tv-remoteAs recorded on the CES video, this next generation TV remote, from Vizio includes a slideout tray for QWERTY keyboard, not unlike many smartphone designs. Also, like smartphones, this remote control uses bluetooth to pass control messages to the TV and other entertainment appliances.

Is this the end of IR?

Gosh I hope so. Infra-Red is so passé. Components displayed in close proximity (for short cable runs) to the TV and positioned to enable a line-of-sight signaling just doesn’t cut it anymore. In my family room in Texas (cira 2001), we used the Marantz touch screen IR controller, which delivered the IR signal to a capture device near the flat screen TV, but also in-front of the powered drop-down screen (we still need to control the audio and video components even when in life-size projection mode). That signal was repeated to the components stored in the front hall closet – away from prying eyes, dirty fingers, nerf balls and other objects typically in transit in the family room of a home with young children as residents.

BlueTooth TV components might mean that users can really hide their gear behind the TV commode doors and such without having to deploy IR capture-repeater systems.

My friends tell me that Wi-Fi control would be even better. Frankly, controlling the TV and its several components from my laptop and smartphone would be best, and do away with the remote controllers all together. Although my friends at Universal Electronics might have a problem with a remote-free world, they should definitely move their business model into software control of home entertainment devices and components. I don’t know if the remote will ever disappear since it plays an important role in showing who’s in command of the entertainment at that moment. Sometimes its my kids, sometimes its my wife, and on occasion, it’s yours truly. Either way, controlling the channel, the on-off, and the volume (except during commercials which can be so annoying when they’re elevated) is a big responsibility and there should be some way of signaling who has control. Otherwise, in my house, there would be chaos with dueling laptop command signals. Sort of like a hacking contest.

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