There are many things to love about home cinema, but one of the most annoying aspects is the mountain of remotes needed to control all your kit, with even the most modest system requiring at least three zappers. It's an age-old problem faced by AV enthusiasts the world over, but the best solution is to replace the lot with a single universal remote - like this one from Taiwanese company Genius.
The Remote 815 can control up to eight different home cinema components and features a large backlit LCD touchscreen, the configuration of which changes depending on which device is selected. Typically it can be used to control a TV, video recorder, digital TV receiver, DVD/Blu-ray player, AV receiver, and hi-fi, but you can programme it to control any device that uses an IR frequency between 20kHz and 445kHz.
Picking up the remote for the first time, its luxurious build quality is immediately apparent. It feels reassuringly robust and heavy, even without the four AAA batteries needed it power it, and despite being fairly large by normal remote standards it still fits comfortably into the palm of your hand.
Looks-wise, its textured aluminium finish is appealing, while the touchscreen itself has seven different backlight colours, which is a neat touch that allows you to tell instantly which device you're using while fumbling around in the dark. The LCD display is on the basic side, using static symbols and text as opposed to the animated, full colour dot matrix affair found on certain Philips and Logitech zappers, but considering the price we can just about live with that.
Just below the touchscreen are a few ‘hard' keys that control what's displayed on the LCD screen. These firm, clicky keys further reinforce the Remote 815's high-quality construction and you can use them to toggle through the different devices, change the page and turn on the backlight.
Further down are more buttons covering the most commonly used functions like channel changing, volume, menu, exit and menu navigation, all of which also give a satisfying click when pressed. Unlike many universal remotes that look complex and daunting, this one has a straightforward, approachable look and feel, which is a real benefit.
It features an auto power saving mode with motion detection, which means the unit bursts into life as soon as you pick it up, but it's a shame the backlight doesn't turn on as well. Inside the remote is 512KB of flash memory, which stores the pre-programmed codes needed to control your kit, while the macro modes allow you to carry out several commands by pressing one button, and time delays can be added between commands if needed.