How do I Choose the Best TV Remote?

wiseGEEK Writer

Virtually every television set purchased today comes with a remote, and most people won’t have to buy a TV remote. This may be a good thing or an annoying one if people are already hip-deep in remotes for Blu-Ray® players, cable or satellite TV, sound systems, DVD players and/or VCRs. Many solve this issue by buying a universal remote that will control all devices, and there can be several criteria for selecting one.

Sometimes it can be quite difficult to program a TV remote.
Sometimes it can be quite difficult to program a TV remote.

First, though, make certain one or more remotes aren’t already universal. Cable and satellite companies may issue remotes that will control several devices. The number of different devices controlled may vary with each remote. People can find out if they already possess this, and how many things it works with, or if they can obtain one from their cable or satellite provider. These are often free, frequently very functional, and thus make a good TV remote choice.

Some TV remotes are universal and can control multiple devices.
Some TV remotes are universal and can control multiple devices.

When cable/satellite providers don’t have this attractive feature, folks will need to start looking for a universal remote that will control whatever devices they have. Some of these are available at local drug stores, and they might cost as little as $10-20 US Dollars (USD). Generally, the more function a person wants from a remote, the more they’ll pay, and prices could easily exceed $100 USD on fancier remotes purchased at electronics stores. Given this range in price and function, it’s pretty easy for people to find a remote that does exactly what they need it to do, simply by making a trip to an electronics store that has a good selection.

One thing to consider beyond price and functionality is ease of programming. Sometimes, it can be quite difficult to program a TV remote. Moreover, if the batteries die, it may not retain its memory for long and could necessitate reprogramming. Prices paid for easier to program models may be a little higher, but they could be worth it.

Another thing to look at is if the TV remote actually has buttons that address all functions on a device. For instance, can a DVD player skip ahead, be rewound, zoom in, or et cetera? Sometimes when switching to an all in one remote, people lose some of the neat features they have on each device, or they can’t find how to access them in the varying buttons of a universal remote.

Sometimes people are looking for a TV remote because they actually want to replace a broken or lost remote from a TV or have purchased a used TV with a broken remote. Again, a universal remote is a possibility but some require the TV to be on in order to program, and this isn’t always possible. The best advice here is to call the manufacturer of the television set; contact info can be found online for most major manufacturers. They may have access to additional remotes for original sets that are used, which they can sell to customers, or they could have suggestions on what universal remote might work as a replacement.

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Discussion Comments


@Soulfox -- Well, there could be a problem with using your smartphone as a remote. Unless you are the only one that watches that television, what happens when someone wants to watch TV (or turn on anything else connected to the TV)? If you have your smartphone with you, that means you also have the remote and that is no solution.

I think you'd be better off with a universal remote that is hard to lose. Failing that, keeping the kids away from your remotes might not be a terrible idea, either.


@Vinzenzo -- We had the same problem at my house, but found a decent solution. I have a smartphone with an IR blaster in it and that means the thing can be used as a remote. It is not a perfect solution because there are some devices the phone just won't control, but things are getting better as apps allowing the phone to be a remote improve.

That is a decent solution now and will be a great one in the future because people tend to not lose smartphones. Mine is always right at my side and I would wager most people are like that.


If you have kids around, go out of your way to buy the biggest remote you can find. Something that would be very hard to lose, see?

Why? Because kids have a habit of losing remotes like crazy. The only ones we've been able to keep around my house are those big old universal remotes that are actually quite heavy to hold. Those sleek, smallish remotes simply vanish around here as my kids have a real talent for putting things in spots where they will never again be found.

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