DVD menus: why oh why?

Last night I installed my grandmother-in-law's (is that a real term?) shiny new telly and DVD player for her, and was tasked with showing her how to use it.

The telly is probably going to be okay, despite being one of these fancy new digital thingamies. Sanity seems to have prevailed and if there's high definition content for a channel, it automagically uses the HD stream when available. What's more, the channel numbering is pretty close to the numbering of the analogue channels.

The hard part is going to be the DVD. With a VCR it was easy to explain: stick in the tape and press play. DVDs, however, have all gone in for these complicated menuing systems. So now I have to explain that she has to sit through the bullshit dire copyright warnings (the UK ones being particularly hilarious), and any other mandatory material the DVD producer deems necessary that everyone watch every time they play the DVD. Then up will come some kind of menu system. But, of course, every menu will be different. And every menu system will use a different paradigm to get to the actual content. And every menu system will use a different way of showing which item you've got highlighted, with varying levels of obviousness.

Whoever thought this shit up clearly hasn't ever had to guide pensioners through usability studies! The first DVD was a Dendy release (thanks to Benj's gift) and the menu was remarkably straightforward. Except that the highlighting was completely non-obvious. Really hard to tell which bit you've got highlighted. Is it the text with the grey halo or the text with the slightly lighter grey halo? Only way to work it out is to mash the arrow buttons and see what moves. Try explaining that to a pensioner!

Eventually I advised that, hopefully, if you stick the DVD in and wait long enough, eventually it just starts the movie. Not sure if her DVD player does this, but it's a Sony and my Sony one does that.

Bob help us if someone goes and buys her some kind of surround sound setup! Imagine trying to explain that she needs to select "Dolby blah blah blah 5.blah blah" to get that to work!

Fortunately she lives just around the corner from my work, so I can drop in if she's having problems. I'll drop in sometime next week for a refresher course.

In other news, I think I need one of these shiny flatscreen LCD things with high definition. Very very nice!