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?
True Universal MCE Remote
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.
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).
Harmony is also a cost effective solution... you can find the 550 for $50 pretty often.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.