Universal Remote Control Reviews

REVIEW / One for All SmartControl PS3

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Régis Jehl Published on January 31, 2011
Updated on January 31, 2011
Translated by Catherine Barraclough

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Buttons 43
  • Supported devices 6
  • Dimensions 210 x 22 x 53 mm
  • Weight 164 g
Now here's a universal remote with a difference! As well as being able to control six different devices, the One for All SmartControl PS3 is compatible with the Sony PlayStation 3. Sold for around £45, it's lined up to rival Logitech's PS3 remote that sells for around the same price. Could it be the latest must-have for gamers?

Design & Handling: soft and shiny

The 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 manually

As 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.
Control Your PS3
The Sony PlayStation 3 has a built-in DVD and Blu-ray player. However, this is controlled either using one of the PS3 controllers or a Bluetooth remote available to buy separately. Regular universal remotes aren't compatible with the PS3 as they use infra-red (IR) signals rather than Bluetooth. To get round this, Logitech sells a kind of intermediary adapter box that can be used with its Harmony remotes (around £40).

One for All has adopted a similar approach, supplying an external 'PS3 Adapter' with this remote control. The adapter runs on two AA batteries (not included) with an advertised battery life of 12 months. That's definitely something we'd be interested in double-checking ...

The PS3 adapter is actually a Bluetooth transmitter and receiver. Basically, you point the remote at the adapter and it then converts the IR signal into a Bluetooth signal and sends it to the PS3.

We tried it out using a 120 GB Sony PS3 Slim, but it's compatible with all versions of the PS3. It worked without a hitch too! The adapter box is recognised as a Bluetooth remote (the battery level is even displayed) and all the functions required to watch DVD and BD discs are easily accessible.

The adapter box can be hooked up to a computer for updates as and when the console's firmware is updated. That's particularly good news given that the 3.5 PS3 update ended up making some controllers incompatible.

Supplied software also allows you to adjust the flashing LED light that comes on when the box is working, as well as to create macros. You can, for example, create a macro to turn off the device (long press on the PS button then OK then OK again). A total of ten macros can be programmed.

Two versions of the SmartController are available

This remote control can also be found sold under the reference URC-7965 and is available in two versions, one of which doesn't include the PS3 adapter. Be sure to pick the right one before you buy!

PROS

  • Bluetooth PS3 adapter with macros
  • Online device code database
  • Mini-activities and practical macros
  • Nice finish

CONS

  • No screen
  • Not compatible with radio frequency signals
  • Batteries not included
  • Why not make the remote Bluetooth compatible rather than have an external adapter?

CONCLUSION 3/5

The One for All SmartControl is a good choice for anyone looking for a replacement remote with the added advantage of PS3 compatibility. Don't be put off by its final score, as this is based on a set of general criteria (screen, RF compatibility, etc). The SmartController is good value for money and has a decent set of functions, but if PS3 compatibility isn't a priority, you're better off looking for a cheaper alternative with a better range of functions.
3 One for All SmartControl PS3 DigitalVersus 2011-01-31 00:00:00
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