Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote Control Review

Posted: Jan 17 2008, 12:00am CST | by , Updated: Aug 10 2010, 9:20am CDT , in Home Entertainment


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Features & Specifications
The Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote can be programmed for up to 15 devices. Power for the remote comes from a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. Recharging of the remote is done by sitting it in a charging cradle when not in use. A USB cable and software is included for programming the remote. You do need Internet access to program your remote control.

Programming the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote is easy, but can be time consuming if you have lots of components in your home theater. If you have home automation you can program the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote to operate other devices as well.

To program the remote you install the software and then connect the Harmony One to your computer via a USB cable that is included. The software asks you what type of device you want to program the remote for and you choose from different component types like TVs, Amps, DVRs and cable boxes. The Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote can be programmed to control 15 devices in all.

All you need to know about your components to program them into the remote is the brand and model number. You choose the brand from a drop down list with a huge amount of choices, there were companies listed I had never heard of before. After choosing the brand you put in the model number and you are ready to program.

After adding your devices you are ready to set up activities, which is where the Logitech Harmony remotes always shine. Activities take all the difficulty and multiple remotes out of your home theater. You program the remote to do specific activities like watch a movie, watch TV, play a game, listen to the radio and so on.

The activity buttons show up in the touch screen portion of the remote where you simply touch them. Part of the programming of the activity walks you through telling the remote what inputs your TV needs to be on, what input your receiver needs to be on and so on. You tell the remote exactly what needs to be done for each thing you do with your home theater.

Once programmed all you need to do is hit the activity button on the touch screen and the remote automatically turns on the correct components, sets the correct inputs and does everything you need for a specific task.

Harmony One in Use
We do several things in my house with our home theater and typically I have to stop whatever I am doing to change the inputs and get things going when someone else wants to watch TV, watch a movie, or play a game. I am the only one in the house that knows which inputs need to be set to what. My son would get frustrated when he wanted to switch from the PS3 to the Xbox and my wife would get frustrated when she wanted to go from TV to a movie.

I programmed the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote to operate my Motorola Sudden Link DVR cable box, my Hitachi plasma TV, my SLS Audio Q-Line Silver home theater receiver, my Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player and my Xbox 360. I programmed the remote to change the inputs to the correct settings for my Nintendo Wii and the Sony PS3, but the Harmony One can’t control the two consoles themselves.

One of my favorite things about the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote is the amount of customization that you can use. By default you get simple titles for activities like watch a DVD or play a game. I wanted something easier for my family to understand and more descriptive so I went in and changed the activities to be labeled “Watch a HD DVD”, “Watch a Blu-ray”, “Play Xbox”, “Play PS3”, “Play Wii”, and “Watch TV”. Now instead of having to stop whatever I am doing to change the TV for my family they only need to hit the right activity button for what they want to do.

If you have some odd brands in your home theater than happen to not be in the programming list you can still use the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote, assuming you have the original remotes. You may also find that even if your components are in the Harmony software database, that Logitech may have neglected to add important commands in the database.

This happened to me with my Motorola cable box DVR. Anyone who has a DVR knows that one of the most important keys for watching recorded content is the List button. This is the button that brings up the list of programs recorded on the DVR. Somehow Logitech didn’t get this most important key in the database for the box. To add the key in all I needed to do was go in and tell the remote to learn a custom function. To do this you choose whatever label you want displayed on the remote touch screen, which is where all custom keys show up. Once you label the key the way you want you simply point your original remote at the back of the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote and press the key you are programming.

Once that is done you now have your missing button. You can also control where the buttons show up in the touch screen. The touch screen can display six buttons per page and you can arrange them so the important keys show up on the first page so you don’t have to scroll at all to find the keys you need.

I thought the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote took too long to scroll between inputs on my Hitachi plasma so I went in and adjusted the speed at which it changed the inputs. I found that I set the speed to change too swiftly resulting in skipped inputs when the remote was changing the TV for a specific activity. It took me a while to figure out what I did wrong. I ended up going back to defaults for the timings and everything was fine. If you get deep into the options in the remote be prepared to spend some time getting everything ironed out to your liking.

I have used several Logitech Harmony remotes over the years all the way up to the top of the line Harmony 1000, which sits right above the Harmony One in the Logitech line. The Harmony 1000 was a bit odd with its all touch screen, square design and my wife and family simply didn’t like it so we never used it much. The Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote uses a much more typical remote control layout. This means that it has all the typical buttons placed where a normal remote would have them.

Logitech says it spent six months choosing which keys to put on the remote and where to place them and the attention to detail shows. After using the remote for a while you don’t even have to look at it to know what keys you are hitting. The remote is broken up into three input areas that are easy to find thanks to the ridged back which naturally guides your hand to the correct section. The manual channel entry keys are on the bottom of the remote where they are accessible, but out of the way since they aren’t used heavily with the proliferation of onscreen programming guides that allow us to surf channels with much greater ease.

The center section that is heavily used by DVR owners containing the record, play/pause and other DVR keys is the most easy to reach on the remote. The keys each have a feel that allows you to hit the right key without looking after you get used to the remote. The record key is recessed a bit so you don’t hit it accidentally while trying to do something else.

Above the DVR keys are the keys for volume control, the navigation D-pad for surfing the programming guide and menus on components, and the channel up/down button. Directly above these keys are keys for the onscreen guide, exit, menu, info and page up down with the activity and help keys in this section as well.

Help Menu
I found that the remote is sensitive to where you aim it when it is setting up an activity. If you move the remote into a position where it doesn’t have a good shot at the TV sensor you end up with things out of sync when the remote thinks a component is on, but the components are actually not on. This also happens with the TV inputs, which is where I noticed it the most. In these cases you can hit the help button right below the touch screen on the remote.

The help menu displays on the touch screen of the remote and asks you simple questions to get your activity working correctly. The questions include things like, is the TV on, is the AV receiver on, is the TV set to HDMI 1 (or whatever input you programmed in for the activity). When you find the problem you hit the no key on the help menu. In the case of an input it will cycle to the next available input on the TV and ask, is it on HDMI 1 (or other programmed input) now? You simply hit no until the input is correct and then hit the yes button and you are done.

Final Thoughts
One of the things I really like is that when you change from an activity like Play Xbox 360 (the remote can fully control the Xbox 360) to watch TV, the remote automatically turns the Xbox 360 off when it changes activities. You can choose to have the remote leave the unused components on if you wish.

The Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote may seem complicated at first glance, and programming it can be if you get deep into customization. However, the work you put in programming the remote is paid back in spades when it comes to operating your home theater.

After programming the remote I handed it to my 6 year old son and told him when he wants to play the PS3 all he needs to do is hit the button that says “Play PS3” and when he wants to play the Xbox 360 all he needs to do is hit the button that says “Play Xbox 360”. If you wonder how easy the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote is to use my six year old sums it up best with this statement, “Awesome! That is so easy!”




  • Easy to use once programmed
  • Tons of programming options
  • Works well
  • Backlit buttons


  • Deep custom programming can be difficult
  • Components can get out of sync with activities

Unless you can’t live without the full touch screen coolness of the Harmony 1000, the new Harmony One remote is the best remote in the Harmony line. The MSRP of $249.99 may seem high until you realize how much the Harmony One simplifies your home theater for you and your family. The Harmony One is simply the best universal remote I have ever used. Wireless rear speakers addressed one of the common complaints for home theaters—speaker wires. Logitech has the perfect fix for the other common complaint of too many remotes with the Logitech Harmony One Universal remote.


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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/3" rel="author">Shane McGlaun</a>
Tech and Car expert Shane McGlaun (Google) reports about what's new in these two sectors. His extensive experience in testing cars, computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
Shane can be contacted directly at shane@i4u.com.




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