Logitech Harmony ONE Reviewccokeman - March 9, 2008
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To test out this all-in-one solution to replace the multiple remote control dilemma many of us face on a day-to-day basis, I will put it through its paces. Many times an all-in-one solution falls a bit short on the control functionality. Normally, you just get the basics: On, Off, Channel up and down, leaving you to wonder what about the last channel or mute buttons. Will this remote be any different? Let's see how it does. The remote has been configured to control the entertainment system that I have. While the system is by no means high end, it provides a good cross section of new hardware, as well as some that is a few years old.
- Panasonic Television Model TH-58PX60U
- Onkyo surround sound reciever Model HT-520
- Hitachi DVD player Model DVP-313
- Motorola Digital DVR (set top box) Model QIP-6416-2
Some things that I will test on the Harmony are the functionality of the device, ease of use, distance till signal failure and, last but not least, battery life.
Once the setup process was completed, I felt ready to sit down for an evening of remote controlled bliss. The plan was to spend the evening testing the functionality of the One by putting it through its paces. Having had set up several Harmony remote controls, I felt I was an old pro, so why was I again surprised that something did not come on right on the first try? D'OH! Since I have done this a few times, I knew that I was not in trouble yet. The Harmony One has a built in help feature that really works. By answering a few questions on the touch screen, the Harmony got the setup reconfigured and I was off to an evening of movies.
The Harmony One is an all-in-one solution. Usually an all-in-one is a compromise between convenience and functionality. The remote that came with the television was functional for the television, but nothing else. I could change channels on the TV but not the volume on the surround sound or control the DVD player. The opposite being true about the surround sound remote. It did, at least, run the DVD player fairly well. With that kind of setup, it's a game of find the right remote for the right task. Not so with the Harmony. The Harmony combined all of the functions of each device so that if you wanted to adjust the volume, just use the volume buttons. Change the channel you say? Yep, just use the channel up and down buttons or choose the channel with your favorite programming. How many all-in-one solutions give the ability to change the aspect ratio on that widescreen television? That's normally a task reserved for the remote that came with the television. Again, not so with the Harmony. From setting up the DVR to recording a show to scrolling through the television guide to watching a DVD, I was able to use all of the features of each device with only the Harmony. Never in the course of testing the Harmony One did I need to fall back to the factory remotes. Strong performance from an all-in-one solution.
Ease of Use:
With a new remote there is always that first awkward day or two getting used to the features and location of the correct buttons for the devices you use. The Harmony One has a leg up on both the Harmony 1000 and 890 Pro. The touch screen capability one ups the 890 while the additional buttons one up the 1000. While the touch screen is smaller than the 1000, I found that with my size XXL hands I did not have any issues pushing the correct feature or setting on the touch screen. The feel of the One in my hands was actually more comfortable than the 890 Pro due to its wider dimensions and more ergonomically correct feel. It just felt better to use. The buttons are large and spread at a comfortable distance so that one handed operation is easily accomplished.
Distance to Signal Failure:
In my home I have about a 50 foot line of sight to the entertainment system. The Harmony One had no problem reaching out at this distance. Line of sight is the key at this or any distance. The original remote controls gave up the ghost at varying distances, with the surround sound remote going the furthest at 23 feet.
Battery life with rechargeable batteries varies tremendously. It comes down really to usage. The Harmony One was good for a solid week of use without a recharge in my testing. If you have a bunch of children amazed by lights turning on, then your mileage may vary. The One uses a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery instead of the usual AAA batteries that last a year or more in standard remote controls. While a week may seem like a short time frame for battery life, you have to look at what the Harmony has that uses the available power. The touchscreen is going to use up some serious power, as well as the button backlighting. Especially if it is moved around all the time, causing the backlight to come on. To help save on power usage, the backlight turns off and is only turned back on when the One is moved. Comparing the battery life on the Harmony to any one of the factory remotes is like comparing the fuel consumption of a late 60s muscle car to that of the latest hybrid econo-box. The saving grace here is that the battery in the Harmony is rechargeable in just the same way that a cordless phone is. By using the supplied charging cradle, battery life is no longer an issue.