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The Size of Remote Controls These Days: A Measured Response

By Alberto Cox Délano | Miscellaneous | December 28, 2022 |

By Alberto Cox Délano | Miscellaneous | December 28, 2022 |


I lost the remote for the Roku yesterday. I spent a good portion of the afternoon trying to find it. It’s a whole goddamn day later and I’m still unable to find the thing, because goddammit why are all domestic appliance manufacturers in a competition to see who can make the smallest, lightest, and most impossible-to-find remote control? What. The hell. Were. They. Thinking?

This is a consumer review.

Do you know everything I did in order to find that godforsaken remote? Do you know the amount of mental distress that can be brought on by not being able to find a very, very, very small piece of black plastic in a space no larger than 10 square meters? A room that was actually quite tidy at the time I lost the thing, but it still forced me to tidy down and tidy up the bed, shake up every pillow, move books and shelves to and fro until I lost track of where things were originally, checking every nook and cranny, every single gap in the sofa even though I was sure that I had not brought the Roku remote to the sofa, but I still had to check.

I had to check the kitchen, I had to check in the bathroom, I had to check in the laundry basket, I had to check in the garbage bin even though I’m OCD and it had day-old stuff and it’s the middle of the summer! I kept pinching my sweatpants pockets. I kept looking over the obvious places, the places where you always find the things you need the most, and no, I’m not talking in metaphors, I’m talking about tangible objects that you actually need, that you can’t find anywhere until you realize they were in your breast pocket or something.

I don’t have children. I don’t have pets (sadly) that could eat the remote. There are also no raccoons or crows in this country (sadly) that could’ve absconded with the remote at the moment I was looking away and because I keep the windows open during the summer. Also, there’s no way a crow would’ve been interested in stealing the Roku remote or any remote because these tech companies, in their infinite wisdom as dictated by the least coked-up manager of the product design department, chose to manufacture the remote as a tiny black thing that isn’t shiny and has but a few stripes of purple that don’t do the job of standing out. Did I mention how small the remote is? Because it barely exceeds the length of my middle finger! There is no conceivable explanation for why I can’t find this remote. It’s an unknown known. I am going crazy here because I tried tracing back every step I took before I lost this insipid remote and all it told me is that I live a very boring life. Is this what gaslighting feels like?

I can’t explain how the thing went missing, I can point to who bears responsibility for making it so prone to disappearing. It’s not just Roku. Every single company that manufactures these streaming devices is deliberately trying to build the remote that is easiest to misplace. Just look at this thing, look at this thing, look at this thing. What made you think that because you could make the digital media players smaller than the HDMI cable you need to connect them to the TV you should also make the remote control as small as the device itself, the single most important thing to make it a functional product (since, of course, they are supposed to be “too streamlined to have buttons”)?

I blame you, Steve Jobs. Not all things are supposed to be minimalistic. Remember remote controls in the 90s? They were so thick and heavy with AA-batteries that you could use them as a blunt-force instrument against the TV if your favorite team was losing. You know what they were also? Grey, with colorful rubber keys in big-ass letters. Could you lose them anyway? Sure, but only for a few seconds. It was just a matter of removing a blanket here or dropping a pillow there and the thing would drop onto the floor and such a racket that it would scare the dog into hiding behind the fridge. Better still, make them like the ones Zenith manufactured in the late 50s and 60s that were plugged into the TV. Who cares about user experience when there’s no worse experience than spending two hours looking for a remote that won’t appear?

Why can’t we make remote controls thick and heavy again? Why can’t big tech realize that some things need to be tactile, need to have weighted mass like those totems from Inception, because remotes are literally the only thing over which we have control in our stressful, overstimulated, doomscrolling, climate anxious, late capitalistic lives?

(Hat Tip for the Title: hhomberguy)

UPDATE: I FOUND IT. On the pocket of my apron. I should also receive the replacement sometime this afternoon.