Efficacy of Universal Remotes?

I’d 'm interested in buying one, maybe 2 Universal Remotes to replace the ones I use for a Sony TV, a Panasonic DVD Player/Recorder, and a Digital Cable Box.

I’m dubious, however, because in the distant past, I found they either don’t work effectively and/or they’re hard to teach.

Have things improved since the days of floppy discs and powdered wigs?

Could you recommend one? I checked out Amazon and there are pages of them with prices ranging from $7.98 — marked down from $10.00 — [Honest! :slight_smile: ] and on up.

I’d like to get one for under $50, perhaps two under $30.

(I searched on this and there’s nothing I could find that’s current.)

OpalCat started one on the Logitech Harmony not too long ago. Lots of good comments in there.

The ones that are $10-20 are probably of similar design to the ones you’ve used in the past.

Can you even HAVE two Universal remotes?

Wouldn’t that, like, tear a hole in THIS universe?

Moved to In My Humble Opinion.

Gfactor, General Questions Moderator

Can you teach a UniRemo to do something your dedicated remote won’t?

My DVD Remote doesn’t have a button to open the DVD drawer. I called Panasonic and they confirmed that this is the case.

I will now visit the Harmony thread. Thanks, lieu.

And then you’d become your own mother (father?).

I’ve never, ever had one that’s worked perfectly. So instead I have this really cool vintage ash tray where they all nest.

The Harmony changed my life. Pricey, but well worth it. The only thing it does not work with is my PS3, as Sony decided to use Bluetooth for that, which is very atypical. The Harmony only supports infra-red (some models RF as well). You can find the high-end models at 30-40% discounts with rebates some times…mine is the 880.

I’m leaning to the Logitech Universal Remotes. One minor question that I asked 2 posts up:

Can you teach a UniRemo to do something your dedicated remote won’t?

My DVD Remote doesn’t have a button to open the DVD drawer. So I have to push the Open button on the unit itself. I called Panasonic about this nonfeature and they confirmed that this is the case.

Could I teach a Logitech Uni to open the DVD drawer?

Probably not. The DVD player’s logic would need to have an “open drawer” code programmed into it; if it had that, the remote would most likely have a button for it already. And why would you need such a function, anyway? You have to be at the machine to change discs in any case, so you can just hit the button on the front panel.

Hmmm. I guess I don’t. :o


Beacuse you have to wait the one to two seconds for the drawer to open before you can take out the old disc and put in the new. If you have the remote, you push that button while you’re walking to the disc player. Time is money, man! Time is money!

I recall reading a story once where this was used as a plot device. The Good Guy used it to distract the Bad Guy holding him at gunpoint, and narrated that maybe that function wasn’t as silly as he had always thought.

Here’s my real life need:

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that opening drawers in computers and DVD players is a very slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww process. You hit the button and you wait and wait and wait. Then you hit it again which turns out to be just when the door starts to open and this push closes it.

So it is a matter of life and death to have the Open/Close Drawer function on the remote. You hit the button when you’re sitting on the sofa. Then by the time you trek the couple of light years to the unit, the drawer is open, and you can reach down and retrieve the DVD.

You guys ain’t got no technocratical no how.

If you don’t have a means of sending out the codes for the learning remote to learn, you can’t do it.

However! You might be surprised and find that the universal remote has more codes than the one that came with the device. Our VCR’s remote has no eject button, but the Harmony has an eject for it. Honestly, what good is ejecting a tape from 25 feet away? You still have to walk up to the thing to take the tape or DVD out, so it’s no great hardship to have to press the eject button on the VCR/DVD player itself.

Missed the window…

Ah, the time factor. You kids think it’s so bad now. You should have been messing with VCRs 25 years ago. Our old Panasonic U-Matic decks took AGES to unload and eject a tape, but the Sony decks weren’t too bad. Of course, neither had a remote, unless you considered an editing controller a remote (it really is a very fancy and specialized remote) but there was no eject on either brand’s controller.

I’ve recently bought a Harmony 550, which was just about the cheapest model I could find. I love the setup program- with a bit of tweaking, I’ve got a remote which can control every aspect of my home theater.

The problem, though, is that the remote itself seems to be slow. I’ve tried to drop the delay times down, but I still end up getting frustrated daily by the slowness and stuttering- I’ll press “up” on the remote, and sometimes it’ll take it first try… but just as often, it’ll ignore the button press, or “stick”, causing my selection to go scrolling off the screen.

I keep wondering if the more expensive units have that problem.

At amazon.com, the 550 sells for $75.48! IMHO you shouldn’t have a slow or stuttering problem with a remote in that price range.

In the other thread to which lieu linked us, OpalCat waxes eloquent about her Harmony 676. She absolutely loves it and never mentioned any problem with slowness. And right now that units goes for just $59.99 at amazon.

Maybe your unit has more features than the 676. I hope so, anyway.

You just don’t get it, do you? :slight_smile:

I bitch about the lack of an eject button on every new remote I get. I remember my family’s first “remote control”, a control connected to our Betamax VCR by a 4-foot cable. It had an eject button. Yes, it was a 4 foot cable, which duplicated controls found on the front of the machine.

I have a Harmony 676. It took me several days to “get it,” but ever since, it’s been wonderful – reliable, intuitive, and I can use it without having to look at the buttons. I just got a HD DirecTV DVR, and it took all of 10 minutes to set it up for the 676. I have about half a dozen other universal remotes gathering dust because they all had one or more liabilities that I just couldn’t get around. The Harmony works like a charm.

However, the “several days to get it” were difficult ones for me, and I’ve been an engineer for 20+ years… The Harmony defines “activities,” which are collections of components used for a particular, uh, activity. Say, watching a DVD requires your TV, DVD and amplifier to be turned on, with the video switched to thus-and-such and the audio switched to thus-and-such. So you press the “watch DVD” button, and if any of the components are off, the remote turns them on, and then proceeds to select the proper video input, video output, amplifier component, etc. My problem was that I wasn’t accustomed to the remote keeping track of all that, and I wanted to program macros. As soon as I gave up on macros and trusted the Harmony, everything was cool.

(There’s a roundabout way to program macros, but it’s difficult.)

Also, I’ve had one DVD player (Toshiba) that didn’t have an eject button on the remote, but which had an “eject” command available to the Harmony. So now I can eject DVDs from that player. I think that’s due to Toshiba using a standardized set of commands for all of its DVD players. YMMV.