Do we REALLY need a $325 remote control?
October 27, 2010 6:45 PM   Subscribe

My parents want to mount a flat TV on a wall and store the components in a closet. What do they need to know/buy/do?

The distance between the (new, still-to-be-purchased) TV and the aforementioned closet is about 8 feet. They can run component (DVD, cable box, VHS (yes, VHS)) cables to the TV through a crawlspace beneath the house. Keeping the closet doors open for operating the components with their existing universal remote is undesirable. They do not need any interaction with WiFi, streaming music, computers, etc etc etc. Simple old-school setup.

HOWEVER, I think they need an RF remote like the Logitech Harmony 900 to go through the closet doors, but I don't think I can persuade them to spend multi-hundreds-of-dollars on a solution. They would probably just ditch the whole project instead. Help me save the day!
posted by nkknkk to Technology (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
While I would argue for a Harmony remote to eliminate what I bet is a flustercuck of remotes, I would not recommend the RF one. A much cheaper IR one will do fine, coupled with... an IR repeater system.

Even if you don't go with a harmony remote, an IR repeater system like this is intended to solve this type of problem. The IR receiver would sit on top of your tv (there are a variety of form factors) with a wire running to the closet. The little IR emitters get stuck to each component (that kit is designed for 4 devices).
posted by fief at 7:01 PM on October 27, 2010

I have the 900 and love it, but fief's idea might end up being cheaper.

Only other thing to think about is ventilation, cable boxes and amplifiers (if any) can run really hot.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:06 PM on October 27, 2010

They're on Elfa shelves already, plenty of ventilation within the closet space. No amps, either. But thanks for the heads' up on that!
posted by nkknkk at 7:09 PM on October 27, 2010

I bought this IR repeater this summer to wire up a system for a friend - receiver and digital cable box in the basement for TV and speakers in the kitchen.

Basically you will have the box unit with the emitters stuck to the front of the electronic gear, and you will run the receiver wire out with the rest of your wires to where the TV is. Point the remote at the receiver and it will send the IR signals to the units in the closet.

It works a charm. I spliced an extension into the lead for the IR receiver unit and it works just fine.

They will be able to use their existing remotes or pick up a generic universal if they want to.
posted by davey_darling at 8:36 PM on October 27, 2010

Yup, 4thing the IR Repeater.
posted by defcom1 at 9:19 PM on October 27, 2010

odinsdream: is the IR receiver within view of the tv? Is the IR receiver of the type that appropriately filters the noise emitted by the LCD TV? Xantech thinks this is a big deal. When I researched what system to buy, the resellers and home installers I spoke with said that this was a big deal and said xantech had the best active and passive filtering for tough environments.

Another piece of advice; The only IR repeater system you should be buying is Xantech. The exception to this rule is if you are installing a home automation system from Cresteon and the like, in which case you should use theirs. But if you are doing that type of installation, you aren't doing the work yourself and you are paying big bucks and in a totally different realm of purchasing. Xantech's system is flexible, robust, and expands easily.
posted by fief at 11:37 PM on October 27, 2010

If you wire everything up with HDMI, you'll have a lot less cable to run, and a better picture. I'd definitely look at an upconverting DVD (or Blu-Ray) player if you're already spending money on this. Even if you don't take this advice, you should buy your cabling from monoprice.
posted by schmod at 6:38 AM on October 28, 2010

odinsdream: I am so annoyed that Xantech doesn't sell packaged basic kits in Best Buy and the like. Instead, Best Buy sells mediocre stuff like those pyramids. I would have thought that with that the inclusion of the high end Magnolia stores, Best Buy would want to sell this stuff.

Side note: If you live in the south SF Bay Area, sells Xantech stuff and has a showroom in Cupertino where you can do local pickups.

and odinsdream is totally spot on for the source for cables. I have regularly bought cables and paid for next shipping and still been substantially less than had I bought the cables in a local store. is the one place I buy cables.

Another side note: Central Computers in the SF Bay Area has a pretty respectable selection of cables at almost reasonable prices if you really do need something same day.
posted by fief at 11:21 AM on October 28, 2010

How hard will it be to splice additional length onto the IR repeater? We need about 16-20' to drop into the crawl space and back up. My dad is pretty handy, I am not.
posted by nkknkk at 1:12 PM on October 28, 2010

You likely won't even have to splice if you have a clear run for your cable. My IR receiver unit plugged into the control unit using a standard 1/8 stereo jack (like on your headphones). You can just buy extension cables like this to get the length you need.

I had to splice and solder mine because I was going through a wall and I installed the wire and closed the wall up before I even had the IR unit.
posted by davey_darling at 8:06 PM on October 28, 2010

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