Middleagemum.com: understanding the remote


I was hugely cheered to see this picture on The Selby of the Neistat brothers' way of trying to understand their remote controls. It's not just me then, who finds the battery of remotes needed to work the TV incomprehensible.

I have talked about my inability to master digital controls before on TWR, but as someone who is pressed up against good design every day, I just can't understand why someone hasn't done something about this. It's not just my age, is it? I mean how can it be a good idea to have four controls ( three in our house) for one machine? And why don't they say what they do on them?

Teenagesons seem to understand the remotes subliminally, without any instructions from the man who fitted the telly (who patiently went through it all with me, but within moments it had all clean gone out of my head, not one of his useful directions had lodged in my brain). They just seem to know that the black remote is for switching on the set, the bottom button of the grey remote is for picking channels and the white one is where the volume switch is…They are merciless in telling me off for not being able to remember the order,

All I need to survive in everyday life outside the house is my easy to use iPhone and food, but just to watch The Antiques Road show I need to grapple with words like Picture Navi, Fav, Home and i, there is a hopefully named button called Help, but it rarely does. And that's before we talk about the odd graphics above some of the buttons.

Which is why the idea of sticking the whole lot to a bit of hardboard and writing (with proper words) in felt pen exactly which buttons to press seems a wonderful low tech solution to a hi tech problem. PLEASE could a product designer somewhere get a grip on this and produce a remote we can understand without resorting to a handbook or a witheringly sarcastic teenage child.

And to think there just used to be an on/off switch.

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