Motorola tablet-like "Corvair" TV controller revealed

Motorola doesn't just make smartphones and tablets, it also makes cable television set-top boxes and DVR devices for cable TV providers. Now The Verge reports that Motorola is working on a new tablet device called the Corvair that's being designed as a kind of advanced remote control for those cable TV boxes. The article says that the Android-powered tablet is currently in testing with cable TV providers.

Not much is known about what's inside the Corvair. The image above says that it has a six inch touch screen and that it uses Android 2.3; it also has WiFi support along with IR control and RF4CE. However, images from the device indicate that in addition to serving as a TV remote, the touch screen can also stream video from the television. It's possible that the tablet could stream video from one TV channel while showing another channel on the big screen.

The truth is that the basic design for the standard TV remote hasn't changed a lot over the past few decades: most remotes still use physical buttons in layouts that can be hard to use by TV customers. Creating a remote that resembles a smartphone or tablet, complete with a user friendly touch screen interface, seems like a natural fit. Indeed, Google TV devices can be controlled via a free Google TV app for Android and the iPhone.

Image via The Verge

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5 Comments

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Man, give me a remote with physical buttons any day. All this touchscreen hoo-ha is for the birds. I don't know about everyone else but for me, I can use a physical remote just fine in the dark, without having to ever look at the thing. Try doing that with a touchscreen... There's a reason why things stay the same for decades at a time - it simply works the best.

Sranshaft said,
Man, give me a remote with physical buttons any day. All this touchscreen hoo-ha is for the birds. I don't know about everyone else but for me, I can use a physical remote just fine in the dark, without having to ever look at the thing. Try doing that with a touchscreen... There's a reason why things stay the same for decades at a time - it simply works the best.

Just because things 'work the best' doesnt mean people should try and stop innovating or we would all still be driving around in Ford Model Ts and watching tiny screened in massive housing CRT TVs.

Sranshaft said,
Man, give me a remote with physical buttons any day. All this touchscreen hoo-ha is for the birds. I don't know about everyone else but for me, I can use a physical remote just fine in the dark, without having to ever look at the thing. Try doing that with a touchscreen... There's a reason why things stay the same for decades at a time - it simply works the best.

Well...maybe they will make an app for the tablet that has the same layout your remote control has. Would you be happy with that?

TheLegendOfMart said,

Just because things 'work the best' doesnt mean people should try and stop innovating or we would all still be driving around in Ford Model Ts and watching tiny screened in massive housing CRT TVs.

The Model T wasn't exactly perfect - far from it in fact. I'm not saying we should stop innovating but we need to look at what worked in the past and why it worked. Physical buttons work because we can feel the button without having to look at it. Humans evolved to use tactile feedback to determine where their fingers / hands were relative to the spacial world around them.

Getting back to innovation, how about a remote that is a touchscreen with adaptive button positioning? With the new, flexible OLEDs coming out one could see a scenario where the screen physically changes depending on the device it's set to. Buttons bulge out to form a different layout when controlling the Bluray player when compared to controlling the TV.

This is the kind of innovation we need. Adapting the current system (a system that has work relatively unchanged for the last 40 years) with today's technology.

texasghost said,

Well...maybe they will make an app for the tablet that has the same layout your remote control has. Would you be happy with that?

Would I be happy? No. Simply because touchscreen don't offer tactile feedback. This it where physical buttons will always win over touchscreens. I know I'm touching the channel up button on the remote without having to look at it because it feels like the channel up button. Just like I know I'm holding an orange instead of an apple because it feels like an orange. The same principles apply to remotes.

Edited by Sranshaft, Nov 8 2011, 10:48pm :

I heard these were unsafe at high speeds......Who picked out that name? Looks like a great idea but did marketing get a heads up before it was named?

Maybe Edsel was already being used....