Looking for the perfect universal remote

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by bpratt, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. mdavej

    mdavej Hall Of Fame

    Jan 30, 2007
    It's cousin, the 15-133, has 8 devices with 8 buttons. Inside, the two models are identical, but devices 6, 7 and 8 have no physical buttons on the 134. But these are still useable in the PC programming software. You program it to activate those devices with some other button. For example, DVR could be HR21 #1 and shift-DVR could be HR21 #2, where shift-DVR has a macro with device6 as the only step. Then I'd just put the other two DVR's on the SAT and AUX buttons. I actually have 10 devices on my 134 at the moment using an advanced technique called multiplexing. Discussion of that belongs over at the hifi-remote.com forums.

    It does have a JP1 connection (JP1.3 to be precise, so you'd need a JP1.2/3 cable, not JP1 per se). So get THIS cable, THESE drivers, download the IR and RM software, the config files HERE, HERE and HERE, and you'll be in business. I admit assembling all the required parts and pieces is a little tedious, but you only have to do it once, and it's worth it.

    Unfortunately it is impossible to add JP1 to your remote. URC has a completely different architecture and is not JP1 compatible at all. To make things even more confusing, there are many JP1 remotes with a model number that begins with URC, even though they're not made by URC.

    There is some learning curve to JP1 programming, but thousands of people do it, and it works brilliantly. It's also much easier than it was a few years ago thanks to big improvements in the software. It's certainly not as easy as harmony, but much more powerful, and much cheaper. Harmony hides all the nasty details and gives you a slick interface, which is great. But if you want complete control and flexibility on the cheap, JP1 is definitely worth a try. If you're not comfortable programming though, it's probably not for you.
  2. BruceS

    BruceS Icon

    Sep 23, 2006
    Albany, NY
    I have both a Harmony 890 and a URC MX950.

    Both work fine, but I almost always use the 890, just because of the Help macros that are created automatically when you create activities.

    This makes it much easier to get the correct devices powered on or off, when either I turn a device on by bumping it's power button accidentally or when the IR signal is blocked when I start an activity.

    Even though the 890 is capable of RF, I only use RF for one device, since the IR blasters are almost impossible to keep in place and only one device is out of my direct line of sight. All my other devices are still controlled by IR.
  3. dbronstein

    dbronstein Hall Of Fame

    Oct 21, 2002
    I just got an 890 and it came with a bunch of square sticky pads that go over the IR blaster heads to keep them in place.

    I would recommend it to the OP but it doesn't meet his requirement for #2.
  4. Capmeister

    Capmeister Large Hairless ApeCutting Edge: ECHELON '08

    Sep 16, 2003
    I love my Harmony 885 (a spin on the 880 which I got from Germany).
  5. redrocker

    redrocker AllStar

    Jan 3, 2007
  6. Spoffo

    Spoffo Legend

    Dec 31, 2006
    If you haven't already, be sure to check out remotecentral.com. Great, highly-detailed reviews of many different remotes and real good discussion forums. You'll find a bit of a bias in the discussions against Harmony and in favor of the high-end URC models. This reflects the presence of a lot of professional installers in the population.

    But then again, I have the same bias, and I'm not an installer (outside my family.) The Harmony web-based programming interface bugs me, and I don't think their build quality is as good as URC. If you're willing to climb the somewhat steep software learning curve of something like a URC 950 or 980, you can do virtually anything in exactly the way that pleases you.
  7. knew001

    knew001 AllStar

    Sep 13, 2007
    I have the Harmony One and I love it but it isn't cheap.
  8. tsanga

    tsanga Mentor

    Jul 26, 2007
    RF universal remote that's NOT expensive:

    Having said that, I have a Harmony 550 which works just the way I want it, without the expense of a Harmony One (but no RF).
  9. Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 24, 2007
    Wow there's gonna be a lot of answers to this one. :)

    Personally I use the MX-810.

    I love the flexibility in programming (connected to my PC) and the color LCD screen.

    It's not cheap but it is about as flexible and powerful as can be without spending hundreds more.

    Just my 2¢.

  10. groove93

    groove93 Legend

    Jun 10, 2008
    I use a Harmony 880 but for RF purposes, as everyone else suggested, go with the 890.

    The combination of tasks programmed into the remote to your liking is the icing on the cake.

    The 880 can be had for far much less than the 890 and nowadays the prices I'm seeing are a steal.
  11. David MacLeod

    David MacLeod New Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    only thing I didn't really like about my 880 is the 5 entry macro limit. everyhting else has worked great for 3+ years.
  12. mdavej

    mdavej Hall Of Fame

    Jan 30, 2007

    You don't need an expensive RF remote per se to get RF. There are several relatively cheap add-on solutions which work quite well, including Next Generation ($50). There's a recent discussion in THIS thread. I've also used cheap RF One-for-all remotes like the URC-9910 ($40) in the past which have worked flawlessly. Unfortunately, those are hard to find these days. Another fairly inexpensive RF remote is the URC RF20 for about $100. I'n not very familiar with those, so I don't know if it could handle several HR2x's or not.
  13. Herdfan

    Herdfan Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2006

    Have you seen the new MX-880. Same form factor as the 810, but has the regular MX style editor. Make the remote even more powerful.

    It is a great form factor for heavy DVR'ing, but I would like to see some colored buttons that don't have to be at the top. I gave the 810 I bought to my parents.

    My current remotes:

    HT: MX-980
    LR: MX-3000 (not good for DVR'ing, but looks nice and works great)
    MBR: MX-900 (my favorite)
    Daughter: Harmony 550
    Game room: Old Harmony 676.

    Also have an MSC-400 in the rack.
  14. pete4192

    pete4192 Godfather

    May 22, 2007

    Does that come in a blond model? What are the dimensions?:grin:

    I think my Harmony One may be quicker to respond than my wife, though.
  15. David MacLeod

    David MacLeod New Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    dimensions change depending on week of month :)
    harmony is probably quicker but you don't get the really cool looks from it :)
  16. pete4192

    pete4192 Godfather

    May 22, 2007

    At least I can mute the beeps from the Harmony!
  17. David MacLeod

    David MacLeod New Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    lol, so true. you can with the Wife-Mote (tm) but it involves tape and sometimes pillows :)
    god if the wife see's this I am a dead man....
  18. rudeney

    rudeney Hall Of Fame

    May 28, 2007
    That is a great remote. I have half a dozen old Pronto NEO TSU500’s which are the older model of that. They work great. There are only a few minor caveats here. First of all, the screen only supports 4 shades of gray (well, 5 if you count the background). This does limit you on being able to create easily recognized buttons. Second, it requires an RS-232 serial port on your PC for programming. Many newer computers don’t have them, although some USB-to-Serial adapters will work. Finally, the small screen and low resolution means not being able to put many buttons on it. You end up with two or three screens that you have to scroll through for your controls, but it’s not too much trouble as there are scroll buttons on the side. It would be nice if the software/hardware would allow you to use the entire screen because about 15% of it is “fixed use” for date/time status and battery info.

    Regardless of the shortcomings, for those that want to get into programmable touch screens, this is a real bargain. Also, it works quite well using an RF extender like this:

  19. inkahauts

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    Have you ever been to www.remotecentral.com ? You should go there....And I very much prefer URC remotes... Prontos are nice, but I prefer plenty of hard buttons so that I can easily work the unit in the dark... Harmonys are ok, but I have MX-850's for me (their physical setup is more preferable to me), and my folks... and everyone likes them... fully programable from the PC and nothing I can't do with them...
  20. bpratt

    bpratt Godfather

    Nov 24, 2005
    Salt Lake...

    I purchased the Radio Shack 15-134 that you suggested. I like the layout of the keys, the color buttons and the fact that it is JP1 programmable. However, my wife and I are both retired and can't really see the print on the very small buttons. Do you know of any other JP1 remotes that have a similar layout with easer to read buttons? I don't need RF.

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