Design & Handling: soft and shinyThe SmartControl PS3 is a well-finished product with a shiny black plastic casing and a soft, non-slip coating on the back. The arrows, volume controls and channel-hopping buttons fall naturally under the thumb, but as the index-finger-rest isn't particularly pronounced, we found ourselves grabbing the remote too high up at first. We soon got used to its design, though.
The remote runs on four standard AAA batteries which aren't supplied, thus pushing up the final cost of the remote. The buttons aren't backlit and don't glow in the dark but there's a light-up blue ring around the arrow keys that comes on each time you press one of them.
As there's no built-in screen, you have to make do with a button for each of the six types of device that can be controlled: TV, set-top box, DVD player, amplifier, MP3 player and games console. It is, however, perfectly possible to assign a media centre to the MP3 button as these are just labels printed on identical buttons.
Three buttons can be used for 'mini activities', which assign the relevant controls to the devices used in a given activity. For example, by pressing on the 'films' logo, volume controls are assigned to the amplifier, input port selection is assigned to the TV and the playback controls are assigned to the Blu-ray player. The remote comes programmed with several pre-sets, all of which are outlined in the manual since there's no built-in screen.
Pre-set activities are outlined in the manual
However, these mini-activities don't allow you to switch several devices on or off at once. To do that you have to use macros. You can, for example, assign the commands 'TV ON' 'DVD ON' and 'Ampli ON' to the 'MCE' button.
Set-up: with codes or manuallyAs the SmartControl remote can't be connected to a computer, a list of device codes is supplied in the manual. Note that this list doesn't include media centres, set-top boxes or the most recently released TVs. However, One for All has an online code database that is regularly updated. Just enter the brand and model of the device in question to retrieve its code. That's a really nice touch!
If you still can't find a code, you'll have to set up the remote manually. This is quite a long and laborious process but it works well enough: press a button on the One for All then on the device's original remote to register one key to the other.