Remote control.

Mark Evans asks, among other things, why remote controls have become so painfully complex:

Since the first remote control probably appeared in the 1950s, they have become increasingly more complicated as opposed to easier to use. These days, you need an engineering degree just to figure out how to power up the TV, let alone control the DVD, digital box, Slingbox, etc.

The funny thing is the remote control industry believes the solution is simply adding more technology! The way they see it, it’s a matter of giving you a remote control that, in theory, can automatically connect with all your devices (assuming they aren’t a decade old). Of course, you then have to read through the entire manual to figure out how to control your devices once the remote control does its set-up thing. Sometimes, I yearn for the days when the remote control was just a box with about 20 buttons on it and a shifter that gave you ability to browse through 60 channels in no time at all.

I bought one of the very first remote control devices, a Sony receiver, in 1984. Twenty four years later there are absolutely no standards for remote controls. Every device and manufacturer uses a different set of codes, meaning that universal remote controls must know all of the possible combinations, and the user is forced to tell it what specific devices they are using it with.

Why is there no standard signal for functions like Play or Stop, or any of the other functions? There aren’t that many choices really. Why must every manufacturer use a different set?

When I want to play a DVD I have to turn on my TV, home theater receiver, and DVD player. They I need to set the TV and the receiver to the correct input. Then I have to press Play on the DVD player. Of course my TiVo remote does not talk to my receiver and DVD player. And my Panasonic home theater is not supported by most universal remotes. So it currently required three separate remote controls to accomplish this task. It is honestly faster to walk tup to the TV and do it, given that I am there inserting the DVD anyway.

A standardized set of codes would let me work with any device. How long can it possibly take to standardize this sort of thing?

I can’t imagine that different codes provide any kind of competitive benefit for the manufacturers of these devices. So why not make life easier for the customer?

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