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Why Can’t All TV Remotes Be This Good?

The remote control has become a maddening jumble of buttons. U.K.-based NDS distills the device down to its essential functions.

Why Can’t All TV Remotes Be This Good?

The long-fought battle for the remote control hasn’t gone away; it’s just gotten more complicated. With most TV hookups requiring a receiver or DVD player, the power-grabbing command “Just hand me the remote” can now be countered with “Which one?” Adding to the confusion: Each clicker has a gazillion buttons, many of which don’t seem to correspond to functions. As the Red Dot?winning unit for the French telecom company SFR shows, a remote can actually be divinely simple.

Taking a page from Dieter Rams, the U.K.?based company NDS reduced the keys to a bare minimum and divided the functions into two segments: One half manages the main functions of the TV user interface, such as changing the channel, while the other keys provide shortcuts to dedicated functions. The two areas are set off by material, shape, and color.

It’s intuitive enough that a user can navigate the user interface without diverting her eyes away from the screen to look down at the remote, making it easier to engage in the always-contentious act of unmitigated channel surfing. Will it resolve conflicts over what to watch? Probably not. But next to the death of the remote, it’s the best solution we’ve seen. Unfortunately, you’ve got to be in France to get one.


About the author

Belinda Lanks is the editorial director of Co.Design. Before joining FastCompany.com, she was the managing editor of Metropolis.