What's up with hotel TVs?
April 16, 2006 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Why doesn't the on button work on hotel TV remotes?

Remote controls usually have a standby button which turns the TV on or off, but in a lot of hotels this only turns it off. Only pressing a number button or the channel up/down button turns it on. Why?
posted by hoverboards don't work on water to Technology (11 answers total)
In my experience, they want the first channel you see to be the information channel, which is usually trying to sell you an in-room movie or video games.

Not sure about how it works on a practical level, but I think this is the "why."
posted by The Deej at 8:48 AM on April 16, 2006

Whatcha talkin' about? I just spent a week in a hotel (Hilton, Vancouver) and the remote worked just like it should.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 AM on April 16, 2006

A lot of remotes I've come in contact with don't use the ON button at all - it's only an OFF button. You use the channel buttons to turn the TV on.
posted by jedrek at 10:43 AM on April 16, 2006

Perhaps they figure that if pressing any button turns the TV on, it will be easier to use. But that doesn't explain why the power button would be disabled for turning on the set, since that is the first thing most people would try.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:51 AM on April 16, 2006

My last personal TV was the same. Quite a few I've experienced were the same.

and the hotel I stayed at in Barcelona this week had a remote that worked perfectly.

In other words, I don't know.
posted by knapah at 12:08 PM on April 16, 2006

The Deej: Yes, they usually turn on to the information channel regardless of how you turn them on, so I don't think that explains why you can't turn them on using the on button.

fff: Some hotels seem to use normal TVs, some don't. In my experience, the majority don't.

jedrek: Yes, the question is why they behave like this. Have you come across this behaviour outside hotelish places?

Rhomboid: Yes, I am at a loss to explain it, and was hoping AskMe would have some ideas. At the moment I am forced to conclude that it's simply the consequence of the breathtaking depth of incompetence that pervades user interfaces in consumer electronics.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 12:13 PM on April 16, 2006

I wonder if it has anything to do with crippling the remote in some way so as to make it useless with anything other than the similarly-modified TV set, to help prevent people walking off with them.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:31 PM on April 16, 2006

All of the televisions I have used in England and Australia in the past six years have used the channel button to turn on the TV. The power button only turns off. I have no idea why. I just assumed that's the way TVs work outside the US. I never noticed the same behavior in the few US hotel rooms I've stayed in though.
posted by web-goddess at 2:32 PM on April 16, 2006

The Sony television I use (in the UK) switches on by using a channel button; the power button just turns it off.
posted by jamescridland at 2:45 PM on April 16, 2006

The hotels I spend 150+ a days a year here in the UK all seem to need the TV turned on at the TV, you can't turn the TV on the first time using the remote.

I assume the staff are told to ensure TV is off before a guest arrives, probably to save electricity as the TV is off and not in standby mode.
posted by hardcode at 2:52 PM on April 16, 2006

Interesting thought on the crippled remote. I almost always get a lodgenet TV, with a remote like this, but not quite:


Sorry to link the ebay auction, but I wasn't sure if that site checks referer.

These have the "standby" button you describe and behave normally. I've never actually used a TV like you describe and I've stayed in hotels in, oh, 15 US states or so? Weird. If you have never used lodgenet, this is the "smart" TV that drops you off at a "welcome" channel no matter what channel the TV was when you turned it off. You can play N64 on them, order PPV, check out of your room (and I think use the web, most of them have keyboards if not all, but I always just use WiFi)

The infuriating thing about these remotes I'm describing is that they're SLOW. I only ever watch TV on the road anymore, so maybe I'm remembering TV's responding faster to button presses. But anyway, that green button on the bottom does power, just like a normal TV.
posted by oxonium at 9:38 PM on April 16, 2006

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