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Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote with Color Touchscreen

Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote with Color Touchscreen

Manufacturer: Logitech, Inc
List Price: $249.99
Street Price: $169.99
Amazon.com: $161.87

This week we finally get to the review a lot of listeners have been asking for, the Harmony One Advanced Universal Remote by Logitech.  We reviewed the Harmony 880 almost three years ago, and although Ara questioned the price premium, it eventually became our standard universal remote recommendation.  Now with the release of the One, we were eager to see if it would replace the 880 in our hearts and minds.  It won the 'Best of Innovations' award in the Home Theater Accessories category at CES 2008.  You can find it in retail stores and online for an MSRP of $250 US.

Setup

imageThe reason we really fell in love with Harmony so many years ago is the setup.  It's amazingly easy and the One is no different.  If you've ever programmed a Harmony before, you know how easy it is; setup literally takes 20 minutes from the time you pull the remote out of the box until it's in your home theater working like a charm.  Harmony has a 'Replace Remote' button in the programming software so that if you already own one, you can transfer the settings to the new remote in a matter of seconds, shaving about 19 minutes off the total setup time.

In addition to the remote, the box includes a charging base with power cord, a USB cable for programming, a rechargeable battery, and a CD with the programming software.

Harmony programming used to be done completely online.  They now have a cool desktop application that connects back to the Internet for you, making the user interface much more responsive.  Of course a live Internet connection is still required, but that's not too difficult for our audience.  After installing the software, you log into your account (or create a new on) and walk through the wizard to set it up.  First you input all the devices in your home theater, which is as easy as entering a manufacturer and a model number.  Harmony then walks you through setting up activities, like "Watch TV" or "Watch DVD" so that you can control everything seamlessly.  You have the ability to fine tune the programming, but most users won't need to do too much.

Design

The layout of the remote is very familiar, an LCD screen at the top, navigation controls in the middle, and transport and keypad on the bottom.  Traditionally the biggest challenge with Harmony remotes has been button size; they're simply way too small.  The One, however, introduces larger buttons that are very easy to use.  It fits in your hand very well and has a nice balance.  The coolest new feature is the touch screen.  While the 880 has a nice color screen on it, it requires that you press a tiny button on the side of the screen to activate an activity or use the custom buttons that can be there.  With the One, you just touch the button or activity.  Touchscreen remotes are very sexy, but they tend to be difficult to use because of the lack of hard buttons and the need to "page" through a bunch of screens to find the button you need.  The Harmony One is a great blend between sexy touchscreen and functional hard buttons.

Use

Like the 880, the One is rechargeable, so there's never a need to replace batteries.  This may sound like a small thing, but when your remote goes out and you can't scrounge up batteries for it in the house, you're in trouble.  Functionally it is very similar to the 880; it lights up when you move it, has the same "help" feature to guide you when devices get out of sync, and does a great job controlling the home theater by activity rather than device.

You can trick out the One by adding cool channel icons to the touch screen for your favorite channels.  The software only seems to include icons for Fox channels, but you can download a zip package full of other icons from IconHarmony.com.

Conclusion

As with any Harmony remote, the One is a great choice for your home theater.  It's new, sexy and easy to use.  The touchscreen is cool and the larger buttons make it a bit easier to use.  But overall it doesn't represent a huge departure from the 880.  Of course we're gadget freaks, so we'll both be using them, but if you want to save some money, the 880 remains a great option.  Bang for the buck, the 880 is still probably the way to go.  For the coolness factor, the One is where it's at.

Posted by The HT Guys, March 17, 2008 9:44 AM

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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.