February 15, 2010 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Universal remote on a budget. Is. It. Possible?

We recently bought a new Vizio and a Vizio soundbar to go with it. Awesome, right? Right. Unfortunately, this has bloated our remote collection to 5 remotes. It's getting to be a little much and it's driving my girlfriend (and me, to be honest) batshit.

Now, I'd love to buy a Logitech Harmony One, but at $200 it's pretty steep. I was hoping someone had some recommendations for universal remotes that will work with a Vizio TV and soundbar and our Xbox 360. We have a pretty old Samsung DVD/VCR player, but I'll probably replace that with an upscaling DVD player.

Bonus question: Nice fairly cheap upscaling DVD player? BluRay is not important.
posted by InsanePenguin to Technology (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Whoops, meant to add, around $100, but cheaper would be nicer.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:12 PM on February 15, 2010

The core technology to Harmony Remotes hasn't changed from year to year, so if you are looking to save a few dollars, buy last year's model
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:17 PM on February 15, 2010

The Harmony Remote is totally worth it and i don't think any other company makes anything comparable. ++ to mcstayinskool's idea.
posted by Brainy at 6:22 PM on February 15, 2010

Agreed, I have a lower-end Harmony 550 and it is perfectly sufficient for controlling tons of stuff. The practical benefits of the color touchscreen don't seem worth nearly $100.
posted by smackfu at 6:25 PM on February 15, 2010

I bought a refurb harmony for like $50 or $60 I think, we rather like it.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:30 PM on February 15, 2010

I have a One-For-All URC 10820 10 Device Learning Universal Remote Control. It's great - you can find the appropriate codes over at the Remote Control Forums website or program it from your existing remotes. I found that it will control most advanced devices with very little customization. You can also program macros with little effort. It's $17. What's not to like?
posted by Susurration at 6:39 PM on February 15, 2010

2nding buy last year's. We got our Harmony, which was the Xbox 360 "model" (it had Xbox themed buttons? Whatever) for like $60 marked down something like 50% because it was remaindered after they stopped making it. They intro new Harmony models seemingly every month, so just keep an eye on the one you want and it will eventually either disappear or fall drastically in price :)
posted by crinklebat at 6:46 PM on February 15, 2010

I just bought an older lower-cost model Harmony on sale for $70. It only controls up to five devices, but that's the only limitation we've found. Keep an eye out for sales.
posted by cgg at 6:54 PM on February 15, 2010

I have the Harmony XBox 360 edition remote, which is basically a fancy-looking 510 with the XBox's four large, colored buttons. I picked it up for $70-ish, it's completely adequate for my situation (HDMI-attached TV, DVR, home theater in a box/DVD player, Xbox 360, HDMI switch) and it has the advantage of taking standard, AAA batteries over the proprietary batteries found in the higher end models. The LCD screen tells you what you need to know and it would be hard for me to justify going for the added expense of the color touchscreen display. Also, the Harmony series is insanely configurable via Logitech's software (which I found to have a steep learning curve if you don't want to have your hand held), so if something about how it's working bugs you, odds are that you can change it.
posted by indubitable at 7:02 PM on February 15, 2010

Chiming in to say get an old harmony model. I have a 720 that I can't imagine channel surfing without it. Also, I actually prefer the old models with hard buttons over the harmony one's touch screen since I don't have to look down at the remote to see what I'm pressing which makes home theater more seamless to control.
posted by woolylambkin at 7:07 PM on February 15, 2010

Pick up a Harmony 670 for $60 shipped or a Harmony 620 for $57 shipped. Basically the only difference is how many devices they can control. The 650 can control 15, the 620 a "mere" 12.

One of the best aspects of getting a Harmony remote is the fact that you can call their help line and they will tweak the programming to do exactly what you want it to do. It's free for the first 3 months but after that you have to pay.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 7:18 PM on February 15, 2010

Like the others, I suggest the cheapest Harmony you can find...we have the Harmony 510 and it's fantastic. It's not without its minor annoyances, but like indubitable said, it's very customizable and gets the job done.
posted by puritycontrol at 7:19 PM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: Awesome! Thanks for all the quick responses. Looking into picking up an Xbox 360 version Harmony or the 510. Thanks everyone!
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:22 PM on February 15, 2010

A touchscreen isn't necessarily a good thing on a remote. It sounds neat, but without the physical buttons, it can be harder to operate by feel.

Without recommending a particularly model, I'd suggest you peruse Remote Central. I've had an MX-500 from Universal Remote Control, Inc., that I've been using for several years and absolutely love. Cost me about $100 when I bought it, but that particular model isn't in production any more.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:54 PM on February 15, 2010

Nthing the Harmony recommendations. I picked up a manufacturer refurb one (think it was the 520) last year at CompUSA for about $50. Works great and pretty easy to tweak to one's liking, though the buttons take some getting used to.
posted by Ponsonby Britt at 8:24 PM on February 15, 2010

The extremely cheap but rather skuzzy way we've dealt with the problem is by creating The Megatron. All it costs is a roll of duct tape, if you want to go uber low budget.
posted by teraspawn at 8:36 AM on February 16, 2010

I really, really loved my One for All. It has one of the best button layouts and is very cheap for a universal remote (got mine for $30 at the time). My model was even programmable: they could reprogram it sending modem-like codes over the phone. Unfortunately I had to abandon it for a Harmony when we dropped our landline and made a PVR switch. The cell phone was too static-y to correctly carry the reprogramming info. Even after more than a year to get used to it I still don't like the buttons or the layout as much on the Harmony.
posted by Tallguy at 11:06 AM on February 16, 2010

« Older How to make the coolest pad in NYC without...   |   Need help finding a video Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.