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Family down to three remotes

BATTERY PARK – One family’s journey to a simpler life has reached a crucial milestone: three remotes to control almost all of their media devices.

According to senior media consultant Tyler Gabrels, age 14, pretty much any function afforded by the Gabrels’ entertainment center can be accessed by one of the remaining universal remote controls in the living room.

“We don’t use the VCR hardly any more at all,” said Gabrels, “so the auxiliary button on the cable box remote is reprogrammed for the receiver. It’ll turn off with the remote, but nothing else.”

The cable box has its own remote, as does the 36-inch plasma television and DVD player. Many commands overlap on at least two controllers, like the volume and channel buttons.

“The selector and arrow buttons are a little iffy, though,” warns Gloria Gabrels, Tyler’s mother. “You have to make sure the thing at the top…the…you press a button to pick which thing you want to point it at. If that’s not set right, you end up changing something different.”

“Or you stop recording the playoffs, is what you end up doing,” said Ted Gabrels, father and vocal critic of the status quo. “If you want to turn the TV on, you have to hit this button but make sure this button is, um, that you hit that button first.”

Which remote should exclusively operate the DVD player is particularly sore matter, and is subject to a moratorium of undisclosed terms.

The Gabrels family has followed the HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray war, but remains stridently uncommitted in terms of any future purchases that may involve additional remotes. They have winnowed their present assortment down from approximately seven remotes through attrition, hostile action and sale.

UPDATE: The Gabrels family recently acquired a used Apple TV and a Chromecast media player, which has complicated the remote situation.

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