Like many people, we have tried and tested numerous remote control devices of different shapes, sizes, functionality and programmability in our house. None of them were truly useful solutions. That changed recently when we purchased a “Harmony One – Advanced Universal Remote” made by Logitech. This is a very slick device that actually allows us to control all the functions of our numerous audio and video devices from a single remote and generally with only a single touch of a button for each activity.
Logitech Harmony One
The device fits comfortably in your hand and has a small, high resolution, full color touch screen that allows you to select your most common activities from the icons on the screen. For instance, say you were watching TV and wanted to watch a DVD – with the Harmony One you simply press the icon that says Watch DVD. The remote then automatically sends the correct codes to all the appropriate devices – such as turning on the DVD player, switching the input on the TV to the DVD player from the Tivo box, switching the audio source on the audio/video receiver, and perhaps several other functions depending on what components you have hooked up. All with the press of one button. And all without having to track down and access several different remotes.
Harmony One – Different from Other Remotes
What makes the Harmony One different? Well for starters it just works. It is simple to use and it has all the necessary buttons and controls for all of our different devices in a well laid out format. A major benefit is that it does not require any programming. The device comes with software and a USB cable. You install the software on your computer and then you go the through the question and answer set up where you enter the manufacturer and model number for each of your devices. The software contains a huge database of remote control set-up codes for hundreds of thousands of components. When you have entered all of your components, the software uploads the appropriate codes into the Harmony One.
No more programming a “universal” remote by pointing two remotes at each other while pressing several different keys while waiting for certain lights to flash while standing on one foot while reciting the words to “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” And if you ever change your system components you can go back to your computer, launch the software, make the modifications and then upload the new settings via the USB connection. Pretty painless.
Oh, and the Harmony One also features backlit buttons that turn off after 15 seconds of inactivity and then come back on as soon as you move the remote. Plus no more changing the batteries as the unit has a built-in rechargeable battery and a charging cradle.
Harmony One – Cost
The only downside I have found with the Harmony One so far is that it’s not cheap. List price is $249, but I have seen it discounted significantly in stores and on sites like Amazon.com. So it definitely costs more than the $35 remote control devices you might see at Long’s, but if you are spending somewhere north of $3,000 (and sometime substantially more) for your entire home theatre set up it kind of makes sense to have a way to utilize your investment that doesn’t require searching and cursing.
Real World Testing
This may sound like a blatant plug for a product, but we have put the Harmony One through a strenuous series of detailed tests by our main audio/video tester – my wife. After a month of her using the Harmony One to control the Panasonic plasma TV, the Tivo HD, the NAD Audio/Video Receiver, and the Oppo DVD player there has not been one single obscenity uttered to date (at least not due to the remote). And there has been only one call to tech support – me. So, from my perspective, that’s a bargain.