Over the past few months I’ve seen tons of speculation, demos, and implementations of companies building apps and technology to turn smartphones into remote controls. Now I get the vision, and yes, for some folks, this is going to be a wonderful marriage of technologies. But when I say “some” I mean few. I just don’t think people are really thinking it through in an actual home with real people.
Here’s what I think is going to happen:
- User downloads smart remote app to phone
- User manages to get said app working
- User controls TV with phone
- User is psyched, declares new configuration as “hella cool”
- One of the following occurs:
- Phone battery dies terribly rapidly due to persistent wifi connection.
- User takes remote control to bathroom during pivotal moment of show.
- Phone call during even more pivotal moment of show.
- User goes back to using regular, reliable remote.
Sounds great on paper, but I think it’s one of those problems that people aren’t going to typically face until they actually run into issues like I describe above. But once they do, the safe prediction I can make is they stop using it that way. For more, here are the 9 reasons a smart phone makes for a dumb remote, in my latest column at Crave on CNET.
Smart phones and other tablet devices make a fantastic secondary remote. Primary duties can’t be beat by a good old fashioned hard button remote. The good news is that with two remotes the HT geek can have the best of both worlds. On the physical remote you can have minimal buttons you need to watch TV (vol, ch, d-pad, power, transport), but then still have easy access to advanced functionality including tweaking AVR and TV settings as well as navigating guides and managing series recordings.
Here’s two examples.
1. It is easier to drag and drop your series recordings in a list on a phone/tablet than to hit the up arrow on the remote 25 times — not to mention, more forgivable if you feel inclined to reorder them while someone else is watching TV.
2. It would be very annoying to have to take you phone out of your pocket and launch an app just to turn up the volume, or hit skip back button to watch a replay.
The good news is that with two remotes the HT geek can have the best of both worlds. Thanks 😉