Universal Remote Buying Guide
What is an Universal Remote?
If you haven’t purchased a universal remote in the last two or three years, you may actually be quite surprised to see how far the technology as a whole has come over a relatively short span of time. Unlike several years ago, where buying a universal remote was a simple process (because, let’s be honest, they were all the exact same), the rate at which any given universal remote varies from the next is actually quite huge. Depending on the particular unit you get, the end result may resemble a cheap stereo remote, an expensive smartphone or anywhere in between.
As such, while picking out a universal remote is still a very easy process, picking out the right universal remote has become a bit more challenging than it once was. Each remote has its own set of features and capabilities which can make your life much easier or much more difficult, with the result depending entirely on what type of user you are and whether or not you have the right remote for you. Let’s take a closer look at how to find the best universal remote for your needs.
Of course, you needn’t feel limited to the above list when picking out your new universal remote. While the above three units are my personal favorite and are products which I would consider the best in their sector overall, there’s no doubt that your particular needs may be very different than mine. With that said, let’s look at how to cater to those needs through your next universal remote purchase. Here are some things to look out for while shopping.
How many devices will you be controlling?
While it can’t hurt to have a couple of extra control slots available on your new universal remote, you probably shouldn’t get a unit with twenty different slots if you only have three different devices, as you can be sure the price has been marked up to at least some degree on account of those extra slots. There’s no need paying for features you’re not going to use.
Are your devices in hard-to-reach areas?
The Logitech Harmony series isn’t the only line of universal remotes which can reach electronics from behind cabinets. If you often have trouble getting your current remote to pick up on devices, your next remote will likely be no different unless you purchase one with such a feature.
What do you plan on using your remote for in the first place?
If all you plan on using your universal remote for is to control electronics by turning them off and on or by changing channels on your TV, it’s worth noting that a remote higher in price does not translate to a remote higher in quality. For those who just want basic controls, an LCD screen or touchscreen will prove to be a large and unnecessary money pit. It’s important to realize just how much these advanced features mark up a product’s price. If you’re not going to use them, you’d do well to stay away from remotes which feature them.
Types of Advanced Universal Remote Features
Perhaps you’re looking for a top-of-the-line universal remote but don’t know just what kind of features are out there to be had? Let’s take a look at some of the technology you can expect to find in your search.
- The Ability to Send Signals Through Walls – The Logitech Harmony remotes we touched base on earlier are a great example of this. If you have large amounts of electronics scattered about the house and throughout different rooms, you will likely appreciate this feature.
- Smart Home Capabilities – Although it may not be known to most folks, you can actually get remotes which can control appliances throughout your home. With such a universal remote, you’ll be able to turn on your TV and dim your lights at the same time.
- A Mix of Buttons and Touchscreen Functions – Through the use of two different control panels of sorts, all of your remote’s functions will be split into two different areas. This makes using it much easier due to the level of organization inherent in such a feature.
Common Universal Remote Features
While some of the above features can be great specifically for those who feel they could make use of them, they may not always be suitable for everybody. However, there are several features you can benefit from no matter who you are. As such, it can’t hurt to keep an eye out for them in your next purchase. Here are those features.
- Large-Scale Compatibility – Believe it or not, a large variety of universal remotes aren’t actually all that universal. Check with the manufacturer to see whether or not the remote you have your sights set on will actually work with all of your devices.
- The Ability to Reach All Objects Within Your Home – Even if you don’t need a remote which can control electronic devices through walls, you certainly need something which can reach your devices, whether they be across the coffee table or down the hall. Take note of which devices you’d like to control and take a look at a remote’s range before finalizing your purchase. You might be able to walk away with more control over your house than you thought possible.
A universal remote can be a tool to use your TV and Playstation efficiently, or it can be a control panel for your entire house. Of course, this all comes down to the type of remote you decide to purchase. Before buying a remote, try taking a look at just how many different devices it can control; you may end up getting much more than you bargained for (in a good way). Universal remotes have come a long way in the last couple years. What was once a neat little tool to reduce the need to get off of the couch can now save you minutes or hours a week. Anything is possible. It all comes down to just what it is you’d like to control in the first place.