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Menu-driven remote

A truly universal remote is possible.
  [vote for,

The so-called "universal" remote-controls that you can buy in electronics stores everywhere aren't truly universal. They never allow you to do ALL the functions that your original remote could do. For instance, my URC can control the most common functions on my VCR (start, stop, fast-forward, rewind) but it can't schedule a future recording session. That would require a button that my URC doesn't have.

It's easy to see why—it would take too many buttons. There are too many unique and complicated designs of remote-controls out there; the designers of URCs can't duplicate them all, and even if they could, you wouldn't want that many buttons on a single remote.

The solution is so obvious, I don't see why it isn't already being done. Make all but the most common functions menu-driven. You could still have buttons for start, stop, fast-forward, and rewind (since those are common to all recording/playing devices) but for all other functions, use menus. Press "VCR" and then "Menu" and the menu for your VCR functions appears on your TV screen. (Or better yet, press "Menu" and a list of devices appears: TV, VCR, DVD, etc.) Then press a number to choose one of the options.

I'm not really talking about a new kind of remote; I'm talking about a design philosophy to be implemented by the designers of VCRs, DVD players, cable boxes, and so on. Keep it simple, stupid! Invent any new function you want, but whatever it is, allow me to access it via a menu—don't just create a new and unique button for it. In other words, design all your functions so that they're compatible with a very simple URC design.

Jim Bob of Merriam Park, Jul 24 2009

Menu-driven universal remotes http://www.pronto.philips.com/
[coprocephalous, Jul 24 2009]


       Or, like in most TV tuners today, have a button on the remote called "Menu" and allow users to access the onscreen menu in order to control their appliance.
zen_tom, Jul 24 2009

       Isn't this what Philips did with the Pronto? [linky] Touch screen plus physical buttons, completely user-editable layouts, menu hierarchy and macros.   

       I think Logitech may have a similar product, though I've never seen one.
coprocephalous, Jul 24 2009

       Please understand: I don't want remotes to be more complicated and expensive. I want them to be simpler and cheaper. This can happen if the manufacturers of TVs, VCRs, DVD players, etc. design their devices to be fully functional using a very simple remote. This would work only (I think) if the various functions appeared on a menu, rather than having each function activated by a particular button on the remote. And I think the menu should appear on the TV screen, not on the remote.   

       For an analogy, consider the computer mouse. It's very simple: basically, all it needs to do is point and click. This simplicity makes it compatible with hundreds of programs. You don't have to "program" your mouse to make it compatible with your software because the software designers have already made their software compatible with your mouse.   

       Imagine what it would be like if every software package came bundled with its own specially designed mouse, and each mouse had a dozen or more buttons, and each button had a different function that worked only with its own brand of software! That's a pretty good analogy, I think, to the situation we now have with video devices and their respective remotes.   

       I wish more people had the talent and proclivity to invent ways to make life simpler instead of more complicated.
Jim Bob of Merriam Park, Jul 25 2009


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