Sound Advice: Need a good universal remote?

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 27, 2013 - 1:29 PM

Q: What do you recommend for an all-in-one remote control? I have seven remotes. They’re driving me crazy.

A: I’m a big fan of the URC Digital R50 from Universal Remote Control (

It comes preprogrammed for thousands of components. Just use the buttons and the colorful LCD screen to select your components, and you’re ready to go. It can control up to 18 devices and has selectable icons for personalization, including TV channels.

It’s easy to find online. The best price I found was at for $119.

Comcast follow-up

I recently answered a question from a Comcast customer in Minnesota who subscribed to Limited Basic service. He lost his high-­definition signals after Comcast encrypted the signals and sent him a standard-definition DTA (digital adapter). He wanted to get his high-definition channels back without paying for an upgrade.

After the column was published, I was contacted by Comcast’s Western Pennsylvania PR department. In this region, Limited Basic customers were originally notified that they can have up to three DTAs on their account at no charge, and they can obtain two high-definition DTAs through the offer. The HD DTAs are free for two years, five years for those on Medicaid. Market pricing will apply for the HD DTAs after December 2015.

This offer might not apply to every Comcast region. For example, Brier Dudley of the Seattle Times reports that in Seattle, Comcast charges $2 per month each for an HD DTA, plus a $10 one-time “tech fee.”

Brad Reed, a Boston resident and news editor of the technology website, lost his high-definition channels when he received his digital adapter box. Comcast tried to charge him $10 a month to get the high-­definition channels back. You can read his personal story, “Comcast’s latest subscriber shakedown,” at his website.

Adding to the confusion over the issue is Comcast’s own website (

Under “HD FAQs,” the question reads, “I would like an HD device instead of an SD device. Is this possible?”

The answer: “An HD digital adapter is available upon request with this offer regardless of your service level.”

No mention of fees is made one way or the other, although other fees are listed on the page.

Next week I will discuss encryption and what it means to consumers, the difference between a set-top box and a DTA, and report more on the situation nationwide.

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