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Operate all your home cinema devices with one remote control: This is how it works

One remote control: Everyone wants to operate everything with just one remote control, but how does this work and what are the options?
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With the ever-increasing range of home cinema equipment and the arrival of additional devices for your smart home, there are also more and more remote controls on the coffee table. We prefer to operate everything with just one remote control, but how does this work and what are the options?

We all have one or more of these devices in our home theater; the blu-ray player, the set-top box, the TV, the receiver, the home cinema set and the game console. There are several options for reducing the number of remote controls that come with these devices, preferably to one. In this article we will go from simple and cheap solutions to advanced and somewhat more expensive solutions.

Automatic communication with HDMI-CEC

One of the simplest solutions to minimize the number of remote controls is HDMI-CEC. HDMI-CEC, where CEC stands for Consumer Electronic Control, is a function of HDMI. The function makes it easier to connect devices with each other and, above all, to have them communicate. This is done by running a separate signal, used purely for communication, via the HDMI cable that is laid between two devices. HDMI-CEC is supported by all HDMI cables but the implementation of the function in hardware is up to the manufacturer of the respective hardware. With HDMI-CEC you can also operate other devices with the remote control of one device. For example, if you turn on the TV, the home cinema set switches on automatically. You can also control the volume of the home cinema set with the TV remote control. However, HDMI-CEC is not a complete solution. Its operation depends on the manufacturer and this manufacturer often allows optimal operation only with other products of the same brand. You have little control over HDMI-CEC; there are hardly any setting options and often certain functions do not work or do not work smoothly. However, it is a first step in reducing the number of remote controls.


Additional possibilities of the remote control

More and more devices for the home cinema system come with remote controls that have more buttons and more smart functions. In the field of TV, we see the trend that remote controls can learn. For example, Samsung has developed a system in which the equipment connected via HDMI is automatically recognized and you can operate this equipment with the remote control of the TV. LG has a similar function and other manufacturers are also coming up with this in the short term. In addition, many remote controls can be programmed; you can add codes of connected devices so that you can control them with the remote control of the TV. You can read how this works in the manual of your specific device.

Operate all your home cinema devices with one remote control

If you have a receiver, chances are that you have received a remote control with a large number of buttons. This remote control is not so extensive for nothing. Just as the receiver should be the center of your home cinema system, that is also the purpose of the remote control. It often has buttons for basic operation of your media players and your TV, so you can get started right away with one remote control and a few presses of a button. However, in all these cases (whichever remote control you use) the number of buttons for the linked devices is small. For example, if you want to dive into the settings of your TV when you use the remote control of your receiver, you will still have to find the remote control of the TV. The same applies when you program the TV remote control for the set-top box or Blu-ray player; many settings or options are only accessible via the remote control of the respective device. The reason for this is simple; the layout of each remote is different, the functions are different on each device and the operation is different on each device.

Apps for smartphones

Almost every major manufacturer of AV equipment nowadays has its own app (s) for smartphones. The devices of the respective manufacturer can be operated with these apps. Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, Philips, Denon, Onkyo, Marantz and Yamaha, among others, offer extensive apps with which the device to which the app belongs can be operated. If you have devices of the same brand, it is sometimes possible to operate multiple devices using one app. However, if you have a TV from Sony, a Blu-ray player from Panasonic and a receiver from Marantz, then you have to get started with three apps. However, these are on one smartphone and so you reduce the number of devices you have to use.

Operate all your home cinema devices with one remote control

(Universal) one remote controls

With a universal remote control you probably think of such a plastic and large case that is for a few tens with the Action, but we will skip that in this article. These remote controls are just as (un) handy as the remote controls of the devices themselves and add little. No, under this heading we are talking about genuine and advanced universal remotes.

The best example is a universal remote control that we also use ourselves; the Logitech Harmony Elite. Logitech has a wide range of universal remote controls and with the Elite you immediately have the most advanced model in your hands. The big advantage of this accessory is that it is a complete package; a remote control with touch display, a hub for communication, an app for settings and virtual remote control, and infrared extenders. You can add remotes of almost all devices and brands to the Harmony Elite and you can also add / program buttons yourself. The touch display makes it possible to dive into device settings, tap channels directly and add extra options. You can also create routines so that you can switch on various devices at the touch of a button. You can even control smart home equipment such as lights and the thermostat with this remote control. The infrared extenders ensure that you can neatly hide the equipment in a cupboard without interfering with the operation. In short, the most convenient, complete and comprehensive solution with which you only have one remote control. But you also pay for that; the Harmony Elite costs about 250 euros.

Operate all your home cinema devices with one remote control

However, there are several options. Logitech also has cheaper universal remote controls in its range. These have to do without the app and the smart home integration, for example. The customization options are also smaller. It just depends on how many devices you have and how extensive you want the operation with one remote control. There are also other manufacturers that offer universal remotes, including One For All. However, these remote controls are not equipped with a display, which is a lot less advanced and less customizable. Marmitek also has various solutions including an accessory with infrared extenders and an app for your smartphone. Your devices can be concealed and full control takes place via your smartphone.