Universal Remote Control R2-Mini

Chances are you turn to Sound & Vision to read about the latest cutting-edge gear - and perhaps dream about ultra-high-end systems or components you might never be able to afford. This is not one of those reviews.

In an age when things seem to be getting ever more complicated and even instruction books come with instruction books, sometimes what you really need is something simple. No bells, no whistles: just a basic, old-fashioned workhorse that gets the job done. Something that you're not afraid to let the kids use, something you can throw in a pocket or travel bag and enjoy anywhere.

Something exactly like the Universal Remote Control R2-Mini. This micro-sized remote can fit on your keychain and control virtually any TV or cable or satellite set-top box, all for the micro-sized price of $13.

SETUP Programming couldn't be much easier. Simply turn on the device to be controlled (TV or set-top box) and then press and hold the TV or CBL/SAT button, respectively, for 3 seconds to put the remote into its programming mode. Then press CH+ or CH- until the device turns off. Press the device button again to save the code, and that's it - you're done!

PERFORMANCE Recently I not only had the opportunity to use the Mini myself - I desperately needed it. Last November my wife gave birth to our first child (first official shout-out to Miss Lauryn Q!), and we had to spend several days in the hospital. Now, at thousands of dollars a day, you might think that we would have some form of remote control in our room to operate the TV, but no. What we did have was a TV that turned on full blast. Every time. Which might have been okay if there'd been a way to remotely adjust the volume. Which, as I said, there wasn't. Also, you could only change the channel up, not down. And the crowning touch? When you cycled to the end of the channel list, the TV turned off - and then back on at full volume! Couple that with the raging hormones of pregnancy, and you can imagine the sweet time I was having.