Universal/Learning Remote

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Tomar, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. Tomar macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    #1
    Hello
    Can anyone recommend a good universal remote? I have been using the URC MX–850 remote but I need to run windows in order to make updates to the remote. I think it's ridiculous that I have to run an entire operating system just to make changes to my remote. I was hoping to find a remote that is universal, learning and Mac friendly. I'm also interested in buttons as opposed to a touch screen.

    Thanks
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #2
    http://www.logitech.com/en-us/harmony-remotes

    Take a look at the Logitech Harmony line of remotes. You program them with a software wizard that will work on Macs then sync the programming to the remote with a USB cable.

    The newer models do make extensive use of touch screens, but the older models like the 650 and 700 are all buttons. The 650 and 700 are pretty much the same except the 700 is rechargeable.

    I use their older Harmony One model (similar to the 700) to control all my devices and it works quite well.
     
  3. danny_w macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #3
    Agree completely. I have been using Harmony remotes for years and would never consider anything else. Selecting by activity rather than device just makes so much more sense. Once you try it you will never go back.
     
  4. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #4
    I also have the MX850 and it's great. Yes, it has the dependency on Windows for programming but how often do you do that? I have to tweak a function about once every 2-3 years myself (usually when I add some new piece of AV hardware). Otherwise, the exposure to Windows (for this anyway) is relatively rare.

    If you have a Windows computer and want to get rid of it, the URC software runs fine in Paralells on my Mac.
     
  5. cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #5
    I use a relatively old Logitech Harmony 880.

    The good, it can fully operate the ATV with pretty simplistic setup via the AppleTV to get it exactly as you'd want it. It can also be modified via OS X. Rechargeable battery with dock you can just toss the remote on.

    The bad. The software on the device and OS X feels clunky to me. The screen brightness washes out the brightness of the buttons and even with the screen covered the buttons are still too dim. Sometimes I have to set it on the dock several times for it to charge. Feels cheap albeit its been very durable and has lasted a long time. Way to easy to hit the power off button by moving around if its on the couch (I've had my cat turn everything off by walking on it).

    Overall it works well enough for me not to look around for a replacement remote. However if I was in the market I'd probably do more research.
     
  6. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #6
    Like Weaselboy, I have a Harmony One. LOVE it, makes using the A/V system SO easy and once you've found your way through the programming software it's pretty easy to setup.

    My only gripe - every time I sync changes to it I have to reset the clock on the remote.
     
  7. danny_w macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #7
    I would like to know what you find if anything. As far as i can tell Harmony has no competitors worth considering but maybe that has changed with time.
     
  8. Tomar thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    #8
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I had a Harmony remote 10+ years ago but I didn't like the Activity paradigm. I guess I felt that I had less control over the components via the remote and the software was limiting me to a subset of the components functionality. Can you program the Harmony with all the functionality of a given remote? Does Harmony allow you to create macros to control multiple components?

    HobeSoundDarryl - I'm running Windows using Fusion and I understand your point about the frequency of updates. However, the fact that I don't update that often makes it even more bothersome that I have to keep another OS on my Mac. It seems like a waste of hard drive space. Besides, our remotes are so old that I have to use a USB to serial adaptor which presents its own set of problems.
     
  9. 2010mini macrumors 68040

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    Jun 19, 2013
  10. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #10
    I appreciate everything you're saying. If you want a new remote, get one. However, you have a fully functional (good) remote now and you have your Mac set up so you can run Windows AND you already have that USB-to-serial adapter. While you can certainly spend some money to buy a new remote, if the problem is that you want to free up the space Windows is taking on your Mac, you could buy an external drive and dedicate it for Windows.

    Personally, I find it handy to have Windows even though I don't use it that often. Inevitably, somebody is going to need something that only runs on Windows or I'll get some attachment that needs to be opened on Windows or I need to review and edit OR save something in the most fully compatible version of the Office programs, etc.

    To replicate all of what that MX850 can do, you'll need to buy the higher-priced models from Logitech Harmony. That's more than you would need to buy an external drive to dedicate to an occasional need for Windows AND doing that would mean you would be covered for any other times you might need Windows (even if you never need it right now).

    Again, I fully get the desire to buy some new tech so do that if you want. You came here looking for recommendations and you've got a number of them. Most of them are good ones. Mine basically costs you either nothing or the (lower) cost of a dedicated hard drive. The MX850 you already have is a learning, macro-capable, remote capable of managing upwards of 20 AV devices. You have to jump throw a Windows hoop to program it but how often do you have to program it?
     
  11. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #11
    My Harmony One can replicate all the functions of the remote that came with each device. The only exception is the Magic Remote that came with my LG TV, the Harmony remote doesn't do the "magic" capability but it can access the OSD and interact using buttons instead of waving the Magic Remote around.

    To access the functions from the original remote, you just tap the "devices" button at the bottom of the touchscreen, select the device and access the buttons from there. You can also add ANY button from ANY remote in the "activity" to the main activity screen.

    Personally, I like the "activity" paradigm, it's great tapping one button and my system is set up as needed for that activity (inputs, device power)
     
  12. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #12
    Yes the Harmony remotes are "learning" remotes and if a command is not in the default Harmony database for a component you can add it by learning from the OEM remote. It sort of does macros embedded in the activities, but I'm not sure exactly what you are after there though.

    The "activities" concept is different I agree, but once you embrace it I find I can get everything I need done with the Harmony.
     
  13. schlotz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    #13
    Bottom line: you want a remote to ex) hit one button (say for movies) and it turns on those pieces needed, sets them to the correct inputs and outputs and end in a state where you can control the volume, mute, and what ever is running the movie (in my case the :apple:TV). Programming the Harmony to do this is easy peasy.
     
  14. takeshi74, Dec 7, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014

    takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    #14
    That's a selling point IMO. I'd much rather work on programming my MX-980 via Complete Control versus having to program my MX-350 with just the remote itself.

    Now I see what you're saying. That's understandable. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with options with native Mac apps. I need Fusion/Boot Camp for other purposes anyway so it's not a major issue for me and the MX-980 is USB.

    One size never fits all. Harmony is a good fit for some but the OP indicated that the OP did not care for Harmony's activities approach. I don't either and prefer the way URC does things.
     

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