Getting old isn’t fun and getting used to all the buttons on a TV remote control isn’t easy.
Gone are the days of a handful of buttons to change channels, change volume and turn the set on or off.
My TV remote has over 50 buttons, most of which I’ve never used and lots of which lead on to extra menus on the TV set itself.
Fine if you don’t press them
A nightmare if you press the wrong one and end up setting something you’d rather not have set.
Which is what happened regularly with my mother.
She’d press a few buttons and the TV would set itself to radio programs only.
A few more buttons and it was in a language neither of us recognised.
Then I’d get a phone call to say that the TV was “broken” – which was true in the sense that it wasn’t showing TV programs.
And, since it’s the main form of entertainment, it was urgent to drive round to “fix” it. Which involved tracking down the manual (stored somewhere safe, so that wasn’t an easy task) and then figuring out where the menu items were to set the box back to English so I could then change the other settings back to default.
All with the background near-panic of the TV being broken and was it fixed yet.
So I decided to investigate TV remote controls that hid most of the unwanted buttons.
These typically have buttons to turn the TV on and off, mute the sound, change volume and change channel.
No numbers to press – so finding some channels can take a lot of button presses – and no way of getting into the menu system of the TV and accidentally changing every conceivable setting to something different.
But it saves a lot of frustration because if the TV is “broken” it really is (which doesn’t happen much nowadays with reliable electronics) rather than just set up for something the software engineer thought was a good idea but no-one else in the world did.
There are lots of available replacement remote control options. Which is good but figuring out which is best is less good.
3. Flipper TV Remote
I started with the Flipper TV remote.
It’s got a 4 star rating on Amazon which is decent enough.
And it comes with a list of codes so programming is easy – or so I thought.
The trouble with the list of codes is it reads like an old-fashioned phone book. The LG set had lots of possible codes and it’s a “simple” matter of going through each one until you find one that works.
Whoever thought that was a good idea clearly hadn’t done it whilst being watched like a hawk until the TV was fixed.
It might be an OK system for a brand new TV where you can set it up out of sight and ear-shot.
But it’s not an OK system in the real world.
Fortunately, you can also set it to learn the codes from the existing remote. Unless there are only one or two numbers to test, that’s quicker and a lot less fraught.
Once it’s all set up, you’re good to go and the control works fine.
2. Doro 4155 vHandleEasy
When the Flipper died (there’s only so many times buttons can get pressed!), I tried the Doro remote control.
It doesn’t come with a long list of numbers to try – I’d learned my lesson by then plus it’s cheaper than the Flipper – so you need the original remote.
No probs – just swap the batteries in the original remote for ones that work (it had been that long since I’d used it) and teach the Doro the different keys.
It’s a simple TV remote and does exactly what it needs to do.
Eventually, thousands of button presses later, it was again time for a new remote.
This time, cheapskate that I am, I turned to eBay:
- Big Button TV Remote from eBay
This eBay elderly remote is a slightly different design but it does exactly the same as the other two.
It’s a learning remote – basically you place the regular remote facing the new one, press a couple of buttons, wait for a light to flash and then press the corresponding buttons on each one.
Do the same for each button in turn (only a handful so it doesn’t take long) and then double check by pointing the new control at the TV and making sure each button does what it’s supposed to do.
It works fine.
Apparently it also survives being dropped onto the floor from a 1 metre height (the others seem to do the same) which means if it’s resting on the edge of something and gets knocked off, all should be fine.
And it’s cheap enough that you could buy two and keep an emergency spare – so long as you remember where the “safe” place you’ve put it is and so long as your elderly relative doesn’t find the spare and more it to their own idea of a safe place. But you’ll know well enough whether that’s likely to be the case.
So there we have it.
Three options, all of which work equally well but the cheap eBay option is my top choice. No different in real world use and cheaper.
Oh, and remember to buy good quality batteries because the less often those have to get changed, the less often the remote will “go wrong”.