What do you do when you own more remote controls than you can deal with? Well, you go out and get yourself a Universal multi-remote of course! These handy devices allow you to control a number of your electronics with just one handset, thus saving household clutter... and batteries! There are loads of varieties of the multi-remote available, but today I'm looking at the 'Kameleon 6', which will operate (yes, you've guessed it) six of your AV systems. That means, you can be in full control of your Stereo, TV, Freeview box, Sky box, DVD Player, and Blu-Ray Player, with just one handset - and not only that, it's an incredibly cool looking device with a futuristic blue interface. Costing in the region of £35, the Kameleon is widely available from a number of online retailers - but enough about the price, let's take a look at its features.
Setting up the Remote... easy or difficult?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Kameleon's set-up is a little tricky to get to grips with - in particular, I can't imagine many elderly users being able to get started without assistance. That said, the manual is very thorough, so if you follow the instructions word for word (and have a generally sharp mind) you shouldn't go too far wrong. Basically, each make of system that you own (be it a DVD player, stereo, Sky box, etc) will have a particular code assigned to it - for example, a Sony blu-ray player might be '4456' - these codes are listed at the back of the manual, and it's down to you to enter the numbers into the remote for each machine that you want to control. Then there's a bit of further programming to do if you want to refine the remote further - It may sound a little daunting, but once the setup is complete, using the Kameleon to control your devices is a piece of cake. The majority of makes are supported, and even if the code for your obscure Korean stereo isn't shown in the instructions, there is another manual way of setting it.
Design & Appearance
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The remote is large, but it feels comfortable in the hand - it also feels solidly made with a definite weightiness about it. The underside is metal (perhaps aluminium), which helps create the space-age appearance which I mentioned in the opening paragraph. The surface of the remote is constructed from a flat plasticky substance, under which, symbols, numbers, and letters illuminate in blue text. For each individual device, a different combination of symbols will show through, and you can choose which of your machines you want to control via the buttons at the top. In this way the Kameleon 6 could be classed as a touch-screen device, albeit not in the traditional LCD screen-based sense. The remote takes 4 x AAA batteries, which is a little extreme - but then it's certainly a lot less batteries than you would require for all the individual remotes which the Kameleon replaces.
We've done the 'pros', so here are the 'cons'
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The fact that the Kameleon has an illuminating display makes it great for use in a darkened room, however, the lighting-up part of the remote's functionality is one of the areas where i've encountered problems - basically, the device is supposed to be motion sensitive - e.g, the display will light when you pick it up - but it's far *too* sensitive for its own good. The remote will light up randomly, even when I'm not near it! (quite annoying in the middle of the night). Similarly, it makes a buzzing noise when the light is on which is certainly a distraction. I'm not sure whether this is a problem with all the Kameleon 6 remotes, or just my one - but it's something which marred the controller's otherwise decent performance, and also decreased the battery life.
Final Word - a remote worth owning?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Overall, the Kameleon 6 is a functional multi-remote which is easy to operate once you've passed the set-up procedure. The interface looks great (many people will buy it just because of its gimmickry), and in general the built-quality is high - yet a couple of niggles let down the device as a whole. The aforementioned self-illuminating for no apparent reason means that I can't award the remote more than three dooyoo stars - a shame really, as it's a potentially excellent remote.
Truth be told, I have a new pet in the house, and it is not of the furry variety. It's called a Kameleon, and as I parted with the money at our local electrical wholesalers, I wondered if in fact I had made an error of judgement that I would later regret.
The Kameleon comes packed in an impressive box, supplied with its own four batteries, and an instruction book that looks to me like rocket science, that I shall tell you about later.
Why a Kameleon ?
The logic was simple. Surely in this day and age there must be someone who had produced a remote control that covered all the many electrical items that I had in my living room. It irritated me that we either lost remote controls down the back of the sofa, or batteries ran out, or in the worst case scenario, could not locate the remote when we needed it.
Having recently bought a DVD Video combination, and a new flash television, I was getting to grips with how to use the remote control for each of these and truthfully I was struggling, not because their instructions were lacking, but because my own eye sight was failing me, and even with glasses on, I could hardly make out the functions of each of the buttons.
When I asked the man at the electrical store whether such a remote control existed, he pointed me towards to Kameleon and offered it to me at a price that I thought was a reasonable gamble at just under thirty pounds.
Sound like a lot of money ? Well it did to me too, and for me, had to be a practical solution and one that worked. I am pretty technophobic but with sound instruction and a good instruction booklet, can follow what I am told to do.
Unpacking the unit was fun. It was like christmas, atlhough what it was about to show me, I was unprepared for. I had to unscrew the back of the unit to insert the batteries, instead of the normal slide that exists on all my other remotes, placed the batteries into the unit, and closed the battery section with its screw, and turned the unit over.
What greeted me was the clearest remote control that I have ever seen, with bright blue functions displayed through what looks like thick plastic. It positively glows.
Having come to terms with the huge display area and liking what I saw, I opened the instruction booklet, which is in five languages, and commenced the procedure of tuning in my appliances to the remote control. Here, I thought that I may encounter difficulty since my Television and Video/DVD unit were new, and only recently put on the market and I thought that the list of codes found at the back of the book may be lacking.
Pressing the picture at the top of either television, dvd, satellite, video, music or hifi, each of the individual units I possessed is processed and put into the memory of the remote control, and whilst searching for the code needed to program the remote control, there is a fun feature where you press and a rabbit appears out of a hat until you find the correct code to switch off the appliance you have started.
Setting up the television, dvd, video, satellite and hifi unit on the one handset took around fifteen minutes, and the unit really does do what it says it does, giving you extra functions to use for storing favourite functions and channels easily, simply by taking information from your existing remote controls.
Furthermore the makers offer a website, and a telephone service whereby information can be fed to the remote for equipment not already covered by the extensive list of products at the back of the booklet.
Using the remote is fun. Normally dark coloured to the eye, the unit is touch sensitive and lights up as soon as it is picked up. I noticed that all of my electrical equipment reacts faster than it did with its own remote control and that signals at a distance were no problem to the Kameleon. It's a fantastic bit of kit and although retailing at almost Seventy Pounds in the UK, can be found online cheaper, and is well worthwhile the search.
The unit comes with a years manufacturers guarantee, and is simply beyond my expectations in both ease of use and effectiveness and the bonus for me is the brightness of the display which means I do not have to don spectacles in order to ask it to do things, unlike the other remote controls with small buttons that are hard to read.
I really do think that this is a gizmo that would help those with bad sight as well as those who are burdened with several remote controls in the same room. Its functionality is outstanding, and its user friendliness amazing.
My new pet Kameleon is worth its weight in gold.
Well, given that I had invested in a new flat TV in the lounge, and a new dolby sound setup as well, the total remote controls in my lounge were at 6. Having 3 kids means that I always had the wrong one at the wrong time, so it was about time to think about an all in one remote controller that seem so good in principle.
I went for the next generation 6-1 kameleon from allinone which was expensive at £60, but the concept of the screen sounded good, and I thought my wife would find it easier as the buttons should minimise confusion depending on the unit you are controlling.
Programming my various players, satellite, sound system and TV was easy and took only 15 minutes, but I have a video switcher box that wasn't listed - no problem though as it learned the infra-red signal and could therefore replicate the simple functions.
To be honest - it works (well most of the time), and indeed does remove the need to have the array of controllers to hand all the time. You can't quite throw them in a cupboard though because complex functions like TV menus etc aren't supported without more time programming each button. My main disappointment comes with the feel of the unit. It is cheap and plasticky, and feels like you spent £10 on it and not £60. The screen buttons don't have that confident 'i've been pressed' feel, and is very darkly lit. The brightness setting seems to do nothing, and in general I wish I had bought the non-interactive model for much less.
The novelty factor of the screen has now worn off, and it is a pain trying to see it quit frankly. If I could return it, I would.
I conned my mum into buying me this for Christmas as i was sick of losing one or more of the many remotes I was accumulating. I knew that the remote carried a hefty price tag, but it seemed worth it at the time (although not something I would have bought myself).
The novelty of this item I would imagine is its main selling point and thats all I can imagine gives some justification for the around £60 that they charge for this thing.
The remote doesn't really do anything special except for lighting up when you knock it - being a one-for-all unit doesn't make it anything out of the ordinary as there are many on the market nowadays starting at about £6 for a basic model. However, being so sensitive it does tend to light up at bad times, like when you're watching a film or trying your best to get to sleep. Because of all this lighting up at the wrong time, the batteries in the Chamelion don't last very long and I'm sorry that I still haven't bought any rechargable ones.
The Chamelion comes with a wide range of codes to suit most TV's, DVD players an the rest and there is a web service which keeps the codes up to date. However, I still haven't been able to get the codes for (or program using the learn function) my cable decoder.
One thing (and maybe the only thing) that I liked with the Chamelion was the macro feature which allows you to program a sequence of key presses and associate them to one key. This comes in handy for turning all of your machines off simultaneously instead of pressing 6 of buttons, or for turning uo the volume on your TV whilst watchng a DVD.
The remote does have some element of WOW! factor, and everyone that I can think has seen the remote has asked me where they can get one. This soon dies down though when they find out how much it costs... for a remote control!
There have been no faults with the remote control (and I've even dropped it on the wooden floor a few times) sp it seems to be well made and hard wearing - although the plastic screen does look a bit cheap.
Overall, I'm glad that I've got the Chamelion but even gladder that I didn't have to fork out the money for it. I'd recommend putting it on your wish list but you definately shouldn't buy one for yourself - you won't be able to enjoy it knowing what else you could have bought with the fairly hefty premium!