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Logitech Harmony 1000 Review

DT Recommended Product

Highs

  • Recognizes over 145
  • 000 devices; semi-customizable interface; color screen

Rating

Our Score 7.5
User Score 7

Lows

  • Poor battery life; RF use requires expensive add-ons; setup can be tedious
The Logitech Harmony 1000 is an ingenious and high-quality remote control.

Summary

Because of their exceptional products, fair pricing and generally positive customer feedback, Logitech has long been a household name for computer keyboards, mice, speakers, headphones and more. In recent years (thanks to acquiring Harmony), Logitech has gone on to prove itself as a trustworthy name in the universal remote industry. They’ve produced a number of high-quality, programmable universal remotes amenable to all sorts of budgets. Most recently, they’ve taken the high-end consumer-level remote market by storm with their $499 USD Harmony 1000 Advanced Universal Remote. What does a $499 remote do? Continue reading to find out.

Features and Design

Does the collection of A/V remotes on your coffee table resemble a small, mismatched flotilla? Are your remotes using enough AA and AAA batteries to power a small Foreman grill? Wish you could hit one button to dim the lights, queue up the surround sound, and get your favorite movie rolling? The Harmony 1000 can definately make that happen.

The Logitech Harmony 1000 is an ingenious and high-quality remote control. One look confirms that Logitech put a lot of time, effort and money into creating a slick, full-featured, easy-to-use remote targeted for use by all sorts of TV and movie addicts, whether technically proficient or not. The brushed metal and high-gloss black frame is very classy and matches most modern TVs and home theater components.

Physical Stats

The Harmony 1000 is roughly 4.2″x5.5″x0.7″, making it almost the same dimensions as two 80GB iPods laid side-by-side; it does weighs around 6.8oz however, making it a very lightweight device. The LCD display on the 1000 itself measures about 2.1″x2.75″ or 3.45″ diagonal. It’s as large as, if not larger than, most modern digital camera LCD display; but there is a very good reason for this.

Touch Screen LCD

The most recognizable and important features of the Harmony 1000 is its large touch screen 320×240 pixel LCD display. The LCD display is bright and crisp – perfectly visible in all lighting situations – even in full sunlight. It responds well to almost all physical input; fat fingers, skinny fingers, PDA styli, even the corner of a piece of paper. Tap it hard or caress it softly, the Harmony 1000’s screen responds instantly and accurately.

Customize It

Another cool feature related to the LCD screen is the customizable nature of the background image. You can select any image from your computer, so long as it’s 320×240 pixels in dimension and less than 160KB in file size. I found that the easiest way to do this was to select several good images, make a separate folder for copies, then resize accordingly. From the Harmony 1000 software, select those dedicated, resized images as desired. Once you’ve selected a new image, click the “Update Remote” button on your computer screen. After a couple confirmation screens, the Harmony 1000 will update, reboot and its new settings will appear.

In addition to the custom background images, you can also control things like 12-hour vs. 24-hour clock, whether to show or hide the “Starting Activity” screen, change the type of onboard help system, and whether or not to enable RF (Radio Frequency) remote capabilities.

Logitech Harmony 1000
Image Courtesy of Logitech

Features Cont’d

Buttons

In addition to touch screen controls, the Harmony 1000 has a number of physical buttons on the face of the remote. They control the basics like Volume Up/Down, Channel Up/Down, Mute, Return/Back, and a gamepad-like button for navigating components’ menus. To make these buttons easy to use in low light situations, the buttons are all backlit with a cool blue light.

One downside to the Harmony 1000 and its button layout – it isn’t possible to program the physical buttons to perform common actions like pausing, fast forwarding, rewinding, etc. For these everyday actions, you’ll need to use the touch screen menus, which may prove a little too slow for some people (though these days, with people text-messaging as fast as other people type, Harmony 1000 users could eventually whip through the on-screen controls as fast as other people master old-school remote control buttons).

Instant Turn-on

One of the coolest features of the Harmony 1000 is its motion sensor. Whenever you touch the remote or pick it up, it wakes from its sleeping state and/or resets the time-out clock to zero. You’ll never have to press a button to power up the Harmony 1000; it gets turned on when you touch it. Don’t you wish everything in life was like that?

Home Automation

The Harmony 1000 works with the Z-wave wireless home automation standard, so in addition to controlling your home theater, you can control your automated home – turn lights on & off, activate heating/cooling, control your security system, etc.

PC & Mac

The Harmony 1000 works perfectly with both PC and Mac computers.

Home Theater Macro

Normally, when using a combination of dedicated remotes, or even with a “universal” remote, if you want to switch from one activity to another (e.g. change from listening to satellite radio to watching DVDs), it is necessary to manually turn components on/off, switch inputs, etc. It can be a real hassle shifting from one type of content to another.

The Harmony 1000 uses macro-like settings that will intelligently shut off or simply disengage from the current device(s) and command the target components to begin pushing content. You can even let the other devices keep playing while you jump from component to component, keeping everything alive and greatly increasing the amount of instant entertainment being pushed in your direction. It’s like a pre-conceived set of macros for your home theater components; something common remotes just don’t do.

What’s in the Box?

When you buy the Harmony 1000, you get everything you need to start controlling your home theater. You get the Harmony 1000 remote control, charging dock and power adapter, USB cable, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, installation CD, and the user guide. As with almost all consumer electronics nowadays, the Harmony 1000 comes with a one year warranty.

Setup and Use

The experience of setting up the Harmony 1000 remote can vary from easy and fun to slightly aggravating. This depends entirely on how many audio/video components you’ll be setting up on the Harmony 1000, how much patience you have, and whether or not your a technophile or technophobe.

The first thing you’ll want to do is plug the Harmony 1000’s charging station into an outlet and charge the remote for at least a few hours. Once the remote is properly charged, connect it to your home computer using the included USB cable or any other USB cable with a standard 6-pin connection on one end and a 4-pin mini-USB connection on the other. Most people with digital cameras or Smartphones have at least one of these cables.

Software Setup

With the Harmony 1000 connected to your computer, install Logitech’s PC or Mac software on your system by using the included CD or by downloading it from logitech.com. The first time you run the software program it’ll walk you through the setup wizard. Mid setup, the program will check for software and firmware updates. In my setup experience, the Harmony 1000 went through two firmware updates and two reboots. A final firmware update completed the 8 minute initial setup.

Karmony 1000 Screenshot
Adding your home theater components to the Harmony 1000

Once the firmware and software are fully brought current, the setup wizard will ask you to select your a/v components from a very comprehensive list – so comprehensive, in fact, that it includes some of the most obscure and archaic components still controlled by remotes – 175,000 devices at present, updated daily. Logitech really intended the Harmony 1000 to control anything you might use in your home theater setup. While the list may not be complete (e.g. the Apple TV is not on the list – yet), Logitech gets an A++ for the devices they do support.

Macro Programming

As part of the setup process, you’re asked to define typical scenarios or “uses” for the remote – watching DVDs, watching cable TV, listening to CDs or radio, etc. This helps the Harmony 1000 create subsets of IR controls to keep things simple for you later on. After all, if you tell the Harmony 1000 you intend to watch DVDs, you’ll appreciate not having a bunch of FM radio controls crowding up your LCD screen.

Harmony 1000 Screenshot
Creating your activities with the Harmony 1000

The total setup time for my 5-component system took roughly 90 minutes. Your time will obviously vary depending on your familiarity with setting up remotes and how many components you have to configure the Harmony 1000 for. If you want to reduce setup time and control your blood pressure, configure the Harmony 1000 by using a laptop in the same room as your home theater components. That way, you can set up components, then test, then modify settings to perfection, all without ever leaving your seat.

According to Logitech, the Harmony 1000 can handle up to 15 programmed components. Though this is an acknowledged limitation, the chances of finding a home theater setup with more than 15 devices are rare – at best.

Logitech Harmony 1000
The Logitech Harmony 1000 Display

Home Theater Use

Once the Harmony 1000 is all set up, you can begin using it with your home theater components. Point it in the general direction of your TV, DVD player and other devices and, if those devices are off, hit the power button. Everything should light right up and be available for commands. Select a sample activity, like “Watch TV”. Your cable box, TV and receiver should begin playing content. Select another activity like “Listen to Radio”, and the DVD-related components will give way to your stereo, which will begin playing.

The Harmony 1000 remote has a handy “Help” feature, accessible through the Help button on the top of the LCD display. It’ll attempt to clarify settings and debug performance issues by way of a contextual help wizard. There are two versions of the Help system – “Smart” and “Full”. Smart help attempts to recognize and resolve the problem for you. Full help gives you full contextual control over help topics.

Because the Harmony 1000 has a ton of features, multiple screens and involved configurations, it’s not too hard to imagine someone getting a little overwhelmed. If you get stuck, reach out to Logitech’s support site or call them on the phone. They’re typically very smart and will help you iron out any kinks related to the Harmony 1000 and your home theater setup.

Of course, with repetitive use over time, one becomes more and more comfortable with the Harmony 1000 and gains a faster, more natural control of it. The more dedicated you are, the more you’ll find the Harmony 1000 to be an indispensable part of your entertainment system.

Battery Life

Battery life seems to be an issue with many users. In our tests, the Harmony 1000 endured only a few hours of constant use before the battery indicator on the screen indicated it was near empty. To combat this problem, drop the LCD brightness down to half and set the time-out interval to 10 seconds. This keeps the LCD touch screen from drawing power from the small rechargeable battery and can extend usable time by 50% to 200%. Be sure to keep the Harmony 1000 on its charging dock whenever not in use

Achilles Heel

The biggest let down for us was the lack of RF support out-of-the-box. Instead you are forced to shell out another $149 USD to get this sort of support. What does this mean? If you have your components in a rack or TV stand, you need to make sure that the line-of-site is not blocked so the Harmony can communicate with your products.

Conclusion

Logitech’s Harmony 1000 remote control is a very useful, high-tech device that almost any home theater enthusiast would greatly benefit from. It keeps the clutter of remotes from overtaking your media center or coffee table. It intelligently controls media components based on manufacturer defaults or based on user preferences. It also goes far, far beyond the reaches of normal universal remotes by controlling Z-wave compatible devices in your smart home, like lighting, heating/cooling, security, etc.

The Harmony 1000 is a tad on the expensive side for a remote without built-in RF capabilities, but it is also easy to set up and manage. With the Harmony 1000, you won’t have to hire an expensive home-theater geek to program or debug an esoteric device. We just wish the battery life was better.

Check out our video presentation of the Harmony 1000 for more information.

Pros:

• Recognizes over 145,000 devices
• Compatible with Z-wave home automation
• Semi-customizable interface
• Greatly reduces clutter
• Color display

Cons:

• Setup can be slow and tedious
• Poor battery life with default settings
• RF use requires expensive add-ons
• No hard buttons for some common controls