Christopher Mascari of Gizmodo has written an excellent article on the history of the TiVo Peanut Remote, from the early prototypes to the current Glo Remote to some of what they’re looking at for the future. It is also chock full of pictures of the various incarnations of the remotes, including prototypes and design exercises never before seen. (I just realized he missed the AOLTV remotes though. I wonder if there are any other evolutionary dead-ends in the peanut’s history that TiVo is sitting on.) I thought I knew a lot about the history of TiVo’s remote, but even I learned a few things from this article. For example, I never knew about the ’5 Year Reward’.
I’m interested in the future design possibilities mentioned in the article, such as a QWERTY keyboard or a touchscreen. Personally I would very much not like to see TiVo drop buttons to go to a touchscreen. I’ve found touchscreens difficult to use without looking, because there is no tactile feedback from the button layout or shapes. (Crappy remotes with a grid layout of identical buttons are almost as bad.) And while I would very much like to see QWERTY keyboard support, I think it might be better to have that in an adjunct remote, a dedicated thumb-board design. I’ve seen some remotes with hidden QWERTY keypads – under sliding/flipping covers, etc – but either the remote is bloated to make it large enough, or the keypad is terribly cramped – smaller than what you get on a smartphone. I’d rather see TiVo add generic IR keyboard support (one of the things ReplayTV had, you could use a WebTV keyboard with) and/or support for wireless RF keyboards via USB. TiVo could still offer their own TiVo-designed remote for this, of course.
In any case, definitely check out the article, it is an interesting history.