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Thursday, 20 September 2012

User manuals

We have been executing on our home improvement project this week by making some strategic purchases, and so the subject of user manuals has risen to the surface for me.

There seems to be three main approaches to user manuals:

  1. The item is computer related, and comes with some kind of CD, so just load the manual on the CD, only to be read by girls or my mother (who is also, I hasten to add, a girl, but one of growing years)
  2. The item is so damn complex that it comes with a fifty page manual presented in eight of the key languages, making it marginally smaller than a telephone directory* (remember those?)
  3. Regardless of whether they are simple or complex, they have a one page, at-a-glance, pictures only leaflet that tells you all you need to know.
So, but way of expanding on this subject, here are some examples.  One of the items I have bought is a cheap** wi-fi dongle for Humax PVR1, so that it can talk to Humax PVR2 (which is hard-wired) and we can then watch the programmes recorded on PVR1 via PVR2.  This, dear readers, has impressed LO more than the rest of the technology put together.  This dongle, costing six quid, does the same job as the official Humax dongle, which costs twenty six quid.  Thanks to for the great info on this little beauty.  Needless to say, this came with a CD, so fits in to approach 1 above.  Quite right too, since I plugged it in, spent 23 seconds configuring the box, and it was working like a dream.

The item I bought for the second was my home cinema system, which does have numerous inputs and outputs ranging from USB to HDMI, covering SCART and various other video and audio inputs and/or outputs.  It also has the Samsung SmartHub embedded, and so does need some reading, though obviously not by me.  Having said that, there is one feature I want to put in place whereby it is integrated in to the TV so the TV controller can control it and all sound automatically goes through it.  I just need the final TOSlink cable to make this happen, and then will probably need to just peek at the manual for a couple of seconds, and no more, to remind myself of where I find the configuration menu item.  This fits approach 2 above.

The final one that meets Approach 3 is, surprisingly, the Samsung TV***, which has the briefest of instructions but a built-in, on-screen user manual for those with way to much time on their hands.  So far it is been a doddle, so you will be pleased to hear that only LO has so far wanted to check the manual.  Even Holly-dog was able to change channels without reading any instructions.

This now completes phase 27 of project home.  We now need to take a breather, or to be more precise, our bank account does, in preparation for Christmas.  Phase 28 will then start sometime in the New Year with more audio purchases.  More of that another time.

* Interesting fact, for some of you, is that the leather-bound books in the set of Dumbeldore's office are in fact mostly telephone directories covered in aged and dust-encrusted leather covers.  See, they do still have a use.
** On the subject of cheap, and in case you did not know, I also bought cheap HDMI cables, two for four quid, after having read everyone on the web saying the same thing; namely that a cheap one is all you need, so don't spend tens or even hundreds on a fancy hi-fi vendor model.  Oh how those vendors must hate the digital age.
*** LED, 3D and a bunch of other clever stuff, and with a bezel so thin the overall dimensions of this 40" beauty is the same as our "old" 32" model.

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