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Are we regressing with remotes? Are universal remotes doomed?

Discussion in 'Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by Charles J P, Jan 11, 2017.

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  1. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    I created this video yesterday after being frustrated that I find myself frequently having to pull out another remote in addition to my Logitech Harmony One. I typically never programmed my universal remote with all the keys and functions needed to do things like setup and configuration changes, but I seem to be reaching for another remote to accomplish more basic tasks more and more. What are you using to control your system and do you see this (admittedly small) problem being solved by anyone?

     
  2. Alf S

    Alf S Banned
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    Using an older Harmony remote, been using it for several years with no issues. When it dies, I'll snag another Harmony. I don't have near the frustrations about remotes as some, my system isn't too complex to begin with.

    Press "Watch TV/Movie" etc, sit and watch, bedtime, press "Off" and we're good to go. All OEM remotes are in a drawer collecting dust.

    :)
     
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  3. atfree

    atfree Producer

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    Same here as Alfie.... using a Harmony One that's about 6 years old. My set-up isn't complex either, so it's "Watch TV", "Watch DVD/BD", "Watch Netflix", "Watch Amazon Prime" and "Off". When the One dies, I'll probably just find another refurbed Harmony. My TV is calibrated, and I have 99% of the OEM remote commands programmed into either the Activity or Device options via the Harmony software, so I never have to use the OEM remotes.
     
  4. atfree

    atfree Producer

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    I'm at work so I can't watch the video...but I have a One as well and don't quite understand your issue. You can use the Harmony software to add just about every command a OEM remote has (by adding them to either the Activity or Device (or both) on the Harmony), then it's just a matter of scrolling through them on the Harmony.
     
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  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I'm a Harmony guy, too. I've been totally happy with what I ask mine to do (admittedly pretty basic stuff).

    I just wish I had more time to spend with my remote and it's software to tweak it even more. I'm sure I could get it even better. I just referenced in another thread on this forum the huge amount of help I've gotten learning how to do various things in terms of programming my remote at RemoteCentral.com.
     
  6. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    The issue that I detailed more in the video is replacing remotes that aren't just IR. Apple uses Bluetooth on their new 4th gen remote. They also have a built in mic so you can use Siri voice commands to search for content etc. My Vizio M series TV has a basic remote that does 4 things and then it has a smart phone app that requires the "remote" and TV to be on your wi-fi network. My new whole home DVR uses RF and also does voice commands. None of these "advanced" functions work with a Harmony remote. For some (like the Apple TV), basic functions work but not as well. For the others, it doesn't work at all. At the end of the day, Harmony only has IR, it doesn't support Bluetooth, RF or Wi-FI. Even the higher end Harmony that uses RF ONLY uses it to communicate between the remote and the "hub".

    I don't have a problem programming my Harmony. Up to about a year ago I had zero problems at all. Then I added a 4th gen Apple TV and its kind of gone downhill since then.
     
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  7. atfree

    atfree Producer

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    I see your troubles.....more and more equipment is going wifi/bluetooth/RF. My son's Vizio actually came with a tablet that controls most of his TV functionality. They did a software upgrade last month and it totally messed up the tablet (kept in constant reboot mode). He had to send the tablet in to be fixed which took over a month, and in the meantime he could only use the basic remote provided which only changed channels and adjusted volume.
     
  8. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I understand Charles's issue, as well. We upgraded to Comcast's Xfinity X1 system last year, and it comes with a remote that allows you to issue voice commands. Also, just before Christmas I bought a new Vizio 4K display that comes with an Android tablet which connects via bluetooth to the display.

    Fortunately for me, the functionality I lose via my old Harmony 650 remote for these two devices is not a big deal, but it could be for some people. The Vizio's tablet is only really needed to calibrate the display (which I've completed) and cast program material (including 4K) via the Chromecast app. Amazon video is not supported on the Chromecast app, and there is no benefit for me to Chromecast NHL.tv on the display versus via my Roku Premiere device since it's not 4K -- just normal HD. The Roku Premiere supports 4K, but I have not bothered to re-cable the device so I can use it in that manner -- the Roku is currently connected via HDMI to my old Pioneer Elite AVR, which does not support passing 4K to the display (max is 1080p). I'll probably re-cable it through an Oppo UHD player whenever I decide to buy such a device. I only really stream Amazon and NHL.tv (with an occasional movie rental through Vudu), so 4K streaming is not a high priority for me.

    As for voice searching on the Comcast device, it's not a big deal for me, as I watch just a handful of channels and have those channels programmed as favorites on the Harmony remote. Between the favorites function or the Comcast interactive guide, I can easily find what I need. We do not have a DVR. I did have a little difficulty initially setting up the Xfinity device on my Harmony remote, as the remote supplied by Comcast communicates via RF only, so I was unable to teach a couple of missing commands I needed to the Harmony. However, eventually I was able to find a different Xfinity device definition on Harmony's setup app that provided everything I needed.

    If more devices begin to use these connectivity methods, though, Harmony will need to adapt and add such functionality to their remotes or eventually become obsolete.
     
  9. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    The Xfinity X1 and Cox Contour 2 are the same thing (or at least use the exact same remote). I don't have an issue with channels per say but speaking a show name instead of "typing" it in with the remote is a killer app that I don't want to forgo.
     
  10. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I understand the desire to use the voice commands with the cable box, Charles. If I did more extensive searching or had a DVR that needed programming, I would want to use the feature, too. Our TV watching habits are pretty simple, though, so it's not something we need much.
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I sympathize and share some of the anxiety of Charles. I'm a long-time fan of universal remotes. But they aren't keeping pace with the evolution of modern remotes into RF, bluetooth, and proprietary systems. Fortunately, they're still a robust solution. The latest AppleTV supports IR, so my universal remotes can control it; but at the loss of some speed, and unique features (voice control in particular). And I don't think my PS4 can be controlled at all with an IR remote.
     
  12. Race Bannon

    Race Bannon Supporting Actor

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    Harmony does do Bluetooth
     
  13. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    Maybe, but with all due respect this statement isn't very helpful. They do Bluetooth how? Like they control Bluetooth components? I mean, some of them do Wi-Fi technically too but that doesn't address the facts in the video because they use Wi-Fi to update the remote, not to control my Vizio M series. So saying "they do Wi-Fi" is a red herring.

    BTW, love your handle!
     
  14. Race Bannon

    Race Bannon Supporting Actor

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    I'm not sure what all it does, but it controls my PS3 via Bluetooth. I don't know if any other components that are Bluetooth controlled to check on. Wi-Fi would seem possible because it talks to Alexa and smart home hub through the home network
     
  15. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    Still using my trusty old Pronto.
     

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