Anybody explain the "scientific" reason there's no Harmony (or similar) qwerty remote? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-30-2014, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
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In 2014, the vast majority of people who need universal remotes need a qwerty feature. I'd say conservatively 95%, but it most likely it's closer to 100%. I mean, everything is search-based nowadays. Even if you're one the few people who doesn't own a Roku, Apple TV, etc. etc., then chances are you at least have a TV service provider... And all the new cable/sat boxes have patterned their interfaces off the media-streaming boxes. Literally everything is all on screen keyboard search menus.

There is no debating the fact that beyond the simple ability to control all your devices with one remote, the single most important feature of any universal remote in 2014 would be a built-in qwerty keyboard. Yet nobody makes one.

So what's the "scientific" reason, for lack of a better word? When programmers build an onscreen search feature, is there no standardized way they program the keyboard inputs? I would imagine there might be differences between how Netflix programs their search function for say Google TV, Roku, and Apple... Because you're dealing with Android, Linux, and OS... But say within one of those operating systems... Would Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu not all be working from the same basic keyboard template when building the search program?

And to quadruple my confusion, how the hell are there then stand-alone keyboards that work with the various streaming boxes? Why is it possible for those to navigate the various different search programs, but a remote with a smaller keyboard built in can't be manufactured?
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-30-2014, 03:58 PM
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Because IR is not IP.

It’s easier to make an App keep up with new Software than to modify the Hardware of 95% of the consumer electronics out there to add IR decoding for 50 or so new IR codes.

To put it another way, here’s a remote with a button for every channel:
http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/pultius/
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-30-2014, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm not sure I'm following you... Since the Roku, Apple TV, and Google TV (and probably some other streaming boxes I'm unfamiliar with) each have full-size keyboard options available, how is the ir decoding for a qwerty keyboard not already in place? In Google TV's case, they actually do have a remote with an integrated qwerty keyboard, the other two support proprietary or 3rd party keyboards...

And cable/sat boxes have incredibly fast turn-over rates. They could start adding qwerty decoding now, and within 3 years it would be industry standard in the majority of homes in America, if you go by the average length people have a particular model of box. Not to mention since most boxes are going the streaming box way with their menus, it's only a matter of time until we start seeing qwerty keyboards on the remotes, like the streaming boxes... Or the Vizio, Samsung, LG or Sony TV remotes that have qwerty keyboards on them...

Funny pic btw. Almost two feet long, and it still doesn't have enough buttons just to watch HBO (501).
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-30-2014, 06:51 PM
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The IR decoding is NOT in place because none of the streaming boxes you mention receive keyboard commands via IR.
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-30-2014, 07:16 PM
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I can't think of any scientific reason besides cost. But triple tap num keys work pretty well, as do the smartphone apps for most if those devices. You can also plug a wireless USB keyboard into many of those devices if you want.
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-30-2014, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
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The question still stands.

One, people need universal remotes. Not the majority, but a healthy enough percentage that the market supports at least three tiers of product... From the $19.99 jobs with their booklets of codes to Harmonies and similar, all way up to the high-end custom deals like URC etc.

Two, on-screen keyboards for search and input are here to stay. They aren't going anywhere. In fact, they will only become more prolific. Spending two minutes pecking out "The Desolation of Smaug", for instance, is ridiculous. Maybe not for serious AV nuts with keyboards and other gadgets littering their coffee tables, but for the average consumer with a slightly nicer setup (this is the vast majority of people using universals, btw), it is without a doubt the most insanely inconvenient thing to do in home theater since people had to hand-crank their gramophones. A solution is required.

Three, IR isn't the only means to an end. For instance, Harmony already has a measure of experience as far as support for RF and Bluetooth go. Bundling the hardware with the tweaks for that as well as the coding needed for an onboard qwerty keyboard is not prohibitively expensive (regardless of what they might have you believe so they can justify a $599 MSRP, ha ha).

I still can't figure it out. I still refuse to believe it's complacency from the universal remote manufacturers. Not when there's that much potential money to be made. There has to be some explanation. Perhaps it's some blue line scenario, where the various streaming device manufacturers are in agreement to deny codes, in an effort to discourage owning more than one device? Like Apple TV doesn't want you to also be on Roku, and vice versa?
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-31-2014, 05:41 AM
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Do you own a smartphone?
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-31-2014, 06:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starter View Post

The question still stands.


One, people need universal remotes. Not the majority......
Two, on-screen keyboards for search and input are here to stay. They aren't going anywhere. In fact, they will only become more prolific.
Not when there's that much potential money to be made. There has to be some explanation.

I think you have answered your own question, if you look at your statements.

In short, there is no money in it to make keyboard remotes.

One, you have to put the term "majority" into perspective. The "majority" of people do not require a keyboard (yet). There are still a tremendous amount of old CRT TVs out there, using antennas or directly connected cable services. Simply a "majority" only need "On/Off", channel changing and volume on their remotes. Even the next tier of users' needs are basic.

Further, consumer habits and preferences are hard to break; most people want a "smaller" remote, with the fewest buttons, that they can comfortably hold in one hand. I can personally say that I am reluctant to go through the "nueromuscular" retraining of my hands to use a larger keyboard. As evidence, I went through this exercise for my youngest child, so that she could navigate YouTube on her TV. I set up the wireless keyboard, etc. to "make it easy". Guess what, she still uses the Harmony remote and does the scrolling thing.

Finally, with the rapid change of technology, by the time manufacturers brought a keyboard remote to the market, there would be no demand for it. Because at that point, the "voice controlled" remote built into the devices will have obsoleted it.

So, the bottom line is that it is not profitable for manufacturers to market a keyboard remote. The reasons may not make sense, but I do not think general consumers/users are ready to accept a keyboard remote. You can be certain that if remote control manufacturers thought they could make a profit selling keyboard remotes, they would be promoting them now. Further, I am certain the trend will be away from "traditional remote controls" to smartphone apps anyway.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-31-2014, 07:51 AM
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We also have a kind of chicken and egg situation. If a qwerty universal remote came out tomorrow, almost nobody has codes for alpha characters in any of their devices, so it wouldn't work on anything, except maybe an MCE dongle for a PC/Mac or one of the few devices like Tivo and Vizio TV's which do have full qwerty remotes. So universal remotes aren't going to add all that expense if it only works with a handful of devices. Harmony almost came out with a qwerty remote, but killed the project before it ever got to market. They opted to instead release a full keyboard with universal remote capability. I can only assume their market research showed it wouldn't sell in great enough numbers.

Unfortunately, with very few exceptions, OEMs are going to keep making the cheapest possible remotes without those 26 additional buttons and all the additional space required.
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-31-2014, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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^^Okay and this is where the science part of it that I don't understand is perhaps coming into play... Most streaming devices at this point are compatible with some sort of keyboard, be it bluetooth or RF... Both technologies that in this day and age are cheap and easy to implement, regardless of how Harmony pitches them as some massive upgrade. So if those various proprietary and 3rd party keyboards work, there must be some codes, right? So why can't a universal remote manufacturer implement them?

@Bizwiz, Maybe Los Angeles is a unique market, but literally every single one of my friends supplement their regular TV with Netflix, Amazon on Demand or Hulu. Every. Single. One. Maybe 80% of them use a music streaming service on their main TV setup (100% on their phones)... Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora, etc. I have literally not been to a party in years where music was anything but streaming off a service. Then I have my more tech-oriented friends (I know like three people like this) who live service and subscription-free, with their crazy home theater PC pirate rigs... The one universal truth about everyone I know is that they feel slowly picking and selecting letters in an onscreen keyboard sucks, and they would absolutely drop money to not have to do it. And the vast majority of them want to do it on a simple remote with a flip out keyboard or keyboard on the back. Not some full-size keyboard lying around, so you have to switch between that and the remote as you watch. The market is clearly, obviously there. According to some sale guys I talked to at Best Buy (when I went looking for a universal remote with a keyboard), they see far, far more people looking for that than for, say, 3Dtv or 4k... Of which perhaps 5% of people I know even think about. One guy at Best Buy says he talks to at least one person a day inquiring about a remote with keyboard on it. Again, maybe LA is a unique market, but still...

@petern: I do. I also have, on average, wifi speeds somewhere around 135mhz. And my phones still rarely connect to either of my two Harmony hubs... Same deal with my girlfriend's phone. I have a iPhone 5s and my GalaxyS. She has an iPhone 5. Perhaps one out ten attempts to connect will be successful, and a few inputs can be made. Eventually after a few minutes the connection drops off again... And the whole song and dance has to be repeated. So we're on nation-leading internet speeds with perfectly fine phones, and it's basically a mess. I haven't polled a lot of people on this, but of my close friends, six tried the phone deal with their Harmony hubs. One guy actually said it worked fine, but thought it was a hassle to connect, and so usually just picked up the remote. The other five, like my girlfriend and I, can never get it to work properly. We're all young, tech-savvy people. It's just not really a viable, ready-for-primetime solution. A simple remote with qwerty pad on the back side would be a perfect, no hassle solution.
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post #11 of 13 Old 03-31-2014, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

We also have a kind of chicken and egg situation. If a qwerty universal remote came out tomorrow, almost nobody has codes for alpha characters in any of their devices, so it wouldn't work on anything, except maybe an MCE dongle for a PC/Mac or one of the few devices like Tivo and Vizio TV's which do have full qwerty remotes. So universal remotes aren't going to add all that expense if it only works with a handful of devices. Harmony almost came out with a qwerty remote, but killed the project before it ever got to market. They opted to instead release a full keyboard with universal remote capability. I can only assume their market research showed it wouldn't sell in great enough numbers.

Unfortunately, with very few exceptions, OEMs are going to keep making the cheapest possible remotes without those 26 additional buttons and all the additional space required.

Dave does this this post mean that the Atlas 5 Ocap that you just helped me program to the Mag535 is not going to work with A Visio Smart TV?  I don't know term querty.

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post #12 of 13 Old 03-31-2014, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mag1993daewoo View Post

Dave does this this post mean that the Atlas 5 Ocap that you just helped me program to the Mag535 is not going to work with A Visio Smart TV?  I don't know term querty.
Atlas should work fine on most, if not all, Vizio TVs. QWERTY is the first few letter keys in the top row of a standard computer keyboard and refers to the full set of alpha keys on a given device. Some Vizio TVs have buttons on the back or on a slide out section of the remote for every letter. I haven't seen any codes for these yet, but then again, I haven't really looked. We can probably figure them out when the time comes. You have nothing to worry about.
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post #13 of 13 Old 03-31-2014, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Starter View Post

^^Okay and this is where the science part of it that I don't understand is perhaps coming into play... Most streaming devices at this point are compatible with some sort of keyboard, be it bluetooth or RF... Both technologies that in this day and age are cheap and easy to implement, regardless of how Harmony pitches them as some massive upgrade. So if those various proprietary and 3rd party keyboards work, there must be some codes, right? So why can't a universal remote manufacturer implement them?

To answer your full original question, there is not a scientific (or technological) reason for no QWERTY remote. Can it be done, or made? Yes, as mdavej stated Logitech manufactured one has a keyboard with a universal remote. Perhaps this is not exactly what you're hoping for in a device, but it does exist.

So, the reason is not scientific, but economic. I understand your point about the L.A. market, but you are only looking at your friends. What about the whole of LA? As a step towards the "economic" reasoning, in this day and age, an "Activity" based universal remote, as the Harmony remotes are, should be almost a "must" have for the average consumer. Yet, Harmony remotes are truly a "niche" market. I cite my daughter and son-in-law as the "average" consumers. They built out a basement into a family/entertainment room. They spent tons of money on a large Samsung 3D TV, added a "Bose Cinemate" system (I refrain from comment on this one!), the XBox One, full Comcast X1, etc. But.....they still use two to three remotes to control it all. Of course I am puzzled, but this is what they do. They do not see the reason to spend hundreds on a remote control. Again, it may not make sense, but the consumer market never has to make sense.

So, Starter, turning this question around on you, why do the streaming device manufacturers only provide a "numeric" remote with their devices, and not a keyboard one? And why are the "streaming apps" On Screen Menus set up for direction and select commands only? If consumers demand something, the supply will be there.

Those consumers that really want a QWERTY set up will make one, as you stated there is connection capability readily available. But until ALL devices require it, it is simply not cost effective. Further, it has to be fully turnkey, or "plug and play" for the full consumer maket.

So, there is no scientific reason for the of no qwerty remotes, only economic reasoning.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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