TV tech is terrible

Panasonic TV with TR logo
TV: getting more complicated by the day.

It's CES 2012 time, so the next few days will be packed with tales of ever more clever bits of home entertainment kit. We'll have better PVRs and bigger screens, TV apps and all kinds of dongles, hoojamaflips and doohickeys.

And I can confidently predict that even if I bought the whole lot of it, I'd still end up shouting myself hoarse as box X refuses to play service Y on display Z.

I don't watch much TV. It's not because there isn't anything to watch. It's that making sense of my home entertainment kit takes so long that by the time I get the right thing working, it's time for bed.

Here's an example: when my daughter wants to watch something on the Apple TV, we need to turn on the TV with the Sky remote, press Help to select the second input, grab the AV receiver's remote, turn its power on, select the Apple TV input, turn it off again so we use the TV speakers rather than the big speakers, find the tiny Apple TV remote and finally - finally! - select the programme or film my daughter wants to see.

Then she wants to watch a DVD, or something on the Sky+ box, or something on the Xbox, or something on iPlayer, and the whole saga starts again.

I'm a fairly patient chap, but home entertainment kit usually makes me apoplectic. It's a mess of remotes and inputs and things that should be simple but which turn out to be enormous time thieves, and whenever my wife is in charge of the remotes we come perilously close to divorce.

Keep it simple

From where I'm sitting - on the sofa, shouting the world's worst swear words at my Sky+HD box as it grinds its way through the EPG and accidentally deletes Frozen Planet - the problem with home entertainment kit is that we have an abundance of riches.

Taken individually, my various bits of home entertainment kit (excepting the Sky box, which is a donkey) are brilliant. Taken together, though, it's all a bit of a mess, with everything competing with rather than complementing everything else.

Imagine if in years gone by we'd needed a different kind of TV set for each channel. My living room's like that now.

I'm serious. I can get Sky, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on my Xbox, but if I want iPlayer I need to grab my PC or my iPad. My Apple TV does AirPlay and iTunes Home Sharing, but my TV expects DLNA - and it only plays nice with my DVD player because they're both Sonys. No doubt the imminent Apple TV update will do its own thing too, refusing to work with anything Apple doesn't like.

Never mind smart TV. Any chance of simple TV?

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.