One For All's Smart Control wants to persuade you that you've had it wrong -- universal remotes can be easy to use. Make no mistake, they're a truly great idea and offer features that are worth ditching your existing menagerie of remotes for. The problem, however, is they're often complex and annoying to program, and that's enough to put most people off.
The Smart Control is one of the best-looking universal remotes, and we've seen more than we can count on our extremities. It has a weight and build quality you don't often see with these little controllers. It feels good in your hands and the buttons are large enough to press comfortably, even if you're a chunky man.
You'll need to insert four AAA batteries into it before it will listen to what you want it to do, and these aren't included in the pack.
Programming the One For All is reasonably straightforward, but uses the same trial and error process familiar to anyone who has used a programmable remote. You have to type in a series of short codes until you find the one that will control your equipment. For some manufacturers, you might get lucky and hit the right one on the first go, or you might have to try ten before you get there.
Once it's programmed though, the remote control comes into its own. You don't have to press a button to change which device you're controlling. Instead, keys are mapped based on the activity you're doing. Pressing the 'movie' button, for example, will turn on your DVD player, TV and AV system. The volume keys will control your audio system, the playback buttons your DVD player, and controls such as aspect ratio will adjust the TV's settings. Simple, no?
You can also control the devices as you would with a normal remote control. The buttons may not exactly match the ones on your equipment's remote though, which can result in a learning curve before everything's running smoothly.
To control more than one device, you need to switch between them using the left and right keys at the top of the remote. That might not sound like a problem, but it can be confusing, and if you need to control things in quick succession, it can present problems as you try and select the correct device, then press the button you needed.
In practice, a lot can go wrong with a universal remote, but the Smart Control makes it as easy as we've ever seen it. You don't need a PC like you do with many of these devices, so it's a better solution if you want a simple experience. As with any device like this, not all equipment is listed in the code manual, so if you've got unusual devices, you might need to call the One For All support team.
The Smart Control can be bought online for around £25 too, which we think is a bargain for something as well-made and useful as this. While it's not perfect, for people who can no longer keep up with the number of remotes in their house, it's a good solution to a lot of domestic arguments.