Simplify your life with a new Remote Control


 So, you finally got that ginormous big screen TV you’ve been drooling all over for Christmas. And that awesome network enabled Blu-ray player. After a weekend in wiring hell, you’ve finally got it all hooked up with your antenna, network cables, Xbox, PS3, the cable or satellite box, surround sound system and DVR. And here’s what you’ve got sitting on the arm of your La-Z-Boy recliner: 7 remote controls that completely won’t get along, much like your totally dysfunctional family on Thanksgiving. Everybody hates you, and it’s all your fault. The only time they even talk to you is when they want to change the channel – because you’re the only one that knows exactly which remote does what.

Fear not, for the solution to your woes is as near as your favorite electronics or discount store, or or online retailer. It’s a universal remote control, and it can cost you less than $20 for a basic learning remote up to several hundreds of dollars for a remote that will do everything but mow your lawn.

But before you rush out and buy something, here’s a few things you should know…

The first thing you need to be aware of is there are a lot of different remotes out there, and there’s a lot of very nice remotes that are on clearance. And there’s a reason they are in the clearance bin: since the digital transition, a very important button as been added to remote controls: the decimal point ” . ” With digital subchannels now available OTA (Over-The-Air), you’ll need to enter channels as “2.1” or “13.2”. Without that decimal point, you’re pretty much limited to using the channel up/down buttons to change channels. That’s not to say that these “obsolete” remotes are useless, because if it’s a learning remote, you can simply program one of the buttons to be the “.” button. Last week I found a learning remote on clearance for $3, programmed it, and I am using it to replace the 3 remotes I had been using in my bedroom.While we’re on the subject of learning remotes, there is simply no reason to buy any remote that can’t learn functions from your original remotes. You can buy a universal learning remote for under $20, and it will “future proof” you from having to buy a new remote when you buy a new component for your home theater. Also, note that the Sony PS3 uses Bluetooth remote, and not many low-end remotes are capable of Bluetooth.The first remote we’ll look at is the URC-WR7 7 Device Remote Control, a simple unit by Universal Remote Control (URC). You may not know URC, but chances are that if you’ve ever had a cable or sattelite box, it had a remote built by URC. The URC-WR7 learning remote will control up to 7 devices, and cost you in the $20 to $40 range. It’s a simple, low cost solution to the basket-of-remotes dilemma. The WR7 uses one-button “Macros” to allow you turn on your TV, cable box, DVD player and surround sound system all at the same time with the press of one button. The WR7 supports up to 13 separate macros. The URC-WR7 also comes equipped with four customizable “My Favorites” buttons. You can program up to five favorite channels per button. The URC-WR7 can control most IR (Infrared) operated lights, too, so you can adjust room light without leaving the comfort of your easy chair.

Technical Specifications

  • Learning Capability: 80 buttons for any component
  • Macro Capability: 13 Macros of up to 20 steps each
  • Non-Volatile Flash Memory: 64 KByte
  • IR Range (Line of Sight via Infrared): 30-50 feet, depending on operational environmental conditions
  • Weight: 6.9 oz. (with batteries)
  • Size: 2 1/8″W x 8 3/4″H x 1 1/8″D
  • Batteries: Two AA Alkaline batteries (included)

Another simple and inexpensive remote is thePhilips SRU5107/27 7 Device Universal Remote. This unit will run you less than $20 new. The SRU5107 seven-device universal remote by Philips is the perfect replacement remote for a television, DVD, DVR, VCR, AUX, satellite or cable. The seven-in-one remote control can replace a table full of remote controls regardless of the brand or model. The LED illumination of the primary keys offers easy operation of your remote control even in the dark. Control the functions of your DVR with ease with the included standard buttons to operate a DVR/HD, along with T central, thumbs up/down, volume up/down, and repeat. The SRU5107 is programmed by entering the codes of your old remotes and will work with all your AV devices from all brands since 1990. The setup codes will be saved automatically, even when the batteries are replaced you won’t lose your data. The integrated learning keys allow you to copy and store any functionality from your original remote, simply by pointing and beaming the SRU5107 at the original remote.

Product Features and Technical Details

  • Seven-device universal remote compatible with TV, DVD, DVR, VCR, AUX, satellite and cable
  • Integrated learning keys keeps remote updated for future device
  • Works with all AV devices since 1990
  • LED illumination of primary keys
  • Memorizes setup codes even after the batteries are changed

Keep in mind thatthese lower priced remotes have some limitations and quirks. For example, theURC-WR7 7 Device Remote Controlhas an 80 function learning limit, and the Philips SRU5107/27 7 Device Universal Remotehas a similar limit. I purchased the Philips unit to control a Philips TV, and none of the listed codes for Philips TVs would totally duplicate the original remotes limited functions without learning. Also, both of these remotes will only control Infrared devices, not radio (RF) devices, like my ceiling fan. The URC MasterControl RF10 Universal Learning Remote w/ RF Capability for about $40 adds this capability.
If you want more control of your home theater system, most critics give the Logitech Harmony remoteshigh marks. Please note that none of the Logitech remotes will control RF devices, and for your PS3 you’ll need the Harmony PS3 Bluetooth Adapter. And for all these remotes you’ll need a computer to program it.At the low end is the Logitech Harmony 300 Remote Control, suitable for up to 4 devices. Like all Logitech remotes, it features1 activity “watch TV” functionality that turns on / off all your components with one touch, but it lacks the color screen and advanced functions of Logitech’s other remotes.

Logitech’s mid priced remotes, the Harmony 650 (5 components) and Harmony 700 Rechargeable(6 components) feature a color screen that simplifies your viewing and channel surfing. Prices for these remotes are in the $100 – $150 range.
Logitech’s next step up is the Harmony One , probably the best value of the lineup. Like it’s more expensive siblings, the Harmony Onefeatures a full color touch screen and controls up to 15 devices, and uses a docking cradle for charging. It’s main features are:

  • One-touch activity controls: Press “Watch TV”, “Watch a DVD” or “Listen to Music” to start your entertainment
  • No more cheat sheets: The remote turns on the right devices in the right order for whatever activity you select
  • Customizable screen: Use favorite-channel icons to jump right to your top news, sports and movie channels

At the top of the line Logitech offers theLogitech Harmony 900 Rechargeable Remote with Color Touch Screen , with RF adapter included, also available as a bundle with thePlayStation3Bluetoothadapter direct from Logitech. The RF adapter system allows complete control of your system, even if the components are in a cabinet or closet.

Of course, you could always buy the Logitech Harmony 1100 Universal Remote with Color Touch Screen. You will need to add the RF extenderand Bluetooth adapter for PS3separately. But if you want to impress, this is the remote that will do it: It has a 3.5 inch full color back-lit touch screen.

Whatever remote you adoptto take control of your dysfunctional family of A/V components, remember: DO NOT DISCARD the original remotes that came with your devices! You may need them some day to learn a function from, or when the time comes to sell one of your components. Not having the original remote decreases the resale value of your used electronics. Remove the batteries from them and place them in a zip-lock somewhere safe from heat and water damage.
Mr.Pogi is a moderator and contributor, and he writes at and

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