Alas, the only unit that we couldn't control was our PlayStation 3, which uses Bluetooth and has no IR receiver. In an ideal world the Harmony 900 would offer Bluetooth connectivity, but we can't fault Logitech for Sony's stupidity. Thankfully, there's now a solution: Logitech offers a PS3-specific IR-to-Bluetooth converter module for £45.
Sleek and comfortable
Logitech's done an excellent job with the remote's appearance and ergonomics. The remote is sleek and sits comfortably in your hand. Plenty of thought has been put into the button layout, with hard, backlit buttons that are differentiated in size and shape, so you can navigate by feel without looking down at the remote, at least when performing basic operations like changing channels, adjusting volume and pressing play. While the remote appears to be loaded with buttons, it actually has fewer than previous Harmony remotes. The remote is essentially divided into five zones of operation (they're designated by faint, silver lines), with the colour LCD at the top constituting the fifth zone.
The touchscreen on this model is as responsive as that of the Harmony One. We really like the two glowing, touch-sensitive buttons on either side of the screen that allow you to easily scroll between 'pages' of soft buttons. Additionally, two touch-sensitive buttons allow you to toggle between 'options', 'devices' and 'activities'. The touch-orientated interface really makes the remote a pleasure to use.
The Harmony 900 ships with a docking station for juicing up the included rechargeable li-ion battery. You simply place the remote in its cradle (unlike some earlier Harmony remotes, this model fits securely in its charging station). Not does a recharging option let you save dough on batteries, but, if you're good about leaving the remote in its cradle, you'll always know where it is when you need it. Battery life is good -- Logitech says you should be able to go a week or more without recharging. It's also worth noting that the battery is replaceable.
As with all of Logitech's new remotes, the Harmony 900 features a motion sensor, so it automatically turns on when you pick it up. The LCD turns off after a short time of inactivity to conserve the battery. You can adjust the LCD's shut-off interval, as well as the brightness, in the settings menu.
In terms of programming the remote, the Harmony 900 works in the same way as its stablemates. Programming a universal remote can be a frustrating and time-consuming process, involving punching in a series of multi-digit codes for each component in your AV system. But Harmony remotes are programmed by hooking them up to your Internet-connected Windows PC or Mac with the supplied USB cable, installing the model-specific version of Harmony software, and answering a fairly simple online questionnaire on the company's Web site.
You simply choose your home-cinema components from a list, explain how they're connected, and define their roles in activity-based functions, such as 'watch TV', 'watch DVD' and 'listen to music'. For each function, you specify which devices and inputs the remote must enable. You can also choose which keypad functions will punch through to which specific devices -- for example, you can have the channel buttons always control the cable box or the volume controls dedicated to the TV. After you've completed the questionnaire, the software uploads all the relevant control codes to the Harmony 900.