Logitech Australia Product Tester – Harmony One Remote (Dec 2010)
Logitech Australia reached out to its social media community and asked for volunteers to test some of their products. I was accepted as one of the ‘chosen few’ and here is my completely unbiased report on their product. Enjoy!
On arrival, the Harmony One remote was staring at me through clear plastic, just waiting to escape! The packaging did a clever job of hiding all of the boring bits (software installation CD, instructions, charge cradle and cable), whilst leaving the feature product on clear display. The plastic was a bit of a mission to get in to… or maybe that was just my impatience!
The first step was to charge the remote, as it had a Li-Ion rechargeable battery (like most cordless phones). It fitted snugly into the cradle. The downsides to the charging process were 1) the lack of indication as to whether it was still charging or had completely charged (you needed to press a button on the remote to find out – a colour changing LED on the cradle would have been great, or the ability for the remote screen not to ‘sleep’ during this process so you can see the on-screen indicator all the time) and 2) the cradle took up a bit of bench space, being slightly larger than the remote itself (would have been great to be able to charge it vertically, but with the battery contacts being near the top of the remote, a stand-up cradle would mean you’ve have to place the remote in upside down).
While that was happening, I wandered around and gathered the information for the devices I wanted to control (TVs, games machines, DVD players, set-top box, VCR etc). Once the remote was charged, I installed the software onto my Windows 7 Professional laptop and connected the remote via the USB cable, and received an error (Step failed Updating region: 0x10a00102 – The information was not sent. Check your USB cable and try again. If the problem persists, contact customer service. Step 2 of 4 Applying settings 80% complete). To fix this, I tried a different USB port on my laptop, and then it had no problems.
Adding devices was easy, and I was surprised to see cheaper & older devices listed (eg DSE DVD, DGTEC Set-top box and 10yr+ old Panasonic rear projection TV). Unfortunately neither the Installation Guide nor the device worksheet tell you to note your input channels for your devices, so I had to wander around again to check which AV channels were needed for which devices. With that information, setting up Activities (like Watch TV) was also easy. It was great to see that I could have a ‘TV’ and ‘TV2’ and also multiple games machines etc, so this one remote could be used in both rooms where I have AV gear. Though the remote can’t natively control a Nintendo Wii (Wii’s limitation of being a bluetooth device though you can buy a Wii IR receiver), I could still setup an activity so my TV and Amplifier would come on and set to the right channels for the Wii. Only downside to the software was a full-screen limitation where the software doesn’t ‘maximize’ to the full edges of my screen (the icon areas stays the same and it just extends the grey background). It would also be nice to have the Activities in a vertical list, instead of tiled with big icons.
The remote is comfortable to hold, with the buttons in the right places and a gloss finish matched with an underside rubber grip right where it’s needed. The screen also sleeps automatically when you put the remote down, and lights up when you pick it up again. A friend commented that it would be nice to have hard red, yellow, green & blue buttons (eg used by Foxtel), but I don’t have Pay TV and apparently they do display onscreen as touch buttons.
It’s fairly intuitive to use and the remote assistance feature is great when things don’t seem to go quite right. Watch the screen and follow the prompts and it will sort everything out for you. Remember that some devices will have to be physically turned on at the switch and in standby mode before the Harmony One (or any remote) can talk to them. Once it’s configured to turn on and set the correct devices to the correct channels at the press of one icon (Watch DVD, Play Game etc), it’s just like having a teenager in the house .. but significantly less expensive!
The Slideshow is a little gimmicky but my family loved seeing their photos on the remote. It only allows for 8 photos of max 160kb each, so I had to resize them before loading them on. The only way I can find to display them is through the Options menu, and then you can turn the slideshow on to run once. It would be great if this had more options, or could be set as a ‘screensaver’ though ultimately that would affect the battery life.
The battery life is really the only other negative, it seems I have to charge it every 3 days or so. Perhaps that’s just because I’m using it so often to test it?
Overall, this remote is fantastic. It has easily replaced 8 other remote controls in my house and sits there looking unobtrusive, even stylish, on my coffee table. If you are looking to consolidate the number of remotes you have, or if you are looking for an easy way to control multiple devices and make them simpler to use, I would highly recommend the Harmony One.