Short story: I’m looking for a universal remote that’s better than what I’ve got currently, and am seriously considering the exchange of many beans for the Harmony Ultimate Home RF system.
My AV system is a mish-mash of older but quality gear, with lots of separate remotes. I have a learning remote which does the job but is too complicated, especially for my ageing mother to use when she is babysitting.
Anyhoo, the main items in the corner are:
- a Samsung 46" LCD TV (Series 6, 2008 model)
- a Samsung bluray player (purchased with the TV)
- an Onkyo DS595 5.1ch amp (2001 model)
- a WDTV Live media streamer
I also have a Wii and PS2 which are rarely used but depending on my son’s future interest in Mario Tennis/Kart or Guitar Hero, may factor into this decision.
The Onkyo has an excellent-for-2001 learning remote - it supports 8 devices and even does macros, but it’s a pain in the arse to set up, too complicated for anyone in my house to use (other than me), and its dated button themes mean that to perform more modern concepts (like the Home function on the WDTV) I have to map it to a random button which is very kludgey.
So I started my research with the Harmony 650, has “activity buttons” (such as “Watch TV”) that turn on the required devices and select correct inputs all with one press, but I fear the soft button implementation here may be a bit confusing for my mum.
so I’ve got to thinking about the Logitech Harmony Ultimate One. Looks the goods: controls more devices than I will (likely) ever have, and the touchscreen would make it much easier for Mum (and the wife) to use the thing. Also Logitech’s new setup system makes that process much less painful, according to reviews.
Said reviews also make mention of the way you have to keep the remote pointed at the device(s) for the activity buttons to complete their task, especially if that device has a delay in starting up (our TV takes about 10 seconds to fire up, and the WD would take around 30 seconds). I can just hear the plaintive voice on the other end of the phone: “Your #@*#&^ expensive *&#^@! remote isn’t working properly again!!!~~111” when they have pressed the button and then put it down behind a coffee cup.
This brought me to the range-topping Harmony Ultimate Home which appears identical to the One but communicates with a hub that blasts the signals to your devices. Me likey, but the cheapest I can get it here is around $250pp, which is a lot of cash to drop when a One or a 650 may do the job, albeit with less finesse and with somewhat more angst from the spousal and parental units.
The issues with the remote have been relatively few and the reviews have been good, but from what I’ve read the biggest downfall is the placement of the Play/Pause buttons… which may annoy me a bit.
Anyone have experience with these beasties, or have any alternatives?