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September 11, 2020

Too Many Remote Controls? Here’s a Solution.

TVs are getting smarter. Luckily, smarter doesn’t have to mean more complicated. The number of streaming components and devices that are available on the market is also rapidly increasing. Since we haven’t yet learned to control our many devices with our minds, this means most of us have far too many remote controls.

A pile of remotes in front of a single TV is confusing when it’s in your own home. On vacation, it’s even worse because you are most likely using remote controls that are unfamiliar to you. Nobody wants to hunt for a user manual just to figure out how to stream a favorite show.

I certainly don’t want this to happen to guests at our rental property, Loudoun Escape. I want our guests to be able to relax without any technology-induced headaches.

I’m happy to report that, after some trial and error, I’ve found an elegant, simple-to-use solution to the problem of too many remote controls.

Let me tell you how I got there.

three universal television remotes lying on a coffee table in focus at close range with pen and pencil pad blurred in background
Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Too Many Remote Controls In Your Home Theater?

In my quest to create a smart, luxury getaway at Loudoun Escape, I’ve outfitted all of our TVs with a standardized Apple TV set-up. I personally love this because it means our guests have access on every TV, to all of the streaming services we’ve set up.

In the beginning, each of these TVs had its own remote and an additional Apple TV remote. This was too complicated for some guests. Adding to the confusion was the fact that the TVs at Loudoun Escape aren’t all the same brand, so there were different types of remotes for different TVs.

A Universal Remote is not a Universal Solution

I went on the hunt for a simple to use solution. First, I tried a universal remote. I auditioned various remotes from Logitech Harmony as well as the Inteset INT-422 remote I found on Amazon. None of these solved the problem the way I wanted.

Using universal remotes might seem like a simple solution, but in my experience, they tend to increase confusion rather than reduce it. Guests were often understandably overwhelmed by the number of buttons on them.

Is There a Remote That Does Less and Controls Everything?

It occurred to me that what is actually needed is a single remote that did less.

This might sound counter-intuitive, but hear me out. A simple remote with fewer buttons means guests are less likely to press the wrong button, or accidentally change a setting.

I also wanted to be able to use the same type of remote for each TV so that our guests didn’t have to learn a new remote control depending on the room they were in. But does such a thing exist?

It does!

The Solution to Too Many Remote Controls

I was thrilled when I ran across the Sideclick for Apple TV universal remote attachment on Amazon. It solved my problem exactly as I had envisioned! It also worked perfectly with our existing Apple TV streaming solution. The Apple TV remote slides easily into the Sideclick attachment as shown in the picture below.

Overhead view of Sideclick remote and remote attachment lying on beige tabletop

How Do You Program the Sideclick Remote?

You can program the Sideclick buttons very easily by pairing the Sideclick remote buttons from an existing remote (or remotes). Simply place the remotes about an inch apart as shown below and follow the instructions in the product manual.

Overhead view of programming a universal tv remote with the Sideclick and Sideclick attachment to help reduce the number of remotes neededSideclick also offers tutorials on YouTube to program from one device or program with multiple devices. The Sideclick attachment “learns” the infrared (IR) signal of the primary remote and can repeat it in the future when the button is pressed. This is very simple, but very cool!

Sideclick shares excellent remote user guides and instructions on its websites for the various remotes. It also provides a full list of product manuals, including one for the Apple TV Sideclick model.

A Problem and a Workaround

One odd situation I ran across with some of the newer (smarter?) TVs, is that their remotes did not natively use IR to control the TVs. As I understood it, these remotes used Bluetooth to pair with the TV and control it. This made pairing with the Sideclick impossible.

But all was not lost.

I still had one of the Inteset remotes I had tried earlier. First, I configured the Inteset remote for the TV. Then I paired that remote with the Sideclick remote. It was an extra step, but well worth the trouble to provide a standard easy to use experience at Loudoun Escape.

(If you need to do this, you can look up the Inteset remote codes here. The user guides and manuals are also linked towards the bottom of the page.)

A Single Remote: Stunning Simplicity

The beauty of the Sideclick solution is that you can now have just one type of remote in your home, even if you have multiple brands of TVs. The Sideclick is our solution to the problem of too many remotes. It’s the only remote we give our guests to use at our Loudoun Escape property.

It’s very simple to use.

I programmed just the buttons I wanted accessible. For all of the TVs, this meant the power button and the volume buttons. I also programmed the input button for remotes paired with the TVs that have both Apple TV and Chromecast installed. I did not program the input button for TVs without Chromecast as I figured it would be confusing.

Functionally, the Sideclick fits perfectly with our Apple TV streaming solution. Below you can see the Sideclick remote attached to a charging station behind the TV.

View of black Sideclick remote attached to a charging station behind the TV against a white wall

This solution is incredibly easy to use, has greatly reduced potential confusion, and has streamlined the entertainment experience at Loudoun Escape. I love it, and it seems our guests do too. Their feedback has been very positive.

Do you have too many remote controls in your home or rental property?  Try this solution out; it might work for you too!

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