The Key Features to Look for When Purchasing a Remote Control

Like if this guide is helpful
The Key Features to Look for When Purchasing a Remote Control

Remote controls are used daily to operate a diverse array of well-known devices. These devices range from televisions, DVD players, and CD players, to ceiling fans, and garage doors, just to name a few. The remote controls use either infrared light signals or radio frequencies to operate these devices. They may operate only one device or, in the case of universal remote controls, operate multiple devices. It is important to understand how remote controls differ and in what ways they are similar. The different types of remote controls offer different features. Some of these features include use efficiency, transmission range, and appearance. Special functions and capabilities are offered with some remote controls.

After examining the different types of remote controls and understanding the key features, a buyer can then make an informed decision concerning which type of remote control to purchase. eBay offers a wide selection of remote controls for operating a variety of devices.

Different Types of Remote Controls

There are several different types of remote controls. They include infrared, radio frequency, universal, and infrared/radio frequency extender remote controls. There are advantages and disadvantages with regard to each type of remote. It is important to understand the differences between the remote controls, especially in the areas of use efficiency and transmission range.

Infrared Remote Controls

Infrared or IF remote controls have been used for almost 25 years. Infrared technology is the most common technology used in remote controls. Infrared light is invisible to the human eye and it is these invisible light signals emitted by light-emitting diodes (LED) that communicate operating commands to the receiver on a device. The infrared light signals transmit specific codes, accepted by the receiver, in the form of commands. Infrared remote controls are used with home audio systems, televisions, and DVD players.

A limitation of infrared remote controls is their transmission range. Infrared remote controls can transmit a signal no further than a metre. Objects or walls can obstruct the signal path between the remote control and the receiver. This limits their efficiency. The strength of the infrared remote control's LED also determines the way in which the remote control is used. With a stronger LED, the user only has to point the remote control in the general location of the receiver. One does not have to point the remote control directly at the receiver.

Radio Frequency Remote Controls

Radio frequency or RF remote controls are the least common type of remote control. They are generally used to operate garage door, remote-controlled toys, and wireless car locks. Radio frequency remote controls transmit a radio wave signal. The signal is then received and decoded by the intended device. Because many other devices also use radio frequencies to operate, a radio frequency remote control transmits at a prespecified frequency so as not to interfere with other competing frequencies, such as mobile phones or wi-fi. The biggest advantage with radio frequency remote controls is their range of transmission. They can transmit a signal up to three metres. They are convenient to use, because their signals transmit through walls and are not obstructed by objects. The user also does not have to point the remote control directly at the receiver.

Universal Remote Controls

Some remote controls only command one or two devices, such as a television or DVD player. It can be difficult to programme and keep track of multiple remote controls. A universal remote control solves the problem of having too many remote controls. A single universal remote control can command different devices, such as a television, DVD player, CD player, and audio system. It does this by 'learning' and storing the manufacturer's programme codes for each electronic device. It is much easier to keep track of one remote control than several remote controls. Its ease of use and efficiency make a universal remote control a popular choice with buyers, especially senior buyers who may have trouble with regular remote control functions.

Most universal remote controls are also infrared remote controls. Their range of transmission is limited to a certain area or room. Despite this limitation, they are still well-equipped to programme and even acquire additional codes from other remote controls. This learning feature means a user can add remote control codes at anytime.

Infrared/Radio Frequency Extender Remote Controls

Some infrared and universal remote controls use radio waves to transmit radio frequency signals along with the infrared signals. These remote controls are called infrared/radio frequency extenders, or converters. The radio frequency signals extend the range of the infrared remote controls to the range of radio frequency remote controls. This also allows the infrared remote control signals to transmit through walls or glass doors. These remote controls are more versatile and easier to use than regular infrared remote controls. This added convenience is a plus for many buyers. Some infrared remote controls can be purchased with radio frequency extenders included. This feature can also be added separately.

This table briefly summarises the three basic types of remote controls. It describes the remote control technology, the devices used with the remote controls, and their range of transmission.

Remote Control




Infrared (IF)

Infrared, LED

Audio, video, tv

Limited to 1 m

Radio frequency (RF)

Radio wave

Garage doors, toys, car locks

Extends to 3 m


Infrared, LED

Audio, video, tv

Limited to 1 m

The buyer should keep in mind that some infrared and universal remote controls are equipped with radio frequency extenders, providing additional transmission range.

Special Remote Control Functions

Besides performing the basic functions of turning a device on or off, turning the volume up or down, or selecting a specific channel, many high-tech universal remote controls also perform special functions to simplify the operation of a device. These functions involve integrating several functions together or connecting with external sources through the use of a USB port. These remote controls cost more, but they also provide cutting edge technology not found in regular remote controls.

Macro Command

A specific function called 'macro command' provides easier access to programmed devices. A user can input a sequence of activities into the remote control, such as turning on the television, adjusting the volume, and recording a programme. With a push of a button on the remote control, this stored sequence of activities is performed for the user.

Internet Capability

Some remote controls, through the use of a USB port on a personal computer, can connect to the Internet. This remote control function acquires additional programme codes for devices or downloads new software for the remote control. Many remote controls with an LCD touch screen utilise this function.


Some newer remote controls, with more advanced technology, offer an LCD touch screen. The user simply touches the screen icons to input commands. Other remote controls have a scrolling data screen that reveals current input information. These remote controls cost more than regular remote controls that have buttons.

The Appearance of the Remote Control

A remote control's appearance should be attractive and pleasing to the eye. The remote control should be neither too large or too small and easy to hold. For a senior citizen, the remote control buttons should be large enough to recognise. Remote controls with too many small buttons can be difficult to use. The lettering on the remote control should be large enough to easily read.

Buying a Remote Control on eBay

eBay offers a vast selection of different types and brands of quality remote controls. They include infrared, radio frequency, and universal remote controls. These remote controls have several key features unique to each type. eBay also offers remote controls that may be hard to find in a regular electronics store or retail store. To shop for remote controls on eBay, the buyer should go to the eBay home page and enter 'remote controls' in the search bar. If the buyer knows the specific type of remote control, they can enter that information in the search bar also. The buyer is then directed to a page of listings of remote controls. The buyer can then select a specific listing and read its description.

They can also sort the listings to show only those posted by eBay Top-rated Sellers. To do this, the buyer should select 'eBay Top-rated Sellers' under the 'Seller' heading on the results page. Top-rated sellers have been given top customer satisfaction scores by buyers in the areas of customer service and delivery. It is also important to know if the seller accepts returns. You can find this information on the seller's profile page.


The remote control is a common device used to operate televisions, DVD players, CD players, ceiling fans, garage doors, car locks, and even toys. In an age of convenience, the remote control has become a necessity. A user needs a remote control that is easy to use. It also needs to be compatible with advanced devices such as HD televisions and Blu-ray players.

These key features, along with the device's overall cost and quality, are important factors to consider when purchasing a remote control. eBay provides a diverse selection of quality remote controls to fit any budget. Their detailed product descriptions identify particular device uses and special features. They offer unique specialty items that may not be found elsewhere. When purchasing a remote control, the buyer should remember that the remote control is a component or extension of the device it commands. If a buyer is not sure which remote control to buy, they should consult the device's instruction manual or contact the manufacturer directly.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides