I want to make my husband's dreams come true this Xmas.
December 9, 2010 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a good programmable remote control that has the ability to perform a series of tasks (macros) and costs under $150?

Available online would be ideal. Many thanks, home theater experts!
posted by TochterAusElysium to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can make a remote control for damn near anything for damn near free.

Not sure if it is macro-enabled but I would imagine so.
posted by 3FLryan at 7:53 PM on December 9, 2010

I'm hardly an expert on these things, but I just bought a Logitech Harmony One (which was on sale over the weekend for $150, and can still be found at a few stores for that price), and I'm pretty damned pleased with it. I owned an older Logitech Harmony 600 series for several years, and it was fine, but the new hardware + software is really easy to use and program, and highly customizable. I'm not a true power A/V user, but I am extremely happy with this remote, and would recommend it to anyone.
posted by mosk at 7:56 PM on December 9, 2010

Hmmm...just saw those $150 Harmony One's I listed above were refurbs. Amazon has it new for $159, but that's inching above your price range.
posted by mosk at 7:59 PM on December 9, 2010

>If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can make a remote control for damn near anything for damn near free.

Unfortunately, it isn't quite that easy. Most A/V products use infrared (IR) signals, which the iPhone and its variants do not output natively. To use IR with your iPhone requires an IR adapter and some software. Prices are coming down, but the necessary IR adapters run $50 to $190, depending on features. The Red Eye, from ThinkFlood, is a fairly representative example. Some users complain of latency with these remotes -- press a button and wait an extra second or two for the signal to be sent. Might not be a deal breaker, but worth considering before you purchase. FWIW, that issue was one of the things that drove me away from an iPhone solution and towards a dedicated remote.
posted by mosk at 8:21 PM on December 9, 2010

The Harmony remotes are good. You can assign macros to particular menu buttons. So, say you want to switch on your TV, amp and DVD player, then switch the source to DVD, you can do that as a macro. If you want to have the TV channel buttons control one device and the volume buttons control another (without switching devices), you can do that. The database contains every device there is (almost) and the learning mode is very quick and intuitive.

Unfortunately, if you have a no-brand device like my television that takes up to three attempts to wake up from standby, the macros aren't always good enough - it's the nature of the control having no feedback. Also, if you need to assign something that lives in a sub-menu (to select the source on my TV you have to open the menu, step through the sources, then close the menu) ,you can use macros to simulate sequences of key presses (with configurable delays if necessary). This also proves to be hit-and-miss with my TV.

But overall, if your devices respond well to their own remotes and there are no strange quirks, a Harmony remote ought to be perfect. I love mine despite the fact that it doesn't work miracles with my shoddy equipment.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:06 AM on December 10, 2010

We have a Logitech Harmony 700 that's rechargeable and around $100. My husband programmed it so you press one button to watch a dvd or whatever and all of the right devices go on and to the right setting. I guess I'm just saying what a lot of other people have said, though.
posted by zorrine at 1:45 PM on December 10, 2010

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