Remote controls have come a long way in the past couple of years and the latest range of universal remotes are now fully customisable and feature more functionality than ever before. Sunwave's SRC-3820 universal remote can control up to 16 different devices from the single unit and allows you to replace basically all your pesky home entertainment remotes.
The SRC-3820 is a slim remote at just 6cm wide and its contoured back allows the unit to fit comfortably in the hand. Its most prominent feature is the large 40mm by 90mm touch sensitive LCD screen, which emits a soft beeping sound to acknowledge that a button's been pressed. The unit's weight is 250g (with batteries) and is reasonable given the amount of functionality that's included. One flawed design element was the adoption of the same shape for most of the hard buttons. This can be annoying when you're pressing a sequence of buttons quickly and you accidentally press the wrong one. Fortunately, the buttons are well spaced and are backlit along with the LCD screen. The plastic finish did have a cheap feel and was slippery at times. We also found that the housing for the 4 AAA batteries was too bulky.
The standout feature is the ability to control 16 different devices with 48 buttons for each. Provided with the package is a list that contains a multitude of device codes for different brands' remotes. All you have to do to program the universal remote is enter the respective code for whatever device you wish to be able to control. Otherwise, the intelligent learning eye can be used to capture codes from your existing remotes.
The LCD's layout is fully adjustable and has a soft blue backlight. Devices can be categorised into three different channel groupings, which include news, movie and kids, making it easier to find the correct programs quickly. Further, device labels can be customised so that you can give different TVs its own name, for example "kitchen TV". One attribute we found very useful are the 12 soft macro buttons with each capable of storing up to 60 different commands.
In addition to these are the six hard-programmed buttons for frequently used functions such as channel and volume changing. Other features include a timer macro for sending commands at preset times as well as an inbuilt calendar and clock. Connection with a PC is possible for program upgrades but this required an optional USB cable so we were unable to test this feature.
Getting the remote set-up is a painless affair. The supplied manual is very good and provides simple instructions on how to change settings in just a few short steps. However, selecting a pre-programmed code isn't so straight forward. For most of the popular brands there are several codes for each device. Finding the correct code involves a bit of trial and error. Panasonic for example, has 17 codes for its TVs alone.
Using the learning function did work in most cases but takes too long to program enough functions to be worthwhile. We found that the remote worked well to just over nine metres even when not directly pointing at the device we were trying to use. This range is a lot lower than most competitors but we suspect it's more than adequate for the majority of living rooms.
The Sunwave Web site provides downloadable copies of its manuals plus the pre-programmed code list with limited contact via an online form.