Theres nothing quite like shopping for your home entertainment system. Equipment auditions hopefully are fun, and there is a genuine sense of accomplishment of choosing the best possible peice of gear for each link of your systems chain. Be it stereo or home theatre its possible to create an outstanding system to thrill and delight.

Unfortunately its rare that a company will produce quality components for every part of your system. (Denon for example builds sensational receivers and DVD players, but doesn't produce any displays...) As most systems will feature components from a range of manufacturers, its becoming more and more difficult to avoid a mass of handsets swamping your coffee table.

The user interface is sadly the most neglected part of the modern entertainment system. Its sad to see an otherwise beautifully designed system rendered all but un-usable by a a constant search to find the right remote. It is especially confusing for guests and partners. My partner was fine when we only had a remote for the TV and the dvd player but with a growing list of devices connected to our system its becoming more and more confusing.

The solution seems to lie in control systems, be it a fully blown control product such as Crestron or something as simple as a universal remote. Whilst offering a solution, these options are not a panacea.

The key is a well designed user interface. A good user interface is intuitive enough to allow anyone to sit down and control the system without reading a user manual. A badly designed interface is an exercise in frustration, baffling would be users with confusing menus and un-necessary buttons.

As we progress into this bold new technological frontier it is a certainty that we will see continued growth in the control system market. Whilst some look at this as adding another layer of complexity to what is already a baffling purchase, I actually see it as simplifying the process. As control systems and universal controllers become more affordable, it allows the user to get back to the fun of building a system by combining the best possible components. Fully flexible control systems and remotes allow we as audio visual consultants to tie the disparate parts of your system into a cohesive whole. If we do our job right, you will pick up a single controller and have an interface so friendly you can't help but be drawn into your own little world the technology has helped create.

As I write this I am sitting in bed programming a remote on my laptop. Its approaching mignight. I've been at this remote for a few days now and to say that it hasn't been frustrating would be an out and out lie. Its not the equipment I'm controlling, if I just wanted to roll the six current remotes into one handset that would be simple. The goal with this remote, as every should be, is to create an interface for them that is easy to navigate. To that end Im almost there, as long as I can get the seamless switching to work. Fingers crossed when i show up on site tommorow when I hit the DVD button the garage door doesn't open...