I was going to add this to the "wife" thread, but that thread has gone off in another direction. Here's why universal remotes are hard to learn to use. (This applies to any user interface, not just remotes.) 1. Too many buttons are modal. That is, a given button on the remote does different things depending on what other button has been pushed first. Example: If I push the TV button, the TV/Video button then chooses the TV input. But if I push the DVD button before the TV/Video button, it sets the DVD audio option. An LCD where you can really choose your own label is a potential solution, although, for entirely different reasons, I don't like LCD remotes since you have to look at the screen to operate them. 2. Lack of sufficient feedback. There is usually some feedback from pushing a button, but it is so subtle that it is easily missed. For example, the only feedback may be a tiny indicator on the front panel of the VCR. If the user meant to press another button for the DVD and is therefore looking at the DVD, he or she will not see the feedback at all. (A related problem is that the feedback displays are all over the equipment rack, rather than in one place as they are on a computer screen.) And, even if the feedback is seen, how is the untrained user supposed to know what it means? 3. Too much dependence on existing state. This is the problem of the same button doing different or even opposite things. An example is the power button which either turns it on or off. Incorporating such commands into a macro only makes things worse. The macro doesn't work, and hitting it again also doesn't work, but this time for a different reason! Violates every user interface guideline one could possibly dream up. The result is that universal remotes work fine for someone who could also operate the equipment without it and has a thorough understanding of what all the buttons and indicators do (that is, someone who could program the remote), but they do not make operation easier unless the operator pushes all the buttons exactly correctly. Any mistake, due to the modal effects, lack of feedback, and dependence on existing state, will not give the operator sufficient feedback, so there is no training with use. Universal remotes do make operation more EFFICIENT, but they do not make operation EASIER TO LEARN, which is at the root of the so-called "wife" problem. In fact, they probably make the equipment harder to learn. To say it another way, it's not enough to supply an untrained user with a device that works when operated correctly. One must also design the device for when it is operated incorrectly. Learning only comes from incorrect operation, after all. If the user only operates it correctly, there is not even a basis to determine if learning has occurred!