My experience, nay, love affair, with Harmony remote controls began four years ago when I reviewed one of the first, the 768 (that remote is no longer available, even though the review still is, at soundandvisionmag.com). The marching orders for developing the Harmony remotes were simple yet groundbreaking, then and now. First, every remote should connect to the Web, to simplify user setup. Second, the remote should focus on activities - playing music, watching a movie - rather than devices. Finally, information collected from each remote should be uploaded and aggregated into a central database to help all users. Right from the start, it was obvious that Harmony "got it" when it came to creating both a control and a programming interface.
When I got wind of the company's latest creation, the Logitech Harmony 1000 touchscreen remote control, I was definitely curious. When I finally saw it - with its brushed aluminum and gloss-black curves framing its 3-inch screen - I had to get my hands on it.
SETUP Setting up a remote control means programming, and as with all Harmony remotes, that means connecting the 1000 to a computer with Internet access. The 1000 uses Harmony's latest software, version 7.1.4, and works on PCs running Windows 2000 or XP or Macs with OSX. Professional installers will appreciate that this software version can be used to program all Harmony remotes. Although a broadband connection definitely speeds up the programming (and life in general), dial-up users aren't left out.
Harmony remotes are programmed through a simple interview process that begins after creating an account. First, you click next to the types of devices that comprise your system: TV, DVD player, cable box, hard-disc server, and so on, and choose the manufacturer of each from a pull-down list. A look at the list shows the staggering depth of Harmony's database: It includes thousands of manufacturers. Ever heard of Luxeon televisions or Amoisonic DVD players? I didn't think so, but Harmony has. After selecting all of the components and their manufacturers, you enter the model number for each piece. The 1000, like all Harmony remotes, is limited to controlling 15 separate devices.
In the unlikely event that you own a component not already in the database, the Harmony can learn codes from other remotes. The great thing is that these codes are then added to the database, becoming available to future users. Thus, the Harmony database continually evolves and improves. Additionally, since each user's remote configuration is stored in Harmony's database, not on the owner's computer, if anything ever happens to the remote, a replacement is easily programmed by logging onto any computer that has the Harmony software installed on it.
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