One Remote to Rule them All!

February 25, 2010

Do you know how many remote controls I own?  So many that I have lost count.  Every component comes with at least one remote (my Samsung LCD actually came with two, a regular and a mini!)  Over the years, I’ve invested in various “universal” remotes.  It’s a single remote control that can operate all of your different components: TV, DVD, receiver, etc….  One of the first universal remotes I owned was from Radio Shack and it was pretty handy.  While it took up a lot less space, operating it required memorizing the periodic table of elements.  First press the VCR button, then power, then the TV button, then hit the input button twice or was that three times.

The remote control that changed all of that was and is the Harmony Remote.  The Harmony has lots going for it.  It has a database of every A/V component out there and it’s constantly being updated.  Most of their remotes have great ergonomics.  Most importantly, the remote has one button “activities”.  You can press an activity button to “Watch a DVD” and it goes through the proper sequence to turn everything on and assigne the proper inputs on your TV and A/V system.  Operating your home theater should be easy and the Harmony remote does that!

Before the harmony, folks would spend thousands on custom touch screen remotes and systems.  A custom installer would come over and have to set it up to for you.  While I do like the color touch screen remotes, they are not really that practical when you want to do things such as fast forward through commercials.

While the Harmony is much easier to set up than any other remote solution I’ve seen, you will probably need someone who is a little tech savvy to set it up.  You need to connect the remote to your computer and install some software.  Once loaded, you will need to go through a wizard to define all of you components and preferences. 

My current Harmony 670 remote is on its last leg. It has been dropped so many times, it’s a miracle it still works at all.  The buttons are wearing out, the battery cover keeps falling off, it’s come to the end.  My other favorite remote is my TiVo Glo-Remote.  While it can only control the TV and the TiVo, it has the best ergonomics of any remote I have ever owned.  It has also been dropped one time too many.

So, I am at the point where it is time to buy a new remote.  I did briefly look at some apps for the IPod touch but realized that’s silly since I like to take the IPod touch with me for music.  The IPad would also be cool but that’s a lot of money for a remote control!

At this moment, I am torn between the Harmony One and the Harmony 700.  Alternatively, I could just purchase another Harmony 670.  While it has the same shape and a similar button layout to the TiVo remote, it does have its drawbacks (regular batteries, small display).  Since I have little kids, whatever remote I have will get abused and it will probably not last more than couple of years.  Right now I am leaning towards the 700 given its lower cost and I don’t need to control more than six devices (the one controls up to 15!).  Let me know what you think!

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