There are two main types of sensors that work with infrared: infrared detectors (2 wire) and infrared receivers (3 wire). Receivers are tuned to listen to specific IR frequencies, normalize the signal, and filter out all the noise while detectors would leave all of this up to you. It's impractical to use an IR detector with a remote control as you will spend so much time worrying about ambient light and you'll have a hard time getting a clear signal at a distance of more than a few feet.
With IR receivers, you need to be careful in selecting your IR receiver module because the various modules are designed to work with specific, branded IR remote protocols. I.e. Sony is different than Panasonic. There are also modules for "learning remotes" that accept a wide range of protocols and "fixed gain" modules that are the only type that have no requirements as to the timing required for a "low" in the 38khz pulse frequency sent to them. A good chart can be found at the Vishay web site with respect to the variety that is out there: http://www.vishay.com/ir-receiver-modules/
. If you poke around in their datasheets you'll find descriptions of the IR pulse patterns that they are each designed to detect.
The PNA4601M receiver that Big Oil's link uses appears to be a fixed gain receiver.