i have been hearing all the rage about the harmony remote controls for a long time now. i have been reluctant to get one because it just seems absurd that a remote control could cost over $100. it’s a REMOTE CONTROL people!! you get them FREE with whatever device you buy! so why, why, why would someone in their right mind buy one for that much money.
they simply must be crazy.
well, it turns out that i’m neither, but i still ended up buying one. the biggest reason i bought one was because i bought a brand new home theatre set up and christi was ALREADY having issues with using the tv BEFORE a receiver was thrown into the picture. having a smart universal remote seemed like the next logical step.
this particular model is sold at costco and at the time costco had an instant manufacturer’s rebate which dropped the price down another $30 or so. it was a steal! it was a deal! so i’ve had the remote for a while now and it has been great. my life has been changed.
so what makes a remote cost over $100? good question. how about an interactive color LCD screen? how about a tilt sensor that detects when you pick the remote and lights up the remote? how about a built in battery charger on the cradle so that you don’t need to replace the batteries with AA’s all the time?
those are just the cool features of the remote. the remote has access to thousands of device mappings via a web-based (or windows-based) program that accesses all of the IR codes for many devices. it had a device profile for what i thought were some of my more obscure devices (like an oppo DVD player and an outlaw audio receiver). logitech touts support for more than 150,000 devices. if that isn’t enough, if, for some reason, the preprogrammed codes don’t work, you can still have the remote learn IR codes. it just doesn’t get any more universal than that.
on top of being a universal remote, the device also lets you program activities which lets you turn on all of your devices and have them set to a certain way from one button click. it’s not a true macro mode because you cannot explicitly tell the remote to send IR codes in whatever fashion you want, but i haven’t had a need for the remote to do anything more.
the remote also has a HELP button which will help you troubleshoot a problem if, after using a one touch button, you don’t get the desired results. it will go through a troubleshooting wizard to help guide you through the process.
amazing, i tell you. simply amazing.
oh, and did i tell you that it lights up when you pick it up?
the battery life on the remote seems fair. with a charger built into the docking station, i haven’t run out of juice yet. i do wish the remote would sit more firmly in the dock, but it is still perfectly functional as is.
programming the remote is the most difficult, painful, and awful experience i’ve had. i thought that i was a fairly tech savvy user and even *I* had an incredibly hard time setting up the remote control. definitely use the web-based interface for programming the remote, it’s easier to use. still, all the setup took me hours. once done, it is fabulous, but until then, be prepared to pull some hair out of your head.
if you’re in the market for a universal remote, definitely consider the harmony 720. it’s cheaper than its brothers but still boasts a color LCD screen, rechargeable batteries, and an activities one button push function.