Perhaps People Don't Really Mind Having Six Different Remotes

from the it's-not-so-bad,-really dept

Like many of you, I would guess, my living room coffee table is cluttered with remote controls. I actually do have a universal remote somewhere, but it’s probably buried in the bottom of a box, rather than being used. A new study reports that even as more of us are being overwhelmed with more and more remotes, not that many are buying universal remotes to consolidate the devices. The study in question notes that people say they want a universal remote, but they also want something that’s easy to set up — and the study’s authors suggest that the second part may be outweighing the first part. Of course, there’s another issue that isn’t discussed at all. Learning to use a remote actually involves a bit of work. How many times have you gone to someone else’s house and had to ask how the remote works before you felt comfortable using it? TiVo has even received special praise for designing a well thought out remote. Thus, the mental effort to switch to a new remote and relearn everything that you already learned with the old remotes — especially one that’s designed to cram every function into a single pad — probably just isn’t very appealing for most people. The universal remote might just be the type of idea that sounds better in theory than in practice.

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Comments on “Perhaps People Don't Really Mind Having Six Different Remotes”

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mthorn says:

Logitech Harmony

I’ve had my eyes set on Logitech’s Harmony line of remotes (,CRID=2078). The remote connects via USB to your PC for setup and remote code updates. It mimics the Tivo remote layout closely.

The problem I’ve had with universal remotes is they become obsolete fast. My cable box remote which can also control the tv doesn’t work with MY tv and I’m pretty much stuck with it until there is a universal remote that can control the cable box.

The Harmony may be able to do it all, but at $90, I’m not sure it is worth it.

John Creasy says:

Perhaps People Don't Really Mind Having Six Differ

Bought a Harmony because my wife didn’t want to deal with too many remotes. The Hamony constantly fails to turn on or off one of the devices if there is any movement in the remote. Installs bunches of unnecessary software on your PC. And it still doesn’t put the DVD disc in the player remotely 😉

Just One Guy says:


The Harmony remotes come between $89.99 and $369.95 at Amazon. You can get DVD players with their own remote at $29.99 at the same shop.

Maybe the real reason people put up with multiple remotes is not that they don’t mind. I have still to find one that does not mind among my friends, relatives and acquantiances.

Maybe it’s just they can’t get a good deal with universal remotes: they are expensive, they do not really work all the time, they are not really easy to set up.

Maybe really, really, consumer electronics companies should meet around some table and draw and subscribe to a common standard for signal from remotes that allow some of them to create a real universal remote without recurring to incomplete, fixed-in-time, partly buggy reverse engineering of te codes of thousands of different devices.

Wet dream, huh?

mthorn says:

It would be nice if all remotes followed a common set of codes but each device just operated on a different frequency. You should also be able to choose the reviever frequency and the remote frequency with a combination of buttons. Then, no matter what the device, a remote will work.

I guess electronic companies think that the $30 replacement remote revenue is worth the loss in usability.

No Spam says:

Missing functions

My TV came with a remote that claimed to be able to handle the dvd player, vcr, cable box and TV (which, if other devices do, might explain the lack of sales for other universals). Well, that’d be dandy except that it only had basic functions for the DVD player, which meant no menu, subtitles, etc.; it just had basic vcr type functions. Also the bulit-in menus for each device never seem to be covered by such remotes, anyways.

Richard says:

Remotely Possible

I agree with the fact that most folks will want a universal remote that is easy to set up but I would also like to find one that actually works properly.

I have 3 of them (including a programmable that came with my Denon receiver) and none of them will do the total job. There is always some function that the universal will refuse to operate on each device.

I will wait until this technology is perfected and operates via voice command, “submit post”.

NewsMan says:

Re: Remotely Possible

This is exactly right. It’s too difficult to find a universal remote that is both cheap and performs all the necessary functions for several devices. It’s not really about spending time to program and learn it — I’d spend as much time as it takes, if there were a remote out there that could do the job for $30 or less.

MrBill says:

Harmony Remote

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I cannot stand having to use multiple remotes just to watch a movie, or tv or listen to music. I bought a Harmony 636 about 4 months ago. It was $90 or so but I figured I would try it out. Programming the remote was a breeze. I just entered the make and model of the devices I wanted to control, answered a few simple questions about how my systems were interconnected and customized a few buttons with commands. After the remote was programmed I am able to push one button, say to watch a DVD, and my TV turns on and goes to the correct input, my receiver turns on to the correct input and my DVD player turns on and goes to the correct input. This used to be a three remote, 15 button clickfest with the remotes that came with those devices.

Is it worth the money? I got rid of six remotes and replaced it with one that handles every function the originals did. I would have to say the convenience and lack of clutter I gained has made it worthwhile.

Zeroth404 says:

Universal remotes aren’t hard to set up. some take some tinkering, trying to find the correct code for a brand (there usualy arent more than 3 or 4 for a single brand) but there are limitations.

I can use my universal remote for my TV and my DVD player, OR for my TV and my VCR, but not all three at once. Not to mention that the buttons for my DVD player aren’t what they say they are: Play doesn’t do anything, but the bottun below it does. Fast forward and Rewind don;t do anything, but ones next to them do.

Theres nothing worse than losing a DVD Player remote. All I ask for is a damn DVD player that has menu selection buttons right on the main unit. Is that so much to ask for???

lemonnfresh says:

Harmony Remote

It’s taken some tweaking but I was able to lose a bunch of remotes when I got my Harmony for X-Mas 2004. Seriously a kick ass piece of hardware. Hell I wanna upgrade it now that I have a Tivo.

Granted, it did take some tweaking, but I Hit one button and the TV comes on, switches to correct input, stereo comes on & switches to correct input and I’m ready to watch DirectTV or a DVD. Very, very nice.

Highly customizable too.

William C Bonner (profile) says:

Universal Remotes have the dark room problem. Can you do what you want witht he remote without turning on the lights and looking at the remote.

Often you can find the right remote (of 3 to 6 on the coffee table) and find the right button, in the dark a lot quicker with OEM remotes than you could with a universal.

For th past 5 years, I’ve been advising anyone I knew who has to pick up a new DVD player to look more at the remote than the rest of the unit. Most people find the output quality of different players indistinguishable, but if you are always hitting the chapter forward button when you mean to be hitting the go forward a little bit (or go back a little bit) button you are going to be generaly disatisfied with the unit as a whole.

Now, try to diplcate all of the controls for my DVD, TiVo, Stereo Reciever, TV, and HDTV Tuner on one remote, and make them usable in the dark. I don’t see it happenign soon.

My stereo remote learned how to also have a TV volume control toggle, and can power on and off the TV.

My TiVo remote knows how to power on and off the TV, adjust it’s volume, and mute it. That’s perfect for when I’m watching TiVo, but it scrapes the surface of the TV functions, and doesn’t get me turned on properly when the last thing I was doing was watching a DVD.

Anonymous Coward says:

Universal vs programmable remotes

I think it comes down to 2 major detractors, universal remotes that are nowhere near universal and learning remotes that are as close to universal as possible that are much to expensive for the average person to consider buying.

also the codes for remotes are very poorly documented so there is a lot of trail and error involved in getting the most basic funcionality out of a universal remote and it is pretty much a lost cause finding one remote that will controll all fuctions of all your devices.

ehrichweiss says:

universal remotes ain't the answer...

…it’s one of those damn chirper thingies for when you LOSE the damned they used to have for your keychain. I have one of the Sony(grrrr..wish I’d never supported them at this point) learning remotes that I got lucky and snagged for $25 as a refurb; it was great cause it was able to combine all my stereo equipment as well as my Philips Divx/DVD player which doesn’t seem to have ANY support in most newer remotes. The biggest problem is that we lose the thing so easily that we need something to make it easier to find.

Bob The Builderer says:

My Fav universal

Best I’ve ever seen is OneForAll universal. It controls my Phillips TV, Pioneer DVD, Kenwood Surround, Technics CD PLayer and my cheapo Toshiba VCR. Got it for around $20 at Wally world. It gives me almost all functions on every item and has a mode that groups controls together. Like PLay works for the DVD, volume works for the stereo and channel works on the tv w/O having to hit the button for each item to adjust them.

I love it.

Dr. Jack A. Cohen says:

What's NEEDED in a universal remote controller (UR

… is the ability to set its own internal codes via the following process:

1. press the URC “device” button for the device (DVD, VCR, audio, cable box, etc.) whose controls you are about to program (ideally a light behind that button will indicate it’s now active.)

2. put the original remote controller for that device “mouth to mouth” with the URC,

3. press the control on the URC you want to set the frequency for (e.g., ff, pause, play, stop, volume up, volume down) and then press the corresponding control on the original remote control.

At this point the URC will READ the frequency from the original remote and set its own internal frequency for that command. Again, ideally a light will flash when the input frequency is detected and set.

I suspect that there must be a controller that does this. If you know of one, please send me an e-mail with the info.

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