Universal Remote under $100? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 02-05-2011, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
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What is the best universal remote for under $100?

ll I need it to control is the 50" tv, cable box, dvd player, and switch everything over to play the Wii.

I need one touch control on all items so all my wife has to do is push 1 button to watch tv or watch a dvd or etc.

I'm currently using the Sony RM-VL600 which worked well for a while but now it's not holding the 'buttons' I programmed into it.

I like the looks of the universal remotes with the screen but for under $100 it seems as though the screens are almost a gimmick since it isn't a touch screen...maybe I'm wrong.

Thanks for any help.

HMAG
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-05-2011, 12:46 PM
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The harmony 700, Xsight color and URC-R50 are the best universal remotes for around $100 IMO. The screen isn't a gimmick. It's the most powerful feature. It gives you access to most of your macros, favorites and any functions that don't have a dedicated button. If you don't want a screen, JP1 remotes are much more powerful than similarly priced remotes. They average about $20 + $35 for a programming cable. Some can be found for as low as $1.
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post #3 of 8 Old 02-05-2011, 10:47 PM
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I'm using a Logitech Harmony 650 that I bought from BestBuy recently at a slight discount.

Basically it does the job but also has had one problem with batteries making contact that other people here have reported. I read of various problems with them so when I bought it I also bought the BestBuy extended warranty.

It took a little doing to program it, mostly because I didn't fully understand its different methods of switching inputs. I'm not completely through tweaking it but we use it now and put away all of the other remotes. I first tried programming it through their website interface. I didn't like that so I downloaded their program that installs on my computer and reprogrammed it that way.

Right now I have a cable DVR, a BluRay player, and the TV itself. Most of the time we watch using the TV tuner with our cable connected directly to the TV. I watch a lot using the DVR, and once a week or so we watch a DVD or BluRay. I didn't mind using the various remotes but my wife didn't want to take the time to learn it all. She had written down the instructions for switching the TV from one input to another, when we bought our new TV I had to rewrite the instructions for her. I intended to add a sound system to the TV so I figured surely I would have to try the programmable remote.

You tell the Harmony what specific pieces of equipment that you have and it looks up the infrared codes from the Logitech online database. However there were a few buttons on my LG BluRay remote that it didn't have so I had to teach those to the remote from the original remote. Another thing that the remote does is to remember what devices you are using, and what it turned on and turned off. If you pick up the remote and push the "watch tv" button, if the tv is off then it turns it on for instance. The remote has activities built in, such as "watch TV" and "watch a movie". In my case I set the "watch TV" to use the tv's builtin tuner, and the "watch a movie" to use the BluRay. I set up an additional activity and called it "watch DVR". So if I have been watching TV and I push the "watch a movie" button, the remote tells the BluRay to turn on, and tells the TV to change the input to the input that I have the BluRay HDMI cable plugged into. This takes a few seconds so you have to keep the remote pointed at the devices until it has completed its thing.

I got the remote to this point and everything worked pretty well. My wife could use it to switch devices and then it would control the devices pretty well with its buttons. The 650 has a small screen at the top and 4 buttons that relate to the screen. Depending on the devices you have set up those buttons will have certain labels and actions assigned to them by default. I have now reprogrammed mine. I looked at the remotes for my tv, BluRay player, and DVR and found the buttons I use that weren't already on the harmony, and I reprogrammed the buttons by the screen to do these functions. With cheap universal remotes I've used in the past, they would control most functions of the device well enough but there were always a few special buttons on the original remote that weren't on the universal remote. Now with the harmony I have those special buttons as well.

The last complexity I added was a sequence of commands to get my cable DVR to bring up my list of favorite channels. With the original remote I push a certain button on the original remote to bring up a menu, then I push the select button twice to get to my menu of favorites. On the harmony I set up a sequence of these 3 button pushes and assigned it to one of the buttons beside the screen. When I push that particular button now it sends all 3 button press commands to the cable DVR and brings up the appropriate menu.

So yes the harmony can be programmed for fairly easy one-button use, and can replace the full functionality of the original remotes.

There are a lot of different Harmony models available for sale new now, the difference in the cheaper ones and the more expensive ones is partly a matter of how many different devices they will control. I have a TV, BluRay, and cable DVR for a total of 3 devices. If I eventually add a sound system then that will make 4 devices, still within the capacity of the 650 model.

Other differences- the more expensive models have better screens, and some have rechargeable batteries. The cheaper ones like my 650 use standard AA alkaline batteries, and are supposed to last 1 month per pair of batteries.
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-06-2011, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Here are the ones that seems to get decent reviews and fall in my price range:

1) Universal Remote URC-R50 http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Remo...=3MKPTD4TB6A20

2) URC RF200 with RF 20 http://www.amazon.com/RFS200-PowerPa...=3MKPTD4TB6A20

3) Logitech Harmony 650 http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harmo...=3MKPTD4TB6A20

4) Logitech Harmony 700 http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harmo...=3MKPTD4TB6A20

5) Logitech Harmony 300 http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harmo...=3MKPTD4TB6A20

Any opinions on any of the above remotes?

Thank you.

HMAG
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-06-2011, 11:36 AM
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I thought your target was $100. But since you are considering cheaper options the 650 or even the 600 would be plenty, as would older models like the 550, 520, etc. The 300 is completely worthless. Any reason you don't like the Xsight? You never mentioned needing RF before, so why is the RF200 the only RF remote on your list?

Bottom line is those are all fine remotes (except the 300). But the requirements you've posted can be met with THIS $1 remote or nearly any $20 universal remote like the URC-WR7, RCA RCRP05B, or another Sony like you already have. Even the cable box remote you already have can likely do the macros you've described. So are you just itching to spend $100 on a remote, or would you rather spend as little as possible for the functionality you've posted?
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-06-2011, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

I thought your target was $100. Any reason you don't like the Xsight? You never mentioned needing RF before, so why is the RF200 the only RF remote on your list?

Bottom line is those are all fine remotes (except the 300). But the requirements you've posted can be met with THIS $1 remote

My max is $100. If I can get the remote to do what I want it to do for cheaper I would probably go that route.

It's just that with some cheaper remotes I've had problems getting it to recognized what items (TV/box/DVD) are on and leaving them on (instead of turning everything to its opposite) whenever I push a button to 'Watch TV' or 'Watch a DVD.

Didn't realize the one was for use with RF until I did a little more reading about an hour ago.

As far as the XSight...it didn't seem to get too good of review here http://www.amazon.com/Acoustic-Resea...7027815&sr=8-1

Thank for the input.

HMAG
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-06-2011, 02:10 PM
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Discrete power commands or a remote that can track device states like harmony or JP1 will solve that. JP1 (UEI) are the only cheap remotes that can be easily be programmed with discrete power and other discrete commands. In the absence of discrete commands, tracking device states with JP1 requires some additional programming. Harmony handles it automatically.

If you list the model numbers of your equipment and your cable remote, we can tell you if the discrete route is possible.

FWIW, the few Xsight remotes I've had were no worse than harmony in most respects.
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post #8 of 8 Old 02-09-2011, 06:20 AM
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I have tried/ own several remotes when I was trying to find one that does everything I need it to easily. I tried the R50 and it was a good remote but I felt it was somewhat limiting on features. also tried the Phillips 2115/27 and it just would not recognize or learn a couple commands i needed for one of my devices...
I hit up ebay and ordered a few different ones very cheap.

I got the xSight color and that is the most wife friendly so far. with activity based settings as well as device based. was able to program it to do all i needed it to. though the software is a bit awkward, its not bad once u get used to it....
I prefer the hard buttons over the touch screen. the more rows of commands u can have on the touch screen the better.

The other remote I got is a HTM MX-600 which was also pretty easy to program all via the remote. it also has 2 RF stations that came with it. . its an older device but has 10 screen soft keys. you will probably have to learn mode all your devices if you buy an older device. however i learned the devices even for the new xSight as I wanted a custom layout on the LCD softkeys...
the last remote I got was a HTM MX-1000 which is a fully computer based customizable remote with large touchscreen where you can make and design all your keys and buttons and make a full custom interface. really cool but time consuming and more than i need for my relatively straightforward HT setup.... you could make one button for example that takes the whole screen and say "wife mode, push here to watch TV" heh... I will probably put the 1000 and 600 back on ebay and get another xSight for upstairs just to keep it simple for the wife.... then again I may decide to get creative on button building for the 1000. for my HT.

You don't have a PS3 so no worries about needing a bluetooth interface

I tried to avoid the logitechs due to reading about reliability and quality issues as well as being slow to execute commands...

DJ
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