A guide to buying universal remote controls

Gone are the days when you have to switch between three remotes to get your television, VCR, and home theatre. With the introduction of universal remote controls in the market, it is easy to sync all electronics in one device reducing the clutter and confusion in living rooms.

If your remote control is also lost, you need not panic as you can replace it with a universal remote control. From replacing a worn out or lost device to syncing all your gadgets, universal remote controls are examples of convenient accessories that make life easier.

Factors to consider

There are many types of universal remote controls that exist in the market today. Your choice depends on a few things:

1. Purpose

If it is just to replace a remote control that you lost or that simply stopped working, a basic remote control with a few buttons for switching the appliance on and off, regulating the volume and the screen is all you need. Most of these basic remote controls work on any type of television, even older models of CRT.

Those looking for syncing all devices such as the TV, decoder, VCR, DVD, console and a sound system need a more powerful version. The market is full of universal remote controls that have extensive syncing capabilities.

2. Ease of use

Ease of use is a major consideration from models with ergonomic designs to the ones with touch screens and buttons. The device must feel comfortable in your hands for easy manipulation. In addition, getting it to work on your own is ideal.

3. User reviews

Logitech is one brand that sells a couple of models that are easy to set up even for those who are not adept at electronics. The Logitech Harmony 300 is one such type with consumer reviews indicating that it is fairly easy to connect and use.

However, if you want a device that you can customise and optimise, consider the Logitech Harmony 555. In addition to being a higher end product, it is capable of syncing up to 15 devices. It will take some time to programme all your appliances but once it's done, you have one working device that sends the commands.

URC Digital is another brand that received good rating across users. URC Digital R50 is an alternative to the line of remote controls by Logitech. Other brands to look at are those made by RCA, Philips and Sony.

4. Budget

Prices do vary across models but there are also reasonably priced devices that have multiple functions and are easy to use. Comparing prices and functions, therefore, can help you decide which device to buy.

What to choose

Universal remote controls can simplify or mess up your entertainment experience. It all depends on the model you buy and the amount of time you are willing to put in setting it up. If you are willing to invest time and effort in using a powerful device, go for it. However, if you just want one that works to synchronise a few devices, get the simplest model you can find. It won't also hurt to test a few models in-store.

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