Blu-Link Universal Remote Review

When I read a couple weeks ago that there was a universal remote coming out that was able to control the Playstation 3 as well as any device that uses IR, I was pretty excited. My girlfriend has a hard time trying to figure out which remote works the sound, which one is the cable and how everything turns on and off so this seemed like a perfect solution. I had considered picking up a logitec remote and the dongle they make for the PS3, but I didn’t really want to spend that much money on a universal remote in the first place as I have no problem using multiple remotes.

The Blu-Link was announced some time ago, but was finally released on September 1st with a price tag of $49.99. Based on the picture it looked like it would do everything I needed it to and while it wasn’t as fancy looking as some of the logitech ones I wanted to be as easy to use as possible. So I placed my order on September 1st and received the remote yesterday, September 8th. As soon as I opened the box I was annoyed, ugh, clamshell packaging. I thought companies were moving away from these impossible means of packaging electronics? So after about 10 minutes of absolutely destroying the packaging with a huge pair of scissors, I finally had the remote and batteries out of the box and ready to program.

Before I get into the programming aspect of the remote I want to talk about the feel. I have to be honest, for 50 bucks I was expecting something cheap feeling like those ONE remotes you see at Wal-mart for $20, but surprisingly the Blu-Link feels pretty good in hand. It’s got the slick plastic similar to the logitech remotes and it’s smaller than my cable box remote. The button layout feels comfortable and things are easy to find unlike some previous models of the logitech remote where the DVR function buttons were all the way at the bottom making it fairly uncomfortable to fast forward and rewind. The buttons on the top; left, right, up down, enter, menu, etc, are actually click buttons which is nice. You can actually feel that you are pressing them instead of the buttons being pressure sensitive. Even though I do like the feel of the buttons, I do have a few complaints about the remote design.

First of all, there are no “Page Up” or “Page Down” buttons on the remote. I’m pretty sure most cable box remotes allow you to go page by page through the guide which is a necessary feature. Nobody wants to scroll one by one through the guide when there are hundreds of channels to go through. Now I was able to solve this problem using the remotes “learning” function which allowed me to program the “*” and “#” buttons on the number pad to be “Page Up” and “Page Down”, but I would have rather had dedicated buttons to this function. My other complaint is the lack of an “All Off” button. I know most cheaper universal remotes don’t have any sort of activities function where devices all switch on or to the right input depending on what you’re doing, but a man can hope right. I don’t need a button to switch inputs on the TV and receiver or any of that when I want to play the PS3, but it would be nice to be able to turn all the devices off with just 1 button, even the cable remote can do that. My last minor gripe with the controller is that the color buttons for Blu-Ray movies are quite small at the bottom of the remote. This isn’t a huge deal to me because I honestly never use them, but I could see it being an issue for people that do use them and may have larger hands.

The programming of the device was very basic. And while I do like the USB/Computer interface programming that the logitech remotes offer, there’s also something to be said about the simplicity of the “code” method. The remote comes with the code book and after a couple simple key presses on the remote you can have all your devices setup in minutes. There are some bad things about this method though, but rest assure they can be corrected through the “learning” function of the remote. So when you program a device to a device button at the top, all the buttons on the remote will only function for that device when in that mode. If you have a receiver you’ll probably want the volume on the remote to change the receiver volume instead of the actual TV volume even when you’re in TV mode (or cable/sat). Luckily there is a simple way to fix this that is actually built into the remote. You don’t even need to “learn” the receiver remote to the Blu-Link in TV mode to do this which was a nice feature (which you can find exact instructions for in the manual). Aside from this problem though I ran into a couple problems. I mentioned above that “Page Up” and “Page Down” were not programmed to any keys by default when I entered the code for my cable box, but luckily you can teach the remote functions. So I was able to “learn” the code from my cable remote for “Page Up/Down” and assign them to any key on the Blu-Link remote which solved that problem. My other problem was that there was no “All Off” button on the remote to turn off the cable box and TV (the Cable box remote did this), so I just used the learning mode and made the power button the Blu-Link remote turn off the TV when it was in Cable/Sat mode and I’ll just deal with the cable box staying on, it’s not a huge deal anyways.

So overall I’m pretty happy with the remote. For $50 you can’t go wrong, but if you’re looking for more advanced features you may want to look elsewhere. I wouldn’t really recommend this remote if you do not have a Playstation 3, you’re probably better off going to the lowest model Logitech if you really need a universal remote, but for those of you with a PS3 that want the ability to control everything from one remote, this is definitely not a bad choice.

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