If a multitude of remotes is starting to take over your coffee table, maybe it's time you simplified things with a universal remote control. The Philips Prestigo SRU8015 is a slick model that could be your number one. Priced at around £70, it comes with a library of built-in codes and can take command of up to 15 pieces of kit at any one time.
Unlike other smart remotes, such as those in Logitech's Harmony range, you don't have to hook the Prestigo up to a computer to set it up to control your devices. Instead, it has a large built-in database of codes.
Programming the remote really is as easy as slicing warm butter. You just use the iPod-style mechanical scroll wheel to select the type of device you want to control, choose the manufacturer's name from a list and then point it at your piece of kit and hold down a button until the device turns off. We had it set up to control a TV, cable box, satellite receiver, digital media player and Xbox 360 in a matter of minutes.
The Prestigo also acts as a learning remote so if you have any devices that aren't held in remote's database you can use your existing controller to program in the required codes.
The remote is long and sleek and has a surprisingly high resolution colour screen at the top where you cycle through the devices you want to control. Thanks to a cut away on the underside of the remote it feels very comfortable to hold and the well laid-out buttons are backlit so they're easy to read when you've got the lights dimmed for a spot of at-home cinema.
As well as teaching the remote to control individual devices you can also set up what Philips calls 'Activities'. These are simple macros that run in sequence. For example, you can quite easily program a 'Watch Cable TV' activity that instructs the remote to turn on your TV, surround sound decoder and cable box all by just pressing a single button.
Perhaps the remote's coolest feature is the Favourites mode. The Prestigo has a large onboard database of channel logos that you can assign to individual channel numbers. Once the numbers are assigned you can choose the channel you want to watch by hitting the 'Fav' button and then scrolling through the list of colourful logos. It's definitely a feature that will impress your mates.
Our biggest bugbear with this remote is the way Philips has positioned the scroll wheel on the outside of the traditional four way direction pad. The wheel is used to select the device you want to control, while the pad is used to move though the menus on the selected device. However, it's too easy to move the wheel slightly while trying to navigate menus with the pad. The result is that the remote suddenly swaps to a controlling a different device midway through an action that you were trying to perform.
Also, although the Prestigo is initially very easy to set up, we did find that we had to tweak a number of the presets to improve the buttons layouts and make them more to intuitive to use with our kit.
Another issue is that unlike some rivals, this controller can't be connected to a computer, so there's no way to add new channel logos for the Favourite's feature -- it doesn't include Virgin One, for example -- or to download new button assignments for the latest kit.
There's a lot to like about the Prestigo. We love the way it's so easy to initially set up and the sharp, colour screen and slick design mean it looks really classy. There are also some seriously cool features like the Favourites mode. However, it can take some time to get used to the combined scroll wheel and direction pad layout and you may find that you have to tweak many of the presets to get them to work better with your kit.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday