Your Universal Remote Control Center
Logitech Harmony 1000 Review
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...Maybe not. To explain, the Harmony’s screen layouts for activities are broken up into two distinct types: predesigned screens, and screens for “other” commands. Once in an activity, the outer corners of the remote switch between four different sections, always the same corner for the same section. Which corners are active will depend on what’s appropriate for the activity. The top-left corner selects transport controls, the bottom-left selects the numeric keypad, the top-right selects favorite channels, and the bottom right selects “other” commands.

The layout of the Transport and Keypad sections are pre-designed with unique graphics based on the specific type of activity, and in some cases even the brand of primary device. Buttons can be removed (or at least greyed out) if a device doesn’t support them, but you can’t add a button that wasn’t already thought of. Predesigned screens generally have up to 4 small buttons arranged vertically on the left edge, up to 12 buttons in the main center section, and a further 4 small buttons along the right edge.

The issue is that not all of these screens are ideally designed, and they’re certainly not flexible. For my “Watch DVD” activity, the Transport and Keypad screens share the same four functions on the small keys along the right edge, while the left edge is completely unused with no way to add any of my own functions. For my “Watch Television” activity, I was unable to match up the functions shown on the remote with the customization options in the software. The Transport screen indicated four keys along the left edge for [List], [A], [B] and [C] – all functions required by my Scientific Atlanta cable box – but they were grayed out and unusable. No such mappings were available in the software (which is more than likely why they didn’t work). None of the buttons on these screens can be relabeled or otherwise modified, something that poses an issue for the mis-detected “TiVo” activity with its permanently unusable “Thumbs Up” graphic.

The only place where a modicum of key customization is possible is on the “Other” section, where 9 user-created buttons are shown per page. Small keys along the left edge change pages, the right side has several pre-selected functions, while in the center of the bottom is a hotlink to the Device section of the remote.

Customizing the order and content of the 9 available key positions is done the same way in software as we described earlier for device commands, except that commands from any device associated with the activity can be used and there’s a whole lot fewer default functions to sift through. That also means the same customization shortcomings: awkward key rearrangement and no preview of how screens will look. All user keys for an activity will be in the same 3-by-3 grid arrangement, with the same button shape, size, color, font face and text size.

Despite knowing the exact model numbers of devices in my system, the default selection of functions placed in the “Other” section for an activity rarely matched what was required by the devices, and often duplicated commands already located on earlier screens.

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