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As has been evidenced over the past few months, Easy Zapper is committed to improving the Harmony's capabilities. What is now only possible in advanced mode may soon become a standard option. Although I'm sure that Easy Zapper has spent a lot of time getting the Harmony ready for market, perhaps further time should have been spent in advance getting everything prepped for prime time.
The importance of manuals.
Previewing a Harmony setup.
Missing from the Harmony experience is printed user documentation - or something that users can easily print out themselves. This could help alleviate some frustration during the programming process. The web site will attempt to walk you through most steps and does provide a brief attempt at documentation, but there are so many options and advanced capabilities that can be done with the Harmony that a serious documentation effort would be much appreciated. I know most users ignore manuals, but this is one case where it's a must.
I'm not sure why Easy Zapper decided to make their remote completely Internet dependent, but they seemed to overlook one simple problem: the web site and a customer's remote are on different sides of a big, long wire. As I mentioned before, each time you attempt to teach a code or update the remote a not-so-little program is less-than-instantaneously downloaded and run on your computer. Not good! The Internet's main use should be for automatically updating software and codes or interactively downloading live information. Since software needs to be written to support communications to the remote (or previewing a file) on multiple platforms in any case, the base setup of the Harmony should be switched over to a stand-alone application that will be infinity more efficient than the slow "only one thing at a time" HTTP interface. I guess it sounded great on paper...
The final word.
Already Harmony is expanding their "Smart State Technology" to the Palm OS and has plans for other possible enterprises, including the Philips Pronto. For anyone with setup issues, Easy Zapper provides extensive "live" support options to get you up and running, even analyzing your system configuration if need be. Good customer support is hard to find and Easy Zapper should be commended for their efforts.
The question remains, is the Harmony all it's cracked up to be? The simple answer: yes. Easy Zapper has taken a difficult and often confusing home theater issue and turned it into a market-worthy product. I believe that Easy Zapper has genuinely hit the nail on the head with their new "one device system" control concept. Get the programmers to stir up a new configuration method, mix in some additional features and automation routines, bake at a lower price and this just may be the perfect recipe for a foolproof remote.
Although it may seem like a lot of work to achieve, the completed product stands in stark contrast to the programming methodology used to obtain it: intuitive simplicity itself. Easy Zapper's Harmony really can make your home theater system operate in total harmony!
- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)