Like most guys, I enjoy being in charge of the remote, but having to hunt for just the right one every time--not so much. That's why I eye every "universal" model that comes my way with a weary sigh, expecting another disappointment. The TC 30 may just have closed this sorry chapter in my life.
Cut to the Chase
Reviews usually go through each step one at a time, explaining in (sometimes) excruciating detail just what to do. Let's simplify: take out the remote, find the place you want to keep it, plug it into its cradle (which has been plugged in so the battery gets a full charge to start) then take it over to your PC or Macintosh, in which the software has been installed (Mac users get theirs from the web site), and connect it to a USB port. Run the software, answer some questions online about what kind of gear you got, and wait as control codes get loaded in from the Internet. Disconnect the remote, sit down by your HT, and start using it. Oh, yes--kick all those other remotes under the couch.
Installation/Ease of Use
The remote's a standard "stick" type and contains a series of "hard" buttons. The three notable buttons include those for Help, Activities (for accessing one-touch control), and Glow (which illuminates the screen and keypad until pressed again). A directional pad works with other buttons for turning components on, muting audio, etc. Setting can be customized, and there's a built-in tutorial that can be accessed at any time.
The color screen is of fair size and sharp enough to make viewing the icons reasonable--eight hard buttons ride alongside for activating functions quickly. Basically, you're creating Macros--up to 15 of these "activities"--so for example, in my case, I made one for turning on my Denon amplifier, tuning it to DVD audio while also turning on the DVD player, as well as starting up the front projector and setting it for the DVI input. I also set up another button that would turn on my Replay digital recorder, change the amp to go to its video/audio settings, and set the front projector to receive input from the Component cable. Pretty good stuff, even if very, very lazy on my part.
Read more about the Take Control TC 30 on Page 2.
It would also be helpful if the software had a "reminder" in it as to the web site's location. In some cases, having Anti-Virus or a Firewall working can "block" the connection (in which case it is necessary to deactivate/turn them off until finished). The web site does provide help support with this.
Probably the best part of this Internet/auto configuring is that you can just as easily use the remote in another location--say a summer home or at a parent's house--just by doing some quick reprogramming. All in all, this looks like the end of my "Universal" blues.