Archives For Remotes

PC Mag has spoken: the ESPN Ultimate Remote ain’t all that. Mari was feeling good after a brief device intro at The Cable Show, but my pal (and fellow IU alumn) PJ tested the WiFi remote in an AV environment and has graced it with only 2 out of 5 stars:

The problem is, despite its $300 price tag, it is not particularly simple to set up or use, and it doesn’t execute any of its fancy Web tricks gracefully.

Though PJ prefers the Harmony One, he’s hopeful that the Windows CE-based Ultimate Remote will see some software improvements that justify the steep price of entry.

Looking for an alternative to the Harmony? It now exists. As I was leaving the floor at the Cable Show, I got the lowdown on the new Ultimate Remote from tvCompass. In a quick demo I was particularly impressed with the TV Guide EPG rendering – not an easy thing to get right on such a small screen. Even more important, however: the remote is WiFi-enabled, meaning plenty of extras like messaging and content applications. It’s launching with ESPN and associated sports content, but the partnership opportunities are really limitless. Operators are apparently looking at the tvCompass product, too. You can pre-order the ESPN version on Amazon. Hefty price tag at $299.99, but I bet there’ll be quite a few willing to shell it out.

In less than two weeks, we’ve gone from a manual keyboard kludge to a more polished method of TiVo network remote control (Ubuntu above, iPhone below). By using the Crestron hooks TiVo incorporated into the Fall 2007 Update, folks are beginning to design graphical apps. However, I still believe there’s more powerful and practical uses for this “hack”… TiVo could and should assist by documenting and expanding interface options – both via this port (31339) and the existing HTTPS/XML entrance.

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