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#215934 - 07/22/08 03:06 PM Logitech Harmony One: A review
PeterChenoweth Offline

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
I thought a little review might help anyone else on the fence about the Logitech Harmony One....

About two years ago, I took the plunge and bought a Logitech Harmony remote. I had the common too-many-remotes-on-the-coffee-table syndrome that most of us face. I have tried a half-dozen different cheap universal remotes, and they always would end up being returned or in the garbage. They'd just never offer enough customization to actually replace the original remotes. So, after a bit of research, I picked up a Logitech Harmony 550 at the local big-box store. From the moment I took it out of the packaging, the right D-Pad direction felt a little different than the other directions. I thought it just might be normal, and it went on to serve my family well for the next two years. But as of about two months ago, the right direction quit working entirely. I should have exchanged it when had the chance. Oh well. Lesson learned.

So for the past couple of months, I've tried dealing with multiple remotes again. Very soon we realized that it just wasn't going to work. Too many remotes floating around the den, and I grew tired of having to draw diagrams for anyone wanting to listen to a CD or watch TV. You know the drill. So I set off to find a replacement. The $400 ESPN Remote drew my attention, simply because having the ability to surf the 'net and check my email on my freaking remote control made my technolust flare up somethin' fierce. ;\) But cooler heads prevailed and I decided that $400 was a bit much to spend for a remote, however cool that remote may be. So I was drawn to the Harmony One, with it's slick new layout and fancy-pants touch screen. Amazon had them on sale for $170, which to me is still pretty serious dough for a remote. But I liked the design of it and thought it would work well for me, so I ordered it.

The upgrade process was trivial. As anyone with any sort of extremely-customizable universal remote knows, the setup process can be daunting. Logitech's software is pretty good, though it can be sort of cumbersome to get used to. Since I already had all of my gear programmed in from the 550, it was easy. There's a convenient 'upgrade remote' feature in the software, and that transfers all of the settings (except the custom buttons) to the new remote. No surprise, everything just worked. I did have to set up my custom buttons again, but that only took about 15 minutes worth of tinkering to do. No big deal.

So how's it work? Really well. The One is so much more ergonomic than the 550, it's not even funny. It took about 2 weeks to feel 'comfortable' with the 550. It took about 5 minutes with the One. The buttons all feel great (no 'squishy' ones like my 550 had), and the buttons are all either shaped differently or have different textures to tell them apart by feel alone. Within a very short time I was navigating completely by touch. I have read that Logitech says they spent 6 months working with user feedback to design the layout. I believe it. It's just a nice remote to hold on to.

The color touch screen looks lovely and works really well. It's very nice to have 6 custom options per screen. Four was never enough on my 550. Six is much better.

I am also very happy to be rid of needing to purchase new or recharge the batteries every couple of months. The One comes with a charging cradle, and the remote fits snugly and easily into it. I had read that people complained about the 8xx series not fitting well into the cradle. Not so with the One.

I have read complaints that the One's IR transmitter doesn't project as wide of a signal as other Harmony's. I can't say in comparison to the 8xx series, but it's every bit as good as my 550. I've not had any problems of it not being able to hit IR receivers, even on the devices that aren't 100% LOS. Seems to be bright enough to bounce around my room a bit. Of course, it's still just IR.

The response of the remote is sharper than it was with my 550. I've always felt that universal remotes feel 'laggy' compared to the OEM remote. My 550 wasn't an exception. Even with the delay settings cranked down to 0. It just would always seem to take a half-second to process a button press. I got used to it, but it was often annoying, especially while channel surfing or while speeding through a DVR'ed program. The One still isn't as perfectly snappy as the OEM remotes, but it's much faster. Not perfect, but pretty darn good.

Complaints? I do have a couple. Mainly, it's expensive. I know, I know, there are other remotes costing hundreds more. But for me, it wasn't cheap. Technically, it doesn't do anything that a one-third-as-much 550 can't do. Sure, the design and ergonomics are superior, but the result (TV on, stereo on, source TV, etc) is the same. It's the 'Activities' that makes a Harmony easy to use, and they all do that.

One thing that surprised me is that you can't assign custom pictures to the Activities. With that beautiful screen and the (somewhat silly) ability to even do photo slideshows on it, one would think that you could assign a custom JPG image for an activity instead of the built-in generic icons. Nope. I'd love to be able to use a little Apple symbol for my AppleTV, or a 'SACD' logo for listening to my SACD player, or a DishNetwork logo for watching TV, etc. Can't do it. You can add little photos for the 'Favorite Channels' function, and that's nice, but not as useful as being able to customize the Activities. I hope/expect that Logitech will add this in the future, because it would be a great way to further show off that lovely touch screen.

That's really it though. I like the remote. It's easily surpassed the 550 in terms of user-friendliness in my household. Everyone likes using it. It's definitely capable of sending all of the other remotes to a basket in the closet without a second thought, and that's the point of any good universal remote.

So if you've got the cash, and are looking for a good universal remote, check out the Harmony One. I give it a solid 9/10.
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#215938 - 07/22/08 03:42 PM Re: Logitech Harmony One: A review [Re: PeterChenoweth]
HomeDad Offline

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 3301
Loc: Central,California
I bought the Harmony One when it first came out and have been very happy with it, it looks good, charges easy and most important it's simple to use. I've got the 880 also, and that's perfect for the kids room. Amazon has the Harmony One for $188.32 that's as cheap as I've seen it.
A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

#215942 - 07/22/08 04:48 PM Re: Logitech Harmony One: A review [Re: HomeDad]
spiffnme Offline

Registered: 04/01/03
Posts: 5233
Loc: Los Angeles
Any word if there's an all-in-one that's both IR and bluetooth on the horizon? With my PS3 now I'm back to two remotes. (Yeah, I know there's some bluetooth2IR adapter, but I don't want to be bothered with that crap)
"A nation cannot prosper long, when it favors only the prosperous." -President Barack Obama

#215986 - 07/22/08 09:25 PM Re: Logitech Harmony One: A review [Re: spiffnme]
HomeDad Offline

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 3301
Loc: Central,California
Nothing I have heard of on the horizon.
A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.


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