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June 11, 2012

More Internet TV Stuff

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

Now that I’ve had a week to enjoy my Internet-ready TV, I have some additional thoughts.

Things I like:

* The variety of programming. I can watch a lot of stuff. Beyond TV, there are apps for HuluPlus, Netflix, YouTube, and even more. I can rent or buy just about any movie or TV show I want to see.

* On demand. I like being able to watch movies whenever I like. Pause them. Return back to them later. That’s really convenient.

Things I don’t like:

* The Interface

Way back when, a television was a rather simple gizmo to operate. There were usually two obvious and intuitive knobs: On-volume and Channel. The feedback on each knob was immediate. It worked.

With all the variety of an Internet HD TV, you’re no longer burdened with two knobs. In fact, My HD TV itself may only have a few basic (and hidden) buttons. The real interface is the remote control. It’s complex.

First, the TV has multiple sources for input. There’s the TV signal itself, but also HDMI inputs, video inputs, DVI (computer) inputs, the Network, USB thumb drives, and on and on.

I won’t even go into the various menus and control settings.

Second, there isn’t just one controller. I have three. One for the TV, one for the Cable box, and another for the Blu-Ray player.

Three remotes!

I’m getting off lucky, too. If I had a surround sound system, there would be yet another remote.

My TV’s remote has 56 buttons. That’s more buttons than my first computer had keys on the keyboard!

The digital Cable box has a remote with 60 buttons.

I didn’t bother counting the buttons on the Blu-Ray remote.

* I bought my TV too soon. I should have waited. That’s because the new 4K TVs are coming out next year. They’ll have even higher resolution that then current 1080p models. Of course, the price will be high and there probably won’t be any 4K videos to watch for a while. So I’m good.

Bottom Line:

I like the Internet TV, but I’m really eager to see what Apple comes up with for their Apple TV. Or iTV or whatever they’ll call it.

Apple is brilliant at technology interfaces. There were MP3 players before the iPod, but Apple figured out how to do it right. Ditto for the iPhone and iPad. Apple has a certain insight about how human beings use products.

The Internet TV, or the TV of the future, needs — nay demands a better interface. We need to chuck the 60-button remotes, which are counter-intuitive, clumsy, non-ergonomic, and obnoxious. I’ll leave it up to Apple, hopefully in the coming months, to show yet another industry how an interface can be done smoothly, elegantly, and in a manner that will shake things up.

Until then, I’m learning where the useful buttons are on my remotes, and cursing myself when I touch some button that screws things up. That happens way too often.

2 Comments

  1. I wonder why device manufacturers seemed so determined to keep making a square wheel. Those old ‘I can’t program my VCR’ jokes can be made for any hardware once it gets old enough (my coffee maker has 9 buttons!). I guess this is the hardware version of feature-creep. In addition, they seem to believe ‘More options = good’ even most people never use 90% of the options (kind of like Word before the ribbon).

    Palm used to have a guy whose job was ‘tap counter’ – if any task took more than 3 taps to accomplish, the interface would have to be changed.

    Another neat thing I saw was a PS3 connected to a TV – a simple game controller was used to control the TV. What really interested me is that the owner had no idea where the TV remote was – the software was so much easier to use.

    I guess the biggest problem with remotes is that they are not pointing devices (like a mouse or wiimote or kinect). So people can’t use a point and click approach (which we are so accustomed to). Have you considered some android phone-to-TV apps that make your phone into a remote? The added advantage is that I often misplace the remote, but I can always call my phone to find out where it is hiding.

    Comment by sriksrid — June 11, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

  2. I’ve not looked into the Android TV apps. I’d rather not have yet another remote to use!

    Comment by admin — June 11, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

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