Smart TV, Dumb Set-top Box (Pt.1)

A series on the painful UX of my Dish Tv set-top box.( Tata Sky — since i can only have one at home)
Note: the images are low quality since the setup at home allows me only this level of visual fidelity.

I have stopped watching TV, the above video is not the reason why.

That video is the reason for this series of posts. Now i will answer the WHY?

Because to me, it is ironic that i have a smart TV which remembers what channel or mode i was using even when the electricity gets cutoff and comes back. And this piece of expensive equipment gets foiled by a simple SET TOP BOX of Tata Sky. Which sends me back to starting line every time there is a power cut.
{ Power cut is the reason for this issue — since i live in India and also a state (UP) where the state electricity provider has there own whimsical times to load shed power, which mind you is a secret that they cannot divulge to the consumers.}

My frustration led to curiosity as it was prolonged over a long period of experience. And I observed so many problems with the product I was using.

Starting from the navigation controller aka remote to the interface and the information hierarchy of the product was tiresome and confusing. I was amazed at the skills of my parents (and probable tenacity) that how they learned to navigate the mess in front of my eyes.

Let us first learn, what are those many coloured and googly shaped buttons on the remote.

Woohoo!! now you know what those buttons on that remote means. I don’t know how many times i have used any of them( specially the coloured ones).

Now let me start with a small customer(aka my) journey. The light came back after a sudden power cut and now the TV and the set top box are restarting. And voila!! i get the irritating ads of the home screen — which runs on repeat like a broken record. Irritates the hell out of me, since i was watching a match and now the TV wants me to buy something from a tele-shopping or join a yoga exercise channel or make my kids( which i don’t have) smarter and the channel number is Ch.100 Gold.

Now I have to get back to the channel “Sony Max” whose channel number is not learned by heart to me. So I search for a back button or last viewed channel in Tata Sky— — Alas!! nothing like that exist on the remote. 🙁

I open the (guide) menu and find the sports section and select it. The lowest number sports channel is shown with a menu informing about the current channel. I then move through them one after the other till i find the channel and then again click select. Finally!! i am at Sony Max, after so long procedure. And then the light cuts again. And i am pissed to my senses that i throw the remote and go to my laptop/Jio phone to stream it online.

So to summarise the steps :

  1. Switch On Television.
  2. Switch On Set top box.
  3. Get irritated by the GOLD Channel 100 Ads. as they don’t know why we watch tv for.
  4. Click ‘guide’ blue button.
  5. Select Section of Sports
  6. Start from an irrelevant channel.
  7. Navigate to the channel in the transparent and hard to see overlapping menu in the bottom to the channel of your liking.
  8. Click Select option in the middle of the navigation arrows.
  9. Aha! the channel is here.
  10. Light cuts again.
  11. Throw away the remote in frustration.
  12. Open your laptop/Jio Tv and watch an online stream of the channel.

I do not even understand how the remote control helped me to get to this point. All the buttons on the remote are the outcome of the poorly designed interface of the Tata Sky. Even in this Digital App Age they make the interface like the 90’s console games. And those games had much easier controller for navigation. Well they should change the shape of controller to a gamepad rather than a TV remote controller.

That is all for this post. I will write about the hierarchy of the interface in the next post. I will try to be exhaustive as much as I can. So that you understand why all those buttons exist on the remote for.

I wish i had some technical data about the buttons or menus which are actualy used by people. 😛

Note :- this article is not funded by TataSky, instead its a criticism of the poor user experience of their product as experienced when ever I switch it on.

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