What is a good one-room remote controller?

If you want a “TV remote control” you can buy one off Amazon or your electronics store priced anywhere from $10-$350.00. For $10 you will be able to turn on the TV, change channels and turn the volume up and down, no guarantees that even your cable will work with this, so we recommend you stay away from the $10 remotes. Now the $350.00 range remote lets you program buttons that can do specific functions with your TV & components.

I’m now going to talk about two remotes; one which is sold directly to consumers and one which is only sold through trained dealers, such as us.

Logitech remote controls are considered “consumer remote controls” because you can program them yourself. The less components you have, the easier it is to program and you can go to their website, download the software & follow the instructions to program your remote. However, the more buttons you want on your remote, the more difficult & time consuming the programming will become. The purpose behind these remotes is to allow you to touch one button to watch TV, one button to play a DVD, one button to play a game station, and on & on. So, the more buttons you want to program, the more complex the programming. Here’s an example; you want to program a button to play a DVD. To do so, you need to configure the TV, the DVD player, your receiver and speakers. That will be 4 configurations for that one button. Even to just program the TV button, you will need the TV, your cable and again, if you have any kind of speaker system, i.e. sound bar or receiver/speakers, they will need to be programmed for watching TV. While manufacturers may feel that a consumer can easily do this, in many cases it is just too complex because of all the configurations and an AV integrator is called upon to perform the programming. Take a look at their download page…just the fact that they have so many places to go for help is a clue that this is not going to be easy. https://setup.myharmony.com/ However, it is a consumer available product, so you should know about it.

Universal remote control (URC) sells everything from a basic “Audio/Video controller” to full control systems. We are only going to talk about the basic URC controllers. The only device that can be purchased directly by a consumer is the URC SR3 which can only control the TV, a DVD player & cable. Some of their other remotes may be found on Amazon, but must be configured by a certified dealer trained in that line of remotes (In fact, these are no longer called remotes by URC, but Control Systems). URC trained programmers start from a blank slate, so that each button is customized when setting up your controller to give you a custom designed device. The reason behind this requirement is that URC wants the consumer to have a pleasant experience with their controller and having an AV trained dealer do this will ensure that it is programmed correctly and the dealer can service the controller. The number of controllers and control systems by URC is more than I could discuss in an article and prices range from $200 into the thousands. But, just to give you an idea of cost for a single audio/video controller with programming by a licensed URC professional, you are looking at $700-$1000. Again, just like what I said about the Logitech, the time to program the remote is based on the # of buttons you need programmed as each button involves multiple components, so pricing varies based on how much you need programmed into the controller. The best thing about getting a URC controller is that the software is saved by the AV dealer, so when you want to add a button or need servicing, they don’t have to start from the beginning. You can even upgrade to a nicer URC controller & transfer the data to it, rather than starting from scratch.

While $1000 sounds like a huge amount of money for an audio/video remote, comparing it to Control 4 or Crestron control systems makes it seem quite reasonable, as those run in the $3000-$10,000 range. These are very good systems and definitely have their place in residential homes, but they are full control systems and overkill for what many consumers want when they merely want a single controller for a TV & its connected components.

When do you start looking at remotes/control systems? When you are using more than 3 control devices to operate your equipment, it is time to consider a single universal controller.