It’s Saturday night.
Our three-year-old son has gone to sleep early, cozied up with his favorite Octonauts toys.
Downstairs, my wife looks at the clock, turns to me,, and she smiles.
She suggests… we may just have enough time to watch a Netflix movie.
We usually don’t get this opportunity, because we don’t want to risk going to bed too late…
Our little lad’s internal clock does not yet recognize the weekend, and his morning wake-up schedule is almost as dependable as an atomic clock.
I expect other parents will appreciate the difficulty finding enough time to consume an entire movie together without planning a formal ‘date night’ out.
(Let’s just say it’s been a while for us since we’ve tried this trick at home.)
Activate Movie Night
I rush over to the dormant media center, my pride and joy.
I swiftly open up the cabinet in the TV stand housing my four-year-old Samsung Blu-ray player (BD-P3600).
It’s quite dark inside, but there’s clearly a noticeable layer of dust accumulated on top of the Blu-ray unit.
The shrouded device patiently awaits like Star Trek’s Guardian of Forever.
I luckily have a Netflix Blu-ray disk on hand that I think both of us will enjoy.
(Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Netflix Streaming isn’t an option, as it simply takes too much time to sift through to quickly find a good movie.
My wife sits down on the couch, and I pop the disk into the player.
Hollywood, We Have a Problem!
I reach up, and my hand misses its target.
Where’s the remote?
I quickly survey all the surfaces in the immediate vicinity.
The remote for the Blu-ray player is nowhere in site.
That’s really annoying…
I assure my wife it’s just an inconvenience.
Surely, the player will operate sufficiently from its onboard controls.
I get through the obligatory movie previews on the Blu-ray disk, and finally get to the “Play Movie” icon on the main menu screen.
I press the play button on the top of the device to begin our little Cinema Paradiso.
Then, I tap the ‘Next’ button.
I frantically press all the available onboard buttons.
But there’s no matching ‘Enter’ button, which the missing remote possesses.
Nothing can kick our movie into gear…
I turn to my wife.
Uh… I think movie night is cancelled.
But she is not so easily deterred.
She suggests we do some catch-up ‘Mad Men’ viewing on our always-ready cable DVR.
And so we successfully switch to Plan B…
Eating Humble Tech Pie
So, hanging with Don Draper really wasn’t such a bad back-up plan, but I’ve got to admit I felt like a mad man for the rest of the night.
The IT Guy had failed at the most basic of tech tasks.
(Sure, I could blame the disappearance on my little adventurer asleep upstairs, but it really doesn’t matter how the remote vanished…)
I was also rather annoyed with the stunning realization that my missing remote could completely hobble the ongoing functionality of my Blu-ray player.
(Whose genius engineering idea was that?)
Why even have a play button on the unit, if it can’t get you past the main menu?!
Brain Replacement, STAT!
So now what?
I had a giant hockey puck under my TV that wouldn’t function without its missing remote brain.
And I don’t often get the opportunity to enjoy a joint movie night at home while my three-year-old snores upstairs.
So I pledged right there that next time, I’d better be prepared!
I had four choices to consider:
- Find the missing remote
- Replace the Samsung remote
- Buy a universal remote
- Purchase a brand new Blu-ray player
1. Send Out the Rescue Party
I’ve gradually faced a new reality over the past year living with my son:
- Sometimes we find them.
- Sometimes we don’t, and I chalk up the missing items to the mysteries of the universe.
- Occasionally, the objects suddenly reappear, but often months later.
I carefully considered the odds,
and then I called off the full-house search…
2. Replace the Remote
Fat chance, right?
Where would you even you go to buy a replacement remote for a discontinued model?
(more on this in a moment….)
3. Go Universal
Universal remotes have been around forever.
I’ve owned my fair share over the years.
But they eventually get old and have trouble playing with the newer gear you eventually buy.
Fact Check: Currently, the Lester household is without a universal remote.
I am not proud to admit this, but I use five remotes to control the TV, cable box, Roku, Apple TV, and my formerly functioning Blu-ray player.
For some strange reason, my wife says this set up is a tad confusing.
I’m not sure I understand why.
I suppose the upside is whenever we lose a remote, my entire media display zone isn’t completely crippled…
I admit we’re due for a new universal remote.
I just haven’t gotten around to it…
So you might conclude this would be the perfect time for me to pick up a universal remote and regain control of our lobotomized Blu-ray player.
4. Go Crazy and Start Over
Our disposable tech culture would say-
Just throw the problem in the trash and buy a shiny new one…
So let’s consider the option of picking up a new Blu-ray player…
- I’ve had my old unit for almost four years.
(That’s like 450 dog years in today’s technology.)
- Its slow-disk loading speed has always been an issue…
- Amazon offers several inexpensive models well under $100
such as the Samsung BD-F5100 Blu-ray Disc Player for only $70.
It doesn’t have Wi-Fi, but with my slick little Roku around, I don’t need another streaming box…
- If you want a cheap model with Wi-Fi, there’s also the Panasonic DMP-BD89 Blu-ray Player on Amazon for just $72.
Remember how much Blu-ray players cost just a few years ago?
This technology has really matured…
Now, it’s relative chump change!
(Too bad, Blu-ray disks are still so expensive…)
All this said, we’re still talking about replacing an old top-of-the-line model with a new bargain-basement afterthought. While it functionally meets my need, it’s not quite an apples-to-apples replacement option.
Is It my Birthday?!
So remember the ‘crazy’ option of simply replacing the remote?
What are the odds I’d find an exact duplicate of my four-year-old remote?
- 1 in 100?
- 1 in 5 trillion?
Take the odds.
Amazon indeed has the replacement remote!
It’s the ‘Samsung Remote Control AK59-00104K’
for only $12.10 plus $4.95 shipping.
(No Amazon Prime is offered, but the vast majority of reviews were wicked positive…)
$17.05 to put my next movie night back on track?
(Amazon to the rescue!)
The Conundrum of Blu-ray’s Future
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of a little bad luck and upgrading your Blu-ray player for far less than your original investment.
But the fact that my current unit sports that unsightly layer of moon dusk is a clue to how much I’ve actually used it over the past couple of years.
You can blame this trend on my new-daddy schedule, but it probably also points to the stiff competition offered today from streaming technologies..
Plus, you know I’ve been consuming much of my media as a Road Warrior.
It all points to the basic question:
Do you even need a Blu-ray player anymore?
(That’s an especially painful question considering the prices I’ve been paying for my Blu-ray movies.)
So if 17 bucks can buy me a reprieve on an answer, I say that’s money well spent!
The Power of ‘Enter’
My ‘rescue’ remote arrived in the mail last week and its powerful ‘Enter’ button immediately reactivated my sidelined Blu-ray player.
Then I looked around the room to see if I was alone. There were no prying eyes lurking in the corner to observe my next little precaution…
I hid my new remote control away from my little Ethan Hunt.
(and where I hopefully won’t forget where its located)
Movie night at the Lester household is again open for business!
Popcorn for all!