The first thing that comes to mind when I think about my home audio and video equipment is the ever-present blinking “12:00″ on our VCRs (now DVD players I suppose).
I was very much surprised to find a terrific example of usability in a niche product for those of us with too few component video and/or digital optical inputs: the Audio Authority 1154A. It’s the perfect example of something I wouldn’t have asked for but is exactly what I needed; goal-directed design at its best!
I’ve got too many devices and not enough inputs. Here I am updating the system software on the Playstation3 (right-most device on the top shelf).
Many “serious” A/V switchers can be remotely controlled as home theater enthusiasts typically sport universal remotes as part of their gadget repertoire. The remote control commands for all devices are added to a single device that rules them all. If your target market has a remote, makes sense to give them what they want right? An A/V switcher with a remote?
My goal when sitting down isn’t to mess around with my gadgets, it’s to have fun playing Rock Band! Enter the 1154A, the perfect goal-driven device:
No remote and only one button. It automatically routes the signal based on which device is powered up (my PS3 in this case). And as turning on a device is a prerequisite for using it, this switcher is completely invisible.
Multiple devices turned on? No problem, it gives priority to the higher numbered device (connections in the back are numbered) – simple as that.
Really phenomenal design here and not at all something I would expect from the home theater enthusiast industry which is typically more about the size and complexity of your universal remote than how easy it is to use. Best $250 I’ve spent in recent memory even though I sometimes forget I own it :)
UPDATE: Hopped in the shower after posting this when it hit me – look at where the 1154A is on my setup. Top shelf, facing forward,
as though I need line-of-sight to use an infrared remote with it
This 1154A could be behind the receiver, out of sight, out of mind. Instead, I’ve positioned it as though I’m using a remote with it, even though I’m not. Old habits…