cookie-cutter remotes are good for most of the functions, but there’s always some nifty special function that you’ll need the original remote for eventually, so you still have to keep a box full of discarded remotes.
One of the better remotes I used a few years ago was the Phillips Pronto. It would learn any code from any remote, and used a touch screen. You could customize the interface to be any way you wanted, and it supported macros so it execute several functions at once (a “watch tv” button would dim the lights, turn on the tv, switch
it to the right input, turn on the TV tuner and switch to the right channel). Since it was completely programmable, one of the cooler ideas I used was using the TV station icons as buttons. Just touch the “NBC” logo and the remote would switch to the right channel. The newer Prontos have color screens now.
The bad part about using a touch screen was that you ALWAYS had to look at the remote to see what you were doing. A remote with countoured hard buttons can easily be felt to find the channel up button, volume control, etc.
I have some software that turns your pocket PC into a Pronto remote, but the IR sensors aren’t as good as a regular remote.
I’ve been interested in the new Logitech remotes because they are programmable like a Pronto but also have hard countoured buttons. Has anyone used these?