Top positive review
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Five Stars with Flying Colors (if warranty is not factored in)
on August 25, 2012
I found Onkyo's HT-RC460 to be exactly what I needed to power up and manage our living room media center. It has the ability to control everything physically connected to it and it seamlessly reaches out to other devices on our home network and beyond, to the Internet. The temptation to go over every single feature I am aware of is strong but receivers have become complex, multi-featured machines and there's a 140 manual that does that. I will therefore talk about what the HR-RC460 did as I tested it and what I found impressive or not so much, useful or less so, feature-rich or overwhelmingly complex or complicated. This could mean that I may not speculate about features that some may find worth discussing at some length and accept it as inevitable but I wasn't able to test hands-on. My hope is that the setup I used for my test drive is not unlike what most typical users are likely to have.
The HT-RC460 was as a 7.1 surround system. I did not set a second zone. Directly attached to it via HDMI were a TV, a satellite box, a WD media hub, a Blu-ray/DVD player and a gaming console with the last three having their own Ethernet connections. A security camera system was attached through a component video cable. The receiver was connected to the Internet via a Ethernet cable which in turn talks to a router over the power lines. The receiver and everything hard-wired to it were set to be operated with a Harmony universal remote control.
Right out of the box, Onkyo's receiver is not unlike the one (by Sony) I've been using for the past 4 years:
- 7.2 surround: one extra woofer and speakers of anything between 6-16 Ohms
- 2 zones
- supports nearly all types of I/O: composite video and analog audio, coax, optical, HDMI (more ports with 8 in, 2 out, the higher v1.4), AM and FM antennae.
- numerous sound processing modes with some new ones such as Dolby Pro Logic IIz and DTS Neo:6 decoding
- video resolution beyond 1080p to cover 3D and 4K (the resolution used in movie theaters)
And if the above appear to be only minor enhancements or features (4K video?) that no one is likely to need in the next 5 years, here are some brand new capabilities that should easily justify upgrading from an older model.
- Front USB and HDMI ports
- Overlaid on-screen menus
Whether the above are significant upgrades it depends on each individual's needs. I will discuss them below and explain why they matter to me. What follows is my experience with the product during my week-long test drive.
PACKAGING AND CONTENTS
Besides the receiver's body I found a CD that holds the manual as a .pdf file, the remote control and its 2 AA batteries, the AM/FM antennae and the special-purpose mic with a very long wire used to calibrate the speakers. This receiver does not come bundled with speakers or speaker wires or any other accessories.
The contents are well protected inside the box and I know that they are so because UPS subjected the package to some extremely rough treatment and yet everything inside turned out to be Okay.
No, it wasn't easy and it took q while to get things going but Onkyo providing a set of sticky, color-coded labels for the speaker wires helped a lot my connecting a set of 7.1 existing speakers to the new receiver.
Some of the HDMI inputs are pre-labeled as Cable/Satellite, Game, DVD, Computer and that made setting the HDMI connections easier.
Once the wiring is done the receiver can automatically calibrate the speakers using the supplied, special-purpose calibration mic. A full auto-calibration round completes in less than 10 minutes.
If the box was connected to the network it's likely through the Ethernet wire it will suggest a firmware update.then... there are many paths.
You may complete the setup using the provided remote control and the receiver's own display or you may take advantage of the on-screen menus feature which is a lot more efficient. The on-screen menus make it easy to integrate the receiver into an universal remote control. I am currently using it with a Harmony 900 - it doesn't know of the HT-RC460 but selecting HT-RC360 was close enough. Alternatively, I can use an Android tablet with the Onkyo remote app installed and I do use it, especially when I play content off the Internet or other devices on my home network but more about that later.
My setup didn't take advantage of some of the more advanced features that HDMI 1.4 implements such us the Ethernet channel that would allow the receiver to share its Internet link with other connected devices such as network-capable TVs, Blu-ray or media hubs or the audio return channel that can send the audio signal from a playback device such as the TV back to the receiver.
The word of the day is 'flexibility', or you can be as sophisticated as you care or dare or you can let the receiver do what it thinks it's best for you and probably get 95% of what you would if you spent hours tweaking and trying out settings individually. The manual enumerates everything, feature by feature and there are many features, some very useful, quite a few such us image adjustments, redundant. The other word of the day is comprehensiveness.
When it comes to audio, Onkyo's receiver supports just about any standard in existence and it will do its best to provide you with the optimal output. You can set it all to 'auto' or you can tell it what to do whether you are listening to music, playing a game or watching a movie. You can tweak with individual speakers. Same for video. I don't have a TV that displays 4K resolution (does anybody?) but, if I had one, the receiver would have allowed upscaling the 1080p to match that resolution. You can play with individual settings all you want and if the end-result doesn't look nearly as good as the defaults you can quickly revert back to the default settings and then try it again from there.
I'm using a Harmony and I didn't try it myself but the remote control has the capability to control everything at the entertainment hub. The manual explains how to do it and has hundreds of codes for the various brands and models.
Like for most receivers, dealing with HD TVs, cable or satellite boxes, Blu-ray players and gaming devices is 'base business', especially when they are connected through HDMI. Onkyo's HT-RC460 does it well and so do most other receivers. But this is not all that Onkyo does.
But then you connect the HT-RC460 to your home network and a world of new possibilities opens up.
While AM and FM radio are still supported, Onkyo's receiver can and will get your local Internet-broadcasting stations. The vTuner service will get you that but you can also play any station in the world and you can search by location (continent/country/city), genre (available inside each country as well), popularity and so forth. I had no idea until a couple of days ago that my favorite Electronica radio was broadcasting from Romania.
But that's not all. Besides radio stations, HT-RC460 supports a number of services, including my favorite, Pandora which comes loud and clear and so far commercials-free. Other services include SiriusXm, Slacker, AUPEO!, last.fm, Spotify, MP3tunes, Rhapsody and I suspect that additional ones may be added through future firmware upgrades.
But... wait, there's more. HT-RC460 supports DLNA. Without getting into details, DLNA allows the receiver to 'see' and play content from any DLNA-compliant device on my home network which includes computers, dedicated home server, a WD media hub and... there's more :)
I downloaded Onkyo'd remote control app from Google Play (not available at Amazon's Appstore) and... now my Android tablets and phones can act as remote controls for the receiver. But that's not all. With the app installed I can easily play anything that's on the tablet or phone and, of course, everything the receiver discovers through DLNA. So, imagine this: your tablet will find your favorite song somewhere on a computer in the house and tell your receiver to play it in 7.2 surround through your favorite decoder and this is easily done because all media is nicely indexed and can be searched by artist, album or title. But there's no need to imagine because it's true. And while that's happening, your phone or tablet can adjust the sound quality on the fly from anything simple like telling the receiver to optimize the sound for 'music' to setting the exact decibel level on individual speakers. And, of course, your tablet or your TV or both will display information on what's playing, including an image of the album cover. The remote control app is also available for iPods/Pads, by the way.
And there are more features. If playing your tablet or phone content can't be done over Wi-Fi, you can easily connect them to the receiver via the HDMI or USB. There is one of each, easily accessible on the front. You can also play off a USB flash drive and, of course, you can easily browse or search the contents.
I suspect that there are many other features I didn't notice or I didn't find to be interesting enough to mention here but someone else would view as very important but I'm going to stop because there's the big .pdf manual that discusses almost everything.
PROS AND CONS
The big pros for this receiver are, in my view:
- Seamless network/Internet integration that unlock so many interesting features and capabilities
- On-screen (and it can be TV or phone or tablet screen) menus which overlay over the existing video display.
- Extreme flexibility in configuration from the 'let Onkyo figure it out for me' level to very detailed tweaking.
As for cons. Well... the manual is not the most user-friendly in the world but I can live with that. The Android remote control app while great and very easy to use needs an urgent update because the 'phone' resolution does not scale well on a 10-inch tablet and it seems to prevent the Android device from going to sleep even when the app is not in the foreground. Also, the warranty is a little too restrictive and appears to discourage on-line purchases - see below.
Warranty-related issues aside, I am very pleased with this receiver. It does everything I expect from a receiver and then it does more and better. In other words, it exceeded my expectations which qualifies it for a 5 stars with flying colors rating.
WARRANTY AND SUPPORT
I did not weigh in warranty and service when I rated the receiver as a 5 star. Depending on where you buy your receiver from a brick and mortar dealer or online, you may be very happy with Onkyo's warranty or less so.
The receiver's warranty is for 2 years, parts and labor which is a good thing. There are lots of exclusions, nothing unusual, ranging from you altering the product, it being damaged by things connected to it or you using it for commercial purposes. If you bought this online or you are planning to do so, consider the following:
- Save your receipt AND the original box because you are going to need them both if you are to ship the receiver for warranty repairs.
- Onkyo's warranty only covers units purchased from an authorized dealer. Onkyo considers Amazon to be authorized dealer but... don't forget: receipt, box.
- My understanding is that you will be paying for shipping the receiver to Onkyo but they will be covering shipping when returning the box back to you.
- There are no quick replacement/cross-shipping provisions so be prepared to do without if your receiver breaks down and needs repair.
- If, after reading the above you are concerned about warranty service you should consider purchasing your receiver from a 'brick and mortar' authorized dealer because then all you need to do is take the box back to the dealer and you won't have to worry about paying for shipping and keeping the original box.
Onkyo made a great receiver but they should consider improving their support for online purchases because other sellers of electronic devices do much better. When a monitor and a rather large laptop I purchased online broke both makers sent me a box and a pre-paid shipping label. I understand why the makers of complex devices would rather have us buy from dealers, because they don't need to worry about direct user support, but online purchases are a reality and other makers of electronics provide much better/friendlier support to their online customers.
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