Logitech Harmony One

Review

posted 4/2/2008 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
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I've been using the Harmony 880 for a while now and while it's a good remote, it does have some problems. At CES, Logitech had on display their latest one and going over the item briefly, I saw that they did address some of the shortcomings of the 880. Now, the Harmony One has finally landed so let's see how well it does and if it will replace my Harmony 880 as my primary remote of choice.

Remote

The Harmony One is a candy bar shaped remote in a black shell. The shiny exterior does get dirty pretty easily with fingerprints so expect your remote to not stay in pristine condition for long unless you wipe it down a lot. Looking at it from the site, you can see that it has a sleeker profile than the 880. Similar to the Harmony Xbox 360 remote, the Harmony One has a large bottom area where the battery is housed and gradually becomes thinner the higher you go. The large bottom area allows for you to grip the remote easily and it fits into the palm of your hand nicely. Two indentations on the underside of the remote lets you comfortably place your fingers there allowing you to hold the remote easily. The upper half of the underside is coated with a soft rubber material that offers a nice feel.

Buttons are grouped by common functionality, something that Harmony has done well with their remotes. Compared to the Harmony 880, the groupings are similar. Below the LCD screen feature some buttons that interact with the screen as well as buttons to show you information or guide. In the middle is the page up and page down button. Control of the channel and volume as well as a D-Pad navigation. On the D-Pad, there’s a nice circular ridge pattern that gives it a nice feel. The volume and channel changing buttons are nice and long with the increasing and decreasing button area having a nice large surface area to press. The remote doesn’t feature as many buttons as the 880 but the reduction in buttons does make the remote a little simpler. Then again, there’s still a good deal amount of buttons on the Harmony One so a removal of a few doesn’t matter at all in the grand scheme of things.

An improvement over the Harmony 880 is the DVR controls. A complaint I had about the Harmony 880 was the fact that all the buttons were shaped the same, aligned horizontally, and only had two small plastic extrusions to let you know you were on the top row and in the replay and skip area. The Harmony One changes this with a better layout and a different shaped play and pause button. Since the play and pause button are in the center of the remote, you know that either side holds the skip buttons for the direction it operates. A nice large plastic nub along with a slightly concave feel to the pause button differentiates it from the play button. Two plastic nubs also distinguish the skip and replay button from the rewind and fast forward button. Now, I don't have to look down at the remote to know what button I am pressing.

If you do use the remote at night, the Harmony One’s buttons, all of them, are backlit. Even with the different shape buttons to distinguish them apart, it’s really nice to be able to see what each button is in the dark.

The major addition to the Harmony line of remotes not named the 1000 is an LCD touchscreen. In the previous remotes, the display mapped to hard buttons on each side the the screen. Now, the Harmony One remote's LCD screen houses customizable buttons that can be activated with a touch. The color LCD screen's image is clear and colorful allowing you to get some really nice sized buttons to display. The screen is a little sensitive though even when I turned down the sensitivity to the lowest setting. On either side of the main display are two arrow buttons that will cycle through the screen's pages. On the bottom are two more function buttons that take you to settings and options. The LCD touchscreen does improve the customizability of the remote thus not limiting you to the number of inputs based on hard buttons like the previous remotes.

Motion sensing capabilities in the Harmony One will detect when you pick up the remote. When this happens, the LCD screen turns on and the buttons light up. It’s not a new feature in the Harmony line but one that’s a nice touch as you don’t have to press a button to enable the LCD screen. It seems the Harmony One’s detection in movement is a lot better than the Harmony 880 as I have rare occasions when the remote doesn’t turn on when I pick it up while it happened a lot more frequently in the 880.
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