Remotes have come a long way since I was a kid. I remember when you had to have a separate remote for each device. Luckily, back then there was only a TV and VCR. Now we have a TV, VCR, DVD player, stereo, lighting system, home theater PCs and more. You could easily have 6 remotes all controlling something different.
- Full-color touch screen
- Recharging station
- Ergonomic design:
- Lithium-ion battery provides up to a one-week charge
- Operate up to 15 devices and 255 commands
I recently reviewed the Logitech Harmony 880 and I thought it was the best remote I had ever used. Now, with the recent release of the Harmony One, I just had to see if it was better.
The most obvious difference between the 880 and the One is probably the screen. You will notice the distinct lack of buttons around the screen. The Harmony 880 has four buttons on either side of the screen. These buttons are used to select the different options. Instead of buttons, the Harmony One has a touch screen and you can select things directly one the screen. The screen is used to display a variety of information, including activities, devices, custom buttons, and helpful instructions in case the macros get messed up.
The remote can easily setup multiple activities that will allow you to control any device in your home that has an IR remote.
Logitech maintains a huge online database of products which makes setting up your devices really easy. This database includes more than 5,000 manufacturers and more than 225,000 devices, everything from HDTVs to DVRs, VCRs to lighting controls. Instead of punching in codes or copying IR signals to program the remote you just need to select your brand and model from a list in the remote control software then download it to the Harmony One.
The remote control software will make setting up the Harmony One really easy. The software gives you full access to all the remotes options and controls. All of this is done with really easy to follow instructions and guides. The software can even guide you through the setup process by asking you specific questions about how you will use each device. If you do use the wizards to help you set up the remote you can always go back and tweak the settings later if everything is not working exactly like you want.
If you happen to change to a different Harmony remote you can even transfer all of your settings to the new remote without any trouble. The Harmony One comes with a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. On a full charge the battery can last up to one week, but luckily you may never need it to last that long. The remote also comes with a docking station; the dock plugs into the wall and will charge the battery every time you put the remote on it. This is especially nice because you don’t have to remove the battery or plug in the remote which leaves it available at a moments notice. All you need to do is pick it up and start using it, and place it back on the dock when you are done to insure a charged battery. The dock is very low profile so it can easily be placed out of sight. The dock has a small white light that lights up when it is plugged in. This can be helpful if you are in the dark and you need to find the dock.
The remote is well designed for use by anyone, no matter which hand you prefer and no matter how big or small your hands are. The front of the remote is dominated by buttons, in fact there are 39 buttons. The buttons are well placed so that they can be reached easily. The buttons are all made out of hard plastic which means they are going to last a long time and the labels on them are not going to wear off. There is also a nice solid feel to them and they have a good feel each time you press them. There are buttons for a variety of actions which is nice if you have a DVR or even a media center extender. If you do find an action that is not on the remote you can easily program extra buttons on the touch screen to do whatever you want.
The new screen is a great addition. Measuring in at 2.2″ the screen is slightly bigger than the 880 screen. The touch screen displays three buttons if you are looking at the activities or devices screens and six buttons if you are looking at custom buttons. Obviously, three activities and devices, and six custom buttons are not nearly enough, so you can have many pages of buttons. The pages give you the ability to have an unlimited number of custom buttons.
The back only has a charging interface and a battery compartment. There are also several grooves that are for your fingers. If you place your hand on the remote so your fingers rest in these grooves then your fingers should be able to reach most of the buttons without moving your hand. The bottom of the back is the battery compartment. It opens up to reveal a small rechargeable Lithium battery. Attached to the battery lid is an IR receiver. The IR receiver is used to capture signals from remotes of devices that are not in theHarmony One’s database.
The front has an IR transmitter and a mini USB port. The USB port is covered up by a small rubber lid. Even though it is attached well, I imagine that opening and closing it will cause it to wear out. Hopefully, you will only need to use it once or twice and then you are done.
The first time you setup the Harmony One, it is going to take you several hours. If you have a laptop or a computer near the TV and other devices that you are setting up, I recommend that you use it, this will prevent you from having to run around the house testing the remote each time you make a change. Using the Harmony software is not hard, the most difficult and time consuming activity is finding each of your devices in the huge database and if you happen to have a device that is not listed you have to manually program the remote with the original remote. Once the remote has been programmed the information is stored online so that you never have to worry about losing it. If you do happen to let the battery drain and you lose the settings, you can simply plug it in and download all the settings again. Fortunately for me I did not have to go through all the setups to use the Harmony One. This is because I had set up my Harmony 880 and all my settings were already stored. All I needed to do was replace my old 880 with the new remote. This process was quick, and only took about five minutes.
One change I did need to make was to rearrange the order of the activities. I had to do this because they all don’t fit on the same screen any more. Since I can only fit three I moved the most important three to the front.
To setup the remote you can go directly to the website or install the software to setup the remote. The website is http://members.harmonyremote.com. I recommend the software because it is much more user friendly.
When you first connect to the software you will need to have your remote plugged in and once the connection has been confirmed the software will present you with a huge list of devices with manufacturers that you need to choose from. Once you have selected all the manufactures and devices you will be asked for the model numbers for each device. If the software cannot identify your device it will ask you for the original remote so you can send it the IR signals. After it has collected a few, it will try and match your devices IR signals to another device in the database. If it finds a match it will attempt to set the rest of the codes to match what was found. Once all the devices have been identified you will be asked to setup some activities. Based on which devices you set up, the software will suggest a few activities to start with. For example, if you setup a TV and DVD player one of the activities will be Watch a DVD. If you setup an AV receiver, then another activity would be Listen to Radio.
When you setup an activity you will be asked about the function of each device. For example, if you setup the Watch a DVD activity you will be asked which device you use to play a DVD, and which device you use to display video, and which device you use to control the volume. If you only have one device that is capable of doing something then the question will be skipped. For example, if you only have one TV, then you will not be asked which device displays the video. If necessary, if the device has more than one input, you will also be asked what input each device needs to be set to. At the end you will be asked to review all the settings and you will be given the option to add control over additional devices like light controls or something. This would allow you to start a movie and dim the lights at the same time.
Besides setting up activities and devices you can also change the theme and colors of the screen, setup a slide show, and also change some of the functionality of the remote itself. Things like glow time, clock, help remote assistance and touch screen.
Once all your activities and devices are set up, then you will need to upload them to your remote. Uploading the settings to the remote does not require any use interaction. All you need to do is click the Update Remote button and let the software take over. While it is updating, all you will normally see is a status bar. If you click the Show Status button you will get to see a little more details about what is going on.
Once everything is setup the remote is really easy to use. When you first pick it up it will be on the activity screen. All you need to do is press which activity you want to do, like watch TV, and the remote will send all the signals to each device that is needed. For example, if I want to watch TV I need to turn on my VCR and TV, and switch my TV to the AV1 input. If at anytime one of the devices does not turn on or the wrong input is selected you simply need to press the help button and the remote will ask you some simple questions that you can answer to get everything back on track. This is the only part of owning the remote that bothered me. I frequently have to press the help button to sort things out. I realize there is no other way to do it currently, but it would be nice if the TV, VCR and other devices could send a signal back to the remote to indicate its current status. This way the remote could get everything correct without having to ask me questions.
After playing around with things for a while the only problem I still have is getting my TV to switch to the correct inputs. I am sure that playing around with it some more will help to reduce the problem, but I can always use the help button — it works every time.
One complaint that I have is the lack of RF support. You would have to buy the Harmony 890 or 1000 to get this, and even then you have to buy additional parts. Without RF support, you must make sure you have line of sight with each of your components.
This fact prevents you from being able to store your devices in a cupboard or anywhere else out of sight. Hopefully in the future more devices and future Harmony remotes will have RF support by default.
Another problem I had was with the touchscreen. It is very sensitive and sometimes you hit the wrong button. Hitting the wrong can mess things up by turning on and off the wrong devices. It would be nice if it actually required a hard press rather than a slight touch.
Warranty and Support
Logitech provides a 1 year limited warranty on the Harmony One. This is not a very good warranty and I would encourage Logitech to increase it. I like to see companies that build good products and prove it with good warranties. If treated well, the Harmony One should last much longer than a year. If you have trouble setting up your remote, Logitech offers support by phone, email, or online as a discussion forum and FAQ.
I am really happy with the Harmony One. I would like to say that this is the last remote I will ever own, because it could be, but Logitech will probably come out with something new that will be better. I can easily recommend it to anyone that has a lot of remotes and wants to consolidate them. After getting past the setup even someone with no experience can easily use it. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|