Sony’s new GoogleTV remote made a brief cameo on an ABC’s ‘Nightline’ news program last night. It took about 10 seconds for people to start making fun of it.
I get it. The “fewer the buttons, the better.” The iPhone has one button. The Apple (AAPL) remote has six or seven. Apple is a great design company so they must be right on remotes. Anything more than what Apple does must be crazy or from 1983 (or 1980). Or ‘Attack of the Grey Buttons‘
But have you ever tried to change the network settings of an AppleTV with that remote? Or done a YouTube search? It is like entering your initials in a Centipede high score field (how’s that for your 1980’s technology!). By the time you are on your second word, you need a commercial break and an RSI consultant for your thumb. Sony’s remote is better.
Luckily, not many people will use the Apple remote on an AppleTV. They’ll use the Remote.app built into their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. So what’s the point of the Apple Remote on an Internet TV? Well, it does look … “stunning”.
This situation reminds me of how Apple, for decades, insisted on only offering a one button mouse even though 90% of Mac users used the right click.
My point is that you need to type on a mediacenter TV. There is no way around it (unless you use voice search on Android). Sony (SNE) has produced three remotes in one. It is still worlds simpler than your typical cable box remote. It may be easier to break it apart to get your head around it.
The bottom three-quarters is a Qwerty thumb keyboard. You’ll need that to do searches and other text entry. On top, you have basically what’s on an Apple remote: channel and volume rockers and navigation buttons. And as a rumor-instigating bonus, you have two Playstation-esque thumb pad game controllers on either side. Yeah Sony’s got big plans for GoogleTV.
You hold the thing like a game controller which has evolved over 30 years of gameplay. It is still much smaller than a full-size keyboard.
Seriously. What could be better than this thing?! If you have to enter letters into a box, you need keys. That is the bottom three-fourths of the remote. The rest is a wireless Playstation remote.
I’ll tell you what’s not better: Logitech’s Revue remote, which is a full-sized keyboard that you have to lay on your lap. They’d be better of sticking to their own Logitech diNovo Mini (pictured below). I’ve settled on this thing after years of trying out different keyboards. It is about the same size as a large smartphone physical keyboard with an added trackpad. It is great for passing around and makes typing on the TV really easy.
Now, I have to say, that Sony remote is looking a lot better. I hope they sell this as a stand-alone product.