Follow by Email

Monday, November 28, 2011

LG HB336 Blu-Ray Home Theatre System

Bought one of these over the Thanksgiving Day weekend for a good price - $299. Wasn't too sure about it, but my wife encouraged me to go ahead and get it while the price was low and while there were still some (two, actually) in stock. We returned it to the store Sunday.

Setting the unit itself up and getting it connected to the TV and speakers is easy. And, it sounds absolutely GREAT. I mean amazing. Other than that, I hated virtually everything about it.

On the down side, this thing doesn't come with a wireless adapter. Since the wireless access to Internet TV was one of our primary reasons for going down this road, not being truly wi-fi ready was a huge downside. To me, "wifi ready" means ready to connect to my LAN. NOT ready to accept a separately purchased wireless network adapter. For damn sure it doesn't mean buying a proprietary adapter for between $25 and $70 more. You can't just grab one of the extra network adapters you have lying around in your den and plug it in; this unit recognizes only the LG brand adapter. That alone was a deal killer for me.

The unit is ethernet capable, but I'm not running 25 feet of CAT5 cable from my router, down the stairs, and across the living room to my home theatre system.

We didn't even bother putting in a disk to watch. But, I did listen to the integrated radio tuner while I puzzled over why my wireless adapter wasn't working in this thing. As I said, the sound is amazing. It would almost be worth having this just to listen to music - except that the user interface was just too awkward. We only had the thing set up for about 12 hours before it went back into the box, but it appears that this unit and your TV become one. You can't watch TV without turning on the unit, and you can't use the unit (not even the radio) without the TV on. That's a problem for me. I don't need incredible audio when I'm just watching the news. And, when I want to listen to the radio, I don't want to pay for the electricity required to run a 42" LCD TV.

This thing comes with an iPod docking dongle. If you use an iPod or an iPhone or whatever, more power to you. You'll love this little feature. But, I don't want to pay for an accessory that I will never use. Plus, the whole interface sort of smacks of the sort of tech-toy awkwardness that iType people love but which I hate. When I want to listen to the radio, I just want to push the ON button and have the radio come on. I don't want to pick up my phone and use it as a remote. I don't even want to use the actual remote sometimes.

In short, using this system was too much like setting up a computer for the first time. We have decided to try some other options, starting with the purchase of a good stand-alone A/V tuner-amplifier with HDMI inputs. We have a perfectly good DVD player, and I have no particular desire to "upgrade" our movie collection to the more expensive Blu-Ray media, so no need for the Blu-Ray player. We can get a network TV box for about $50 - WITH the necessary wireless adapter built-in. So, I think we'll just try that.

Or, I'll just put a video card with HDMI outputs into one of the computers we have sitting around the house and hook up an actual computer to the TV. The guy at the store said I'd get more options doing it that way anyway. Ironically, he said the network ready units like the one we tried were for people who didn't want to bother (or didn't know how) to hook a computer up to their TV.

No comments:

Post a Comment