|Logitech Harmony 1100 Remote|
|Home Theater Remotes & System Control Remotes & System Control|
|Written by Todd Daugherty|
|Tuesday, 26 May 2009|
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Device operation is a distant second priority to the Activities management for the Harmony 1100, as you have to go through the system settings menu to even get to the unique buttons you may have not put on your favorites. Another thing to consider is that you can only add buttons from the devices associated with the Activity. So hypothetically, if I was engaged in the “Listen To Music” activity but wanted to turn on my Xbox 360 so it could download an update, I would have to exit out of the current Activity setup and go to the Activities Home page, then click Settings, click Devices, select the Xbox 360, and scroll to the 4th of 5 pages (assuming I didn't reorder the buttons from their default position in the system) to find the On button. Going through this process, and a few that were similar with other devices, made me want to open the closet and grab the original remote real quick to take care of a task, which is the true challenge for every universal remote. Logitech wants you to prioritize your button usage, but it comes off more as imposed triage. The convenience it offers is much too focused on Activity management, at the expense of the basic goal of the universal remote – controlling devices.
One of the biggest shockers for me was that there is no Blu-ray option for the 1100. While the software will recognize Blu-ray model numbers if labeled as DVD players, there is no option for setting up Blu-ray activities. The easiest workaround is just modeling the Activity as a generic command option and renaming it to a Blu-ray player, while remembering to independently tag it as a DVD playback device as well. Blu-ray is pretty much here to stay, and with its CES 2009 prominence, it is unacceptable to completely lack a Blu-ray Activity category.
As mentioned earlier, while the 1100 did seem to have information available for both my computer sound card and my iPod dock, the functionality was severely lacking, and there was no actual category for either of them. The iPod dock was simply labeled as a “Digital Music Server,” and the sound card was just a “Computer.”
The 1100 retails at $499.99, and that's without the optional RF Extender, which comes in around $99 itself. For some it may be hard to justify spending more money to control your devices than some of the devices cost themselves. However, if this is a viable alternative for those considering more expensive custom remote programs out there, this could be a money saver and an entertainment enhancer.
The Harmony 1100 universal remote gave me the “whole nine yards” feeling. A great deal of the setup was smooth and seamless, but any specializations you want, like wanting to keep a device on even if the current activity doesn't need it, bring a whole new time investment. Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time and give a little extra TLC when tweaking the 1100 to any custom modifications you want. The Harmony 1100 Universal Remote does what it does very well, and the troubleshooter is a fantastic option to minimize frustration, but it is definitely lacking in the device management category. Hopefully future models or even firmware updates of the Harmony family will venture past the popular Activities focus and allow the user to have complete control of their home theater system with simple access. Because in the end, eliminating the need of a remote without reducing the usability is the key goal of the universal remote world.