REVIEWS / Universal Remote Control Reviews

Régis Jehl
With many home entertainment set-ups now including a TV, a Blu-ray player, a set-top box and more, you may find yourself with a nice little collection of remote controls. However, you can cut the clutter and streamline your system with a universal remote.

We test each remote with a typical audiovisual set-up comprised of recent devices, with a TV, a media player, an audio amp, a set-top box and a PlayStation 3 games console.

We look at the way the universal remote is programmed to recognise devices, and at how the remote adapts to each device. We also look at build quality and at any extra features (screen, backlighting).

As you add more devices to your living room, you inevitably end up with more remote controls. When guests can no longer figure out how to change channel or play a Blu-ray, you know you’re reached a remote control tipping point.
The universal remote is a great solution to this problem, as you can control your TV, Blu-ray player, media centre, set-top box and more all with a single remote. There are models out there to suit every budget and with various levels of functionality. Models currently range in price from about £20 to over £100, but is a more expensive model automatically better? Here’s what you should look for.
A universal remote should first of all be able to replace all your standard remotes. It therefore needs to be able to learn to communicate with each device. Look for a set-up system that’s simple and easy to configure. A remote should also have enough buttons to ensure you don’t have to resort back to the original remote when you need to access the internal menus or advanced options in a given device.
A universal remote should make life easier for the user too. Some models therefore allow you to assign a whole chain of commands to a single button. For example, pressing the "Blu-ray" button can be programmed to switch on the TV, switch to the right video entry, switch on your audio amp then switch on the Blu-ray player. What could be simpler?

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