Remote Possibilities from RCA
by Jim Bray
Remote controls have legs.
They must! Judging by the e-mail I get from readers, remote controls
(especially RCA Systemlink remotes) seem to get up and walk away on a
I'm constantly being asked where people can buy replacement remotes or
where they can find the codes to program universal remotes for which they've
lost the manual.
Fortunately, RCA has a pretty good customer service area on its Web site,
at http://www.rca.com/customerservice. It's a
bit ponderous, but if you follow the links the site will walk you through
the process of identifying your remote and then let you download an Acrobat
file that's basically a copy of the owner's manual, complete with programming
It doesn't cover all RCA remotes, but it should help people who have
models from the past few years. There's also a toll free number for those
whose remotes aren't on the site.
The problem with most of these universal remotes, besides the ability
to get up and go, is that they're never really universal. Oh sure, they'll
control most of the basic functions of many audio or video components
but when it comes down to lesser used features and/or many brand names,
they just don't cut it.
The way around this is with a learning remote, which will cost you more
but which will be a lot more flexible than the preprogrammed ones. These
remotes cost anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars.
One of the more inexpensive ones, and in my opinion the best remote RCA
has ever come up with, is its $69 model CRCU810 universal remote. This
baby not only comes preprogrammed to control RCA and many other mainstream
brand names, but you can also teach it the infrared codes of brands it
doesn't support already.
Now this is the way it should be!
It still won't operate absolutely every feature of every component (whaddya
want for seventy bucks?) but it's pretty good.
The CRCU810 positively bristles with buttons - so many that it's more
than a bit intimidating - but the buttons are backlit for use in a dimly
lit home theater and they're clustered together by function. For instance,
the top section of buttons switches between components (TV, Satellite,
Cable box, VCR 1 and 2, Audio system, DVD, "Aux," and three extras). Below
that are the volume/channel/mute and input select buttons, followed by
"cursor control" buttons for moving around menus, then the number keys
and, finally, the play/pause/stop etcetera for operating the VCR, DVD
or tape player.
Many of these buttons also do double duty.
Programming the remote using the built in codes is straightforward if
you follow the manual. Teaching it other codes is a little more difficult,
but only a little. Using the LCD screen at the top of the remote's face
(and the manual!), you end up pressing the button you want to reprogram
on the RCA, while pressing the button on the source remote you're trying
to replace. You do this with the two remotes facing each other so the
infrared code leaving the source remote enters the CRCU810's sensor
Presto! As if by magic, the code is learned.
I used this method to teach it the codes for the Rotel receiver I use
in my upstairs home theater. That was the only component I had to physically
teach the RCA to control; it already knew the RCA TV and had easily accessible
built in codes for the Sony DVD and CD players.
Another neat RCA gadget I've been playing with is a digital voice recorder.
The $50 model RP5007 is a handy little device that fits easily into a
pocket (it'll fall out easily, too, if you lean over!), and can record
up to 96 minutes of prattle or inspiration.
It only has a few buttons, which aren't particularly easy to find by
feel, and it lets you record those brainstorms you have in the car or
the shower (well, it might short out in the shower!).
Your voice is stored on a four megabyte smart media card and the recording
process can be voice activated so you aren't fiddling with buttons while
you're behind the wheel.
Recordings are stamped with the date and time they were made, which read
out on the little LCD screen and while the speaker's anything but Hi-Fi,
it's adequate for the task at hand.
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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