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Universal Remote's Days Are Numbered 429

theodp writes "While the universal remote has served humanity with distinction, its days are numbered, and your smartphone is to blame. Whether you want to control your music, your television or your PowerPoint presentation, there's probably a solution using your phone. Try as it might, the universal remote simply can't navigate the digital world the way the smartphone can — it's a lot easier to put the remote's abilities in the smartphone than vice versa."
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Universal Remote's Days Are Numbered

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  • Yeah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:45PM (#27291561)

    But a smart phone has limited "hard" buttons. .. and as nice as touch screens are.. it's hard to operate them lying in bed through one half-open eye.

    Personally I`m waiting for voice recognition to become practical. I think that's more the future of how we control our devices.

    • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:50PM (#27291615) Journal

      I love articles that proclaim the impending death of $TECHNOLOGY just because you can now use some other device as a half-assed supplement.

      Yeah, I really want to be lying on the couch underneath a blanket, and fiddling with/rolling over onto my touchscreen smartphone. Also, show me a smartphone that has the battery life of a good old remote control that can last for months or more.

      • Re:Yeah.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Seth Kriticos ( 1227934 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:20PM (#27291933)
        Agree. Most people are barely capable of understanding the functions of their remote and lose it at most dumb-phones. Now they really want to teach them the intricate workings of an abstract user interface for a smart-phone remote emulation? Don't think that will work..
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          theoretically you should be able to make a smart phone *easier* to navigate, since the buttons can be context sensitive. Not that i have ever seen any evidence of this ofc.
          • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by not flu ( 1169973 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @07:15PM (#27292473)
            How does making the same buttons act differently based on context make them easier to use? I don't see any logic behind this.
            • Re:Yeah.. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @10:18PM (#27293891)

              How does making the same buttons act differently based on context make them easier to use? I don't see any logic behind this.

              I imagine he's referring to those remotes that have more buttons than Mr. Spock's science station. I just moved and the cable company gave me a new DVR with Remote. Same damn thing, but maaaaaaan, this remote has a lot of buttons for fuctions I'm not using right now. It is easy for me to picture something like a PDA running a nicely designed interface for what I'm doing. If I'm watching a DVD, for example, I don't need the buttons that are all about changing the channels or setting up the DVR. In that context navigation would be much more simple and intuitive.

              There's also the matter of setting up the remote. It's not the hardest thing in the world to tell a universal remote what brand the tv or whatever is, but it sure would be nice to just grab it from a pulldown.

              I agree with the spirit of your post in that I personally don't think there's a huge NEED to consolidate remotes. At the right price range, though, it sure would be nice. If my appliances used RF (bluetooth or even 802.11), my iPhone could easily control them all and the stuff I'd buy in the future. That's kinda neat and it most certainly would be easier to use than this stupid lump of over-designed plastic I have controlling things right now.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by maxume ( 22995 )

            These generally get pretty good reviews (it's not a smartphone, but it's programmable...):

  ,en []

      • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:40PM (#27292141)

        I love articles that proclaim the impending death of $TECHNOLOGY just because you can now use some other device as a half-assed supplement.

        Yeah, I really want to be lying on the couch underneath a blanket, and fiddling with/rolling over onto my touchscreen smartphone. Also, show me a smartphone that has the battery life of a good old remote control that can last for months or more.

        Not only that, but my universal remote has real buttons that I can navigate in the dark easily; doesn't walk out the room when I leave; and can be use by somebody else while I am on a call.

        You are right - just because some new tech can sorta do what existing tech can does mean it will replace it. A IR smartpone could also replace you car key as a remote - I don't see that happening very soon either.

      • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Funny)

        by spideysense ( 822379 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @07:27PM (#27292591)

        Yeah, I really want to be lying on the couch underneath a blanket, and fiddling with/rolling over onto my touchscreen smartphone.

        That's why you need a Snuggie! Those old fashioned blankets make it impossible to do simple things like change the channel or answer a phone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DJRumpy ( 1345787 )
        I have to disagree. I spent 50 bucks for a bluetooth keyboard, and I have an old Gyration 3D RF mouse which at the time was $79 bucks. The mouse is a pain in the arse and often sends the mouse scurring in some random direction because it's 'level' sensor sucks or whatnot. I tried a touchpad bluetooth mouse I read about on /. but the range was horrible and my dog eventually ate it. I just bought an app based on TFA ;) I had no idea folks were writing WiFi apps to control HTPC's. All I can say is it's about
        • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @10:45PM (#27294029) Homepage
          And I have a Harmony 550 that cost $50 that ANYONE can use. It's not just me! And if I leave the house with my phone? Someone else can use the TV and all of my entertainment system pieces, including my MythTV machine.
      • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Monday March 23, 2009 @12:00AM (#27294427) Homepage

        Also, show me a smartphone that has the battery life of a good old remote control that can last for months or more.

        Most importantly, show me a smartphone that'll let me change channels in the 45 minutes after my mother's called my mobile and asked to talk to my wife.

    • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by narcberry ( 1328009 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:12PM (#27291859) Journal

      Agreed. Universal remotes also crash less, require less charging, and are more likely to be found near a tv instead of in the pocket of the owner or charging in a different room.

      This article is retarded (as in handicapped, not special).

      • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:30PM (#27293095) Homepage

        are more likely to be found near a tv instead of in the pocket of the owner

        That seems to me to be a very important issue that might not occur to people quickly. What if someone else is in my house and wants to watch TV? Do I have to leave my cell phone with them? Or do they have to reprogram their phones?

        It's very convenient to have a simple, cheap, dedicated device to serve a single purpose. It can just sit there, ready to fulfill its duty.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Hooya ( 518216 )

          What would upset the balance and thereby the (relative) peace in the world is if they make it so that it's easy to re-program any phone to talk to any device.. well, my wife's phone would be able to control the TV! Oh the freggin humanity!! Wives can't be relied upon to change the channels!

          The remote is the modern day specter a man holds in his castle - anything to upset that and it'll be Armageddon, I tell ya!!

    • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:20PM (#27291929) Homepage Journal
      We have a voice recognition system where I work. In the intended environment it works fine but when we took it to a trade show to do demonstrations we found that it copes badly with background noise.

      So I wouldn't want to use one to trigger the mute function.
    • That's why I don't have a Pronto, and why I stopped using my Sony whatever-it-was (it was $200, way back in 1999 or 2000!). I also had a remote control on my Clie that I never bothered to use.

    • Re:Yeah.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ( 1284676 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:27PM (#27291997)

      Definitely most retarded non-story in the last couple of weeks.

      Smartphone as a remote is a niche application for mega-geeks who will become bored with it very shortly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Inda ( 580031 )
        I had one of those remote watches when they first came out. Great for 5 minutes play.

        The best part about them was their ability to 'jam' other people's remotes. I think I costed my mates a set of 'worn out' remote batteries each time I visited.
    • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by DavidD_CA ( 750156 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:33PM (#27292071) Homepage


      I've completedly ditched my dedicated DVD player, 42" flat panel, and the rest of my home theatre system, because I can now watch movies on my SmartPhone.

      I have also thrown away my desktop computer, because my phone can access the web and everything I want is on the web. Likewise, I've given away my PS3 and X-Box 360 because my smartphone has games on it.

      Next week I'm having a garage sale, and will be selling most of my tools, too. My smartphone makes a very effective hammer, measure, and leveling device... and I'm certain that my carrier will soon be selling accessories to replace my screwdriver, chain saw, and plow.

    • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kreigaffe ( 765218 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @07:02PM (#27292353)

      voice rec? no thanks.

      i don't want to have to pause a conversation to say "scroll down" or "change to channel X" when I can just hit a button or two while I still talk to someone and do the same thing.

      Pushing buttons is easier than talking. And a lot easier late at night or early in the morning. And your TV won't ever mistake a casual conversation with someone for a command to record cinemax late at night that leads to questions about why exactly that program was DVRed..

    • Re:Yeah.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by horatio ( 127595 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @07:14PM (#27292467)

      Personally I`m waiting for voice recognition to become practical. I think that's more the future of how we control our devices.

      You mean you haven't programmed your device to recognize commands such as

      • Turn off the TV, dear
      • Make me a damn sandwich
      • More ale, wench!

      Well, what are you waiting for?

    • by Dan667 ( 564390 )
      Yes, so true. I have tried a bunch of universal remotes and got rid of all of them except the one that had enough dedicated hard buttons to do most regular tasks. I ended up with a mx500 that has both an lcd screen with hard buttons to the sides and then most regular remote buttons. Completely programmable including macros. Good luck trying to control a tv, stereo, and media center in the dark with a flat touch screen. It is a pain in the ass.
    • Voice Recognition (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @09:43PM (#27293659) Homepage

      I think voice recognition is more the future of how we control our devices.

      Please leave me out of your future. Few things make me more angry than calling a support number and getting a menu where I'm required to speak to the computer.

      If I have to deal with a computer, at least give me the choices and let me press a damn button. Don't make me guess the right keyword, especially not in earshot of my officemates.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        As a victim of Identity Theft, I always hate those that ask you to "speak or say your Social Security Number." If I am going to give my SSN, it'll be pressed on the keypad, not spoken out loud where a dozen co-workers could hear and copy it down! Not that I don't trust them, but it's pretty easy to figure out a co-worker's birth date and you already know their name. Add in that spoken SSN and some random co-worker with an ax to grind could steal your identity (or sell it to someone else so the ID theft w

  • by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:47PM (#27291583)

    I feel you, man. It sucks to post these non-stories, but it's slim picking and what you gonna do?

    That's it, right?

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:47PM (#27291587) Homepage
    There are a lot of people that won't buy a smart phone to operate all their devices.
    • Yes, my wife would love it if every time I left the house she was stuck watching Top Gear repeats all day because my phone was the only thing that controlled the TV.

      Harmony FTW.

    • Without intending any disrespect, your grandma has a much shorter life expectancy than the bulk of the population. This translates to a relatively small economic impact when it comes to device sales. True, she may be more the "Jitterbug" type (shudder), but that's okay.

      I think this isn't as much about the universal remote's days being numbered as it is about how pervasive smart(er) phone are becoming. Hell, I can hardly buy *any* phone now that doesn't come with a camera (many with video capabilities, cr
      • You're right but that doesn't mean the old generation isn't growing, rather than shrinking nor does it mean anyone wants something that's more complicated to operate their TV and DVD player or that can be taken out of the house rendering everyone else in the house remoteless and only a tard would pay hundreds for the functionality of an item that can be cheaper than a meal.
        • only a tard would pay hundreds for the functionality of an item that can be cheaper than a meal.

          These devices won't stay at their current prices. Also, there's the old saying that some things are cheap only if your time is worth nothing. A moderate up-front investment in learning how to use a device may save you a bunch of time and aggravation in future. My time is worth money, so this matters to me.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by mh1997 ( 1065630 )

            My time is worth money, so this matters to me.

            So is mine when I am at work, but while I am home watching TV, nobody is paying me.

            A moderate up-front investment in learning how to use a device may save you a bunch of time and aggravation in future.

            It takes at most, 3 seconds to perform most actions on a TV, allowing me to change channels 20 times per minute. The smartphone takes about 1 second to perform an action. Thanks to this, it is now possible watch 3 times less tv in the same amount of time.

  • by Xtense ( 1075847 ) <{xtense} {at} {}> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:49PM (#27291599) Homepage

    I don't know how it works in the US, but in Europe (or at least where I live) there are 348576384756876 different, conflicting coding standards for infrared messages, so the only real place for your Universal Remote is in the trash can.

    Not that I condone using phones for remote control...

    • Um, it's pretty much the same. We're all buying TVs and DVDs and tivos and crap built in Asia, it's all the same rubbish. universal remotes have programmable codes, there's a combination for almost any device. Or not, for some that you'd expect are important enough they should have been included, but that's another story.

      But generally it'll work fine and you just take their little manual (or go online), find your device, follow the directions and input the code for that device, repeat for all devices, an

    • There's actually only two or three, and a Harmony will do most of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:49PM (#27291603)

    While the screwdriver has served humanity with distinction, its days are numbered, and your hammer is to blame. Whether you want to control your nails, there's probably a solution using your hammer. Try as it might, the screwdriver simply can't hammer the nails the way the hammer can -- it's a lot easier to put the screwdriver's abilities in the hammer than vice versa.

    • Technically, it's somewhat easier to hammer nails in with a screwdriver than it is to drive in screws with a hammer. :P

    • Actually, it's a lot easier to put the hammer's functionality into a screwdriver. Trust me, I've seen women trying to do household repairs before.. ...
      now with +1 sexism!

  • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zouden ( 232738 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:52PM (#27291627)

    If I want to change the channel on my TV I'm not going to muck around with the 'remote' app on my smartphone. I'm going to pick up an actual remote and press the button.

    Smartphones are great for a lot of things, but proper remote controls have a set of fixed, tactile buttons that respond instantly. Versatility isn't worth much if it's a pain to use.

    • My phone's not that damn smart either. Not to mention they FINALLY got a Harmony adapter so I can use my Harmony remote to control my PS3. ;) Why bust up a good thing with smartphones? Mark my words, the cell companies are going to find a way to charge you for channel changing. Unless you get their "unlimited view" package for $40 a month.

      Call me old fashioned... but universal remotes just work (well most of the time)... and why bother with anything else? Trendy's not always great or practical anywa
    • an actual remote

      This is an important point. The evangelists who apparently want us to all own one, omni-purpose device with a changeable touch-screen as the interface need to wake up to the fact that people always have and always will like tangible, physical things with specialised purposes.

      I want a remote with physical buttons reflecting the functionality of MY television as well as it can. I don't want the digital equivalent of a spork. I DEFINITELY don't want my remote's functionality dependent on a corporate entity

    • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:17PM (#27292995) Homepage Journal

      The Universal Remote can be programmed with the signal used in Laser Tag games and is area-effect. This allows you to blast vast areas far more effectively than the pistol they supply you with. The SmartPhone cannot do this, no matter what you do.

  • by Looce ( 1062620 ) * on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:53PM (#27291641) Journal

    If there was a way to mod articles, I'd mod this -1 Troll and -1 Flamebait.

    The universal remote has its uses, the smartphone has its own, and, last I checked:

    • people still play DVDs for entertainment, and the universal remote still works on set-top DVD players;
    • people still watch TV, and the universal remote still works on televisions;
    • laptops accepting remote controls sometimes accept the universal remote as well;
    • etc.

    Just because it has less use for presentations doesn't mean that it's dying. If anything, other uses may be found for it, including presentations.

    Also, why replace a $20 item (or even less) with a $200 item (or even more) if all you're going to do is watch TV and DVDs with it? If the universal remote is truly dying, then the big phone companies have won the war of overconsumption: sell a product that will be obsolete in two years, make it have tons of uses, and have the buyer depend more and more on it such that s/he deems it absolutely necessary and buys it again and again as newer versions come out with even more feature creep, while making everyone pay the full price for all the features despite many of the buyers not using even an eighth of them.

    I'd rather keep that remote, thanks. Mine has lasted around... 10 years now?

    • by mkiwi ( 585287 )

      For most of my media, I use my phone through iTunes. Apple has a really nice "Remote" application that runs fairly well. iTunes does have to be open on your target computer, though.

      Right now I don't think Remote integrates with DVD Player or VLC. This would be a good time for an open specification.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vasp ( 978274 )

      Also, why replace a $20 item (or even less) with a $200 item (or even more) if all you're going to do is watch TV and DVDs with it?

      I guess they recon that in the not-so-distant future every phone will have the equivalent features of todays smartphones. And seeing as just about everybody's got a cellphone these days, people will stop buying remotes because 'hey, I'll just switch channels using my phone, saving me 20 bucks!'

      This also adresses the problem of finding the Goddamn remote. It's always on you.

      Though I can foresee quite a few arguments with the mrs. when we both have a remote...

  • Yeah but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by British ( 51765 ) <> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:54PM (#27291651) Homepage Journal

    I don't remember having to sign a contract, nor pay a monthly fee to use a universal remote,or better yet a "learning" remote. Those lists of manufacturers + models for your TV set/stereo/etc always seem to list all the models in the world..except the one you bought. Somehow I got lucky with my Advent home entertainment center, where I can use my Comcast remote to move up/down the volume. Felt a small sense of accomplishment since now I can now control everything with that remote, save for the video game consoles + VCR.

  • Swell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KwKSilver ( 857599 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @05:56PM (#27291681)
    Now I'm going to need a $300.00 "smartphone" to turn on my TV, radio etc? One which will be reporting on everything I do and where I do it? (Guess that's what really makes it smart-never mind if they don't now, they will, they will. Fuck this bullcrap. George Orwell must be spinning in his grave at relativistic speeds.
  • This is one of the dumbest things I have ever read. Why would i want to control my TV set with a $100 cell phone? What happens if i want to talk on my cell phone and watch TV at the same time? Do I really want to wear out my cellphones batteries and keypad switching TV channels? NO THANKS. I would rather just use my $10 universal remote instead.

  • by forgottenusername ( 1495209 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:03PM (#27291749)

    There's no way a cell phone can replace the simplicity and multi-device support of a good universal remote. These remotes are actually _designed_ for their function, whereas a phone is designed for, you know, taking calls and running a few apps.

    - You dont pay a monthly fee to use a remote control
    - Who wants to pay for multiple goddamn cell phones that work as remotes, so if you are gone your visitors or spouse can watch tv? Be srsly
    - Good remotes are designed to be simple for the technologically inept. You select a simple action like "Watch TV" "Watch DVD" "Play Game" which are customizable and switch everything on or off as needed. If there are errors, the help button will resolve the issues in a simple way your grandma can figure out

    This is akin to taking a simple, small tool and trying to replace it with a monolithic "do everything" solution. It would be overly complex and would fail, fail, fail.

    How are these terrible articles getting through? Modding queue with a hangover, are we?

  • by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) * on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:04PM (#27291755)
    for a phone that's smart enough to quit dropping the damn calls. That's the only smart phone I'm interested in owning.
    • Amen. Add 100% blocking of all text messages & it would be nirvana.
    • Move out of America, and magically the same model phones won't drop calls. It's not their fault, it's the huge size of the continental US combined with the overall ineptitude of the major mobile carriers here (AT&T/Cingular, I'm looking at you)
  • Harmony remotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tulmad ( 25666 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:05PM (#27291767)

    The person who wrote this article has clearly never used a Logitech Harmony remote. Best remote I've ever owned.

  • Yeah or just get a Harmony Remote. I love mine.

    Although their mac client is so awful (leaves files all over the place in your home directory) I have to boot into Windows with VMware to program it.

  • FFS NO NO NO!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pvt_Ryan ( 1102363 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:08PM (#27291807)
    Phones are for PHONING!!!!! not texting, not taking pictures, nor playing mp3s, nor controlling radio controlled cars or anything else..

    I hate having to learn to use my new nokias as it is, without piling in more crap.

    Whatever happened to "Do one job and do it well".. Seems nowadays it's lets cram as much crap into something that half works.
    • by Xtense ( 1075847 )

      I wish I had modpoints, I'd mod up the fuck out of your post!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Whatever happened to "Do one job and do it well".

      People's needs and wants, that's what happened.

      I think it's great I can communicate with my friends even in extremely noisy places.

      I think it's great I can take pictures of hot chicks when I'm out on the town.

      I think it'd be cool to always have some game on me if I ever get bored.

      I think it'd be cool to always have all my music at hand.

      I think it'd be really cool to always have all my music and video at hand.

      I think it's useful to always have an address book, calendar, clock and alarm clock at hand.

      Am I goi

  • What happens when (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:12PM (#27291855)

    I'm using my phone/out of the house and someone else (sat the 13 year old kid) wants to watch a DVD?

    Or does everyone need a smart phone as opposed to one $20 remote on the coffee table?

  • I have an iPAQ Pocket PC that is perfectly capable of acting as a true universal remote (of the sort represented by the Logitech Harmony series), and software to enable that on pretty much any ARM-powered device has existed for years now. Of course it can't replace RF remotes, but how many of those are there?

    I wonder if infrared will continue to be the remote transmission medium of choice, though.

  • The PS3 may be a nice BlueRay player but it does not nicely work together with the rest of appliances: it's remote is bluetooth.

    Is there a universal remote which includes a bluetooth module for the PS3?

  • The universal remote (which, I must add before we go any further, is an evil invention which must die) will become obsolete anyway because all entertainment functions will be condensed into one machine (Apple TV, MythTV PC, HTPC etc.) So the scenario will go something like this:
    1. User finishes his work on his computer (for argument's sake, let's say a 24" iMac.)
    2. He folds the chair away and sits on the sofa in front of the machine. Digs out the included remote from down the side of the cushions, hits button on it. Machine switches to Front Row.
    3. User slips in DVD/Blu-Ray video, or plays a downloaded video from iTunes (*other online video stores are available).
    4. User switches to the TV tuner, watches synchronous TV (can also pause it and rewind it for far longer than the 15 minutes feeble PVRs of today, due to the fact that PCs have faster and larger HDDs allowing for speedier buffering). By the way, it's also in HD, otherwise it looks crap on the lovely big display.

    THAT is the future. No faffing about with smartphonesâ"one remote controls one machine.

    • by Eth1csGrad1ent ( 1175557 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @07:00PM (#27292325)

      Nope. Sorry - I can't see it.

      As soon as you said this (for argument's sake, let's say a 24" iMac.) your argument was blown.

      For every "perfect solution" there will always be a competing product or a competing standard and they're not going to play nice. Its not even in the best interests of the electronics companies to provide a one size fits all solution (which is technically feasible now). They need pricing points and upgrade paths to continue generating profit.

      They need built in redundancy to ensure an ongoing market. And most consumers (not all, but most) end up with a rag-tag mix of equipment and configurations, based on need and willingness to fork out cash.

      Like LAN networks, noone has an identical system when it comes to media solutions in the home - and as a result, there will always be a market for tools that aid in bringing them all together.

  • Wrong WRong Wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by baomike ( 143457 )

    Whoever wrote that has not set up a TV for a relative (or themselves in the future ) in an "Assisted living Facility".
    Channel change, on/off and volume are at the edge (and sometimes beyound ) the capabilities of these people.
    These are people who have trouble telling if it's 3:00 pm or am (the phone calls in the night tell me that).
    Days of the week and date are nebulous concepts.

    Something as complicated as a cell phone is just a paper weight.

    NB: Small remotes also disappear. They don't remember where they p

    • NB: Small remotes also disappear. They don't remember where they put them.

      Simple solution: glue them to the top of the host machine.

  • by fragMasterFlash ( 989911 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:32PM (#27292057)
    With projects like the JP1 forum [] turning universal remotes into the Swiss army knife of the 21st century I hardly think the will meet their technological demise any time soon. I would rather bet my $0.02 that the killer device control app for smartphones will be remote interaction at an arbitrary distance, much like the remote DVR control applications now entering the market.
  • Missing the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by golgoj4 ( 993133 )
    I think they are missing the point in saying that the universal remote's days are numbered. Smartphones just allow another way to do the same thing, and not always better. Currently, I use my desktop when im sitting at the pc, an ir remote when not, and an ipaq when roaming around the house. All three have different situation where they are better than others so to say one will hail the death of the other is missing the point that more options are available in general. I use linuxMCE [] for all my home AV ne
  • Sounds great until I want to leave the house and someone else wants to watch TV... oh wait... you mean I need to buy a smart phone for everyone in the family?

    ummm, no.

  • The last U.R. I bought was about $4. They're commodity items so it's reasonably to have a few of them around. Compare that with a smartphone. Yes, it might ultimately be more flexible, but if you have to spend 10 seconds navigating (and making mistakes) through the menu system, compared with 1/2 second to click the third button down on the left, there's no chance that a GUI will win.

    This article just doesn't understand how normal people respond to a user interface. If it's not simple and self-evident it wi

  • by similar_name ( 1164087 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:39PM (#27292131)
    Why can't I click a button on the TV to make my remote beep when I can't find it. Maybe I should patent that.
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd.bandrowsky@gma i l .com> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:39PM (#27292137) Homepage Journal

    The universe remote will never die. It costs at least $200 for a "smart phone" like an iPhone or a Google android, and those smart phones not as good for TV surfing as the $15 remote you get from Walmart. The buttons on the remote are the product of 30 years of evolutionary design, the user interfaces on set top boxes are not -that- bad, and you don't have to worry about hackers. By the time you jizz your finger into getting your smart appliance into channel changing mode, I can reach down from the couch, onto the floor, pick the remote up and change the channel.

    Oh, and by the way, the batteries on my remote last way longer than your smart phone batteries.

    • Your analysis presumes that television will never die. I find that to be unlikely.
      • Your analysis presumes that television will never die. I find that to be unlikely.

        TV will last forever. TV's are the perfect vegetation device. Computers are fun but you have to work to use them. A TV, universal remote and a six pack are about as good as it gets.

  • My phone is stoopid, you insensitive clod!

  • Logitech Harmony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @06:59PM (#27292315)

    Having worked with Universal Remote, RTI, and Crestron products, I know what a "high-end" remote should do. These guys make very flexible remotes, but they cost a ton of money.

    Logitech's Harmony series remotes come VERY close, for a fraction of the cost. Programming is not very difficult, and I've yet to find a AV component that can not be controlled by these remotes.

    If you need to control lighting, HVAC, and other home automation stuff, RTI and Crestron are your best bet (bring your checkbook). But if you only need to control a modest Home Theater system, take a look at the Harmony remotes.

    As far as smartphones go - who is going to leave their smartphone home so the babysitter, or kids can watch TV?


    • My Nevo has the best balance of touch screen real estate and had buttons. The last time I programmed the damned thing was desktop build ago, so hopefully the old SL will still have some software that will load under Windows 7 (or in an XP VM!). The Harmony's are nice though. Task-based approach works well. The only two areas where a smartphone would be helpful is displaying relevant metadata such as what's playing, links, etc. or to navigate local media. That or as a virtual keyboard for quick entries ala
  • Why would I want my phone to control everything. I'm not interested in walking around with a magic thing in my hand that controls absolutely everything. That's not the better interface. I'll gladly pay $6.00 for the better interface of having a distinct interface.

    It's the standard airplane cockpit philosophy. Yes, hundreds of buttons and switches take up more space, are much more difficult to learn, and look ugly. But damn they are way more efficient. If I have to cascade through seven menus in my phon

    • Back in the day, it was obvious that your dishwasher, microwave, stove, oven, refrigerator, and sink would all be rolled up into a Dishsinkcookerator. All your cleaning needs would be serviced by your handy-dandy Vacuumopduster. And every so often, some new clueless geek tries to hack together a bicycle, a truck, and an airplane to invent the transportation of the future.

      I'm sure you can find most of this stuff being advertised on infomercials for $19.95 plus shipping and handling. A $60 value. But wait, th

  • I remember back in the days, me, my brother and my father were fighting hard for the remote... hitting each other with the newspaper, throwing the kleenex box... all that because we all wanted a single device...

    Now, people are gonna fight over making each other stop using their smartphones... If each person has a smartphone, everyone can change channels and mess with the TV... that can make them anonymous and bring on the anti-zapping software that would scramble all the other "remotes"...

    That will be a

  • Looking at the youtube videos, there's a different iPhone application for each device (TiVo, Sonos, TV, ...)

    So instead of having N remotes on my coffee table to choose from, I only need to download and install N different applications on my iPhone ? How modern and convenient.

    Wake me up when there's a UNIVERSAL remote application for a smart phone.

  • And what if I'm talking on the phone while watching TV? Or at a friend's house and want to use their entertainment system?

  • by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @10:02PM (#27293773)

    I call this the Swiss Army Knife Fallacy. It's like thinking that screwdrivers, scissors, and toothpicks are all going to vanish because a swiss army knife can do all of those things.

    Just as you might carry a swiss army knife in your pocket, smartphones are handy as a portable solution when you are out and about. But when I'm at home and I need to tighten a screw, I don't dig in my pocket for my swiss army knife; I reach into my toolbox and get a dedicated screwdriver that is designed to do just that one task as well as possible, instead of being adequate at multiple tasks.

    When I'm using my entertainment center, I want a remote that is ideally adapted to that one task. I don't need it to browse the web, or answer the phone; I've got devices optimized for those particular uses ready to hand in my home. For example, touch screens are great for general purpose devices that have to serve many functions. But when I want to adjust the volume on my TV set, I want a device with fixed, physical buttons with distinctive shapes that I can feel in the dark.

Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.