Logitech Harmony 890 Pro Remote Control Reviewccokeman - September 27, 2007
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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 Telivision 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 (line of sight, this device did not ship with the wireless extender) and last but not least, battery life.
After setting the Harmony remote to use the devices in my entertainment system, I was ready for a letdown. I hit the button to watch television and only half of the devices turned on. At that point I was thinking, here we go again! But wait, what does that little button that says "Help" do? Figuring it couldn't get worse, I went ahead and dove right in. The remote has a built in help wizard that walks the user through a series of questions. After going through the process, it actually fixed the issue without having to reconnect to the computer to try the setup process again. Take two! I pressed the watch television activity button and everything powered up the way I intended. The fact that it did so with only the touch of one button was amazing. After being brainwashed by using three remotes, to do the same thing that one button did on the Harmony kept me spellbound for about ten minutes. After cycling through the On-Off process a few times, I promptly sat down to watch the latest edition of Dogfights (no not really dogs fighting but air combat silly!) on the History channel.
Normally, an all-in-one is a compromise where you trade some functions for the ease of using one remote. 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 you favorite programming. How about changing the aspect ratio on that wide screen 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 record 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. Not once did I need to reach for the factory remotes during the testing.
Ease of Use:
Getting used to where all the buttons are took some getting used to. This is in no way a deal breaker because it is just relearning a behavior. Kind of like when the cable company switches the channel line up, it takes you a while to get all of your favorites back into the rotation. Being on the larger side of life, I have big hands. The remote fit comfortably into the palm of my hand. I had no trouble reaching any of the buttons to make my selections. The Harmony features a color LCD screen that shows all of the activities you have set up. One of the cooler features is that the remote has a built in tip sensor. Huh! Thats right, a tip sensor. How many times have you pressed the wrong button while watching a movie and had your experience ruined because you hit the power button by mistake? Well let's talk about what the tip sensor does. It senses motion such as when the remote is picked up and automatically back lights the whole remote so that wrong button nasty dance is no longer performed in your home. Configuring the Harmony using the included software was a breeze with the devices used in the test entertainment center. Following along with the online setup was a simple process. Just plug it in, answer a few questions about your hardware and how it all works together, update the Harmony and it's showtime.
Distance to Signal Failure:
In my home I have about a 50 foot line of sight to the entertainment system. The Harmony handles this distance easily, but if i block the line of sight by putting a wall in the way, it's a no go. The wireless extender that is sold for this device will take care of the problem for an additional cost. In comparison, the other remotes gave up the ghost after I moved out of the living room. The surround sound remote did the best of the old remotes at roughly 23 feet.
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 Harmony is good for about 10 days without recharging in my testing. While that does not seem like a lot of battery life compared to the factory remote control, you have to realize that the Harmony features back lighting and an LED screen to power up each time it is picked up. The factory remotes come nowhere near on the power consumed per operation. But the saving grace here is that the battery in the Harmony is rechargeable in just the same way that a cordless phone is. By placing it on the charger, battery life is no longer an issue.