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A remote control shouldn't be like a brick and of hard plastic, but rather rounded to the palm and soft.
With intelligent output, i.e. an adaptive (on-screen) display, you can simplify the input device, where the buttons change meaning as needed ("context sensitive")---even for multiple controlled
devices. Basically you only need four or five coloured buttons and 9+1 for the digits, perhaps aligning to a circle.
Furthermore replace those navigation arrow circles by two scroll-wheels (volume control and zapping by default in TV mode) which can also act as buttons when pressed down and are controlled by the thumb.
See an (ugly) sketch at <http://crissov.de/Ideen/Fernbedienung>.
[JesusHChrist, Feb 28 2005]
||15 buttons and two wheels, and you call it 'minimal'? All you need are two buttons.
||I think this makes a very good point. Most modern remotes have some sort of on-screen menu system driven by a joystick/cursor keys/nipple on the remote but *still* manage to have in excess of twenty additional buttons. The only buttons you should need apart from the menu buttons are the sort which are needed to get the machine to the point where you can actually see the on-screen menu.
||Disclaimer: professional equipment is not included here: on-screen displays are not suitable for anything that outputs an image to an audience. Here you need a separate menu on the unit so that operations can be performed while people are watching the output. Amazing how many manufacturers of 'professional' kit forget this.
||[Brau] - It's debatable whether that has seventeen buttons or hundreds. On balance - I think I want one. You used to be able to download various soft remotes for the PalmPilot, that worked really well.