Remote Controls Product Guide

Remote Controls

It all starts out with your simple television remote control. Then you get the VCR, the CD player, the DVD player and the cassette deck and right about that time, your living room turns into remote control hell!

Universal remote controls allow you to control all of your audio and video devices from only one remote, eliminating the need for multiple remotes. There are two basic types of universal remotes. Which one you pick depends on how many devices you have and where you'll be using the remote. Choose from universal remotes made by Sony, One For All, Teac, Proton, and Philips right here at

Remote Controls Overview

A universal remote control has the ability to handle the functioning of more than one electronic device. It eliminates the need for several remote controls. The most basic universal remotes can usually handle up to four devices (normally a TV, a VCR, and a Cable Box) plus an additional auxiliary function that can be programmed to any device (with limitations). Many universal remotes today come prepackaged with electronic audio/video devices, although some still package traditional single-function remotes. Universal remotes still may be purchased separately, and do not have to be the same brand as the device(s) you'll be programming.

Universal remote controls have function buttons that you use to switch from using device to device. To use the television, you press the "TV" button. Once you do that, all the buttons on the remote (channel changing, volume, etc) apply to your television only. When you press another device, the same applies for them.

Types of Remotes

There are essentially two basic types of universal remote controls: preprogrammed remotes, and "learning" remotes. Preprogrammed remotes are the most common and require a trial and error search phase to program your remote to a particular device. Learning remotes take the information directly from a devices' original remote control.

Pre Programmed

Since we all do not buy the same brand televisions, VCRs and other audio/video equipment, it's hard to understand how one remote can work on any more than one machine. Here's how it works. Every device and brand name is assigned a code, which is usually made up of 3 or four digits. Every preprogrammed universal remote comes with a little pamphlet, or manual that clearly states these codes for brands and devices. For example: If you have a Sony television, you may have more than 2 or 3 codes listed for this brand of television. To find the right codes for your device, you'll need to refer to remote pamphlet. What you'll eventually do with these codes, using your remote, is try to see which one "locks" with your TV by trial and error. Locking the device usually means that the device turns off (assuming that it was on before programming) when the right code is punched in. Procedures may vary from remote to remote, but finding the right code for a unit shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes. Not all remotes cover all brands of devices.

One main advantage preprogrammed remotes have over any other type is that you don't need the original remote control of the device in order to program the universal remote.

Learning Remotes

Unlike preprogrammed universal remote controls, there are no codes to punch using learning remotes. Learning remotes receive the actual codes by facing the infrared ports of the old and new remotes together. In a sense you "zap" the code from the old remote, into the new remote, then you're all done. These types of remotes are great when you often get new equipment, or have too many to program.

Setting up learning remotes are much easier compared with preprogrammed remotes. However, most of these learning remotes always require that you have the original remote handy. If you lost the original remote, a learning remote won't work, unless it has the ability to be programmed.

Ease Of Use

The last thing you want to do is buy a universal remote control that will complicate your life even more. The average universal remote has more buttons than a standard single-function remote. Before buying a universal remote, find out how many devices you'll want to operate using it. The more devices a remote can handle, the more buttons it will have. LCD remote controls work better in this sense because you have more flexibility in customizing your functions for every device. With all other button remote controls, every function may not have a separate button, which means you have to push a couple of buttons (usually more than three or four) to get a desired result from your device.

If you plan to use your remote in darker places (i.e. home-theater situations), make sure you look for a remote with glow-in-the-dark keys or remotes with backlit keys.

There are several higher-class remotes that come with large, backlit LCD displays that have advanced touch-screen operations instead of buttons. They share the abilities of being a learning remote that's also programmable. They have the versatility to handle many devices with full functionality.


Most universal remote controls operate using standard alkaline batteries, usually AA or AAA. Models that use touch screens and have LCD displays may use a rechargeable battery. What happens to all the programmed information in your remote when you change the battery? Well, most of the time nothing. Most universal remote controls have a battery backup that can last anywhere from 90 seconds to 15 minutes, which should cover the time you need to replace batteries.

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