One of my biggest complaints about getting a home theatre system was the need for multiple remotes. I know you can buy an all-in-one remote that will manage everything for you but for whatever reason I didn’t do that. I just bought a Samsung Smart TV and decided to look into the state of TV remotes again.
Last night I learned that I was just ignorant of some progress that had been made in this area by two standards: HDMI Audio Return Channel (HDMI-ARC) and HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI-CEC). Using these two technologies, I have tied all of my devices together under one remote control. I push one power button and everything turns on. I push the volume up button on the TV remote and my receiver volume increases. I want to go to bed and I hit the power button on the TV and both the TV and receiver turn off. This is the way things always should have been.
Let’s start with HDMI-ARC. This is quite simple in concept but solves the persistent issue of how do you get audio from the TV back to your receiver. Most setups I have done and seen involve Blu-ray players, cable STBs and PS3s sending their video and audio to your home cinema receiver then the receiver sends the video to the TV. Basically, your TV is a dumb monitor. This all changed when I got my Samsung Smart TV and tried to watch Netflix on it for the first time. My picture quality was fine but all the audio was coming from my TV! Enabling the HDMI-ARC on the TV and my Onkyo receiver solved that problem and now it makes no difference where the audio comes from, my receiver can find it.
Next is HDMI-CEC. You will find this under various brand names like VIERA Link or Anynet+ but they are mostly compliant with the HDMI-CEC standard. What it allows you to do is send commands over the HDMI cable so when your TV powers up and it’s on the cable input, it tells your cable box to power up too. When you switch to Blu-ray, it turns that on for you. My TV also automatically tied into my receiver’s volume control so when you change the volume on the TV it is actually changing the volume on my home cinema receiver.
Sounds like paradise, right? Well, I have managed to get things gummed up a couple of times and had to reboot everything a couple of times already but I’m hoping that it’s because I don’t have it all hooked up correctly yet. Also, you’ll probably still need your Tivo remote to do some Tivo things and your Blu-ray remote to do some BD things. But I’m okay with that. If I can use one remote 90% of the time then I’m happy.