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Today’s Show:

Review: Harmony Touch

We love gear at the HT Guys and when a new remote comes out we have to take a look. Recently Logitech released the Harmony Touch (Buy Now $249 – $299) a remote that combines a touch screen with physical buttons. We’re not big fans of a totally touch screen remote so we
were pretty excited to take a look at one that combines the best of both worlds.

Features

  • Color touch screen: Access all your entertainment options, like Watch TV or Listen to Music, with one touch
  • Customizable channel icons: Set up to 50 favorite channels on the touch screen, change channels with one simple tap, and organize them the way you want right on the remote
  • Recharging station: Keeps your remote charged, ready and always in reach
  • Universal control of up to 15 devices: Works with 5,000+ brands and 225,000+ devices,

Setup

The first thing you notice about the touch is that it feels considerably more solid than previous Harmony remotes. Also, the charging stand orients the remote in a vertical position. This leaves more room on the end table but makes it easier to inadvertently knock over.

Since we had a Harmony One we were able to transfer the programming. The method wasn’t very straightforward but it worked. The current remotes have an app to communicate with the remote. For the touch you log into your account at myharmony.com. You have to create an account and then you can transfer the settings from the current account. Kind of kludgy. So we did that and all the activities transferred over.

There were some issues that had to be ironed out and there are new capabilities that we had utilize. An extremely cool feature is the ability to make changes on the remote itself and then sync back to your account the next time you connect the remote. That makes the fine tuning so much easier. We have some macro buttons that were assigned to the soft keys on the Harmony One that had no home on the Touch so we needed to set that up. All in all it took us about 30 min to get the remote on par with the One. Then it was time to add functionality that the One didn’t support.

Use

The touch feels comfortable in your hands and is more solid than the Harmony One. It has hard buttons both above and below the touch screen. The transport controls are above the screen and buttons like menu, exit, DVR, Red, Blue, etc are below. This made it awkward to use and resulted in inadvertent “touch” commands being executed. It would have made more sense to put the screen at the top and all the buttons at the bottom. There are no hard buttons for the numbers and that to us is one of the biggest flaws. You have to use the touch screen to change channels beyond channel up or channel down. The touch also has favorite channel icons that can be displayed on the touch screen. But we found those cumbersome to use. It was much easier just to hit 206 than searching for the ESPN icon.

So what happens if you want to uses a super skip or other multisequence command? For that you need to go to another screen or in some cases hit the home button select the activity you are watching and then swipe over to the screen. Not so automatic.

There is also a feature called “Gestures”. This is to allow you to move your finger on the touch screen to activate commands like fast forward, pause, play etc. We did not find it particularly useful. There is a hard button that does the same thing and you don’t need to go two screens deep to find it.

We are posting a quick video with this review because many of the concepts that we are talking about here make more sense when you see what we are talking about. It can be found on our youtube channel or just go to the web posting for this podcast. It will be embedded there.

Odds and Ends

  • Non-replaceable Battery – our Ones are on their second set of batteries and still going strong. We would be irritated if we had to buy a new remote because the batteries died.
  • The One wakes up when you pick it up. The touch requires a touch to wake up
  • The Help button is no longer a hard button. It is located at the bottom of the touch screen and we accidentally tapped it numerous times when trying to hit a hard button without looking.
  • Transport hard buttons only support FFW or REW not skip forward or skip back. Although these can be remapped, we like having both.

Conclusion

Harmony makes great remotes but this one isn’t one of them. We highly recommend the Harmony One (Buy Now $135). The Touch, while well built, just doesn’t cut it as an intuitive remote the family will love to use.

 


Posted by The HT Guys, October 25, 2012 10:19 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.