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Hisense Pulse / Google TV Impressions

Discussion in 'Hisense Pulse' started by tjharris, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. tjharris

    tjharris New Member

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    I'm a long time HTPC user. I've been using MythTV on Linux for many years and in general I'm happy with it. I am mainly looking for a frontend device with more options for things like Netflix, Amazon, etc. along with DVR access. So, I bought the Pulse to see if it was usable for this. The other box I've got hooked up to my system is an AppleTV, which I primarily use for Netflix. But it doesn't support Amazon streaming, which was another reason for me to go to Google TV.


    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to fully run it through its paces, because it failed at the most fundamental part of its operation - displaying a picture. As I mentioned in another thread, it incorrectly auto-detects my display resolution as 480p and does not offer any way to override that setting. So, the display is hopelessly bad, which limited the exploration I did into other apps and functions. But, I did try out some things:

    - Basic Navigation / Usability: The resolution impacted this, as many things were hard to read in 480p mode. But, even so I found it very unintuitive and hard to navigate. The strange mix of standard IR remote buttons, mouse pointer, and keyboard input was clunky and inconsistent. In many cases, it only uses a fraction of the available screen real estate making an unintuitive UI even harder to navigate. In my opinion, they missed the mark on a "10 foot interface" for home theater use. It's an odd mix of a Linux box and settop box which could/should be much easier to use.

    - Settings: What an odd mix.. In some cases it has way too many settings/details. But, something fundamental like display resolution is severely limited. When I connected directly to my display and got it to display 720p, it didn't seem to be using the whole screen, and I found the overscan settings (why? My blue-ray player doesn't need manual manipulation, nor does my AppleTV, or even my MythTV frontend running on Ubuntu Linux). Oh well, fine.. it's a one-time tuning option which is probably needed for some.. Set the overscan, and what? it wants to reboot!? What is this running on, Windows 95? Fine, go ahead and reboot. Of course, when it comes back up, the overscan is back to the original settings.

    - Remote Control: Wow, lots of buttons. Two sides, a full keyboard and a touchpad. The touchpad can be a useful option, but on this remote the touchpad was not accurate enough to be really usable. It just slowed down navigation when needing to be very careful when trying to point with the imprecise touchpad. In my opinion, most navigation should be available from the arrow keys, and the pointer should only be used in rare cases.

    - Amazon Prime: I messed with my projector settings to make the 480p look as good as it could, thinking I would give Amazon Instant Video a try by viewing season 2 of Downton Abbey on the big screen. I went to the "Play" app store, and searched for the app. I didn't even have to type in the whole name of the app, it was an auto-complete option in the search field -- search is what Google does best, right.. So, I selected the name and did the search. But, the only app that showed up was "Google Play Music".. WTF? On the top of that app header, it says "138 results", but only showed the one app. After struggling with the UI, scrolling with the button keys and mouse pad trying to expose the other results, I went back and tried other search terms. I knew the app was available, but no matter how I searched it would not show up on the App list. Finally, I went to the WWW browser, and found the app that way, and eventually got it to show up in the app store by selecting it through the browser. Then, it finally told me that the Amazon app was not supported on this device. Wow, this is really bad. Horrible application filtering decisions, and a bad Google TV ecosystem where you never really know if/how an app will work with a device until you actually buy/try it.

    - Youtube: Okay, I can't see Amazon videos, let's give Youtube a try. "The application YouTube (process.com.google.android.youtube.googletv) has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again. Oh well.. Select "Force close" and try again. Open YouTube -> Same Error.


    + MythTV App for GoogleTV: The one highlight of my testing was that the GoogleTV supports third party apps (unlike AppleTV). I bought the MythTV App, and surprisingly easily it was able to connect to my MythTV backend and access my DVR recordings. It played the HD (1080i/720p) MPEG2 recordings and looked quite promising. Of course, in 480p mode, I haven't spent much time actually using it, but it's much better than every other attempt I've tried in the past (XBMC plugins, Plex plugins, UPnP clients, etc.).

    The one note of caution for the MythTV app is that it is dependent on your device capabilities to support the content. U.S. broadcast HDTV is MPEG-2, which not all devices support. The Pulse does, which is why I bought it, but many others do not. This will be another point of frustration for users, and it shows another bad choice by Google to not standardize the device capability requirements to avoid this.


    Summary: Not ready for prime time. Interesting potential, especially in terms of the 3rd party application ecosystem. But, as it is now it's unintuitive, inconsistent, and lacking in key capabilities. My assessment for now is to hold off and see if a software update resolves open issues, or if there are other devices that work better.
     
  2. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the detailed review. I have not tried the Hisense Pulse but 2 things that came to mind right away:

    1) You could not find the Amazon app for the Hisense Pulse because the Pulse has not received the latest GTV OS update yet. The new (upcoming update) is required to make the Amazon app functional on GTV devices. (This is because the GTV Amazon app uses the Playlater DRM).

    2) Did you try looking around the settings to see if there is a setting to control the speed of the mouse pointer? The Logitech Revue has a setting for this.
     
  3. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    He claims he can't adjust resolution output, can't adjust pointer speed and offers just a long whining rant, almost nothing he can't do is a challenge for me to accomplish with the three models I own. I don't have a Hisense Pulse but I have read nothing from other users that makes me believe his complaints are valid and inherent with the product. The fact he states the Amazon Instant Video app is not available with the Hisense Pulse, rather than explaining it isn't available yet and is just now rolling out for second gen models like the Pulse makes it clear he isn't really making much effort to present a realistic, balanced review. Rather than challenge each point, I will just let the whining rant stand as is, he can return it and move on.
     
  4. Carlszone

    Carlszone Well-Known Member

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    Hi

    Yes, he missed a few steps in the setup. I forget what the firmware build is, but the Hisense Pulse did get the V-something update when I first fired it up. I had no such problems as outlined above. But one thing I can attest to, the dang remote & touchpad were awful! It was just so frustrating to navigate. Look, if the basics give ya a headache, the more complicated things will NOT matter. Hisense needs to fix the basics. Most of the problems I experienced with the new units are thankfully fading from memory. But one thing that sticks out is the lack of dedicated customer service for these units. When ya first contact CS you are offered Premium service at a price. But they do offer a 30-60 day call in customer service. But there are no dedicated techs for these devices. They are techs assigned to the whole spectrum of computer/internet peripherals and devices.

    What helped many new users to the Logitech Revue and it seems from the posts here, the Vizio, is the techs being able to replicate problems new users face. It ain't perfect but it's better than feeling like yer out there alone. So, even if he is wrong on the specifics, he is right that there is no one to explain the system adequately to new users. Hence, a failure is born. It is not whining to report yer experience as honestly as ya know how. It is incumbent on the manufacturers of these new devices to properly introduce users to the operating system of GTV.

    It is just that simple...

    Carl
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013

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