[mythtv] MythTV Usability Report

Jono Bacon jonobacon at gmail.com
Sun Jan 8 00:47:19 UTC 2006

Hi all,

Firstly, thanks for MythTV. It is an incredible piece of software our
house is a better place with our MythTV box. Keep up the great work.

For a while now I have been noting down little quirks and oddities in
MythTV. Although MythTV is incredibly usable and works very well,
fixing these problems would make it more intuitive and easier to use.
This list is certainly not exhaustive and although I have been meaning
to do an exhaustive usability assessment, I have not had the time. As
such, these are major usability issues I have confronted.

I would love to conduct a more in-depth usability test in the future
if that would be of interest. I write quite a bit about design,
usability and MythTV on my blog at www.jonobacon.org.

I have put a code at the beginning of each issue for easily referring to it.

--> General

* G1 - When watching a show, you should be able to hit the record
button to record the entire show if it has been watched from the
beginning and as such the live TV buffer contains the show.
* G2 - If you schedule a show to record, you can only watch the show
at the same time as recording it by first selecting Media
Library->Watch and then selecting a show. This is unintuitive - you
should just be able to watch TV like normal and be able to view the
channel while the show is recording.
* G3 - Switching between channels is far to slow - this slowness makes
skipping through channels rather laborious.
* G4 - The term 'Optical Disks' in the menu is not particularly clear
- I suspect most people know its a Disk, but not optical.
* G5 - In the Upcoming recordings screen, the use of dimmed and
non-dimmed entries in entirely unclear - what do they signify? It is
certainly unclear to me and my other half. The other problem is that
many of the entries listed in Upcoming will not actually be taped
because it says the recording will be taped at a later time. If it is
not going to be taped, why is it still in the list?
* G6 - Many of the screens in MythTV (such as Upcoming and Set
Priorities) have specific letters in each entry. These letters
obviously refer to something specific, but there is no legend
displayed on the screen to say what they mean.
* G7 - There seems to be no simple way of cancelling all recordings
for a show other than finding it in the EPG and changing the recording
option to not record the show. The ideal solution would be to have a
list of shows that are being recorded and then when you select a show,
there are options such as Cancel this recording, Cancel all recordings

--> Electronic Programme Guide

* EPG1 - When watching TV you will often want to view the EPG.
Currently you do this by pressing Menu and then selecting Program
Guide from the on-screen menu. This two step process needs to be
instead bound to a single key so that you can press one button and
access the EPG while watching TV.
* EPG2 - When you access the EPG from the main menu, there is no TV
feed on the top right-hand corner, whereas when you access the EPG
when watching TV by pressing Menu->Program Guide, there is a TV feed
in the EPG. This behaviour needs to be unified - I would suggest
always having a feed of the current TV channel.
* EPG3 - The EPG should not be inside the Manage menu, for a few
reasons. The first is that you don't really 'manage' your program
schedule, and secondly because you need to reference the EPG
regularly. Why take two steps to access the EPG when you likely want
to access it on the main menu?

--> MythMusic

* MM1 - When in the main playback screen, there are a number of
different artists in a long list, but there is no way of jumping from
artist to artist.
* MM2 - If you have not created a playlist, or you have just cleared
you active play queue, MythMusic by default has no songs loaded. This
is totally unintuitive. The default functionality should be that when
no no queue or playlist is available, *all* of your music should be
available to play. It seems crazy that All My Music needs to be
consciously ticked in the Edit Playlist area to actually hear some
* MM3 - There is no way to create a playlist based on genre.
* MM4 - When playing back a song it lists encoding details (eg.
128kbps 44.1khz) - this information is of no interest to most users
and therefore should not be displayed.
* MM5 - There is copious room in the bottom third of the screen, and
this should really be used to display guidance notes about creating a
playlist. Creating playlists is not very intuitive and this space
could be usefully used for notes.
* MM6 - There is no obvious way to save a playlist that you have just
constructed. I still don't know how to do this.
* MM7 - When creating a playlist, the icons on the left (such as the
CD icon when you have inserted a CD and it appears below the All My
Music line) are not clear at all. This need to be much bigger or use
the space at the bottom of the screen to show a nice big icon. On my
28" TV, they just were not clear enough and look like bullet points.
* MM8 - When in the main music playback screen and at the top of the
list of songs, you can't press Up to go to the bottom of the list. I
assume the same problem happens at the bottom of the list - you should
be able to press Down to go to the top of the list.

--> MythWeather

* MW1 - When loading MythWeather and it says it is retrieving weather
data, it takes a long time to grab this information. It would be
better if it just went away and grabbed it periodically in the
background, this giving little or no delay.
* MW2 - Unlike other modules in MythTV, MythWeather does not display
information in the LCD panel on the front of my case.

--> Ideas for features

* Reminders - there should be a feature to allow you to set a reminder
to watch a particular show, even if you are not recording it. MythTV
would then pp up a box to say the show is on and allow you to change
the channel. It would also be useful to possibly pop up a small OSD
with a countdown to when the reminded show starts.
* A module to go and grab National Lottery numbers and display them.



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