I gave up my dream of one day owning a single remote control that could replace my basket of “universal” remotes several years ago. As you can imagine I lived in extreme sadness for quite some time, constantly criticizing myself for being so naive to believe such a device existed. As time passed however, I forgave myself for setting such an unrealistic goal and eventually moved on. Then yesterday the delivery man arrived, unknowingly carrying the answer to this long forgotten dream.

Okay, to be honest, I haven’t actually gone out and bought any universal remotes until just the other day. With that said, each time I’ve replaced a component in my entertainment system I end up with another “universal” remote that just doesn’t cut it. Either it won’t even work with one or more components or, as is more often the case, you loose a ton of functionality and have to keep the original remote close by anyway. While advanced universal remotes are nothing new, in my opinion finding one within a reasonable price range (below $100) is. If you’re willing to invest $80-$100 in a universal remote that will actually replace all of your other remotes, so far I am very pleased with my Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360.

Harmony xBox360 remoteWhile I’m sure some people have system components that are all from the same manufacturer, my systems have been and will likely always be hybrids. Our primary entertainment system is comprised of a Toshiba HDTV, Sony surround sound amp/receiver, Scientific Atlantic HD cablebox/PVR, Emerson DVD recorder, a PS2, and a Xbox 360. Until yesterday, this meant 5 remotes were needed to utilize all of the functionality of each device; the Harmony for Xbox 360 allowed me to retire all of them. Better yet, I didn’t have to search for a single device code to set things up.

Set up was a breeze, and literally within a few minutes of pulling it out of the box I was controlling all my devices and toying with settings on each device just because I could. Install the management software on your PC, connect the remote via USB, note each system component’s make & model info, then run through the setup wizard. Done deal. I set up one-button activities for such things as “Watch PVR”, “Watch DVD”, “Play Xbox”, “Listen to CD”, etc… And I found out today that modifying these settings and adding new devices or commands to an activity was just as simple. So far I haven’t been able to find a single command for any of my devices that this thing can’t do, which is truly amazing to me.

A universal remote that actually works AND costs less than any of the system components it controls. What a concept. I can’t wait to tell my therapist.

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