[opendtv] Remote controls -- where's the outrage?

  • From: Henry Baker <hbaker1@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 05 Oct 2004 21:37:58 -0700

My wife has been having a fit, and I don't blame her.

We used to have ("analog") cable, which was piped to a number of
different TV's in the house.  If she wanted to change channels
on the TV in the breakfast room, she used the remote control for
the TV there.

Then Adelphia said that analog cable was dead -- we had to have
a settop box for every TV in the house.  I said, if we have to
do that, then we don't need Adelphia any more, and so we switched
to DirecTV.

The DirecTV remote is better than two remotes, but it still has
a significant problem -- if you want to turn on the TV, you have
to change "modes" on the remote to be talking to the TV.  If you
make a mistake and hit the on/off button while talking to the
DirecTV box, it turns the DirecTV box off.  Even worse, if you
change channels while in the "TV" mode, it switches away from
Channel 3 (or "video1"), so you end up watching snow.

Why is producing an easy-to-use remote so difficult?  We have
a TiVo box, and they seemed to have gotten the problem solved
better than the standard DirecTV remote.

Why haven't the CE manufacturers gotten together on this?  Why
hasn't a major manufacturer (Sony?  Panasonic?  Samsung?) taken
leadership and come up with a plan for more universal remotes.

These guys are all sucking wind in their CE divisions right now--
have they ever asked the consumer why the consumer isn't happy
with their gear?

I've also experimented with a number of "learning" remotes, but
the problem with them is that the codes themselves are defective.
For example, the exact same signal turns the TV on _and_ off, so
it's impossible to force one of these components into a known
state by using a constant signal pattern.  Similarly, the exact
same signal switches among the different inputs to the TV, so
you end up cycling through them.  So the basic IR protocols are

In the PC industry, both Microsoft and Intel take leadership positions
in trying to avoid interoperability problems like this, but in the
CE business, these companies don't even want to cooperate even when
all of their businesses would benefit.

Are there any initiatives to fix this problem?  Or are they waiting
for Microsoft to come and do it for them?

This one seems so obvious -- it's been going on and getting worse for
20 years -- that there have to be some pretty brain-dead execs in the
CE business to have missed it.

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