Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360


posted 3/7/2006 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: 360

For a few weeks, the premium bundle of the Xbox 360 contained a small remote to control the unit. It wasn’t anything spectacular but it was something for those that were going to use the Xbox 360 as more than just a gaming console and wanted a remote to control the multimedia functions rather than using the wireless controller. If you purchase the premium bundle now, you’ll most likely be missing this little remote, like I did. To be honest, the remote that came with the bundle wasn’t anything to write home about but there is one remote especially branded to work with your Xbox 360 from a company that knows remotes and that’s Logitech. The Harmony line of remotes is some of the best around and it was only natural that they develop an Xbox 360 branded remote. With that said, here’s a review of the Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360.

Right out of the box you can start using this white remote to control the Xbox 360. As you can see from the pictures, the remote’s style fits well with the Xbox 360’s design. Unlike a few of the Harmony remotes we have reviewed, the Harmony Xbox 360 remote is one long rectangle whereas most Harmony remotes feature many smooth curves.

From top to bottom, the remote features a plethora of buttons. First off is a single power button on the top left. This button’s pretty self explanatory as it will turn on and off devices.

The activities button on this remote really helps sets this device apart. If you’re like me, you have plenty of devices that you want to control in your entertainment center. Within that, there are a few things you do that can be broken down into activities such as watching a DVD, listening to the radio, or watching TV. You have a sequence of buttons on one or various remotes to get your whole setup going. In the past, there were macro buttons where you could program the sequence in manually. With the Harmony 360 remote, that’s all in the past. Using the website to setup what devices you have, you will then setup an activity. By answering a few questions such as what device is used for audio and what input the TV should be on, the web application sets up all the button presses in sequence for you. It’s really that easy. I have a Pioneer receiver, Panasonic LCD HDTV, a Microsoft XP Media Center 2005 PC, and the Xbox 360 as my main setup. After putting in the devices, setting up a few activities, and downloading the information via a USB cable to the remote I pointed the Xbox 360 remote to my entertainment center that was all turned off.  Pressing the button that had the Watch TV activity assigned to it, the remote proceeded to turn on the receiver, set it to TV, set my Media Center to the MyTV menu, turned on my TV, waited about 10 seconds, and then switched the input to component 1. I didn’t have to do much other than answer a few questions and the remote knew the order and to wait for my TV to warm up from a cold start to switch the inputs. Now that’s slick programming.

Another nice thing about these activities is that the remote knows what state each device is in. Pressing the Play Xbox 360 activity button, the remote switched my receiver to DVD, turned on the Xbox 360, and switched the input to component 2. It knew the TV and receiver was already on so it didn’t send the power signals to the devices. Activating the Listen to Radio button, the remote proceeded to turn off my TV, turn off the Xbox 360, and switch my receiver to Radio.  The way activities are handled in the Harmony Xbox 360 remote is one of the strong suites that set this remote apart from all others.

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