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Laptop Universal Remote

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hello good people:

I would like a device I can attach to my computer that can control my audio/video equipment via infrared (TV, cable box, TIVO, etc.)

I have searched and searched and found very little information on this exact product so I am posting on as many forums as I belong in hopes someone can lead me to what I seek.

The method of connect to my computer is unimportant. It can use the serial port, USB, or parallel port, or even have a special plug in card.

I am hoping for a very low cost device, but my desire for flexibility is great.

My vision is to have a simple box with an IR transmitter (maybe a receiver so it can "learn" from my existing remoter) and be able to let the computer do all the work of scheduling, switching stations on the cable box, and starting recordings on the TIVO as well as be able to run macros to switch my stereo from CD to TV.

I have looked into several home brew projects but I am hoping to get something a little more professional

The Harmony/Logitech Harmony 1100 looks very attractive, (http://www.logitech.com/en-us/remotes/universal-remotes/harmony-1100) but is way too expensive. I would like that kind of control but without the expensive touch screen and stand alone box.

Thanks for your help,
post #2 of 4
LIRC. No harmony or other universal remote can do what you are asking.

Also realize that simply adding a tuner card to your PC can totally replace all your DVRs and Tivo, thereby completely eliminating the need for the IR control you're looking for. Then you could use a normal remote for your macros and save a ton of money on fees. Just a suggestion.
Edited by mdavej - 10/1/12 at 12:31pm
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks, actually I hadn't thought along those lines and it is an intriguing idea. I am familiar with Hauppague but I would like to shop around, any ideas on manufacturers I might look at?

Thanks, Mark.
post #4 of 4
It depends. I assume you have cable and that your Tivo uses a cable card. In that case you'll want a cable card tuner. There are basically only 2 mfgs of those, Ceton and Silicon Dust. The Hauppauge ones are actually made by Silicon Dust. Next you have a choice between an internal card or an external box which interfaces via USB or ethernet. Finally you have a choice of the number of tuners you want. Ceton make a 4-tuner model, Silicon Dust has 3-tuners and Hauppauge has 2 tuners. Count on paying about $50 per tuner. Since I watch mine from several TVs, I have the 4-tuner Ceton InfiniTV PCI model. All require that you lease a cable card from your cable company. If you live in an SDV market, the cable company will also give you a tuning adapter that interfaces with your computer.

If you only have basic cable, then you can get by with a cheaper tuner that doesn't use a cable card.

Once you have the tuner going on your PC, now you have to get the guide, recording list and video to your TVs. There are a couple ways to do that. You can connect your PC directly to your TV via HDMI, or you can use a windows media center extender. At the moment the Xbox is the best extender, followed by a couple of older ones made by Linksys and D-Link. By Christmas, Ceton will release a new extender called the Echo. Each extender connects to your network and your TV and uses the same guide and interface as your main media center PC but lets you independently access any tuner for live TV or play back any recording.

I recently went through all of this myself when I dropped satellite and went back to cable. It works beautifully looks a lot better than the ancient interfaces on my old cable DVRs. And my recording space is essentially limited only by the size of hard drive I'm willing to buy. I use a normal universal remote to control everything, so the end-user experience is the same as it would be with a regular cable DVR.
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