LOS ANGELES — Is the TV remote toast?
Next week TV set manufacturer Vizio will debut anew kind of TV set that ditches the familiar remote we’ve known to love, hate and lose. Instead, the set comes with a 6-inch tablet. The controller acts like a traditional, Internet-connected tablet, except that it changes your volume and changes channels.
If you lose it, no problem. You just download the new Vizio app to your phone, and use it there.
“I won’t miss the remote,” says Jasmine Star, a Los Angeles photographer who regularly tussles with her husband over who gets control of the remote. “The lack of a remote will bring equality to me and my husband.” They each own a smartphone, so “now both of us can operate the TV,” she says.
Matt Gordon, a product manager for the 360FLY camera manufacturer, says he doesn’t want his 6-year old daughter anywhere near his phone because of the in-app purchase button. He likes the feel of the buttons on the remote. “I’m old school,” he says. “I like my remote.”
Our panelists on this week’s #TalkingTech Roundtable podcast say remotes are an endangered species. “It’s the direction things are going,” said Steve Ellis, who runs the Innovation Group for Wells Fargo Bank.
Ellis says the holy grail is a true, voice-activated app within a phone that expands beyond what Apple tried to do with the latest Apple TV remote, which features Siri, the personal digital assistant. “It’s not all there yet,” he says of Apple’s efforts. But “there’s no doubt we’re moving away from remotes, whether it’s three years or five years.”
Andrew Stalbow, founder of the Seriously mobile games company, says he knows there’s a problem when his daughter walks up to the TV to change the channel by putting her hand on the screen to try to swipe it. “I do believe people’s expectations have changed quite a bit,” he says.
The new Vizio P-series TVs have built-in Google Chromecast (now called Google Cast) for accessing Internet entertainment, beamed from a phone or tablet. They start at $999 for a 50-inch 4K model. Vizio’s new TVs go on sale exclusively at Best Buy at the end of the week.