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Logitech Harmony Universal Remote Controllers review

First Looks: Logitech Harmony Universal Remote Controllers

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Inject Harmony Into Your Life

Inject Harmony Into Your Life

Picture this, you have seven different audiovisual components in your living room and each of them has its own remote control unit. Immediately, the issue of clutter and tracking would jump to mind. Then there is of course the challenge of trying to find the right controller for the right job if you happen to have multiple components of the same brand. Thankfully, there is an easier way to manage all the components of your home entertainment system: a single universal remote control. There are many universal remote controls in the market today but most good ones are unfortunately priced too high and out of reach of your average breadwinner. From the maker of the popular laser mice and THX certified speakers, Logitech gives you an all-rounder and an affordable alternative that will change the way you manage and enjoy your home entertainment setup.

Designed to offer simplicity of control, the objective of the Logitech Harmony series is to let you control and manage multiple devices using just one remote control. As long as a device/component can be controlled via infrared commands, chances are it can be controlled by Logitech Harmony universal remote controls. There is even an Xbox 360 edition of the Harmony remote control that works specifically for the Xbox 360 out of the box.

How does it work?

Functioning by means of profiles, users are required to first connect the Harmony remote control to the PC followed bv running through the wizard software provided by the bundled installation CD. Depending on the availability of updates, an Internet connection is required to keep the Harmony universal remote control up to date during installation. Thereafter, it's all a matter of setting up an account, identifying the product brand, model, grouping the device(s) into an 'Activity', and synchronizing the downloaded data (profiles) from the PC to the remote control.

Through a few simple questions, Logitech's setup wizard will acquire the necessary information to download the correct profiles from its vast database to get your Harmony remote control working within minutes. If you are unable to provide the right model number for your components, the wizard will simply prompt you to select from a list of recommended profiles. This however is greatly dependent on the complexity and age of the original remote control, which may or may not require you to 'teach' the Harmony remote control at a later stage.

In the unlikely event where there is no suitable profile matching your device, users will then have to manually teach the Harmony remote control. This is achieved by aiming the original remote control at the Harmony's onboard infrared receiver and pressing all buttons to painstakingly transmit all commands from the original unit to the Harmony remote control. Logitech's wizard setup is certainly a stark contrast to the traditional method of slavishly inputting digit codes via the trial and error process of conventional universal remote controls.

One for the living room

The advantage of 'Activity' grouping together with profiles is the instantaneous execution of a series of actions that would normally require users to use multiple remote controls to achieve the same results. For example, if you want to watch DVD movie, you can simply program the Harmony remote control to instruct the TV to switch to A/V channel; set the receiver to the correct mode; and begin DVD playback. Even the volume of the receiver and DVD menus can be controlled and accessed respectively without you ever touching the stock remote controls.

The Logitech Harmony series is also currently the only series with 'Smart State Technology'. What this means is that whenever you switch from one activity group to the other, the Harmony remote will intelligently power down devices that are not listed within the prevailing group, thereby allowing users to quickly change from say watching a DVD movie to catching the latest football match on cable TV.