The Features to Look for When Buying a Cable or Freeview Remote

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The Features to Look for When Buying a Cable or Freeview Remote

A cable or Freeview remote is any remote that is intended to be used with a cable or Freeview box. Sometimes also compatible with Sky TV, these remotes can easily be purchased in online stores such as eBay, and in many electronics stores, especially those specialising in home entertainment. But while cable and Freeview remotes are readily available, the various features and functions can be confusing to the average buyer.

Remote controls are sold in a variety of formats, including universal and all-in-one remotes, but there are a few things to look out for. For example, anyone who wants to programme their cable or Freeview box would need programming buttons, which the average cheap remote is unlikely to have. Buyers can look for cable and Freeview remotes in some electronics and household goods stores, and online stores such as eBay, but should always pay attention to buttons, features, and remote specifications.

What is a Cable or Freeview Remote?

A cable or Freeview remote is any remote control designed to interact with a Freeview or cable set top box. Often these remotes are compatible with Sky+, Freeview+, and sometimes Freeview HD, as well as various types of cable services. However, different models have different set top box capabilities, and many have exact box models that they are compatible with. Because Freeview is generally considered to be a PVR box, or a personal video recorder with certain standards, a remote for the box should either claim to be Freeview capable, or be capable of working with other types of PVR systems.

For cable, the remote should be capable of working with a set-top-box, usually listed as a cable TV remote. Some Freeview and cable remotes are compatible across types, so those styles are good choices for anyone who is looking for a single remote.

Features to Avoid When Buying a Cable or Freeview Remote

One of the most important considerations when searching for a cable or Freeview remote is to avoid any unwanted features. Generally, very old remotes are a definite problem when used with modern home systems, not only because they might not support newer set top boxes, but because they might not even have some of the functions that should be standard with a newer remote. For example, smart TV, Internet, and other similar options are not always available on older remotes.

Generally, any remote that does not read either 'Freeview', 'Freeview compatible', or 'cable' should be avoided because it probably does not feature the necessary buttons such as program, set-up, or even tuning. Many remotes, especially universal remotes, are only setup to change channels; which can be literally disastrous for anyone who wants to control cable or Freeview, unless of course the box has already been programmed, and the user is not looking forward to ever changing anything. Because of this, it is usually a good idea to avoid all-in-one remotes and universal remotes, unless they specifically say 'Freeview' or 'cable'.

Most people advise buyers to avoid purchasing second hand remotes, but with a good cleaning, and a check to make sure they have the right features, there is no harm in saving money and purchasing a used remote control. It is a personal choice, although batteries should be replaced and the remote thoroughly cleaned before use.

Exact Features to Look for in a Freeview Remote

Anyone purchasing a Freeview or cable remote should look for exact features that allow them to control the Freeview or cable box. First, there is a variety of company-released products by brands such as Sky+, Freeview, and many cable companies. Anyone who wants to purchase a Freeview or cable remote for a specific set top box might want to look into purchasing the original brand, even if they purchase a used or second hand model. Usually company brands can be quite expensive since they are often used as a subsidiary income by the company, so many people choose to purchase another compatible brand, which is likely to work just as well with the box.

Setup Function

Setup, sometimes called tuning, is the ability to set-up the Freeview or cable box to receive certain channels. This function is important for Freeview and cable viewers because it allows users to control what TV they see, tune the box to receive certain channels, and change specifications. Setup can sometimes also indicate the ability to programme in new device codes, for example, so that the remote can be used with a new Freeview box or cable box. However, just because the remote features a setup button does not mean it is appropriate for being used with Freeview and cable; other buttons including program and alternating buttons are also important.

Program Functions

Program functions usually refer to the ability to stop, pause, play, and record data, and can sometimes be combined with a 'My DVR' or 'DVR' button. Programming is generally the ability to control media via the cable or Freeview, so it is important for anyone who wants to do more than change channels. On some universal remotes, this function refers to setting up new devices. Because most Freeview and cable can be paused, fast forwarded, and even rewound, these buttons give users the full advantage of any of the features that come with their TV.

Device Switching

Many cable and Freeview remote controls offer the ability to control the TV as well, and usually feature a 'TV', 'DVR', 'cable', and 'Aux' button so that users can easily go from one device to the next. While not hugely necessary, the ability to switch between devices is a nice luxury that most people appreciate, especially if they purchase an all-in-one Freeview or cable-compatible universal remote.

Menu and Guide Buttons

Menu and guide buttons are also important. On a Freeview or cable TV system, the menu button brings up the device menu, while the guide most often brings up a remote control guide so that users can programme or learn how to use it more easily. Menu buttons are understandably important for anyone with cable TV or Freeview, so ensuring that the remote control is equipped with such button is important.

Important Considerations When Buying a Cable or Freeview Remote

While a Freeview or cable remote might be very different from a universal or an all-in-one remote, it can still be nice to have the universal remote around. Most people like to use just one remote while viewing TV and a universal remote should be able to easily change the channel and the volume on the Freeview or cable TV box. Because of this, a universal remote, even without the above listed functions, can still be a great investment.

However, most people should consider that unless the universal specifically states that is Freeview compatible, it probably requires programming before being used with the Freeview or cable box. On the same note, a standard remote control such as a TV remote might work to turn the Freeview or cable on and off, but not to change channels, volume, or programming. Some remotes offer multiple device switch on, simply because the 'on' codes are very similar.

Buying Freeview and Cable Remotes on eBay

eBay is a great place to purchase Freeview and cable remotes. Buyers can find original brands from top models such as Sony or original 'Freeview', or purchase budget compatible options with the same features, depending on preferences. You can also choose to purchase a new or used Freeview remote control. Look for features that are compatible with Freeview and cable, and, if applicable, try checking the model to see if it is compatible with your exact box. However, many Freeview and cable remotes do not have an exact list of what they are compatible with, so you can just check the age of the remote to make sure it is not older than your device model.

Considerations for purchasing your remote on eBay include deciding which brand you want, which features are must have and which are simply nice to have, and whether you want the remote to control anything besides the cable or Freeview. Once you have made your decision, you can proceed to purchase the remote control.


There are hundreds of different styles and functions available for remote controls, but not all of them are useful or even compatible with Freeview and cable TV. Buyers looking for Freeview and cable remote controls should carefully consider what it is they are looking for, and check the remote for necessary features, functions, and support. Top buttons to look out for include controlling or programming buttons, menus, setup features, and the ability to switch between devices if the remote is universal.

Most Freeview or cable-compatible remote controls are actually marked as such, so buyers can also check if the remote specifically says that it can be used with Freeview. Other than that, buyers can choose between new and used remotes, but should check older remote controls to make sure they support the necessary features and functions. Generally, buyers can find a great Freeview or cable remote by simply making sure that the remote control supports Freeview, and has control, menu, record, and other buttons.

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