The Lost Remote - ruminations on redundant controls...

"I can't tell you how many times I lose my remote and then can't navigate through the initial screen of a DVD because there are no buttons on the console."

My old buddy, Tony Springer, has a good point - most DVD players and home theaters don't have those pesky directional-navigation controls needed to get from here (disc insertion) to there (movie playing). Sure, most people are going to use remote controls most of the time - but those few other times, it's a pain to not even have the choice!

So what's the design logic here? Is there any?? Let's consider some evidence:

-The TV set can pretty much be completely controlled from the unit itself, if needed. Power, channels, volume, inputs, menu... even, in many cases, that elusive directional navigator!

-The DVD player does have some controls (power, volume, play, stop, forward/back, source), but not enough to get by.

-Tivo, the category-defining and famously-delightful-to-use DVR, has no buttons at all on the unit! And yet, no complaints about it...

The conclusion I'm coming to is that the suggestion of on-unit control guides the expectation of control. The buttons on the TV and DVD player suggest to user that they can be controlled without the remote; the TV lives up to the suggestion, so there are no complaints. The Tivo, with no buttons, offers no suggestion of on-unit control, so there's no expectation, and no disappointment. Only the DVD player makes a promise that it doesn't keep!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All they need is to allows you to cycle through the onscreen options by double-clicking the right or left tracking buttons. They wouldn't even need to change their assembly lines. But they hate us, you see. And by making their products poorly they aggravate us. DVDs and all other consumer electronics are made by passive-aggressive ... you know what, it's not worth it. Nothing will change it. Oh well.