One For All Kameleon Universal Remote

Pickabar has finally moved into the world of universal remotes with the purchase of an One For All Kameleon universal remote.

I’d been thinking about picking up a universal remote since I got the PVR as it’s remote required changing between cable mode and auxiliary mode each time I wanted to change the volume on my Onkyo receiver. On the other hand, I have a horrible time picking any type of gadget let alone one which is such a big part of my normal activities.

So, I’ve waffled.

Last week one of our friends was over and I tried to explain to her what was necessary to switch to watching a DVD instead of cable. It took five button presses involving three different remotes:

My Remote Control Collection
My Remote Collection

  1. Use the TV remote (right most) to switch inputs until you get to DVD. Three clicks.
  2. Use the receiver remote (middle) to switch inputs to DVD. One Click.
  3. Use the XBox remote control (second from left) to start the movie. One click.

Ridiculous. There shouldn’t be more remotes than people on your couch.

On Saturday I woke up with the determination to head over to the local Circuit City and not leave until I’d bought one. Ok, I did one last session of web surfing just to check for reviews and suggestions. I also made the obligatory stop at Amazon to check on the vox populi. After about an hour of more waffling between the Kameleon and the Sony RMVL900, I noticed some complaints about the buttons on the Sony remote becoming unresponsive after heavy use. That problem with the Sony model and the inherent geekiness of a remote control with dynamic layout sealed the deal, so I put on my shoes and got walking.

The One For All remote set me back about $89, which was more than I’d expected to pay when I first started looking, but I’m happy with the purchase so far. I was able to get it working with most of my setup in about fifteen minutes by following the very simple instructions in the user manual. The manual included codes for my TV, VCR, receiver and cable box, and I was able to get one of the RCA DVD codes to work for my XBOX. I also turned on the Audio Lock function so that all devices would use the receivers remote commands to control volume. I didn’t make use of the Home Theater function which allows you to control several devices at once, which would be another way to make sure that the receiver volume controls are always enabled. I haven’t been able to get my CD player to work with the remote, but I wasn’t very surprised as I purchased it in High School and haven’t had the remote for it for four or five years. I’ll post a comment after I’ve fooled around with the CD player a little more.

The Kameleon is a remote with a dynamic display and no physical buttons that shows only the groups of keys which are appropriate for the current context. So, for example, the DVR related keys aren’t visible when you’re controlling the TV and not all of the options for the Cable are visible at the same time. That helps make it easier to find the key you’re looking for, but can be annoying when the key you want isn’t on screen and you have to scroll through the various groups of keys to find it. This is especially annoying when the group of keys that is hidden is replaced by dead space. That’s the case with the DVR controls for the cable box, which aren’t visible at the same time as the Menu and Guide buttons. I have no clue what their thinking is…I’m not a big believer in the feature to be honest. On a more positive note, my original fears about the lack of tactile response have proven overblown.

In order to conserve energy, the remote control’s display is turned off after two or three seconds of inactivity. The slightest vibration or movement causes the display to turn back on. This isn’t usually a problem when you’re passively watching a single program as just picking the remote up activates the display. It can get annoying when you’re trying to fast forward or rewind to just the right part of something you’re watching, as you have to get used to wiggling the remote a bit before hitting the play button. Again, I’m hoping this is something they’ll think about addressing with a firmware upgrade. A timeout value of five to ten seconds would be much closer to balancing the battery life concerns with ease of use.

One For All Kameleon Off One For All Kameleon On
Wax Off Wax On

As I mentioned previously, one of the default Scientific Atlanta cable box codes worked for my new DVR cable box. Even the VOD and DVR functions were mostly supported, but I’ll probably have to map some of the custom buttons on the DVR remote (the triangle, square and circle buttons which are used for some of the DVR’s recorded program function) to unused buttons on the one for all. That’s not really a problem, though. What is a major problem, in fact the main problem I have with the new remote, is that the remote won’t display the PIP related buttons for a cable box. I can see the thinking behind that, but as more and more cable boxes have dual tuners this is going to have to be revised. I’m hoping that there will be a firmware upgrade at some point which will revise that as it’s a software limitation rather than a physical one.

Looking back, I seem to have focused on the negatives a lot more than the positive features of the One For All Kameleon universal remote. Don’t let the tone of this review fool you….the remote is far from perfect, but I’m delighted with the purchase as it’s really stopped the remote control kung fu it used to take to do anything with my setup. The best feature of the remote, and the one that really justifies the expenditure is macro recording. You can record macros of up to 15 keystrokes very easily. Now, switching from TV watching to DVD watching just requires pressing the M2 (M for Macro) key.

Goodbye old friends and former couchmates!