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

Apple GarageBand 10.1 - Complete recordi...
The new GarageBand is a whole music creation studio right inside your Mac -- complete with keyboard, synths, orchestral and percussion instruments, presets for guitar and voice, an entirely... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.7.7 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator... Read more
OS X Server 4.1.3 - For OS X 10.10 Yosem...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
pwSafe 4.1 - Secure password management...
pwSafe provides simple and secure password management across devices and computers. pwSafe uses iCloud to keep your password databases backed-up and synced between Macs and iOS devices. It is... Read more
Kodi 15.0.rc1 - Powerful media center to...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
Coda 2.5.11 - One-window Web development...
Coda is a powerful Web editor that puts everything in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. Files. With Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. With loads of new, much-requested features, a few surprises... Read more
Bookends 12.5.7 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Access the power of Bookends directly from Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, or MS Word (... Read more
Maya 2016 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
RapidWeaver 6.2.3 - Create template-base...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
MacFamilyTree 7.5.2 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: it's modern, interactive, incredibly fast, and easy to use. We're convinced that generations of chroniclers would have loved to trade in their genealogy... Read more

Rage of Bahamut is Giving Almost All of...
The App Store isn't what it used to be back in 2012, so it's not unexpected to see some games changing their structures with the times. Now we can add Rage of Bahamut to that list with the recent announcement that the game is severely cutting back... | Read more »
Adventures of Pip (Games)
Adventures of Pip 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** ONE WEEK ONLY — 66% OFF! *** “Adventures of Pip is a delightful little platformer full of charm, challenge and impeccable... | Read more »
Divide By Sheep - Tips, Tricks, and Stre...
Who would have thought splitting up sheep could be so involved? Anyone who’s played Divide by Sheep, that’s who! While we’re not about to give you complete solutions to everything (because that’s just cheating), we will happily give you some... | Read more »
NaturalMotion and Zynga Have Started Tea...
An official sequel to 2012's CSR Racing is officially on the way, with Zynga and NaturalMotion releasing a short teaser trailer to get everyone excited. Well, as excited as one can get from a trailer with no gameplay footage, anyway. [Read more] | Read more »
Grab a Friend and Pick up Overkill 3, Be...
Overkill 3 is a pretty enjoyable third-person shooter that was sort of begging for some online multiplayer. Fortunately the begging can stop, because its newest update has added an online co-op mode. [Read more] | Read more »
Scanner Pro's Newest Update Adds Au...
Scanner Pro is one of the most popular document scanning apps on iOS, thanks in no small part to its near-constant updates, I'm sure. Now we're up to update number six, and it adds some pretty handy new features. [Read more] | Read more »
Heroki (Games)
Heroki 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: CLEAR THE SKIES FOR A NEW HERO!The peaceful sky village of Levantia is in danger! The dastardly Dr. N. Forchin and his accomplice,... | Read more »
Wars of the Roses (Games)
Wars of the Roses 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
TapMon Battle (Games)
TapMon Battle 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: It's time to battle!Tap! Tap! Tap! Try tap a egg to hatch a Tapmon!Do a battle with another tapmons using your hatched tapmons! *... | Read more »
Alchemic Dungeons (Games)
Alchemic Dungeons 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ### Release Event! ### 2.99$->0.99$ for limited time! ### Roguelike Role Playing Game! ### Alchemic Dungeons is roguelike... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 1.6GHz MacBook Air on sale for $849,...
Best Buy has the 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99 on their online store this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders... Read more
Apple Refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac – $1949 $... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch Retina MacBook...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off original MSRP, starting at $979. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Seagate Backup Plus Drives Feature 200GB of C...
Seagate Technology plc has announced that its Backup Plus family of external storage offerings will now include 200GB of OneDrive cloud storage, a major added value, and the addition of Lyve’s photo... Read more
Canon PIXMA MG3620 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One...
Canon U.S.A., Inc. has announced the PIXMA MG3620 Wireless (1) Inkjet All-in-One (AIO) printer for high-quality photo and document printing. Built with convenience in mind for the everyday home user... Read more
July 4th Holiday Weekend 13-inch MacBook Pro...
Save up to $150 on the purchase of a new 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pro at the following resellers this weekend. Shipping is free with each model: 2.7GHz/128GB MSRP $1299 2.7GHz/... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149, sav...
Best Buy has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149.99. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary. Their price is $... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2015 11-inch...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 11″ MacBook Airs as well as 13″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-... Read more
15-inch 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon.com has the 15″ 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $2274 including free shipping. Their price is $225 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
Finally Safe To Upgrade To Yosemite’?
The reason I’ve held back from upgrading my MacBook Air from OS X 10.9 Mavericks to 10.10 Yosemite for nearly a year isn’t just procrastination. Among other bugs reported, there have been persistent... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Music Producer - Apple (United State...
**Job Summary** Apple Music seeks a Producer to help shepherd some of the most important content and editorial initiatives within the music app, with a particular focus Read more
Editor, *Apple* News - Apple (United States...
**Job Summary** Editor, Apple News The Apple News team is looking for passionate, knowledgeable editors to help identify and deliver the best in breaking national, Read more
*Apple* Watch SW Application Project Manager...
**Job Summary** The Apple Watch software team is looking for an Application Engineering Project Manager to work on new projects for Apple . The successful candidate Read more
Engineering Project Manager - *Apple* Searc...
**Job Summary** Apple 's new Spotlight Suggestions service provides fast, relevant search results from the Inte et in Spotlight and Safari on iOS and OS X. We are looking Read more
Business Development Manager - *Apple* Pay...
**Job Summary** Apple Pay is seeking an experienced relationship manager to support the ongoing management of partners for the Apple Pay platform. This position will Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.