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Can one be better?
The Menacing Thick Fluffy Blanket. Better known in the trade as the “grueling MTFB”, it’s the industry ignored scale with which we evaluate, enumerate and elucidate on a remote’s real-world infrared performance. Without it, we’d have to resort to calling things “good” or “average” – and a digitized number is so much better, right? Of course!
This time we look to test the Kameleon 8’s single, unshielded infrared emitter by transmitting a Sony “mute” command to our long-time (and now woefully outdated) benchmark receiver. The last graded UEI remote, a Radio Shack 15-2133 Kameleon, sported two shielded infrared emitters and scored an above average 4.0. Can the One For All’s lone emitter really do the work of two?
We start at level one, a cakewalk for most remotes. The Kameleon 8 proved no different and blasted its signals through. Moving quickly up to two layers of fluffy blue polyester, the Kameleon once again came through with flying colors – or at least flying infrared!
Level three... the point of no progress for many clickers. Once again the Kameleon 8 prevailed, no surprise given the 15-2133’s past stellar performance. Still, there was a worrisome reduction in off-angle performance: unless the remote was pointed more or less directly at the receiver, nothing was sensed. So, with more hesitation we advanced to level four... where the blanket finally proved too claustrophobic for the Kameleon 8 to handle, with absolutely no trace of a command getting through.
So, the final score works out to 3.0: average, but still better than most original equipment remotes.
“If you can hear this, you’re too close!”
When off, the Kameleon 8’s control surface is a deep, rich blue that nicely complements the grey aluminum frame. When activated, the electroluminescent backlight is a bright, vibrant blue – different than the 15-2133’s more greenish blue tint. When the Kameleon 8’s backlight is set to the brightest level out of 8 available settings, it compares favorably to the 15-2133. Thankfully, the 15-2133’s disconcerting high-pitched sound (generated by the requisite voltage inverter) has been significantly reduced, now a soft murmur that’s only audible up close.
When the remote is activated from its sleep state, the display ramps smoothly up to full brightness. Buttons even fade on and off as you switch between screens and devices, a neat effect that takes little time. The automatic backlight shutoff is fixed to 7 seconds – less than the 15-2133’s 10 second timeout. This reduction is likely due to complaints about the Radio Shack 15-2133’s remarkably short battery life, however that issue is amplified by the 15-2133’s hypersensitive motion activation sensor. One user reports cars passing by outside waking up the remote – it’s like a $60 seismograph!
I’m very pleased to report that the Kameleon 8’s motion sensor is somewhat more reasonable, requiring a greater degree of movement for activation. Still, begin to pick up or shift the remote and the screen will to blaze to life. Conversely, that 7 second timeout is uncomfortably short, particularly during the setup process where it was impossible to read along with the manual before the remote shut off, consequently exiting from wherever I was in the setup process. Users new to the Kameleon claimed they didn’t even have enough time to find the button they wanted, and constantly moving the remote to keep it lit proved unintuitive.
Since the Kameleon depends on light to display buttons, it’s more suited to darker light-controlled quarters than bright sunlit rooms, where the screen can appear washed out.