TV Guide + Remote Control

Geoff Walker



It’s a safe bet that just about every Palm owner watches TV, uses a remote control and uses some form of TV listing guide. ConnectedTV™ is a new service and Palm application that targets this specific activity. As such, it’s probably the Palm application with the broadest appeal of any of the 11,000+ available Palm programs.

ConnectedTV combines the functions of a personalized TV guide listing and a universal remote control. It lets TV viewers see lists of TV shows on the Palm screen and tune in a show by simply tapping its name. Programs that turn a Palm into a universal remote control (such as OmniRemote™) have been available for a few years, but using them just replaces one hardware device with another. Adding personalized TV guide listings to remote control functionality is a perfect example of synergy — the combination is something totally new, more powerful than either one alone. It makes selecting TV programs as simple as using speed-dial on a telephone, without the setup hassle.

Connected TV is a product of ConnectedMedia, a startup in Palo Alto, CA. They’re currently in beta test, with plans to start shipping the product by the second quarter of 2002. Distribution will be on-line and through selected retail outlets. The service will cost $30 per year (less than a subscription to TV Guide magazine) or $99 for life, if you’re subscription-phobic. Once you sign up, you use your PC browser to create a profile on the ConnectedTV website. The profile includes your location, TV provider (cable, satellite or broadcast) and the channels for which you want guide information. After downloading and installing the Palm application, you simply HotSync to retrieve your personalized TV listings from the website, and then you’re live.

On the Palm, the application user interface is simple. The application checks the clock on the Palm and displays the names of all the TV programs for the current 15-minute window. The program buttons are large enough to easily hit with your finger. For easy identification of programs that are about to start, one corner of the button is clipped. To tune the TV to a selected program, you just tap the button. To display more information about a program (i.e., the blurb from the guide), you do a downstroke on the button. The downstroke is a result of the program menu buttons being implemented via "pie menus" (see, which makes it very easy to use the application with one hand.

For instant access to frequently used functions, the application remaps the Palm’s hardware buttons to Power, Mute, Volume Up/Down, Next and Back. At initial release, the program will include support for TiVo and some brands & models of VCR, as well as the ability to program it for other brands. Management of "Favorites" (e.g., flagging favorite programs with their first run/rerun status) is planned but may not make the first release.

ConnectedTV has been tested on the Palm m100 series, m500 series, IIIc and V, as well as the Handspring Visor and Visor Deluxe. Additional Palm devices are being tested during the beta test. -- Geoff Walker