Jim Miller, an advocate for older Americans, writes “Savvy Senior,” a weekly information column syndicated in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. Based in Norman, Oklahoma, he also offers a free senior e-news service at SavvySenior.org.
It seems like most television remote controls today come with dozens of unnecessary buttons that make them very confusing to operate. Add in the fact that many people use at least two or three remotes to operate their home-entertainment equipment—TV, cable or satellite box, DVD player, etc.—and the complexity of remotes gets very frustrating.
Much better: There are a number of simplified universal TV remotes that are specifically designed for people with dexterity or vision problems and those who shy away from technology. These remote controls can make things simpler for anyone, with bigger buttons and fewer options that make them much easier to see and use. Some top options…
Flipper: This single remote works with all major-brand TVs plus cable, satellite and digital over-the-air receiver boxes. Available for $24.95 at FlipperRemote.com, it offers a tapered design that makes it easy to hold, and for simplicity it has only six large color-coded buttons that are exposed (On/Off, Channel Up and Down, Volume Up and Down and Mute). All other buttons used to program and control the remote are hidden behind a sliding panel so that they won’t get in the way during day-to-day TV watching. Flipper also has an optional feature that lets you program up to 30 of your favorite channels for quick access.
URC SR3 Super Remote: Sold online for around $13, the SR3 can control TVs, cable and satellite boxes and DVD players. It is lightweight and has a long, tapered design that makes it comfortable to hold and operate…large easy-to-see numeric buttons, each in the shape of the number it represents…and a centrally located “My Button” that gives you the ability to turn on the TV and set the tuner to your favorite channel with a single press. It also provides four “Favorite” buttons for one-touch access to your favorite channels and an “All Off” button that lets you shut down the entire home-entertainment system with a single button press.
For people with vision problems, there are a number of excellent oversized remotes offered by Bay Products (813-871-0389, BigButtonRemotes.com), including…
Tek Partner: At 5½ inches wide and 8½ inches long, this $39.95 supersized remote offers big, brightly lit buttons with big readable characters and a narrowed center that makes it easy to handle. It also contains only the essential functions, making it easy to use and program. It operates any combination of TVs, VCRs, DVD players, cable boxes and satellite dishes.
Big Button: If you’re looking for something a bit smaller (2½ inches x 9½ inches), the $24.95 rectangular-shaped Big Button remote has the same large, lighted buttons as the Tek Partner and the same features.
Tek Pal: This basic, compact remote (2¾ inches x 5½ inches) for the TV comes with just six large buttons (On/Off, Mute, Channel Up and Down, and Volume Up and Down) that light up when pushed. Available for $18.95, the Pal works only with televisions that have cable service connected directly to the TV—it does not control cable or satellite boxes.