A while ago I looked into getting a universal remote. The plethoric choice can be broken down into two categories : cheap crap, or luxury items. There are a few models in between, but not many. And the luxury items, which almost look like tablet PCs seem to be the only “no hassle” choice (although various reviews indicate one needs to be cautious in his choice). However, I find these to be way too expensive for the service they give, but also to be potentially obsolete in the near future.
The reason I think so is that a growing number of home appliances have an embedded web UI. For geek gadgets like the Squeezebox, it’s a given. But with WiFi becoming more and more pervasive, I expect to see embedded web servers in TV sets and DVD players before too long (in mainstream models that is – I’m pretty sure it’s already there in some obscure ones). And once you have this, your universal remote is… your iphone or ipod touch (which are also expected to become common items). Makes sense, don’t you think ?
[edit – March 27th 2009 : 1.5 years later, John Biggs from the NY Times agrees with me. ]