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The look and feel is good. The weight distribution front to back is also ...
on 7 August 2014
This review is the for the Logitech Harmony touch Remote control. This is the package that contains the remote unit only.
When I was originally shopping around for remotes, I was looking for a remote that would:
1. Allow me to replace multiple remotes strewn across the coffee table
2. Allow my other half to use our entertainment system without my help
Percentage-wise, the Logitech Harmony Touch achieves this as follows:
Using default Logitech setup 40%
Once you edit buttons and add macros: 70%
Once you add a Harmony Hub: 99%
First things first, it's a quality product. The look and feel is good. The weight distribution front to back is also correct. Its styling is conservative and restrained. It's a league above the One4All type remotes that are out there.
Out of the box, it obviously doesn't do anything; it needs setting up using the Harmony software so it can learn the InfraRed commands that work with your particular devices. Your PC needs to have the .Net framework and Silverlight installed to use the Harmony software. My ageing Windows 7 64-bit laptop already had both so I was able to install it straight away.
Tips for setting up the remote:
1. Be exact about model names. "Samsung D5500 series" was the option I first selected for my Samsung D5520 television. Lots of buttons were wrong or didn't work. I finally realised this and deleted the TV and added it again, this time using the exact model number UE40D5520RKXXU.
2. Look carefully at the button assignments Logitech have provided. When watching TV, the back button on my FreeSat decoder IS mapped to the back button on the remote but only if I press and hold it for 3 seconds. Logitech allows you to assign up to two functions to each key, one for a "short press", one for a "long press". It's worth going through the entire list and making sure the buttons you need most frequently are on the short press.
3. If you can't get a particular function working, it is possible for the Harmony Touch to learn (record) the IR code from the original remote (if you still have it) by pointing the original remote at the learning eye on the back of the Harmony Touch.
4. If you happen to have a laptop, take the laptop to the room where you'll use the remote and do the setup there.
So, pros and cons:
+ The Logitech device database is extensive. In the unlikely event you can't find your device, Logitech may be able to add the device for you if you learn the commands from your device's remote and then contact their support department asking them to add the device permanently.
+ No more hunting for batteries. The remote has a built-in (officially non-replaceable) battery that is recharged each time you place the remote back in the charging dock.
+ The "activities" function allows you to create a button on the touchscreen that manipulates multiple devices at the same time. You can add your own picture for the activity and customise the commands so that additional pauses and button presses are sent. For example, I have a button that says "Watch Netflix" and has the Netflix icon to the left. When I press it, it powers on the TV, selects HDMI2, powers on the Home Cinema amplifier and selects XBOX optical input, turns on the XBOX, selects my XBOX live profile, waits 30 secs for the home screen to appear then goes to my pins (use pins to prevent the macro breaking if the layout changes) and selects the first pin, which is the Netflix app. Activities allow remotes to be mixed together so in this scenario, play and pause are mapped to the XBOX but Vol up and Vol down are mapped to the amp.
- It's infrared. Infrared is one way communication. If the Harmony sends the IR code when you press the button, it has no idea whether the signal got to the device and the device performed the action. The marketing blurb for this remote mentions RF, but that's a little misleading. The only RF device it can control directly is the Harmony Ultimate Hub (available separately).
- It's line of sight. It's great that you can program up complex activity macros like the one mentioned above, but you have to sit there ensuring the remote is pointed at the relevant devices the whole time. That's not instinctive for most users.
To be fair, I got annoyed with the two cons listed above and rather than return the unit, I decided to take a gamble and pay out the additional £80 to add the Harmony Ultimate Hub to see if that helped mitigate these problems. It really did. The hub is an IR repeater that you can leave permanently in sight of your equipment's IR receivers. It is RF so it can go in a closed cabinet with your TV decoder, dvd player, media player, console etc. It has two external 2.5mm sockets for IR repeater tails so you can even solve the much cited problem of needing to separately control two Humax boxes in the same room since you can even map devices to a particular socket.
Overall I have to say it's a good piece of kit but it really only comes into its own when used with the Hub. It's cheaper to buy the Harmony Ultimate package which contains both the Harmony Touch and the Harmony Hub rather than doing what I did and buying them separately. At this price, it's good value for money. If you want the kind of guaranteed functionality that 2-way communication provides you are starting to look at AMX or Crestron and if you can afford that sort of kit then you probably wouldn't be reading this review on Amazon as your butler would be doing it for you.