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AT&T Thinks Universal

3:15 PM -- Last month, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) debuted a new $60 universal remote control for its U-verse customers, and they sent me one for review.

AT&T's Easy Find Remote Control The new Easy Find remote has just about all the same buttons as the standard $15 remote, but manufacturer Motorola has tacked on some noteworthy features.

First of all, it's rechargeable and comes with a base station that plugs into your U-verse set-top's USB port, so there's no need to buy batteries or find a free plug behind your entertainment cabinet.

It is branded Easy Find by AT&T, because one button on the base station causes the remote to ring like a phone. If you pick up the remote and talk to it, you'll get the same result as when you talk to your other TV remotes. Yes, the darn thing is impervious to insults and swear words.

AT&T says this new remote is "learnable," meaning you can use your existing remote controls to teach it how to turn other devices on and off. This feature works well. But how far does any sane person want to take this?

I found it tedious to teach my Easy Find remote all the navigation commands of my Sony Home Theater In A Box (HTIB), as souped-up DVD players are called these days. By the time I programmed the Easy Find remote to power up the HTIB, fast-forward, rewind, play, pause, stop, navigate the menu, change discs, and so on, it seemed like less effort to just keep the Sony remote handy, as I always have.

While the remote really is easy to program, it's unfortunately limited in its ability to accept programming for non-traditional entertainment devices. I couldn't get it to work with my Wii or Apple TV.

Should I have expected this? Well, yes, or they shouldn't call it universal.

The good news is that the new AT&T remote has programming codes for even more obscure entertainment components than ever before. Got a Harley Davidson VCR? A Philco TV? Anything by Montgomery Wards? Well, then, the AT&T Easy Find remote may seem more universal to you than it does to me.

AT&T is also proud of the remote's "one-hand ergonomic design," which "makes it easy to operate and provides one touch access to the U-verse features you use most." If my remote required two hands, or more, that'd be a story, wouldn't it?

In summary, I do love a rechargeable remote that can't be lost. But I'd look at this as a premium replacement for the standard set-top remote and nothing more. Much to my wife's chagrin, we're still a four-remote family, even if one of them has a brilliant ringtone.

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:12:16 PM
re: AT&T Thinks Universal
Rechargeable batteries. Won't get you your remote finder but would seem to be a lot cheaper than $60 for the remote.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:12:14 PM
re: AT&T Thinks Universal It would indeed (and I will). Need them for the Wii anyway, thanks to my Lego Batman obsessed demon spawn.

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