Consider This . . . Remote du Jour

The holidays are over, all the relatives have returned home, the house is back in order and, if you are like many of us, you have probably added an electronic gadget or two to your household inventory. In my case, I replaced our el-cheapo DVD player with a newer and more functional Sony unit, which added one more remote control to my growing and obscene remote control collection. I have no market data to support my math, but if you have two televisions, two VHS video units, two DVD players, a stereo audio unit with CD player and maybe a video camera or two, then you may also have two to 10 remote controls littering your home. The remote control dilemma has reached epidemic proportions and requires immediate action. It also helped to be prodded into action by relatives perplexed by the tiny button remote control that accompanied their new television and a fellow writer who was equally perplexed by this universal remote selection decision and her bewildering stash of remotes.

Choosing just the right remote is like buying any other personal product. You are guided, not necessarily in order of importance, by size, weight, color, ease of operation, button count, feel, price, past experience and, of course, other persons' opinions or endorsements.

As always, my search begins on the internet. A general search using the key words "universal remote control" gave me a few thousand responses, but a more directed search with the same keywords at and brought me to a more manageable selection of less than 100 responses and associated links to a variety of other resources and reviews. A closer inspection of the 100 responses yielded 10 units that I will characterize as quality universal remotes worth considering and the four finalists listed below.

At the lower end of the spectrum, I found the largest universal remote, according to Hammacher Schlemmer at, for $39.95. This unit can control up to four units; all the buttons are an inch in size; and it has a red background light in the buttons. I thought it was large and a bit gaudy but, for the visually impaired or elderly, this could be just the one---you certainly can't lose this one.

Next, you'll find one of the early entries in this crowded field, the Sony Remote Commander RM-AV2100. This beautiful silver unit is 7- by 4 -inches (slightly large and can be awkward), runs on four AA batteries, and has a pale blue backlight 3-by-2-inch LCD touch screen. There are 12 rubberized component selection buttons which, when individually selected, cause the screen to display all the operational buttons for the particular component being controlled. The system buttons, channel selection, sound controls and muting buttons are the only other controls on the remote. The other good news is that all Sony unit codes are built into memory and no unit learning is required for Sony products. If you don't have a Sony TV, DVD, VHS, the system has hundreds of preprogrammed codes from other equipment manufacturers that shortcut the learning time immensely. This unit retails locally for $179 but can be found on the Internet at several sites for under $90.

My next selection is the Proton SRC-2000 remote, which is remarkably similar operationally to the Sony remote. This 8-by-2- inch unit is smaller and easier to use and has a smaller pale blue backlight 2-by-1-inch LCD. The channel selection, sound controls and muting buttons are the only other buttons. I liked the time and date screen as well, which Sony did not have, and it uses just three AAA batteries and lasts months. All component selections are made on the touch screen. This unit can be mated to your computer system through an optional docking unit and software which will allow you to change the screen configuration to your own personal layout. I found rave reviews on this unit at Fast Company, Gadget Guru, CE Pro Magazine and, just to name a few. The retail price on this unit is $200 but can be purchased at several Internet sites for under $120.

At the upper end of the units is the Philips Pronto Remote Control TSU6000 with a docking station for the NiCad battery charger, a backlight color 3-by- 2-inch LCD touch screen, 512 KB of SDRAM and 8 MB of flash memory, on-screen button programming feature, a 500- brand database of preprogram-med functions, and a RF extender which allows this unit to operate throughout the house. I personally thought the unit had too many items displayed on the screen at any one time. At $800, discounted to $699, it was priced well beyond its features, our needs and my budget. It might be worth creating a price alert on one of the shopping sites if you are willing to wait for a substantial price drop or put it on your gift wish list.

Any one of these units will make your remote problem disappear. Take a look for yourself and I am sure you will return to the middle units. My bet is you will return to the Proton SRC-2000, as I did.

If you have comments or suggestions, or have an idea for a future computer or business topic, e-mail me at or

Jimmy R. Hammond, CPA, is a resident of Annapolis and a consultant to businesses in Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington D.C.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

Additional comments ?

Last time we asked, "How many past issues of Inside Annapolis Magazine do you have? " Out of all the responses, we found that most of our readers keep at least 3 issues of Inside Annapolis Magazine around the house, but a couple of our readers have over several years of issues! We're glad to hear that so many of you stay with us!

Thanks to all those that voted!

Results Posted Every Issue!!

Backyard Publications, LLC. ©2004. 433 Fourth St, Annapolis, MD 21403 - Phone 410-263-6300 - Fax 410-267-8668