Logitech Harmony 1100 Universal Remote
With most modern home theater systems you seem to need a box full of remote controls. Each device has its own infrared frequencies, unique buttons and functions. Just turning on the system to watch a DVD can mean starting up three or four devices and adjusting the settings on each one with its own remote control. The answer is a universal remote; a control that can handle all of your home theater equipment. After many years with a nice unit from Sony it became obvious that it just couldn't handle the changes in my home theater. It was difficult to reprogram when one device was replaced by another. I looked around for a solution and found the perfect universal remote; the Logitech Harmony 1000. it is a brightly lit touch pad that changes the screen depending on what device is being controlled. It is also the easiest remote to set up; ever. i original had the predecessor to this model, the 1000, but move up due to some of the improvements made here.
the new screen design permits you to select icons from a preloaded set to give each command screen a graphic look. you can also easily download logos to use in you favorite channel dection. one downside here is the inability to upload icons to supplement the somewhat limited preloaded set. there is also an onscreen clock which is nice but basically fluff to pad the new model specs.
Most universal remotes require you look up a code number in the instruction manual. Frequently it is a best guess and there are several possible numbers for the same manufacturer and device type. This handles the basic controls but not the more model specific functions. For that you have to place the universal remote facing the device remote and go through a learning process. The other draw back is the buttons that are assigned are generic and you have to remember what most of they actually does.
With the Harmony 1100 the basic setup is a breeze. The device connects to your computer via a USB connection. You go online and register the unit. Then you open the setup program. Once there all you have to do is enter in the make, device type and model number for each of your components. That is it. All of the buttons for that remote are automatically added to a device profile. If one is not there this unit can learn a control like any other universal remote. With all the devices I use it for I had to add only one function and that took about three minutes.
From there you set up the basic device functions like how to turn it on and how too select video or audio inputs and outputs. For example with some remotes for a TV you have to push the same button cycling through a list of possible inputs. With another type of set you may have to push one button to open the menu, another to scroll and a third to select. This remote knows all the possibilities and is ready to handle any required method. Like all the setup for this remote is is an online hookup to a locally loaded program.
Next you set up what they call activities. These are common things you do with your system like 'watch cable', 'watch DVD' or 'record DVD'. Each of the possible has a template already loaded waiting for you to select it. setting up watching cable all you do is click on your cable box, your TV and your receiver. You then go through a few questions of how you want the devices to interact such as which TV input is used and which receiver input is required. You then have most of the common functions preloaded like channel up and down, volume control and menus. You then add any other functions you want to customize the activity. When you select the activity during use the correct screens show up. There are between one and four basic screens; navigation, numeric pad, customized buttons and favorites. Each one is completely up to you how they appear and how they work. Once all of you activities are set you just plug the remote into your USB port and upload the changes. Firmware and software updates for the unit are handled in the same way. If after you have been using the activity for awhile you feel the need to change something just go back to the program and have at it.
The unit also has rechargeable batteries; the same as used in many cell phones. When not in use it sits in a recharging cradle so you never have to worry about dead batteries again. This is just about the perfect solution; one remote that is truly universal.