AVS Forum Addicted Member
Join Date: Sep 2006
Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
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The best value by far is JP1. They range from free with your cable box to $3 on ebay to $20 retail. With free JP1 software and a cheap JP1 cable you buy or build yourself, they run circles around harmony. They do unlimited macros, 5 functions per key (short press, long press, double press, shifted and double shifted), nested macros, unlimited devices, conditional branching, variables, custom protocols, signal analysis, pronto hex import, fast macros, custom key group mapping, the list goes on. Your cable remote may be JP1 and you may not even know it, since the advanced capabilities aren't usually documented in the manual. Many cable remotes these days do macros, key moves, key copies, volume punch thru, channel lock and device specific macros.
As for Xsight, they are great remotes as well and a much better value than a similarly priced harmony. The 12G starts at around $30. And the 18G, while near $100, has the same capabilities as a $250 harmony. New ones are still under warranty. I had one replaced myself not long ago. While Xsight may be discontinued at some point, UEI, the maker of Xsight is one of the largest remote makers in the world and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. They make millions of remotes for cable companies, DirecTV, Dish, One-For-All, Acoustic Research, RCA, Audiovox, and many, many OEMs.
The Sony recommended earlier is a fine remote, but for the same money, a JP1 remote is completely customizable where any function can be added without learning. For example if you want to add discrete power or discrete input codes, that can't be done on Sony or Philips or GE or cheap URC's like the WR7, but it's trivial on a JP1 remote, even if you don't have a programming cable. The best value JP1 remote at the moment is the RCA RCRP05B which is $15-$20 most places.
If you get a $100 harmony, you can still do macros if you use the old 7.7 software. The 600/650/700 are also pretty reliable. The only known issues are lose battery contacts on the 6xx series. For 4 devices any of those models will work fine and are easy to use and program. The 900 and 1100 can't do macros at all, so avoid those if that's an important feature. They're outside of your budget anyway. Most people don't seem to care about macros, only a few loud-mouths like me. I don't like pressing a dozen buttons to toggle captions on my TV, so I must have macros and am angry at logitech for removing them. Just take my rants with a grain of salt, and decide for yourself.