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alex_london
2005-08-26, 10:36
Hi,

As with most people, the number of remote controls I have in order to keep everything working is beginning to take up more space than my living room can afford! At the moment I have 6 controls, and throw in a mobile phone and DECT cordless to confuse things even more you can understand how chaotic it can be!

I've looked at a number of universal remote controls to help solve this crisis, but I'm unable to find the "perfect" solution... though I think I'm getting close.

One option I was considering was a PDA-based solution. This would allow me to run the Telcanto software to control my Squeezebox2/SlimServer via WiFi, and, using remote control software, control the rest of my kit via IR too. But PDAs are fiddly at best, as they are not designed to be used as remote controls. Their touch screens dont respond well to grubby fingers all over them, and their IR LED doesn't have the range of a dedicated unit.

An other option would be to get a dedicated all-in-one remote, but I'd miss out on the features of Telcanto for browsing my collection and editing playlists etc.

Then I discovered something, which is now my 3rd option... the Nevo SL (www.mynevo.com). This is a dedicated remote control, running Windows CE (apparently) internally... but I have not been able to figure out if it can run 3rd-party applications (such as Telcanto), or if the software built in to it is hard-wired. Now if I can get Telcanto running on that remote, it would be worth the money (to me), as it would act as a dedicated IR remote control for most of my kit, but still provide me with the functionality I want to control SlimServer.

Has anyone here had any experience with this remote? Or any similar device that could solve this ever increasing problem?

Cheers!
Alex

MrC
2005-08-26, 10:53
Crisis absolutely!

Your post is very timely for me. To replace our dozen or more remotes, I purchased a Harmony 880 after rave reviews, worked with it for several hours programming it via the web interface, and sent the pile of crap back for a refund. (if anyone cares for more details, i'll be happy to give my list of overwhelming thumbs-down features). This device was to replace our boxy Sony AV2000 (if i recall the model number correctly).

I've never found a single, reasonably-priced device that works well enough to be the miracle cure. Every single one will have that one or two things that doesn't work, where you have to break out the old remote anyway.

Its a sad state that the amount of time searching for, programming, and using these universal panaceas FAR exceeds their practicality, usefulness and savings. I now find it easier to just click the amp button a few feet away rather than worrying about finding a remote to deal with the deficiencies of the dishplayer 942 universal-ish remote we use 95% of the time to control our devices. I'm now in the 80/20 camp with remotes - get one that does the basics of what you do day to day... and call it a day.

If you feel still inclined, here's the best review site i've seen: http://www.remotecentral.com/

danny6869
2005-08-26, 11:02
I have the Harmony 880, and 688, and love them both...what specifically
didn't you like about them? I have been able to get them to do everything I
want. My 880 has replaced all 12 of my remotes, as had my 688 previous to
that.

I'm just curious.

Danny Rego



----- Original Message -----
From: "MrC" <MrC.1udutn (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
To: <discuss (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com>
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2005 1:53 PM
Subject: [slim] Re: Universal (All-for-one) remote controls?


>
> Crisis absolutely!
>
> Your post is very timely for me. To replace our dozen or more remotes,
> I purchased a Harmony 880 after rave reviews, worked with it for several
> hours programming it via the web interface, and sent the pile of crap
> back for a refund. (if anyone cares for more details, i'll be happy to
> give my list of overwhelming thumbs-down features). This device was to
> replace our boxy Sony AV2000 (if i recall the model number correctly).
>
> I've never found a single, reasonably-priced device that works well
> enough to be the miracle cure. Every single one will have that one or
> two things that doesn't work, where you have to break out the old
> remote anyway.
>
> Its a sad state that the amount of time searching for, programming, and
> using these universal panaceas FAR exceeds their practicality,
> usefulness and savings. I now find it easier to just click the amp
> button a few feet away rather than worrying about finding a remote to
> deal with the deficiencies of the dishplayer 942 universal-ish remote
> we use 95% of the time to control our devices. I'm now in the 80/20
> camp with remotes - get one that does the basics of what you do day to
> day... and call it a day.
>
> If you feel still inclined, here's the best review site i've seen:
> http://www.remotecentral.com/
>
>
> --
> MrC
>

Michael Amster
2005-08-26, 11:46
MrC wrote:

>Crisis absolutely!
>
>Your post is very timely for me. To replace our dozen or more remotes,
>I purchased a Harmony 880 after rave reviews, worked with it for several
>hours programming it via the web interface, and sent the pile of crap
>back for a refund. (if anyone cares for more details, i'll be happy to
>give my list of overwhelming thumbs-down features). This device was to
>replace our boxy Sony AV2000 (if i recall the model number correctly).
>
>I've never found a single, reasonably-priced device that works well
>enough to be the miracle cure. Every single one will have that one or
>two things that doesn't work, where you have to break out the old
>remote anyway.
>
>Its a sad state that the amount of time searching for, programming, and
>using these universal panaceas FAR exceeds their practicality,
>usefulness and savings. I now find it easier to just click the amp
>button a few feet away rather than worrying about finding a remote to
>deal with the deficiencies of the dishplayer 942 universal-ish remote
>we use 95% of the time to control our devices. I'm now in the 80/20
>camp with remotes - get one that does the basics of what you do day to
>day... and call it a day.
>
>If you feel still inclined, here's the best review site i've seen:
>http://www.remotecentral.com/
>
>
>
>
MrC. I have found that the TheaterMaster MX-700 is a nice,
programmable, backlit unit with a combo of hard buttons and LCD. I have
it working with our Dish 921 (boy I wish I got the 942 - if I had just
waited A YEAR). It works with SlimServer, B&K Ref 50, Toshiba 57HX82
TV. Let me know if you want more info.

radish
2005-08-26, 11:48
Dedicated Harmony user here too. Just replaced the old one with the new 880 and it's a nice upgrade. Have tried the others (Pronto etc) but nothing comes close for ease of use or WAF.

MrC
2005-08-26, 11:51
Hi Danny,

Here's a list of the things we found to be of poor or unusable design. These are just off the top of my head:

1) Buttons are far too small, non-distinguished, and poorly located to use based on touch alone. Any raised dots etc. are so small and indistinguishable that Helen Keller would cry. Me... I want reasonably sized rubber buttons with peaks and valleys - so that my big thumb easily finds it way around without looking at the thing. The 880 makes operation require looking at the damned thing. The pretty screen should be an aid, not a requirement.

2) One handed operation is not possible unless you have 9 inch long thumbs. The numeric pad is not reachable from the mid-section typical grip. The smooth rounded curvature of the units causes the unit to twist and rotate out of hand - there's not much to hold onto while you're trying to use your thumb to hit buttons. The left-right-up-down shuttle-like arrow keys are more appropriate for a dashboard of a car where mostly style is important - but for a remote, the buttons are way too small, and unconvential given all the other remotes that have similar features. These are the buttons used 90% of the time, yet they are so small!

3) The website programming has numerous problems where you get a non-specific error message during programming. It actually gives no details whatsoever other than to contact customer support. And contacting customer support yields a response that says be sure to use the correct browswer and "Please tell us exactly what you did to cause the problem". The freaking site can know exactly what you did, where you were, and what button you pressed, but they didn't bother to program in such logic, leaving it up to the customer.

4) The website is PAINFULLY slow. Press button... wait... wait.... wait... next screen.

5) Transferring programming information is even more PAINFULLY slow. Each time you customize a button or menu item and want to test, there's a 2 to 5 minute download wait! What the hell's up with that!

6) The Harmony website for programming the remote is just miserable. Its layout, and utility stinks. Logitech needs to do some heavy investing there, but given the state and duration of their other sites, that won't happen - ever.

7) My amp had 11 screens worth of menus on the remote. There's no way that clicking through 11 screens trying to find that one function is in anyway useful. Such functions are in plain site on the original remote that came with the amp. It is faster to get up, pick up the old remote, click the button, put it away, and sit back down than it is to scroll and search 11 screens!

8) Customization of Button and menus using the predefined functions is a game in frustration at best. My amp has several hundred unique codes and functions - trying to identify the difference between Mode - Surround 1, Mode - Surroud 2, etc. x200 using the very short, simplistic names presented in the scroll list on the website is just terrible. There is no explanation as to what each function is supposed to map to on your device, the names do not match the names i know from the device and manual, and at 2-5 minutes per download to test each, I'd get old and gray before I'd get the right setup.

Least I sound all curmudgeony, there are some nice things too, but those are covered on plenty of other review sites.

BillC
2005-08-26, 12:11
I'm a relatively happy Harmony 880 user. Although I'll second MrC's complaints that some of the buttons are too small and that the website interface could use some polish.

But, with about 30 minutes work I had the remote up and running my Home Theater. It took another 30 minutes or so of tweaking to get some things where I wanted them. When I bought the SB2, I had it running with the remote in less than 15 minutes.

So, while it's not perfect, I've found it's ease of programming to be refreshing. I'm coming from a several year old Pronto that took hours to program and I had to learn a Pronto programming environment. Every time I bought new equipment I would have forgotten how to program the Pronto and had to relearn how the programming worked.

On the other hand, I programmed the Harmony from their website without ever referring to any documentation.

I'd have to get the dedicated remote out to do any heavy duty set up of my AV receiver, but for the day to day operation of my equipment I don't have any issues with the Harmony (other than the aforementioned tiny, tiny buttons.)

tifster
2005-08-26, 18:17
Now, I can kind of understand if you just have cash burning a hole in your pocket and want this problem to go away by throwing cash at it, but maybe you're a little like me and "It's about the journey". If you're a little technical and can enjoy the challenge of learning something new with a huge pay-off after a couple of days of effort, then you need to look into something called "JP-1".

The JP-1 Project has succeeded in making it so "the average tinkerer can produce a single remote control for all their devices". Take a look at this $20 remote available from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000069K8N/ref=pd_cps_e_1/002-0229469-5077609?v=glance&s=electronics

Keep in mind that the fundamental limitation of this remote is that there are 8 "banks" of functions for each button. If you can imagine a way to assign the device functions you want to the 400 or so buttons, you can almost certainly make it happen by using the JP-1 connector and the software developed by the "JP-1 Project", and a few days of effort.

My remote, actually the predecessor of that one, has EVERY function for my TV, CD Player, VCR, Receiver, Squeeze Box, and almost every function from my DVD player. With absolutely no functions missing, the rest of the remotes go into a drawer never to be seen again.

I had my remote die after sitting on it one too many times, and within 15 minutes of getting another identical remote (Remember, $20, you could have 10 on hand for the cost of a Harmony remote) I was back to the same setup.

Here's a few pointers for more info:

http://www.gunsmoke.com/scot/home_automation/jp1.html
http://www.hifi-remote.com/jp1/index.shtml
http://www.home-electro.com/jp1.php
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/thewhatandwhyofjp1.html

Or if that's not good enough, you can find lots of info with google:

http://www.google.com/search?q=jp1+remote-control

Todd Fields
2005-08-26, 19:19
--- alex_london
<alex_london.1udu4n (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

> Then I discovered something, which is now my 3rd option... the
> Nevo SL
> (www.mynevo.com). This is a dedicated remote control, running

Any idea what this thing costs?



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pfarrell
2005-08-26, 19:35
On Fri, 2005-08-26 at 19:19 -0700, Todd Fields wrote:
> > Nevo SL
> > (www.mynevo.com). This is a dedicated remote control, running
>
> Any idea what this thing costs?

According to
http://reviews.designtechnica.com/firstlook77.html
". It should be pricing for around $800."

I'm using a laptop that I bought used for $200 to control my Squeezeboxen
It is bigger than any remote, but also a little more capable.

--
Pat
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/slimsoftware.html

alex_london
2005-08-27, 05:02
If it were just to control my Squeezebox, I'd be happy with using a laptop/PDA solution. As a matter of fact, I *am* using my laptop to control the Squeezebox... on occasion. But that just adds to the chaos.

I've already spent a lot of $$$ ( actually) on my home audio/video system, so spending a bit more for a universal remote is well within reason (for me). But I also want to make sure I'm spending this cash for the right reasons!

Alex

Ed Atlee
2005-08-29, 10:37
"Michael Amster" <mamster (AT) wnx (DOT) com> wrote in message
news:430F636C.4020100 (AT) wnx (DOT) com...
> >
> MrC. I have found that the TheaterMaster MX-700 is a nice,
> programmable, backlit unit with a combo of hard buttons and LCD. I have
> it working with our Dish 921 (boy I wish I got the 942 - if I had just
> waited A YEAR). It works with SlimServer, B&K Ref 50, Toshiba 57HX82
> TV. Let me know if you want more info.

I have an MX-500, and love it, although I've had a couple issues. The "left
cursor" position stopped working just after warranty, and just recently the
light stopped working. It's not more than 2.5 years old, maybe less. (To
be fair, though, there are 3 toddlers running around my house who rarely,
but occasionally, get hold of the remote; this may be partly to blame for
the backlight).

That said, I will roll the dice and replace it with another 500 or better,
maybe a 650 or 700. The 500 can now be had for about $85.00; the MX-700 for
about double that. www.bluedo.com will extend the warranty to two years on
the 500. It's highly customizable, and has been able to control everything
I've thrown at it. Plus I'm comfortable with it, and can probably clone my
existing one to a new one.

Ed

mkozlows
2005-08-29, 16:45
The MX-500 is, as others here have said, an excellent remote. The hard buttons are laid out and labelled appropriately for everything from a cable box with PVR capability to a DVD player to a TV to a Squeezebox; and the controls that don't naturally map to a hard-labelled button can go nicely in the custom button area on top.

Plus, macros, which are great at allowing me to easily switch sources in my otherwise unwieldly setup (which might normally require three devices to change inputs). Plus, it's easy to set up, being sensibly pre-programmed for a variety of devices and with fairly intuitive menus (and an excellent manual) for doing learning, label editing, and macros. Plus, it's got a nice backlight. Plus, it's an attractive unit with good feel (the unit itself has the same powder-black finish as the black Squeezebox; the buttons are a glossy hard finish that depress satisfyingly).

It's really an excellent remote, and it seems to be intermittently possible to find it for under $100, which is a steal.