Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gadget bliss

I like gadgets. I like them even better when they solve problems. I had a problem that involved the home entertainment system and its plethora of remotes. Every component had one, receiver, Blu-Ray player, cable box, TV, music streamer, etc. Different activities required different combinations of remotes and settings for the components in question.

I remember phone calls from Connie saying she was trying to watch TV but had no sound, or she wanted to play Kai a movie but there was no picture. I would then go through a painstaking process of trying to get her to figure out what was wrong with the system. Conversations would be confusing, "what is the receiver set to, which input?"..."what is the receiver?"..."the big black one with all the knobs on it"..."how do I tell what it is set to? How do I change it?", and so on. You get the idea.

Then came along the Harmony range of universal remote controls. The beauty of this one is that it connects to an online database of remote codes, tracks the state of each component and the interface is activity based. Want to watch TV? Press the 'watch TV' button and it will turn on the TV, the cable box and the receiver. It then sets the receiver to the right input and configures it's buttons to control the TV for channel changing, the receiver for volume, etc. Brilliant stuff. It even has a help function that will attempt to fix things and asks question like the ones I used to ask over the phone to try and sort it out.

I love it. Since I bought it, the number of phone calls have dropped to 0. Kai can use it, babysitters can use it. If you have more than one remote in your home, you owe it to yourself to get one of these. It also has an enormous WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor, a well-known acronym in the gadget world) since it reduces the amount of remotes to exactly one and is easy to use.

Here is a lovingly taken picture of whas has to be my favorite home gadget:

The Harmony One, with touch screen...
If only I could find a decent sub woofer that has a good WAF...

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