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Useless for activities
on 21 April 2012
Bought this remote to replace my old Logitech Harmony 555 - but sadly the remote handling of activities is very close to useless.
For those of you not expirienced with activities on remote controls, these are configured activities such as "Watch TV" that automatically turns on your TV, switches it to the correct input setting, then turns on your sat receiver. This means, that with one push of a button you can have all the right signals sent. When the activity is active, the remote will combine signals of the different units so that the volume buttons controls the tv, change channals the sat box and so on. This is extremely usefull.
So why am I stating that it is useless in the One For All URC8602 Xsight Colour remote? There are two main reasons:
1) The primary reason, is that the remote has no memory of the state of your different appliances. This is OK for appliances with different signals to turn the appliance on and off, but today most appliances has one signal only for power toggle (on/off). In practice this means: If you are using the activity "Watch TV" and want to watch a DVD and you press activity "Watch DVD" the remote will turn off your TV if it has only a power toggle option. This because the remote does not remember that the TV is on, and as the "Watch DVD" activity would involve turning on the TV it sends the power toggle command, in this case turning off the TV.
The Logitech remote e.g. remembers the states of your appliances, and will thus not send the power toggle command if it knows the TV is already on.
For our usage, where we have activities to use our Boxee, the DVD, the Xbox and the sat box this makes the remote totally useless switching between these. You need first to turn off the current activity, and then start the next which takes time (we have a Sony Home Cinema system, which takes about 1 minute to turn on and 1 minute to turn on again which makes this impossible).
2) When in activity mode, you cannot go to other modes and return. For example, you are in the mode "Watch TV" and wants to use the favourite channel listing. You then press favourite channels on the remote, but this means not only that the screen changes to favourite channels. No, the remove now changes from the activity mode and to controlling only the device you have chosen when you configured the favourite channels - in our example the sat box. This means, that the volume controls now controls the sat box and no longer the home cinema system etc.
You cannot return to the activity mode, the only way to do this is once again to go to the activity mode and press the "Watch TV" activity, and this again results in the issue described in point 1: The TV, sat box and home cinema system is now turned off as these has only power toggle signals and as the remote does not remember that they are already on. It makes you crazy.
The same issue arrises if you want to go to the controls of a single device - again you cannot return back to the activity mode. And you might be thinking why do that? Well we also control our ventilation system using IR channels, and has configured our Logitech remote for this. This meant that we with the TV remote could go the to the ventilation device and turn it up or down, and then return to the activity. This is not possible with this remote.
It is sad that so little effort has been put into the activity functionality. Actually everything besides this works very well: For controlling individual devices it works perfectly, and the online setup system (EZ RC) works very well - on some points MUCH better than the Logitech software (e.g. when configuring buttons you see a picture of the remote, and from there simply select the buttons to configure. Much easier than just having a list of button names to configure).
The EZ RC has a very extensive list of devices, and even set top boxes from Danish service providers such as Waoo! and TDC are available.
But as we normally are using activities only, and have gotten use to this over our many years with the Logitech Harmony 555 remote, this makes this remote totally useless for us. It simply isn't working, and will not work for most people. Only if all your central devices has isolated commands for power on and power off if will be working close to OK, but still far from as good as the Logitech Harmony. So my reccomendation is to use the extras and buy a Logitech Harmony remote instead, as it is way better than this remote for activities.