universal remote control

Discussion in 'TiVo Series 1 - UK' started by jar_uk1, May 14, 2004.

  1. DeadKenny

    DeadKenny New Member

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    Nov 9, 2002
    Woking, UK

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    I got mine from http://www.fpsgamer.co.uk/hcinema/remotes.htm which seems to be a highly recommended UK supplier for these.
     
  2. aitcheff

    aitcheff New Member

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    Mar 23, 2003
    Redhill, Surrey
    Has anyone actually had their hands on a Harmony 688 or 659 yet, and feel able to comment on how well it works with TIVO?

    I have the MX-500 (which is excellent), but now have a 2nd TIVO (in a different room) and am wondering whether to go for another MX-500 or whether the Harmony is worth the extra money.

    Alternatively, a Phillips SBC RU865 (much cheaper) was mentioned in another thread. Has anyone tried that with TIVO?

    Aitcheff.
     
  3. jar_uk1

    jar_uk1 New Member

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    Jan 7, 2004
    Bracknell,...
    I actually ordered a 688 direct.

    I phoned Harmony in Canada and placed the order) but it didnt arrive so I emailed them and found out someone had shipped it "surface" rather than courier. (They are refunding the $40 delivery charge).

    I think a couple of others here have them, but when it does arrive I will post a review if anyone is interested.

    Interestingly Harmony are now part of Logitech, so who knows, we might see Logitech branded Harmony remotes soon... (hopefully they will be priced more realistically than some uk importers try to charge).

    still waiting for the slow boat from Canada, shouldn't be too long now :) It also cost me no more than getting it from Ebay, so i thought it would be better, as Harmony do not honour warranty on "non approved retailer" sales.

    John
     
  4. britcub

    britcub Bear with a TiVo

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    Jan 19, 2004
    Manchester, UK
    I've been using the Philips for a week now. There's no pre-set TiVo code, but once you've spent the time teaching it from the peanut, it works very well.

    Séamus
     
  5. kered

    kered New Member

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    Dec 3, 2002
    Glasgow

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    John R

    Have you got your Harmony remote? Is it a success?

    I've been considering buying something of this sort for a while, but I'm off to Canada on holiday in a few weeks, and I'll look out for any bargains, whether they are Harmony or OneForAll or whatever.

    Thanks

    Derek
     
  6. aitcheff

    aitcheff New Member

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    Mar 23, 2003
    Redhill, Surrey
    I've now bought a Harmony H659 for my 2nd TIVO and here is quick summary of my experience.

    Bought from BlueDo.Com. Arrived very quickly, but the LCD screen was faulty. BlueDo told me I had to deal directly with Harmony. No problem with Harmony. I had to provide evidence that I had bought from an 'approved' Harmony reseller, but once I'd done that they issued an RMA number and I was able to order a replacement. I had to pay the postage to return the faulty unit and Harmony took about 10 days to ship me a replacement which works fiine so far.

    The remote is very easy to configure via a web interface. All my devices were recognised, but I had to 'learn' the additional TIVO IR commands which are specific to UK TIVOs. Also, although the IR code for powering on my Panasonic TV was correct, it was not held long enough to actually successfully turn on the TV. However, Harmony support are very responsive, and they customised my config with an additional parameter which allowed me to adjust how long the command is 'held'. I also subsequently found that I could learn the command in 'RAW' mode which remembered how long the command needed to be held.

    The remote is programmed in terms of activities. e.g. 'watch TIVO', 'watch a DVD', etc. When an activity is selected, all the required devices are turned on and put in the correct state for whichever activity is selected. E.G. 'Watch Tivo' turns on the TV, takes the TIVO out of standby and then switches the TV to AV input. (I set mine up so that the Freeview box is always on.) The remote then maintains a record of the current state of all devices, so that if 'Watch DVD' is then selected', it knows that the TV is already on and switches on only the DVD. When 'Off' is then pressed, it will turn off all the devices it 'knows' are on.

    If it gets out of Synch, pressing help asks a series of questions which puts everything back in synch.

    Where the concept falls down is where (as in my case) there is not a single IR command which puts a device into a known state. e.g. On my TV, there is no way to turn the TV on and switch to AV2 for certain - its state depends on the which AV channel was last set when the TV was switched off and the IR commands move up or down the list of valid AV settings - not directly to a particular one. Fortunately, the remote does also allow you to issue appropriate IR commands to rectify the situation, but it does spoil the elegance of the activity concept. Having said that, I haven't raised this isue with Harmony support - they may have a clever workaround.

    What I really don't like is the position and 'feel' of the keys. The keys are small and 'spongey'. Also, the transport keys are right at the bottom of the remote where they are not so easy to use in one hand. The MX500 keys and layout are far superior. On the other hand, the shape of the remote is very 'peanut -like' and it feels comfortable to hold.

    So in summary:-

    Pros:-
    - Ease of setup
    - Harmony support responsiveness
    - Activity approach is innovative and makes it easy to use, but need the right equipment for it to work prefectly

    Cons:-
    Key layout and feel vastly inferior to MX500


    For me, the negative of the keyboard vastly outweighs the positives and I am seriously thinking of ebaying the remote and going for a 2nd MX500.

    Anyway, hope this helps anyone contemplating a Harmony remote.


    Aitcheff.
     
  7. SolidTechie

    SolidTechie New Member

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    Dec 11, 2002
    Rugeley, Staffs
    This may or may not help, but here is a bit of lateral thinking that works - at least in my case. It should work for all "macros " on any flavour of remote - MXs prontos harmonys and so on

    My TV has 3 AV inputs, but they are a cyclical toggle, rather than distinct codes - ie I have to press the AV button 3 times to get AV3 - but only if it is in TV mode. If it is already on AV1, then I (or the automated remote control function) need to press it only twice.

    What always works though, is that if I first select channel 1 (for example), I am always able to determine the correct number of keypresses required. In this scenario, changing to Ch1, puts my TV in TV mode, so I then need to issue 3 AV keypresses to get to AV3.

    Hope that that:

    a) makes sense
    b) helps someone!
     
  8. aitcheff

    aitcheff New Member

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    Mar 23, 2003
    Redhill, Surrey
    I'll have a look when I get home tonight, but I don't think that this will work for my TV. I think that with my Panasonic, no matter how many times I switch to TV mode, it 'remembers' the last AV channel it was set to, so there seems to be no way to reset to a specific AV channel. But I'll check ....
     
  9. SolidTechie

    SolidTechie New Member

    554
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    Dec 11, 2002
    Rugeley, Staffs
    Oh dear :(

    So how do you change the AV channel then?

    I'm guessing that pressing AV goes to last AV channel, pressing it again increments by one and then loops to the beginning?

    Then do you have a separate button (mine is the same button) to go back to TV?
     
  10. aitcheff

    aitcheff New Member

    100
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    Mar 23, 2003
    Redhill, Surrey
    Pressing the 'A/V' button toggles between TV and AV. So if I am on AV2, pressing
    'A/V' goes to TV, then pressing it again goes back to AV2 and so on. To change the AV channel, I need to then press 'down-menu', or 'up-menu' within about 3 seconds of pressing the 'A/V' button, which would move down or up the list of AV channels.
     
  11. SolidTechie

    SolidTechie New Member

    554
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    Dec 11, 2002
    Rugeley, Staffs
    So, wouldn't it be possible to press say, 'up' menu x no of times, to (always) get to the top of the list, then the appropriate number of 'down' presses for the input you require?
     
  12. aitcheff

    aitcheff New Member

    100
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    Mar 23, 2003
    Redhill, Surrey
    It seems that it was designed to frustrate us ....:(

    Going up from '1', cycles to '3', and down from '3' gives you '1'.
     
  13. Tuesnightspecial

    Tuesnightspecial New Member

    21
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    Oct 18, 2001
    Been waiting for a thread like this for ages...

    The MX500 is simply the best remote I have ever owned. I absolutely love it!

    The pronto was untactile and a pain to program - I just wasn't committed enough to the cause. I sold it.

    Tried the Kameleon next - OKish, but it burned batteries like no tomorrow - and of course, no hard buttons! Sold it.

    Finally settled on the MX500 from the recommendations on this forum. Was nervous about spending that much money, but it lived up to the hype and then some!!!! I'd have paid double knowing what I do now!! No way will I be selling this beauty! I've looked at the upgrades in the family of these remotes and to be honest, for my average joe setup, there's no need to upgrade. Not that they won't absolutely delight some of you who want their advanced features.

    So, get something in the MX family - you'll love it - and thanks to this forum without whom I'd never have found this gem.

    For information, I bought it from FPS Gamer and it was a smooth, customs free, process (don't know if thats guaranteed though).
     
  14. Fishy

    Fishy New Member

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    Jul 24, 2002
    Well after reading this thread, and the much longer Harmony thread, I picked up a Harmony 688 from ebay. At £100 I figured I could re-sell it for about the same if I didn't like it.

    After a day with it, I'm impressed! The risks as I could see it were that it couldn't improve on the excellent tivo remote, and that people had said that many buttons close together were hard to use without looking. Thankfully the item is very peanutty, and the buttons are more raised in the center of each than the picture shows, after a few hours with it I can easily use it without looking. Set-up was very easy, with the default Tivo config being nearly ideal, it just needs a skip key binding, I’ll follow others in using the stop key for that.

    Maybe its because I’ve never had a fancy remote before, but pressing the “Watch X” button and all the items switching on and changing to the right setting is just so swish.

    All my other remotes are now in a box, I’ll give it a week in case I need a few extra commands then off to the loft they go!
     
  15. iankb

    iankb New Member

    6,468
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    Oct 9, 2000
    Reading, UK
    The only thing that you have to remember with a programmable remote is to keep it pointing in the right direction while it runs all of the commands in a macro. There is now a version of the MX-500/700 which has a wireless remote that controls a base IR-sender. That sounds a good idea, and you would be able to use it from another room.
     
  16. Fishy

    Fishy New Member

    22
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    Jul 24, 2002
    "The only thing that you have to remember with a programmable remote is to keep it pointing in the right direction while it runs all of the commands in a macro. "

    This 688 seems quite omni directional. I'm yet to test the limits of it but certainly in normal use you just point it anywhere and it appears to work.
     
  17. scgf

    scgf New Member

    240
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    Oct 24, 2000
    Market...
    I have ordered a Harmony H688 - from Blu-Do. It cost a total of 195 USD including shipping (around 111 GBP). I got them to send it via regular US Air Mail giving me a much greater chance of avoiding import duty & VAT.

    I also decided to buy a wired IR extender from Keene - my TiVo and other boxes are in a cabinet so I thought I'd take the opportunity to feed an IR signal or two into the cabinet and put the IR receiver someone in the vicinity of my plasma screen. Hopefully this should allow me to point the remote at the screen (which seems more natural than to the side where the cabinet is).

    I have been a Pronto user for a couple of years or so and simply wanted a change. I would appreciate a more tactile remote and I love the way the Harmony is setup via the web interface.

    Those of you who hava a Harmony remote, did you need to make any changes to the speed settings for any of your kit? I noticed in the Harmony forum of RemoteCentral some people needed to cut the timings down to avoid the remote feeling sluggish.
     
  18. SimonG

    SimonG New Member

    44
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    Jun 25, 2002


    Do you have an image of the transport part and the up/down/left/right part. This gets a lot of use on TiVo and is somewhat neglected on many remotes...
     
  19. Dunkwho

    Dunkwho New Member

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    Apr 17, 2002
    I use an MX700 most of the time, I also have a pronto 890 that my wife prefers :) The 700 has the advantage that its easily progammable with PC software (more later) - the MX500 is more of a "teach me" remote where you put it into programming mode, point the original remote at it, and learn as you go. I think it might be possible to work a frig of the mx500 "clone" function where a complete setup is put together on a PC then cloned into the remote ... never really looked into it tho.

    I had the pronto 1st and loved it. My wife still loves it because you can make the labels mean something ... big buttons, little buttons, whatever you want - its easier for a technophobe. I use the 700 now because I want tactile feedback.

    The 700 also solves the panasonic problem mentioned in this thread (I've got a 32PL10 32" panasonic). My system on button runs through a series of tivo IR codes to get the tv to auto-switch ... all of this runs as a macro put together through the PC software with timers between codes to make it work. Works perfectly! The trick is to power the TV on, get the tivo in a known state (send the tivo button code), tivo into vcr mode, tivo into tivo menu (the move from VCR to tivo fires the scart switch line, panasonic sees this and switches), then i think i send a live tv and a CLR to ensure that by the time the tv has powered on i'm looking at the tivo's normal output. I can double check that sequence if someone needs it

    What I think I'd really like is the pronto 950 with a cursor pad at the bottom, I reckon I can get by with the limited no of hard keys on that unit and benefit from the graphical UI too ... just a few tweaks needed to the 950's operating system that many people have requested over at remotecentral.com and it'll be the one for me :)

    Duncan
     
  20. iankb

    iankb New Member

    6,468
    0
    Oct 9, 2000
    Reading, UK
    Why re-invent the wheel? Just use an IRClone. No UK dealer unfortunately.
     

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