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User Manual Critique Essay

So many people depend on some form of media to escape the everyday grind, stay informed, or simply to relax. Media comes in many forms, such as film, radio, internet, and text. Consumers all over the world fill their homes with these many forms of media. In fact, as of May, 2011, consumers worldwide spent over $4.2 billion dollars on home entertainment, and that figure is down from the previous year by 9.8% (Dan, 2011). That is not $4.2 billion spent a year — that is $4.2 billion spent during the first quarter alone.

With all of those media devises in all those homes, it can be a hassle keeping track of all those remote controls. After all, everything comes with a remote control these days. Many have tried to organize the handful of remotes that are in their possession by labeling them, keeping them in a designated drawer or basket, or even gone as far as “Velcroing” them to the wall.

Read more: How to write a reflective essay

However, there is a better method to the madness that requires a little less creativity, but more ingenuity. It is a great little solution known as the universal remote. In most cases, you can put up to four devices onto one remote, eliminating the frustrating remote control cluster that many people deal with, and they can cost as little as $4 and up to more than $100. It all depends on your needs and budget.

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In this user manual critique, the item reviewed is the One For All Universal Replacement Remote®. It is a handy remote and, with the large, easy-to-see buttons, many would assume that it is user friendly. As in many cases, especially with universal remotes, looks may be deceiving. Universal remotes can be very helpful indeed; however, they have a mischievous reputation for being difficult to set-up, configure, and sometimes operate efficiently. Then, once you succeed with the set-up, and have all your devices on that one remote, and pat yourself on the back, you accidentally push the wrong button and erase the remote’s memory. Of course, this happens weeks or months later, and the manual is nowhere to be found. You are back to square one, but this time with no help. Keep these manuals in a safe place, and remember that safe place.

User Manual Introduction

The One For All Universal Replacement Remote® user manual starts out with a short introduction that explains the product well while briefly showcasing its functions. Curiosity, paired with a little skepticism, looms as the introduction reads, “simple set-up and easy-to-use”. As with most user manual introduction, it also lists the requirements needed to operate the device. In this case, that would be two AAA batteries and, a little resurgence; “some ‘easy’ programming to control the device”. This introduction does everything an introduction should do – ensures the user that they have purchased a very compatible and user-friendly product at a great value.

Document Organization

The manual is well organized into a step-by-step process, as with most manuals. It first mentions the features and functions, showing an illustration of the remote with its buttons, or keys. This illustration is used as a model when referring to the key chart. The key chart defines each key’s use on the remote. This overview of the product is followed by the actual guide used to operate the remote. This includes illustrations and text on how to properly install the batteries, program the device, search for device codes, checking the codes, programming the master power macro (DVD, TV, ect.), operating the master power macro, re-assigning device keys, and using channel scan, along with a few others. Of course, when using high-tech electronic devices, problems may arise. The manual is sprinkled throughout with helpful notes that warn the reader of potential problems or assist them with handy tips. This manual tackles some common issues with a troubleshooting section with a list of problems and possible solutions. It finishes with some compliance instructions for the user and warranty information.

Use of Visuals

The use of visuals is very basic. These simple illustrations make the manual easy to understand and follow by users of all skill levels. This is nice, as some manuals use photographs that can be of poor quality and very hard to see or determine. Every symbol and illustration in the key chart is accompanied by well explained definitions. As with the key chart, configuration instructions are similar. Symbols and illustrations are accompanied with easy to understand written instruction. However, to further help the user along the processes, color images would be a nice addition. That would leave very little to question about and would make the entire process even faster and pain free.

Written Instruction

The written instructions in this manual are small when printed. However, if the user decides to follow the steps from the computer screen, it can be magnified. In many of the written instructions, which are paired with a symbol or illustration, include numbers along with text to aid in some programming processes. In the written programming instructions, the inputs (buttons to be pressed) are highlighted in bold text. This helps match it with the accompanying symbol or illustration, giving the reader easy to follow instructions.

Overall Appearance

The One For All Universal Replacement Remote® user manual is a well-organized document. On the other hand, it is as basic as they come. Aside from the attractive and colorful cover page, the inside of the manual is black and white and simple. However, there are only 16 pages to the entire manual, which to most is attractive in its own right.


This is a USER’S user manual. It is designed to do one thing; get the user using. Its simplicity is attractive. The reader does not have to feel he or she has to have a PhD to read it. Besides, if the remote still is not working by page 15, call user support on page 16.

Los Angeles Times. (2 May, 2011). Home entertainment spending in the US fell by 10% Y-o-Y in Q1 2011. Retrieved from http://digital-stats.blogspot.com/2011/05/home-entertainment-spending-in-us-fell.html Manual Link

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