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Time Warner Cable: Worst TV Interface Ever?

The DVR menu is in the "Help" tab, video on demand is impossible to navigate, and the remote control has teeny weeny buttons. And we wonder why cable companies like Time Warner Cable are losing subscribers.


TWC remote. Can't even tell you what that green button is with the reversed-out text. Who designs these things?
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There is no excuse for a bad user interface. So why are there so many?

I remember asking my husband – a security manufacturing guy – years ago if there was a reason that alarm panels were all so ugly. Was it somehow cheaper to make them ugly? The answer was no.

And today, I am just as awed that so many digital user interfaces are ridiculously bad. I can’t imagine that good designers are that much more expensive than bad ones, especially when you’re talking about well-financed firms like Time Warner Cable, purveyor of one of the world’s worst TV interfaces.

I’m pretty sure I saw my husband cry the other day while clutching a TWC remote, unable to get to a recording of “60 Minutes.”

It’s no wonder. The DVR menu is under the HELP tab. Makes perfectly good sense.

[continues]
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There’s the DVR ... in the help menu with parental controls. Right.

I won’t even go into the unnerving universal remote that TWC supplies with its digital cable service. Even if I could see the tiny labels on the tiny buttons, they wouldn’t make sense.

The entire TWC experience is epitomized by the video-on-demand feature – something I had never used until about a month ago. I think I hit the VoD button by accident.

What a mess!

Seems like a nice feature, right? You can watch some good prime-time shows whenever you want? As long as you can find them? Which you can’t?

VoD is an attractive service, which I never knew about from my last cable experience (12 years with Comcast) since I used a Windows Media Center with CableCard. It could potentially keep me from cutting the cord with TWC, but TWC does everything to repel me from the service.

In the video below, I demonstrate how a person might find Honey Boo Boo on TWC VoD. It isn’t pretty. On so many levels.

You think cable companies are losing subscribers because of cheap online competition? Maybe they’re defecting because of the bad user experience.

VIDEO: Time Warner Cable VoD experience: terrible GUI



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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