If you're designing a home theater don't skimp on the control of it. There's nothing worse than a great system that's difficult to control or where there's only one family member in the house that knows how the darn thing works.
That being said, sometimes you can get away with using the remote control that came with the AV receiver or cable box. It depends on the number of components in the system for one. There's also times when a relatively inexpensive remote becomes more complicated than just picking up the specific remote for the device you want to control. That does mean more clutter on the coffee table. A price you'll have to pay.
There's a good rule to go by when thinking about control for your home theater. The more simple you want it, the more expensive it becomes. That's because behind simplicity is a sophisticated backend that usually needs programmed by a specialist.
Lifehacker just published a good article on remote control options, The Remote Control Conundrum: How to Choose the Right Remote for Your Home Theater PC. They didn't delve into those expensive control systems like Crestron which are much more than a remote control but offer the ultimate in ease of use. Still, it gives some good pros and cons to your standard options.
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