The Harmony 1000 is a tablet-shaped remote that sits
right at the top of Logitech’s range of programmable zappers.
With a price tag
of £280, it's obviously aimed at the higher end of the market, rather than those
looking to replace the remote for their cheap Alba DVD player.
The Harmony is definitely one of the more attractive looking zappers around at the moment. The brushed aluminium finish and large touchscreen display give it a luxurious look. As it's quite slim and light, it's much more comfortable to hold than chunky competitors like the Philips Pronto and Universal Electronics NevoSL.
The initial setup is very straightforward: simply load the software on a PC and connect the remote via USB. Then it's just a matter of using the software's Web-style interface to enter the model numbers of the AV kit and waiting as they are downloaded to the remote via USB.
In use, the combination of the touchscreen and hard buttons mean you get the best of both worlds, with the hard buttons providing the feel of a real remote and the touchscreen offering more flexibility. The zapper also has a built-in motion sensor so it automatically turns itself on when you pick it up.
Up to 15 devices can fall under its control and you can programme in complicated macros (or 'Activities' in Harmony-speak) to chain commands together. For example, you can programme an activity called 'Watch TV' that will simultaneously turn on your TV, set-top box and surround sound kit, plus set the TV to the correct AV input and adjust the volume of your surround sound to a pre-defined level.
Although configuring the remote via PC is relatively straightforward, it does take quite a long time, and if any of the standard steps need to be tweaked, it will be an even more arduous task. We got lost in a loop of downloading settings to the remote, trying them out and going back to the software to tweak them again before repeating the process. The main issue is that the sync between the software and the remote is quite slow.
Also, although Logitech has added a number of hard buttons to the remote, you'll still need to use the touchscreen for the majority of functions. As a result, this remote suffers from a problem that affects all touchscreen models -- a screen can just never have the same tactile response as real buttons. We had to actually look at the screen to select the button we wanted, whereas with a traditional remote we often subconsciously feel our way to the right button.
This also leads to another issue. When controlling devices with lots of buttons, the remote can become a little bit awkward to use. This is because it has to lay all the various controls out over multiple screens, so for less commonly used features you may have to scroll through three or four screens to get to the right button.
It takes a lot of work to set up the Harmony 1000 properly, so expect to put in a significant amount of time and effort before you arrive at a good configuration for your particular AV setup.
However, once you have got it working properly it really is a very impressive zapper that manages to offer up very powerful features while still being easy to use.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday