Pros: 4-device remote with learning capability; separate TV power button; works well with all Dish products
Cons: IR only; you must "teach" it all buttons for a device in one session; code readout doesn't work if "learned" functions combined with codebook
The layout is very similar to the remotes for the DTVPal and CM-7000Pal DVR remotes, and like those, it uses 4 AAA batteries and has 2 infrared LEDs.
There are four device select buttons across the top, labeled "Sat," "TV," "DVD," and "AUX;" a power button, a separate "TV" power button (convenient for turning the TV on/off without having to switch devices); and the usual VCR/DVD/DVR functions, digits 0-9, volume, mute, cursor up/down/left/right and enter buttons, and several others.
When using the codebook, you can only program the "Sat" button to control a Dish device, the "TV" button to control a TV, and the "DVD" button to control a DVD or VCR. The "AUX" button can be programmed to control any of those, or a tuner or amplifier. When using the learning function, the TV, DVD, and AUX buttons can be programmed to control any device you have an IR remote for.
Like most similar "universal" remotes, the mute and volume buttons will control the TV even if another device is selected. However, if your "AUX" device is an audio amplifier, you can tell the remote to control the sound through that instead of the TV.
You can also put the TV in "limited mode" if you only use the TV's mute, volume, and power functions. If you have an older analog TV, this will keep you from accidentally switching to TV mode, changing channels or inputs, and getting nothing but snow or a blank screen.
It's a good replacement for the DTVPal or the identical Channel Master CM-7000Pal DVR remotes. The only major difference is its learning function. A few insignificant differences between this remote and those remotes in the button layout:
1. The top left button is labeled "Sat" instead of "Pal." It functions exactly the same, but because of the label, I decided to make it control my satellite receiver and use the AUX button to control my DVR. With the Pal's remote I had those buttons reversed.
2. This remote has a separate "search" button. I presume this is used with some newer Dish equipment, but both my old satellite receiver and my DVR use the # key as the "search" button; the new button does nothing.
3. This remote has four unlabeled, colored buttons used on several newer remotes.
4. This remote has three buttons labeled for picture-in-picture functions. On my DVR they correspond to the closed caption, system info, and SAP buttons. The different labeling is a bit confusing but I can live with it.
Edit: The Pal DVR has a quirk: it will respond to the PIP (system info) button, turning itself on if necessary, even if the remote is currently controlling a Dish device with a different address, such as my satellite receiver. (It won't respond if the remote is controlling a non-Dish device.) This isn't this remote's fault; the Pal's own remote does the same thing.
5. This remote has a "Dish" button, which brings up the interactive application on my satellite receiver.
6. The DVR remotes have a separate "recover" button. On this remote the "recover" and "input" buttons are combined into one.
7. The DVR remotes have an unlabeled, unused button. I'm not sure which button that corresponds to on this remote.
The remote I got came from an eBay seller and didn't include a manual. However, the manual for the model 21.0 remote works well. Just ignore the parts that refer to UHF operation (this is an IR remote only).
There were some slight differences in the codebook functions. I use code 766 for my LG TV. With the DTVPal remote, the left and right arrow buttons work as expected; with this remote, they didn't work. But this is easily fixed with the learning function.
One annoyance with all Dish remotes is that the up and down arrow buttons are also the channel up/down buttons. Most non-Dish devices (such as TVs) don't work that way; they have separate buttons for moving the cursor up and down and for changing channels. This poses a problem when trying to program a Dish remote to operate these other devices. I had to program the page up and page down buttons to move the cursor in TV mode.
But the big advantage of this remote over the DTVPal remote is the learning function. You can use the learning function in either of two ways:
1. Program a device using the codebook, then overlay some functions with learned ones;
2. Program a device using entirely learned functions.
Obviously method 1 is preferred, but can only be used if the remote already has a code you can use for your device. In my case, it had a code that worked for my TV but not for my DVD recorder, so I used method 1 for my TV and method 2 for my DVD.
The learning function is pretty standard: you press and hold the device key until the device buttons light up, but instead of entering a code, you press "Recall" for method 1, then press and hold "Record." Then you press a button to be "learned" on the Dish remote, followed by the corresponding button on your original remote. Repeat for each button to be "learned," then press the device button again to save the learned functions.
However, there's one big annoyance: you have to do all your "learning" for a given device in a single session. You cannot learn some buttons, save the learned functions, then later come back and learn some more buttons for that device. This requires you to plan out every button to learn before you start. And if you change your mind about some buttons, you have to reprogram everything for that device from scratch. Other learning remotes I've used are much more forgiving.
Nevertheless, once you have everything set up, this remote is easy to use and works quite well.