What Does a Universal Remote Do?

Most modern homes have a number of entertainment devices including a TV set, DVD player, Pay TV receiver, gaming console as well as a hi-fi or surround sound system, each with its own remote control.   Instead of trying to figure out which remote control does what, why not just have one controller that does it all? That’s exactly what a universal remote does. Universal remotes can be programmed to consolidate the functions of all of your remote controls into one.  This means you can control a number of devices, regardless of their manufacturer, using one easy to use handset.   There are two kinds of universal remotes: multi-brand and learning. Multi-brand universal remotes come pre-programmed with the necessary codes to operate up to four standard electronic devices, saving you the complicated and time-consuming task of having to enter the necessary coding yourself. These types of remotes are generally only able to control the main functions of their associated appliances such as power, channel changing and volume control. Some features of basic, multi-brand universal remote models include:

  • A power button
  • Device selector buttons or switches that enables you to choose which device the remote is controlling, for example separate buttons labeled TV, DVD and Hi-Fi
  • A numeric keypad for easy entering of channels and information such as date and time settings
  • Up and down selectors for volume adjustment and channel changing

Learning or upgradable universal remotes have far more features than multi-brand remotes and because of this they are more expensive. Using infrared, Bluetooth or USB, these kinds of universal remotes can be connected to a computer to learn new functions and to recognise new devices. Basically, this type of remote is capable of learning all of the functions that are programmed into a device’s original manufacturer remote control.  This makes for an excellent long-term investment, saving you the hassle of having to change your remote as your home entertainment technology changes over time. Learning universal remotes also allow for macro programming, which means several commands can be programmed into a single button. So, for example if you turn on your surround sound system every time you turn on your Blue-Ray player to watch a movie, you can create a macro on your universal remote to do this all with the single push of a button.  Since the components of home-entertainment set-ups differ from household to household, so too will the commands programmed into their universal remotes. Some other features of learning remotes are:

  • Colour LCD display or touchscreen
  • PC connectivity, enabling easy programming and upgrading with guided online setup and live support.
  • The ability to access multiple devices without the need for changing modes, such as being able to adjust the surround sound system’s volume even though the remote is in DVD mode
  • Rechargeable long-life batteries

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