How to Buy the Right Type of TV Remote

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How to Buy the Right Type of TV Remote

A TV is a feature in many homes, with a central position in the living room, quite often as part of a larger home theatre system. Often, the TV is equipped with a bundled remote, but it can also be operated with a universal remote that can work with multiple devices. So, when a new TV remote is needed, because the TV is sold without one, or an existing remote is lost or broken, there are two basic options to choose from. Buyers can purchase either the same model of TV remote provided by the manufacturer or opt for a universal remote that is compatible with the TV. The right type of TV remote is one that suits the buyer's requirements.

When buying a TV remote it is helpful to understand how remotes work, the types that are available, and how to set them up. TV remotes can be bought from high street electronic shops, department stores, and online at eBay, where the buyer is more likely to find a remote to operate both old and new TVs.

How TV Remotes Work

A TV remote is a device that controls a TV from a distance. The connection between the TV and the remote is established by using radio waves or infrared light. Modern TV remotes are wireless devices that are convenient to use.

Radio Controlled TV Remotes

Radio controlled remotes use radio waves and have a wide operating range. Radio waves are in essence electromagnetic radiation. Radio controlled remotes send radio signals that are received by special antennas, which sometimes also amplify them for better reception. Radio controlled TV remotes can operate a TV from another room or even further. They are useful if the TV needs to be set on recording mode or for other operations.

Infrared TV Remotes

Infrared TV remotes are more common than those that use radio waves. Like radio waves, infrared signals are electromagnetic radiation. Infrared light has a slightly higher wavelength than visible light, so the radiation is actually not seen. The top of the infrared TV remote has a diode that emits light, which is where the infrared rays exit the remote after being activated by pressing a button. These rays are received by an infrared detector placed in front of the TV. The remote should be pointed directly at the TV in order to make this connection possible. However, some infrared remotes offer more flexibility by allowing the infrared signals to bounce from different surfaces and still reach the receiver even when the remote is not directly pointed at it. Infrared remotes are suitable for operating the TV within a short distance of a few metres.

Types of TV Remote

TV remotes that can be used in order to operate any TV can be divided into two categories: original and alternative. Their main difference is the number of devices that they can control.

Original TV Remote

Original TV remotes are identical to the TV remotes that are supplied by the manufacturer when the TV is first purchased. This type of TV remote usually works with one brand, so it can only be used with products made by the same manufacturer and is not compatible with TVs produced by other companies. If the remote is only ever going to control a particular brand of TV, then an original TV remote is a good option.

Alternative TV Remote

Alternative TV remotes are similar to original remotes, as they usually perform the same functions that are fundamental to all TVs. However, their appearance and design may be different. For example, the positioning of the buttons may vary. The advantage of alternative TV remotes is their flexibility: they are not branded, so the remote is compatible with TVs made by many different manufacturers. This is useful if the TV is replaced or if there is more than one TV in the household. Alternative TV remotes tend to be less expensive and they are available more readily.

Universal Remote Control

Universal remote controls are much like alternative TV remotes because they are not branded. However, universal remotes have even more functionality as they can be programmed to operate many different devices besides the TV, such as DVD and Blu-ray players, games consoles, and stereo systems. Universal remotes have tiny computer chips inside that allow them to mimic any kind of infrared signal that an electronic device receives. Universal remotes are the best choice if many other devices besides the TV are used in the home, for example, if the TV is a part of an extensive home theatre system.

Comparison of the Types of TV Remote

The following table compares the main features of the types of TV remote: brands and devices that they can work with, and their availability. Finding the right type of TV remote depends on the individual's requirements and the features that they prefer.

Type of TV Remote





Must match the TV

Controls only TVs of the same brand

Difficult to find for old TVs



Controls any TV

Fairly easy to find



Controls the TV and other devices

Easy to find

The table illustrates some of the differences between types of TV remote. When purchasing the right type of TV remote the buyer must consider its compatibility with the TV and possibly other devices.

Alternatives for TV Remotes

TVs can also be controlled with devices other than TV remotes. If the buyer would like to reduce the clutter in the living room, then a tablet can be used to operate the TV. This requires downloading a special application. For example, an iPad can control the changing of channels, the rewinding of shows, and the recording of programmes. When the tablet connects to the internet, the viewer can also share what they are watching currently. Using an iPad adds convenience because the programme guide can be viewed and programmes scheduled without having to use the menus on the TV screen during the show. Information about the programme can also be seen on the tablet's screen.

Setting Up the TV Remote

Original TV remotes that are designed by the same manufacturer are made specifically to work with the TV and so require no additional set-up. Alternative TV remotes may need a few adjustments, but setting them up is easy and usually accomplished by pushing a few buttons. The step-by-step instructions should be included with the alternative TV remote or found online. Universal remote controls are often programmed by entering special codes. Sometimes this can be done automatically if the remote connects to the internet and has an online update interface available. Some older models use a learning mode, which means that the buttons have to be programmed one by one by pointing the old TV remote at the universal remote.

Buying the Right Type of TV Remote on eBay

If you are looking for a TV remote on eBay, you can start your search by typing in general terms, such as "TV remote" or " remote control" into the search box on any page. This yields an array of results, which you can sort by price if you have a particular budget in mind. After the initial search, you can get some ideas by browsing through the listings to see what is available. The filters can help you to narrow down your search to just the right type of TV remote.

Once you have found the remote that you wish to buy, it is always a wise idea to read through the detailed item listing in order to understand its features, especially if the TV remote is used. The seller should provide information about the type of the remote, along with the accepted payment methods, postage and packaging costs, and returns policy. It is important to purchase the right type of TV remote as the wrong model may not function with the TV, especially if it is a branded remote. If in any doubt, asking the seller should help. The seller can be contacted directly using the "Ask a question" link.


Controlling the TV with a remote is a convenient option that most people use at home. It is important to choose the right TV remote that is compatible with the TV. There are three main types of remotes. These are original remotes that are branded and work only with TVs made by the same manufacturer; alternative remotes that are compatible with different brands of TV; and universal remotes that control multiple devices, not only the TV. Tablets can also be used to operate the TV when a special application has been downloaded.

TV remotes differ by the type of signal that they transmit. Most remotes use infrared light, but some use radio waves: the main difference is the range that they cover. Infrared remotes work well over short distances and should be pointed at the TV directly. Radio controlled remotes can operate the TV from the other room. With the wide range of TV remotes on eBay, everyone should find the just the right remote for their TV.

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