HTPC Tip Of The Day: Improving The WAF With A Harmony Remote

Mar 26 2008

By now we all know that the activity based system the Harmony remotes use is a nice addition to your home theater. For more information on these remotes you can visit our Harmony 880, Harmony 890 and Harmony 670 reviews. However, there are a few alternative tweaks beyond what the setup wizard will allow you to do.

Favorite channels

On the Harmony 880, you can setup 16 favorite channels that can be accessed via the media button on the remote. As the name denotes, this will allow one button access to a list of the channels you commonly access. This, combined with the EPG sort of most viewed channels on VMC , will allow quick access to channels commonly used. You can also add icons to quickly identify which channel is which.

Here is a site that links channels icons and backgrounds for you to use. 

Start Up Tweak

Setting up the Watch TV activity with the Harmony remote software will only allow you to define which "input" (Music/TV etc) you want Media Center to start in. However you can tweak that a bit more by adding commands during startup. I have added a series of commands upon start up that will switch it to LiveTV, and then change the channel to channel 24.

Alternatively, you can define a LiveTV input during the setup wizard which will take you directly to live TV.  

Shut Down Tweak

You can add a command during the shut down process. Though not really something that will improve the WAF, I have the media center stop whatever media it is playing by issuing the stop command when the off button is pressed. 

Adding a Channel To the Activity Screen 

You can define which commands are on the LCD screen during an activity in the "Additional Buttons" tab under customizing buttons. At the bottom of the screen, there is a "Add Sequence" button that allows you to define a series of button presses. IN this case, you simply add a button press for each digit of the channel bumber. After returning to the button customization screen, add a squence and name the channel. The end result is that you are able to have channels defined on your LCD for the WatchTV activity.

Though this may seem a bit redundant when taking into account your favorites channels, this does allow you the ability to define a couple of your favorite channels on the LCD. The end result is one less button to press when accessing your favorite channels. 

Other Tweaks 

I have added an VMC Zoom button to the Watch TV activity screen. VMC does not auto-negotiate its various levels of zoom when switching between HD and SD channels. That is one thing I would like to see improved.

I recently added a couple of surround options for my receiver on the second page of my WatchTV activity screen. Depending on the source, I like to swtich between the surround options available. 

Are their any WAF tweaks you have done to your remote? If so, share them here. I am certainly interested in hearing how you have customized your remote for day to day HTPC life.