TF hein?

March 19, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Posted in vie quotidienne | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

This post is probably going to make me look like a tremendous idiot, but there’s something that’s been bothering me a long time, and I need to know what the deal is:

What is wrong with European TV sets?

Because they aren’t like American sets, are they? I’ve been in homes and hotels across this continent, and all the sets have the same, mysterious, frustrating problem. It’s so bizarre, I don’t even know how to convincingly explain it to an American audience, but here goes nothing: it’s basically impossible to turn on a European television using a remote control. But in fact, it’s more complicated than that.

Euro TV

See, this is what the sets look like. When the TV is off, the little red light is out. And when you press that big power button, the red light goes on, and the TV seems to awaken. So far so good. BUT… nothing else happens. The screen remains tauntingly blank.

No, in order to get any real action, you have to now switch to the remote control:

Euro Remote

At this stage, if you press the channel up/down buttons, or punch in a number, the screen will at last flicker to life, and you can proceed to watch TV as normal. But wait — there’s another twist. See that pinkish power button at the top of the remote? You might think that turns the TV off and on… but you’d only be half right. Pressing that button will indeed turn the screen off, but not the TV. And if the power button on the TV itself hasn’t been pressed, the button on the remote will do nothing.

Why, God, Why?! In America, this process is so blissfully simple! Sit down on the couch, pick up the remote, press power, and voila: you have TV. Obviously, we have the technology — we’re not talking rocket science here. So why, throughout Europe, are viewers forced to deal with the box before they can settle in and relax on the couch?

This mystery torments me.

Now, I should note that I hardly ever watch television in Europe — in truth, the internet entertains me far more than dubbed versions of American soaps and sitcoms ever will. So it’s possible there’s some totally obvious trick to turning on Euro TVs that I’ve simply missed. But still — why is it different at all? Does it have to do with the different voltages, or some other historical or scientific anomaly? Please, someone out there, explain this phenomenon to me.



  1. That was the case in my London hotel room last week too…very strange.

  2. I have no clue. But you’re right, it is annoying.

  3. Seriously, I’m surprised there isn’t a whole wiki devoted to this problem.

  4. Oh my gosh…I thought it was just me. Thank you for this post!

  5. Weird. I thought the red button on the remote turned on the telly if the telly was “en veille” (on guard, WTF?).

    What’s annoying too, is that if the telly is on veille and you can’t find your remote anywhere, you can’t turn the television on!

    I think it’s just a cruel joke come up with by European manufacturers, punishing European telly watchers for using anything so base and “un-European” as the telly….

  6. No, you’re right Jenn — I just didn’t explain it well.

  7. I had the same problem with my B&B in Amsterdam. I figured I was just doing it wrong.

  8. Could it be some power-saving thing? Maybe US sets turn on with one touch of the remote because they are already drawing some power even when the screen is blank.

  9. Wow, I didn’t realize this was a Europe-wide phenomenon. I thought it was just Iceland. I don’t remember this happening in Germany, but it very well might have.

  10. I think Jay Livingston is right.
    The TV-set has three modes :
    OFF (it does not use any power – this mode is probably not available on the US sets, following your description)
    STANDBY (it uses a little power – it’s probably what you think of as the off mode in the US)
    ON, which you can get to by pressing on a channel of the remote IF and only IF the set is in STANDBY mode.

    Hope this helps

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