A streamlined remote from Apple Matt 13 Oct 2005

69 comments Latest by jake

The Video iPod is getting plenty of buzz (“Although Apple has many rivals in the iPod business, none of them I’ve seen have anything to match the new iPod video’s simplicity, capacity or price.”). And yesterday Jason posted about the clever “flash” used by PhotoBooth. But with the recent talk in these parts about using less as a competitive advantage, let’s also give a mention to the new Apple Remote, used to manage music, photos, videos and DVDs.

Dell Media Experience remote = 60 buttons you’ll never use.
Apple Remote = Just the six buttons you need.

Remote Control for Dell Media Experience † † New Apple remote

When my Dad looks at his entertainment center remote, he peers at it as if he’s being forced to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. I’m sure he’s not alone. So it’s nice to see Apple avoid the “give ‘em more” mentality in search of a friendlier, more streamlined solution.

Want a stripped down remote for your current system? You may want to check out Weemote, “remote control made simple.”

69 comments so far (Jump to latest)

amine 13 Oct 05

Good point, i agree with you on many ways, but you have consider that Dell’s audiance target is totally different from Apple’s.
If I ask my dad wich one he would rather use, i’m sure that he will choose the Dell one because it looks familiar to him, looks totally like a TV or CABLE remote, even that he wont use all the buttons but he would feel more confortable getting it than the 6 button apple remote.

Darrel 13 Oct 05

OMG WTF BBQ APPLE SUCKS

(just wanted to get that out of the way)

I hit the ‘button’ threshold a few years ago. I pretty much can’t figure out most remotes anymore. I’ve memorized a handful of our DirectTV buttons. Haven’t attempted to figure out the DVD one, and don’t ask me what most of the buttons on our audio receiver do.

The reason the iPod so popular is that it is amazingly intuitive. Anyone can pick it up and immediately figure it out. Every iPod competitor seemt to be attempting to compete on features and completely failing to see that the simplicity of the iPod as being its advantage.

Tman 13 Oct 05

I think I would prefer the Dell one. It actually looks like a pretty well laid out remote. By looks alone, the Apple one looks like it would be very frustrating.

DaleV 13 Oct 05

Dell’s target audience is NOT totally different than Apples. Dell would give thier left nut if people could be downloading “Desperate Housewives” through their distribution system today.

Apple killed Tivo, Netflix, Media Center, and a dozen other wannabes with their little announcement yesterday.

That was what you call “tossing a pebble in the water while holding a boulder behind your back”.

Mike D. 13 Oct 05

The only problem here is that not only did Apple eliminate 90% of the buttons… they also eliminated 90% of the reason to even *have* a media-center type device: storing, navigating, and consuming what comes onto the tube.

This device is a baby step for Apple, so I am of course cool with any positive developments (as this is), but the reason the remote is so simple is that it’s barely even necessary. A TV remote, on the other hand, is used 1000 times more frequently. A better comparison to make is the Dell Remote compared to a Tivo remote… the Tivo remote serves essentially the same function as the Dell and yet it’s much much elegant.

sxates 13 Oct 05

We discussed this in yesterdays post about photobooth, but now that there’s a post directly related to the remote perhaps my comments bear repeating…

MS MCE does television, not just viewing of files you already have. I would not want a 6 button remote for MCE (which I have and use daily). If Iím on channel 3 and want to go to channel 60, I donít want to have to push a button 57 times to get there, I want to hit 6-0 and that be it. If Iím watching TV and want to pull up the Program Guide or switch to a recorded show, MCE has dedicated buttons for that task, and I donít want to have to hop out and jump through a menu to go there.

Iím not an MS fanboy by any stretch, but the MCE remote is entirely appropriate for the application. Less buttons is not always better. Less buttons with less functionality is fine, but lets at least make a fair comparison then.

(and for the record, there are very few buttons on my MCE remote that I don’t use)

Scott M. 13 Oct 05

Okay, but what’s happened is that functionality has been moved from the hardware (the remote) to the software. If you look at the FrontRow screenshots you’ll see some of the functionality that’s absent from the Apple remote:

http://www.apple.com/imac/frontrow.html

That’s not to say that Apple remote isn’t superior — it definitely is. Given the complexity of modern media interfaces (see the Dell remote), off-loading that to the software is much better. Most importantly the interface designer is given more room to separate via multiple menus and better label functionality (tiny abbreviations/symbols -> big multi-word labels). Plus, the remote’s functionality is easily adapated for future interfaces.

Dan Boland 13 Oct 05

My first thought when I saw the Apple Remote was “it looks just like the Shuffle.” My second thought was “man, that would be sweet if it could double as a Shuffle.”

sxates 13 Oct 05

“Given the complexity of modern media interfaces (see the Dell remote), off-loading that to the software is much better.”

In this case, I disagree. You have to keep in mind the functionality gaps between the two applications. For example, would 6 buttons work well for a phone? Would you prefer to offload dialing number to a menu instead of the hardware buttons? Is that really easier than just pushing the numbers directly?

All those buttons on the Dell remote have important purposes. I’ve been staring at my MCE remote looking for extraneous buttons that I would prefer to be left off and I’ve found none so far. The Apple remote would be wholly inadequate for controlling Media Center, but I think it’s fine for Front Row. They are both appropriate to their respective applications, and are in no way equivalent.

Kim U 13 Oct 05

The remote is the first thing that I noticed in the product announcements yesterday. I’m having a hard time figuring something out though from the info on the Apple site. In how they position the info on the remote, it looks like it’s only compatible with the iMac G5. Is that right? If so, why??? Also, as of yesterday, I couldn’t find a tech spec page on the remote. Is it bluetooth? IR? Whether it’s compatible with other systems or not, they should state it clearly.

I’m excited about the TV content mainly because we don’t have a TV. Thanks to Netflix, I’ve developed a wee addiction to Lost. Exciting to be able to download the latest content and watch it when I want. Looking forward to when it covers more than just ABC shows though.

Dave Simon 13 Oct 05

@sxates - “All those buttons on the Dell remote have important purposes.”

I totally disagree with you on that. The Dell remote reminds me of many of the Windows keyboards from Dell, Compaq (when they exisited), etc.

These keyboards have “handy” buttons for “home” and “my pictures” and so on. But they get so many buttons on them, that they look confusing. They ARE confusing. And I’ve never seen someone use the “my pictures” button when they could just as easily navigate the start menu. And they don’t use the start menu button on the keyboard, either!!

Does the Dell remote REALLY need buttons for: Pictues, Music, DVD, and the like? On the Apple remote, you’d hit “Menu” and then use the arrows to choose from the menu. Most people do the same with the Dell remote, I would guess.

Also, look how visually confusing the Dell remote is. Look at all the arrows. FWD, REV, PREV, NEXT, PLAY, PAUSE, right, left, up and down directional buttons. All have arrows on them (except pause.) But pause is the perfect example of extraneous buttons. Why not have the play button double as a pause? Why not have the arrows of the directional pad be context sensitive, depending on what menu you are in? Because then you’d have the Apple remote.

The funny thing is, nobody should have to look at a remote to use it. If the menu is on screen, hunting for the “Pictures” button is a waste.

One button that the Dell has that the Apple doesn’t, and rightly so, is the “HELP” button. ;)

Dave Simon 13 Oct 05

My parent’s first remote control for their TV had 5 buttons. On/off, channel up, channel down, volume up, volume down. The only downside is that it used sound vibrations to control it, and sometimes people with jingling change or keys would change the channel. ;)

One potential problem with the Apple remote: it would get lost pretty easy. That’s why we need huge remotes!

mevodig 13 Oct 05

I wonder if Front Row supports speakable items. Surely the built-in voice recognition is accurate enough to be able to discern simple stuff like “pause”, “stop” and “play”, etc.

”Computer, pause video”. It is meant to be!

pwb 13 Oct 05

I’d be interested to see APple come up with a UI for navigating 100-1000 channels with that remote. I bet it could be done fairly elegantly.

Would you prefer to offload dialing number to a menu instead of the hardware buttons?
Does anyone dial numbers more than once anymore? Perfect example of making the opposite case from what you intended.

Reefdog 13 Oct 05

Iíve been staring at my MCE remote looking for extraneous buttons that I would prefer to be left off and Iíve found none so far.

Can’t argue with that, but I’ve little doubt that your remote’s interface had to be learned or memorized. Once done, you have little trouble using its complex functions, but the iMac remote is attempting to completely remove the learning curve. “Power clickers” might prefer one-click access to all functions, but many of us prefer (light) hierarchal menus that present a more simplified initial experience and fast access to power functions.

Currently, anytime I use anyone else’s A/V setup, they have to show me the secret combination of clicks that leads to something as simple as TV- or DVD-watching. With this remote, even gramma could figure out how to use my system. And if she happens to want to que up power functions, they’re within a few quick menu jumps.

My only desired change would be that the remote integrate a scroll wheel for faster navigation. As mentioned before, if this thing ever becomes a PVR-style telly recorder, channel navigation through click-clicking will be tortuous.

Dan Wolfgang 13 Oct 05

As others have said, I’m not so sure this is a fair comparison. There’s a lot more I would need to do with a Dell Media Center remote than an iPod remote. I’m not so sure I’d be willing to give up a number pad on my TV remote or the multi-device control I have in favor of such simplicity.

That said, I think just about every UI company around could benefit from Apple’s examples. (And I’m not just talking about iPod remotes.)

NathanB 13 Oct 05

The iPod remote looks useless. No scroll wheel, no display. This is fine for the shuffle, but how am I supposed to access my 10,000 songs with this?

Since the best control for the iPod is the iPod itself, they need to make a wireless bridge between the iPod and the TV/audio system. The iPod should be the remote.

DaleV, don’t get carried away buddy. Tivo and Netflix will weather this just fine.

Andy 13 Oct 05

I’ve been thinking this for AGES - when oh when oh when oh when oh WHEN will Apple release a media center device to rival all the crappy Windows Media Center PCs? I mean, like one that sits silently under your tv like Tivo. This is the sort of thing I’m talking about:

http://www.higrade.com/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=3254

I mean, have you *seen* the cost of these things?

I bet Apple could blow any competiton out of the water with price-point, user interface and sexy looks. Please Mr Jobs, get your finger out!

Apple *needs* this sort of device to get it fully entrenched in the home and to appeal to a wider audience than the iPod does.

sxates 13 Oct 05

@Dave:

The Dell remote is a little different than mine. Different manufacturers vary their remotes a little. I have the actual microsoft mouse, and where the Dell has “pictures” “dvd” Mine has “recorded tv” “guide” “live tv” and “dvd menu” —the dvd button being the only one I don’t use daily.

I agree with you about the “handy buttons” that many keyboards come with—I prefer not to have those. So for the dell remote, I would prefer it replace those with more useful functions like the microsoft remote has.

But lets take your suggestions and implement them. No “shortcut” buttons, and put pause and play in the same one. Ok, 5 buttons down, now we have 35.

Controlling the DVR with anything less would be tricky. Want to start recording quickly? Don’t want to have to go through a menu. To skip +30seconds past a commercial, I don’t want to go in a menu. The FF and Skip buttons are not redundant. The arrow keys aren’t either. I don’t understand how this can be so misunderstood. Perhaps its just that you guys who are down on the remote have never used MCE, or are not aware of how far it goes. It’s not just an onscreen iPod like Front Row. It has full DVR functions and program guide, Live TV and Radio, CD/DVD burning functions, third party apps like Napster run within it, etc. It simply cannot be compared to MCE except in the most basic of functions. To control all that from a couch without a mouse and keyboard will require a remote with more than 6 keys. Take it from someone who uses it, it wouldn’t work!

sxates 13 Oct 05

“Canít argue with that, but Iíve little doubt that your remoteís interface had to be learned or memorized. Once done, you have little trouble using its complex functions, but the iMac remote is attempting to completely remove the learning curve.”

Not really. I mean, these buttons aren’t cryptic things people aren’t accustomed to. Most people know play, pause, fast forward from every media device since the VCR came out in the ’80s. Number pad? Same issue. Volume and Channel? Duh.

The only non-standard buttons on it are the “Start” buttons, and the 4 shortcuts under it. And just like the apple remote, all menu functions are done with a “start”/”menu” button, and a set of arrow and selection buttons. This is how you navigate through all the on-screen menus to get to your content. If Front Row had TV/DVR functionality with this remote, it would be very tricky to operate, whereas the MCE remote seems very familiar to anyone who’s used a TV or VCR remote before.

Adrian L. 13 Oct 05

I wonder how a blind person would get along with only those six buttons…

Nick 13 Oct 05

Wow. You people will argue about anything. Anything at all.

Joe B. 13 Oct 05

I have a DVR with my dish, I have MCE running on my computer, I am no stranger to TiVo and the likes… having LESS is not MORE when it comes to buttons on a remote for controlling these more feature rich application (mostly speaking of XP MCE). These two remotes, dell & apple, are two completely different beasts.

I am so tired of reading about this… but I should have expected it here at 37signals… the basecamp for all the fanboys out there (including my business partner!) everybody seems to be a bunch of followers around here… “hey, look.. the amazing company Apple came out with a 6 button remote.. everybody else is doing it wrong”… just because apple came out with a little remote doesn’t mean its the right thing, especially not the right thing for an application that is entirely different than frontrow. Comparing Frontrow and MCE are like comparing a bicycle and a car. Sure.. both provide transportation (or entertainment in this case), but a car just requires more, its the nature of the beast…

Now remember, just because it comes from apple doesn’t mean its better! Quit drinking the kool-aid. They put out some cool stuff; I like OSX, I like the powerbooks, the nano is nice, etc… but that doesnt mean they have the right answer for *everything*. ESPECIALLY when it comes to a remote for controlling an application that is far more feature filled than frontrow.

I am done, I don’t wan’t to end up going back and fourth with people… this is like religion… you can argue till your blue in the face, but some people just can’t see logic.

Dave Simon 13 Oct 05

Of all the comments supporting the Dell remote, most people say they need all those buttons because the MCE does so many functions.

Ironic, considering what site we’re on. Less is more, except when it’s less.

@Andy - ever hear of the Pippen? ;)

As far as controlling DVR functionality via the Apple style remote. Without menus. Why not have the forward/back buttons work like my old VCR. One push skips 30 seconds. Push and hold for fast forwarding. If you hold for longer than a few seconds, the forwarding goes a step faster. Etc.

On my Dish Network DVR remote, I use the guide button, the up/down keys, the play/pause key, and the skip forward/back keys. My wife doesn’t like the NFL network, so I have that channel number memorized and use the number pad for that. But I don’t have to.

Sometimes I do use the other buttons, but if they weren’t there, I don’t think I’d miss them terribly. When I’m in the guide, the FWD functionality on the show I’m watching is disabled, so why not use the skip forward/back buttons as left/right arrows to navigate the guide?

All I know is that my Mom won’t use a TV remote for anything other than turning it on, channelling up and down and turning the volume up or down. And I try to design things so that my Mom can/would use them.

I showed Mom my iPod when I first got it. 5GB first generation. I asked her to try to find a particular song. Without instruction, she found it. That’s when I knew the iPod would succeed with normal people, not just geeks.

brad 13 Oct 05

All those buttons on the Dell remote have important purposes.

Maybe yes, maybe not, but as others here have pointed out, you have to LEARN what all those buttons do. And what nobody has said so far (though maybe they have, I’ve only skimmed the contents), is that you have to consider devices like this in context: You already presumably have a TV remote and a VCR or DVD remote; you have to learn what those buttons do. You may have a cellphone and a digital camera, you have to learn what those buttons do. You may have a remote for your stereo, you have to learn what those buttons do. You have kitchen gadgets, computers, and microwaves to learn how to use. So unless you’re really into learning what buttons do, you really don’t want another button-happy remote in your life, do you?

D 13 Oct 05

Could this be a precursor toward proving the hypothesis:
“Less is More…?”

Dave Simon 13 Oct 05

@Joe B.

I understand what you and the others are saying about MCE having more functionality, therefore requiring more buttons. I just think that they could easily have half the buttons and still have the functionality.

As far as your metaphor of the car/bike. Last I checked, the interface for my car had: two pedals (it’s an auto), a shifter and a steering device. My bike has: two pedals, a shifter and a steering device. ;)

But yes, I get it that the car has more functions like headlights, turn signals, radio, heat, A/C, and so on. But the fuctionality for the main task - transportation - has basically the same interface parts.

sxates 13 Oct 05

“So unless youíre really into learning what buttons do, you really donít want another button-happy remote in your life, do you?”

Bottom line is that as a person who actually uses MCE, I DO want a 40-button remote for it. It’s the only remote I use, because MCE does everything I need it to, so I need a remote that does everything I need it to.

If anyone wants to use MCE with a 6 button mouse, I’m sure someone could make one. But they’ll be wearing out that Menu button really quick.

sxates 13 Oct 05

“But yes, I get it that the car has more functions like headlights, turn signals, radio, heat, A/C, and so on. But the fuctionality for the main task - transportation - has basically the same interface parts.”

Yes, and MCE has basic controls for “controlling the vehicle” and advance controls for turning on the satelite radio :) I think the analogy is a good one :)

Scott 13 Oct 05

A better comparison to make is the Dell Remote compared to a Tivo remoteÖ the Tivo remote serves essentially the same function as the Dell and yet itís much much elegant.

Was going to make the same point. The Tivo remote has tons of buttons. As long as things are laid out well enough, it doesn’t matter. Having less buttons is the lazy way out.

Joe B. 13 Oct 05

Bottom line:

Taking away buttons doesn’t make a remote better.

Making what buttons you DO have as userfriendly and intuitive as possible is better.

Less isnt more.

better is more.

The problem here is people are saying a 6 button remote is better than a 40whatever button remote. I am not saying there isn’t room for improvement on the 40whatever button remote, I am just saying that simply because apple releases a remote with 6 buttons doesnt automatically mean its better than a remote with 7 or more buttons.

And that is assuming both applications are of the same type… which clearly the ones in question are not.

Dave Simon 13 Oct 05

@sxates - I want to make it clear that I understand what you are saying about more functionality. I could see the Apple remote needing more buttons IF it needs to have more functionality. But it has the right amount of buttons for what it does, I think.

My problem with the Dell remote is that there are buttons that could be eliminated. The most blatent example is the pause button. Anyone else think that’s just existing and located where it is because their design goal was to have a symmetrical layout, as opposed to a functional one?

MrBlank 13 Oct 05

Apple Front Row + Remote = apples (the fruit)

Windows MCE + Remote = oranges

Apples are not the same as oranges. What are we arguing about?

sxates 13 Oct 05

Dave:

“@sxates - I want to make it clear that I understand what you are saying about more functionality. I could see the Apple remote needing more buttons IF it needs to have more functionality. But it has the right amount of buttons for what it does, I think.”

Good, I think we’re on the same page then. I don’t think Front Row needs 40 buttons, but I hate seeing bad comparisons like this. MCE has 40 buttons because it needs that many to be practical to use, while Front Row can be practically usable with 6. I’m ok with that :)

mike swimm 13 Oct 05

This blog is really getting out of control.

I laughed out loud when I saw this:

“Dell Media Experience remote = 60 buttons youíll never use.”

I am not sure what alternate simple-ville you are living in. I watch maybe an hour of tv/tivo a day average and I use the number keys EVERYTIME I PICK UP THE REMOTE!

Many tried to make the point that “Front Row” is 5% of the program that MCE is yesterday. How simple it is to make a clean remote when you app does basically nothing. One could come damn close to matching the features of this with the Salling Clicker app for crying out loud.

I love apple products but some of you guys are really drinking the Kool-Aid here. If HP had released “Front Row” everyone would be heckling them mercilessly.

Darrel 13 Oct 05

“Having less buttons is the lazy way out.”

No. just the opposite. It’s easy to add more buttons to something. Much more challenging to do the same amount, with less.

Again, iPod vs. pretty much every other MP3 player on the market.

But yea, there are many many differences between these two remots so it’s hard to say x vs. y here.

8500 13 Oct 05

I cringe everytime I hear the phrase “drink the kool-aid”. It’s such a dismissive, hand waving gesture. You don’t have to belong to some cult to recognize that most remote controls are feature crazy and difficult to use.

# of Apple products I own = 0
# of buttons I have never pressed on my DVR remote = 23

Elliott 13 Oct 05

37Signals are talking about design again.

Brilliant. Please carry on.

Don Wilson 13 Oct 05

Just to throw my two cents in, can someone please compare the two prices of the products and explain why the Apple Remote is more expensive if it has less functionality?

Anonymous Coward 13 Oct 05

Just to throw my two cents in, can someone please compare the two prices of the products and explain why the Apple Remote is more expensive if it has less functionality?

You’re paying for holistic design moreso that a bullet-list of features.

Again, ipod vs. every other MP3 player. The competition keeps trying to compete by having longer bulleted feature lists rather than focusing on simply making a better epxerience for the user.

That and dell is in the low-margin racket, so their basic business models are a bit different.

Don Wilson 13 Oct 05

Apple isn’t making the experience better when it doesn’t allow other MP3 players to use it’s music service and vice versa with it’s iPod on other services, so suggesting that it’s about a better experience is out the door.

Don Wilson 13 Oct 05

Also, someone didn’t count properly or had a typo because the Dell remote has 40 buttons (even counting the volume/channel buttons as two each), not 60.

Dan Boland 13 Oct 05

So what if the Dell remote has a ton of buttons? Looking at that, I know it’s a hell of a lot more intuitive than my Comcast remote or my DVD remote. Those two things have buttons all over the place.

And is anyone else curious as to why the Apple Remote attaches to the iMac with magnets? Aren’t magnets and computers mortal enemies?

Don Wilson 13 Oct 05

Because, as people have pointed out, Apple is about design. You can’t have any nasty latches or anything like that. ;)

Darrel 13 Oct 05

Apple isnít making the experience better when it doesnít allow other MP3 players to use itís music service

You don’t pay for iTunes. You can certainly buy music from iTMS, rip it to MP3, and use it where ever you want.

iTunes is a compliment to the iPod.

and vice versa with itís iPod on other services

The iPod plays MP3s just fine.

This isn’t Apple’s fault. It’s the RIAA’s obsession with DRM.

dusoft 13 Oct 05

Well, actually using Start key on keyboard is very very efficient. I donßt have to move mouse and click, I donßt have to take my hand of keayboard. But what can I tell someone who’ve always been using Apple? Well, I prefer navigation via keyboard in filesystem, I couldn’t do with one button mouse you prefer. That’s just plain inefficient. The idea of one button mouse is inefficient itself.

jw 13 Oct 05

Apple isnít making the experience better when it doesnít allow other MP3 players to use itís music service and vice versa

Actually, this is where it actually is about making the experience better. Because Apple controls the whole pipeline, they can make it seamless and create an unparallelled pleasantness. Allowing other players to participate introduces complexity (and variables) and would by necessity make for a less pleasant user experience.

If you’re not an iPod owner, then you are not an Apple user, and thus of no consqeuence. They’re not providing a public utility, dang it. It’s like complaining that Harvard would be so much better if they just lowered their standards and let everyone in.

I think the “X is more” cliche is confusing the conversation. The real mantra should be, “cut the crap.” There’s a balance between what functionality you need and the complexity of the interface needed to comfortably perform within that interface. 37Signals is arguing that there are downsides on both sides: too little functionality is bad, but too much is bad as well. Oversimplification is bad, and so is too much complexity. It just so happens that right now, in the world of personal computing, we’re strongly (heavily?) on the side of overcomplexity and over-functionality. Both are crap.

Is the celebration of Apple’s remote a point for oversimplification. Perhaps, but I celebrate the celebration of simplification.

Don Wilson 13 Oct 05

You donít pay for iTunes. You can certainly buy music from iTMS, rip it to MP3, and use it where ever you want.
But that isn’t what a good user experience is, which is what we’re talking about.

This isnít Appleís fault. Itís the RIAAís obsession with DRM.
Weird, Apple just launched their video service that includes DRM.

On another arguement, I see that there is an iPod docking station that allows for the remote to be used with it from away, as the iMac does. What happens if you decide to buy the new iPod, this docking station, and the new iMac. Firstly, you’ll get two remotes, and how will the computer/docking station know which one is being called when used?

Kurt 13 Oct 05

Yeesh. all this yapping. The apple remote is really more akin to a mouse than a conventional “remote” - it’s used to select buttons displayed on your 23” apple cinema display. The dell remote replaces the desktop. Not a fair comparison. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s just alot sexier than that Dell abomination :-)

KV

Green Cicada 13 Oct 05

Could you guys please put posts like these on appleworship.net

Darrel 13 Oct 05

But that isnít what a good user experience is, which is what weíre talking about.

I agree. The RIAA are idiots. But until they are gone, this isn’t really an issue…ALL digital media stores will have it.

Apple’s DRM is at least easily removable with something like Jhymn.

Weird, Apple just launched their video service that includes DRM.

Until Apple buys ABC, we’re stuck with DRM.

Richard 14 Oct 05

Hi,

It was almost predictable that all the diehard geeks would freak out when suddenly the remote control device is no longer a confusing mess.

Actually I never use other buttons than “channel up/down” and “volume up/down” on my TVs remote, so I don’t really see why you’d need more. You need more control? What control? I want to watch movie, and that’s all. How much is there that I’d want to “control”, seriously?

Rimantas 14 Oct 05

Richard has said it.

I am looking forward for the post from 37signals about “control”. Some folks went nuts with all that “control” thing.

Jens Meiert 14 Oct 05

Oho. I remember Donald Norman roughly stating that things sometimes look complex, but are easy to use, and others look easy, but are difficult to use (because several functions are bound to one key, for example). While I do not suspect the Dell remote to be that easy, I can imagine that the Apple remote is not that easy as it looks like.

Eddie 14 Oct 05

I think a good compromise.. or at least the right train of thought here are the ideas coming out of Harmony/Logitech. This is a multiple device controlling remote which is comparing bananas to the apple and oranges that have been compared here- but there are some good thoughts that apply in my opinion. In theory- activity centered approach is really all we need to worry about here. “Watch TV” is the only button you press and the components are all switched appropriately keeping it simple ala the new Apple remote. How they are switched and set up is decided on your PC and can allow a great level of detail and control for those who need that level of attention (as implied by Richard and the others advocating the remote)

More off topic of the discussion, but still on the remote line of thought-

The two pieces of technology that are not there to make universal remotes work well:
1) Device to remote communication. If the device can communicate state to the device.
2) Having dynamic (activity or context) buttons like the pronto or Kameleon that still provide meaning FEEDBACK to the fingers so you don’t have to look down at it to see what you’re pressing.

Don Wilson 14 Oct 05

Richard Said: Actually I never use other buttons … so I donít really see why youíd need more.

Of course, if you don’t need it, why should anyone else.

John Handelaar 14 Oct 05

Apple’s remote has fewer buttons because its new app doesn’t actually *do* much.

Fully ten of the ‘surplus’ keys on the Dell one are for changing channels. Oh wait - $newapplething doesn’t have a tuner.

When and if they add a tuner, you’re left with a remote which can’t do the job. Well, it could if they introduced modes for the remote. But modes are evil, remember?

Honestly, guys. Call us back when you get a point. Fewer buttons = good? Why don’t we just go back to those 1-button acoustic channel changers we had in the 70s?

Clue: because it didn’t have enough buttons to alter the volume.

There’s a world of difference between simple and simplistic, and you’ve really started to post on the wrong side of that particular divide in the last week or three.

Richard 14 Oct 05

> Of course, if you donít need it, why should anyone else.

Why should users suffer a complicated interface just because some geeks demand such a thing?

Don Wilson 14 Oct 05

> Why should users suffer a complicated interface just because some geeks demand such a thing?
Count how many buttons there are on the telephone, or on a keyboard for that matter, and how often are these products used every day? We don’t use a lot of the buttons, but when they’re there, thank god you don’t have to search through an application to find what you’re looking for. If it’s a button, it’s right in your face.

The mouses we use are getting more and more complicated, but no one disagrees with this trend? The television remote did the exact same thing. Now that we’ve got more features, we’ve got equal the number of new buttons to mash.

jimmy 20 Oct 05

how do u make remote work with ipod nano….i cant seem to get it working with the ipod….does it need to be programmed somehow?…please help me

Shaun McDonald 14 Nov 05

The most irritating thing about the Apple Remote is that it is so close to the the iPod (excluding shuffle), but not close enough. When Front Row it playing a song, I expect to press the centre button and to be able to set a rating for the song, for example.

Scott 25 Nov 05

Shaun: “The most irritating thing about the Apple Remote is that it is so close to the the iPod (excluding shuffle), but not close enough.”

Are you joking? It’s exactly like the shuffle…

Callum 04 Dec 05

target audiences don’t exist. There are computers you can use, and computers you can learn to use.

Personally, I’m uninstalling MCE as we speak. Front Row on my 3 year old iBook rocks out…. if I had the inclination to go full hog on a $1,000+ MCE PC or an iMac (oh no, it can’t record TV - Guess what fellas; TV is overrated) I’d go iMac, I’m not a mac-o-fant, just a consumer with money to burn.

jake 15 Jun 06

ok, i use my Dell remote control once in a while, but i find myself always getting up and walking over to my computer to click ITUNES. otherwise it wont skip tracks, pause etc. this kinda defeats the purpose of having the damb thing. i dont have any instructions on how to use the controller, so dose anyone know a site i can go to so i can find out how to use my controller??? i would like to be able to take advatage of all of its powers…lol.. anyway, I would appreciate it. Thanx

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