UNIVERSAL REMOTE & ACCESSORY REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 21, 2005 0 comments
Sometimes, solving a problem is as simple as knowing the right tool to use.

Gustave Flaubert was a realist and a perfectionist. No wonder he came up with this gem: "Happiness is a monstrosity! Punished are those who seek it." This might well be the mantra of anyone who seeks to put together a high-performance home theater. Unless you start with a set of blueprints and a lot of expertise, you're going to run into a few punishing problems on your way to home theater happiness. Fortunately, Wilkinson's First Law of Home Theater (mine, not Video Technical Editor Scott's) states: "There ain't no problem that can't be solved by throwing large amounts of money at it."

Bob Ankosko Posted: Oct 14, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price $40

At A Glance
Plus
Stupidly simply setup
Multiroom music on a shoestring

Minus
Doesn’t work with landline, DSL, or Internet phone service
Limited by the number and location of phone jacks in the house
Subject to the vagaries of existing wires running through the walls
A less-than-hi-fi solution

The Verdict
Moxivo provides a low-tech, down-and-dirty way to shuttle music through dormant phone lines, but don’t expect audiophile quality.

In “A New Use for Old Wires” we described Intellegg’s Moxivo multiroom music kit, which is nothing more than a set of inexpensive cables that lets cord cutters use dormant phone lines to spread music around the house. It sounds great in theory but I was curious to see how well the “system” actually works, so I sought out a cord cutting household (I have Internet phone service at home, which is a no-no). As a new homeowner, my twenty-something son has no intention of signing up for traditional phone service, so his 18-year-old two-story home offered a perfect environment for the test.

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 06, 2005 0 comments

When I reviewed two of the Harmony universal remotes, then offered by Intrigue Technologies, in the "Cross Currents" column of UAV's July/August 2004 issue, I was thrilled with their many important innovations. However, I was less than thrilled with their design and button layout, which prevented my unreserved recommendation.

Kim Wilson Posted: Apr 30, 2012 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $99 At A Glance: Control A/V gear from an iOS device or Android smartphones • Access to Logitech Harmony’s vast database of IR codes • Simplified setup of complex macro commands • Exclusive iPad feature offers logo-based TV guide

There are plenty of universal remotes to choose from, but my favorite has always been the Harmony line of remotes from Logitech. Their seamless integration with an online database offers fast and simple end-user programming. Knowing this, I was really looking forward to reviewing the Harmony Link, which provides the same simple programming as all other Harmony remotes. The big difference: Instead of programming an actual remote, the Harmony Link accesses your home Wi-Fi network to allow control of your A/V gear with an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later) or Android smartphone (running OS 2.0 to 2.3.4; not tablets, yet).

Scott Wilkinson Posted: May 27, 2008 2 comments

Perhaps the most important aspect of any home-entertainment system is how you control it. What good is a pristine picture and sublime sound if members of your family—or even you—can't easily enjoy it? Each device has its own remote control with a different layout, making it nearly impossible for anyone to operate the system effectively.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $250 At A Glance: Exceptionally intuitive • Web-based setup procedure • Help function uses questions and answers to fix system problems • Programmable power-on, inter-key, inter-device delays

Pretty and Pretty Smart

I don’t know what they put in the water cooler at Logitech, but I want to start drinking it. The Harmony One is another in its long list of affordable universal remote controls. It looks great, is easy to program, and is sweetly simple to use. The Harmony One is as narrow as most single-device remotes, but it’s thinner and surprisingly light. It’s even easier to hold and use. At the business end is a bright 1.25-by-1.5-inch color touchscreen with enough resolution that you can easily recognize the tiny DVD logo on the DVD player icon. The backlit hard keys are distinctly grouped together by function (transport, numeric keypad, etc.). Although the individual keys are only slightly larger than those on an average remote, each has its own unique shape and is spaced far enough apart so that you can easily use the remote for basic operations without looking at it. The Harmony One includes a built-in motion sensor that’s supposed to wake the remote when you pick it up. It’s not super sensitive, though, so sometimes you’ll need to give the remote a quick shake to bring it to life. To recharge the battery, just place the remote in its horizontal charging cradle. My older Harmony 890 is sometimes finicky and refuses to make contact—and therefore doesn’t charge—when resting in its cradle. This one has a deeper well that ensures a solid connection between the contact points on the remote and the charging cradle. By the way, the rechargeable battery is removable and replaceable, much like a cordless phone’s battery. This makes it environmentally friendly, and it won’t force you to buy a new remote when the battery finally expires.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Mar 10, 2008 0 comments
Lighting control for cowards.

When selecting products to review, I like to tackle new categories. Every new genre I explore provides the opportunity to better understand the industry as a whole. There is, however, one category that I've avoided like the plague: lighting systems. Why? Because my mama taught me never to stick fingers, screwdrivers, or any other conductive material into a wall socket. I have a healthy fear of my mama and an even healthier fear of performing any task that might lead to electrocution, fire, or total protonic reversal.

John Higgins Posted: Apr 12, 2006 0 comments
This Isn't Your Grandfathers Remote Control.

Say the words "universal remote" to some, and disturbing visions of programming a remote button by button fill their minds. Quite often, after these long, intimate sessions between you and your remotes, the universal remote doesn't perform exactly as expected, and you find yourself keeping the old remotes within reach in case something doesn't work as planned. After some time passes, the old remotes are used more often and the universal remote eventually disappears beneath the couch to be forgotten. So, why bother with another remote that supposedly does everything?

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 01, 2003 0 comments
The best thing to happen to home theater since the DVD.

Quick, what do your home theater system's remote control and your underwear have in common? (If your answer is that they both require batteries, I don't want to hear about it.) The correct answer is that they both need to be a comfortable fit (physically in the case of the underwear and ergonomically/functionally in the case of the remote) or else they'll annoy the hell out of you all evening long. Unfortunately, while the standard remote controls that come with most home theater components may be able to control multiple devices, when it comes to using them on a daily basis to operate an entire home theater system, they're usually about as cozy as a tight pair of burlap boxers.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 18, 2006 0 comments
Is it possible to improve the greatest invention since the wheel?

If I needed any additional proof of the iPod's ubiquitous nature, I found it the other day when my son pointed out a state trooper with an iPod stuffed into his uniform shirt pocket and telltale white earbuds popped in his ears. I'm sure the trooper was perfectly capable of doing his law-enforcing job whilst enjoying a tune or two, but the thought of state troopers packing iPods gave me pause. What's next? Carthusian monks contemplating God's gift of the click wheel while rocking out to some Gregorian chant?

Mike Wood Posted: May 12, 2003 Published: May 13, 2003 0 comments
Better sound without additional black boxes.

Have you considered room acoustics? That's my first question when people ask me for home theater advice. Your theater's acoustic environment is as important to your system's sound quality as any single component. Sure, you can improve the sound with a new amplifier, new speakers, or the latest and greatest EX/ES processor; however, if your room isn't acoustically optimized, you still won't get maximum performance from your system, no matter how much it costs. Adding acoustic treatment is probably the easiest and most effective thing you can do to improve your sonic environment. Granted, it can be daunting to calculate reverberation times so that you add the right amount of acoustic treatment. Fortunately, Performance Media Industries (PMI) has done the work for you with their CinePanel acoustic-treatment kits.

Michael Trei Posted: Nov 29, 2000 Published: Nov 30, 2000 0 comments
Power to the people.

There was a time when playing with audio was a lot of fun. I was a pretty tweaky guy and would regularly try out all of the latest tweaks and accessories. Then, about seven or eight years ago, I kind of burned out. I had gone to visit the home of a fellow audiophile who was so obsessed with adjusting and fiddling with things that listening to music had taken a back seat. Rather than see myself following the same path, I decided to go on kind of an antitweak rant. Sure, careful setup remains important, but enjoying music has become even more so. Consequently, when a manufacturer approaches me with some new device made from Unobtainium that's supposed to make my life better for a mere $299, I tend to get defensive. This, however, was not my reaction when I first saw the PS Audio P300 Power Plant because most of its design approach followed what I had for years thought would be a great way to deal with the crappy AC power most utilities deliver.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 08, 2007 0 comments

HDMI connections, combined with a pristine source and a great display, can produce beautiful images, perhaps the best ever available to consumers. But the format has not been trouble free. Even if we ignore consideration of which version of HDMI we're dealing with, and the length limitations of the connections, more than a few videophiles have had problems getting HDMI some combinations of source, display, and switcher to work together.

Krissy Rushing Posted: Apr 28, 2000 Published: Apr 29, 2000 0 comments
Winning the war over remote reproduction.

If you've got as much gear as the average home theater writer, you can relate to the panicky feeling you get when you go to the kitchen for a beer and some snacky cakes, come back, and find that two of your remotes have shacked up to make a third . . . and a fourth . . . and a fifth—to the point where your collection of expensive coffee-table books is hidden under a pile of black, rectangular gadgets. That's a scary feeling—some of us have even gone into therapy because of it. Don't worry, you're not hallucinating, but you do have a problem. You need to simplify. With all the remote possibilities out there, the possibility that you'll find one that will jibe with your system and your needs isn't remote at all. You just need to figure out what sort of remote is best for you. And since we're, well, sort of control freaks (as the expression goes), we can help you figure out if you want a universal remote, a learning remote, a programmable touchscreen remote, or some combination thereof.

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