Touch-based remotes redefine how we interact with TVs
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Samsung launched a new remote control for its smart TV range at the company's Regional Forum 2013 in Hyderabad on Friday. The device is a universal remote, which means that it will work with TV sets from other manufacturers as well.
This is the first Samsung remote to feature a touchpad. Previously, this technology was unique to Bose, as an accessory with the company's top-of-the-line VideoWave series of televisions. The Bose touchpad opens an array of options at the edges of the screen. Users need to swipe their thumbs across the edges of the clickpad remote to access options, much like navigation in the iPod Classic.
Samsung's product relies more on swipes. Simple functions include swipe left to rewind 10 seconds, and swipe right to forward. There are four buttons on the edges of the touchpad, which mimic the arrow keys on traditional remotes. The bottom arrow key also doubles up as a key to let you access your history (recently played videos) or a search button.
The touchpad is fairly responsive. Users can "write" the channel number on the touchpad to switch channels. As you draw a digit, it appears on one corner of the screen.
There isn't much innovation in the remote apart from the touchpad. While it performs well, it still feels raw – as expected from the first version of any device. Users can expect it to be refined in future versions, but the important thing is that companies are trying to improve how we interact with the television.
Last year, Samsung introduced voice recognition and gesture controls in its smart television series. Although both have been effectively used in other product categories, they do not work well for a television because watching TV is a passive experience. Few would enjoy constantly shouting at the TV set or waving at it to change channels. Remotes such as the Bose clickpad or Samsung Smart Touch Control hit the middle ground between innovation and user-friendliness. Don't be surprised if other manufacturers come up with touch-based remotes in the near future.
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