The software’s hits and misses.
One nice side effect of Logitech’s new downloadable client application is that it uses frames to keep the “Next”, “Previous”, “Done” and “Cancel” buttons in generally consistent spots. And with the number of times you’re going to have to hit “Next” to complete a configuration... this is a very good thing.
Speaking of efficiency, while the software is a definite improvement over earlier incarnations, there are still some changes that Logitech can make before it is as expedient as it could be. For example, after making any change to a device the software then requires you to run through all activities that make use of that device, checking for potential new problems. For some reason it requires you to step through each activity manually by clicking the [Next] button – instead, why can it not check all of them at once and then only present a list of those that need further intervention?
Other times, it asks what can only be described as silly questions. While rearranging the button layout for one of my devices, I clicked on the [Learn Command] button to add a missing function. This presented a screen with the question “for which device do you want to learn a command”, with exactly one option on it: the device I was already working with. Can we assume that I’ll pick the only option available?
If you do get stuck, Logitech has done a rather nice job with the contextual help feature – the right side of the screen almost always displays some useful tip or link to other information related to the current task. The software also features built-in troubleshooter wizards to help diagnose minor or common programming difficulties, without having to hassle customer service. And as for that customer service, when you buy a Harmony you gain access to what has to be the largest customer service team ever assembled for a remote control. Now the necessity of such a team can have both good and bad connotations, but regardless it’s nice to know that if [or when] you need to contact them you’re almost guaranteed to have your problem solved.
Once a configuration is finished, it’s time to download it to the remote. The software first asks for the wireless extender to be connected, updates it, and then requests the Harmony 1000. Total time to update both items without any firmware updates is approximately five minutes, a pace more reminiscent of old serial ports than high-speed USB. If a firmware update is also required... well, you might want to grab a cup of coffee. I strongly recommend not adding the wireless extender to your Harmony’s configuration until it is essentially finished, as you’ll save a lot of needless plugging, unplugging and software prompts as various configurations are tested for proper operation.
Needing to update the wireless extender every time a minor change is made to the remote can pose something of a nuisance. This is especially true if you can’t take your computer to the extender, as the four wired emitter jacks will always need to be disconnected – and the extender’s permanently attached power supply cable will also have to be unplugged. I can’t speak for everyone, but the power bar for my A/V system is located behind everything and just reaching it requires something of a grueling expedition.