So the first solution I want to talk about is multi-remotes. These devices are quite simply either remotes that come with a device that offers functionality for other devices (e.g: A TV remote that can operate a DVD/Blu-Ray player, usually of the same brand) or the more generic ‘universal remote’ that comes pre programmed with a number of remote codes for a broad range of compatibility across manufacturers.
Firstly, let’s talk about the device remotes that come with the extra built-in functionality. They usually have a defined set of keys in a special selection of the remote or you need to hold down or press a special button to activate the buttons. An alternative approach is combi devices like TV/Optical Disc combis, AV receivers that can work with multiple manufactures’ named communication system, or dual format players, where the buttons on the TV remote will control the built in player when selected, or in dual format players a shared set of buttons will control the selected format with another button changing which player is active.
I’ve had these types of remotes on three of the TVs I’ve owned and a further three my family have owned (one with a hold down button, four with a special bank of buttons and one as a combi) and two dual format players.
These remotes are perfectly suitable when this is all your setup consists of and are great for those situation when you’re not trying to wrestle with two different ones, or heaven forbid, you lose one on movie night down the back of the sofa!
The other type of multi remote that exists is the generic universal remotes (programmable ones do technically come into this, but we’ll get to those in the next article). These come in all shapes and sizes from the fairly sophisticated ones that can handle up to 6 devices in one with a large list of compatible devices right down to the simple ones found in your local 99 -insert lower unit of currency here- shop or several same brand devices at once remote.
Again, these devices aren’t so bad if you’re starting out in getting a handle on your device management or you don’t have a particularly large setup to accommodate, however I do advise you do your homework in advance to make sure these remotes do actually work with the vast majority of functions you want to use and (without being too ‘brandist’) you pick a particular remote with a good set of reviews and some trusted support, as a lot of the cheap ones do tend to stop working after a period of time.
So in conclusion, I think multi-remotes are great if you’ve bought into a manufacturers ecosystem already and want a simple approach to make your same branded devices work together seamlessly, or indeed just need something simple and ready to go that will work with your popular modelled products that are all compatible under the one controller.
However, these remotes often offer very little customisation, if at all and so aren’t the most suitable for those that might still need more than two extra remotes lying around to add to the extra functionality. What you may need instead is a more programmable solution that I’ll talk about in the next post.