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Universal Remote Control R2-Mini Remote-N-Go review: Universal Remote Control R2-Mini Remote-N-Go

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The Good The Universal Remote Control R2-Mini is a tiny universal remote that's dirt cheap, works with most TVs and cable/satellite boxes, and offers simple programming and operation.

The Bad The Universal Remote Control R2-Mini isn't intended for anything beyond very basic TV-watching needs (power, volume, and channel). It can be tedious to program, and it's so small that it could easily get misplaced.

The Bottom Line If you're looking for a cheap but functional TV remote that's small enough to fit on your keychain, the Universal Remote Control R2-Mini is just the ticket.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

Review Sections

Plenty of universal remote controls offer a wide array of sophisticated features--everything from PC-programming options to color LCD touch screens--but some cost more than any average TV, are the size of a laptop PC, and require a certified home installer to set up. It's refreshing, then, to see a model that goes completely the other way. The R2-Mini from Universal Remote Control is a programmable clicker that has only five buttons. It's small enough to fit on your keychain and may very well slip between the sofa cushions within hours of entering your home--but at $15, it's cheap enough to buy by the gross.

At 1.25 inches wide by 2.5 inches long by 0.5 inch deep, the R2-Mini is easily the smallest remote we've ever seen--even tinier than the Apple Front Row remote that's available for newer Macs. It's also a study in simplicity: the R2-Mini is designed to give you rudimentary TV-viewing options, albeit with the assumption that your set is probably acting as a monitor for your cable or satellite box. As such, it has just five buttons: two power keys (one for the TV and one for the set-top box), volume and channel rocker switches, and the all-important Mute.

Programming this mite of a remote is dead simple--just scan through the built-in codes by flicking a key until you stumble onto the one that powers your TV off, then repeat the process for your cable/satellite box (if you have one). The tiny instruction leaflet informs you that the Mini "has been designed to operate the majority of current TVs, satellite, and cable boxes." The remote is also smart enough to direct volume/mute signals to the TV and channel signals to the set-top box, if you have one. The respective power buttons on the remote glow red to indicate which command is being sent where.

As far as compatibility goes, our impromptu tests found no problems with TVs--the remote worked fine with the Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Dell, Maxent, and Vizio models we tried. But while the R2-Mini was also adept at controlling at least two Scientific-Atlanta cable boxes and our Dish Network receiver, we couldn't get it to work with either of our DirecTV boxes (including the HD TiVo). Also, while programming the R2 is straightforward and simple, it can get tedious to keep clicking the button until the remote stumbles across the correct activation code. It took as much as two minutes for some devices, and we got so into the rhythm of repeated tapping that we ended up clicking one too many times on a few occasions and had to repeat the process.

Ironically, the R2-Mini's minuscule size may have an unintended shortcoming: it could conceivably be a choking hazard for small children or pets. If that's a concern, you might want to attach a large novelty keychain or other tether to the eye hook built into its bottom side. Otherwise, the R2-Mini's iPod-esque white finish should make it reasonably easy to find amid any clutter, even in a poorly lit environment.

Now, we could point out the flaws of the R2-Mini's overly simplistic design: the absence of a numeric keypad (you can't directly punch in your favorite channel numbers, and it's awfully tiring on the thumb to surf from channel 2 to 200 one channel at a time instead of taking a shortcut via your onscreen electronic programming guide) or the way the R2-Mini glosses over dozens of mission-critical functions such as input toggling, DVR and DVD control, and so forth. We could do that, but we won't, because those shortcomings are pretty much irrelevant. For starters, the ultracheap price tag makes the R2-Mini virtually disposable, though its included CR-2025 lithium battery is, indeed, replaceable. Nobody should expect anything more than the bare-bones basics, which this remote ably delivers. But let's be honest about the R2-Mini's likely real-world mission: despite the warning emblazoned on the package ("Do not use in any public place without the consent of the owner or operator of any television"), this is a practical-joke device--the next-generation iteration of the TV-B-Gone. Keep the R2-Mini in your pocket, and you can be turning off TVs and switching channels in any bar, restaurant, or store window you can find. Similarly, the R2-Mini makes a great veto device for familial or spousal programming arguments. You may not be able to watch what you want, but you can damn well keep them from enjoying their favorite shows in peace.

Summing up, if you want an affordable programmable remote that can cover your basic TV-watching and home-theater needs, this isn't it; URC's $30 R5 or $40 R7 models, or the $10 Sony RM-V302 would be much better choices. But if you're looking for a tiny clicker for your bedroom or kitchen TV--or want to wreak havoc at your local sports bar during the play-offs--the R2-Mini has you covered.

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