I generally consider myself a very tolerant person.. but there is a group of people who really get my ire up... people who require more than one remote control to operate their electronics. We've all seen the process:
Grab the TV remote and turn on the TV
Grab the Receiver remote to turn on the receiver and switch to DVD
Get the TV remote back and switch back to INPUT 2
Get the DVD remote and turn on the DVD and start it playing
Get the Receiver remote and adjust the Volume.
I just can't understand how people are wiling to spend hundreds of dollars on TV's, DVD players, satellite, Netflix, etc... but won't make a reasonable investment in a remote control to make everything easier. By now, I've already pulled up Amazon.com on my iPhone and selected Next Day Air for delivery of a new universal remote to eliminate the Remote Shuffle once and for all.
First of all, as price will tell you, not all universal remotes are created equal. For my purposes, there are basically 4 types of remotes
The remote that comes with your device (TV, DVD player, etc). This is pretty much crap. It controls your DVD player and only your dvd player. It's begging you to do a remote control shuffle.
Universal remote. Not to be confused with the brand, "Universal Remote", a generic universal remote is very cheap (around $10) and comes pre-loaded with codes to control most existing devices. However, as soon as you buy a new device, you often find that your trusty universal remote doesn't have the codes you need for your new device. This pretty much guarantees you have to upgrade your universal remote whenever you buy something newer than it.
Learning remotes. For most people, this should be the sweet spot. Learning remotes come with pre-programmed codes like the universal remote, but it also allows you to "teach" it commands from any of your other remotes in the case where it may not contain a code you need for a given device. Some also allow you to program "macros" where you can send a sequence of events with one button press. In almost all cases, this will suffice for most users. Most remotes with these functions range from $30 to $70.
Learning remote with RF extender. This is where I ended up. This allows you to hide your components away behind a cabinet door or in a closet so they are out of sight, but can still be controlled by the remote control. This does not require "line of sight" to the component since the RF (radio frequency) signal is able to pass through walls.
After quite a bit of research, I ended up with Universal Remote Control MX-600 which falls into the 4th category above. I've had this remote for several years and it has served me well. Even though it is around 5 years old, there are very few remotes on the market today that I would even consider as a replacement. Here's how the same scenario above plays out with my remote.
Pressing the "Power" button turns on the TV and Receiver.
Pressing the DVD button switches the TV to the correct input, switches the receiver to the DVD input and turns on the DVD player
DVD playback and volume control on the receiver can be handled while in the "DVD mode"
Not only does the MX-600 do everything I want it to do with one remote, it also scores high on the W.A.F. scale (wife approval factor).
The RF extender lets me hide all the components in the closet so my wife doesn't need to see all the cables, cords and lights associated with an AV system
The MX-600 replaces all the other remotes making for a cleaner living space
The remote is very intuitive and easy to use. The Device buttons are on a programmable LCD screen so I can name them exactly what they are. Rather than try to to remember if VCR1 is the DVD player or the DVR, the names are obvious (PS3, Tivo, BluRay, etc..)
Although the remote is a bit larger than most remotes, it is very easy to handle. The buttons have a great tactile feel and you can easily navigate the remote without having to look down at the buttons. The primary navigation buttons are located right where your thumb rests. I definitely prefer real buttons to touchscreen style remotes because I don't want to have to look down at the remote or put my beer down to control the remote with a second hand. All said, with the MX-600, I can control a Yamaha Receiver, Samsung TV, DirecTV DVR, Mac Mini, and Xbox360 -- and it still has room for additional components.
If I could change anything about the remote, I'd emulate the Logitech web interface for programming their remotes. It's just so much easier to make changes on a computer and then sync your settings with a USB cable rather than punching in codes on the remote or pointing remotes at each other to "learn" new commands. But even that process really only comes into play as often as you change you components.
I realize this remote is overkill for most people, so I don't recommend it for everyone, but it really is the perfect remote for me. In any case, if you're picking up a new TV or BluRay player for the family for Christmas, or if you have one of those remotes you've had for 10 years and a few of the buttons don't work and the text has been rubbed off some of the buttons by your greasy thumbs, do yourself a favor and grab a new universal remote. It's worth it. Since the MX-600 has been discontinued, here are a few other recommendations for different budgets...