07-16-2014 10:29 AM - edited 07-16-2014 4:06 PM
Someone posted on getting a new Logitech Harmony remote. It intriqued me about the new Logitech Harmony remotes, particularly the Smart Control (SC) as a replacement for the U-verse point anywhere remote to ccontrol the second TV (see avatar). When the OK button seems to have worn out on my five year old point anywhere remote, I went for an SC.
The SC does have a unique design - It has an IR blaster that connects to WI-fi to communicate with an app on a portable tablet and a physical remote. The physical remote has no IR. It only communicates with the IR blaster. The SC wi-fi also communicates with the mother ship to allow programming via a computer or tablet and save the settings.
I feel that a physical remote is much easier to use for regular viewing than an app. The app is only for miscellaneous use. The SC app is especially ugly. It does have gestures.
The SC physical remote has a really good feel to it. It is about 1.5 - 2 inches shorter than the U-verse remote. The buttons do seem smaller & closer together, but they are OK, except for the numbers - Too small & too close.
The following U-verse buttons are missing from the SC remote -
Jump ahead & back
Video on demand
The SC has one additional button - Blue. The only non-labeled buttons are the four colored buttons. I programmed mine (four colored buttons) to navigate the input on my JVC TV. I programmed the red record button to be a power toggle. And, I changed the Exit button to Back. I will probably, add the Jump ahead & back as a long press of FF. I went to do this & found it in place as part of the auto assignment of buttons.
The SC has an interesting way of allowing for many functions - each button has two functions - one for a short press & one for a long press. I was leery of this feature, but it seems to work well.
Other Logitech Harmony remotes have distinct Activities and Devices. The U-verse remote has one activity oddly combined with some device access.
The SC has six activities - No direct access to devices. Devices are all controlled by the buttons assigned to an activity. It can control up to three of the same device, such as STBs, because it has three IR blasters that can be assigned to specific instances of devices.
For those unfamiliar with activities - In the beginning, there was one device (e,g, TV) with it’s own remote. When it becomes necessary to add another device (e.g. STB) a universal remote needs to have some buttons for one device & other buttons for the other device. This is sometimes called “punch through”. This is the way the u-verse remote works. The next step is activities, where the button map is set to support an activity that encompasses multiple devices & pre sets power and input. Of course, the devices still control what happens. The Activity is just an overlay to help bring order to the complexity. That said, the complexity is encountered in the set-up.
SC programming is daunting - time consuming - perhaps hard to get used to because it is quite comprehensive. If you already have a Harmony, you can just copy it. Also, the SC has a learning feature.
My programming was especially frustrating because I am going against the tide. When selecting an Activity, Logitech wants to turn on all the devices & set the proper input. Since I am primarily using my Harmony 700 for primary control, I want to disable those two steps. I believe I have found the programming to do that. Previous models of the Harmony could not do that. It is good that Logitech wants to include a correct set-up of the equipment, but a robust support needs to include the flexibility to skip those steps.
I think I am at the point where I could use the SC remote as a primary remote except for two things - the aforementioned small & close number buttons and I have two very large buttons on the 700 for FF on recordings. These are so much better than the usual recording buttons. The base reason for the SC is to control the second STB
So, I have the SC controlling two TVs and Two STBs. I believe I will add the DVR & third TV.
The ideas just keep rolling in - I have the three Activity buttons programmed for the three different STBs connected to three different TVs. I just added three more Activities - Just the three TVs - providing the equivalent of direct device access. Then I programmed the long press on the first three activities- Volume up/down/mute - long press to be STB instead of TV. So, all the functions are covered with direct access to the device.
07-20-2014 7:03 AM - last edited on 07-29-2014 4:57 PM by ATTAlex
When my Logitech Harmony model 700 ran out of charge, I used the SC while the 700 charged up. I have to charge the two AA sized batteries in the 700 about once a week. The SC has a quarter sized battery that they say is engineered for a one year life. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.
I am really impressed with how rock solid the IR works. Every button press results in the correct action. It is so good I tried a five step multi-command Macro - I now have a one-button Favorites guide.
Earlier, I said the buttons were kind of small. They are still small, but I find that not needing to aim the remote makes it a lot easier to use & when I need to look at the buttons I can while pressing. Also, I do not have to hold the remote at a weird angle.
I have programmed one of the activity buttons to include two TVs (as I did on the 700), with one TV also turns on U-verse & the other does not (It is primarily used for the computer). If I want to use the second one for u-verse, I just hit the other activity button. Previously, I had to pick up the u-verse point anywhere remote.
The main IR blaster fills the room with IR - controlling three TVs and one STB. In fact, when I placed the third STB, I covered the IR sensor with tape & cardboard & placed it on another shelf, below and to the left of the blaster & it still saw the IR & followed the same functions as the main STB that I was trying to control. A little more optical isolation prevented any more unwanted control. I am waiting for the second mini IR blaster to arrive so that I can control it without affecting the other two.
So, I think I have a new primary remote. It is better and easier to use than the Logitech Harmony 700 previously used for the primary IR TV. It far better and easier to use than the the U-verse point anywhere remote it replaces for the RF TV. And, it is far better and easier to use than the app it replaces for the third STB (the TV was on the 700).
This is probably not a typical family friendly setup, but it shows the incredible flexibility & power of the SC. I am thinking the biggest roadblock to any use would be having the primary IR blaster cover TV(s) and other components. Although, the tremendous range of the IR is great. It is a major plus to have two assignable mini blasters to individually control multiple instances of devices with the same IR coding.
The short press/long press is really good for expanding the functions available, but probably not family friendly.
In summary, it is amazing to combine so many devices, especially the three STBs using the same IR, into one remote.
07-21-2014 8:14 AM
BUTTON UPDATE -
When I listed the button differences I was focused on the the function buttons. Here is some insight on the Startup/Activity buttons.
U-verse has a power button that is usually programmed as a Watch U-verse activity (or programmed for the selected mode[device]). It is a power toggle (the OK button provides separate on). U-verse has four Device (sort of) buttons to map the remote for that device. It is not exactly the device. It is usually modified by programming to lean towards support of the Watch U-verse activity. Also, device support is not exactly robust.
The SC has three physical buttons that support six Activities, using the short/long press. These can be programmed to turn-up and/or set input (or not) on any device. I have three watch U-verse Activities that use three different TVs and three STBs (same IR). So, I programmed the three long presses to be the TVs. Later, I read that Logitech recommends this technique to provide device access.
With the SC, the watch U-verse Activity covers all the STB functions except Vol/ Mute (which are TV functions). I programmed the long press to make those available. (short press is TV).
The SC has an OFF button to turn off all the devices it thinks are on (or not, if desired). The SC Activity/power function allows separate IR for on/off if the device supports it or power toggle if that is all that is available. It works for u-verse using the OK for on & the power toggle for off.
I put all the other remotes away & will use the single remote for all activities. If I find any problems I will run the reprogramming software. It is a real pleasure to have every button press work correctly. It is a real pleasure not to have to aim the remote. In fact, it even works when people or dogs are in the path to the TV/STB.
I do still have the IR sensor on the “open” STB covered with the gray electrical tape from the Home Depot.
Just to touch on the programming complexity again - If you want to accept the auto program it is quick & as easy as anything is the first time. If you want a complex operation, you need to understand what it is you want to do and how to do it. Each attempt leads to another thought on how it should work. The good news is it only takes a few minutes to redo programming.
07-23-2014 8:59 AM
UPDATE - Tuneup -
The only little glitch is the FF being the small button top right (like the U-verse remote) Really miss the big top center button on the 700. Wait a minute, the play pause button is the same (but somewhat smaller) and in the same position as the (unlabeled) one on the 700 that I programmed for FF & play (actual jump back). So I reprogrammed that button to behave the same as the 700. The play function moves to the right & the pause is a short press on the STOP. Also. the OK button works as stop/play for the FF.
The SC now functions almost identically to the 700 on U-verse. The main adder is that it works the same on three STBs & the 700 works on only one. The second adder is it works every time which permits the third adder - One button Favorites on the MENU button.
What was I thinking! The one button favorites belongs on the short press for the GUIDE button. Then the Search function can become one button on the MENU button. I will make that change right now.
I programmed the power toggle to set the STB on recordings (DVR) before it turns off so that when I turn it on it will not be in a stream contention situation. The odds are it would not. It will, anyway, if I select a new channel. But, I may select a recording or a channel already viewing on one of the other TVs. Not a biggie, but prevents surprises.
This technique could also be used to select a favorite channel, so that when the STB is turned on it is tuned to that channel.
07-24-2014 4:20 AM - edited 07-25-2014 3:25 AM
UPDATE - Multiple step buttons -
The success of the one button Favorites led me to add others to navigate menus automatically -
One button Search.
One button Erase
Convert TV input menu selection to direct button - HDMI1 & HDMI2
Long press on number buttons for favorite channels (one press replaces four)
Short press/ long press allows short press to be TV volume/mute & long press STB volume/mute.
07-30-2014 1:53 PM - edited 07-30-2014 2:39 PM
I needed to make a summary of the changes because they evolved over the last couple of weeks & I wanted to be sure I actually did the programming I thought I did & I wanted to be sure of consistency across the Activities & I will probably have to look up how to do some the the less used buttons.
It may be of value to others to see what can be done with a full featured remote that always works -
1. Turn on Two TVs - JVC (only. To be used with computer), Panasonic & visible STB.
2. Turn on JVC & hidden STB using mini-blaster 1.
3. Turn on Samsung & hidden STB using mini-blaster 2.
4. (button 1 long press ) PanasonicTV
5. (button 2 long press) JVC TV
6. (button 3 long press) Samsung TV
The three TVs and one STB are controlled by the main blaster because the TVs use different IR.
Special Buttons Function (Standard buttons not listed here).
Buttons SHORT Press LONG Press
Play FF Advance
FF Play Play
Record Power toggle main TV Power toggle STB after changing channel to 9999.
Pause Replay Pause
Stop Stop Stop & Erase
Red HDMI1 input on main TV HDMI2 input on Main TV
DVR RecordedTV RecordedTV - Scheduled
Guide Favorites Guide Full Guide
Info Info Four right arrows (to get to Scheduled)
Exit Back Exit
Menu Menu Search
Vol Up TV Volume up STB Volume up
Vol Down TV Volume down STB Volume down
Mute TV Mute STB Mute
1 1 Favorite channel 1
2 2 Favorite channel 2
3 3 Favorite channel 3
Green HDMI1 input on JVC HDMI2 input on JVC
Yellow Power Toggle JVC Power Toggle JVC
Blue Mute JVC Mute JVC
Note that U-verse software will cause the standard OK button (Select function) to “discontinue” in-progress FF & resume normal “play” .
08-11-2014 2:23 PM
Just a warning - I thought I would try a somewhat more obscure location for the controller/blaster that controls three TVs and one STB. It worked fine with the TVs, but became flaky with the STB.
I tried moving the STB to different locations & removing the tape covering the IR sensor. I could not get it to work even when I put it back where it was & the tape covering the sensor.
Finally found a good location & have tape on the sensor & everything working solid again. Guess I was lucky initially.
Just a warning the IR too weak or too strong can be an issue, as it is with standard remotes.
09-08-2014 1:07 PM
Hi @aviewer Great post! I have a Logitech Harmony One and it's one of my favorite gadgets ever!
Thanks for sharing!
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04-19-2015 11:56 AM
Looks like I have been using the SC for about three quarters now - heavy usage - & the quarter size battery is still going strong. Great improvement over recharging the LH model 700 every week.
I cannot comment on how long a battery lasted for me in a U_verse remote because I have not used one long enough.
I have added a ZVOX 220 to the system for audio because the sound on the JVC & Samsung is so poor. It is definitely a good thing to have the quality of the sound consistent across the three TVs.
I got a bonus that it seems more efficient to select the TV that provides audio. Previously had to turn the sound on one TV off & the other on. Now just toggle through the inputs on the ZVOX.
The only minor glitches I can think of are -
A couple times a week the IR will not be accepted by the STB (e.g the favorite channel only completes three digits)
The few times I want to use the pause button, I cannot remember where I put it. I think I will take the time to fix this by putting the pause IR back on the pause button, since I use the OK button to stop the FF. Now that I am used it.
It really is a pleasure to use one remote to control three TV STB combinations connected to a sound bar & computer. Not just use it - all the buttons are easy to remember wher the are & they are in the right place & they are consistent across the three pairs.
06-07-2015 1:16 PM
Good news bad news -
I see that I am coming up on the purchase date of 6/17. So, perhaps usage started at the end of the month.
The good news is that the battery is still going strong. The bad news is the blue button failed.
The Logitech web site works kind of like at&t - click warrantee, then work through the product to finally click on your selection & instead of providing a specific contact it just gives a list of possibilities written in articles to read.
Somehow I finally got the number & worked through the script successflly with the CSR & a new one is on the way.
01-24-2016 8:38 AM
Hey aviewer - GREAT POSTS! I am a recent customer of Uverse and have all of the same complaints about "Favorites", et al that it appears everyone else has, and am very interested now, after reading your posts, on just chucking the ATT remotes and getting a Harmony. All except what appears to be the need to invest a HUGE amount of time and effort in programming the thing. If you had your Harmony profile somehow sharable, and posted on eBay, I'd be your first customer - of MANY I'm sure. -anjin-
01-24-2016 9:21 AM
.or. I'll just get to the prime interest, perhaps I dont need all of this setup. I get that I can program an Activity to punch through the button sequence to get to the Receiver-stored Favorites, but that doesn't actually get to the real underlying issue here. I'd be willing to invest the time in building a list of Favorites .once., not have to do this 4 times for the 4 receivers in the house, then have to update all 4 every time I want to adjust or add another Favorite "flavor" list.
1) Does the Harmony keep its own Favorites list(s) that you program in with the channel numbers?
2) Is the Harmony then able to refer to the same list(s) when addressing multiple different devices (Uverse Receivers)?
3) will the andriod app display the channel list(s) of these programmed favorites to select from? (as the Harmony itself has no screen)
4) (different subject) does the Harmony store and allow "back" selection of the last (x) number of channels viewed like my recently discarded Dish Network did? The just one "back" that Uverse has is so .... Neanderthal (sorry if I'm insulting some of my Neanderthal friends ;-}.
It is these things that make me pine for the Dish Network I just discarded, and seriously consider reverting before the 30days is up to "undo".
Really appreciate your pro-bono posts here "aviewer"!!!
01-24-2016 9:55 AM
@anjin1 - Thanks for posting.
I know the process sounds daunting, but it can be simplified quite bit if you know what you want to do & just take it a step at time. If you use the defaults it is relatively straightforward & if you do a lot of customization it is too personal for anone to do it for you.
I have mixed feelings about making a plan. If you can do that it should make it easier. The problem with a plan is it is hard to come up with ideas without hands on experimenting.
If you want simplicity the Logitech models 200 & 300 (both discontinued) & 350 are similar to the u-verse remote. But, sooner or later you will find something you cannot do with them because they are like the u-verse remote.
The full featured model 650 should be considered entry level or model 700 (discontinued).
Moving up to a hub is good for hiding equipment, getting started with other controls, such as lighting, and up to three instances of the same IR (such as STB).
Many people seem to want to load their whole house on one remote. My personal perspective is to try to balance coverage with efficiency. You cannot control what you cannot find - the reason you upgraded - You still have to find the buttons, easily.
Another personal perspective that does not follow the herd applies to automatic setup on an activity. Everyone (as sold by Logitech) must have every setup step automatic. Sometimes, it is not so easy. Sometimes, a manual button is superior to finding it automatically accomplished.
Just load your devices, set up an activity or two& maybe program a few custom buttons & you will be energized by thinking of great things to do.
If you go for multiple instances of STB/TV be sure to buy TVs with different IR, so you do not have to worry about that getting in the way.
01-24-2016 10:09 AM - edited 01-24-2016 10:31 AM
@anjin1 - So, I posted my response & see that you have posted addl questions -
The LH models 650 & up do have a favorites list. But it is not without its problems. I have avoided it because my experience with the 700/u-verse STB combiation was that the IR was not reliable enough to send four digits for the channel.
LH does have a list programmed that you can load based on location & provider. I do not know how you cull that list to only what you want. Could be more daunting than the u-verse build.
There is only one LH Favorites list per remote & it applies to all Activities in the remote.
I do not like scrolling the small LCD screen (for favorites or anything else). For me, LCD screen is only for infrequently digging deep into menus for devices. Getting all device options in one remote.
I do like using the "one button" favorites guide. I can select shows based soley on name. I do not even notice what channel it is on.
I would not build multiple u-verse favorites guides, just so I do not have to press the extra buttons to select on each usage.
I have a few chanel number buttons programmed to send the four digit channel on a long press - these are my most favored channels for live watching.
01-24-2016 10:21 AM
I have a Harmony 650 for over six years. I had a 550 before. It is one of the best investments that I've made. If you have issues programming the remote just call Logitech support and they will walk you through whatever you want to do. Ask for a US agent as they do use offshore call centers.