Easy to use TV

27 Jan 2008
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Llanfair Caereinion, Nr Welshpool
United Kingdom
My mother 88 is not too good learning how to use new items. I found her trying to answer door bell intercom with the cordless phone.

The TV she has uses a integral hard drive which she is struggling to use. Using the EPG the record is relativity easy but when I look many programs show no info (LG). Return home and my TV (Panasonic) shows info even with just loop aerial in window. Not sure why? I use Moel-y-Parc she uses Winter Hill so may be that but seems strange why some programs on her TV show no info.

Considered new TV but teaching her how to use is a problem. The book on LG is size of a bible and I will admit not easiest TV to use.

I have considered a Sky box and leave TV on that and abandon Freeview but unsure if she could record from the Sky box.

Even considered a new smart TV but how she would use it is again a problem. Old turret turner with BBC and ITV she would be fine with but new Freeview is something else.

So first any idea why no EPG on some programs?

Second suggest and easy to use TV.
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I would be surprised if the EPG issue was related to the transmitter; Particularly as Winter Hill (hers) is the main transmitter for the N.West compared to Moel-y-Parc. It's more likely the difference in the EPG source data and then the manufacturer's own implementation of the same.

AFAIK, Panasonic still use the Gemstar Guide+ EPG while LG (and most of the rest of the industry) use the Freeview EPG data.

Once one gets past that then consider how each brand uses that data. It's not set in stone. i.e. What do they put on screen, and where. Also, what do they leave out. I know that updates to TV firmware sometimes bring changes to the EPG layout too, and not always for the better. Panasonic dropped the web-style ads from their EPG - hurrah!. But I also know that in other parts of the world LG introduced ads for their own 3D TVs to theirs - boo!!

If you are considering the expense of changing a TV for something easier to use then perhaps it's time to think a little more "outside the box".

Your mother is 88. Whatever you introduce to her she is going to have to get used to all over again. Changing what is probably in all other respects a fairly reasonable TV to solve the EPG issue represents a major upheaval for her. Have you asked if she actually reads the info? I say this because for most of her life TVs haven't had EPGs. If you wanted to know about what was on then you bought a Radio Times or looked in the day's paper.

Second, think about how technology has changed in the last 10 years. She has managed the change from four or five stations to 100+. The channel numbers are all different now. Recording used to mean a tape but now it is digital. The remote control for the TV has a sea of obscure buttons. etc etc. Even if you get a simpler TV she still have to contend with so many features that it's still very confusing. It's time to think outside the box.

Based on the info you supplied and my experience of similar situations here's my summary of the main issues

1) You need a better EPG (if indeed she is actually using that info at all)

2) Freeview makes TV viewing far more complicated compared to the old analogue system

3) All modern TVs do so much more than their older counterparts that an increase in complexity is inevitable

4) Modern TV remote controls are crowded with a sea of often incomprehensible buttons with text so small as to be unreadable. It doesn't help either that they aren't illuminated.

5) Operation of the LG TV is no doubt further complicated by the presence of a built-in recorder

6) Your mother's needs are probably quite basic.

I think to solve all these issues you need just three things:
  • A decent Freeview recorder
    A remote control that integrates everything as one and gives her 1/2" high easy-to-read text and that holds her hand through her main TV activities
    A friend on DIYNot who can supply a program such a remote at mates rates ;)
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I have considered what you have said and I think I need to take her to my house and try using Sky and my daughters house and using a TV with freesat.

I did say to my wife how intuitive the Sky remote was to which she asked what's the square button for, what the triangle button for and what are the double triangle buttons for and I was stumped until I looked at the controller and even then had to look up square button use. (Stop when viewing recorded item).

The problem is her using the TV times or similar she sees a program she wants to record but entering details is really complex. However find the program on the EPG and it's simple.

The same with Sky+ of course. Find a program using the EPG and easy to set to record but I don't know how to set my sky box to record a set program and time without using the EPG. I have never tried to enter a program number and start and finish time with my sky box not a clue if it can be done?

The free to air box I use also has problems with the EPG only get now and next but with that I can set a channel number and on time so combined with my Hard-drive/DVD recorder I can record at set time and without using 15W on stand by. But OK for me not really for mother.

All seems to hinge around the EPG without that working the record function of the TV is really useless.
Sky might not be a bad suggestion. The point and click simplicity of the EPG is good. Hook it up with a SCART lead and program the remote to do volume control on the TV. That'll take care of TV source switching and day-to-day control. It obviously means paying a subscription, but what the hell. She's 88. Why not splash out a little.
That was what I was thinking. My daughters freesat box similar to sky. OK with hers two dishes as also watches Turkish TV but still should be a good test on how mother can work it.

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