Archives For Remotes


Prior to the division’s potential sale, Logitech’s last Harmony remote control models have started arriving at Best Buy. The Harmony Ultimate and (soon) the Harmony Smart Control join the Touch and 650 on a revamped retail display. Both new models ship with a the “Harmony Hub” – which appears to represent the evolution of the Harmony Link, bringing smartphone integration and RF capabilities. At $350, the Ultimate is too rich for my blood. And having spent time with the Touch, it’s hard to justify at even $250. However, the Smart Control at $130 appears quite interesting. It ships with a screenless Harmony remote and that aforementioned Hub. Knowing my smartphone blows away the Ultimate/Touch’s display in presentation and responsiveness, this seems like a fairly clever hybrid solution. One I intend on checking out…


According to Variety, DirecTV has been working on a Nuance-powered iPhone app update to bring speech recognition to HR24 and newer set-top boxes. My initial reaction was that it’s nothing more than a clever, but not very practical, application of Siri-like skills. Yet, upon reflection, being able to change channel via station name, rather than researching a corresponding number I probably don’t know, seems quite compelling. Natural language interactivity might even come in handy when attempting to determine when a given show airs. However, I don’t imagine voice control would be the most precise or efficient way to schedule and manage DVR recordings and I’m not particularly interested in finding “a Tom Cruise movie this weekend.”


Logitech continues to struggle with their identity and revenue, given another quarter of “disappointing sales“. To right this ship, the company intends to double down on mobile accessories while sustaining their PC peripheral biz. Simultaneously, they plan to unload their Harmony remote and Logitech Alert security camera divisions. Logitech may no longer be interested in those businesses, yet management obviously feels there’s still some intrinsic value.

We’ve covered Harmony from pretty much Day 1 of this site. But our ties stretch even further – to the early 2000s. Prior to Logitech’s acquisition, Harmony hailed from Canada when their cutting edge thematic universal remote powered my projector and Lutron dimmers, along with an ever rotating array of set-top boxes and HTPCs. And it really was one remote to rule them all. However, in recent years, Logitech has let the Harmony line languish as they diverted resources towards that Google TV debacle. Fortunately, they regained interest and recently pushed out the Harmony Link mobile companion and Harmony Touch (which would have been a more compelling remote in 2009). I assume they have additional product in the pipeline, which we’re anxiously awaiting, but Harmony will clearly need a new champion going forward. From CEO Bracken Darrell: Continue Reading…


TiVo’s soliciting feedback on the various ways they might implement sound within their next generation remote control. Of course, the obvious usage scenario is being able trigger an audible alarm when you’ve misplaced that iconic peanut under a couch cushion. But TiVo’s applied for some pretty crazy patents over the years, including the one for a RFID-capable remote that distinguishes family members… that could tie in nicely with those rumored user profiles.

While the FCC has granted TiVo (and others) an extension in defining and implementing an open IP-based set-top standard to move content around the home, it’s probably safe to assume they haven’t been sitting still and new DVR hardware has been under development. My TiVo Premiere was manufactured three years ago (12/09) and I’d say odds are good that we’ll see something new prior to the 6/14 deadline. Continue Reading…


After a mere two years, the TiVo Slide QWERTY remote is on the way out. I’ve been quite fond of this stubby little fellow, despite its high price ($90) at launch, and it’s arguably TiVo’s finest accessory prior to the Stream. Not that they’ve produced many non-DVR products over the years. My knee jerk reaction was that a Bluetooth QWERTY remote is gone for good, given the of saturation of smartphones and virtual keyboard-toting TiVo apps (iOS, Android). But TiVo’s always produced top notch remotes, so perhaps we’ll see a compelling replacement. Who knows, maybe they’ll even take a page from their upcoming Pique initiative and unveil something a bit more agnostic… and universal.

(Thanks Steve and brennok!)


Hot on the heels of the Roku pico projector announcement, the Roku Streaming Stick ($99) is now available for order and a revised RF Roku remote passed through the FCC today. This accessory looks quite similar to the Bluetooth gaming remote bundled with the Roku 2 XS streaming player, yet appears to feature two minor differences. Instead of dual status lights under the A/B buttons, Roku Streaming Stick marketing material indicates there may be a single LED. Eh, whatev? More interesting are the two new side rocker buttons. While it’s not entirely clear what these are, (programmable) volume control would be welcome. Especially if the remote is made available for purchase to existing Roku 2 owners.


It’s been some time since Logitech significantly refreshed their Harmony line of universal remote controls. But, after that Google TV debacle, the company indicated a desire to double down on their earlier and more successful product lines (and acquisitions). And, if this description and prototype illustrations by a Logitech intern are any indication, the next Harmony is more Android handset than old school clicker. As explained, the “Magic Touch” Harmony would utilize voice, gesture, and motion control — in addition to offering a rich second screen guide. Of course, we’d also expect inclusion of Logitech’s ultimate device database and activity-based control. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear if this is merely a fanciful rendering or a production device headed to store shelves. We shall see…  Continue Reading…


After trailing third party developers, Roku’s finally responded with a Android virtual remote of their own. Now available in the Market, the Roku app is both visually and functionally similar to its iPhone predecessor.

Turn your Android device into a control center for your Roku streaming player. Launch your Roku channels, navigate your Roku player, control media playback and find new channels to enjoy.

Roku indicates the app should work on all Android devices running 2.1 or higher, and of course the smartphone and Roku must be on the same wireless network. Not bad at all considering Roku set-top boxes start at a mere $50 and the new app is free. Yet, as nice an addition as this may be, with an imminent Apple TV refresh, we’re left wondering when Roku might announce additional top flight content partners… and deliver on their YouTube promise.