|Logitech Harmony 1000 Advanced Universal Remote|
|Home Theater Remotes & System Control Remotes & System Control|
|Written by Ken Taraszka, MD|
|Wednesday, 01 August 2007|
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To successfully program the Harmony 1000 remote, you need only enter the make and model numbers of the components you have in your system and have a basic idea how to control your components. This is done in a fairly straightforward manner. Initially, you select your devices from a general list of device types: receiver, DVD, CD, tuner, etc. Once you’ve selected each device, you select the brand from Harmony’s extensive drop-down list. Don’t get bogged down in these. You can click the list and type in the first letter or two of the brand, getting you to the brand or at least close. If you have multiple DVD players or games, you can only enter one of each in this initial panel; the remainder are entered later. The next screen has you enter or choose, if only a few choices exist for a given manufacturer, the model numbers of your devices. A quick confirmation screen then gets you off to set up your activities.
Activities are approximated by the Harmony software, based on the device types you have in your system. A series of simple questions allows Harmony to design the macros to control your system. These questions include matters such as whether you use the TV or AV receiver to control volume and what TV or receiver input do you use for a given function. Once you have completed answering these questions for the assigned activity, a summary of settings appears. If correct, you move onto the next activity set-up; if not, you can easily return and modify these settings. Online help is available 24/7 should you have questions or problems completing these steps, and some of the most thorough telephone customer support is available during business hours.
As I said, activities are approximated by the remote based on the components you list, and this works pretty well. I have multiple DVD players in every system, so once I complete the initial set-up, I then add my additional devices and add further activities to control them. The activities are easily renamed to reflect their actions, such as “Watch Blu-ray” or “Play PS3.” Multiple additional activities can be added, using the same or different equipment. For example, in my reference system, my Teac Esoteric DV-50s is connected via the 5.1 analog outputs for SACD and DVD-Audio, the balanced analog outputs for two-channel listening, and sometimes even by its coaxial digital and DVI-D output for use as a DVD player. The Harmony software will allow you to make separate activities to accurately control each one of these connections and name them as you see fit. In my example, I have a “Listen to SACDs,” “XLR Ins” and “Watch DV-50s” for this player’s associated activities. Once you have all your devices and activities set up to your satisfaction, you download the program to the remote and test it out. Should problems arise, the Harmony software will walk you through solving them and if you still can’t do it, give them a call, they will get you up and running. Components move in and out of my systems all the time. Thanks to the ease of the Harmony system, I can make a quick trip to my computer and the remote can be updated in minutes to accommodate these changes.
Fine-tuning the remote allows you to control whether or not to activate the back-lighting and display with motion. You can also control the duration of backlighting and vary the levels of the “remote assistant,” a help guide built into the remote, as well as organize the position of the activities on the touch screen. You can change the background of the touch screen and even use your own pictures as the LCD’s background. I used this to put an abstract underwater photo from my pool as the background and it looked super cool but was a little distracting, so I went back to the purple background included in the software. A tone signaling the touch screen has been pressed can be turned on or off and the volume is controllable as well.
Users of prior Harmony remotes will be able to simply add the Harmony 1000 to their previous remote’s accounts. I tried this with my bedroom system, but the format the Harmony 1000 took with some components was slightly off. The Denon DVD player didn’t have the transport screen, and my play, fast forward and rewind buttons were all similarly sized and shaped buttons, as in a numerical keypad. I also found that by replacing the lower-numbered Harmony remotes with the 1000, I couldn’t remove the 1000 nor replace it with the lesser remote. To remedy this, I reentered my devices into a new account. I have used Harmony remotes for several years and am familiar with their software. I was able to completely program the Harmony 1000 to run my bedroom system, consisting of a Denon receiver and DVD player, Samsung Blu-ray player, Scientific Atlanta HD DVR, Slim Devices Squeezebox and Panasonic plasma TV in less than five minutes. Add the two minutes or so for the download and the entire set-up took me less than 10 minutes. Newer users will likely take longer, but this gives you an idea just how quickly it can be done.
The Harmony 1000 is a pleasure to use. The large and bright touch screen display is easy to work with and the volume-adjustable click that confirms key entry is a nice touch. The remote requires two hands to operate and, as it lacks hard buttons for the transport keys, requires you to divert your eyes from the screen to scan. The buttons on the touch screen are large enough even for people with big hands and are well arranged. Components frequently require more than one page of touch screen controls. Take a DVD player for instance. The first page has all the transport buttons on it and some other basic controls such as Menu, Top, Exit and Eject off to the side. A second page has the numeric keypad, while the third holds additional controls, such as Angle, Zoom, Audio and others. Touchable cue keys in the corners of the screen allow direct access to each page. A Devices button located on the last page of each activity allows you to convert the remote to act exactly as the original remote for any component in your system. This feature saves you from having to go find the factory remote, should you ever need more advanced buttons or you’ve suffered a power outage and need to reset your TV’s clock, as I occasionally need to do with my Sony. While using this feature, a Current Activity button remains on the bottom of the touch screen to return you to the current set-up once you are done.
The Harmony 1000 Advanced Universal Remote allows eight activities to be displayed on the touch screen display. I suspect that, for most users, eight is enough. My reference system has 11 different activities; a simple touch of the page button brings the remaining three into view. The order of activities can be arranged so the most commonly used ones are on the opening screen. Thanks to the Smart State Technology, changing Activities is a breeze; you just hit the Activities bar on the frame of the touch screen and select the new activity. The Harmony remote will turn on and off the necessary components and configure the settings, and you are up and running in your new action in seconds.
The remote worked well in all four of the systems I used it in, ranging from a simple TV and DVD player to my all-out assault on home theater. IR is unfortunately a line of sight control method and, as such, has its limitations. Harmony makes an RF Wireless Extender that will receive RF signals from the Harmony remote and convert them to IR via up to eight small, wired emitters you attach to your components. The software allows you to choose to control any and all devices by the remotes IR, RF, or the extender, and even allows each device to be controlled by only one of the extender’s four wired ports. This is key if you have two or more of the same devices and want to control them independently. When I integrated the Harmony 1000 into my reference system, I utilized the RF extender, as many of my components are outside the line of sight, and used the IR from the remote to power the TV. It worked flawlessly, with no lag in response time for using the RF Extender. One small quirk I discovered with the Harmony 1000 was that it tends to store multiple pressings of buttons in a cache, then sends them out with short pauses between them. This was only a problem before I was aware of this tendency and repeatedly hit the volume up a dozen or so times. It went to, then far past the level I was seeking.