Given the sheer number of What’s the best _____ for under $ _____
threads lately, I thought some members might benefit from a potential purchasing factor that is rarely discussed here---TOADs.
After living with a HTS for some time, some users grow annoyed with the array of remotes cluttering the coffee table and purchase a universal remote to help simplify their lives. To further improve ease-of-use, many of these users create macros (a series of commands executed by a single button press) to perform common functions. For example:
• Turn On The System
: power up the receiver, the TV, DVD player, etc.
• Power Off The System
: turn off the power to the receiver, TV, DVD, etc.
• Watch A DVD
: power up the system, change the receiver’s input to DVD, change the TV input to component, set the appropriate TV color mode, etc.
• Listen To The Radio
: power up the system, change the receiver input to Tuner, jump to the “default” radio station, change the sound field to the preferred setting for FM, etc.
It’s during the macro recording phase, that problem arises …all too often the user discovers he has a TOAD (Toggle Only Actuated Device). There are basically two types of remote control commands: toggle and discrete. A toggle cycles through a predefined sequence of commands, e.g. Power On,/Power Off. or TV Tuner/Video 1/Video 2/Video 3. In contrast, a discrete command executes a single function, e.g. Power On, Select Video 3, Raise Center Channel Volume, etc. Devices that support discrete commands are sometimes called DUDEs (Device Utilizing Discrete Extensions).
The problem with using toggles is that, unless you have a very sophisticated remote that can store system states, macros tend to get “confused” and may fail to work properly. For example, say you want to create a macro to watch a DVD as described above. If all of your devices support discrete commands, it’s an easy task: send “Power On” commands to each device (if the device is already on—nothing changes), send the change TV to the component input command (if the device is already set to this input, nothing changes), etc. But if the TV is a TOAD, how does the remote know if the TV is already powered on or what input the TV is currently set to? It can’t.
True, there are workarounds for some TOAD issues; e.g. some DVD players will power on with a Play command. To power off the DVD player you create a macro that sends “play” then “Power” (which toggles the unit off). These kludges work, but are prone to error.
I realize that to some of you these issues may seem like little more than anal retentive nits. But for anyone who has a SO or frequent guests or children who have difficulty comprehending the six pages of notes you’ve scribbled out to explain how to turn on your system and watch a movie, universal remotes and macros are life savers. If you are one of these people, you might want to invest some time upfront to learn if the device you are considering is a TOAD or a DUDE. Here’s a few approaches:
• If you are shopping at a specialty store that offers custom installation and remote control programming, ask them; they should know what devices they sell support which discrete commands.
• Check the Pronto TOAD list at remotecentral: http://www.remotecentral.com/files/use-ir.htm.
This list is a good start, but it’s not comprehensive.
• Post a query in the appropriate forum at remotecentral.
• Check the Advanced Command List for the One For All/Radio Shack remotes: http://www.hifi-remote.com/ofa/adv-codes.shtml.
FWIW in my experience this list is often inaccurate.