The Complete Guide to Buying a Cable or Freeview Remote Control

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The Complete Guide to Buying a Cable or Freeview Remote Control

Remote controls and television sets have gone hand-in-hand over the past decades, and with the growing number of devices that connect to the TV, it is no surprise that remote controls are designed to govern DVD players, surround sound, and more. Many views enjoy digital cable with hundreds of channels, yet others prefer the simplicity of Freeview or subscribe to Freeview HD. While newer television sets come with Freeview or even Freeview HD built in, some viewers need to purchase a Freeview HD box to connect.

Universal remotes got their name from their ability to be compatible with a long list of makes and models. However, if the universal remote is expected to sync with Freeview, buyers should confirm it can be done before buying. In addition to choosing which devices the remote should control, TV owners must also consider their budget, programmability, batteries, and interface. Before purchasing any new remote control, users should learn about all the available types and special features of each one in order to make an informed decision.

Types of Remote Controls

Even though consumers know their TV make and model, they still have an assortment of remote controls to choose from. The most basic cable remote has a numerical pad, channel and volume controls, and an input and power button. Digital cable subscribers have more complex remotes because they must work with both the TV and the cable box. Viewers who watch Freeview may need to specifically check to see if the remote is compatible. The sections below detail the three options buyers have to choose from.

Cable Remote

Cable remote controls are the most basic type of remote control, but the switchover to digital cable has made them all but obsolete. Digital cable remotes are much more useful than a basic cable remote. For starters, they typically control the television, cable box, and can be programmed to work with DVD players and other media devices. These remotes are powered by either AA or AAA batteries.

Freeview Remote

Freeview’s free-to-air channels are the most basic television packages, and up until recently, watching these required a special receiver. Now, there are many TVs conveniently made with a built in Freeview receiver. Whether internal or external, an aftermarket Freeview remote control must be compatible with the receiver and the television. Buyers should read reviews beforehand to ensure compatibility.

Universal Remote

Universal remote controls have been one of the best inventions to accompany the myriad of TV devices, one remote to rule them all. Universal remotes can be programmed with countless makes and models of televisions, DVD players, surround sound systems, cable boxes, and so on. Buyers with Freeview need to research particular brands and models before buying. Not all universal remotes are compatible with Freeview receivers. Universal remotes come in inexpensive, push-button models and top of the line, touchpad interfaces.

Choosing the Right Remote Control

After selecting which style of remote control is best suited for the TV, shoppers are then faced with picking which amenities and features are necessities. First, remote buyers need to set a price limit for themselves. Basic remote controls are inexpensive, but high-end models can run into the several hundred range. In the past, remote controls were controlled by buttons, but touchscreens are the latest in remote control technology. Moreover, battery consumption is another matter to consider. Intermittently used remotes might use two AAA per year, but high-end, frequently used remotes can drain batteries rather quickly.

Aftermarket remote controls should be easy to programme to work with devices, and if it is a universal remote, it should be compatible with all the TV’s connected devices. The sections below explain all the features remote buyers should consider before purchasing.


There is no such thing as an average-priced remote control; with so many models and brands available, a decent remote can be very cheap, and high-end PC programmable remotes can be quite expensive. Functionality and price are inseparable; therefore, users should buy a remote that is most pragmatic and affordable. Buyers should set a budget before shopping. Moreover, those willing to spend a little bit extra should read user reviews to decide which model is the best buy. Setting a price limit helps shoppers avoid overspending.


Selecting a remote requires accounting for compatibility with other devices. TVs are never used alone; they are connected to cable boxes, DVD players, and other devices. TV owners should consider consolidating all the device remotes into a single one. Shoppers should also take into account Freeview when assessing compatibility. Before buying one remote for several electronics, buyers may want to read user reviews and look over the specifications to determine which remotes can sync to everything.


All past models of remote controls relied only on buttons, also referred to as soft keys, to change the channels and perform other tasks. Even though the same types of remotes have nearly all the same buttons, the way they are arranged on the device varies between manufacturers.

Although there is a new type of technology revolutionising the industry, soft key remotes are not waning in popularity. Touch screen remote controls, sometimes called touch pads, have a digital interface on an LED screen that allows limitless possibilities for customisation and control. A handful of app developers have created apps for Android phones and tablets, the iPhone, and iPad. There are also several aftermarket touch screen universal remotes for those who need high-tech everything, even if it comes with a hefty price tag.


Nearly all soft key remotes are powered by AA or AAA batteries. Most remote controls are considered low drain devices, and therefore nearly any type of battery works well with remotes. Users can also choose between rechargeable and disposable batteries, as well as various types of batteries, e.g., alkaline, lithium, and Ni-MH. With the introduction of touch screen, these types of remotes can drain batteries quickly. Therefore, LED touch pad remotes rely on charging stations to keep the remote working. The remote rests on the unit when not in use to charge the battery.


Aftermarket remote controls are often compatible with a wide range of television, so buyers must programme the remote to work with their set. There are three types of remote programming options, and some are much simpler than others. The built-in database is the most primitive style. To programme the remote, users must look up the device's code, usually four or six digits, and enter it when prompted.

"Learning" remotes broadcast IR signals until the right one communicates with the device. The signal is then stored in the remote. This technology is popular with many universal remotes. PC remotes are the most advanced remotes, and they rely on a cable and software for programming.

Buying Cable or Freeview Remotes on eBay

eBay has a plethora of remotes to fit any need and budget. If you have a certain design or brand in mind, include keywords to help focus your search. For help optimising your results, be sure to look at the Search Tips page.

Contacting the Seller

Once you have selected an item that has piqued your interest, be sure to read the entire listing to understand the product. Should you still have some questions about the item, click on Ask a Question to contact the seller and ask any questions you have that were left unanswered in the listing. Sellers are not obligated to answer questions about the item before it is sold but must do so after the sale.

Know Your Seller

It is also advised to learn a little bit about the seller. Research the seller, particularly any feedback from previous customers and approval rating. Some sellers create an About Me section that allows potential customers to get know them before doing business. eBay has teamed up with a third party service to ID verify the seller’s ID by cross-checking databases with personal information. Buy with confidence from one of eBay’s top rated sellers. This status is awarded to sellers with a reputation for superior quality and service.


Even though there are so many options on the market, buying a cable or Freeview remote control does not have to be complicated. Once the TV owner decides between the three main styles, they must then choose which features are necessary. Remote controls can be inexpensive and basic, even ones for digital cable or Freeview, yet serious techies with home theatre systems and a slew of connected devices can find remote controls in the quadruple digits.

Universal remotes are expected to be compatible with nearly any device; however, there are some connectivity issues between some universal remotes and Freeview TVs and receivers. Buyers should never assume the two are compatible. They should read reviews about specific makes and models to assess compatibility. When researching certain models, customers should also pay attention to factors like battery consumption and programmability. Remote shoppers can find remote controls at electronics stores, online retailers, and virtual marketplaces, such as eBay. With the proper knowledge about the types of remotes and compatibility issues, buyers are well-equipped to find a cable of Freeview remote control that can work for them.

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