Aren't they like universal garage door openers (i.e. the ones built into the cars sun visor) where the universal remote captures the frequency (or whatever it is) of the original remote control, thus emulating it exactly?
or are they like set up to know all manufacturers settings? Like, all of my SONY remotes control all of my SONY products, regardless of what they originally came with. I didn't have to program my reciever remote to be able to use it to control my TV.
Most universal remotes will have a built-in library of infrared (IR) codes for each manufacturer's components. Many also have the ability to "teach" the remote IR codes for devices or particular functions of devices that may not be in its library.
I use a Harmony universal remote, and it was able to duplicate every single button/function on all my component remotes. Harmony remotes are also quite easy to setup, as long as you have Internet access (the IR code libraries are located on the company's website).
Many universal remotes have deep and vast libraries of remote code either built in to them or easily downloadable to them once you tell them what devices you want to control. In the rare case that you have a remote that does not exist in the library (or buy a brand new piece of equipment), almost all universal remotes can "learn" the functions of the new remote.
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John, the basic answer is that yes, a remote can do all this, and for the reasons stated. However, you may find that using the remote is less easy than it first appears. I have a remote that does about eight devices, and it does indeed operate them. However, the buttons are not as ergonomically well placed as on the original. FWIW, I use our universal remote for operating the TV and Sky+HD (a UK thing - basically, HD satellite receiver and Tivo-type device combined) and keep the existing remotes for DVD and home theatre system.
Thats what I have been doing also. It just seems to me I'm loosing some control over the manuf. remotes. So this will control my Oppo DVD player etc. to everything possible that the original does? Do any of them to UHF for my Sat.?
My harmony remotes covers every single feature (including back door tricks) for all of my remotes.
And the Harmony's are just one of many that do this. Spend some time on the site I linked you to, it will give you an idea of the depth, breath and power of some of the units.
The ones that will make breakfest for you will be more expensive, but if you are just looking to replace anywhere from 8-20 remotes in a single device, then most basic universal remotes(in the $100-$200) will cover you.
And once you start learning how powerful the macro and state machines are you will never go back.
I can press a SINGLE activity button on my harmony labeled (Watch a Widescreen DVD), and it will then do the following
1) Turn on TV 2) Change TV input to DVD 3) Set Aspect ratio 4) Turn on DVD player 5) Turn on AV receiver 6) Switch AV receiver to DVD input 7) Dim the lights
And then you can do what ever you want from there (raise/lower volume on tv, choose menu on DVD etc)
I have Activities that do the following
1) Watch a Widescreen DVD 2) Watch a 4:3 DVD 3) Watch Tivo 4) Watch Direct TV 5) Listen to radio 6) Watch a video tape
Its so easy that my 7 year old daughter knows how to set up the entire home theater based on those simple tasks. Once she decides what she wants to do, she presses the correct button and viola!, entire system set up and configured for her. She would never have been able to do that with the 7 or 8 remotes she would have needed.
The Harmony database contains over 2,500 manufacturers and over 80,000 IR devices. I would be utterly shocked if you currently owned a device not in the database, but even if by some oddity that you did, they have the ability to learn your remote.
The Harmony's sound interesting. The remote that came with my Rotel receiver is very nice and can learn from different remotes. I have everything programmed into this one remote. It has macros, but all I did was program it to turn everything on and turn everything off. Of course, I'm the only one who knows how to do all the functions with this remote. Every time I go down after my wife or the kids have watched the home theater, I see the TV and DVD remotes laying around.
The Harmony's are very straight forward. My wife actually loves our Harmony remote because she doesn't have to remember anything. We just programmed the buttons and they say things like "Watch TV" or "Watch DVD" etc. All she has to do is press the button and everything is taken care of.
You can't order the onscreen functions the way you want. They're grouped by device (there's a work-around that involves "learning" the ir command as if it were for another device).
Battery life is short... get some quick rechargables.
There seems to be some sort of buffer in it.. if I hit "VOL -" repeatedly it'll take a few seconds for those commands to "unload" to my receiver. So, I just had to get in the habit of pressing and holding rather than repeat pressing.
Other than that.. the thing does everything I need it to.
You really need to check out a remote. I'd recommend a harmony as well. Pick the one that has the button layout that most appeals to you. I prefer the 680 and use it for tv, dvd (oppo), avr, directv hd tivo and lights. My daughter has been using it since she was 5. I can tell my 11 y.o. babysitter how to use it in 60 seconds. All of my other remotes are in a drawer and only taken out if I want to do something out of the ordinary like reconfigure my system. The harmonys have labelled buttons for most commands you'd need, plus 6 buttons that you label yourself. Buy one from amazon and return it if you don't like it.
I agree with what everyone has reported here, John. I, too, have a Harmony (model 628) which I picked up on a terrific sale thru amazon.com.
Like others have said, the wives just love 'em...because they truly do eliminate the need to even keep the original remotes anywhere near the HT. And, once set-up (which is easy through the Harmony website and a USB cable) is done, the various functions control everything.
To back up those those who commented on the depth of the Harmony database, among the items in my HT are a Sony Betamax machine and a cheap RCA laserdisc player. It handles them like a pro.
I recently had a holiday party at my home for my office staff and the guys in my office noticed my Harmony remote and absolutely fell in love with it. The fact it not only powers up the components for a particular activity (watch DVD, for example) while powering down the other components you had been using...but it also selects the appropriate inputs for the TV & receiver AND allows you to control the volume for the appropriate device make these things a must-have for ANY HT set-up.
Harmonys and the other modern universals are like Tivo -- "why do I need a dvr when my vcr tapes shows just fine?" You don't know what you are missing til you actually try it. It's nothing like the 'universal remote' that comes with your digital cable box that you have to push a device button or slide a switch every time you want to control the tv instead of the cable box. Once you have one, you'll can't believe you ever got by without one.
I am on my third Philips Pronto remote (TSU7500), having previously owned their TSU2000 and TSU3000 models. The Prontos come with the PronotEdit program which can be used to custom design one's own configuration. The options are virtually limitless. ProntoEdit also has a simulator feature that allows you to test a configuration on your PC before you put it into use. My current configuration is based on "Chloe" a file I downloaded from the archives at Remote Central. Chloe has animations that make device screens appear to "morph" as you go from one to the next. Here are some screen shots:
I've been thinking of a Harmony remote myself, but I have to ask: How do you guys feel about learning the buttons? Meaning, I know the feel of each of my remotes, so I can work them in the dark without having to look at the buttons.
Is this something I'd be able to do with the Harmony? or do you have to look at the remote everytime you operate it? or is the functionality all LCD based?
Also, has anyone used it with a ReplayTV?
Andy (or anyone else), when you say it will change your TV to the DVD setting, does it matter where you last left the TV? I mean, mine cycles through different settings (i.e. Cable, ReplayTV, DVD, analog cable, Playstation, etc.) - Does the remote know exactly where to stop for the DVD setup?
You get the 'finger memory' pretty quickly. Since you are using one remote, it takes no time at all for your fingers to get used to where the buttons are. The harmonys also have a button that illuminates the buttons for 5 or 10 secs if you need it in the dark. I don't use mine hardly at all.
Some of the Harmonys do not have discrete, raised buttons. Because of finger memory, I made sure to get one that did. I also got one where the transport buttons -- ff, rew, stop, play, pause, record -- were in the middle of the remote because I use tivo and wanted them located centrally.
The hook of the harmony remotes is the state technology that remembers which devices are on and to which inputs they are set. This way, it knows what to turn on and off when you switch activities, for instance from dvd to tv.
There are some hangups -- they didn't like older samsung tvs because those tv's did not have a discrete 'input' command. They used a menu and slide to change inputs. There are workarounds, but if you have any questions, go to remotecentral.com and do a search for your equipment to see if any problems were reported. You can also go to the harmony website and make sure all of your equipment is supported, but if it's IR based, it is. Or else the harmony can learn it if you have something that's really obscure.
As for the best remote -- it depends. I like discrete buttons and tivo, so I like the 680. The 880 has a color screen and rechargeable batteries, but I didn't like the layout. The 890 has RF capability if your equipment is in an AV closet. I had a 659 before I had tivo and it was great, just not as easy for tivo. So, it depends. They use more or less the same technology and support the same equipment, so get the one with the button layout you like best.