Have you replaced your remotes with a mobile device?
Ever since I picked up a Harmony One I have been singing its praises. To me it's the perfect device for the living room with its sleek profile and convenient to reach buttons. This is why it pains me every time I go to use it and notice buttons not responding as well as they once did: it's on its last legs. Naturally, these aren't made anymore and the options from Logitech aren't great. The Hub is a interesting concept, but then I remember I have to rely on my phone or tablet.
This is just a concept I can't get into. I know we always have our phones out in front of us, but they have no tactile feel! What I love about a physical remote is when I pick it up I know exactly where the buttons are. I can also fumble with it in my hand and not have to worry about accidental presses. Phones are starting to come with IR/RF blasters again (this feels like a time warp thing) and they're being designed to be your new universal remote -- hell, even Roku and Tivo have apps designed to replace your remote. So I know this is the inevitable fate of the living room. I just don't know if I'm ready to give in.
I'm curious to know if anyone has made the full switch or not, and have you found one particular suite to be better than others? The Logitech software looks leaps and bounds nicer than what I'm seeing from HTC or Samsung, but maybe there is another provider I'm not sure of.
Oh, god no. It does seem like companies are really trying to push the use of smartphones as remote controls, but I just don't think that's a good idea.
I've been using touchscreen remotes for over 10 years now, ever since the Philips Pronto TSU1000. Even today, I still use a Pronto 3500, but at this point I only use it to turn my home theater on and off.
My dislike of touchscreen remotes is two-fold. The biggest problem is simple and you already addressed it: you have to look at them. It's impossible to use a touchscreen remote while watching TV and easily perform basic tasks without looking at the remote. The second problem is that it's simply not as easy to use any touchscreen remote, especially your phone. Because a phone can do so much more, you have to pick it up, turn it on, unlock it, and if you don't have the control app up already (maybe you switched to your email app or something), you have to go find it and launch it. Meanwhile I've already hit the FF button on my Tivo button ages ago.
At most, the harmony remotes with small touchscreens on them are good. I don't mind that, although I've never liked Harmony remotes for a variety of reasons that I won't get into.
For all the above reasons, and despite my traditional dislike of Harmony remotes, the one I currently recommend to my clients is the Harmony Smart Control ( http://goo.gl/TnNxgt ). I actually really like that the remote has no touchscreen, and leaves all the non-essential stuff that normally shows up on the touchscreen to the phone. Meanwhile, you can just use the extremely sleek remote (seriously, it's impressively made) to do 98% of what you normally want to do with your home theater.
My favorite remote ever is the Tivo Slide remote. It has a great feel to it, perfect button placement, etc. Too bad it doesn't have any universal control capabilities.
Still, I use my Pronto to turn everything on and my Tivo remote for the rest. But then I have to also use my Google TV remote to control any of that...
The only place I'd use a smartphone for a remote is in the bedroom because we usually just tune to one channel and are done with it.
I have had and tried to use touchscreen remotes in the past and found them very frustrating when I constantly had to look away from the screen to use the remote.
I have a Pronto, it just sits on the end table, and hasn't been used in years. (should really put it on E-Bay). The early Haramony remotes were also completely useless to me since their buttons were too small and all mashed together in a horrid mess (unless you were looking at it). I now have a Harmony 700 and that is very useable, but still rely on the remote that came with my HTPC Extender (SageTv HD extender) because of its logical layout, special buttons, and ease of use without looking at it.
With that said, I definitely have a few apps on my iphone I use: DirecTV, Xbox Smartglass,. and Apple's Remote. They are more so that if I've found I plopped down on the couch and the remote is across the room, I won't bother to get up. Instead I'll just open the app and poke away.
However in my bedroom, I use my Samsung Galaxy S4, which has a infared port on it, but its used for on/off and volume settings as my daughter hid the remote and I never found it. Rest is the XBMC remote controller.
Right now, phones seem to be at an "in the mix" stage. I use my phone exclusively for Netflix, YouTube, etc., going through the Chromecast. I also use it about 75% of the time over the Roku control. Since the Roku is always on, and the power button is the major go-to function for how I use remotes, there's not much I need the Roku's unit for.
I liked the idea of controlling everything from my phone, but the reality is that having to not just unlock my phone but actually find and start the app turns it into a process that's long enough that's it's usually easier to just use the remote.
I have, however, considered leaving an old unused phone lying around with that software on it to serve as a remote... with an app like skype running on it just so I can make it ring when someone "hides" the remote between the couch cushions ;-)
I have one of the Harmony remotes, love it, however, now that I have a one year old, who likes to stick everything into his mouth, the power button doesn't work that well. I am now using my S5 to control everything, it works pretty much like the harmony remote. As for me, I do most of my watching on the apple tv, so fast forward, or channels, or all of the buttons on normal remotes are not necessary. I need the volume rocker, a menu button and the plus directional pad. http://bit.ly/1nytfTU
Mobile devices make great all-in-one remotes(Verizon Fios & PS4)
And no remote codes. Thank god.
I was using a USB-UIRT with my HTPC (via EventGhost) so my 880 could interact with it. This was a great combination for many years until this year when the UIRT itself started failing. This was quickly followed by my 2006-era Core2Duo/GMA950-based HTPC not being up to smoothly decoding HBO-GO or other, non-degradable HD streams. The wife-acceptance-factor, heretofore not a problem, was dropping fast. Time to clean house.
So I replaced the PC with a new AMD-based one with integrated graphics/video decoding, dropped an extra serial port in it and a PCI USB2 card to offload my HD-PVR from the main USB bus where the Hauppauge 950Q OTA and all the miscellaneous I/O resided. SSD boot drive, 4GB RAM, and Win7 rounded it out. (Can't do 8 -- wife acceptance factor and all).
Got a cheap $12 MCE USB IR box from Amazon and one of the new XBox One Media Remotes. I absolutely love the layout, backlight, and minimal button count of these. Also the lack of number buttons. Who needs those anymore? It works great with EventGhost with the right plugin!
This solved the incoming IR problem, but not the outgoing IR problem. I couldn't get the built-in Hauppauge ones or the MCE one to work right. I happened to have an old Crestron QM-RMC lying around (Job--A/V integrator). It's a fully programmable mini AV control system with 2 RS-232 ports, an IR blaster port, and an ethernet port. Putting IR emitters on the TV, cable box, and the AV Receiver and connecting it to the HTPC via the RS-232 ports (one dedicated to the PVR software for controlling the cable box, the other for EventGhost), gave me commercial-grade IR blasting from an enormous library of devices. EventGhost would just pass the blast-worthy commands along from the remote to the QMRMC, and being a full-on computer, the RMC can do conditional logic and maintain all sorts of state information. As a bonus, because it's online (that ethernet port), I can make phone/tablet-compatible touch control panels for it to perform functions I don't have buttons for on the remote or act as the remote when it is out of reach and I have a cat on my lap. I only used the QMRMC though because I had it lying around and didn't want to shell out another $50 for a new UIRT. But the UIRT is the best IR I/O device out there, IMO. With it and EventGhost together, you can do pretty much anything you need and keep all the logic in the PC.
It took a LOT of configuring spread over several months, but I have a solid system now and the wife really likes the responsiveness and accuracy of the new remote. We also have a Logitech M570 trackball and a Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard that we swear by for navigating web interfaces on the HTPC. One control for everything on an HTPC just isn't practical with all the disparate interfaces for different sources.
TLDR: XBox One Media Remote + a good-quality IR box + EventGhost on an HTPC are AWESOME. A well-configured HTPC can be a better "Harmony" in addition to being a media playback device. Phone/Tablet touch controls are nice too but only as a secondary control scheme.
And I just got a Chromecast a few days ago and now have to figure out how to seamlessly integrate that into all this! Fun problem though, I guess.
each tv has a cat6 out the back straight to the router so i get updates, and remote control with the phone.
sharp has an app that allows full control of the televisions so regardless of what I'm doing, i use the phone to control entertainment. Its a simple matter of switching the apps which i either double tap if they're open already or i made a top level folder on my 5s dock for remotes be it apple tv, cable, the actual tv etc.
similarly, the onQ and lyriq set up allow me to control in home audio (theres a stand alone hard drive holding all my music. so its definitely nice to be able to remotely activate a scene where the kitchen and deck speakers come on and can play either the television or music depending on what i want to do. This is nice because otherwise i would have to use the single home audio monitor, if I'm on the roof terrace, this can be a pain to go see. (if i had gone over my budget, id have sprung for a second screen)
only thing i haven't done yet is ad the MyQ for the garage door which really for me is peace of mind knowing the wife didn't leave the door up rushing out the house in the morning.
The problem I have about the future is smart-whatevers. I can't stand using a regular remote for text entry. Most remotes don't have a qwerty keyboard. The only time I use my phone is with the Apple TV so I can quickly search for things or type in user names and passwords without spending the whole evening doing so. That's what they need to figure out. An always on, easy to use remote that can handle text input.
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