Yes -- in the very near future, not only will we be able to stay put on the couch when switching the TV from 'Teen Mom' to 'American Idol,' we won't even have to lift a burdensome remote control and point at our cable boxes to do so. Instead, all we'll have to do is grunt a command or swing a hand at the screen.
James Baldwin, Microsoft's chief technology officer for television, said the company's Kinect technology, which allows users to interact with their video game consoles without controllers, could be adapted for hands-free remote control use, Variety reports.
Having said all that, there are several problems I see with having something so convenient at your fingertips as you watch the tube.
Television's long and storied history is filled with game and competition shows that pit their contestants in a physical, psychological and gastrointestinal showdown, most of which were lost to the ravages of obscurity. Well, it's "filled" if you only look at the last few years or so when the economy tanked and people turned to humiliating themselves in the national media to keep from having to hunt small rodents for sustenance. That's how 'The View' got started.
These are the shows that not only tortured contestants, but also their viewing audience unless Dick Cheney happened to be watching any of them.
But, since this is about television, I'm going to focus on what I'm thankful for in television and TV-related kind of things. We might share some items on the list, we might not. While the times might not be great for financial dealings, it's a wondrous time for television geeks like you and me. Or, maybe it's just me. So, exactly what am I thankful for? Read on.
- After the deaths of Edward Woodward and Ken Ober, why '80s TV suddenly seems so old,
- Soap news, mainly a discussion of James Franco's guest stint on General Hospital,
- Another dip into our Ask TV Squad mailbag, where we discuss the use of laugh tracks and why multi-camera shows are written differently than single-camera shows,
- Our picks for the week, and much more.
Run time is 1:02:55.
You can listen to the podcast below, or download from here or by subscribing to our RSS podcast feed. It is also available via iTunes. Feel free to leave us feedback in the comments or drop us a line at tvsquadpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com.
As usual, the music at the beginning and end of the podcast is "Life" by Justin Trawick. Though I decided to add a small surprise at the beginning, a call-back to an interview I did a few years ago. Hope you enjoy it.
Collin Quinn, Ober's longtime friend and Remote Control co-host, posted a hilarious picture on his Twitter page of himself, Ober and the uber-cute Kari Wuhrer on the set of their equally hilarious game show.
I'm tempted to let Bob use this for our weekly Subtle Subtitles post, but am worried the funniest of the comments will get us banned from every library in the country assuming, of course, that reading is still going on in America's libraries.
He was 52 years old.
Ober's death was confirmed by his talent agent Mark Measures. According to Measures, "The last person to have spoken to him was on Saturday morning. No foul play is suspected, no suicide, it looks like natural causes, just no one knows the exact cause yet." It had been reported that Ober had been complaining of flu-like symptoms.
If you've never seen Remote Control, it was a wacky pop culture trivia game show that supposedly was filmed in Ober's basement. Besides being a really fun game show (especially for someone raised on television), it costarred a lot of people who later became household names, such as Adam Sandler, Denis Leary, and Colin Quinn.
Here's an RCA ad from 1961 for a remote. I'd rather have this than the confusing mess I have now. Love the opening special effects with the glittery star thing. And what the heck is that next to the TV, a hookah?
It's one of the eternal questions in life: what do you call your remote?
Tim Dowling over at The Guardian has a story about all of the different names that TV viewers have for that little device that saves us from having to walk across the room and has probably contributed to the onslaught of ADD we have. All of the names we've all heard are on the list, such as "clicker" (my mom used to call it that), "flipper" (which was popular with Frank on Everybody Loves Raymond), "wand," and "changer." Of course, The Guardian is a British paper so you're going to get some words that Americans really aren't familiar with, such as "tellychanger," "podger," and "hoofer-doofer." Most people I know just call it "the remote." We should come up with a different name for it. "Binky" is good, but that's already taken for pacifiers. How about "the glooptron?"
I call mine "Jessica."
[via TV Tattle]
Niveus is beta testing Pocket Remote 2.0, a Windows Media Center remote control application for Windows Mobile or PC. Here's how it works:
- Download the zip file to start a 10-day free trial (no final pricing information has been released yet)
- Unzip the file to find two installers, one for the server (the PC you want to control) and one for the remote control application you want to install on your PDA, smartphone, or remote PC.
- Install the server program on your PC and select whether you want to control Windows Media Player or Windows Vista Media Center
- Install the remote control application on your mobile device or remote PC.
[via Chris Lanier]
But there's one thing that's missing. A huge price tag. It seems like every day a new company is releasing a remote control that's more powerful than your computer, and costs more to boot.
The Keyspan remote might not be as cheap as the universal remote you can pick up for your TV/VCR/DVD player at the local Radio Shack. But at $50, it's a pretty solid looking device. Since it's an RF remote, you can control your media center from up to 90 feet away without a direct line of sight.
Unlike Snapstream Media's similarly priced Firefly RF remote control, which is designed to work with BeyondTV, Keyspan's remote is made for Windows Media Center. That means you won't have to install any software to use it.
[via Business Portal 24]
But the company's new RC-2400 remote control for Windows Vista Media Center looks sexy enough that we're willing to overlook the company's obscure name and drool at the pretty picture in all its retro style goodness.
The RC-2400 is a 49 button remote with the big ole "green button" we've come to know and love in the middle. The RF remote control comes with a little USB RF dongle. And the RC-2400 is Microsoft certified and should work with your Windows Vista machine, no drivers required.
The remote should be available this month, although there's no word on pricing.
The ULTRA R4000 also includes a view screen that presents information about your music playlists without even turning your television on. Of course, this is only useful if you've got a set of speakers hooked up to your media center independent from your television set.
It supports RF and IR, meaning you can control your PC without a direct line of sight. You can also use the ULTRA R4000 as a universal remote, replacing TV, cable, and other A/V remotes.
The remote should be available in the fall of 2007. No word on pricing yet.
While Joost really does make watching online videos a bit more like watching TV and a bit less like surfing the web, you still pretty much need to use a keyboard to navigate. And that means even if you run a line from the video-out port on your computer or graphics card to your TV, it's no easy feat to watch Joost on the big screen.
Luckily, you can map the keyboard shortcuts to most PC remote controls. And you can even add an icon to your Windows Media Center Program Library that will start and stop Joost. Here are a few tips:
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