Logitech Harmony ONE Review

ccokeman - 2008-02-09 20:00:44 in Gadgets
Category: Gadgets
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: March 9, 2008
Price: $249.99


As we have moved further into the technological age we have remote controls for just about everything imaginable. The problem is that eventually juggling the three, four, five or more remotes gets to be a little ridiculous. Press "On" for the television, press "On" for the surround sound, press "On" for the DVR or cable box...you get the point, it gets old quick. After the pain becomes too great and you decide to buy that new all-in-one remote control to help ease the suffering, it happens, BAM! The all-in-one solution you bought works with the television, but not the DVD player and surround sound. You spend that wonderful Saturday afternoon (of course that's when we make the purchase) putting in code after code or trying to make the remote learn the correct codes. If and when you get it working you realize that many of the functions that are available to you on each individual device's remote are no longer available to you. So finally, there are a couple of choices. Either the remote goes back to the store or you live with the reduced functionality of that nice all-in-one remote you just bought. What if there was a remote control that could make all of those problems go away? No more grueling setup punching in endless codes. No more reduced functionality. How about a remote with a touch screen that works?

Well Logitech has such an animal in its Logitech Harmony "ONE" universal advanced remote control. The One, at first look, has the traditional remote control styling but then incorporates a touch screen into the unit to give the best of both worlds. All of the buttons for the technofile and the touch screen for the the rest of the family for the ease of use. The Harmony One mixes the best features of the Harmony 890 Pro as well as the Harmony 1000. The only feature not included on this remote is the Z wave capabilities that the other two have. Can the Harmony One live up to the expectations and performance of the Harmony series? If past performance is any indicator, then it should do just fine.


Closer Look:

The Harmony One comes packaged in the traditional Logitech Green and white. The front view gives an almost 360 degree view of the Harmony One. The "One Touch" mantra is repeated on the front and back panels of the package, letting the consumer know just what the purpose of the "One" is. The side views offer a continuation of the 360 degree view as well as a view of the touch screen. 











Once pulled from the confines of the box, the Harmony One is secured by two shells, one on each end, while the charging cradle is in a partition of it own. Under the charging cradle are the accessories and documentation.


Closer Look:

The One is an ergonomically designed advanced remote control. The One and storage/charging cradle have matching contact points to charge the remote when placed into the cradle while it's not in use.





















The battery used to power the One is a 950milli amp hour lithium ion type and uses 3.7 volts to provide the needed power. The battery slides into the bottom of the One after removing the cover.




The charging cradle uses a transformer to supply power to the One when the battery is discharged. The cord can be routed under the cradle through one of two channels to keep the device level. The cradle also has an adjustable lamp to show where the cradle is in the dark. The lamp can be adjusted to high, low or off.



The touch screen comes with a protective cover over the screen. Peeling it off reveals the actual screen. This view is after the setup and configuration, but notice the similarity between the two views.



Logitech provides all of the items the user will need to get the Harmony One set up. Included are the AC adapter, USB cable, battery, and a handy cleaning cloth. The documentation includes the Harmony software, installation guide, features guide and an addendum to these guides.




Installing the Harmony is a two part process. First, you install the software provided by Logitech. Then you will plug the Harmony into any free USB port on the computer. The first thing to do to get started is to put the software CD supplied by Logitech into the drive on your computer and let the auto run start up the installation program.




















Allow the Logitech software wizrd to complete the installation and follow the prompts when asked to do so.



Once the install is complete, the Logitech Harmony software will automatically update itself and the Harmony One as well. Once done with this step, the Harmaony is ready for configuration.




Once the Logitech software is installed and the Harmony One is updated, it is time to configure the software and program the Harmony. Logitech uses an online database of A/V hardware settings and configurations that can be uploaded just by using the configuration of the software.

After being prompted to set up an account, choose new account. You will be given the option of a few tutorials, one for high speed internet, one for low speed.



















A login user name and password will need to be created to access the database. Create the user name and password as well as choosing your security question and answer.



Once the user name, password and security questions are filled out, you will need to continue the account setup with your real name and e-mail address, as well as time zone. Re-connect the Harmony to the computer and the additional updates to the Harmony can complete. After it completes the updates, it will reboot the Harmony so that the configuration of the device can continue.







Once connected, you will have to set up the Harmony to work with the audio/visual components that you have. At this point, knowing the make and model number of your television, DVD player, surround sound and cable or satellite box are mandatory. Having this information allows the Harmony software to download the configuration data from Logitech's online database. Choose the device type, input the manufacturer and model number and repeat for each device that will be added. Once complete, review the information for accuracy.




















Finally, we get through the initial phase of the setup of this device and move into the meat and potatoes of the setup. The next part of the setup involves configuring activities. Activities you say? It's Logitech speak for macros that turn on or off specific A/V components based on what you want to do. Say you want to watch television. The Harmony turns on the TV, turns on the satellite receiver and turns on the surround sound with just a single command. Just turning the components on is half the battle. The other half involves setting the inputs and specific settings needed to successfully complete the process. Again, the process starts with a tutorial which you can either watch or pass on. It is best to watch for the first time setup.



After setting up the types of activities you can have based on the hardware you have chosen to use, it is time to actually configure the specific activities. The detailed configuration is needed to ensure that each activity can make the required settings so that the action is completed successfully. I will show the configuration of one activity as the rest follow the same scripted process to complete the process.



The questions are fairly detailed, so you definitely need to know how your components interact with one another. Once each set of questions is answered and the answers are confirmed, you can move on to the next device.




Once all of the activities are configured, the configuration can be uploaded onto the Harmony One. This consists of plugging the One into the USB cable and watching the upload process. Once complete, you can test it out and see how it works. If things don't work out right or you need to change the configuration parameters, this can be easily redone via the Activities tab.






One-touch, activity-based control

One-touch, activity-based control provides any member of the family with easy access to home entertainment.

Guided online setup, live support

Helpful online setup software and our live customer support team can help you when you need it. You don’t need to be an expert.

Controls more than 225,000 devices from more than 5,000 brands

With support for more than 225,000 devices from 5,000 brands, you can be confident the Harmony remote can control whatever entertainment devices you have today or buy tomorrow.

Full-color touch screen

Full-color, touch screen gives you easy, one-touch access to any entertainment activity.

Sculpted, backlighted buttons in logical zones

Navigate your home-entertainment – even in the dark – with sculpted, backlighted buttons that are easy to find.

Ergonomically designed

Relax and enjoy your home entertainment with the ergonomically designed remote that fits comfortably in your hand.

Eliminates the worry about replacing batteries.
Replaces up to 15 remotes

Replaces up to 15 remotes, reducing clutter and complexity in the living room.




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.


Testing Setup:


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:

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.



As the third Logitech Harmony product we have reviewed at OverclockersClub, the "One" actually could be the one for me. It fits better in my size XXL hands, has larger, easier to find buttons, a touch screen as well as an easier setup than the 890 Pro or 1000 reviewed previously. That could be just the software interface, but the setup time was reduced on the latest version. While not all of the activities can fit on the touchscreen at one time due to the size of the screen, you can adjust the order in which they appear so that the most used activities can be put at the top of the list. My entertainment system only uses four remote controls, so replacement of them all with one was no problem. In fact, the Harmony can replace up to 15 different remote controls if the need is there. Both the audiophile as well as the casual user can be satisfied with the flexibility that the Harmony offers. The touch screen makes it easy for the family to turn on the entertainment system without the need for that call to ask how to turn on the DVD player to watch the latest Harry Potter movie. Now the answer is a simple press the activity and go. On the other hand, the level of control needed by the more advanced users is there as well. I could find all of the features that I use on a daily basis after a night of looking through the control set. Recording programs with the PVR, browsing the channel guide, ordering on-demand movies, listening to music all were easy to do with the One.

The price on the Harmony One comes in at $250. Sure, the sticker shock is there still, but it is a far cry from the $400 plus that its siblings command. The One has the best features of both the Harmony 1000 and 890, but comes at an easier to swallow price point. The only feature that the One does not have is the ability to control Z-Wave devices. My vote goes to the One for the next remote control in my household.