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

ExpanDrive 5.4.6 - $49.99
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Apple Pages 6.1.1 - Apple's word pr...
Apple Pages is a powerful word processor that gives you everything you need to create documents that look beautiful. And read beautifully. It lets you work seamlessly between Mac and iOS devices, and... Read more
Apple Numbers 4.1.1 - Apple's sprea...
With Apple Numbers, sophisticated spreadsheets are just the start. The whole sheet is your canvas. Just add dramatic interactive charts, tables, and images that paint a revealing picture of your data... Read more
Apple Keynote 7.1.1 - Apple's prese...
Easily create gorgeous presentations with the all-new Keynote, featuring powerful yet easy-to-use tools and dazzling effects that will make you a very hard act to follow. The Theme Chooser lets you... Read more
Espresso 5 - Powerful HTML, XML, CSS, an...
Espresso is back. For people who make delightful, innovative, and fast websites -- in an app to match. Espresso helps you write, code, design, build, and publish with flair and efficiency.... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.47 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
Dash 4.0.3 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
Posterino 3.3.6 - Create posters, collag...
Posterino offers enhanced customization and flexibility including a variety of new, stylish templates featuring grids of identical or odd-sized image boxes. You can customize the size and shape of... Read more
Together 3.8.3 - Store and organize all...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Features Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop... Read more
iClock Pro 3.4.9 - Customize your menuba...
iClock Pro is a menu bar replacement clock for Apple's default clock. iClock Pro is an update, total rewrite and improvement to the popular iClock. Have the day, date and time in different fonts and... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Anime tactical RPG, War of Crown, comes...
If you're looking for another tactical RPG fix to go alongside your Fire Emblem Heroes campaigns check out Gamevil's newest, anime-inspired tactics RPG, War of Crown, which comes out tomorrow. [Read more] | Read more »
Fantasy MMORPG MU Origin adds new modes,...
MU Origin, Webzen’s highly popular fantasy MMORPG is getting ready to shake things up for the second time this year, as a new update makes its way to the Google Play and App Store from today. Introducing new systems, modes, and events, the land of... | Read more »
Blizzard is looking to hire a mobile dev...
A new thread on the popular video game rumor forum, NeoGAF, uncovered an interesting job listing over at Blizzard Entertainment. It appears the studio behindStarCraft, World of WarCraft, Hearthstone,andOverwatch is looking to bring on a new hire... | Read more »
Legend of Zelda meets Cooking Mama in ne...
Dungeon Chef is what happens when you mix the RPG elements (and style) of a Legend of Zelda game, with cooking elements. Although, now that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild also has cookingelements, so maybe the gameplay is not so novel.... | Read more »
ChordFlow (Music)
ChordFlow 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: ChordFlow is a chord sequencer with a unique 4-track polyphonic arpeggiator, extensive chord library, MIDI out and Ableton Link... | Read more »
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is out...
The newest season of Telltale Games'The Walking Dead is well underway. After the release of the third episode, "Above the Law" about a month ago, episode four, "Thicker Than Water" is hot and ready for more zombies and gut-wrenching emotional... | Read more »
Best games we played this week
Another week, another new wave of mobile games do dive into. We've dug through the list of apps that came out this week to tell you which apps are worth your sweet time. And while there weren't too many games this week, there were some big ones.... | Read more »
Vignettes (Games)
Vignettes 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Vignettes is a casual but unique exploration game without text or characters, where objects shapeshift as you spin them around... | Read more »
Get Me Outta Here is an 80s retro shoote...
Are you ready to fight some aliens? Because Crescent Moon Games has released the retro shooter Get Me Outta Here on iOS devices today. [Read more] | Read more »
Get a bunch of Apple productivity apps f...
If you're an Apple Mac owner, you're probably aware of the host of Apple productivity apps the company includes in all new Mac purchases. Apps like iMovie, Keynote, and of course, GarageBand. While you used to be able to also buy these apps... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

HyperX Ships Pulsefire FPS Gaming Mouse, Winn...
Your reporter is a longtime fan of gaming mice for general purpose coomnputing use, finding them typically superior in comfort and performance. HyperX, a division of Kingston Technology Company, Inc... Read more
Penske Truck Leasing Unveils “Penske Fleet” M...
Penske Truck Leasing has introduced a free mobile app called “Penske Fleet” to benefit its full-service truck leasing and contract maintenance customers. The mobile app enables Penske’s customers to... Read more
DEVONthink To Go 2.1.3 For iOS Adds New Declu...
DEVONtechnologies has updated DEVONthink To Go, its iOS companion to DEVONthink for Mac. Enhancements and bug fixes in Version 2.1.3 include DEVONtechnologies’ new decluttering service for clipping... Read more
Use Apple’s Education discount to save up to...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: -... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple Watches available sta...
Apple is now offering Certified Refurbished Series 1 and Series 2 Apple Watches for 14-16% off MSRP, starting at $229. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each watch. Shipping is free: Series... Read more
15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros, Apple refurbi...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros for $360 to $420 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.6GHz... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 o...
Overstock.com has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $869.99 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku... Read more
15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for $1...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
15-inch 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale...
Amazon has 2016 15″ 2.7GHz Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $150-$200 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray (sku MLH42LL/A): $2599 $200... Read more
Apple now offering Certified Refurbished 13-i...
Apple is now offering Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros for $270-$300 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.9GHz... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
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* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 56881986 Middletown, NY, New York, United States Posted: Apr. 17, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**489879BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000402-Utica-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master do?** At Read more
Music Marketing Lead, iTunes & *Apple*...
# Music Marketing Lead, iTunes & Apple Music Job Number: 56868140 Culver City, California, United States Posted: Apr. 17, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**498001BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Location Number:** 000356-Manassas-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.