Gone are the days of 6 different remotes for all the components in your home theater. Now we have universal remotes that control two or more of these components. But a lot of times we wish these remotes did more. This is a discussion on the ideal features of a practical home theater remote.
A Green or Green-like Button
Somewhere in the middle of the topside of the remote should appear a green (or green variant) button that brings you to the home screen on your TV. This also implies that you are running a home theater system that includes a PC or extender running Windows Media Center. There are many times when you just need to pull up the main screen of whatever home theater interface you have, the green button does this for you.
Customizeable LCD Buttons
Hard buttons are easy to find by touch and know you are hitting the function you want, but they are static. LCD buttons are awesome, because you can customize them to whatever you want. Sometimes you hit one button when you meant to hit another, or your hand bumps up against the LCD and suddenly you are watching something not appropriate for the kids. What if you could have the best of both worlds? You can have that, with a programmable LCD button like the ones you find on the Switchblde UI of the Razer Blade gaming laptop. Six clear hard buttons with small LCDs below them that depict any icon or phrase should be adequate to give you infinite control of your home theater.
While a hard button only provides one function, they can come in all different shapes and sizes. This makes them incredibly easy to find by touch when the room is dark or you just cannot bare to look away from the screen. Being that the room is usually dark, it would be nice if the visual identification on the hard buttons were back lit. That would make identifying the buttons in the dark, or with 3D glasses on, much easier.
If you have ever tried to type out a sentence or even a word with the remote d-pad and the onscreen keyboard, you know it is a tedious and time consuming experience. It is also a pain to pull out a separate keyboard (no matter how small it is) to type on. However we all know the use of a keyboard is invaluable with a connected TV experience. A slide out keyboard in landscape position of the remote much like the Droid smartphone of yesteryear would be ideal. Just putting a keyboard on the bottom side of the remote would be easiest, but your fingers would inevitably hit one of the buttons and send your TV experience into a wild craze. A flip-up design, like on the [amazon_link id=”B0011FOOI2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Logitech Novo Mini[/amazon_link], could also work well.
Yes, a wireless mouse would solve this issue. But like the problem with a keyboard, who wants to get up and screw with the mouse? A small track-pad next to the keyboard that you can manipulate with your thumb is just what is in order for clearing that occasional AnyDVD trial pop-up or a windows update window. You may not be able to play Crisis with it, but you can at least get some basic functionality out of it. With the coming of Windows 8, taking advantage of gestures would definitely be mandatory.
An Easy to Use Programming Interface
Logitech’s programming software for its Harmony remotes (our favorite is the [amazon_link id=”B002RL875A” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Harmony One[/amazon_link]) is close, but there are obvious reliability and functionality flaws. The software will need the ability to program the custom LCD buttons. So far I have only seen corded programming solutions, but I think wireless technologies like NFC, Bluetooth and Wifi are robust enough to program a remote.
Why no one in the past 10 years has gotten this right is beyond me. Its seems so simple to combine the features listed above into a small, compact dependable container. Let us know what other features you would include in your ideal remote. They can be practical or fictional.