Your Universal Remote Control Center
Glossary of Remote Control Terms
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 Glossary of Remote Control Terms 

  Glossary Page 1 (A through L) 
  Glossary Page 2 (M through Z) 

M through Z:

Macro: Macros are sequences of infrared commands that are played back, in order, by a remote control at the push of a single button. Macros can be used to automate the powering on or off of your system, playing a movie or changing inputs. Not all remote controls feature macro capabilities. See also: delay, recording, timer, activity control.

Memory: The amount of space included on a remote control for storing all settings, such as preprogrammed codes, learned signals, macros, bitmaps and more. Since all remote controls use memory in different ways, one cannot objectively compare the memory specifications of one remote to another. See: preprogrammed, learning, bitmaps, macros, software.

MSRP: Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.

Numeric keypad: See keypad.

Operating distance: The distance from which a remote control can still reliably operate devices. The average infrared range is thirty feet. See also: infrared emitter, infrared receiver, RF.

Page: generally refers to a single screen of buttons or information displayed on an LCD panel. See also: LCD screen.

Parity bit: Some remote controls change their codes each time the signal is sent. For instance, if you press the number "5" the code would end in a "0". The second time you press it the code ends in "1". The problem with this is that a learning remote control can learn only one of those signals – not both. Thus, such devices typically will not respond to a universal remote when you send the same code twice in a row (for instance the channel "55"). For more help on this problem click here. Also known as a toggle bit. See also: learning.

Passive Matrix: The cheapest type of color LCD display, sometimes referred to as "STN". Passive matrix screens operate in a more grid-like manner and often have ghosting, muted colors and lower brightness levels. See also: LCD screen, active matrix.

PC interface: Indicates that the remote control can be hooked up to a personal computer for backup of its programming information, firmware upgrading, or for complete computer-aided configuration. See also: firmware, flashing, serial port, software, docking station, serial cable.

Pickup sensor: A feature on some remote controls that automatically activates the backlighting when the remote is moved or picked up. Also known as a motion sensor. See also: backlight, light sensor.

Power off: A feature used by many LCD remote controls to save battery power, it represents entering a "standby" mode after a certain length of inactivity. See also: LCD screen, batteries.


Preset: See preprogrammed.

Preprogrammed: Indicates a library of infrared codes built-in to a particular remote. This feature allows a remote to control your equipment without needing to learn individual signals, or replace a particular remote that is lost or broken. The databases used by individual remotes can vary greatly in both their product range and completeness, meaning the possibility always exists that a preprogrammed remote may not be able to control all your devices. In these cases it is recommended that you purchase a remote with learning capabilities. For help programming your remote control click here. See also: learning, software, memory.

Punchthrough: A term coined to represent the ability to use certain features from one device under another. For instance, when a remote is set to the "Television" device, the transport keys will be "punched through" to operate the VCR, which the volume keys may be "punched through" to operate the audio receiver. See also: alias.

Receiver: See infrared receiver.

Rechargeable: Some remote controls include or have as an option dedicated rechargeable batteries along with either docking/charging stations or separate rechargers. See also: batteries, battery type, docking station.

Recording: A term typically used to indicate the programming or "recording" of a macro.

RF: AKA Radio Frequency. A radio technology that allows you to control components not in direct line-of-sight, such as through walls or other obstacles. There are two types of RF used in remote controls: RF to component, and RF to infrared. The former system is used by RF devices such as satellites or certain high-end radio systems. The latter is used by universal remotes for through-the-wall control of your existing infrared equipment. There is currently no way to consolidate control of an RF-only device into a third-party remote, learning or otherwise. For more information please see this page. See also: RF extender, learning, infrared, operating distance.

RF Extender: A separate device, often optional, which is used to receive RF transmissions from compatible remote controls and rebroadcast them as infrared. See also: RF, infrared.

Rocker Buttons: Two buttons that are joined as one and "rock" up or down. These are often used for volume or channel up/down controls. See also: hard buttons, keypad, joystick, transport, jog/shuttle.

RS232: A communications protocol used by serial ports for "talking" to compatible remote controls. Some high-end equipment also include RS232 compatible ports so that they may be controlled by computerized automation systems. See also: serial port, serial cable, PC interface.

Screen: See LCD screen or page.

Serial cable: A cable used to connect a compatible remote control to a PC. Most remotes do not use compatible cables. See also: serial port, PC interface.

Serial port: A type of computer interface port used by Intel-compatible systems. It is gradually being replaced by USB, a faster and more modern interface. See also: serial cable, RS232, USB, PC interface.

Shuttle: Part of the jog/shuttle combination.

Signals: See codes or infrared.

Sleep timer: A feature that allows a remote control to shut certain devices off unattended after an elapsed amount of time. See also: device, timer.

Soft buttons: Generally refers to any button positioned on an LCD screen. "Soft buttons" are called such because their functions can be changed or modified in ways that a physical button cannot. See: hard button, LCD screen, page, bitmap.

Software: Remotes that include configuration software can be programmed or have their settings backed up from a personal computer. Some remotes actually require a computer for configuration, while others can only have their full potential realized through PC-aided setup. Many software packages allow you to share configurations or infrared codes between users or through the Internet. See also: files, PC interface, memory.

Standby: See power off.

STN: See passive matrix.

TFT: See active matrix.

Timeout: See power off.

Timer: A feature that allows a remote control to perform operations unattended at pre-configured times of day or week. See also: macro, sleep timer.

TOAD: Toggle Only Actuated Device. A term coined to represent a device that does not feature discrete codes. For a list of TOAD devices compiled for the Pronto, click here. See also: toggle codes, discrete codes.

Toggle bit: See parity bit.

Toggle codes: Single signals that rotate through a number of functions. For instance, a normal "POWER" button would be a toggle in that when it is used the current power state is reversed. If your device is on, it turns off. If it's off, it turns on. Other examples are a signal that rotates through a number of video inputs, an average "MUTE" button, and television display modes. See also: TOAD, discrete codes.

Transport control: A common term for the group of VCR/LD/DVD media operation controls, such as fast forward, rewind, play, stop, pause, etc. See also: jog/shuttle, hard buttons.

Two-way: Some devices actually send information back to a remote control during use. This is known as 2-way communications. Although no 2-way universal remotes exist, most 2-way components can still be controlled via a 1-way remote, although certain workarounds must be used when learning signals. See also: learning.

Tunnel vision: See infrared receiver.

User Hard Buttons: The number of hard buttons that can be customized by the user. See also: hard buttons, learning, preprogrammed.

VisionTouch: A proprietary remote control system used by Sony on some of their older receivers. This system is currently very difficult to control by any remote except the original. There are currently only two third-party solutions available, for more information please see this page. See also: high frequency.

UHF: See RF.

USB port: A modern type of computer interface port used by both Intel-compatible and Macintosh systems. See also: serial port, PC interface.

X-10: A home automation system that sends commands through a house’s electrical system. X-10 is most commonly used for timed or wireless control of lighting. There are three ways to control X-10 devices: via an RF remote to X-10 transceiver, an IR remote to X-10 transceiver (i.e. IR543), or via manual push-button to X-10 transmitters. All of these devices plug into the wall. Some infrared remotes already include IR543 compatible infrared codes, other models could be taught such signals. For more information on X-10 please see this page. See also: learning, RF.

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