Easy to use 'SimpleSet' option
Four devices only
Clumsy training mode
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The OneForAll Essence 4 is a respectable entry-level offering that's solidly built, and capable of controlling four separate devices for less than £20. Its standout feature is its 'SimpleSet' option.
Like most universal remotes, this one enables you to manually enter four-digit control codes for a range of well-known electronics manufacturers.
However, the device has also been pre-programmed with a 'SimpleSet' of codes for the top 10 manufacturers in various product categories – such as Samsung, Panasonic and Sony for TVs and Sky, Humax and Philips for set-top boxes.
Provided your TV and home cinema kit are all included on the 'SimpleSet' list, you can program the Essence 4 to control them by simply entering a single-digit number for each device.
I had no trouble using the SimpleSet feature to program the handset to work with a Samsung TV and a few other devices from similar well-known brands. However, it stumbled with my Freeview HD box from FetchTV.
Its 'search' mode did allow me to find a code that provided basic controls, but I still had to use its more laborious training mode to program in one or two key commands for features such as the electronic programme guide.
The Essence 4 is a good, basic universal remote control for your television and one or two other devices.
However, more experienced users who like to mix and match AV equipment from a variety of different manufacturers should probably look elsewhere for something with more sophisticated features.
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Cliff Joseph is a former Editor of MacUser magazine, and a freelance technology writer with 30 year’s experience in the industry (and old enough to remember when Apple was close to going bust…).
His first job involved using Macs for magazine sub-editing and typesetting, which led to the realisation that these computer-thingies might actually turn out to be useful after all. After a few years specialising in the Mac side of the market, he went freelance and embraced the wide world of digital technology, including Windows PCs, digital audio and hi-fi, and networking. Somewhere along the line he also developed a bit of a gaming habit and has stubbornly waved the flag for Mac gaming for far too many years.
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