Monday 29 March 2010

Harmony One

I want to talk about my new universal remote control. The main reason I needed one was because I needed one of a few specific models so that I could send extra commands to hack my Blu-ray player so it'd play multi-region DVDs (since 40% of my DVDs are North American, it's not much good to me otherwise!) and then it occured to me that because I have 6 remotes in my living room, a universal remote might actually be very useful so I did some research to find one I could really use and decided to get the Logitech Harmony One which can control up to *15* different devices (at the same time!):

Looks pretty eh? It should do for £117! (US $175). No that wasn't a typo either. Despite all the random "stuff" I buy, I rarely suffer buyer's remorse... and I didn't with this either! Well I did at first, then I started using it and I can see why it's actually worth the money (no really... I'll try and explain!)

It's not very clear in the picture, but do you see that LCD at the top? Well it's not just an LCD, but a touchscreen too. You can swipe it left/right for pages and the usual touch selection as well as softkeys etc like on a mobile. Currently it's displaying some of my favourite channels with their logos (all of which you can customise/upload/make your own). As you might imagine, push the logo, that channel comes on. Cool. Swipe for page 2, page 3, etc. Ordered the way I want.

But it does way more than that, you can create activities so that it powers up multiple devices at once, puts everything on the right input and you're ready to do what you want. For example if I press the "Sky+" activity it turns on my TV, sets it to AV1, sets my AV selector box to the Sky+ and turns on the Sky+ itself. If I then press Media Player it turns on my Freecom media player, turns the AV selector box to the media player and turns OFF the Sky+ (since I'm no longer on that activity). It doesn't touch the TV because both activities have it set that the TV is needed and on AV1. With the Blu-ray player I've made it a bit more complicated, it also turns on my sound system, sets that to the correct input and sets the volume too... snazzy eh? All with a single button press.

There's a mini USB jack tucked in the top of the remote (behind a rubber flap) and even cooler there's a infrared RECEIVER in the bottom of the remote. Most universal remotes can only "learn" by number codes which are limited/complex at times and they can't really learn from actual infrared commands of the original remote. This one can. Simply connect to PC, go into the learn function, point the real remote at the bottom of this and press whatever button I want to capture. The software really is that good.

It's also rechargable (has a little docking station) AND a movement sensor so when you pick it up the screen/backlight comes on :) It's the little touches :) Love it :) In less than a week watching things so much easier! I've even got it setup to control my digital photo frame!!

Unfortunately, even though it is ultra fabby and I'm very happy with it, it isn't the remote control from the movie "Click"... now that would be cool :)


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