Universal remote controls reduce the hassle in our lives. Goodbye five different devices and hello one all purpose remote.
Universal remotes are not cheap however and since they become the central control point of all our entertainment devices it’s important to purchase the right remote. So what are the important points to look at when reviewing a universal remote for potential purchase ?
In this article we look at the key features you should be evaluating before you lay down your money. The most complex interaction you will have with your universal remote is not your every day use as you control your TV, VCR, DVDs and Receivers.
The most complex interaction will be the day you purchase your remote and need to configure it so it can work with your devices. There are different ways that a universal remote can be configured and it’s important you understand how you will be setting up your remote once you get it home.
Remote to remote learning is one method you can use to configure your new universal remote. This involves you taking your existing remote controls, point them at your new universal remote and then pressing their buttons.
The universal remote will record the signals produced by the old remotes and be able to reproduce them. This method is relatively simply and doesn’t take up too much time, the problem is that often old remotes have gone missing and are not available.
Some modern high end universal remotes can be connected up to your computer, often via a USB cable. The remote can then be configured by selecting your device model and manufacturer from an online database.
This method is also quick and easy. The online databases of devices such as TVs, stereos, TiVos and the like are huge and growing all the time.
The drawback of this method is that you need to leave your lounge room and connect to your PC. Obviously this method is not going to work if you don’t have a home PC.
Some universal remote control units come with an in-built database of devices that they can recognize. You simply select on the remote’s menu the model of your TV, Receiver or the like and it will immediately be able to control that device.
The in-built databases are often smaller than those that are available online. If you are concerned that you have some obscure equipment that may not be supported you need to worry.
The universal remote manufacturers have this covered. Almost all universal remotes come with a fallback method that will allow you to specify a more generic device category and discover the correct control signals for your specific device through trial and error.
One criteria you should look at is the complexity of macro that you would like to record. Different remotes support different levels of sophistication.
Most will allow you to issue multiple instructions to a device with a single button click but if you wish to issue multiple instructions to multiple devices you should make sure your universal remote is up to the job.
Some remotes support the concept of activity based control. This means that you can associate a specific button with an activity, such as listening to a CD, and the remote will do all the work required to make this activity available.
For example, the remote might turn off your television and stop the DVD player before starting the CD player and turning up your speakers. The remote isn’t just performing a single operation it is doing everything that is required.
Remote controls have different button hardness. It’s important you know what your personal preference is, do you like soft spongy buttons or hard plastic buttons ?
Over the years your fingers will be pressing these buttons thousands of times so as trivial as it might sound make sure you get the buttons you prefer.
Universal remotes have a varied array of power sources. Some require removable AA batteries, the same kind you would find in a Walkman.
The advantage of removable batteries is that you do no need to charge the remote or plug a charging station into the wall power socket.
The disadvantages are that you will be replacing the batteries every 3-6 months. This is an extra hassle and expense.
Some universal remotes come with build in rechargeable batteries that are replenished by cradling the remote in a docking recharge station.
You will need to plug the station into a wall socket. The more you know about your remote before you make a purchase the more likely you are to get the right remote.
Happy remote hunting! To read more information about universal remote controls visit Advanced Universal Remote and read reviews of specific remotes.
Check out the Logitech Harmony One Review
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