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Apple, Google, and Amazon's Quest For One Remote Control Is Futile

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the your-houseguests-will-never-be-able-to-operate-your-tv dept.

Television 130

smaxp writes: "If the cable and satellite live television providers were to comment on the latest Amazon Fire TV or reports of the new Google Android and Apple TVs, it would likely be in the voice and character of Charlton Heston: 'We will give up our remotes when they are pried from our cold dead hands.' Amazon's Fire TV and the rumored Google Android and Apple TVs excite and then disappoint. At first glance, it looks like cable and satellite television are about to be outflanked and the eternal struggle with the TV remote and set-top box will be solved with an intuitive interface to search both live television and archival content from streamed online video companies such as Netflix. Sadly, it isn't so. The cable and satellite companies that provide live television have made sure this won’t happen, because putting Amazon in the forefront would make live television providers’ brands less relevant. Amazon would then also have a wedge to pry its way into the live television ecosystem."

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Grammar (2)

vjoel (945280) | about 5 months ago | (#46696657)

We will give up our remotes when they are pried from our cold dead hands.

Somehow, I just cannot hear Mr. Heston using the passive voice to say that.

Re:Grammar (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46696709)

That would entirely depend what the writer wrote for him. Heston himself probably wouldn't know what your complaint is.

Re:Grammar (3, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | about 5 months ago | (#46696863)

I have one remote for everything: my wireless mouse. My TV is just the display for my "media PC" (actually a laptop). Everything I watch is easily controlled that way. I can browse my media library through an actual file manager, not some "tiles" BS nonsense. If I need to actually search on Netflix I'll have to grab my keyboard, but that's rare. My favorite radio stations are all online now. What more could I want?

Now, this wouldn't work if I were foolish enough to send some damn cable company $100/month for "nothing on", but fuck cable companies.

The best part is, when I occasionally travel, I just take that laptop with me, plus an HDMI cable to connect to the TV in the hotel room if needed. Quite handy.

Re:Grammar (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46696965)

To be honest, in the era of Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled cell phones, what exactly do we need remotes for?

Re:Grammar (5, Insightful)

ThomasBHardy (827616) | about 5 months ago | (#46697487)

While you can get the same functionality on a phone, you cannot easily replicate the ease of use or the in-the-dark familiarity of a dedicated remote on a cell phone screen. I've run cell remotes and they are clever and better than nothing, but not better.

Having to activate your cell phone, get blaring light in your eyes rather than the dim theater room, and then having to load the appropriate app, and then start pushing virtual buttons, all to lower the volume on a movie is not very efficient or unobtrusive.

Re:Grammar (1, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 5 months ago | (#46697787)

> you cannot easily replicate the ease of use or the in-the-dark familiarity of a dedicated remote on a cell phone screen.

You simply don't need to. The cell phone screen has it's own lighting. So the "problem" you are describing there becomes completely moot.

Although this really sidesteps the real issue: multi-vendor co-operation. The cable providers really have squat to do with this problem. Hardware vendors don't want to play nice with each other.

Re:Grammar (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46699151)

Having to activate your cell phone, get blaring light in your eyes rather than the dim theater room

The cell phone screen has it's own lighting

For one thing, this lighting is too bright. For another, the phone can't detect that you want to use it as a television control until you press the home button and navigate to the television control app. For a third, someone else in your household can't use it while you are using the phone.

So the "problem" you are describing there becomes completely moot.

And the fourth problem, which touch-screen television controls share with touch-screen video gaming, is unusability while looking away. Despite the name [pineight.com] , touch screens provide no touch cues to the user, unlike a physical remote with discrete buttons that you can feel. Your touch-screen smartphone or tablet requires you to look away from the TV instead of finding the bump on the 5 and navigating from there.

Re:Grammar (2)

lgw (121541) | about 5 months ago | (#46697541)

There are two things I want to do in a hurry: pause, and change the volume. With my chosen player (MPC), pasue is click-anywhere, and volume is scroll-wheel-anywhere. Meanwhile, my cell phone is over in it's charger when I'm home.

Re:Grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46697091)

On screen keyboard FTW. Also, they make nice little wireless keyboards that are small for the living room and contain a touchpad.

Post Frist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46696669)

Post Frist

Wierd headline (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46696697)

From the headline, this looked like customers were rejecting some new, ugly, TV remote app that Apple, Google, and Amazon each had released a variant of.

From the summary, this looks like cable & satellite TV providers have the gall to want their name on the program search menu, which deeply offends Apple, Google, and Amazon.

At this rate, I suspect the actual linked article is a rather bland study of the inter-penguin behaviors of a group of rockhopper penguins during a 4 month observation that was initially proposed because the researcher thought the penguin-keeper at the zoo was hot.

Re:Wierd headline (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46696783)

Honestly, that article sounds more interesting than the title or the summary.

Re:Wierd headline (2)

ThomasBHardy (827616) | about 5 months ago | (#46696897)

Agreed, it's a terribly misleading title. It has absolutely nothing to do with remotes (of which I have one that controls 9 devices in 3 rooms).

Re:Wierd headline (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 5 months ago | (#46696919)

At this rate, I suspect the actual linked article is a rather bland study of the inter-penguin behaviors of a group of rockhopper penguins during a 4 month observation that was initially proposed because the researcher thought the penguin-keeper at the zoo was hot.

Close. It's just some idiot's brain-dead blog post that he submitted to Slashdot in a desperate attempt to get some readers. It's slightly longer than the summary, but doesn't actually contain any more content. The basic premise of the argument is that live TV and satellite TV matter and they'll continue to call the shots. The reality of the situation is that digital, on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are rapidly expanding in terms of the content available, and in terms of not just distributing but creating new content (House of Cards, Arrested Development). HBO is a holdout here- you still need a cable subscription to be able to watch it online- but the number of people watching video-on-demand online will continue to grow, and as the content migrates to follow, cable-cutters will increase, and HBO and others will follow them. Eventually, traditional TV and satellite will die. It may take a while, but that's the way things are going. It makes far more sense for Apple, Amazon and Google to focus on where the TV industry will be in 10-20 years than where it is now, so who really cares what the networks and cable companies want?

Re:Wierd headline (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 5 months ago | (#46697171)

The reality of the situation is that digital, on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are rapidly expanding in terms of the content available, and in terms of not just distributing but creating new content (House of Cards, Arrested Development).

I agree with your larger point. But I would exclude Hulu from this. I'm not paying them $8/month to watch a shitload of commercials. They need to decide if they're going to be ad-supported or subscription, because you can't be both. Their shows were so loaded with annoying ads that I didn't even make it through my free trial before I cancelled. I can't believe anyone actually pays them for the privilege of watching about 100 un-skippible ads in every show. They also need to start demanding some back-catalog from their content providers. Why the hell would I pay money for just 5 lousy episodes of every series? Their content is for shit right now.

And I would add that there are a lot great internet-only content out there now too. I can surf YouTube and Twitch on my Roku all day and find all kinds of amazing shows now (they're not just for cat videos anymore).

Re:Wierd headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46699011)

Isn't standard cable and/or satellite both subscription and ad supported?
A DVR is an additional fee on top of the standard subscription cost for the cable, if you want to skip ads.
So, I fail to see the difference.

Re:Wierd headline (1)

entrigant (233266) | about 5 months ago | (#46699277)

A bullshit practice being common is not really a great reason to prepetuate the practice. Now is about the best chance we'll get to change the culture around this sort of entertainment to stop seeing this sort of double dipping as normal or, worse, expected.

I don't think cable companies use to pay for commercial supported networks, but that landscape slowly changed. It use to make sense. The cable company was paid for distribution and the networks covered their expenses with advertising. Now the cable company must pay for access to the network, and the network _still_ advertises. This model has moved to the likes of Hulu where Hulu must pay for both distribution and the content. However, now the ad revenue _also_ goes to Hulu instead of directly to the network.

It's all one giant pile of fuckery letting the finer aspects of the typical fucked up economic model around cable companies shine and persist.

Re:Wierd headline (1)

Zalbik (308903) | about 5 months ago | (#46699661)

They need to decide if they're going to be ad-supported or subscription, because you can't be both

Isn't standard cable and/or satellite both subscription and ad supported?

I'm fairly certain magazines and newspapers are both subscription and ad supported as well. And movies. And some streaming / satellite radio services.

And there's this whole "world wide web" thing that I've heard of. I hear it is also supported by both a monthly subscription cost, plus advertising.

Sports are most often live (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46699361)

The basic premise of the argument is that live TV and satellite TV matter and they'll continue to call the shots.

And as long as the major professional and collegiate sport leagues have agreements with national and regional networks with blackout clauses, live TV will continue to call the shots.

The reality of the situation is that digital

Cable and satellite television are digital now.

on-demand services

Cable television offers on demand programming in addition to live programming.

Re:Wierd headline (1)

DJCouchyCouch (622482) | about 5 months ago | (#46699125)

Well, how hot was she?

Windows Media Center (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46696705)

Pretty much solves the problem. Hook up an HD Home Run Prime, you get 3 recorders, ability to play any media you want, netflix, hulu, probably more but I don't use any of the other services.

One remote

One UI

No cable company box rental, (they have to give you ONE cable card at no cost if you don't use their crappy box).

Extenders to allow a shared DVR experience using Xbox 360.

The problem you keep running into is you're using devices from a specific content provider, of course they are going to do everything they can to make sure THEY get top billing. You have to use equipment from someone who doesn't sell you the content if you want to actually get something that doesn't suck and doesn't lock (or try very hard) you into one content provider.

TiVo is another such example, though I don't know how well it integrates netflix and the like as I haven't used one since the first model was produced.

-- BitZtream

Re:Windows Media Center (1)

masman (811765) | about 5 months ago | (#46697017)

They have to give you ONE cable card at no cost?? Not sure who might give them away somewhere, but neither of the Massachusetts cable companies I've used have ever given them freely. Verizon recently bumped their monthly rental to $5.

Re:Windows Media Center (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 months ago | (#46697473)

Pretty much solves the problem. Hook up an HD Home Run Prime, you get 3 recorders, ability to play any media you want, netflix, hulu, probably more but I don't use any of the other services.

One remote

One UI

No cable company box rental, (they have to give you ONE cable card at no cost if you don't use their crappy box).

Extenders to allow a shared DVR experience using Xbox 360.

The problem you keep running into is you're using devices from a specific content provider, of course they are going to do everything they can to make sure THEY get top billing. You have to use equipment from someone who doesn't sell you the content if you want to actually get something that doesn't suck and doesn't lock (or try very hard) you into one content provider.

TiVo is another such example, though I don't know how well it integrates netflix and the like as I haven't used one since the first model was produced.

-- BitZtream

CableCARDs don't have to be free, they have to be provided at a "nominal" cost, which is $0 - $8 per month in my experience.
Furthermore, you likely won't get access to on demand, pay-per-view, or premium channels because cable companies don't have to support the 2-way communication shit. Sports stuff can also be affected , I believe.

Re:Windows Media Center (1)

Amtrak (2430376) | about 5 months ago | (#46698197)

I'm just sad that M$ has basically made it clear that they are giving Windows Media Center the shaft. I mean how hard would it be for them to update the WMC so that HDCP works over DisplayPort. (If you didn't know it only supports HDCP over HDMI and DVI-D)

I personally love my HTPC and the cable company can pry it from my cold dead hands. It has WMC, Plex, Netflix, Amazon Prime On-Demand, and Hulu. I can watch cable and even HBO/Showtime or other Premium channels on it through my HD HomeRun Prime (With Free Cable Card). I have all of the DVR features and through some folder mounted drive magic a ridiculous amount of hard drive space to record on. (6TB if you are wondering. 3x3TB WD Red's in RAID 5 in a server in my basement.)

The best part is that with a few plugin's I've added to my computer once a show that isn't marked "Record-Once" is downloaded it has it's commercials ripped off, and is then transcoded from WMC's format to H.264 in an mkv container and added to my plex server. I don't have to do anything but open my HTPC and schedule a recording and I have the show forever.

This is the kind of utility that the cable companies and other media providers will never let us have easily. I'm not doing anything illegal. This level of convinced is just a service they don't want to provide and that's what's really sad.

Damn you, Amazon and your bluetooth! (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 5 months ago | (#46696715)

I know this isn't what you meant by "not wanting to give up our remotes," but am I the only one annoyed by Amazon for going with a bluetooth remote? I've already got a PS4 that won't work with my damned Harmony universal remote. I'll be damned if I'm adding another device that won't!

Re:Damn you, Amazon and your bluetooth! (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 5 months ago | (#46696729)

Oh, I forgot to end with "You damned dirty apes!"

Re:Damn you, Amazon and your bluetooth! (2)

DdJ (10790) | about 5 months ago | (#46696773)

I know this isn't what you meant by "not wanting to give up our remotes," but am I the only one annoyed by Amazon for going with a bluetooth remote?

I don't know enough to answer that yet.

I would not really prefer IR.

If the bluetooth in use is extremely standard, so that other devices and even software can be used to "emulate" it, then I'm delighted, as I'll (eventually) be able to integrate the box with other stuff.

If it's doing something grossly nonstandard, that just happens to be implemented on top of bluetooth, then I'll be annoyed.

Re:Damn you, Amazon and your bluetooth! (1)

adolf (21054) | about 5 months ago | (#46697239)

If the bluetooth in use is extremely standard, so that other devices and even software can be used to "emulate" it, then I'm delighted, as I'll (eventually) be able to integrate the box with other stuff.

Is there any such thing as a "standard" Bluetooth remote?

If there is: Which store should I go to if I want to buy one?

That said...if you want custom integration, Bluetooth is overkill. These things are implicitly already on the network. Just use IP.

Bluetooth alphabetic keyboard (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46699375)

Is there any such thing as a "standard" Bluetooth remote?

Yes. It's called an alphabetic keyboard. A lot of people use them to input text into tablet computers, and they make them for PCs too.

Re:Damn you, Amazon and your bluetooth! (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 5 months ago | (#46698961)

I would not really prefer IR.

I would prefer it be IR. I can already use my LG smartphone to control every IR capable AV device in my home, including projector screens and lighting setups. It is my one remote already. Works well with XBMC or Linux Media Center Edition. [linuxmce.org]

While everyone else scrambles to figure out who will dominate this space, me and my home cloud will continue streaming all my media to all my devices and controlling it all with an array of USB, Ethernet, RS-232 serial, and IR input AND output (the latter via Linux Infrared Remote Control) [lirc.org]

Remotes are a solved problem: My phone is the only remote I need damnit, I can even bounce the signal to the other side of the house via IR -> Ethernet -> IR with LIRC. Bonus: If I lose it, I can geolocate it then give it a ring and listen for the tone. Set top-boxes are solved too: A Linux media center PC. Why? Because a TV with built in computer is too expensive to upgrade as fast as I want for games, Steam is on Linux, all my media, Hulu, Netflix, and my cablecard is too. Why not a proprietary OS? I can't hack new things into a proprietary OS like I can with Linux or BSD, like the aforementioned Ethernet assisted whole home IR signal routing technology. See: XP EoL, that's why.

If someone comes along and packages this shit all up nice and simple like -- Oh, guess what? Someone already did. My cousin does that for a living. He puts in very expensive whole home AV outfits. They use Ethernet as a backbone, and you can control anything from your tablet, phone, or these wanna-be phone/tablet looking touch enabled devices. Look up Crestron. [crestron.com] I can do what they do for free with Linux. [youtube.com] This Apple/Google/Amazon crap is playing at some mickey-mouse tier featureshit comparatively.

Bullsh*t (2)

MrMickS (568778) | about 5 months ago | (#46696719)

This is complete and utter rubbish. It may not be time now, but that doesn't mean that it won't happen. Media is converging, we are beginning to see a move away from traditional broadcasters towards creators dealing directly with the end users. It's going to take a little while before its possible, but it will happen.

The evidence? Youtube for one. The production values are increasing, more content providers are releasing via YouTube and surviving on the advertising revenue generated from there. WWE for another, they're in the process of going direct to customer, cutting out the middle man. More content providers will go this way once there is a reliable revenue stream.

If content providers go this way they will want their content to be available across all of these devices to maximise their reach. Perhaps it'll go the way of gaming, with the manufacturers paying for a small subset of exclusives initially but will that be sustainable in the long term? It's doubtful.

Re:Bullsh*t (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#46696811)

Youtube for one. The production values are increasing, more content providers are releasing via YouTube and surviving on the advertising revenue generated from there. WWE for another, they're in the process of going direct to customer, cutting out the middle man.

LOL, if YouTube and wrasslin' are how we define the future of technology, the human race is doomed.

I'll stick with my PVR, and a remote I can operate in a darkened room by touch alone.

Re:Bullsh*t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46697123)

I'm sure that's not the only thing you operate in a darkened room, by touch alone.

Re:Bullsh*t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46699313)

I'm sure that's not the only thing you operate in a darkened room, by touch alone.

Awww, did you want to touch his penis for him?

Wow, you're so clever.

Re:Bullsh*t (1)

Amtrak (2430376) | about 5 months ago | (#46697833)

Holy crap Idiocracy [imdb.com] got it right!

Re:Bullsh*t (1)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#46696947)

Youtube is, in many ways, an example of the opposite happening. They are the new 'middle man', not that differnt from dealing with a cable company. Sure the barrier to entry are lower and there is no subscription, but they still control what you can and can not see, not to mention how you see it.

Re:Bullsh*t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46697661)

The King is dead. Long live The King.

Re:Bullsh*t (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#46698415)

We all want open and free... Until people start abusing the open, and putting too much stuff that society doesn't want. Then we demand that we close it down for these exceptions.

Right now we are in the middle of a societal struggle between freedom and protection.
We want both, however it cannot work that way. If we want to be free, then we are open to danger. If you want someone to protect us from danger then we loose our freedom.
To make it even more murky there isn't a good rule on what is safe and dangerous. Are bringing up particular vulgar words dangerous? How about how much skin can you show? What about particular view points?
If you want full freedom you are going to need to expect a lot of people with ideas that you disagree with, will be spouting what you consider to be poison to your view of what is true. If you want more protection than we need to follow a set of rules made by a select few.

Set-top device with a web browser (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46699399)

Sure the barrier to entry are lower and there is no subscription, but [YouTube] still control what you can and can not see, not to mention how you see it.

In what way? Point the web browser of your Android-based set-top device (be it Google or Fire) at any other website offering WebM or MP4 video, and should be able to display it.

Re:Bullsh*t (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 5 months ago | (#46697361)

After 10 years and massive popularity, Youtube is a great place for cat videos. Bittorrent is a great place for stealing "Game of Thrones." If anything like what you're talking about happens, it's far in the future with some entirely new technological basis.

Re:Bullsh*t (1)

Ranbot (2648297) | about 5 months ago | (#46700053)

I agree, but come up with some better evidence... like Netflix and Amazon streaming services and good original shows (i.e. House of Cards), Hulu streaming for major networks, and Apple TV. If you're going to mention YouTube then bring up the YouTube music awards moving in on traditional cable-dominated turf.

WTF happened to CEC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46696743)

has anyone other than the raspberry pi people ever seen or used this protocol?
stop reinventing the fucking wheel for no other reason than the existing wheel isn't proprietary enough

Re:WTF happened to CEC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46697359)

OOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!

Obligatory XKCD!!! Am I a hipster faggot like the rest of you now?

The link is to the one about standards and how we need to make a new standard to fix the mess of existing standards1!!1

Am I cool now, guys?" Am I hip and original now, guys? Can someone please confirm that I'm not a total loser faggot?

I'm fapping so much to this opportunity, that I can't even be bothered to post the link. But you all know which one I'm thinking of.. ;-)

Re:WTF happened to CEC (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 5 months ago | (#46697525)

" Can someone please confirm that I'm not a total loser faggot?"

I'm afraid that simply isn't in the cards for you :-(

Re:WTF happened to CEC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46699017)

Did somebody say Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com] ?

Re:WTF happened to CEC (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 months ago | (#46697585)

has anyone other than the raspberry pi people ever seen or used this protocol?
stop reinventing the fucking wheel for no other reason than the existing wheel isn't proprietary enough

CEC is trash. I often don't want commands passed to other devices.

On my parents' setup, sometimes the optical input mappings get switched. You try to watch TV but you get no sound, you try to watch some shit on the Roku but you get the audio from the cable box, etc.

There's no way to fix it with the remote without going through the menus, breaking the link, then playing each source, starting with bluray, so it can rebuild the mappings. If you use the input switching button on the receiver's remote, VieraLINK thinks you want to switch video inputs, so it switches video inputs and uses its last remembered audio input for that (which is wrong).

Don't bother reading the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46696755)

All it says is that the cable and satellite companies won't let them. No content or analysis.

Unbelievable (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 5 months ago | (#46696785)

Really, most of us carry a computer in our pocket 99.9% of the time that dwarfs the entire Apollo space program, and nobody can figure out how to remotely control a plethora of network media devices in 2014?

Seriously?

Not the problem... (1)

Junta (36770) | about 5 months ago | (#46696893)

The problem is not that 'nobody can figure out how'. The problem is that '*everybody* can figure out how' in their own little proprietary way. The x86 ecosystem of incredibly interchangeable components is sadly the exception rather than the rule of how businesses choose to operate.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46696903)

almost every cable provider has a smartphone app so you can change channels via the phone

Remote Control (1)

Daniel Oom (2826737) | about 5 months ago | (#46696945)

Isn't this iPhone thing you speak of the remote control for your TV?

Re:Unbelievable (1)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#46696959)

the problems are not technological in nature.

Re:Unbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46698821)

"The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from." - Andrew S. Tanenbaum

The problem is companies trying to lock-in their customers by fighting a meaningless standards war. At the end of the day your remote works or it doesn't and that's decided by a corporate interest. Further, your remote may work today and not work tomorrow - also decided by a corporate interest. Once there's a security protocol running between the box and the 'mote they can reprogram each other ala smart-keys so your iPhone will never work. Okay, so this is overkill, but if you really want to keep competitors out of the market then that's how you do it...that and the DMCA.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 5 months ago | (#46697765)

I seem to be doing okay with just one remote. It's not even a so-called "universal" remote. Just a cheapo programmable one that came with my AVR.

As I have things configured now, my TV is the only device out in the open in my media room. The rest (aside from whatever game controller I'm using) is tucked away in a closet. Rather than deal with tedious wiring or ugly devices next to my TV, I use one of these [amazon.com] , which I cannot recommend highly enough, to get IR signals into the closet where I keep my devices.

As for the remote itself, the only thing I had to do to it was install that little product and look up the code for my brand of TV in the remote's manual so that I could use it to turn the TV on. All other controls (changing inputs, adjusting volume, etc.) are handled via the AVR itself, and the AVR turns on automatically as soon as the TV comes on, thanks to the HDMI cables CEC feature, which took quite a bit of configuring in the AVR's and TV's settings to get working as expected. The Apple TV took awhile to get working too, but once I discovered that the Apple TV itself has a Learn Remote [apple.com] feature that can work with any remote at all, everything clicked in place. As a result, I was able to ditch my Apple TV remote and the Wiimote-like remote that came with my LG "smart" TV in favor of the boring AVR remote that has about 10 buttons I actually need to know.

See how easy that was to get three devices working? You just need to understand how to program a remote, program an Apple TV, configure multiple devices to use CEC, and hook everything up correctly. I'm sure any layman at all could do the same in a few minutes.

(in case it's not obvious yet, I agree with your point)

Google lost an opportunity (1)

martiniturbide (1203660) | about 5 months ago | (#46696835)

I still think that Google lost the opportunity with the TV when selling the "Motorola Cable Box" unit to Arris: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/... [pcmag.com]

They had the opportunity on their hands to transform that unit and give a different kind of life to cable box subscribers.... too bad they didn't have vision for that.

Re:Google lost an opportunity (2)

slapout (93640) | about 5 months ago | (#46697711)

Probably didn't want to spend the money to fight the cable companies

Smart Phones as remotes (1)

S810 (168676) | about 5 months ago | (#46696837)

I use my Samsung Galaxy S4 to control all of my devices (TV, DVD/Blu-Ray, DVR/Sat Box, Surround Sound, Roku, etc...) If only someone would make it so we can all control our living rooms by a smart phone app... Oh wait... :)

Re:Smart Phones as remotes (1)

slapout (93640) | about 5 months ago | (#46697723)

Honey I've lost the remote! Can you call it!

Re:Smart Phones as remotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46697945)

Which app?/What apps?

true universal remote in the 60s and 70s (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 5 months ago | (#46696849)

There was one at our house. Well, lets be honets, it was me. As the youngest, I was told to change channels (only 2 to choose from on OTA broadcast so it was a binary selection), wiggle the rabbit ears, adjust volume, turn the TV on or off, move the TV stand a little to change the viewing angle, etc.

Now my kids have it lucky. I just make them find the remote controls :)

what is the point of search on a TV box? (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46696861)

for live TV i usually only watch sports and i know which games are on which channels and at what times
my wife will watch some reality shows and she knows when they are on as well
for netflix i have profiles and lists set up
HBO Go i have a list as well
for premium movies i will rent from itunes or vudu. netflix is usually crap for a decent movie so i don't even bother searching for it

i don't know why anyone would sit down and search for a specific show playing live or on a streaming service. anyone who watches a show on TV knows the times that its on or will go to the cable provider's on demand service to watch it if they missed the last showing. or they will have it in their Hulu queue

Re:what is the point of search on a TV box? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 5 months ago | (#46697569)

Well then, your use case is confirmed as the only valid one and you are indeed correct. There is no need for search on a TV box. Anybody who would use it is clearly part of a growing contingent of ne'er do wells.

This is about taking control of entertainment? (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 5 months ago | (#46696865)

I just assumed this was about positioning trojan spyboxes in everyone's living rooms in a contest to become the most valued data collection agency! Boy, am I relieved to hear it's just about entertainment! The face value version of this story sure is less scary than the real one.

Samsung blu-ray Player (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46696881)

My Samsung Bluray Player already controls all of the mentioned content with one remote.

This isn't hard to figure out. (3, Insightful)

thevirtualcat (1071504) | about 5 months ago | (#46696885)

"We absolutely support your ability to have one remote control for everything... so long as it's produced by us and we lease it to you for a nominal monthly fee." -- Every programming provider ever.

The fault lies at the feet of the HDMI spec (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 5 months ago | (#46696901)

They screwed up the CEC control protocol so bad that nothing is compatible. They had a chance to spell out the CEC and then DEMAND that in order to use HDMI they must fully support CEC.

TV and device makers are all ran by major retards that think they need to have special "secret" command codes. and it's complete BS. a LG tv set should be able to control any HDMI device hooked up to it.

The blame lies at the feet of the idiots that Designed HDMI. They are the ones that need to be beaten with a sack of hot doorknobs.

want a revolution on the TV? (1)

martiniturbide (1203660) | about 5 months ago | (#46696911)

I think that anybody that want to make a revolution and change the TV devices needs to focus first on the "Catalog of Contents".

Content is King! they said, but nobody focus on giving content. I think that an interesting thing to really out phase the regular broadcast TV network services and make a full Internet-TV reality is to start building a catalog of Live TV. Like YouTube, UStream, but that people can create their own Live TV channels and with an easy manageable EPG standard and that broadcasters little and big are free to put their signal on that catalog.

Everybody says that On Demand TV is the future, but they forgot about "Live TV" and local broadcast. The two ideas "On Demand" and "Live" need to merge.

Irrelevant (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about 5 months ago | (#46696931)

Oh good, an article bemoaning policies in place by increasingly irrelevant television operators. This is me using Netflix and not caring.

Speak for yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46696935)

Speak for yourself.

I gave up cable television years ago. I'm currently running a fileserver serving a combination of my own ripped media (300 seasons of TV-on-DVD/Blu, 600 or so films, a handful of purchased digital content) and a ton of pirated stuff. I live in a jurisdiction where this isn't illegal, and if I lived in a jurisdiction where it was illegal, I'd use a proxy and pirate anyway. My fileserver streams to AppleTV2s in every room with a TV. Each is hacked to run on XBMC, and I use a python script to synchronize play information between them. I have python scripts that automatically move downloaded files to the appropriate folders, I use ShowRSS to automatically pirate my TV, and I use a python script to scrape new release films from Rotten Tomatoes and pirate this too. I occasionally subscribe to Netflix, but only as a discovery mechanism and my use is rare. My tech-illiterate retirement-aged mother can use my TV just fine because it has an intuitive UI.

I don't say this to brag. Anyone can pirate, it's nothing to be proud of. Quite the opposite. I mention it because anyone can pirate. If you want to give up cable and satellite, give up cable and satellite. Pay for what you want to, let the companies deal with the consequences. I've actually never heard of a satisfied cable customer. "From our cold dead hands"? Of course not. It's a buyer's--or pirate's--market. Do what you want to do.

Re:Speak for yourself (1, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 months ago | (#46697811)

Speak for yourself.

I gave up cable television years ago. I'm currently running a fileserver serving a combination of my own ripped media (300 seasons of TV-on-DVD/Blu, 600 or so films, a handful of purchased digital content) and a ton of pirated stuff. I live in a jurisdiction where this isn't illegal, and if I lived in a jurisdiction where it was illegal, I'd use a proxy and pirate anyway. My fileserver streams to AppleTV2s in every room with a TV. Each is hacked to run on XBMC, and I use a python script to synchronize play information between them. I have python scripts that automatically move downloaded files to the appropriate folders, I use ShowRSS to automatically pirate my TV, and I use a python script to scrape new release films from Rotten Tomatoes and pirate this too. I occasionally subscribe to Netflix, but only as a discovery mechanism and my use is rare. My tech-illiterate retirement-aged mother can use my TV just fine because it has an intuitive UI.

I don't say this to brag. Anyone can pirate, it's nothing to be proud of. Quite the opposite. I mention it because anyone can pirate. If you want to give up cable and satellite, give up cable and satellite. Pay for what you want to, let the companies deal with the consequences. I've actually never heard of a satisfied cable customer. "From our cold dead hands"? Of course not. It's a buyer's--or pirate's--market. Do what you want to do.

"I live in a jurisdiction where this isn't illegal" - Bullshit. You just don't give a fuck.

"My fileserver streams to AppleTV2s in every room with a TV." - Bullshit. No pirate would use AppleTV to play shit because it can't handle a lot of the higher quality encodes out there.

"I use a python script to synchronize play information between them." - More bullshit. I'm not saying you can't I'm saying you wouldn't, because it's pointless.

"I have python scripts that automatically move downloaded files to the appropriate folders" - I'm not even sure what this actually means, but it's bullshit because it's impossible to normalize content titles out of release names and it's pointless if you're using XBMC - everything can just live in one fucking source folder.

"I use a python script to scrape new release films from Rotten Tomatoes and pirate this too." - More bullshit that doesn't even make any fucking sense. Why would you scrape against RT? Why wouldn't you just reverse your release name to content title script? Why would you be scraping against RT when you could get the releases weeks in advance?

It's like it's 1994 and I'm on IRC again.

The ball game (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46699519)

So how does your tech-illiterate mother watch the ball game on your setup?

Tivo does this...sorta (1)

LukeyMI (1085417) | about 5 months ago | (#46696943)

But they charge a monthly fee for what I presume is guide info and updates. One of the downsides is the Amazon app doesn't have access to the Prime features and there really aren't that many apps available. If I could put a cablecard in my Roku and attach a external drive to record shows to I would prefer that over my Tivo.

Just those 3? (1)

Kingkaid (2751527) | about 5 months ago | (#46696951)

Why oh why is it just Apple, Google and Amazon battling it out? Honestly Sony and Microsoft have a huge leg up on these guys already. And then there are the other 'small' companies out there that tried and failed, like Samsung. Sorry but why is this crap being posted? It's barely an article.

The invisible hand (1)

sjames (1099) | about 5 months ago | (#46696969)

Once again, the invisible hand of the broken market pokes consumers in the eye.

Re:The invisible hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46698183)

Really? Nothing is stopping you from taking up the cause yourself... well, except for your utter lack of any real technical skills and your need to scoff at this who do instead of showing us how it's done.
 
Come on, big man, step right up.

Re:The invisible hand (1)

sjames (1099) | about 5 months ago | (#46698501)

So you're saying all I have to do is bypass the market entirely? Thanks captain obvious, I never would have guessed.

Re:The invisible hand (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46699501)

Nothing is stopping you from taking up the cause yourself

Other than, of course, the copyright in the programming that most people want to watch.

Still getting outflanked (1)

wile_e8 (958263) | about 5 months ago | (#46696987)

I'm not surprised that the cable and satellite TV companies want to their branding and interface in front of Amazon and the like. But I thought the point of these boxes was so that eventually you don't need the cable and satellite TV companies and get everything steamed over the internet to the set-top box. Cable and satellite TV companies can't control the interface if you don't use their services.

Re:Still getting outflanked (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46697025)

i can see streaming for shows, but not for live events. not enough bandwidth and it's dumb to stream live sports via TCP/IP when there is a better protocol being used

Re:Still getting outflanked (1)

wile_e8 (958263) | about 5 months ago | (#46697215)

Not now, no. But eventually, once we all get hooked up to Google Fiber or equivalents and CDNs are beefed up, maybe.

Re:Still getting outflanked (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46697289)

how will a CDN work for live events?
CDN's are just caching data for older shows, not for streaming live events

Re:Still getting outflanked (1)

wile_e8 (958263) | about 5 months ago | (#46697527)

I'm not familiar enough with the inner workings of a CDN to say specifically, but I'm pretty sure something similar can be set up for live events. Instead of sending a single copy of an old show to a CDN to be distributed to all the downstream end users, a single live stream could be sent to a CDN equivalent and that could be forwarded to all the end users. Of course, I'm just a lowly end user spitballing here, so maybe I'm missing a huge hang up that would prevent this from happening.

Re:Still getting outflanked (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46697777)

it's already being done, only difference is it's not streamed via IP to end users but sent via QAM to watch on tv through your cable box. streaming is a lot more overhead

Re:Still getting outflanked (1)

wile_e8 (958263) | about 5 months ago | (#46698059)

Well, the key word in my original post was *eventually*. Stuff like ESPN3, MLB.tv, and March Madness on Demand work already, I don't think it's too far out there to either increase bandwidth or develop more efficient protocols to handle more customers in the not to distant future.

Re:Still getting outflanked (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46697379)

even then the last mile is not the limiting factor on live events, it's level 3 other other tier 1 providers. since every sport every team plays half their games away from home, there isn't enough bandwidth for everyone to stream every game live cross country

Re:Still getting outflanked (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 months ago | (#46697929)

i can see streaming for shows, but not for live events. not enough bandwidth and it's dumb to stream live sports via TCP/IP when there is a better protocol being used

Multicast works perfectly for this.
If cable companies transitioned to IPv6 they could easily and efficiently multicast a single live feed to all boxes, all boxes in a given market, whatever.
It's workable with IPv4, but you've got fewer addresses and you'll be choking the pipe because it's more of an all or nothing approach.

How farking hard is this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46697199)

Android/Apple App for each device.

Use your stupid phone/mp3 player.

Done in one.

The visual media companies are lucky (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46697201)

With music, Apple had enough of a stranglehold over online sales that music companies had to relent and come to their senses with things like removing DRM.

It also meant they would sell through anyone, because they want to erode Apple's dominance of music sales.

Well either because the video guys were paying attention (ha!) or sheer blind luck, there's simply no one major player in online video distribution. So for any provider of content they are free to wind their way through one distributor, through a handful of selected distributors, or even just none attempting to create value through scarcity.

That's why you are going to see very few rational actions in the space anytime soon, because every video company can pursue whatever crazy idea springs to mind as there's no one clear path that the industry follows. It's every company for themselves, providers and distributors.

I have One Remote (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 5 months ago | (#46697435)

A Sony DS3 w/ thumb keyboard connected to an HTPC running Xubuntu.

OK well I need another remote for the TV itself, but if I was using a PC monitor and separate speakers I wouldn't!

Why not an app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46697575)

Why not have one app per device You want to control?

Your phone could talk to the device(s) via the Internet, BlueTooth, WiFi, or IR.

Is it really that hard for Phillips, Vizio, ViewSonic, or anyone else to come out with 2 apps: one for Android and one for iOS to let the user control the device?

Re:Why not an app? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46699471)

Why not have one app per device You want to control?

Because your fingers can't feel which on-screen button they're pressing on a flat sheet of glass while your eyes are pointed at the TV screen.

He who has the most remote controls (1)

MXB2001 (3023413) | about 5 months ago | (#46697957)

when they die.. wins!

Besides reducing content providers to middleware (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 5 months ago | (#46698111)

Its also that you simply cannot get any two people/organizations to accept 'not invented here'. We can't even agree on how to fasten a windshield wiper to an arm or what pieces of plumbing should be used to screw something into a water pipe with.

Tivo actually eliminated my need for other remotes most of the time because it made the satellite box/cable box a slave to it. I liked that, because I was able to switch from directv to dish to comcast and get their new customer deals, plug in the box and my shows still recorded. The remote worked the tv well enough. Only problem I had was when I wanted to watch a dvd. Of course, after a bit the satellite/cable companies reduced them to using an IR blaster and then refused to fix little glitches that messed up show recording when an IR action failed.

If my google tv with the built in blu-ray player was still being updated and had apps for hulu and an amazon app that wasn't just a web browser, and if all the flash streaming sites hadn't excluded it from playing their content, that also was a pretty close universal/one remote product that even solved playing physical disks. In one remote I could control the cable/sat aspect, stream netflix, control the tv/audio equipment, and even browse sites.

Nobody will allow their content to be subjugated to middleware. Everyone wants their box to be the primary interface. No two companies will ever agree on the same things. Whatever compromise shows up will be a PITA for customers to deal with.

chromecast + plex (1)

nblender (741424) | about 5 months ago | (#46698231)

I said this in another thread... But in short, I bought a chromecast ($39), installed Plex on it, and gave my wife a tablet... She prefers it over the remote. She can browse content on the tablet, and then hit 'play', the TV is the remote display for the tablet. If the tablet had IR, she could lose the remote entirely but as it is, she still needs the remote to turn on the TV and set the Volume. In fact, she says I can remove the Acer Veriton that _was_ her Plex frontend (and the keyboard as well)...

Convergence via Standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46698269)

Consumers aren't savvy enough to exert pressure, but if vendors would adopt and adhere to the industry's highest standard, then common mode interfaces would be possible. How about HDMI 2.0 CEC?

At first (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 5 months ago | (#46698681)

At first I thought they just hadn't heard of universal remotes, or programmable remotes...
I read the article, and wow, just some old fogey who thinks tech is moving too slowly for his tastes, and that live content providers lock-in with cable and satellite providers is unbreakable. My guess is that if the lock-in is so strong, and cable and satellite providers don't budge then the whole mess of them will go the way of the dodo in favour of new content providers that aren't so encumbered.

binge viewing, House of Cards (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about 5 months ago | (#46699201)

the current tv landscape has already been disrupted. It is only a matter of if networks and cable come kicking and screaming or become irrelevant. So far, looks like networks are choosing to become irrelevant.

I hate remotes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46699325)

I've not used one since I started modding my Emotiv headset, but you know what gets me is why in the hell have they not put them on Adam & Eve they'd be trillionaires overnight.

Not futile (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | about 5 months ago | (#46699505)

Remote controls can be regulated. That's the civilized way to deal with such issues.

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