Universal Remote Control Buying Guide

If you are always searching to find the one remote control that you need among the pile of controllers, one new universal remote control might be the solution to your clutter problem. Depending on which one you choose, a universal remote control can usually control between five and 20 different devices including your television, DVD or BluRay player, game systems, and home audio systems. These universal remote controls can control functions such as power, volume, channel changing, and functions such as play, stop, and rewind.

Types of Universal Remote Controls

Multibrand remotes are pre-programmed universal remote controls that can communicate with a number of standard devices through infrared codes. These usually come with a component such as a television, and they can control devices like your DVD player or audio system. The drawback to this type of remote is that it cannot be pre-programmed to interface with every device, so you need to be sure it will work with what you have. In addition, while it can complete certain functions such as power, volume, and some others, it may not be able to control more specialized features for all of your equipment.

Macros are universal remote controls that let you control several devices with the touch of one button. Once programmed, you can touch the button for "watch tv," for example, and the remote control will process the signals necessary such as turning on the television and audio system, so you are ready to go. Some of these remotes can even control home functions such as dimming the lights.

Touchscreen universal remote controls are some of the most sophisticated devices. With this type of remote control, you will select the functions from an LCD touchscreen right on the remote. These look similar to a smartphone touchscreen and function in a similar way. Some are even smart enough to only display the customized functions that you really need.

Pay Attention to

The power source of a universal control will almost always be some variety of batteries. You will want to know what type of batteries and how easy they are to find and replace. Simple AA batteries can be picked up anywhere whereas some of the less common batteries are hard to find. Additionally, you will want to know about the battery life. Remotes with fewer features will likely last quite awhile. Those with more features, particularly LCD screens may not last as long. Sometimes these universal remote controls are supplied with rechargeable batteries and a docking station for recharging, and this is a much more economical method than having to constantly purchase new batteries.

It is important to know how your universal remote control sends its signals. Most use an infrared beam. This type of signal needs to have a direct line between the remote and the device and the sensor on the device needs to be exposed. If the sensor is blocked by another component or even a person standing in the way, it will not receive the signal and will not work. More sophisticated remotes may use radio frequency (RF) technology. This type of signal does not need a direct line of sight, and it can even communicate through a wall. This can be helpful for those instances where you want to control devices indifferent rooms.

Universal remote controls vary in the number and types of devices that they can control. Some can only control five devices while others can control 20 or more. In addition, it is important to note which types of devices you will be able to control. Usually televisions, home theatre systems, and DVD and BluRay players can be controlled. Other remotes can control game systems, thermostats, lights, and other "smart" home devices. You also need to take care to find out if a particular model or brand of device you own is supported by the universal remote control you select. While most can do a wide variety of electronic equipment, older models and some generic branded models may not be supported. Especially if there is something specific you wish to control, you should take care to make sure that the model you choose is capable of doing so.

You may want to consider how difficult it is to program a remote if it needs such programming. While some are pre-programmed out of the box, others need to be given codes for the devices you are using. If you are not tech savvy, some of these may not be very easy to set up.

Some may want to consider the size and color of the universal remote control. While this may seem like a minor issue, some people find it to be important. For instance, if all of your furniture is black, a black remote is more likely to get lost than a silver or white one. Bigger remotes may have easier to read buttons for those who may have a difficult time seeing the very small ones.

Top Brands and Product Lines

Hy-Tek offers a large button universal remote with few features at a budget price.

Logitech's Harmony One is a fully featured remote control at an upper price for those who really want to do it all with one device.

Phillips offers a variety of remote controls at the lower to mid price ranges.

Pioneer offers universal remote controls that are easy to use and have limited features. These are in the lower to mid price range.

RCA Universal Remotes are very inexpensive, yet they work well for most people because they connect with almost every television.

Sony offers remotes in all price ranges with a variety of different features depending on price.

Vizio offers universal remote controls with a small variety of features in the lower to middle prices.

Yamaha has universal remote controls that work with all of your electronics at a midpoint price.