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Cool Things that a Programmable Remote Control Can Do

Many remote controls for home theater devices can be programmed. Programmable remote controls allow you to create macros that perform several tasks at once. You could program a macro to turn on your TV, receiver, and DVD player; set the receiver to the appropriate source and output modes; and start the DVD in the tray — all from one button.

More remote controls are becoming learning-friendly and programmable. For example, the Logitech Harmony One Remote Control (and many of those offered by Monster Cable, Philips, and others) helps you do more than control different devices; it helps you control different actions. Harmony’s remote has an LCD touch screen and links to your PC or Mac via a USB connection to program the remote to tie together multiple actions at once, in order.

Automate your home theater with a remote control like the Harmony One.
Automate your home theater with a remote control like the Harmony One.

Say you want to listen to a CD on your AudioReQuest CD server. To do so manually, you would need to complete these tasks in order:

  1. Turn on the TV.

  2. Set the TV to video mode.

  3. Turn on receiver one and set it to CD.

  4. Turn on receiver two and set it to CD.

  5. Scroll down to your desired playlist.

  6. Press Play.

Harmony reduces this to a simple one-click task. It makes schedules and listings available on your remote’s screen, and when you click it, all the requisite actions on your CD player, receivers, TV set, and so on are done in one quick series of signals from the remote to the devices. So Harmony is designed to help you perform activities such as watch TV, play a CD, and play a DVD.

The really cool feature is Logitech’s online configuration tools. Simply plug Harmony One into your Mac or PC with the supplied USB cable and go to Logitech’s Harmony Web site. As you answer a series of questions onscreen about which equipment you are trying to control and how it’s all hooked together, the “logic” of your remote’s macros is automatically built for you so you don’t have to manually program a macro. The Logitech database simply downloads the right instructions to your remote over the Internet. So you just press the “DVD” command, for example, and your remote will tell your DVD player, your receiver, your TV, your . . . well, whatever . . . what to do.

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