Rant in favor of "dumb" devices--let Sonos & Roku be "smart" - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Has anyone written on AVS about integrated vs. best-of-breed devices? I see lots of conversations comparing the various features for receivers, but I have not seen a post that directly addresses the issue. (I'm a relative newbie to AVS.)

 

To me, buying receivers with wi-fi and extra technology is like buying a television-VCR combo. The add-ons will break down years before the core device. I'm a big fan of using the best tool for the job.

 

For receivers, my goal is simple. I want to play music from your online accounts on Spotify, Pandora, etc., using a smartphone or tablet as a controller.

 

Many receivers attempt this by integrating Apple's Airplay (Yamaha comes to mind) or by writing their own code. They each have their own drawbacks. Apple's Airplay works great if you only use Apple devices, but it does not support Android. For the custom solutions (thinking of Sony), I do not trust a non-software company to improve their software frequently.

 

The receiver should last for years, but the technology will change constantly. That's why I like best-of-breed solutions like Sonos and Roku. I wrote this mini-rant because I'm looking to buy two items for our new house:

 

60" TV
Receiver

 

It's so hard to find "dumb" devices! For the TV, I already have a device that handles streaming. Why would I worry about weird implementations from Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, Vizio, etc.?

 

Put more specifically, can anyone recommend "dumb models" for a 60" TV in a bright room or a $400 two-zone receiver?

 

TIA,
John

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post #2 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtherkel View Post

Has anyone written on AVS about integrated vs. best-of-breed devices? I see lots of conversations comparing the various features for receivers, but I have not seen a post that directly addresses the issue. (I'm a relative newbie to AVS.)

To me, buying receivers with wi-fi and extra technology is like buying a television-VCR combo. The add-ons will break down years before the core device. I'm a big fan of using the best tool for the job.

For receivers, my goal is simple. I want to play music from your online accounts on Spotify, Pandora, etc., using a smartphone or tablet as a controller.

Many receivers attempt this by integrating Apple's Airplay (Yamaha comes to mind) or by writing their own code. They each have their own drawbacks. Apple's Airplay works great if you only use Apple devices, but it does not support Android. For the custom solutions (thinking of Sony), I do not trust a non-software company to improve their software frequently.

The receiver should last for years, but the technology will change constantly. That's why I like best-of-breed solutions like Sonos and Roku. I wrote this mini-rant because I'm looking to buy two items for our new house:

60" TV

Receiver

It's so hard to find "dumb" devices! For the TV, I already have a device that handles streaming. Why would I worry about weird implementations from Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, Vizio, etc.?

Put more specifically, can anyone recommend "dumb models" for a 60" TV in a bright room or a $400 two-zone receiver?

TIA,

John
I 100% agree wih you. I want my receiver to switch sources, and amplify the signal for my speakers - I also want it to be very adjustable for eq, channel level, etc, but I honestly don't need it to do that for me. I want my tv to have a great picture, and take the signal I send it from my receiver or maybe other devices. I think you're going to have a hard time finding either that doesn't have smart features now - all the manufacturers include them to make their products more marketable. I have a receiver (Pioneer VSX-1121-k) that has various smart abilities, but I don't use them at all - it's not even attached to my network. My TV has streaming ability, which I am currently using, but I preferred the Roku I had previously - it's a better interface, snappier performance, and if the technology changes to where I'm missing out on something, i can get a new version for <$100. I think you're going to have to pay more for something that doesn't have smart features, just because that's where the mass market has gone, and you'll need to go to a lower volume niche player. The TV I got (Panasonic 65S60 plasma), was the dumbest tv out there, in that it only has I think 6 streaming channels, and no ability to add more. it has Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus though, so it's mostly covered. No full internet access.

I liken it to using a separate dedicated screwdriver, saw, hammer, etc, vs a Leatherman multi-tool. The best tool for the job!
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 10:47 AM
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Although I don't even comprehend a percentage of what you seem to be contending, you don't see it (airplay bashing) being discussed for good reason, I'm afraid. AVRs are now (overwhelmingly, anyway) implementing airplay wonderfully- which is great as there's over a HALF BILLION ios devices in circulation. Ditto for other services. I speak from a wealth of experience. You want (or expect?) to use "airplay" with non apple devices??? Good luck with that. confused.gif

Your analogy of airplay being included on a cpu/through software vs a TV/VCR combo is a bit ill-conceived: an analog tv and VCR with a few thousand moving parts is a fantastically different animal, thankfully. Airplay functionality should not be "dying" or causing death to an AVR anytime soon. wink.gifbiggrin.gif

AND- rest assured- that despite what a fraction would like to espouse otherwise, AVRs are lasting LONGER THAN EVER thanks to new IC designs, lower power consumption and- most times- less or better dispersed heat. 97-98% of models now last 3 years or more.

Onward:

I'd like to be able to play back music through my AVR without having to spend more money on an appletv and adding another power-consuming device (and cables mess) to my component rack.

Enter a Denon 4311 AVR: works great. Check.

I'd like to be able to play back varying inputs in 2-3 zones without adding additional pre-amps and amps.

Enter a Denon 4311: works great. Check.

Meanwhile, I can do everything else any reasonable person could ask for.

Don't wait for the main players in the AVR/TV world to water-down their features and offer less for more...it's not going to happen. You don't have to use them, feel free to pay for more devices and use them.

Besides, there are already PLENTY of over-priced boutique brands already offering a whole lot less for a whole lot more in the AVR world. Easy enough then: buy one of them.

Fortunately though: you have DOZENS of extremely versatile, powerful, capable and reliable options at half the price (or less). Pick what's important to YOU and don't sweat the balance you consider fluff. One man's trash is another....well, you know.

Good luck, there are many resources here to help you.

James

Actual phone call (see pic to left):

 

Tech (responding to laughter): "I'm sorry sir, did I miss something?"

Me: "Yeah, a case of Diet Mountain Dew walking across my living room."

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post #4 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 01:22 PM
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In order to get premium DAC's ,Pre-Amp/Amp sections, and adequate room correction you have to look at mid to premium models that will always come with things you don't need and probably never use its been that way for years.
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Although I don't even comprehend a percentage of what you seem to be contending, you don't see it (airplay bashing) being discussed for good reason, I'm afraid. AVRs are now (overwhelmingly, anyway) implementing airplay wonderfully- which is great as there's over a HALF BILLION ios devices in circulation. Ditto for other services. I speak from a wealth of experience. You want (or expect?) to use "airplay" with non apple devices??? Good luck with that. confused.gif

Your analogy of airplay being included on a cpu/through software vs a TV/VCR combo is a bit ill-conceived: an analog tv and VCR with a few thousand moving parts is a fantastically different animal, thankfully. Airplay functionality should not be "dying" or causing death to an AVR anytime soon. wink.gifbiggrin.gif

AND- rest assured- that despite what a fraction would like to espouse otherwise, AVRs are lasting LONGER THAN EVER thanks to new IC designs, lower power consumption and- most times- less or better dispersed heat. 97-98% of models now last 3 years or more.

The OP was more concerned with technology obsolescence. He acknowledged that the AVR should last.


Onward:

I'd like to be able to play back music through my AVR without having to spend more money on an appletv and adding another power-consuming device (and cables mess) to my component rack.

Enter a Denon 4311 AVR: works great. Check.

If you want a wireless connection: EXIT the 4311. You do not eliminate a cable with the 4311. In fact you may have work involved in getting a LAN connection to the 4311.

I'd like to be able to play back varying inputs in 2-3 zones without adding additional pre-amps and amps.

Enter a Denon 4311: works great. Check.

Meanwhile, I can do everything else any reasonable person could ask for.

Don't wait for the main players in the AVR/TV world to water-down their features and offer less for more...it's not going to happen. You don't have to use them, feel free to pay for more devices and use them.

Besides, there are already PLENTY of over-priced boutique brands already offering a whole lot less for a whole lot more in the AVR world. Easy enough then: buy one of them.

And you do not have to buy the ones without all the bells and whistles. I do not like paying for bells and whistles that I do not use. Your opinion is no the last word.


Fortunately though: you have DOZENS of extremely versatile, powerful, capable and reliable options at half the price (or less). Pick what's important to YOU and don't sweat the balance you consider fluff. One man's trash is another....well, you know.

Good luck, there are many resources here to help you.

You offered him no help. Only criticism as usual.


James
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback. To mastermaybe's point, my last audio setup was a 100-watt Panasonic system that my parents gave me in my teens. Over time, various components died off, and I added new technology (CDs and DVDs, hello '90s!). However, the core amp and receiver lasted 20+ years.

 

Like jontyrees wrote, I'm looking for basic amplification and switching, and I hope that my next system can last at least 10 years. When considering AVRs, I focus on the basics, and I seek features in other platforms like Sonos. I assume those platforms will adapt quickly, or I'll replace them while keeping the amp.

 

This Denon costs $1,400, and I cannot afford to upgrade at that price, even every 5 years. If a new music service comes out and takes over from Spotify/Pandora, will they upgrade their software to integrate with it? The Sonos will. At the end of this post, you'll find measurements for the popularity and ratings for Denon and Sonos.

 

I realize that I'm steering this discussion more toward software quality and away from sound quality. But that's my point. The companies that make AVRs are either too small to write quality software (Denon), or else they're so large (Sony) that AVR software is a low priority.

 

If I'm spending money on an AVR, I want it to go to a best-of-breed product that will last. This makes me wonder if I should buy a used high end component. What is the latest model of Denon (or Marantz or whatever) just before they started adding wi-fi and software? The challenge would be to find one that included a decent number of HDMI ports without all the stuff I don't want. Could I find a used model like that for $300?

 

Denon Remote App
Denon - Android
2.4 stars, 1,100 ratings
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dmholdings.denonremoteapp

 

Denon - iTunes
2.5 stars, 760 ratings
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/denon-remote-app/id388608880

 

Sonos Controller
Sonos - Android
4.3 stars, 6,000 ratings
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sonos.acr

 

Sonos - iTunes
4.5 stars, 11,325 ratings
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sonos-controller-for-iphone/id293523031

 

Thanks,

John

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post #7 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mastermaybe

Although I don't even comprehend a percentage of what you seem to be contending, you don't see it (airplay bashing) being discussed for good reason, I'm afraid. AVRs are now (overwhelmingly, anyway) implementing airplay wonderfully- which is great as there's over a HALF BILLION ios devices in circulation. Ditto for other services. I speak from a wealth of experience. You want (or expect?) to use "airplay" with non apple devices??? Good luck with that.

Your analogy of airplay being included on a cpu/through software vs a TV/VCR combo is a bit ill-conceived: an analog tv and VCR with a few thousand moving parts is a fantastically different animal, thankfully. Airplay functionality should not be "dying" or causing death to an AVR anytime soon.

AND- rest assured- that despite what a fraction would like to espouse otherwise, AVRs are lasting LONGER THAN EVER thanks to new IC designs, lower power consumption and- most times- less or better dispersed heat. 97-98% of models now last 3 years or more.

The OP was more concerned with technology obsolescence. He acknowledged that the AVR should last.


Onward:

I'd like to be able to play back music through my AVR without having to spend more money on an appletv and adding another power-consuming device (and cables mess) to my component rack.

Enter a Denon 4311 AVR: works great. Check.

If you want a wireless connection: EXIT the 4311. You do not eliminate a cable with the 4311. In fact you may have work involved in getting a LAN connection to the 4311.

I'd like to be able to play back varying inputs in 2-3 zones without adding additional pre-amps and amps.

Enter a Denon 4311: works great. Check.

Meanwhile, I can do everything else any reasonable person could ask for.

Don't wait for the main players in the AVR/TV world to water-down their features and offer less for more...it's not going to happen. You don't have to use them, feel free to pay for more devices and use them.

Besides, there are already PLENTY of over-priced boutique brands already offering a whole lot less for a whole lot more in the AVR world. Easy enough then: buy one of them.

And you do not have to buy the ones without all the bells and whistles. I do not like paying for bells and whistles that I do not use. Your opinion is no the last word.

Fortunately though: you have DOZENS of extremely versatile, powerful, capable and reliable options at half the price (or less). Pick what's important to YOU and don't sweat the balance you consider fluff. One man's trash is another....well, you know.

Good luck, there are many resources here to help you.

You offered him no help. Only criticism as usual.

James

Wow, what a ghastly, woefully misrepresentation of what I said.

First AirPlay. Is and has been, well, AIRPLAY . Complete backwards comparability and only has been improved. Done.

Who said anything about a wireless connection to the AVR?! I simply noted- correctly- that it's less wires (not another power cable, hdmi, optical, etc) and less one additional component and expense: duh.

"No last word."

Excuse me. But wtf?! Who said it was.? I specifically said one needs to identify THEIR needs and choose a device accordingly duh.

This WAS THE HELP. Use the resources available to you to identify what's out there and what's important to YOU make the appropriate choice. Not that deep really.

Reliability issues are all but moot. The room correction will continue to evolve as any tech does but what's currently available will be extremely effective far past our lifetimes, to be sure.

Now. Stick to your own contributions (none that I can see) rather than worrying about babysitting mine. I think the OP's a smart enough guy to make his own determinations.

Thanks in advance.

James

Actual phone call (see pic to left):

 

Tech (responding to laughter): "I'm sorry sir, did I miss something?"

Me: "Yeah, a case of Diet Mountain Dew walking across my living room."

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post #8 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtherkel View Post

Thanks for the feedback. To mastermaybe's point, my last audio setup was a 100-watt Panasonic system that my parents gave me in my teens. Over time, various components died off, and I added new technology (CDs and DVDs, hello '90s!). However, the core amp and receiver lasted 20+ years.

Like jontyrees wrote, I'm looking for basic amplification and switching, and I hope that my next system can last at least 10 years. When considering AVRs, I focus on the basics, and I seek features in other platforms like Sonos. I assume those platforms will adapt quickly, or I'll replace them while keeping the amp.

This Denon costs $1,400, and I cannot afford to upgrade at that price, even every 5 years. If a new music service comes out and takes over from Spotify/Pandora, will they upgrade their software to integrate with it? The Sonos will. At the end of this post, you'll find measurements for the popularity and ratings for Denon and Sonos.

I realize that I'm steering this discussion more toward software quality and away from sound quality. But that's my point. The companies that make AVRs are either too small to write quality software (Denon), or else they're so large (Sony) that AVR software is a low priority.

If I'm spending money on an AVR, I want it to go to a best-of-breed product that will last. This makes me wonder if I should buy a used high end component. What is the latest model of Denon (or Marantz or whatever) just before they started adding wi-fi and software? The challenge would be to find one that included a decent number of HDMI ports without all the stuff I don't want. Could I find a used model like that for $300?

Denon Remote App
Denon - Android

2.4 stars, 1,100 ratings
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dmholdings.denonremoteapp

Denon - iTunes

2.5 stars, 760 ratings
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/denon-remote-app/id388608880

Sonos Controller
Sonos - Android

4.3 stars, 6,000 ratings
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sonos.acr

Sonos - iTunes

4.5 stars, 11,325 ratings
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sonos-controller-for-iphone/id293523031

Thanks,
John

First, I'd caution you with those ratings. First, most of the low ball ratings against the Denon were in its earliest forms- it's come a LONG way since. And it does a ton more than the sonos- the denon app offers virtual complete control of the AVR. Actual media control is much better accomplished through the spotify, and iTunes apps and then simply air played (or android'd lol) don't knock it till ya try it. Denon's (or anyone else's) app doesn't even come into play.

There are plenty of bare bone avrs for 3-$400 that will do what you want.

James

Actual phone call (see pic to left):

 

Tech (responding to laughter): "I'm sorry sir, did I miss something?"

Me: "Yeah, a case of Diet Mountain Dew walking across my living room."

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post #9 of 13 Old 11-14-2013, 06:55 PM
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"Smart" features in devices these days (TV's, Receivers, Blu-Ray players) are a commodity now. You are paying virtually nothing to have it included in the package. They include it in the devices to make the spec sheet look better, and because once it's developed, it costs them next to nothing to include (it's basically software).

And yes, getting a device without these features would entail getting a much more expensive device, simply because everything mass-produced includes these features (simply because they cost nothing to include, and look bad to some people comparing against other brands that include it).

And I don't think the inclusion of these features will make your receiver "wear out"/break any sooner.
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-15-2013, 06:58 AM
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The bottom line is this: the more 'smart' features manufacturers include in these devices, ie: receivers, tv's, the less they spend on the core components that make them great, amplification, equalization, surround processing. Or they will charge you more for the same features will better core components.

I work in the software industry, the second you stop working on the software is the second it's obsolete. I don't want fancy features in my receivers or tvs because of this - when was the last time you received a firmware update on a 5 year plus old receiver or tv because Apple added some new button for you to freak out about? Why on earth would I want to spend a multiple thousands of dollars on a device with smart features when I can get them cheaper separately? An Apple TV costs $99. When the next one comes out with features I need, I buy it. I'm not going out and getting another TV or receiver! How hard is it to plug in? an hdmi cable? Hard hard is it to pull out the entertainment center, unplug the millions of cables and wires to put in a new receiver that does nothing but update it's worthless Airtime? Lame...
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post #11 of 13 Old 11-15-2013, 07:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cntp View Post

"Smart" features in devices these days (TV's, Receivers, Blu-Ray players) are a commodity now. You are paying virtually nothing to have it included in the package. They include it in the devices to make the spec sheet look better, and because once it's developed, it costs them next to nothing to include (it's basically software).

Please, you don't think these company's quality test each device to make sure it works? Add more features, the cost goes up... Anytime an update is made... more testing. You pay more money or they skimp in another area, it's that simple.

Nothing is free.
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post #12 of 13 Old 11-15-2013, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Actual media control is much better accomplished through the spotify, and iTunes apps and then simply air played (or android'd lol) don't knock it till ya try it.

Don't knock it until you try it, right after you lol Android... wow...
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post #13 of 13 Old 11-15-2013, 07:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by realtight View Post


Please, you don't think these company's quality test each device to make sure it works? Add more features, the cost goes up... Anytime an update is made... more testing. You pay more money or they skimp in another area, it's that simple.

Nothing is free.

 

Agreed. Like realtight, I develop software for a living. It's no coincidence that we're both concerned by this trend. I would sum up my manifesto as:

 

Get your software out of my expensive hardware!

 

:)  It's hard to fight this trend--in AVRs, in TVs, and even in modern cars. How many luxury cars from 2010 are running around with now-obsolete 30-pin iPhone docks?

 

Companies want to tie software to the hardware because it guarantees two things:

 

New, "must have" features every year.

 

Obsolescence for old products.

 

Both of these increase the rate of consumption. I have no problem spending money on a quality product. I own a $400 Dyson vacuum cleaner, and it will probably last 20 years. But I'm not wealthy enough to buy a new TV and AVR often. In today's market, it will be a challenge to "future-proof" these purchases.

 

-John

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