yet still show “network-function” teasers in its user interface and describe the functions in its user manual and marketing literature. But the user would have to buy a Wi-Fi or Ethernet module in order to link the device to the  home network before they benefit from network and Internet functionality.

Like with the Wi-Fi-ready scenario, the user wouldn’t be able to use cheaper or better-value hardware to network-enable their device, therefore end up paying the premium for network connectivity.

Videos – Setting up your games console to become part of your home network

Today, I had seen some excellent YouTube videos posted by Netgear on how to integrate your games console in to your home network. They make references to the networks being based on their own hardware, but these instructions apply to any and all home networks no matter what router is at the edge.

Also, when they discussed how to connect the XBox360, PlayStation 3 and Wii to the home network, they mentioned that you can use a HomePlug-based power-line network setup using their PowerLine AV network kit to build the HomePlug segment. The main theme was to connect the HomePlug adaptor to the console via its Ethernet port and select the “wired” connection option as appropriate.

The reason I have liked the videos was because they gave a visual walkthrough of the setup user interaction needed to be performed at each console. They also pointed out if a console needed extra hardware to be part of the home network depending on the connection type. They are also worth having as a reference if you are likely to move your console(s) between locations such as for video-games parties.

If you are viewing this in an RSS Web feed, whether through your RSS software or as syndicated content on a Website like Facebook, you will need to visit this blog to view the videos. You can do this by clicking on the View Original Post option in the software or Web site. 

TV-connected consoles

Microsoft XBox360

Connections Benefits
WiFi – optional USB adaptor Online Gaming via XBox Live, Games and extras available for download through XBox Live, Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger) chat, Web browsing
Ethernet – Integrated Windows Media Center Extender, DLNA-compatible media player


Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) – includes “PS3 Thin”

Connections Benefits
WiFi – Integrated Online Gaming via PLAYSTATION Network, Games and extras available for download through PLAYSTATION Store, YouTube terminal
Ethernet – Integrated DLNA-compatible media player

Nintendo Wii

Connections Benefits
WiFi – Integrated Online Gaming, Wii Channels, Web browsing, Games and extras available for download to Wii and DSi from Wii Shop online store
Ethernet – optional USB adaptor  


All of these handheld have integrated WiFi as their sole connection means due to their portable nature.

Sony Playstation Portable (PSP)

Benefits: Online Gaming, Web Browsing, RSS Feeds and Podcasts


Nintendo DSi

Benefits: Online Gaming,Game download via DSi Store, Web browsing

HP Unveils the First Web Connected, TouchSmart Printer for the Digital Home | eHomeUpgrade

HP Unveils the First Web Connected, TouchSmart Printer for the Digital Home | eHomeUpgrade

My Comments on this Web-enabled printer

When I first read about Hewlett-Packard’s Web-connected printer in this article, I thought that the idea may not be real but they have followed the same path as the recent crop of Web-enabled TVs and the smartphones that are part of most currently-running mobile-phone service contracts. This all-in-one printer could be the start of another development arena for these devices, allowing for a new scope of applications that are “printer-based”. These could include “print-on-demand” like the initial offerings from Google (calendars), Web Sudoku (sudoku puzzles) and DreamWorks Animation (colouring-in sheets) and extend to such applications as image-upload interface points for photo-sharing / social-networking sites and online file storage services.

If this idea pulls off for printers and “all-in-one” devices, then it could lead to other devices that are capable of working with the home network being able to work with the Web and the home network in a manner beyond their obvious design. For this to be achievable, the devices would have to work on platforms like the Windows CE / Windows Mobile platform, the Symbian S-series or UIQ platforms or the Android platform and allow an easy yet secure way of installing the software.

Network Connectivity Joins the AV Club – or Ethernet connectivity via AV equipment-connection cables

 Network Connectivity Joins the AV Club | ABI Research

Cite from press release

Over the past few weeks, a couple of announcements around consumer electronics connectivity have caught my eye. In late April, the DiiVA Interactive TV standard was announced after a year of development, with the backing of mainstream CE manufacturers LG, Panasonic, and Samsung, along with the Chinese government and a number of major Chinese CE manufacturers. The DiiVA standard was designed to integrate HD Video, multi-channel audio and bi-directional data (Ethernet and USB) in a single cable. Then, just last week, the HDMI Licensing group announced the HDMI 1.4 specification, which will integrate Ethernet connectivity within the HDMI cable.

My Comments on this concept

The concept behind the DiiVA stamdard and HDMI 1.4 is to cut down the “spaghetti junction” that exists behind a home-entertainment system by avoiding the need to run an Ethernet cable between each Internet-enabled AV device and the home network.

The current problem is that most Internet-enabled equipment that is in the field will require use of a direct network connection, typically an Ethernet cable, even if the AV setup includes equipment that has the new connections. As the standards gain traction, users will have to work out which component will be the interface to the home network; and some equipment will need to always have a direct connection to the home network as well as support for Ethernet connection via the new standards.

When the standard reaches momentum, I would still prefer that certain classes of equipment always have an Ethernet socket or MoCA/HomePlug AV interface. Primarily, I would require that a television set (with built-in TV tuner); and a surround-sound receiver would have the home-network interface. Similarly, I would require that devices performing the role of a surround-sound receiver like “home theatre in box” systems and single-piece “soundbars” be equipped with the home network connectivity. This is typically to allow one to assure network connectivity to all consume AV-equipment setups that use these connections, as these setups evolve. Some AV peripherals like optical-disc players or games consoles may just rely on their network connectivity coming via the AV connection.

Another factor that needs to be worked out with this connection setup is making sure that the network-enabled AV setup just works. Issues that can impede this ideal could include “network collision loops” where devices that are directly connected to the home network and are interconnected with network-enabled connections create an infinite data loop. This can lead to extensive operational and performance difficulties, similar to when a laptop is connected to a WiFi router with an Ethernet cable while its WiFi network functionality is active. This issue could be addressed by the use of a priority-based algorithm for determining the data flow in the AV setup.

Once these issues are addressed, these connection standards should then lead to trouble-free network-enabled home AV for all setups no matter how sophisticated they are. Similarly, this could lead to such concepts as the AV devices providing extra network services such as in-fill WiFi access points or Ethernet switches.