TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Remote

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Review

Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Remote

by Dave Mark

Dave becomes the couch potato we all wish we could be

The November issue of MacTech is always one of my favorites. It's our annual Gift Guide issue and there's always something unusual, something cool, something I can circle in red crayon and leave around the house for my faithful family to find and buy for me!

To start things off this year, we've got a humdinger of a gift. A bit pricey, but oh will you want one.

Buzz on over to http://www.harmonyremote.com and check out the ultimate in remote controls, the SST-76. The list price is $299, but http://www.devdepot.com has it for less than that. I'm a gadget junkie and, without a doubt, this is the best universal remote I've ever seen. In my opinion, head and shoulders better than its closest competition.

What makes this remote so great? In a nutshell, it's so easy to use. I've got a reasonably complex setup, with a VCR, DVD player, video receiver, large screen TV, and satellite controller. Each of those components has an associated remote control. With a fair amount of work, I've been able to program 2 of my remotes to control most of what I do with my system. And even with all that work, there are still situations where I find myself digging out the original remote (such as, changing the screen format on my TV from 4:3 to 16:9, or changing the options on my satellite dish).

And when it comes time to change the programming on my universal remote, I find myself having to relearn the "learning" mechanism. Lord help me if I ever have to swap out one of my components.

The SST-768, from Intrigue Technologies, changed all that. When you open the box, you get a remote, a USB cable, and an installation CD, compatible with Mac OS X and Windows. I ran the installer, then ran the newly installed Harmony Remote app. I opened the preferences and set the download folder to match my Safari download folder (this turned out to be very important) and checked the Watch download folder and Cleanup downloaded files checkboxes.


Figure 1. The SST-768 in red, silver, and blue.

Next, I went onto http://www.harmonyremote.com and clicked the New User Login link. I filled out a short form, then logged in. Next, I went through a sequence of easy steps to specify all my components. The web site knew every single one of my components, even though some of them are pretty old.

Then came the important part. Now that it knew my components, the site asked me to pick from a list of activities I wanted programmed into my remote. I picked, Watch a DVD, Watch Television, Watch the VCR, and Listen to the Radio. I also went through the channel listings for my satellite setup and selected the channels I wanted on my remote. Once that was done, I plugged the USB cable into the remote and clicked the link that said Update My Remote.

When I unplugged the remote, I used the scroll wheel to select my activity. For example, Figure 2 shows the remote scrolled to Watch a DVD. The scroll wheel is also a button. Once you scroll to the activity you want, press the button and voila! The remote switches all the components to the correct settings.


Figure 2. Close up shot of the silver SST-768

There is a lot more to this remote. The web site is an incredible resource. On it, you can customize your settings, even edit the XML assigned to each button. You can create a list of favorite stations that you can scroll through using the scroll wheel. There's a zap button that you can press whenever something of interest is on the screen. The remote remembers what you were watching when you zapped and saves that info for you the next time you connect the remote to your computer. For now, your zap list is strictly made up of the shows you were watching when you zapped, but eventually, the capability to search the net for products whose commercials you zapped could be added.

You can download program listings onto your remote in case you don't have an on-screen guide. And all this is saved to non-volatile flash memory, so even if you lose your batteries, you won't lose your settings.

If there is a down-side to this remote, it is the problem common to all macro-driven remotes. It is fairly simple to get out-of-sync with your components. Usually, this is caused when you press a button on the remote, then turn away or put the remote down before the macro has finished each of its steps. After a while, you learn to keep the remote pointed at your components until the macro completes all of the steps. If you do get out of sync, you can use the mode button on the side of the remote to address individual components. Amazingly, you can use this feature to issue just about every imaginable command the original remote was capable of. All-in-all, an amazing leap forward for all couch potatoes!

Intrigue Technologies is in Mississauga, Ontario. You can reach them at 866-291-1505 or at www.harmonyremotes.com.

Harmony Remotes are available at DevDepot!

http://www.devdepot.com/harmony

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Little Snitch 3.7.1 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
iMazing 2.1.3 - Complete iOS device mana...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
AppDelete 4.3.1 - $7.99
AppDelete is an uninstaller that will remove not only applications but also widgets, preference panes, plugins, and screensavers along with their associated files. Without AppDelete these associated... Read more
FileZilla 3.23.0.2 - Fast and reliable F...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.23.0.2: Bug Fixes and Minor Changes Speed up icon... Read more
PDFpen 8.3 - $74.95
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.8 - Subscription-based pr...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
Safari Technology Preview 10.1 - The new...
Safari Technology Preview contains the most recent additions and improvements to WebKit and the latest advances in Safari web technologies. And once installed, you will receive notifications of... Read more
Ableton Live 9.7.1 - Record music using...
Ableton Live lets you create and record music on your Mac. Use digital instruments, pre-recorded sounds, and sampled loops to arrange, produce, and perform your music like never before. Ableton Live... Read more
BetterTouchTool 1.963 - Customize Multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
NeoFinder 7.0 - Catalog your external me...
NeoFinder (formerly CDFinder) rapidly organizes your data, either on external or internal disks, or any other volumes. It catalogs all your data, so you stay in control of your data archive or disk... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

PINE GROVE (Games)
PINE GROVE 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A pine grove where there are no footsteps of people due to continuous missing cases. The case is still unsolved and nothing has... | Read more »
Niantic teases new Pokémon announcement...
After rumors started swirling yesterday, it turns out there is an official Pokémon GO update on its way. We’ll find out what’s in store for us and our growing Pokémon collections tomorrow during the Starbucks event, but Niantic will be revealing... | Read more »
3 reasons why Nicki Minaj: The Empire is...
Nicki Minaj is as business-savvy as she is musically talented and she’s proved that by launching her own game. Designed by Glu, purveyors of other fine celebrity games like cult favorite Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Nicki Minaj: The Empire launched... | Read more »
Clash of Clans is getting its own animat...
Riding on its unending wave of fame and success, Clash of Clans is getting an animated web series based on its Clash-A-Rama animated shorts.As opposed to the current shorts' 60 second run time, the new and improved Clash-A-Rama will be comprised of... | Read more »
Leaks hint at Pokémon GO and Starbucks C...
Leaked images from a hub for Starbucks employees suggests that a big Pokémon GO event with the coffee giant could begin this very week. The images appeared on Reddit and hint at some exciting new things to come for Niantic's smash hit game. | Read more »
Silent Depth Submarine Simulation (Game...
Silent Depth Submarine Simulation 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Enneas Saga lets you lead your own demon...
Defend the land of Enneas Continent from the forces of evil in the new fantasy MMORPG from Lyto Mobi: Enneas Saga. Can’t wait? No problem. It’s available to download now on Android devices. | Read more »
Great zombie games in the spirit of Dead...
Dead Rising 4 arrives tomorrow, giving enthusiasts a fresh chance to take selfies with zombies and get up to other ridiculous end-of-the-world shenanigans. To really get into the spirit of things, we've gone and gathered the best zombie games that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon 4 Guide: Advanced tips a...
Amateur Surgeon 4 is still tackling the competition at the top of the App Store charts, so if you haven't tried it out yet, you should probably do that right away. If you've been at it for a while, though, perhaps you're ready to start expanding... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon 4 Guide: Become the worl...
It's time to wield your trusty pizza cutter again, as Amateur Surgeon has returned with a whole fresh set of challenges (and some old, familiar ones, too). Starting anew isn't easy, especially when all you have at your disposal is a lighter, the... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Back in stock: Apple refurbished Mac minis fr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Twenty-Five Years Of Apple Laptops – A person...
Among many other things, the often tumultuous 16th year of the new century marked the 25th anniversary of Apple laptop computers, not counting the optimistically named 16-pound Mac Portable of 1989.... Read more
Landlordy iOS App Adds Support For Appliances...
Riga, Latvia based E-protect SIA is releasing major update (version 1.8) to its Landlordy app for managing rental business financials on the go. Landlordy is iPhone and iPad app designed for self-... Read more
Holiday sale, Apple iMacs for up to $200 off...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $... Read more
Holiday sale: Mac minis for $50 to $100 off M...
B&H Photo has Mac minis on sale for up to $100 off MSRP free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $449 $50 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $629 $70 off MSRP - 2.8GHz Mac mini: $899 $... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP, ref...
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2799, $200 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3699, $... Read more
12-inch WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up t...
B&H Photo has 12″ WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up to $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP... Read more
9-inch Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $20-$...
B&H Photo has 9.7″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $20-$50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 9″ Space Gray 256GB WiFi iPad Pro: $779.95 $20 off MSRP... Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 15-inch MacBook Pros a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros available starting at $1699. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro... Read more
Back in stock! 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook...
Apple has Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pros (MF839LL/A) available again for $1099 including free shipping. That’s $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Philade...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- San Ant...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Products Tester Needed - Apple (Unit...
…we therefore look forward to put out products to quality test for durability. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, Read more
SW Engineer *Apple* TV Frameworks - Apple I...
The Apple TV team is looking for a software...create features that reflect the look and feel of Apple TV. Description: Were looking for someone who is Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
The Apple Watch team is looking for a Hardware Design Validation Engineer. This person will be part of the Apple Watch hardware team with responsibilities for Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.