EDITORIAL: I (unexpectedly) miss slow motion on DIRECTV

You CAN do slow motion on DIRECTV. This isn’t a secret… in fact I’ve published a previous article on it. But it’s far from easy. Your options are to either press-and-hold the {PLAY} button for what seems like a very, very long time, or use the DIRECTV app for tablets which has a dedicated slow motion button. That’s great, but of course you have to open up the app, connect to the DVR, open the remote up… a lot of work.

And I’ll tell you, I’ve been playing around with DIRECTV’s HD DVRs for about ten years and one of those two options has always worked ok for me. I’ve rarely complained.

Lately, for some reason I’ve been missing that slow motion button. In fact what I’ve been missing is multiple levels of slow motion. This is one of those things that got sort of left behind as we all moved from VCRs to DVRs, I guess. What started it all was my rediscovery that in my garage, I still have one of the better DVRs I ever owned. It wasn’t the best DVR — that one, bought in the mid-80s, cost over $400 at the time and could do some really decent editing. But this one was pretty good. Among its many features was a real “jog wheel” on the remote, a large knob that let you control variable speed slow motion, rewind, and fast forward. You could step frame by frame or go 20x speed, or anything in between.

That jog wheel got a lot of use back when I used to manually forward past commercials. I got pretty good at starting fast, then moving to a 2x speed as the commercial break was about to end so I didn’t miss any of the show. It was great for other recorded stuff too, like trying to figure out if Sally Kellerman was actually naked on screen in M*A*S*H. (A purely academic exercise, I assure you.)

I sort of miss a jog wheel on DIRECTV DVRs, or at least some way to get slow motion more effectively, or have finer control over rewind and fast forward. I’m sure I’m in the minority there; the trend today is toward simplified remotes that hide common features, not more dedicated buttons. DIRECTV isn’t about to put a dedicated slow motion button (or a dedicated PIP button, don’t ask) on a remote because people want something simple with a very quick learning curve. The people have spoken, and that’s not likely to change.

But for me… I kinda wish I had more slow motion options. I’ll probably get past it, but I thought well, why not blog a little about it and see if anyone agrees.