Friday, November 19, 2010

Channel Network Home Theater Receiver

The AVR 3310CI is loaded with nice features. Excellent sound quality, inputs for just about anything, and decent menus for setting up and using the receiver. The amplifiers give a very good quality sound, not as good as my MacIntosch system but not bad for the money. Construction is good and it runs fairly cool being it is in a somewhat enclosed area. Technical support is good in that there is little wait time when calling.

Now for the bad. I have now gone through 3 AVR 3310CI receivers trying to get one that works. I believe that most if not all of the issues I have are due to firmware problems as the hardware seems to work just fine. I would try to update the firmware but there are even problems with this function as it takes forever (many hours) and most of the time it will abort or hang in the middle of the download/update process so you have to try and try again. My first unit eventually got into a hang state in that it couldn't update the firmware and as a result the receiver just kept on trying with no success. During this time the other functions were not available. According to Denon there was no over the phone fix for this problem and suggested I either return it to the store and send it in for repair but that I am responsible for the shipping costs.

My second (and as of Saturday my 3rd unit) has two out-of-the-box issues. First is when connecting to Internet radio I get a "Please Wait" window. Sometimes this hangs the system and sometimes I can recover from it. On my recently installed unit this past weekend I immediately got this message and waited 15 minutes or longer and still no resolution. I turned off/on the unit and after a while the message went away and I was able to use the Internet function.

The second problem is when selecting the setup menu button. The menu comes up fine but within 5 seconds it starts to go dimmer and dimmer and to the point that you cannot see the menu on the TV screen anymore. This occurred with units number 2 and 3. I am afraid to do a firmware update due to the many problems that I had with the first unit and I was told that others had the same problem (even Denon admits to this and recommended to me NOT to perform updates).

I have spent many hours on the phone with the Denon Techies and they say to just send the unit back and they will repair it. However, I have to pay for the shipping costs (estimated at $50). I refuse do this on out-of-the-box problems. These are design problems and not normal failures.

So at this point in time I'm considering switching to a different model number and hope that it has a more stable design.

One other area is in regards to the search and general navigating capabilities on the Internet. Given the price of the AVR 3310CI this function could be a lot more sophisticated as the current function is pretty basic.