Logitech Harmony One Review

Logitech Harmony One universal remote
For over 18 months we had been using the Logitech Harmony 515 universal remote. This device has worked perfectly but, it is limited in that it can only control up to five devices. This hasn't been a real problem as we used it to control the primary devices in our lounge:

  • Panasonic TH37PX80B TV
  • Denon AVR-1912 AV-Receiver (was previously a Marantz SR5300)
  • DVD Player - Samsung DVD-1080P8
  • Humax YouView STB (was previously a BT Vision Philips DIT-9719)
  • Sony Playstation 3 games console
  • Apple TV (2nd Gen)

We also have a Nintendo Wii, Apple iPod dock with remote control and then purchased Apple TV. It was this latter device that drove us to look at updating our universal remote to one that can support a more devices. We had also wanted to do something to improve the Blu-ray disc watching experience on our Sony PS3. Having to control it via the wireless gaming controller was starting to frustrate. The Logitech Harmony devices support the Logitech Harmony PS3 adaptor.

Why the Logitech Harmony One?

First of all, we have been extremely impressed with the Harmony 515 remote. It has a good feel to the buttons, a good layout and is decent quality. The Harmony One is a big improvement in this respect, being of much higher quality. We also had a chance to look at a friends one and ergonomically it works really well. It also comes with a stand which also acts as a charging base.

The second reason is the software and support provided by Logitech. The software works really well and their database is extremely extensive. Responses to any queries have also been very fast and useful.

The only concern we had was the lack of four coloured buttons used to drive features on BT Vision. These concerns were quickly laid to rest when we saw how our friend had configured the touch screen to support them.

In The Box

Logitech Harmony One
In the box is the remote, rechargeable battery, the charging stand, plug-in PSU, a USB A to mini-USB cable, a screen cleaning cloth, the software on a CD and instruction booklets.

Installation

Charging contacts
The plug-in PSU is rated at 5.5Vdc 1A. It's a shame that this requires yet another power socket under out TV as we already have two 6-way, switched distribution boards for all the equipment! It would be good to use a common 5Vdc power supply but this one is rated at 5.5V :-( Rather than leave this charger on permanently, we will connect it via a timer switch that comes on for an hour each day, to charge it up.

This picture shows charging base contacts and the matching ones on the remote.

Cable management
The underside of the charging base has a slot to allow the cable to run either way. Neat.

Remote on charging base
The remote sits neatly into the charging base and looks tidy. Finally, somewhere to keep the remote!

Configuration

Because we were upgrading from a Harmony 515 remote, we already had the Logitech software installed (V.7.7.0). Interestingly, the CD-ROM supplied had version 7.6.0 on it.

Logitech Harmony software - update remote
Under the 'devices' tab is a button (bottom right corner) to 'replace remote'. This then prompts you to plug the new one in using a USB cable. Under Windows 7, this then installs the device driver and the remote displays a green arrow with the USB logo on screen.

The devices start communicating and you get the option to use the existing account or create a new one. We used the existing account. This goes through a number of steps and basically programmes the new remote to behave as the old on. This takes several minutes to do as it retrieves settings from the Internet.

The next step involves testing the remote set up. Before we added any new devices, we went through this test procedure. Everything worked as expected. This new remote seems to have a slightly more directional transmitter than the old one. This could be an issue if you devices are distributed around your lounge. There is a 3m gap between our TV and home cinema amp but, it seemed to control all things well if pointed between them.

Screenshot : activities
The remote is motion sensitive and when you pick it up, the default view is the activities you have programmed in. There are three activities shown on the screen at any one time and you can move through them all using the white left and right arrow buttons.

BT Vision

Testing showed one issue with the BT Vision setup. On the Harmony 515 we had to manually set up a back button. This didn't seem to carry over onto the Harmony One. Under 'devices' tab, you can 'customize buttons' and add the 'back' function to the 'Prev' button.

Screenshot : coloured buttons
One of the biggest initial concerns we had with the Harmony One was the lack of hardware buttons for the four colour buttons (red, green, yellow, blue) used on our BT Vision set-top box. Once the 'Watch TV' activity is started though, the default screen view displays these on the touch screen and this works perfectly.

Playstation 3

Adding the Sony PS3 was simply a matter of adding it from the menus. The software says the Harmony One remote can not control the PS3, which seems a bit odd. It does though (assuming you have the PS3 remote adaptor) and the touch screen default set up shows the controller buttons, which is good.

Screenshot : PS3 buttons
The default screen view for our PS3 activity displays the four coloured/shaped buttons as found on the wireless PS3 game controller.

Apple TV

Adding Apple TV proved a bit more problematic as it simply wasn't an option on any of the device menus. In the end we searched on the web and found this page. This worked fine for us.

Nintendo Wii

As expected, there is no way the Harmony One can really control the Nintendo Wii. Whilst it converts IR signals to Bluetooth, there is no way to pair it with the Wii console.

Summary

Our testing does show that the IR beam transmitted by the Harmony One is a lot narrower than that of the Harmony 515. It has a transmission angle of about 90º where as the 515 has a transmission angle of about 180º. The 515 is much less sensitive to the direction in which it was pointed. Depending on your installation, this might be an issue for some.

The real test of these devices is with how well the whole family gets on using them. If they are not all entirely comfortable using a universal remote then the other remotes will find their way out of the cupboard and defeat the purpose of investing time and money in one. The Harmony 515 was a hit and we are confident that this will be even more so.

This remote feels better and is much better quality. The colour graphic touch screen makes it much easier to configure and much more usable and clear once configured.

Updates

August 2011

We have been using the Harmony One for over a year now and all the other remotes are still in a cupboard. They occasionally come out if things get confused by people pointing the remote in the wrong direction but that's about it. It really is a fantastic device and the whole family would be very annoyed if I took it away now.

October 2011

We have upgraded our Marantz SR5300 home cinema amplifier to the new Denon AVR-1912. This means re-programming our remote to handle this new device.

  • TV = Panasonic TV
  • Sat/Cb = BT Vision
  • DVD = Sony DVD player
  • Game1 = Sony PS3
  • Game2 = Nintendo Wii
  • BD = Apple TV

Logitech have now also added support for the Apple TV (2nd Gen) device. Whilst adding the new AV Receiver, we have moved all of our equipment under the TV. This has removed any issues we had with the beam angle from the Harmony One.

November 2012

We have been using a Humax YouView STB since July and are about to update the settings for this remote to accommodate it. The reason for the delay is that we have been slowly clearing the recordings off of our old BT Vision STB (G2 black version).

We were able to find the Humax YouView STB easily and all the default keys and settings seemed to work:

We should also add that this remote still looks like new, despite being used for quite a long time now (since September 2010).

With the family let loose with this remote, everything seemed to work perfectly and was easy and intuitive. Testing revealed one essential button on the YouView remote that was missing on the Harmony One though. The 'DEL' (delete) key is required to delete recorded TV programmes. This key is also marked 'SUB' and can toggle subtitles on and off, when watching Freeview. We had to go through the simply IR command learning process to capture this key and then assigned it to the Harmony One 'E' key and also as a dedicated soft-key on the touchscreen. This was another reminder of just how good the Logitech software is at supporting devices and customisation of the remote.

December 2012

display fault
Rather annoyingly, we discovered a display fault had appeared on our Harmony One and it seems to be getting worse over time. This might be the excuse we need to upgrade to the next version of these remotes.

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