October 10, 2011
The Logitech Harmony One has been the universal remote of choice in our home theater for over a year now. I originally intended to write this review many months ago but in a way I’m glad I waited. I now feel like I’m able to give a much better recommendation than if I’d simply used it for a few days or weeks before offering my opinion.
The best way to describe the Harmony One’s appearance is polished, sleek and slightly futuristic. It really is one heck of a good looking remote and it feels great in your hand as well. It’s easily one of the most comfortable remotes I’ve ever used and even after more than a year of daily use, I really haven’t found any significant complaints about the remotes ergonomics.
Fortunately the Harmony One performs just as good as it looks; the remote features a motion sensor that illuminates the color, back-lit display when it’s picked up. I originally felt the back-light was a little too sensitive, as it would illuminate with the slightest touch. After a good bit of use it’s a tad less sensitive and now it’s just right in my opinion. I don’t want to overplay the motion sensors sensitivity here, it never was a real problem, its just even less so now.
Something else worth mentioning is the rechargeable battery-pack tucked away in the lower half of the remote. The Harmony One’s Lithium-ion battery has easily saved us $30-40 worth of batteries in the last year or so, and in that time I haven’t really noticed the charge capacity diminishing at all.
Ok, look-feel, ergonomics and battery life aside, what’s this thing like to program and then use on a daily basis? A bit of context might be in order here as my background is in custom A/V and everything that goes with that; i.e. complex macros, multi-system functionality, RS-232 control etc. Some of my initial reservations before purchasing the remote were things like, “its just a consumer remote, it can’t do everything I need it to do” and “the programming probably won’t be granular enough for how I use my system”. I’m happy to say I was wrong on most accounts.
Funny how in the infinite wisdom of our youth we sometimes find complex solutions to simple problems and over estimate our own needs in the process. In the past I’d spend half an hour on a single macro until I had it “just right”, now I barely have as long to fire up my system on certain days. Does the Logitech Harmony One satisfy every itch I might want scratched? No, but I’ve discovered new found satisfaction in knowing that when I do add a new piece of gear to my system, I can have full OEM functionality uploaded into the remote with just a few clicks.
Logitech really struck a good balance between ease of use and functionality with their programming software. Setup is activity based rather than needing to manually create macros, i.e want to “watch tv?” tell the remote what devices and inputs are involved and it will create the macro for you. Its all pull-down menus and point and click, there’s no learning of IR codes or going out and finding your own drivers, its all right there and ready to go.
In the rare case something is a little off or a function is missing there’s a troubleshooter that does a reasonably good job of trying to fix the problem. It’s not quite to the level you’d get with something like a Home Theater Master remote or alike, but its workable. I’ve yet to need something programmed that I wasn’t able to accomplish, even if it wasn’t quite as elegant as what I’d been able to accomplish with a high-end custom integration remote.
Again though, that’s both the beauty and the minor downfall of this remote; its not meant to be a complex, custom integration remote. What it is and excels at is being just about everything you could ask for in a universal remote with an easy to use programming interface to boot.
All in all I really couldn’t be more happy with my purchase, for $199 (cheaper now if you shop around) I got a remote that’s easy to program, comfortable to use and really hasn’t limited me in any significant way since installing it in my system over a year ago. Throw in the long-lasting, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and this old custom integrator couldn’t be much happier. If you’re in the market for a new universal remote I strongly recommend taking a look at the Harmony One, I think you’ll find its a tough package to beat.