Remote controls are incredibly handy. It's not uncommon for people to have four or more remotes lying around. To do anything, you have to constantly juggle them.
You could get a universal remote to control everything. Unfortunately, the inexpensive ones aren't very easy to use. The good universal remotes, on the other hand, are expensive.
There is another solution, however. Turn your smartphone into a powerful universal remote. All you need is a free app and an infrared transmitter.
BlinQ TV (free; $10 for IR transmitter) - This system gives you control over a TV, set-top box, DVD player and audio receiver. It has a nice graphical layout for easy control. You won't wonder what the buttons do.
You can find programs to watch using a full-featured guide. It can also remind you when your favorite shows are on. Finding new shows is easy as well. You can even get recommendations from other viewers.
The infrared transmitter is called the Q. It costs $10 and comes in four different colors. You can purchase it from the BlinQ TV app.
The Q's range is 18 to 20 feet. It will work with any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You just plug it into the gadget's headphone jack and go.