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Dec 01, 2017

Hey, ManMade Readers: Can You Please Help Me Pick a New Remote Control?

Hi, all. Chris here. I spent a bunch of time trying to research something last night, and I'm still not sure I'm any more informed than I was before I started. So, I thought I might solicit the very smart and helpful ManMade audience, and let the experts weigh in.

My household needs a new remote control. We've been using the stock one that came with our receiver, plus all the individual remotes for our streaming devices. Currently, it requires at least two of them to select a source, start a show or movie, and ride the volume. The main remote, which used to work with most features, has been slowly dying, and now it can't even select a source or change the volume. I tried opening it up and cleaning the contacts, but it didn't really make a difference. So, new remote time. 

 

I believe our setup is pretty straightforward. We don't have a cable service, and so don't need anything in the way of channel switching or DVRing. We have a few devices: an Apple TV, Blu Ray player, and Amazon Fire that connect to our receiver (an Onkyo TX-NR515) via HDMI. We select the source there, and there's a master HDMI out that goes to the TV. The turntable preamp goes into the receiver as well via analog RCA.

The TV only uses one HDMI input (the out from the receiver), and 1-2x a year, we'll connect an analog antenna via coax to watch some live thing as it happens. (But that's so rare, I don't really care if the remote can handle it). All source switching happens at the receiver, not the TV.

Audio is handled from analog speaker wire from the receiver to a separate powered speaker selector which controls hardwired speakers throughout the house. Stereo only. 

So, basically, I'd like my remote to:

  • Switch between and control four sources – 3 HDMI, one analog RCA (and perhaps 1-2 to grow on)
  • Be able to talk to the Apple TV and Amazon Fire, and perform the same functions as their proprietary remotes. (With the exception of the Siri/Alexa voice control, which I only use to avoid typing long things. Or, if there are remotes that have microphones and can do that, that's a-okay too.)
  • Turn the TV and receiver on/off (preferably with one button) and control receiver volume. 

I imagine most remotes can do this these days, but the price difference is so huge, and I don't know how to distinguish what I actually need and what I don't. It seems like most solid options are made by Logitech Harmony, but they vary from $35 to $400. Other thoughts:

  • I don't need a touchscreen or graphic display. It's fine if it has one. 
  • I don't mind using my computer to set it up (I use OS X).
  • I don't have any smart lightbulbs or thermostats or anything else to control with the remote. Just the audio/video stuff. 

I don't mind paying for the right thing. I'm not really a geek and I don't get excited about features. My house is relatively "dumb". I stream my music, but it's played through wired speakers. I'd rather not spend a ton of money, but I will invest to get the features we actually use. We'll keep the Apple TV and Fire remotes (and DVD) handy, but it'd be nice to have one thing that can work with all sources. 

I appreciate any insights or recommendations you have. Thanks!

 

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