Having to slot in the RF dongle when using products with RF 3D transmission systems makes the design look a bit clumsy. But at least you’re not irritated by the dongle’s size or weight once you’ve got the glasses on. In fact, you don’t even realise it’s there.
Xpand X104 – Firmware faff
What certainly IS irritating, though, is the fact that you have to do a firmware update to your X104 glasses before you can use the RF dongle. Surely it wouldn’t be asking too much to expect that this firmware update might have been done for you before the glasses shipped, given the critical extra functionality it introduces? The firmware update is going to prove especially annoying if you’re an Apple Mac household, for the firmware can only be updated via a PC. Not providing Apple support in this day and age is just silly.
The update does at least work straightforwardly enough once you’ve found a computer able to deal with it though; just hook the glasses to the PC using the same provided USB cable that also recharges the glasses, and you’re away.
Xpand X104 – Setup
The glasses, too, work straightforwardly enough – in most instances… During our tests with a range of 3D products from a variety of brands, getting the X104 glasses talking to each 3D source was generally no more complicated than holding them less than half a metre from the screen and holding down a button under the right ear arm. This usually led to synchronisation happening after a few seconds – though in theory the process could take up to a minute when you’re trying to sync with an IR transmission system.
Once a connection has been made, the glasses store the IR or RF protocols in internal memory, and will always restart in the same mode every time they’re switched on. Unless you reset them for another TV, of course.
So far, so straightforward. The problem comes if you haven’t achieved a connection after a minute. For your next step will be to try and make a connection between the glasses and your screen manually, at which point… well, good luck.
The bizarre procedure for manual set up of the glasses goes like this. You press the ‘search’ button for three seconds. Then you press it again for six seconds. At which point the little ‘X’ light on the glasses’ side should blink once, which apparently means it’s set up to connect to a Samsung device. You’re then supposed to press the button again to step through the list of other supported manufacturers, receiving two blinks for LG, three for Sony, four for Panasonic and so on.
The thing is, though, as well as being over-complex, this approach also seems almost impossible to get to work. We tried it numerous times while trying – and ultimately failing – to get the glasses talking to a Philips 46PFL9707 TV, and we never once felt confident that the process was progressing as it was supposed to.
A much better approach, surely, would have been to have integrated a manual product connection system into the firmware you have to download, so you could maybe cycle through the brand protocols via a nice onscreen interface rather than wrestling with multiple button presses and a tiny flashing LED.