I have had my share of universal remote controls. Cable providers give you a basic branded universal remote when you subscribe for service. Dish, Direct and Charter remotes all work for most brands of TV’s. The problem I’ve always had is programming the other random brands and devices that are not preprogrammed into these remotes. I have tried many, many types of universal remotes designed for multiple devices, but none of them have been as easy to set up or has worked for all of my devices like the Logitech Harmony remotes.
Types of Universal Remotes I have Purchased
RCA 4 device universal remote: I have had a few RCA remotes, but they seem to be designed to only control major brands and have not worked with any other devices.
URC 4-5 device controllers: I thought this would be a good buy because one even had learning features like the Harmony remotes, but after finally getting it to recognize a Mitsubishi TV, I had no luck programming a Dish 755 multi room DVR much less anything else.
Philips 4 device universal remote: All of the Philips remotes I’ve tried are equivalent to RCA remotes in design and function.
Logitech Harmony 300 vs 650 Advanced Universal Remote controls
I first purchased the still expensive, but cheaper Logitech Harmony 300 at Wal-Mart which controls up to four devices plus learning and has an on-line database of 5000+ manufactures. This controller was very easy to set up and you don’t have to put any codes in. I simply registered @ Logitech MyHarmony.com and plugged the Harmony 300 to the computer with the provided USB cable. I entered my devices and followed simple online instructions. Some remotes I had to put across from each other using the learn feature. With this feature I was easily able to learn a z-vox mini surround sound, Bunker Hill security camera DVR, Mitsubishi WD- 73″ TV, etc. The Harmony 300 worked well for over a year for about $40 and then some of the buttons stopped responding.
I did purchase a URC Master Control RF10 Universal Learning Remote with RF Capability, but had no luck programming it with some devices. I decided that the Logitech Harmony 650 would be a better option and an upgrade from the Logitech Harmony 300. I found a refurbished Logitech Harmony 650 for $45 and bought a two year replacement warranty with square trade for $14 on EBay. This controller is very similar in design except for the lit screen at the top for selecting devices.
Upgrades from the Logitech Harmony 300 vs Logitech Harmony 650
The Logitech Harmony 650 surprised me first when I signed into the MyHarmony account and realized I could program the new remote from my already saved remote without having to get batteries and the other controllers out again. Very fast start, but I did have to go back and setup all the activities which is a neat feature that allows the controller to only run the devices that you need. Second surprise, with the Logitech Harmony 300, I had to select audio to change to volume every time I switched from DVR or other devices. The Logitech Harmony 650 surprised me a third time when it fixed itself through the help feature on the remote. The dual room DVR from Dish has different controller codes that the Harmony site mentions, but my controller fixed itself when certain devices were not turning on or off correctly. The Logitech Harmony 650 controls 5 devices and with the online database is capable of controlling newer devices that are added everyday.
I have seen a lot of other expensive multi function universal remotes for sale that are very expensive, but with the convenience of always having an online account that stores your information and allows you to have several remotes added to it, Logitech has won my vote for easiest setup and reliable compatibility with all my devices.
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