A Sampling of Universal Remote Controls - dummies

A Sampling of Universal Remote Controls

By Danny Briere, Pat Hurley

Universal remote controls work with any electronics device in your home theater by way of onboard code databases. Universal remote controls can have touch screens, backlit buttons, color screens, voice commands, and so on. These remotes vary in price from about $20 on up. The more you spend on your entertainment system, the more you’ll probably spend on your remote control.

Here are examples of some of the neater remotes you can get:

  • Universal RF-10: This remote includes both IR (infrared) and RF (radio frequency) technologies in a single inexpensive universal and programmable remote. While it lacks some of the fancy features (such as elaborate macros and PC or Mac programming) of more expensive remotes, it’s about the cheapest remote you can buy that can support RF. To get the RF working, you need Universal’s MRF-100B PowerBlaster RF Base Station, which provides RF-to-IR capability supporting up to six devices with included IR emitters.

    You don’t need to utilize the RF to get the most out of the RF-10, but it’s a good bit of future-proofing in case you’d ever like to move your home theater around and need an RF remote.

  • One For All Universal Remotes: This is a brand with a remote for everyone, ranging from inexpensive remotes for simple systems (code-based universal remotes such as the 8-DEVICE Learning Universal Remote) up to the still inexpensive URC-9960 Kamelon remote, which uses special backlighting to show only the keys you need for the task you’re doing at the time.

  • Monster Home Theater Controller 100: The folks who bring you the famous (and expensive) Monster Cable audio cables offer a lineup of very fancy universal programmable remote controls.

    The entry-level model in this lineup, the Home Theater Controller 100, has a beautiful color screen, easy computer-based programming, and the ability to control everything in your home theater. Like many remotes in this price range, it includes lithium ion rechargeable batteries and a cradle to hold and recharge your remote.

    The Home Theater Controller 300 includes RF capabilities and Omnilink (Monster’s brand name for Z-Wave wireless home lighting and automation controls). With that remote you can control anything in your home theater and just about anything electrical in your entire house.

  • Philips Prestigo Remotes: Philips has a solid line of remote controls that have defined the leading edge of home theater remotes in a lot of ways. The fully programmable and learning Prestigo SRU-8015 is the entry level to the Prestigo range, but it has a lot of features, including a big (but not color) touch screen, 4MB of memory, a scroll wheel, and the ability to program your remote using your PC. It even has a library of over 400 TV channel icons, so you can see on the remote exactly what channel you’re tuned in to.

Many more remotes are available. A great site to check out remote control options is Remote Central. It has great reviews and tracks the newest remotes on the market.