CHOICE membership

Audio outputs and Smart TVs

Technology moves us forward, or does it. Interesting experience upgrading to Smart TV when I decided to buy a Sony BRAVIA KDL32W660E as an upgrade to my still-working 32” Sony BRAVIA unSmart TV. We use a sound bar incorporating the optic audio output on our existing TV. In addition, as a hearing impaired person, I use a Bluetooth accessory to access TV audio plugged into a 3.5 mm mini jack. It means non-hearing challenged viewers don’t have to be deafened and I have greater clarity. But the Smart TV has become unSmart, the one audio output is either optic OR mini jack, but not both, using the mini jack in either the TV or the sound bar mutes the inbuilt speakers in both. Sony customer service has not come up with a workaround. I’m sure there is one but Sony’s customer service person apologises and ignores the real issues. I am returning the new TV and will look for an alternative. The 32” TV range is limited. My workaround will probably mean a PVR coupled with my current unSmart TV set.

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It seems smart is also selective for how Sony handles Bluetooth. They publish a matrix of what works and state anything else might or might not.

https://www.sony.com.au/electronics/support/wireless-headphones-bluetooth-headphones/wh-ch710n/articles/00159290

In addition they clearly state some of their TV cannot do ‘both’ at the same time. Amazingly bad design concept, but.

https://www.sony.com.au/electronics/support/articles/00049501

Since it appears to be a design limitation (or feature depending on whether one is in Sony marketing) what could they do other than report it to engineering?

Not that I suggest you should need to do this, but connecting the TV to a home entertainment system with full audio switching would solve your problem. It would double or more your cost and complexity of operation, so why would one?

There are a few ways to make what you want work, but as with yourself I would not accept any of them. Next time you go TV shopping you have one more thing to check in the shop.

Thanks for raising this. Many of us make assumptions, often very reasonable ones, that are ‘not on’ with a product. But more serious - circa 2002 I assured a certain NEC TV had the same functionality I had from a previous US market NEC model and did everything in the shop one could do to assure it. Leaving out the details NEC accepted there was a design error that mislead me and bought the TV back. Sometimes that is the only answer.

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Reading your post re your ‘non smart’ TV - it would appear that you are ahead of the curve… It reminded me of discussion generated by Best TVs - review - in which the value of “smart” TVs was discussed.

I don’t know if this is of any help in your situation, but it has made me aware of issues that I hadn’t previously considered: it will be a ‘dumb’ TV for me next time I need to buy…

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Thanks for your replies. When I put in the order, I realised I probably could have achieved the same outcome with a PVR linked to the existing TV which works quite well. In a sense, being able to return the TV has actually led to a good outcome. I get record/replay ability I don’t have now, plus internet capability. I get a full credit as opposed to paying a 20% ‘restocking’ fee for a full refund. The retailer is excellent, responsive and is picking the set up in its packaging this afternoon.

Jaycar has workarounds but they would be around $100 once one takes into account extra cables, etc. I am happy to get a credit with the retailer and to be able to buy a PVR.

Had the TV come with Bluetooth, I probably could have linked my hearing aids direct to it, but it only had internet access so in terms of technology Sony has gone backwards in relative terms with this one.

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May I suggest you name them? Complainants of poor service are actively encouraged to ‘name and shame’ on this forum: it would be nice to see the reverse happen too…

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I agree, and if I was chosing a retailer to make a major purchase, if the price was competitive such information would definitely sway my decision. Good retailers should be rewarded with recognition.

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No problem with that. I have dealt with them for a range of household items and have nothing but good things. Appliances Online - their prices have been competitive - and delivery prompt and spot on. They give a timeslot for delivery so you aren’t waiting around all day. I am in Canberra and, certainly before COVID, they would do next day delivery from Sydney, provided I ordered the goods by late afternoon. They have just picked up the TV for return. I am extremely happy. I will be spending the credit on an alternative, probably a PVR, in the next few weeks. Certainly Sony has been less than helpful. The issue did not become apparent until I had unpacked the TV and started to install it.

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I have also posted a comment on the Sony Australia Facebook page on a thread about sound bars and they have asked for my contact details. Watch this space. Social media can be a catalytic place!

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@DenisGallagher, @BrendanMays I tagged you to highlight that this topic’s ‘feature issue’ might be called out in Choice tests, and included as a filter for online presentations.

I got new hearing aids a few weeks ago, my first w/bluetooth, and per the topic, my TVs will not function with their inbuilt speakers and bluetooth headsets (or hearing aids) at the same time. One TV is in the lounge via home theatre system - no worries; but the one in the bedroom demonstrates the lack of insight in product design. Home theatre (or sound bars) in a bedroom? Not common but I cannot connect my hearing aids while my partner listens to the in-built speakers, and while the hearing aids are OK with the TV speakers it is not ideal in comparison.

As the population gets older and more of us need hearing assistance the people who design products seem oblivious to multiple people watching, with one or more needing assistance, so in-built speakers and bluetooth headsets should work together.

On reflection my TVs are Android, and the design seems to reflect a life that is 100% ‘mobile phone mentality’ whereby who would listen via bluetooth as well as the little tinny tiny speakers in the phone? Even when it is a TV with many listeners… Argh!

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