The new Logitech Harmony 1000 remote with touchscreen is an excellent product with packaging worthy of any retail store shelf space. The packaging screams “Buy me, I’m worth every penny!” And, when I had the remote sitting on my coffee table next to two other touchscreen controllers that cost twice as much, the Harmony 1000 was selected by many of my friends as the coolest looking of the bunch.
Unboxing the Harmony 1000
The first thing you notice is the beautiful aluminum face plate and compact design. The Harmony 1000 is smaller than any landscape formatted (wide) touchscreen remote on the market today and feels very nice in the hand. The package contains all of the obligatory accessories including a rechargeable LiIon battery with charging station and AC Adapter, Installation Guide, USB cable (with a standard USB mini connection to the remote) and cross-platform Installation CD.
One of the habits I’ve developed with all of my new electronics is to unpack the item and charge the battery for 12-24 hours before being tempted by the shiny, new toy. The included charging base stands the remote on an angle and requires just a small amount of shelf or coffee table space. Unfortunately Logitech hasn’t taken the critiques of many customers regarding the charging bases of the 880/890 series controllers. You must pay close attention to placing the 1000 in the charging base for it to make the proper connection. There is a recessed groove on the back of the controller that aligns with the charging base but even if this successfully guides the remote onto the base it does not lock into place to guarantee correct placement. Once you’ve put down the remote three or four times this is no longer an issue until you have a guest that puts the remote away for you and doesn’t know enough to check the connection, leaving you with a dead remote.
Installing the software
The Logitech Harmony 1000 comes with the Harmony v7 software for either Mac or Windows. I installed the software on my Win XP laptop it automatically checked for, downloaded and installed the latest updates so that I am now running the Logitech Harmony Remote Software v 7.1.4.
The first screen allows you to “Create an Account” and brings you straight to a tutorial with eight slides in a multimedia presentation and a link to download a new “Device Worksheet.” This is a great new tool that Logitech created to help you gather all the information you need to set-up the H1000 quickly and easily. This may not seem important if you are configuring the remote on a laptop in the room that it will ultimately be used but if you are running across the house to a desktop machine this will surely save you a lot of time and frustration. After all, universal remote controls are supposed to make life easier and more enjoyable.
Once the tutorial is completed you are brought directly to the “Getting Started” page where you create a login id and answer a few question providing personal information. Once that’s done they provide a handy link to technical support hours and contact information. My experience with Logitech tech support on previous Harmony remotes has been excellent and the fact that they do not hide this contact information from their customers, like so many other companies do, is encouraging.
The next step in the set-up process is to “Check the Connection” between the remote and your PC. The H1000 utilizes a standard usb connection to a mini-usb port on the left side of the remote hidden beneath a small plastic flap to help preserve the aesthetics of the controller. My Windows laptop immediately recognized the remote as a new plug and play hardware device and the Logitech software confirmed the connection in less than 30 seconds and automatically prompted me to install the latest firmware upgrade (not to be confused with the software upgrade previously installed this firmware updates the remote control itself. Not just the installation software.) Halfway through the upgrade Logitech Desktop Manager launched a message to register my remote. This was a bit untimely as it caused the update process to stall and I am easily annoyed by pop-up messages but once I closed this window the upgrade continued and took about 4 minutes. When the firmware upgrade was completed the Harmony 1000 displayed a message confirming the successful update and re-checked communication with the remote.
The next step in the installation is to configure the optional wireless extender for RF operation. The Harmony RF Wireless Extender is not included with the Harmony 1000 but may be purchased separately for less than $150. For this review I am not using the wireless extender so we’ll skip this step. I personally think Logitech should provide a little more detail here on exactly what the wireless extender is and reinforce the fact that it is an optional accessory that is not included with the H1000. I can certainly see beginners confused by this step searching for the missing component in the box..
Once the Connection process is completed it’s time to refer to that handy “Device Worksheet” we printed from the tutorial and complete step 3 in the set-up process. Don’t worry though, if you skipped the tutorial they provide a link to the worksheet in a tip box on the right side of the software screen. Listing the devices is as easy as it sounds â€“ enter manufacturer name, part number, etc. – and now we’re ready to jump to the next step. This is the simplicity that built the Harmony reputation and has revolutionized the remote control industry.
Once the devices are added you’ll want to group the devices into Activities that allow you to control the devices you need whether you decide to Watch TV, Listen to Music, or just about anything else you could imagine. The first screen in this step is another tutorial that introduces you to the concept of activities. I’m guessing they brought some of the tech support staff in to talk to the software engineers to improve their set-up and make it simpler than ever.This nine-slide presentation is very helpful for those not familiar with previous Harmony controllers. Once you’re done with the tutorial you’ll be pleased to see that Logitech takes the effort to suggest the activities best suited for the devices you added to your system. In my set-up they included Watch TV, Watch DVD, Listen to CDs and Listen to Music. A fairly simple set of choices but enough to cover the bases. Now it will just take a few minutes to complete some questions describing how you use your system: Do you use the TV or the AV Receiver to control the volume? What input does your TV use (HDMI, Component, etc.)? Answer these questions in each activity and then the software jumps to the “Finish Setup” screen to download the setup to the Harmony 1000. This programming takes just a couple of minutes and once the remote is programmed successfully it’s time to use it, play with it and then determine what further customization you want to make to personalize it for your own use.
The Logitech Harmony 1000 is a touchscreen controller with a nice 3.5″ color screen so conventional wisdom may lead you to believe that you have unlimited customization options just as you would with other touchscreen remotes. Unfortunately this is not the case. In fact, there is no graphical user interface to create a custom page layout or import custom graphics to the remote. If you are comparing the Harmony 1000 to other touchscreen remotes you may find this a big limitation of the device but then again the graphics that they provide are professionally designed and look great on the remote so you may actually be relieved by the fact that you won’t need a crash course in graphic design to program this remote. Even though there is no graphical customization you can still customize many other aspects of the remote.
In the “Activities” tab you can create new Activities, re-order the Activities on the home screen or change any parameter of your current activities. Select the Watch TV (or PVR) Activity Settings you’ll see an option is to program favorite channel macros with images like channel logos. If you’re one of the graphic-design challenged customers we already discussed you may want to check out these images that a RemoteCentral user posted for the Logitech Harmony 880. You can add up to 24 favorite channels with images and if you want more you can go back to the home screen and simply create new activities with the same options as Watch TV but with their own unique favorite channels. My set-up will include Watch Sports, Watch Kids TV, Watch HDTV and Watch Movies.
* Logitech continues to improve their set-up software to make it easier than ever with new tutorial presentation and worksheets
* Slick, chrome design & color touchscreen
* Activity control makes it easy for everyone to use
* High contrast color screen
* Tilt sensor automatically activates backlight & touchscreen
* No graphic design skills required as with other touchscreen controllers
* Charging base guides the remote into place but does not lock it
* Web based set-up software requires internet connection
* Landscape (wide) format requires two hand operation for complete control
* More hard buttons next to the screen would make use even easier
* Limited customization of touchscreen
The options in the Activities tab will also allow you to change the buttons in any activity by selecting from an extensive pull down list of the commands available for your devices. I personally recommend that you go through these menus and limit your activities to only the commands that are necessary. This streamlined design will significantly increase the spouse-acceptance-factor of the remote and make it easy enough for even the babysitter to use. You can still keep the more advanced commands in the device screens for access only on rare occasions.
The Customization options under the Devices tab are a little more advanced and technical. This is where you can really tweak the control of your device by adjusting delay settings (speed between IR commands), teach the remote additional commands, or select the remote or Wireless Extender to control the device.
Finally, the “Remote Settings” tab allows you to add remotes or Wireless Extenders, making it easy to purchase the remote now and upgrade to RF or multiroom control in the future, or choose a background for the remote screens. This is the most important customization option you need if you are still trying to justify the $500 cost for a remote control to your significant other. The background selector allows you to choose from one of six standard images or upload your own. Wedding pictures or a photo of the kids always gets the most brownie points but you can always change it to your favorite sports image before the guys come over for the big game to help add to the WOW factor of the Harmony 1000.
Who should buy the Logitech Harmony 1000?
If you’ve always wanted one of those cool touch screen controllers but were intimidated by the price tag, the programming, or the graphic design skills required than the Logitech Harmony 1000 is the controller for you. At under $500 there is simply no other choice.
Here is a link to the review on RemoteShoppe.com
Direct link to the Harmony 1000 category which will include all of their posts on the remote –