Well I hope you didn't get too much of me blabbing about home theater junk because your going to get some more. My last post was focused on ways of getting the media files on your desktop or laptop onto your TV screen. I want to direct your attention to the control aspect of this type of setup. I don't know about you but with technology the way it is today, you get a remote control with just about everything. TV's, amplifiers, DVD players, Blu-ray players, cable boxes, PVR's, game consoles, car stereos, digital cameras, digital picture frames... hell, if it's digital, you can probably get a remote for it! The big question is, what do we do with all these remotes?
Well you might jump in and say "one of my devices came with a fancy universal remote that controls all of my devices". That might be the case but then I ask you, have you ever had to find one of the remotes, and a pair of AAA batteries for it, just so you could access some random function that the fancy universal remote couldn't do? Your darn rights you have, and I tell you what... for me, that is unacceptable! I absolutely can't stand that the single remote that I spent time programming, can't do everything I need it to. Especially if the desired function is something common like volume, channel, guide, video source or menu access. I need my remote to do it all, and I can tell you right now, if you add a computer or media device, your going to add one more remote to the table.
So now your telling me that your universal remote has a learning function? Ohh that's fancy! Except you probably still have trouble with it because the initial code didn't cover all of the desired functions so you sat there and forced it to learn 50 different commands from 3 different remotes and ran out of memory on the controller and didn't get all of the things you wanted in. On top of that you had to force the "audio source" command to the universals "video source" button because there was no actual "audio source" button on the remote. I will admit that I don't care too much about mislabeled functions as I am good at remembering how I set it all up, but once you hand it to your spouse... your gonna be answering the "what button do I push to make it..." for the rest of your life. Sure this universal remote will do for a while, but your eventually bound to pull out one of the factory remotes to access some crazy feature that you didn't know you needed.
We need to take this remote business to the next level. We need a universal remote that can replace every single function of all of our remotes and still have room to do a bunch of stuff that we didn't know we needed it to do! Where do I get such a remote you ask? You get it on the internet of course! Of course you could find one in a local store, but I would bet my right butt cheek that it will cost you way more locally, than through a web store. There are a bunch of high end universal remotes available right now and some of them are fairly cheap. To be honest though, I have only personally tried the Logitech Harmony series however Phillips and Acoustic Research also make a few comparable models. The Logitech Harmony remotes are programmed to match your exact hardware so that no functions are left out. Some of the higher end models feature color touch screens, tilt sensitive back-lighting, charging cradles and Bluetooth capability. Don't get me wrong though, you could get the cheap Harmony 300 for $25 but it would be easy to blow $250 on one of the better models. Keep in mind that with any of the Harmony's you really get a remote that will last forever as the online database of hardware is always growing and it's simple to use the software or website to program your remote... no more code punching!
My point from all this is that I urge you to spend a few bucks to get yourself a decent remote control. You will enjoy your $1000+ home theater system a lot more when your not using a $15 remote to control it. You can easily get a Bluetooth or infrared adaptor for your computer to make surfing your entire home theater, even your computer, possible with just one remote. I think that is a solution to a highly overlooked problem!