Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
No other universal remote looks or acts like the Kameleon 8 URC-9960 from One For All. Before you activate the silver-framed unit, its blank interface of blue gel is a mystery. But when you pick up the control, it automatically turns on, and milky icons, numbers, and function labels appear, seeming to rise from the pad's depths and float just under its surface.
Arrayed at the top of the display are eight device icons. Pressing one of them calls up its particular control buttons, sometimes on several "pages." The bright, white-on-blue presentation is easily visible in the dark but fades a bit when the lights are on. And after seven seconds of inactivity, the pad shuts down and turns solid blue again; you have to shake it to reawaken it.
Like most universal remotes, the Kameleon can either learn commands from other remotes or operate according to the programming codes listed in its manual. Additionally, thanks to its built-in acoustic modem, the control can download new device codes while you're on the phone with tech support; all you have to do is hold the unit to your receiver. A punch-through feature creates universal volume adjustment and channel selection. A bit of animation lets you know when the Kameleon has carried out your orders.
The Kameleon doesn't provide button customization. You can remap unused keys, but all the labels are unalterable, so you have to remember where you put your commands. Furthermore, the absence of real buttons means you can't feel your way to what you want.
The Kameleon's IR dispersal is not as wide as that of other remotes, so system on/off macros may be problematic. Also, the unit seemed to turn on whenever we walked by it. After just two weeks, we had to replace the four AAA batteries.
The Kameleon looks great and has a growing number of fans, but we'd settle for a less attractive remote with more flexibility.