Universal Remote Controls
Just about every piece of home theater electronics comes with its own remote control. Let’s count how many remotes were supplied for this typical media room:
HDTV Video Projector 1
Motorized Video Projection Screen 1
Home Theater Receiver 1
DVD Player 1
Blu-ray Player 1
Satellite TV Receiver 1
Electronic Light Dimmer 1
Motorized Window Covering 1
Wall-Mounted Volume Control 1
Total Number of Remote Controls 9
How ridiculous is that? Even an octopus doesn’t have enough arms to handle that many remote controls. But there is a better way. It’s called a universal remote control, the subject of this Ovation tutorial.
Squeezing everything into one remote
A universal remote control takes all of those separate remotes and combines them into a single, much easier to use controller. So instead of a coffee table full of remotes, one is all you need to operate everything.
To make it work, the universal remote must first be programmed. This can be as simple as entering a code number for the make and model of the component to be controlled. The code numbers are usually printed in the user manual and it only takes a few minutes to enter a full system’s worth. But if a code number is not supplied, a universal remote can also “learn” a command. By placing the universal remote head-to-head with the component’s remote, you can transfer the codes from one to another. Programming this way does take longer because each command must be entered and verified separately, but it’s not all that hard to do.
Single-room remote controls
All wireless remote controls, including universal remotes, use either infrared light or radio frequencies to send commands to the component that they are controlling. Infrared (IR) technology is by far the most common and is ideal for controlling components that are all in one room.
IR is simply a beam of light that is emitted from the remote control. The light rapidly switches on and off creating patterns or pulses that the component can read as a command to turn on, turn off, play, or any other command. IR remote control technology works very well, but it does have a couple of limitations. IR is directional, so the remote must be pointed at the component. We’ve all experienced what happens when a remote isn’t aimed directly at a TV—nothing! The second is that IR doesn’t penetrate solid objects. So if your components are in another room or behind a solid door, an IR remote is simply not going to work.
Multi-room remote controls
A remote control that uses radio frequencies (RF) can operate components in any room of the house. Radio waves penetrate solid objects, so an RF remote could conceivably operate gear located in an entirely different room, or in a closet with a solid wood door. Universal remote controls that utilize RF are available, but they tend to be more expensive and difficult to install. That’s because the RF signals need to be converted back to IR to operate the gear that was originally designed for IR remotes. Another piece of gear is needed to do this and some of them can be rather complex. But the advantages of an RF remote can far outweigh the cost differences.
Almost all universal remote controls can do macro sequences. A macro sequence is simply a series remote control commands strung together like a chain, and can be very handy when operating a complex home theater system. Instead of pressing one button to turn on the TV, another to start the DVD, and yet another to turn on the surround sound system, a universal remote with macros does it all for you. One press of a button and you’re done. But programming macros into a remote can be a complex process, so it’s best to leave it to the pros at Ovation.
Want more information?
The capabilities of many universal remotes are absolutely amazing. They make it easy to control everything from room temperature and lighting to the most complex home entertainment systems. Ovation is on top of the latest trends and technologies in universal remotes and has the expertise to install and program them to fit your needs. Give us a call or click help for more information today. We’ll show you how a universal remote control can add to the enjoyment of your home entertainment system.