If your house is like mine, it has several components that make up the entertainment system. Let's do the math: TV + cable box + VCR + DVD player + receiver = 5 remote controls and one really cluttered coffee table. There is always the option of buying a spinning remote control caddy, but those take up space too, and they aren't always compatible with your living room or entertainment room décor. However, for a great solution to eliminate chronic clutter and the frequent search for one of the many remotes, opt for a universal remote control. After a little programming you can have each one of your systems linked up through a single remote control. Talk about "Feng Shui"!
Highly Functional Remote Controls
How to Buy a Remote Control
Here are some of the things to consider when choosing a new remote control.
** Most remotes for home use cost much less than $100 even for multi-device support (less than 10 devices usually).
** Many universal remotes with support for up to 20 components will cost between $130 and $250.
** Need to have an unlimited number of devices supported? Plan to spend a minimum of $300 for the least expensive model, and up to $1000 for the high-end ones.
* '''Component Support'''
** '''Number of Components'''
*** If you are buying a new remote, you probably are looking for one that can provide you with universal support. This is where you have to decide how many devices you need to have functioning from one remote and how many you plan to expand to in the future.
*** Don't go overboard if you are a technophobe. Get just what you need, otherwise you risk purchasing a remote that is too complicated for daily use.
*** Try one of these searches to see the latest available models.
**** Five devices or less?
**** 10 devices or less?
**** 20 devices or less?
**** Unlimited devices?
** '''Number of functions per component'''
*** The less functions you need per device, the less money you will spend.
*** Consider how many of the features you take advantage of on all your components.
*** Most users don't need more than the basics, such as a model that supports under 20 functions on each device. Advanced users, audiophiles, and technical pros may prefer 40-60 functions support or more.
* '''Remote Design and Convenience'''
** The simplest of remotes do not feature any LCD screen, which will help lower costs.
** Non-touchscreen LCDs are used simply for display purposes and not for making commands. They can be helpful though for those with eye sight difficulties.
** LCD touchscreen displays tend to be the most frequently coveted universal remotes because they are easy to use and versatile.
** Look for the terms: active (TFT) and passive matrix displays (STN). Active matrix displays may cost more, but they will provide the best color, brightness, and sharpness and will not succumb to ghosting or fading.
** Choose between graphical and color graphical. In other words, monochrome or color.
* '''Intelligent Remotes'''
** '''Macros Programming'''
*** This is a way to preprogram a remote to perform specific tasks, such as turning on or off at a certain time, recording, etc. Certain features that fall under this category are delay, timer, activity control, and recording programming.
** '''Learning Capability'''
*** Lost the original remote to one or more devices? You will need a remote that features learning capability. Such models cost $100-$200 for a high-end model, but Sony, Philips, and Radio Shack make well-rated models for less than $100.
** '''PC Compatibility'''
*** Some remotes can be programmed through a PC.
*** Verify that the computer software will be compatible with your operating system and interface.
* '''Hard Buttons'''
** Hard buttons or soft? This is not a matter of the physical feel of the buttons, but rather the programability of the buttons.
** Soft buttons can be altered to encompass a different function, whereas a hard button has only one purpose.
** Most remotes come with at least a few hard buttons.
** Other buttons to look for, depending on what you find most comfortable to use, include joysticks and rocking buttons.
** Another button feature is back lighting, making it easier to see the buttons in the dark.
* '''Other Features'''
** Internet surfing compatibility
** Built-in TV guide