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When do we have universal control?

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 by Servage

It’s time for a little hardware review again. Often hardware fulfills it’s purpose and works acceptable, but sometimes I’m just surprised how big the gap between the expected and actually experienced value of a product. Take the Logitech Harmony One universal remote control as an example. I find a lot of ads for this type of product from Logitech at the moment, so I guess they are pushing the technology now. And honestly, the concept is pretty damn smart. Instead of having one remote for each of your electronic devices, you just need one. And instead of programming them individually to achieve a certain goal, you use activities. That means you don’t have to power on your TV, switch input, turn on your A/V receiver, also set input, turn on your DVD player etc. All this can be done with a single click on the “Play DVD” activity. In theory you can set up any device and any combination of actions for our activities. Sounds great! But it doesn’t work 100%. I guess it works for most cases, but I tried some actions that just did not work. For example watching TV. I have two scenarios. One: The cable box is on, the A/V receiver is on and set to HDMI1 inout, the TV is on and set to HDMI1 input. Now I use the cable box as a receiver (I prefer that because my model has a harddrive, so I can use timeshift etc.). The sound is played on the A/V receivers surround speakers, and the image is displayed on the TV. So far no problem, and the Harmony One works really great with standard activities like this. However, if I don’t want to use the receiver for sound, I have a problem. At night, if I don’t want to make so much noise, and prefer to use the TV’s internal speakers, I want the cable box on, the receiver off, but still set to HDMI1 input to passthrough the signal to the TV, and have the TV on HDMI1, using the TV speakers. This set of actions is to complicated for the Harmony One. Even trying to manually programming the remote control doesn’t work, because the receiver does not have an absolute “on” and “off” button, but an “on/off” switch. So I can never be sure the device is actually on. Only trigger the switch… And there are numerous flaws like this in the configuration tool for the Harmony One remote control, which eventually renders the device useless for my purposes. Even if you could live with some drawbacks with advanced activity programming, I find that it’s too expensive. The added functionality isn’t worth the money, because you still need the old remotes around for certain stuff – either because the Harmony can’t do it, or because it’s just easier to use the original remote.

My conclusion is that a great concept, and a pretty nice piece of hardware, fails because of poor finish. In other words: It’s close to 5 out of 5 stars, but only gets 2 in my opinion. One star for the idea. One star for the manufacturing quality. The missing three stars are for poor configuration software. I hope Logitech, or someone else, can go the extra mile soon, to produce a really great product.

When do we have universal control?, 4.2 out of 5 based on 5 ratings
Categories: Cool stuff

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2 comments (leave a comment)

I have had 1 of these for 2 years now and i would not be without it, all my media gear is in the loft, running through to tv’s downstairs and upstairs, and this works great with an RF link

i would give it all 5 stars but hey thats just me

Al

Some years ago, I did bought one (older model, but same way to work it) and I absolutely disliked it. It brought it back to the store. So I feel like you Jakob on that one!

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