Super Remotes

With HDTV, 6.1-channel digital audio, and streaming audio and video files now theoretically at our fingertips, we truly have a bonanza of entertainment options! But let's face it - more often than not it's the fingertip part that becomes a system's Achilles' heel. No matter how cinematic your TV or how superb your audio system, you need some sort of controller to tie everything together. And as technology pushes our home theaters to new performance thresholds, entertainment systems are getting more difficult to use, not easier. With a typical setup having five remote controls (mine has nine!), even the most basic activity can require multiple button pushes on multiple remotes, transforming a night of movie watching into an excruciating exercise.

What We Think
RC9800i NevoSL
Computer-free programming, music streaming, photo viewing, and a free program guide overshadow some limitations. It's expensive, but the ability to customize its screens to the extreme and its hyper-cool styling will have you drooling.

At a bare minimum, your system should respond to one remote. Better yet, if you have two systems in your home, your controller should have the panache to juggle both. And the most modern systems need a way to liberate the thousands of MP3s, photos, and videos stored on hard drives throughout our homes and route them to where we are.

Two super touchscreen remotes we've gathered up, the Philips RC9800i ($599) and the Universal Electronics NevoSL ($799), take very different approaches to addressing these needs. Read on to find out how they performed in my multiroom system.