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What's Awesome in Universal Remotes?

Discussion in 'Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by JohnRice, Jun 5, 2018.

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  1. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    The clock is ticking on my Harmony One. I don't have to replace it right now, but the Mac OS is going to leave the old Logitech software it uses behind, so the writing is kind of on the wall. I don't want home integration, and I'm not splurging for $350 either. So, I'm tending toward the Harmony 950. I have a lot of components it needs to control, but I also never use any scripts or that kind of stuff. It just need to be versatile and fun, of course. After all, this is the beginning of a long term relationship.

    Any alternate suggestions>
     
  2. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    My Harmony One still works, but I’ve wondered what I’d replace it with.

    At $200 on sale the 950 looks like a good option.

    Otherwise there’s the Elite or whatever it’s called for $350 that has th base station and supports an iPhone app. That’s probably what I’ll get when I do the next major household tech upgrade.

    Otherwise there isn’t much “awesome” in remotes without jumping into the URC, Control 4, Crestron, etc. And while those are very powerful, their UX leaves a lot to be desired compared to Logitech from years ago.
     
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  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I’ll convince myself I want the Elite if I allow myself to, so I’ll just take the 950 and be done with it.
     
  4. Message #4 of 29 Jun 6, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
    Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    How many components do you need to control? If it's ten or less, then the Harmony 655 would be an option if you decided to just go with something inexpensive. I have the older Harmony 650, which is the same remote but limited to controlling 8 components, and have been extremely pleased with the remote. All my OEM remotes are packed away without batteries, so it controls all aspects of my home theater. If you are not using any scripts or integrating it with something like an Amazon Echo, it's a simple but effective solution. At $50 new (or $38 refurbished), it's a great deal, too.

    The 950 and 655 appear to be similar remotes, with the main difference in the 950 having a touch screen at the top (vs. fixed buttons for the 650's LCD screen), integrating with the Harmony Hub, having a rechargable battery / charging stand, and the price ($200 vs. $50 new). My 650 works several months without swapping the two AA batteries, so I really don't miss the recharging aspect from my previous Harmony 880 remote (some buttons stopped working on it after several years).
     
  5. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    The urge struck, so I just went ahead with the 950. I've had a touch screen all these years with the One, and I guess I didn't want to give that up in the good system. I might get 655s for the living room and bedroom systems if the urge hits. They both have Marantz receivers, and I like to exactly duplicate the remotes in those two rooms.
     
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I spent some tine getting the Harmony 950 initially set up and for everyone who have a Harmony One and is considering upgrading, it's definitely an improvement. There's no single major difference, aside from the software, which makes a little more sense than the old version. There's just a lot of little improvements that add up to a lot. I like the touch screen a lot more than the One. I'm glad I took the plunge.
     
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  7. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Nice. I associate the numeric series with a lesser quality than the named (“One”, “Elite”) remotes. So I didn’t expect the 950 was a step up from the One. But, it’s been about a decade. So, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.
     
  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    The 950 is definitely the current, improved equivalent to the One. The Elite remote itself is virtually identical to the 950, in fact it might be identical, but the difference with it is the hub that adds all sorts of other stuff with bluetooth and WiFi based capabilities.
     
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  9. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I'm quite happy with the 950. I'm even using the Activities feature. When I first tried to use that with the Harmony One, that didn't work for crap. That must have been almost ten years ago. One critical thing has changed. Back then, either the components only had power toggle codes, or that's all the remote had available. So, stuff would always get out sync. Now everything has power codes for on, off and toggle and if anything gets out of sync, it's a lot easier to get it back.

    One big improvement for me is that the 950 lets you add codes from one component to another. I have a complicated system, with two preamps. One for surround and one for two channel music, that just passes the front channels through when I using surround. Long story short, I need to add a lot of codes for my DAC and analog preamp to components that play music. On the Harmony One, I has probably a couple hundred codes I had to add from other remotes. It's hard to explain. Anyway, the 950 (and probably other current models) lets me just copy codes from one component to another. It's a huge time savings getting it programmed.

    My one gripe with how Activities work is when you switch from one activity to another, it turns stuff off that I don't necessarily want turned off. A lot of time I might watch a movie on BR, then play some music, then watch something else on disc, then stream something. The way it works by default, it turns the BR player on and off repeatedly, which is hard on the player and will shorten the life. It's better to just leave it turned on. You can't cancel the "Power Off" for the player when you switch activities, so I dug up a remote for an old component and changed the "Power Off" to something that won't do anything. I still have the Power Toggle on the remote, plus I found there's this button right on front of the player that turns it off. So, the player will turn on (if it isn't already) when I hit it's activity, but when I switch to something else, it doesn't turn off.

    Anyway, it's a slick remote.
     
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  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    For anyone interested, the Harmony Elite is currently $100 off ($250) at YouKnowWhere.

    Something I didn't consider when I ordered the 950, but at that time the Elite was $150 more than the 950, is whether the hub allows you not to have to point the remote at the components. In other words, if you can set up the hub to broadcast the IR signals, so the remote doesn't have to be aimed. I'd have paid $50 for that.
     
  11. xx Brian xx

    xx Brian xx Stunt Coordinator

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    You can also use the hub to set up ip control. I use a different remote but I set up ip control for the projector, TV, receivers and more. This way I don't have to run any IR blaster wires around the house.
     
  12. Charles_Y

    Charles_Y Stunt Coordinator

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    John, I'm precisely in the same place as you were. I have the Harmony One from early in this decade and it has been great but one of the keys is getting iffy. I'm also in the process of upgrading my home theater system this Summer. I purchased the LG OLED 55E8PUA recently. My plan is to acquire the 950 at end of Summer after settling in with the new TV. I didn't see the need for the Elite with its hub as I have no apparent need for bluetooth or WiFi in my setup but I may be wrong.

    In my research I found that the "Magic Remote" that comes with the LG TV uses what I think is a combination of IR AND RF in interacting with the TV and its WebOS V4 system. Hence, I'm worried about acquiring all the discrete codes for LG remote. I would assume that the "learning" functionality is available on the 950 as it was on the One. I don't want to leave any helpful or essential functions behind when moving to use with the 950 exclusively. A universal remote is exactly that in my view, you shouldn't have to access other original remotes to perform essential functions and features.

    If this is so could anyone tell me if the hub is necessary to my system (TV: LG OLED55E8PUA, BD/DVD: OPPO UDP-203, Cable box: TiVo Premiere, Receiver: Onkyo TX-NR828)? Unless, I'm corrected here I will probably go with the 950 and if needed I could always add the hub later.
     
  13. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    You may want the Elite, since the 950 is strictly IR. Of course, I don’t know if the Elite will have the missing features. It’s the same with the touchpad on the AppleTV remote. The 950 doesn’t duplicate that feature.
     
  14. Peter Rohlfs

    Peter Rohlfs Stunt Coordinator

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    I replaced my old Harmony remote with the elite. The software copied over my old settings for the most part. Needed a little tweeking. I wish the Elite remote had a physical button keypad like the old remote had. But it is cool to have Amazon Echo switch activities.
     
  15. John Dirk

    John Dirk Screenwriter
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    One of the great advantages of the HTPC platform is simplicity when it comes to controlling different functions. I use a mouse for pretty much everything but initial power up of my projector and marantz Pre/Pro. I have a dedicated Galaxy Tab S as my overall remote in my Theater Room. For my newer components like the marantz and my shiny new Oppo 203 I've come to favor their respective IP control apps on Android.

    For my components that do not support IP control I use this. http://www.touchsquid.com/main/# You need a phone or tablet with a built in IR blaster to use it. Regrettably, Samsung eliminated this in their later tabs but the original Tab S still has it. I picked this one up on eBay for maybe $250.00. By now they're likely cheaper. Alternatively, you could purchase an external blaster from Global Cache or a few others.

    I believe IP control is the future and may one day even supplant high end solutions such as Creston and Control 4.
     
  16. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    John, I believe if you look into it, the Harmony Elite is as close to what you are dreaming as is currently available. It does IR, ip, Wi-Fi bluetooth, Alexa and probably more. Dedicated apps and devices are neat, but you have to switch between apps for different devices. I use the Oppo app to control my player when I listen to HR music, because the TV usually isn't on. I also occasionally use the app with my Marantz AV7703.

    I was planning to do HT upgrades this year, which has involved adding Atmos, and hopefully a new sub, but I guess it involves remotes. I really like the 950, but I realize I'll like the Elite even more. So, the 950 will be moving upstairs and I broke down for an Elite for the good system. I'll see what it does I've never thought if, but my #1 reason is that it can incorporate with the hub and blasters to eliminate the need to direct the remote. I love that feature on the new AppleTV remote. That's a bigger deal in my HT, because the equipment is spread out quite a bit across the front wall. I'm going to try putting a blaster on top of a rear surround speaker.
     
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  17. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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  18. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I don't know why they wouldn't work with any IR signals, regardless of the source. It just has to be an IR source. More and more remotes are moving away from IR. If it has voice controls, then it's not IR.
     
  19. Eve Babcock

    Eve Babcock Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll be getting the Elite on my next upgrade
     
  20. xx Brian xx

    xx Brian xx Stunt Coordinator

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    The biggest thing when getting a new remote or control system is to look at the final result that you desire. Do you just want to control a TV and it's components in one room? Would you like light control? Or would you like to control multiple rooms or zones.

    Harmony remotes are one of the best "one room" control solutions. Once you add in more control for a second zone, it becomes difficult and a Harmony would not be recommended.

    Trying to do everything with their respective apps is a way to do basic control, if you only have a few things. I run over 30 different control devices, there is no way I am going to switch between all these apps every time I want to change something.

    Crestron, URC and Control4 are whole home solutions to bring everything under one umbrella for total control. When it's time for bed, I can just say "Alexa, Goodnight" and my Echo will send the goodnight message to Control4. Control 4 will then turn off all TV's and electronics in the house, set a five minute timer on living room lights if they're on, turn off fireplace and fan in living room if they are on and turn on the bedroom light if it is between 8 and midnight.

    When I walk through the house and tell Alexa to turn on music in each room, she will send info to Control4 and C4 will check what music is playing in living room and match it. If the living room is not playing anything then C4 will play a preprogrammed station that I set up.

    The reason for ip control on systems like Control4 are two fold. One is, as stated above, no wires to run. Second is that I can have two way communication between C4 and the device. If I say turn on security cameras and the TV doesn't switch to the proper input, Control4 will see this and resend the input change command.

    Harmony does do ip control but as far as I know does not support two way communication. Harmony only knows what the last command sent is and assumes everything is in that state.

    All these control options are good as long as you get the one that is going to get you the final result desired.
     
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