Things to Consider When Buying a Used Universal Remote

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Things to Consider When Buying a Used Universal Remote

A universal remote is a useful tool for controlling a variety of electronic devices in the home, helping to eliminate the need for several remote controls for each piece of electronic hardware. So, instead of having separate remotes for the TV, the surround sound, the DVD/Blu-ray player, and so on, each of these devices can be controlled by a single remote. Moreover, even household functions such as dimming the lighting and turning the air conditioning up or down can also be manipulated by more advanced universal remotes.

Used Universal Remotes

Universal remotes come in a range of prices depending on their features. In order to save money, it is possible to buy these second-hand. When doing so, however, it is essential to ensure that the remote is in good condition and is as described by the seller. Aside from ensuring that the remote works effectively, all other considerations will involve making sure that the remote is fit for purpose.


The primary concern for anyone buying a universal remote will be to buy one that is suited to their needs. This is the case regardless as to whether the universal remote is being bought as new or used. Universal remotes come in two major types - multi-brand, and learning.

Multi-Brand Remotes

Multi-brand remotes will essentially do the job of an entertainment remote, controlling the TV, DVD player, surround sound system, and so on. These are generally sufficient for most households, and will have limited functions, such as controlling the basic functions of the TV, like changing channels and altering the volume as well as the basic functions of the other devices it is programmed to operate. This will include pausing, stopping, rewinding, and fast-forwarding on the DVD player, and altering the base or volume on the surround sound. These remotes are generally programmed manually, which will involve finding specific codes for the specific make and model of TV, DVD player, and so on, in the household, and coding these into the remote. Generally, these remotes can control up to 4 or 5 different devices.

Learning Remotes

Learning remotes will have a far greater range of functions, and are able to control up to 20 devices at once. These remotes 'learn' the commands of the different remotes in the house automatically through infra-red signals, and can do so with more or less any remote control. As such, they are compatible with a much wider range of devices, and can be customised to operate more or less any device within the home that is controlled by a remote.

Choose Appropriate Functions

As mentioned, universal remotes can operate either a limited number of functions or can mimic the entire range of functions and commands delivered by more or less any remote control. As such, knowing which devices will be controlled by the remote is the most important thing to do before shopping for a used remote. For limited functions controlling a limited number of devices, multi-brand remotes are sufficient. For a comprehensive set of functions controlling all of the remote controlled electronic devices in the home, more sophisticated learning remotes will be more suitable.

Ease of Programming

The initial programming phase can be a period of great frustration when getting a remote. For some, therefore, it is wise to choose a remote that is as easy to programme as possible. If the remote is too difficult to programme, it may be discarded and never used, so getting over this initial hurdle as easily as possible is important.

Manual Programming

Most simple universal remotes will come with a guide listing more of less every single make and model of television, DVD, player, cable box, and surround sound system in the world. For major makes and brands, manually programming the remote using these codes shouldn't be too difficult. However, there is always the chance that the codes for a particular device are not listed, making it necessary to find the code through other means, which can be frustrating.

Automatic Programming

As previously mentioned, learning remotes will automatically learn the commands of pretty much any remote in the house. However, it is also possible to get PC-programmable remotes, whereby the commands and configurations are done on PC and then downloaded directly onto the remote. Again, this is a lot easier than manual programming.

Habits and Uses

When choosing a remote, it is also important to consider who will be using it. For example, if the remote is going to be used by the elderly or those with problems with their sight, remotes with large, physical buttons will be useful. In addition, those who are not particularly tech-savvy may prefer old fashioned models with clear buttons and configurations rather than LCD touchscreens and high tech features.

Line-of-Sight VS Radio Frequency

Most universal remotes are, much like regular remotes, line-of-sight. In other words, they operate using infra-red signals that transmit from the remote to the device in order to issue a command. For these to work it is necessary to have a clear, unblocked view of the device when using the remote: any obstacles will interfere with the infra-red signal, thereby preventing it from reaching the device. In order to control devices from other areas of the home, however, radio frequency remotes can be used. These transmit their commands via radio, making it possible to operate devices around walls and through doors. If, therefore, someone wanted to turn on the air conditioning in the hall while watching TV in the living room, they could.

Command Sequences

Universal remotes do more than just allow us to control different devices with one remote: They allow us to programme command sequences into the remote so that various different actions are performed with a single touch of a button. More expensive models will provide customisable command sequences, meaning that, for example, the TV would turn on, then the Blu-ray player would turn on, then the surround sound would turn on, and finally the Blu-ray in the player would start playing - all with a single button push.

Condition and Sellers

Aside from knowing which features and functions are needed, it is crucial that the condition of any remote is scrutinised when buying one second-hand. With online listings, the seller's information can be carefully reviewed, making it easy to determine whether they are considered reliable and honest by their previous customers. Always check their feedback carefully, and steer clear of those with negative scores. Even though the remote they are selling might be just fine, it is possible to end up with a duff item.

Buying a Used Universal Remote on eBay

For used universal remotes, eBay is the most popular marketplace. Here it is possible to carefully check any product and seller before committing to a purchase. Moreover, items that are not appropriately described can be disputed if need be. In order to find suitable listings for used universal remotes on eBay, start by going to the main homepage. Next, click on Electronics & Technology down the left hand side of the page under Shop by Category. After this, click on theSound & Vision and then TV & Home Audio Accessories. Now, check down the list of links on the left and click on the one marked Remote Controls. Once there, it will be possible to narrow the search even further to find used remotes by clicking on the Used box under Condition down the left hand side. In addition, click the Universal Remote box to ensure the search only lists universal, and not regular, remotes. As an alternative, it is also possible to conduct a more specific and targeted search by using the search box at the top of the page. To search for a used Samsung learning universal remote, for example, type in "Samsung learning universal remote used" into the box, and a list of relevant items will appear.


Universal remotes can save on clutter in the home and make controlling the various electronic devices within it a lot easier. They can be both simple, controlling a limited number of functions on a limited number of devices, or comprehensive, controlling all of the functions of each device within the home. Due to the varied range of remotes that are available, there is also a significant range in prices. Buying a universal remote that has already been used, therefore, will help to reduce these costs. However, when doing so, it is always essential that both the condition of the remote, and its compatibility with the devices in the home, are closely scrutinised.

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