Many consumers today have a more complex home entertainment system than in years past where they might have simply had a television set. Today, it is common to have a wide screen television, a separate AV receiver which provides surround sound, a DVD or Blu-ray player, a cable set-top box, a Tivo or other video recorder, and of course two handfuls of remote controls!
Many times someone in the household is nominated as the technical expert and they usually have to set the various inputs and settings so that different activities can take place such as Watching Television, Watching a Movie, Watching the Tivo, and then trying to figure out which remote controls the volume, the channels, it can be quite confusing and frustrating, especially if that technical expert isn’t home!
Luckily a few companies have come to the rescue and provided universal remote controls which take the complexity out of using and enjoying your home theater system. Both Logitech and Acoustic Research (Audiovox) make very nice universal remotes, the Harmony and XSight Series respectively, which simplify your home theater system by organizing your various components into the real world activities that you perform such as Watch Television, Watch a Movie, Watch Tivo, etc.
I evaluated remotes from both companies recently and ended up keeping the Acoustic Research XSight Touch Remote, model # ARRX18G. Remotes from these companies are not cheap, the Logitech model 700 I tried was on sale for $119 and the XSight Touch I ended up keeping is normally $250, but was on sale for $150. Logitech has a comparable model to the XSight Touch, the Harmony One which also looks like a fine remote, but expensive as well, $250. At this point you might be saying, but I can pick up a universal remote for $20. Yes you can, but it won’t be as easy to program or use. For example, both the Harmony and XSight remotes can connect to your computer via a USB cable to program them which makes it very easy and simplifies the setup. It also provides a means of a backup should the programming in the remote get lost or damaged as the configuration is stored on the manufacturers web site. The higher end remotes, XSight Touch and Harmony One offer rechargeable batteries and color touchscreens which makes them a joy to use and operate.
As an example of what I was able to accomplish, to watch a movie previously, I had to do the following steps: Turn on TV, Turn on AV receiver for surround sound, Turn on Blu-Ray Player, switch the input on the TV to the HDMI 2 setting, switch the input on the AV receiver to DVD. Now, all someone has to do is pickup the remote and click “Watch a Movie” and all of those steps happen automatically!
Personally, I was able to consolidate my television, AV receiver, Blu-ray player, digital music player, and digital video recorder all into one remote and have everything so simple that I’m no longer needed anymore to get the TV ready for others to watch a movie, etc. I’ve successfully removed myself from being the AV expert and empowered everyone else to do what they want, when they want. Freedom!
I’d highly recommend that anyone looking to do the same read the reviews of the various remotes and do some further research. As always, I’m available to answer any further questions via email or offer assistance for the initial setup if required.
Here are some links to help get you started:
Logitech Harmony Remotes: http://www.logitech.com/harmony
AR XSight Remotes: http://www.araccessories.com/araccessories
Rob at Inline Tech is a 15+ year technology veteran in the IT industry and if you have any questions feel free to contact him via his web site at www.inlinetech.com.