If like me you have a fistful of remotes and get fed up trying to find the one you want in the dark then you will appreciate this excellent little (well about half the size of house brick) device, as it will control up to ten separate devices. Although it cannot be used as a replacement remote for a broken one as it has to learn all the codes from the original. When you first see this remote, your first impression will probably be ‘Blimey, I’ve got no chance of losing that down the side of the sofa’, due to its size, but putting it up against my TV remote (a Philips) it proved to be not much longer or wider and about twice as thick – but it does fit in the hand nicely and is not uncomfortable to use. The only thing I don’t like about the design is the use of a flap to conceal buttons, as I find them inconvenient and inevitably they break off or become loose, though to be fair the one on this remote seems fairly solid and I suppose time will tell as top how well it lasts. As I said, this remote can learn up to ten devices, and has ten pre-marked buttons for TV, VCR, DVD, AMP, CD, TUNER, MD, LD, TAPE and SAT, although in practice you can put any device on any button – my layout is: TV – Philips TV VCR – AIWA VCR SAT – Sky Digibox MD - Mitsubishi VCR CD – CD controls from Sanyo Mini Hi-Fi* AMP - Aux from Sanyo Mini Hi-Fi* TUNER - Radio Controls from Mini Hi-Fi* TAPE - Tape controls from Mini Hi-Fi* I have these * on separate devices for convenience sake, and also have the volume control for the TV on the VCR and SAT device settings, but this shows exactly how configurable this device is. In fact the only thing I haven’t programmed into it is my Wharfedale DVD player, but this is because it uses what is called rolling code’s and a different signal is sent each time a button is pressed (i.e. Signal A then Signal B the
n Signal A etc), I have heard of a work around for this, but to be honest I can’t be bothered – two remotes is still a lot better than six! At the top of the remote is a small LCD Display, that contained the Time, Day and Date (which are used for the in-built timer functions – more later) and the Device selected, and also tells you which key is being pressed. The remote itself is also backlight, so is very easy to use in the dark and lights automatically in poor light or there is a button on the side to turn the light on, which is a nice green colour. It also looks and feels very solid and well made. There is also a beep when each button is pressed, but fortunately this can be turned off if desired (it took me five minutes to decide to turn mine offJ). The supplied manual is just a fold out piece of paper, but it is very clear, concise and easy to follow and takes you through all the learning and macro functions step-by-step. The remote requires 4x AAA batteries (the little one’s, sometimes known as pen-light), which are not supplied. The remote is pretty well laid out with the top half of it containing the most commonly used keys (all programmable with any function you like) like the numeric ones, power on/off, the VCR control keys, volume etc. The bottom half of the remote has the rest of the buttons and these are concealed below a sliding flap – this is where you will find the lesser-used keys and strangely the FASTTEXT and RECORD buttons (which I would have preferred to see in the top half). The bottom most row of buttons are used to program the remote. Actually programming this remote is a cinch to set up, just follow these easy steps – 1. Select the device button that you want to use 2. Press learn 3. Press the key you want to program 4. Point your existing remote at the front of this one (about an inch or two apart) 5. Press the key you want programmed, after a fe
w seconds OK appears in the LCD display and you can repeat steps 3 to 5 until you have finished. You can change the name of each button in the LCD display, so that its actual function is displayed when pressed, although you can’t change the pre-marked names on the buttons themselves (this also applies to the device names). The last feature (which I haven’t mentioned yet is the ability to program up to ten MACRO’s – this means that with the remotes in-built timer (see I said I would mention it later!) it can be used to perform set tasks i.e. turn on the TV at a particular time and select the channel and volume, likewise the hi-fi (the one I am trying to set at the moment is to change the channels on the Sky Digibox, so that when I am out, I can record more than one channel, as there is no built in timer in it). The only thing to remember wehen first using one of these multi-remotes is to press the device button of the equipment you require – the amount of times I went to turn on the TV and the Video turned off (consequently cutting off the program I was recordingJ) was to frequent to mention until I got used to it. Now to answer your burgeoning questions - How Much? and Where do I get One? Well the price is an astounding and very reasonable (for a device of this quality) £29.95 and the place is RicherSounds (I believe that it is their exclusive, as I have not seen it anywhere else). It may not be the best on the market (the Philips Pronto has that honour, but then for nearly £200 it should be!), but for this price I cannot see how it can be beaten.
I have a lot of electrical items with remotes and have been on the lookout for a useable, affordable multi-remote control for a while. And I think i've found one that will suit me - the Cambridge Audio Multimedia Explorer M500. As far as I know, only Richer Sounds sell this, and they have it on sale at the moment at only 30 quid, which I think is a complete bargain, considering its features and the other remotes that are available at a similar price. It is fully programmable and will control up to 10 different devices - DVD, VCR, CD, MD, LD, TV, SAT, AMP, TUNER and TAPE buttons are present on the control, but obviously, these do not have to be followed and you could use the LD button for a second video etc. It's fairly large, but uses its size to contain probably all the buttons that you will need from other remotes (41 programmable buttons and 5 'smart' buttons that each can hold up to 5 commands). It's got an intelligent backlight that only comes on when the light level is too low to read the LCD display, that also shows the time and date. It's also got macro functions for up to 20 different steps, so you could come in, press one button and your remote-dimmer switch would come on, the amp, TV and DVD player would come on and start playing the film that you want. It's also got a sleep / timer function.