Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Not smart at all

We don't have cable TV in the Brooks home. We spend our money on DSL service instead which is far more useful to our family. So with the change from analog TV to digital coming we purchased the Magnavox TB100MW9 converter box for the TV in the living room. We've two other TV's in the house but one is a 20 year old 19" and there is a third 10" one in the kitchen I got from Goodwill last year for $10. We're waiting before deciding what, if anything, to do about them.

The connection of the converter box went very quickly and the television reception is remarkably better. However--

Our BIGGEST complaint about this Magnavox TB100MW9 converter is the remote. I'll confess that I didn't even consider the remote when purchasing the unit. The remote wasn't pictured on the box (now I know why) and I didn't open the box before purchase to examine the remote. It never occurred to me that it'd be any different from the remotes we've gone through over the years. The fact is, the buttons are itty-bitty. I'm not kidding here. The majority of the button are 1/4" x 1/8th" inch. I guess the generous size of the on/off button (the red one) of 5/8th" x 3/8th" was supposed to make up for the rest. I've photographed the Magnavox TB100 remote along side the universal remote we regularly use. It's obvious that the Phillips remote, on the right, is made for real world hands and fingers. The Maganvox one---well, who did the consumer testing on this and decided that these were big enough? They couldn't have been more wrong. The big ones in the middle of the Magnavox remote are NOT for the usual channel up and down or selection---no, no, those big buttons are for navigating through the electronic program guide. Something that is handy for those "WHAT are you watching?" moments but we don't use it often enough to justify those being the biggest buttons on the entire remote.

And that's not all--while very small the buttons are also VERY hard to engage. You have to press HARD and directly in the center of each of the button in order to get them to respond and actually change the channel or volume. I'm watching TV folks. If I wanted a hand workout I'd come back here and spend time at the keyboard blogging.

Further, who decided that you can't exclude some channels from your usual line-up? Great we've got all these new channels with this conversion to digital (NPT2 with the Documentary Channel has been interesting) but we don't need 5 channel 50's and we don't appreciate the Spanish language soap operas on Telemundo. OK, it has occasionally been fun to watch something like "Zorro" in Spanish but usually we don't need that channel at all. Why can't we ignore it?

And the final complaint is that we're now back to using two remotes. One to cycle through the channels via the converter box and the other to raise and lower the volume. Apparently, it's possible to create a $20 remote that will operate nearly every electronic device in your home (TV, VCR, DVD, CD player, Cable, Satellite) EXCEPT for your digital TV converter box. Some serious lack of planning here folks.

The Magnavox slogan is "Smart. Very smart." No, not this time...not at all.


Meredith said...

We don't have cable either, but the new digital remote is not my problem.

(Our converter is a Zenith, and its remote includes TV on/off and volume controls.)

We now get some kind of cartoon channel called Qubo. It's not offensive, but policing 24/7 cartoons is the major reason we've never had cable.

I have to figure out how to program that away soon!

Kate said...

Now see Miss could get Directv for a WHOLE lot less that cable (basic) and the problem would be solved. BIG buttons, and you can block whatever channels ya want. :) I'm thinking I should block ESPN or the Big 10 channel. sigh...

Buckley said...

We have directv with DVR and absolutely love it- especially the tivo-like programming. We use the channel block some. But the cost has risen dramatically since our original agreement.

My son had a recent first grade assigment where he was to watch the local weather and record some specific data. Not that we let him watch anything that cotroversial, but, in terms of TV viewing/censoring I was the most uncomfortable as a parent sitting there with him listening to the gruesome stories on the local news. After just 2 of those, I froze the TV for a bit, let it record, and then fast forwarded to the weather. It was easy to rewind if he missed getting anything down.

We can program it to tape up to 2 things at a time if we want. No tapes but tons of storage. We don't have tons of luxuries, and aren't big TV watchers, but we'll never go back to not having DVR. I gotta call them, though, to get that price back down.

Eric H said...

We have been broadcast-only for over 10 years. I was really considering letting TV go completely with the switch to digital, but I couldn't resist the $40 government TV welfare coupon. The geek factor of being able to see the reduced bandwidth allowing multiple broadcasts per "station" and the picture quality is interesting. I believe we still have a net loss of broadcast channels. Not all stations here simulcasting digital yet.

We have the same converter as you. Same complaints on layout and no volume adjustment except I am o.k. with the button size. It seems to require near perfect vertical alignment to operate the box (our box mounted on top of the TV - typically higher than the remote). That may be more of your problem than hard-to-push buttons.

Still not much there worth watching. So little I would allow the children to see, and then I have to consider, why should I watch it?

Kay Brooks said...

Meredith: Sorry about the Qubo problem. We were delighted to see the Veggie Tales--my teens have yet to outgrow them and I have to confess I love the inside jokes for adults.

We're not big broadcast TV watchers either...especially with Netflix being reasonably priced and the turn around being so quick. I'd much rather do that than take a chance on watching a movie on TV only to have it interrupted with an inappropriate ad for some other program (a pet peeve of mine).

The alignment of the remote to the converter box is something I forgot but you're right, Eric.

We didn't use the government coupons. We were among the first to order them. We got them and they got buried in the inbox. By the time I found them again they'd expired and NO they won't reissue them. So we paid full price for our trouble.

Miss Kate, I'll check into DTV. My MIL has it and seems fairly happy with it...except that weather does affect it. If it carries the NASCAR races...that'll help make the sale with Papa. :-)

Kate said...

Just in case ya need some urging. :)

Kay Brooks said...

Ok, Ok. Gee...are we going to have to add pushy to that Ol Broad moniker? ;-)

I also remembered that AT&T was going into the cable business. Their boxes are going up all over town but I haven't noticed (or paid attention to) any advertising about the program.

Kate said...

heh heh heh Quite possibly! :)

Well, I've found that Directv has been a whole lot more reliable than cable, but I think it's a matter of choice. We've got every bloomin' channel available, including the Watch Paint Dry channel. Sheesh! LOL Cable starts out with a 'good deal', then raises their rates about every 15 minutes. :/