Q I have a remote for my cable box and a remote for my Viewsonic LCD TV. The TV doesn't have a remote code supported by my cable box remote. I turn on the TV and change the volume with the TV remote and view the program guide and change channels with my cable remote.

From time to time the TV remote does not work. I recently encountered this and thinking it was the batteries, changed to fresh ones. It worked immediately but then a week later stopped working again, and I know the batteries were still good. I pushed all the buttons on the remote, and eventually it worked again.

Do I have a defective remote? What can I do about getting a universal remote?

A This is a relatively common problem that most people figure out eventually.

If you look at your TV remote, you will see buttons marked for TV, VCR, Cable, DVD and more. That's because almost every TV remote functions as a universal remote that can control other makes and models of components.

Remotes come programmed for the manufacturer's product. So, if you have a Panasonic TV and buy a Panasonic Blu-ray player, you will not have to program the TV remote to control it. If you buy a different brand of player, you must program the TV remote if you want to use it with the new component.

You usually must reprogram it when you change batteries, because cutting off the power clears the codes. This is one reason I often recommend that consumers match their TVs and Blu-ray players by brand.

In your case, you inadvertently pressed one of the buttons, such as DVD. This turns your TV remote into a DVD remote, and when you tried to use it to control your TV it didn't work.

Changing the batteries cut off the power. When you put in the new ones, the remote defaulted into being a TV remote again. You bumped one of the buttons the following week, so it stopped working. When you "pushed all the buttons," you happened upon the TV button that tells the remote you want to control the TV, so it worked again.

The short lesson in all of this is that if your TV doesn't respond to the remote, press the TV button on your remote and try again. This will fix the problem most of the time.

Viewsonic makes nice TVs. I can't say which universal remotes have codes that will definitely work with it without testing them, but the point is somewhat moot. Just buy a learning remote, which will acquire the proper commands from your Viewsonic remote by pointing the remotes at each other and pressing the appropriate buttons.

The Universal Remote Control URC-WR7 is a good choice, offering premium quality from a top-tier manufacturer for less than $35.

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