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How do I Choose the Best Remote?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Remote controls offer many tangible benefits to users, from instant setting adjustments to the ability to turn individual components on or off. A quality remote literally puts total control over a complex piece of electronic equipment into the hands of the consumer. Using a faulty or poorly designed remote control unit, however, can often prove to be an exercise in frustration. When searching for replacement remotes for a specific audiovisual component or universal remotes to control several different components at once, there are a number of factors a consumer should consider. Some remote controls can be relatively inexpensive, but feature a limited number of functions. Others may be elaborate and expensive, but too confusing or complicated to meet the basic needs of a casual user.

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One thing to consider when choosing the best remote is functionality. Some universal remotes can control multiple components such as DVD players, stereo systems and television cable boxes, while others are only designed to provide control over one specific electronic component. Quite often the less expensive replacement remotes will only have a limited number of function keys, which may be acceptable for casual use but not for advanced users who prefer more control over their viewing or listening experience. A basic universal remote unit, for example, may only provide essential function keys such as play, rewind, stop and fast forward. Some viewers may want more advanced functions such as zoom, menu, index or angle. Many electronic stores offer universal or replacement remotes which range widely in functionality.

Another consideration which choosing a remote is ease of use. Universal remotes often need to be programmed for every individual component they control, which means the user must input specific codes for each manufacturer. If a universal remote loses power for any reason, these codes may have to be re-entered manually. Some components may not even be compatible with the most common codes, so a lengthy search process is often a necessity. This is one reason why an authorized factory replacement remote may be preferable to a more generic universal remote. A Sony television set or an Emerson DVD player, for example, will usually respond better to remotes provided by Sony or Emerson. The remotes should also contain clearly marked function buttons and a large keypad for easier tuning. Other features such as glow-in-the-dark keys or a paging system for lost units can also be helpful.

A quality wireless control unit should also respond instantly and consistently to the user's commands. Some older remotes still work best under "line of sight" conditions, meaning there needs to be a clear path between the remote and the sensor unit on the component it controls. A better choice of controller would work regardless of its relative position to the sensor or other obstacles in the room. Remotes which control multiple components should have the ability to switch from one component to another seamlessly. A quality universal remote should be compatible with every component, therefore eliminating or reducing the need for multiple remote controls in order to operate each one separately.

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