I love gadgets. And yet, despite being knowledgable in tech, I still get frustrated from time to time with problems that just seem to get in the way of enjoying them. If a lover of tech like me gets annoyed, how much worse is it for people who aren’t tech savvy and can’t solve the problems? Do you find yourself sometimes hating the technology that’s supposed to make our lives simpler and does the opposite?

Recent examples:

Roku Premiere+ Video and Audio Issues

Last week I upgraded my Roku so I could take advantage of 4k content (specifically, I buy streaming movies on Vudu, and their UHD copies are now starting to be priced the same as 1080p). I expected it to basically plug in and work, since I already had a Roku 3. On the plus side, all of my apps were automatically transferred when I logged in with my Roku account, great. I had two big problems, though – a black screen when waking up from sleep mode (no display), and audio only partially working, aka playing just fine in an advertisement then silent once the movie started.

The video problem was related to the auto-detected video mode, 4k HDR. I dropped back to just 4k and the problem seems to have gone away.

The audio problem was likewise related to the “auto” setting. My TV speakers don’t support Dolby Digital surround sound, so if the movie was encoded in Dolby – no audio. Forcing the output to stereo PCM audio totally solved the issue (Google helped here).

Both of these sound simple after the fact, but either was a severe enough symptom to cause major headaches.

Guitar Hero Live Audio Sync

I got Guitar Hero Live for iOS a few weeks ago and of course wanted to play it on the big screen. Without an Apple TV, you can still play from an iPad as long as you have a Lightning to HDMI adapter. First, the game kept displaying the wrong resolution – apparently it’s not yet compatible with iOS 11. Luckily I had a second iPad with iOS 10, and this one works every time.

Once it was displaying correctly, I got ready to jam on my first song, and promptly missed every note. See, most TVs do their own signal processing on the incoming video, and this delay is enough to throw off the synchronization for rhythm games like Guitar Hero. In my case, my 2015 Samsung TV does not have a “Game” picture mode that would make it simple, so you have to dig in to the settings – Menu, System, General – in order to turn Game Mode to On (default is Off). Once this was enabled, it worked like a charm.

Batman: Arkham City with PS4 controller

This one was the most involved. I purchased Batman: Arkham City through Steam for MacOS, and wanted to play with the PS4 DualShock controller. The game indicates “partial controller support” when you purchase it, but doesn’t tell you what controllers. The PS4 controller worked fine in Steam’s ‘Big Picture Mode’ then stopped working once the game itself launched. After doing some digging online and contacting Feral Interactive support, they actually have to send you a link to download a plugin file from their servers, and you then have to drill into the package contents of the install and manually copy in a .plist file. Talk about complicated, however, Feral actually has good support staff so that was a welcome surprise.

Simplify, Simplify…

I dislike bumping into complications that cause me extra time and effort to fix before I can enjoy a product. As a technology lover, though, I really hate it when things like this scare less tech-savvy folks away from trying new things. I’d like to see a much stronger push in technology to advocate for consumers, and require every engineer to “grandma-test” their new products before releasing. Maybe then we could enjoy our gadgets more than we fight with them.

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