Contrary to the title I am not looking to remote control my kids, although the idea has obvious appeal. Instead what I was looking for was a way to avoid having to actually do anything when my son shouts from the lounge, “Dad I don’t want to watch this”, “Dad, what’s on the other channel”, “Dad, I can’t hear it”.
He is five and whilst he can use the Harmony Remote control to switch the TV and accompanying boxes on he struggles to remember what number the Sky channels are that he can watch and when to stop turning the volume up! In fairness he is not alone and the Grandparents have similar issues when they come round to babysit; although in fairness this is mainly because they are deaf and are not used to having more than three channels on a TV!
There is a practical side to this which is that I also don’t necessarily want my son to be able to scan through every single channel on Sky even with the channel parent lock facility turned on.
So on Sunday morning, I thought I had hit on my big money making idea and that I would be able to retire at 40 after all; a remote control for kids and old people. Well it turns out that, like most ideas I have, someone has already done it.
The first company I came across was Weemote, a US company that actually has some really cool remotes that would have done the job, however from what I could see they are not available anywhere else, so this would involve shipping and customs.
The second option I came across was Sony’s Children’s TV Remote Control (RM-KZ1T), at the time of writing this on sale in Argos for only 9.99.
So after reserving online, I had one picked up to have a play with. My main concern was with regard to programming the remote, specifically if a button could be programmed with multiple IR codes that when the button was pressed could be sent. For example when you press the on button, I want the TV and sound bar/amp to switch on. When I press number 1 on the remote I want it to send the number 602 to the Sky box etc.
The answer is that it can do some of it. This is not a programmable remote that can learn from existing ones or with the exception of the channels send multiple IR codes. Instead Sony supplies an extensive list of Manufacturer codes for both TVs and Satellite/Cable receivers. You locate your manufacturer and enter the applicable codes for both devices. The remote only supports a TV and a receiver, so this is most ideally suited for non-AV enthusiasts who may have sound amps/receivers etc. in the mix as it could not turn on your TV, Satellite Receiver and Amp.
Once I had located and programmed the correct codes for my TV and Sky box I was able to program the channels that I wanted to assign to the 7 buttons. This is simply a case of following the simple procedure to, for example, add channel 601 to button 1. Once done I gave it to my son to operate which he was more than able to do. The only thing I noticed was that in some cases the remote managed to send one of the digits twice meaning that a different channel would be selected, for example if the button is programmed for 601, sometimes it would send the zero twice resulting in channel 600 being selected.
The concept of this remote is great, unfortunately I find it lacking in features; however for less than $10 you cannot complain. I would have preferred to pay a little more but have the added functionality of being able to learn from existing remotes and be able to program it with multiple IR codes when I push a button. That said this is an ideal children’s remote if like the majority of the population you simply have a satellite or cable box attached to your TV.
Given the price I will keep it, whilst I search for another solution. The easiest solution would be to program something like a Logitech Harmony remote with a specific page for the kids so that they can simply press a button, but this is an expensive option which I probably would not want my children playing with! Mind you thinking about it I might have an old Marantz RC5000 in the loft which could do the job nicely……