Figuring out this TV clicker is a remote possibility

May 15, 2006|By KEVIN COWHERD

Mother's Day is over for another year, but what I'm trying to find now for my 85-year-old mom is this: a simple TV remote that won't drive her nuts.

When I say simple, I mean bare-bones.

This remote would have a Power button, OK?

It would have channel buttons.

It would have up and down volume buttons.

And that's about all it would have.

Because right now, she has a remote that looks like something you'd use to program the International Space Station.

For one thing, it has 45 buttons.

It has buttons for VCR/DVD, SAT/CABLE, TV/SAT and TV/VIDEO.

It has a PICTURE MODE button. It has buttons that say SLEEP, MTS/SAP and DISPLAY.

It has a MUTING button, a SYSTEM OFF button, a RESET button and a MENU button.

It has a JUMP button and an ENTER button.

It has a CODE SET button.

No one knows what any of these buttons do.

We're all afraid to hit them.

(The CODE SET button, that might make the COMSAT satellite fall out of the sky. No one's ever going to hit the CODE SET button.)

Did I mention my mom's remote has little arrow symbols, too?

I should probably mention that.

Yep, some of the buttons have little arrows pointing every which way.

Some buttons even have double arrows, apparently on the theory that if you don't know what the button does and you hit it, it'll do it twice as fast.

Every once in a while, my mother will accidentally hit the wrong mode button.

If you hit the wrong mode button, you're doomed.

All of a sudden, they'll be speaking Spanish on the TV, or Mandarin Chinese.

Or else subtitles will pop up.

Or some big menu display asking if you want to change the brightness and tint or whatever.

Now you have to hit 16 more buttons in the correct sequence to undo that mode and get back to the right mode.

You could spend all afternoon trying to get back to the right mode.

You could spend days.

And the instructional manual is no help.

The instructional manual is 150 pages thick and written in three languages: English, Spanish and French.

And because it's 150 pages thick and written in three languages, it comes in teeny, tiny print so they could get it all in.

So to actually read the section titled "Accessing Different Modes," you'd need Lasik surgery first.

I'm telling you, 10 seconds after you pick up my mom's remote, you'll want to shoot yourself.

Actually, you'll want to shoot yourself even before that, because the TV is so loud.

See, my mom has lost some of her hearing.

So as soon as you hit the Power button, the TV is blasting - at decibels that would make your ears bleed.

You could probably hear it in Utah.

So the first thing people do when they turn on my mom's TV is jump out of their seats from the noise.

Then they start jabbing frantically at the VOLUME DOWN button.

Then it takes, I don't know, one or two minutes before they can hear themselves think again.

Sometimes when I call my mom, the TV is blaring so loudly in the background you'd think she was in the studio where they're taping the show.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: Of the 45 buttons on that stupid remote, my mom probably uses about five of them.

So it's definitely time to simplify with a no-frills remote.

Unless I just get masking tape and tape over the 40 buttons on this remote that she doesn't use.

That's a thought - as long as I have quick access to that VOLUME DOWN button.

Oh, you want to get to that baby in a hurry.

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