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Suggestions for a decent universal remote


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35 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   satcrazy

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:31 PM

Hi,
I welcome any/all input for this question.

This is what I have: Dish 222k reciever, samsung DVD/usb player, an older Denon Avr [ does the job] an older jvc 5 disc CD player [ also does the job] and a month old Panasonic Plasma.

I've been reading as much as I can about universal remotes, and even landed on a website that instructs how to program"macros", which left me feeling like I was looking at a NASA project.

Looked at Harmony's on Amazon, [ 650] and the complaints put me back to square one. I even took into consideration these people may not be tech-handy. Didn't look good.

I am looking for a device that will work with all above components with at least the basic functions of each. My current uni-remote can't do more than on/off with CD player, and I need to also have guide/format control with the dish reciever. Favorites for the dish would be nice.

I don't think I'm tech savy enough to do what some are doing{ in an earlier post.}

What is recommended?

Thanks

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#2 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:33 PM

I don't know what you've read about Harmony, but I'm on my fourth one and very happy. The 650 is a great deal if you don't mind changing batteries. It does everything the 700 does but recharge.
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#3 OFFLINE   satcrazy

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:41 PM

I don't know what you've read about Harmony, but I'm on my fourth one and very happy. The 650 is a great deal if you don't mind changing batteries. It does everything the 700 does but recharge.


I read it consumed batteries, and alot complained the battery compartment [ the battery holders in particular ] developed slop which made the remote lose memory.

#4 OFFLINE   Carl Spock

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:42 PM

It's more money but the Harmony One is about as perfect as a remote gets in my book. For less money, the Harmony 700 has the Red-Green-Blue-Yellow buttons on board which makes it attractive.

All of these are confusing the first time you program them but the beauty of a Harmony remote is that they lend themselves well to the sophisticated programmer. As your knowledge of the remote and your programming capabilities improve, you will find those skills matched by increasing features on the Harmony remote. It grows as you do.

That said, I had one customer who was a very sophisticated computer user and mechanic. He built two helicopters and four planes, and has three computers using four screens in his office. He can build or program just about anything he wants to. Harmony remotes continually baffled him and he gave up. He found their support staff lacking. He was right. When I need to call them, it's a crap shoot whether I get an expert who will work with me or someone who is just reading off of a script.
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#5 OFFLINE   Carl Spock

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:45 PM

I read it consumed batteries.


Battery life is an issue if it is in a commonly used system. I have a bedroom TV that uses a Harmony remote with batteries and that's OK because of its light use. My main Harmony remote uses rechargeable batteries and that solves the problem.
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#6 OFFLINE   satcrazy

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:53 PM

Is there a older harmony with less issues than the 650?

#7 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:55 PM

The remote that you refer to that has charging issues is the 880. I wouldn't recommend them for that reason. My bedroom 650 is on its first set of batteries, I've had it a month. My living room 700 can go about 2 weeks on a charge, and my office 550 goes about 6 months on 4 AAAs.
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#8 OFFLINE   Carl Spock

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:00 PM

I have to use a paperweight on my 880 to get it to charge. The 890 also had that problem.

The 700 uses a mini-USB plug in for charging, just like a cell phone.
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#9 OFFLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:31 PM

Is there a older harmony with less issues than the 650?


I've had 2 650's for 3 or 4 months now and they are both in heavy use. They're both still using their original Duracell batteries. I have 2 300i's that are more than 6 months old with their original Duracell batteries as well.

The 650 has a backlight that comes on every time you pick it up, so I would've been happy with 2 months. I'm thrilled with the battery life I am getting.

Programming a Harmony is a breeze compared to the other brand that I have. Harmony remotes may not be perfect, but I love all of mine.

#10 OFFLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:33 PM

I have to use a paperweight on my 880 to get it to charge. The 890 also had that problem.

The 700 uses a mini-USB plug in for charging, just like a cell phone.


Unplug the base and lightly pull the contacts out a bit with a small object. Also, make sure there is no gunk on the contacts on the remote itself.

#11 OFFLINE   puckwithahalo

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:36 PM

Could always use the learning function on the 20.0/21.0 remote that came with your 222k. Won't do all the macros or anything, but should be able to make it do all the functions of your devices.
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#12 OFFLINE   Carl Spock

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:47 PM

Unplug the base and lightly pull the contacts out a bit with a small object. Also, make sure there is no gunk on the contacts on the remote itself.

I've never tried pulling on the contacts but I regularly use a pencil eraser on the contacts on both the remote and the base. That helps when it gets really bad.

Considering I just have to put it on the charger base maybe once every three nights, and that I have the perfect mini-paper weight that rests lightly on the display, this is no big deal. It just surprises me that the base, which was a problem from day 1 with both the 880 and 890, was never redesigned. I guess it was cheaper for Logitech to just swap out bad bases when people complained.

Chris Blount, the board owner, has a 880 or 890 and never has experienced this problem. Some guys have all the luck. I've had two 880s and both have had this problem.
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#13 OFFLINE   Carl Spock

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:54 PM

Programming a Harmony is a breeze compared to the other brand that I have.

As a guy who had the initial GE universal learning remote back in the mid 1980s, I've found the current generation of remotes program all about the same. One you've learned how to do one brand's remotes, you get the basic scheme for all of them.

That said, I agree with you. Harmony's GUI is about as good as anybodys. The only thing I'd change is the ability to back up a previous remote state. You can't do that. Harmony automatically saves any changes and deletes old states. When I've wanted to play around with my remote and try something that might not work, I had to clone my remote to save the old state under a different screen name. That's clunky.
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#14 OFFLINE   mdavej

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:55 PM

You can't really go wrong with harmony. My favorite pre-600/650/700 harmony is the 360, still fairly common on ebay. Great layout, lots of devices, colored buttons and stellar battery life. My kids actually got really angry with me when I sold my 360s and replaced them with 700s. In any case, I've had zero issues with my 700s, and like all harmonys, they are dirt simple to program. There were some killer deals on the 650 recently, $40 or something like that at best buy.

Don't be tempted by the low prices of the harmony 200 and 300. They're ok replacement remotes, but not very useful universals since they have no screen for additional functions and can only do one macro. I use them only to extract codes from the harmony database to load into my other remotes.

#15 OFFLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 04:08 PM

Don't be tempted by the low prices of the harmony 200 and 300. They're ok replacement remotes, but not very useful universals since they have no screen for additional functions and can only do one macro.

Yeah, this is spot on. I started with the 300i because I didn't fully grasp the activity convenience. I bought 2 300i remotes one day, and 2 650's the next.

I keep the 300's in the rooms with the 650's as a secondary channel and volume changer. The 300 will also select and control other devices, but with more steps.

I also used one to teach commands to my URC WR7 remote.

#16 OFFLINE   satcrazy

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 05:58 PM

You can't really go wrong with harmony. My favorite pre-600/650/700 harmony is the 360, still fairly common on ebay. Great layout, lots of devices, colored buttons and stellar battery life. My kids actually got really angry with me when I sold my 360s and replaced them with 700s. In any case, I've had zero issues with my 700s, and like all harmonys, they are dirt simple to program. There were some killer deals on the 650 recently, $40 or something like that at best buy.

Don't be tempted by the low prices of the harmony 200 and 300. They're ok replacement remotes, but not very useful universals since they have no screen for additional functions and can only do one macro. I use them only to extract codes from the harmony database to load into my other remotes.


O.K., No 200 or 300.

I see several in between the 300 and 650 on Ebay. Now, before I would buy there, a couple of questions:

Will the older models support all my stuff, including the new TV?

What should I make sure it comes with? One model had a usb cable and a cd. Do they all need the cd? Another model just had the usb.

Any other older harmony model that worked well ? Seems I've read a lot of people were happier with the older stuff, and when they upgraded, a lot of issues with the new ones. I also read logitech support is bad.

#17 OFFLINE   satcrazy

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 05:59 PM

Could always use the learning function on the 20.0/21.0 remote that came with your 222k. Won't do all the macros or anything, but should be able to make it do all the functions of your devices.


Will try this for now, but would like just a bit more functionality.

thanks

#18 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 06:51 PM

Will try this for now, but would like just a bit more functionality.

Perhaps you could be more specific than "universal remote" and "a bit more functionality" in terms of what you need the remote to do.

Do you need extensive macros?

Do you need something that is largely pre-programmed to control multiple devices?

Do you want activity-based configuration?

If you don't need to be heavy into the activity based stuff, Sony makes some excellent remotes for under $30 that can do macros and learn a full set of buttons (but also include a large library of built-in code sets).

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#19 OFFLINE   mdavej

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 07:03 PM

O.K., No 200 or 300.

I see several in between the 300 and 650 on Ebay. Now, before I would buy there, a couple of questions:

Will the older models support all my stuff, including the new TV?

What should I make sure it comes with? One model had a usb cable and a cd. Do they all need the cd? Another model just had the usb.

Any other older harmony model that worked well ? Seems I've read a lot of people were happier with the older stuff, and when they upgraded, a lot of issues with the new ones. I also read logitech support is bad.

All harmonys, no matter how old, use the same device database, so no worries there.

None need a CD since the software is freely downloadable. If you already have a mini-usb cable from a phone or camera, it will work on many harmonys. I think the 600/650/700 uses micro USB, which is a little rarer, so I'd go for the included cable on those. Some, like the 700 should also include a charger.

My main problems with the newer models is they support a much smaller number of devices and have a lot less functionality overall, like no sequences (custom one-button macros), etc. That said, old models aren't problem free either. Many are prone to premature key failure among other things. Of all the remotes I've used over the years, harmonys are by far the least reliable. If reliability is paramount, go for a URC.

Logitech phone support is ok, but you only get 90 days, then you're on your own unless you open your wallet. Email support has gone from getting a response in a few days to waiting several weeks just in the past few months.

You need to be very, very careful getting a used harmony on ebay. It's safest to get refurbs from legit dealers like Tiger, Buy, Newegg, and Logitech if possible. Some ebay dealers are ok too, but I'd personally go for NIB on ebay. Refurbs carry a 90 day warranty direct from logitech. I've bought several refurbs, most of which were mint. A few had problems but were quickly replaced under warranty.

The main issue with buying a used harmony is that many people will get their remote replaced under warranty from logitech, then sell their old one. When logitech replaces any remote, they disable the old one in a few weeks. So you may very well get a remote that works fine for a week or two, then one day it will be disabled and you'll never be able to program it again. Logitech usually won't cut you any slack in this case.

#20 OFFLINE   satcrazy

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 11:41 PM

All harmonys, no matter how old, use the same device database, so no worries there.

None need a CD since the software is freely downloadable. If you already have a mini-usb cable from a phone or camera, it will work on many harmonys. I think the 600/650/700 uses micro USB, which is a little rarer, so I'd go for the included cable on those. Some, like the 700 should also include a charger.

My main problems with the newer models is they support a much smaller number of devices and have a lot less functionality overall, like no sequences (custom one-button macros), etc. That said, old models aren't problem free either. Many are prone to premature key failure among other things. Of all the remotes I've used over the years, harmonys are by far the least reliable. If reliability is paramount, go for a URC.

Logitech phone support is ok, but you only get 90 days, then you're on your own unless you open your wallet. Email support has gone from getting a response in a few days to waiting several weeks just in the past few months.

You need to be very, very careful getting a used harmony on ebay. It's safest to get refurbs from legit dealers like Tiger, Buy, Newegg, and Logitech if possible. Some ebay dealers are ok too, but I'd personally go for NIB on ebay. Refurbs carry a 90 day warranty direct from logitech. I've bought several refurbs, most of which were mint. A few had problems but were quickly replaced under warranty.

The main issue with buying a used harmony is that many people will get their remote replaced under warranty from logitech, then sell their old one. When logitech replaces any remote, they disable the old one in a few weeks. So you may very well get a remote that works fine for a week or two, then one day it will be disabled and you'll never be able to program it again. Logitech usually won't cut you any slack in this case.


Thank you much for this generous info. I will use your advise and look for refurb. [ or NIB if I can find an older one] as far as key failure, I find that those soft ,gooey, rubber buttons fail quickest. What type of buttons are on the logitechs?

I read some about the "URC" remotes, but also heard the support is mostly non existent. Can you recommend a model # in case I can't find the right logitech? I need to control at least 5 devices, my current universal is very limited, and on my CD player tied into the avr, it will only turn it off and on [ play would be nice]! on the avr, off/ on and volume, tv, off/on volume and some limited settings, and nothing for the dish reciever. I don't need a complicated set up, just a good workable one.




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