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Looking for a Universal Remote


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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   DaveJB

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Posted November 17 2004 - 12:20 AM

I've owned a few of these but they have all been cheap and never had the ability to control all of the function of the devices factory remote. The ultimate remote would have programmable buttons at the top TV-ANT, VCR, DVD, CABLE, SAT, TUNER. When the button is pressed it will need to switch the TV input and the stereo output both. On the bottom half of the remote would be the basic controls such as volume, channels, play, stop, but also specialized buttons such as the display button for the DVD player (to show time remaining) or the screen strech mode format button for the HDTV. Does such a remote exist and do they cost less than $300?? If I could find such a beast my wife may be able to control the TV once again.

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   JamesCB

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Posted November 17 2004 - 12:31 AM

A few sites to check out:

This one has a great discussion forum and many remote reviews:
Remote Central

Home Theater Master

I prefer Home Theater Master remotes. Very high quality and easy to program.

James

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Tim K

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Posted November 17 2004 - 03:05 AM

Alot of people go for the Home Theater Master line as recommended above. You can program any button on the remote for any command you wish. However, because most of the buttons are "hard" buttons, you are stuck with whatever label is printed on them.

If you want total customization, you should take a look at Philip's Pronto line of remotes. It is a touchscreen remote with a few hard buttons (navigation, volume, channel etc).

Read through the reviews on remotecentral.com and check out the files area to see what people have done with their pronto remotes.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Stephen Tu

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Posted November 17 2004 - 06:53 AM

Quote:
However, because most of the buttons are "hard" buttons, you are stuck with whatever label is printed on them.

This is misleading. All of the buttons are hard (except for the URC-300), and most of them are of the permanent label variety, but this isn't a bad thing since these are very common ones like the numeric keypad, transport controls, & menu keys that are the same on almost all devices & already appropriately labeled. There are plenty of custom 5 character LCD-labeled buttons on the HTM remotes to cover commands that don't already have an appropriately labeled key. 20 or more per device/activity depending on model, 5/8/10 per LCD page depending on model. So you aren't ever really stuck with mislabeled keys.

Quote:
If you want total customization, you should take a look at Philip's Pronto line of remotes. It is a touchscreen remote with a few hard buttons

The HTM remotes offer sufficient customization abilities for most people, especially the MX-700 & above PC programmable remotes if you need tons of macros. The Pronto's lack of hard buttons makes it less usable; you have to look down away from the TV a lot so you can see what button to push. The HTMs are usable by feel alone & don't sacrifice much power vs. the Pronto. The Pronto allows fancy custom graphics, no limit on the number of characters for labels, & powerful programming capabilities, but for real world practicality having lots of hard buttons for common functions is just easier for a lot of people.

Besides the HTM remotes, you should also consider the Harmony 676/680.

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Mike Boniferro

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Posted November 17 2004 - 12:30 PM

The HTM remotes are definately very nice, and obviously very popular.
I own the Harmony 659, and have used a few of their remotes and I really like them. If you are using macros a lot, then the harmony is great. It's activity based interface remembers what is already on, and what inputs everything is on so it adjusts accordingly. When I used to use macro remotes, I would have to shut the system down before pressing another macro button to switch between, for example watching a dvd and watching tv.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 18 2004 - 01:41 AM

I'll second Mike's recommendation on the Harmony SST-659. I've owned one for about a year and love it. This remote replaced a Marantz RC2000 MKII universal learning remote that I'd used for about 3-4 years.

Prices on the 659 have dropped. I saw a deal through Amazon for $115 recently.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Dean_S

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Posted November 18 2004 - 04:13 AM

I have an HTM MX-500 and a Harmony 668. While I think the world of the MX-500 remote the Harmony remote just plain blows it away in ease of programming, ease of use, and ergonomics.

The MX-500 can be found for about $70 online (can't remember where but I suggest checking Amazon and Pricegrabber). The Harmony 668 (geared toward DVR users) is available for $147 from newegg.com (msrp is $249).

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Elinor

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Posted November 18 2004 - 04:20 AM

I personally don't consider having to log onto a Web site to make some minor tweaks to my remote configuration to be superior "ease of programming" but hey that's just me.

I prefer the MX700 because of that, and I liked the look of it better. I had a Pronto and I can tell you, I really disliked it. You always have to switch the backlight on (at night) to see the LCD buttons ... this chews up batteries like crazy. The LCD screen is constantly covered with greasy fingerprints. It's annoying to tap the screen buttons, even when you make them large (which means getting fewer onto the screen), and the hard buttons have a mushy feel to them. Plus it refused to learn some remote commands. There certainly are people who like them but for the life of me I can't understand why.

#9 of 15 OFFLINE   nolesrule

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Posted November 18 2004 - 08:38 AM

Quote:
I personally don't consider having to log onto a Web site to make some minor tweaks to my remote configuration to be superior "ease of programming" but hey that's just me.


Logging onto the website isn't what makes it easier. The activity wizards that are part of the configuration system are what makes it easier.

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Tim K

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Posted November 18 2004 - 10:04 AM

As you can see, people have their own preferences as to what type of remote they like best. You'll have to choose for yourself. I don't make statements as to which is better because I understand it is a personal preference.

Good luck.

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Jim Rakowiecki

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Posted November 19 2004 - 03:57 AM

I just got a Harmony 688 a couple of months ago and really like it. It is my first time owning what I would consider to be a real universal remote so I have nothing elese upon which to base it except the cumbersome remotes that came with my equipment.
I think one of its strengths is the fact that it is activity based. I hit the "watch DVD" button and everything comes on and inputs change and I pop in a dvd. No macros, no discrete codes, no heavy programming etc... everything just works and it is very easy to use.
The support I have gotten from Harmony has been exemplary. I have nothing but good things to say about that. The intial setup was a bit awkward but they were able to work the problems with me and its operation has been flawless.
The way it accomplishes this is by the remote remembering what is on or off and what inputs are being used so the remote essentially does lots of button pushing for you. This can be a problem because you need to remember to let the remote run its course before you set it down otherwise you step are missed and you end up either using the help menu or doing something manually.
The remote is very comfortable to hold and use but the buttons are a bit small but still manageable.
It does eat a set of batteries every 4 to 6 weeks so if you decide to go this way you will want to keep a small stock of triple A's on hand.

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Marty M

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Posted November 19 2004 - 06:24 AM

I own a $30 Radio Shack Universal remote that is very versitle. You can program several macros and the remote will learn keys from other remotes. For the price it is a very good remote
Lawn Ranger Motto: You're only young once, but you can be always be immature.

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Jason Edgecombe

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Posted November 24 2004 - 03:01 AM

I've used a Philips Pronto for about 3 years now and don't know how I got on without it. Touch screen remotes are a matter of personal preference/dislike, but I believe the new Pronto models have 4 hard buttons (which is good for play, pause, FF and Rew), channel/volume/mute, and a transport toggle, giving you the best of both worlds. The highly customizable macros are what does it for me though - turning everything on and setting the correct input with one button is priceless.

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   JohnLo

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Posted November 24 2004 - 09:15 AM

If you want the Theater Master MX 500 go to
***.newegg.co* they have it now for $69.99

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   MikeSh

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Posted December 03 2004 - 07:15 PM

I went with the harmony 688 and am really liking it.





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