What's the Best "Big Screen Big Button" Multi-Device Remote? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 9 Old 05-26-2019, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
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What's the Best "Big Screen Big Button" Multi-Device Remote?

Need to control:

Room 1 (Media Room)

Marantz SR-7010 AVR
Sony X-800 4K BPDP
LG 86UK6570PUB 4KTV

Ideally Samsung SmartThings hub too

Room 2 (Sitting Room) (Using a separate remote)


Room 1 (Media Room)

Marantz NR-1608 AVR
Sony X-800 4K BPDP
Samsung 8-series 4K TV (can't remember the model number)

Ideally Samsung SmartThings hub too

Right now I'm trying to use Amazon Fire tablets, which may or may not work, as I'm dubious of all of those "will control Anything" all-in-ones. The Anything lists usually has a list of "except.." and all my devices somehow end up on the "except…" list and / or don't cover the full gamut of buttons on the main remotes, but I open to conversion.
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-27-2019, 08:10 AM
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Harmony Elite should work fine.

To make your tablet work, check out "theHomeRemote". It's been able to control everything I've thrown at it and has very good programming capabilities. I've added all 400 of my Denon functions to it. You should be able to do the same with Marantz.

For remotes that claim to control anything, as long as there is a way to import additional commands via pronto hex or write your own HTML code, I don't see why you couldn't add every possible command for every device. It just takes a little leg work and know how. For example, my HomeRemote had only basic Tivo functions via TCP out of the box, but I got the protocol manual and easily added every possible function, including upper and lower case qwerty.

I'm sure URC, Crestron and the like are even more capable, but it's very tricky programming on your own unless you are a dealer or have a very good relationship with one. For your 6 devices, 4 of which are essentially identical, probably not worth the expense. But that's your call of course. Harmony is the easiest solution.

Good luck
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post #3 of 9 Old 05-30-2019, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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^ That's a GREAT link. I will check it out more thoroughly at home, but if it enables me to do what I hope it does, I can use my tablets and no need for yet another remote for the "little cherubs" to steal the batteries from, or for the wife to put away somewhere "logical" like inside the toilet paper roll holder in the downstairs bathroom :-)

As well as all the AV stuff I would like to be able to add my Samsung SmartThings hubs and thus my GE Z-wave light switches, later house thermostats, later still security cameras, burglar alarms (and, of course, remote control for the twin Bofors anti-aircraft guns that keep the mother-in-law on her broomstick at bay...)

As for writing my own code, I gave up on that idea when Commodore Pets and BBC Micros were "the thing"....
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post #4 of 9 Old 05-30-2019, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Heal View Post
As for writing my own code, I gave up on that idea when...
In that case, theHomeRemote is not a good solution for you. I had to write a hell of a lot of code for mine, and it has very little home automation in it, only thermostats.

If you want to avoid writing any code, you'll have to hire a pro or go with Harmony.
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post #5 of 9 Old 05-30-2019, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
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^ you're probably right about the code thing.

I'm tempted to just keep using the Fire tablets and download individual apps. I really don't much like all-in-ones for the reasons I've stated, added to which their small buttons and lack of lighting can make them a right royal pain in the app to use in the dark.

Maybe there's a market for someone such as yourself to develop a kind of "shell" app that individuals can add sub-apps to for their individual devices? What I'm thinking is to have a front end app that has "buttons" on it to select the TV, DVR, BPD, AVR, whatever, then control those with a similar-looking interface for each, so, for example, the volume control looks and works the same way across all the devices, making it both easier to find and to use? You could also add user-programmable (push buttons) routines so, say, when you turn on the projector, any retracting screen automatically descends, or the lights dim, or whatever.
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-04-2019, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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So I found my Amazon Fire tablets, 2016 vintage ones, just after ordering a NEW Amazon Fire 7 tablet, which is due to arrive Thursday.

I've managed to find and install Android apps for the Marantz AVR and the Samsung TV (need to get the IP address of the TV to get that one working properly), as well as the Amazon Fire cube. If I can find one for the Sony X800 4K BD players I've got, plus one for the LG 86-inch TV, I'm wondering why on earth anyone would bother with a Logitech Harmony costing three times as much? After all, I can also use the tablet to control the lights, order a pizza ...
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-04-2019, 12:13 PM
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While individual apps are great, all that does is move a coffee table full of remotes to an equal number of app on your phone. You still have to juggle apps to perform one "activity" like watch something on Netflix. A fully integrated "universal remote" or equivalent universal remote app would control everything in the same app and automate all the steps required to turn things on and off, switch sources and control.

Consider this example in a typical system consisting of a display device (TV), audio device (AVR), and streaming device (Roku). To watch Netflix using only individual apps (or physical OEM remotes), you have to pick up the TV remote, turn on the TV, switch to the correct input, pick up the AVR remote, turn on the AVR, switch to the Roku input, pick up the Roku remote, launch the Netflix app (5 steps so far). Now juggle the Roku and AVR apps to control playback and volume. That's very unappealing to me.

Using a universal remote (or universal remote app), all of the above gets replaced with a single "Watch Netflix" button that performs all the power and input steps then leaves you with a screen for full control of the Roku plus volume punch thru for the AVR. I do exactly this on all my physical universal remotes (or universal remote apps) in every room of my house that has a screen.

Regarding a physical universal versus a universal remote app, try changing the volume in the middle of a movie without lighting up the room with your Kindle and looking at it. Personally, I'd rather feel for a volume button (almost subconsciously) and not get distracted. So a physical remote is worth the extra expense to me. Buy I'm not a Harmony guy. I typically pay less than $30 for my universal remotes.
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-05-2019, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
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^Yes but not all of us are either IT wizards like you or have the time to become one.

Unless and until someone comes out with a remote or remote app that we can buy at a reasonable price, we're stuck with the alternatives, which right now are all the remotes nailed to an old tea tray side-by-side so they don't get lost down the back of the couch, an universal remote that isn't that universal and requires doing all the things you mentioned above, just using the same remote, or like me, trying a tablet or something instead. At least my tablet (bright orange BTW) lights up on demand, which many remotes don't.

And have you programmed in "deep dish pepperoni with extra cheese, a liter of coke and some chocolate brownies please" yet?
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-05-2019, 08:53 AM
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In your thread title, you asked for "the best", not the cheapest or the simplest. I posted the Elite which meets all your requirements and is dirt simple to program, but yes, it is expensive. On the other hand, while not the best, a cheap, simple app like Unified remote meets most of your requirements and is easy to program.

While it can't order pizza, just about any decent universal remote or app can do the simple 5 step macro in my example, no computer science degree required. I'm just saying that using the individual apps for each component is NOT a multi-device remote solution. It's just a bunch of individual remotes and not much better than what you started with (a coffee table full of remotes).

Yes, my super cheap solutions do require a lot of time and expertise to program. Now that I know you have no interest in those kinds of solutions, I can recommend alternatives, like Unified Remote above.

Spending a couple of minutes learning how to write some simple macros pays huge dividends. It's no more complicated than following a simple recipe.
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