People buy a universal remote for ease and convenience; however, for the uninitiated, picking a device that’s affordable as well as user-friendly is itself a big challenge. What are the essential features of a good universal remote control? What features can you do without? What is the ideal price you should be paying for the device? The following information answers these questions for the first-time universal remote buyer as well as for those looking to upgrade their current device.
Types of universal remotes
Replacement remotes: This is the most basic type of remote that works as a replacement for your original TV remote. You can buy either a replacement remote of the same brand or one of another make that’s compatible with your TV.
Many replacement remotes are upgraded models of your old remote, so they come with additional buttons and features. Before you buy a replacement remote control, check if it has all the functions that you use frequently with your TV.
Consolidation/universal remotes: This is the remote you want if you’re looking to consolidate all your remotes into a single universal remote that can help you interact with a variety of devices, including your TV, Blu-ray player, gaming console, DVD player, audio system and other smart-home appliances.
Universal remotes are all the rage these days as they allow you to declutter your space and do away with the hassle of always looking for remotes and managing multiple devices each day. The higher-end models are compatible with a large number of appliances and devices and many are designed to interact with the latest smart home systems. Additionally, some premium models are equipped with features that allow you to perform multi-step functions through a single button. For instance, a customized macro on a smart remote will turn on your audio system, fire up the oven, and dim the bedroom lights at the press of a single button.
With a consolidation remote, you can control an entire home theater or entertainment system with a single device. For instance, pressing a single button called “Watch TV” will turn on your TV, the receiver as well as the set top box, greatly diminishing the effort needed to switch on multiple devices each time you want to catch your favorite show.
Essential features of a good universal remote
Universal remotes are loaded with a variety of useful features and functions that make using your home electronics and gadgets easy and hassle-free. Some of the essential design elements that enhance the experience of using a universal remote are as follows.
Large buttons: If you or a family member has trouble reading small font, buy a universal remote that has large buttons and a simple, uncomplicated design. Remote buttons that are easy to read make day-to-day usage a lot easier for different members of the family. So opt for a remote design that’s simple and has an interface that’s easy to understand and follow.
Backlight: Needless to say, remotes with backlighting are a blessing when the lights are off. Many people watch TV and use media players late into the night when everyone else has gone to bed. A backlit universal remote is the device you want if you like gaming or watching movies with lights off.
So think about your usage, lifestyle and TV viewing habits when shortlisting a universal remote for your home.
LCD screen: Some premium universal remotes come with an LCD screen or touchscreen and therefore cost more than the simple, basic models. However, the convenience that comes with an LCD-fitted remote is worth every extra dollar spent. You get to scroll through the screen, much like you do with your smartphone. The elderly and children in your home will particularly find the touchscreen models very convenient to use.
Wi-Fi connectivity: A feature available with the high-end models, Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to use your universal remote to connect with a number of smart devices on the network. If you’re someone who wants the best that technology has to offer, opt for a Wi-Fi-enabled universal remote—it will make controlling your smart devices a breeze.
Still confused? Check out this easy-to-follow buyer’s guide that compares the best of universal remotes at Gadget Review.
Lastly, consolidation remotes can cost anywhere between $25 and $350. When choosing one for your home, the goal should be to buy a device that has a user-friendly interface and can interact with most if not all of the electronics you use frequently, including all the components of your home entertainment unit.