Best Inexpensive Remote To Use With WMC

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  • #26518

    Hi everyone!  New to the forums.  I actually found this site after downloading the meta manger YAMM.  I’ve just started putting together a HTPC setup.  I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and using the power of gift receiving I used Christmas as a way to get some of the things I needed to get started.  On my main TV downstairs (50″ plasma) I bought the Acer Revo to replace the STB.  For the tuner I decided on the Silicon Dust networked tuner.  I’ve got everything set up ready to go except I’m going to be running a ethernet line from the router upstairs to the Revo downstairs for a better connection.  One of the last things I’m trying to decide on is the remote.  I’ve got three main things to control on this setup, the computer, the TV, and a surround sound system.  My main concern with the remote is being able to control the Media Center and turning the TV on and off, the surround sound is secondary.  I’ve been doing a lot of searching and it seems that most remotes that aren’t the really expensive universal ones don’t control both the TV and the PC.  I just saw the beginners guide article to controlling your HTPC but I’d still like some opinions.  I’d like to spend less than $40 (I’ve used most of my budget on the important things).  Newegg has this refurbished Harmony 300 which seems nice, but it requires an IR receiver.  Would the amulet IR receiver work for this?  Any recommendations would be appreciated!

    #32115
    SJMaye

    Talking about a loaded topic?!  Remotes are a matter of what you want to do and personal choice.  If all you are going to do is use the Win 7 MC functions then I would recommend the Microsoft branded MC remote.  This has not been made for a few years, but if you watch ebay you can find them.  Since the are becoming rare the prices are going up, but I still manage to find them for about $10 + shipping from time to time.

    Here it is. Note the button on the top left.  That is the button to turn off your TV.  That is unique to the Microsoft original.  This remote can be programmed to turn on/off your tv and control your TV volume.

    [IMG]http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a239/smaye/MSMCremote.jpg[/IMG]

     

    Now here is the look alike.  Note there is no TV on/off button.  Still does all the MC functions, but you cannot program to control your TV.

    [IMG]http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a239/smaye/NONMSMCremote.jpg[/IMG]

     

     

    #32117
    DavidStein

    When I came to this question, I didn’t think the microsoft media center remotes were flexible enough (in that i wanted to be ablet o power on the television and control my receiver as well) so I went with a USB IR Receiver from ebay:

    something like this (5$): http://www.ebay.com/itm/Gateway-Symphony-USB-IR-Remote-Receiver-grey-/160655073639?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2567c9e167#ht_2038wt_1396

    and a standard universal remote (15$):

    http://www.amazon.com/Philips-SRP1507-27-Universal-featuring/dp/B004PYS45K/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1327502632&sr=8-6

    there are free programs to let you assign actions to each button, but I never quite got them to work so i splurged for intelliremote (24$):

    http://melloware.com/products/intelliremote/

     

    its a nice flexible system and is close to your budget.

     

    #32118
    Camaroon

    You know, after reading the Beginners Guide I immediately went to ebay to find that microsoft remote and ran into the exact problem you detailed.  I noticed the Msoft one had the button to turn on the TV but none of the ones I ebay had that button. 

    Couple of questions for you guys.  That $5 IR reciever, that would work to add that functionality to my computer and allow me to use any IR based remote?  So, if it does, would it let me use that Logitech 300 that I posted before?  Also, that program you posted, how does that work?  Does it just interpret the input from the remote and do what you’ve assigned to the button, or is something that has to be loaded onto the remote itself?

    I know I put a budget of around $40 for a remote, but Tigerdirect has the Logitech 700 on sale for $80 until tomorrow, it’s usually a $120 remote.  After doing a lot of research yesterday I thought maybe it would be worth it to splurge on a nice remote for the main system and get a cheaper one for my bedroom TV.  People seem to like it.  Anyone have this one?

    I appreciate you guys posting!  After doing some searching I figured this would be a very loaded topic.

    #32119
    DavidStein

    I dont want to say anything definitively because I really only have what I have googled in the past and my own experience but with that caveat:

    it is my belief that it is possible that a random USB IR receiver you purchase from ebay to be programmed/designed to only receive IR codes in different frequencies than what your remote outputs. But that in practice most remotes are close enough, such that you will almost certainly be fine. I couldn’t prove the receiver i bought would work with my remote, but I bought it and it did. I think most receivers from gateway/hp/whatever have a little red LED that blinks everytime it receivers an IR signal, so you know its physically working even if you are having trouble getting your computer to recognize that its receiving a code.

     

    if you were really worried and wanted to spend some money (which you dont appear to be), you can always buy a USB-UIRT which has been designed to accept IR codes from pretty much anything you could find, but its 50$:

    http://www.usbuirt.com/

     

    as for the software, the main ones I know of are HIP, Girder, and Intelliremote. They work by monitoring the IR receiver, when it receives an IR code, it passes it to the program. From there, the program sees what command you want executed when that IR code is received, and executes it. I dont know exactly why HIP wouldnt work for me, but I found intelliremote to ‘just work’ and its not that expensive. they are all very powerful in what you can do, they can even execute scripts.

    #32120
    Night Rider

    I have two of the TV power button Microsoft remotes.
    + the MCE keyboard

    Does anyone know the model number for the MS MCE remote with the TV power button?

    #32127
    Camaroon

    Thanks, guys, for all your help!  I really didn’t think that the remote was going to be the most frustrating part of this process but it’s always the little things.  I think I’m going to try and get one of those $5 ir receivers and a couple of the refurbished Harmony 300’s on Newegg and see how it goes.  Next up is trying to decide which plugins to install on my main system!

    #32128
    Night Rider

    You may find the MCE keyboard a great fit.

    It has the TV power button on the left side.
    Above the Esc and F1 keys

     

    Full review here

     

    #32129
    Camaroon

    Thanks for the suggestion about the keyboard.  I think I’m going to stay away from that though cause I want to try and make this as seemless a transition as possible for my wife.

    I was doing a bit more looking and I went to buy.com which i hadn’t previously.  The first result that came up when I searched ‘media center remote’ was the XBox 360 universal remote which it says controls the TV and a media center PC.  Microsoft is selling a newer version on their site, a black one, but I don’t care which it is just as long as it controls the TV.  The big question is, will it work with one of those random IR receiver’s from ebay like the $5 one listed in the post above?  I searched how to get it to work with a PC and it said it would as long as I had the Microsoft remote IR receiver 1.0A.  I hope I’m not beating a dead horse but just throwing this out there in case someone has got it to work!

    #32130
    Chasseur

    I do have the new black media remote from microsoft, to use with my media center extender (xbox), but I don’t like it. Well, I do like the feel, the shape. It works well, but it miss some buttons. If I remember, there is no Big Green button, no Stop button, no recorded tv button. It makes using media center annoying.

    For example, if I’m watching something, and I want to go to my recorded tv, there is no way to do it, except from hitting the back button many many times until I hope to get to the main screen, and then access the Recorded Tv button.

    #32133
    Camaroon

    Alright, so I decided on a remote.  I found this while doing some more research yesterday and it apparently will control 3 components as a media center remote.  It’s the Noah Company MediaGate GV-IR01BK.  It’s only got 4 reviews on Amazon and I couldn’t find out much more about it, but it seems to be exactly what I was looking for.  I got two of them so once I get them and set one up I’ll come back and let everyone know how it works.  Thanks again for all the input!

    #32135
    Night Rider

    Sounds good, I look forward to your review.

    #32193
    Camaroon

    Well I’ve been using this remote now for about 2 weeks and I’m pretty sure I have a final opinion on it.

    Quality: it is very light and does not feel very substantial in your hand at all.  My wife and I are used to the remotes from Verizon for FiOS which I’ve always liked.  The plastic on the remote feels like it would break if dropped, and since it’s got a glossy smooth finish if your hands are sweaty for any reason it gets slippery and attracts smudges and fingerprints very easily.  Although a lot of the buttons are small they do have a nice solid feel when you press them.

    Layout: this is probably the most frustrating thing about this remote.  Again, I’ve always felt Verizon’s remotes had the stuff you used the most in the right places.  This remote has the buttons we use the most spread out everywhere.  The Live TV, Recorded TV, and Guide buttons are these tiny little things way down at the bottom, where the playback buttons are all the way at the top.  In my opinion, the Live TV, etc. buttons should be right between the playback buttons and the aarows/OK buttons.  It just makes it awkward when you’re constantly using the aarow buttons to navigate and you have to move the remote around in your hand just to get to the tiny little guide button at the bottom.  I don’t think the size would matter as much if they were in a better place.

    Response: when pointed at the IR receiver the response is actually very good.  Very few dropped presses and things happen fairly quickly.  No real complaints, just a nitpick about having to be pretty accurate with where you’re pointing the remote.

    Set-up of other functions: this was another sore point.  Although the instructions made it sound very easy to make this remote learn a function from another one, it took me forever to get it into discovery mode.  It’s a very precise combo/order you have to hit to get it in this mode and I stumbled on it by accident.  Once I did, however, it learned the on/off function of my TV remote and volume up no problem.  I figured since I did the volume button it would do both up and down, but that’s not the case.

    Controlling other components: this was the main feature I was looking for in a remote.  The ability to simply turn my TV and the PC on with the same remote.  Although it does do this, there’s one thing that really makes it annoying.  When I press the TV function button at the top to turn the TV on, it freezes on this function and won’t let you do anything else.  So basically, I hit the button and the TV button lights up blue to let you know you switched functions.  But then it just stays blue for like 20 or so seconds and doesn’t let you switch to the PC function until the light turns off. 

    Bottom Line: I’d probably give it 2.5 stars out of 5.  It works well as a Media Center Remote, but is just overall frustrating to use and feels cheap.  One day I’ll probably switch to the Harmony line of remotes, but we’re sticking with this for now.

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