Can I find the perfect universal remote?


My husband just wants to watch tv. He doesn't want to use a computer to watch the news. He doesn't want to remember a long series of button presses to watch sports. He just wants to point a remote at the tv and watch what he likes. As much as I like to tinker with technology, I am married to a dear man who does not. He and I are on opposite sides of the bell curve for tolerance level of technology glitches.

Technology according to non-techies

Say that the tv screen does something unexpected, like show a message saying "No signal. Check the external input or select another input using the INPUT button." My husband will turn the tv off and declare that "the TV is broken!"

[pullquote align="full" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]It is never the user's fault.[/pullquote]

He blames himself for whatever strange thing the tv is doing. But he shouldn't. "It's never the user's fault," says tech guru Leo Laporte.

Sure, my husband may have pressed the green button when he was supposed to press the red button and then hold down another button for at least 3 seconds, but the resulting problem is still not my husband's fault.

The fault lies in the design of the thing. Are the buttons well labeled? Are they aligned on the remote in a way that makes sense for people who are not engineers? Is the design intuitive? Does it "just work?"

inteset 4 in 1 remote
inteset 4 in 1 remote

The quest for the perfect universal remote

Back to my husband's desire to Even though every remote we've tried so far is awful, does the perfect universal remote exist? One that's easy enough for a thoroughly non-techie person to operate on their own?

A couple of years ago we cancelled cable. We watch evening news with an antenna and use Apple TV and a separate DVD player for all other tv-based entertainment. 3 remotes. I want to simplify to one remote.

TV Remote Test 1: Inteset 4-in-1 Universal Remote

This is a universal remote for people who don't want to pay the price for a "real" universal remote. I got ours for $24.95 from Amazon. As the name implies, this remote can control up to 4 devices.


This remote came preprogrammed for four of the most common peripherals (Apple TV, XBox One, Roku and Media Center). Four buttons at the top control each of the devices. Programming the tv and other peripherals still requires searching for setup codes, entering them into the remote, looking for 1 or 2 LED blinks and following other very precise instructions. I still haven't programmed a macro for the DVD player because it is so complicated.


Inteset 4 in 1 remote
Inteset 4 in 1 remote

Using this remote is definitely better than programming it.

The feel of it is great. The back has a velvety feel, the buttons are back-lit, and the volume/channel buttons are well-located. The button presses feel nice and squishy. However, as with every remote on earth, there are waaaaay too many buttons.

Why do I need two rows of buttons with symbols on them (star, circle, triangle, diamond and square)? What do they even do?

What do those symbols on the bottom even mean?


  • Macros
  • Volume Lock
  • Channel Lock
  • Custom label stickers for you to put anywhere
  • The ability to learn button presses from other remotes
  • Almost every button is programmable


  • My husband still claims it is not intuitive. "I have to press the red button and then Apple? Why do I need to press the Apple button?"
  • This may be a problem of my programming, but if my husband presses a couple of buttons out of order, the entire TV shuts off.
  • This remote is not good for people with a fear of programming.


Not perfect but better than using multiple remotes.