Kameleon generation three – 8 in 1 review

4 out of 5
£49.99

For

As compatible as it possibly could be with any infra-red device in your home

Against

The styling may not appeal to all

OneForAll is the largest world-wide supplier of universal remote controls and the Kameleon series is the most distinctive of its range. The third generation follows up the success of the previous design and is available in both 5-in-1 and 8-in-1 versions with an 11-in-1 due next year.

Where the second generation was lodged firmly in the futuristic "Star Trek" vein, with this release Kameleon heads in the opposite direction. It features an asymmetrical ridged underbelly and a rather retro style black plastic and scratch-proof aluminium front.

Thankfully OneForAll has listened to criticisms of previous efforts and now include proper raised buttons for volume, channel selection and a directional control pad. This makes finding the correct button from touch, rather than having to squint down at the remote, far easier. What’s more, the brushed aluminium case and matt-finish screen means you won’t get it covered with greasy finger marks as easily either.

We actually liked the pseudo-dated look and the raised controls are truly useful, but if you're worried about it looking out of place in your high-tech setup, one touch of the screen will put your mind at rest. Surely the most dramatic aspect of the Kameleon design is the luminescent changeable display. At rest it simply looks like a sheet of black plastic, but touch the screen and it lights up to show all the relevant controls for your selected IR-device.

A panel of eight icons, which now animate if you select them, represent a television, satellite receiver, DVD player, VCR, PVR, CD player and surround-sound audio source. The eighth is actually a light dimmer, compatible with OFA Light Control, a remote kit you can buy for your home (see www.oneforallkameleon.com).

Setting up the remote to work with your IR appliances is easy; you just follow a simple elimination process:

1) Look up the make of your TV, DVD player or other source in the code list at the back of the manual. By entering simple four digit IR codes you can work out which your device is set to and automatically assign all functions to the controls on the Kameleon.
2) The list is good, but not flawless, so if the codes don't work you can search manually until you find the right one.
3) Failing all else, but worthy of a mention by itself anyway is the IR learning feature. You can "teach" the all-in-one to recognise any button press on any remote in the home, and assign it to a corresponding key. This expands the Kameleon's compatibility to any IR controlled home entertainment device of any kind.

This is all very impressive, and with features such as macro creation (configure one button to turn off the TV, Sky Box and Speakers at the same time, for example), mode reassignment to control multiple devices of the same nature and individual key reassignment, you're left in total control. You can even download code updates from your PC or over the telephone to make sure you're up to date. In terms of performance then, there can be no doubts about the Kameleon's ability. Whether or not you like the look is up to you, it does appear bulky and the rather quizzical underbelly design is certainly unique.

If you already own a second generation device you might not find enough extras here to upgrade. Aside from additional device control the main differences are based around the physical aesthetics and display behaviour. You'll find a few extra customisable control keys and slightly different layout, along with nice little touches like the animated device icons and Knight Rider style scrolling lights to indicate IR activity. Strangely the new third generation 8-in-1 is currently available from some online stores for less than the second generation equivalent. Expect to pay between £40 and £50 for the eight device controller, which, it has to be said, is perfectly reasonable for what you get. There are plenty of far cheaper all-in-ones around but many of them are quite problematic, and few are as good looking.

Verdict

The third Generation Kameleon is practical, stylish, future proof and pretty much guaranteed to work with every IR device if your home.

Most home cinema fans have worked out that a universal remote is now an essential part of any setup, and if you’re inclined to agree you can't go wrong with what is still the best overall universal remote around.