True Universal MCE Remote

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Joined: 22 Dec 2009
True Universal MCE Remote

I'm looking for a true universal mce remote that will.  I can find several that say they are "universal" remotes but don't actually have the ability to control other devices (TV, DVD, AUX).  Really, my only main concern is that I need a remote that will control my Win7 HTPC and be able to turn off the power on my TV.  Any suggestions?

Mike Garcen's picture
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Joined: 1 Oct 2006

Well, if that's literally ALL you need it to do, power hte TV on/off and then control your HTPC< you could get by with one of the old backlit Media Center Remotes that Philips/Microsoft produced...but since they're no longer made you'd have to try Ebay.

Otherwise, all of the Harmony remotes would do the job phenomenally for ya.

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

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Joined: 29 Nov 2006

If you're really picky, a Pronto remote is the way to go.  It'll take some work, but you can make one of those do pretty much anything you'd ever want.  The Harmony remotes are easier to use, but in my opinion give a less-perfect solution (stuff like discrete on/off commands, for example).

ET

jennyfur's picture
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Joined: 5 Oct 2006

Harmony is also a cost effective solution... you can find the 550 for $50 pretty often.

7MC - Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 - Avermedia M780 - Dvico Fusion HDTV7 - Terk HDTVa - Xbox 360 S - Logitech Harmony 650 - Panasonic V10 - Onkyo HT-RC160

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Joined: 12 Aug 2007

I've seen some Media Center remotes, mainly ones made by Mediagate (but I've seen the exact same remote with another maker's name as well) that claim to work with Vista and 7 MC.  But what I don't understand is that the IR is a USB dongle-type, and the pictures don't show any IR blasters.  In my experience, if the blasters aren't there you can't finish setting up the TV part of MC if you've chosen that you have an STB.  It seems these remotes would be of limited use if that is something that's required.  And if required, the only option is a Microsoft remote from eBay??  Or did I just miss the blasters on the Mediagate remotes?

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Joined: 22 Dec 2009

I looked at the Mediagate remotes and they would work for me if they had basic universal functionality.  As far as the IR recevier is concerned, my Antect Fusion black has one built in and the iMON software lists a standard MCE remote as a compatable option.

Thanks for the suggestion on the Harmony remote.  I honestly hadn't even been looking because most I had glanced at where $100+.  I noticed NewEgg has a cert refurb 550 for $60.  I think I may pick this up.  One question though, what makes the other models so much better that they are $100+?

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Joined: 22 Dec 2009

Just remembered once concern I had about the old harmony remote I had.  Probably 4 or 5 years ago I had one of the old Harmony remotes, I don't remember the model number but is was blue and had a very basic LCD display.  I don't even think it was backlit.  Well the problem I had with it was that the IR straight wasn't very good.  My entertainment center has devices on either side of the TV.  When I would use one of the macros to start a DVD I would have to point it at the left side so the signal would first reach the audio rec and then move it to the right so the signal would reach the DVD player on the right side of the TV.  How is the IR strength on the 550?

Also, the old version took quite a bit of tweaking to get it just right.  Is this easier on the newer models?

jennyfur's picture
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Joined: 5 Oct 2006

Can't really give advice as to the reliability of the IR, it likely depends on your particular equipment and your layout I'd imagine. With mine I just point it straight, but then again all my devices are within a couple feet of each other and I'm pretty close to them. Once in a blue moon one device might not turn off, but it's so infrequent that I don't really consider it a problem. Hitting the "help" button fixes it if so. So I'd say mine is reliable.

If you are trying to make extremely complex macros, then yes you will run into problems. The Harmony remotes aren't meant for that kind of customization and are aimed more to be a device anyone can set up and not just AV geeks. They make it very easy to configure so that the average Joe doesn't get too confused. I'm pretty sure you can run a demo of the setup software on Logitech's site before you take the plunge and buy one. That way you can see exactly what customization options are available and if they meet your needs. Pretty much what erikt said above... the Pronto is the way to go if you need more than a Harmony can offer.

Other models more expensive than the 550 just have more features. Better screens, some with touchscreens even, the ability to control more devices, different layouts, recharging capabilities, or even RF. Also different form factors. The Harmony One is definitely the one to go for in the $100+ price range IMHO.

Newegg increased the price on that refurb if it's $60 now, it was $48 last week. Bummer, I've bought 3 brand new all at different times for $50. Can't seem to find em at that price since black friday this year though.

7MC - Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 - Avermedia M780 - Dvico Fusion HDTV7 - Terk HDTVa - Xbox 360 S - Logitech Harmony 650 - Panasonic V10 - Onkyo HT-RC160

captain_video's picture
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Joined: 6 Jul 2007

I just picked up a Mediagate remote to use with my Dell Zino HD.  The remote only works with Media Center by default but it can be programmed to work with other devices as well.  The volume and power buttons could easily be reprogrammed to operate your TV.  If you're looking to control more than just your TV and HTPC then I would recommend going with one of the Harmony remotes or some other universal type remote.

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Joined: 22 Dec 2009

I'm not looking for any kind of complex macros, just the typical changing audio source, video source, and powering on the proper device.  From what I seen so far it appears the Harmony will cover me here.  I'm fairly certian I'm going to get the 550.  I'm probably going to wait a little bit to see if the price drops after the christmas rush.

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Joined: 29 Nov 2006

The Harmony will work fine.  My main beef with them is that they generally don't use discrete power on/off commands.  If you forget to point the remote at all of the components long enough and one doesn't turn, for example, you have to go through the Harmony Help sequence to re-synchronize your remote with the state of your components.

With my Pronto remote set up to use discrete codes, if something doesn't turn on or get set into the right mode for whatever reason, I just hit the On button again and whatever is wrong gets fixed.  Same thing with turning everything off.

But as I said earlier, I'm really picky.
ET

jennyfur's picture
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Joined: 5 Oct 2006

FYI if you can find the 520 or 510 for cheap they aren't much different (just lacking a few buttons the 550 has). The xbox 360 version is also nearly identical aside from having the 4 colored controller buttons (A,B,X,Y) in the center.

7MC - Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 - Avermedia M780 - Dvico Fusion HDTV7 - Terk HDTVa - Xbox 360 S - Logitech Harmony 650 - Panasonic V10 - Onkyo HT-RC160

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