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User reviews for the Harmony One from Logitech.
Harmony One
RatingsReviewsMSRP (USD)
Average: 4.17/5.00
Median: 4.50/5.00
6$249.99
The Harmony One from Logitech takes their ever-popular online activity-based setup and ergonomic hard button designs, and merges them with a colorful LCD touchscreen. Other features include a rechargeable battery, docking station, full backlighting and slim housing.
Get it
at:
Amazon.com


Written by Paul Cozza from Concord, MA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 3-6 months.
Review 6 made on Monday February 23, 2009 at 10:54 AM.
Also owned:Pronto TSU 3000, Harmon Kardon TC-30
Strengths:Excellently designed hardware
Weaknesses:Overly complicated software, firmware with a serious bug that prevents the hardware from operating properly, atrocious customer support
Review:Logitech’s Harmony One Remote: The Good, The Somewhat Bad, and The Very Ugly

I have been using the Logitech Harmony One universal remote for a number of months now, and thought it good to describe my experience with this remote. Previously I had owned a Harmon Kardon TC-30 remote, which was a Logitech remote sold under the Harmon Kardon name. It’s design is similar to the Harmony One, so I am familiar with the functionality and programming of Logitech remotes.

This review is in four sections describing, in order, the hardware, software/firmware, Logitech’s support, and my conclusion. The first three of these sections are quite disparate, so in order to get a complete view of the Logitech “experience”, you should read the entire review. Reading only one section or another will probably leave you with an incomplete understanding of the Harmony One.


The Harmony One Hardware: The Good

The Harmony One hardware is, in a word, slick! It has been thought out and designed well. It seems that virtually every complaint I had with my old TC-30 hardware has been addressed in the Harmony One. It is a sleek, glossy, piano black that sits perfectly in the hand. It also can rest on a table (though it is slightly unstable in this position). The button layout takes a little getting used to, but the buttons are excellently spaced, have tactile grooves and shaping where appropriate, and press perfectly. It is often unnecessary to look at the remote because the design of the buttons frequently allows you to know which button your finger is on simply by its feel. It would be hard to imagine a better designed keypad. It has 40 buttons, three of which are dedicated to “Off”, “Activities”, and “Help” functions. The remainder are user programmable via Logitech’s software. The buttons are labeled with the typical remote functions such as, Info, Guide, Menu, Exit, OK, 1-9, etc. When the LCD lights up as described below, the labels on all of the buttons also light up.

The remote has an excellent color LCD with 10 touch sensitive areas, 6 of which are for user programmable “soft” buttons, and an information area on top. The user-programmable soft buttons are grouped into pages of 6. I am not sure if there is a maximum number of pages, but I have not yet run into such a limitation. Left and right arrows allow you to scroll through the various pages of soft buttons you have created with the Logitech software. Two touch-sensitive areas on the bottom of the screen are controlled by the system and context sensitive, allowing you, for example, to return to the current activity, to display available devices (as opposed to activities), to access options, etc. The information area displays the current activity, the number of the current page along with the total number of pages, a battery charge indicator, and the current day of the week and time. It also contains a small area that shows when a command is being issued to a device via a device activity icon. The first touch to an unlit LCD causes it to light up, while the second causes the appropriate command to be issued. The LCD responds perfectly to touch. The LCD also automatically lights up when the remote is tilted or when a hard button is pressed.

The Harmony One has a USB port on one end of the device (the top/front end) and an infrared receptor for learning new commands at the other end. The USB port is to connect the remote to a computer so that firmware can be updated, and new or modified configurations can be uploaded. While you will find many devices and device commands already in the Logitech software, in the cases where you don’t find what you need, you can learn new commands using the infrared receptor. I have been able to update firmware and upload new configurations with no problem. With respect to learning new commands, the Harmony One seems to be fairly sensitive to the distance at which the other remote is being held from the Harmony One. I have had to repeat the learning procedure on many occasions after adjusting the distance between the two remotes.

The remote comes with a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and charging cradle. The battery is accessed via a compartment at the bottom end of the remote. The compartment cover is locked into place by a button. Battery life is very good, far better than the TC-30, although they use the same battery! Logitech has evidently solved the power consumption problems it was having previously. The battery charges quickly. The cradle is also very well designed. It sits low and unobtrusively on a table; the power cord can be guided out of the cradle through either end; it’s light can be set to on, half-power, or off. On the old TC-30 the cradle light was bright and on at all times - a very annoying distraction in a dark room, and a waste of energy. The Harmony One’s cradle addresses that problem admirably.

All in all it is very difficult to find anything wrong with the hardware! If one were nit-picky, perhaps an extra button could have been squeezed in, or perhaps the remote could be a little more stable when at rest on a solid surface. But, these are extremely minor issues. I am very pleased with the Harmony One hardware. Logitech’s design team should be commended for such a wonderful job. I rate the hardware a solid A.


The Harmony One Software and Firmware: The Somewhat Bad

The Harmony One is an activity-based remote. That means that it is designed to handle groups of devices at one time. Devices are grouped according to activities: Watching Satellite TV might be one such activity, and devices controlled under this activity might be your satellite receiver, TV, and AV receiver. Other activities might be Watch a DVD, Watch Blu-ray, or listen to a CD. Devices can be controlled individually, but the Harmony One firmware does not keep track of what you do at a device level. It does keep track of what happens at the activity level.

The Harmony One is programmed using Logitech’s software. Previously, for the Harmon Kardon TC-30, this was a web-based application. For the Harmony One it is now, at least on a Macintosh, a stand-alone application that communicates with the Logitech web site. This is a better solution, as it eliminates certain communication problems the older Logitech designed software was having. The software user-interface and general design is, however, basically the same as it has been. It is… what should I call it? Perhaps “peculiar” is a good word. In order to program the remote, numerous windows must be paged through. Some windows contain a list of options, which then lead to other windows, sometimes one after another, where various features or settings are controlled. While most of the windows are, in themselves, not too hard to understand, the whole process is overly complicated. I could see where it could intimidate some users. I find it tedious. For example, to rename an activity, you do not simply select the name of the activity and enter a new name. Rather, you must select the settings of the activity to be renamed (which brings you to another page), select “Rename…” from a list of options, click the Next> button (which brings you to yet another page), enter the new name, click Save (which brings you back to the options page), then click Done. This is a very long process to simply rename an activity (or a device, which is renamed in similar fashion). Pretty much every change made must be done through this same kind of process. If there were a single page where most, if not all, of the settings and information about an activity or device could be set, this would greatly simplify and speed up the programming of the remote.

The Harmony One software also has various limitations which I find unnecessary and problematic. For example, a user can set up a macro (called a “sequence” by the Harmony One software) to issue a number of device commands in sequence with a single button press. However, inexplicably, these sequences are limited to a maximum of 5 commands. Additionally, one sequence cannot call another sequence. Furthermore, sequences are apparently only available in activities. There seems to be no way to set up and assign a sequence to a button at the device level. Another example of software limitation concerns hex codes. There is no way for a user to enter a hexadecimal device code. About the best you can do (without resorting to contacting Logitech customer support and asking them to enter the code for you) is enter the code into another remote, like a Pronto, then have the Harmony One learn that command from the second remote. A third example concerns the remote’s LCD. Whenever a hard button is pressed on the remote, the LCD lights up. There is no way to configure the remote so that the only times the LCD lights up is when either the LCD is pressed or the remote is tilted. If I am pressing a hard button, why would I want the LCD to light up? Generally I wouldn’t (though some users might). This behavior should be user-configurable.

The Harmony One firmware has some problems, although it works properly most of the time. For one, when I switch activities to my Apple TV, for some reason the remote sends a very long signal (or perhaps it is pausing for that period of time and simply showing the device activity icon) before switching my receiver to the Apple TV. This delay lasts for perhaps 5-6 seconds and seems to serve no purpose. I have the Apple TV Power On delay set to 0, and additionally have the remote set to leave the Apple TV on all the time. It is unclear why there should be such a delay. This delay does not occur with any other activity.

There is another problem with the firmware that is far more annoying and problematic. It is a fairly serious flaw. When the LCD on the remote is lit, then when a hard button is pressed a device command is sent. The device command is sent every time, as it should be. However, when the LCD is not lit and a hard button is pressed, the LCD always lights up, BUT the device command is only sent some of the time! This inconsistent behavior seems to be random. I have yet to find a way to cause this problem to occur consistently. I have pressed the same button 10 times in a row, allowing the LCD to go out in between presses, and had the remote fail to send a device code each time (you can tell when a device code is not sent because the device activity icon doesn’t light up and the device doesn’t respond). Then, after that, pressed the same hard button repeatedly, and had the remote send the device code each time. This problematic behavior seems to occur with every hard button, and ONLY when the LCD is off. Since the LCD is coming on each time a button is pressed, it is not some sort of hardware failure - the button presses are being sensed. Apparently there is some inherent design problem in the firmware causing this. The bottom line here is that the remote can be a nuisance to use. For example, if you are scrolling through a channel guide, you may press the down button a few times, pause for a few seconds to read information about a show (during which time the LCD turns off), then press the down button and… it didn’t work! So you may think that you need to press the button again. But wait! Perhaps it did work and the satellite receiver is just slow in responding - so then you don’t want to press the button again. There’s no way to tell except to wait for a while, see what happens and respond accordingly. This is not what I want from a remote! Unpredictable, inconsistent behavior should never occur with these kinds of computerized devices. Currently this is happening on my remote quite frequently, perhaps 25% or more of the the time. It is apparently a major firmware design/implementation flaw that should have been corrected long ago by Logitech.

The Logitech Harmony One software and firmware do not match up to the Harmony One hardware in design, quality, functionality, or ease of use. Given the software’s peculiar design, it’s limitations, and the problems with the firmware, I can rate it no better than a C. I am certainly tempted to rate it lower than that because of the annoying firmware flaw described above.


Logitech Support: The Very Ugly

I contacted Logitech customer support via email concerning the previously mentioned inconsistent behavior. Over the past 25-30 years I have had numerous experiences with the customer support staffs of various companies. Some of these have been exceptionally good, some very bad. But, my experience with Logitech customer support regarding this flaw in their product was unquestionably, and by far, the worst. It is hard for me to convey just how amazingly bad Logitech support has been. Logitech’s suggestions ranged from misinformed, to nonsensical, to dismissive, to completely ignorant of the previous emails I had sent.

Let me give a few examples to try to convey a taste of what dealing with Logitech customer support is like. When I first contacted them in December, 2008, they responded that I should try putting the remote in what they call “safe mode’ and then updating the firmware. They then gave instructions on how to put the remote in safe mode. The instructions were completely wrong. After numerous attempts to follow their instructions, I had to resort to a web search to determine the correct method. When I pointed out to them that they had given me incorrect instructions, not only didn’t they apologize, they didn’t even acknowledge their error.

I had to repeatedly tell them the remote in question was the Harmony One, and repeatedly describe the problem. At one point a month after my initial contact with them, I was told to try adjusting the LCD sensitivity, and if this didn’t work to try updating the firmware after putting the remote into safe mode! I had to describe the problem again, point out that it had nothing to do with LCD sensitivity, and that the first thing I had tried was updating the firmware in safe mode. Clearly, either the people I was dealing with couldn’t read and understand English, or had never bothered to read my emails, or were purposely trying to frustrate me in the hope that I would simply give up. (Having dealt further with these people, I suspect it was the latter.) Seeing that I was getting nowhere with the various people I was dealing with, I then requested to speak with a manager. They never responded to this request and to date no one who has contacted me from Logitech support has identified themselves as a manager.

Logitech continued by making nonsensical suggestions such as setting the interkey delay to 0 (that is the delay inserted between button presses, which is unrelated to the single button press I was experiencing problems with - my interkey delay was, in fact, already set to 0 anyway), putting the device in safe mode and updating the firmware (this was the third time they suggested this), and mapping commands to the LCD and seeing if they responded properly from there (which would tell us nothing, since the LCD has to be ON for a command to be issued from the LCD). I then asked to speak with someone who had knowledge of the firmware. Logitech did not respond to this request. I even told them that I have extensive programming experience (which I do), and would be willing to try to find the bug in their firmware if they would simply tell me what the firmware logic was when a hard button was pressed. This offer was turned down by Logitech.

Logitech then said, “At this point we would like to advise you that pressing a button while the Harmony's LCD is off, is not the normal way the Harmony is used. Most customers will tilt the remote to activate the LCD, and then press a button. We would encourage you to try using your remote in this manner as this was how the Harmony is designed to function.” I have challenged this in various ways since they first stated it: I asked if this were true, why didn’t they tell me that to begin with; I pointed out that even if it were true they still have a bug in their firmware since it behaves inconsistently; and so forth. Logitech has not addressed a single one of these challenges. I know for a fact that the Harmony One remote was NOT designed to be used only in the way they are now stating. This is simply Logitech support trying to dismiss me without admitting to or addressing the problem.

There are numerous other parts to this experience that I haven’t gone into here. None have been good. Eventually, Logitech unilaterally marked this problem as closed even though I had responded to their emails and the problem wasn’t resolved. When I saw that they had done this, I then asked them for the name and contact information of Logitech’s CEO. I asked for this not because that information is difficult to find on the web, but because I wanted their response in writing - their response would reveal much about the kind of people I was dealing with. It took Logitech a full week to respond, and with regard to my request for their CEO’s contact information they said, “Furthermore, we will not be escalating this to our CEO…” They did not provide the CEO’s name or contact information. Nevertheless, on February 6th I sent a priority letter to Logitech’s CEO, Mr. Gerald Quindlen. To date I have received no response.

I hope that this information provides a window into Logitech’s customer support. It is difficult for me to find anything positive about it. Although they initially replied in a timely fashion, of what value is a quick reply when it is wrong, unresponsive, or even inane? I would not even grant Logitech support a failing grade of F, as this might imply that I had found something good in it. In my opinion on a scale of 0 to 100, their performance basically rates a 0, or very close to it.


Conclusion

While the Harmony One hardware is excellent, it is hindered by peculiar, limiting software, and firmware that has at least one serious and very annoying bug which Logitech refuses to admit to, let alone fix. But what is far worse, this remote is backed by a support department that is most certainly the worst I have ever had to deal with. Because of this, I cannot recommend this remote. If you would like a piece of sleek hardware, can tolerate its inconsistent behavior, and are willing to put up with Logitech’s customer support, then perhaps you should consider the Harmony One. I for one will not purchase another Logitech product so long as there is the possibility that I will have to deal with such customer support. There are many companies and products to choose from, and my time and energy are too valuable to waste with this kind of customer support. My overall rating for the Harmony One: D


I would like to hear from anyone who has a Harmony One and who has experienced the same firmware problem that I have detailed here. I would be particularly interested in hearing from anyone who has contacted Logitech customer support about this problem.
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Written by Tom Thomas from Memphis, TN.
The reviewer has used this remote control for under 1 month.
Review 5 made on Wednesday February 18, 2009 at 1:17 PM.
Also owned:Radio Shack RS 15-1994, Sony RM-VL600, OFA Cinema 7
Strengths:Ease of use, complete control of devices, WAF
Weaknesses:Hard to find one
Review:I have been using universal remote controls for over 10 years. As my equipment grew in number and complexity I found that newer models of devices were not always supported and the memory of the remote wasn't up to learning everything I'd like to have available and those functions I did learn didn't always land on related buttons which made remembering where they were a chore. Not to mention having to write scripts for others (wife) to know how to watch movies, play games, etc.

I had been curious about Logitech's activity based remotes for some time. When I received one for my birthday I was glad to give it a try. What a pleasant surprise it was. I quickly had it doing everything my previous remotes did and even the wife quickly picked-up on how it worked.
Then I started fine tuning the devices and activities to do things my other remotes just couldn't do.

I use it to control my Mits HDTV, Sony PS3 Blu-ray (through the Nyko dongle), Scientific Atlanta cable box, Toshiba HD-DVD player, CD player, Sony DA333ES receiver, and other various audio/game systems.

I find this remote to be everything I want and with the web based programming software it should remain current for years to come.
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Written by jared747 from Raleigh, NC.
The reviewer has used this remote control for under 1 month.
Review 4 made on Wednesday October 8, 2008 at 4:49 AM.
Also owned:URC MX-850
Strengths:Back light on movement, Rechargeable battery / Docking station, tactile feel, color touch screen, online code database, Mac compatible software, USB interface
Weaknesses:Cannot use from charging station
Review:When I bought my Apple TV, I tried to reprogram my MX-850 but was unable to get the USB->Serial interface to work properly with Parallels on my Mac. It had been 2 years since I originally programmed it on my Windows PC but had since migrated completely to Mac. After hours of frustrating attempts I made the decision to replace my MX-850 with the Harmony One, OMG I'm glad that I did. Programming was a breeze compared to the 850, and everything worked the first time through. All of my hardware works: TV, TIVO, Bose Lifestyle 28, Apple TV, DVDO iScan VP-20, Xbox 360! I am VERY happy with this purchase and feel it was a great value for what you get.
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Written by flint350 from Baltimore, Md.
The reviewer has used this remote control for under 1 month.
Review 3 made on Monday May 19, 2008 at 3:02 PM.
Also owned:URC MX-3000, Pronto TSU1000, Pronto TSU2000, various Phillips and other brand universals over the years
Strengths:Online database of current equipment, nice combination of touchscreen and buttons, ergonomics, remembers on/off setups and inputs, price, pretty easy setup if you have at least some internet capabillity
Weaknesses:Won't operate from cradle - that's about it
Review:I've had many universal remotes for many years and they all suffer from similar problems. Usually it's the long list of codes, often outdated, that you have to search to program your devices. Most are not user friendly and earlier touchscreens were poorly implemented.

Enter the Harmony One. I was given the opportunity through bzzagent to test one out with no obligation or commitment to simply praise it. They wanted an honest opinion. My opinion is honest and completely positive. I have a $1000 MX-3000 operating my expensive and complex Home Theater with front proj. and cinemascope lens/screen with full 7.1 surround and HD/Blu Ray. The only true advantage the $1000 unit has is RF, which allows it to operate through walls.

For 1/4 the price, the Harmony One virtually duplicates my MX-3000 in many (important) ways. It can program online so that its equipment list is always up to date, meaning no more guessing at which of 12 codes will turn on my HDTV. The color touchscreen is very nice and can accept custom icons for fav. channels and more. The buttons replicate all of the most widely used buttons on today's various cable stb, HDTV and DVD boxes. Those few, lesser used, buttons can be added to the touchscreen, though I've found little need to do so.

Another particularly nice feature is that the Harmony One is programmed to know which device is left on when switching setups. It also knows which input uses which combination of devices. So, if most of us leave the cable stb on all the time and you switch to "Play DVD", the Harmony One knows to leave the cable box "on", switch the HDTV to input HDMI, turn ON the DVD, etc. Very cool and very useful.

I have not had any battery problems like the other poster, but I agree about using it in the cradle. That would be an improvement - and one of the very few I can think of at this point. I've only had it about 2 weeks, but I can already see that I would buy one as the first remote (other than my MX-3000) that really does replace all those others. Last, and maybe most important, it is the first universal remote to successfully pass the "not too tech savvy" wife test. Usually she gives up in frustration - not with the Harmony One. We love it!
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Written by y2kpony from Corona, CA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 2 made on Friday April 25, 2008 at 5:08 PM.
Also owned:Two Harmony 880's, and a Harmony 676.
Strengths:It is basically as good as the Harmony 880 (at least in my mind) with (obviously) much better feeling buttons.
Weaknesses:Still being new, it seems Logitech may have released a little early with too many bugs. They seem to be working hard to get them resolved however. When I first got the remote, the battery would only last one day before requiring recharging (I would rather replace regular batteries every other month in a non-rechargeable remote than be forced to cradle this remote every night). After the last time I updated the firmware (on 4/23/08), it seems like the battery is going to last much longer and the display isn't locking on like it had done before.
Review:As I mentioned before, it seems a lot like the 880, other than the fact that you can actually feel the buttons and press them (more easily) without looking at the remote. Programming was quick and easy (I was already somewhat familiar with the software from the other three Harmony remotes I have.)

Since I don't think this is a radically new remote for Logitech, I think I will stand on a soap box to say what I wish the remote had instead of offering further reviews on a familiar item.


I wish some of the buttons had been moved around a little better, but maybe that's just just me (I preferred the Up/Down arrows under the joystick like on the 880 and other Harmony remotes).

I wish it had the same Pic and Sound buttons like the 676. I use that remote in my bedroom and I love the fact that it allows me to use these shortcuts to certain functions.

I wish it had a delayed off fuction that could be used like a sleep timer. Just set it on a table pointed at your devices. (This could be added through a firmware update.)

I wish it have RF, Z-Wave like the 890. (It has provisions in the circuit board for this.)

I wish it had Bluetooth so it could control the Sony PS3 and my laptop.

I wish it had some user-replaceable buttons so you could customize your remote with different keys, but all the buttons would be silk-screened like the standard buttons.

I wish you could change the order of your devices like you can with the activities.

If I think or anything else for the wish list, I will add them later...

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Written by John Winn from Bastrop, Texas.
The reviewer has used this remote control for under 1 month.
Review 1 made on Tuesday February 12, 2008 at 9:55 AM.
Also owned:Pronto TSU2000, Harmony 688
Strengths:Ease of programming, beautiful display/touch screen, logically placed buttons, lots of flexibility on programming. Charging dock works great and has a really cool beacon on it.
Weaknesses:Remote cannot be operated while on the dock. In my situation, the remote sits between our chairs and many times we just hit the "watch TV" button and go which was how we operated our 688. When this one is on the dock it won't do anything, making you pick it up. So far this being the only weakness and is a small one.
Review:I upgraded via the software from my current 688 which was painless. It worked properly the first try. I downloaded the icons from Squareyes here (thank you) and they show up beautifully on the favorites page. The color screen is very easy to read, nicely backlit as is the buttons. I love how it wakes up when you pick it up. It seems to be pretty strong in the IR department, it so far has not missed once. I am currently using it with a Sony TV and amp, Toshiba upconverting DVD player and a Sony DVD recorder, and a TW HD DVR. I LOVE how they put the colored ABC buttons on the touchscreen. I finally was able to put away all the other remotes..
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