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Logitech Harmony One – First Impressions

by on May.09, 2011, under Uncategorized

For several years I’ve used two Logitech Harmony 880 remote controls at my home.  For some unknown reason, that even customer service couldn’t understand, one of them became “blocked” such that I couldn’t log into its account, and therefore couldn’t make any changes to it’s setup.  I had been having trouble with some of the buttons on it for awhile, so decided I’d risk the cash and try a Harmony One as a replacement.  It took a bit of effort to get it setup the way I wanted it, but so far I like it.

The Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote with Color Touchscreen is, I guess, Logitech’s replacement for their Harmony 880 workhorse of years past.

I’ve had three Harmony 880’s over the years and always have had trouble with bad buttons on them.  Either a button or two requires a much too firm push to make them work, or no amount of pushing will make them work.  In addition to that, I’ve always had trouble getting them seated properly into their charging cradle so they recharge.  It’s too early to know if the Harmony One has fixed the button problems, but the charging situation is certainly better.

You can see in the photo that the old 880 had 3 contact points.  The 3 tabs in the charger cradle are nearly the same size as the 3, slightly recessed, contact points on the remote.  As a result, it was often difficult to get them to make proper contact if the remote wasn’t positioned perfectly in the cradle.  One of my 880’s would lose contact if a heavy footfall vibrated it a little.  The Harmony One has two small contacts in the cradle, and two significantly bigger contact pads on the remote.  With this design, you’re almost assured that contact will be made properly and charging will begin.

At first, I thought the Harmony One didn’t have as many buttons as the 880.  I knew the Harmony One had a touch sensitive screen, so I wasn’t counting the buttons the 880 has beside the screen, but I didn’t see the <— and —> buttons, nor the “Device” and “Media” buttons the 880 had below the screen.  I was wrong though, because the One has hidden, touch sensitive buttons to the side and below the screen that replace those keys.  The functions of those soft keys change depending on the circumstance.

Another really welcome change is that ALL the keys on the One are backlit.  Not just the arrow keypad like on the 880.

As I had said earlier, I had a little bit of difficulty with the setup because I wanted to simply transfer the settings of the 880 to the One.  Once it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to log into my old account for the 880 I just set up a new account for the One and started rebuilding it using the Harmony software.

Maybe I should explain for people who haven’t used a Harmony remote before, that the way you program them for your equipment is to connect them via USB to your computer and run the supplied Harmony software.  You create an account with a username and password and then the software prompts you to identify the equipment you want to control.  TV, DVD, Receiver, DVR, etc.  You provide the brand and model number and the software loads the infra-red codes into the remote.  You next identify activities like “Watch TV”, “Watch a DVD”, “Listen to Music”, etc. and identify which pieces of equipment are involved in each activity.  The software then loads the appropriate settings into all the buttons.  Choose “Watch a DVD” and the remote will turn on the TV, Receiver, and DVD player, turn off the DVR, set the Receiver to DVD, set the TV to HDMI1, etc.  Then the volume buttons will control the Receiver, the transport buttons will control the DVD player, and the soft buttons on the screen will offer settings for picture, audio, menus, etc.

In my case I had trouble because it didn’t quite control the TV’s input changing properly.  When I’d change from TV to DVD, it would begin cycling one by one through all my TVs input options and wouldn’t stop on the right one.  This is where Logitech’s Harmony tech support shines.  For 90 days after setup, they have toll-free customer service to help you get it setup.  I called the number and told them my whole situation, including about not being able to get into my 880’s account.  While they weren’t able to transfer the settings automatically, they took the time to manually transfer all my old settings into the new remote for me.  In 10 minutes, they had it done.  And they improved on it too.  When changing from TV to DVD now, it just jumps from tuner to HDMI1 without cycling through all the in between options on the TVs menu.

Another cool new feature that isn’t on the 880 is the ability to do favorite channels.  The setup for that happens within the Harmony One software as well.  Icon’s come for a bunch of Fox network stuff, but nothing else.  The icons I used were found at iconharmony.com. You can have multiple pages of icons like this.

So far, I’m really happy with the Harmony One.


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