After growing tired of endless beer-fuelled, late night rummages around the house for a mountain of easily-lost remote controls, we thought we’d check out an all-in-one controller.
Wooed by its sci-fi looks, we decided to give the ONE FOR ALL Kameleon URC8308 Remote Control a run, a 35 quid number with the ability to boss up to eight devices as well as optionally control lighting systems too.
Opening up the package, the first impressions are good: the Tron-like electro-luminescent buttons are bright and the shiny, curved chrome finish was already starting to make our room look scruffy and outdated.
Smell the silver
Taking the thing to hand, a few doubts began to surface. The remote has a strange curved back with the bulge offset to one side, making it a little hard to grip, and the chrome finish makes it something of a slippery number to keep a grip on.
There’s no denying that the space age screen sure lights up mighty purdy, but it’s made of some weird vinyl-like material that feels horrible to the touch.
After a few Saturday night TV sessions we could imagine the vinyl being covered in bits of pizza and sticky beer residue that would be tough to clean off around the edges where the material ‘folds’ into the casing. Not very Star Trek.
As well as the ‘virtual’ buttons, the Kameleon comes with a central horizontal strip containing hardware buttons for volume up/down, TV channel up/down and a four way selector with a central ‘OK’ button, plus four slim coloured buttons at the bottom of the control for teletext functions.
The trouble is that these buttons take the form of small raised bits of shaped plastic which weren’t particularly pleasant to the touch and were hard to locate in the dark.
Looking through the multi-language instruction manual (one of our pet hates), we found ourselves being dispatched promptly into head scratching mode, thanks to unhelpful descriptions and confusing menus.
Programming in our individual components was a hit and miss affair, requiring us to trawl through pages and pages of manufacturer’s remote codes and keep on inputting numbers until we found some that worked.
The Kameleon only managed to find one set of codes that immediately worked on our devices; there was nothing for our 3 year old AV Yamaha amp and it neither had codes for our new Humax PVR nor wanted to learn any either (the learning process involved us continually bashing a single button, but the remote kept quitting before it found anything for the PVR).
In desperation, we went to their website to see if we locate new set up codes for our devices – and what an unpleasant experience that turned out to be, with their support site being quite possibly one of the worst we’ve ever seen for a mainstream consumer goods manufacturer.
Not only does it look really awful (they’ve cocked up the style sheets), but it doesn’t even list their own Kameleon URC8308 remote control in the dropdown menu entitled, ‘Find your set up code’ and after wasting ten minutes aimlessly clicking around their site we were still none the wiser.
By this time we were beginning to harbour thoughts about how far we could throw the streamlined remote, but thought we’d drop One For All a line for help instead.
Sadly, more frustration was in store as we discovered that the ‘contact us’ link only took us straight back to the tech section with no means of actually contacting anyone.
Much as we loved the hover-boot looks and Tron-like lightshow, and much as we admire a company prepared to push the boat out in design terms, the reality of the Kameleon concept singularly failed to excite us.
As a multi remote controller it was unable to actually operate our devices and the lack of information on their support website was hugely disappointing.
Moreover, we were reminded of the shortcomings of ‘virtual’ buttons versus real hardware buttons – groovy glowing buttons emerging from the darkness of a black remote may look the stuff of Spock, but ‘real’ buttons remain easier to use and more responsive to the touch.
Perhaps others will have better luck than us, but this is one remote we wish had stayed lost at the back of the sofa.
Ease of Use: 40%
Build Quality: 50%
* Functions: Key Magic, Learning, Macros, Phone and Internet Upgradeable
* Batteries: 4x AAA
* Battery life: 2 – 4 months
* Number of keys: 13 hardkeys + EL panel
* IR range: ~15 mtrs
* IR frequency: 0-455khz