Almost every home entertainment products come with remote control, but often it can only be used to operate a particular device. Even though some of the TV remotes have the capability to control other devices such as DVD, Blu-ray, and ultra-HD Blu-ray disc players of the same brand, many of the customers prefer an all-in-one remote controller that help to manage and operate every device over multiple brands.
A universal remote control has many advanced features and is configured to control one or more types of electronic devices of various brands. Universal low-end remotes can just control the set of products configured by the manufacturer. Whereas the mid or high-end remote controls enable the user to program new control codes to the remote.
A universal remote control transmits a set of codes to communicate with several sets of devices with its programmable memory. This enables it to control your home theater, TVs, DVD player, sound system, set-up box, game consoles, media streamers, and all other devices.
However, while most universal remotes allow you to press buttons, some have a touchscreen, just like a smartphone. The universal remote has developed over the years now it comes with advanced features such as customizable keymaps, touchscreens, and other high-end technologies.
Remote Control Programming Options
To operate different devices and TV models of various brands the universal remote control required to support some configurations. So the programming function can recognize the device they need to control. Universal Remotes includes one or more programming features as follows:
Pre-Programmed: This program allows the user to operate only limited devices from the selected products brands without further programming.
Learning: This feature allows the remote to learn and get the commands of another remote device. This is done when pointing the universal remote and dedicated device remotes to each other and configuring each command at a time.
Programmable with a Code: This feature enables the remote control to be customized by composing in a unique code designed for specific brands and devices or by connecting the remote to a PC via USB and inputting the device to control.
Programmable Without a Code: Most programmable remotes also include this feature that can scan a required code through a series of steps described in the user guide, without actually entering the required code.
How the universal remote control other devices
In addition to programming, a universal device must communicate the required commands to the targeted device.
This can be done by one or more of the following methods:
IR (infrared radiation) – This is the most common technique used by remote to control devices. Each time when you press a button on the remote an infrared light signal passes to a sensor located on the front of the device. Then the device runs the command. This requires a clear line of view between the device and the remote.
If this is not possible, accessories such as an IR repeater or IR extender can be inserted between the remote device and the target device that can retransmit the signals using its own IR beam via a cable wire connected to an IR sensor input connection available on selected devices.
RF (radio-frequency) – Most of the universal remotes include an RF (radio frequency) transmitter as a solution to the light-of-sight limitation. Although this helps you to control devices installed within cabinets, there are not many controllable devices that have RF receivers that can be used with an RF remote.
One solution is to transmit the RF commands from the receiver to an external RF receiver, with the receiver then resending the infrared signal to the device. Many RF remotes also include an infrared option for additional flexibility.
Wi-Fi – If a universal remote control includes Wi-Fi, most of the smart devices such as lights, security cameras, door locks thermostats, or window shades can be operated through a home network. Using a variety of apps, this type of remote can also control both device functions and content access, such as streaming audio and video. In conjunction with Wi-Fi-supported TVs, home theater receivers or a hub that receives the Wi-Fi signal, this is more commonly available with smartphones and then relays the command information to the device via IR.
Bluetooth – Many universal remotes provide Bluetooth control. This is mostly used as a choice for controlling Roku video systems, as well as some gaming consoles. This means that universal remote control may have the ability to control some devices using Bluetooth, and other devices can be controlled by IR or RF.
Alternatives to universal remotes:
Voice control – In past times, to control the TV settings we used hand gestures, but now, things have changed completely. We can control all of the settings using voice commands. With voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Alexa becoming extremely popular, some devices can be controlled directly via a Google Home or Amazon Echo device. Or you can use Google Home or Amazon Echo to send your commands, and the in-turn Echo will communicate with a universal remote to execute control commands.
HDMI-CEC -There are two options for connecting your TV and other components. One is by using the HDMI cables and other remote control using HDMI -CEC. The components and TV may be the same or different we can control basic functions by using universal remote or nonuniversal remote control that came on your TV. In few TVs, HDMI-CEC is enabled automatically so you can use it without any further setup. But in most of the TVs and other devices, we need to set up and activate it by ourselves from the onscreen menu.
Using a good universal remote, operating your entertainment gear will be simple and easy. Even though using universal remote provides risk-free experience, it can’t be a complete replacement for a dedicated traditional remote. Few universal remotes can only control the basic functionalities such as volume, channel changing, and sound adjustments and other features.
With universal remotes replacing original remotes, keep the original one with you without losing it. As the original remote will have access to the functions that the universal remote doesn’t have.
Before you purchase one, consider the following:
- How many devices you need to control.
- How many programming options you might need to access.