Friday, December 28, 2007

The LG DBRH198

Our Samsung digital TV decoder broke down recently, and when looking for a replacement I found the LG DBRH198 - a combined DVD/CD/DivX/WM/jpg player, digital decoder, cd/dvd burner and 120GB media recorder. After spending a very frustrating day and a half trying to get it to work, I am now returning it.

Pros:
  • Would have replaced four machines (VHS, DVD, CD, decoder) with one, if it had worked. Compact living, and saves energy!
  • Image was sharp, at least on our small LCD TV.
Cons:
  • Refused to read our Boxer smartcard connected through a CAD adapter, only the free channels worked.
  • Text TV fonts were ugly, an eyestrain to read.
  • When going through menus it kept "locking up" randomly so we had to pull the plug repeatedly.
  • If we accidentally pushed the AV button on the remote we lost the decoder image. It got to AV4 and then refused to cycle back to the beginning no matter what buttons we pushed and we had to do a "reset to factory settings" to get it to read from AV1 (antenna) again. Perhaps there is a better way, but the manual didn't say. I don't know if this is a bug or just really poor user interface design
  • Poor interface design in general. We are two engineers in the household, and if we were having problems finding out how the menus work... not a good present for grandma.
  • Poorly translated menus. Unlike some machines I've owned, this time it wasn't so bad that it made understanding difficult, but it was still distracting. Manual was ok though.
  • Felt slow and sluggish - slow on startup, slow to change channels, slow to read the DVDs.
  • We could not get sound to work through the decoder. It generally worked when playing DVDs (see below), and once we stumbled into playing back a recording from the hard drive and then it worked, but we never got it to work when watching TV directly through the decoder for some reason. Perhaps there was some setting hidden somewhere, or we should have used another audio cable, but this is something I think should just work out of the box and not something you have to fiddle around with for hours trying to get to work.
  • Once when playing a DVD the sound was suddenly just roaring white noise. The same DVD had worked fine 10 minutes before on the same machine...
Previously I have been pleased with LG products. Certainly not high-end stuff, but cheap, fairly robust and lots of features. Seems this machine had too many features crammed into it and not enough quality. I think I'll try to replace it with one really good decoder with build in HD recording, and one really good DVD player. Probably not LG this time.

3 comments:

Mike said...

I am very intrigued by your observations and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Lars Westergren said...

Tack Mike.
:)

Jerry Gene said...

I like your style of writing. You break it down nicely. Very informative post. Keep up the good work.

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