Using Remote Control Specifications in Purchasing Decisions

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Using Remote Control Specifications in Purchasing Decisions

Remote controls are designed to communicate with a component or system from a distance, telling the device what functions to perform. This is a huge improvement over more traditional methods, which require the operator to manually control the device by getting up and pressing buttons. Remote controls have become a necessity in the modern home. It is no longer simply an inconvenience to live without one, as many newer devices require a remote control in order to access their full list of features: sometimes the panel on the device itself only controls a few essential functions.

With continual advances in technology, many remote controls now feature bluetooth connectivity, motion sensors, and voice control. Remote control specifications vary widely between devices. Specifications, such as the type of remote control, its size, and weight, should be taken into account when making a purchasing decision. Remote controls can be bought from electronics shops and department stores, as well as online at eBay

How Remote Controls Work

Remote controls are small wireless handheld objects with an array of buttons for adjusting various settings, such as television channels, audio device track numbers, and volume. There are two basic models of remote control: infrared and radio frequency. When determining the best fit, buyers should consider what the remote will be used for.

Infrared Remote Controls

Infrared (IR) remote controls work by sending out pulses of infrared light to the device. They contain an internal circuit board, processor, and one or two light emitting diodes (LEDs). In order for infrared remote controls to function properly, there must be a clear line of sight between the remote control and the receiving device. A remote control with a weak transmitter may require the operator to point it directly at the device. Remote controls with stronger transmitters and two broader LED beams, allow the operator to point it in the general direction of the device. If an operator finds that their clear line of sight is obstructed by a coffee table or other object, they may have better luck pointing the remote control towards a wall or the ceiling as the light can bounce off these objects and scatter, thereby reaching the device. The range of an infrared remote control typically spans up to 9 metres. They are usually used with home entertainment systems such as stereos, televisions, and home cinemas.

Radio Frequency Remote Controls

Radio frequency (RF) remote controls use radio waves to communicate with a device. These remote controls do not require an unobstructed line of communication as the waves can travel through walls and around corners, with a range of 30 metres. Radio frequency remote controls are typically used for opening garage doors, alarm systems, key fobs, and radio controlled toys. They are also used in high quality entertainment systems because of their long range and the convenience that this offers.

Infrared to Radio Frequency Remote Control Converters

Infrared to radio frequency remote control converters allow infrared remote controls to extend their range by utilising a radio frequency translator. The radio frequency converter relays the infrared signal in radio waves to help it to travel further. The converter then changes the radio frequency signal back to infrared so that the receiving device can understand the command.

Types of Remote Control

Infrared and radio frequency remote controls come in various types. They can be grouped based on their functionality. When choosing the best type, buyers should consider the devices that need to be used with the remote control.

Standard Remote Controls

Standard remote controls are device specific, which means that they are designed only to work with a single device. They are usually packaged with their respective device when they are bought. For buyers who have multiple electronic devices that all require the use of a remote control, standard remote controls may not be the best option as they can leave the buyer's home full of an array of controls. This can become confusing when trying to work out which remote corresponds to a particular device.

Brand Based Remote Controls

Brand based remote controls are similar to standard remote controls and are often packaged with a particular device. However, brand based remote controls are designed to function with multiple devices, provided all of the devices are made by the same manufacturer. Manufacturers recognise the need to bundle devices with a single remote control and so make the buttons specific to each supported device. For example, a Samsung remote control will work with a Samsung TV and a Samsung Blu-ray player. In order for brand based remote controls to function properly, they may need to be programmed by inputting codes.

Universal Remote Controls

Universal remote controls are created by third party manufacturing companies and are designed to work with any electronic device. These remote controls usually have a instruction manual to help buyers to programme the remote control. This ensures that the remote control functions properly with all intended devices.

Enabling Remote Controls

After buying a remote control that can operate with more than one device, it is necessary to enable it to work with the intended devices. Remote controls can be divided into two categories: learning and programmable.

Learning Remote Controls

Learning remote controls can learn codes from existing remote controls. In order to transfer the codes, buyer’s must simply point the remote controls towards one another and follow a list of commands. These remote controls are easy to use. However, if the original remote control is lost, learning remote controls are almost impossible to programme.

Programmable Remote Controls

Programmable remote controls allow buyers to programme multiple functions to a single button by using sequential code combinations. For example, buyers may train their remote to turn on their television, receiver, and DVD player, set the receiver to the appropriate source and output modes, and start playing a DVD, all from a single button.

Remote Control Specifications

Remote control specifications can help buyers in their search for the perfect remote. Specifications often vary with respect to the dimension, weight, operating distance, batteries, and button count, of the remote control. The key specifications are listed in the table below.

Remote Control Specifications

Factors to Consider


Remote operated by one or two hands

Comfortable to hold


Lighter remote controls are easier to use and carry

Operating distance

Infrared remote controls work up to 9 metres

Radio frequency remote controls work up to 30 metres


Remote controls may take standard alkaline batteries or use a rechargeable battery pack

Rechargeable battery packs charge the remote by placing it on a custom cradle or connecting it with a charging cable

LCD screen remote controls typically have a rechargeable battery pack

Button count

Fewer buttons often result in ease of use

Remote control specifications play a significant role in the decision making process. Remote controls that offer a large number of buttons may seem enticing. However, often buyers tend to use only a select number, making additional buttons unnecessary. Environmentally friendly buyers may opt for a rechargeable remote control, while those who often forget to place the remote control in the cradle for recharging before bed may prefer a remote control that uses standard batteries.

How to Buy a Remote Control on eBay

Buyers can search for remote controls from the eBay homepage by entering a phrase, such as "universal remote control". Categories can help the buyer to narrow down their search results using eBay’s filtering system. These filters include price and condition.

eBay has a wide range of remote controls available, from infrared to radio frequency. These remote controls can be bought either new or used. When purchasing a remote control, buyers should read the specification, which should be listed in the item description, and ensure that the remote includes an instruction manual. This guarantees ease of use as well as providing a description of all of the remote control's features. If the remote control has been pre-owned, buyers should look for signs of wear on the photos and ask whether the remote has any stuck or non-working buttons. These imperfections can prevent the buyer from being able to use the remote control properly. If there is any doubt, buyers can ask sellers for more information.


Remote controls are compact, wireless, handheld instruments that traditionally use infrared signaling to communicate with electronic devices. They are designed to allow the operator to adjust settings, access advanced features, and perform other functions as desired from a distance. The use of remote controls has become essential to most modern technology and electronic devices. Infrared remote controls are often associated with home, office, and personal electronic devices, like home entertainment systems, televisions, and stereos, while radio frequency remote controls are often coupled with devices like garage doors, remote controlled toys, and alarm systems as they have a range of about 30 metres, and the frequency does not require a clear path to the sensor as the radio waves can bend around corners and travel through solid objects.

When purchasing remote controls, buyers should consider the variety of models that are available and their specifications. There are standard, brand based, and universal remote controls. They can be enabled to work for a device via a learning or programmable system. Desirable remote controls tend to be comfortable to hold and lightweight. Buyers should also consider whether the remote control uses disposable or rechargeable batteries. Once the buyer has considered all of the specifications, using the eBay marketplace should be straightforward, leading the buyer to make an informed purchasing decision.

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