PERFORMANCE The Harman Kardon TC30 performs just like a Harmony remote, which is to say excellently. Automatically, the activity-based command buttons (Watch DVD, Listen to CD) correctly configured my system - components powered on or off as needed, and proper inputs were selected for the TV and receiver. The remote then gave me access to all the commands I needed for controlling the source device, as well as basic receiver commands such as volume.
Nearly all universal remotes can handle basic commands like Play and channel-changing. Their Achilles' heel: atypical but crucial buttons such as "aspect" or "Live TV." The color LCD screen on the TC30 is perfect for adding such controls. My Scientific Atlanta HD-DVR cable box is crippled without the A, B, and C buttons, and the TC30 incorporated them seamlessly. Food critics describe the "mouth feel" of certain dishes. In a similar vein, the TC30 has good hand feel. It's comfortable for one-handed operation (righty or lefty); the transport and 0-9 keys are nicely spaced for accurate button-pushing, and the buttons require just the right pressure. In addition, the TC30's flat bottom (versus the Harmony 880's J.Lo-esque rounded backside) is more stable on chair arms and seemed to seat better in the docking station. The buttons are backlit, but they're dim and might be difficult for some users to see in a totally dark environment.
One cool feature is the ability to create a customized slide show of eight pictures that rotate when the remote is charging. I loaded mine with Dolby, DTS, and THX logos for a personal touch.
BOTTOM LINE The Harman Kardon TC30 is a great remote. It does everything it should do and does it intuitively. It feels good in your hand, won't roll off the couch, and is easy to program. If there's a downside, it's that it costs $50 more than the Harmony 880 and doesn't come with Harmony's phenomenal telephone tech support. But if you've got a hankering for a Harman that works like a Harmony without quite looking like one, you won't go wrong with the TC30.
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