The complexities of running a living room television set have really increased in the past few years.

Living room TV prepped for Halo 3

How many different video and audio sources do you now route through your television and living room entertainment center, if you have one? For us, the list has grown to include a DVD player, a computer (mainly for NetFlix streaming,) a game system, an iPod, and a videoconferencing unit. I’ve recently purchased an S-video switch box, so we can avoid having to unplug and re-plug cables when we’re viewing different video sources on our television. Recently, I took the time to create a short “instruction sheet” of settings for the different devices we have connected to our entertainment center. This is honestly more for my wife than anyone else, but it may come in handy for my kids in the future. Generally our 11 year old can manage any of the required settings to get media running in the living room by himself.

Settings for entertainment center

We actually pulled out some old VHS tapes from the garage recently, and watched one of those. It was the video of our wedding. None of our kids remembered ever seeing it before. My 6 year old asked, when she saw the VHS tape, “What is THAT?!” I don’t think she’d ever previously seen a VHS tape, or at least remembered seeing one.

We have yet to try Hulu. I honestly don’t watch much TV now, but I’m betting if I give Hulu a try that behavior pattern would change.

Our DVR continues to be one of the most beneficial and transformative digital technology appliances in our house. My 6 year old may not recognize a VHS tape, but she can run the DVR like a seasoned professional– faster than either my wife or I can run it.

Have you had to create a family “how-to guide” to help others run your living room television? This seems a bit ridiculous, but it’s also a sign of the times with media convergence.

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4 Responses to Who can run our living room TV anymore?

  1. Phyridean says:

    It seems to me this is more a matter of your TV not having a sufficient number and variety of types of interfaces. Most modern TVs have enough HDMI, component, RCA, and tuner inputs that it’s really only necessary (for a given device) to have the remote for the television and the device in question. You tune the TV to the proper interface, and go wild with your device.

  2. Ryan Collins says:

    It sounds like it’s time for you to buy a programmable remote. 🙂 I have an older Sony RM-AV2100B that lets you program in the sequence of presses to activate equipment. Pressing 1 turns everything on, and then holding down the device buttons will switch the inputs to the TV and the amplifier to that particular device. Pressing 1 turns everything off again. My only problem is lack of HD inputs on my TV, so I have to use a manual switch box to switch between the HD output of the cable box and the HD output of the Wii.

    The new Logitech Harmony remotes take it a step further.

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    @Phyridean: You are correct that our older TV is a big part of our problem / situation… we’re still using a non-HD, analog TV and it just has a single S-video input on the back. So that is the reason to route our external video sources through an S-video switcher.

    @Ryan: Yes, a programmable remote would be nice– I have a Chameleon, and used it at our old house with another setup… it would help to have a newer television for sure. We may upgrade this holiday season. I’ll have to check out the Logitech Harmony, thanks for the recc.

  4. Chris Bell says:

    I was just thinking about doing this! My wife claims to be unable to turn on the PS3 which is also used for a DVD player, streaming Pandora, and (by next month) streaming Netflix. We also have the grandparents coming over to babysit periodically and too many times they have pressed the wrong buttons and effectively locked themselves out of the TV.

    I was thinking of creating a visual guide to go along with the step by step instructions. I think images with arrows and callouts would really help out my wife who is a very visual learner.

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