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Consumer Reports tests best new TV remote control devices

August 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Do you remember when you had to actually get up to change the TV channel? Things have come a long way since then. The latest remote control devices go far beyond the push of a button, and Consumer Reports tested the new remotes to see if they actually make watching TV any easier.

Remote controls that work differently with far fewer buttons are coming with smart TVs. There's a remote from LG that's used like a wand. It moves a cursor on the screen to navigate the menu. But it's not perfect.

"This TV remote does make it harder to navigate the usual TV menu, and also to do normal functions like change the input from your cable box to the antenna," said Christopher Andrade, Consumer Reports.

It also has voice recognition. That's fine for searching the Web, but not for regular TV viewing.

There's a Panasonic TV that comes with a traditional remote and one that performs basic tasks like volume and channel-changing and a touchpad for smart TV functions like searching the Web.

"While the secondary remote looks cool, like most remotes that come with the TVs, it's not universal, so you can't control your cable or satellite box," said Andrade.

Samsung also has a set that comes with a conventional and a touchpad remote, but it can be used as a universal remote. Plus the Samsung set has gesture and voice controls. But Consumer Reports finds they make some things more difficult, like turning up the volume.

So do the newest TV remotes really make watching television easier?

"They're really designed to help you navigate apps, do searches and surf the Web. And from what we've seen, they do it pretty well," said Jim Willcox, Consumer Reports.

But if you're just trying to catch the latest episode of "Mad Men," you're better off with your regular old remote.

More televisions are coming with Internet capability, and that's where these touchpad remotes shine. Consumer Reports says that while these remotes have some kinks to work out, you can expect to see a lot more of them in the future.


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