maybe they should call it the remote “out of control”

tv remoteI had trouble deciding whether to file this post under “technology” or “random rants”.

While the remote control has become an exquisite piece of technology that you can now use to control everything in your house without having to leave your space chair; it has also become so complicated that you need a bloody engineering degree just to turn on your blu ray player – or your coffee maker – or whatever you’re trying to control!

Remember when the remote just controlled your TV?

Fun Fact: The Zenith Radio Corporation developed the first TV remote control in 1950 and it was called the “Lazy Bones”.

The first remote control I remember having didn’t have a cord, was about the size of a deck of cards but twice as thick and it had exactly two buttons. One for on/off and one to change the channel. You still had to get up and go to the TV to control the volume. Oh yeah, and you could only change channels in one direction – forwards. You couldn’t go backwards.

And do you remember the one that was almost as big as a toaster and it hooked to the TV with a long cord. It had a long row of buttons, a toggle at one end to change the rows (similar to the shift key on a keyboard) because, by that time, we had more than 13 channels and there was a dial at the other end for volume.

We never had one of the toaster ones and I envied my friends whose parents realized the beauty of emerging technology. Ugh, my mom was such a square!

But the remote control has come a long way since them. The remote control now has capabilities I don’t even think Zenith thought possible. Although I doubt that Nikola Tesla would be surprised; he invented the first remote control boat in 1898.

Fun Fact: Tesla motors was not founded by anyone related to the Tesla family but it was named after Nikola Tesla to pay homage to the brilliant inventor.

And let me tell you, you have to be brilliant to work one of these fancy remotes.

I’m serious. We got a universal remote so we could control our TV, PVR, cable and blu ray player from just one remote and not have a whole table full of them. My daughter and I are fine with it but I had to write down instructions for my boyfriend. Yes, a cheat sheet. He still has to ask questions when he uses it.

  • To turn on “TV” > press “main”, then “tv”, then “on”. Use “TV” for on, off and volume. But to turn it off you actually have to press “on” again, not “off”. (I don’t know why)
  • To change channels > press “main”, then “cable”. Use “Cable” for channels, guide and PVR.
  • To watch a movie on the blu ray . . . oh forget it, he’s never going to do that on his own.

And that’s just for the components we have. This remote control must control more because it was expensive and there are so many buttons on it that we don’t even use.

But I’m sure that our remote control is already an antique.

With all of the wireless technology now, you can get one remote to control all of your home theatre and connected devices. Your TVs, music players (they aren’t called stereos anymore, I don’t know what they’re called now), your lights, door locks, garage door opener, your coffee maker, your alarm system, your thermostat and probably a bunch more things that I can’t think of right now.

I am looking at one online right now and it controls 15 devices (although it’s compatible with 270,000 devices); it can be controlled remotely using an App on your smartphone, costs $500 and; oh look!, it says it’s “extremely user friendly”.

Really? Are you sure about that?

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Image courtesy of Supertrooper at

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