Archives For Remotes

Brent and I are giving away a Firefly PC Remote ($50), courtesy of Snapstream. For remote details, check out my brief hands on or Brent’s extensive review. The rules are simple: Leave a comment on this post saying you want in. However, your comment must be accompanied by a Gravatar image/icon – sign up here. (It’s painless, really.) Please be located in the lower 48 (US) and we’ll randomly choose a winner later this week.

The latest TiVo hack doesn’t actually require any hacking. Last fall, TiVo partnered up with Creston to integrate the Series3 into their home automation framework. While I haven’t heard anything since, it turns out the hooks are wide open (via Omikron) to any application or hardware on one’s home network – and possibly well beyond by implementing router port fowarding. Until something more polished is developed, the telnet protocol allows you to manually feed a variety of remote commands to a networked TiVo. For example, in the video above, I’m using a terminal application on my jailbroken iPhone as a rudimentary WiFi remote control. There’s some real interesting potential here…

Continue Reading…

The Firefly Remote

Dave Zatz —  April 29, 2008

SnapStream, the folks behind Beyond TV DVR software, offered Team ZNF a look at the Firefly RF media center remote control ($50). While Brent‘s finalizing his review, he shipped the remote back to play with before we give it away on ZNF. The Firefly controls a wide variety of media apps out of the box, including Beyond TV and Vista Media Center (VMC), plus it can be customized to support additional programs. Generally speaking, RF is preferable to IR due to increased range and fewer line-of-sight issues. And the Firefly is certainly superior to my wireless Microsoft keyboard and mouse in controlling VMC from the La-Z-Boy. However, RF’s not going to turn my plasma on… Next!

CES: Harmony One

Dave Zatz —  January 16, 2008

harmony-one.jpgAfter a looong time, Logitech is finally updating their Harmony remote line with the One. (The Harmony 1000 slab is a different product category as far as I’m concerned.) Given the extended gestation and $249 price point, I’m not particularly impressed. The remote looks and feels bulky.

I was browsing the show with Kyle Copeland (half the team behind Beginning TiVo Programming and Audio Faucet) when I swung by the Logitech booth. We agree the Harmony One display has been improved over the 880 – both in appearance and the very nice touch screen/control. However, Kyle found the clarity/resolution to be lacking. And when compared to his iPhone, it surely was.

Both the 880 and One share the same MSRP, so those new to Harmony should consider the One with improved finish, display, and charging cradle. (Though the 880 is often discounted by 50%…) However, those who currently own the 880 (as I do) will have a hard time justifying an upgrade.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  August 23, 2007

A periodic roundup of relevant news… Dave missed while vacationing.


  • DVB-T tuners, DVR functionality, and placeshifting coming to European PS3: Sony
  • Logitech Harmony 1000 reviewed: PC Mag
  • Paramount and Dreamworks sell out to HD DVD: TiVo Lovers
  • YouTube video advertising arrives: Yahoo

TiVo Channel Change

Mari Silbey —  July 14, 2007

uverse-tivo.jpgThere aren’t that many U-verse users and (relatively speaking) there aren’t that many TiVo owners either. But for the small number of folks that fall into both categories, there’s been an annoying little issue in trying to get TiVo to work with AT&T’s service: no way to change channels.

Luckily, the problem now appears to be solved. With new IR codes, TiVo users can change channels and avoid having to choose between IPTV and their TiVo crack, er, I mean box. A writer on the U-verse Users site details the fix here.

If you’re not a U-verse user, but you’ve been having trouble with Tivo and your air conditioner, see the comments on this post. Or just wait until winter.

When most people think about TiVo, they only think about being able to record TV. They might be aware of some of TiVo’s extra features, but unless they’ve actually tried the service, it’s hard to understand the little things, that make TiVo so great.

It’s easy for consumers to understand the appeal of features like suggestions, wishlists or internet scheduling, but it’s the more subtle differences, that actually makes TiVo such a luxury product. Things like being able to clip out that extra minute of programming the networks schedule, just to punish DVR viewers or being able to skip forward 15 minutes at a time, so that you can get back to the middle of a ballgame, in case you happened to pass out fall asleep before the end. When I had my generic DVR, I was forced to navigate several menus, just to get to my recorded content, but with TiVo, all I need is to hit the TiVo button twice and I’m right at my now playing list. It’s a very small detail, but one that makes their user interface, so much more enjoyable to interact with.

Of all the subtle differences that make up the TiVo experience, the remote control probably has the greatest impact. The cable companies remote might get the signal to your set top box, but the TiVo remote looks better and gets you where you need to be faster.

From the very start, TiVo got the remote down right. It’s peanut shape fits perfectly in the palm of your hand and the buttons were placed in areas, where you would optimize them most. When the remote first came out, it was recognized by the Consumer Electronics Association for it excellence. I used my first remote so much, that I wore off the fast forward icon on my button.

I was always happy with the original remote, but when TiVo released the series 3, I was excited to see an upgraded remote, included with it. While the series 3 remote doesn’t offer any functionality that you can’t live without, some of the the new features are still worth checking out. Continue Reading…

apple-remote.jpgAccording to an USB analyst, by way of AppleInsider

We also expect new touchscreen video iPods, more phones and possibly even TVs in the future,” he added. “With regard to the iPhone, we expect Apple to have a full line of phones from $150 to $600 available for purchase at multiple retailers in several geographies within three years, just like it did for iPods.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of getting off the couch to control the television (how retro!) doesn’t appeal to me. Having played with a variety of touch screen remotes, I can also say they don’t appeal either — I prefer tactile feedback and the ability to control the set without looking at the remote.

However, I do see a general need for an improved touchscreen interface/experience and look forward to checking out Multi-touch on the iPhone, plus any (rumored) video iPod or Mac tablet that hit the market.