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Old 12-15-2009, 09:41 PM
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Default Episode 23: Is 240Hz HDTV A Scam? $100 Harmony Universal Remote, Blu-ray DVD Swaps, Missing HD Channels Found, Top 5 Brad Pitt Films in Hi-Def!

Is Motion Blur A Lie? HD Cable Channels Missing: Check For A Switch Video Upgrade. What's the difference between a $100 and $400 Logitech Harmony universal remote? Cheap Blu-ray for DVD Swaps, and the Blu-ray releases for December 15, 2009

Watch or download this episode here
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:35 PM
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In my search for universal remote nirvana I accumulated almost a file cabinet drawer full of various remotes. None of them would work all of my devices. At one point it took three remotes just to watch a movie. And don't even get me started on how much of a total pain in the ass they were to program, entering all those codes and that crap. Then I found the Harmony remotes. Its like night and day. It is the most wonderful line of remotes on the planet. I would sell my mother before I would give up my Harmony. I will kill anyone who attempts to steal my Harmony. I want to marry my Harmony. I want to father its children.

And I'll toss in a vote for Pawn Stars and How The Earth Was Made while I'm here too
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:44 PM
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Default Universal Remotes

Universal remotes would be a good idea if TV's and other electronics would accomodate them better.

For starters, the gates to Universal Remote Control Heaven slam shut right at the On/Off button: "Watch TV" sends TV power, Set top box power, audio receiver power. Oh crap, the set top box and the TV went on but the audio receiver didn't see me. Push it again. Now all devices saw it and only the receiver is on, the others are off.

You'll have to program two macros for "Watch BD": one for if you're already watching TV and one for when everything is still off. If only there were separate context-insensitive codes for "ON" and "OFF", you could program macros with those codes, and you could hit the "Watch TV" button as often as you need, in case one of the devices happened to be behind the Christmas candle on the coffee table when you tried it the first time. I think the major reason why we don't see more universal remotes is that people have to deal with this kind of stuff, and (possibly even more important) make their girlfriends, spouses and families deal with it.

More negative points on the Girlfriend Acceptability Factor scale is that in order to be cost-effective, most universal remotes don't have enough buttons to be useful (you could argue that one of the design goals for universal remotes is to reduce the number of buttons in the first place, of course). I have an awesome Pioneer receiver that came with a programmable universal remote, and it has probably over 100 buttons but there are not enough buttons to control the DVD player and the DVR beyond the standard functions (play, stop, pause, rewind etc.). I programmed it with all the buttons to my (cable) DVR, but I'm the only one who remembers which button does what ("." replays the last 8 seconds, "#" goes back to live TV etc.).

Sure, if you have an RF remote control with a touch screen, it makes up for some of these deficiencies. But even with RF, there's still a chance that some devices sometimes don't "see" you, and there's still no acceptable way to fix the "I'm watching TV but now I want to watch a BD" situation.

And though those cool expensive Harmony remotes (and way before that, the Philips Pronto remote control which is even cooler than the Harmony but is even more expensive and is almost impossible to find in the USA) have a touch screen to show you labeled buttons with extra functions, you still have to look at them to know what button you're pushing, and to see if you're actually pushing it.

I think the industry has a long way to go before they can make acceptable universal remotes. And of course they're not really interested because extra features make TV's, BluRay players and set top boxes more expensive and there are not enough people who want to pay for it, so although there might be a market there, it's not very big.

On the other hand, I'm pleased to see more devices that are more or less designed to be hackable (by the way, feel free to use that as a nice item or theme for a future show), so in the near future it will probably at least be possible to connect my network to my TV, BluRay player, DVR and other devices (or use a Blutooth dongle or whatever) and install some software to enable two-way communication with my remote or my phone. If I want to watch a BD, the remote will know whether the TV is already on and won't turn it off by sending the Power code. If it's well programmed, I'm sure my wife will want one!

===Jac
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:06 AM
davmoo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jac_goudsmit View Post
If I want to watch a BD, the remote will know whether the TV is already on and won't turn it off by sending the Power code.
The Harmony remotes already do that, at least starting with the Harmony 550 (I never had earlier models). If I start out watching by punching the "Watch TiVo" activity and then later decide I want to watch a Blu-Ray disc, all I have to do is punch "Activities" and then "Watch BD". The remote knows the TV and the sound box were already turned on, and it simply turns on the Blu-Ray player and then tunes the TV to the correct input for the player and tunes the sound box to the correct input also. I do not have to power off "Watch TiVo" first. And if I power off from that, and then the next day punch "Watch TiVo" again, it knows that after it powers on the TV it needs to change the input back to the one for the TiVo.

The only time there is a problem is if the batteries in the Harmony die while you're watching. In that case, when you put in new batteries the remote comes back thinking everything is powered off, thus you must first manually power off all devices.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:31 AM
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Great episode, funny cause when I Pat said that when he pressed a button on the remote and things started going crazy, my computer went out of full screen mode?
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Old 12-18-2009, 02:03 PM
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Default BBC in HD

Hey, we have BBC in HD here in Green Bay, WI through Time Warner. However its not part of the free HD they offer, so I have not been able to enjoy it.
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:34 PM
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I can get BBC America in HD here on Time Warner Cable in Lincoln NE. It's great. Just in time for some new Dr Who and Top Gear (I don't torrent. :P)
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Old 12-25-2009, 06:00 PM
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I don't have BBC America at all on Cablevision. They're oddly behind the curve a lot of the time though it's been better in recent years.
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:52 PM
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BTW tip for Harmony owners and a possible reason Patrick had to get a new account.

If you have a remote with 6 devices, it is possible to have more. Just create an account with a 12 or 15 device remote and then add your devices, set-up activities then just simply "upgrade" your account to the new 6 device remote. Your 6 device remote will now have the same devices and activities as your "larger" remote. The device limit is a arbitrary limit and not related to hardware.
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