Universal Remote Roundup: Control Your System With Ease

Looking for a gift for your geeky special someone this year?  Or maybe, you're just looking for a more efficient way to control your home entertainment system.  We've all tried the "remote shuffle," and frankly, it can be pretty stressful when all you want to do is enjoy watching a movie!

Here's some of the hottest remote controls available this season to fulfill your system controlling needs, from the fanciest full-color, touch screen models to budget powerhouse controllers! 

(Note:  All of these remotes support "learning," and thus should be compatible with most, if not all, devices.)

MX-3000 Professional from Universal Remote Control

This is one impressive device.  The MX-3000 from URC can replace up to 255 remote controls (that's a lot of DVD players), becoming the "nerve center" you can use to wrest full power over your custom installed entertainment system.

The MX-3000 is fully decked out with extensive customization features, including a PC interface in which text, graphics, and animation can be virtually fully modified, macro modes, and IR code editing.

Pros:  Impressive ability to customize interface, loaded with professional grade features, lightweight at only 8oz with batteries

Cons:  Expensive, high learning curve

Price:  Approximately $1000 USD (Order Now)

TSU9600 Color Pronto from Philips

Another device designed for the elaborate custom install in mind, the Philips Pronto TSU9600 can do it all.  It's 3.7" VGA screen is best in its class, and sports numerous customization options so it looks the way you want it to.  Connectible via its built-in 802.11g, the Pronto can be edited with ease.  In addition, it comes pre-configured to work with a variety of media servers (such as Escient's Fireball) and lighting solutions (Lutron RadioRa.)

Pros:  Best in class screen display, over 3000 devices in database, included compatibility with various media servers & lighting solutions

Cons:  Expensive, high learning curve

Price: Approximately $750 USD (Order Now)

TSU9400 Color Pronto from Philips

Similar to the TSU9600, this Pronto control panel from Philips aims to duplicate much of the functionality of the TSU9600 in a lower cost model.  The TSU9400 also sports a wireless network connection, a database of 3000 devices, and support for media servers and Lutron RadioRa.  To save on cost, this remote features a different design, smaller touch screen with half the resolution, and less battery life.

Pros:  Duplicates almost all of the functionality of the TSU9600 at a lower cost

Cons:  Smaller, lesser-resolution touch screen, lower battery life

Price:  Approximately $600 USD

The Harmony 1000 from Logitech

The touch panel remote control "for the rest of us," the Logitech Harmony 1000 brings a lot of the features of the big players into a much more affordable package.

Focused on ease of use, the Harmony can control up to 15 devices and network with Logitech's massive database of 175,000+ supported devices through the PCsoftware setup.

Pros:  Less expensive but still brings robust feature set of other large tiouch screen remotes

Cons:  Not as extensively customizable, lower screen quality

Price: $300-$500 USD (Order Now)

The Harmony One from Logitech

Featuring a more stereotypical "remote-like" interface, the One from Logitech sports much of the Harmony 1000's functionality in a lower cost package.

While retaining support for up to 15 devices, easy setup, and access to Logitech's expansive compatibility database, the One shaves away some cost by forgoing the large color touch screen.

Pros: Similar features to the Harmony 1000, lower cost

Cons:  More "remote-like," less wow-factor, smaller touch screen

Price:  Approximately $200 USD (Order Now)

The Harmony 550 from Logitech

Again sporting the "remote-like" interface, the Harmony 550 is quite a step down from the touch screen models, but nevertheless brings great functionality.

With support for up to 12 devices, easy online setup, and access to Logitech's compatibility database, the Harmony 550 is sure to control your system with ease.  This lower cost model sacrifices the color touch screen and rechargable batteries.

Pros:  Great value for the money, learning mode, Logitech's database support and easy setup, lower cost

Cons:  No color or touch enabled screen, no rechargable batteries

Price: $80-$120 USD (Order Now)

The MX-500 from Universal Remote Control

Neck and neck with the Harmony 550, the MX-500 can be seen in electronics stores and home theater showcases everywhere.  It's a familiar face to many, and has been available for years, and in fact has been bundled with many other devices.  It can support up to 12 devices and has some unique features, such as up to 26 customizable "pages" for component control, a large, backlit LCD, and the "Punch Through" control feature; allowing you to control multiple components at the same time.

Pros:  Less expensive on average than the Harmony 550, some unique features

Cons:  No access to compatibility database as with the Logitech products, no software suite, looks a little dated

Price: $70-$100 USD (Order Now)

The RM-VL600 from Sony

Sometimes, basic is good, especially if you're looking to get a lot of mileage from a little cash.  The RM-VL600 should satisfy your champagne remote tastes on a beer budget.

While it doesn't have a fancy color touch screen... well actually, it doesn't have a screen at all... it does offer support for up to 8 devices, macro programming, and even a learning function.

Pros:  Cheap

Cons:  No touch screen, basic controls, more difficult to set up

Price:  About $20 USD (Order Now)


Hi, my name is Kate and IÂ’m with Logitech. I just wanted to provide a quick update re: Harmony.

Logitech Harmony recently made changes to our customer service policy and we wanted to make sure that you have the most up-to-date information for your readers. You may want to update your Web site to reflect these changes.

Historically we have encouraged our customers to contact us by telephone when they have questions. As more and more people choose Logitech Harmony, however, we have developed more efficient ways to support our valued customers.

Beginning December 1, new Harmony customers have free, unlimited access to phone support for the first 60 days after theyÂ’ve created an account to set up their Harmony remote. (With the purchase of each additional remote, Harmony customers will have 60 days of additional phone support from the date of purchase.)

Those whoÂ’ve had an account for their Harmony remote longer than 60 days will continue to have access to online help, the forums and responses through e-mail submission in the Harmony software, but not phone support.

To save time and provide clear answers to a whole range of questions, weÂ’ve created an active community forum, bringing together Logitech employees and Harmony users to answer questions publicly so that everyone can benefit from the answers. The forums have already resolved hundreds of troubleshooting questions.

We’ve also continued to build our online help, with user manuals and FAQs that allow people to find the answers to their how-to questions with a quick search – without having to wait on hold. And they’re all easily accessible through Harmony software.

If you have questions about our customer service policy, join the discussion on our online community forum through your Harmony software or at http://www.logitech.com/support.

Great article! But...will they remind me to BUY batteries! I'm always doing the battery shuffle around here :)


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