Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi

Larry Dent is the owner of Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi.

These articles were written for the Islander Weekly.

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Larry's Tech Talk

Remotes… Out of Control?

If you are as old as me, you remember back in the day when you had to walk over to the TV to change channels (and volume). Thanks to Infra-Red Technology we have total control of our electronics without getting off of the recliner. But, sometimes technology (and convenience) comes with a price. And that price is that each device comes with its own remote.

How many are in your collection? In a basic system there will be a TV and a satellite (or Cable) receiver, that’s two. Add a DVD player (or Blu-Ray) for 3, surround sound and we’re up to 4. Maybe a CD player for 5 remote controls. I won’t say how many I was up to, but you see where I am going with this.

To resolve this dilemna, and lower the divorce rate, several companies sell universal remote controls. With a little bit of programming and the correct codes, you can eliminate most (if not all) of that remote collection. They range in price from under $100 to over $500. Like a lot of things, you will get what you pay for. If you only need to change channels and volume, a basic remote will do just fine. If you want to change surround modes, change the XM station in Zone 2 (while sitting in the hot tub), and dim the lights, you will need a more sophisticated unit. If you really want to show off, you can close the shades, start the fire, lower the thermostat and turn on the ceiling fan.

Not bad, but how complicated are these devices? The more sophisticated remotes allow for “activity” programming. Think about this, to watch TV, you turn on the TV, the cable box, and sound system. That’s three devices to power on that can be programmed to turn on with one button. These cool remotes can be programmed to know that the cable box changes channels, not the TV. And the sound system changes volume, not the TV, etc, etc. Simply put, “activity programs” are several commands being executed by one button. So now my wife can actually watch TV! She just hits one button and the system comes to life.

You might be thinking, that is pretty cool, but the coolest device ever, is my IPhone (or Droid). And yes, there are apps that allow for your IPhone to become a universal remote control. So, clean up that coffee table, empower your wife, and take back “control” of your audio/video system!