Putting it all to the test.
The Harmony 1000 proved simple and intuitive to use on a daily basis. The Harmony’s screens feature pleasant, crisp graphics that should appeal to most tastes, as well as interesting button transparency effects.
The main home page presents six large activity buttons with both full-colored icons and descriptive text. If your system has more than a half dozen activities, the icons will be shifted slightly with [Page Up/Down] buttons added on the left. Two small icons in the upper corners switch between [Home] and [Tools] sections, while the battery’s current power level is indicated in a bar along the top. To start any activity, simply tap its icon. A little musical tune will play and, if configured, a screen will direct the user to keep the remote pointed at their system until the power and input macro has finished transmitting. Note that the volume level of sounds can be adjusted, however the sounds themselves cannot be changed.
Once in an activity the screen’s layout is as described earlier: main controls in the center of the screen, plus up to four small icons in the outer corners to switch control categories. The Harmony 1000’s screens can be busy, with 20 or more clickable items all shown at once. The name of the current activity appears at the bottom of the screen, while a [Help] button is displayed prominently in the top center. The onboard [Help] function can best be described as the “something’s not right” panic button – for instance if the picture doesn’t match the sound (and how many times have you heard that one). When pressed, the Harmony goes through a list of questions about the status of devices and attempts to correct the problem by issuing the proper commands.
To switch activities, press the [Activities] hard button below the screen and then click a new icon. The Harmony will automatically power devices on and off and select the correct inputs. When finished, simply tap the [Power] hard button once to turn everything off.
Beyond activities, the Harmony 1000 also allows users to access their system using a more traditional device-by-device basis, useful for finding extended functions that are rarely used (or are ideally difficult to access). There are two ways to reach the Devices menu, the first from a button at the bottom of an activity’s “Other Functions” screen, and the second by tapping the tiny [Tools] button at the top of the Activities home page. This displays the “Harmony Settings” menu which has three options: [Devices], [Remote Settings] and [Slideshow].
The Devices menu is similar to the Activities menu, with six big buttons per page with colorful icons and descriptive names. The order that devices are shown on the remote cannot be customized. Unlike activities, devices have only one screen layout with nine commands per page. There’s also a [Back] button in the top left to return to the main device selection screen, plus a large button in the bottom of the screen to return to the current activity.
The Harmony 1000 avoids the standard touchscreen practice of offering several LCD-labeled hard buttons (ironic since it’s a staple on Harmony hard buttoned models), but I didn’t miss that feature and found the touchscreen more than adequate for less frequently used commands. After some use I did feel that several additional buttons would have been welcomed for frequent commands; good candidates could have been [Menu], [Guide], [Exit] and [Info], or perhaps a four or five-way transport control. Also potentially useful would be [Page Up/Down] hard buttons for navigating through an activity’s or device’s screens.