Logitech Harmony RemoteThe universal gripe about remote controls is that there are too many of them in the average household and they are too complicated to use.  We want one device to control all the others.
Is that a pipe dream?  Hardly.  Universal controls have been around for quite some time with Logitech one of the key players in this field.  Now they’ve brought out the ultimate control device: the Harmony 1000i Universal Remote.  Capable of subduing every household and entertainment device within 10 yards!  But how did I fare in subduing the Harmony?  Well, that’s an entirely different story…




First Impressions Count
…because you never have a second chance to make a first impression…
Logitech knows that so they designed an absolute stunner of a display box!  You have to see it, no, feel it, to be impressed.  The picture of the Harmony is embossed on it in a very special way.  It looks like the real deal except for the perspective.  It is metallic-like and stands proud of the box.  If this doesn’t raise your expectations I don’t know what does.  Generally we have found that this is a good sign of the quality of the product in the box.  Logitech doesn’t disappoint here either and, as we have seen in reviewing their other recent products, the design and build of their devices is outstanding.

The concept of this universal remote is somewhat different than the standard ones which are held lengthwise and sport myriad buttons.  The 1000 I looks a bit like a UMPC, a minicomputer with the touchscreen and just seven buttons on the right, an Activities button and an on/off switch.  All buttons have a soft blue LED backlight.  The layout and design looks very professional with brushed aluminium on the top and a non slippery, slightly rubberised underside.  This Harmony model is pleasant to hold with either hand or both.  The touchscreen is reasonably bright, and with a good resolution.  The infrared port is at the front of the device with the USB mini port on the side.  This USB Port has a rubber cover which is very hard to pry off.  I had to use a small pocket knife to get it off.

I have an admission to make: I have at least half a dozen remote controls in the house.  All of them have the usual complexity except one.  This is a remote control from Philips and has just six buttons.  All of them pretty big and laid out in a very natural way.  Normally, that’s all you need for watching TV.  Guess which one is our favourite?  In my thinking a remote control should be a natural extension of your hand and it shouldn’t force you to look down to decide which BUTTON to press.  On practically all my remote controls the buttons are tiny, and most of them are of the same size and colour.  At least on this score the Harmony 1000i does well with the buttons few and prominent.  But how does it go with the complexity factor?


Logitech recommends to take at least half an hour for the installation process. Mmmm, that might be slightly optimistic.  It took me a couple of hours and I have a rather technological background…  What’s the problem here?  You need to be connected to the Internet, armed with all the makes and model numbers of the various devices that you want to control.  That can be an exercise in itself because some of the model numbers are located on the back or bottom of the units in dark and inaccessible places.  One by one your enter these brands and model numbers, all the while waiting for your computer screen to reload.  My satellite connection is not too bad but it still took a long time.  Particularly if you make a mistake you have to finish that particular set up as there are no back buttons on the screen.  You can only redo a particular device once all the setup stages had been completed.  However, the brilliant thing about being connected to Logitech’s immense database of thousands and thousands makes and models is that it is very likely that your particular unit is already present.  If perhaps it isn’t you can train the Harmony to learn the functions of your old remote.  Once this has been done this becomes part of the larger database so that other people will have the benefit of your training session.

Another reason for the long setup was that once you disconnect the remote from its charging stand the battery life is fairly limited.  It’s quite sufficient for normal use but it takes a fair bit of juice in the setupmode.  So I had to recharge the unit in the middle of setting up.  There is no indication on the touchscreen of battery life remaining.


The Quick Install leaflet seemed to indicate that just by pressing a button on the remote you would be presented with a tutorial.  That would have been handy for a first time user but that was not the case.  When the whole setup is completed the Harmony reboots just like a PDA.  Even though the Harmony 1000i is supposed to be Vista compatible it did change the colour scheme on my monitor and the Aero function was disabled.  I would be interested to find out if this is just a fluke or is it happening on other computers as well?




Using the Harmony
This one device replaces many controls with an interface that should make it easier to select the right activity, like watching a DVD, or programming the PVR.  Simple things should be simple but sometimes the Harmony forces you to scroll down on the touchscreen to get to the bit you want to select.  I had one situation that needed taps, all the while looking down on the remote, to select one function that was just one press away on the old remote…  I found that not all functions of the old remotes were duplicated on the Harmony.  I am sure you can tweak the system so that it will do exactly what you wanted it to do and do it rather effectively.  Perhaps I get a little bit too impatient, and no, I did not download the manual on purpose as I figured that most people should not have to go through the trouble of to read a manual.
There couple of other considerations you should take into account.  One of them is that the Harmony is like a minicomputer: you just can’t chuck it around the room!  You also would do well not to sit on it…  And finally, it needs a central place in the lounge where it can sit on the charging stand in between use.  It’ll certainly be an attention-getter and a thing of pride to show off to your guests. 










On The Plus Side

Innovative approach
Excellent database of existing remotes
Will attract more attention than your plasma screen…
Should I mention the packaging again?


On The Minus Side

Need Internet access to setup
Time consuming setup
Expensive at a shade under AUD700 (official retail price; lowest price found $400 Australian, US Street pricing from around $350)


I would recommend this advanced remote control only to people who enjoy tweaking and fussing around for some time to get things just right.  If you are looking for simplicity this is not the device for you.  The price at around 500 Aussie dollars is not cheap if you are going to be disappointed with its ease of use.  On the other hand this can be geek heaven for some…



What’s in the Package?
• Logitech® Harmony® 1000 remote control
• Charging station
• USB cable
• AC Adapter
• Lithium-ion battery
• Installation CD
• Installation guide
• 1-year warranty







 Charging Cradle

 Power Supply             

 External Adapter / Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery

 OS Requirements  

 Apple Mac OS X 10.3 or later

 Required Peripherals 

 CD-ROM Drive 
  Internet Access 
  USB Port

 Display Size  

 3.5 inches

 Display Type  





 144 x 108 x 20 mm (w x h x d)

 Weight (g) 

  200 g 

 Additional Features 

 Supports up to 15 devices

 Warranty Length  

 2 Years