RF Universal Remote with Apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by BoulderBum, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    My friend who installs home theater systems for a living recommended that I hide all my AV equipment behind a wall so that while I have all the capabilites I want (cable TV, DVD player, Apple TV) the only thing I see is my TV.

    I thought that sounded cool, but I asked him how that works with remotes since all of your devices are behind the wall where their remotes can't reach, and he suggested an RF universal remote:


    ...with this base station...


    Has anyone used these devices (remote + base station) or something similar with the Apple TV? How well does it work?
  2. Zneo11 macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2007
    I don't know about the rf thing but what I do know is that I have a IR universal remote and I couldn't get it to work. I don't think this will work because that thing in the link just send a rf signal to a ir device that spits out the signal and I could never find a code for it to work and my remote has a thing where you hold the IR ports together and it can "learn" another remote and it didn't work with the ATV remote. I could be wrong so don't rely on me alone.
  3. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    I've never used the remote you listed, but I do use a Logitech Harmony 890 and RF extender with similar features. It works great. It even automaticaly handles the sleep mode when I hit the power button. The Logitech configuration software has a built in profile for the Apple TV, so setup was simple. I did manually add a few buttons to make the interface more intuitive. for example I mapped the play, pause, prev, exit, FF and rewind buttons in addition to the default directional buttons. As a bonus, it's very nice to the the volume on the same remote as the main controls.

    You should check the vendor site to be sure that the Apple TV is supported by the remote you listed. That said, I'd think it would work fine.
  4. VideoFreek macrumors 6502


    May 12, 2007
    Getting universal remotes to work with the Apple TV has been a bit tricky, but the Harmony remotes are known to work (see the sticky at the top of this forum). I can personally confirm this; my Harmony 885 (European version of the 880) works quite well.

    Harmony make at least one model with RF capability:


    EDIT: Doh! err404 jumped in as I was typing! Glad to hear the 890 works as well.
  5. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    I just did a quick google search on the MX-350 remote you mentioned, and it appears that some people are having issues with it and the Apple TV...
  6. DennisVR macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2008
    I have a Logitech Harmony 895(european version of 890) and it works like a charm with my Apple TV :)
  7. BoulderBum thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    Out of curiosity, what did you find? The only thing I saw was this:


    ...which seemed inconclusive.

    Right now I'm in a situation where I ordered the remote/base station and they're about to ship, so I need to figure out fast if these things won't work.

    So far all I've been able to determine is that the Logitech remotes work well with Apple TV (which is encouraging that it's at least possible), but I can't seem to get a solid answer on the system I'm looking at (which is cheaper).
  8. BoulderBum thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
  9. saltyzoo macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2007
    Your friend that does home theater for a living recommended it but instead of listening to him you're asking a bunch of random idiots like us on the internet?

  10. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    That's what I had seen also. It's enough for me to take pause at the compatibility.
    However, if the vendor says that it is supported, you 'should' be ok.

    If your friend in the Home Theater install business has access to one of these remotes, you might be able to try it out for your self.

    Again, the Logitech's do work, but they are more expensive and you may not like the 'feel' of the buttons. Oddly Logitech went for more a expensive hard plastic (and oddly placed) button design, where a tradition rubber button and layout might have worked better...

    BTW - I HATE the Logitech setup software.
  11. BoulderBum thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    My friend has never used an Apple TV, though. He wasn't 100% positive it would work.

    "If your friend in the Home Theater install business has access to one of these remotes, you might be able to try it out for your self."

    That's actually not a bad idea. I'm not sure if they maintain any of the units in inventory (their business is in installation services instead of sales), but I might be able to ask.

    I actually think the Logitech remotes look a lot cooler. If I weren't trying to tighten my budget, I'd go for one of them in a second.

    Right now it's worth the $100 savings to go with the other system, though.
  12. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    The price might not be a bad as you think. I got my Logitech 890 with the RF extender for $224 new from Amazon about a year ago. I know it's more than that right now, but you might find a deal if you look around.
  13. BoulderBum thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    What can I say, 404. You're a lifesaver!

    Now, I know what you're saying there is somewhat obvious, but before I'm labelled a total dunce, I want to say that I actually checked Amazon, the Nextag-type sites, and the lowest price I could find was $285 or so.

    After your suggestion, however, I decided to do some extra snooping and I ended up Googling "Logitech 890 deals" and discovered a $100 off coupon code for Amazon.com ("BNXVL3GI" offer expires 2/11, while supplies last if anyone is interested)!Now I can get the Logitech 890 for $200, the same price as the other system, so the decision is a no-brainer!

    Thanks everyone so much for the advice and info!

    Now is there anything do you have any handy tips or info on the Logitech 890 (besides the fact that it works with Apple TV)?
  14. BoulderBum thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    Oh, and I almost forgot. I wrote the MX-350 manufacturer the other day, and they wrote back saying:

    "If your apple tv uses toggles on the command buttons, the MX-350 will not be able to function like the apple remote. You may need to go with a PC programmable remote that has a 2 time learn feature which can pick up the two commands from one button."

    Since the Apple TV has a single button on the remote that plays/pauses, I didn't know if it would work or if I would run into a wall because it's a "toggle" button.
  15. naftalim macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    I set up my new Apple TV yesterday and I use the Harmony 670 and it works perfectly. I also control my PVR, BluRay Player and Receiver with it.

    When you add the Apple TV as a device, you need to enter it as a Media Center PC and it will give you Apple TV as an option.

    One other suggestion that I discovered by trial and error. In your activties and setup for other devices within your home theater, add that the Apple TV is on all the time, otherwise it goes through the restart each time, you switch from another activity.

    I also found out that I could connect the Apple TV straight to one of my HDMI connections on the TV and use the Digital Optical (which you have to buy) to connect to the receiver. ( I had purchased an HDMI switch thinking I had no HDMI inputs left on my receiver.
  16. naftalim macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    I have never used another universal remote, so I haven't seen other setups, but I quite liked the Harmony setup. I am a total audio/video newbie, yet the day I got my Apple TV, I have all my devices set up working on this remote. Is there a Universal Remote software you think is much better?

    [/Quote] "BTW - I HATE the Logitech setup software.[/QUOTE]
  17. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Yes universal remotes can work just fine. I have one from the same company that makes the MX-350 and have been using it since the first day my :apple:TV arrived. I am using the MX-850 model.

    As to the RF thing, no big deal. RF remotes simply use radio waves to push the remote signals through walls (where you might "hide" the A/V equipment). A small device on the other side of the wall, receives the radio signal and converts it back to the Infrared signal that many A/V devices expect to receive from their dedicated remotes. This allows you to get away without having a line-of-sight for the Infrared beam from any non-RF equipped remote.
  18. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    I've only used Logitech software and I find it OK for basic configurations. In fact it is pretty intuitive, even at first glance; however it is very tedious for customizing the things like non-standard button actions and reducing latency. It wouldn't be so bad if I could save a working state while I mess around, but as it is, every change is saved real time with no way to roll back if you make a mistake. I have had to reconfigure the same activities several times due to this. Another problem I've had is with changing a core piece of hardware. I replaced my receiver recently and spent literally hours re-doing everything for all of my activities.

    Curiously the interface is completely different for the 890 and 890Pro (the standard 890 be much nicer). The 890Pro is entirely wizard based and takes many more steps to perform the same tasks. I've heard that this is due to the 890Pro being intended for system installers and vendors have a different software package from the public version.

    Take this with a grain of salt since I still recommend the remote. In the end it's been worth the time to get it setup just right.

    BTW - I've only used the Mac software, so I don't know if the software is any better on a PC.
  19. Railrider macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2008
    I use an MX-500 from Universal Remote and it works fine. It's one of their older remotes, but I just taught it the Apple Remote signals. No problems at all.
  20. BoulderBum thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    Thanks all.

    For the people with Universal Remote-brand remotes, I assume the "toggle" button (play/pause) is working great for you, right? I wish their support reps would just come right out and say whether it's compatible or not.

    They have to have those sort of things documented somewhere.
  21. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Regarding "toggling" working just fine with Universal Remotes...

    Yes, no problem. A "toggle" is really just sending the same signal from the remote, but having it mean something different in context when received by the :apple:TV. In other words, the "play/pause" toggle means "pause" when something is playing, and "play" when something is "paused."

    In other words, from the :apple:TVs perspective, it's no different than a dedicated "left" button meaning "left": receive a signal and do something.
  22. spatlese44 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2007
    Apple TV remote (same as MB, MBP, Mac Mini, etc.) doesn't seem to be anything more than any other IR remote. RF repeaters are just repeaters.

    There is this JP1 group that hacks IR remotes. JP1 is the first jumper on the circuit board of a remote. Not all have them, but many. Pull off battery cover of a few remotes and you'll probably find one that has a couple pins sticking up for a connector, or holes where those pins could be soldered on. The idea is: build a cable; hook it up to parallel port on computer; send codes to remote that make it learn new functions. Here's the weird part; these guys are able to make universal remotes send codes that the original remote can't send and make devices to things they ordinarily don't. They also can put IR codes on different buttons to make things more convinient.

    There's a hack these guys have for the Apple remote here:


    Interestingly, they don't seem to have much in the way of added functionality. Very possible there just isn't anything. There was a post about sending codes to a Mac Mini for use with Freevo.

    I have an RF to IR base station universal remote that I hacked in the past, but haven't used it in years. Two reasons:

    1. Cable box remote is laid out with specific buttons for DVR that don't have reasonably as good functionality on my universal

    2. I no longer have a CD player or VCR (what's a VCR?, CD's?). All that's left is cable box and reciever and a rarely used DVD player.

    I'm about to get an Apple TV and will quite likely get rid of cable. I don't use it enough to justify the cost when I can buy stuff on iTunes. Assuming I go this route, I'll post anything I learn about my experience with my remote and see if I can't hack something more out of Apple TV.
  23. MacMuttonchops macrumors member


    Jun 5, 2008
    New York, NY
    I don't know if this has been covered in another forum or not, but I found this thread while searching for a way to pair the Apple TV with my regular Time Warner Cable remote. I looked on the giant chart of programming codes that came with the remote and, as interest to my fellow Time Warner customers, under "AUX-Media PCs" there was a listing for "APPLE TV" with a Set-Up Code Number of 836. It works beautifully. Don't know if this will work with any other universal remotes, but just thought I'd post this for interest.
  24. naftalim macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    I tried a few Logitech Remotes and now use the Harmony One. which I love as a remote in General. Works great with Apple TV and all my other devices. Its not an RF remote though.

    I run my TV, Apple TV, BluRay, HD PVR and Receiver with it.
  25. Radad48 macrumors newbie

    Feb 9, 2009
    RF control of Apple TV problem

    My Harmony 890 worked great with my Apple TV using the IR. However I recently set it up to work with RF control and now the TV screen will flash intermittently after using the remote to navigate the ATV. Any suggestions would be appreciated. BTW I have set the delay to 100 ms and "sensitivity" to 0.

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