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Product Review: The Harmony One Remote Control

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I recently had the opportunity to test a new remote control from Logitech. Those of you who are audio or videophiles will recognize the Logitech Harmony series of remotes.

These remotes work on the concept of "activities", such as watching TV, or a DVD, a video, or listening to music. The remote is programmed to operate your equipment according to what activity you are doing.

These full featured remotes are aimed at the high end user, but anyone who has to go through a complicated series of maneuvers to operate their home audio or video equipment can benefit from the new Harmony One remote.

This is one high end remote, and for as sophisticated as it is, it works wonderfully in a beautifully designed ergonomic frame that is easy to setup and use.

Presentation: Logitech presented the Harmony One in an elegant display box, showing the gleaming black case through clear plastic. The box graphics are nice and do a good job adding to the whole experience. No blister packs here, this feels like you are opening something important.

In the box you will find the following:

Universal Remote
Charging Station
USB Cable
AC Power Adapter
Lithium Ion Battery
CD-Rom with Logitech Software
Installation Guide

Setup: Setup is a cinch. I must admit though that I did have some trouble connecting this unit to my Intel iMac. After installing the software the unit did not want to acknowledge my USB connection. There was a number to call. The call center help was very friendly and helpful. Above average tech support. The problem was resolved and we moved forward. Newer software updates have since resolved any Macintosh support issues so newer purchasers should have no problems.

The software is easy to install, and once installed you hook up your remote to your computer through the supplied USB cable. The software then asks you for the items you want to control. (Note: It would be helpful in advance to have the makes and model numbers of everything you want to control.)

After you setup all the items you want to control, the software then asks you how you have your components set up to work. For example, if I want to watch TV, I need to turn on my Dish DVR and turn my TV on and switch it to Video 1. These are called setting up activities, and I'll get to a little later.

After this is all set to your liking, the software installs the information to your remote, reboots it and you are off to test it out.

One of the major drawbacks of universal remotes in the past was having to control different components, and switch between them to do tasks. This remote does it for you. When you want to watch TV, you simply push the "Watch TV" icon on the color touch screen. The unit will then do all the tasks, turning on the DVR, TV, Sound system, etc, you had to do separately. It is really neat, and a nice time saver.

If you are having trouble, and the system is not working as desired, you can either hook the unit back up to the software or you can utilize the on-remote help. The remote will guide you through some dialogue boxes on the color screen to help you resolve your problem.

Remote Operation: The remote works well with a surprisingly large number of units. The remote is designed and programmed so that with most devices the controls work in an intuitive fashion. I use a DVR and the buttons seemed laid out perfectly for DVR operation. It also worked my VCR and DVD recorder/player as if it was designed for it, unlike most universal remotes I've used.

It also worked a few things things I never thought of. It works my Sirius Starmate Replay, which I have in its boombox on the living room table. It also worked my relatively cheap Durabrand amplifier as if it was designed for it. For each of these speciality items, special control buttons appear on the touch screen for controls that are specific to that unit and that unit's remote.

Another nice feature is the motion activated backlight. The unit itself is a shiny jet black, and in a dark room you would never be able to find the buttons. But simply pick up the unit, and it lights up, buttons too, for you to easily control.

The only negative I've found is that it doesn't have RF support. I have a Dish Network DVR, and the second television needs to control the DVR through RF, which this unit cannot utilize. So be warned if you need RF, this unit will not do it.

Bottom Line: Few glitches aside, I was extremely impressed with this remote. It is smart, sexy, and works great. From those of you with just a few items to control, to those with dozens, this remote has more than what it takes to control all your audio, visual, and other household units.

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About Tom Bux

  • Have universal remotes improved in the past 5 years or so? I stopped spending my money on the years ago, they never seemed to work right… though I do not have the latest and greatest gadgets… I still record Lost on a VCR… (GASP) Yes, not a DVR.

  • This universal remote is above the bar. It is expensive, but much better than those $20 remotes at Wal Mart and other stores.