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

 
AAPL
$106.98
Apple Inc.
-0.36
MSFT
$46.05
Microsoft Corpora
-0.57
GOOG
$550.31
Google Inc.
+0.98

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Cocktail 8.0.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.3.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VMware Fusion 7.0.1 - Run Windows apps a...
VMware Fusion allows you to create a Virtual Machine on your Mac and run Windows (including Windows 8.1) and Windows software on your Mac. Run your favorite Windows applications alongside Mac... Read more
OneNote 15.3.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.4 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.0 beta 3 - Powerf...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
TextWrangler 4.5.11 - Free general purpo...
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator's tool. Oh, and also, like the best things in life, it's free. TextWrangler is the "little brother" to... Read more
NeoFinder 6.6 - 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
Chromium 38.0.2125.111 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. FreeSMUG-Free OpenSource Mac User Group build is... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.11 - Enhances Open...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Audio Defence : Zombie Arena (Games)
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A zombie shooter audio game. Made from gut-wrenching 3D binaural sound, for a new kind of weird immersion. You... | Read more »
RPG Asdivine Hearts (Games)
RPG Asdivine Hearts 1.1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1.0 (iTunes) Description: SPECIAL PRICE50% OFF (USD 7.99 -> USD 3.99)!!! Travel alongside four companions and a cat in the adventure of a... | Read more »
Haunt the House: Terrortown (Games)
Haunt the House: Terrortown 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 66.6% OFF! SPECIAL SPOOKY HALLOWEEN LAUNCH PRICE! 66.6% OFF! ...What was that sound? Is somebody there? | Read more »
SAS: Zombie Assault 4 Review
SAS: Zombie Assault 4 Review By Jennifer Allen on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FLAWED SHOOTERUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Shoot everything that moves in this fun, if flawed, twin-stick shooter.   | Read more »
Naailde the Witch Review
Naailde the Witch Review By Amy Solomon on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: PITCH-PERFECT STORYTELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Marvelous storytelling, narration, and moving illustrations make this storybook... | Read more »
1st & Goal Review
1st & Goal Review By Andrew Fisher on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FOR THE D&D LOVING QBUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad 1st & Goal is a board gamer’s football game, a football fan’s board game, and... | Read more »
French Developer Pated Unveils Seashine
French Developer Pated Unveils Seashine Posted by Ellis Spice on October 30th, 2014 [ permalink ] French one-man studio Pated has unveiled Seashine, “a poetic journey into the abyss.” Players take on the role of a jellyfish strugglin | Read more »
Agents of Storm: Tips, Tricks, and Strat...
Calling all agents: Would you like to see what we thought of this rather pretty base builder? Check out our Agents of Storm review! Have you downloaded Agents of Storm, been bowled over by the graphics, and aren’t quite sure what to do next? Never... | Read more »
Any.DO 2.0 Hopes to Help Manage Producti...
Any.DO 2.0 Hopes to Help Manage Productivity Posted by Ellis Spice on October 30th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Base Busters Review
Base Busters Review By Jennifer Allen on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FUN BUT RESTRICTED MIXUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mixing up two forms of tower defense gaming and collectible cards, Base Busters is a fun... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple Regains Momentum As Windows Stutters An...
The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to March 2014, shows Apple performing strongly in the first quarter of the year, with sales bouncing back in... Read more
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Increase 25.2%...
New smartphone releases and an increased emphasis on emerging markets drove global smartphone shipments above 300 million units for the second consecutive quarter, according to preliminary data from... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2014 15-inch M...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 Retina...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on 2013 Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros, with Retina models now available starting at $999. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and... Read more
New 2.8GHz Mac mini on sale for $949, save $5...
Abt Electronics has the new 2.8GHz Mac mini in stock and on sale for $949.05 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller... Read more
Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro available for...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2649 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $350 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
Mujjo Steps Up The Game With Refined Touchscr...
Netherlands based Mujjo have just launched their Refined Touchscreen Gloves, stepping up their game. The gloves feature a updated elegant design that takes these knitted gloves to the next level. A... Read more
Sale! Preorder the new 27-inch 5K iMac for $2...
 Abt Electronics has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale and available for preorder for $2374.05 including free shipping. Their price is $125 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Simplex Solutions Inc. Brings Secure Web Surf...
New York based Simplex Solutions Inc. has announced the release and immediate availability of Private Browser 1.0, its revolutionary new secure web browser developed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch... Read more
Save up to $180 off MSRP with an Apple refurb...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more

Jobs Board

Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Every day, business customers come to the Apple Store to discover what powerful, easy-to-use Apple products can do for them. As a Business Leader, Read more
Sr. Manager, *Apple* Deployment Programs fo...
**Job Summary** Apple is seeking candidates for a new position on the Education Content and Technology team. iPad and Mac is in the hands of millions of teachers and Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.