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
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
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 www.hammacher.com,
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 e-town.com,
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 email@example.com
Jimmy R. Hammond, CPA, is a resident of Annapolis and a consultant to businesses in Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington D.C.