Friday, December 24, 2010

There ain't no such thing as a universal universal remote

I don't for sure how long ago it was now, but I guess 4 or 5 years ago, one of the remotes for one of our DishNetwork receivers wore out. I was able to extend its life for a few months by carefully opening it and cleaning all the contacts with a pencil eraser (old computer tech trick), but eventually it gave out and many of the buttons had stopped working.

Thus began my quest to find a universal remote that I could use for a replacement. Note: I did not need a universal remote that would run everything. I just wanted one that I could program to replace the worn out satellite remote.

The first one I ever bought worked very well. Unfortunately, it wore out quite soon. I don't know why it wore out so quickly, but it did. Buttons stopped working, cleaning didn't help, it was shot. After that, I was never able to find one that worked exactly like I wanted it to. Something was always wrong with it that made it very inconvenient--something that I always had to figure out a workaround for. The last one was still working, sort of, but it kept doing things that infuriated me and finally I smashed it to pieces with my bare hands. I bought a new replacement a few days ago, made by Philips, which completely sucks. It sends the correct codes all right, but it sends a burst of repeat codes several seconds long so it's impossible to enter only one command at a time. Try selecting a channel with a remote that does that. My current workaround? I press a button and then quickly put my hand over the IR transmitter to block the remaining burst until it's finished.

And then suddenly it occurred to me: why not just see if I can get an identical replacement from DishNetwork? Man, how stupid I have been. I've probably spent $50-$60 trying different universal remotes during the past several years when I could have just spent $20 for an identical replacement.

So, the replacement is now on the way.

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