A Day With My DVD

The advantage of writing a newsletter such as this is that there is no end of stories out there about complicated equipment…

I recently purchased an inexpensive DVD player (which may have been part of the problem). While it’s been a delight watching DVD movies, it’s been a major learning curve to understand the lowly remote control.

Like most people, I do my video viewing sitting or lying down, and getting up to press the tiny buttons on the player annoyed me so much I actually read the manual on how to use the remote. Armed with that knowledge, I was ready to view movies – and then some. With 47 tiny buttons, my remote provides me with some incredibly good features, as well as some incredibly bad ones – for instance:

  • With a couple of button presses, I can listen to the movie in Spanish, great for that day when I finally learn Spanish.
  • I have a Shuffle button, for when I want to watch a movie in random, jumbled order (it actually does that!).
  • The Slow button (which IS fun to play with) is moved away from the other speed control buttons like Fast Forward and Rewind, and moved near the Shuffle button. This way, I spend extra time hunting for it, and risk shuffling my movie looking for the button in the dark.
  • The Main Menu button is curved around the Play button, so with a slip of my finger I reset the movie to the beginning.

Of course, the list is (nearly) endless. The number of movies interrupted with an ‘oops’ at my household is getting larger and larger. Although making adjustments in hardware is not as easy as software, there are some minimal things the remote could do better:

  • Bury controls. The remote has a Setup button that displays some options onscreen – why not move Spanish and Shuffle there, and reduce the number of buttons?
  • With this extra room, make the buttons bigger and organize them. Place play buttons together, display buttons (which don’t change a thing) in another section, and settings buttons (which do) elsewhere.
  • Add back lighting. While it will add to the remote’s cost, I already own a backlit remote, and can attest that it makes watching a movie much easier.

So what can we do? My favorite scenario is to take the remote’s design engineers, give them some greasy popcorn, turn off the lights, and force them to use only the remote control. We’d be down to 20 buttons in no time!

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