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Sky + HD and Samsung Blu Ray Player Followup

November 17, 2010

Given that I have replaced my entire home entertainment system in the past few months (except the TV, which is now a few years old), I figured I would give a breakdown of how it works together.

The setup

My home entertainment setup consists of the following: Samsung 720p HD ready TV, Samsung HT-C5500 Blu Ray player and surround sound system, Sky+ HD box, XBOX 360 and Nintendo Wii. There is also a wireless TV sender connected to the Sky+ HD box that sends the Sky output to a receiver upstairs for watching TV in the bedroom.

The Sky+ HD box and XBOX are connected to the Samsung Blu Ray player via HDMI cables, and the player is connected to the TV, also by HDMI cable. The Wii is connected directly to the TV with component leads.

Switching on

This is the biggest frustration of the lot. The old Sky+ box was connected directly to the TV by scart and the audio went to the Samsung surround player via optical. While this was a more complicated setup, it was simple to operate because the TV automatically switched to the Sky+ input and the surround player automatically switched to the optical audio input.

It should be easier than this

With the Sky+ HD box in place, the connections are simpler, HDMI from the Sky+ HD box to the surround player and another HDMI from the player to the TV. Yet switching on requires manual intervention every single time. Turn on the player and the TV automatically comes on too. Excellent! The TV briefly displays the Sky+ HD output, then about 2 seconds later the surround player switches to the optical audio input and the TV goes blank. This would make sense if the player was receiving an input on that socket, but its not. The only input its receiving is the HDMI from the Sky+ HD box. So up with the remote and manually switch the player back to HDMI 1, wait a couple of seconds and the TV picks up the input.

I have to do this manual change every single time I turn on the player and TV. It’s a tad tedious to be blunt and Samsung really should sort this little bit of missing intelligence as it spoils what is essentially a great value system.

Sky+ HD

Initial Issues

There were two problems that required a call to Sky support to resolve. One was Live Pause. For reasons unknown, this worked on some channels but not others. Searching on the forums revealed that Live Pause could be iffy at times. The other problem was that, although I could watch HD channels, they would not record. The Sky+ HD box behaved like it was recording an HD channel, but it did not display in the planner that it was actually recording. When the programme in question ended, the planner would display failed.

A single call to Sky support solved both issues and the lady on the end of the phone was very polite and helpful, explaining what she was asking me to do in a patient manner with no hint of a patronising tone whatsoever. Nice one Sky.

XBOX 360

Connecting the XBOX to the surround player was a revelation. The sharpness of the graphics over the component connection that I used to use, to the same TV, is fantastic.

Having the XBOX audio come through the surround system adds a lot of atmosphere to the gaming experience.

There is just one oddity I have noticed. When I turn on the XBOX it will not connect to my wireless controllers unless the surround player is also switched on. I don’t fully understand why the syncing with the controllers would be dependant on the HDMI output, but it obviously is. Its not a major issue because the player has to be switched on in order for me to play the XBOX anyway, its just odd seeing the XBOX seemingly wait for the player to be turned on before establishing a connection with my wireless controllers.

Wireless Sender

The wireless sender was purchased so that TV could be watched in the bedroom without having to resort to Sky multiroom. Especially since we are never watching both TVs at once, so the extra outlay to Sky is pointless when a £30 device can enable us to watch TV in either room.

There have been a few reception issues with the sender and on more than on occasion over the past 5 or so years we’ve been using it we’ve have to have a session of changing the channels that are available to try and find the clearest one.

We’ve still not got it perfect as there are occasional clicks of interference and sometime the colour goes a little funny too. However it works and level of interference is low enough to be ignorable when it happens.

The biggest frustration with the remote TV sender is the remote operation. For some reason the remote tends to send the signal twice if the remote button is pressed in a normal way, as when being used normally in the living room. This means that menu navigation with the sender can be frustrating. Over the years we have got used to the very quick press and release required and so we almost don’t notice we are doing it now.

The biggest lookout is deleting viewed content from the Sky+ box. Having deleted an un-viewed recorded programme due to the twice signal we do not delete programmes from the Sky+ box when viewing through the TV sender. Not a big issue, so long as you remember not to do it.

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