RCA Universal Remote -- "Channel Changer"
Dec 16, 2011 (Updated Dec 20, 2011)
Review by Merle Levy
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:It works from the get-go on any model RCA TV.
Cons:Numerous codes deter trying to use it with other devices.
The Bottom Line: This remote only cost $8 and does what it was made to do -- change channels. Unless you must have hundreds of bells and whistles, this is all you need.
Everyone has a nickname for the remote. Ours is Channel Changer. I'm old enough to remember when I was the Channel Changer. Then came the first cable box we had in the '80s. It took up half the end table and looked like a Teletype machine, but we could change the channels on our '70s-era, black-and-white portable -- my teenage years TV, which became our first marriage TV.
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When we bought our next TV, and all those after, the Channel Changer was like an appendix. We had cable, and it had its own Channel Changer. Put the TV on Channel 3 and that's the end of the Channel Changer.
In October 2011, we moved into an apartment complex in Nevada that offered basic cable for an additional $35. Every room was wired for it. This made our withdrawal from $150 digital cable bills with boxes that never worked right so much easier. There was one complication: the Channel Changer.
During our move, I took every single remote that said RCA on it, but none of them were the right one. I had to accept the fact that we would have to either buy a new Channel Changer or a new TV. I really don't like universal remotes because they seem to be universal for a very short time. For the first week or even a month, they work just fine; then suddenly, they become hi-tech paperweights.
On one of our many "we just moved" Walmart trips, I found the RCA Universal Remote Control, Model RCR312W. The first factor in its favor was that it was the same make as our TV. It's intended use is for cable, satellite, TV, VCR, and DVD. Yet all I wanted was Channel Changer. I got it home, prepared for the tedious code search, and happily didn't need it. I touched the TV and On/Off buttons, and watched my TV turn on! It even interacted with the TV menu -- much more than I expected.
The Channel Changer is light-weight, most of its weight coming from the two AA batteries that run it. It's form-fitting and comfortable in either the left of right hand. It's about 6-3/4" long, 2-1/4" wide at its widest part, and 1-7/8" wide at the grip-point. The color is dark gray, like most electronics are at the moment.
In the next few days, I discovered what some of the other buttons did. The four-way button controls volume (on the left and right) and scans channels (on the top and bottom). In the center of the four-way button is the mute toggle. For those who like to watch TV in the dark, there is a button that lights up the controls. Because this is a universal control, there are buttons underneath the keypad to control a VCR/DVD (record, stop, pause, reverse, play, forward). The feel of the buttons is good. They're a bit rubbery in texture -- this is good, no slipping. I'm a bit of a butter-fingers, so I like the non-slip feel. They're sensitive enough but not so sensitive as to accidentally react if you pick it up the wrong way. I'm an expert at picking everything up the wrong way, so if there were any buttons that would accidentally react, I would be the one to find them.
Although we have a VCR/DVD player, I decided not to use this remote with that device. I did try the code search, but it only took two codes for me to ask myself "why?" We have the right remote for the device, and that remote does more than the basic operation.
We've lived with it for about two months, and though we don't need a lot of range in our apartment, we're sometimes at odd angles when it's time to change the channel or volume. I can change channels and adjust volume on the living room TV (a 36-inch set) from the opposite end of the living room (about 15 feet), the laundry room off to the side on the opposite end of the living room (about a 30-degree angle), and the kitchen/dinette area (about 8 feet away with about a 45-degree angle). The bedroom TV is much smaller (14 inches), and there are only two places where I use the Channel Changer -- in bed (about 12 feet away) and when I first come into the room (desperately trying not to miss a frame of Cary Grant while transfering my base of operations to the bedroom). The doorway is about 6 feet from the TV, but I have to get closer for it to catch the signal at a 90-degree angle -- about 3 feet.
I haven't seen any signs of the batteries weakening yet. Then again, it's only been two months, and we're not the channel-surfing types. Only during the first month, did we constantly change channels. You see, with basic cable, there isn't an onscreen guide. I'm pretty set in my ways when it comes to what I like to watch, yet in a new state, I knew what I wanted to watch but had no clue where to find it! Luckily, the Channel Changer picked up on the living room TV's menu so I could at least see what channels we receive. Even with that extra use in the beginning, I didn't see any of the fading labels or sticking buttons as I would see with the cable box channel remotes.
There is one other thing we do with the RCA Universal Remote. Because our little bedroom TV is also an RCA model, instead of buying two Channel Changers, we take the one RCA to bed with us. It gets interesting when my husband wants to watch something different from me. He takes it to the bedroom, turns on the TV, forgets to give the Channel Changer back, and loses it in the bed. I'm sure it happens in every home, but usually not with a Channel Changer shared between two TVs. After 33 years, I think our marriage can survive this little bump.
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