No matter how good-looking a universal remote is, if it doesn’t make your life easier in the long run, it’s a waste of space. We have to take into account that setting up a universal remote is not a job you look forward to, rather more akin to a visit to the dentist – something which you know has to be done, but is never a pleasant experience.
Some universal remotes, such as the Logitech Harmony range, require you to connect your remote to a PC to sync it with you devices. Not so with the Smart Control Motion. The remote can connect with six devices at once, which may not be as much as the high-end Logitech Harmony One but is better than the mid-range Logitech Harmony 650, which only lets you sync with five devices and costs almost twice as much.
The Smart Control Motion will let you connect to all major device types including HDTV, DVB-T (such as Freeview), IPTV, Blu-ray, iPod docks, Home Cinema, PS2, and Xbox 360.
Setting up a device was pretty straightforward. If you have a device from one of the major manufacturers the set-up process, called SimpleSet, is easy. Press and hold the Magic button for three seconds until all the lights flash twice. Then, using the left and right navigation keys, you choose which device type you are pairing with (TV, amp, set-top box etc.) and finally the corresponding number to the manufacturer – which you’ll find in the Quick Start manual.
The system worked very well for our Samsung TV, TiVo set top box and LG DVD player. If your device is not one of the brands listed, or if it doesn’t set-up using the SimpleSet method, you can also input a code for the device. One For All provides a rather exhaustive list of devices in a separate manual.
Of course, because all remote controls are different, some functions just don’t map perfectly to the universal remote – as was the case for our TiVo box. But fret not, as all you need to do is place the remotes facing each other and, having activated the learning mode on the One For All remote, proceed to map the functions you want to whichever corresponding button on the Smart Control remote. Again this worked very well and we found no difficulty in getting a number of remotes to ‘talk’ to each other.
The remote also has Macro buttons which allow you to do a number of things with a single button press. Three macro keys near the top can be programmed to do a number of things at once – eg turning on your TV and set-top box at the same time.
This system didn’t work very smoothly, however, and it took us quite a number of goes before we got it working. And even when we did, we found it difficult to see the point of having these macros set up, unless you are constantly using a series of confusing actions.
Finally we get onto the headline grabbing feature of this universal remote - the motion control. The remote will recognise six separate gestures. Moving it up and then quickly down again controls the play function on your DVD, Blu-ray or compatible set-top box, while the opposite gesture pauses whatever you’re watching.
Flicking the remote to the right and quickly back again either changes the channel, fast forwards what you’re watching or skips to the next chapter. The reservse gesture does the opposite, moving the channel down or rewinding what you’re watching.
A double tap of the metal band around the middle of the remote will mute whatever you’re connected to, while flipping the remote over completely will initiate the power macro which will switch off whatever you’re using.
Of all these gestures, only the final two are of any real use. The channel changing and movie navigation gestures are both difficult to get right, requiring strangely precise movements and are also a lot more hassle than simply pressing the corresponding button.
In the end the motion control aspect of the remote is not a reason for purchasing the remote and is a gimmick rather than adding any functionality to the product.
While the motion control feature is certainly more of a gimmick than a useful addition, the Smart Control Motion is an excellent universal remote control for the price. It will replace up to six of your remotes, set-up is fairly simple and while it might stuggle to connect to some older devices and the macro function isn't perfect, its learning mode is excellent and you'll be hard pressed to find a better universal remote for under £30.