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Remote from Reality: The Out-of-Box Home Experience (14 May 2005)
As I have begun to explore the various remote-control-based on-screen user interfaces of DirecTV, Mistubishi, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Tivo , and others, I am struck by how lacking many are in many of the basic features of usability to which computer users have become accustomed. Lists must be scrolled in tedious ways. Customization is complex, but possible in some situations. Terminology among the vendors differs. Even DirecTV is accessed through two different kinds of remotes because of two different business partners involved (TiVo and RCA). In some cases, when viewing lists of choices, the numerical buttons no longer work to simply pick stations, as one might wish to at any time. The varieties of local channels are not available through the satellite system, which therefore requires my still using the off-air access, which in turn requires device switching, which in turn requires different screen guides, and, in my situation, different remotes. Off-air channel changes of the Mitsubishi are quite slow, seeming to take about a half-second to a second to switch from one channel to another. Gone are the days of rapidly twisting a dial to see what's on (although one can, I admit, sample-view nine different channels simultaneously in addition to one being viewed via a special picture-in-picture function).
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