[img]http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513FN5JPMDL._SS350_.jpg[/img]Device: Logitech Harmony 1000 Advanced Universal Remote
Street Price: $499 ($250 refurbished)
My Rating: :4.5stars:
I'm a big fan of universal remotes. With all the components and their separate remotes, one nice remote clears the clutter and puts and end to the fumbling for the right remote. In my somewhat brief excursion into home theater I've had the opportunity to use a few universal remotes.
In the beginning I had an "8 in 1" type remote. It had a monochrome LCD screen, but all that did was display what input I was on. To operate it I had to press the corresponding device button and then it would mimic the original remote's IR commands. To program it was a pain. The remote came with a thick booklet that had a list of remote ID's by manufacturer. My old JVC TV had 5 numbers listed and I had to enter each one until I found the one that worked. That remote lasted about 2 years until it stopped working. I attribute the failure to overuse which in turn wore down the contact pads uner the rubber membrane.
I grin and bared using multiple remotes for a while until I acquired a Logitech Harmony 550 remote. This was a very nice remote and a big upgrade from my older universal remote. The huge plus about the Harmony's is that you connect them to your computer to program them. The included software connects to Logitech's servers over the internet and updates itself and there are thousands of devices to choose from. Much much easier than keying in numbers.
The 550 also has a IR emitter on the rear as well as the front which improves it coverage. It does eat batteries though. I needed to recharge the 4 AAA NiMH batteries every two to three weeks. Another nice feature of the 550 is that you can set up activities like "Watch a Movie" or "Listen to Music". What that allows is the single press of a button to turn on all the devices and set them to the right inputs. You can also add in other steps like turn up the volume or send any other IR command from any device. I've had the 550 for two years and it still works well.
So on to the review of the Harmony 1000. In essence the 1000 is identical to the 550 in the way it works. The software is the same, the set up is the same and the basic operation is the same. The Harmony 1000 upgrades the monochrome LCD to a full colour touch screen and adds RF support. You can also display a slide show on the colour screen, although the images are limited to 160 KB and 320x240 pixels.
The Harmony 1000 also comes with a recharging dock and includes a square lithium ion battery. If left off the charger it does tend to loose it charge in only a couple of days. I also noticed when placing hte remote on the charger it emitted a high pitched whine while cycling through the slide show. The whining stopped after the timeout period elapsed and the screen shut off.
The Harmony 1000 has IR emitters on the front and back also just like the 550. The remote has a motion sensor that wakes up the remote and turns on the LCD display. The casing is very sleek with a brushed aluminum from with gloss black accents around the screen and several push buttons on the right hand side. The back looks like its a rubberized plastic and feels nice in the hand. It is very light but sturdy remote.
In operation the remote works very well. The IR emitters spread a fairly wide beam so you don't need a crosshair to aim it. Setting up the devices was easy as too was setting up the activities. It would be nice if you could customize the task icons and I was trying to set up an activity to just turn everything off. I like to have the movie still playing through the credits as my Lutron Grafik Eye turns the lights up. With a bit of playing I just added an activity that turns everything on, then when I press the off button it turns them off.
I am very happy with this remote, although if it was not a gift (an purchased as a refurbished model) I would not pay full price for one. I would give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5 total for operation, ease of use, styling and overall impression (the coolness factor).