I'm researching remotes now and it's very very frustrating. They are all terrible in one way or another. I have no idea what extreme compromises I will be willing to make in order to choose one of the options.
Okay, here's what I'm seeing:
Option 1: Individual Remotes Per Device
That's what I'm doing now. I have an IR remote for my Panny, the Denon iPhone app for my AVR, a Roku Bluetooth remote (or iPhone app), and a Kodi iPhone app.
Pros: Doesn't cost me anything. Everything does work.
Cons: Juggling remotes is so '90s -- I've been using a universal remote (Harmony One) for 10-15 years and going separate feels like a step back. None of the iPhone apps support gestures so they're a pain to use in real time. I had a touchscreen remote back in 2003 or so and hated it. The iPhone apps are no different in that respect. I really want either a remote with physical buttons or one that supports gestures. Everything is separate so there's no real "automation" to speak of.
Option 2: IR Everywhere
I could forget about the home automation; install Flirc for Kodi; run an IR extender/blaster through my conduit to connect up my devices in my equipment closet to the theater; and run it all with my beloved Harmony One.
Pros: I love the Harmony One remote. The hardware (Flirc and the IR blasters) is relatively inexpensive.
Cons: IR is moderately flakey. Worse, IR is a one-way protocol, so there's no feedback -- feels like a step backwards. Line if sight even to the extender is critical. I can't count how many times I had to manually switch everything on and off with my Harmony when it just happened to be facing in slightly the wrong direction during the necessary step. I really wanted to automate my theater and then my entire house -- this is not that solution.
Option 3: Logitech Harmony w/ Hub
Logitech now makes a "smart home" hub that works with their new remotes. They do look pretty slick. Price ranges from $150 to $350.
Pros: Physical buttons for what matters, but touch screen or iPhone app for extended stuff. Can control a full home automation solution using a physical remote -- that really appeals to me
Cons: Doesn't support Kodi and likely never will (other than via IR). I mean, I could stop right there. Not supporting Kodi is a fatal flaw. This reduces this platform to being identical to the "IR Everywhere" option, only costing hundreds of dollars more. There might be more, but I stopped looking as soon as I got there.
Option 4: iRule
iPhone app that allows you to build custom "virtual" remotes to control anything and everything. Very powerful and very flexible.
Pros: Controls everything in one place. Has gestures for no-look control. No asinine subscription required. I would definitely be able to do everything that I needed to do with it.
Cons: Requires a hardware box to do anything at all; even IP controls (why?!). Everything costs extra -- it's not obvious to me how much my system would even cost. Maybe a lot? Clearly doesn't have any UX designer on staff since it's the ugliest interface imaginable -- just terrible looking. No meaningful feedback from Kodi, like media guide or elapsed time or anything else. As such, it seems like they are competing with the Pronto remotes from well over a decade ago.
Option 5: Simple Control (was Roomie)
iPhone app that controls everything. Gorgeous interface. Very powerful and is the only solution that feels even a little like a modern product.
Pros: Controls everything in one place. Has gestures for no-look control. Lots of two-way feedback so it feels like a first class citizen with Kodi. Wonderful interface
Cons: REQUIRES A SUBSCRIPTION TO USE!!!! Are you kidding me?!?! A subscription?! WTF!
I want to buy
my remote control solution; not rent
it! This is a complete deal breaker for me. I would be more than willing to pay per device (for a reasonable amount) but there's no way I'm going to be okay with any ongoing annual extortion just to use my remote.
They all suck as options. The Logitech hub idea would work if it supported Kodi, but it likely never will. Roomie/Simple Control would be ideal but their yearly extortion racket infuriates me. iRule would also work but I recoil at paying so much money for software that looks like it was developed for Windows 95.