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217 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 85147 14-Jun-2011 19:35
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Hi all. Long time, no post :)

My Harmony 785 recently died, so I'm looking at a new remote. Has anyone used any intelligent / learning remotes other than the Harmony series? While I found the Harmony okay, it just wasn't flexible enough for what I want.

The big thing would be the ability to construct a specific macro. For example, making TV PowerOn the first signal in an activity, irrespective of what power state it's currently in. The Harmony will only let you send explicit signals after running through the pre-defined Activity signals, meaning > 30 seconds to change activities.

Any thoughts on possible alternatives appreciated!

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2820 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 481167 14-Jun-2011 19:59
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When I do work for a mate in Auckland he always uses Universal Remote Controls (URC) and they are awesome.
You can do so much more than a Harmony remote.
Harmony remotes are targeted to the end user to be able to setup and program their own remotes.
The URC ones don't come with any software and usually have to be setup by an AV installer.
You may be able to get hold of the software and do the programming yourself.

Link to the NZ distributor:
http://www.avd.co.nz/shop/Universal+Remotes.html




718 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 481176 14-Jun-2011 20:20
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If you don't mind spending a bit mroe cash, and on something second hand, there's always the famous Philips Pronto line.

 
 
 
 


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 481183 14-Jun-2011 21:02
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The 'power on' setting can be changed on the Harmony remotes, there is an option to setup which device powers up first, second, third etc

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  Reply # 481341 15-Jun-2011 10:09
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illicit: The 'power on' setting can be changed on the Harmony remotes, there is an option to setup which device powers up first, second, third etc
+1

I believe you can do exactly what you want to do with the Harmony range, as illicit says above.
Getting to the section you want/need is a pain in the , but once there you can pretty easily shuffle things around from mammary.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 481367 15-Jun-2011 10:56
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Illicit, Jaxson - here's the problem:

My "Music" activity turns on the TV and Amp, and sets the HTPC to send signals to iTunes. I select a tune and start it playing. Then, I use one of the custom buttons on the remote to turn the TV off. The Harmony, despite knowing that I've just sent a TV PowerOff signal, doesn't really understand this fact.

After playing some tunes, let's say I want to watch TV. I have a "WatchTV" activity. The remote should know to turn on the TV, because I've previously turned the TV off using the remote. It doesn't. It assumes the TV is on because the TV was used in the earlier activity. So the Harmony tries to change the TV input, set up the amp, etc. Setting the TV input doesn't work, because the TV is still off.

As a workaround, I can add an explicit "TV PowerOn" signal to the "WatchTV" activity, but this can only be placed after the in-built power and input-setting of the devices. This means the WatchTV activity is:

- Power TV on, but only if it's not already on
- Power Amp on, but only if it's not already on
- Set TV input
- Set Amp input
- Set HTPC input
- Explicit instructions as specified by me:
- Explicit TV PowerOn
- Set TV input

I want the *first* instruction to be an explicit "TV PowerOn", regardless of the state of the TV. As far as I know, you can't do that.

Cheers
Buzzy 

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  Reply # 481380 15-Jun-2011 11:07
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Yep, I believe you are right on that one.

jonathan18 had the same / similar issue with his setup. His turn on points were quite critical with a mac mini to prevent it defaulting to the wrong output resolution.

The device mode of the harmony is a no mans land. Anything you do in there is totally manual so it doesn't keep track of on/off states etc.

What you are describing is very common now, in that we need to turn on a damn TV to select songs, where as in the past a CD player had it's own screen. I have the same issue when using the PS3 as my music source. I liked Bazzers idea of using a PSP unit to select songs via bluetooth connection back to the main PS3.

From memory you can ring the Harmony help line and they will insert the discrete on command right at the start of your activities. They do this at a high level, overiding the software that you and I have to use. If this worked it would satisfy your requirements, or you could just remember to turn the TV back on each time...

Or you could insert a TV on command at the end of the activity. This would often work but would also mean it would turn the TV on when you wanted everything to turn off.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 481388 15-Jun-2011 11:12
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You could just press "Help" and "Yes" before selecting the TV activity, which should resync it.

I had a couple of Prontos before my Harmony 700. While they are ultimately flexible you have to do a lot more setup work, in many cases learning all the buttons from the original remote because their device libraries aren't nearly as big, even with help from sites like remotecentral.com. Having almost everything on a touchscreen is really not as good as hard buttons either.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 481430 15-Jun-2011 12:51
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Buzzy

Change the 'music' activity settings.

In the same place you can add extra commands when an activity starts, you can also set commands for when the activity stops - just add in 'TV-ON' command for when the 'music' activity finishes.

Let us know how you get on.

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  Reply # 481435 15-Jun-2011 13:01
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illicit:  just add in 'TV-ON' command for when the 'music' activity finishes.


As above ...
What happens when he wants to just turn off the music and do nothing else, ie just presses the off button?
- It will turn on the TV and turn off everything else in his system?

Adding TV ON (if his TV has a discrete on command) to all activities that do require the TV would make more sense.  The thing is though that I don't think you can add this extra command to be at the start of the list.  It tends to do all the automatic stuff first and then add you additional commands after that.  Calling Harmony (I believe) can have this command inserted first.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 481504 15-Jun-2011 14:40
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Hey Illicit - thanks. I tried that but ran into problems (can't recall the exact issue now; it was a while ago). Similarly Jaxson, the Harmony people said they couldn't change the setup to what I wanted.  

In any event, the remote's still got a dead screen and is a discontinued line, so this is really more about an alternative rather than trying to fix the current one.

The URC R40 sounds good; I'll see if they can be obtained in NZ. It'd be interesting to test it out in any event.  

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  Reply # 481774 16-Jun-2011 10:57
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buzzy: The URC R40 sounds good; I'll see if they can be obtained in NZ.

Yes please let us know what you find on this.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 487735 30-Jun-2011 10:45
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No good; the distributor only sells the commercial models, not the consumer ones.

I've ordered an L5 Remote from the UK; we'll see how that works out with the iPhone... 

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  Reply # 487794 30-Jun-2011 12:13
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How do the iPhone remotes work?
Everything I've seen with that requires some stupid IR attachment add on.

Is there anything like the Harmony PS3 adaptor for instance, though in reverse -
Something that can receive a bluetooth/wifi command from cell phone/ipad/ipod touch/iphone etc etc and then output this locally in your equipment cupboard/AV Cabinet etc as IR commands?



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 487804 30-Jun-2011 12:42
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Jaxson: How do the iPhone remotes work?
Everything I've seen with that requires some stupid IR attachment add on.


Yep, that's exactly what the L5Remote is. THe app itself is free, and you can drag-n-drop arbitrary buttons onto the remote, then map them to remote codes. You can also create macros, which is really what I'm after.

As I say, I've got one coming so I'll post a review of it if Maurizio lets me.

Is there anything like the Harmony PS3 adaptor for instance, though in reverse -
Something that can receive a bluetooth/wifi command from cell phone/ipad/ipod touch/iphone etc etc and then output this locally in your equipment cupboard/AV Cabinet etc as IR commands?


Yep. This: http://www.gear4.com/showcase-unity/

I thought the L5 app was a bit nicer as it's more customisable and closer to a traditional remote. Hardware wise, the L5 remote dongle is certainly cheaper.

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  Reply # 487823 30-Jun-2011 13:13
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buzzy:
Is there anything like the Harmony PS3 adaptor for instance, though in reverse -
Something that can receive a bluetooth/wifi command from cell phone/ipad/ipod touch/iphone etc etc and then output this locally in your equipment cupboard/AV Cabinet etc as IR commands?


Yep. This: http://www.gear4.com/showcase-unity/

I thought the L5 app was a bit nicer as it's more customisable and closer to a traditional remote. Hardware wise, the L5 remote dongle is certainly cheaper.


That's the sht I'm talking about, that looks cool as.
I like it.  You'd have to check how the app design works/capabilities etc but it really does look cool.
Price seems ok, I like it.

And the chick in the video is hot too.

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