October 14, 2003


Strong rain tonight, peaceful. Too bad I'm coming down with a cold.

Last week, my family room A/V receiver, a Sony STR-DA30ES, gave up the ghost after five years of daily service. Luckily, it's still under warranty (go Sony!) but that would take a while to get back to me and would strand me w/out my TiVo for far, far too long. So I did some research and settled on a Denon 2803, the lesser cousin of my theater's workhorse, the Denon 4802.

The Denon was actually easier to plug everything into that the Sony due to a very well-designed back panel. I had my system back up in no time and my TiVo could show me what it has been recording for the last week. However I was left with utter disbelief at the remote's user interface, which can only be described as abysmal. How can it be so bad? For starters, every button has at least two different functions. To switch components, you have to put the remote in "amp mode" and then press not the row of buttons labeled for each component (that would make sense, after all), but one of the numerical 1-9 channel buttons with the component names written in small white letters above them. Try seeing that in the dark.

Immediately, my UI background screamed, "do not corrupt something familiar for a new purpose!" It's true, who would ever expect to use the round, numerical channel buttons, found on every remote almost since the dawn of time, to switch components? It's simply not done. Note that I had to consult the manual to figure this out. Don't even ask me about the next five complaints I have with it. Denon needs to send their engineers to usability school. Now. That's an order. The remote is a disaster of unprecidented scale.

Thankfully, all the remote codes are already in my Pronto from my 4802. At least the engineers are consistent.

Posted by pinkerton at October 14, 2003 8:59 PM