Archives For Remotes

Logitech announced that it plans to retain ownership of its Harmony remote product line. The company has determined that retaining ownership is in the best interest of its shareholders. #

Logitech’s Xbox 180?

x1voice

Following in the footsteps of DirecTV, Comcast is the latest provider to bring voice navigation to the television:

The X1 Remote app first launched in mid-2012, giving X1 customers the ability to control the TV, navigate Xfinity On Demand choices, search for programs and tune to TV shows and movies directly from their iPhones. In addition to uniting the TV screen with customers’ mobile devices, the latest version adds the ability to issue voice commands for guide navigation and content discovery. For example, users can say “When is the next Phillies game?” or “Show me all action movies on HBO.”

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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…

directv-voice-search

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.”

harmony-category-page

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-remote-sounds

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…

tivo-slide-discontinued

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!)