I’m totally left befuddled by the current trend of having full-function TV/AV remotes with two hundred tiny buttons and a screen for Windows connectivity. Instead, I’m all about simplicity, which is why Hitachi’s trackball-style reinvention pleases me.
Of course those media center remotes do a lot more than let you control the channel and volume of your TV: They interface with the rest of your AV gear, can control your Windows media PC, ans they enable you to tweak the audio quality and so on. But they’re almost like a macho gadget competition–“my remote has more buttons than yours.” And frankly the massive array of buttons is just ugly and overly complex.
Hitachi’s design team has put a lot more thought into their recent prototype remotes than that. The whole idea is that they’re simple to use, with just one trackball and a single button click. And sitting on your couch or coffee table they’d look elegant, and strangely more futuristic than a mega-button remote. The magic is done via intelligent on-screen menus, and the remotes are specifically aimed at the booming IPTV market, where the set-top box already does a lot of the AV control magic for you.
There’s no timing or pricing schedules, but personally I’d love Hitachi to bring this idea to market soon, since maybe other remote designers would pay attention.