Hi all. Building a new addition onto the house and have gotten permission from the wife to go crazy in there. I want to do a multiple tv setup with a large TV in the middle and 4 smaller ones around it. Then use a projector with a motorized screen as well. I have been researching the best way to control all of this in an easy package and I am stumped. Ideally I'd like to use 1 brand of TV. I know that logitech was making remotes with rf control that could control each tv independently even though they use the same remote frequencies. I plan on having an htpc in there running media center and then using 4 xboxes or ceton echo's to feed the other tv's. So basically I need 1 remote that can control each TV as well as the htpc and the xboxes (which would be sharing the same remote frequency). Is there currently any solution for this? I see pics of these awesome setups online and thy all seem to be using some sort of ipad app to control everything. Is that the way to go and if so, can you point me in the right direction? Do I need some sort of home automation box like a crestron to pull this off or will a fancy app or remote from logitech be able to handle this. Any and all advice is appreciated.
There are many ways of going about this. Each of us has our set of "tools". Personally, I am not a Harmony fan, but the D.I.Y. (Do It Youself) crowd loves them. I suggest that you hire a pro. In this application the user interface is critical. Ask to see an example of the user interface that the pro will provide. User interfaces are personal a great interface for one is a clunk for another user. Don't be fooled by the the things that blink and slide around on the screen, these things are cute the first day, but the really great interfaces minimize the number of things that you need to touch or press.
First, you should layout what you want to see and hear and how much control you want. Do you need two way control? At this stage don't worry about how this might be done, that's the pro's problem. You should concentrate on what, not how. Sometimes customers come up with impractical ideas. At this point I'll suggest alternatives or point out the large price associated with their idea -- but at least I know what they are thinking.
I have a similar setup to what you have Planned. I feel your pain as I did not have much support for my setup and mostly had to figure things out through trial and error. To quickly answer your questions - No, there isn't 1 remote or 1 app that will control all of this. If you see an advertisement saying there is they are lying. If they're telling the truth please let me know.
I will describe my setup and tell you how I control it, what has worked and what has failed.
My Setup: 3 wall mounted TVs. A 60" LG TV and 2 identical 40" Sony Smart TVs
The TVs are connected into a HTD Lync 12 Whole House Audio system through a optical audio switcher that has a remote control.
My setup is mainly for watching sports games and I like to easily be able to switch audio to the game I want listen to. I also have an electric fireplace, HTPC, Video game consoles, Sonos Connect, IP surveillance cameras, Wifi thermostat, and remote lighting.
My first attempt at controlling everything was to go out and buy the Harmony Ultimate Home Hub Remote. All my devices were "compatible" using their online checker and it sounded perfect. For multiple reasons the Harmony Ultimate Home was not very useful and user friendly for my setup. If you're interested in my indepth opinion on this remote you can read my review of Amazon.com - user name FullyCompletely.
Long story short is that Harmony hub uses IR to control Smart TVs and it doesn't detect multiple identical TVs by their IP address as I expected. It treats identical TVs as a single TV. All identical TVs will receive the remote commands and mirror each other. Sometimes this is cool but not always.
Fortunately I purchased Sony Smart TVs that have a very useful Android app called "TV SideView". The app detects compatible TVs on your home network. From inside this app I can control my TVs independently and I can actually access streaming services and SmartTV features much faster than using any remote.
I've returned my Harmony Ultimate Home remote and now I use a tablet dedicated to my TV and I use a $25 Sony Universal Learning remote to control all my "non connected" IR devices.
I'm able to control my Smart TVs and audio system with my tablet using their native android apps. At first I didn't consider this method of control because I didn't want to use multiple devices and multiple apps because it seemed tedious and inconvenient. In reality the tablet is actually much easier to navigate than the small harmony LCD screen was. The free Android apps that my devices are designed to work with offer full feature support. Harmony will call your devices compatible but may have limited support. So no matter what I always needed a Smartphone/Tablet to achieve the control I wanted. I can actually use my basic universal remote a lot faster than the Harmony remote because it has a lot more programmable buttons. But I get no fancy complex automaton with my setup. Which I will gladly go without for quicker and full feature control. Harmony activity automaton doesn't work very well for multiple TV setups. I explain why I think this in my amazon review.
I can still achieve independent control of my identical TVs with my universal IR remote by using a little trickery. I have an IR Receiver connected to only 1 of the identical TVs and the IR Receiver runs from the back of the TV inside the wall - down to the basement - and up back into my room on the wall beside my couch
How I achieve independent IR control: I point my remote at the TVs mounted on the wall and they both follow along with remote commands. When I get the TVs displaying the content I want I then move on to changing only one TV by pointing my remote directly at the IR receiver beside my couch. Since an IR signal is a "line-of-sight" type of signal it never reaches the other TV. I'm sure this is not the only way of doing this but it's probably the cheapest and quickest as it doesn't require any switching of sources on your remote or waiting for apps to load.
My universal remote can control my HTPC and XBMC/kodi Media Center. The Sony TV SideView app can actually detect the XBMC/Kodi Server so I can view any local computer video on any TV simultaneously. I could never do this with only a Harmony Remote or with 1 single "control everything" app. But I wish I could!
I can't vouch for how this setup works with a cable TV subscription because I don't have one. But the SmartTV app asks for your Postal Code/Zip Code and detects local service providers and allows you to add and edit channels. So I believe independent control would be possible for a cable setup with a tablet and with a universal remote.
I watch Sports with a HTPC and with apps built into my Smart TVs. I stream additional content to the TVs with servers that I can control with apps on a tablet. I also have each TV connected to the same computer's video card which gives me the flexibility of a multi display computer.
I've considered using a home control remote builder like iRule but since monthly fees are against my religion I haven't been able to make the leap to iRule.
Someone recommended to hire a professional, iRule is probably similar to what a professional would offer. I met with a professional that was offered to me through my home builder. Had I went with the professionals I would be broke and have a system that can't really be changed or upgraded without asking/paying them for help.
Like Harmony Ultimate Home I suspect services like iRule have limited Support. You'd have access to a lot more features by simply using a tablet with free/cheap apps, a decent universal remote, and a keyboard/mouse to take full advantage of your HTPC.
My setup and methods of control are not perfect. It lacks automation, it takes practice. It takes time to learn There's no crash course on how to make everything work like you might get from a professional installer. Strangers can't walk in and know how to control it like their home cable boxes; Which has its advantages because some people feel entitled to take over your entertainment system.
My wife can use everything just fine. She's impatient and rarely has had any complaints since "HOW COULD YOU SPEND $300 ON A [Harmony Ultimate Home] REMOTE!?"
Not all pros are attempting to steal your wallet. Certainly, there are costs involved and the pro needs to make a living too. I assume that you are some sort of professional who charges for services rendered and that you offer value. This is no different for the A/V pro who has also invested time and money to learn his trade.
Maybe you have contacted the wrong pro. I have no problem with setting up a system, then enabling the client to make small adjustments to the remote configuration -- such as updating a cable channel number. Not all clients want to or are able to do this, but it saves me a lot of aggravation and the client can have instant satisfaction. While it may seem excessive, if I wanted to be fair to myself, I'd need to charge at least $150 to $200 for the combination of travel time and making a few small changes on site. It would be great customer service if I could do all of this for free, but "free" business grows very rapidly while time available for paid business shrinks.
I have been out of playing with my own AV stuff for many years but there is a company Xantech that has the hardware to make this setup work for you. If I remember correctly you have an IR receiver and it has emitters. Each emitter can be programmed for a different TV of the same brand and model. They worked great. I had a friend who was in the AV business and he showed me all of his tricks.
If you really want a nice setup, you can take the covers off of your equipment and find the internal IR receiver. Wire tie the emitter in front inside the unit and run the lead out the back of the equipment. It looks professional as you don't see the unsightly two way stuck tape emitter on the front of the equipment. I did all mine that way. I see professional setups like that and it drives me crazy.
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