Logitech Harmony 1000 Remote Control Review

ajmatson - 2007-09-27 22:37:21 in Gadgets
Category: Gadgets
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: December 11, 2007
Price: $419.99

Introduction:

Ok, I know everyone has done this, as I know I did all the time until now. You sit down and turn on the TV, then you have to grab the cable box remote to change it to the channel that you want to watch. Wait!  The volume is too low so you have to get up and pick up the the TV remote to adjust the sound. Then you realized that this is now what you want to watch so you decide to watch a DVD. Hmmm, where did you put the DVD player remote now? This gets very frustrating after a while doesn't it? Well, not if you have a remote that takes care of them all.

The Logitech Harmony 1000 Remote Control will take care of all of your devices and then some. The Logitech Harmony 1000 can control up to 15 devices including TVs, game systems, video players, and even home lighting and appliances. So you ask yourself why a remote like the Harmony 1000 over a $15 computer store special universal remote? Well lets find out why together.

 

Closer Look:

At first look you see the familiar sight of a Logitech product box with the green and white color scheme and the large product pictures on the front. The back side of the packaging highlights some of the key features of the Logitech Harmony 1000 remote control. The sides of the box show the product picture and the name again for easy recognition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the flap of the box you will notice the inside of the cover that Logitech give you a little taste of what the Harmony 1000 will do for you. Also, there is a clear case which allows you to get a glimpse of the Harmony 1000 is all of it's glory.

 

 

Once the second flap is opened up the box reveals two layers of packaging that house the Harmony 1000 unit and it's accessories. In the first layer is the Harmony 1000 unit and the charging base. Underneath that are the CD/manuals, power cable and the USB cable, which is used to program the Harmony 1000 for all of your items you want to control. The last picture shows everything that comes in the box.

 

 

Closer Look:

The Harmony 1000 does not look like the standard remote control we have all seen over the years. This one is more of like a thin tablet style with a crisp touch sensitive screen for controlling the devices. There are only a few actual buttons for the volume, channels, and menu scrolling. Everything else is controlled by touching the display. When not in use it sits on the dock to keep the Harmony 1000 fully charged for hours of use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Harmony 1000 comes with a powered dock to keep your battery charged at all times. The dock has a power plug that connects to the back and then into a wall's power outlet. There are two contacts at the bottom of the Harmony 1000 that match up to the contacts on the dock that charges the unit. The dock is also good for keeping your Harmony 1000 in a place where you know you can find it.

 

 

The Harmony 1000 also has a mini USB port on the left side of the unit for connecting to your computer to update the device, and to download new commands to control your audio, visual, and home components.

 

The rechargeable battery that comes included with the Harmony 1000 is a 1250mah 3.7v Lithium-Ion battery that looks like what a cellphone would use. The battery tucks away into the device and it easily removed if it needs to be replaced.

 

 

Closer Look:

The wireless extender is an adapter that takes the Z-Wave (RF) Technology signals from the Harmony 1000 and converts them to the IR signals needed by the components you are controlling. This allows you to control them without having a direct line of site for up to 100 feet away. This means you can be in the next room with the door closed and still be able to fast forward your music player to the next song. There are eight IR transmitters that can control up to the same fifteen devices that the Harmony 1000 has programming for.

The packaging of the Wireless Extender looks almost the same as the Harmony 1000, with the exception of the product picture. Included in the package is the Wireless Extender, the USB cable, four infrared transmitters, the software CD and the manuals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wireless Extender is made up of a RF receiver with five ports on it. One port is the USB port which is used to connect to the computer in order to program the Wireless Extender. The four round ports are where the IR transmitters get plugged in.

 

The IR transmitters are thin wires that can be routed to hide them where you need to so that they can control the devices without being noticeable. There is one IR transmitters attached to each cable.

Installation:

Now to get everything started, and get the remote working, you have to first install the software that comes with the Harmony 1000 (or you can download it from Logitech's website if needed). Place the CD into the drive and the installation will automatically start.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Installation begins with you agreeing to the End User License Agreement (EULA), and then asks you to choose the type of install and where you would like to install it to. The software will go through its process and then ask you to plug the remote into the computer using the cable provided.

 

 

 

After everything is installed, the Harmony program will search for any new updated and download them automatically.

 

 

 

Installation:

The installation of the Harmony 1000 is pretty simple. You have to flip the unit over and carefully remove the battery panel from the back. Line up the battery pack and place it in the unit. Replace the lid and then the power will start up on the Harmony 1000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To install the Wireless Extender, you must first pick a place to put it. This can be set on a surface or mounted on a wall. It must be placed by a power outlet so it can draw the power needed to operate. Then plug in as many of the IR transmitters that are needed and route them to where they can control your devices. Now you can go anywhere (up to the 100 foot limit) in your house and have total control over you audio and visual devices without having to return to them to operate them.

 

 

When everything is connected properly three LEDs on the front of the Wireless Extender will glow a light red. This shows that the power, RF receiver, the connection status of the unit, and if it is ready for signals. (Note: I tried to get a picture with the LEDs glowing but they were too dim to show up in the picture).

Configuration:

Although you can manually set each command of the Harmony 1000, which is a long and tedious process, Logitech has an extensive online database on which to program the remote. The one catch is that you have to sign up for this service, however, it is free to use. When prompted to select the "Create New account" button. You will be prompted to decide if you want to continue using a high speed or low speed connection for the setup process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You must create a user name and password to be able to log into the database. You will be prompted to enter your desired username and password, as well as having to create a security answer should you need it to recover your password or for assistance with logging in.

 

 

Now that you have your login info set up you will be asked for account information such as your name, email address, geographical data, connection speed of your internet, and where you purchased the remote.

 
  

Configuration:

Now that everything is put together and installed, let's move on to configuring the software to get the Harmony 1000 to control the devices. After setting up your account you will be prompted with the tutorial for setting up your devices. Since I am going to show you how, I am going to skip showing the tutorial, but I recommend you watch it when setting up your Harmony 1000. You will be asked to connect the Harmony 1000 to the USB cable to begin the setup. One you connect it and click next the software will update the Harmony 1000 with the latest firmware available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One the Harmony 1000 has completed the upgrade process the setup will ask you if you have the Wireless Extender. If you do, click the "Yes" option and it will update the Wireless Extender just as it did the Harmony 1000. When completed it will have you test the update, if all is good you will see the devices that were just updated for you to review.

 

 

 

Now that everything is updated it will ask you what devices you would like to add to control with the Harmony 1000. You will need the manufacturer and model number for each device so that the software will program them correctly. Here I added my TV, cable box, VCR/DVD combo, and my XBox 360. Once you enter the information it will let you review it and confirm your choices. It will also ask you if you want the PVR to stay on all of the time or not.

 

 

Configuration:

Now that we have the devices set up you can set up activities. Activities work like macros for the system. Basically what an activity does is issue multiple commands at the same time. Take for instance that you want to watch a dvd movie. If you select the "Watch a DVD" activity then the Harmony 1000 will issue the commands to turn on the TV, change the TV to the correct channel, and turn on the DVD player, all with the press of one button. When the activities menu comes up you can choose what activities you want to program. These include "Watch TV", "Watch a DVD or Tape", "Play Games", or "Listen to Music". Select the ones you want, then click next.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

After selecting the activities you want to program, the setup software will walk you through a series of question to make sure the right devices are on, and what settings are required for each activity. Select the best settings for you for each activity you want.

 

 

 

 

Once you are finished setting up each activity you will be able to review all of the ones you selected as well as make any last minute modifications. You will need to plug in your Harmony 1000 and Wireless Extender again to update the information for your devices, and then you will be asked to test it to ensure everything is in working order.

 

 

 

Now that everything is set up and tested you will be sent to the main screen. This is what you will see every time you log into the Logitech Harmony 1000 software. From here you can add, remove, and edit activities and devices for the Harmony 1000. You can also edit the setting of the device and add backgrounds and icons to it to suit your liking.

 

Specifications:

FEATURES

BENEFITS

RF Wireless
Operation

Controls components throughout the house, even through cabinets,walls and floors. No line of site needed to operate equipment.

Remote provides 100 feet of range.

Color LCD Touch Sensitive Display

Touch sensitive for selecting operations. Vibrant color screen offers a customizable interface; images can be uploaded for background, slideshow or favorite channels.

One-Touch Activity
Buttons

Send out sequence of commands to multiple components at onetime; with one touch, remote can send all commands needed to Watch HDTV, Listen to CDs, Watch DVD, Listen to Radio, etc.

HDTV Optimization

Automatically calls up correct aspect ratio and audio settings for
HDTV, with toggle capability for picture and sound options.

DVR Control

Complete functionality for DVRs. Logical button layout and extensivecustomization capabilities unleash the full potential of any DVR.

Smart State
Technology

This patented Logitech technology enables the remote to remember the operating status of any component at any time. This allows one touch switching between activities without having to turn on or adjustcomponents for different entertainment activities.

Recharging Station

Rechargeable lithium-ion battery means no more running out of
batteries; attractive charging station provides a convenient locationwhere the whole family can find the remote.

Web-Based Wizard
for Easy Setup and
Customization

People simply tell the wizard the brand and model of the  components they want to control. The wizard does all the programming and downloads information to the remote via the
supplied USB cable.

Comprehensive
Internet Database of Control Codes

Online database contains codes and characteristics for more than200,000 components from more than 5,000 manufacturers.

Help Button

If any component doesn’t respond properly at any given time, the
simple Help button diagnoses the current state of the componentsand walks the user through the simple steps to correct everything.

Learning Ability

In addition to its huge database of command codes, the Harmony 1000 remote can learn any infrared (IR) command from any device.

Seven Days a Week

Tech Support

E-mail and toll-free phone support:
Monday through Friday
9 a.m. – 10 p.m. EST
Saturdays and Sundays, noon6 p.m. EST
Toll-Free Telephone: 1-866-291-1505
 

 

 

Features:

 

Testing:

To test the Harmony 1000 I went around my house and gathered all of the remote controls for my devices and put them in a box. Then I taped the box and put it away in the garage. I wanted to exclusively use the Harmony to see if it could actually replace all of the other devices. I tested the Harmony 1000 for 48 hours and then I tested the Universal Remote that came with my PVR cable box.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Tested Remote Control Devices

 

I will be testing the Harmony 1000 for functionality of the device, ease of use, distance till signal failure (with and without the wireless extender), and last, but not least, battery life.

 

Functionality:

Most remotes that come with devices are tailored to that device only so the functionality is limited. Universal remotes add the ability to control features but limit how many, since they are made to "try" to control as many devices as they can with the combination of buttons they have. The Harmony 1000 went above that and allows you to choose how to control your devices. One of the best features the Harmony has is the help button. With this button, if you are having a problem with a function, it will help you fix it, and in many cases repair it with out even having to re-connect it to your PC. The Harmony also allows you to create and re-order buttons to suit your needs instead of having to look all over the place for that button to push.

 

Ease of Use:

Unlike traditional remote controls, the Harmony 1000 uses a touch screen versus the buttons. This keeps the Harmony sleek and clean without looking cluttered. The commands can be changed and programed using the Logitech Software. The downfall is it takes time to get used to all of the differences. With traditional remotes, you know where the button is and don't have to go looking for it. The setup software was easy to understand also, as it takes you step by step explaining each section.

 

Distance to Signal Failure:

When you pick up a remote what do you do? You point it at the device and operate it, right? Well, not with the Harmony 1000 and Wireless Extender together. To test signal failure I set up my components at one end of the house and walked backward down the hallway, which is thirty five feet away. Out of all of the remotes, the Harmony 1000 worked the furthest without the Wireless Extender, and the Scientific Atlanta remote was the worst. Adding the Wireless Extender, I could control my devices from anywhere in my 1750 square foot house with no interruptions at all.

 

Battery Life:

Battery life on the Harmony 1000 was expectable. Being a touch screen device I was not expecting miracles . I used the Harmony 1000 a while before doing the actual testing for this review, so I could get used to it, and the battery lasted about nine days before needing to be recharged. The best thing, though, is that the Harmony 1000 comes with a rechargeable dock that will keep the battery topped off while keeping it in a safe place. The other remotes last for a couple of months before needing to be replaced, but they do nothing near what the Harmony 1000 does as far as it's daily operation.

Conclusion:

I must admit, it takes some time to get used to the power that the Harmony 1000 offers, but once you do, watch out. This thing will simplify your couch commando experience so much that the only thing I could not get it to do was bring me a beer. Setup was a breeze with the software interface. About thirty minutes and away you go controlling everything that you can. Since the Harmony can control up to fifteen devices you will no longer need to look for the individual remote control for the TV volume after using the one for the DVR box; just tap, and away you go. Even though the battery life is low, you will never notice since it will constantly recharge in the dock for you. What's even nicer, is you can go and buy that big screen TV you want, because with a few clicks in the software you have control of it, too. This has made my life so much easier, and it is so user friendly that the kids are using it to set up recording of their favorite shows.

I recommend the Harmony to anyone wanting to get rid of the remote control clutter and dance. I also recommend you pick up more Wireless Extenders if you want to control more that one room, because they are a life saver. Not having to be directly lined up with the TV to turn up the volume when changing the new born's diaper is a selling point on its own. Sure you can get that bargain remote at the drug store, but come on, it will never do near what the Harmony 1000 can do.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: