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Universal Remote's Days Are Numbered

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the get-it-numbered-numbered-like-the-keys dept.

Cellphones 429

theodp writes "While the universal remote has served humanity with distinction, its days are numbered, and your smartphone is to blame. Whether you want to control your music, your television or your PowerPoint presentation, there's probably a solution using your phone. Try as it might, the universal remote simply can't navigate the digital world the way the smartphone can — it's a lot easier to put the remote's abilities in the smartphone than vice versa."

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I kill everything I fuck (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27291553)

I'm infected with AIDS
I fuck everyday
I kill everything I fuck

I fill up with my disease
Contaminate you with deadly needs
My loaded cock is like a gun
I'm a walking time bomb killing everyone

Let me be your stiff hard fuck
Cram your cunt with poisonous cock
Your hairy cunt will be my aim
Deadly penetration is my game

Drenched in my fluids, you'll never know
I plant the seeds of death untold
Before I die, I hope I do
Kill many more as I've killed you

Yeah.. (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | about 5 years ago | (#27291561)

But a smart phone has limited "hard" buttons. .. and as nice as touch screens are.. it's hard to operate them lying in bed through one half-open eye.

Personally I`m waiting for voice recognition to become practical. I think that's more the future of how we control our devices.

Re:Yeah.. (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | about 5 years ago | (#27291615)

I love articles that proclaim the impending death of $TECHNOLOGY just because you can now use some other device as a half-assed supplement.

Yeah, I really want to be lying on the couch underneath a blanket, and fiddling with/rolling over onto my touchscreen smartphone. Also, show me a smartphone that has the battery life of a good old remote control that can last for months or more.

Re:Yeah.. (4, Insightful)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | about 5 years ago | (#27291933)

Agree. Most people are barely capable of understanding the functions of their remote and lose it at most dumb-phones. Now they really want to teach them the intricate workings of an abstract user interface for a smart-phone remote emulation? Don't think that will work..

Re:Yeah.. (2, Insightful)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about 5 years ago | (#27292231)

theoretically you should be able to make a smart phone *easier* to navigate, since the buttons can be context sensitive. Not that i have ever seen any evidence of this ofc.

Re:Yeah.. (5, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 years ago | (#27292141)

I love articles that proclaim the impending death of $TECHNOLOGY just because you can now use some other device as a half-assed supplement.

Yeah, I really want to be lying on the couch underneath a blanket, and fiddling with/rolling over onto my touchscreen smartphone. Also, show me a smartphone that has the battery life of a good old remote control that can last for months or more.

Not only that, but my universal remote has real buttons that I can navigate in the dark easily; doesn't walk out the room when I leave; and can be use by somebody else while I am on a call.

You are right - just because some new tech can sorta do what existing tech can does mean it will replace it. A IR smartpone could also replace you car key as a remote - I don't see that happening very soon either.

Re:Yeah.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27291665)

That and not everyone has a mobile phone, smart or otherwise. I don't have a mobile phone and won't get another one because nothing is so important that it can't wait for me to use a regular land line or an internet connection.

Re:Yeah.. (5, Insightful)

narcberry (1328009) | about 5 years ago | (#27291859)

Agreed. Universal remotes also crash less, require less charging, and are more likely to be found near a tv instead of in the pocket of the owner or charging in a different room.

This article is retarded (as in handicapped, not special).

Re:Yeah.. (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27291929)

We have a voice recognition system where I work. In the intended environment it works fine but when we took it to a trade show to do demonstrations we found that it copes badly with background noise.

So I wouldn't want to use one to trigger the mute function.

Re:Yeah.. (1)

Balthisar (649688) | about 5 years ago | (#27291959)

That's why I don't have a Pronto, and why I stopped using my Sony whatever-it-was (it was $200, way back in 1999 or 2000!). I also had a remote control on my Clie that I never bothered to use.

Re:Yeah.. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 years ago | (#27291961)

Then I would need a DVR (digital voice recorder) with a playback button.

I hit the button and it says "Show Porn" for me.

Re:Yeah.. (1)

Threni (635302) | about 5 years ago | (#27291967)

I don't have a problem using my touch screen smartphone in bed. It would be nice if TVs etc used bluetooth, so I could control them using any of the phones I've had in the last 8 years or so. I don't care if the comparision is between a $20 remote vs $200 phone, or whatever, because I had a phone, and I have old phones I've since upgraded from, and if I had to get a 'new' phone to bluetooth from I could get one for $20 anyway. Or is the solution to have a cheap remote for the tv, a cheap remote for the dvd player, a cheap remote for....etc.

Just stick bluetooth in the TVs (etc) and they can be controlled by my phone, pc, and any other system (handy for automating stuff like powering down kit you're not going to need between 1am and perhaps 5pm but which is sitting in standby, eating up electricity and killing the lifespan of transformers etc.

Re:Yeah.. (4, Insightful)

home-electro.com (1284676) | about 5 years ago | (#27291997)

Definitely most retarded non-story in the last couple of weeks.

Smartphone as a remote is a niche application for mega-geeks who will become bored with it very shortly.

Re:Yeah.. (5, Funny)

DavidD_CA (750156) | about 5 years ago | (#27292071)


I've completedly ditched my dedicated DVD player, 42" flat panel, and the rest of my home theatre system, because I can now watch movies on my SmartPhone.

I have also thrown away my desktop computer, because my phone can access the web and everything I want is on the web. Likewise, I've given away my PS3 and X-Box 360 because my smartphone has games on it.

Next week I'm having a garage sale, and will be selling most of my tools, too. My smartphone makes a very effective hammer, measure, and leveling device... and I'm certain that my carrier will soon be selling accessories to replace my screwdriver, chain saw, and plow.

Re:Yeah.. (0)

RDW (41497) | about 5 years ago | (#27292147)

The last time I was on a plane, the remote control for the entertainment system had a built-in phone. In your face, smartphone companies!

I like the voice recognition idea, though. Right now I just shout at the servants until the channel is changed.

Re:Yeah.. (4, Funny)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about 5 years ago | (#27292353)

voice rec? no thanks.

i don't want to have to pause a conversation to say "scroll down" or "change to channel X" when I can just hit a button or two while I still talk to someone and do the same thing.

Pushing buttons is easier than talking. And a lot easier late at night or early in the morning. And your TV won't ever mistake a casual conversation with someone for a command to record cinemax late at night that leads to questions about why exactly that program was DVRed..

Anyremote is a useful project in this line (1)

hj43us (728114) | about 5 years ago | (#27291577)

You can use your BT, IR or Wifi cellphone to remote control your computer/media center, and it uses the phone display too. I haven't used bemused myself (project page is down) but I was told it was another interesting project along this same line.

Tim, my man... (4, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 years ago | (#27291583)

I feel you, man. It sucks to post these non-stories, but it's slim picking and what you gonna do?

That's it, right?

Like my grandma is going to buy a smart phone... (4, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#27291587)

There are a lot of people that won't buy a smart phone to operate all their devices.

Re:Like my grandma is going to buy a smart phone.. (4, Funny)

Stuart Gibson (544632) | about 5 years ago | (#27291649)

Yes, my wife would love it if every time I left the house she was stuck watching Top Gear repeats all day because my phone was the only thing that controlled the TV.

Harmony FTW.

Re:Like my grandma is going to buy a smart phone.. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27291815)

Without intending any disrespect, your grandma has a much shorter life expectancy than the bulk of the population. This translates to a relatively small economic impact when it comes to device sales. True, she may be more the "Jitterbug" type (shudder), but that's okay.

I think this isn't as much about the universal remote's days being numbered as it is about how pervasive smart(er) phone are becoming. Hell, I can hardly buy *any* phone now that doesn't come with a camera (many with video capabilities, crappy as the result may be in some cases), bluetooth, and built-in mobile browsing of some kind. The phone itself is simply becoming the new universal remote, except it's interactive now.

Re:Like my grandma is going to buy a smart phone.. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#27292209)

You're right but that doesn't mean the old generation isn't growing, rather than shrinking nor does it mean anyone wants something that's more complicated to operate their TV and DVD player or that can be taken out of the house rendering everyone else in the house remoteless and only a tard would pay hundreds for the functionality of an item that can be cheaper than a meal.

Re:Like my grandma is going to buy a smart phone.. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27292341)

only a tard would pay hundreds for the functionality of an item that can be cheaper than a meal.

These devices won't stay at their current prices. Also, there's the old saying that some things are cheap only if your time is worth nothing. A moderate up-front investment in learning how to use a device may save you a bunch of time and aggravation in future. My time is worth money, so this matters to me.

Re:Like my grandma is going to buy a smart phone.. (1)

acon1modm (1009947) | about 5 years ago | (#27292097)

Don't take this the wrong way, but she'll die. This alone helps change and progression. Imagine how stagnant our culture would be if the same crusty old people stayed around forever, never learning or changing anything.

Re:Like my grandma is going to buy a smart phone.. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#27292219)

Progression includes seeing which new ideas don't work and avoiding them. It's not just a case of taking on something purely because it's new.

And nothing of value was lost. (4, Informative)

Xtense (1075847) | about 5 years ago | (#27291599)

I don't know how it works in the US, but in Europe (or at least where I live) there are 348576384756876 different, conflicting coding standards for infrared messages, so the only real place for your Universal Remote is in the trash can.

Not that I condone using phones for remote control...

Re:And nothing of value was lost. (-1, Flamebait)

Nutria (679911) | about 5 years ago | (#27291699)

in Europe (or at least where I live) there are 348576384756876 different, conflicting coding standards

Proof that Europe sucks and anyone of intelligence should move to the US.

Anyway... other posters are totally correct in that I (and millions of others) am not going to buy a smartphone, and remote controls are perfectly adapted to manipulating the TV in the dark, while laying down, and not looking at the remote.

Re:And nothing of value was lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27291725)

Proof that Europe sucks and anyone of intelligence should move to the US.
We'll keep our lax copyright laws and legalized reverse-engineering in exchange for keeping our original remotes for our entertainment systems, thank you.

Re:And nothing of value was lost. (1)

hack slash (1064002) | about 5 years ago | (#27291839)

Proof that Europe sucks and anyone of intelligence should move to the US.

Do they still charge to receive texts in America?

Re:And nothing of value was lost. (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 years ago | (#27292165)

Proof that Europe sucks and anyone of intelligence should move to the US.

Do they still charge to receive texts in America?

Not beyond the basic per month charge for unlimited texting - is texting included free in Europe now?

Re:And nothing of value was lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27291909)

in Europe (or at least where I live) there are 348576384756876 different, conflicting coding standards

Proof that Europe sucks and anyone of intelligence should move to the US.

Yes, because a first past the post system for electing a national president is a brilliant little bit of political legislation.

Re:And nothing of value was lost. (1)

chebucto (992517) | about 5 years ago | (#27292003)

Yes, because a first past the post system for electing a national president is a brilliant little bit of political legislation.

In contrast to the sublime wisdom which created the Italian parliamentary system. Who needs a FPTP system that's worked for a millennium in the UK when there's a superficially more equal PR method?

Re:And nothing of value was lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292031)

So in Europe, do landfills have gnomes that separate electronics from the trash, or are you guys simply ok with heavy metals in your groundwater?

Re:And nothing of value was lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292197)

I love when eco-freaks get their panties in a bunch just because somebody is using a figure of speech.

Fixed that for you (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27291603)

While the screwdriver has served humanity with distinction, its days are numbered, and your hammer is to blame. Whether you want to control your nails, there's probably a solution using your hammer. Try as it might, the screwdriver simply can't hammer the nails the way the hammer can -- it's a lot easier to put the screwdriver's abilities in the hammer than vice versa.

Re:Fixed that for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292161)

sudo make me a hammer sandwich

Re:Fixed that for you (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 5 years ago | (#27292245)

Technically, it's somewhat easier to hammer nails in with a screwdriver than it is to drive in screws with a hammer. :P

Re:Fixed that for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292333)

Indeed. And the hammer existed long before the screwdriver did. In short, he got his analogy completely backwards. But what else would one expect on /. First post, then think (if at all).

Nice Slashvertisement (0, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#27291623)

Maybe some links to, you know, some OSS would be nice? Unless that's what this stuff is, the sites are too crapped up to find out trivially, and with my slashdot attention span that's all I have time for. Personally I've never found a java midlet that was actually useful for anything for my RAZR V3i. The J2ME implementation doesn't include support for the camera (at least, not through the usual API; AFAIK the still and video camera applications are both Java MIDlets) but maybe it has some kind of BT support.

Not really. (5, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | about 5 years ago | (#27291627)

If I want to change the channel on my TV I'm not going to muck around with the 'remote' app on my smartphone. I'm going to pick up an actual remote and press the button.

Smartphones are great for a lot of things, but proper remote controls have a set of fixed, tactile buttons that respond instantly. Versatility isn't worth much if it's a pain to use.

Re:Not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27291803)

I agree and don't forget having multiple remotes serve as a storage facility for console controller batteries. Just remember to change channel to AV before taking them out.

Re:Not really. (1)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | about 5 years ago | (#27291897)

My phone's not that damn smart either. Not to mention they FINALLY got a Harmony adapter so I can use my Harmony remote to control my PS3. ;) Why bust up a good thing with smartphones? Mark my words, the cell companies are going to find a way to charge you for channel changing. Unless you get their "unlimited view" package for $40 a month.

Call me old fashioned... but universal remotes just work (well most of the time)... and why bother with anything else? Trendy's not always great or practical anyway. :) You're right... mucking with the smartphone's "controller" app just to change the channel just reeks of "look at me, I've got a new app on my smartphone!!" Meh.

Re:Not really. (1)

caitsith01 (606117) | about 5 years ago | (#27291953)

an actual remote

This is an important point. The evangelists who apparently want us to all own one, omni-purpose device with a changeable touch-screen as the interface need to wake up to the fact that people always have and always will like tangible, physical things with specialised purposes.

I want a remote with physical buttons reflecting the functionality of MY television as well as it can. I don't want the digital equivalent of a spork. I DEFINITELY don't want my remote's functionality dependent on a corporate entity other than the one which made my TV.

In any event, many TV/DVD remotes these days come with limited cross-device functionality, which again is designed into the physical layout of the things. And almost all amp remotes do the same, and so it better than an iphone or whatever ever will.

Modding the article (4, Insightful)

Looce (1062620) | about 5 years ago | (#27291641)

If there was a way to mod articles, I'd mod this -1 Troll and -1 Flamebait.

The universal remote has its uses, the smartphone has its own, and, last I checked:

  • people still play DVDs for entertainment, and the universal remote still works on set-top DVD players;
  • people still watch TV, and the universal remote still works on televisions;
  • laptops accepting remote controls sometimes accept the universal remote as well;
  • etc.

Just because it has less use for presentations doesn't mean that it's dying. If anything, other uses may be found for it, including presentations.

Also, why replace a $20 item (or even less) with a $200 item (or even more) if all you're going to do is watch TV and DVDs with it? If the universal remote is truly dying, then the big phone companies have won the war of overconsumption: sell a product that will be obsolete in two years, make it have tons of uses, and have the buyer depend more and more on it such that s/he deems it absolutely necessary and buys it again and again as newer versions come out with even more feature creep, while making everyone pay the full price for all the features despite many of the buyers not using even an eighth of them.

I'd rather keep that remote, thanks. Mine has lasted around... 10 years now?

Re:Modding the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292005)

I got my crappy universal remote for $8. Find me a smartphone that'll compete with that price point and then we'll talk.

Re:Modding the article (1)

mkiwi (585287) | about 5 years ago | (#27292011)

For most of my media, I use my phone through iTunes. Apple has a really nice "Remote" application that runs fairly well. iTunes does have to be open on your target computer, though.

Right now I don't think Remote integrates with DVD Player or VLC. This would be a good time for an open specification.

Re:Modding the article (2, Insightful)

vasp (978274) | about 5 years ago | (#27292027)

Also, why replace a $20 item (or even less) with a $200 item (or even more) if all you're going to do is watch TV and DVDs with it?

I guess they recon that in the not-so-distant future every phone will have the equivalent features of todays smartphones. And seeing as just about everybody's got a cellphone these days, people will stop buying remotes because 'hey, I'll just switch channels using my phone, saving me 20 bucks!'

This also adresses the problem of finding the Goddamn remote. It's always on you.

Though I can foresee quite a few arguments with the mrs. when we both have a remote...

Yeah but... (2, Insightful)

British (51765) | about 5 years ago | (#27291651)

I don't remember having to sign a contract, nor pay a monthly fee to use a universal remote,or better yet a "learning" remote. Those lists of manufacturers + models for your TV set/stereo/etc always seem to list all the models in the world..except the one you bought. Somehow I got lucky with my Advent home entertainment center, where I can use my Comcast remote to move up/down the volume. Felt a small sense of accomplishment since now I can now control everything with that remote, save for the video game consoles + VCR.

Swell (2, Interesting)

KwKSilver (857599) | about 5 years ago | (#27291681)

Now I'm going to need a $300.00 "smartphone" to turn on my TV, radio etc? One which will be reporting on everything I do and where I do it? (Guess that's what really makes it smart-never mind if they don't now, they will, they will. Fuck this bullcrap. George Orwell must be spinning in his grave at relativistic speeds.

Ummm, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27291703)

If smart phones gain all the abilities of universal remotes, then those phones can be considered universal remotes themselves.

By increasing the amount of universal remotes, how does this related to then end of universal remotes?

Re:Ummm, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292021)

you just blew my mind, man

Idiotic (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 5 years ago | (#27291727)

This is one of the dumbest things I have ever read. Why would i want to control my TV set with a $100 cell phone? What happens if i want to talk on my cell phone and watch TV at the same time? Do I really want to wear out my cellphones batteries and keypad switching TV channels? NO THANKS. I would rather just use my $10 universal remote instead.

super magic remote (1)

evolx10 (679412) | about 5 years ago | (#27291731)

Imagine a day when all devices in your home were BT or something similar. Imagine a remote with blank buttons waiting and ready to display some words, directions, play, stop, pause, on, off, TOAST! at medium damit!. well anyway i personally don't want to constantly be looking for my damn phone all the time or wasting its batts b/c i want to flip channels, so despite this article i refuse to read, i believe there will be a renaissance in universal remotes that will have the power to control everything in your house on a secure magical connection.

Whats that computer recipe, pre-heat oven to 350, now what?, i didn't even leave my chair.

and maybe it can make phone calls, so thus replacing the house phone.....whats a house phone?

Re:super magic remote (1)

svirre (39068) | about 5 years ago | (#27291861)

They won't be BT (At least very few will).
Google 'rf4ce' this is a network layer protocol built on top of IEEE 802.15.4 that is currently gaining significant acceptance as a replacement for IR remote controls.

Yeah...no (1)

kre.86 (1213912) | about 5 years ago | (#27291735)

My 'dumbphone' and universal remote are perfectly fine for me, thanks. I have absolutely 0.00 need or want for a smartphone.

Why, because NYTimes says so? (3, Insightful)

forgottenusername (1495209) | about 5 years ago | (#27291749)

There's no way a cell phone can replace the simplicity and multi-device support of a good universal remote. These remotes are actually _designed_ for their function, whereas a phone is designed for, you know, taking calls and running a few apps.

- You dont pay a monthly fee to use a remote control
- Who wants to pay for multiple goddamn cell phones that work as remotes, so if you are gone your visitors or spouse can watch tv? Be srsly
- Good remotes are designed to be simple for the technologically inept. You select a simple action like "Watch TV" "Watch DVD" "Play Game" which are customizable and switch everything on or off as needed. If there are errors, the help button will resolve the issues in a simple way your grandma can figure out

This is akin to taking a simple, small tool and trying to replace it with a monolithic "do everything" solution. It would be overly complex and would fail, fail, fail.

How are these terrible articles getting through? Modding queue with a hangover, are we?

I'm still waiting... (3, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 5 years ago | (#27291755)

for a phone that's smart enough to quit dropping the damn calls. That's the only smart phone I'm interested in owning.

Re:I'm still waiting... (1)

Walpurgiss (723989) | about 5 years ago | (#27292101)

Move out of America, and magically the same model phones won't drop calls. It's not their fault, it's the huge size of the continental US combined with the overall ineptitude of the major mobile carriers here (AT&T/Cingular, I'm looking at you)

Harmony remotes (4, Insightful)

tulmad (25666) | about 5 years ago | (#27291767)

The person who wrote this article has clearly never used a Logitech Harmony remote. Best remote I've ever owned.

Re:Harmony remotes (1)

zaffir (546764) | about 5 years ago | (#27291787)

And if there was a Harmony Remote app for your iPhone/Andriod Phone/Blackberry/whatever?

Re:Harmony remotes (1)

piripiri (1476949) | about 5 years ago | (#27292113)

I had to setup an Harmony for a client, the bastard had 10+ devices and I spent 1.5 days for having this to work. Not so user friendly.

Harmony Remote (1)

tylersoze (789256) | about 5 years ago | (#27291771)

Yeah or just get a Harmony Remote. I love mine.

Although their mac client is so awful (leaves files all over the place in your home directory) I have to boot into Windows with VMware to program it.

FFS NO NO NO!!!! (5, Insightful)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | about 5 years ago | (#27291807)

Phones are for PHONING!!!!! not texting, not taking pictures, nor playing mp3s, nor controlling radio controlled cars or anything else..

I hate having to learn to use my new nokias as it is, without piling in more crap.

Whatever happened to "Do one job and do it well".. Seems nowadays it's lets cram as much crap into something that half works.

Good Old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27291817)

I remember when a phone was a phone,and it did one thing, and did it reasonably well, make and receive calls.

Now phones try to be universal devices, doing many things, and generally doing all of them poorly.

As to their core function, they do it poorly as well.

Re:Good Old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292053)

If I had mod points, they'd all be yours. I hate that I cannot get a phone that just makes and receives phone calls. I don't need all that extra crap.

Good old days, indeed. I wish they would bring back the StarTac phones. I think the only extras it had was a few simple games.

Just plain wrong. (1)

Whillowhim (1408725) | about 5 years ago | (#27291819)

If a friend is at your house, are you going to loan them your phone to control the TV?
Are you going to get every child in your household a phone, just to control the TV? Even if they're 3 or 4 years old?
Alternately, are you going to buy a phone, just to leave it sitting around where it can control the TV?
Are you going to burn through your phone's battery (from using its backlight) much faster than normal, or use a device that chews through a couple cheap batteries a couple times a year and doesn't let you miss important calls because your phone is dead?
Are there issues with answering the phone and then pausing/muting the sound so you can actually talk to someone?

For some people, many of these issues won't matter. For everyone else, smartphone apps are not the answer.

What happens when (4, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 5 years ago | (#27291855)

I'm using my phone/out of the house and someone else (sat the 13 year old kid) wants to watch a DVD?

Or does everyone need a smart phone as opposed to one $20 remote on the coffee table?

Doesn't even require a smartphone (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 years ago | (#27291869)

I have an iPAQ Pocket PC that is perfectly capable of acting as a true universal remote (of the sort represented by the Logitech Harmony series), and software to enable that on pretty much any ARM-powered device has existed for years now. Of course it can't replace RF remotes, but how many of those are there?

I wonder if infrared will continue to be the remote transmission medium of choice, though.

universal remote for PS3? (2, Insightful)

Gunstick (312804) | about 5 years ago | (#27291923)

The PS3 may be a nice BlueRay player but it does not nicely work together with the rest of appliances: it's remote is bluetooth.

Is there a universal remote which includes a bluetooth module for the PS3?

It will die, but not at the hands of smartphones (2, Interesting)

jrothwell97 (968062) | about 5 years ago | (#27291995)

The universal remote (which, I must add before we go any further, is an evil invention which must die) will become obsolete anyway because all entertainment functions will be condensed into one machine (Apple TV, MythTV PC, HTPC etc.) So the scenario will go something like this:
  1. User finishes his work on his computer (for argument's sake, let's say a 24" iMac.)
  2. He folds the chair away and sits on the sofa in front of the machine. Digs out the included remote from down the side of the cushions, hits button on it. Machine switches to Front Row.
  3. User slips in DVD/Blu-Ray video, or plays a downloaded video from iTunes (*other online video stores are available).
  4. User switches to the TV tuner, watches synchronous TV (can also pause it and rewind it for far longer than the 15 minutes feeble PVRs of today, due to the fact that PCs have faster and larger HDDs allowing for speedier buffering). By the way, it's also in HD, otherwise it looks crap on the lovely big display.

THAT is the future. No faffing about with smartphonesâ"one remote controls one machine.

Re:It will die, but not at the hands of smartphone (3, Insightful)

Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) | about 5 years ago | (#27292325)

Nope. Sorry - I can't see it.

As soon as you said this (for argument's sake, let's say a 24" iMac.) your argument was blown.

For every "perfect solution" there will always be a competing product or a competing standard and they're not going to play nice. Its not even in the best interests of the electronics companies to provide a one size fits all solution (which is technically feasible now). They need pricing points and upgrade paths to continue generating profit.

They need built in redundancy to ensure an ongoing market. And most consumers (not all, but most) end up with a rag-tag mix of equipment and configurations, based on need and willingness to fork out cash.

Like LAN networks, noone has an identical system when it comes to media solutions in the home - and as a result, there will always be a market for tools that aid in bringing them all together.

Wrong WRong Wrong (2, Insightful)

baomike (143457) | about 5 years ago | (#27292009)

Whoever wrote that has not set up a TV for a relative (or themselves in the future ) in an "Assisted living Facility".
Channel change, on/off and volume are at the edge (and sometimes beyound ) the capabilities of these people.
These are people who have trouble telling if it's 3:00 pm or am (the phone calls in the night tell me that).
Days of the week and date are nebulous concepts.

Something as complicated as a cell phone is just a paper weight.

NB: Small remotes also disappear. They don't remember where they put them.

Not that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292033)

I was going to argue with the article BUT think those dismissing it are going too far.

Cellphones are becoming universal. They aren't often absolutely mandatory needed but they are getting closer to it. I've been to meetups where the only to get into a building with a phone.

It seems ridiculous to have to use a phone for something trivial but it won't when phones are universal and **as the number of things needing specific gadgets multiplies out of hand**. Don't mind carrying a couple gadgets to do your stuff? Try having to carry five or six. Then the phone solution will be imposed by this.

Smart phones will have to become a commodity for all this to happen.

A nice hack (1)

ContactClean (232734) | about 5 years ago | (#27292045)

10 years ago we would have said "that is a cool hack".
Yes, smartphones are capable devices, but they don't do everything. They weren't designed to do everything. I have already seen Iphone apps(audio spectrum analyzer/oscilloscope) which attempt to replace dedicated hardware used in my line of work. It is neat to have a portable something that does it all, but if it doesn't do it as well or better than the original device I fail to see the point beyond the cool, small factor.

And believe it or not, not everyone has a smartphone.

There was a reason that the tricorder and communicator where not combined into 1 device.

One remote to rule them all? (4, Interesting)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | about 5 years ago | (#27292057)

With projects like the JP1 forum [hifi-remote.com] turning universal remotes into the Swiss army knife of the 21st century I hardly think the will meet their technological demise any time soon. I would rather bet my $0.02 that the killer device control app for smartphones will be remote interaction at an arbitrary distance, much like the remote DVR control applications now entering the market.

Missing the point? (2, Interesting)

golgoj4 (993133) | about 5 years ago | (#27292059)

I think they are missing the point in saying that the universal remote's days are numbered. Smartphones just allow another way to do the same thing, and not always better. Currently, I use my desktop when im sitting at the pc, an ir remote when not, and an ipaq when roaming around the house. All three have different situation where they are better than others so to say one will hail the death of the other is missing the point that more options are available in general. I use linuxMCE [linuxmce.org] for all my home AV needs and it allows me to use all three with the same interface. If anything I think the end result of smartphones being used more and more is less lost remotes.

Late 10 Years? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292087)

Why is it so common to recycle old ideas and call it the best new thing since sliced bread? My old Palm as a remote was cool for a while but I still went back to a real remote for the hard buttons.

Is it this "technology as fads and hype" thing that is to blame?

DUH (1)

jdbausch (1419981) | about 5 years ago | (#27292095)

I don't do it, but don't a lot of people TURN OFF THEIR CELL PHONES when they watch TV? so they aren't disturbed? Also, don't cell phones need to be recharged sometimes? I keep my phone plugged in when I'm at home, and I don't keep my charger in the same room as the tv. A universal remote cost like 20 bucks or less for a cheapy. I don't think they are going anywhere.

Screwdriver useless since Multitool Invented! (1)

Malk-a-mite (134774) | about 5 years ago | (#27292123)

Sounds great until I want to leave the house and someone else wants to watch TV... oh wait... you mean I need to buy a smart phone for everyone in the family?

ummm, no.

numbered? really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292127)

yes, the days are numbered if you can count in thousands. The benefit of universal remote control is the size, shape, buttons optimized for remote operation. Smartphones totally handicapped at remote control operation. First, you need large buttons and large size because you need to operate remote in dark without looking at it. Most smartphone keys require microscope to see and some don't even have keys. Since there are no dedicated buttons, you have to rely to on on screen menu in smartphones and that means you have to look at the remote while changing channels on TV instead of looking at the TV.

Not when a smartphone is 100x the price (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 5 years ago | (#27292129)

The last U.R. I bought was about $4. They're commodity items so it's reasonably to have a few of them around. Compare that with a smartphone. Yes, it might ultimately be more flexible, but if you have to spend 10 seconds navigating (and making mistakes) through the menu system, compared with 1/2 second to click the third button down on the left, there's no chance that a GUI will win.

This article just doesn't understand how normal people respond to a user interface. If it's not simple and self-evident it will meet very real, and genuine, resistance - and for very valid reasons. Learn why your remote is so good - because you can see exactly what's available in one glance, not through multiple, inconsistent and poorly designed menus. Now go and make a phone (smart of otherwise) that has one button per function. It'll be bigger, but perhaps then the designers will then only include the functions people actually want.

While we're on the subject of remotes (4, Interesting)

similar_name (1164087) | about 5 years ago | (#27292131)

Why can't I click a button on the TV to make my remote beep when I can't find it. Maybe I should patent that.

Long live the universal remote!!! (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#27292137)

The universe remote will never die. It costs at least $200 for a "smart phone" like an iPhone or a Google android, and those smart phones not as good for TV surfing as the $15 remote you get from Walmart. The buttons on the remote are the product of 30 years of evolutionary design, the user interfaces on set top boxes are not -that- bad, and you don't have to worry about hackers. By the time you jizz your finger into getting your smart appliance into channel changing mode, I can reach down from the couch, onto the floor, pick the remote up and change the channel.

Oh, and by the way, the batteries on my remote last way longer than your smart phone batteries.

Until a smart phone can physically morph (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27292167)

its screen so that i can feel the buttons in the dark, i am sticking with my trusty manufactorer supplied remote brick which consists of my tv and satellite reciever remotes duct taped together.

I Seriously have to Disagree (1)

primefalcon (1367925) | about 5 years ago | (#27292263)

Not everyone needs or wants a mobile phone, No more logically Universal remotes will just evolve to include more and more functions...... I even question the mobile phones longevity, More area's are getting free wireless coverage, that'll expand, with the rise of netbooks and VOIP, you'll eventually see a disappearing of mobile phones as well know then.... Even if this secondary point doesn't happen which I do believe is unavoidable, This article is seriously flawed

iPod Touch? (0, Offtopic)

Morky (577776) | about 5 years ago | (#27292301)

You can pick up a low-end iPod touch for $230, which is cheaper than most touch screen universal remotes, so you could potentially use it as a dedicated device. You would still need (and I'm talking post-OS 3.0) a set of bluetooth infrared transmitters.

Logitech Harmony (2, Interesting)

zerofoo (262795) | about 5 years ago | (#27292315)

Having worked with Universal Remote, RTI, and Crestron products, I know what a "high-end" remote should do. These guys make very flexible remotes, but they cost a ton of money.

Logitech's Harmony series remotes come VERY close, for a fraction of the cost. Programming is not very difficult, and I've yet to find a AV component that can not be controlled by these remotes.

If you need to control lighting, HVAC, and other home automation stuff, RTI and Crestron are your best bet (bring your checkbook). But if you only need to control a modest Home Theater system, take a look at the Harmony remotes.

As far as smartphones go - who is going to leave their smartphone home so the babysitter, or kids can watch TV?


poppycock...ask a man who has both (1)

Niobe (941496) | about 5 years ago | (#27292327)

i.e. me I have THREE applications on my iphone that can control XMBC. But using either of them is rubbish compared to my universal remote - a logitech harmony one. And why the heck would I want to have to get up and find my phone every time I need to flip channels? Try as you might you will never convince me that one device that does everything is going to be better than a minimal number of specialised devices. That's why I still have a laptop, a desktop, a smartphone...and a universal remote. You'll be prying me harmony one from my cold dead fingers...
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