Too Many Remotes

I’m old enough to remember when TV’s were massive pieces of furniture that dominated the room. You walked over to the set to turn it on, cranked a dial to pick your channel and that was it. No remotes, no sound bars, no streaming services. If you were lucky, your antenna picked up all three major networks albeit with fuzzy pictures if the weather wasn’t cooperative.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy great shows on premium channels and have no desire to return to the dark ages of TV. However, sometimes I feel like I need the skills of a sound engineer just to operate the damn thing. I recently wanted to watch something on Showtime which I get as an “add-on” with my Hulu subscription. I used to do this by casting from my phone–switch the HDMI input, pull up the show on my phone, hit the cast button, and there it was. (See—look at all the tech words I know!)

But, alas, we’ve gotten a new TV and new phones in the last six months and the rules have changed. I assumed with the new TV I could just go through the Hulu app to watch Showtime and not have to cast. But, no, that wasn’t good enough for the LG TV.  It kept insisting that I start a Showtime subscription WHICH I ALREADY HAD THROUGH HULU.  I kept googling solutions and pressing buttons and becoming more and more frustrated, until, at one point, a shot of the home screen of my phone mysteriously appeared in the corner of the TV. I was ready to throw the remote across the room and give up.

Unless you happen to have a thirteen-year-old in your house, managing TV technology is not for the faint of heart. I eventually got to watch my show, and I think I now know all the steps to make that happen although I need to take deep, calming breaths before I start the process.  Here’s what I learned.

a) “Pairing” devices may also be called “mirroring;”

b) Sometimes giving up and threatening to contact customer service prompts the TV and its assorted remotes to finally relent and allow the cast button to show up on your phone.

c) In order to change HDMI inputs on new LG TV’s, a small droplet-shaped object appears on the screen which you must maneuver onto the correct setting and then hit the enter button before it moves off that setting . If you ever had trouble playing games like that – good luck.

d) Because our amplifier (which dates back to the Clinton administration) is connected to the TV, in order to hear the sound on a program I’m casting, I must shut the amplifier off (using its own remote) and then turn the sound up on the TV using the LG remote, (not the Comcast remote) and then do it all in reverse when I want to return to regular TV. Seriously.

e) There are three remotes on our coffee table and it’s like a game of Russian roulette as to which one you should use to accomplish a task. Press the wrong button on the wrong remote and everything goes black or silent.

After this  traumatic experience, I went upstairs and turned on the TV in our bedroom to watch the late news. The screen was frozen on a scene from a show from the last network we watched. Shouting obscenities through the voice command was not effective. I said to my husband, “I can’t deal with this right now.” He replied, “When it does that, you just have to punch in the number of another channel on the Comcast remote, and it’ll work.” Which it did. Who knew?

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